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Technology • Internet & Web
Whistleblower alleges Facebook of ignoring global political manipulation
Whistleblower alleges Facebook of ignoring global political manipulation
Credit: unsplash.com / Alex Haney

According to a 6,600-word memo that has been obtained by BuzzFeed News, a former Facebook data scientist accuses Facebook of ignoring political manipulation on a global scale.

In the memo, Sophie Zhang gives "concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway public opinion".

One of the examples given is that 672,000 fake accounts have been removed that globally manipulated the narrative during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zhang also stated that she has "personally made decisions that affected national presidents without oversight, and taken action to enforce against so many prominent politicians globally that I’ve lost count".

Law
Judge rules that parents of a deceased 15-year old daughter need to get access to Facebook profile
Judge rules that parents of a deceased 15-year old daughter need to get access to Facebook profile
Credit: NeONBRAND

Following a ruling of the German federal court in 2018, the parents have the right to access the Facebook profile of their deceased daughter. The parents now sued the company again, stating that the PDF file that Facebook provided them with only contained the data in unstructured form.

The court decided in favour of the parents which will now get access to the account. The parents stated that they want to use the access to research for possible signs of bullying.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook removes accounts belonging to far-right group "Patriot Prayer"
Joey Gibson speaking at the Patriot Prayer and Solidarity Against Hate demonstrations in Seattle, 2017
Joey Gibson speaking at the Patriot Prayer and Solidarity Against Hate demonstrations in Seattle, 2017 Credit: Tiffany Von Arnim from Seattle / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Facebook has removed accounts and pages belonging to the far-right group "Patriot Prayer" and its founder Joey Gibson to remove "violent social militias" from its platform, so a company spokesperson.

"We have seen growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them, or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior," so Facebook in a blog post.

Technology • Internet & Web
Mark Zuckerberg says Kenosha Guard rulings were ‘an operational mistake’
Mark Zuckerberg says Kenosha Guard rulings were ‘an operational mistake’
Credit: Anthony Quintano from Honolulu, HI, United States / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

In a companywide meeting on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg addressed the recent shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, both in a seven-minute public address and in a heated series of questions from employees.

In the wake of the shooting, Facebook has been criticized for allowing self-proclaimed militia groups to organize on the platform, including a group called the Kenosha Guard, which had solicited armed attendees for an event on the night of the protest. Several Facebook users reported the event as likely to result in violence in the hours before the shooting, only to be told by Facebook moderators that the group and event were not violating Facebook policy.

“It was largely an operational mistake,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s because the team that enforces our policy against dangerous organizations is a specialized team that is trained to look for symbolism and innuendo ... and understand the details of how certain militias and conspiracy networks operate. The contractors and reviewers who the initial complaints were funneled to didn’t pick this up. On second review, doing it more sensitively, the team responsible for dangerous organizations recognized that this violated the policies and we took it down.”

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook states Apple’s new iOS update will disrupt online advertising
Facebook states Apple’s new iOS update will disrupt online advertising
Credit: Greg Bulla

Facebook wrote, in a blog post towards its developer community, the changes being implemented in iOS 14 that the company "ability to deliver targeted ads on iOS 14 will be limited.".

According to Facebook, the update will probably mean that app developers will receive less advertising revenue due to the fact "some iOS 14 users may not see any ads from Audience Network, while others may still see ads from us, but they'll be less relevant."

The beta version of iOS 14 was released earlier this week, implementing a set of anti-tracking measures that limit the ability of advertisers to track a particular user and deliver highly tailored advertising.

Climate & Environment
French fishing federation alleges Nestlé to be responsible for thousands of dead fish in French river
French fishing federation alleges Nestlé to be responsible for thousands of dead fish in French river
Credit: Fédération de pêche des Ardennes via Facebook

Thousands of dead fish have been found in the river Aisne in France. The Ardennes fishing federation posted on Facebook that on the third day of collecting dead fish they have removed one tonne in fish weight from the river. In total three tonnes of dead fish have reportedly removed.

Michel Adam the president of the Ardennes fishing federation has stated that they "have lodged a complaint against Nestlé France for pollution and violation of article 432.2 of the environmental code". The local prefecture has stated that the fish have died due to a decrease in the water's oxygen levels.

