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Shrink Facebook to save the world – bdnews24.com

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>> Shira Ovide, The New York Times 

Published: 27 Sep 2021 10:54 AM BdST
Updated: 27 Sep 2021 10:54 AM BdST

Facebook apps are popular almost everywhere in the world. But we might all be better off if they were not.

The company’s most shameful human toll — its contribution to violence, human trafficking and abuses by authoritarian governments — has mostly happened in countries outside North America and Western Europe, like India, Honduras, Myanmar, Ethiopia and the Philippines.

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What would happen if Facebook retreated from many of the countries where its social network and its Instagram and WhatsApp apps have done profound harm, even as they have given a voice to the voiceless?

Years of horrific headlines have not led Facebook to make consistent progress in addressing its problems. Maybe it is time for the company simply to leave countries like Myanmar and Azerbaijan until it devotes the same level of money, attention and cultural competence to its presence in those places as it devotes to its presence in the US and France. (And Facebook is far from perfect in rich countries.)

I do not blame those of you who think that an American like me is being elitist for suggesting that after “Facebook broke democracy in many countries around the world,” as Filipino journalist Maria Ressa has said, people in those places would be better off without the site.

But maybe we should all ask ourselves radical questions about the horrors of Facebook: Is a better Facebook a realistic option, or is the solution a smaller Facebook? And what if no one can or should operate a hugely influential, lightning-fast communication mechanism for billions of people in nearly every country?

There is a deep irony in my suggestion that a less-global Facebook might be better. The power of people to use the network to express themselves, collaborate and challenge authority is more profound in places where institutions are weak or corrupt and where citizens have not had a voice. It is also in those places where Facebook has done the most harm and where the company and the world have paid the least attention.

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I felt a grim familiarity reading The Wall Street Journal’s series of articles about Facebook — particularly one that detailed how its employees grappled with persistent abuses in developing countries, including the ways drug cartels use Facebook apps to recruit hit men and governments use the network to incite ethnic violence.

Three years after the United Nations concluded that Myanmar’s military turned the social network into a propaganda tool for genocide, The Journal’s reporting suggested that Facebook repeated some of the same mistakes and allowed this to happen again in Ethiopia.

The Journal wrote that, as in Myanmar, Facebook’s staff and computerised systems were not capable of understanding the dialects of most posts that were encouraging violence against a persecuted ethnic group, which the US government said was the target of ethnic cleansing. Ethiopians and Facebook employees had been warning the company of this risk.

How many times do we need to read similar tales from Sri Lanka, Honduras or the Philippines before concluding that perhaps Facebook cannot capably operate in places where people are most vulnerable to online abuses?

Facebook tends to say that it devotes considerable resources outside its home country to identify and delete accounts that spread dangerous propaganda or are otherwise used to mislead or hurt people.

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It is hard to imagine Facebook retreating from the world by choice, but doing so would not be a catastrophic financial hit for the company. While it is true that a vast majority of Facebook users are based outside the US, Canada and Europe, two-thirds of Facebook’s revenue comes from those regions.

Similarly, Amazon generates about 90% of its revenue from just four countries — the US, Germany, Britain and Japan — and few people believe that the company’s global concentration is holding it back.

Running a global internet company is not easy. But it is also hard to watch Facebook be used as a tool for ethnic violence and authoritarian abuse and accept that this is a defensible downside to connecting the world.

© 2021 The New York Times Company

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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.

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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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Facebook Owner Meta Launches New Platform, Safety Hub to Protect Women in India

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Meta (formerly Facebook) on Thursday announced a slew of steps to protect woman users on its platform, including the launch of StopNCII.org in India that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

Meta has also launched the Women’s Safety Hub, which will be available in Hindi and 11 other Indian languages, that will enable more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience, while staying safe online.

This initiative by Meta will ensure women do not face a language barrier in accessing information Karuna Nain, director (global safety policy) at Meta Platforms, told reporters here.

“Safety is an integral part of Meta’s commitment to building and offering a safe online experience across the platforms and over the years the company has introduced several industry leading initiatives to protect users online.

“Furthering our effort to bolster the safety of users, we are bringing in a number of initiatives to ensure online safety of women on our platforms,” she added.

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StopNCII.org is a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

“It gives victims control. People can come to this platform proactively, hash their intimate videos and images, share their hashes back with the platform and participating companies,” Nain said.

She explained that the platform doesn’t receive any photos and videos, and instead what they get is the hash or unique digital fingerprint/unique identifier that tells the company that this is a known piece of content that is violating. “We can proactively keep a lookout for that content on our platforms and once it”s uploaded, our review team check what”s really going on and take appropriate action if it violates our policies,” she added.

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In partnership with UK Revenge Porn Helpline, StopNCII.org builds on Meta’s NCII Pilot, an emergency programme that allows potential victims to proactively hash their intimate images so they can”t be proliferated on its platforms.

The first-of-its-kind platform, has partnered with global organisations to support the victims of NCII. In India, the platform has partnered with organisations such as Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research, and Red Dot Foundation.

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Nain added that the company is hopeful that this becomes an industrywide initiative, so that victims can just come to this one central place to get help and support and not have to go to each and every tech platform, one by one to get help and support.

Also, Bishakha Datta (executive editor of Point of View) and Jyoti Vadehra from Centre for Social Research are the first Indian members in Meta”s Global Women”s Safety Expert Advisors. The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programmes to better support women on its apps.

“We are confident that with our ever-growing safety measures, women will be able to enjoy a social experience which will enable them to learn, engage and grow without any challenges.

“India is an important market for us and bringing Bishakha and Jyoti onboard to our Women”s Safety Expert Advisory Group will go a long way in further enhancing our efforts to make our platforms safer for women in India,” Nain said.

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Facebook Adds New Trend Insights in Creator Studio, Which Could Help Shape Your Posting Strategy

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Facebook’s looking to provide more content insight within Creator Studio with the rollout of a new ‘Inspiration Hub’ element, which highlights trending content and hashtags within categories related to your business Page.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when it becomes available to you, you’ll be able to access the new Inspiration Hub from the Home tab in Creator Studio.

At the right side of the screen, you can see the first of the new insights, with trending hashtags and videos from the last 24 hours, posted by Pages similar to yours, displayed above a ‘See more’ prompt.

When you tap through to the new hub, you’ll have a range of additional filters to check out trending content from across Facebook, including Page category, content type, region, and more.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

That could be hugely valuable in learning what Facebook users are responding to, and what people within your target market are engaging with in the app.

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The Hub also includes insights into trending hashtags, within your chosen timeframe, which may further assist in tapping into trending discussions.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

How valuable hashtags are on Facebook is still up for debate, but you’ll also note that you can filter the displayed results by platform, so you can additionally display Instagram hashtag trends as well, which could be very valuable in maximizing your reach.

Much of this type of info has been available within CrowdTangle, Facebook’s analytics platform for journalists, for some time, but not everyone can access CrowdTangle data, which could make this an even more valuable proposition for many marketers.

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Of course, overall performance really relates to your own creative, and thinking through the action that you want your audience to take when reading your posts. But in terms of detecting new content trends, including hashtag usage, caption length, videos versus image posts, and more, there’s a lot that could be gleaned from these tools and filters.

It’s a significant analytics addition – we’ve asked Facebook for more info on the rollout of the new option, and whether it’s already beyond test mode, etc. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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