WhatsApp Requested to Delay Launch of Communities Feature in Brazil Till January
By Reuters | Updated: 30 July 2022
Brazilian prosecutors on Friday called on messaging platform WhatsApp to delay the launch in Brazil of its new feature called Communities until January to avoid the spread of fake news during and immediately after the country’s election in October.
The federal prosecutors said the expanded reach of the new tool comes “at a time when fake news about the functioning of institutions and the integrity of the Brazilian voting system could jeopardize the democratic stability of the country.”
The MPF, as the federal prosecutors office is known, said Communities could undermine the efficient steps taken by WhatsApp in recent years to contain the spread of fake news.
WhatsApp is one of the messaging platforms that supporters of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro most use to communicate, organize rallies, and divulge their views. Bolsonaro is seeking re-election but is trailing leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil’s most polarized election in decades.
The messaging service owned by Meta agreed in April to postpone the launch of the new platform until after an expected second-round run-off vote at the end of October.
But the MPF said in a statement this was not enough to mitigate the “serious risks that an increase in disinformation can generate … in the last two months of the year.”
A WhatsApp spokesperson said the company will continue to carefully evaluate the best time to launch the new platform and would duly reply to the authorities’ request.
The MPF said WhatsApp is installed on 99 percent of the smartphones in Brazil.
The new feature would expand the number of users from 256 at present to 512, allowing messages to be sent to 2,560 people at once. This would increase users’ ability to viralize content, the MPF said.
The prosecutors noted WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption prevents those responsible for the platform from monitoring and moderating the content of the messages exchanged on it.
© Thomson Reuters 2022
Facebook Acted on Over 27 Million Pieces of Content in India for Guideline Violations in April
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 3 June 2023
Social media giant Meta’s Facebook took action against 41 percent of complaints it received from users and Instagram against over 54 percent of grievances raised by users in April 2023, according to the company’s latest India Monthly Report. As per the category-wise information disclosed by Meta, Facebook “actioned on” less than one-fourth of grievances of users where they claimed that the content is showing them in partial nudity or in a sexual act.
In the case of Instagram, the platform actioned on less than one-third of users’ reports it received for violation of its policy on “content showing me in nudity/partial nudity or in a sexual act”.
Meta transparency report shows the other categories of the report, on which Facebook’s action rate was less than a quarter of the percentage, including grievances raised by users for “bullying or harassment” (over 17 percent), “inappropriate or abusive content” (around 18 percent) and fake profiles (over 23 percent).
Facebook received a total of 8,470 grievances from users and provided tools for users to resolve their issues in 2,225 cases.
“Of the other 6,245 reports where the specialized review was needed, we reviewed content as per our policies, and we took action on 1,244 reports in total,” Meta said in the report for Facebook.
The category-wise details of action taken on 1,244 additional reports were not disclosed by Facebook.
Facebook on its own acted on over 27.7 million pieces of content that it found were violating its community guidelines across 13 policies.
The top three categories on which Facebook took action on its own comprised 21.7 million spam content, 1.6 million content faced action for violating policy around adult nudity and sexual activity, and 1.4 million for violent and graphic content.
Instagram received 9,676 grievances from users, out of which it acted on 5,255 incidents.
The company provided tools for users to resolve their issues in 3,591 cases.
Instagram provided tools only in around 11 percent of cases where users reported their account being hacked, and around 30 percent in cases where users claimed that the content showed them in partial nudity or in a sexual act.
“Of the other 6,085 reports where the specialized review was needed, we reviewed content as per our policies, and we took action on 1,664 reports in total,” Meta said for action taken by Instagram.
The category or the policy-wise details of 1,664 reports were not shared by the company in the report.
Instagram on its own acted against over 5.46 million content.
Meta received five orders from the Grievances Appellate Committee (GAC) on which it acted.
The GAC looks into complaints of users who are not satisfied with the resolution of social media majors.
Twitter Exits Voluntary EU Disinformation Code but Obligations Remain, EU Commissioner Says
By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 27 May 2023
Twitter has decided to leave the EU’s disinformation code, a voluntary pact that groups together the major social platforms, but “its obligations remain,” EU Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton tweeted Saturday.
