Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook to restore Australian news pages after deal reached to amend proposed law

Facebook said on Tuesday it will lift its ban on Australians sharing news after it struck a deal with Australia’s government on legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook confirmed that they have agreed on amendments to proposed legislation to require the social network and Google to pay for Australian news that they feature.

Facebook’s co-operation is a major victory in Australian efforts to make the two gateways to the internet pay for the journalism that they use.

Facebook blocked Australian users from accessing and sharing news last week after the House of Representatives passed the draft law late Wednesday.

Initially, the Facebook news blockade cut access — at least temporarily — to government pandemic, public health and emergency services, sparking public outrage.

The Senate will debate amended legislation on Tuesday.

Frydenberg described the agreed upon amendments as “clarifications” of the government’s intent. He said his negotiations with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg were “difficult.”

Australia in ‘proxy’ battle, says official

“There is no doubt that Australia has been a proxy battle for the world,” Frydenberg said.

“Facebook and Google have not hidden the fact that they know that the eyes of the world are on Australia and that is why they have sought to get a code here that is workable,” he added, referring to the country’s News Media Bargaining Code legislation.

The code would undermine the bargaining dominance of Facebook and Google in their negotiations with Australian news providers by requiring a negotiation safety net in the form of an arbitration panel. The digital giants would not be able to abuse their overwhelming negotiating positions by making take-it-or-leave-it payment offers to news businesses for their journalism. In case of a standoff, the panel would make a binding decision on a winning offer.

WATCH | Facebook blocks Australian users from accessing and sharing news:

Facebook feeds in Australia were stripped of news posts during a fight over government plans to make technology giants pay for sharing news content and there are concerns something similar could happen in Canada. 2:02

Swinburne University senior lecturer on media Belinda Barnet said the proposed amendments guarantee Facebook time to strike deals before the arbitration panel decides on a price for news.

Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Center for Responsible Technology, a think tank, said in a statement that the “amendments keep the integrity of the media code intact.”

Google also had threatened to remove its search functions from Australia because it said the proposed law was unworkable. But that threat has faded.

Google has been signing up Australia’s largest media companies in content licensing deals through its News Showcase model.

The platform said it has deals with more than 50 Australian titles through Showcase and more than 500 publishers globally using the model which was launched in October.

Facebook said it will now negotiate deals with Australian publishers under its own model, Facebook News.

“We are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them,” Facebook regional managing director William Easton said.

“As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days, ” Easton added.

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Microsoft, European publishers side with Australia in fight with Facebook over news

Microsoft is teaming up with European publishers to push for a system to make big tech platforms pay for news, raising the stakes in the brewing battle led by Australia to get Google and Facebook to pay for journalism.

The Seattle tech giant and four big European Union news industry groups unveiled their plan Monday to work together on a solution to “mandate payments” for use of news content from online “gatekeepers with dominant market power.”

They said they will “take inspiration” from proposed legislation in Australia to force tech platforms to share revenue with news companies and which includes an arbitration system to resolve disputes over a fair price for news.

Facebook last week blocked Australians from accessing and sharing news on its platform in response to the government’s proposals, but the surprise move sparked a big public backlash and intensified the debate over how much power the social network has.

Google, meanwhile, has taken a different tack by cutting payment deals with news organizations, after backing down from its initial threat to shut off its search engine for Australians.

Platforms must ‘adapt to regulators’

The EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, expressed support for Australia, in the latest sign Facebook’s move has backfired.

“I think it’s very regrettable that a platform takes such decisions to protest against a country’s laws,” Breton told EU lawmakers.

The European Union’s internal market commissioner Thierry Breton, seen here in February 2020 in Munich, Germany, expressed support for Australia, in the latest sign Facebook’s move to block citizens there from accessing and sharing news on its platform has backfired. (Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

“It’s up to the platforms to adapt to regulators, not the other way around,” he said, adding that what’s happening in Australia “highlights an attitude that must change.”

Breton is leading the EU’s sweeping overhaul of digital regulations aimed at taming the power of the big tech companies, amid growing concerns their algorithms are eroding democracy.

