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From Fake News to Deepfake News: Facebook Bans AI-Manipulated Media from Its Site

The catchphrase “fake news,” which sparked amusement during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is no longer a laughing matter. Now Facebook is taking steps to prove it. On Tuesday, the social media giant announced that it will now ban deepfake video content from its site, according to a new policy update. Deepfake video is content altered so adroitly by artificial intelligence algorithms that it falsely convinces the reader of its authenticity. New, enhanced digital manipulation software that superimposes content can give undue credibility to media that was once readily identifiable as false. Since the swift and widespread circulation of false information in social media has an exponential effect for the misinformed and their followers, Facebook’s ban may offer a glimmer of hope. While some applaud Facebook for taking this step, the decision does raise eyebrows. Facebook’s timing is questionable, given that this week’s announcement came just days before a congressional hearing...

Jan 8, 2020

Facebook Removed More Than 200 Accounts Trying To Influence West African Elections

Facebook revealed it removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts aimed at influencing elections in Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger, and Tunisia. In a blog post, the company said the “coordinated inauthentic behavior” originated in Israel, adding: “We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. As in other cases involving coordinated inauthentic behavior, the individuals behind this activity coordinated with one another to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing, and that was the basis for our action.” Facebook deleted 65 Facebook accounts, 161 Pages, 23 Groups, 12 events, and four Instagram accounts associated with the Israeli public relations firm Archimedes Group. According to Facebook, about 2.8 million accounts followed at least one of the pages, 5,500 accounts joined a group, and around 920 people followed the Instagram accounts. “We identified these accounts and...

May 17, 2019

Facebook Is Setting Up More Rules Against Groups That Spread Misinformation

Misinformation continues to be a huge problem online, especially for social media platforms. Previously, Facebook tried tackling it by introducing rules against groups and ads that deliberately spread wrong information about vaccines and political opponents. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. Now, Facebook has introduced updates that include harsher punishments for groups and individuals spreading misinformation across its platforms. In its blog post, Facebook said it plans to reduce the reach of groups that “repeatedly share misinformation”. The company will also add a “click gap” feature to the newsfeed to make sure people see less low-quality content. Lastly, Facebook will partner with the Associated Press, who will serve as a third-party fact-checker. Any content approved by the AP will be expanded on the platform. The moves come as Facebook gears up for another turbulent election season, finds new ways to combat vaccine misinformation, and continues to ban pages associated with...

Apr 11, 2019

YouTube Disables Comments During Congressional White Nationalism Hearing

Last month, the Christchurch shooting — and its subsequent viral status — revealed just how common white nationalism is online. Many people already knew that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube harbored hateful rhetoric, but poor responses to the shooting put them in the government’s sights. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing questioning both Google and Facebook on the rise of white nationalism online. During YouTube’s livestream of the hearing, things got so ugly that YouTube eventually disabled the comments. Screenshots from Buzzfeed News reporter Ryan Broderick on Twitter show comments such as “White haters!” and “Jews make their own problems”. Not that the comments on the official House Judiciary Committee Hearings channel are any better… — Ryan Broderick (@broderick) April 9, 2019 YouTube comments filling up with racist and hateful remarks during a Congressional hearing on white nationalism isn’t actually surprising,...

Apr 10, 2019

Twitter Is Putting a Smaller Limit On The Amount Of Accounts You Can Follow In A Day

Twitter has been a hub for spam accounts and bots since the platform’s early years. The problem has plagued the company for a long time and today they’ve introduced another idea that may help stop it. Twitter announced that it is changing its rule on the number of accounts a person can follow per day. The platform tweeted that the limit is moving from 1,000 accounts to 400 in order to stop spammers. Follow, unfollow, follow, unfollow. Who does that? Spammers. So we’re changing the number of accounts you can follow each day from 1,000 to 400. Don’t worry, you’ll be just fine. — Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) April 8, 2019 Twitter is working to impede “churning” accounts and lessen the number of block and spam reports caused by them. Churning accounts are profiles that repeatedly follow and unfollow to increase their follower metrics. Some users questioned the 400 account limit, but Yoel Roth, Twitter’s Head of Integrity, offered some insight in his own string of tweets . “You can’t...

Apr 9, 2019

UK Far-Right Activist Tommy Robinson Banned From Facebook and Instagram for Hate Speech Violations

The far-right founder of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, has officially been banned from both Facebook and Instagram. In a blog post, Facebook said Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, broke community standards by engaging in “organized hate.” “Tommy Robinson’s Facebook Page has repeatedly broken these standards, posting material that uses dehumanizing language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims,” Facebook wrote. “He has also behaved in ways that violate our policies around organized hate. As a result, in accordance with our policies, we have removed Tommy Robinson’s official Facebook Page and Instagram profile.” Facebook went on to say, “This is not a decision we take lightly, but individuals and organizations that attack others on the basis of who they are have no place on Facebook or Instagram.” Robinson’s Facebook ban comes almost an entire year after Twitter permanently removed his account . Now, Robinson will have to rely on YouTube as...

