WhatsApp Combats Fake News as India Preps for Elections

In India, where fake news on Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging platform has led to violence, company executives publicly described a plan to stop the flow of misinformation. India is WhatsApp’s largest market, and WhatsApp’s announcement comes as India prepares for its biggest election. Based on machine learning, said software engineer Matt Jones, the new system will use data of past activity to bar automated fake accounts and troublemakers at three stages: when registering, while messaging and when reported by others. Continue reading WhatsApp Combats Fake News as India Preps for Elections

Facebook Unveils Tools to Prevent the Spread of Fake News

Facebook is unveiling new tools to prevent the spread of fake news and misinformation, including making more information available about political ads on its platform. The tools will first debut in India next month and then to the European Union in March. Facebook is also tweaking its moderation, announcing plans for an outside group or board to review its content decisions, giving it authority to reverse internal content decisions. The board will be comprised of 40 members worldwide chosen by Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Tools to Prevent the Spread of Fake News

Facebook Expands Its Takedown Powers Over Fake Content

Facebook has changed its policy to make it much easier to take down fraudulent pages and groups, in its efforts to suppress fake news and propaganda. Up until now, a troll has been able to create multiple fake pages and Facebook has had to close each page or group individually. Facebook stated, it “may now also remove other Pages and Groups with similar names that are maintained by the same person, even if that specific Page or Group has not met the threshold to be unpublished on its own.” Continue reading Facebook Expands Its Takedown Powers Over Fake Content

Facebook Seeks to Stop Russian Disinformation Campaigns

Facebook deleted nearly 500 pages and accounts after discovering two disinformation campaigns linked to Russia. Employees of Sputnik, a Russian government-controlled agency, were linked to many of the pages that use innocuous independent news pages on sports, travel and weather to mask their disinformation. The pages, which were targeted largely at users in Europe and Central Asia, make clear that Russian-government linked groups continue their efforts to use Facebook as a means of spreading misinformation. Continue reading Facebook Seeks to Stop Russian Disinformation Campaigns

France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

On January 1, 2019, the French government will begin to tax digital companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, even as other members of the European Union have balked at imposing an EU-wide tax. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire declared that, as the other EU countries debate, his country will move forward alone, estimating that the total tax bill will come to 500 million Euros ($568 million), which will help defray 10 billion Euros in emergency spending announced by President Emmanuel Macron. Continue reading France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

Facebook Reveals Another Attack on its Computer Network

In its third security breach reported since June, Facebook announced on Friday that hackers had leveraged a security vulnerability in order to attack its computer network and access the personal accounts of about 50 million of its social platform users. In the two other breaches, hackers unblocked individuals that had been previously blocked by Facebook users, and users’ share settings were manipulated without permission. As a result of this latest breach, “the attackers could use the account as if they are the account holder,” according to Guy Rosen, VP product management for Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Another Attack on its Computer Network

Journalists Unveil The Markup to Investigate Tech Algorithms

ProPublica journalist Julia Angwin has worked with programmers and data scientists to uncover the algorithms used by big tech companies such as Facebook and how these tools can be used to promote scams, racial bias and extremist content. Now, with a $20 million gift from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Angwin and data journalist Jeff Larson are starting The Markup, a new site focused on investigating technology and its impact on society. Wikimedia Foundation former head Sue Gardner will be executive director. Continue reading Journalists Unveil The Markup to Investigate Tech Algorithms

FTC Ponders New Antitrust, Consumer Protection Regulations

The Federal Trade Commission has begun a series of 15 to 20 hearings scheduled over the next few months to address whether companies based on new technologies should spur changes in its competition and consumer protection policies. FTC chair Joseph Simmons noted that the “broad antitrust consensus” in existence for 25 years is now being challenged, and that he will approach the topic with an open mind. The Justice Department may also start investigations into whether Google and other social media sites are biased against conservative voices. Continue reading FTC Ponders New Antitrust, Consumer Protection Regulations

Zuckerberg Details Facebook’s Steps Against Election Attacks

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg published a 3,300-word blog post listing steps the company has taken to make the platform safer from election interference. He said that, although the company wasn’t prepared in 2016, it has developed “sophisticated systems” and that it is “better prepared for these kinds of attacks” in worldwide elections. The company is facing its first test in Brazil’s upcoming presidential election. Zuckerberg said he will also publish in-depth reports on how the company is facing its challenges. Continue reading Zuckerberg Details Facebook’s Steps Against Election Attacks

Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

Senate Intelligence Committee hearings will begin today to examine a host of issues regarding big technology firms, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, and weigh whether the issues might be addressed by legislative or executive actions. Those companies already stand accused of not controlling the use of their platforms to disseminate misinformation and, in general, not taking enough responsibility for content. Meanwhile, conservatives accuse the platforms of bias in policing content. Continue reading Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

Facebook, Twitter Turn to Algorithms to Weed Out Bad Actors

Facebook revealed a ratings system it has been developing over the past year, assigning users a “reputation score” that estimates their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to one. The idea behind the system is to weed out bad actors, according to Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons who is in charge of the battle against fake news. Up until now, Facebook, like other tech companies, has depended on users to report problematic content, but discovered that users began to file false reports about items they said were untrue. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Turn to Algorithms to Weed Out Bad Actors

Facebook, Twitter and Other Platforms Struggle With Infowars

After Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues debated for weeks what to do about Alex Jones’ far-right, conspiracy-focused Infowars, Zuckerberg finally made the decision to ban Infowars content from the platform. Jones has millions of followers who endorse theories such as the Sandy Hook massacre being a hoax enacted by gun-control supporters. Prior to Facebook’s ban, company execs gave vague, unsatisfactory answers to questions from lawmakers and journalists. Meanwhile, Twitter execs have also been debating Infowars, but for now have opted not to ban Jones’ content. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter and Other Platforms Struggle With Infowars

Facebook Launches Watch Party for Shared Viewing of Video

In January, Facebook debuted Watch Party, an experimental feature that allows shared simultaneous viewing of videos, to a select number of users. Now, the company is opening access of the feature to all groups on the site, in an attempt to make video viewing a social experience. Groups has become an important product for Facebook’s more than 1.4 billion monthly users, and Watch Party is intended to add another compelling reason for users to stick with those who share similar interests. Continue reading Facebook Launches Watch Party for Shared Viewing of Video

Twitter Takes Stronger Stance Against Misinformation, Spam

In May and June, Twitter deleted more than 143,000 apps that violate its prohibition against using its APIs to automate spam and abuse or breach its privacy rules. The big cleanup is part of Twitter’s overall housekeeping, and includes the removal of “suspicious accounts” from users’ follower lists. According to The Washington Post, Twitter suspended more than 70 million fake accounts. Not all automated accounts are malicious, but the social media platform has been bedeviled by those that are. Continue reading Twitter Takes Stronger Stance Against Misinformation, Spam

WhatsApp Hopes Changes Will Reduce Virality and Violence

One day after Facebook said it would remove misinformation that could provoke violence, the company announced tweaks to WhatsApp, saying it would limit the number of groups to which a message could be forwarded on that platform. This specific move — which was requested by the Indian government — came after fake news widely forwarded via WhatsApp led to mob violence and the death of 20 people wrongly suspected of child kidnapping. WhatsApp has over 200 million monthly active users in India. Continue reading WhatsApp Hopes Changes Will Reduce Virality and Violence

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