Facebook Papers, Newsfeeds, Hate Speec, More, More: Tuesday Facebook Update, November 23, 2021


Gizmodo: We’re Making the Facebook Papers Public. Here’s Why and How. “We believe there’s a strong public need in making as many of the documents public as possible, as quickly as possible. To that end, we’ve partnered with a small group of independent monitors, who are joining us to establish guidelines for an accountable review of the documents prior to publication. The mission is to minimize any costs to individuals’ privacy or the furtherance of other harms while ensuring the responsible disclosure of the greatest amount of information in the public interest.”


BBC: Facebook gives users ‘more control’ over news feed. “Facebook says it is introducing new features to give people more control over what appears in their news feeds. The social network has been under intense scrutiny in recent years for how its algorithms promote content. Now, it says it is testing controls to ‘adjust people’s ranking preferences’ and customise the feed.”

The Guardian: Meta delays encrypted messages on Facebook and Instagram to 2023. “The owner of Facebook and Instagram is delaying plans to encrypt users’ messages until 2023 amid warnings from child safety campaigners that its proposals would shield abusers from detection.”

BBC: Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: What are Facebook and Twitter doing about hate speech?. “Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have come under fire over their roles in the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia. Critics say they are not doing enough to prevent the spread of hate speech and incitement to violence on their platforms, but that has been rejected by the companies. We’ve looked at some examples and what is being done to deal with them.”


NPR: Facebook will examine whether it treats Black users differently. “The parent company of Facebook and Instagram is looking into whether its platforms treat users differently based on race, after years of criticism particularly from Black users and its own employees about racial bias.”

Business Insider: Cosmetics company Lush says it’s shutting down its Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat accounts because of the Facebook whistleblower. “Trendy cosmetics company Lush has announced it’s quitting social media just as the holiday season kicks off. In a press release issued last week Lush said it will be shutting down its Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat accounts on November 26 in all 48 countries where it operates. The company said it’s ditching its accounts in protest against safety issues on social media.”

Techdirt: Instagram Founder’s Instagram Locked When One Person Convinced Instagram He Had Died. “We have talked a long, long time about how the concept of content moderation at the kind of scale of the largest internet and social media platforms is essentially impossible. But it’s not just content moderation that is proving difficult for those platforms. Policing those platforms for anything that relies on user-based input is difficult as well. For instance, Instagram recently found out that its process for locking up the accounts of the deceased may need some work, as one person was able to get Instagram founder Adam Mosseri’s Instagram account locked.”

Wired: How Facebook Could Break Free From the Engagement Trap. “WHERE DOES SOCIAL media go from here? The leaked documents known as the Facebook Papers hammered home the fact—if there was any doubt remaining—that even the world’s most sophisticated content moderation systems can’t keep pace with human misbehavior on the billions-of-users scale, or the damage generated by algorithms designed to maximize engagement.”

New York Times: How Fake News on Facebook Helped Fuel a Border Crisis in Europe. “The European Union, offering robust support to Poland’s hard-line stand against migrants, has blamed the traumas of recent weeks on its eastern border on the authoritarian leader of Belarus, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko. The Belarusian authorities certainly have helped stoke the crisis, offering easy tourist visas to thousands of Iraqis and easing their way to the border with Poland. But social media, particularly Facebook, also have given Mr. Lukashenko a vital assist, as an unpredictable accelerant to the hopes and illusions of people who have fallen prey to the empty promises of profiteers and charlatans on the internet.”


The Guardian: Facebook demands LAPD end social media surveillance and use of fake accounts. “Facebook is demanding that the Los Angeles police department cease all use of ‘dummy’ accounts on its platforms and stop collecting data on users for surveillance.”

CNET: Instagram faces investigation over its impact on teens. “A group of state attorneys general said Thursday they’re investigating whether Meta, formerly known as Facebook, violated state consumer protection law by promoting its social media app Instagram to children and teens even though it knew of the service’s harms.”


The Atlantic: I Made the World’s Blandest Facebook Profile, Just to See What Happens. “After just two weeks on the platform, consuming only content that Facebook’s recommendation systems selected for me, I found myself at the bottom of a rabbit hole not of extremism but of utter trash—bad advice, stolen memes, shady businesses, and sophomoric jokes repeated over and over. Facebook isn’t just dangerous, I learned. It doesn’t merely have the ability to shape offline reality for its billions of users. No, Facebook is also—and perhaps for most people—senseless and demoralizing.”

The Markup: Facebook Isn’t Telling You How Popular Right-Wing Content Is on the Platform. “In early November, Facebook published its Q3 Widely Viewed Content Report, the second in a series meant to rebut critics who said that its algorithms were boosting extremist and sensational content. The report declared that, among other things, the most popular informational content on Facebook came from sources like UNICEF, ABC News, or the CDC. But data collected by The Markup suggests that, on the contrary, sensationalist news or viral content with little original reporting performs just as well as—and often better than—many mainstream sources when it comes to how often it’s seen by platform users.”

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