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Lawmakers In US Will Review Social Media Executives In September

“It would be a mistake to think this is just about elections,” added Republican Sen. John Cornyn, noting similar techniques could be used to destroy reputations or tank stock prices.

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Top executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google will face lawmakers on Capitol Hill next month to explain what the social media giants are doing to combat foreign information operations.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, Republican Sen. Richard Burr, and ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner, made the announcement Wednesday, at the start of a hearing on how Russia and other countries and actors have been manipulating social media.

The goal of the September 5 hearing will be “to hear the plans they have in place, to press them to do more, and to work together to address this challenge,” Warner said.

“They can do better to protect our democracy,” he added. “I’m concerned that even after 18 months of study we are still only scratching the surface when it comes to Russia’s information warfare.”

Burr called the foreign information operations, like those being carried out by Russia, “an intolerable assault on the democratic foundation this republic was built on.”

Google Along with Other SSocial Media Giants will Face The Lawmakers, Wikimedia Commons
Google Along with Other Social Media Giants will Face The Lawmakers, Wikimedia Commons

“It’s also important that the American people know that these activities neither began nor ended with the 2016 elections” Burr said. He warned that activities like those identified recently by Facebook have been going beyond just social media, “creating events on our streets with real Americans unknowingly participating.”

Facebook Tuesday announced it had shut down 32 Facebook and Instagram accounts because they were “involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior,” much of it targeting left-wing American political groups.

Facebook said it was too early to say whether the accounts were being run by Russia, but an analysis by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab found signs pointing to “the Russian-speaking world.”

In a blog post, the lab noted similarities to activity by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), including “language patterns that indicate non-native English and consistent mistranslation, as well as an overwhelming focus on polarizing issues at the top of any given news cycle with content that remained emotive rather than fact-based.”

Facebook’s announcement followed a warning issued by Microsoft less than two weeks ago, which said hackers had targeted the campaigns of at least Congressional candidates in the upcoming election.

Microsoft said the phishing attacks, similar to ones employed by Russian-linked operatives to target the Republican and Democratic campaigns during the 2016 election, were thwarted.

Late last week, The Daily Beast reported one of the targets of those attacks was Missouri’s Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, who has been highly critical of Russia.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, May 23, 2018. VOA
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, May 23, 2018. VOA

During Wednesday’s senate hearing, a number of senators cautioned the issue is much bigger than the 2016 or 2018 elections.

“It is about the integrity of our society,” said Sen. Burr. “This is about national security.”

“It would be a mistake to think this is just about elections,” added Republican Sen. John Cornyn, noting similar techniques could be used to destroy reputations or tank stock prices.

Experts say some of that already is happening.

“On the state actor front we have seen evidence of campaigns targeting energy and agriculture,” said Renee DiResta, director of Research at New Knowledge.

“In agriculture, that’s taken the form of spreading fear about GMOs [genetically modified organisms],” she said.

“There’s a commercial dimension to this that’s underreported. There’s a lot more going on in the commercial space,” Graphika Founder and CEO John Kelly told lawmakers.

Also Read: Social Media A Medium For Evil? No Remedy To Escape

“Sometimes they’re tied, these political attacks and attack on corporations where corporations will be basically punished with falsely amplified boycott campaigns, and similar measures for doing something, which is politically not what Russia wants to see.” (VOA)

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Facebook Denies Reports About Marc Zuckerburg’s Indifference Towards Publishers

Facebook said it is also working with publishers across the US and Europe to test support for subscriptions in "Instant Articles".

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Facebook refutes report 'Zuckerberg doesn't care about publishers'. Pixabay

Facebook has denied a media report that cited one of its senior executives as saying that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about publishers.

The Australian on Monday reported that in a meeting with Australian media executives, Facebook’s Head of News Partnerships Campbell Brown said: “Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes”.

Brown reportedly said that publishers who choose not to work with Facebook will wind up in a dying business.

“Facebook said the remarks were inaccurate and taken out of context,” Fortune reported.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, May 23, 2018. VOA
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. VOA

The Australian claimed the story was based on information from five people present at the meeting with Brown who requested anonymity.

Earlier in August, Facebook announced to invest an additional $4.5 million towards helping the publishing industry globally.

The social media giant, that reported more than $5 billion in profit in the second quarter this year, said it will give $3.5 million towards “Facebook Membership Accelerator”, a three-month pilot programme designed to help publishers with membership models.

“We are going to continue to coach the group of metro news publishers from the pilot programme through the end of this year, and we will reconvene with them in 2019 to focus on subscriber retention,” Brown said in a blog post.

Facebook
Facebook said it is also working with publishers across the US and Europe.(IANS)

Facebook also announced to contribute $1 million to the 2018 “NewsMatch” campaign which matches individual donations to more than 100 non-profit newsrooms around the country.

Also Read: Slow Disclosure of Tesla Raising Governance, Social Media Concerns

Facebook said it is also working with publishers across the US and Europe to test support for subscriptions in “Instant Articles”.

“Moving forward, we’ll also be exploring ways to support emerging models like membership directly on Facebook,” said Brown. (IANS)