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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Admits, Cannot Guarantee Interference-free European Parliament Elections

Under pressure from EU regulators to do more to guard against foreign meddling in the bloc's upcoming legislative election, Facebook toughened its rules on political advertising in Europe last week.

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Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 24, 2018. VOA

Facebook is much better than it was in 2016 at tackling election interference but cannot guarantee the site will not be used to undermine European Parliament elections in May, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday.

Chastened since suspected Russian operatives used Facebook and other social media to influence an election that surprisingly brought Donald Trump to power in the United States, Facebook has said it has plowed resources and staff into safeguarding the May 26 EU vote.

Zuckerberg said there had been a lot of important elections since 2016 that have been relatively clean and demonstrated the defenses it has built up to protect their integrity.

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Facebook is much better than it was in 2016 at tackling election interference but cannot guarantee the site will not be used to undermine European Parliament elections in May, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday. VOA

“We’ve certainly made a lot of progress … But no, I don’t think anyone can guarantee in a world where you have nation states that are trying to interfere in elections, there’s no single thing we can do and say okay we’ve now solved the issue,” Zuckerberg told Irish national broadcaster RTE in an interview.

“This is an ongoing arms race where we’re constantly building up our defenses and these sophisticated governments are also evolving their tactics.”

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia ran a disinformation and hacking operation to undermine the American democratic process and help Republican Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Moscow denies interfering in the election.

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“This is an ongoing arms race where we’re constantly building up our defenses and these sophisticated governments are also evolving their tactics.” Pixabay

Under pressure from EU regulators to do more to guard against foreign meddling in the bloc’s upcoming legislative election, Facebook toughened its rules on political advertising in Europe last week.

It also announced plans to ramp up efforts to fight misinformation ahead of the vote and will partner with German news agency DPA to boost its fact checking.

 

Also Read: The New Setting Notification! Now You Can Decide Who Can Add You To WhatsApp Group

“Here in the EU for the upcoming elections we are bringing the full battery of all of the strategies and tools that worked very well in a lot of important elections so far so I’ve a lot of confidence,” Zuckerberg said during a trip to Dublin, home to Facebook’s international headquarters.

“But I think that we should expect that for some of these countries that are out there that are trying to interfere, they are just going to keep trying, so we need to stay ahead of that and keep on doing this work in order to stay ahead.” (VOA)

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Quit Facebook Now to Secure Good Grades in Exams

However, even when students used Facebook primarily for educational purposes, it was still a problem for lower performing students

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

Parents, take note. If you want your children to score good grades in exams, tell them to quit social media as researchers have found that students whose grades were below average could boost their results if they devoted less time on social networking sites, especially Facebook.

The study, published in the journal Computers & Education, looked at the amount of time first-year university students spent on Facebook, and the impact it had on their grades.

More than 500 students enrolled in the first year subject ‘Introductory Accounting’ at an Australian university took part in the study, with an average age of 19.

The research from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) showed that while high Facachieving students were not affected by the amount of time on Facebook, below average students had significantly lower grades with greater Facebook use.

“Our research shows time spent on social networking platforms puts lower academic achievers at higher risk of failing their course,” said study researcher James Wakefield from the UTS.

Students taking part in the study spent on average nearly two hours a day on Facebook, however some were on the social networking site in excess of eight hours a day.

“Lower achieving students may already be grappling with self-regulation and focus, so it seems time spent on Facebook provides a further distraction from studies,” Wakefield said.

Researchers found that if the students used Facebook for three hours a day – not substantially higher than the average of just under two hours – the difference was around six marks in a 60 mark exam or 10 per cent.

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The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

While the research applies to university students studying STEM and business degrees, it is likely to also be relevant to high school students who use social media.

For the findings, researchers assessed the students’ general academic achievement using their weighted average mark (WAM) across all of their studies, and surveyed them about their Facebook use.

They also controlled for other factors that might influence their achievement, such as whether they were planning to major in accounting, as well as their age and gender.

“It appears that for students with lower academic achievement, the use of social networking sites replaces study time, whereas high achieving students are able to juggle both,” he said.

Also Read: Tech Giant Google Secretly Gathering Health Information of Millions of US Citizens

According to the researchers, students with below average grades would benefit from switching off notifications on their phones, and either quitting or reducing time spent on Facebook.

The research also looked at why students were using Facebook – whether to keep in touch with family and friends, for entertainment or for study purposes.

However, even when students used Facebook primarily for educational purposes, it was still a problem for lower performing students. (IANS)