Tag: Facebook

Facebook says it will reduce fake news

funny-pictures-auto-news-france-387930Facebook said  it will update its social media platforms in Germany within weeks to reduce the dissemination of fake news.

German Justice Minister Heiko Mass has repeatedly called on Facebook to respect laws against defamation in Germany that are stricter than those in the United States.

The Germans are worried that fake news and “hate speech” on the internet could influence a parliamentary election in September in which chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in office.

Now a Facebook note said the company would make it easier to report items suspected to be fake news and work with external fact-checking organisations.

“Last month we announced measures to tackle the challenge of fake news on Facebook,” the U.S. technology company’s German-language newsroom said.

“We will put these updates in place in Germany in the coming weeks.”

Its partners will be required to sing the U.S. Poynter International Fact-Checking Code of Principles, it said. Warning signs would be attached to reports identified as noncredible, and the reasons for the decision given.

Facebook would also make it impossible for spammers to forge the websites of reputable news agencies, it said.

 

What a load of Bologna – Facebook bans Poseidon’s penis

nepture-bologna2Facebook might have a problem when it comes to spotting fake news, but when it comes to a breast or willy its censors are out in force and apparently can stop Greek gods in their tracks.

However, it seems that its censors have a problem when it comes to real body parts and those that have been created by human hands. Or those bits which were inspired by the gods themselves.

Italian writer Elisa Barbari decided to use a picture of a local Bologna icon — the statue of Poseidon — on her Facebook page. But it seems that he powers that be thought that Poseidon in the altogether was too much for the retired army colonels, monks, nuns and other looneys who frequent the social notworking site.

Barbari said she received a message from Facebook’s censors that said, in part, her image contained “content that is explicitly sexual and which shows to an excessive degree the body, concentrating unnecessarily on body parts.”

The statue was made by a bloke called Giambologna in the 1560s. Despite being in Roman Catholic Italy it has not managed to offend anyone.

The statue merely depicts Neptune holding a trident.  He does not look particularly proud but then he has been swimming.

Barbari said Facebook was very explicit about what constitutes explicit. The company’s message to her also read: “The use of images or video of nude bodies or plunging necklines is not allowed, even if the use is for artistic or educational reasons.”

Facebook’s censors, like film censors, have serious trouble telling what should be covered up and end up becoming a little like those in Saudi Arabia. In September it killed off an image of a naked child during the Vietnam War that had appeared on a Norwegian newspaper’s Facebook page.

It took the intervention of the paper’s editor-in-chief and the country’s prime minister to get the company to see sense. What chance has a major deity who can cause earthquakes got?  Hopefully the Earth shaker will plunge his fork into Silicon Valley and remind Facebook who is boss.

Barbari’s Facebook page is using a snap of statue from behind, apparently Poseidon’s arse is not offensive.

Zuckerberg thinks he is Ironman with his own Jarvis

336D11AA00000578-3567659-Since_he_assumed_the_role_of_Tony_Stark_in_Marvel_s_Iron_Man_in_-a-187_1462060958040Mark Zuckerberg seems to be projecting an alter-ego of Iron man after showing off his home-based AI digital assistant, which he has called Jarvis.

Last January, Zuckerberg announced that he planned to build an AI system to run his home using Facebook tools, in the latest of the personal-growth challenges he gives himself each year.

Zuckerberg says he has always enjoyed sitting down and build something that does exactly what you want it to do. Over the last year, Zuckerberg has spent between 100 and 150 hours on his home project.

Though it’s named for Tony Stark’s futuristic Jarvis AI in the Iron Man movies, it’s more akin to a homemade, highly personal version of something like Amazon’s Alexa service, letting him and his wife Priscilla Chan use a custom iPhone app or a Facebook Messenger bot to turn lights on and off, play music based on personal tastes, open the front gate for friends, make toast, and even wake up their one-year-old daughter Max with Mandarin lessons.

Zuckerberg wrote that he’d set out to build a system allowing him to control everything in the house, including music, lights, and temperature, with his voice. He also wanted Jarvis to let his friends in the house just by looking at their faces when they arrive and to alert him to anything important going on in Max’s room.

He hoped to design the system to ‘visualize data in VR to help me build better services and lead my organizations [at Facebook] more efficiently.’

He claims he has done all of that other than the bit about VR. And it works. It is not perfect. It sometimes needs a little coddling. Zuckerberg began by demoing the Messenger bot he’d built as a front end for the system. Using his smartphone, he typed simple commands to turn the lights off and on, and sure enough, they went off and then on.

