Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

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Facebook logoAnd today’s daily act of censorship is to take down 652 accounts and pages connected to Russia and Iran that published political propaganda.Facebook said in a blog post  that the errant accounts were first uncovered by the cybersecurity firm FireEye, and have links to Russia and Iran. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said:

These were networks of accounts that were misleading people about who they were and what they were doing,We ban this kind of behavior because authenticity matters. People need to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook.

In July, FireEye tipped Facebook off to the existence of a network of pages known as Liberty Front Press. The network included 70 accounts, three Facebook groups, and 76 Instagram accounts, which had 155,000 Facebook followers and 48,000 Instagram followers. Not exactly impressive figures though. And the paltry $6,000 spent since 2015 rather suggests that these a small fry.

Liberty Free Press also was linked to a set of pages that posed as news organizations while also hacking people’s accounts and spread malware, Facebook said. That network included 12 pages and 66 accounts, plus nine Instagram accounts. They had about 15,000 Facebook followers and 1,100 Instagram followers, and did not buy advertising or events.

Iran-linked accounts and pages created in 2011 shared posts about politics in the Middle East, United Kingdom, and United States. That campaign had 168 pages and 140 Facebook accounts, as well as 31 Instagram accounts, and had 813,000 Facebook followers and 10,000 Instagram followers. Again the total advertising spend was just $6,000.

Russian accounts taken down in the Facebook action were focused on politics in Syria and Ukraine, but did not target the United States.

Facebook’s reputation ratings

See  article from bbc.co.uk

Facebook has confirmed that it has started scoring some of its members on a trustworthiness scale.The Washington Post revealed that the social network had developed the system over the past year.

The tech firm says it has been developed to help handle reports of false news on its platform, but it has declined to reveal how the score is calculated or the limits of its use. Critics are concerned that users have no apparent way to obtain their rating. The BBC understands that at present only Facebook’s misinformation team makes use of the measurement.

Perhaps the scheme works on 1 to 5 scale with the bottom rating of 1, being as trustworthy as Facebook, a lowly score of 2 for being twice as trustworthy as Facebook, whilst top of the scale is 5 times as trustworthy as Facebook.

Facebook objected the scale being described in the Washington Post as being a ‘reputation’ score. Facebook said that this was just plain wrong claiming:

What we’re actually doing: We developed a process to protect against people indiscriminately flagging news as fake and attempting to game the system. The reason we do this is to make sure that our fight against misinformation is as effective as possible.

No doubt armies of Indian SEO workers will now redirect their efforts at improving website’s Facebook reputation ratings.

Seeking refuge in blaming Facebook

See  article from nytimes.com

Meanwhile Warwick University research suggests that anti refugee troubles are worse in German towns where Facebook usage is more than the national average. Facebook are taking a lot of stick lately but it seems a little much to start blaming them for all the world’s ills. If Facebook were to be banned tomorrow, would the world suddenly become a less fractious place? What do you think?

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us government logoThe US Federal Government is quietly meeting with top tech company representatives to develop a proposal to protect web users’ privacy amid the ongoing fallout globally of scandals that have rocked Facebook and other companies.Over the past month, the Commerce Department has met with representatives from Facebook and Google, along with Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast, and consumer advocates, sources told the Washington Post.

The goal of these meetings is to come up with a data privacy proposal at the federal level that could serve as a blueprint for Congress to pass sweeping legislation in the mode of the European Union GDPR. There are currently no laws that govern how tech companies harness and monetize US users’ data.

A total of 22 meetings with more than 80 companies have been held on this topic over the last month.

One official at the White House told the Post this week that recent developments have been seismic in the privacy policy world, prompting the government to discuss what a modern U.S. approach to privacy protection might look like.

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facebook nudity inspectors video The Flemish Tourism Board has responded to Facebook’s relentless censorship of nudity in classical paintings by Peter Paul RubensIn the satirical video, a team of Social Media Inspectors block gallery goers from seeing paintings at the Rubens House in Antwerp. Facebook-branded security–called fbi–redirect unwitting crowds away from paintings that depict nude figures. We need to direct you away from nudity, even if artistic in nature, says one Social Media Inspector.

The Flemish video, as well as a cheeky open letter from the tourism board and a group of Belgian museums, asks Facebook to roll back its censorship standards so that they can promote Rubens. “Breasts, buttocks and Peter Paul Rubens cherubs are all considered indecent. Not by us, but by you, the letter, addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, says. Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us.

The Guardian reported that Facebook is planning to have talks with the Flemish tourist board.

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declaration of independenceOne moment Facebook’s algorithms are expected to be able to automatically distinguish terrorism support from news reporting or satire, the next moment, it demonstrates exactly how crap it is by failing to distinguish hate speech from a profound, and nation establishing, statement of citizens rights.

Facebook’s algorithms removed parts of the US Declaration of Independence from the social media site after determining they represented hate speech.

