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Australia Proposes To Strengthen Regulations of Facebook, Google

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia -- 68 per cent of its population -- while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users - which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users

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Facebook testing 'LOL' app to woo kids, experts wary. Pixabay

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Monday proposed measures to counter the dominant market positions of Google and Facebook and strengthen monitoring on their access to information, advertising and consumers personal data.

The regulatory body, which recommended 11 preliminary measures in the report, was directed to conduct a public inquiry into the impact of digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content in 2017 by then treasurer and current Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Acting as an intermediary between consumers and news outlets, platforms are inherently influential in shaping consumers’ choices of digital journalism,” said the report cited by Efe news.

This influential position and filtration of news items could place the consumer in a so-called filter bubble, increasing the risk of consumers being exposed to unreliable news, according to the report.

“The algorithms operated by each of Google and Facebook, as well as other policies, determine which content is surfaced and displayed to consumers in news feed and search results,” it said.

“The ACCC considers that the strong market position of digital platforms like Google and Facebook justifies a greater level of regulatory oversight,” Chair Rod Sims said.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

The commission called for the creation of a regulatory authority with powers to monitor these digital platforms and recommended establishing an automatic mechanism to take down content that violates copyright.

The ACCC said consumers should be informed about the manner in which these platforms collect and use their data to create personalized advertising.

This would include a reform of privacy laws to require the user’s express consent to data collection and “enable consumers to require erasure of their personal information where they have withdrawn their consent”.

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ACCC said that it found that “competition may have been distorted in multiple sectors where consumer data is used”.

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia — 68 per cent of its population — while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users – which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users.

In 2017, Google registered 90 per cent of search traffic originating from Australian desktops and 98 per cent from mobile phones. (IANS)

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Facebook Bans Conservative News Outlet from Buying Ads on Its Platform for Violating Its Policies

Over the past year, we removed accounts associated with The Epoch Times for violating our ad policies

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Facebook, Conservative, News
The Epoch Times spent $2 million on Facebook ads supporting Trump and conspiracy theories about his political enemies, The NBC News reported on Friday. Pixabay

Facebook has banned conservative news outlet and US President Donald Trump supporter The Epoch Times from buying ads on its platform for violating its policies.

The Epoch Times spent $2 million on Facebook ads supporting Trump and conspiracy theories about his political enemies, The NBC News reported on Friday.

“Over the past year, we removed accounts associated with The Epoch Times for violating our ad policies, including trying to get around our review systems. We acted on additional accounts today and they are no longer able to advertise with us,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

The Epoch Times pushed ads under names such as “Honest Paper” and “Pure American Journalism”, bypassing Facebook’s political advertising transparency rules.

Facebook, Conservative, News
Facebook has banned conservative news outlet and US President Donald Trump supporter The Epoch Times from buying ads on its platform for violating its policies. Pixabay

A recent NBC News probe revealed how The Epoch Times had evolved from a non-profit newspaper “into a conservative online news behemoth that embraced President Donald Trump and conspiracy content”.

Since 2016, The Epoch Times’ revenue more than doubled, and the reach of its online content zoomed past that of every other news organisation, attracting billions of views across its platforms.

The news outlet spent $1.5 million on more than 11,000 Trump-friendly Facebook ads within the last year.

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Journalist Judd Legum spotted for the first time how several ads from The Epoch Times were in violation of Facebook’s policies. (IANS)