On the other hand, he also built the system to respond to voice commands, via a custom app he’d created, and there, the results were decidedly more inconsistent. He had to tell the system four times to turn the lights off before it got dark.”

He is a bit of a way away from strapping on the suit and saving the world. To be fair though Zuckerburg is really just proving that he still has the ability to program despite being the head of a huge business.

 

Instagram grows its user base

Leica cameraPhoto-based social notworking site Instagram’s user base rose to more than 600 million.

The Facebook owned company said that its new features had helped it gain popularity and it had added 100 million users since June, when it last announced its 500 million user milestone.

Writing in the company bog,  the company said that products like Instagram Stories, its picture and video slideshow feature, identical to the signature function of rival Snap Snapchat had done rather well.

Instagram in September updated its safety tools by allowing users to control the comments posted on their pictures and videos to combat increasing cases of online trolling.

The company, which is expected to add to Facebook’s revenue, is on track to generate $1.5 billion in advertising revenue this year, according to research firm eMarketer.

Facebook to check its facts

funny-pictures-auto-news-france-387930After the fiasco of the US election which saw a candidate being elected on the basis of Russian supplied fake news, Facebook has decided to clamp down on the phenomena.

The social notworking site  said it will implement new measures to combat the so-called fake news and lies spreading via its platform. Facebook was used for circulation by fraudulent “news” sites, whose operators posted false headlines that were shared widely, driving web traffic and generating ad dollars. But they were also fooling unintelligent people who believe in bizarre conspiracies and think the word “libtard” is amusing

Now Facebook has a plan to cut off phony sites masquerading as news sources and to clearly label fake news. In the process, it might help restore programmatic ad revenue to legitimate publishers that have seen marketing dollars siphoned off by bogus sites.

Facebook is deputizing reputable, third-party fact-checking sites to label posts as “disputed,” a warning that will appear prominently in the Facebook feed and pop up when someone tries to share the post. The fact-check organizations include Snopes, FactCheck.org and Politifact, which are part of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network.

Adam Mosseri’s, Facebook’s VP of product for News Feed said that the fact checking will provide more context can help people decide for themselves what to trust and what to share.

“It will still be possible to share these stories, but you will see a warning that the story has been disputed as you share.”

The process for flagging fake news starts with Facebook’s everyday users, who will be able to report any posts they consider suspicious. Once flagged, independent fact-checkers will determine whether it deserves the “disputed” tag or not.

Facebook also is going after the money that funds the fake news. Facebook said it will shut down links to spam websites, which often use spoof domain names that sound like reputable news sources. When people click on the “spoof” domains they mistakenly go to sites that are covered in ads and fake news.

“We’ve found that a lot of fake news is financially motivated. Spammers make money by masquerading as well-known news organizations, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit to their sites, which are often mostly ads.”

Ad technology has been blamed for helping fake news. During the election BuzzFeed uncovered overseas schemes with people making money by hosting websites filled with outrageous stories and driving traffic to them through Facebook.

Skype and Facebook face tough data rules in EU

EU and country flags - Wikimedia CommonsMessaging services such as Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s WhatsApp will face stricter rules on the way they handle customer data.

New privacy laws due are to be proposed by the European Union, which could give messaging services a few headaches.

The EU wants to extend some rules that now only apply to telecom operators to web companies offering calls and messages using the internet, known as “Over-The-Top” (OTT) services, according to the draft.

Under the move, messaging services must guarantee the confidentiality of communications and obtain users’ consent to process their location data, mirroring similar provisions included in a separate data protection law due which will operate in 2018.

Advertisers will also face strict rules on how they can target ads at web users based on their browsing history.

It will solve a few fairness problems in the online world. Telecoms companies have long complained that groups such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft and Facebook are more lightly regulated, even though they offer similar services.

The phone companies want European Union rules specific to telecoms firms to either be repealed or extended to everyone. Obviously they want them repealed but if they can’t have that knowing that Google and Microsoft are suffering in the same way will make them feel better.

Lise Fuhr, director general of ETNO, the European telecoms operators association said that if Europe wants a Silicon Valley, it needs radical regulatory simplification. We won’t get new digital services unless we overhaul e-Privacy.

The draft proposals would prohibit the automatic processing of people’s data without their consent. Advertisers say such automatic processing is low risk as it involves data that can not identify the user.

Fines for breaking the new law will be steep at up to four percent of a company’s global turnover.

A Commission spokeswoman said the aim of the review was to adapt the rules to the data protection regulation which will come into force in 2018 and simplify the provisions for cookies.

Cookies are placed on web surfers’ computers and contain bits of information about the user, such as what other sites they have visited or where they are logging in from. They are widely used by companies to deliver targeted ads to users.

