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Facebook keeps banning Qanon and hate speech. It won’t ever work.

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When the big internet platforms like YouTube and Facebook began to kick hate speech and harmful misinformation off their sites last year, a process that sped up as the pandemic flared and protests against police violence roiled the country, something comedian Sarah Silverman would often say about audiences came to mind: “People go towards love.”

If you begin to push people away from a community for believing bad things, those people, being human, will look for people who accept them.

The gist of her point is that if you begin to push people away from a community for believing bad things, those people, being human, will look for people who accept them, who will show them love, and who will welcome them inside. It’s a nuanced take, one that comes from a place of almost cringeworthy-levels of empathy, that feels relevant as we grapple with communities that have nurtured right-wing extremism and harmful misinformation. Their members, suddenly cut off from the online public square, have found other platforms where they feel more welcome.

Case in point: What did QAnon believers do after YouTube, Twitter and Facebook banned their content? They did not disappear. They went to Parler, briefly, and then to sites like Twitch, where, according to the New York Times, 20 large communities of QAnon and Q-adjacent subscribers have sprung up since last fall. Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, doesn’t think QAnon is a hate group. And, until the Times asked about it, it didn’t think the Proud Boys counted as a hate group either.

No shade against Twitch specifically: They face exactly the same cycle of content moderation headaches that befell Facebook and Twitter, as groups with aggressively controversial and hateful viewpoints colonized small parts of their server space.

Twitch is currently in what I call the “Whac-a-Mole arms race” phase: They’re dealing with smart ideological entrepreneurs who know how to manipulate hashtags and discourse markers (change a single letter!) to circumvent any attempts to moderate whatever pops up.

It is not illegal to believe in racist things, nor is it possible to shame people who believe these things from attempting to find people who think like them.

Misinformation researchers have worried about the “moving toward love” problem for a while. Censoring views does not, in the networked commons, get rid of them. Far from it, in fact. It is not illegal to believe in racist things, nor is it possible to shame people who believe these things from attempting to find people who think like them.

As much as we might complain about Facebook and Twitter and their echo chambers, the reality was that people with extremist views were exposed to contrary opinions fairly frequently, especially if their algorithm seemed to be tweaked toward engagement.

On the one hand, seeing the other side take umbrage at your content is a great motivator; on the other, it reminds you, on a subtle level, that you’re still part of a larger community and bear some responsibility to it. But if you suddenly find yourself in a smaller space where people believe the same things you do, your responsibility narrows.

Your beliefs become more virulent, even if you’re not able to spread them as quickly. When you do recruit someone new — say, to a Twitch stream, or to a Discord group, or to a private Telegram chat — they’re likely to be more like you, a true believer who has been kicked out of some other community.

And then there are the folks who decide to get violent. Say what you will about Facebook’s inability to take down #StoptheSteal groups before the January insurrection — and there’s a lot to say — at least Facebook had visibility, which meant it could (and did) work with law enforcement to find its users who used the platform to organize the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Banned by Facebook, many turned to platforms where the anonymity of the content and the security of the interactions were the point. Even Zoom, the go-to app for pandemic meetups, wasn’t immune. PBS found a healthy migration of militia content to the online teleconferencing platform in the wake of Facebook’s post-election attention to election misinformation.

Similarly, Telegram and other apps that offer closed groups have become prolific spreaders of harmful misinformation. I don’t endorse wide surveillance of speech as a matter of principal, but there is no easy way for aspirational violent movements to be monitored after they’ve been forced to use platforms that can’t moderate their content without a tip-off.

The same goes for misinformation: A doctor friend of mine found his way into a closed Telegram group for teenagers who liked to spread beauty tips. My friend tried to correct what he considered to be harmful misinformation in real time, only to be kicked out of the group by the moderator. When I suggested that he might have taken a different tack — maybe contacting the moderator privately or building a community within that community of teens who wanted medically correct information — he told me that he simply did not have the time.

Indeed, who does have the time and the bandwidth? It takes significant, often herculean psychological resilience to stand up to purveyors of misinformation, and the costs to people who try can be significant.

