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The ‘Silicon Six’ Spread Propaganda. It’s Time to Regulate Social Media Sites.

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I get it: I’m one of the last people you’d expect to hear warning about the danger of conspiracies and lies. I’ve built a career on pushing the limits of propriety and good taste. I portrayed Borat, the first fake news journalist, along with satirical characters such as Ali G, a wannabe gangster, and Bruno, a gay fashion reporter from Austria. Some critics have said my comedy risks reinforcing old racial and religious stereotypes.

I admit that most of my comedy over the years has been pretty juvenile. However, when Borat was able to get an entire bar in Arizona to sing “throw the Jew down the well,” it revealed people’s indifference to anti-Semitism. When, as Bruno, I started kissing a man in a cage fight in Arkansas and nearly started a riot, it showed the violent potential of homophobia. And when, disguised as an ultra-woke developer, I proposed building a mosque in one rural community, prompting a resident to proudly admit, “I am racist, against Muslims,” it showed a wide acceptance of Islamophobia.

The ugliness my jokes help reveal is why I’m so worried about our pluralistic democracies. Demagogues appeal to our worst instincts. Conspiracy theories once confined to the fringe are going mainstream, fueled in part by President Donald Trump, who has spread such paranoid lies more than 1,700 times to his 67 million Twitter followers. It’s as if the Age of Reason – the era of evidential argument – is ending, and now knowledge is delegitimised and scientific consensus is dismissed. Democracy, which depends on shared truths, is in retreat, and autocracy, which thrives on shared lies, is on the march. Hate crimes are surging, as are murderous attacks on religious and ethnic minorities.

All this hate and violence actually has something in common: It’s being facilitated by a handful of Internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history.

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media platforms reach billions of people. The algorithms these platforms depend on deliberately amplify content that keeps users engaged – stories that appeal to our baser instincts and trigger outrage and fear. That’s why fake news outperforms real news on social media; studies show that lies spread faster than truth.

On the Internet, everything can appear equally legitimate. Breitbart resembles the BBC, and the rantings of a lunatic seem as credible as the findings of a Nobel Prize winner. We have lost a shared sense of the basic facts upon which democracy depends.

When I, as Ali G, asked the astronaut Buzz Aldrin, “What woz it like to walk on de sun?” the joke worked, because we, the audience, shared the same facts. If you believe the moon landing was a hoax, the joke was not funny.

When Borat got that bar in Arizona to agree that “Jews control everybody’s money and never give it back,” the joke worked because the rest of us knew that the depiction of Jews as miserly is a conspiracy theory originating in the Middle Ages.

Social media platforms make it easier for people who share the same false premises to find one another, and then the technology acts as an accelerant for toxic thinking. When conspiracies take hold, it’s easier for hate groups to recruit, easier for foreign intelligence agencies to interfere in our elections and easier for a country like Myanmar to commit genocide against the Rohingya.

Yes, social media companies have taken some steps to reduce hate and conspiracies on their platforms. Yet these steps have been mostly superficial, and the next 12 months could be pivotal: British voters will go to the polls next month while online conspiracists promote the despicable theory of “great replacement” that white Christians are being deliberately replaced by Muslim immigrants. Americans will vote for president while trolls and bots perpetuate the disgusting lie of a “Hispanic invasion.” And after years of YouTube videos calling climate change a “hoax,” the United States is on track, a year from now, to formally withdraw from the Paris agreement.

Unfortunately, the executive of these platforms don’t appear interested in a close look at how they’re spreading hate, conspiracies and lies. Look at the speech Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg delivered last month that warned against new laws and regulations on companies like his.

Zuckerberg tried to portray the issue as one involving “choices” around “free expression.” But freedom of speech is not freedom of reach. Facebook alone already counts about a third of the world’s population among its users. Social media platforms should not give bigots and paedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target victims.

Zuckerberg claimed that new limits on social media would “pull back on free expression.” This is utter nonsense. The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law” abridging freedom of speech, but this does not apply to private businesses. If a neo-Nazi comes goose-stepping into a restaurant and starts threatening other customers and saying he wants to kill Jews, would the restaurant owner be required to serve him an elegant eight-course meal? Of course not. The restaurant owner has every legal right, and, indeed, a moral obligation, to kick the Nazi out. So do Internet companies.