Launched in 2018, the EU’s code of practice on disinformation counts nearly three dozen signatories including the giants in the sector such as Meta, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and TikTok.
Twitter leaves EU voluntary Code of Practice against disinformation.
But obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide.
Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting disinformation will be legal obligation under #DSA as of August 25.
Our teams will be ready for enforcement.— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) May 26, 2023
It also covers smaller platforms, as well as advertisers and fact-checkers and non-governmental organisations.
The code was written by the industry players themselves and contains over three dozen pledges such as better cooperation with fact-checkers and not promoting actors distributing disinformation.
“You can run but you can’t hide. Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting disinformation will be legal obligation under DSA (digital services law) as of August 25,” he wrote.
“Our teams will be ready for enforcement,” he warned.
Since buying the social network six months ago, billionaire Elon Musk has relaxed the moderation of problematic content, which appears to have amplified the voices of notorious propagators of disinformation on the platform.
“If (Elon Musk) doesn’t take the code seriously, then it’s better that he quits,” a European Commission official had told AFP on Friday.
Twitter Says Indian Among Top 5 Countries That Sought Account Information of Users in First Half of 2022
By ANI | Updated: 27 April 2023
India was among the top requesting countries to remove content from Twitter last year, the popular microblogging platform said in a blog post. On Tuesday, Twitter shared data on its health and safety efforts and said it received approximately 53,000 legal requests to remove content from governments across the globe from January 1 to June 30, 2022.
The top five requesting countries seeking account information were India, the US, France, Japan, and Germany.
“Twitter continues to take action on content that violates our Rules and protects users’ rights in response to government legal requests,” the blog read.
During the January-June 2022 period, Twitter required users to remove 6,586,109 pieces of content that violated its norms, an increase of 29 percent from the second half of 2021.
Twitter said it took enforcement action on 5,096,272 accounts during the period, a 20 percent increase and 1,618,855 accounts were suspended for violating the rules, which is an increase of 28 percent.
The contents that were removed or accounts suspended relate to abuse/harassment, child sexual exploitation, hacked materials, hateful conduct, impersonation, non-consensual nudity, perpetrators of violent attacks, private information, promoting suicide or self harm, sensitive media, terrorism/violent extremism, and violence.
“We intend to share more about our path forward for transparency reporting later this year,” according to the blog post.
Twitter Blue Subscribers’ Verified Accounts Are Now ‘Prioritised’, Elon Musk Says
By Agencies | Updated: 25 April 2023
Twitter CEO Elon Musk has made an important announcement regarding the accounts which are blue tick verified. The changes which Musk has made on Twitter after his takeover have been wide-ranging. Adding another pointer to his updates is about getting verified accounts prioritised. The information came on Tuesday as Elon Musk tweeted, “Verified accounts are now prioritised”.
Due to the recent development, several celebrities have lost their verified blue ticks from their Twitter accounts. As multiple accounts have started paying, the announcement will definitely motivate others to join the bandwagon.
The blue tick served as a way of protecting well-known individuals from impersonation and tackling false information.
“On April 1st, we will begin winding down our legacy verified program and removing legacy verified checkmarks. To keep your blue checkmark on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue,” Twitter said in a post in March.
Twitter first introduced the blue check mark system in 2009 to help users identify that celebrities, politicians, companies and brands, news organizations and other accounts “of public interest” were genuine and not impostors or parody accounts. The company didn’t previously charge for verification.
Musk launched Twitter Blue with the check-mark badge as one of the premium perks within two weeks of the company’s takeover last year.
Over the weekend, Twitter restored verification badges on several high-profile celebrity accounts with millions of followers, just days after the microblogging platform culled the legacy blue checkmarks for non-paying users.
The move assumes significance as Indian celebrities and top politicians from Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi lost verified blue ticks on their Twitter accounts this week after Elon Musk-led microblogging site started removing checkmark icons from accounts that did not pay a subscription fee.
