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

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

Facebook Whistleblower Fuels Interest in Tougher Tech Laws

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s Senate testimony Tuesday appears to have fueled congressional desire to pass new regulations on Big Tech. At a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online,” the inquiry expanded well beyond teens’ mental health, ranging from obsequious algorithms to Chinese surveillance of Uyghur populations, COVID-19 vaccine disinformation and speech leading to January’s Capitol insurrection. Calling Facebook “morally bankrupt,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said “Big Tech is facing its Big Tobacco moment,” and urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify. Continue reading Facebook Whistleblower Fuels Interest in Tougher Tech Laws

Whistleblower Contends Facebook Values Profits Over Safety

Whistleblower Frances Haugen said on “60 Minutes” Sunday night that Facebook was cognizant of problems with apps, including Instagram, that allowed misinformation to be spread and caused societal harm, especially among young girls. Haugen revealed on the CBS news show to be the source of documents leaked to The Wall Street Journal that led to congressional inquiry. She also filed eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging Facebook hid research from investors and the public. The former product manager worked for nearly two years on the civic integrity team before exiting the social network in May. Continue reading Whistleblower Contends Facebook Values Profits Over Safety

FTC Is Considering the Need for Stricter Online Privacy Rules

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into establishing stronger online privacy protections that would hold businesses such as Facebook, Google and Twitter more responsible for how they handle consumer data. The early discussions, under the leadership of new chair and vocal Big Tech critic Lina Khan, are addressing the possibility of introducing FTC regulation due to what is perceived as gridlock in Congress in creating a federal law. Privacy and civil rights groups have advocated for a single federal law — similar to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — rather than state laws (or no regulation at all). Continue reading FTC Is Considering the Need for Stricter Online Privacy Rules

Facebook Hits Pause on Instagram App for Users 13 & Under

Facing a Congressional hearing on the potential harmful effects of Instagram on teenage girls, Facebook announced it is pausing work on Instagram Kids, intended for children 13 and under. Facebook says it still plans to build a more age-appropriate Instagram but is holding off in the face of what has become a public relations crisis for the company. “This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today,” explained Instagram head Adam Mosseri. Continue reading Facebook Hits Pause on Instagram App for Users 13 & Under

XCheck System Is Scrutinized by Facebook Oversight Board

Facebook’s semi-independent Oversight Board is scrutinizing the company’s XCheck (or cross-check) system, which permits famous or powerful users to be held to more lenient behavior rules than other users. The inquiry, which calls out “apparent inconsistencies” in the social media firm’s decision-making, follows an investigative report by The Wall Street Journal. XCheck was initially designed as a quality control system for sanctions against high-profile users, including celebrities, politicians and journalists. It eventually grew to encompass millions of accounts, some of whom were “whitelisted,” which rendered them immune from disciplinary actions. Continue reading XCheck System Is Scrutinized by Facebook Oversight Board

Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

Apple’s notoriously strict terms of doing business in its App Store appear to be loosening. A federal judge has ordered the company to allow developers to offer customers alternative payment methods after ruling that all payments go through Apple violate California’s unfair competition laws. Apple is ordered to within 90 days begin allowing developers to include in their apps payment links to processors other than the App Store. Developers now see a path to avoid handing Apple commissions of up to 30 percent for handling sales through the $100 billion online market.  Continue reading Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

Twitter Asks Developers to ID ‘Good Bots’ Using New Badge

Twitter is testing a new feature that allows bots to self-identify with a label on their account profiles. Although the feature will allow users to differentiate automated accounts that perform legitimate services — such as retweeting news, providing customer service, PSAs or community alerts — it will not flag the problematic “bad bots” that spread misinformation and spam. Last year, Twitter requested developers specify if an account was a bot, who was powering it and its intended use. The new automated accounts to designate “good bots” will be issued to more than 500 accounts for testing and feedback before they are made available to all developers. Continue reading Twitter Asks Developers to ID ‘Good Bots’ Using New Badge

Apple Allows Reader Apps to Use Outside Payment Systems

After an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), Apple agreed to let Netflix, Spotify and some other companies use payment methods outside Apple’s App Store when users sign up for subscriptions. Analysts dub the move a “strategic retreat” from what has been a huge source of revenue for Apple. During Epic Games’ lawsuit against the tech giant, lawyers revealed that 81 percent of the App Store’s 2016 revenue came from games, 3 percent from music and 4 percent from other forms of entertainment. Continue reading Apple Allows Reader Apps to Use Outside Payment Systems

Congress Pushes Bill to Spend Billions on Broadband Access

Congress advanced legislation to spend $65 billion to expand high-speed Internet access across the country. The government estimates 14 million U.S. households don’t have broadband, but other sources believe the figure is 40 million or higher. The measure’s allocation of $65 billion for broadband, which in part would subsidize low-income households, would be the biggest ever spent in the United States. Approved by the Senate as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure measure, the measure now faces a vote in the House. Continue reading Congress Pushes Bill to Spend Billions on Broadband Access

Senate Measure Could Impact Developers, App Store Models

The U.S. Senate introduced the Open App Markets Act to give consumers more control over their devices; stop app stores from ‘disadvantaging’ developers and allow them to inform consumers about lower prices and offer competitive pricing; improve the ability of startup apps, third-party app stores and payment services to compete; require devices to allow ‘sideloading’ of apps; and continue to protect privacy, security and safety of consumers. If voted into law, the Act could end Apple and Google’s monopoly over the app ecosystem. Continue reading Senate Measure Could Impact Developers, App Store Models

Intel Chief Warns the Chip Shortage Could Last Through 2023

Experts have warned that the semiconductor shortage will endure, and now Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger has added his voice with the prediction that the shortage could stretch into 2023. Volkswagen also cautioned that the shortage may get worse in the next six months. The chip shortage is not only causing production delays in the auto industry but raising prices for consumer electronics. Gelsinger said it could take one or two years to achieve a “reasonable supply-and-demand balance.” “We have a long way to go yet,” he suggested. Continue reading Intel Chief Warns the Chip Shortage Could Last Through 2023

Senate Judiciary Committee Pursues New Antitrust Legislation

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working together on antitrust legislation similar to some of the measures the House Judiciary Committee approved last month. Grassley has yet to offer specific details of proposed legislation but Klobuchar, who is chair of the judiciary panel’s antitrust subcommittee, said a focus on tech companies that offer their own version of products sold by rivals dependent on their platforms is “at the heart of two of the House proposals.” Continue reading Senate Judiciary Committee Pursues New Antitrust Legislation

House Passes Two Bills in Effort to Foster Scientific Research

In a bipartisan vote, the House passed two bills this week designed to boost U.S. research and development programs. The bills are the House’s response to the Senate’s passage of the Endless Frontier Act that puts significant federal funds into emerging technologies with the aim of competing with China. Instead, the bills passed by the House double the amount of money over the next five years for research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and provides a 7 percent increase for the Energy Department’s Office of Science. Continue reading House Passes Two Bills in Effort to Foster Scientific Research