Connect with us

FACEBOOK

Facebook has a blind spot’: why Spanish-language misinformation is flourishing

Published

on

In the last year, Facebook adjusted some of the most fundamental rules about what gets posted on its platform, halting algorithmic recommendations of political groups, banning lies about vaccines and removing a number of high-profile figures for spreading misinformation and hate – including Donald Trump.

But researchers say the social media platform is not enforcing those policies as effectively when it comes to misinformation in Spanish – a blind spot that may prove deadly as health lies spread through the most vulnerable populations during the global vaccine effort.

“Prior to the election, Facebook was rolling out new enforcement actions and policy updates week after week,” said Carmen Scurato, a senior policy counsel at the civil rights group Free Press who studies Spanish-language misinformation. “But what we are observing is that those enforcement actions don’t seem to be replicated in Spanish.” A spokesman from Facebook said that its policies do apply to English and Spanish content.

“Although before the election we saw Facebook make an effort to take down some disinformation, we did not see that same effort on Spanish content,” echoed Jacobo Licona, the disinformation research lead for Equis Labs, a polling firm focused on Latino voters. “It’s disappointing, and could have a negative impact on Spanish-speaking communities.”

There are more than 59 million Spanish speakers in the US, and the demographic is growing on Facebook. According to Facebook’s own market research data, more than 70% of Latinos who use social media prefer Facebook over other online platforms.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

But Spanish-language content is less often and less quickly moderated for misinformation and violence than English content, research shows. While 70% of misinformation in English on Facebook ends up flagged with warning labels, just 30% of comparable misinformation in Spanish is flagged, according to a study from the human rights non-profit Avaaz.

“Facebook is leaving out the millions of people who speak Spanish at home by failing to apply its community standards equally,” Scurato said. “If you say you are making efforts on your platform for the safety and health of all of us, that has to also include the Latinx community.”

The impact of misinformation

Most misinformation on Facebook today falls into one of two categories: politics, on the one hand, and health and vaccines on the other. Studies found that political misinformation in Spanish on Facebook-owned platforms ran rampant around the 2020 presidential election, remained online longer and spread more widely than similar posts in English.

See also  Battle Creek women take viral Facebook support group IRL

In September, two months before the vote, the US representatives Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida and Joaquin Castro of Texas asked the FBI to investigate disinformation targeting Latinos in Florida, citing a surge in social media posts with “false or misleading information”. Another Avaaz study, published in October 2020, found that more than half of Spanish-speaking voters in Florida had seen misinformation on Facebook in the days leading up to the elections. It is difficult to quantify just how impactful the spread of misinformation surrounding the elections was on the Latino vote, but in some Latino strongholds, support for Joe Biden was significantly lower than expected.

Today, the most prevalent topic for misinformation in Spanish on Facebook is health and vaccine related. In early February, Facebook renewed its efforts to crack down on vaccine misinformation, banning all posts with false claims about vaccines from the platform, whether it is about the Covid-19 vaccine or vaccines in general.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Before that, a third study from Avaaz published in August 2020 found that health misinformation in general on Facebook had gotten 3.8bn views in the previous year, including dozens of Spanish posts with millions of views sharing baseless misinformation such as claims the vaccine contains a microchip to track recipients, that it will alter human DNA and that it was developed by Bill Gates.

Teacher Lizbeth Osuna receives a Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from Walgreens pharmacist Peter Shinneck Chicago.
Teacher Lizbeth Osuna receives a Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from Walgreens pharmacist Peter Shinneck Chicago. Photograph: Shafkat Anowar/AP

Such theories have been cited by many eligible Latino frontline workers in Chicago as reasons they did not want to get vaccinated, said Geraldine Luna, the medical director of the city’s department of public health. Officials there were “very concerned” to see just 18% of eligible Latino and Black residents agreeing to get the vaccine at the beginning of the rollout, she said, adding that health officials have now gotten that number up substantially after weeks of countering misinformation with public health campaigns.

Luna noted that historically, many of the populations most affected by these conspiracy theories have been mistreated by medical and public health establishments, creating a vacuum in which misinformation thrives. “There has been a lot of work to get the right information to the right people and address that history of trauma,” Luna said.