WATCH | Facebook and Australia are in a standoff. Is Canada next?:

Facebook blocked news posts for Australian users as the government plans to make technology companies pay for sharing news content. There are concerns something similar could happen to Canadians. 7:37

EU countries to adopt new copyright rules

Microsoft is joining forces with two lobbying groups, the European Publishers Council and News Media Europe, along with two groups representing European newspaper and magazine publishers, which account for thousands of titles. The company has expressed support for Australia’s plans, which could help increase market share of its Bing search engine.

European Union countries are working on adopting by June revamped copyright rules set out by the EU executive that allow news companies and publishers to negotiate payments from digital platforms for online use of their content.

But there are worries about an imbalance of bargaining power between the two sides and the group called for new measures to be added to the upcoming overhaul of digital regulations to address the problem.

WATCH | Newspaper publisher on making tech giants pay for news:

Bob Cox, publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, says local news could be in trouble if the government doesn’t take bold action. 6:09

Publishers “might not have the economic strength to negotiate fair and balanced agreements with these gatekeeper tech companies, who might otherwise threaten to walk away from negotiations or exit markets entirely,” the group said in a joint statement.

Google and Facebook have resisted arbitration because it would give them less control over payment talks.

Facebook did not reply to a request for comment. Google said it already has signed hundreds of partnerships with news publishers across Europe, making it one of journalism’s biggest funders and noted on Twitter that it’s working with publishers and policymakers across the EU as member countries adopt the copyright rules into national legislation.

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The only way to control tech giants like Facebook may be for governments to gang up

It used to be that the most influential media companies in Canada had to keep at least one eye on the Canadian public interest whether they wanted to or not.

Broadcasters are regulated through the Broadcasting Act, and while newspapers face less oversight, a restriction on foreign ownership means there is always the potential that a determined Canadian government could do something, like change tax rules, that could nudge them into line.

But now, as internet mega companies including Facebook and Google have taken over much of the ad revenue and eyeballs that mainstream media used to enjoy, there have been only nascent efforts to make them answer to the public interest. 

This week, as Australia considered laws to make them pay for news, the new communications giants have demonstrated they can thumb their noses at mere national governments.

But with a growing sense around the world, including Canada, that Facebook, Google and the like have grown too big and powerful, there are those who say an international effort is necessary to take on the titans of tech.

Facebook’s warning shot to Australia

So far, Australia’s tactic doesn’t seem to be working as planned — although Canada is now vowing to follow their lead and make Facebook pay for news content.

Following a proposal by Australia to force the technology giants to pay for Australian news stories, stories that the tech companies distribute and use to earn their own profits, Facebook has fired a warning shot across the bow of the country’s Parliament.

“They’ve created chaos, and it’s quite deliberate,” Daniel Angus, a professor in digital communication at Queensland University of Technology told Bloomberg news.

Facebook not only offered a flat no, but effectively ejected Australian news stories from its site both down under and worldwide, preventing users from viewing them.

The company even removed access to things like government health notices and weather information, something they later said was a mistake.

Google, however, has entered negotiations with News Corp in a way that signalled a possible accommodation with the new rules. News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, a conservative, has been one of the titans’ biggest critics, in 2019 joining an unlikely pact with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive Democrat, to weaken Google’s power.

Thursday, Canada’s Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said Canada may adopt the Australian model, or follow the lead of other countries trying to get tech giants to pay for content.

After his start in Australia, Rupert Murdoch has become a global media mogul and a strong critic of the power of the internet giants that profit from the news his companies produce. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Calls for regulation

Besides the complaint that the companies like Facebook and Google are earning their profits at the expense of the struggling news industry that is so crucial to the democratic system, there have been many other reasons for demanding greater regulation.

In the U.S., the calls grew louder after Russian interference in the 2016 election of Donald Trump, along with data mining and privacy scandals. 

Many object to the uncontrolled misinformation campaigns tech giants seem unable to manage, increasingly harmful conspiracy theories — including the false narratives about the 2020 U.S. election.

