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Facebook To Scrutinize Political Ads More

In order to prevent election interference on its platform, Facebook has introduced new changes to increase transparency and accountability for electoral ads and Pages

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Facebook is working on launching Athena, its own Internet satellite, early in 2019, the WIRED reported. Pixabay
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In order to prevent election interference on its platform, Facebook has introduced new changes to increase transparency and accountability for electoral ads and Pages.

To get authorised by Facebook, advertisers will now need to confirm their identity and location. “Advertisers will be prohibited from running political ads — electoral or issue-based — until they are authorised,” Rob Goldman, Vice President, Ads at Facebook, said in a blog post late Friday.

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Facebook was accused of leaking data to Cambridge Analytica.

Last year, the social media platform announced that only authorised advertisers will be able to run electoral ads on Facebook or Instagram.

“In addition, these ads will be clearly labeled in the top left corner as aPolitical Ad’. Next to it, we will show ‘paid for by’ information,” added Alex Himel, Vice President, Local and Pages.

“We started testing the authorisation process this week, and people will begin seeing the label and additional information in the US later this spring,” the blog post added.

Facebook is also investing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and adding more people to help find advertisers that should have gone through the authorisation process but did not.

The company has also asked users to report if they see an unlabeled political ad. People can do this by tapping the three dots at the top right corner of the ad and selecting “Report Ad.”

Also Read: Over 5 lakh Indian users’ data shared with Cambridge Analytica: Facebook

In Canada, Facebook is testing a new feature called “view ads” that lets you see the ads a Page is running even if they are not in your News Feed.

“This applies to all advertiser Pages on Facebook — not just Pages running political ads. We plan to launch view ads globally in June,” the post added.

In June, Facebook also plans to release a public, searchable political ads archive. This will contain all ads with the “Political Ad” label, and will show the image and text, as well as additional information like the amount spent and demographic audience information for each ad.

“We’re also announcing that people who manage Pages with large numbers of followers will need to be verified,” said Goldman. Those who manage large Pages that do not clear the process will no longer be able to post. The new updates, Facebook said, are designed to prevent future abuse in elections.

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

Earlier this week, Facebook showed country-specific break-up of people affected by the data breach, saying information of up to 87 million people, mostly in the US, may have been “improperly” shared with British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica via a quiz app, “thisisyourdigitallife”, between November 2013 and December 2015.

The British political research organisation, which collaborated with Donald Trump’s campaign in the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential election, used the leaked information to develop a computer programme to predict the decisions of US voters and allegedly influence them. IANS

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How To Deal With Online Hate Speech: A Detailed Guide By Facebook

Critics of the company, however, said Zuckerberg hasn't gone far enough to address the inherent problems of Facebook, which has 2 billion users.

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Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech
A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Facebook says it is getting better at proactively removing hate speech and changing the incentives that result in the most sensational and provocative content becoming the most popular on the site.

The company has done so, it says, by ramping up its operations so that computers can review and make quick decisions on large amounts of content with thousands of reviewers making more nuanced decisions.

In the future, if a person disagrees with Facebook’s decision, he or she will be able to appeal to an independent review board.

Facebook “shouldn’t be making so many important decisions about free expression and safety on our own,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a call with reporters Thursday.

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at a Facebook developers conference in San Jose, California. VOA

But as Zuckerberg detailed what the company has accomplished in recent months to crack down on spam, hate speech and violent content, he also acknowledged that Facebook has far to go.

“There are issues you never fix,” he said. “There’s going to be ongoing content issues.”

Company’s actions

In the call, Zuckerberg addressed a recent story in The New York Times that detailed how the company fought back during some of its biggest controversies over the past two years, such as the revelation of how the network was used by Russian operatives in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Times story suggested that company executives first dismissed early concerns about foreign operatives, then tried to deflect public attention away from Facebook once the news came out.

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech
A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France. VOA

Zuckerberg said the firm made mistakes and was slow to understand the enormity of the issues it faced. “But to suggest that we didn’t want to know is simply untrue,” he said.

Zuckerberg also said he didn’t know the firm had hired Definers Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm that spread negative information about Facebook competitors as the social networking firm was in the midst of one scandal after another. Facebook severed its relationship with the firm.

“It may be normal in Washington, but it’s not the kind of thing I want Facebook associated with, which is why we won’t be doing it,” Zuckerberg said.

The firm posted a rebuttal to the Times story.

Content removed

Facebook said it is getting better at proactively finding and removing contentsuch as spam, violent posts and hate speech. The company said it removed or took other action on 15.4 million pieces of violent content between June and September of this year, about double what it removed in the prior three months.

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

But Zuckerberg and other executives said Facebook still has more work to do in places such as Myanmar. In the third quarter, the firm said it proactively identified 63 percent of the hate speech it removed, up from 13 percent in the last quarter of 2017. At least 100 Burmese language experts are reviewing content, the firm said.

One issue that continues to dog Facebook is that some of the most popular content is also the most sensational and provocative. Facebook said it now penalizes what it calls “borderline content” so it gets less distribution and engagement.

“By fixing this incentive problem in our services, we believe it’ll create a virtuous cycle: by reducing sensationalism of all forms, we’ll create a healthier, less-polarized discourse where more people feel safe participating,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post.

Also Read: Facebook to Establish an Independent Body to Moderate Content

Critics of the company, however, said Zuckerberg hasn’t gone far enough to address the inherent problems of Facebook, which has 2 billion users.

“We have a man-made, for-profit, simultaneous communication space, marketplace and battle space and that it is, as a result, designed not to reward veracity or morality but virality,” said Peter W. Singer, strategist and senior fellow at New America, a nonpartisan think tank, at an event Thursday in Washington, D.C. (VOA)