Frances Haugen, Disinformation Campaigns, Hate Speech, Congressional Hearings, More: Facebook Roundup, December 7, 2021


WGN Radio: Haugen urges lawmakers to avert impasse on social media laws. “Ex-Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen implored lawmakers Wednesday to avert the usual congressional stalemates as they weigh proposals to curb abuses on social media platforms by limiting the companies’ free-speech protections against legal liability.”

Business Insider: Meta says it busted more than 600 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to a massive China-based COVID-19 disinformation campaign. “Meta’s ‘Adversarial Threat Report’ said that the company removed 524 Facebook accounts, 86 Instagram accounts, 20 Facebook pages, and four Facebook groups linked to this disinformation campaign in November.”

CNET: Meta to mandate two-factor authentication for high-profile users. “Facebook-owner Meta said Thursday that it will begin requiring its highest-profile and highest-risk users to protect their accounts with two-factor authentication. The new security requirement will apply to users of Facebook Protect, a feature offered to human rights activists, journalists, government officials and other high-profile users deemed likely to be targeted by cybercriminals. The feature also monitors accounts for hacking threats.”

KnowTechie: Instagram desperately wants you to create a new account. “If you haven’t noticed, Instagram is subtly pushing users to start a new account. A couple of weeks back, the app presented me with a popup that encouraged me to ‘try a new account’ and floated the idea that it would help me ‘keep up with a smaller group of friends.’ But what’s the point of doing that when Instagram already offers you the ability to share Stories with ‘Close Friends’ and set an account to private? This sounds like an easy cash grab to boost the company’s user numbers, but hey, I could be wrong.”


Washington Post: Facebook’s race-blind practices around hate speech came at the expense of Black users, new documents show. “The Black audience on Facebook is in decline, according to data from a study Facebook conducted earlier this year that was revealed in documents obtained by whistleblower Frances Haugen. According to the February report, the number of Black monthly users fell 2.7 percent in one month to 17.3 million adults…. Civil rights groups have long claimed that Facebook’s algorithms and policies had a disproportionately negative impact on minorities, and particularly Black users. The ‘worst of the worst’ documents show that those allegations were largely true in the case of which hate speech remained online.”

New York Post: Facebook staffer secretly advised Andrew Cuomo’s team to ‘victim shame’ accuser. “A Facebook manager who once worked for Andrew Cuomo secretly advised the disgraced ex-governor’s team to ‘victim shame’ a sexual harassment accuser, according to text messages released this week by the New York Attorney General’s office. The Facebook staffer then sought to cover up her involvement in advising the governor, the messages reveal.”

CNN: Facebook sold ads comparing vaccine to Holocaust. “Facebook has sold ads promoting anti-vaccine messages, comparing the US government’s response to Covid-19 to Nazi Germany, casting doubt on the result of the 2020 election, and even pushing political violence. The ads have been run by merchandise companies that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook over the last few years.”


New York Times: The head of Instagram agrees to testify as Congress probes the app’s effects on young people.. “Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, has agreed for the first time to testify before Congress, as bipartisan anger mounts over harms to young people from the app. Mr. Mosseri is expected to appear before a Senate panel during the week of Dec. 6 as part of a series of hearings on protecting children online, said Senator Richard Blumenthal, who will lead the hearing.”

Sky News: Channel deaths: People smugglers touting openly on Facebook. “Finding a route across the channel is as easy as typing ‘smuggler’ into Facebook. Far from being a hidden world, Sky News has found that a network of smugglers is operating openly on the social media platform. Routes into Europe and the UK are regularly highlighted, with posts featuring images of the Union Jack and Big Ben. One smuggler even claimed he would be able to make customers a British passport.”

Rolling Stone: FBI Document Says the Feds Can Get Your WhatsApp Data — in Real Time. “As Apple and WhatsApp have built themselves into multibillion-dollar behemoths, they’ve done it while preaching the importance of privacy, especially when it comes to secure messaging. But in a previously unreported FBI document obtained by Rolling Stone, the bureau claims that it’s particularly easy to harvest data from Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage services, as long as the FBI has a warrant or subpoena.”

BBC: Rohingya sue Facebook for $150bn over Myanmar hate speech. “Dozens of Rohingya refugees in the UK and US have sued Facebook, accusing the social media giant of allowing hate speech against them to spread. They are demanding more than $150bn (£113bn) in compensation, claiming Facebook’s platforms promoted violence against the persecuted minority.”


Morning Consult: Could the Facebook Papers Close the Deal on Privacy Legislation?. “The disclosures from the Facebook Papers have led to a flurry of legislative proposals on Capitol Hill to address data use, kids’ online safety and malicious content. The single most effective step Congress can take is to enact comprehensive privacy legislation to address the explosion of digital information that is presently not covered by existing, narrower privacy laws.”

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