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Facebook Papers Sheds Light on Social Media Moderation Issues

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The media, to which the company’s internal documents were leaked, claim that the company prioritizes profits over users.

The so-called Facebook Papers (an array of documents released to the public by former Facebook product director Francis Haugen) shed light on the problems with content moderation and the fight against disinformation on the platform. Major media outlets to which Haugen handed the documents, including Reuters, Bloomberg and The Washington Post, argue that the company prioritizes profit over user safety, although Facebook employees have repeatedly warned it of the potential risks.

For example, The Washington Post accuses Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg of downplaying the importance of reports that the site contributed to incitement to hatred, while addressing the US Congress. According to the newspaper, Zuckerberg knew that the problem was actually much more serious than it was reported to the public.

According to internal company documents, the platform removes less than 5% of hateful posts, and senior management (including Zuckerberg) was well aware of the platform dividing people into opposing camps. Facebook denies the allegations and claims its internal documents were misinterpreted.

Zuckerberg is also allegedly responsible for the decision not to suppress misinformation about COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic, as there could be a “significant trade-off with the influence of MSI” (meaningful social interaction – an internal Facebook metric). Facebook denies this, claiming that the documents have been misunderstood.

In turn, the news agency Reuters accused Facebook of regularly neglecting developing countries, which were allowed to publish publications inciting hatred and calling for extremist action. In other words, the company did not hire enough moderators with knowledge of the language and culture of these countries to effectively remove such content. Instead, it unjustifiably relied on its automatic moderation systems, which are ineffective in non-English-speaking countries. Again, Facebook denies these allegations.

According to reports from The New York Times, Facebook was well aware that the “Like” and “Share” functions (key elements of the social network) contributed to the spread of hate speech. As stated in a document titled “What Is Collateral Damage”, Facebook’s failure to address this issue will ultimately result in the company “actively (not necessarily knowingly) promoting such activity.” Again, Facebook claims the document was misinterpreted because the company would not harm its users.

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Instagram said it is strengthening the protection of its underage users

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The head of Instagram is due to speak at a hearing in the US Congress on December 7 and talk about the measures taken by his service to protect children.

Tuesday, December 7th, Instagram administration stated the intention to carefully select the content recommended for teens and to nudge them to other areas if they get hung up on one thing. On its blog, the service announced a few more changes that will affect teenagers.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri is due to speak at a hearing in the US Congress on Wednesday, December 7, and talk about the measures taken by his service to protect children online.

Recently, Instagram and parent company Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) have come under fire for the potential harm to the mental health and safety of children online.

According to Mosseri, Instagram will disable the ability for users to tag or mention teenagers who are not their followers. Starting in January 2022, teenagers will have the opportunity to massively delete their content, previously set “likes” and written comments.

The service looked at control tools to limit potentially harmful or sensitive content to teens through search, hashtags, short videos (Reels) and featured pages, Mosseri said.

Instagram is also launching a Take a Break feature for users in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, which will remind users to distract themselves if the user is stuck in the app for a long time.

In March 2022, Instagram will launch its first parental control tool that will allow parents and guardians to see how much time a teen is spending on the app.

In September of this year, the Instagram administration decided to postpone the launch of the version of the application for children for now, and now the press service of the service has confirmed that the Instagram management does not intend to return to this project yet.

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Israeli authorities strengthen oversight of cyber technology exports

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The move follows a series of scandals involving Israeli spyware developer NSO Group.

Israel’s Defense Export Control Agency has decided to tighten oversight over the export of offensive cyber products. Companies buying Israeli cyber technologies will have to sign a declaration to use the products “only for the investigation and prevention of terrorist attacks and serious crimes.” Countries that violate the terms of use may be subject to sanctions, “including restricting and / or shutting down the cyber system.”

As the Associated Press reported, the decision was made just days after another NSO Group spyware scandal. US diplomats in Uganda have been targeted by a software tool developed by the NSO Group. Spyware, developed by the Israeli company NSO Group, has been used to hack iPhone smartphones by at least nine US foreign policy officials.

The NSO Group has faced a flood of international criticism over accusations that it helps governments spy on political opponents and human rights defenders. However, according to the company itself, its product is intended solely to help countries in the fight against crime and terrorism. Israel’s Defense Ministry has also drastically reduced the list of countries to which Israeli companies are allowed to sell their cyber technology. If earlier the list included 102 countries, now it has been reduced to 37. In particular, Israel’s new allies Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, in which cases of human rights violations are known, were excluded from it.

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Life360 service is suspected of selling geodata of children to third parties

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The company is one of the largest providers of confidential information on the personal data market.

Specialists of the non-profit organization The Markup spent investigation into the service Life360, which allows tracking the geolocation of children. As it turned out, the company is one of the largest providers of confidential information in the personal data market.

The Markup contacted two former employees of the so-called “data brokers” Cuebiq and X-Mode. Life360 made about $ 16 million in 2020 from selling user data to dozens of different companies, according to whistleblowers. In addition, two former Life360 employees also told the organization about the company’s additional source of income.

According to a former X-Mode employee, the raw location data from Life360 was one of the most valuable offerings on the market due to the sheer volume and accuracy of the data. A former Cuebiq employee joked that the company would not be able to carry out its marketing campaigns without the constant stream of location data from Life360.

The privacy policy of the application specifies the transfer of personal data, but the wording of the document actually allows the company to “transfer information to third parties in a form that allows you to identify the user.”

The functionality of the service allows you to prohibit the transfer of data, but this is not directly communicated to the user. This function is hidden in several sub-items of the settings, and consent to the use of information for commercial purposes is activated by default.

Whistleblowers said the company did not maintain adequate user anonymity and only removed names or home addresses prior to the sale. The rest of the information made it possible to easily identify the identity of the user. Any organization could become a buyer of data from Life360; the company did not enter into transactions only with government agencies.

The founder of the company, Chris Hulls (Chris Hulls) was unable to confirm or deny the results of the investigation.

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