Facebook Demands Academics Disable Ad-Targeting Data Tool

Academics, journalists and First Amendment lawyers are rallying behind New York University researchers in a showdown with Facebook over its demand that they halt the collection of data showing who is being micro-targeted by political ads on the world’s dominant social media platform.

The researchers say the disputed tool is vital to understanding how Facebook has been used as a conduit for disinformation and manipulation.

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Holocaust Denial Posts Banned on Another Social Media Platform

Twitter will begin removing posts containing Holocaust denial, a Twitter spokeswoman told Bloomberg News just days after Facebook also implemented a policy banning posts that deny the Holocaust. 

“We strongly condemn anti-semitism, and hateful conduct has absolutely no place on our service,” the spokeswoman told Bloomberg News in a statement. “We also have a robust ‘glorification of violence’ policy in place and take action against content that glorifies or praises historical acts of violence and genocide, including the Holocaust.”

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Commentary: Is Twitter, Facebook Censorship of New York Post Biden-Ukraine Story the Beginning of Social Tyranny?

Twitter and Facebook have both limited distribution of an Oct. 14 report from the New York Post’s Emma-Jo Morris and Gabrielle Fonrouge entitled, “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad” detailing an alleged meeting between former Vice President Joe Biden and Burisma executive Vadym who Biden’s son, Hunter, used to work for, in April 2015.

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Facebook Will Remove ‘Militarized’ Calls for Unauthorized Poll Watchers

Facebook said Wednesday it will remove posts that use “militarized language” to call for people to participate in poll watching or when the intent behind the posts is to intimidate voters, according to a CNN report.

Posts that use the word “army” or “battle” or that are implicitly threatening would fall under the ban, said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy, on a call with reporters.

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‘Oil Barons and Railroad Tycoons’: Big Tech Must Be Restructured, House Report Says

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have abused their monopoly power and must undergo significant restructuring, according to a House report released Tuesday.

Lawmakers who wrote the report said the four tech companies had grown into monopolies akin to “oil barons and railroad tycoons” and suggested an overhaul to U.S. antitrust laws, according to The New York Times. The lengthy report, spearheaded by Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler and David Cicilline, is the result of a 15-month House Judiciary Committee investigation into the companies collectively known as Big Tech.

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Leaked Facebook Memo Describes Company’s Underwhelming Response to Global Political Manipulation

A former Facebook data scientist released a 6,600-word memo on her final day at the company detailing what she considers the tech giant’s lackluster response to fake accounts and activities that impacts elections around the globe. 

The employee, Sophie Zhang, was fired this month from Facebook for what she says was ongoing friction between her and management about the platform’s approach to combating extensive, global manipulation, according to a recent Buzzfeed News report.

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Facebook Will Ban New Political Ads One Week Before the Election to Curb Misinformation

Facebook announced Thursday that it would bar any new political ads from its platform in the final week before the election.

The social network also said that it would remove any measures attempting to dissuade people from voting and would block any candidate’s attempts to claim false victories before official results have been reported, The New York Times reported.

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Michigan and Ohio Secretaries of State Endorse Zuckerberg’s Millions Directed to Elections

Michigan and Ohio state secretaries Jocelyn Benson and Frank LaRose endorsed $300 million directed to elections by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. The Center for Tech and Civil Life (CTCL) and Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) announced Tuesday that Zuckerberg and his wife donated in order “to promote safe and reliable voting in states and localities.”

Both Benson and LaRose agreed that the investment was necessary considering the pandemic’s effects on the presidential election. LaRose reposted the press release the day it came out, citing the need for accurate information during voting.

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Facebook Announces Restrictions on Groups Like QAnon and Antifa

Facebook announced Wednesday that it will take further action against pages, groups, and Instagram accounts associated with anarchist groups and other groups “tied to violence.”

The social media website said it will expand their “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy” to censor groups who reportedly pose a “significant risk” to public safety, such as QAnon, the company said in a statement. Facebook is also taking action against “offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests,” the statement said.

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Facebook Stirs Anger, Abandons Drilling Gear on Oregon Coast

Facebook’s effort to build a landing site in a village on the Oregon coast for a fiber optic cable linking Asia and North America has run into serious trouble.