Even though Latinos living in the US are disproportionately affected by Covid-19, a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 26% of Latinos said they would get the vaccine as soon as possible, compared to 40% of whites. “What we are seeing is that a lot of essential workers do not want to get vaccinated because they fear they will be tracked or deported based on information and conspiracy theories they have seen online,” said Oscar Soria, a misinformation researcher at Avaaz.

See also  Racist abuse against footballers puts Facebook under pressure

Why is Spanish-language misinformation spreading?

There are several reasons Spanish misinformation continues to spread on Facebook more widely than English misinformation, researchers say. The company, they say, does not dedicate enough resources to Spanish-language moderation, which includes a failure to hire enough Spanish-speaking workers. Non-human content moderation tools like artificial intelligence may not pick up on the nuance in Spanish.

Facebook appears to be dedicating fewer resources to moderating Spanish content on its platforms than it does for misinformation in English, said Jessica J González, the co-founder of Change the Terms and co-chief executive officer of Free Press, adding that the company has repeatedly been unwilling or unable to answer her questions regarding the size and scope of its Spanish-language moderation teams.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

“This is the fourth most spoken language in the world and the second most spoken language in the US – you have an obligation to dedicate resources to it,” González said.

González noted the importance of a robust and diverse Spanish-speaking moderation force. Spanish is spoken in more than 20 countries globally, each with its own slang and interpretations of words and phrases. She recalled a time when her organization was filing a complaint to the FCC unrelated to Facebook with colleagues from Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico.

“We debated for almost a full day what one sentence in Spanish meant, based on our varied understanding of a couple different words and phrases in that sentence that translated in different ways depending on country of origin,” she said.

Moderation efforts face other challenges. Soria said often there was a higher volume of misinformation being spread by video than by text, making it more difficult for AI to quickly spot. In one example cited by Avaaz in the October 2020 study, it took 22 days for Facebook to label a misinformation video in Spanish falsely claiming that the Covid-19 virus was deliberately created in a lab in China. By that time, the video had reached 33m views. It took nine days for the video to be factchecked by a Facebook partner and then another 13 days for the video to be labelled by Facebook as misinformation.

See also  Facebook's news ban 'experiment' is almost over. Here's what we've learnt

Facebook’s failures to moderate in Spanish also reflect a top-down diversity problem many tech companies face, said González. As of 2019, just 5% of Facebook’s workforce was Latino, according to the company’s yearly diversity report.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Facebook accused of leaning on non-profits

When reached for comment, Facebook would not say what percentage of its budget it dedicates to content moderation or what portion of that is dedicated to Spanish-language moderation in particular. A spokesman said Facebook in the last several years has tripled the number of people working on safety and security for the platform. It now has a team of 35,000, of whom about 15,000 are content reviewers who review content at more than 20 global sites. He added that Facebook has 13 partners in its factchecking network that review Spanish-language content. English-language partners include publications such as USA Today.

“We are taking aggressive steps to fight harmful Covid-19 misinformation on our platforms in dozens of languages, including Spanish,” he said. “We’ve removed millions of pieces of content that could lead to imminent harm under our policies.”

Scurato said Facebook has asked her and others at non-profit organizations to continue to flag misinformation found in their studies. In response, dozens of human rights and Latino advocacy groups have written to Facebook urging it to address its own problems: “Not only does this deplete valuable resources that should be dedicated to directly advocating for and providing services to our community, it is also an exhausting exercise in microaggression pain points of our position and power in the systemically inequitable US tech industry,” they wrote in November.

The groups say Facebook still has not removed a number of Spanish-language posts flagged in the letter exhibiting clear violations of Facebook’s policies on hate speech and misinformation, including calls to build militias and health misinformation.

The problem is not hopeless, however, said Soria, the Avaaz researcher. His organization and others have called on Facebook to not only devote more resources to the issue, but to address the misinformation problem by correcting falsehoods that have spread on the app, potentially sending notifications to users who were exposed to false information. Studies have shown such corrections work, decreasing belief in disinformation by nearly 50%.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

“The bottom line is that Facebook has a blind spot when it comes to Spanish-language misinformation,” Soria said. “But it can and should be fixed. Facebook needs to say ‘basta’ to the spread of misinformation on the platform.”

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 Chats Power a New $48 Billion Market in Social Commerce

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  Messenger at F8 2019 | Messages Sent Between People and Businesses Grow to Over 20B Thanks to…

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  Rust Nibbles - Gazebo: Variants

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