Connect with us

FACEBOOK

Facebook’s vaccine stance is part of a familiar pattern, says author and NYTimes journalist

Published

on

Today, in a new report about “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on its platform, Facebook states that it last month removed hundreds of accounts across its Facebook and Instagram platforms that were tied to anti-vaccination disinformation campaigns operated from Russia. In one campaign, says the company, a newly banned network “posted memes and comments claiming that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine would turn people into chimpanzees.” More recently, in May, the same network “questioned the safety of the Pfizer vaccine by posting an allegedly hacked and leaked


AstraZeneca document,” says Facebook.

The company publishes such reports as a reminder to the public that it is focused on “finding and removing deceptive campaigns around the world.” Still, a new New York Times investigation into Facebook’s relationship with the Biden administration suggests that the company continues to fall short when it comes to tackling misinformation, including, currently, around vaccine misinformation.

We talked about that reported disconnect earlier today with Sheera Frenkel, a cybersecurity correspondent for the New York Times and recent co-author, with New York Times national correspondent Cecelia Kang, of “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination,” which was published in June. Our conversation has been lightly edited for length.

TC: This big story right now about Facebook centers on it shutting down the accounts of NYU researchers whose tools for studying advertising on the network violated its rules, according to the company. A lot of people think those objections don’t hold water. In the meantime, several Democratic senators have sent the company a letter, grilling it about its decision to ban these scholars.  How does this particular situation fit into your understanding of how Facebook operates? 

SF: I was struck by how it fit a pattern that we really showed in [our] book of Facebook taking what seems like a very ad hoc and piecemeal approach to many of its problems. This action they took against NYU was surprising because there are so many others that are using data in the way that NYU is, including, private companies and commercial firms that are using it in ways that we don’t fully understand.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

With NYU, the academics there were actually quite transparent and how they were collecting data. They didn’t hide what they were doing. They told journalists about it, and they told Facebook about it. So for Facebook to take action against just them, just as they were about to publish some research that may have been critical of Facebook and may have been damaging to Facebook, seems like a one off thing and really gets to the root of Facebook’s problems about what data the company holds about its own users.

See also  Ratnagiri Collectorate's Facebook page hacked - UNITED NEWS OF INDIA

TC: Do you have any sense that investigators in the Senate or in Congress may demand more accountability for more recent industry indiscretions, such as the events of January 6? Typically, there comes a point where Facebook apologizes over a public flap . . . then nothing changes. 

SF: After the book came out, I spoke to one lawmaker who read our book and said, ‘It’s one thing if they apologized once, and we saw a substantial change happen at the company. But what these apologies are showing us is that they think they can get away with just an apology and then changing really surface level things but not getting to the root of the problem.’

So you brought up January 6, which is something that we know Congress is looking at, and I think that what lawmakers are doing is going a step beyond what they usually do . . . they’re taking a step back and saying, ‘How did Facebook allow groups to foment on the platform for months ahead of January 6? How did its algorithms drive people toward these groups? And how did its piecemeal approach to removing some groups but not others allow this movement known as stop-the-steal really take off. That’s fascinating because, until now, they haven’t taken that step back to understand the whole machinery behind Facebook.

TC: Still, if Facebook is not willing to share its data in a more granular way, I wonder how fruitful these investigations will really be.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

SF: We reported in the New York Times that Facebook, when asked by the White House for this prevalence data on COVID — the idea being how prevalent is COVID misinformation — couldn’t give it to the White House because they didn’t have it. And the reason they didn’t have it is that when their own data scientists wanted to start tracking that over a year ago at the start of the pandemic, Facebook did not give them the resources or the mandate to start tracking the prevalence of COVID misinformation. One thing lawmakers can do is pressure Facebook to do that in the future and to give the company firm deadlines for when they want to see that data.

See also  Facebook Inc (FB) COB and CEO Mark Zuckerberg Sold $12.1 million of Shares

TC: Based on your reporting, do you think there’s a reporting issue within Facebook or that these unclosed information loops are by design? In the book, for example, you talk about Russian activity on the platform leading up to the 2016 elections. You say that the company’s then chief security officer, Alex Stamos, had come up with a special team to look at Russian election interference relatively early in 2016, but that after Donald Trump won the election, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg said they were clueless and frustrated and they didn’t know why they weren’t presented with Stamos’s findings earlier.  

SF: As we were doing reporting for this book, we really wanted to get to the bottom of that. Did Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg avoid knowing what there was to know about Russia, or were they just kept out of the loop? Ultimately, I think only Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg can answer that question.

What I’ll say is that early on, about a week or two after the 2016 elections, Alex Stamos goes to them and says, ‘There was Russian election interference. We don’t know how much; we don’t know the extent. But there definitely was something here and we want to investigate it. And even after being told that startling news, Mark Zuckerberg [and other to brass] didn’t ask for daily or even weekly meetings to be updated on the progress of the security team. I know this is the chief executive of a company and as the CEO [he has] a lot on [his] plate. But you would think if your security team said to you, ‘Hey, there was an unprecedented thing that happened on our platform. Democracy was potentially harmed in a way that we didn’t foresee or expect,’ you would think that as the head of the company, you’d say, ‘This is a really huge priority for me, and I’m going to ask for regular updates and meetings on this.’ We don’t see that happen. And that let’s them monthly to be able to say, ‘Well, we didn’t know. We weren’t totally up to date with things.’

See also  Facebook lures top Democrat to its D.C. lobbying ranks - POLITICO

TC: In the meantime, industry participants remain very interested in where regulation goes. What are you watching most closely?

Advertisement
free widgets for website

SF: In the next six months to a year, there are two things that are fascinating to me. One is COVID misinformation. It’s the worst problem for Facebook, because it’s been growing on the platform for close to a decade. It’s got deep roots across all parts of Facebook. And it’s homegrown. It’s Americans who are spreading this misinformation to other Americans. So it challenges all Facebook’s tenets on free speech and what it means to be a platform that welcomes free speech but also hasn’t drawn a clear line between what free speech is and what harmful speech is, especially during the time of the pandemic. So I’m really curious to see how they handle the fact that their own algorithms are still pushing people into anti vaccine groups and are still promoting people that definitely off the platform spread incorrect information about about COVID.

The second thing for me is that we’re going into a year where there are a lot of really important elections to be held in other countries with populist leaders, some of whom are modeling their use of Facebook after Donald Trump. After banning Donald Trump. I’m very curious to see how Facebook deals with some of these leaders in other countries who are testing the waters much in the same way that he did.

Read More

Advertisement
free widgets for website

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  School posts on Facebook could threaten student privacy

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  International Yoga Day 2021: Inspirational quotes and wishes for WhatsApp and Facebook status

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  Facebook Gaming Expands Licensed Music Access to Level Up Creators - Adweek

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