Others complain they are simply too big, able to avoid taxes and acting as monopolies in areas such as search and personal communication.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at a company conference in 2015. Facebook has increasingly come under scrutiny from regulators who consider it too powerful, but efforts to regulate haven’t done much. (Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

So far, attempts by large international organizations to convince the tech giants to play nice have been weak or ineffective.

There are international bodies, including the United Nations Global Compact, to set standards and to encourage “business as a force for good” but participation is voluntary and Christina Koulias Senior Manager, Global Governance said in an email that Facebook is not a participant.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has a policy on Corporate Social Responsibility. But an ambitious plan by the OECD to coordinate global tax policy that I wrote about back in 2014 has yet to bear fruit for a series of reasons, most recently, say those in the know, due to a brush-off from the Trump administration.

In fact, according to Canada’s own Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), based in Waterloo, Ont., the faceoff between Facebook and Australia illustrates a gap that needs to be filled. And they have a proposal for how to do it.

Tech giants make the rules and the profits

In the case of Facebook, the company claims the Australian rules don’t fit its business model, since it would be forced to pay up when third parties post newspaper articles.

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” Facebook regional managing director William Easton told the Associated Press.

But CIGI’s managing director of digital economy, Bob Fay, said the problem is that corporations know they can set rules to maximize profits without thinking about the interests of other players, including governments.

“We have these very large, very powerful, global companies that set their own rules, based on what’s best for their own business model,” said Fay.

“We’ve seen very recent examples of where these companies, based on their business models have created substantive harm.”

As well as the new Australian conflict that interfered with people’s health and well-being, Fay specifically cites the use of social media to incite violent and anti-government action in the U.S. — culminating in the invasion of Congress.

There is currently no global forum to regulate cross-border digital giants but Canada’s CIGI wants to create one, says Bob Fay, managing director of digital economy. (Submitted by Bob Fay)

The digital giants are influential in individual countries like Canada and Australia, but in many places they have virtually no physical presence. That makes them hard to influence back.

And while international treaties on standardization or international trade agreements exist, the phenomenon of internet tech giants that cross national boundaries is so new and changing so rapidly, that national governments simply were not prepared.

“There really is no global forum [where] countries come together on these types of issues,” said Fay.

That’s why CIGI has proposed something it calls the Digital Stability Board an international body, with decision making powers, to constantly monitor and regulate global digital platforms in real time as they transform.

The name and model come from the Financial Stability Board, which has a mandate from the G20 to “promote the reform of international financial regulation and supervision,” Fay writes.

The CIGI proposal is not an instant solution for the current problem in Australia. Constituting the body and getting everyone to participate will take time.

But now that Trump, who disliked international co-operation, has been replaced by President Joe Biden, and now that the world has seen how willing Facebook has been to use its power, Fay hopes governments will be spurred into action.

“There are enormous benefits that come from these platforms, but the harms have become increasingly obvious, and they touch every aspect of our lives,” said Fay. “Governments need to take action.”

Follow Don Pittis on Twitter @don_pittis

CBC / Radio-Canada has business partnerships with Facebook for content distribution, and with Google for services that encompass mobile distribution, data storage and communication tools.i

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Facebook Is Permabanning Oculus Quest 2 Owners for Owning an Oculus Quest 2

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Back in August, Facebook announced it would begin requiring a Facebook account to use future Oculus devices. This was received with all the love Facebook’s abysmal data practices and willful disregard for the negative impact of its own policies deserves. Nevertheless, the company pushed ahead.

What happened next couldn’t be more on-the-nose if it’d happened in a movie. End-users who are signing up for Facebook or attempting to link their accounts to Facebook are finding themselves permabanned from the site. Furthermore, the automated ban tools Facebook uses are telling them that the decision is permanent and cannot be undone. Users have taken to reddit and Twitter to discuss the problem.

Stunning Arrogance

Demanding that end-users begin using Facebook accounts as though this represented some kind of improvement to the end-user experience took chutzpah enough, but look at that bit circled in red. “We have already reviewed this decision and it cannot be reversed.”

