Sunday, October 24News That Matters

Tag: Computers and the Internet

In India, Facebook Struggles to Combat Misinformation and Hate Speech

In India, Facebook Struggles to Combat Misinformation and Hate Speech

Business
On Feb. 4, 2019, a Facebook researcher created a new user account to see what it was like to experience the social media site as a person living in Kerala, India.For the next three weeks, the account operated by a simple rule: Follow all the recommendations generated by Facebook’s algorithms to join groups, watch videos and explore new pages on the site.The result was an inundation of hate speech, misinformation and celebrations of violence, which were documented in an internal Facebook report published later that month.“Following this test user’s News Feed, I’ve seen more images of dead people in the past three weeks than I’ve seen in my entire life total,” the Facebook researcher wrote.The report was one of dozens of studies and memos written by Facebook employees grappling with the effe...

Key takeaways from Week 7 of the Elizabeth Holmes trial.

Technology
SAN JOSE, Calif. — In the seventh week of the fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the failed blood-testing start-up Theranos, testimony moved away from science and into discussions of faked demonstrations and misleading marketing.In previous weeks, jurors heard from former Theranos lab employees who detailed the blood-testing technology and retail partners who testified about how the start-up had failed to hit deadlines or achieve agreed-upon goals.This week, prosecutors focused on Ms. Holmes’s alleged deceptions, trying to make the case that she intentionally misled Theranos’s investors, commercial partners and the United States military. Ms. Holmes faces 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.Here are the key takeaways from the week’s proceedings.Faked de...

Facebook Employees Warned About Election Misinformation, to Little Effect

Technology
WHAT HAPPENED 1. From Wednesday through Saturday there was a lot of content circulating which implied fraud in the election, at around 10% of all civic content and 1-2% of all US VPVs. There was also a fringe of incitement to violence. 2. There were dozens of employees monitoring this, and FB launched ~15 measures prior to the election, and another ~15 in the days afterwards. Most of the measures made existings processes more aggressive: e.g. by lowering thresholds, by making penalties more severe, or expanding eligibility for existing measures. Some measures were qualitative: reclassifying certain types of content as violating, which had not been before. 3. I would guess these measures reduced prevalence of violating content by at least 2X. However they had collateral damage (remov...
Eating Disorders and Social Media Prove Difficult to Untangle

Eating Disorders and Social Media Prove Difficult to Untangle

Technology
On Twitter, creators routinely share advice for crash diets and encourage disordered eating, and some amass tens of thousands of followers in the process. Twitter’s algorithms automatically suggest related accounts and topics for users to follow, based on the accounts they view. When a Twitter user views accounts that promote eating disorders, Twitter recommends topics like “fashion models,” “fitness apps & trackers,” “mindful eating” and “workout videos.”Twitter said that its policies prohibit content that promotes eating disorders or provides instructions or strategies for maintaining them, and that the company primarily relies on users to report violative content. A spokeswoman for the company said that its topic recommendations differed by account.“While we remove content that viol...
Google said it had successfully ‘slowed down’ European privacy rules, according to lawsuit.

Google said it had successfully ‘slowed down’ European privacy rules, according to lawsuit.

Technology
WASHINGTON — Google said in an internal document that it had successfully “slowed down” European privacy rules in collaboration with other tech companies, according to a legal filing released on Friday.Ahead of a 2019 meeting with other major tech companies, Google said in a memo that it had “been successful in slowing down and delaying” the European Union’s ePrivacy Regulation process and had been “working behind the scenes hand in hand with the other companies,” according to the filing.The new details appeared in an unredacted version of a lawsuit filed by Texas and 11 other states, which argued that Google had abused its dominance over the intricate technology that delivers ads to consumers online. News organizations, including The New York Times, had asked the judge in the case to remo...
Hackers Lay Claim to Trump’s Social App Before Its Launch

Hackers Lay Claim to Trump’s Social App Before Its Launch

Technology
Former President Donald J. Trump declared on Wednesday evening that he would start a “media powerhouse.” Its flagship operation would be Truth Social, a Twitter-like social network that would “stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech,” he said in a statement.Within two hours, hackers had gained access to a private version of the social network, creating fake accounts for Mr. Trump; the far-right personality Stephen K. Bannon; Ron Watkins, the QAnon conspiracy theorist; and Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, who barred Mr. Trump from Twitter after his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.Using a false “donaldjtrump” account, hackers posted images of defecating pigs, wrote expletive-laced rants aimed at Mr. Dorsey and inquired about the whereabouts of the former first lady Melania Trump....

Russia Strengthens Its Internet Censorship Powers

Technology
Russia’s boldest moves to censor the internet began in the most mundane of ways — with a series of bureaucratic emails and forms.The messages, sent by Russia’s powerful internet regulator, demanded technical details — like traffic numbers, equipment specifications and connection speeds — from companies that provide internet and telecommunications services across the country. Then the black boxes arrived.The telecom companies had no choice but to step aside as government-approved technicians installed the equipment alongside their own computer systems and servers. Sometimes caged behind lock and key, the new gear linked back to a command center in Moscow, giving authorities startling new powers to block, filter and slow down websites that they did not want the Russian public to see.The proc...
Can We Have Healthy Conversations Online?

Can We Have Healthy Conversations Online?

Technology
You probably know the worst parts best: The trolling, the misinformation, the spats that quickly become political and escalate out of control. But conversations that happen on the internet can also be civil and informative.There’s the Facebook group Vaccine Talk, which uses a mix of rules and active moderation to create a culture of fact-based information sharing. There are forums on Reddit that take on heated topics while steering clear of insults. And Twitter recently launched a new product to support healthy conversations called “Communities.”What can we learn from the spaces where fruitful conversations happen? What are these groups doing that’s working so well?In this Times virtual event, Shira Ovide, who writes the subscriber-only newsletter On Tech, will explore the forces behind th...

The True Cost of Upgrading Your Phone

Technology
Let’s talk about buying an iPhone for $1,000. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, once compared this eye-popping price tag to buying a cup of coffee a day over a year. No big deal, right?But financial advisers see this differently. By some estimates, an investment of $1,000 in a retirement account today would balloon to about $17,000 in 30 years.In other words, $700 to $1,000 — the price range of modern smartphones — is a big purchase. Fewer than half of American adults have enough savings set aside to cover three months of emergency expenses, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet one in five people surveyed by the financial website WalletHub thought a new phone was worth going into debt for.Tech companies fairly argue that our smartphones are our most powerful tools for work and play a...

Museums Use Technology to Stir Interest in the Artistic Past

Technology
This article is part of our latest Fine Arts & Exhibits special report, about how art institutions are helping audiences discover new options for the future.Twenty-five-hundred years ago in a workshop in Athens, a master potter and his apprentice were creating a vase depicting Hercules driving a bull to sacrifice when the potter had a eureka moment — instead of painting figures the usual black, why not red. Red? No one had ever done that before.“Something extraordinary happened to them on that day that changed the course of history,” said Alexia Roider, the creative head of Zedem Media, an animation studio based in Cyprus. By applying some different substances to the clay and controlling the temperature inside the kiln, the potter changed the colors and the effects of the paint on the ...