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Twitter CEO Reacts To Criticism Given By Donald Trump

The company has denied that charge, but conservatives have continued to push the issue ahead of the 2018 elections.

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Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square, speaks at the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York City. VOA
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Twitter’s CEO says the company is not biased against Republicans or Democrats and is working on ways to ensure that debate is healthier on its platform.

In prepared testimony released ahead of a House hearing Wednesday, Jack Dorsey says he wants to be clear about one thing: “Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules.”

The testimony comes as some Republicans say conservatives have been censored on social media and have questioned the platform’s algorithms. Dorsey will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday afternoon on that subject, following a morning hearing before the Senate intelligence committee on foreign interference in social media.

At the Senate hearing, Twitter and Facebook plan to tell the intelligence panel that they are aggressively working to root out foreign actors who want to influence U.S. elections. Lawmakers are especially concerned about the upcoming midterm elections after Russia used social media accounts to try to influence the 2016 election.

TWitter
The logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. vOA

To address concerns about bias, Dorsey offers an explanation of how Twitter uses “behavioral signals,” such as the way accounts interact and behave on the service. Those signals can help weed out spam and abuse.

He says such behavioral analysis “does not consider in any way” political views or ideology.

Dorsey says the San Francisco-based company is also “committed to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress.”

He says the company has continued to identify accounts that may be linked to a Russian internet agency that was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year. The indictment detailed an elaborate plot by Russians to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Dorsey says Twitter has so far suspended 3,843 accounts the company believes are linked to the agency, and has seen recent activity.

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Donald Trump, Wikimedia Commons

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s No. 2 executive, is also planning to detail efforts to take down material linked to the Russian agency, including the removal of 270 Facebook pages that targeted Russian speakers around the world. Sandberg says in prepared testimony for the Senate panel that the company’s overall understanding of the Russian activity in 2016 is still limited “because we do not have access to the information or investigative tools” that the U.S. government has.

“This is an arms race, and that means we need to be ever more vigilant,” Sandberg says.

There is expected to be an empty seat at the Senate intelligence panel’s witness table reserved for Larry Page, the CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. The company declined to send Page and offered another executive instead; the committee said no.

Only Dorsey was invited to the House hearing after specific Republican concerns about bias on Twitter. President Donald Trump has charged that some Republicans have been “shadow banned” because of the ways that some search results have appeared.

Twitter
Twitter CEO Says Company Isn’t Biased, Wants Healthy Debate. Pixabay

Also Read: USA Sees a Significant Rise in STD Cases

The company has denied that charge, but conservatives have continued to push the issue ahead of the 2018 elections.

“Sadly, conservatives are too often finding their voices silenced,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement when the hearing was announced. “We all agree that transparency is the only way to fully restore Americans’ trust in these important public platforms.” (VOA)

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Advanced Technology Required To Tackle Online Sex Trade and Trafficking: Analysts

At least 40 million people are victims of modern slavery worldwide.

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Trafficking
People opposed to child sex trafficking rally in Washington. VOA

The online sale of sex slaves is going strong despite new U.S. laws to clamp down on the crime, data analysts said Wednesday, urging a wider use of technology to fight human trafficking.

In April, the United States passed legislation aimed at making it easier to prosecute social media platforms and websites that facilitate sex trafficking, days after a crackdown on classified ad giant Backpage.com.

The law resulted in an immediate and sharp drop in sex ads online but numbers have since picked up again, data presented at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s annual Trust Conference showed.

“The market has been destabilized and there are now new entrants that are willing to take the risk in order to make money,” Chris White, a researcher at tech giant Microsoft who gathered the data, told the event in London.

Google, Web summit, sexual misconduct, trafficking
Google employees fill Harry Bridges Plaza in front of the Ferry Building during a walkout, Nov. 1, 2018, in San Francisco. Hundreds of Google employees around the world briefly walked off the job in a protest against what they said is the tech company’s mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives. VOA

New players

Backpage.com, a massive advertising site primarily used to sell sex — which some analysts believe accounted for 80 percent of online sex trafficking in the United States — was shut down by federal authorities in April.

Days later, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which introduced stiff prison sentences and fines for website owners and operators found guilty of contributing to sex trafficking, was passed into law.

The combined action caused the number of online sex ads to fall 80 percent to about 20,000 a day nationwide, White said.

The number of ads has since risen to about 60,000 a day, as new websites filled the gap, he said.

In October — in response to a lawsuit accusing it of not doing enough to protect users from human traffickers — social media giant Facebook said it worked internally and externally to thwart such predators.

 

Trafficking
This April 6, 2018, file photo shows a screenshot of Backpage.com on the day that federal authorities seized the classified site as part of a criminal case. VOA

 

Using technology to continuously monitor and analyze this kind of data is key to evaluating existing laws and designing new and more effective ones, White said.

“It really highlights what’s possible through policy,” added Valiant Richey, a former U.S. prosecutor who now fights human trafficking at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), echoing the calls for new methods.

Law enforcement agencies currently tackle slavery one case at a time, but the approach lacks as the crime is too widespread and authorities are short of resources, he said.

As a prosecutor in Seattle, Richey said his office would work on up to 80 cases a year, while online searches revealed more than 100 websites where sex was sold in the area, some carrying an average of 35,000 ads every month.

Also Read: Sexual Misconduct Cases Will Be Handled Better: Google

“We were fighting forest fire with a garden hose,” he said. “A case-based response to human trafficking will not on its own carry the day.”

At least 40 million people are victims of modern slavery worldwide — with nearly 25 million trapped in forced labor and about 15 million in forced marriages. (VOA)