1). Yes, it can be. Any decision to ban an account can be lifted. Deleted accounts can be recovered. Since Facebook insists on a real-name policy, the company could institute a 72-96 hour period before it unlocks an available user name, just to allow for an appeal/review process. If it doesn’t, it’s because it doesn’t want to.

2). No human has reviewed this decision. That’s obvious. People are being banned by automated bot. Upon being banned, they are told that because a computer has made a decision, that decision cannot be appealed to a human. This is a perfect example of how the assumed infallibility of computers makes life vastly more difficult for humans.

Facebook has since admitted that it may have screwed up and asked customers to reach out and contact it. But consider the implications: Facebook’s default is to claim that its computers are so infallible, no mistake could possibly be made. It’s confident enough in this claim that it feels safe slapping it on a broad notice to be sent to anyone whose account has been banned, regardless of the reason.

Customer service used to be something people expected. Today, customer service is something internet companies mostly can’t be bothered to provide. Got a problem with Gmail, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, or Microsoft? Good luck ever speaking to a human if you aren’t a massive business customer, and sometimes, even if you are. Help resources for these services are confined to a list of FAQ answers to questions you’re unlikely to be asking and maybe some forums for end-users to post their problems so they can be ignored.

According to one Reddit reader, starting a ticket with Oculus just leads to getting an email directing you to check the Facebook Help Center. If you want to appeal a Facebook ban — because apparently some bans *are* appealable, despite the wording — you have to submit photographic proof of ID. This doesn’t change the fact that the company tells people, up-front, that bans are final.

Personal Opinion

As far as I’m concerned, Oculus is dead. I do not care if the as-yet-unannounced Oculus Quest 3 grants X-ray vision and craps gold doubloons. Facebook’s conduct has made it impossible for me to recommend anyone become entangled with the service for any reason, including giving it more information about any part of your life. There’s also the minor fact that Facebook no longer cares about PC gaming specifically, has canceled future Rift development, and didn’t bother to build proper IPD adjustments into the Quest hardware. Nothing says “F*** off” quite like refusing to build hardware that works with the full range of human eyeballs.

I have loved Oculus hardware, but I am not an unbiased observer on this issue, and I won’t pretend to be. I resent the fact that the best consumer VR company has decided to become the worst consumer VR company solely to suck down just a little more personal information nobody wants to give them. This is not the official opinion of ExtremeTech. My colleague Ryan has a review of the Quest 2 coming soon.

Presumably, Facebook will fix this account-banning issue, but readers who encounter it are advised (by myself) to box their Quest 2 back up and return it to the store. If you’ve been away from Facebook or never signed up, treat this encounter as emblematic of how you can expect to be treated by the company.

I will never recommend an Oculus product again, under any circumstances. If given a choice between a free Oculus Quest 2 and the $ 900 Cosmos Elite from HTC, I’d take the Cosmos every single time. That’s strictly my opinion, and I’m not going to pretend everyone shares it. Plenty of people will say “Eh, what can you do?” and buy a Quest 2 anyway. I’m under no illusions. Nevertheless, there comes a point when a company has acted so poorly, so often, it is no longer possible to recommend anyone become involved with it if they can help it. As far as I’m concerned, Facebook blew through that barrier years ago. The mandatory data integration is the last straw. I will not turn over data to Facebook on my own gaming habits.

I respect that a lot of people aren’t going to agree with that, but part of being a reviewer is being honest about where you stand on products, even if you aren’t actively reviewing them at the time. I loved the Oculus Quest. If the Oculus Quest 2 lacked mandatory Facebook integration I’d be willing to recommend it to anyone whose eyes could use it.

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Microsoft Kills Mixer, Will Transition Users to Facebook Gaming

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Microsoft announced today that it would kill its Mixer streaming service and transition users to Facebook Gaming. The announcement both is and isn’t a surprise. On the one hand, it’s been rumored that Microsoft might make a move with Mixer and shake things up in the process. On the other, Microsoft has spent a tremendous amount of time and money building Mixer in the first place — and integrating it as the automatic streaming solution for the Xbox One.

