Sunday January 19, 2020
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Polls Midway, Social Media Still Fighting Fake News

WhatsApp has also launched a research project in India where over 200 million users in the country can tip off fake news, misinformation and rumours related to elections

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A third kind of disinformation campaign simply aims to increase a foreign audience's everyday, incidental exposure to "fake news." Pixabay

The great Indian election season has hit midway – with three phases of voting now over and four more to go – but social media platforms are still scrambling to control the spread of election-related misinformation.

Social media “warriors” are busy propagating “reworked” and “reoriented” content related to political news, government scams, historical myths, patriotism and nationalism on Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.

“Apart from the fake news and doctored contents, chatbots are sending bulk WhatsApp messages on active mobile numbers, not only on WhatsApp but on Facebook Messenger as well,” nation’s leading social media expert Anoop Mishra told IANS.

There are several cases where people who joined Facebook renamed their Pages, Groups and accounts later, only to use it for spreading their political agenda in the election season.

Despite Facebook’s efforts, such misinformation is thriving and has reached mammoth levels, say experts.

“Over 90,000 groups on WhatsApp and more than 200 fake Facebook Pages and accounts are currently influencing the group members and followers with biased political content,” said Mishra.

The content involves fake statistics of the government’s policies to news prompting regional violence, from manipulated political news, government scams, historical myths, propaganda to patriotism and Hindu nationalism.

Two main political parties are leaving no stone unturned in reaching out to voters via various social media platforms.

Social media platforms, however, say they are proactively disabling bots and fake accounts being used for political interference in India.

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Just days ahead of the general elections in India, the expansion of the test “Labels” feature on the app could help the cyber cell and other law enforcement authorities to nab hateful, abusive and fake news spread on the app. Pixabay

Facebook said recently it is removing or blocking about one million abusive accounts a day with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) tools.

The social media giant has also removed nearly 700 Pages, Groups and accounts in India for violating its policies on what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” and spam.

It now has Ad Library, a searchable database, in place in India. Indians spent around Rs 7 crore for running political ads on Facebook and Instagram in the first 20 days of April, while the amount spent on these platforms in February-March was about Rs 10 crore.

On the other hand, Twitter has announced a new tool within the platform to make it easier for users to report attempts to interfere in the general elections in India through spread of misleading information about voting.

It earlier launched an Ads Transparency Centre that allows anyone to view details on political campaigning ads and billing information in India.

WhatsApp has also launched a research project in India where over 200 million users in the country can tip off fake news, misinformation and rumours related to elections.

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Launched by PROTO, a media skilling start-up, the tipline will help create a database of rumours to study misinformation during elections for Checkpoint — a research project commissioned by WhatsApp.

Are these measures sufficient to curb the fake news in the world’s biggest election?

“The social media giants began their work towards safeguarding the India elections a bit late and some of the measures were announced near to the poll dates. It is difficult to tell if these measures will bear fruits and tame the fake news factories or not,” lamented Mishra. (IANS)

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Four App Startups Sue Social Media Giant Facebook For Anti-Competitive Behaviour

The documents was obtained by NBC News and international journalistic partners

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Facebook replied to the lawsuit, saying it has no legal basis. Pixabay

Blaming Facebook of anti-competitive behaviour, four app startups have sued the social networking giant, alleging that it inappropriately revoked developer access to its platform in order to harm competitors.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Thursday, is based on more than 7,000 pages leaked last year “from an ongoing lawsuit brought by another defunct startup known as Six4Three, which made a short-lived app known as Pikinis”.

The documents was obtained by NBC News and international journalistic partners.

The documents showed that CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook officials used their market position to squeeze potential rivals and competitors from 2011 through 2015.

“This action seeks to halt the most brazen, willful anticompetitive scheme in a generation — a scheme that verges on final, irreparable completion as of the date of this Complaint,” the complaint alleged in the class-action lawsuit.

“Facebook stands today as a paragon of unbridled market power”, said the lawsuit filed by The lawsuit was filed by LikeBright, Lenddol, Cir.cl Inc and Beehive Biometric Inc.

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Blaming Facebook of anti-competitive behaviour, four app startups have sued the social networking giant, alleging that it inappropriately revoked developer access to its platform in order to harm competitors. Pixabay

Facebook replied to the lawsuit, saying it has no legal basis.

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“We operate in a competitive environment where people and advertisers have many choices. In the current environment, where plaintiffs’ attorneys see financial opportunities, claims like this aren’t unexpected but they are without merit,” a company spokesperson was quoted as saying. (IANS)