Sunday, October 24News That Matters

Tag: Social Media

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...

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...
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...
Mark Zuckerberg to Be Added to Facebook Privacy Suit

Mark Zuckerberg to Be Added to Facebook Privacy Suit

Technology
WASHINGTON — The attorney general for the District of Columbia plans to add Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to a consumer protection lawsuit, in one of the first efforts by a regulator to expose him personally to potential financial and other penalties.The attorney general, Karl Racine, said on Tuesday that continuing interviews and reviews of internal documents for the case had revealed that Mr. Zuckerberg played a much more active role in key decisions than prosecutors had known.The complaint against Facebook was filed in December 2018 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The suit alleges that Facebook misled consumers about privacy on the platform by allowing Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, to obtain sensitive data from more than 87 million u...
China Evergrande Gets Soft Treatment in Chinese Media

China Evergrande Gets Soft Treatment in Chinese Media

Business
As China Evergrande Group teeters on the edge of collapse, videos of protesting home buyers have flooded social media. Online government message boards teem with complaints and pleas for intervention to save the huge property developer. The hashtag “What does Evergrande mean for the real estate market?” has been viewed more than 160 million times on one platform.But if trouble threatens for China’s economy, you wouldn’t know it from reading the country’s front pages.The name “Evergrande” has barely been mentioned by top state-run news outlets in recent weeks, even as the company’s uncertain fate has rattled global financial markets. Coverage of its recent troubles has been concentrated in a handful of business publications.Only on Friday did the country’s central bank comment on the compan...
Roblox, the Gaming Site, Wants to Grow Up Without Sacrificing Child Safety

Roblox, the Gaming Site, Wants to Grow Up Without Sacrificing Child Safety

Technology
SAN FRANCISCO — As Dave Baszucki, the chief executive of the gaming company Roblox, took the stage at a conference hosted by his company on Thursday, he reflected on how much had changed for Roblox since its last in-person event two years ago.In March, Roblox debuted on Wall Street. As of Friday, it was worth $44 billion and more than 43 million players used it each day — more than double the number of daily users it had two years ago. One of the most striking differences, though, was the age of the crowd of hundreds of game developers to whom Mr. Baszucki was speaking in Fort Mason, a former military base along San Francisco’s waterfront.Not long ago, the crowd might have been made up mostly of children. On Thursday, many were young adults. And as they have grown up, Roblox, a colorful, b...

Instagram Struggles With Fears of Losing Its ‘Pipeline’: Young Users

Technology
With the leadership changes, Facebook went all out to turn Instagram into a main attraction for young audiences, four former employees said. That coincided with the realization that Facebook itself, which was grappling with data privacy and other scandals, would never be a teen destination, the people said.Instagram began concentrating on the “teen time spent” data point, three former employees said. The goal was to drive up the amount of time that teenagers were on the app with features including Instagram Live, a broadcasting tool, and Instagram TV, where people upload videos that run as long as an hour.Instagram also increased its global marketing budget. In 2018, it allocated $67.2 million to marketing. In 2019, that increased to a planned $127.3 million, then to $186.3 million last ye...