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Facebook Bans Coronavirus Ad Scams
February 27, 2020
Facebook is clamping down on ads and misinformation relating to coronavirus. Criticism of social media platforms for spreading fear and confusion about coronavirus is rife. Still, Facebook's decision-making has raised a few eyebrows, as the coronavirus ad restrictions could be interpreted as limiting free speech in a way that is inconsistent with Facebook's general practices.
It's Time for a Social Media and Disinformation Reckoning: ECT News Roundtable, Episode 6
February 13, 2020
Can social media be saved? Can democracy be saved? The first question may seem less compelling than the second, but to some very worried observers, they are intimately entwined. Social networking -- on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a host of other online networks -- is the root of all current cultural evils, in the eyes of some critics. Undeniably, social networks offer positive experiences too.
Latest E-Commerce Trend: The Rise of Shoppable Posts
February 11, 2020
There were 4,521,480,071 Internet users as of Dec. 1, 2019. A month later it was closer to 5 billion users. A decade ago there were fewer than a billion social network users. That's worldwide. That user growth has been a leading indicator of the rise of alternative social networking platforms. Marketers -- and consumers -- are always on the lookout for the newest thing with which to engage.
Know Your Enemy: The Difficulty of Defining Deepfakes
January 21, 2020
Facebook recently promised that it would increase efforts to remove so-called "deepfake" videos, including content that included "misleading manipulated media." In addition to fears that deepfakes -- altered videos that appear to be authentic -- could impact the upcoming 2020 general election in the United States, there are growing concerns that they could ruin reputations and impact businesses.
Cybersecurity 2020: A Perilous Landscape
January 17, 2020
Cybersecurity is a very serious issue for 2020 -- and the risks stretch far beyond the alarming spike in ransomware. In addition to the daily concerns of malware, stolen data and the cost of recovering from a business network intrusion, there is the very real danger of nefarious actors using cyberattacks to influence or directly impact the outcome of the 2020 U.S. general election.
'Black PR' Firms Line Their Pockets by Spreading Misinformation
January 9, 2020
PR companies long have been known for reshaping perceptions for their clients. Some now engage in "black PR" -- the calculated spread of misinformation online. Entrepreneur Peng Kuan Chin's company harvests online posts written in Chinese, reshapes them, and posts them on websites under its control. Thousands of fake social media accounts then spread this manipulated content across the Internet.
Facebook to Kick Out Some Deepfakes
January 8, 2020
Facebook has promised to remove certain "misleading manipulated media": videos edited or synthesized in ways that likely would mislead viewers to believe that video subjects said words they did not say; products of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merge, combine, replace, or superimpose content onto a video, creating a fake video that appears to be authentic.
Facebook Won't Let US, UK, Australia Get Toe in Backdoor
December 11, 2019
Facebook has rejected a request from the U.S., the UK and Australia for a "backdoor" in its encrypted messenger apps to help law enforcement agencies combat crime and terrorism. "Cybersecurity experts have repeatedly proven that when you weaken any part of an encrypted system, you weaken it for everyone, everywhere," wrote WhatsApp head Will Cathcart and Facebook Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky.
Twitter Sets Up Privacy Center but Moves to Skirt GDPR
December 4, 2019
Twitter's new Privacy Center will give users more clarity on what it does to protect the information people share. The center will host everything relevant to Twitter's privacy and data protection work, including initiatives, announcements, new privacy products and communication about security incidents, noted Twitter Data Protection Officer Damien Kieran and Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour.
EU Digital Czar to Probe Facebook's and Google's Data Wrangling
December 3, 2019
The European Union has launched a probe into how Google and Facebook gather, process, use and monetize data for advertising purposes. The European Commission has begun distributing questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google's and Facebook's data practices. Facebook and Google join Amazon as targets of the EU's "digital czar," Margrethe Vestager.
New YouTube Terms of Service Create Stir
November 12, 2019
Google has published changes to YouTube's Terms of Service Agreement that have stoked fears among some users. "YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account's access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable," the new ToSA states. Many creators are deeply concerned over the prospect of YouTube changing its practices.
The Truth vs. Censorship Trap
November 4, 2019
There recently has been a lot of rumbling about Twitter deciding not to take political ads, and Facebook deciding -- and this was stupid -- that it would run political ads even if they were untrue. I'm becoming convinced that Zuckerberg is trying to put Facebook out of business. There are some real differences between the firms. Facebook does far more political advertising than Twitter.
Evidence of War Crimes Vanishing From Social Media
November 1, 2019
A controversy has erupted over YouTube's practice of taking down videos with graphically violent content, which also may be evidence of recent war crimes. YouTube's policy -- similar to other social media platforms -- has been to remove content that contains hate speech, disinformation or disturbing images. In the past, social media services have been called out for failing to do enough.
Facebook Employees Blast Company's Political Ads Policy
October 30, 2019
At least 250 Facebook employees signed a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticizing the company's hands-off policy against fact-checking political ads. "We strongly object to this policy as it stands," says the letter. "It doesn't protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy."
Get Serious About Cybersecurity: Take Ownership of Your Personal Data
October 4, 2019
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and one of the prongs in the three-part theme is for all computer users to "Own IT." This means staying safe on social media, updating privacy settings, and keeping tabs on apps. Simply put, users need to take better ownership of their data and their online presence as part of daily safe cyber practices.
