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Despite Facebook ban - Australian will not change proposed content laws

27th February 2021
"Australia will not change proposed laws that would make Alphabet Inc's Google and Facebook pay news outlets for content."

Australia will not change proposed laws that would make Alphabet Inc's Google and Facebook pay news outlets for content, a senior lawmaker said, despite vocal opposition from the Big Tech firms. Facebook has strongly protested the laws and last week abruptly blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts. The social media giant and Australian leaders continued discussing the changes over the weekend.

But with the bill scheduled for a debate in the Senate on Monday, Australia's most senior lawmaker in the upper house said there would be no further amendments. "The bill as it stands ... meets the right balance," Simon Birmingham, Australia's Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio. The bill in its present form ensures "Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organizations can and should be paid for and done so in a fair and legitimate way".

The laws would give the government the right to appoint an arbitrator to set content licensing fees if private negotiations fail. While both Google and Facebook have campaigned against the laws, Google last week inked deals with top Australian outlets, including a global deal with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

"There's no reason Facebook can't do and achieve what Google already has," Birmingham added. A Facebook representative declined to comment on Monday on the legislation which passed the lower house last week and has majority support in the Senate. Lobby group DIGI, which represents Facebook, Google, and other online platforms like Twitter Inc, meanwhile said on Monday that its members had agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the spread of misinformation online.

Under the voluntary code, the companies commit to identifying and stopping unidentified accounts, or "bots", disseminating content, informing users of the origins of content, and publishing an annual transparency report, among other measures.

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Compiled by : Upasana Poudel Upasana Poudel

Facebook aims to help voters, but won't block Trump misinfo

26th February 2021
"The social media giant is launching a “Voting Information Center” on Facebook and Instagram that will include details on registering to vote, polling places and voting by mail. It will draw the information from state election officials and local election"

Facebook is launching a widespread effort to boost U.S. voter turnout and provide authoritative information about voting — just as it doubles down on its policy allowing politicians like President Donald Trump to post false information on the same subject.

The social media giant is launching a “Voting Information Center” on Facebook and Instagram that will include details on registering to vote, polling places and voting by mail. It will draw the information from state election officials and local election authorities.

The information hub, which will be prominently displayed on Facebook news feeds and on Instagram later in the summer — is similar to the coronavirus information center the company launched earlier this year in an attempt to elevate facts and authoritative sources of information on COVID-19.

Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, continue to face criticism for not removing or labeling posts by Trump that that spread misinformation about voting by mail and, many said, encouraged violence against protesters.

“I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” Zuckerberg wrote earlier this month.

In a USA Today opinion piece Tuesday, Zuckerberg reaffirmed that position.

“Ultimately, I believe the best way to hold politicians accountable is through voting, and I believe we should trust voters to make judgments for themselves,” he wrote. “That’s why I think we should maintain as open a platform as possible, accompanied by ambitious efforts to boost voter participation.”

Facebook’s free speech stance may have more to do with not wanting to alienate Trump and his supporters while keeping its business options open, critics suggest.

Dipayan Ghosh, co-director of the Platform Accountability Project at Harvard Kennedy School, said Facebook “doesn’t want to tick off a whole swath of people who really believe the president and appreciate” his words.

In addition to the voting hub, Facebook will also now let people turn off political and social issue ads that display the “paid for by” designation, meaning a politician or political entity paid for it. The company announced this option in January but it is going into effect now.

Sarah Schiff, product manager who works on ads, cautioned that Facebook’s systems “aren’t perfect” and said she encourages users to report “paid for by” ads they see if they have chosen not to see them.

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Compiled by : Debashish S Neupane Debashish S Neupane

Facebook to label all rule-breaking posts - even Trump's

26th February 2021
"Facebook said that it will flag all “newsworthy” posts from politicians that break its rules, including those from President Donald Trump."

Facebook said Friday that it will flag all “newsworthy” posts from politicians that break its rules, including those from President Donald Trump.

Separately, Facebook’s stock dropped more than 8%, erasing roughly $50 billion from its market valuation, after the European company behind brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Dove announced it would boycott Facebook ads through the end of the year over the amount of hate speech and divisive rhetoric on its platform. Later in the day, Coca-Cola also announced it joined the boycott for at least 30 days.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg had previously refused to take action against Trump posts suggesting that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud, saying that people deserved to hear unfiltered statements from political leaders. Twitter, by contrast, slapped a “get the facts” label on them.

