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Straightforward Tech Reporting

Category: Social Media (page 1 of 2)

Facebook promises to ban videos that are either heavily edited or deep fakes as it tightens policies around misleading media

Facebook has a major problem with credibility. They often state one thing and do another. Facebook’s statements and policies carry little weight.  I’m happy to wait to see what they actually do.

From Facebook » 

We are strengthening our policy toward misleading manipulated videos that have been identified as deepfakes. Going forward, we will remove misleading manipulated media if it meets the following criteria:

  • It has been edited or synthesized – beyond adjustments for clarity or quality – in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say. And:
  • It is the product of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merges, replaces or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic.
    This policy does not extend to content that is parody or satire, or video that has been edited solely to omit or change the order of words.

What would social media look like if it served the public interest?

James Yang, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review »

Of the world’s top hundred websites, Wikipedia is the sole noncommercial site. If the contemporary internet is a city, Wikipedia is the lone public park; all the rest of our public spaces are shopping malls—open to the general public, but subject to the rules and logic of commerce.

Read the whole article at CJR »

Twitter announced it is moving all accounts of users outside of the U.S. and the EU from Dublin, Ireland to the San Francisco where it will be subject to U.S. and California privacy and surveillance laws

Twitter also launched the Twitter Privacy Center in an effort to be more transparent, to offer »

more clarity around what we’re doing to protect the information people share with us.

Elizabeth Culliford, writing for Reuters »

The changes, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, will comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The California law requires large businesses to give consumers more transparency and control over their personal information, such as allowing them to request that their data be deleted and to opt out of having their data sold to third parties.


Twitter also announced on Monday that it is moving the accounts of users outside of the United States and European Union which were previously contracted by Twitter International Company in Dublin, Ireland, to the San Francisco-based Twitter Inc.

The company said this move would allow it the flexibility to test different settings and controls with these users, such as additional opt-in or opt-out privacy preferences, that would likely be restricted by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Europe’s landmark digital privacy law.

Read the whole article on Reuters »

More » Twitter’s Blog Post, Security Week, TechCrunch, CNet, Engadget, Fast Company

Canadian courts powerless to order Facebook to hand over private messages

Result » Canadian federal legislators need to enact legislation that will be enforceable within Canadian jurisdiction.

If Facebook, and others, want to operate within Canadian borders, they must be expected to work within Canadian society’s rules, regulations, and customs.

Kate Dubinski, writing in CBC News »

The case involved Facebook messages that police in London, Ont., wanted to access in order to proceed with a homicide investigation and trial.

Because Facebook is an American company, the usual legal process involves Canadian authorities applying for evidence, in this case from the Facebook Messenger app, through a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT). The treaty has been used for decades by police on both sides of the border to get access to physical evidence.

In this case, a judge issued a production order — essentially a legal order for Facebook to give up the information. Authorities thought that would be quicker than the treaty process, which takes about four months.

But when it became clear this fall Facebook would fight tooth and nail against having to comply with a Canadian judge’s order, the Crown applied through the MLAT for the messages and received them.

Read the whole article in CBC News »

[Updated] Twitter to remove inactive accounts in an effort to free up usernames

Updated » Twitter pauses plan to delete inactive accounts – Axios

These guys know where it’s @ » Jason Scott of the Internet Archive offers a process to keep a copy of the tweets of dead users.

Chris Merriman, writing for The Inquirer »

Electronic sulking forum Twitter has announced an unprecedented cull of dormant accounts, as it frees up some tasty Twitter handles that you wish you’d thought of first.

The cull will apply to all accounts that haven’t been accessed in over six months, as of 11 December 2019. Users that aren’t ready to give up access to @1direction4eva and @reggienbollie2win just need to do is log in to that account and the clock will stop.


It’s thought that the cull will destroy countless ‘bot’ accounts as well as unloved human-led ones, and it’ll be interesting to see if the drop in user numbers that will inevitably come, goes down well with investors, ever keen to find and increase Twitter’s bottom-line.

