Facebook Apologizes for Providing Researchers Flawed Data

Facebook apologized to researchers this week for data released years ago but only recently outed as inaccurately representing how U.S. users interact with posts and links. Reaching out via email and on a conference call with 47 people, the social media giant attempted to mitigate the harm caused by academics and analysts who have already spent about two years studying what they now say, and Facebook seems to agree, is flawed data about how misinformation spreads on its platform. The problem was identified as Facebook having underreported by about half the number of U.S. users and their data. Continue reading Facebook Apologizes for Providing Researchers Flawed Data

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

Facebook Rolls Out Its Neighborhoods Feature in Four Cities

Facebook tested “Neighborhoods” in Canada and is now rolling it out in four U.S. cities: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; Newark, New Jersey; and San Diego, California. The new feature will be playing catch-up with similar social apps, including Nextdoor (which had 50 percent annual growth in daily active users last year), Amazon’s Neighbors by Ring, and crime-tracking app Citizen. Facebook’s Neighborhoods, which asks the user to introduce himself and list interests, aims to personalize the user’s experiences and ads. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Its Neighborhoods Feature in Four Cities

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 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