Social Media Firms, Marketers Ink Deal to Limit Hate Speech

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter struck a deal with the World Federation of Advertisers to take steps to dampen hate speech and other harmful content on their platforms. In addition to establishing common definitions of such content, the platforms agreed to adopt coordinated reporting standards. Three months ago, many big advertisers boycotted Facebook in the wake of the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests. Facebook also revealed its Oversight Board will begin to hear cases as soon as mid-October. Continue reading Social Media Firms, Marketers Ink Deal to Limit Hate Speech

Proposed Legislation Would Weaken Shields for Social Media

The Justice Department sent Congress draft legislation to weaken Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, leaving Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms vulnerable to legal action for content posted by users. The proposed changes would create liability for platforms that allow “known criminal content” to remain once they are aware of it. President Trump claims that social media companies are biased against conservatives. The platforms have not been protected against some civil suits. Continue reading Proposed Legislation Would Weaken Shields for Social Media

Facebook Pushes Back Against Regulators on Data Transfer

Facebook has upped the ante in its showdown with European regulators, stating that an unfavorable decision by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) would leave the company no choice but to leave the region. Facebook Ireland’s head of data protection/associate general counsel Yvonne Cunnane is referring to the DPC’s preliminary order to stop the transfer of its European users’ data to servers in the U.S., citing fears of government surveillance. In response, Facebook filed a lawsuit challenging DPC’s ban. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Back Against Regulators on Data Transfer

Facebook Unveils Business Suite Tools for Small Companies

In response to COVID-19, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg debuted the Facebook Business Suite aimed at small businesses, which are bearing much of the brunt of the pandemic. Yelp data revealed that business closures from mid-July to end of August rose 23 percent; since March, 60 percent of the business closures have been permanent. According to Facebook, the Business Suite is initially available to small businesses but will expand to larger businesses next year. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Business Suite Tools for Small Companies

Social Media Platforms Struggle to Subdue Conspiracy Groups

Facebook vowed to stop QAnon, a conspiracy theory group claiming that a satanic cult, led by Democratic politicians and entertainers, engages in trafficking of children and cannibalism. Instead, QAnon’s Facebook group has grown by hundreds of new followers, as have the Facebook pages of a violent militia movement. More disturbing is that a study showed Facebook’s own recommendation engine drove users towards these groups. YouTube is another social platform that reportedly recommends the content of fringe groups. Continue reading Social Media Platforms Struggle to Subdue Conspiracy Groups

Facebook Debuts Oculus Quest 2, Readies New Smartglasses

Facebook released Oculus Quest 2, a customizable VR headset priced at $299 — $100 less than its predecessor. Improved hardware includes a fast-switching LCDs with 1832×1920 resolution per eye and 50 percent more pixels than the first version. Although it doesn’t have the same black levels as the original Quest’s OLED screens, it offers support for an (eventual) 90Hz refresh rate; Quest 2 launches with a 72Hz refresh rate. In partnership with Ray-Ban, Facebook also plans to debut a pair of smartglasses in 2021. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Oculus Quest 2, Readies New Smartglasses

Government Considering Lawsuits Against Facebook, Google

According to sources, the Federal Trade Commission — after investigating concerns about Facebook’s efforts to stifle competition — may be readying an antitrust lawsuit by the end of the year. The same sources said, however, that the FTC doesn’t always bring a case after making preparations to do so and that no final decision has been made. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators has put Google in the crosshairs regarding its dominance in the chain of technologies connecting digital publishers with advertisers. Continue reading Government Considering Lawsuits Against Facebook, Google

Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Facebook launched Watch Together, a feature for Messenger and videoconferencing platform Messenger Rooms, to allow users to watch videos in real time with family and friends on Apple and Android mobile devices. Users choose videos to view through Facebook’s video hub, Facebook Watch. The push to promote yet more video comes at a time when, due largely to COVID-19, more people than ever are at home watching content. Facebook Messenger allows up to eight people on a video call, and Messenger Rooms tops out at 50 people. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Ex-Facebook Scientist Reveals Slow Action on Fake Accounts

A recently fired Facebook data scientist, Sophie Zhang, sent a 6,600-word memo giving specific examples of how the social media company ignored or was slow to act on solid information on fake accounts undermining global politics and elections. That included her proof that, in Azerbaijan and Honduras, government leaders and political parties used fake accounts to shift public opinion. She found similar evidence of coordinated campaigns to impact candidates or elections in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Spain and Ukraine. Continue reading Ex-Facebook Scientist Reveals Slow Action on Fake Accounts

Social Media Platforms Prep for Flood of False Election Info

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election looms, social media platforms are launching strategies to combat false claims and misinformation. Internet companies anticipate a tsunami of this type of content in the lead-up to the election. Google, for example, said it would block some autocomplete search suggestions in an effort to combat misinformation, and Twitter said it would more aggressively label or remove tweets that undermine confidence in the election or promote disputed information. Twitter and Facebook plan to ban new political ads the week leading up to the election. Facebook, meanwhile, is also working to prevent climate misinformation. Continue reading Social Media Platforms Prep for Flood of False Election Info

Facebook Campus Debuts as Platform for College Students

Facebook has launched Facebook Campus, a return to its genesis in chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard University dorm room. Students can be part of Facebook Campus by using their school email addresses to create profiles that will only be visible to other students at their college or university. The site will allow students to join groups, participate in classroom discussions and find school events. A Facebook spokeswoman said the new site will not have advertising and that the company has no plans to offer ads in the future. Continue reading Facebook Campus Debuts as Platform for College Students

Ireland Orders Facebook to Stop Moving EU Data to the U.S.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission sent Facebook a preliminary order to cease data transfers of its European Union users to the U.S., a move confirmed by Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg. In doing so, EU regulators have taken a major step to enact a July ruling forbidding such transfers. Facebook would have to partition the data it collects from European users or stop serving them altogether. Otherwise, Ireland’s commission can fine Facebook up to $2.8 billion, 4 percent of its annual revenue. Continue reading Ireland Orders Facebook to Stop Moving EU Data to the U.S.

China Presents Global Security Initiative to Counter U.S. Plan

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi debuted an initiative to create standards for global data security, one month after the U.S. introduced the “Clean Network” program to protect data from “malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party.” U.S.-China relations have been deteriorating over trade issues and U.S. claims that Chinese technology threatens U.S. national security. Wang stated that “a certain country” is “bent on unilateral acts” and that “such blatant acts of bullying must be opposed and rejected.” Continue reading China Presents Global Security Initiative to Counter U.S. Plan

Internet Firms Battle Government’s Plan to Limit Section 230

The Internet Association, representing Amazon, Facebook, Google and others, urged the Federal Communications Commission to reject the Trump administration’s effort to limit Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which shields social media companies from liability for content posted by users. The IA said the effort is “misguided, lacks grounding in law, and poses serious public policy concerns.” The Consumer Technology Association agreed, saying new rules would “make compliance all but impossible.” Yesterday, Senate Republicans introduced legislation that would hold social platforms more responsible for content. Continue reading Internet Firms Battle Government’s Plan to Limit Section 230

Facebook’s New Rules Aim to Quash Election Misinformation

Facebook has made several changes ahead of this year’s U.S. presidential election to prevent potential misinformation being shared by politicians, their campaigns and special interest groups. The social media company will bar new political ads beginning the week before the election and tamp down any posts trying to convince people not to vote. After the election it will quell attempts to claim false victories, directing readers to accurate election information. In India meanwhile, Facebook is under pressure after banning a politician for hate speech. Continue reading Facebook’s New Rules Aim to Quash Election Misinformation

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