Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

Testifying before Congress, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg listed all the ways his company has erred, from fake news to hate speech and data privacy — and then apologized for not taking “a broad enough view of our responsibility.” He isn’t the only Silicon Valley leader to take stock of the state of the Internet and worry about its future. Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, has warned about what social media is “doing to our children’s brains,” calling it a “dangerous form of psychological manipulation.” Continue reading Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

NAB 2018: Pew Examines Gap Between TV and Online News

At NAB in Las Vegas, Pew Research Center research associate Mike Barthel looked at “tradition in transition,” or how television news is faring in an increasingly online digital environment. He pointed to a 2012 Pew Research article that predicted that, “in a changing news landscape, even television is vulnerable.” Yet, surprisingly, six years later, more people still get their news from local TV rather than the web. The gap continues to close, however, from 19 points in 2016 to a mere seven-point gap in 2017. Continue reading NAB 2018: Pew Examines Gap Between TV and Online News

Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress Next Week

In light of Facebook’s latest revelation that data from as many as 87 million users — not the 50 million figure originally reported — was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted he made a “huge mistake” by not paying more attention to the potential for abuse. Facebook further revealed that marketers, using a now-disabled feature that distributed profile data connected to email addresses and phone numbers, could have harvested data from “most people on Facebook.” Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear before federal committees next week. Continue reading Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress Next Week

Changes to Facebook News Feed Plan to Curb Misinformation

Under pressure from lawmakers, regulators, and some of its two billion monthly active users to fight misinformation, Facebook is tweaking how information is presented on its News Feed. Users in the U.S. will now be able to easily see a news publisher’s Wikipedia page along with a given story and can see how frequently it’s been shared on the social network. Facebook is under renewed criticism following reports that Cambridge Analytica “improperly accessed data on millions of Facebook users,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

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Facebook Rolls Out Plan in Effort to Increase Platform Security

Last week, Facebook executives detailed their plan to protect future elections from meddling on the social media platform, elaborating on Facebook’s “use of human moderators, third-party fact checkers, and automation to catch fake accounts, foreign interference, fake news, and to increase transparency in political ads,” reports Wired. This comes in response to what happened nearly three years ago, when “a Russian propaganda group infiltrated Facebook and other tech platforms in hopes of seeding chaos in the 2016 U.S. election.”

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Google Pledges $300 Million in Effort to Clean Up Fake News

Google has set its sights on combating fake news on the Internet, pledging to spend $300 million over the next three years in support of what The New York Times calls “authoritative journalism.” The Google News Initiative’s goals include making it easier for Googlers to subscribe to news and providing publishers with tools for fast-loading mobile pages. In partnership with Harvard Kennedy School’s First Draft initiative, Google will also create a “Disinfo Lab” to identify fake news, particularly during moments when it’s breaking.

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EU Hearing Explores Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age

The ETC’s Philip Lelyveld was one of five subject matter experts invited to speak before the European Union’s “Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age” hearing at the European Political Strategy Centre in Brussels on February 22, 2018. The EU is working to understand and deal with the problem of ‘fake news’ and Russian interference in democratic processes in Europe. This one-day event is part of an ongoing multi-organization effort within the EU. Lelyveld was invited to present a ‘Hollywood’ perspective. Continue reading EU Hearing Explores Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age

Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

Facebook will end Explore, an experiment launched last fall in six countries that separated posts from news sites and publishers from other content. Publishers in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka said they were blindsided by the experiment, and that it led to a surprising amount of misinformation or fake news. The test put a “digital divide” between family/friends and brands and news sources. Facebook admits they should have communicated the experiment better to publishers. Continue reading Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

Twitter to Hire Experts, Accept Proposals to Stop Bad Actors

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey has brought his own company to task, for what he said is a less-than-stellar performance in handling malicious activity. More specifically, he said that he did not move quickly enough to take action against the Russian efforts to create divisions between Americans. Dorsey, who has previously expressed contrition for his slow reaction, has now made it clear that the company needs to take actions to prevent this from happening again, rather than just reacting after the fact. Continue reading Twitter to Hire Experts, Accept Proposals to Stop Bad Actors

Brands Pressure Platforms to Resolve Hate, Fake News Issue

Social media platforms that placed ads on pages espousing extremism and hate have vowed to take steps against this, but the brands involved, from AT&T to Kellogg, are also getting flak for appearing on the sites and inadvertently funding the purveyors of fake news and hate speech. That has happened because brands now depend on automated ad technology to reach targeted demographics, but they are now re-evaluating that strategy; Unilever is considering leaving YouTube and Facebook unless they gain control of the situation. Continue reading Brands Pressure Platforms to Resolve Hate, Fake News Issue

Facebook to Include Breaking News Section in Watch Platform

As part of Facebook’s broader news strategy, company exec Campbell Brown announced at the Code Media conference that the social platform plans to introduce a breaking news feature to its video streaming platform Facebook Watch. The company launched Watch in August to compete in the original video space across mobile, TV apps and desktop. Content partners earn 55 percent of ad revenue and Facebook gets 45 percent. Watch is different than Facebook’s video tab in that it offers exclusive content, personalized recommendations, subscription options and more. Continue reading Facebook to Include Breaking News Section in Watch Platform

Facebook Profit Jumps, Investors Wary of News Feed Tweaks

Since Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg tweaked the social platform’s algorithm so that people see more content from family and friends than publishers in their News Feed, investors have been concerned that users won’t spend as much time on the platform and discourage marketers from placing ads. Facebook is now making the argument that the changes will actually benefit business, with the time people spend on the platform becoming more valuable. Its case is buttressed by a recent jump in revenue and profits. Continue reading Facebook Profit Jumps, Investors Wary of News Feed Tweaks

Company Offers Twitter Followers, Bots That Retweet for a Fee

Devumi is a company that sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, politicians, businesses, overseas governments and anyone else who wants to become a digital influencer. According to the results of a New York Times investigation, the company has an estimated stock of 3.5 million automated accounts and has provided its approximately 200,000 customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers. The revelation comes at a time when big tech companies are in the spotlight for deceptive news and outside manipulation. Continue reading Company Offers Twitter Followers, Bots That Retweet for a Fee

Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

As the midterm elections approach, some tech companies are making changes to minimize harm and build credibility. Facebook plans to let users rank news sources they see as most trustworthy, as a means of prioritizing high-quality news. Twitter, which is still cleaning house from the presidential election, reports it has discovered 1,062 more accounts linked to an official Russian propaganda unit. Google and YouTube chief executives have promised to examine videos and other content more closely to ferret out misleading news. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

Facebook News Feed Algorithm Tweak Favors Family, Friends

Facebook has again tweaked its News Feed, this time in a major way. The social media giant will now prioritize what a member’s friends and family share and comment on, rather than content from publishers and brands. The change, meant to maximize what chief executive Mark Zuckerberg calls “meaningful interaction,” will take place over the next few weeks. Likewise, Facebook wants to diminish “passive content,” which is defined as that which requires nothing of the viewer than to sit back and watch or read. Continue reading Facebook News Feed Algorithm Tweak Favors Family, Friends

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