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Tech Giant Twitter declines to help if US President-elect Donald Trump seeks to create a national Muslim Registry

Microsoft returned with an answer saying, "We're not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point"

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New York, December 4, 2016: Of the nine major tech giants, including Facebook, Apple and Google, only Twitter has declined to help if US President-elect Donald Trump seeks to create a national Muslim registry, a media report said.

US-based news website the Intercept said it contacted nine of the most prominent firms to ask if they would sell their services to help create a national Muslim registry — an idea recently refloated by President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team — and only Twitter said no.

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“We contacted nine different firms in the business of technology, broadly defined, with the following question: ‘Would [name of company], if solicited by the Trump administration, sell any goods, services, information, or consulting of any kind to help facilitate the creation of a national Muslim registry, a project which has been floated tentatively by the President-elect’s transition team?’,” the report said.

After two weeks of calls and e-mails, only three companies provided an answer and only one said it would not participate in such a project.

Google, Facebook, Apple, IBM, IT giant SRA International and Canada-based Information technology consulting company CGI did not provide any answer to the query. Management consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton declined to comment.

Twitter said “No”, and a link, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, was shared on the website.

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The link read: “To be clear: We prohibit developers using the Public APIs and Gnip data products from allowing law enforcement — or any other entity — to use Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.”

Microsoft returned with an answer saying, “We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point.”

A link to a company blog post states that “we’re committed to promoting not just diversity among all the men and women who work here, but…inclusive culture” and that “it will remain important for those in government and the tech sector to continue to work together to strike a balance that protects privacy and public safety in what remains a dangerous time”.

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The Intercept cleared that the story was not written to say that the companies which did not reply to the request for a comment or declined to comment, were tacitly endorsing the Trump agenda in general or a Muslim registry in particular.

“Still, it is asking very little of today’s tech companies to prompt them to go on record as unwilling to help create a federal list of Muslims — or so one would very much hope,” the report noted. (IANS)

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Facebook Set up a War Room to Fight Election Interference

With the new ad architecture in place, people would be able to see who paid for a particular political ad

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Facebook now has a War Room to fight election interference. Pixabay

In line with its efforts to prevent misuse of its platform during elections, Facebook has set up a War Room to reduce the spread of potentially harmful content.

Facebook faced flak for not doing enough to prevent spread of misinformation by Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 US presidential election. The social networking giant has rolled out several initiatives to fight fake news and bring more transparency and accountability in its advertising since then.

The launch of the first War Room at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, is part of the social network’s new initiatives to fight election interference on its platform.

Although Facebook opened the doors of the War Room ahead of the general elections in Brazil and mid-term elections in the US, it revealed the details only this week.

The goal behind setting up the War Room was to get the right subject-matter experts from across the company in one place so they can address potential problems identified by its technology in real time and respond quickly.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“The War Room has over two dozen experts from across the company – including from our threat intelligence, data science, software engineering, research, community operations and legal teams,” Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s Director of Product Management, Civic Engagement, said in a statement on Thursday.

“These employees represent and are supported by the more than 20,000 people working on safety and security across Facebook,” Chakrabarti added.

Facebook said its dashboards offer real-time monitoring on key elections issues, such as efforts to prevent people from voting, increases in spam, potential foreign interference, or reports of content that violates our policies.

The War Room team also monitors news coverage and election-related activity across other social networks and traditional media in order to identify what type of content may go viral.

These preparations helped a lot during the first round of Brazil’s presidential elections, Facebook claimed.

The social networking giant said its technology detected a false post claiming that Brazil’s Election Day had been moved from October 7 to October 8 due to national protests.

While untrue, that message began to go viral. But the team quickly detected the problem, determined that the post violated Facebook’s policies, and removed it in under an hour.

“And within two hours, we’d removed other versions of the same fake news post,” Chakrabarti said.

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Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

The team in the War Room, Facebook said, also helped quickly remove hate speech posts that were designed to whip up violence against people from northeast Brazil after the first round of election results were called.

“The work we are doing in the War Room builds on almost two years of hard work and significant investments, in both people and technology, to improve security on Facebook, including during elections,” Chakrabarti said.

Earlier this month Facebook said that it was planning to set up a task force comprising “hundreds of people” ahead of the 2019 general elections in India.

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“With the 2019 elections coming, we are pulling together a group of specialists to work together with political parties,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s Vice President for Global Policy Solutions, told the media in New Delhi.

Facebook has also set a goal of bringing a transparency feature for political ads — now available in the US and Brazil — to India by March next year, Allan informed.

With the new ad architecture in place, people would be able to see who paid for a particular political ad. (IANS)