Facebook Said to Inflate AI Takedown Rates for Hate Speech

Although Facebook leadership has suggested that artificial intelligence will solve the company’s challenge to keep hate speech and violent content at bay, AI may not be a thoroughly effective near-term solution. That evaluation comes as part of a new examination of internal Facebook documents that allegedly indicate the social media company removes only a small percentage — quantified as low-single-digits — of posts deemed to violate its hate-speech rules. Algorithmic uncertainty as to whether content violates the rules results only in that it is fed to users less frequently, rather than flagged for further scrutiny. Continue reading Facebook Said to Inflate AI Takedown Rates for Hate Speech

Microsoft Closing LinkedIn in China, Retooling for Jobs-Only

LinkedIn will shut down its platform in China by the end of the year, the result of “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements.” The Microsoft-owned company says it plans to offer a new app for China that focuses exclusively on job postings. Gone will be the social networking features that helped make LinkedIn a success in the U.S. and elsewhere. China’s Internet is monitored by a system of censorship filters called “the Great Firewall,” making it difficult for free expression platforms to do business there. Continue reading Microsoft Closing LinkedIn in China, Retooling for Jobs-Only

Politicians Ban Social Media Platforms From Removing Posts

Brazil and the U.S. state of Texas both banned social media companies from removing certain posts containing political viewpoints. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro’s ban is temporary, and focuses on content in which he claims the only way he will lose next year’s election is if the vote if rigged. Legal experts say this is the first time a national government stopped an Internet company from taking down content that violates their rules. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill forbidding social media platforms from removing posts because of political views. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among those expected to fight the Texas legislation. Continue reading Politicians Ban Social Media Platforms From Removing Posts

Australian Court Holds Media Firms Liable for User Comments

The High Court of Australia upheld a lower court ruling that found media companies — including newspapers and TV stations — that post on Facebook are liable for Facebook users’ comments on those posts. It stated that, by creating a public Facebook page, media outlets “facilitated and encouraged comments” from users and are responsible for defamatory content. News Corp Australia, a subsidiary of News Corp, and Nine Entertainment, which owns the Sydney Morning Herald, called for legislators to protect them from liability. Continue reading Australian Court Holds Media Firms Liable for User Comments

Hong Kong Laws Could Drive Out Facebook, Twitter, Google

In Hong Kong, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau is slated to enact data protection laws against doxing — making personal information public to enable harassment — which was used during the 2019 protests. Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Twitter privately warned authorities that the new rules could put their staff at risk of criminal prosecutions, and if enacted, they may shut down their services. Punishment would be a fine of up to 1 million Hong Kong dollars (U.S. $128,800) and up to five years in prison. Continue reading Hong Kong Laws Could Drive Out Facebook, Twitter, Google

Federal Judge Blocks Florida Law That Restricts Social Media

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged lawmakers to pass Florida Senate Bill 7072 to make it easier for the state’s election commission to fine social media companies from $25,000 to $250,000 for banning political candidates during election season. The law passed, but hours before it was slated to take effect District Court Judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction against it, noting that plaintiffs NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) will likely prevail in their effort to have the law declared unconstitutional. Continue reading Federal Judge Blocks Florida Law That Restricts Social Media

Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Ban on Trump Accounts

The Facebook and Instagram accounts of Donald Trump will remain indefinitely suspended. Facebook’s independent Oversight Board, launched in October 2020, ruled this morning to uphold the social media giant’s January decision to suspend the accounts of then-President Trump in the wake of the U.S. Capitol insurrection. However, suggesting that an indefinite suspension “was not appropriate,” the Board “insists” that Facebook review the matter within six months, “to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform.” Continue reading Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Ban on Trump Accounts

Reddit Receives New Funding and Doubles Valuation to $6B

Community-based social site Reddit raised $250+ million in a new round of funding, doubling its valuation to $6 billion from the $3 billion it was valued after a February 2019 round. Led by Vy Capital, the latest funding included Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Tencent Holdings, all previous investors. The social media company, launched in 2005, hosts topic-based message boards, including WallStreetBets, the message board that recently encouraged amateur investors to drive up the stock price of companies shorted by Wall Street investors. Continue reading Reddit Receives New Funding and Doubles Valuation to $6B

Reuters Next: The Future of Further Education Post-Pandemic

The Reuters Next virtual conference, which runs the same days as CES 2021 this week (January 11-14), features more than 100 sessions and interviews across five key global areas: Policy & Progress, Radical Redesign, Recovering Growth, A Sustainable Future, and Media and Free Speech. Some of today’s sessions addressed how the blended digital and physical group work environment that will become the new normal post-COVID has direct parallels with how education in college and beyond will be handled, including points that will be of interest to ETC’s members and businesses in general. Continue reading Reuters Next: The Future of Further Education Post-Pandemic

SEC, State Attorneys Investigate Zoom Over China Contacts

After several months of investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and two U.S. Attorneys’ offices, Zoom Video Communications revealed that it has provided investigators with information regarding its interactions with China and other governments in addition to security and user privacy issues. A former employee based in China, Xinjiang Jin (also known as Julien Jin) has been charged by the Department of Justice for helping the Chinese government halt a remote commemoration of the Tiananmen Square uprising. Continue reading SEC, State Attorneys Investigate Zoom Over China Contacts

Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter chief exec Jack Dorsey and Alphabet/Google chief exec Sundar Pichai faced a combative Senate Commerce Committee this week. Republicans want to update Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that shields Internet platforms from liability for user-generated content. They also claim the platforms censor conservative views. Democrats also want to look at Section 230 but are more focused on whether the platforms are guarding against disinformation as the presidential election looms. Continue reading Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

TikTok Takes Government to Court Over Potential Shutdown

TikTok’s lawyers filed suit with U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols to prevent the federal government from imposing a shutdown of operations on November 12, when companies will be banned from providing Internet hosting to TikTok. An attorney stated that, “competitors have already taken advantage of the government’s highly-publicized intention to shut down the app to entice TikTok creators and users to switch platforms.” Cloud platform provider Fastly saw its shares plummet after ByteDance, owner of TikTok, spent less than predicted in Q3. Continue reading TikTok Takes Government to Court Over Potential Shutdown

Clearview AI Defends Facial Recognition App as Free Speech

Clearview AI sells access to billions of photos it scraped from the Internet to law enforcement agencies and corporations. A client can upload a photo or video image and the Clearview AI app creates a “faceprint” and finds photos of the person in its database. In response, California, Illinois, New York and Virginia filed lawsuits against the company, stating that collection of peoples’ photos without their consent is a violation of privacy laws. In the U.K., law enforcement lost a challenge to facial recognition laws. Continue reading Clearview AI Defends Facial Recognition App as Free Speech

State AGs Push Facebook to Take More Steps Against Hate

Democratic attorneys general for 19 states and the District of Columbia urged Facebook executives to create a live, real-time means for users to report harassment, intimidation and hate speech, and to improve blocking and filtering of such speech, as well as be more cooperative with law enforcement investigating hate crimes. Facebook said that in Q1 this year, it “took action” against 9.6 million pieces of content that violated polices, compared to 5.7. million the previous quarter. Continue reading State AGs Push Facebook to Take More Steps Against Hate