Facebook reportedly reaches $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission


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Facebook has reportedly reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over repeated privacy violations, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, the FTC voted this week to approve a $5 billion settlement, which has now moved to the Justice Department’s civil division for review. It is unclear how long the review will take.

A Facebook spokesman declined to comment or confirm the report. The Washington Post and New York Times later confirmed the details in the Journal’s report.

The Journal reported that the FTC voted along party lines, with three Republican commissioners voting in favor of the settlement and two Democratic commissioners voting against it. Aside from the fine, it is unclear what the settlement…

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The White House social media summit was full of hypocrisy — and comedy


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President Trump Delivers Remarks at the Presidential Social Media Summit at the White House

At the White House today, amid much concern that conservative voices are being silenced by social media platforms, President Donald Trump (after a “morning of tweets [that] was off the rails, even by his standards”) stood before a group of activists to deliver a message of support. “Some of you are extraordinary,” the president said. “The crap you think of is unbelievable.”

Unfortunately, as we discussed here yesterday, the crap that conservative voices think of does not always reach the maximum possible audience. Sometimes conservatives do not appear as high as they would like to in search results. Sometimes they get suspended, or even banned. This has led to much conspiratorial thinking that liberal-leaning Silicon Valley is throttling…

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Twitter goes down during White House social media summit


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Twitter appeared to be down for a large number of users across the United States on Thursday. The company confirmed the issue to The Verge, saying, “We are currently investigating issues people are having accessing Twitter. We’ll keep you updated on what’s happening here.” The outage, which began around 2:40PM ET, took place as conservative activists gathered at the White House to complain about their treatment by social media companies.

This month has seen several high-profile outages among social networks. Facebook and Instagram experienced a day-long outage affecting large parts of the world on July 3rd. LinkedIn went down for several hours on Wednesday. (Sadly, service was later restored.)

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The White House’s social media summit has an ulterior motive


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President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday.

With questions swirling about the growing size and influence of social networks, the president is determined to get some answers. And so in a bid to resolve the many outstanding concerns about the role of platforms in society, the Trump Administration on Thursday has organized a “social media summit” most notable for not inviting representatives for any of those platforms.

The summit has been peopled instead with meme makers, founders of alternative social networks, and conservative activists. The guest list is so far removed from a pre-Trump era White House policy summit that even those invited weren’t quite sure the invitation was real. Here’s Elizabeth Culliford reporting for Reuters:

When conservative meme-maker Carpe Donktum got an…

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Twitter is writing new rules when it could just enforce existing ones


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Last August, as it inched toward banning Alex Jones from its platform, Twitter invited the New York Times to sit in on a meeting about why it was taking so long. It would later emerge that Jones had already violated the company’s rules at least seven times, but CEO Jack Dorsey still hesitated to pull the trigger. By the meeting’s end, Dorsey had instructed his underlings to create a new policy banning “dehumanizing speech.”

The underlings spent the next year trying to figure out what that meant.

A sweeping draft policy was posted in September. Today, the company unveiled the finished product: an update to its rules on hateful conduct narrowly banning speech that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion. It is no longer kosher to call…

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Twitter is writing new rules when it could just enforce existing ones


This post is by Casey Newton from The Verge - All Posts


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Last August, as it inched toward banning Alex Jones from its platform, Twitter invited the New York Times to sit in on a meeting about why it was taking so long. It would later emerge that Jones had already violated the company’s rules at least seven times, but CEO Jack Dorsey still hesitated to pull the trigger. By the meeting’s end, Dorsey had instructed his underlings to create a new policy banning “dehumanizing speech.”

The underlings spent the next year trying to figure out what that meant.

A sweeping draft policy was posted in September. Today, the company unveiled the finished product: an update to its rules on hateful conduct narrowly banning speech that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion. It is no longer kosher to call…

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The ugly side of Facebook’s pivot to privacy is starting to show


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It’s been four months now since Facebook announced its intention to invest more heavily in private groups and messaging, and recently that effort has gotten a major marketing push. Walk through the Montgomery BART station in San Francisco and you’ll see ads for Facebook Groups plastering every wall, each emblazoned with the anodyne slogan “more together.”

