In Surprise Move, Amazon Opts to Scrap HQ2 Plans in NYC

Amazon has decided to cancel plans to develop a new campus in New York’s Long Island City, taking with it the promise of 25,000 new jobs and $2.5 billion in investment. In recent weeks, a debate has heated up between government officials who supported the e-commerce leader’s plans and New York politicians, activists and labor union leaders who have criticized a lack of transparency regarding deal specifics and questioned the necessity to provide Amazon with tax incentives worth billions. Despite the debate, the news still came as a surprise to many, especially real estate developers and renters who were rushing to the Long Island City neighborhood. Continue reading In Surprise Move, Amazon Opts to Scrap HQ2 Plans in NYC

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

AI-Powered Tools Assist Human Reporting at News Outlets

Robot reporters are on the rise, in use at Bloomberg News, The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times among other news outlets. The Cyborg system helps Bloomberg reporters produce thousands of articles on company earnings and analyze/write financial reports very quickly. Not only do business reporters find this kind of writing dull, but Cyborg’s speed helps it compete with rival Reuters. The other news outlets above use robots to report on sports, although the LAT relies on them for earthquakes. Continue reading AI-Powered Tools Assist Human Reporting at News Outlets

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, 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 Deletes Fake Accounts in Windup to Next Elections

Stating that it had detected a political influence campaign potentially targeting the midterm elections, Facebook removed 32 pages and fake accounts that were active around contentious issues across the political spectrum. One was a sequel to last year’s “Unite the Right” rally and another was a campaign to abolish ICE. Facebook was not able to link the pages to Russia, but officials did say that “some of the tools and techniques” were similar to those used by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency (I.R.A.). Continue reading Facebook Deletes Fake Accounts in Windup to Next Elections

Twitter Cuts Millions of Followers to Combat Fake Accounts

In an effort to restore trust in its social platform, Twitter plans to “begin removing tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers” today, reports The New York Times. “Many users have inflated their followers on Twitter or other services with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to bolster their political activism, business endeavors or entertainment careers.” Twitter has acknowledged that easily creating or buying fake followers has negatively affected the legitimacy of the platform. Continue reading Twitter Cuts Millions of Followers to Combat Fake Accounts

Social Media Platforms Ramp Up Removal of Fake Accounts

On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, millions of fake profiles take on the identities of authentic celebrities and public figures in music, movies and politics. Such profiles can be a cover for crimes, as when Australian authorities busted a 42-year old man who impersonated Justin Bieber and racked up 900 child sex offenses. Such social media imposters are so rife that Oprah Winfrey has warned her Twitter followers, and her chief marketing officer Harriet Seitler reported that, due to sheer volume, her team only reports the impostors if the miscreants are trying to scam fans. Continue reading Social Media Platforms Ramp Up Removal of Fake Accounts

Facebook, Twitter Plan to Minimize Disinformation, Bad Ads

Facebook and Twitter will increase scrutiny of the searchable archives of ads running on their sites, to stop fake news in the months leading up to the midterm elections. Twitter is debuting an Ads Transparency Center to open public view of a database of all ads on its platform, having already established the requirement that anyone running a campaign go through a verification process. Facebook, which also has a database of political ads, now plans to make it easier to find background details on all its platforms. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Plan to Minimize Disinformation, Bad Ads

Senators Query Amazon on Echo, Data Privacy Parameters

Senators Jeff Flake and Chris Coons asked Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos to explain how the Echo smart speaker listens to and stores users’ voices — and what his company does to protect users’ data. Their concern is sparked by such incidents as an Echo device that mistook background conversation for voice commands of a Portland, Oregon woman, and then sent the private conversation to one of her contacts. Flake and Coons are, respectively, chair and ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. Continue reading Senators Query Amazon on Echo, Data Privacy Parameters

Facebook, Twitter Reveal New Rules for Running Political Ads

Social media platforms Facebook and Twitter yesterday announced their plans “to increase transparency of political campaign ads, changes aimed at preventing foreign manipulation of the coming midterm elections,” reports The New York Times. Facebook will introduce a ‘paid for’ label that takes users “to a page where they can view the cost of the ad and the demographic breakdown of the audience that viewed the ad.” Twitter will restrict political spots, “requiring those running political ads for federal elections to identity themselves and certify that they are in the United States.” Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Reveal New Rules for Running Political Ads

Facebook Suspends 200 Apps Due to Possible Misuse of Data

Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has suspended about 200 apps based on the possible misuse of user data. The social giant will conduct a thorough investigation of each app, and promises that any guilty of misuse of Facebook user data will be permanently banned from the platform. So far, Facebook has reviewed thousands of apps from outside developers that have access to Facebook user data, but some question whether such an ongoing audit is worthwhile. While bad actors can be banned, there isn’t much that can be done once the data leaves Facebook’s servers. Continue reading Facebook Suspends 200 Apps Due to Possible Misuse of Data

Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

In the wake of the Facebook privacy scandal, London-based data consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and parent company SCL Elections announced yesterday that they will be shutting down and filing for bankruptcy. Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of mining the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent, has defended its actions while blaming the media for damaging its reputation and driving away clients. The company said it was “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.” Continue reading Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

California Law Would Require Social Platforms to Report Bots

State legislators in California are pushing for a law that would require Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to identify bots, automated accounts that can be created or used by individuals or organizations. Most recently, bots, reportedly out of Russia, generated hundreds of posts on gun control in the wake of the shooting in Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Russia-linked bots also played a role sharing Donald Trump’s tweets almost 500,000 times in the final weeks of the 2016 election. Continue reading California Law Would Require Social Platforms to Report Bots

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.”

Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Plan in Effort to Increase Platform Security

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