Concern Expressed Over Meta Scrapping CrowdTangle Filter

As the U.S. approaches the 2022 midterm elections, social media platforms are being criticized for dropping the ball on misinformation safeguards. Meta Platforms’ Facebook has triggered alarm over plans to scrap CrowdTangle, a relevance filter Facebook has promoted as a discovery tool. Advocacy groups have described CrowdTangle as “indispensable” to finding false information online. Meta is accused of reducing CrowdTangle support and losing interest in election security overall as it shifts focus from the real world to the metaverse. CrowdTangle is cross-platform, and used to analyze content on Twitter and Reddit, among others. Continue reading Concern Expressed Over Meta Scrapping CrowdTangle Filter

States Fight Misinformation on Social Media Before Midterms

As various states undergo primary elections and the nation gears up for midterm elections in the fall, the social network misinformation machines are becoming more active, too. Connecticut is actively addressing the problem with a marketing budget of nearly $2 million to counter unfounded rumors. The state is also creating a new position to monitor the disinformation mill. Salaried at $150,000 per year, the job involves combing fringe sites like Gettr, Rumble and 4chan as well as mainstream social media sites to weed-out falsehoods before they go viral, alerting platforms to remove or flag such posts. Continue reading States Fight Misinformation on Social Media Before Midterms

Obama Takes Up Mantle of Social Media Regulatory Oversight

Former President Barack Obama sounded a warning against unregulated Big Tech in a speech last week at Stanford University near Palo Alto, California. Cautioning that the power of social media giants to curate information has “turbocharged” political polarization, Obama said the imbalance of power threatened the very pillars of global democracy itself. “Tech companies need to be more transparent about how they operate,” Obama said. “So much of the conversation around disinformation is focused on what people post. The bigger issue is what content these platforms promote.”  Continue reading Obama Takes Up Mantle of Social Media Regulatory Oversight

Euro Parliament Toughens Stance on Surveillance Advertising

The European Parliament has added amendments to the EU’s proposed Digital Services Act that will further strengthen consumer protections and make it more difficult for Big Tech to continue tactics for surveillance advertising and microtargeting. The new amendments, advanced at a plenary session last week, are significant in part because they apply to digital services more broadly than the original DSA, which targets “gatekeeper” companies like Google and Facebook. Parliament had already endorsed a full ban on the profiling of minors as well as limiting the use of special category data for ad serving. Continue reading Euro Parliament Toughens Stance on Surveillance Advertising

U.S. to Limit Exporting Surveillance Tech to Certain Countries

The U.S. government has announced its plans to work with other nations to put restrictions on the export of surveillance tools to authoritarian countries such as China. The Biden administration says it would gather allies and start an initiative to regulate the export of surveillance tools. The initiative is planned to be discussed during a virtual gathering, Summit for Democracy, on December 9-10. Representatives from more than 100 democratic nations will be participating. The primary objective of the summit is to crack down on authoritarian governments from using cyber tools to violate fundamental human rights. Continue reading U.S. to Limit Exporting Surveillance Tech to Certain Countries

Twitter Earns Praise for Transparency in Its Research Findings

Twitter has earned praise for transparency after it published “unflattering” research findings. The company analyzed “millions of Tweets” in an attempt to measure how its recommendation algorithms handle political content, and subsequently reported that it amplifies more content from right-wing politicians and media outlets than from left-wing sources. The findings, which were released in late October, were well-received at a time when social platforms are fast to tout positive findings, but quickly discredit critical data, as was the case with Facebook and whistleblower Frances Haugen. Continue reading Twitter Earns Praise for Transparency in Its Research Findings

Facebook Negatively Impacts Society, According to CNN Poll

About 76 percent of adults believe Facebook makes U.S. society worse while 11 percent say the social network makes society better and 13 find it neutral, according to a new CNN poll by SSRS. Roughly 50 percent said they know someone who bought into a conspiracy theory they read about on the site. Meanwhile, Facebook parent Meta Platforms says that beginning January 19 it will discontinue advertisers’ ability to target users based on their history of accessing content about health, ethnicity, politics, religion, sexual orientation and myriad other topics. The change applies to Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Continue reading Facebook Negatively Impacts Society, According to CNN Poll

Facebook Vies with Whistleblower to Spin Latest News Cycle

Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg in a round of Sunday morning news appearances advocated his company’s position in the midst of senatorial attack, discussing new safety tools and emphasizing the company’s repeated requests for congressional guidelines. Means to deflect users from harmful content, curb political content and put programming power in the hands of parents were among the new measures by which to impede vulnerabilities. Instagram in particular will invite adult supervision over accounts belonging to minors. Clegg stressed Instagram Kids for 13-and-under as part of the solution. Continue reading Facebook Vies with Whistleblower to Spin Latest News Cycle

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

Twitter Plans to Test Social Privacy Features for User Control

Popular microblogging service Twitter plans to test new “social privacy” features in order to allow people to better control their identities and thus feel more comfortable using its social network. Among the features under consideration are the ability to edit followers’ lists and archive old tweets after an amount of time designated by the user, making it easier to hide tweets than a manual deletion. Staff researcher Svetlana Pimkina said Twitter determined through internal research that many Twitter users don’t understand the site’s privacy basics. Continue reading Twitter Plans to Test Social Privacy Features for User Control

Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

All politics may be local, but you can expect less of it to be social. As of August 31, Facebook began reducing political content that appears in its News Feed. The move comes as the social media giant attempts to beat back a barrage of criticism for spreading misinformation through the use of algorithms that appear to reward click-generating controversies over level-headed dialogue. The new content modification is “in response to common feedback from our community,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Continue reading Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

Twitter to Study Misinformation by Letting Users Flag Tweets

Twitter is testing a new feature in a few markets that will allow users to flag posts that contain misinformation, similar to how they can already report spam or abuse. The company — which doesn’t have a strong fact-checking unit — plans to use the feature to study misinformation on the platform rather than review the user-identified tweets for legitimacy or respond to the reporting user with updates. Currently, Twitter only fact-checks tweets on elections, COVID-19 and other “select categories.” Continue reading Twitter to Study Misinformation by Letting Users Flag Tweets

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

YouTube Bans Alcohol, Gambling, Politics from Masthead Ads

Google’s YouTube announced that its masthead — which appears at the top of its app and website — will no longer run ads related to alcohol, gambling, “prescription drug terms” or politics. Gambling includes sports betting and casino games, and politics references ads that endorse political candidates. According to Google, the move is aimed to “lead to a better experience for users.” The masthead is a very visible rectangle across the top of YouTube’s homepage and is usually the platform’s most expensive and desirable ad unit. Continue reading YouTube Bans Alcohol, Gambling, Politics from Masthead Ads

Facebook Will No Longer Offer Politicians Special Treatment

Facebook revealed that former President Donald Trump’s suspension from its platform would last for at least two years. Trump will be eligible for reinstatement on the social network in January 2023, before the next U.S. presidential election. At that time, experts will decide “whether the risk to public safety has receded.” Further violations would trigger “rapidly escalating sanctions” and potentially a permanent suspension. The company also announced that it would end its policy of treating the posts of world leaders and other politicians differently than those of other Facebook users. Continue reading Facebook Will No Longer Offer Politicians Special Treatment