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Facebook Chief Operating Officer Supports Releasing Russia-linked Advertisements

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Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, delivers a speech during the visit of a start-up companies gathering at Paris' Station F, in Paris. voa
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Washington, October 12: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said Thursday she “absolutely” supports the public release of all advertisements produced by a Russia-linked organization during the 2016 presidential election.

Sandberg said the company is “working on transparency” following the revelation last month that a group with alleged ties to the Russian government ran $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook promoting “divisive” causes like Black Lives Matter.

“Things happened on our platform that shouldn’t have happened,” she said during the interview with Axios’s Mike Allen.

Later Thursday, Facebook Chief Operating Officer is set to meet with Congressional investigators who are looking into what role the advertisements which began running in 2015 and continued through this year may have played in the 2016 presidential election.

The $100,000 worth of ads represent a very small fraction of the total $2.3 billion spent by, and on behalf of, President Donald Trump and losing-candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaigns during the election.

Multiple congressional investigations have been launched, seeking to determine what effect alleged Russian meddling may have played in the election.

In addition, Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is conducting a criminal probe, including whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian operatives during the election season. Trump has denied working with the Russians.

Facebook had previously agreed to disclose the thousands of Facebook ads to congress. Sandberg said Thursday she thinks “it’s important that [the investigators] get the whole picture and explain that to the American people.”

In response to the Russian ad buys, Facebook Chief Operating Officer said that company is hiring 4,000 new employees to oversee ads and content. She said the company is also using “machine learning and automation” to target fake accounts that spread fake news.

She defined fake news as “things that are false hoaxes” and said Facebook is working to stamp out the bad information by teaming up with third-party fact checkers and warning users before they share news deemed fake by Facebook.

She said it is important to be cautious when going after fake news because “a lot of what we allow on Facebook is people expressing themselves” and “when you cut off speech for one person, you cut off speech for all people.”

“We don’t check the information posted on Facebook before people post it, and I don’t think people should want us to,” she said.

Hundreds of fake accounts were used to distribute the Russia-linked advertisements, Sandberg said. But had those ads been posted by legitimate users, “we would have let them run,” she said.(VOA)

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Facebook And Twitter Account Blocks Without Notice: Hezbollah

According to Ynet news, despite the closures, Internet users were directed to pages associated with Hezbollah.

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Facebook And Twitter Account Blocks Without Notice: Hezbollah
Facebook And Twitter Account Blocks Without Notice: Hezbollah, pixabay

Islamist political party and militant group Hezbollah said its Facebook and Twitter accounts have been terminated without any notice.

Hezbollah said on Telegram — an encrypted messaging app — that the closures came without warning and were “part of the propaganda campaign against the resistance due to the important role of the organisation’s information apparatus in various arenas”, The Times of Israel reported on Saturday.

There was no immediate explanation from either Facebook or Twitter on the decision to block the accounts.

According to Ynet news, despite the closures, Internet users were directed to pages associated with Hezbollah.

While the companies have previously blocked pages belonging to the Iran-backed terror group, the shutting down of the accounts came after recent threats by Israeli officials to take legal action against social media companies for hosting the accounts of terror groups, the report said.

Hezbollah
Hezbollah, flickr

Earlier this month, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey warning the company could face prosecution in Israel if it does not block accounts belonging to Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Erdan had claimed that unlike other social media companies, Twitter in many cases had declined to remove content posted by terrorist groups.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked had also threatened Twitter with a legal action over the social media giant’s alleged refusal to crack down on posts by terror operatives.

Also read: Social Media Companies Accelerating To Remove Online Hate Speech

The blocking of the Hezbollah accounts come a day after the terror group released new footage on social media from the 2006 border attack on Israeli soldiers that sparked the Second Lebanon War. (IANS)