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Are VIPs Avoiding Moderation On Facebook? – Forbes

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Are average users subjected to greater scrutiny that VIPs on Facebook? (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA … [+] / AFP via Getty Images)

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The late American businesswoman Leona Helmsley will always be remembered for reportedly saying, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” The touching sentiment earned the hotel tycoon the unofficial title, “Queen of Mean.”

Today, the “little people” not only continue to pay taxes, but often face greater scrutiny when it comes to facing moderation on social media. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook operated a little known program dubbed “XCheck,” which allowed celebrities, politicians and other VIPs to essentially elude the kinds of moderation policies that the average user on the social network might face.

Also known as “cross check,” the program was reportedly created to provide an extra layer of review involving high-profile users – but it has apparently allowed the rich and famous or powerful to side-step actual enforcement. With some 2.8 billion users worldwide, Facebook has no shortage of troubling content that can include misinformation, and the social network has relied on its massive teams of contractors to monitor and even moderate that content.

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According to the paper of record, banning or punishing a user for a particular post(s) is reportedly more complex when they are a VIP. XCheck essentially was a proverbial safety valve of sorts that allowed Facbook to stall or even forego taking actions – including enforcement of its policies – when it involved someone “important.” This was meant to avoid controversy for Facebook.

The process has been described as protecting millions of VIP users today, and it suggests that there may be two sets of rules for users of the platform.

“Facebook’s recently revealed VIP ‘Xcheck’ program is yet another brick in the wall of social discrimination that has divided America the last few years – or decades or centuries,” said James R. Bailey, professor of leadership at the George Washington University School of Business.

“It erodes trust in tech companies that, in truth, have become the equivalent of public utilities,” warned Bailey. “Why should one’s status determine the voice they have on a platform like Facebook, which has always assumed the mantle of ‘vox populi?’ There’s just one reason: money. People want to read what Cardi B has to say, and they want it unedited. That means more people click through, which means advertising revenue. How cyclical. The elite already have plenty of wavelengths. How dare Facebook grant the illuminati access they deny you and me.”

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It would also seem that Facebook has indeed set a different set of rules for the rich and famous.

“From a business perspective it should be understood that Facebook is trying to use the power of influencers’ opinions to attract a more recurring audience, even though in many cases that could lead to a more polarizing environment,” said Eduardo Durazo, professor and coordinator of the Triple Degree Master of Business Administration at CETYS University.

“It is expected that famous people generate opinions that can drive public discussions, so in enabling these leaders to have a broader scope of liberty they are creating the conditions to put out a more likely to engage conversation in its platform,” added Durazo.

The question is whether there will be any implications for Facebook, and whether the “average” user can truly trust Facebook going forward?

“Uneven rules of the game can lead to brand disengagement, since polarizing opinions can also create a hostile environment to interact,” Durzao explained. “Even if Facebook algorithms feed its users with kind-like news and comments, information flows through many digital channels, so eventually users can opt for other platforms to interact that are not biased in its treatment of users.”

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It isn’t likely that even with this disclosure that much will be done. The “little people” will continue to face greater scrutiny than the more famous users on Facebook and other social platforms.

However, Durzao suggested more could be done. “With these policies Facebook steers away from a digital democracy perspective in the sense that the deliberation of the public subjects must be equal for every user, and democracy is still a value cherished by U.S. audiences of all the political sides. Facebook should be more transparent with it’s user rules and algorithms so that everyone has a clear understanding of what to expect when engaging in a discussion with a public figure or a common user.”

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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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