When Microsoft bought Mixer (formerly Beam) in 2016, it explicitly set about integrating streaming as a push-button feature. It’s still possible to configure other alternatives, like Twitch, but there’s currently no way to duplicate the exact functionality Microsoft offers you with Mixer integration. If you’ve purchased Embers or Sparks, you can award them to your favorite Mixers through the month of June (they’ll receive double credit), but after June 30 you won’t be able to buy them. You’ll get an Xbox Gift Card of “similar value,” automatically applied to your Microsoft account, but only have until September 30 to spend the money.

This is an odd deal. Facebook Gaming has no method of directly streaming from consoles. Microsoft refers to plans to bring that feature out in the future but had nothing ready for this announcement. This about-face also comes less than a year after Microsoft announced it had signed Tyler “Ninja” Blevins to a multi-year Mixer contract — and Blevins wasn’t the only streamer who moved to the platform.

The sudden announcement caught even Mixer staff off-guard. Tera Wake, who worked at Mixer and was chairing an accessibility committee that had “barely gotten started,” announced that staff had found out about the project shutdown right before the announcement was made public. Mixer has had some noted morale problems, as reported by OnMSFT, but there was still no sign the service was being canceled.

Polygon reports that in exchange, Microsoft is getting something it wants — Project xCloud support on Facebook Gaming. Again, this is something of an odd deal. Why would Microsoft need to tap Facebook’s gaming leverage when it has so many methods of reaching its own customers directly?

My guess is that this is about extending xCloud to a group of users who might not encounter the service another way. Microsoft doesn’t need Facebook to reach Xbox gamers, but it could use Facebook’s social reach to try and appeal to people who don’t fit the standard core gaming demographic. That makes sense, as far as it goes, but Microsoft’s entire business approach to gaming is that it attempts to cater to what I’d call the “core gaming demographic.” The idea of reaching people over Facebook with the appeal of games they might not have considered seems like the sort of thing that would play more to Nintendo’s strengths, with family-friendly titles like Animal Crossing (if, of course, Nintendo was interested in that kind of cloud gaming service).

Microsoft is spinning this idea as a way to help its Mixers find larger audiences. Mixer, unlike Facebook, was known for robust moderation tools and cultivating non-toxic fan communities. Facebook is, shall we say, not known for these things.

It’s not clear if anyone actually benefits from this. Mixer isn’t a big enough platform to make Facebook Gaming look appealing. Facebook Gaming still has the word “Facebook” in it, which makes it a non-starter. Microsoft gets to put xCloud on Facebook Gaming, but whether it’ll actually provide any kind of meaningful market for the product is another question entirely. Oh — and it’s not clear how content creators will themselves be impacted, though Microsoft has made some mouth noises about trying to help them establish themselves on equivalent terms with Zuck and Co.

As of now, it’s likely the Xbox Series X will either feature streaming integration with a service like Twitch or will simply allow users to set their own service without a preset default. The feature has become too important to imagine consoles leaving it off altogether.

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Facebook takes down Trump campaign posts, ads for violating organized hate policy

Facebook said on Thursday it took down posts and ads run by the re-election campaign of U.S. President Donald Trump for violating its policy against organized hate.

The ads showed a red inverted triangle with text asking Facebook users to sign a petition against Antifa, a loosely organized anti-fascist movement.

Trump and Attorney General William Barr have repeatedly singled out Antifa as a major instigator of recent unrest during nationwide anti-racism protests, with little evidence.

“Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” said a Facebook company spokesperson.

The symbol was used in Facebook ads run on pages belonging to Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, as well as on ads and posts on the Team Trump page.

“Whether aware of the history or meaning, for the Trump campaign to use a symbol — one which is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps — to attack his opponents is offensive and deeply troubling,” said Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, in a statement.

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, said in an email, “The inverted red triangle is a symbol used by Antifa, so it was included in an ad about Antifa.”

