Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey revealed yesterday that the social platform would ban all political advertisements. Dorsey believes such content has “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” and that manipulated videos and the spread of misinformation are creating challenges at an “overwhelming scale.” The move adds another layer to the debate over online advertising, social media and free speech — especially in the political arena — and increases the pressure on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider his laissez-faire approach. Continue reading Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Ahead of next year’s U.S. Presidential election, social platform Twitter is planning to introduce a new policy that intends to help curb manipulated media including altered videos known as “deepfakes.” Twitter plans to create its first ever such policy regarding deepfakes and will seek feedback from the public in doing so. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services has joined Facebook, Microsoft and others in the Deepfake Detection Challenge (DFDC) and will serve as a tech partner and committee member helping to oversee the challenge. Continue reading Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Facebook Pressured Over Fact-Checking and Hate Speech

After Facebook vice president Nick Clegg said that the social media company would not fact-check politicians’ speech and allow them more latitude with using offensive speech, the company’s former head of content standards Dave Willner called the move “foolish, wrong, and a significant betrayal of the original democratizing ideals of Facebook.” He noted that hate speech is not acceptable from anyone. Facebook will also permit opinion pieces or satires found to be inaccurate by fact-checkers to remain online. Continue reading Facebook Pressured Over Fact-Checking and Hate Speech

DARPA Attempts to Stop Automated Disinformation Attacks

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) published a concept document for the Semantic Forensics (SemaFor) program, aimed at stopping “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks,” by detecting fakes among thousands of audio clips, photos, stories and video. As the 2020 Presidential election approaches, U.S. officials are working to prevent hackers from spreading disinformation on social platforms, but Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell won’t consider any election security laws. Continue reading DARPA Attempts to Stop Automated Disinformation Attacks

Facebook Plans Section in Its Mobile App Called News Tab

Facebook is working on a publishing initiative called News Tab that will deliver news content partly curated by a team of editors to the social platform’s mobile app. The Silicon Valley company, which has primarily relied on algorithms to select news stories, plans to hire a team of experienced journalists to serve as editors and launch a test version of News Tab by the end of this year. “Our goal with the News Tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” said Campbell Brown, head of global news partnerships at Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Plans Section in Its Mobile App Called News Tab

Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook about $5 billion for privacy violations, but the sum is considered a slap on the wrist since it neither hurt the company’s bottom line nor limited its ability to collect data. But, since 2016, 43+ countries have passed or introduced laws regulating social media and the spread of fake news, and U.S., European and Canadian regulators have initiated investigations and proposed regulations that will likely be much more draconian. Congress is considering a federal privacy law. Continue reading Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Up until now, massive conglomerates have dominated robotics, but that’s about to change, as the cost of hardware production plunges (due to globalization) and computing and cloud solutions become cheaper, more powerful and easy to ramp up. That’s given rise to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, in which vertical-specific hardware and software are bundled and sold in monthly subscription packages. At the same time, California enacted a new law that would require a bot to reveal its “artificial identity.” Continue reading Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Facebook Agrees to Hand Over User Data to French Judges

Marking a world first, social giant Facebook has agreed to turn over data of French users who are suspected of hate speech on the popular platform. Cédric O, state secretary for the digital economy of France, who has been influential in shaping French President Emmanuel Macron’s perspective on Big Tech, made the announcement yesterday. The Facebook decision follows a number of successive meetings between President Macron and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It has been reported that Macron is actively interested in regulating hate speech worldwide and taking control of false information online. Continue reading Facebook Agrees to Hand Over User Data to French Judges

Facebook’s Instagram Working on Effort to Step Up Security

Since 2016, Facebook has referred questionable posts to fact-checking teams at news organizations to determine if they contain misinformation. Now, Instagram (owned by Facebook), has started a similar policy, using image recognition to identify posts with possible misinformation. Those posts are then sent to Facebook’s fact-checkers for review and if determined problematic, they’re no longer recommended on the Explore tab or hashtag pages. While the posts are not removed and remain in users’ main feeds or Stories carousels, Instagram is introducing a new policy to remove accounts after repeated violations.

Continue reading Facebook’s Instagram Working on Effort to Step Up Security

Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

As part of a range of efforts to show that it has taken regulator and governmental concerns seriously, Facebook has set up an operations center in its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland ahead of the upcoming European Union’s parliamentary election, which is scheduled for May 23-26 across 28 countries. Employees will monitor and clear Facebook of misinformation, fake accounts, and any signs of foreign meddling aimed at swaying election results. Facebook recently set up a similar post in Singapore for elections in India.

Continue reading Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

Facebook Using Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Bias/Abuse

At this week’s annual Facebook F8 developer conference in San Jose, California, company CTO Mike Schroepfer discussed the progress being made by internal teams dedicated to reducing the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and abuse on the social platform using various artificial intelligence techniques. In the course of a single quarter, according to Schroepfer, Facebook takes down more than a billion “spammy” accounts, more than 700 million fake accounts, and tens of millions of items containing violent content or nudity.

Continue reading Facebook Using Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Bias/Abuse

Twitter Launches Feature to Report Election Misinformation

Twitter has unveiled a new feature that will let users directly report misinformation and fake news with regard to elections. Among the elections in India on April 25 and Europe on April 29, Twitter now offers the option “It’s misleading about voting” in the “Report Tweet” dropdown menu. On its blog, Twitter states that “voting is a fundamental human right … any attempts to undermine the process of registering to vote or engaging in the electoral process is contrary to our company’s core values.” Continue reading Twitter Launches Feature to Report Election Misinformation

EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

In a vote of 348 to 274, nineteen out of the European Union’s 28 member countries voted in favor of reformed laws to protect content creators. Critics of the reform — including large tech companies — argue that the rules will reduce free speech online, with Articles 11 and 13 of particular concern. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker declared that the new copyright rules are “fit for the digital age.” In the lead-up to the vote, nativist groups in many countries worked to defeat the new rules. Continue reading EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

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

Twitter and Facebook Uncover Deceptive Global Campaigns

In the wake of Russia using social media to spread misinformation, Bangladesh, Venezuela and Iran are following suit, the first two in order to assert government talking points and the latter to spread fake news on everything from the war in Syria to September 11 conspiracy theories. These social media disinformation campaigns come at a time that several countries, including India and the Ukraine, are preparing for national elections. Disinformation reportedly played a role in the recent contentious election in Brazil. Facebook and Twitter indicate they are investigating such misuse of their platforms and taking down offending accounts. Continue reading Twitter and Facebook Uncover Deceptive Global Campaigns

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