More » BBC, The Verge, International Business Times, CNet, SlashGear, TechCrunch

Sasha Baron Cohen’s thoughts on social media and tech industry responsibilities


“Greatest Propaganda Machine in History”

More » BBC, The Daily Beast, ZDNet, The Times of Israel

Facebook app has been secretly accessing iPhone and iPad cameras

Most would call it a bug. I suspect, behind closed doors, Facebook secretly calls it a feature. Facebook has yet to post an official response.

Roland Moore-Colyer, writing for The Inquirer »

And it seems to be down to how the Facebook app handles access to iPhone and iPad cameras in the latest version of iOS 13. To squash the bug for the time being, iPhone and iPad users can simply remove the Facebook app’s camera access in the device settings, or just purge the app from their iGadgets completely.

If you’re into conspiracy theories, you might argue that this was a deliberate move by Facebook to gobble up more user data. And we’d not blame you given the data handling mess that came to light last year with the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal, as well as other borks by Facebook in keeping its user data private.

More » CNET, The Guardian, TechCrunch, The Hacker News

US charges two ex-Twitter employees with spying for Saudi Arabia by snooping critics of the kingdom

The US Dept of Justice has charged two former Twitter employees with spying for Saudi Arabia.

One of the former employees, Ahmad Abouammo, is a U.S. citizen.

The other, Ali Alzabarah, is a Saudi citizen accused of accessing personal information on more than 6,000 accounts in 2015 on behalf of the Saudis.

Kari Paul, writing for The Guardian »

Alzabarah accessed accounts of a number of prominent government critics including that of Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent journalist with more than 1 million followers who was close to late Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a US resident, was killed by the Saudi government last year.

The US justice department also alleged that the employees – whose jobs did not require access to Twitter users’ private information – were rewarded with a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars funneled into secret bank accounts.

Sean Gallagher, writing in Ars Technica » 

The data included email addresses and IP addresses associated with the accounts as well as devices and browsers used—providing tracking of the account users’ movements. In some cases, the accounts included images that could have been construed as security threats—including images of improvised explosive devices—and Twitter removed the posts after emergency takedown requests from the Saudi government. In others, the accounts were merely critical of Mohammed bin Salman or the government.

After being placed on leave by Twitter, Alzabarah sent a letter of resignation while aboard a flight back to Saudi Arabia. Once he arrived there, he took a job with a charity led by Al Asaker called MiSK—a charity created by Mohammed bin Salman.

More »

Washington Post » Former Twitter employees charged with spying for Saudi Arabia by digging into the accounts of kingdom critics

Associated Press » Saudis recruited Twitter workers to spy on critics

WSJ » U.S. Charges Former Twitter Employees With Spying for Saudi Arabia

BBC, The Telegraph, Security Affairs

Twitter to stop accepting all political ads across its platform starting on November 22

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO »

Shoshana Wodinsky, writing in Adweek »

On Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took to the platform to let politicians around the world know their money wasn’t good there anymore.

“We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally,” said Dorsey in a tweet thread.  “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

More » Ars Technica, Washington Post, CNBC, The Guardian, Bloomberg, ZDNet, NPR, BBC, Axios, Financial Times (paywall)

Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg defends Facebook’s political ads policy (TechCrunch), which has been heavily criticized.

In my opinion, Zuck is hungry to be a player in deciding who will be the next President of the United States of America.

Facebook to pay maximum UK fine in Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook has agreed to pay a £500,000 fine, the maximum allowed by the UK’s data protection watchdog, for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook last year had appealed the penalty.

Reuters » 

Facebook has agreed to pay a 500,000 pound ($644,000) fine for breaches of data protection law related to the harvesting of data by consultancy Cambridge Analytica, Britain’s information rights regulator said on Wednesday.


The fine may be small for a company worth $540 billion, but it is the maximum the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) could issue and represents the first move by a regulator to punish Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The ICO issued the fine last year after it said data from at least 1 million British users had been among the information harvested by the researcher and used for political purposes.

Read more »

ICO Statement

More » The Register, BBC, The Mac Observer, The Inquirer, The Guardian, NPR, TechCrunch, CNET, ZDNet, Security Affairs


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