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Facebook’s social balance is in the red – Axios

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Facebook is essential to our lives. Facebook is ruining our lives. Holding both these truths at once will make your head hurt.

While covering the Olympics in Tokyo, I spent a ton of time on Facebook. Each day, during several hourlong bus rides, I would see who was online in Messenger and share photos and stories there with family and friends. I also posted frequently on my news feed.

  • I can’t count how many people told me their favorite part of the Olympic experience was living vicariously through my posts, photos and messages on the social network.

Yes, but: For all Facebook’s benefits, and there are many, revelatory reporting keeps piling up stronger evidence of its harms.

  • The same Facebook that makes it easy to share photos and stories from the Olympics also makes it all too easy to spread lies and half truths that carry further and faster thanks to the company’s powerful algorithms and vast reach.

Driving the news: Thanks to a multipart Wall Street Journal series this week, we have learned:

  • Changes Facebook instituted in 2018 to turn down the dial on contentious politics in people’s feeds had the opposite effect, driving extreme views instead.
  • A system called XCheck, the subject of Monday’s story in the Journal series, placed millions of prominent users in a VIP tier that allowed them to break Facebook’s rules with few or no consequences, leaving the door wide open to the spread of harmful content.
  • The Journal also reported how harmful Instagram can be for young girls — a huge issue that comes as the company continues to weigh a separate version of the photo and video service aimed directly at the under-18 set.
  • Another Journal installment Thursday detailed inadequate responses to illegal content from drug trafficking gangs in Mexico, groups inciting ethnic violence in Ethiopia, and human traffickers providing domestic workers to Persian Gulf nations. “Most of our great integrity work over the last 2 years doesn’t work in much of the world,” one Facebook review reported.
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The big picture: While some of these challenges are specific to Facebook, similar problems also plague YouTube, Twitter and other platforms.

Of note: These stories were mostly based on internal reports and documents written by Facebook employees sounding alarms.

  • Facebook has argued that the Journal’s information is outdated and the company has taken many steps to mitigate each problem.

At this point, though, a good portion of the public and the media don’t take the company at its word and don’t trust it to be transparent.

  • Somewhere inside Facebook right now, people are doubtless writing timely reports about its current problems. If we’re lucky, maybe someone will leak them in 2024.

What they’re saying: Instagram head Adam Mosseri, speaking on the Recode podcast, compared Facebook’s social impact to the automobile’s: “Anything that is going to be used at scale is going to have positive and negative outcomes. Cars have positive and negative outcomes.”

  • Many on Twitter jumped on Mosseri to point out how heavily cars are regulated. But Facebook frequently notes its support for updating and expanding internet regulations, as Mosseri did in his interview.
  • More important, maybe, is the way that both autos and social media deliver convenience to users and profit to their makers while offloading their biggest harms — globe-warming carbon emissions, democracy-eroding misinformation — for governments and society to deal with.

Between the lines: Facebook continues to grow around the world, but U.S. numbers for the core Facebook product have stagnated, and it’s losing ground among the young.

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For many, the powerful human connections the service makes no longer outweigh the myriad ways in which Facebook is undermining society — promoting medical misinformation, political extremism, teen self-harm and even mob violence in countries halfway around the globe from the company’s headquarters.

Facebook is right to note that these problems predate the social network’s existence, and that it isn’t solely responsible for social divisions. But it’s accountable to society for what happens on its platform. If it can’t regain the trust of the public and public institutions, it will face new investigations, rules and penalties — on top of a ton already in progress.

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What’s next: The Journal reports have already sparked letters from Congress, and the documents the stories revealed may give investigators at the Federal Trade Commission more ammunition for the cases they are pursuing.

Our thought bubble: Letters and committee hearings won’t change Facebook. Laws and enforcement actions could, but only if they’re bold — and if they can steer clear of the kind of unintended consequences that keep tripping up Facebook itself.

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Updating Special Ad Audiences for housing, employment, and credit advertisers

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On June 21, 2022 we announced an important settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will change the way we deliver housing ads to people residing in the US. Specifically, we are building into our ads system a method designed to make sure the audience that ends up seeing a housing ad more closely reflects the eligible targeted audience for that ad.

