Social Networks

Technology • Internet & Web
Italy blocks TikTok for certain users after death of girl allegedly playing 'choking' game
TikTok Logo
TikTok Logo Credit: Illustration: Pendect, LogoTikTok (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into the accidental death of a 10-year-old girl who allegedly took part in a "blackout challenge" on the video-sharing network TikTok.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, said on Friday it had not managed to identify any content on its site that could have encouraged the girl to participate in any such challenge, but was helping the authorities in the probe over possible "incitement to suicide".

Medical experts have warned about the danger of the challenge being taken up by some young people, who refer to it as "scarfing" or "the choking game" in which restricted oxygen to the brain results in a high.

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Russia tries to stop calls for protests against Kremlin on social networks
Роскомнадзор
Роскомнадзор Credit: Twitter (Reproduction)

Russian authorities are warning social networks, especially the video platform TikTok, popular with young people, to stop advertising for jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

"We request that you immediately take comprehensive measures to prevent the dissemination of such unlawful information on the TikTok platform," reads a statement from telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor.

Specifically, the authority refers to calls disseminated via TikTok to participate in a demonstration for Kremlin critic Navalny that had been announced for Saturday but had not been approved.

Technology • Internet & Web
Parler website is back online
Parler.com screenshot
Parler.com screenshot Credit: Parler

After Amazon, Google, and Apple forced Parler offline, the social network managed to make an online comeback on Sunday, even if not fully operational.

Parler's CEO John Matze wrote a post on the platform saying: "Our return is inevitable due to hard work, and persistence against all odds."

The social networking site went dark when Amazon stopped providing it cloud hosting services after it was revealed the platform was used to help organize the Capitol Hill attack on Jan. 6, which left five people dead.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Takahiro Shiraishi, Japan's 'Twitter killer', has been sentenced to death for the murder of 9
Murder scene of Zama Suicide Pact Slayings in 2017 (Zama, Japan)
Murder scene of Zama Suicide Pact Slayings in 2017 (Zama, Japan) Credit: Asanagi, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Takahiro Shiraishi, who admitted to the murder of nine people he had befriended on Twitter, has been sentenced to death in Japan. Shiraishi strangled and dismembered eight women and one man over the course of three months. All of his victims had expressed suicidal thoughts prior to their death on Twitter, but "none of the nine victims consented to be killed, including by silent consent" so the the judge, Naokuni Yano, found.

Technology • Internet & Web
To avoid EU privacy rules, Facebook will move UK users to US terms
To avoid EU privacy rules, Facebook will move UK users to US terms
Credit: Illustration for Pendect by Ashley Winkler, Logo Facebook

In an effort to avoid the EU's privacy laws, Facebook will move all of its users in the United Kingdom into user agreements with the corporate headquarters in California. Google has done a similar move in February. 

"Like other companies, Facebook has had to make changes to respond to Brexit and will be transferring legal responsibilities and obligations for UK users from Facebook Ireland to Facebook Inc. There will be no change to the privacy controls or the services Facebook offers to people in the UK," so Facebook's UK arm.

Technology • Internet & Web
Reddit is buying TikTok rival Dubsmash
Reddit Logo
Reddit Logo Credit: Reddit

Reddit said in a statement on Sunday that it has acquired TikTok rival Dubsmash. It did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. Dubsmash allows users to create and share video content, and it's especially popular with young, diverse audiences.

Dubsmash's three co-founders, Suchit Dash, Jonas Drüppel, and Tim Specht, will be joining Reddit with immediate effect.

Technology • Internet & Web
The U.S. government, 48 states sue Facebook, could force the company to divest Instagram and WhatsApp
Facebook
Facebook Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a coalition of attorneys general from 48 states and territories filed two separate antitrust lawsuits against Facebook on Wednesday. The lawsuits target two of the companies major acquisitions: Instagram and WhatsApp.

The antitrust lawsuits were announced by the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

"It’s really critically important that we block this predatory acquisition of companies and that we restore confidence to the market," James said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit.

Technology • Internet & Web
Twitter revenue rises 14%, but user growth failed to impress
Twitter revenue rises 14%, but user growth failed to impress
Credit: Brett Jordan

Twitter reported Thursday a net income of $29 million in the third quarter, or 4 cents per diluted share, a decline from the same period last year. The company also reported a revenue of $936 million, beating the analysts' expected revenue of $777 million.

The return of live events and previously postponed product launches helped drive the increased advertising spending, Twitter CFO Ned Segal said in a statement in the company's earnings release.

The monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) was 187 million, bellow the 195 million expected.

Twitter discussed in its letter to shareholders its efforts to combat misinformation and provide context to users, especially with the uncertainty that could surround election results in the US as mail-in ballots are expected to potentially prolong the outcome.

