Connect with us

FACEBOOK

26 words at stake for internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter

Published

on

Democrats and Republicans in Congress are taking aim at a controversial law that shields internet platforms including Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. from lawsuits over content posted by users.

The measure — just 26 words known as Section 230 — now faces its biggest reckoning since it was included in the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Calls to revise it grew in the months before the November election and intensified after the deadly attack on Congress by then-President Donald Trump’s loyalists.

Trump and his GOP allies claim Section 230 gives companies leeway to censor conservative speech, an assertion he repeated on Sunday at a right-wing gathering in Florida. Democrats accuse the same Internet platforms of failing to curb misinformation and hate speech, arguing that Trump’s posts on election fraud fueled the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Even some on Wall Street are pointing fingers at the shield after market turbulence caused by a horde of retail investors using online chat forums targeted stocks like GameStop Corp.

While industry lobbyists have urged a cautious approach, a House panel has already summoned the chief executive officers of Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter to testify at a March 25 virtual hearing on misinformation and disinformation on their platforms. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called for more regulation of the internet and said he’s open to reforming Section 230.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Still, even with Democrats controlling Congress, any bill would need bipartisan support in the Senate to clear the 60 vote threshold to advance legislation. That means lawmakers will need to negotiate and compromise at a time when they have been deeply divided.

New measures to redraw Section 230 are expected in the coming weeks. Here’s a guide to the proposals on the table:

Hate speech and civil rights

Safe Tech Act: The Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism and Consumer Health (SAFE TECH) Act was the first Section 230 bill introduced in the Senate this year. Released on Feb. 5 by Democratic Senators Mark Warner of Virginia, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the bill has no Republican support to date.

Highlights: The legislation would hold tech companies liable for content falling within four categories: civil rights, international human rights, antitrust and stalking, harassment or intimidation. It would clarify that companies can be held liable for wrongful death actions, meaning families could sue platforms that may have contributed to a person’s death.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

The measure would dramatically change the underlying law to limit companies’ liability protections by treating them as a publisher of any paid content on their platforms. That includes advertising that generates rich profits for Google, Twitter and Facebook. It narrows the liability provision to cover only third-party “speech,” instead of the catchall term “information” in the original law. It would also allow victims to seek court orders when a company fails to address material that’s “likely to cause irreparable harm.”

See also  The Norfolk waterway that is too rude for Facebook - Great Yarmouth Mercury

Support and opposition: The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Anti-Defamation League have backed the bill.

NetChoice, which represents large tech companies like Facebook and Google, opposes the bill, saying it “guts” Section 230.

“Not only would the bill chill free speech on the internet, it would also revoke Section 230 protections for all e-commerce marketplaces” such as Etsy Inc., said Carl Szabo, the group’s vice president and general counsel, in a statement. “Small sellers across the country would lose access to customers all over the world at a time when entrepreneurs need that access most.”

What’s next: Representative Yvette Clarke, a Democrat from New York, is working on a more narrowly focused bill known as the Civil Rights Modernization Act. That would amend Section 230 to ensure federal civil rights laws apply to tech companies’ targeted advertisements in an effort to stop the spread of hate speech online. Clarke said in an interview she wants to uncover how the platforms promote civil rights violations and ensure they curb hate speech “so it doesn’t get to the point of harm to the American people or American institutions.” She plans to introduce the measure in several weeks.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Democratic Representatives Anna Eshoo of California and Tom Malinowski of New Jersey are planning to reintroduce the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act. The bill would remove a platform’s liability shield if its algorithm is used to amplify or recommend content that incites hate speech, violence or acts of terrorism. “These companies have shown they won’t do the right thing on their own,” Eshoo told Bloomberg.

Content moderation and consumer rights

Pact Act: The bipartisan Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act was introduced in the Senate in June 2020. Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, and Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, cosponsored the bill.

See also  Killi Introduces Facebook Unveil Allowing Consumers Access To Data Attributes That May Have ...