The coveted blue ticks have now made a surprising comeback on accounts of these celebrities. Top cricketers such as Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli who lost the blue tick mark on their Twitter handles, have also got them back.
Meta Lays Off Engineers, Adjacent Tech Teams as Employees Express Frustration With Job Cuts
By Reuters | Updated: 20 April 2023
Meta Platforms on Wednesday carried out another round of job cuts, this time hitting engineers and adjacent tech teams, as Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg further moved to streamline the business in a bid to make 2023 a “year of efficiency.”
Meta in March became the first Big Tech company to announce a second round of mass layoffs, which it said would take place in three main batches over several months and impact 10,000 employees.
Wednesday’s cuts, though expected, prompted expressions of frustration from Meta employees. Layoffs were the subject of the most popular questions posted on an internal company forum on Wednesday ahead of an upcoming employee town hall.
“You’ve shattered the morale and confidence in leadership of many high performers who work with intensity. Why should we stay at Meta?” read one question seen by Reuters.
The question references comments Zuckerberg made last year urging employees to work with more “intensity” to meet the Facebook and Instagram parent company’s business challenges.
The company declined a Reuters request for comment.
Meta’s first round of layoffs in the fall hit more than 11,000 employees, or 13 percent of its workforce at the time, and preceded other major tech companies shedding thousands of employees after a pandemic-led boom in digital advertising and cloud computing.
With the restructuring, Meta is also shelving lower-priority projects and “flattening” layers of middle management.
Investors have rewarded the company for downsizing.
Meta shares have surged about 80 percent this year, outperforming the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite’s 16 percent rise in the period.
The company, which will announce its first-quarter results on April 26, is expected to benefit from a modest pickup in the digital advertising market and regulatory pressure on chief rival TikTok.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
Elon Musk Modifies ‘Government Funded Media’ Label for CBC After Publisher Pauses Twitter Activity
By ANI | Updated: 18 April 2023
Elon Musk on Monday responded to Canada’s public broadcaster’s saying it will pause its activities on Twitter after being labelled as “government-funded media”.
Replying to CBC’s threats, Elon Musk tweeted, “Canadian Broadcasting Corp said they’re ‘less than 70 percent government-funded, so we corrected the label.”
Canadian Broadcasting Corp said they’re “less than 70% government-funded”, so we corrected the label pic.twitter.com/lU1EWf76Zu— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 18, 2023
Earlier, CBC spokesperson Leon Mar said, “Twitter can be a powerful tool for our journalists to communicate with Canadians, but it undermines the accuracy and professionalism of the work they do to allow our independence to be falsely described in this way,” CBC reported.
“Consequently, we will be pausing our activity on our corporate Twitter account and all CBC and Radio-Canada news-related accounts,” he added. Meanwhile, on Twitter, CBC said, “Our journalism is impartial and independent. To suggest otherwise is untrue. That is why we are pausing our activities on @Twitter.” Earlier, BBC and NPR have been labelled as “government-funded media” organisations. The @BBC account – which has 2.2 million followers – is currently branded as government funded. The label has not been given to the BBC’s other accounts, including BBC News (World) and BBC Breaking News, reported CNN. Twitter has not given a definition for what it considers “government-funded media” to constitute. In a statement provided to CNN, the BBC said, “We are speaking to Twitter to resolve this issue as soon as possible. The BBC is and always has been, independent. We are funded by the British public through the licence fee.”
BBC’s branding comes after a row erupted between Musk and the American NPR network after Musk changed NPR’s label to “state-affiliated media” – which effectively suggested the US government could influence its editorial policy and compare it to outlets such as the Kremlin-funded Russia Today.
After being labelled as “Government-funded”, NPR said that it would stop using Twitter at all, New York Times reported.
Isabel Lara, NPR’s chief communications officer, said in a statement, “NPR’s organisational accounts will no longer be active on Twitter because the platform is taking actions that undermine our credibility by falsely implying that we are not editorially independent.” “We are not putting our journalism on platforms that have demonstrated an interest in undermining our credibility and the public’s understanding of our editorial independence,” she added.
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