Regional News • Americas
Twitter flags Trump post for violating its rules on Covid-19 information
Original tweet with the Twitter disclaimer
Original tweet with the Twitter disclaimer Credit: Donald Trump (Twitter Reproduction)

Twitter flagged a tweed by President Donald Trump in which he claims to be immune to the new coronavirus. Twitter added a disclaimer to the post: "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19."

The original post read: "A total and complete sign off from White House Doctors yesterday. That means I can’t get it (immune), and can’t give it. Very nice to know."

Technology • Internet & Web
QAnon banned on all Facebook-owned platforms
White truck with a QAnon bumper sticker.
White truck with a QAnon bumper sticker. Credit: XPlayer2x (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Facebook has announced that all accounts associated with QAnon will be banned from all Facebook-owned platforms. They stated that "starting today, we will remove Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts for representing QAnon. We’re starting to enforce this updated policy today and are removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks" and added that "our Dangerous Organizations Operations team will continue to enforce this policy and proactively detect content for removal instead of relying on user reports".

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • TV & Movies
Facebook counters Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma" that criticized practices of the social network
Facebook counters Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma" that criticized practices of the social network
Credit: The Social Dilemma (Instagram)

In a post, Facebook has taken a stance towards the accusations from the Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma".

Facebook stated that "the film’s creators do not include insights from those currently working at the companies or any experts that take a different view to the narrative put forward by the film" and added that "it gives a distorted view of how social media platforms work".

Technology • Internet & Web
Twitter to change image cropping amid bias concern
Twitter to change image cropping amid bias concern
Credit: Sara Kurfeß

Twitter announced Thursday it would make changes to how preview images are cropped amid concerns about possible bias. When posting pictures, Twitter users noticed the company algorithm selected white faces over black ones in preview images.

The company wrote a blog post titled "Transparency around image cropping and changes to come" explaining the development of a solution to deal with the bias problem.

"We are prioritizing work to decrease our reliance on ML-based image cropping by giving people more visibility and control over what their images will look like in a Tweet. We’ve started exploring different options to see what will work best across the wide range of images people Tweet every day. We hope that giving people more choices for image cropping and previewing what they’ll look like in the Tweet composer may help reduce the risk of harm," the company said in the post.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook states that withdrawal from EU is possible if data sharing with US servers will not be allowed
Facebook states that withdrawal from EU is possible if data sharing with US servers will not be allowed
Credit: unsplash.com / Thought Catalog

Following an announcement of Facebook Ireland's head of data protection Yvonne Cunnane, it is not clear how the company "could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU" following a preliminary order to stop the data transfer of European customers to servers based in the United States.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) had voiced concerns over possible surveillance of the data by the United States government.

Technology • Internet & Web
After Trump "blessing" of Oracle deal, the U.S. will delay TikTok app store ban by one week
After Trump "blessing" of Oracle deal, the U.S. will delay TikTok app store ban by one week
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Logos TikTok & Oracle (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The U.S. Commerce Department on Saturday announced a one-week delay until September 27 on order to remove TikTok app from mobile application stores owned by Apple and Google. The decision came after President Trump has given tentative approval to an Oracle-Wallmart deal that will keep TikTok alive in the country.

Trump said, on Saturday, that "I have given the deal my blessing, I approve the deal in concept."

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 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.

Technology • Internet & Web
WeChat users sue Trump administration over US app ban
WeChat users sue Trump administration over US app ban
Credit: WeChat

A coalition of WeChat users in the US launched a legal challenge to the Trump administration, questioning its ban on the popular Chinese messaging app. The users claim the ban violates their constitutional rights and that the app became an essential digital service for millions of Chinese-Americans.

President Trump signed two executive orders, effective September 20, banning US transactions with WeChat, the app owned by Tencent Holdings, and ByteDance, the owner of the video app TikTok.

The US WeChat Users Alliance, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, claimed that the ban had been "issued in the midst of the 2020 election cycle, during a time when President Trump has made numerous anti-Chinese statements that have contributed to and incited racial animus against persons of Chinese descent — all outside of the national security context".

Regional News • Americas • United States
Trump gives nod to Oracle takeover of TikTok
Trump gives nod to Oracle takeover of TikTok
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler – Logo via TikTok (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The United States President Donald Trump stated tech giant Oracle would be "a great company" to take over TikTok's US operations.

The President reaction comes days after media reported that Oracle would be a possible buyer of the TikTok in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Trump ordered TikTok's owner ByteDance to sell their US business within 90 days or face being shut down by the government.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Oracle is working with Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic, investors that already have stakes in ByteDance.

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.