“We would note that Facebook still has an inverted red triangle emoji in use, which looks exactly the same, so it’s curious that they would target only this ad. The image is also not included in the Anti-Defamation League’s database of symbols of hate.”

A spokesperson for the ADL said its database was not one of historical Nazi symbols but of those “commonly used by modern extremists and white supremacists in the United States.”

He also said that there have been some Antifa who have used the red triangle but that it was not a particularly common symbol used by the group.

Mark Bray, a historian at Rutgers University and author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, said that the red triangle had been reclaimed by some leftist groups in the United Kingdom and Germany after the Second World War but that he had never come across any use of it by anti-fascists in the U.S.

An Auschwitz death camp survivor wears a sash bearing a red triangle denoting a political prisoner during a gathering to remember Holocaust victims in Oswiecim, Poland, in January 2005. (Associated Press)

A Reuters tally counted 88 versions of the ad using the symbol from the three Facebook pages. Ads from Trump’s page had gained at least 800,000 impressions, according to Facebook’s ad library.

Asked about the ads’ removal at a U.S. House intelligence committee hearing on Thursday, Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said the company would be consistent in taking the same actions if the symbol appeared in other places on the platform.

Facebook has previously removed Trump campaign ads, including ones that violated the company’s policy against misinformation on the government’s census.

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‘Mark is wrong’: Facebook employees go public regarding site policy on political speech

Facebook employees critical of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to act on U.S. President Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments about protests across the United States went public on Twitter, praising the rival social media firm for acting and rebuking their own employer.

Many tech workers at companies including Facebook, Google and Amazon have actively pursued issues of social justice in recent years, urging their employers to take action and change policies.

Even so, the weekend criticism marked a rare case of high-level employees publicly taking their chief executive to task, with at least three of the seven critical posts seen by Reuters coming from people who identified themselves as senior managers.

“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavour in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” wrote Ryan Freitas, whose Twitter account identifies him as director of product design for Facebook’s News Feed. He added he had mobilized, “50+ likeminded folks” to lobby for internal change.

Jason Toff, identified as director of product management, wrote: “I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up. The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

A spokesperson said the company is open to employee feedback.

“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our black community,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone wrote in a text, referring to company employees.

“We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”

‘Respect to Twitter’s integrity team’

Twitter affixed a warning label late last week to a tweet from Trump in which he had included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” with respect to Minneapolis protests over the death of George Floyd, which had taken a violent turn. Twitter said the tweet violated its rules against glorifying violence but was being left up as a public service exception.

Facebook declined to take action on the same message, with Zuckerberg saying in a Facebook post on Friday that while he found the remarks “deeply offensive,” they did not violate company policy against incitements to violence and people should know if the government was planning to deploy state force.

This image from the Twitter account of U.S. President Donald Trump shows a tweet he posted on May 29 after protesters in Minneapolis torched a police station. The tweet drew a warning from Twitter for Trump’s rhetoric, with the social media giant saying he had ‘violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.’ (Twitter/The Associated Press)

In the post, Zuckerberg, who last week took pains to distance his company from the fight between Twitter and Trump, also said Facebook had been in touch with the White House to explain its policies.

But some of the dissenting employees directly praised Twitter’s response.

“Respect to @Twitter’s integrity team for making the enforcement call,” wrote David Gillis, identified as a director of product design. In a long Twitter thread he said he understood the logic of Facebook’s decision, but: “I think it would have been right for us to make a ‘spirit of the policy’ exception that took more context into account.”

Jason Stirman, in research and development at Facebook, said Trump’s posts “clearly incite violence.”

“There isn’t a neutral position on racism.”

Andrew Crow, head of design for the Portal product, said he disagrees with Zuckerberg’s position and vowed to work to make change.

“Giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy,” Crow wrote.

Toff was one of several Facebook employees who were organizing fundraisers for racial justice groups in Minnesota. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Monday that the company would contribute an additional $ 10 million US to social justice causes.