Zuckerberg seemed to equate regulation of companies like his to the actions of “the most repressive societies.” This, from one of the six people who run the companies that decide what information so much of the world sees: Zuckerberg at Facebook; Sundar Pichai at Google; Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google’s parent company, Alphabet; Brin’s ex-sister-in-law, Susan Wojcicki, at YouTube; and Jack Dorsey at Twitter. These super-rich “Silicon Six” care more about boosting their share price than about protecting democracy. This is ideological imperialism – six unelected individuals in Silicon Valley imposing their vision on the rest of the world, unaccountable to any government and acting like they’re above the reach of law. Surely, instead of letting the Silicon Six decide the fate of the world order, our democratically elected representatives should have at least some say.

Zuckerberg speaks of welcoming a “diversity of ideas,” and last year, he gave us an example. He said he found posts denying the Holocaust “deeply offensive,” but he didn’t think Facebook should take them down “because I think there are things that different people get wrong.” This is madness. The Holocaust is a historical fact, and those who deny it aim to encourage another one. There’s no benefit in pretending that “the Holocaust is a hoax” is simply a “thing” that “different people get wrong.” Zuckerberg says that “people should decide what is credible, not tech companies.” But two-thirds of millennials say they haven’t even heard of Auschwitz. How are they supposed to know what’s “credible”? How are they supposed to know that the lie is a lie?

When it comes to removing content, Zuckerberg asked, “where do you draw the line?” Yes, that can be difficult, but here’s what he’s really saying: Removing lies and conspiracies is just too expensive.

Facebook, Google, and Twitter are unthinkably rich, and they have the best engineers in the world. They could fix these problems if they wanted to. Twitter could deploy an algorithm to remove more white supremacist hate speech, but they reportedly haven’t because it would eject some very prominent politicians. Facebook could hire enough monitors to actually monitor, work closely with groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP and purge deliberate lies from their platforms.

But they won’t, because their entire business model relies on generating more engagement, and nothing generates more engagement than lies, fear and outrage.

These companies pretend they’re something bigger, or nobler, but what they really are is the largest publishers in history – after all, they make their money on advertising, just like other publishers. They should abide by basic standards and practices just like the ones that apply to newspapers, magazines, television and movies. I’ve had scenes in my movies cut or truncated to abide by those standards. Surely companies that publish material to billions of people should have to abide by basic standards just like film and television studios do.

Zuckerberg said social media companies should “live up to their responsibilities,” but he’s totally silent about what should happen when they don’t. By now, it’s pretty clear that they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves. In other industries, you can be sued for the harm you cause: Publishers can be sued for libel; people can be sued for defamation. I’ve been sued many times. But social media companies are almost completely protected from liability for the content their users post – no matter how indecent – by Section 230 of, get ready for it, the Communications Decency Act.

That immunity has warped their whole worldview. Take political ads. Fortunately, Twitter finally banned them, and Google says it will make changes, too. But if you pay Facebook, it will run any “political” ad you want, even if it’s a lie. It’ll even help you micro-target those lies to users for maximum effect. Under this twisted logic, if Facebook were around in the 1930s, it would have allowed Adolf Hitler to post 30-second ads on his “solution” to the “Jewish problem.” Here’s a good way for Facebook to “live up to” its responsibilities: Start fact-checking political ads before running them, stop micro-targeted lies immediately, and when ads are false, don’t publish them.

Section 230 was amended last year so that tech companies can be held responsible for paedophiles who use their sites to target children. Let’s also hold them responsible for users who advocate for the mass murder of children because of their race or religion. And maybe fines are not enough. Maybe it’s time for Congress to tell Zuckerberg and his fellow CEOs: You already allowed one foreign power to interfere in US elections; you already facilitated one genocide; do it again and you go to prison.

In the end, we have to decide what kind of world we want. Zuckerberg claims his main goal is to “uphold as wide a definition of freedom of expression as possible.” Yet our freedoms are not only an end in themselves, but they’re also a means to another end – to our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And today these rights are threatened by hate, conspiracies and lies.

