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Facebook accused of failing to provide a ‘safe’ environment for users

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Reporters Without Borders has filed a lawsuit against Facebook in France, accusing the platform of failing to provide a “safe” environment for users in violation of its own terms and conditions.

The media advocacy group, which is considering filing similar lawsuits in other countries, said France’s consumer law is especially well suited to the issue. Misleading consumers is illegal under French law and companies face fines of up to 10% of their annual sales if found in violation.

The suit filed with prosecutors in Paris on Monday argues that Facebook has engaged in “deceptive commercial practices” by allowing disinformation and threats to flourish despite promising users that it will “exercise professional diligence” to create “a safe, secure and error-free environment.”

The group, which is based in Paris and also known by its French initials RSF, said in a statement that the promises made in Facebook’s terms and conditions are “largely mendacious” and contradicted by “the large-scale dissemination of hate speech and false information on its networks.”

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To support its claims, Reporters Without Borders cites statements from former Facebook employees, two lengthy reports detailing hate speech and threats made against French journalists, the work of fact-checking organizations and examples of disinformation disseminated on the platform.

Reporters Without Borders said it hopes that prosecutors open an investigation into Facebook. But it also said that it wants Facebook to live up to its commitments. “We expect Facebook to effectively respect the commitments it has made to its consumers, rather than pretending to implement them without this being the case,” the group said.

See also  Against rules, 37.8% 10-year-olds have Facebook accounts, 24.3% on Instagram: NCPCR study

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Facebook said in a statement on Tuesday that it has “zero tolerance for any harmful content on our platforms and we’re investing heavily to tackle hate speech and misinformation.”

“Our enforcement will never be perfect, but while nobody can eliminate misinformation and hate speech from the internet entirely, we continue using research, experts and technologies to tackle them in the most comprehensive and effective way possible,” it added.

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While the lawsuit does not include significant revelations about Facebook, it does underscore the pressure on the company from regulators and advocacy groups around the world to address issues including hate speech and disinformation.

Facebook has tried to address disinformation in various ways, from labeling false claims to reducing its visibility in users’ feeds. But the issue has persisted. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to face questions from lawmakers on Thursday over the role of social media disinformation in the attack on the US Capitol earlier this year.

Facebook is also on a collision course with the media industry in several major economies over compensation for journalism. The company briefly banned news content in Australia earlier this year as lawmakers moved to implement a media code that forces Big Tech to pay publishers for news shared on their platforms.

Facebook has since struck deals with several major publishers in the country.

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See also  Facebook grows in Oregon with data center, fiber-optic cable

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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  Facebook grows in Oregon with data center, fiber-optic cable

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.

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

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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  Against rules, 37.8% 10-year-olds have Facebook accounts, 24.3% on Instagram: NCPCR study

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.


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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.

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