Facebook and Twitter Execs Answer Questions on Capitol Hill

In Washington DC, as Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey were concluding testimony on efforts to repel foreign interference ahead of the midterm elections, Attorney General Jeff Sessions dropped a bombshell. He stated plans to convene state attorneys general on September 25 to look at what the Justice Department said is the intentional “stifling [of] the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.” Google, which had been invited to testify, did not send a representative. Continue reading Facebook and Twitter Execs Answer Questions on Capitol Hill

Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

Senate Intelligence Committee hearings will begin today to examine a host of issues regarding big technology firms, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, and weigh whether the issues might be addressed by legislative or executive actions. Those companies already stand accused of not controlling the use of their platforms to disseminate misinformation and, in general, not taking enough responsibility for content. Meanwhile, conservatives accuse the platforms of bias in policing content. Continue reading Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

Facebook, Twitter Turn to Algorithms to Weed Out Bad Actors

Facebook revealed a ratings system it has been developing over the past year, assigning users a “reputation score” that estimates their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to one. The idea behind the system is to weed out bad actors, according to Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons who is in charge of the battle against fake news. Up until now, Facebook, like other tech companies, has depended on users to report problematic content, but discovered that users began to file false reports about items they said were untrue. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Turn to Algorithms to Weed Out Bad Actors

Facebook Removes Fake Accounts Linked to Iran and Russia

Facebook identified and removed 652 fake accounts, pages and groups from Iran and Russia that were attempting to sow misinformation in several countries. Such campaigns in the past — most notably leading up to the 2016 presidential election — targeted the U.S., but these accounts targeted the U.K., Latin America and the Middle East as well. This discovery is dramatically larger than the 32 pages and accounts that Facebook removed last month. The Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency was indicted for the 2016 campaign. Continue reading Facebook Removes Fake Accounts Linked to Iran and Russia

Microtargeting Is Under the Microscope for Weaponizing Ads

The U.K.’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising called for a moratorium on political microtargeting, deeming it “weaponized ad technology.” That’s the practice whereby brands and advertisers can select who gets a Facebook ad based on specific data including location, interests and even political opinions. Now, in the U.S. and Europe, advertising executives, researchers and government officials are scrutinizing the practice, saying it can be used to manipulate voters and polarize the electorate. Continue reading Microtargeting Is Under the Microscope for Weaponizing Ads

New Research Underlines the Ongoing Strength of P2P Piracy

Anti-piracy company Irdeto has revealed that P2P piracy is booming and still more popular than streaming in several countries. P2P traffic — mostly of the BitTorrent variety — continues to be a significant source of content for streaming portals hosting pirated content. Irdeto’s report comes at a time when Hollywood has focused its attention on streaming sites and services that distribute pirated content. Irdeto’s research examines web traffic to 962 piracy sites in 19 countries where P2P was the “dominant piracy tool.” Continue reading New Research Underlines the Ongoing Strength of P2P Piracy

Facebook Deletes Fake Accounts in Windup to Next Elections

Stating that it had detected a political influence campaign potentially targeting the midterm elections, Facebook removed 32 pages and fake accounts that were active around contentious issues across the political spectrum. One was a sequel to last year’s “Unite the Right” rally and another was a campaign to abolish ICE. Facebook was not able to link the pages to Russia, but officials did say that “some of the tools and techniques” were similar to those used by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency (I.R.A.). Continue reading Facebook Deletes Fake Accounts in Windup to Next Elections

Twitter Takes Stronger Stance Against Misinformation, Spam

In May and June, Twitter deleted more than 143,000 apps that violate its prohibition against using its APIs to automate spam and abuse or breach its privacy rules. The big cleanup is part of Twitter’s overall housekeeping, and includes the removal of “suspicious accounts” from users’ follower lists. According to The Washington Post, Twitter suspended more than 70 million fake accounts. Not all automated accounts are malicious, but the social media platform has been bedeviled by those that are. Continue reading Twitter Takes Stronger Stance Against Misinformation, Spam

Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm Over Data Use Concerns

Facebook just suspended Boston-based analytics firm Crimson Hexagon, which has harvested data from its site and Instagram, to investigate whether the company violated Facebook policies. Crimson Hexagon, which says it has one trillion social media posts, had contracts to analyze public Facebook data with the U.S. government and a Russian nonprofit tied to the Kremlin, as well as other clients, say sources. Facebook has “little oversight” over Crimson Hexagon once it harvests the data. Continue reading Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm Over Data Use Concerns

Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

The British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) levied the toughest fine possible — 500,000 pounds (or about $660,000) — against Facebook for allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal data of millions of people without their consent. The ICO, the agency that enforces the United Kingdom’s data protection laws, began investigating Facebook’s possible misuse of personal data in May 2017, but revelations of the Cambridge Analytica incident spurred it to complete its examination. Continue reading Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Social Media Platforms Ramp Up Removal of Fake Accounts

On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, millions of fake profiles take on the identities of authentic celebrities and public figures in music, movies and politics. Such profiles can be a cover for crimes, as when Australian authorities busted a 42-year old man who impersonated Justin Bieber and racked up 900 child sex offenses. Such social media imposters are so rife that Oprah Winfrey has warned her Twitter followers, and her chief marketing officer Harriet Seitler reported that, due to sheer volume, her team only reports the impostors if the miscreants are trying to scam fans. Continue reading Social Media Platforms Ramp Up Removal of Fake Accounts

2018 FIFA World Cup Is Shattering Live-Streaming Records

Streaming video tech company Akamai, which has been supporting live streaming for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, reports that the tournament is the largest sporting event in which the company has been involved. The World Cup from Russia has experienced a major increase in live-streaming traffic, with the first 10 days surpassing traffic for all 64 matches of the 2014 event in Brazil. According to Akamai, the current tournament has delivered more than twice the streaming video traffic of four years ago and more than 15 times the video delivered in 2010. Continue reading 2018 FIFA World Cup Is Shattering Live-Streaming Records

App Annie Shares Trends of the App Store’s First 10 Years

Apple’s App Store turns 10 on Tuesday, and to commemorate the milestone App Annie has compiled some interesting statistics. For example, consumers have spent $130 billion on iOS apps and have downloaded 170 billion of them. The average iPhone owner has installed more than 100 apps, yet opens less than 40 of them monthly. According to App Annie, social media giant Facebook is the most downloaded app in the history of the App Store, followed by Facebook Messenger, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google Maps, Snapchat and Skype. Continue reading App Annie Shares Trends of the App Store’s First 10 Years

Facebook, Twitter Plan to Minimize Disinformation, Bad Ads

Facebook and Twitter will increase scrutiny of the searchable archives of ads running on their sites, to stop fake news in the months leading up to the midterm elections. Twitter is debuting an Ads Transparency Center to open public view of a database of all ads on its platform, having already established the requirement that anyone running a campaign go through a verification process. Facebook, which also has a database of political ads, now plans to make it easier to find background details on all its platforms. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Plan to Minimize Disinformation, Bad Ads

New YouTube Premium and Music Services Go International

On Monday, YouTube increased international distribution of YouTube Premium, with its streaming hit “Cobra Kai” and other original content — and YouTube Music, with the Beatles’ album catalog. Both services have been available in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea, and the move represents a major push into international territories. YouTube Music, which is offered as an ad-supported free service or as the subscription-based Music Premium, is now available in both forms in the U.K. Continue reading New YouTube Premium and Music Services Go International

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