Twitter Warns Clearview to Stop Scraping its Users’ Photos

Clearview AI has scraped over three billion photos from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Venmo and hundreds of other websites to create a facial recognition database now used by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and over 600 law enforcement agencies. Twitter just sent a cease-and-decease letter to the startup demanding that it stop taking photos and other data from its site and to delete any data it has already collected. Twitter accused Clearview AI of violating its policies. Continue reading Twitter Warns Clearview to Stop Scraping its Users’ Photos

Fake Facebook Accounts Used AI-Generated Profile Photos

Facebook discovered and removed hundreds of fake accounts with AI-generated profile photos tied to Epoch Media Group, the parent company of news outlet The Epoch Times and other Falun Gong-related publications. The use of artificial intelligence to generate fake photos has long been a concern among computer scientists. Although these fake photos were not the level of those created at Big Tech companies, their widespread appearance on Facebook marks another way that disinformation can invade social media platforms. Continue reading Fake Facebook Accounts Used AI-Generated Profile Photos

Netflix Still Avoids Ads, But Heats Up Its Brand Partnerships

Netflix, which makes almost $16 billion in annual revenue from its 158 million global subscribers, prides itself on being free of advertising. But the company also is $12 billion in debt and facing increasing competition in the streaming video sector from rivals including Apple and The Walt Disney Company. According to eMarketer, Netflix’s “days at the top may be numbered,” and many experts believe that Netflix will eventually have to turn to advertising. Even without ads, however, Netflix is increasing brand engagement. Continue reading Netflix Still Avoids Ads, But Heats Up Its Brand Partnerships

Study Reveals Power, Reach of Paid Influence Campaigns

The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, an independent group that advises the organization, conducted a test to see how well big tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter are doing in filtering out paid influence campaigns that use automated bots and other means to manipulate social media. It did so by hiring 11 Russian and five European companies in the business of selling fake social media engagement and found that a small amount of money could cause a lot of damage. Continue reading Study Reveals Power, Reach of Paid Influence Campaigns

The Human Interface: What We Expect From AI at CES 2020

We’re not going to lie: the annual “heads up CES” piece on artificial intelligence is a major exercise in hit or miss. This is because technology rarely evolves on an annual time scale, and certainly not advanced technology like AI. Yet, here we are once again. Sure, 2019 was as fruitful as it gets in the AI research community. The raw debate between Neural Networks Extremists (those pushing for an “all neural nets all the time” approach to intelligence) and the Fanatical Symbolists (those advocating a more hybrid approach between knowledge bases, expert systems and neural nets) took an ugly “Mean Girl” turn, with two of the titans of the field (Gary Marcus and Yann LeCun) trading real insults on Twitter just a few days ago.  Continue reading The Human Interface: What We Expect From AI at CES 2020

Facebook Takes Additional Steps to Address Data Concerns

Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg warned antitrust regulators that data is not a simple resource that can be easily monopolized but a more complicated commodity that can be shared and kept simultaneously. He urged officials to “relinquish” the idea that data is a finite resource that can be used in finite ways. Facebook and Google are facing scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and European Commission. Meanwhile, Facebook is also testing a data portability tool. Continue reading Facebook Takes Additional Steps to Address Data Concerns

Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract For The Web Is a Plan to Save It

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, co-founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, has a new “global action” plan to save the Internet from what he dubs a “digital dystopia.” His Contract for the Web would require governments, companies and individuals to pledge and act to protect the Internet from abuse and “ensure it benefits humanity.” “We need to turn the Web around now,” said Berners-Lee, who noted that, “people’s fear of bad things happening on the Internet is becoming, justifiably, greater and greater.” Continue reading Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract For The Web Is a Plan to Save It

Big Tech, DARPA Ramp Up Deepfake Research, Detection

Movies and TV shows have combined real and CG images for decades, for the purpose of entertainment. But we’re seeing the rise of deepfakes, which mix fake and real elements in still images or videos with a malignant or harmful aim. Many Big Tech companies that have benefited from letting users post and share photos are now turning their attention to battling deepfakes. According to cybersecurity startup Deeptrace, the number of deepfakes online has nearly doubled to 14,678 from December 2018 to August 2019. Continue reading Big Tech, DARPA Ramp Up Deepfake Research, Detection