The Challerange Nestlé has confirmed that they've been responsible for an "occasional and involuntary overflow of biological sludge effluent, without the presence of chemicals". They also stated that the production of powdered milk in the factory has been stopped as soon as reports have gotten in.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook faces lawsuit over illegal harvesting of biometric information from Instagram users
Facebook faces lawsuit over illegal harvesting of biometric information from Instagram users
Credit: Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum

In a new lawsuit, filed Monday in Redwood City, Facebook is accused of collecting, storing and profiting from biometric data of more than 100 million Instagram users, without explicitly asking for their consent.

According to the suit, Facebook started informing Instagram users about their biometric data being collected only at the beginning of 2020, which allegedly violated an Illinois privacy law.

Last month, the social media company offered to pay $650 million to settle a different lawsuit in which it was accused of illegally collecting biometric data through a photo-tagging tool provided to Facebook users.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook states that they have removed 7 million posts with false information about Covid-19
Facebook states that they have removed 7 million posts with false information about Covid-19
Credit: Screenshot Transparency Report

In its sixth Community Standards Enforcement Report, Facebook has released data showing that the platform has removed seven million posts that contained false information about the Covid-19 pandemic, a cure or the virus itself.

In addition, 22,5 million posts have been removed on the grounds of hate speech and 8,7 million which are in connection to extremist organizations.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook removes QAnon conspiracy group
Truck with a bumper sticker referring to QAnon.
Truck with a bumper sticker referring to QAnon. Credit: XPlayer2x (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Facebook has deleted the Official Q/Qanon group with nearly 200,000 members. The group was dedicated to sharing and discussing QAnon conspiracy theories.

According to a spokeswoman for Facebook, the company removed the group for "repeatedly posting content that violated our policies."

Last month both Twitter and TikTok also cracked down on QAnon content.

Business • Jobs & Careers
Facebook extends WFH policy until July 2021
Facebook extends WFH policy until July 2021
Credit: pexels.com/Pixabay

Facebook has announced that it is extending its work from home policy until July of 2021 for all of its 48,000 employees. Facebook is the latest tech giant to offer prolonged remote work amid the pandemic, following Google and Twitter.

"Based on guidance from health and government experts, as well as decisions drawn from our internal discussions about these matters, we are allowing employees to continue voluntarily working from home until July 2021. In addition, we are giving employees an additional $1,000 for home office needs," so Facebook spokesperson Nneka Norville.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Celebrities & Public Figures
Daisy Coleman has died by suicide at age 23
Daisy Coleman has died by suicide at age 23
Credit: YouTube (Reproduction)

Daisy Coleman, an advocate for sexual abuse victim and subject of a Netflix documentary, has taken her own life at the age of 23. After her mother called the police for a wellness check, Coleman was found dead.

Coleman was allegedly sexually assaulted when she was 14 while being unconscious at a high school party. In 2016, she was featured in the Netflix documentary "Audrie & Daisy" which followed the aftermath of both girls' harassment after the assault.

"She was my best friend and amazing daughter. I think she had to make it seem like I could live without her. I can't. I wish I could have taken the pain from her! She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it's just not fair. My baby girl is gone," so her mother, Melinda Coleman, in a post to Facebook.

Politics • American • US
Facebook deletes a post by Trump campaign for "spreading misinformation"
Facebook deletes a post by Trump campaign for "spreading misinformation"
Credit: The White House from Washington, DC / Public domain

Facebook has deleted a video shared by the Trump campaign for violating its policy against spreading misinformation about Covid-19. The video, a segment of an interview with Fox News, President Donald Trump falsely claimed that children were "virtually immune" to the novel Coronavirus and pressed to reopen schools. It was the first post by the Trump campaign that was deleted by Facebook.

Politics • American • US
US House Antitrust Subcommittee will question tech CEOs over dominance of online platform
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Credit: Anthony Quintano (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The chief executives Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Tim Cook (Facebook) and Sundar Pichai (Google) will be questioned today by the United States House Antitrust Subcommittee that currently investigates the into market dominance of online platforms.

Rep. David Cicilline, chairman of the subcommittee has stated that "these platforms have been allowed to run wild and free from really any constraints" adding that the committee has to clarify "what the impacts are of the lack of competition in the digital marketplace".

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook removes "Unmasking America!" group for spreading Covid-19 misinformation
Facebook removes "Unmasking America!" group for spreading Covid-19 misinformation
Credit: unsplash.com/United Nations COVID-19 Response

"Unmasking America!", one of the largest anti-mask groups on Facebook, has been removed for the violation of Facebook's policies against spreading misinformation about Covid-19. The group, with almost 10,000 members, was sharing what they called "the TRUTH about masks" and claimed masks would obstruct oxygen flow and that masks were a "psychological anchor for suppression, enslavement and cognitive obedience."