Leaked Audio Reveals Zuckerberg Spinning Hard
October 2, 2019
An attendee at a two-hour question-and-answer session during a Facebook company meeting held in July leaked a recording of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's comments that reveal deep insights into his thinking. Zuckerberg apparently decided the Q&A format would be an effective way to rally Facebook employees against rising criticism from competitors and the U.S. government.
Facebook's New Portals: More Ways to Follow
September 19, 2019
Facebook has announced three additions to the Portal family: a new Portal, Portal Mini and Portal TV. The devices let users make calls using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The Portal has a new design that resembles a picture frame. The Portal Mini is similar but smaller. The Portal TV blends the functionality of a set-top box with social media and video conferencing.
Instagram May Roll Out App for 'Real Friends' Sharing
August 28, 2019
A new application may be in the works that allows Instagram users to share real-time information with their closest friends. Called "Threads," the app allows users to set up automatic sharing with their closest Instagram buddies of such information as location, movement and battery life, as well as text, video and photo messages generated using Instagram's tools.
Facebook Gives Privacy-Minded Users Some Control Over Activity Tracking
August 21, 2019
Facebook has announced the release of Off-Facebook Activity, a tool that will let members see which apps and websites supply information about their online activity, and clear that information from their Facebook accounts if they wish. Once members have cleared their off-Facebook activity, Facebook will remove their identifying information from the data it collects.
YouTube as Political Influencer Takes the Spotlight
August 16, 2019
YouTube, which operates as one of Google's subsidiaries, is under increased scrutiny after a report earlier this month highlighted the role it played in the recent presidential election in Brazil. Among concerns is YouTube's installation of a new AI system that can suggest additional videos to watch. The goal arguably is not much different from the way newspapers offer links to other stories.
Snap Unwraps $380 High-Tech Specs
August 14, 2019
With the announcement of its Spectacles 3 sunglasses, Snap must be hoping three times will be the charm. Unlike the two previous generations, Spectacles 3 has two HD cameras to add depth perception to the peepers' repertoire. "The second camera for depth should improve capture and the overall experience, if not add anything truly new," said Eric Abbruzzese, senior analyst at ABI Research.
Cloudflare Cuts Service to 'Cesspool of Hate'
August 6, 2019
Cloudflare has cut service to 8chan, an online forum it called a "cesspool of hate." The move was motivated by the role 8chan played in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas; Christchurch, New Zealand; and Poway, California. "The rationale is simple: They have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths," wrote Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince.
UCSF Researchers Synthesize Speech From Brain Waves
August 1, 2019
Researchers led by speech neuroscientist Edward Chang at the University of California San Francisco have achieved success at decoding speech attempts in real time by reading the activity in the speech centers of test subjects' brains. Three persons capable of normal speech, who were being treated for epilepsy at the UCSF Medical Center, participated in the study.
Bug in Facebook Messaging App Exposes Kids to Strangers
July 24, 2019
A flaw in a Facebook app designed for children under 13 years old allows kids to chat online with people unapproved by their parents. The messaging app for kids is designed to give parents control over who their kids text and video chat with online, but a bug in the software lets a contact approved to chat with one child to talk to another without the approval of the second child's parents.
Why We All Need to Learn to Live on Camera
July 22, 2019
I was struck by a recent video of a soldier who apparently took some woman's parking spot and then went off the rails when she objected. He bad-mouthed the U.S. military and the U.S., abused his wife, and put his child at risk. A decade ago we probably wouldn't have seen this incident, but now there is a good chance that anyone who misbehaves, as this guy clearly did, will be caught on camera.
Facebook Unfazed by $5B FTC Settlement
July 18, 2019
The Federal Trade Commission this week announced its approval of a $5 billion settlement with Facebook, ending a long-running investigation into the company's privacy practices. The commission's 3-2 vote was along party lines. The United States Department of Justice must finalize the settlement before the matter is closed. The DoJ's action will end the investigation that began early last year.
Twitter Tweaks Desktop Design
July 17, 2019
Twitter has unveiled a fresh new look for its desktop website that mimics the look and feel of its mobile platforms. The company has been testing a new version of its desktop website since the beginning of the year. The most noticeable change is the organization and layout of the Twitter home screen itself. The upgraded design simplifies navigation with a new and larger left-hand sidebar.
Mnuchin Sounds Alarm Over Facebook's Money-Minting Plan
July 17, 2019
The Treasury Department has "very serious concerns" about Facebook's new Libra cryptocurrency, according to Secretary Steve Mnuchin. "Libra could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity, like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, human trafficking."
Social Media, Crafters, Gamers and the Online Censorship Debate
July 12, 2019
Ravelry, an online knitting community that has more than 8 million members, last month announced that it would ban forum posts, projects, patterns and even profiles from users who supported President Trump or his administration. "We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy," the administrators of Ravelry posted on the site.
LinkedIn Tweaks Its Algorithms to Skew Feeds to User Interests
June 26, 2019
LinkedIn has disclosed algorithm changes designed to favor conversations catering to niche professional interests. The criteria for posts showing up in members' feeds can be summed up as "people you know, talking about things you care about," said LinkedIn Senior Director of Product Management Pete Davies. LinkedIn tested 100 variations of its feed models through online A/B testing last year.
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