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Facebook Must End Far Right’s Fundraising: British Leader

In recent years, Facebook has suffered sustained criticism over its handling of a series of crises, including interference during the US presidential election 2016 and the Brexit vote, allowing dissemination of hate speech and a data breach affecting millions of users

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A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Facebook CEO must put an end to far-right activists’ fundraising on the social networking platform, said British Labour leader Tom Watson, while criticising Mark Zuckerberg for having a “contempt for social responsibility”, the media reported.

According to a Guardian report, Tommy Robinson, a British far-right activist with more than 1 million followers on Facebook, has been receiving financial, political and moral support from a hidden global network of US thinktanks, right-wing Australians and Russian trolls.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds through online donations, some via the social network.

Although Facebook has disabled Robinson’s access to the donate tool, meant to be reserved for charities alone, but supporters visiting Robinson’s Facebook profile continued to be directed towards his website where they could make donations through a form, the British daily reported on Saturday.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the action.

“We have removed the “Donate Now” button from this page. This function is only available for pages that list themselves as a “charitable organisation” and allows them to link to an external webpage of their choice. As this page is for a person we have now removed this,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Facebook is Robinson’s main social network after Twitter suspended him for claiming “Islam promotes killing people” in March, the report claimed.

In a blog post, Watson wrote: “Today I call on him to give a full explanation of how this dire breach of Facebook regulation occurred, pledge that it will never happen again, and, as an apology, make a match-fund donation to Hope Not Hate (a UK-based advocacy group).

Facebook should be ashamed that it had enabled Robinson’s efforts to “divide communities and stoke up hate”, said Matthew McGregor, Hope Not Hate’s campaigns director.

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“Facebook has continually failed to deal with the fact that their platform is vulnerable to exploitation by extremists, until after it is too late. Warm words after the damage is done don’t help reverse the damage caused,” he added.

In recent years, Facebook has suffered sustained criticism over its handling of a series of crises, including interference during the US presidential election 2016 and the Brexit vote, allowing dissemination of hate speech and a data breach affecting millions of users. (IANS)

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Local News Dry up for Facebook Media Project in US

In January this year, the Facebook Journalism Project announced to invest $300 million in local newsrooms

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A photo shows the Facebook app icon on an iPhone in New York, Feb. 19, 2014. VOA

Facebook is having trouble finding enough local news to feed its new journalism initiative, because hundreds of newspapers have shut down in the US.

“About one in three users in the US live in places where we cannot find enough local news on Facebook to launch ‘Today In’,” Facebook wrote in a blog post on Monday.

In those “news deserts” – communities with little or no local reporting – Facebook hasn’t been able to find “five or more recent news articles directly related to these towns” for its news feature “Today In” that was launched in November last year.

“In the last 28 days, there has not been a single day where we’ve been able to find five or more recent news articles directly related to these towns.

“This does not vary much by region: 35 per cent of users in the Midwest, Northeast, and South — and 26 per cent in the West a” live in places where we can’t find much local newson Facebook,” said the social networking company.

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

“Today In” has been rolled out to over 400 cities in the US.

“We’re also announcing a new pilot programme, the Facebook Journalism Project Community Network, to support projects aimed at building community through local news,” said Facebook.

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According to Engadget, nearly 1,800 papers have shut down in the US since around the time Facebook came online 15 years ago.

In January this year, the Facebook Journalism Project announced to invest $300 million in local newsrooms. (IANS)