After an inquiry from The Verge, Facebook spokesperson Dami Oyefeso responded: "We have clear policies against promoting harmful misinformation about COVID 19 and have removed this group while we review the others."

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook Messenger adds screen sharing to iPhone and Android
Facebook Messenger adds screen sharing to iPhone and Android
Credit: Facebook

Facebook has enabled its screen-sharing feature for the latest version of Facebook Messenger on iOS and Android mobile devices.

The new feature supports up to eight people in group chats or up to 16 people in Messenger Rooms. Facebook says it’s working on expanding the feature for up to 50 people in Rooms.

Technology • Internet & Web
Streamer Dr Disrespect teases possible comeback on YouTube
Streamer Dr Disrespect teases possible comeback on YouTube
Credit: PUBG n8bit (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

After being banned from Twitch three weeks ago Guy Beahm, mostly known under his alias "Dr Disrespect", stated in an interview with PcGamer that Twitch has stopped contact with him and hasn't provided a reason for his permanent ban from the platform. He said that he is considering legal action against the streaming platform, but won't return in case his ban gets revoked in the future.

He also stated that wants to get back to streaming and while he considers other providers like YouTube and Facebook, he's also looking into streaming on his own website.

Shortly after the interview, he published a video on his Twitter account and added a link to his YouTube profile on his Twitter profile as the first actions on the platform since his ban.

The video plays a song with the lyrics:
"it's out of my hand
but I'm still in control
it's out of my hand
you can never take away
power of my soul"

Technology • Internet & Web
Auditors report that Facebook failed civil rights audit over hate speech and misinformation
Auditors report that Facebook failed civil rights audit over hate speech and misinformation
Credit: Joshua Hoehne

The lawyers and civil rights experts Laura Murphy and Megan Cacace have conducted and published a 100-page civil rights audit analyzing how Facebook treats hate speech and misinformation on the platform.

The report states that "it is important to acknowledge that the Civil Rights Audit was a substantive and voluntary process and that the company used the process to listen, plan and deliver on various consequential changes that will help advance the civil rights of its users".

Though the auditors state that Facebook failed "to grasp the urgency" of the problems which will have "direct and consequential implications" on the presidential elections of the United States in November adding that "Facebook has a long road ahead on its civil rights journey".

Politics • American • Brazil
Facebook removes accounts linked to Bolsonaro's family
Screenshot of a post by one of the accounts
Screenshot of a post by one of the accounts Credit: Facebook Reproduction

Facebook announced Wednesday the removal of 35 accounts, 14 Pages, 1 Group and 38 Instagram accounts that were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior in Brazil. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, Facebook investigation found links to individuals associated with the Social Liberal Party and some of the employees of the offices of Anderson Moraes, Alana Passos, Eduardo Bolsonaro, Flavio Bolsonaro and Jair Bolsonaro.

Technology • Internet & Web
Civil Rights Groups disappointed with Facebook meeting over ad boycott
Civil Rights Groups disappointed with Facebook meeting over ad boycott
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler – Logo via Facebook

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of companies and brands have joined the Facebook ad boycott #StopHateForProfit. On Tuesday, civil rights groups met virtually with Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg to discuss the platform's handling of hate speech. Among the groups attending where the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change.

Leaders of the civil rights groups have stated that the meeting was "very disappointing," with the head of Color of Change, Rashad Robinson saying: "They showed up to the meeting expecting an A for attendance. Attending alone is not enough."

Facebook issued a statement, promising to take steps to "keep hate off of our platform" and that they were aware that they would be "judged by our actions not by our words and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement."

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook's content oversight board won't launch until 'late fall'
Members of the Oversight Board
Members of the Oversight Board Credit: Facebook (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Facebook has announced that the Oversight Board will not launch until “late fall,”. The Oversight Board is supposed to be an independent body that the social networking platform has started to reconsider some of its most crucial content decisions.

In a tweet, the board stated: "We understand many people are eager for the Board to officially begin our task of providing independent oversight of Facebook’s content decisions. We share this urgency, but the Board won’t be operational until late Fall."

Critics point out that the new timeline implies the new Oversight Board will not be effective during the U.S. presidential campaign and elections.