In years past, such a launch might have been greeted with a collective shrug from the press. (The launch of Facebook Live in 2016 also involved a takeover of Montgomery Station, and passed with little fanfare — at least until a rash of violent live streams drew their attention.) But the increased focus on groups this year has come with energetic scrutiny from journalists — a sign of how…

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Internet outages are getting more serious


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The Interface will be off Thursday for the 4th of July holiday.

Facebook spent the last day before a long weekend like so many of us, abruptly shutting down without its boss’ permission without any regard for its coworkers. Jake Kastrenakes reports:

Facebook has had problems loading images, videos, and other data across its apps today, leaving some people unable to load photos in the Facebook News Feed, view stories on Instagram, or send messages in WhatsApp. Facebook says it is aware of the issues and “working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.” It blamed the outage on an error that was triggered during a “routine maintenance operation.”

The issues started around 8AM ET and began slowly clearing up after a couple…

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A conservative audit of Facebook’s speech policies is running behind schedule


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On Monday, a left-leaning civil rights audit of Facebook urged the company to expand its ban on white nationalist content by purging additional words, phrases, and symbols from the social network. The audit had been announced a year ago to address allegations of bias on Facebook, and the company has now offered two updates about the steps it has taken in response to auditors’ findings.

But the civil rights audit represents only half of Facebook’s efforts to seek independent review of its potential biases, and the other one has largely gone missing. On May 1st, 2018 — the same day it announced the civil rights audit — the company said it had formed a “conservative advising partnership.” As Sara Fischer reported at the time in Axios:

The…

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A Facebook civil rights audit could have unintended consequences


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As a longtime listener of her show, I was delighted to speak with Terry Gross on today’s edition of Fresh Air. The subject was my recent pieces on Facebook content moderators. Give it a listen!

By May of 2018, Facebook had received sustained criticism that the platform consistently enabled civil rights abuses. (Much of the criticism came after articles published by ProPublica demonstrating various ways that Facebook’s advertising platform could promote discrimination.) In response, the company announced that it had commissioned an independent civil rights audit — an effort to understand how Facebook promotes discrimination, and to develop recommendations for improvement.

In December, Facebook posted its first update about the audit,…

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Facebook’s Supreme Court for content moderation is coming into focus


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Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg made an appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival. In keeping with the spirit of the event, Zuckerberg brought some ideas. The big ones:

Facebook was right not to remove the doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Zuckerberg said it should have been flagged as misleading more quickly, but defended leaving it up. (I basically agree with him on this one.)

”This is a topic that can be very easily politicized,” Zuckerberg said. “People who don’t like the way that something was cut…will kind of argue that…it did not reflect the true intent or was misinformation. But we exist in a society…where we value and cherish free expression.”

But Facebook will treat deepfakes differently than other forms of…

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Project Veritas’ YouTube sting was deeply misleading — and successful


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My esteemed colleague Russell Brandom leads our policy team. He was struck by the disingenuous response from conservative lawmakers to the most recent video sting from Project Veritas, which presented YouTube employees in an unfair light. Russell asked if he could take over the column today, and I was happy to oblige. I’ll be back tomorrow with thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance at the Aspen Ideas festival.

James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has been on a tear against Google lately, with the most recent salvo coming this Monday. Like most of O’Keefe’s work, it’s deceptively edited and doesn’t add up to much, but he managed to catch one executive in a pretty poor choice of words. In a hidden camera conversation with Jen Gennai,…

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A social network banned support for Trump. Will others follow?


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An activist with a “pink pussy hat” participates in front of the Brandenburg Gate in a demonstration for women’s rights on January 21st in Berlin, Germany.

Two quick self-promotional items: I went on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday with one of my sources for last week’s piece on Facebook moderators, and I encourage you to check it out. I’ll also be doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything on Tuesday at 9A PT / 12P ET; I’ll tweet the link when it’s available from my Twitter account.