Feb 26, 2019

Facebook Bans An Additional 22 Pages Associated With Alex Jones

Facebook has removed 22 more pages associated with Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist whose pages have been known to spread misinformation and incite violence. Jones is mostly known for making claims that 9/11 and the Sandy Hook shooting were hoaxes. The company deleted the pages following its latest policy changes that prohibit administrators of removed pages from creating duplicates. Last month, Facebook announced it would make pages more transparent and have third-party fact checkers flagging misleading or incorrect content. The company has relied upon third-party fact-checkers during the 2018 midterm elections to stop the spread of misinformation about polling locations, times and dates. Facebook’s update also covers administrators using other existing pages once their pages have been removed. Not all of the 22 newly removed pages had Jones as a direct administrator; however, there were many common administrators between those pages and the pages removed in August. Facebook began...

Feb 6, 2019

The ACLU is Suing a California Sheriff for Blocking Black Lives Matter Activists on Facebook

The ACLU of California is suing Scott R. Jones, the sheriff of Sacramento County, for blocking two Black Lives Matter Activists on Facebook. According to the lawsuit, Black Lives Matter leaders Tanya Faison and Sonia Lewis were censored after posting critical comments on Jones’ official Facebook page. The two are founders of the Sacramento chapter of BLM. Faison and Lewis’ posts were in response to Jones asking for more insight on how to handle the future relationship of Sacramento Sheriff’s department and Black Lives Matter. Both of their posts about Jones and the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department were removed and their pages were banned. The ACLU’s complaint alleges that Jones’ actions against the two were “based on the content of their speech, their viewpoint, and their identity,” and violated their First Amendment rights to free speech. This isn’t the first lawsuit of its kind. Politicians in Arizona, Georgia, and Virginia were also sued for banning people from their official...

Feb 1, 2019

Facebook Removes Ads From Far-Right Gaming Group

Nearly eight months after Facebook removed Britain First–a far-right, fascist organization, from the platform for hate speech and violating its community standards–ads from the group began surfacing on the platform. Facebook recently removed Britain First ads petitioning to stop a mosque from being built in the U.K. The ads were posted during the holiday season on a gaming page by Political Gamers TV, a network dedicated to “gamers worldwide who wish no limits on speech.” Political Gamers TV is calling the removal of the ads “political discrimination” and plans to sue Facebook, according to the BBC. Facebook has made a growing effort to remove accounts, ads, and groups that violate its community standards. In November, Facebook removed alt-right group Proud Boys , its followers, and founder, Gavin McInnes, from using Facebook groups and Instagram after being linked to violent protests in New York. Facebook is one of many social media platforms and other websites cracking down on...

Jan 9, 2019

YouTube Bans Proud Boys Founder For Copyright Infringement

Youtube has banned Gavin McInnes, Founder of the far-right group Proud Boys, for copyright infringement. McInnes had an audience of over 200,000 subscribers on the platform and while it’s not clear which videos are in question, Youtube says it “received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement regarding material the user posted.” Youtube also has a three-strike rule when it comes to copyright infringement, Earlier this year, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, and Instagram banned McInnes following a New York City protest turned violent. At least five members of the Proud Boys, an alt-right extremist group, were arrested after the brawl. McInnes, a co-founder of Vice,  has also been nixed from right-wing media company–Blaze Media–the company said in a tweet last week

Dec 11, 2018

Twitter Removes 10,000 Accounts Linked to Discouraging Voting in Midterm Elections

Midterm elections are right around the corner and Twitter is still dealing with misinformation on it’s platform. Friday, the social media giant revealed that it’s removed more than 10,000 accounts linked to targeted misinformation campaigns since late September. Twitter was notified by the Democratic Party and said the removed accounts violated its policies. The social media company and other platforms have been criticized as their websites are used to spread misinformation, propaganda and as a place for hate speech and violence. Last week, Twitter said it lost more than 9 million accounts after the company began aggressively removing robot and spam accounts from the platform. In September Twitter updated its usage policy forbidding the use of dehumanizing language emphasizing its efforts to remove problematic content. The updated policy does not focus on voter suppression and misinformation and the company has been criticized by lawmakers for not proactively removing bot accounts....

Nov 6, 2018

Facebook Bans Extremist Group Proud Boys Following Protest Violence

Facebook has banned alt-right group Proud Boys, its followers, and founder, Gavin McInnes, from using Facebook groups and Instagram after being linked to violent protests in New York earlier this month. Five members have since been arrested for their roles in the violence. On Tuesday, Facebook confirmed tens of thousands of accounts and groups affiliated with Proud Boys have been removed. The group who also had ties to violence during the Charlottesville protests used Facebook as its main recruiting tool. Both members and its founder have been banned on Twitter since August as well. Facebook is one of many social media platforms and other websites cracking down on hate speech and hate groups. Earlier this week, GoDaddy banned Gab, a platform that allowed far-right extremists to make homophobic, racist and Anti-Semitic death threats. Robert Bowers posted Anti-Semitic slurs on the platform shortly before opening fire on 11 people in a synagogue over the weekend. Gab has also been...

Oct 31, 2018