A pluralistic democratic society should make sure that people are not targeted, not harassed and not murdered because of who they are, where they come from, who they love or how they pray. If we do that – if we prioritize truth over lies, tolerance over prejudice, empathy over indifference and experts over ignoramuses – maybe we have a chance of stopping the greatest propaganda machine in history. We can save democracy. We can still have a place for free speech and free expression.

And, most important, my jokes will still work.

© The Washington Post 2019

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FACEBOOK

Introducing Star Wars-Themed Messenger Features

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Excited, we are, to celebrate the premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, by giving fans the opportunity to share their passion for the movie through a series of limited-edition Messenger features that include a chat theme, reactions, stickers and AR effects. 

Designed in partnership with Disney, the features bring the Star Wars galaxy to your very own Messenger chats. The reactions and stickers allow you to express yourself using all of your favorite Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker characters, from both sides of the Force.

Phone screens showing Star Wars Messenger chat theme.

We’ve also teamed up with Disney to create limited-edition AR effects that will have you feeling like you’re a part of the galactic action when you’re making Messenger video calls and taking photos using the Messenger camera. First, jump into hyperspace and travel to a whole new world with the Lightspeed Effect. Then, you’ll be able to see yourself as part of the Resistance, gliding through the galaxies in Poe Dameron’s X-Wing with the Cockpit Effect. And don’t forget about the battle of the Dark vs. Light side of the Force! Now, you can use the Dark vs. Light Effect to choose your side. 

Phone screens showing Star Wars AR effects in Messenger

Messenger brings a community of over one billion users closer to the people, places and passions they care about. We are thrilled to be partnering with Disney as they premiere the final installment in the Skywalker saga, one of the most beloved movie franchises of all time.

To turn on the Star Wars chat theme, open a Messenger thread and tap the name of the thread at the top to open the thread settings. Then, select “theme” where you’ll find the Star Wars chat theme. 

May the force be with you! 

The post Introducing Star Wars-Themed Messenger Features appeared first on About Facebook.

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Social Commerce Market Expected to Deliver Dynamic Progression until 2028| Facebook …

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The Social Commerce Market report gives a purposeful depiction of the area by the practice for research, amalgamation, and review of data taken from various sources. The market analysts have displayed the different sidelines of the area with a point on recognizing the top players (Facebook, Pinterest, Tencent, Weibo, Alibaba, Etsy, Fab, LinkedIn, PayPal, Qwiqq, Reddit) of the industry. The Social Commerce market report correspondingly joins a predefined business market from a SWOT investigation of the real players. Thus, the data summarized out is, no matter how you look at it is, reliable and the result of expansive research.

This report mulls over Social Commerce showcase on the classification, for instance, application, concords, innovations, income, improvement rate, import, and others (B2B, B2C, C2C) in the estimated time from 2019–2025 on a global stage. In like manner, the overall Social Commerce market report reveals knowledge identified with the type of product, its applications, customers, prime players, and various components agreeing with the account. This first data demonstrates critical contenders and their definite picture of the general Social Commerce market. Other than this, the report further demonstrates expected market power, challenges, and prospects in the Social Commerce market.

Request for Sample Report @  https://www.intenseresearch.com/market-analysis/global-social-commerce-market-2018-production-sales-supply.html#request-sample

The report gives a broad explanation of the presence of the Social Commerce market in different regions and countries. With an extensive regional analysis of the Social Commerce market, the research analysts make an attempt to unveil hidden growth prospects available for players in different parts of the world. They accurately estimate market share, CAGR, production, consumption, price, revenue, and other crucial factors that indicate the growth of regional markets studied in the report. They also shed light on the presence of prominent players in regional markets, and how it is making a difference in the growth of the regional markets. The main objectives of the research report elaborate the overall market overview on Social Commerce market dynamics, historic volume and value, robust market methodology, current & future trends, Porter’s Five Forces Analysis, upstream and downstream industry chain, new technological development, cost structure, government policies & regulations, etc.

Social Commerce Market report segmentation on Major Product Type: Laptops and PCs, Mobiles, Tablets, E-readers, Internet-enabled TVs

The global version of this report with a geographical classification such as

North America (the United States, Canada, and Mexico)

Europe (Germany, UK, France, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Benelux)

Asia Pacific (China, Japan, India, Southeast Asia, and Australia)

Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia)

The Middle East and Africa

Reason to buy Social Commerce Market Report : –

1) Breakdown of the sales data at the country level, with sales, revenue and market share for key countries in the world, from 2014 to 2019.