The issue came to light when a local paper in Texas began posting excerpts of the historic text on its Facebook page each day in the run up to the country’s Independence Day celebrations on July 4.

However when The Liberty County Vindicator attempted to post its tenth extract, which refers to merciless Indian savages, on its Facebook page the paper received a notice saying the post went against its standards on hate speech.

Facebook later ‘apologised’ as it has done countless times before and allowed the posting.

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Facebook logoTell someone not to do something and sometimes they just want to do it more. That’s what happened when Facebook put red flags on debunked fake news. Facebook’s red warning flags only made the post more interesting and more likely to be shared.

So Facebook ditched the red warning and replaced them with links to articles where the supposed fake news is debunked.

Now Facebook has dreamt up another couple of wheezes.

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Amber Rudd claimed she was not aware of Home Office removals targets… but a memo leak suggests otherwise

First, rather than call more attention to fake news, Facebook wants to make it easier to miss these stories while scrolling. When Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers verify an article is inaccurate, Facebook will shrink the size of the link post in the

News Feed. Facebook will also downrank the news to make it less likely that it will appear in news feeds at all.

Second, Facebook is now using machine learning to look at newly published articles and scan them for signs of falsehood. ‘Fact checkers’ will then prioritise high scoring articles so as to make more efficient use of their time.

Facebook now says it can reduce the spread of a false news story by 80%.

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An almost theological question for, what will AI make of religion? What will it make of people who proclaim peace whilst inciting violence; who preach tolerance whilst practising intolerance; and whose hypocrisy about sexuality is simply perverse?Anyway, Facebook have excelled themselves by banning an image of Jesus Christ on the cross in a context of religious education.

A post on the Franciscan University blog explains:

We posted yesterday a series of ads to Facebook to promote our online MA Theology and MA Catechetics and Evangelization programs.

One ad was rejected, and an administrator of our Facebook page noticed this rejection today. The reason given for the rejection?

Your image, video thumbnail or video can’t contain shocking, sensational, or excessively violent content.

Our ad was rejected because it contained:

  • shocking content

  • sensational content

  • excessively violent content

What was the offending image?

banned cruxifictionAnd indeed, the Crucifixion of Christ was all of those things. It was the most sensational action in history: man executed his God.

It was shocking, yes: God deigned to take on flesh and was obedient unto death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)

And it was certainly excessively violent: a man scourged to within an inch of his life, nailed naked to a cross and left to die, all the hate of all the sin in the world poured out its wrath upon his humanity.

Although the university owned up to the ‘violent’ image Facebook then decided that of course the image wasn’t violent and yet again issued a grovelling apology for its shoddy censorship process. So do you think AI censorship process will be any better?

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open rights group 2016 logo Facebook Tracking Exposed (FTE) is a browser extension which intends to find out – but you won’t find it in the chrome store because Facebook have issued a takedown request.

Facebook don’t want you to know how their algorithm works. That will hardly be a shock to you or anyone else, but it is a serious problem. The algorithm is what Facebook uses to determine what you, or anyone else around the world, will see.

What it chooses to promote or bury has become increasingly important to our democracy. But Facebook don’t want you to know how it works.

Facebook Tracking Exposed (FTE) is a browser extension which intends to find out – it lets users compare their timeline posts against the potential chronological content, helping them to understand why some posts have been promoted, and other haven’t. It also allows comparative research, pooling data to help researchers try and reverse engineer the algorithm itself.

So far, so great – but you won’t be able to find FTE in the chrome store because Facebook have issued a takedown on the basis on the basis of an alleged trademark infringement. Facebook do not want you to know how their algorithm works – how it controls the flow of information to billions of people.

To pretend the premise of Facebook’s trademark claim is reasonable for a second (it’s not likely – the Facebook used in the name describes the purpose of the tool rather than who made it) the question becomes – is it reasonable for Facebook to use this as an excuse to continue to obfuscate their filtering of important information?

The answer, as all of the news around Cambridge Analytica is making clear, is that it absolutely is not. People looking to understand the platform they are using would find it very difficult to find without the Facebook in the name. But then, Facebook don’t want you to know how their algorithm works.

This is easy for Facebook to fix, they could revoke their infringement claim, and start taking on some genuine accountability. There is no guarantee that FTE will be able to perfectly reveal the exact workings of the algorithm – attempts to reverse engineer proprietary algorithms are difficult, and observations will always be partial and difficult to control and validate.

That doesn’t change the fact that companies like Facebook and Google need to be transparent about the ways they filter information. The information they do or don’t show people can affect opinions, and potentially even sway elections.

We are calling on Google to reinstate the application on the Chrome store and for Facebook to withdraw their request to remove the app. But, then, Facebook don’t want you to know how their algorithm works.

The equivalent add-on for Firefox is also now unavailable.