Until Friday, Trump’s posts with identical wording to those labeled on Twitter remained untouched on Facebook, sparking criticism from Trump’s opponents as well as current and former Facebook employees. Now, Facebook is all but certain to face off with the president the next time he posts something the company deems to be violating its rules.

“The policies we’re implementing today are designed to address the reality of the challenges our country is facing and how they’re showing up across our community,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page announcing the changes.

Zuckerberg said the social network is taking additional steps to counter election-related misinformation. In particular, the social network will begin adding new labels to all posts about voting that will direct users to authoritative information from state and local election officials.

Facebook is also banning false claims intended to discourage voting, such as stories about federal agents checking legal status at polling places. The company also said it is increasing its enforcement capacity to remove false claims about local polling conditions in the 72 hours before the U.S. election.

Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Civic Media, said the changes are a “reminder of how powerful Facebook may be in terms of spreading disinformation during the upcoming election.”

He said the voting labels will depend on how good Facebook’s artificial intelligence is at identifying posts to label.

“If every post that mentions voting links, people will start ignoring those links. If they’re targeted to posts that say things like ‘Police will be checking warrants and unpaid traffic tickets at polls’ — a classic voter suppression disinfo tactic — and clearly mark posts as disinfo, they might be useful,” he said.

But Zuckerman noted that Facebook “has a history of trying hard not to alienate right-leaning users, and given how tightly President Trump has aligned himself with voter-suppressing misinfo, it seems likely that Facebook will err on the side of non-intrusive and ignorable labels, which would minimize impact of the campaign.”

Earlier in the day, shares of Facebook and Twitter dropped sharply after consumer-product maker Unilever announced a new ad boycott on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through at least the end of the year.

The European company said it took the move to protest the amount of hate speech online. Unilever said the polarized atmosphere in the United States ahead of November’s presidential election placed responsibility on brands to act.

In addition to the decline in Facebook shares, Twitter ended the day more than 7% lower.

Unilever, which is based in the Netherlands and Britain, joins a raft of other advertisers pulling back from online platforms. Facebook in particular has been the target of an escalating movement to withhold advertising dollars to pressure it to do more to prevent racist and violent content from being shared on its platform.

“We have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.,” Unilever said. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Thursday, Verizon joined others in the Facebook boycott.

Unilever “has enough influence to persuade other brand advertisers to follow its lead,” said eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin. She noted that Unilever pulled back spending “for longer, on more platforms (including Twitter) and for more expansive reasons” — in particular, by citing problems with “divisiveness” as well as hate speech.

Sarah Personette, vice president of global client solutions at Twitter, said the company’s “mission is to serve the public conversation and ensure Twitter is a place where people can make human connections, seek and receive authentic and credible information, and express themselves freely and safely.”

She added that Twitter is “respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”

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Compiled by : Samana Maharjan Samana Maharjan

Facebook takes Down Main Page of Myanmar Military Over Inciting Violence

22nd February 2021
"Facebook on Sunday deleted the main page of the Myanmar military under it standards prohibiting the incitement of violence"

On Sunday, Facebook removed the front page of the Myanmar Army according to its guidelines banning the incitement to violence, according to the company, a day after two demonstrators were killed when the police opened fire in a rally against the February 1 coup.

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"In line with our global policies, we've removed the Tatmadaw True News Information Team Page from Facebook for repeated violations of our Community Standards prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm," a Facebook representative said in a statement. The Myanmar military is known as the Tatmadaw. Its True News page was not available on Sunday. The military spokesman did not respond to a Reuters phone call seeking comment.

Two people were killed in Myanmar's second city, Mandalay, on Saturday, when police and soldiers shot demonstrators protesting against the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government, emergency workers said, the bloodiest day in more than two weeks of protests.

Facebook in recent years has engaged with civil rights activists and democratic political parties in Myanmar and pushed back against the military after coming under heavy international criticism for failing to contain online hate campaigns. In 2018, it banned army chief Min Aung Hlaing - now the military ruler - and 19 other senior officers and organisations, and took down hundreds of pages and accounts run by military members for coordinated inauthentic behaviour.

Ahead of the November elections, Facebook announced it had taken down a network of 70 fake accounts and pages operated by members of the military that had posted either positive content about the army or criticism of Suu Kyi and her party.

source: gadgets.ndtv

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