First, a drill pipe snapped under the seabed. Workers left 1,100 feet of pipe, 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid, a drill tip and other materials under the seabed as they closed down the site, aiming to try again next year.

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Twitter, Facebook Hit Trump Over Post Suggesting Children Are ‘Almost Immune’ from Coronavirus

Twitter partially suspended President Donald Trump’s campaign Twitter account on Wednesday for posting a tweet containing a video of Trump suggesting children are “almost immune” to coronavirus.

The post contains an interview Trump gave to Fox News Wednesday morning in which the president made the claim relating to children and the ongoing pandemic, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. Facebook removed a post Wednesday that contained the same video, marking the first time the social media platform has nixed a Trump post over coronavirus misinformation.

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Zuckerberg Mocks Conspiracy Theory Suggesting He Forged a Secret Deal with Trump as ‘Pretty Ridiculous’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed speculation that he and President Donald Trump have come to an understanding in an interview published Monday.

“I’ve heard this speculation, too, so let me be clear: There’s no deal of any kind,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with Axios published Monday.

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Facebook’s Software Kit to Blame for Popular Apps Crashing

Friday’s widespread crashes of popular apps running on the iPhone’s iOS operating system — including Tinder, Spotify and Pinterest — serve as a reminder that Facebook is still tracking you through your phone using sophisticated software, even if you’re not browsing the social network.

Early Friday, users of the apps reported crashes when they tried to open them up. Facebook attributed the problem, which was quickly fixed, to a bug in its software development kit, or SDK, a tool developers use to integrate their apps with Facebook.

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Dave Yost Seeks Public’s Input on Whether Google Uses ‘Deceptive Sales Practices’

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he wants the public to weigh in on the question of whether internet search engines should be “allowed to favor their own products and services in search results.”

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Facebook, Contractor Pass the Buck on Who Fired HR Manager Who Said ‘No One Has the White Man’s Back Anymore’

Leslie Brown, the woman who appeared in a Project Veritas video about Facebook who made incendiary comments that debuted Thursday, has been fired.

That’s according to a text message received by Project Veritas CEO James O’Keefe. Project Veritas made the announcement here.

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Project Veritas Exposes Rampant Anti-Conservative Bias of Facebook’s Content Moderators: ‘I Am Going to Delete Them for Terrorism’

A shocking new undercover video from Project Veritas exposes the rampant anti-conservative bias of Facebook’s content moderators, the employees who are responsible for deciding what posts are censored.

Zach McElroy, a former Facebook employee who worked as a content moderator in Tampa, Florida, told Project Veritas that he’s willing to testify before Congress about Facebook’s bias against Trump supporters and conservative causes.

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Facebook Removes President Trump Campaign Ads Alleging the Use of ‘Symbols of Hateful Ideology’

Facebook has removed ads for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign because they featured an upside-down red triangle.

The tech giant said the ads were removed because the symbol was once used by Nazis to designate political prisoners, but Trump’s campaign has noted that the symbol is widely used by Antifa, which is why it was included in the ad.

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Censorship, Antitrust Probes: Big Tech Is Back to Fighting Familiar Foes After Taking on Coronavirus

Amazon, Twitter, and other major tech companies are facing intense criticism on antitrust issues and censorship claims in the months since government officials reportedly began asking for help from Silicon Valley on ways to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The president and lawmakers have turned their sights on Twitter and Amazon, respectively, while Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other attorneys general are reportedly ratcheting up their antitrust investigation targeting Google’s business model. The White House asked them in March to fight coronavirus disinformation while also assisting the government in its virus response.

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Commentary: Trump Executive Order Strikes at the Heart of Social Media’s Leftist Censorship

President Trump’s long-hoped-for Executive Order on social media censorship is a good first step in dismantling the Left’s dangerous influence over these 21st-century communications vehicles. (You can read the draft that was available online when this article was posted through this link to The National Pulse, edited by Raheem Kassam.)

We particularly agree with this part of the EO’s statement of principles, “In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.”

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President Trump Reportedly Considering Forming Panel to Review Anti-Conservative Bias in Big Tech

President Donald Trump is considering forming a commission to review anti-conservative bias on social media platforms, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the idea.

