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Facebook, Google, And Twitter Have More Work To Do To Stop Fake News, EU Says

Today, the EU released a report detailing the actions it has taken in partnership with major tech companies —Twitter, Google, and Facebook — to combat the spread of fake news. Since 2015, the European Commission has taken steps to fight misinformation online by providing self-regulatory guidelines for companies, establishing a Code of Practice for the platforms and advertisers, and pushing for increased transparency on the political ad policies on social media websites. Despite all of that, the Commission said that there was still an influx of targeted online attacks on the platforms ahead of recent EU elections. The Commission is now calling on tech companies to do more to stop the spread of fake news. The Commission said in its report: “…all online platforms need to provide more detailed information allowing the identification of malign actors and targeted Member States They should also intensify their cooperation with fact checkers and empower users to better detect...

Jun 14, 2019

Twitter Acquires AI Startup to Help Combat Fake News

Deleting fake news accounts can be a big game of whack-a-mole. It seems like no matter how many of these disruptive pages social platforms like Facebook and Twitter get rid of, more pop up. Now Twitter is turning to automation to help delete and manage accounts more efficiently. Twitter announced that it has acquired Fabula AI , a London-based artificial intelligence company that specializes in “Geometric Deep Learning to identify fake news,” according to the company’s website. “This strategic investment in graph deep learning research, technology and talent will be a key driver as we work to help people feel safe on Twitter and help them see relevant information,” Twitter said in a blog post . The company said that Fabula’s initial focus will be to “improve the health” of conversations on Twitter and expand applications to stop spam and abuse. “We are really excited to join the ML research team at Twitter, and work together to grow their team and capabilities,” Fabula co-founder...

Jun 4, 2019

Instagram Plans To Start Blocking Hashtags Promoting Vaccine Misinformation

Across social media, vaccine misinformation continues to be a huge issue. Earlier this week, CNN reported that despite Facebook’s pledge to fight vaccine misinformation on its platforms, Instagram still didn’t have the problem under control. The report said that anyone who searched the word “vaccines” would be greeted with posts from anti-vax accounts and hashtags. At a San Francisco Press event on Thursday , Instagram announced that it would begin blocking hashtags advertising “verifiably false” information regarding vaccinations. The new policy will also extend Instagram’s ban policy to hashtags that may seem innocent but are also spreading bad information. “If the hashtag was #vaccines1234, if it contained a high proportion of known vaccine misinformation, we would block that hashtag entirely,” said Karina Newton, Instagram’s global head of public policy, according to The Verge. In the past, Instagram has blocked hashtags promoting false information, Engadget reported . For...

May 10, 2019

Twitter Introduces New Feature To Tackle Election Interference

Like most social media platforms, Twitter has consistently struggled to crack down on election interference. Recently, the company removed 10,000 accounts linked to targeted misinformation campaigns in preparation of the midterm elections, but more needs to be done. This year, important elections are happening around the globe, including in India and the European Union. On Wednesday, Twitter announced its new feature to strengthen its approach to stopping deliberate attempts to mislead voters: a “misleading about voting” report option. “Voting is a fundamental human right and the public conversation occurring on Twitter is never more important than during elections,” Twitter said. “Any attempts to undermine the process of registering to vote or engaging in the electoral process is contrary to our company’s core values.” The option will be ingrained into the pre-existing structure for reporting tweets. Twitter Safety — the company’s account dedicated to safety updates — showed off...

Apr 24, 2019

Sri Lanka Blocks Several Social Media Platforms Following Easter Attacks

The Sri Lankan government has shut down several social media platforms out of fear that misinformation could spread following the deadly attacks on Easter Sunday that killed 300 people and injured more than 500. Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Youtube, Viber, and Snapchat, were all blocked in the country as of yesterday. This is the second time Sri Lanka has shut down social media in the country. In March of last year, the country banned Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram for a week to impede the spread of hateful posts and comments toward Muslims during protests. The move is part of a larger trend of big tech companies not being trusted to distribute reliable information or protect their platforms from being used for harm after a violent event. Weeks ago following the New Zealand mass shooting which was live-streamed on Facebook, conspiracy theories and shared videos filled platforms. New Zealand’s government and social media platforms began taking down the videos. Plus, the...

