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

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

Facebook Plans Changes to Groups, Controls for Advertisers

When Facebook launched Groups in 2019, it was intended to be, per chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, the “heart of the app.” This last August, however, its own data scientists warned about “blatant misinformation and calls to violence” in the site’s top “civic” Groups. Facebook was aware of the problems for years but accelerated plans to make actual changes after rioters broke into and vandalized the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The Groups in question, dedicated to politics, together reached “hundreds of millions of users.” Continue reading Facebook Plans Changes to Groups, Controls for Advertisers

Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

Snap is introducing a video-sharing feature called Spotlight designed to help its Snapchat app better compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels. Spotlight allows the creation of content that could go viral, a marked difference from its long-time focus on communication between friends and curated posts. Snap will spend $1+ million a day to reward those who post the best content and highlight top snaps to its 249+ million daily users in a feed they can swipe or tap. With Spotlight, Snap hopes customers increase the time they spend on the app. It also opens the door to advertising. Continue reading Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

YouTube Users Turn to Established and Indie News Channels

In light of the fact that 26 percent of Americans say they get news on YouTube, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey in January of 12,638 U.S. adults who consumed news on YouTube, asking about their experiences. The Pew study analyzed the news channels consumers watched and the content of videos on these channels, relying on a subset of videos published in December 2019. The study found a news environment on YouTube in which established news organizations and indie news channels “thrive side by side.”

Continue reading YouTube Users Turn to Established and Indie News Channels

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

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

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