Saturday January 19, 2019
Home Lead Story Facebook CEO ...

Facebook CEO vows to fight election interference and fake news

Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, asked Zuckerberg if he's willing to make a commitment to protect political speech from "all different corners"

0
//
Facebook
Facebook is working on launching Athena, its own Internet satellite, early in 2019, the WIRED reported. Pixabay

There is an online propaganda “arms race” with Russia and it was important to make sure no one interferes in any more elections including in India, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a five-hour marathon session at the US Congress.

“The most important thing I care about right now is making sure no one interferes in the various 2018 elections around the world,” he testified before a 44-Senator panel.

facebook
Facebook was accused of leaking data to Cambridge Analytica earlier this year.

“As long as there are people sitting in Russia whose job it is to try and interfere with elections around the world, this is going to be an ongoing conflict,” the 33-year-old billionaire said as he prepared to testify again, this time before a House panel.

Zuckerberg has said Facebook will ensure that its platform is not misused to influence elections in India and elsewhere. Facebook on Monday said: “Our goals are to understand Facebook’s impact on upcoming elections — like Brazil, India, Mexico and the US midterms — and to inform our future product and policy decisions.”

Also Read: How to Find Out What Facebook, Google Know About You

Facebook’s stock was up about 2 per cent even before Zuckerberg sat down. It moved even higher when he started addressing the questions from lawmakers and finished the day with a 4.5 per cent gain. Zuckerberg accepted that the company did not do enough to prevent the platform from being used to harm others.

In his opening remarks, he said: “Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all of the good that connecting people can do.

“But it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used as harm as well. “That goes for fake news, for interference in elections and we didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake and it was my mistake and I’m sorry,” the Facebook CEO said.

Facebook invests big in Community Leaders Program. AFP
Facebook CEO is under a lot of heat. AFP

With 44 Senators asking questions, and just five minutes of time allotted for each, there was limited potential for follow-up questions to and grilling of the CEO. His apology came as Facebook faced a widening scandal where a British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica improperly gathered detailed information on 87 million of its users.

“It’s not enough to just connect people. We have to make sure those connections are positive. It’s not enough to give people a voice. We have to make sure people aren’t using it to harm people or spread disinformation,” Zuckerberg told Senators. Facebook was getting to the bottom of exactly what Cambridge Analytica did and telling everyone affected.

“What we know now is that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed information by buying it. When we first contacted Cambridge Analytica, they told us they had deleted the data,” Zuckerberg said. He said the company made big changes in the platform in 2014 that have prevented this specific situation with Cambridge Analytica from occurring again.

Zuckerberg confirmed that his company was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election.

Also Read: Jack Ma asks Zuckerberg to ‘fix’ Facebook

Asked by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy while he testified on Capitol Hill whether Facebook had been served subpoenas for the special counsel, Zuckerberg responded “yes,” but later clarified: “I am actually not aware of a subpoena. I’m aware that there may be, but we are working with them.”

Asked if his employees had been interviewed, he again responded yes but added, “I have not”, reports CNN. He continued: “I want to be careful here because our work with the special counsel is confidential and I want to make sure that in an open session I’m not revealing something that is confidential.”

facebook
The social media app is in news for all the wrong reasons lately. VOA

Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, asked Zuckerberg if he’s willing to make a commitment to protect political speech from “all different corners”. Zuckerberg agreed: “If there’s an imminent threat of harm, we’re going to take a conservative position on that and make sure that we flag that and understand that more broadly.

“I don’t want anyone at our company to make any decisions based on the political ideology of the content,” he added. On a question if Facebook has a political bias, he said the platform’s goal was not to engage political speech.

Zuckerberg said he understands the concerns, especially because “Facebook and tech industry is located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely Left-leaning place”. But he said he tries to make sure Facebook does not have any bias in the work that it does. IANS

Next Story

Social Networking Giant Facebook Testing ‘LOL’ App to Woo Kids

Facebook has over 2.2 billion users globally, including 300 million in India

0
Facebook
Facebook testing 'LOL' app to woo kids, experts wary. Pixabay

In a fresh attempt to woo children into joining its network and boost user growth, Facebook is testing a new hub called “LOL” that will let kids share and post humorous meme content.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch late Friday that it was experimenting with the “LOL” hub for kids. “We are running a small scale test and the concept is in the early stages right now,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Divided into categories like “For You”, “Animals”, “Fails” and “Pranks”, “LoL” will be a special feed of funny videos and GIF-like clips.

The company is yet to decide if “LOL” will become a stand-alone app or be available in the main Facebook app.

“‘LOL’ is currently in private beta with around 100 high school students who signed non-disclosure agreements with parental consent to do focus groups and one-on-one testing with Facebook staff,” said the report.

According to social media experts, this is yet another attempt by Facebook — embroiled in several data breach and privacy violation cases — to get into a yet-to-be-tapped market to boost its stalled user growth.

“It may not be a good idea to again start some specific social media platform for tender minds especially when the content is not guided. There has been a call globally to limit the screen time for kids and Facebook is somehow trying to hook them onto screens,” Anoop Mishra, one of the nation’s leading social media experts, told IANS on Saturday.

Despite call for withdrawal by experts, Facebook has decided to expand the reach of its Messenger Kids by introducing the video calling and messaging app designed for children under 13. The Messenger Kids app was launched in the US in 2017.

In 2018, more than 100 child health experts wrote an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to discontinue the app.

Facebook, data, vietnam
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

“At a time when there is mounting concern about how social media use affects adolescents’ well being, it is particularly irresponsible to encourage children as young as pre-schoolers to start using a Facebook product,” the authors wrote.

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also warned the social media giant to stay away from his children.

“Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children. Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!” Hunt had posted on Twitter.

Responding to the backlash that Facebook’s Messenger Kids is facing, a top executive of the social network said that families would be better off because the video calling and messaging app designed for the under 13s exists. “I firmly believe that it is a good product,” said David Marcus, Facebook’s Vice President of Messaging Products.

But experts feel that the app’s overall impact on families and society is likely to be negative, and it could normalise social media use among young children by creating peer pressure.

Also Read- Samsung Files a New Patent Application For 3D Displays

“With the growing incidences of child trafficking, wrong marketing messaging amid absence of proper guidelines, such new apps meant for kids can be another cause of concerns for parents,” stressed Mishra.

With over a billion users, Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram is currently very popular among teenagers.

Facebook has over 2.2 billion users globally, including 300 million in India.

The company last year launched a short-form video app called “Lasso” but the app did not gained much popularity. (IANS)