Mail-in voting tweet got 1st warning

Twitter’s first warning for Trump last week said his claims on a post about mail-in ballots were false and had been debunked by fact-checkers.

The blue exclamation mark notification on May 26 prompted readers to “get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and directed them to a page with news articles and information about the claims aggregated by Twitter staffers. Trump, who has more than 80 million followers on Twitter, had claimed in tweets earlier in the day that mail-in ballots for the election in November would be “substantially fraudulent” and result in a “rigged election.”

“We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg told Fox News in an interview recorded after Twitter’s decision and broadcast on May 28.

Tensions between social media platform Twitter and President Donald Trump escalated today… For the first time ever, Twitter added a warning to two of the president’s tweets saying he violated the platform’s rules of glorifying violence. In one of the tweets he said quote “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” referring to protests in Minneapolis right now. This move comes after Trump signed an executive order that could limit social media companies in how they police content. Ramona Pringle is Here and Now’s technology columnist. 7:33

Zuckerberg has said on more than one occasion that he doesn’t want Facebook to be the “arbiter of truth,” though Facebook announced last year that it would take action on some campaign posts encouraging voter suppression and spreading voter misinformation, which are the areas the Twitter fact-check concerned.

As well, Facebook has banned some accounts and groups related to the QAnon political conspiracy theory, as well as those violating the site’s terms by spreading coronavirus misinformation.

After Twitter’s action concerning the tweet on voting by mail, Trump signed an executive order challenging the liability protections from lawsuits for what is posted on their platforms, but it is unclear if the order would survive a likely court challenge.

Technology companies blasted the move, saying it would stifle innovation and speech on the internet. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has supported Trump most of the time with respect to economic policy, shared its objections.

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Facebook Will Now Use Oculus VR Data for Ads Just as Everyone Expected

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Well, here it is. When Facebook bought Oculus, it assured users that it wouldn’t be using any data gathered via Oculus VR for advertising. It’s a question that’s come up again and again over the years, and it’s always been answered the same way: Oculus and Facebook do not and will not combine data…

Except, now, they do. Oculus has announced changes to its privacy policy regarding how data is shared between Oculus and Facebook when you connect an Oculus Rift to your FB account. You are not required to connect your Oculus account to Facebook in order to use your Rift. Oculus’ FAQ claims that one reason for the tighter integration between the two companies is that Facebook wants to create more social experiences in VR, and the company is launching a new social platform for VR gamers to connect on Facebook. That’s not a terrible idea given that VR suffers from a limited player base, but it’s not an option I’d choose, personally. I’m more a fan of single-player games in the first place.

As far as what data the company is going to collect and use, here’s the official statement:

Facebook will now use information about your Oculus activity, like which apps you use, to help provide these new social features and more relevant content, including ads. Those recommendations could include Oculus Events you might like to attend or ads for VR apps available on the Oculus Store. These changes won’t affect third-party apps and games, and they won’t affect your on-device data.

If you choose not to log into Facebook on Oculus, we won’t share data with Facebook to allow third parties to target advertisements to you based on your use of the Oculus Platform.

The FAQ offers additional information on which data is shared, including:

The VR apps you use, so we can recommend new apps you haven’t tried yet
Your Facebook friend list, so you can join your Facebook friends who are also on Oculus in VR if you choose to
Invites and acceptances for events you create
Information like your name and messaging metadata for chats in Oculus, so that Facebook can send those messages
Your photos and related content like captions, likes and comments if you use the “share photos” feature to share photos from VR to your Facebook Timeline
Information about your Oculus activity, like which apps you use, to show you ads for other VR apps you may like

You have the option to stop sharing data with Facebook by de-linking your Oculus and FB accounts. If you do so, a small amount of data will still be shared (accounts that have been flagged for abuse, for example, are flagged as such on both FB and Oculus sites).

Data Silo Agreements All Come With Expiration Dates

It’s not surprising to see Facebook making this move, but I’d like to hope the tech community can take a lesson from it. When a company claims that it’ll keep two different databases of information separate as a condition of a merger or legal settlement, it doesn’t mean “Forever.” It appears to mean something more like “4-5 years.”