Highlights: It would require “large online platforms” to remove content within 24 hours if notified of a court determination that the content is illegal. Companies would be required to issue quarterly reports, including data on content that’s been removed, demonetized, or deprioritized. It would also allow consumers to appeal content-moderation decisions. The legislation would allow the U.S. Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to pursue civil lawsuits for online activity.

Support and opposition: The measure is supported by the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, which works to combat illegal online pharmacies. NetChoice and digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation oppose the bill.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

The Internet Association, which represents companies including Amazon.com Inc., Google and Facebook, said it appreciates the bill’s effort to promote transparency and accountability in content moderation, but raised concerns about the broad reporting requirements and said the measure should be narrowed to exclude smaller internet companies. The group said the highly detailed requirements would be “extremely burdensome.”

What’s next: The PACT ACT is expected to be reintroduced this month, according to a person familiar with the matter. 

In the House, Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, is expected to introduce the Online Consumer Protection Act within weeks. As chair of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee overseeing consumer protection issues, Schakowsky would lead any effort to reform how Section 230 impacts consumer safety. Her measure, which was circulated in draft form last year, would remove liability protections if platforms violate their terms of service and allow for FTC enforcement and consumer lawsuits.

The bill would require social media companies and online marketplaces to create consumer protection policies that define whether content can be blocked, removed, or modified. The policy would also need to describe how a user will be notified if content is being removed and how to appeal a removal. Schakowsky said her bill would ensure “that consumer rights in the physical world extend to the virtual world.”

Child Exploitation

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Earn IT Act: The bipartisan Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act was introduced in the Senate in March 2020, and was advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, introduced the bill last year.

See also  Facebook Provides Tips on Effective Brand Performance Measurement in Latest 'Social Skills' Video

Highlights: It would allow for state civil and criminal lawsuits as well as federal civil lawsuits if companies advertise, promote, present, distribute or solicit child sexual abuse material. The legislation would also establish a National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention that would create voluntary best practices for the industry. An amendment last Congress removed the original language that conditioned the liability protection on companies enacting the best practices.

Support and opposition: The bill is supported by sex trafficking survivor groups including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

The Internet Association said it supports the goal of ending child exploitation online, but said the bill would “create a harmful lack of coherence” with state laws and said it plans to work with lawmakers on improvements to the bill.

What’s next: The bill is expected to be reintroduced this Congress, according to a Blumenthal spokesperson. Senator Dick Durbin, from Illinois, has backed the bill. As the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Durbin could shepherd it this Congress.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Industry opposition

The Internet Association said that Section 230 strikes a “careful balance” between protecting companies from lawsuits and encouraging them to proactively remove hate and extremist speech online. Removing the protections would create a disincentive for companies to moderate any content for fear of being sued, the group says.

The group also says legislation often can’t keep up with the evolving nature of the internet, and that onerous legal requirements could run startups out of business.

“Imposing overly prescriptive and burdensome requirements through legislation or regulations will negatively impact the internet ecosystem,” the trade group told Congress in testimony last year.

Still, many of the companies recognize that some change to the measure is inevitable and are prepared to work with lawmakers to help hammer out proposals — also in the interest of avoiding more draconian measures.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Subscribe to Mint Newsletters

* Enter a valid email

* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Read More

FACEBOOK

Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

Published

on

By

facebook-meta-earns-the-‘worst-company-of-2021’-title-in-this-survey-–-news18
Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.

Yahoo Finance notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.

See also  Facebook Is Working With Full Force On Its New Venture “Bulletin” To Jump Into Subscription ...

However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.

On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.

Advertisement
free widgets for website
Continue Reading

FACEBOOK

Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

Published

on

By

facebook-pays-1.7-cr-fine-to-russia-after-failing-to-delete-content-moscow-deems-illegal

In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.

In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.

Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws

It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.

See also  Covid-19: Facebook rejects businessman's jab advert

Russian social media laws

As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.

Continue Reading

FACEBOOK

Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Published

on

By

Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

See also  Vaccine Hunters: Here's how locals are using Facebook to find leftover vaccine doses

Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

Continue Reading

Trending