Social Media & Big Tech news and discussions

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wjfox
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Twitter tests 'misleading' post report button for first time

56 minutes ago

Twitter is introducing a way to report posts as "misleading" for the first time.

Many of the large social media networks have been accused of not doing enough to fight the spread of disinformation during the Covid pandemic and US election campaigns.

Twitter's reporting function has never offered a clear option for such posts.

It said the new feature was only a test, and will only be available in a few countries to begin with.

"Some people" in Australia, South Korea, and the United States will now see an option for "it's misleading" when trying to report a tweet, the tech giant said.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-58258377
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caltrek
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Why No One Really Knows How Bad Is Facebook’s Vaccine Misinformation Problem
by Shirin Ghaffary
August 16, 2921

https://www.vox.com/22622070/facebook-d ... -academics

Introduction:
(Vox) Is Facebook “killing people” by enabling the spread of Covid-19 misinformation, as President Joe Biden said a few weeks ago? Or is the social media company efficiently purging Covid-19 misinformation from its platform and showing millions of people information about where to get vaccinated, as the company argued a day later in its response to the president?

Biden partially walked back his comments, but the reality is we simply don’t know the true size or effect of Covid-19 misinformation on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram. That’s in large part because Facebook isn’t giving researchers enough of the real-time data they need to figure out exactly how much Covid-19 misinformation is on the platform, who’s seeing it, and how it’s impacting their willingness to get vaccinated. Researchers say they need this kind of data to understand the scope of the misinformation problem, which misleading messages are resonating with people, and how public health officials can counter them.

“Right now, we’re guessing [on] a lot of stuff,” said Katherine Ognyanova, an associate professor of communications at Rutgers University who co-leads the Covid States project, a research group that surveys people about their social media use and Covid-19 behaviors. “We can ask people questions. But Facebook truly has the data about what people have seen and how their attention is being devoted on the platform.”

Over a dozen independent researchers who regularly study Facebook, including six who are specifically researching the spread of information about Covid-19, told Recode that the company makes it difficult for people studying the platform to access vital information, including how many times people viewed Covid-related articles, what health misinformation Facebook takes down, and what’s being shared on private pages and groups.
A point that came out later in the article that I find interesting:
The Covid States Project put out a report in late July showing that Facebook news consumers were less likely to get vaccinated than Fox News viewers
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caltrek
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Social Platforms Wrestle With the Problem of Dealing With the Taliban
by Taylor Hatmaker
August 20, 2021

https://techcrunch.com/2021/08/20/talib ... e-twitter/

Introduction:
(TechCrunch) With the hasty U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan underway after two decades occupying the country, social media platforms have a complex new set of policy decisions to make.

The Taliban has been social-media-savvy for years, but those companies will face new questions as the notoriously brutal, repressive group seeks to present itself as Afghanistan’s legitimate governing body to the rest of the world. Given its ubiquity among political leaders and governments, social media will likely play an even more central role for the Taliban as it seeks to cement control and move toward governing.

Facebook has taken some early precautions to protect its users from potential reprisals as the Taliban seizes power. Through Twitter, Facebook’s Nathaniel Gleicher announced a set of new measures the platform rolled out over the last week. The company added a “one-click” way for people in Afghanistan to instantly lock their accounts, hiding posts on their timeline and preventing anyone they aren’t friends with from downloading or sharing their profile picture.

Facebook also removed the ability for users to view and search anyone’s friends list for people located in Afghanistan. On Instagram, pop-up alerts will provide Afghanistan-based users with information on how to quickly lock down their accounts.

The Taliban has long been banned on Facebook under the company’s rules against dangerous organizations. “The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under U.S. law … This means we remove accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban and prohibit praise, support and representation of them,” a Facebook spokesperson told the BBC.
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caltrek
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Social Platforms Wrestle With the Problem of Dealing With the Taliban
Below are links to a couple of more articles on this subject:

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... p-afghans/

https://www.vox.com/recode/22630869/fac ... fghanistan
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After Weeks of Hate Raids, Twitch Streamers Are Taking a Day Off In Protest
by Ash Parrish
August 31, 2021

https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/31/2265 ... hate-raids

Introduction:
(The Verge) On Wednesday, September 1st, a number of channels on Twitch will go dark as streamers participate in #ADayOffTwitch, a walkout designed to bring attention to the ongoing hate and harassment that’s plagued the platform for the last several weeks.