It would also remove the obligation on websites to ask visitors for permission to place cookies on their browsers via a banner if the user has already consented through the privacy settings of the web browser.

Reporter uses bots to tackle racists

Dancing Racists-2The Washington Post’s Kevin Munger used Twitter bots, one “white” and one “black” to tackle racism and appears to have worked out a strategy which reduces racist slurs.

Munger used Twitter accounts to send messages designed to remind harassers of the humanity of their victims and to reconsider the norms of online behaviour.

He sent every harasser the same message:

@[subject] Hey man, just remember that there are real people who are hurt when you harass them with that kind of language

He then used a racial slur as the search term because it was the strongest evidence that a tweet might contain racist harassment. He restricted the sample to users who had a history of using offensive language, and only included white subjects or anonymous people.

He bought followers for half of the bots — 500 followers, to be specific — and gave the remaining bots only two followers each (see screenshot above). This represents a large status difference: a Twitter user with two followers is unlikely to be taken seriously, while 500 followers is a substantial number.

Only one of the four types of bots caused a significant reduction in the subjects’ rate of tweeting slurs – the white bots with 500 followers.

Generally, though he found it is possible to cause people to use less harassing language and it is more most likely when both individuals share a social identity. Unsurprisingly, high status people are also more likely to cause a change.

Munger thinks that many are already engaged in sanctioning bad behaviour online, but they are doing it in a way that can backfire. If people call out bad behaviour in a way that emphasises the social distance between themselves and the person they’re calling out then telling people off is less likely to be effective.

 

CIA-backed monitoring group fires half its staff

spyA CIA-backed internet monitoring group has been forced to fire half its staff after it lost rights to monitor Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Geofeedia came under the spotlight when it was discovered that it enabled law enforcement surveillance. In mid-October, Twitter followed Facebook and Instagram in cut Geofeedia off from its valuable data stream.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report said police had used the platform to track protests and other large gatherings.

Now without the detail provided from social notworking,  the company has fired 31 of its approximately 60 employees, mostly in its sales office..

CEO Phil Harris said Geofeedia wasn’t “created to impact civil liberties,” but in the wake of the public debate over their product, they’re changing the company’s direction.

“Following these suspensions, we have decided to scale back our business and focus on a variety of innovations that will allow us to serve our customers and continue our rapid growth trajectory as a leading real-time analytics and alerting platform,” the statement said.

He claimed that Geofeedia’s software was useful for schools, sports leagues, customer service, marketing and event planning, per the statement. He also referred to the company’s $17 million funding round in February — which brought its total funding to nearly $24 million — and “strong sales and growth” as strengthening the company.

Geofeedia would not say if it lost clients following the ACLU report, and declined to specify what it was going to do next.

Zuckerburg promises to fight fake news

what-we-learned-about-facebook-ceo-mark-zucke-L-gl5gYRChief chicken strangler at the social notworking site Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, has revealed what his outfit is doing to avoid fake news appearing on his site.

During the last election the site was flooded with news which was just made up and is sometimes dubbed “satire” when it is as funny as a road accident.

Writing in his bog, Zuckerburg said that Facebook took misinformation seriously and its  goal is to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful.

“We know people want accurate information. We’ve been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously. We’ve made significant progress, but there is more work to be done,” he said.

Normally Facebook just relied on the members of the site to tell them what is fake and what is not. But there is the small matter of letting people share what they want whenever possible.

“We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or to mistakenly restrict accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties,” he said.

Facebook is bringing in some stronger detection systems, easier reporting, and third party checking services. The plan is to labeli stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.

A big chunk of the false news industry is driven by financially motivated spam. Facebook was looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies land better ad farm detection.

Germany mulls fining Facebook over hate speech

12Germany’s Justice Minister thinks that the social notworking site Facebook should be treated like a media company rather than a technology platform.

This slight change in definition would mean that it would be criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech.

German authorities are monitoring how many racist posts reported by Facebook users are deleted within 24 hours. Justice Minister Heiko Maas has pledged to take legislative measures if the results are not up to snuff.

Maas has said the European Union needs to decide whether platform companies should be treated like radio or television stations, which can be held accountable for the content they publish.

“In my view, they should be treated as media even if they do not correspond to the media concept of television or radio,” he said following a meeting of state justice ministers in Berlin.

Under current EU guidelines Facebook and other social media networks are not liable for any criminal content or hate posts hosted on their platform.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter signed the EU hate speech code, vowing to fight racism and xenophobia by reviewing most hate speech notifications within 24 hours. But the code is voluntary.