Last week, freshman Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley — who is actively cultivating a reputation for being a hard-ass when it comes to regulating tech companies — unveiled a deeply misguided idea for promoting free speech on large tech platforms. Makena Kelly reported the details for The Verge:

Under Hawley’s “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act,” companies could be stripped of that immunity if they exhibit political…

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Three ways YouTube could fight harassment


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Last summer, during tech platforms’ long period of indecision over what to do about Alex Jones, I wondered why their community standards so often seemed to favor the bully over his victims. Algorithms built by YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter all worked to recruit new followers for Jones, but when some of those followers then forced parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting to go into hiding, the platforms offered no support.

That’s why I was heartened on Tuesday to learn that YouTube is changing its policies to make victims of Sandy Hook, 9/11, and other historical tragedies a protected class. That means YouTubers will no longer be able to upload videos denying that these historical events happened. That reduces the…

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YouTube just banned supremacist content, and thousands of channels are about to be removed


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YouTube is changing its community guidelines to ban videos promoting the superiority of any group as a justification for discrimination against others based on their age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status, the company said today. The move, which will result in the removal of all videos promoting Nazism and other discriminatory ideologies, is expected to result in the removal of thousands of channels across YouTube.

“The openness of YouTube’s platform has helped creativity and access to information thrive,” the company said in a blog post. “It’s our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence.”

The changes announced on…

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With an antitrust case looming, Apple’s new login tool is tempting fate


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On Monday, at its Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, Apple introduced a privacy-focused login tool called “Sign in with Apple.” Like similar products from Facebook and Google, Apple’s login tool will authenticate you into various apps made my third-party developers. But unlike the Facebook and Google products, Apple’s is designed to share as little data with developers as possible. If offers fine-grained permission controls to let you opt out of sharing your full name or email address, for example. And if you do choose to share your email address, Apple will generate a random alias for you and forward it to your real account.

When Craig Federighi introduced the idea on stage, it struck me as a powerful and attractive alternative…

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US antitrust enforcement is coming back from the dead


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Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) asks a question at a hearing on July 12th, 2018 in Washington, DC. Cicilline has announced a broad new antitrust inquiry into tech giants

As tech companies acquired billions of users, and competition has withered, the United States paid only passing interest to antitrust concerns. Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram were approved without a hitch; Amazon successfully crushed other online retailers by temporarily lowering prices; Google began promoting its own search results (and affiliate marketing links) over those of competitors like Yelp and Expedia.

But perceptions of the internet giants began to turn in the aftermath of the 2016 election, which also produced a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats, and a swelling field of Democratic presidential candidates (led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren) who increasingly favor antitrust enforcement.

That leads…

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Facebook should do more to stop malicious propaganda videos


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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during her weekly news conference on May 23rd in Washington, DC. 

I.

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that a video purporting to show House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slurring her words was racking up millions of views and shares on social networks, with Facebook leading the way on engagement. In reality, the (still unknown) creator of the video had slowed footage of Pelosi to 75 percent the speed of the original, while adjusting the pitch of her voice to make it sound more natural. The result was catnip for conservative partisans eager to paint the congresswoman as a drunken buffoon.

The video’s rapid spread around the internet sparked new fears that our politics were on the cusp of being radically and irreversibly changed by the introduction of digitally altered propaganda. Over the weekend, the…

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Democratic presidential candidates agree: Big Tech is too powerful


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On Monday I noted here a growing consensus among Democratic presidential candidates that Big Tech in general, and Facebook specifically, should perhaps be broken up. Sen. Kamala Harris said “we have to seriously take a look” at breaking up Facebook. Joe Biden said a breakup of Big Tech is “something we should take a really hard look at.” And you’re likely familiar with the plan of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who led the pack in this regard.

Today, three more developments on that front.

One, Sen. Bernie Sanders has now signed on to Warren’s plan. Makena Kelly reports in The Verge:

On Capitol Hill yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a Democratic frontrunner, told Politico that he supports his colleague and presidential competitor Sen….

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