Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Facing a bipartisan push from Congress to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a liability shield against lawsuits for Internet platforms, tech companies have said they are now ready to discuss it. For 20+ years, Internet platforms have adamantly defended Section 230 but, in recent weeks, both Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey have voiced support for “updating” and/or “expanding” the law. Democrats and Republicans have threatened to repeal Section 230. Continue reading Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Ireland Fines Twitter for Privacy Breach in a First for U.S. Tech

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined Twitter €450,000 (about $546,000) for failing to notify the regulator or document a data breach within 72 hours. The breach, revealed in January 2019, exposed some Android users’ private tweets for over four years. Twitter chief privacy officer Damien Kieran said the company takes responsibility … and remains “fully committed to protecting the privacy and data of [its] customers.” This is the first time a U.S. tech company has been served with a GDPR fine in a cross-border case. Continue reading Ireland Fines Twitter for Privacy Breach in a First for U.S. Tech

Investments in Bitcoin Increase During the COVID Pandemic

Cryptocurrency Bitcoin is on a roll, rising to a record high since the advent of the global coronavirus pandemic. In March it had skidded to below $4,000. This time, however, its growth is not being driven by the same speculative forces that led to its peak of $19,783 in 2017. Instead, American companies and other traditional investors are gravitating to Bitcoin as an alternative asset, similar to gold, that enables them to place part of their financial portfolio outside the influence of governments and the traditional financial systems. Continue reading Investments in Bitcoin Increase During the COVID Pandemic

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

Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

At a Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey reported that their companies made improvements in blocking misinformation during the 2020 presidential election, compared to their inability to stop Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said both companies will face modifications to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects them from liability for user-posted content, and the two chief execs expressed cautious support for the idea. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

Twitter is launching Fleets, a feature that allows users to post photos or text that will disappear after 24 hours. Snapchat pioneered the ephemeral post, followed by Instagram and Facebook. Rollout of the Stories-like feature is moving forward, but has been scaled back as Twitter addresses “some performance and stability problems.” The platform’s “global town square” continues to be its “marquee product” but, said Twitter director of design Joshua Harris, the Fleets feature creates a space with less pressure for users who lurk but don’t post. The company is also testing Spaces, a new audio feature similar to Clubhouse, a startup that debuted earlier this year. Continue reading Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

WhatsApp Debuts Disappearing Messages, Expands in India

In response to the pressure for privacy on social media apps, Facebook-owned WhatsApp debuted a setting to automatically delete messages after seven days. This is intended to make users feel more secure in communicating one-on-one and in group chats. As WhatsApp product manager Zafir Khan noted, “records of most in-person conversations don’t exist forever, so conversations on WhatsApp shouldn’t have to either.” He added that, nowadays, people are “using WhatsApp messaging for very deep and intimate conversations.” Continue reading WhatsApp Debuts Disappearing Messages, Expands in India

Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter chief exec Jack Dorsey and Alphabet/Google chief exec Sundar Pichai faced a combative Senate Commerce Committee this week. Republicans want to update Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that shields Internet platforms from liability for user-generated content. They also claim the platforms censor conservative views. Democrats also want to look at Section 230 but are more focused on whether the platforms are guarding against disinformation as the presidential election looms. Continue reading Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

Adobe Beta-Testing New Tool to Detect Manipulated Images

Adobe released a beta version of a Photoshop tool that will make it easier to determine if an image is real or has been manipulated. The so-called attribution tool, which will first be tested with a select group of people, enables photo editors to attach more detailed, secure metadata to images. In addition to including who created the image, the metadata will provide information on how it was altered and if AI tools were used to do so. Adobe said it will also be clear if the metadata has been tampered with. This could be a step toward combatting deepfakes. Continue reading Adobe Beta-Testing New Tool to Detect Manipulated Images

FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

On the heels of a cyberattack on Twitter this summer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) called for a dedicated regulator to oversee big social media platforms. In a 37-page report, the department described the July 15 attack in which accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were hacked and used to promote a cryptocurrency scam. Three people have since been charged with posing as employees to launch that attack, which relied on relatively simple tactics. Continue reading New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

Silicon Valley Firms Remain Flexible with Remote Workforce

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S., companies sent their employees home to work. Since then, the return-to-work date changed from “a few weeks” to September, and then January. Now, with the virus still problematic in many parts of the country, Google became the first to tell employees they’ll be back July 2021, followed by Airbnb, Slack and Uber and, more recently, Ford Motor Company. Microsoft, Target and The New York Times also plan to return in summer 2021, while Dropbox has made remote working the default for employees. Continue reading Silicon Valley Firms Remain Flexible with Remote Workforce

Twitter Makes Changes to Help Curb Election Disinformation

In advance of the U.S. presidential election, Twitter will temporarily change some of its basic features as well as the site’s look on October 20. Users will get a timeout before they can retweet a post from another account and if a user tries to share content flagged as false, a notice will warn them that Twitter designated the content as inaccurate. Twitter will also “add a label” to any claims of election victory until it is called by election authorities. Twitter hasn’t accepted political advertisements for a year. Continue reading Twitter Makes Changes to Help Curb Election Disinformation

Facebook Detects Malware That Was Being Used for Ad Fraud

Facebook shut down malware out of China that stole user credentials to serve ads for diet pills, sexual health products and counterfeit goods including designer handbags, shoes and sunglasses. The hackers used the consumer’s associated payment method to purchase the ads, at the cost to victims of $4 million. The social media company first exposed these attacks in 2018 and traced them to ILikeAd Media International, filing a civil suit against the firm and the two Chinese nationals who allegedly developed the malware. Continue reading Facebook Detects Malware That Was Being Used for Ad Fraud

Social Media Firms, Marketers Ink Deal to Limit Hate Speech

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter struck a deal with the World Federation of Advertisers to take steps to dampen hate speech and other harmful content on their platforms. In addition to establishing common definitions of such content, the platforms agreed to adopt coordinated reporting standards. Three months ago, many big advertisers boycotted Facebook in the wake of the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests. Facebook also revealed its Oversight Board will begin to hear cases as soon as mid-October. Continue reading Social Media Firms, Marketers Ink Deal to Limit Hate Speech

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