Created by Twitch streamers ShineyPen, Lucia Everblack, and RekitRaven, the walkout aims to bring greater awareness to the problems creators are suffering on Twitch. The Verge spoke with these organizers, streamers, and others to talk about #ADayOffTwitch, how they’re coping with the precipitous rise of hate raids, and what they hope the platform will do to protect its users in the future.

A Day Off Twitch was born out of the #TwitchDoBetter movement, a hashtag created by streamers affected by the hate raids that have exploded across Twitch in recent weeks. Though the action of bombing a streamer’s chat with racist, sexist, transphobic, and generally abusive messages is not new, the phenomenon has seen a dramatic increase, thanks to users employing bots to overwhelm chats with hundreds of automatically generated messages. In response to what they thought was Twitch’s slow response to the abuse, streamer RekitRaven created the #TwitchDoBetter hashtag to urge the Amazon-owned streaming platform to deploy better tools to stem the tide of harassment.

Twitch has promised that fixes are forthcoming, but in the meantime, streamers are left to contend against the hate raids with community-developed tools and resources. ShineyPen, a Filipino, trans streamer, thought more should be done in addition to talking about the problem, so he decided to organize a walkout. “A Day Off [Twitch] is largely about coming together in solidarity. The one day off is a step in the many steps we have to take towards change,” Shiney tells The Verge.

RekitRaven echoed Shiney’s statements that this walkout is more about solidarity among marginalized streamers than a means to impact Twitch’s bottom line. “I think it’s important to band together for the good of everyone who’s been affected and to show that we’re not gonna back down,” she says.
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WhatsApp fined €225m for privacy breaches

Published 15 minutes ago

WhatsApp has been fined €225m (£193m) by Ireland's data watchdog for breaching privacy regulations.

It is the largest fine ever from the Irish Data Protection Commission, and the second-highest under EU GDPR rules.

Facebook, which owns Whatsapp, has its EU headquarters in Ireland, and the Irish regulator is the lead authority for the tech giant in Europe.

Whatsapp said it disagrees with the decision, and the severity of the fine, and plans to appeal.

The fine relates to an investigation which began in 2018, about whether WhatsApp had been transparent enough about how it handles information.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-58422465


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How Facebook Undermines Privacy Protections for Its 2 Billion WhatsApp Users
by Peter Elkind, Jack Gillum and Craig Silverman
September 7, 2021

https://www.propublica.org/article/how- ... sapp-users

Introduction:
(ProPublica) WHEN MARK ZUCKERBERG unveiled a new “privacy-focused vision” for Facebook in March 2019, he cited the company’s global messaging service, WhatsApp, as a model. Acknowledging that “we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services,” the Facebook CEO wrote that “I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever. This is the future I hope we will help bring about. We plan to build this the way we’ve developed WhatsApp.”

Zuckerberg’s vision centered on WhatsApp’s signature feature, which he said the company was planning to apply to Instagram and Facebook Messenger: end-to-end encryption, which converts all messages into an unreadable format that is only unlocked when they reach their intended destinations. WhatsApp messages are so secure, he said, that nobody else — not even the company — can read a word. As Zuckerberg had put it earlier, in testimony to the U.S. Senate in 2018, “We don’t see any of the content in WhatsApp.”

WhatsApp emphasizes this point so consistently that a flag with a similar assurance automatically appears on-screen before users send messages: “No one outside of this chat, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to them.”

Those assurances are not true. WhatsApp has more than 1,000 contract workers filling floors of office buildings in Austin, Texas, Dublin and Singapore, where they examine millions of pieces of users’ content. Seated at computers in pods organized by work assignments, these hourly workers use special Facebook software to sift through streams of private messages, images and videos that have been reported by WhatsApp users as improper and then screened by the company’s artificial intelligence systems. These contractors pass judgment on whatever flashes on their screen — claims of everything from fraud or spam to child porn and potential terrorist plotting — typically in less than a minute.
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Twitch Sues Two Users for Harassing Streamers With Hate Raids
by Taylor Hatmaker
September 13, 2021

https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/13/twitc ... -lawsuits/

Introduction:
(TechCrunch) Twitch filed a lawsuit late last week against two people on its own platform for running automated hate and harassment campaigns.

The harassment, often targeted at Black and LGBTQ streamers, manifests in a unique Twitch phenomenon as a “hate raid.” On Twitch, creators regularly point viewers toward another friendly account after their stream concludes to boost their audiences, a practice known as a “raid.” Hate raids invert that formula, sending swarms of bots to harass streamers who have inadequate tools at their disposal to block the influx of abuse.

