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Facebook, Instagram Parent Meta Releases First Human Rights Report for 2020, 2021

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Facebook-owner Meta released its first annual human rights report on Thursday, following years of accusations that it turned a blind eye to online abuses that fueled real-world violence in places like India and Myanmar.

The report, which covers due diligence performed in 2020 and 2021, includes a summary of a controversial human rights impact assessment of India that Meta commissioned law firm Foley Hoag to conduct.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have demanded the release of the India assessment in full, accusing Meta of stalling.

In its summary, Meta said the law firm had “noted the potential for Meta’s platforms to be connected to salient human rights risks caused by third parties,” including “advocacy of hatred that incites hostility, discrimination, or violence.”

The assessment, it added, did not cover “accusations of bias in content moderation.”

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Rights groups for years have raised alarms about anti-Muslim hate speech stoking tensions in India, Meta’s largest market globally by number of users.

Its top public policy executive in India stepped down in 2020 following Wall Street Journal reporting that she opposed applying the company’s rules to Hindu nationalist figures flagged internally for promoting violence.

In its report, Meta said it was studying the India recommendations but did not commit to implementing them as it did with other rights assessments.

Asked about the difference, Meta Human Rights Director Miranda Sissons pointed to United Nations guidelines cautioning against risks to “affected stakeholders, personnel or to legitimate requirements of commercial confidentiality.”

“The format of the reporting can be influenced by a variety of factors, including security reasons,” Sissons told Reuters.

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Sissons, who joined the company in 2019, said her team is now comprised of eight people, while about 100 others work on human rights with related teams.

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In addition to country-level assessments, the report outlined her team’s work on Meta’s COVID-19 response and Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses, which involved flagging possible privacy risks and effects on vulnerable groups.

Sissons said analysis of augmented and virtual reality technologies, which Meta has prioritized with its bet on the “metaverse,” is largely taking place this year and would be discussed in subsquent reports.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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Instagram Story Time Limit Increased to 60 Seconds: Report

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Instagram is reportedly increasing the time limit for Instagram Stories to 60 seconds, from the earlier limit of 15 seconds. Previously, Instagram Stories that were longer than 15 seconds would be broken up into separate segments. The social media company is said to have begun testing the change with select users towards the end of last year. Earlier this month, Instagram rolled out parental supervision tools and Family Center in India. Meta had announced the parental supervision tools and the Family Center tool back in March. The company was recently slapped with EUR 405 million (roughly Rs. 3,200 crore) fine for violating strict European Union data privacy rules.

According to a recent report by TechCrunch, Instagram confirmed that it is increasing the time limit of Instagram stories to 60 seconds from the earlier limit of 15 seconds. Previously, if a user had posted a video longer than 15 seconds, it used to get broken up into smaller segments. This made the process of uploading videos to Instagram Stories more challenging, including tagging and mentioning other users.

As mentioned earlier, Instagram is said to have begun testing the new change with select users towards the end of last year.

Earlier this month, Instagram also rolled out parental supervision tools and Family Center in India. The Family Center is a place for parents and guardians to access supervision tools and resources from leading experts. These tools will let them see the screen time spent by their kids on Instagram and impose time limits. The new parental controls are part of Meta’s attempts to protect children who actively use its social media apps.

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Instagram was recently slapped with a EUR 405 million (roughly Rs. 3,200 crore) fine for violating strict European Union data privacy rules. The Meta-owned social media platform was found mishandling the personal information of teenagers. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission’s investigation revealed that Instagram displayed the personal information of users between the age of 13 and 17 years. Instagram’s parent Meta said it disagrees with the way the fine was calculated and has expressed its desire to appeal the fine imposed by the regulator.

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Elon Musk, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal Said to Postpone Depositions Ahead of Upcoming Trial

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk won a reprieve from questioning by Twitter lawyers Monday, according to several press reports. The billionaire had been scheduled to give a deposition in his high-stakes court fight with Twitter over whether he has to follow through with his agreement to buy the social platform for $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,37,465 crore).

Instead, Musk’s questioning was postponed to a future date. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who was also scheduled to face Musk lawyers on Monday, likewise postponed his deposition, according to a person who was briefed on the matter.

The Musk postponement was reported by Bloomberg, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, all of which attributed the information to anonymous sources.

News of the postponements fueled a brief rally in Twitter shares, which jumped 5.4 percent to $43.03 (roughly Rs. 3,500), apparently on hopes of a settlement in the case. That enthusiasm waned later in the day. Twitter shares closed Monday at $41.58 (roughly Rs. 3,300), eight cents higher than they opened.

Court watchers said that such postponements are not unusual ahead of major pretrial hearings. A hearing on several significant pretrial motions is scheduled for Tuesday.

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Both men were expected to answer questions posed by opposing lawyers ahead of an October trial that will determine who is at fault for the seeming collapse of Musk’s Twitter bid, not to mention who owes whom large sums of money as a result. The trial is set to begin October 17 in Delaware Chancery Court, where it’s scheduled to last just five days.

Musk, the world’s richest man, agreed in April to buy Twitter and take it private, offering $54.20 (roughly Rs. 4,180) a share and vowing to loosen the company’s policing of content and to root out fake accounts. In July, he attempted to back out of the deal, leveling a number of charges at Twitter as justification for his action.

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Twitter subsequently sued Musk to force him to complete the acquisition.


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WhatsApp Call Links Support Rolling Out, 32-Member Group Video Call Testing Also Begins

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WhatsApp on Monday announced that it will roll out Call Links later this week.

By Gadgets 360 Staff | Updated: 26 September 2022 18:33 IST

WhatsApp Call Links Support Rolling Out, 32-Member Group Video Call Testing Also Begins

WhatsApp on Monday announced that it will roll out Call Links to allow users to start a new call or join one with a single tap. The Meta-owned messaging service will make it easier for users to share call links when the feature rolls out later this week. WhatsApp will also begin testing group video calls for up to 32 people.

This is a breaking news story. Details will be added soon. Please refresh the page for latest version.

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