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Social Networking Giant Facebook Staring at Bigger Problems This Year

In Wieser's analysis, Facebook's problems are unlikely to go away in 2019

Facebook, data
Facebook staring at bigger problems this year, warns analyst. VOA

Already mired in controversies, social networking giant Facebook should brace itself for another tough year as its revenue growth faces risk due to increased scrutiny of the platform’s usage by marketers, according to Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser.

In a note published in MediaVillage on Monday, Wieser maintained his “sell” recommendation on the company’s stock.

“On a negatively revised price target for 2019, we maintain our Sell recommendation on Facebook as we think downside risks on higher costs and management changes are more pronounced now vs. before…,” Wieser said.

“…and revenue growth also faces risks as marketers enhance their scrutiny when they assess their use of the platform,” he added.

Facebook had a tough year in 2018. Scrutiny of Facebook increased manifold since it revealed earlier in 2018 how a London-based political consultancy, that worked for US President Donald Trump’s campaign, improperly got access to data of up to 87 millions users.

Appearing before a US Congress Committee in April 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised for the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal.

Facebook, social media. Pixabay

While Facebook was slammed for revealing the Cambridge Analytica scandal years after it got to know of it, similar allegations of inaction were also levelled at the social media site for its role in the spread of false and divisive messages by Russian-linked accounts during the 2016 US presidential election.

Again in September 2018, Facebook said that a breach had exposed data of 50 million people and then, in December, it reported another security breach where nearly 6.8 million users risked their private photos being exposed to third-party apps.

User numbers at Facebook were flat in North America and declined slightly in Europe in third-quarter information released in October, although total monthly active users worldwide went up to 2.27 billion from 2.23 billion on the previous quarter, CNBC reported.

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In Wieser’s analysis, Facebook’s problems are unlikely to go away in 2019.

Pivotal estimates that Facebook made between $5 billion and $7 billion from Chinese advertisers in 2018, and that might also be a problem this year if economic weakness continues in China, the CNBC report said on Monday. (IANS)

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Facebook Brings New Measures to Curb the Spread of Hate Speech on its Platform

This is similar to a change Facebook made to WhatsApp earlier this year to reduce forwarded messages around the world

FILE - The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

After facing flak for the spread of hate speech on its platform in countries experiencing conflict, Facebook has introduced new measures to remove content and accounts that violate its policies and limit the number of forwards on Facebook Messenger in some places.

In Myanmar, Facebook has started to reduce the distribution of all content shared by people who have demonstrated a pattern of posting content that violates its Community Standards.

If it proves successful in mitigating harm, Facebook may roll out this method in other countries as well, the social networking giant said in a statement on Thursday.

“In cases where individuals or organisations more directly promote or engage violence, we will ban them under our policy against dangerous individuals and organisations,” said Facebook’s Samidh Chakrabarti, Director of Product Management, Civic Integrity; and Rosa Birch, Director of Strategic Response.

“Reducing distribution of content is, however, another lever we can pull to combat the spread of hateful content and activity,” the social networking giant said.

Facebook said it is also making fundamental changes to its products to address virality and reduce the spread of content that can amplify and exacerbate violence and conflict.

“In Sri Lanka, we have explored adding friction to message forwarding so that people can only share a message with a certain number of chat threads on Facebook Messenger,” Chakrabarti and Birch wrote.

facebook, personal data
FILE – A man poses for a photo in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences in San Francisco, California, March 26, 2018. VOA

This is similar to a change Facebook made to WhatsApp earlier this year to reduce forwarded messages around the world.

Facebook said it constituted a dedicated team to proactively prevent the abuse of its platform and protect vulnerable groups in future instances of conflict around the world.

The team is focusing on three key areas: removing content and accounts that violate its Community Standards, reducing the spread of borderline content that has the potential to amplify and exacerbate tensions and informing people about the products and the Internet at large.

“To address content that may lead to offline violence, our team is particularly focused on combating hate speech and misinformation,” Chakrabarti and Birch wrote.

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Facebook said it has also extended the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to recognise posts that may contain graphic violence and comments that are potentially violent or dehumanising, so we can reduce their distribution while they undergo a review by our Community Operations team.

“If this content violates our policies, we will remove it. By limiting visibility in this way, we hope to mitigate against the risk of offline harm and violence,” it added. (IANS)