A potential White House-created commission would examine allegations of online bias and censorship, according to the report. The administration will also encourage the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Election Commission to conduct similar reviews, the sources told the WSJ.

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Facebook Is Giving $1,000 to Content Moderators Who Said Online Trolls Turned Them into Conspiracy Theorists

Facebook agreed to pay out a $52 million settlement to thousands of current and former content moderators who said they are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome after viewing upsetting content on the job, The Verge reported Tuesday.

Each moderator will receive a minimum of $1,000 and will be eligible for additional compensation if they are exhibiting other trauma due to the kind of content they regularly view, the report noted. The settlement applies to 11,250 moderators, some of whom told The Verge in 2019 that they became conspiracy theorists while moderating content people post online.

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Facebook Provides $16M in Grants to 200 Mostly Liberal Local Newsrooms

Facebook last week announced that more than 200 news organizations will receive nearly $16 million in grants through the Facebook Journalism Project’s relief fund for local news. These grants come from $25 million in relief funding announced in March from Facebook’s $100 million global investment in news. It includes:

$10.3 million being awarded to 144 US local newsrooms as part of the COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program. The fund is supporting many publishers who are hardest hit by this crisis: nearly 80 percent of recipients are family- or independently owned and more than half are published by or for communities of color.

$5.4 million being awarded to 59 North American newsrooms that participated in Facebook Local News Accelerator programs focused on subscriptions and memberships.

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Commentary: Big Tech, Privacy, and Power

The ground is shifting quickly beneath our feet when it comes to tech, privacy, and power. And, although tech companies, their advocates, and even some policymakers, would like us to imagine these issues are cut and dried, they are not.

In their book The Sovereign Individual, published on the eve of the year 2000, James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg attempt to grapple with the forthcoming technological changes that the new millennium inevitably would bring. “As technology revolutionizes the tools we use,” they wrote, “it also antiquates our laws, reshapes our morals, and alters our perceptions.”

This is the dynamic that has been unfolding slowly over the last 20 years, as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have transformed how we engage with communications, culture, commerce, and one another.

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Facebook Takes Down Anti-Quarantine Protest Posts That ‘Defy’ Social Distancing Guidelines

Facebook is not allowing anti-quarantine protesters to use the site to organize demonstrations in states that have enacted strict social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The social media giant has already removed promotions for anti-quarantine events in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska in cooperation with those state governments.

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Commentary: Big Tech’s Toadying to Chinese Communists Demands Action

As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, China has become infamous for its role in allowing the virus to spread. From misleading the World Health Organization about the virus’s contagious elements, restricting the access of global investigators to infected sites, and lying about their infection numbers, China single-handedly stole months of preparation from other countries that have been savaged by the disease.

China has also hoarded masks and personal protective equipment from desperate countries and threatened to withhold critical medicines relied upon by millions of Americans.

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Zoom Recruits Former Facebook Security Chief as Critics Bash the Tech Firm for Privacy Lapses

An upshot tech company recruited Facebook’s former security chief to help fix glitches in the firm’s video chat app that reports say are leaving customers vulnerable to hackers and spammers.

Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos announced Thursday that he is joining an effort to help Zoom right the ship after reports revealed problems in its security system. Stamos made the decision to help after CEO Eric Yuan contacted him after he tweeted out some advice on the topic.

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Hillary Clinton Reveals How She Pressured Facebook to Spike a ‘Doctored’ Video of Pelosi

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has authoritarian views on misinformation and likely intends on reelecting President Donald Trump.

“Google took it off YouTube … so I contacted Facebook,” Clinton told The Atlantic in a report published Saturday.

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Michigan Governor Compares Tackling ‘Hate Speech’ to Fighting in World War II in Letter to Zuckerberg

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer compared fighting “hate speech” to Detroit’s industrial efforts during World War II in a letter sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week.

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg Grilled in US Congress on Digital Currency, Privacy, Elections

WASHINGTON – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg conceded on Wednesday that the company’s planned digital currency Libra was a “risky project,” but sought to reassure skeptical U.S. lawmakers that it could lower the cost of electronic payments and open up the global financial system to more people.

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