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Facebook Cannot Regulate Itself: U.S. Lawmakers

Now we know that once they knew the truth, top @Facebook executives did everything they could to hide it from the public.

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Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., center, talks with Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., right, during a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Capitol Hill. VOA

Democratic U.S. Representative David Cicilline, expected to become the next chairman of House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, said on Wednesday that Facebook cannot be trusted to regulate itself and Congress should take action.

Cicilline, citing a report in the New York Times on Facebook’s efforts to deal with a series of crises, said on Twitter: “This staggering report makes clear that @Facebook executives will always put their massive profits ahead of the interests of their customers.”

“It is long past time for us to take action,” he said. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said a year ago that the company would put its “community” before profit, and it has doubled its staff focused on safety and security issues since then. Spending also has increased on developing automated tools to catch propaganda and material that violates the company’s posting policies.

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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

Other initiatives have brought increased transparency about the administrators of pages and purchasers of ads on Facebook. Some critics, including lawmakers and users, still contend that Facebook’s bolstered systems and processes are prone to errors and that only laws will result in better performance. The New York Timessaid Zuckerberg and the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, ignored warning signs that the social media company could be “exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe.” And when the warning signs became evident, they “sought to conceal them from public view.”

“We’ve known for some time that @Facebook chose to turn a blind eye to the spread of hate speech and Russian propaganda on its platform,” said Cicilline, who will likely take the reins of the subcommittee on regulatory reform, commercial and antitrust law when the new, Democratic-controlled Congress is seated in January.

Also Read: Social Media Laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

“Now we know that once they knew the truth, top @Facebook executives did everything they could to hide it from the public by using a playbook of suppressing opposition and propagating conspiracy theories,” he said.

“Next January, Congress should get to work enacting new laws to hold concentrated economic power to account, address the corrupting influence of corporate money in our democracy, and restore the rights of Americans,” Cicilline said. (VOA)

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Facebook has no Choice But to Topple TikTok in India

Unless TikTok is permanently banned in the country over a series of complaints, there seems to be no stopping this Chinese app

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TikTok has over 54 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. Pixabay

By Nishant Arora

Chasing 15 seconds of fame, millions of Indians are hooked to TikTok and the success of the Chinese short video-sharing app — despite controversies and calls for regulation — has forced major digital giants to incorporate short videos on their own platforms.

TikTok is available in 150 markets, in 75 languages and has more than 700 million monthly active users globally (including over 200 million in India) in just a year compared to 300 million existing Indian users on Facebook.

Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are facing strong competition from TikTok in the country. TikTok owner now plans to invest $1 billion in India despite the calls to ban the app.

According to Meenakshi Tiwari, Forecast Analyst at global market research firm Forrester, while TikTok managed to monetise its offering within one year of its launch through a variety of revenue models like in-app purchase of coins and virtual gifts, advertising accounts for most of its revenue.

Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, TikTok invests heavily in influencer marketing.

“TikTok has launched new advertising formats such as brand takeovers that allow full-screen vertical display, in-feed native video, and hashtag challenge ads, which provide a more immersive and interactive platform to the marketers,” Tiwari told IANS.

One can imagine what Facebook must be thinking: To quickly put a spanner in TikTok’s growth else the India market will slowly ditch its main platform as well as the photo-sharing Instagram.

In November last year, Facebook quietly released a stand-alone app called “Lasso” to compete with TikTok.

On Lasso, which is currently available in the US, users can record themselves dancing and lip-syncing to music, similar to what they can do on TikTok.

“Lasso is a new stand-alone app for short-form, entertaining videos — from comedy to beauty to fitness and more. We’re excited about the potential here, and we’ll be gathering feedback from the people and the creators,” a Facebook spokesperson had told The Verge.

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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

Facebook last week roped in former Google employee Jason Toff for a key portfolio and the speculation is rife about the social networking giant preparing the global launch of its short video-sharing app.

Toff, who earlier worked for Twitter’s short-video sharing service Vine which has been shut down, has joined as Facebook’s Product Management Director to lead the company’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team aimed at developing experimental apps for consumers who are still away from the core Facebook brand.

According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR), the rise of apps like Bytedance’s TikTok demonstrates an underlying consumer fatigue and their urge and need for expressing themselves by experimenting with new apps and platforms.

“By focusing on vernacular languages, TikTok has enabled Indians everywhere to share their talent with the world. With its first-mover advantage, coupled with organically and rapidly growing user base, Bytedance is not shy of battling Facebook’s global dominance,” Ram told IANS.

TikTok is swiftly scaling its ecosystem to ringfence its users with ‘mini programmes’ and, perhaps, a smartphone with pre-installed apps in China.

“For Facebook, it is imperative to thwart TikTok’s rising competition. Unfortunately, its previous attempts at making a TikTok clone have failed. More significantly, Facebook’s reach in India does not extend beyond the tier II and III urban India,” emphasised Ram.

Also Read: Students of IIT Kharagpur Develop AI App to Lend Support for Elderly Care

As pointed out by Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg in the Q1 2019 earnings call, the meaning of social media is changing in today’s world and there is a move toward more private social media like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram.

Zuckerberg must not delay further in launching a TikTok rival, “else time may run out for Facebook to have a product that will get India excited,” said Ram.

Unless TikTok is permanently banned in the country over a series of complaints, there seems to be no stopping this Chinese app. (IANS)