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German Minister Advises Facebook to Become More Transparent

Several publications in Germany participating in the "Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland" (RND) editorial network cited the letter on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

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The minister argued that the commercial sale of user data by Facebook directly affected key rights enjoyed by the citizens.
Katarina Barley, German Minister of Justice- wikimedia commons
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With the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealing massive misuse of Facebook users data, Germany’s justice minster has said that the social network must bring changes and become more transparent with users.

In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Katarina Barley also said that the social network needs to give its users “real control” over their data and set up new internal supervisory mechanisms to ensure that formal guidelines are upheld in Facebook’s dealings with third party advertising clients.

Several publications in Germany participating in the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland” (RND) editorial network cited the letter on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

While the minister welcomed certain changes the social site had brought about to protect user privacy, Barley wrote that Facebook had so far failed to assume responsibility for its inappropriate corporate behaviour and criticised plans to transfer the storage of some user data from the European Union (EU) to the US.

With the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealing massive misuse of Facebook users data, Germany's justice minster has said that the social network must bring changes and become more transparent with users.
Facebook. Pixabay

European users of the service currently benefited from enhanced online privacy protection enshrined in EU law.

The minister argued that the commercial sale of user data by Facebook directly affected key rights enjoyed by the citizens.

She described the use of such sensitive data to politically influence or manipulate voters as unacceptable.

Facebook admitted that the data of up to 87 million users was passed on illegally to Cambridge Analytica.

The information was used in an attempt to support the election campaign of US President Donald Trump. Up to 310,000 Germans were affected by the scandal as well.

In its F8 developers’ conference in San Jose on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said the company was taking a broader view of its responsibility by not only giving people powerful tools, but also making sure those tools are used for good.

Also Read: New NASA Mission to Take First Look Deep Inside Mars  

Among the biggest announcements made in the conference was Facebook’s plans to build a “Clear History” privacy tool which will enable users to see the websites and apps that send information to Facebook when they use them.

The tool, Facebook said, will also enable the users to delete this information from their account, and turn off Facebook’s ability to store it.

In her letter, Barley, however, warned that she will keep a close eye on the further measures taken by Facebook. (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)