2) The Social Commerce competitive situation, sales, revenue and global market share of top manufacturers are analyzed emphatically by landscape contrast.

3) Describe Social Commerce sales channel, distributors, customers, research findings and conclusion, appendix and data source.

4) The details of the competitive landscape outlined in this report are likely to provide an analysis of the prominent industry vendors, their growth profiles, strategies, and tactics, etc., that would help investors in decision-making.

5) To project the size of Social Commerce submarkets, with respect to key regions (along with their respective key countries).

6) To strategically profile the key players and comprehensively analyze their growth strategies.

7) Focuses on the key global Social Commerce players, to define, describe and analyze the value, market share, market competition landscape, SWOT analysis and development plans in the next few years.

This report contributes an overall summary of the global Social Commerce market, including business perspectives, market strategies, assembles data related to various business firms, its year of establishment, contact information, market outline, sales revenue, industry segments, the business’ most prestigious location, and regional presence. The report includes several plans and policies related to the Social Commerce industry, moreover, it describes the management process, product appearance, manufacturing cost, and market volume. In addition, the global Social Commerce market report implicates financial usage, the quantity of product, chain format, demand and supply ratio. This report justifies the various business trends followed by the marketing sectors as well as the distributors of the Social Commerce industry.

Inquiry for Buying a report @ https://www.intenseresearch.com/market-analysis/global-social-commerce-market-2018-production-sales-supply.html#inquiry-for-buying

The next part also sheds light on the gap between supply and consumption. Apart from the mentioned information, the growth rate of the Social Commerce market in 2023 is also explained. Finally, the possibility analysis of new project investment is done in the report, which contains a comprehensive SWOT analysis of the Social Commerce market. 

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Facebook closes Ayatollah Khamenei’s Arabic page

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TEHRAN – Facebook has closed the Arabic page of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which had more than 100,000 followers.

According to Press TV, the page was closed after being recently put under restrictions for allegedly violating the social media giant’s terms of service.

It comes as many observers have criticized Facebook for what they consider the U.S.-based company’s political bias in dealing with online activity.

Last month, the U.S. State Department called on social media giants to take down the accounts of Ayatollah Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif amid protests over petrol prices, which prompted the government to shut off the internet.

“One of the things that we are calling on are social media like Facebook and Instagram and Twitter to shut down the accounts of Supreme Leader Khamenei, Foreign Minister Zarif and President Rouhani until they restore the internet to their own people,” U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told Bloomberg.

In recent years, social media giants – including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – have closed thousands of accounts allegedly tied to Iran and Russia under the pretext of fighting what they call “misinformation” campaigns.

In August 2018, Facebook announced it had targeted hundreds of accounts allegedly tied to Iran and Russia.

“We removed multiple pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram. Some of this activity originated in Iran, and some originated in Russia,” it said.

The targets were identified as “networks of accounts misleading people about what they were doing,” Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said back then.

Among the accounts was one belonging to the Quest 4 Truth (Q4T) Iranian media organization, which promotes Islamic values.

Facebook further wrote in bold text, “We’ve removed Pages, groups and accounts that can be linked to sources the U.S. government has previously identified as Russian military intelligence services. This is unrelated to the activities we found in Iran.”

The Facebook investigation was prompted by a tip-off from cybersecurity firm FireEye.

FireEye has claimed the Iranian activity included “anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes” and advocacy of policies favorable to Iran such as the 2015 nuclear deal, to which the U.S. was a party before pulling out in May 2018 in defiance of the international community.

“It really shows it’s not just Russia that engages in this type of activity,” said Lee Foster, an information operations analyst with FireEye.

Facebook said it had worked closely with law enforcement in both the U.S. and the UK on the investigation, and had briefed the U.S. Treasury Department and State Department as Washington has imposed sanctions on Tehran.

In a simultaneous move, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) also acted on FireEye’s claims and removed hundreds of accounts said to be tied to Iranian “actors,” which are said to be promoting Iran’s geopolitical agenda.

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