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Users’ Data Privacy hits Facebook Research on Fake News

Facebook was fined $201,865 dollars for the breach and nearly $79,000 for failing to provide notice of the breach

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

A research initiative launched in cooperation with Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal has hit a roadblock as the social media platform is not keen to provide more sensitive and detailed data without compromising user privacy.

According to a Nature report on Thursday, the US-based research initiative funded 12 projects that were designed to investigate topics such as the spread of fake news and how social media was used in recent elections globally.

“Last month, the 8 charitable funders – which so far have provided a total of up to $600,000 for the scheme called the Social Media and Democracy Research Grants programme – gave Facebook time until 30 September to provide the full data set or said they would begin winding up the programme,” the report elaborated.

Following this, Facebook released a further data set, but not the full range originally promised.

“Other partners that are involved in the project say they are continuing their efforts to build a computing infrastructure that allows the company to share its data with researchers, irrespective of the funders’ decisions,” the Nature report further said.

“This is one of the largest sets of links ever to be created for academic research on this topic. We are working hard to deliver on additional demographic fields while safeguarding individual people’s privacy,” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying.

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

There are multiple calls to break up Facebook in the wake of several data breaches and spread of misinformation on the platform used by billions of users.

Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, recently said that he firmly believes that simply breaking them up will not make the problems go away.

“The real solutions will only come through new, smart regulation instead,” he added.

Turkey on Thursday fined social media giant Facebook for over $281,000 for a data breach that exposed the personal information of hundreds of thousands of users in the country.

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Facebook exposed the name, gender, birthday, relationship status, educational background, religion, hometown, personal data and location information of 280,959 users, said the Personal Data Protection Authority — Turkey’s watchdog agency for data privacy.

Facebook was fined $201,865 dollars for the breach and nearly $79,000 for failing to provide notice of the breach. (IANS)

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Fake News Spreads Like Wildfire On Social Media

Misinformation can stoke political polarisation and undermine democracy

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Fake news on social media
The researchers noted that efforts to curtail misinformation typically focus on helping people distinguish fact from fiction. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found that people who repeatedly encounter a fake news item may feel less unethical about sharing it on social media, even when they don’t believe the information, according to a new study.

In a series of experiments involving more than 2,500 people, the study published in the journal Psychological Science, found that seeing a fake headline just once leads individuals to temper their disapproval of the misinformation when they see it a second, third, or fourth time.

“The findings have important implications for policymakers and social media companies trying to curb the spread of misinformation online,” said study researcher Daniel A. Effron from the London Business School.

“We suggest that efforts to fight misinformation should consider how people judge the morality of spreading it, not just whether they believe it,” Effron added.

Across five experiments, Effron and researcher Medha Raj asked online survey participants to rate how unethical or acceptable they thought it would be to publish a fake headline, and how likely they would be to “like”, share, and block or unfollow the person who posted it.

As they expected, the researchers found that participants rated headlines they had seen more than once as less unethical to publish than headlines they were shown for the first time.

Fake news
Facebook Adds New Measures to Enforce Targeting Restrictions on Potentially Discriminatory Ad Types. Pixabay

Participants also said they were more likely to ‘like’ and share a previously seen headline and less likely to block or unfollow the person who posted it.

What’s more, they did not rate the previously seen headline as significantly more accurate than the new ones, the researchers said.

The researchers noted that efforts to curtail misinformation typically focus on helping people distinguish fact from fiction.

Facebook, for example, has tried informing users when they try to share news that fact-checkers have flagged as false.

But such strategies may fail if users feel more comfortable sharing misinformation they know is fake when they have seen it before.

The researchers theorise that repeating misinformation lends it a ‘ring of truthfulness’ that can increase people’s tendency to give it a moral pass, regardless of whether they believe it.

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“The results should be of interest to citizens of contemporary democracies,” Effron said.

“Misinformation can stoke political polarisation and undermine democracy, so it is important for people to understand when and why it spreads,” Effron added. (IANS)