As part of this agreement, we will also be sunsetting Special Ad Audiences, a tool that lets advertisers expand their audiences for ad sets related to housing. We are choosing to sunset this for employment and credit ads as well. In 2019, in addition to eliminating certain targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads, we introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. But the field of fairness in machine learning is a dynamic and evolving one, and Special Ad Audiences was an early way to address concerns. Now, our focus will move to new approaches to improve fairness, including the method previously announced.

What’s happening: We’re removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences via Ads Manager beginning on August 25, 2022.

Beginning October 12th, 2022, we will pause any remaining ad sets that contain Special Ad Audiences. These ad sets may be restarted once advertisers have removed any and all Special Ad Audiences from those ad sets. We are providing a two month window between preventing new Special Ad Audiences and pausing existing Special Ad Audiences to enable advertisers the time to adjust budgets and strategies as needed.

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For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

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Impact to Advertisers using Marketing API on September 13, 2022

For advertisers and partners using the API listed below, the blocking of new Special Ad Audience creation will present a breaking change on all versions. Beginning August 15, 2022, developers can start to implement the code changes, and will have until September 13, 2022, when the non-versioning change occurs and prior values are deprecated. Refer below to the list of impacted endpoints related to this deprecation:

For reading audience:

  • endpoint gr:get:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field operation_status

For adset creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/adsets
  • field subtype

For adset editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdCampaign
  • field subtype

For custom audience creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field subtype

For custom audience editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:CustomAudience

Please refer to the developer documentation for further details to support code implementation.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

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Over the coming year, some apps with access to certain types of user data on our platforms will be required to complete the annual Data Protection Assessment. We have made a number of improvements to this process since our launch last year, when we introduced our first iteration of the assessment.

The updated Data Protection Assessment will include a new developer experience that is enhanced through streamlined communications, direct support, and clear status updates. Today, we’re sharing what you can expect from these new updates and how you can best prepare for completing this important privacy requirement if your app is within scope.

If your app is in scope for the Data Protection Assessment, and you’re an app admin, you’ll receive an email and a message in your app’s Alert Inbox when it’s time to complete the annual assessment. You and your team of experts will then have 60 calendar days to complete the assessment. We’ve built a new platform that enhances the user experience of completing the Data Protection Assessment. These updates to the platform are based on learnings over the past year from our partnership with the developer community. When completing the assessment, you can expect:

  • Streamlined communication: All communications and required actions will be through the My Apps page. You’ll be notified of pending communications requiring your response via your Alerts Inbox, email, and notifications in the My Apps page.

    Note: Other programs may still communicate with you through the App Contact Email.

  • Available support: Ability to engage with Meta teams via the Support tool to seek clarification on the questions within the Data Protection Assessment prior to submission and help with any requests for more info, or to resolve violations.

    Note: To access this feature, you will need to add the app and app admins to your Business Manager. Please refer to those links for step-by-step guides.

  • Clear status updates: Easy to understand status and timeline indicators throughout the process in the App Dashboard, App Settings, and My Apps page.
  • Straightforward reviewer follow-ups: Streamlined experience for any follow-ups from our reviewers, all via developers.facebook.com.

We’ve included a brief video that provides a walkthrough of the experience you’ll have with the Data Protection Assessment:

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The Data Protection Assessment elevates the importance of data security and helps gain the trust of the billions of people who use our products and services around the world. That’s why we are committed to providing a seamless experience for our partners as you complete this important privacy requirement.

Here is what you can do now to prepare for the assessment:

  1. Make sure you are reachable: Update your developer or business account contact email and notification settings.
  2. Review the questions in the Data Protection Assessment and engage with your teams on how best to answer these questions. You may have to enlist the help of your legal and information security points of contact to answer some parts of the assessment.
  3. Review Meta Platform Terms and our Developer Policies.

We know that when people choose to share their data, we’re able to work with the developer community to safely deliver rich and relevant experiences that create value for people and businesses. It’s a privilege we share when people grant us access to their data, and it’s imperative that we protect that data in order to maintain and build upon their trust. This is why the Data Protection Assessment focuses on data use, data sharing and data security.

Data privacy is challenging and complex, and we’re dedicated to continuously improving the processes to safeguard user privacy on our platform. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to build a safer, more sustainable platform.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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