News

Pro-Russia Propaganda, Onavo Data Mining, January 6, More: Facebook Roundup, March 15, 2022

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

AFP: New Facebook tools target misinformation in user groups. “Facebook on Wednesday began letting groups automatically reject posts identified as containing false information, taking aim at a part of the massive network that has drawn particular concern from misinformation watchdogs. More than 1.8 billion people per month use Facebook Groups, which allow members to gather around topics ranging from parenting to politics.”

Washington Post: Pro-Russia rebels are still using Facebook to recruit fighters, spread propaganda. “A former physician known by his nickname, ‘the Surgeon,’ [Aleksandr] Zaldostanov has been on the U.S. government sanctions list since 2014, amid allegations he helped Russian troops confiscate weapons during the country’s invasion of Crimea. The sanctions block Zaldostanov’s assets and generally prohibit U.S. citizens from ‘dealing’ with him, but on Facebook he maintains a very active account, posting frequent support of Russia since the invasion.”

The Verge: Instagram’s standalone Boomerang and Hyperlapse apps are gone from the App Store and Google Play. “Instagram has removed its standalone Boomerang and Hyperlapse apps from Apple’s App Store and Google Play, as reported by TechCrunch. The removal comes shortly after Instagram’s February 28th announcement that it would stop supporting the IGTV app, and the changes indicate that Instagram is opting to consolidate some of its separate offerings to focus on the main Instagram app.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Mashable: Beloved former Nintendo prez craps all over Facebook and the metaverse. “Reggie Fils-Aimé, the former president and CEO of Nintendo of America, is clearly no fan of Facebook and its recent push into VR with the metaverse. At this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, Fils-Aimé took the opportunity to completely unload on Mark Zuckerberg’s social media conglomerate, now known as Meta, while speaking with Emily Chang of Bloomberg.”

New York Times: Facebook’s Parent Company Will Make Employees Do Their Own Laundry. “The salad days of Facebook’s lavish employee perks may be coming to an end. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, told employees on Friday that it was cutting back or eliminating free services like laundry and dry cleaning and was pushing back the dinner bell for a free meal from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., according to seven company employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

WIRED: The Infinite Reach of Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s Man in Washington. “In Silicon Valley, Joel Kaplan is regarded as one of Facebook’s most curious enigmas. Hired in 2011 after eight years in the Bush White House, his tenure has coincided with Facebook’s rise to global dominance—and its ascendance to the throne of permanent controversy. Formally, Kaplan’s role is to forecast and manage policy risk. Functionally, his authority is as sprawling as the company’s reach. The 52-year-old has not only assembled one of history’s most prolific lobbies in Washington, where he manages relations across the federal government as well as with state capitals and their increasingly avid attorneys general.”

CNBC: Meta’s Sheryl Sandberg: ‘No two countries run by women would ever go to war’. “Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has suggested Russia and Ukraine wouldn’t be at war if they were run by women.” Benevolent sexism is just as undesirable as any other kind.

SECURITY & LEGAL

Axios: Exclusive: Lawmakers press Meta on China ad policy. “A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pressing Meta on its policy toward paid advertisements from Chinese state-sponsored media as the war in Ukraine continues and false Russian narratives proliferate, per a letter sent to CEO Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday.”

Reuters: South Africa Regulator Refers Meta to Tribunal Over Dominance. “South Africa’s Competition Commission on Monday said it had referred Facebook and WhatsApp owner Meta Platforms to a tribunal for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the market.”

Daily Dot: ‘Largest real-time surveillance system in existence’: Class-action suit details Facebook’s scope of snooping on users. “New court documents released Wednesday in an antitrust lawsuit show the extent of data mining done by Facebook-owned VPN Onavo—and the company’s knowledge of its capabilities. Onavo was founded in 2010 by Guy Rosen and Roi Tiger and sold to Facebook in 2013. Guy Rosen currently serves as Meta’s (formerly Facebook’s) Head of Integrity.”

RESEARCH & OPINION

News@Northeastern: Donald Trump Was The Exception When It Comes To Benefiting From Facebook Ads. “It’s one of the first studies to show that Facebook ads can have an impact on voter turnout. Most of the research on Facebook ads hasn’t found statistically significant effects. This study did. When the right message is applied to the receptive audience, in areas with ‘high-salience’ elections—where there is greater interest and excitement in the election—then the ads work.”

ProPublica: Using Facebook’s Own Data to Understand the Platform’s Role in Jan. 6. “Computational journalist Jeff Kao and reporter Craig Silverman from ProPublica, along with Jeremy B. Merrill and Craig Timberg from The Washington Post, found that between Election Day 2020 and the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol, Facebook groups exploded with at least 650,000 posts attacking the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory. The four journalists’ reporting provides some of the clearest evidence yet that Facebook was an important source of misinformation that led to the Jan. 6 attack. Here’s a look at how they did it.”

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