The hate raids leverage Twitch’s new tagging system, which many transgender users had requested to make it easier to build community and to discover content that resonates. In May, Twitch added more than 350 new tags to help viewers sort streams by “gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, ability, mental health, and more.” Accounts spreading abuse now use those tags to target racist, sexist, transphobic and homophobic harassment toward streamers, another unfortunate misuse of a tool explicitly designed to give creators a boost.

In the suit, Twitch described hate raiders as “highly motivated” malicious individuals who improvise new ways to circumvent the platform’s terms of service. Twitch named two users, “CruzzControl” and “CreatineOverdose,” in the suit but the company was unable to obtain their legal names. The users are based in the Netherlands and Austria, respectively, and their activity began in August of this year. Twitch alleges that CruzzControl alone has been linked to 3,000 bot accounts involved in hate raids.

While it’s possible that Twitch won’t be able to identify the real identities of individuals behind the recent harassment campaigns, the lawsuit could act as a deterrent for other accounts directing waves of abuse on the streaming platform.
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Congress Will Investigate Claims that Instagram Harms Teens
by Makena Kelly
September 15, 2021

https://www.theverge.com/2021/9/15/2267 ... arkey-kids

Introduction:
(The Verge) Two top lawmakers on the Senate Commerce Committee’s panel over consumer protection said they were launching a probe into Facebook after The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the company was aware of the harm Instagram can cause to teenage girls.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) announced their investigation into Facebook in a statement released Tuesday. The senators said that they were in touch with “a Facebook whistleblower” and would seek new documents and witness testimony from the company related to the reporting.

“It is clear that Facebook is incapable of holding itself accountable. The Wall Street Journal’s reporting reveals Facebook’s leadership to be focused on a growth-at-all-costs mindset that valued profits over the health and lives of children and teens,” the lawmakers said. “When given the opportunity to come clean to us about their knowledge of Instagram’s impact on young users, Facebook provided evasive answers that were misleading and covered up clear evidence of significant harm.”

House lawmakers also criticized Facebook over the Journal’s new reporting, and Republicans even issued a new amendment to the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation seeking to address tech’s effects on teens. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced the measure that would direct the Federal Trade Commission to go after “unfair and deceptive acts or practices targeting our children’s mental health and privacy by social media.” The amendment failed.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, said in a tweet, “Big Tech has become the new Big Tobacco. Facebook is lying about how their product harms teens.”
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Facebook Says It’s Spent $13 Billion on ‘Safety and Security’ Since 2016
by Adi Robertson
September 21, 2021

https://www.theverge.com/2021/9/21/2268 ... al-reports

Introduction:
(The Verge) Facebook says it’s spent over $13 billion on “safety and security” since 2016 and has 40,000 people dedicated to the area, offering a glimpse at its operations after a week of leaks published by The Wall Street Journal. The company used the numbers as an example of how it’s addressed problems on Facebook and Instagram, saying the Journal’s stories lacked “important context” about complex issues.

“In the past, we didn’t address safety and security challenges early enough in the product development process,” Facebook said in a blog post today. “But we have fundamentally changed that approach. Today, we embed teams focusing specifically on safety and security issues directly into product development teams, allowing us to address these issues during our product development process, not after it.”

The Journal alleged that Facebook knew of serious problems like false COVID-19 information and negative emotional effects on users but delayed fixing them in fear of weakening engagement with its platforms. Facebook executive Nick Clegg issued a rebuttal over the weekend, accusing the paper of “deliberate mischaracterizations of what we are trying to do.”

Much of Facebook’s new response recasts allegations from the Journal in a more positive light — focusing not on whether it acted too late, but on the ways it ultimately responded, like removing 20 million pieces of false COVID-19 and vaccination content and blocking 3 billion fake accounts in the first half of 2021.

If accurate, the new safety and security figures do offer an update on some earlier Facebook numbers. The company has apparently quadrupled its staff in that area since 2017, when it employed 10,000 people and promised to double the number within a year. (The figure includes outside contractors.)
caltrek's comment: All I know is that this year alone, one of my Facebook "friends" had her account hijacked. I received a personal message from somebody representing themselves to be that friend. Apparently, they were trying to get me interested in some scam or another that would probably have involved me divulging private information that would have opened me up to identity theft or some related rip off. I also received a similar such scam message from a completely different "friend." So, security on Facebook leaves something to be desired. Of course, I am sure it could be much worse.
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