There is no easy way for aspirational violent movements to be monitored after they’ve been forced to use platforms that can’t moderate their content without a tip-off

If I could re-engineer the internet, I would endorse the “protocols, not platform” approach that Mike Masnick, editor of the Techdirt blog, recently described. Masnick suggests far fewer restrictions on speech and far more interoperability between platforms in a way that allows for people to curate their own experiences with more agency. In other words, make it easier for people inside closed communities to pull in alternative sources of information. Dropping the “walls” that platforms have put up (think of how Twitter and Facebook operate as entirely different digital universes) and allowing for a marketplace of filtering mechanisms could change our entire online experience.

The end result would be that fewer bad actors are kicked off major platforms, but it would also mean that they don’t end up nurturing their grievances in private corners of the internet. This would require us to expand our empathy for atrocious viewpoints; but it could also mean the internet would, in the main, be a lot safer.

CORRECTION (May 4, 2021, 8:46 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated the parent company of Twitch. It is Amazon, not Google.

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What Do Facebook Ads Have To Do With The Uyghur Genocide?

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In recent months, several reports suggested a concerning link between Facebook ads and the Uyghur genocide. In March 2021, Epoch Times reported on “evidence linking Facebook ad revenue to Chinese companies profiting from that genocide.” They indicated that one of the companies “continues selling through Facebook hair it admitted was from Uyghurs. Similar companies ‘suggested’ by the social media platform appear also to be selling Uyghur hair. Since a woman’s long hair is highly valued in Uyghur culture, the hair products being sold are almost certainly a product of the ongoing persecution, and not donated or sold freely.” These allegations come months after, in August 2020, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) seized over 13 tons of human hair products from Xinjiang. 

In this photo illustration a Facebook logo seen displayed on...

In this photo illustration a Facebook logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration: … [+] Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook did not respond to these allegations that it profited from ads linked to Uyghur genocide. Yet it did not take long before Facebook became the centre of attention again, because of its links with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which stands accused of committing genocide against the Uyghurs.

In April 2021, the WSJ reported that “some Facebook staff are raising concerns on internal message boards and in other employee discussions that the company is being used as a conduit for state propaganda, highlighting sponsored posts from Chinese organizations that purport to show Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs thriving in China’s Xinjiang region, according to people familiar with the matter.” Reportedly, “a Facebook spokesman said that the ads taken out by Beijing pertaining to Xinjiang don’t violate current policies so long as the advertisers follow Facebook’s rules when purchasing them. He said the company is monitoring reports of the situation in Xinjiang ‘to help inform our approach and due diligence on this issue.’”

WSJ further reported that “Facebook hasn’t determined whether to act on the concerns, say people familiar with the matter. The company is watching how international organizations such as the United Nations respond to the situation in Xinjiang, one of the people said. The U.N. this week called on firms conducting Xinjiang-linked business to undertake “meaningful human rights due diligence” on their operations.”

Such responses to very serious allegations of benefiting from Uyghur genocide are highly inadequate. We are talking about atrocities targeting a religious group with methods including torture and abuse, rape and sexual violence, separation of children from their parents, forced sterilizations, forced abortions, forced labor and much more.

Waiting for the response from the U.N. cannot be seen as the right policy to address serious allegations of genocidal atrocities, especially considering stagnation at the U.N. and China’s powerful position there. While States and U.N. experts have been calling for action, and among others, for unfettered access to Xinjiang, this request has been ignored by the Chinese government. And so the vicious circle of impunity continues.

One would expect that Facebook would conduct a comprehensive review of the allegations and evidence in support. Ultimately, Facebook should make sure that they sever any ties with atrocities against the Uyghurs.

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Eutelsat Expands Use of Express Wi-Fi in Partnership With Facebook to Extend Wi-Fi Connectivity …

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PARIS–()–Regulatory News:

Eutelsat Communications (Paris:ETL) (Euronext Paris: ETL) is expanding its use of the Express Wi-Fi platform in partnership with Facebook to provide broadband services via satellite across several regions in Sub-Saharan Africa. With Express Wi-Fi, Eutelsat aims to connect thousands of people in rural and underserved communities spanning Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Express Wi-Fi is a platform developed by Facebook Connectivity that enables partners to build, grow and monetize their Wi-Fi businesses in a scalable way, while providing their customers with fast, affordable, and reliable internet access. Express Wi-Fi is used in more than 30 countries, including in multiple Asian, South American and African markets, helping millions of people connect over Wi-Fi.