Facebook isn’t making an FB account mandatory to use Oculus Rift — not yet — but I wouldn’t bet on things staying that way long-term. Right now, VR is still a very early market. The various companies trying to promote growth are playing pretty nice with each other, partly because nobody wants bad press to kill a nascent golden goose. But should Oculus start generating the kind of interest that might look like the nucleus of a new user base, don’t be surprised to see Facebook get rather grabby about exactly what kind of accounts people are allowed to have and what the data-sharing arrangements are.

What Facebook has announced, in and of itself, is fine. It might even be pleasantly useful, if you have a large group of VR-playing friends. Inevitably, though, we’re reduced to the meta-question: “Do you actually trust Facebook?” If you do, the company has delivered a lovely feature. If you don’t, you can keep using a separate login ID and keeping your data private (ish).

But I wouldn’t take bets on how long that door will hold. Not if VR actually starts being popular.

Now Read:

Oculus Quest Becomes the First VR Headset With Hand Tracking
One for the Graveyard: Google Discontinues Daydream VR
Sony May Be Prepping PSVR 2 Headset With Built-in Cameras, AR Support

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

ExtremeTechGaming – ExtremeTech

Twitter bans all political advertising on its service, diverging from rival Facebook

Twitter is banning all political advertising from its service, saying social media companies give advertisers an unfair advantage in proliferating highly targeted, misleading messages.

“While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Wednesday in a series of tweets announcing the new policy.

Dorsey said the company is recognizing that advertising on social media offers an unfair level of targeting compared to other mediums. It is not about free expression, he asserted.

Misleading political ads on social media burst into the spotlight during the 2016 presidential election, when Russian agents took out thousands of ads on Facebook in an attempt to sow political division and influence the election.

“This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” he tweeted. “It’s worth stepping back in order to address.”

Facebook has taken fire since it disclosed earlier in October that it will not fact-check ads by politicians or their campaigns, which could allow them to lie freely. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told Congress last week that politicians have the right to free speech on Facebook.

During Facebook’s earnings conference call Wednesday — which began less than an hour after Dorsey’s tweet — Zuckerberg stood by the company’s decision. He emphatically stressed what he called Facebook’s deep belief “that political speech is important” and denied any financial motive, noting that political ads make up less than half of a per cent of the company’s revenue.

“This is complex stuff. Anyone who says the answer is simple hasn’t thought about the nuances and downstream challenges,” he said. “I don’t think anyone can say that we are not doing what we believe or we haven’t thought hard about these issues.”

Google had no immediate comment on Twitter’s policy change.

The issue suddenly arose in September when Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, refused to remove a misleading video ad from U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign that targeted former vice-president Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate.

In response, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, another presidential hopeful, ran an ad on Facebook taking aim at Zuckerberg. The ad falsely claimed that Zuckerberg endorsed Trump for re-election, acknowledging the deliberate falsehood as necessary to make a point.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, seen in Paris in May, said Wednesday that the company recognizes that advertising on social media offered an unfair level of targeting compared to other platforms. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Critics have called on Facebook to ban all political ads. This includes CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who recently called the policy of allowing lies ludicrous and advised the social media giant to sit out the 2020 election until it can figure out something better.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, another Democratic 2020 contender, retweeted Dorsey’s announcement, adding the comment, “Good. Your turn, Facebook.”

Twitter currently only allows certified campaigns and organizations to run political ads for candidates and issues. The latter tend to advocate on broader issues such as climate change, abortion rights and immigration.

The company said it will make some exceptions, such as allowing ads that encourage voter turnout. It will describe those in a detailed policy it plans to release on Nov. 15.

Federal campaigns are expected to spend the majority of advertising dollars on broadcast and cable channels during the 2020 U.S. election, according to advertising research firm Kantar, and about 20 per cent of the total $ 6 billion US  in spending on digital ads.

Twitter’s new policy will take effect on Nov. 22.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News