Google Reconsiders Micro-Targeted Ads Ahead of Election

Google is tweaking its policies in advance of the 2020 presidential election. The company has decided to restrict just how minutely political advertisers can target an online audience. While advertisers will still be able to target ads based on age, gender, location and content of the websites that users visited, they will no longer be able to target audiences based on public voter records or political affiliations described as “left-leaning,” “right-leaning” or “independent.” Meanwhile, social giant Facebook is considering a similar move. Continue reading Google Reconsiders Micro-Targeted Ads Ahead of Election

WhatsApp and Twitter Manipulated for Political Campaigns

Evidence of social media manipulation for political gain is increasing. In Brazil, in response to an investigation into the spread of misinformation during the last presidential campaign, WhatsApp revealed it banned 400,000+ accounts between August 15 and October 28, 2018, which had “breached its terms of service,” with mass mailings. In the U.K., during a debate between the prime minister and head of the opposition party, the former’s party rebranded its Twitter account with the aim of misleading the public. Continue reading WhatsApp and Twitter Manipulated for Political Campaigns

Twitter Users Can Follow 300+ Subjects via Topics Feature

On November 13, Twitter is launching Topics, a feature aimed at new or intermittent users that allows them to follow more than 300 subjects. By following a topic, the user will see tweets from experts in that arena. Twitter began testing the feature on Android in August. Topics team lead Rob Bishop noted, “the main reason that people come to Twitter is to keep up on the things that they’re interested in … [but] the challenge is it’s really quite difficult to do that on Twitter day to day.” Continue reading Twitter Users Can Follow 300+ Subjects via Topics Feature

Facebook Has Strong Q3, Settles Cambridge Analytica Suit

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg predicted a “tough year” ahead with the lead-up to the 2020 presidential elections, but the company showed strong Q3 earnings. FactSet said Facebook enjoyed $17.7 billion in total sales and $6.1 billion profit, exceeding Wall Street expectations. In after hours trading, shares rose 5 percent, having already risen more than 43 percent to date. Facebook also agreed to pay U.K.’s privacy regulator a £500,000 ($643,000) fine for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Continue reading Facebook Has Strong Q3, Settles Cambridge Analytica Suit

Zuckerberg Responds to Sorkin’s Open Letter of Criticism

Yesterday we reported that Jack Dorsey announced Twitter would ban all political ads, placing pressure on Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider Facebook’s laissez-faire approach to such content. As the CEOs’ opposing philosophies are generating a great deal of media buzz, screenwriter and director Aaron Sorkin published an open letter to Zuckerberg, criticizing the chief executive for not doing his part to stop the spread of misinformation on the social network. In response, Zuckerberg used lines from the Sorkin-penned 1995 film “The American President” to essentially call Sorkin a hypocrite. Continue reading Zuckerberg Responds to Sorkin’s Open Letter of Criticism

Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey revealed yesterday that the social platform would ban all political advertisements. Dorsey believes such content has “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” and that manipulated videos and the spread of misinformation are creating challenges at an “overwhelming scale.” The move adds another layer to the debate over online advertising, social media and free speech — especially in the political arena — and increases the pressure on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider his laissez-faire approach. Continue reading Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter Tackles Abusive Tweets, Ad Glitches Hurt Revenue

Twitter’s shares dropped 20 percent with the news that revenue and profit in Q3 were below Wall Street expectations. The company added six million more users in Q2 — for a total of 145 million — likely due to changes that allow users to follow content of greatest interest to them. Twitter also reported that its machine learning-enabled tools now remove fully half of all the abusive tweets on its platform without relying on anyone to report them. This change is much welcomed given the platform’s persistent problem of abuse. Continue reading Twitter Tackles Abusive Tweets, Ad Glitches Hurt Revenue

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