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Facebook to disclose details about political advertisers

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San Francisco, Oct 28: Facebook has vowed to make political ads more transparent, allowing users of the social network to know more about the advertisers which may include their identity and location.

The move comes ahead of the November 1 US Congressional hearings in which tech giants including Facebook will be questioned about Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

“We’re going to require more thorough documentation from advertisers who want to run election-related ads,” Rob Goldman, Facebook’s Vice President of Ads said in a statement on Friday.

“We are starting with federal elections in the US, and will progress from there to additional contests and elections in other countries and jurisdictions,” Goldman added.

As part of the documentation process, advertisers may be required to identify that they are running election-related advertising and verify both their entity and location.

Once verified, these advertisers will have to include a disclosure in their election-related ads, which reads: “Paid for by.”

“When you click on the disclosure, you will be able to see details about the advertiser. Like other ads on Facebook, you will also be able to see an explanation of why you saw that particular ad,” Goldman said.

“For political advertisers that do not proactively disclose themselves, we are building machine learning tools that will help us find them and require them to verify their identity,” Goldman added.

Facebook said it will also soon roll out a feature that would allow its users to visit any page on Facebook and see what ads that page is running.

“We will start this test in Canada and roll it out to the US by this summer, ahead of the US midterm elections in November, as well as broadly to all other countries around the same time,” Goldman said.

Reports earlier found that Russian-linked accounts used a number of tools including advertisements to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

In next week’s congressional hearings, Facebook, Google, and Twitter will be grilled about the roles their platforms played in Russia’s alleged attempts to influence the election.(IANS)

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Facebook’s new button to aid users identify fake news

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Facebook
Facebook's new button to aid users identify fake news

San Francisco, Oct 6: In a move to help identify stories to read, share and trust on their News Feed, Facebook is testing a button that users can tap to access additional information about where the stories came from.

The additional information about a news article will be pulled from across Facebook and other sources to identify and remove false news.

The other sources are information from the news publisher’s Wikipedia entry, a button to follow their Page, trending articles or related articles about the topic and information about how the article is being shared by people on Facebook, the social media platform said in a blog post on Friday.

“In some cases, if that information is unavailable, we will let people know, which can also be helpful context,” the Facebook blog post added.

The move is important in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting where Google, Facebook and Twitter failed miserably to stop publishing fake news on their platforms.

Facebook’s “Security Check” page — that lets people involved with disasters and accidents post messages for friends and loved ones — published a blog post from “Alt-Right News” that said “the killer may have been a Trump-hating American television host Rachel Maddow fan” in an apparent reference to the misidentified killer’s Facebook page.

Facebook said its security staff saw the post and removed it.

“However, its removal was delayed by a few minutes, allowing it to be screen captured and circulated online. We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused,” Fast Company quoted the social media giant as saying.

“The new button reflects feedback from our community, including many publishers who collaborated on its development as part of our work through the Facebook Journalism Project,” Facebook said in the new blog post.

Helping people access this important contextual information can help them evaluate if articles are from a publisher they trust, and if the story itself is credible, it added.(IANS)

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Chinese internet service providers started blocking access to WhatsApp.

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Whatsapp messaging platform
Image: IANS

San Francisco, Sep 26 (IANS) Instant messaging service WhatsApp has been largely blocked in China, the media reported.

The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), a global observation network for detecting censorship, surveillance and traffic manipulation, suggested on Monday night that Chinese internet service providers started blocking access to WhatsApp on September 23, reports CNN.

Public reports on Twitter indicated that WhatsApp, which is owned by the US-based social media giant Facebook, became inaccessible for some people on September 19.

Over the last few months, there were a number of WhatsApp disruptions in China.

However, WhatsApp has not made an official announcement on the development.

China has already blocked access to a number of internet companies, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google.

Some people access these services through virtual private networks (VPN), or with tools that disguise internet traffic to circumvent censorship. But the Chinese government has launched a crack down on VPNs this year.

According to Timothy Heath, senior international defence research analyst at the RAND Corporation, the Chinese government does not like that WhatsApp uses strong encryption.

“The government wants to monitor internet communications, and therefore it’s trying to steer its people to use technology that can be accessed and monitored by the government,” Heath told CNN.

Earlier this month, WeChat, a popular chat service in China, notified users of its policies to comply with government requests for information. (ians)

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Snapchat blocks Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia

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Social media platform Snapchat has blocked access to Al Jazeera content in Saudi Arabia
Image: IANS

Riyadh, Sep 18 (IANS) Social media platform Snapchat has blocked access to Al Jazeera content in Saudi Arabia, the media reported on Monday.

The popular photo-sharing app said it was asked by the Saudi authorities to remove the Qatari-backed broadcaster’s Discover Publisher Channel because it violated local laws, reports the BBC.

“We make an effort to comply with local laws in the countries where we operate,” a Snapchat spokesperson said in a statement.

Qatar is in an ongoing dispute with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The four countries cut ties with Qatar earlier this year, accusing the country of supporting terrorism.

After the start of the dispute, Saudi Arabia had also demanded the Qatari government to shut Al Jazeera altogether as one of 13 conditions to remove sanctions against the country.

However, those conditions were later withdrawn. (IANS)