Tuesday October 22, 2019
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Parliamentary Panel Doubts Facebook’s Ability to Prevent Misuse of its Platform

Members of the panel were not convinced that Facebook and its employees are behaving neutrally

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

A parliamentary panel on Wednesday raised grave concerns regarding Facebook’s ability to prevent misuse of its platform during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and to proactively help the security agencies.

Sources said Facebook informed the parliamentary committee that it is a “hybrid company” and failed to clearly answer which regulatory framework applies to their content, advertising and marketing operations in India.

The social media company admitted it doesn’t “always get it right” regarding content moderation on its platform, they said.

Facebook Vice President (Global Public Policy) Joel Kaplan appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology to explain what the social media giant and its subsidiaries — WhatsApp and Instagram — were doing to safeguard citizens’ rights across platforms.

“We are grateful to the honorable Parliamentary Committee for giving us the opportunity to show how we are preparing for the Indian elections and helping keep people safe,” he said in a statement.

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Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

The sources here also said that the committee members felt that despite all the apologies for past mistakes that Facebook has made, the social media platform still seems unwilling to be properly scrutinised and transparent.

Questions regarding insensitive tweets and public comments by Facebook employees were asked by the Parliamentary Standing Committee Chairman Anurag Thakur.

According to the sources, Kaplan apologised to the committee for remarks made by Facebook employees on terrorism and the Pulwama attacks.

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“This is the right question for policy makers and companies to be grappling with right now. We are eager to engage on the right regulatory framework, we don’t have all the answers,” he told the panel.

Members of the panel were not convinced that Facebook and its employees are behaving neutrally, the sources added. (IANS)

Next Story

Social Media Giant Facebook to Bring New Tools to Protect 2020 US Elections

Facebook also announced an initial investment of $2 million to support projects that empower people to determine what to read and share - both on Facebook and elsewhere

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Fake, News, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

Stung by spread of fake news and privacy violations, Facebook on Monday announced several new tools to protect 2020 US elections from being manipulated by nation-state bad actors, and avoid the repeat of 2018 presidential elections hit by Russian interference.

The social networking giant launched “Facebook Protect” to secure the accounts of elected officials, candidates, their staff and others who may be particularly vulnerable to targeting by hackers and foreign adversaries.

“Beginning today, Page admins can enroll their organization’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in ‘Facebook Protect’ and invite members of their organization to participate in the programme as well,” said three top Facebook executives in a lengthy blog post.

Participants will be required to turn on two-factor authentication, and their accounts will be monitored for hacking, such as login attempts from unusual locations or unverified devices.

“If we discover an attack against one account, we can review and protect other accounts affiliated with that same organization that are enrolled in our programme,” said Guy Rosen, VP of Integrity at Facebook.

The company said it has seen people failing to disclose the organization behind their Page as a way to make people think that a Page is run independently.

To address this, Facebook is adding more information about who is behind a Page, including a new “Organizations That Manage This Page” tab that will feature the Page’s “Confirmed Page Owner”, including the organization’s legal name and verified city, phone number or website.

Initially, this information will only appear on Pages with large US audiences that have gone through Facebook’s business verification.

A new US Presidential candidate spend tracker will share ad details across national, state and regional levels.

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FILE – Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

“We’ll also make it clear if an ad ran on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, or the Audience Networks,” said Facebook.

Next month, Facebook will begin labelling media outlets that are wholly or partially under the editorial control of their government as state-controlled media.

This label will be on both their Page and in Facebook Ad Library.

“We will hold these Pages to a higher standard of transparency because they combine the opinion-making influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state,” said Katie Harbath, Public Policy Director, Global Elections.

Facebook said it will update the list of state-controlled media on a rolling basis beginning in November.

In early 2020, Facebook plans to expand its labeling to specific posts and apply these labels on Instagram as well.

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The company said that over the next month, content across Facebook and Instagram that has been rated false or partly false by a third-party fact-checker will start to be more prominently labeled so that people can better decide for themselves what to read, trust and share.

“The labels below will be shown on top of false and partly false photos and videos, including on top of Stories content on Instagram, and will link out to the assessment from the fact-checker,” informed Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy and Rob Leathern, Director of Product Management.

Facebook also announced an initial investment of $2 million to support projects that empower people to determine what to read and share – both on Facebook and elsewhere. (IANS)