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After An Year of Ups And Downs, Zuckerberg Sees Progress With Facebook

One of the changes aims to reduce "viral videos" that are shared across the Facebook platform. 

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. VOA

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Friday that the world’s biggest social network has “fundamentally” changed to focus on securing its systems against manipulation and misinformation.

Capping a tumultuous year marked by data protection scandals and government probes, Zuckerberg said he was “proud of the progress we’ve made” in addressing Facebook’s problems.

“For 2018, my personal challenge has been to focus on addressing some of the most important issues facing our community — whether that’s preventing election interference, stopping the spread of hate speech and misinformation, making sure people have control of their information, and ensuring our services improve people’s well-being,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

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This photo shows the logo for Facebook on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square. VOA

“We’re a very different company today than we were in 2016, or even a year ago. We’ve fundamentally altered our DNA to focus more on preventing harm in all our services, and we’ve systematically shifted a large portion of our company to work on preventing harm.”

He said Facebook now has more than 30,000 people “working on safety” and invests billions of dollars in security.

Misuse of data

Zuckerberg’s comments come at the close of a year when Facebook was roiled by revelations about the misuse of personal data by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 U.S. election and on data sharing with business partners.

But he said the questions around Facebook are “more than a one-year challenge” and that the California giant was in the process of “multiyear plans to overhaul our systems.”

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

“In the past we didn’t focus as much on these issues as we needed to, but we’re now much more proactive,” he said.

The comments follow a message from Zuckerberg in January, before many of Facebook’s troubles emerged, when he outlined his goals of stemming abuse and hate and foreign interference, among other things, on the network used by more than 2 billion people.

“My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues,” Zuckerberg said in January.

Artificial intelligence

In Friday’s message, Zuckerberg enumerated a series of steps taken over the past year, including fact-checking partnerships, advertising transparency and artificial intelligence to remove harmful content.

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A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France. VOA

He added that Facebook’s systems were also being retooled with the aim of helping “improve people’s well-being,” based on research it conducted.

The research, he said, “found that when people use the internet to interact with others, that’s associated with all the positive aspects of well-being. … But when you just use the internet to consume content passively, that’s not associated with those same positive effects.”

Also Read:  Mark Zuckerberg Reaches Out to Microsoft President For Help

One of the changes aims to reduce “viral videos” that are shared across the Facebook platform.

“These changes intentionally reduced engagement and revenue in the near term, although we believe they’ll help us build a stronger community and business over the long term,” Zuckerberg said. (VOA)

Next Story

Twitter, Facebook Shut Down China-backed Fake Accounts

The recent wave of anti-government protests has prompted widespread criticism of the police for their alleged brutality against protesters

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Twitter, tweets, India
The Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.. VOA

As pro-democracy protests gain momentum in Hong Kong, Twitter and Facebook have suspended several accounts that were part of the Chinese government’s influence campaign and targeted protest movement and the call for political change in Hong Kong.

Twitter said it has suspended more than 200,000 accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour — including 936 accounts originating from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” Twitter said in a blog post late Monday.

The company identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests.

“As Twitter is blocked in China, many of these accounts accessed Twitter using VPNs. However, some accounts accessed Twitter from specific unblocked IP addresses originating in mainland China,” the micro-blogging platform added.

The accounts were suspended for a range of violations of Twitter’s platform manipulation policies like spam, coordinated activity, fake accounts, attributed activity and violative content.

The micro-blogging platform said it will also ban ads from China-backed media companies, for which it has already faced the flak from users.

Facebook said it has also removed seven Pages, three Groups and five accounts originated in China and involved in posting fake news pertaining to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

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FILE – In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

The individuals behind this campaign engaged in a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts, “some of which had been already disabled” to manage Pages posing as news organisations, post in Groups, disseminate their content, and also drive people to off-platform news sites.

“About 15,500 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and about 2,200 accounts joined at least one of these Groups,a Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, said in a blog post.

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government,” he added.

Based on a tip shared by Twitter about activity they found on their platform, Facebook conducted an internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour in the region and identified the malicious accounts.

Also Read: Apple ‘Bug’ Puts iPhones with Latest iOS to Hacking Risk

Since June, Hong Kong has been rocked by a wave of protests because of the extradition bill, which would have enabled fugitives to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China.

A mass rally in Hong Kong on Sunday, widely deemed the most important so far this month, attracted tens of thousands of people as the crisis entered the 11th consecutive weekend of anti-government protests.

The recent wave of anti-government protests has prompted widespread criticism of the police for their alleged brutality against protesters. (IANS)