Eutelsat and Facebook have previously conducted successful pilots in rural and underserved areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) enabling local businesses to offer affordable internet access to customers on a pre-paid basis. To date, Eutelsat’s use of the Express Wi-Fi platform has enabled access to affordable broadband for thousands of individuals across the DRC.

Philippe Baudrier, General Manager of Konnect Africa commented: “We are delighted to partner with Facebook in this ambitious scheme, aimed at getting more people online in the most underserved areas of sub-Saharan Africa. This initiative is the perfect example of the power of satellite connectivity to bridge the digital divide, with unmatched economic and social benefits. We are proud once again to leverage the unparalleled coverage of EUTELSAT KONNECT to satisfy this growing demand.”

“At Facebook, we’re committed to working with partners to help expand connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa, which continues to be the region with the highest coverage gap,” said Fargani Tambeayuk, Head of Connectivity Policy for Sub-Saharan Africa, Facebook. “Connectivity is essential to ensuring access to jobs, education, healthcare and more. We’re proud to partner with Eutelsat to combine the power of the Express Wi-Fi platform and EUTELSAT KONNECT, with the goal of increasing satellite broadband coverage across rural and underserved areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.”

About Eutelsat Communications


Founded in 1977, Eutelsat Communications is one of the world’s leading satellite operators. With a global fleet of satellites and associated ground infrastructure, Eutelsat enables clients across Video, Data, Government, Fixed and Mobile Broadband markets to communicate effectively to their customers, irrespective of their location. Over 6,600 television channels operated by leading media groups are broadcast by Eutelsat to one billion viewers equipped for DTH reception or connected to terrestrial networks. Headquartered in Paris, with offices and teleports around the globe, Eutelsat assembles 1,000 men and women from 46 countries who are dedicated to delivering the highest quality of service.

For more about Eutelsat go to www.eutelsat.com

About Facebook Connectivity


Connectivity is at the heart of Facebook’s mission to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Critical to this mission is high-quality internet access, which gives people a voice and creates opportunities to share knowledge that can strengthen local communities and global economies. Facebook Connectivity works closely with partners including mobile network operators, equipment manufacturers and more to develop programs and technologies—including Express WiFi, Magma and Terragraph—that increase the availability, affordability and awareness of high-quality internet access, bringing more people online to a faster internet. To learn more, visit: https://connectivity.fb.com

www.eutelsat.com – Follow us on Twitter @Eutelsat_SA

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Facebook Removes Ukraine’s ‘Fake’ Political ‘Influence-for-hire’ Network

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Reuters Photo

Reuters Photo

Facebook attributed the network to individuals and entities including politician Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian lawmaker blacklisted by the United States.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated:May 07, 2021, 14:04 IST
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Facebook Inc (FB.O) has taken down a network of hundreds of fake accounts and pages targeting people in Ukraine and linked to individuals previously sanctioned by the United States for efforts to interfere in U.S. elections, the company said on Thursday. Facebook said the network managed a long-running deceptive campaign across multiple social media platforms and other websites, posing as independent news outlets and promoting favourable content about Ukrainian politicians, including activity that was likely for hire. The company said it started its probe after a tip from the FBI.

Facebook attributed the activity to individuals and entities sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department including politician Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian lawmaker who was blacklisted by the U.S. government in September over accusations he tried to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election won by President Joe Biden. Facebook said it removed Derkach’s accounts in October 2020.

Derkach told Reuters he would comment on Facebook’s investigation on Friday.

Facebook also attributed the network to political consultants associated with Ukrainian politicians Oleh Kulinich and Volodymyr Groysman, Ukraine’s former prime minister. Kulinich did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Groysman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Facebook said that as well as promoting these politicians, the network also pushed positive material about actors across the political spectrum, likely as a paid service. It said the activity it investigated began around 2015, was solely focused on Ukraine and posted anti-Russia content.

“You can really think of these operators as would-be influence mercenaries, renting out inauthentic online support in Ukrainian political circles,” Ben Nimmo, Facebook’s global influence operations threat intelligence lead, said on a call with reporters.

Facebook’s investigation team said Ukraine, which has been among the top sources of “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” that it removes from the site, is home to an increasing number of influence operations selling services.

Facebook said it removed 363 pages, which were followed by about 2.37 million accounts, and 477 accounts from this network for violating its rules. The network also spent about $496,000 in Facebook and Instagram ads, Facebook said.

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