Apr 23, 2019

YouTube's Fact-Check Tool Showed Information About 9/11 During Notre Dame Fire Live Streams

On Monday, people around the world watched as the Notre Dame cathedral went up in flames. Several outlets — like CBS — immediately began to livestream the fire on YouTube. Then, something strange happened. People noticed that beneath the the Notre Dame livestream, YouTube began to insert information about the 9/11 attacks. Multiple people on Twitter posted screenshots, including Joshua Benton, the director of Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab. “Why in the world is YouTube putting information about9/11 underneath the Notre Dame livestream from France 24?” Benton tweeted , adding, “(Especially since it seems like, at least for right now, ongoing renovations are the most likely cause, no indication of terror).” Why in the world is @YouTube putting information about 9/11 underneath the Notre Dame livestream from @FRANCE24 ? (Especially since it seems like, at least right now, ongoing renovations are the most likely cause, no indication of terror)

Apr 16, 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

Singapore May Pass Its Own Law Banning 'Fake News'

Online misinformation is a huge problem across the globe, and different countries are taking their own routes to tackle it. Singapore is set to pass a law that would make sites accountable for “fake news,” according to The Straits Times . The proposed law would allow Singapore’s government to remove content violating its new rules, The Straits Times reported. This falls under the Protection from the Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, which was introduced in Singapore’s parliament on Monday. Under the law, sites would also have to show corrections or display warnings about misinformation. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated, according to The Straits Times, “In extreme and urgent cases, the legislation will also require online news sources to take down fake news before irreparable damage is done.” Other countries are fighting to stop the spread of misinformation as well. Singapore’s proposed law is reminiscent of one in Malaysia, which also criminalizes fake news. It was...

Apr 2, 2019

Flawed Voting Machines Are Still A Problem And These Senators Want Them Fixed

As election season continues to brew, four senators are calling for leading voting machine developers to amp up their systems to get ahead of possible election interference. Election Systems & Software, Dominion Voting Systems, and Hart InterCivic were named in a recent letter from members of the Senate due to the cybersecurity risks that the companies could pose for a looming election cycle. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) are calling for more innovation and competition in election machine makers. “The integrity of our elections remains under serious threat,” the Senators said in the letter to the companies. “The integrity of our elections is directly tied to the machines we vote on – the products that you make.” Election Systems and Software gained national attention back in November when it was revealed that its Model 650 election machines — a commonly used voting machine vulnerable to hacks — were still being...

Mar 28, 2019

Facebook Announces Plans to Manage Anti-Vaccine Misinformation

Facebook announced Thursday in a blog post that it is actively curbing anti-vaccine misinformation on its platform. The company said it will be providing its users with “authoritative” information on vaccines. Facebook said it will now remove ads that have vaccine misinformation and repeated violators’ accounts will be disabled. Groups and pages that promote anti-vaxer talking points will be subject to reduced rankings, and removed from suggested content and searches. The policies will also extend to Instagram. Ads and other content that contain vaccine misinformation will not be suggested on the platform’s discover and hashtag pages. Facebook is using studies and research provided by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify vaccine hoaxes in order to better keep track of misinformation campaigns. “We also believe in providing people with additional context so they can decide whether to read, share, or engage in conversations...

Mar 8, 2019

LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman Says He Regrets Investing In Misinformation Campaign

LinkedIn co-founder and billionaire, Reid Hoffman donated more than $750,000 to an organization that used misinformation to ensure a loss for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. Moore lost in last year’s special election and came under fire for sexual misconduct allegations, but online bots helped bruise his campaign. The campaign against Moore was ran by American Engagement Technologies (AET), a left-leaning firm that works to get Democrats into office. The firm is run by Mikey Dickerson, a key player in helping the Obama administration in establishing the United States Digital Service and in revamping the original website. Hoffman said he donated to AET before knowing about their use of misinformation tactics to help Democratic candidates. He also mentioned his donations to dozens of other organizations. “I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing,” Hoffman said in a statement to the Washington Post .  For that reason, I am...

Dec 27, 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