A Facebook civil rights audit could have unintended consequences

As a long-time listener to your show, I loved talking to Terry Gross in today's Fresh Air issue of . The theme was my recent pieces in Facebook content moderators. Listen to it!

In May of 2018, Facebook had received constant criticism that the platform always allowed abuses against civil rights. (Much of the criticism came after articles published by ProPublica showed several ways in which Facebook's advertising platform could promote discrimination.) In response, the company announced that it had commissioned an audit independent of civil rights, an effort to understand how Facebook promotes discrimination and develops recommendations for improvement.

In December, Facebook published its first update on the audit, saying that the work had led to new efforts to combat voter suppression and encourage voter registration on the platform. And on Sunday, Facebook published a second update. Joseph Cox sums it up for us in Vice :

The report itself is divided into four sections: content moderation and compliance; advertising targeting practices; elections and censuses; and the civil rights accountability structure. With content moderation, the audit focused on harassment on Facebook; the lack of compliance with policies where hate speech is left on the platform; and the over compliance of Facebook's hate speech policies, where users have removed content that actually condemned or spoke out against hate speech. The audit was conducted with the firm of civil rights lawyers Relman, Dane & Colfax and Megan Cacace, one of the partners of the firm. […]

There are two important developments of this update. The first is that Facebook will work to protect the integrity of the next US Census. UU As it would in a national election. "We are creating a team dedicated to these census efforts and introducing a new policy in the fall that protects against misinformation related to the census," the company said in its blog. "We will enforce it using artificial intelligence, and we will also partner with non-partisan groups to help promote proactive participation in the census."

The second development, more consequential, is that Facebook is extending its prohibition to speak by promoting white nationalism. Alex Hern reports in Guardian :

White nationalism and white separatism were previously allowed in Facebook since the company considered that only white "supremacy" violated their hate policies . However, in March 2019, it also updated its rules to prohibit explicit praise, support or representation of the two previous ideologies.

Facebook operations director Sheryl Sandberg said in response to the audit: identifying hate slogans and symbols related to white nationalism and white separatism to better enforce our policy.

"Recently, we also updated our policies so that Facebook is not used to organizing events that intimidate or harass people based on their race, religion or other parts of their identity, and we now prohibit the publication of people who want to take weapons anywhere. to intimidate or harass others, or to encourage people to do the same, civil rights leaders pointed this out to us for the first time, and it is exactly the kind of content our policies must protect. "

All this It's pretty simple, the civil rights groups audited Facebook and found many hate speech, and they want the company to eliminate them more, but as I read the report, I could not help noticing a set of voices missing in the discussion: the moderators whose job is to do everything that is hateful to eliminate speech.

The moderators were in my mind, thanks to a message that I had cibido during the weekend of one of them. The moderator, who identified himself as a strange person of color, told me that moderating hate speech is the hardest part of the job. They wrote:

I also see that the recurring pattern of graphic violence is repeated, and it can be horrible at times, but most of our site in Tampa consists of people of color. The most exhausting for most of us is the extreme amount of hate speech we see the day. There is so much of that that there is even a specific queue for it. It is extremely depressing, and most of our "therapists" on the site are older white people who are very out of touch with current times.

Graphic violence can be 5% of what we see, but at least 60% of my work is to examine the hate speech and see how much people of color and LGBT people hate.

[The project] is a complete disaster, and I have no idea how it continues to work. Facebook changes its policy every five seconds, and then my bosses get mad at me for not having 98% because I eliminated something that I do not know now. The other day I had to leave a page with child pornography in the limit because they told me that we can not assume that a person who says he is 17 years old means that he is a minor.

I absolutely hate that place. They promote and reward based on a metric (scores) that can be easily manipulated. … It's an absolute disaster, and almost everyone knows it.

One of the ideas that emerge from the civil rights audit is to create a dedicated queue of hatred. The idea, according to Facebook's director of operations, Sheryl Sandberg, is that moderators will improve moderation of hate speech if a subset of them is in charge of moderating it continuously. This seems plausible, and so is the possibility that these moderators are traumatized by the daily exposure to discriminatory publications.

Facebook is only in the early stages of the moderators' survey of their mental health, as part of an effort to establish a baseline. It can improve over time. There are currently no limits on the amount of graphic or racist content a moderator can submit to in a day, and the company says there is currently no research on what levels of exposure are safe for the human mind.

And even before he finishes his study of the well-being of the moderator, Facebook is simultaneously carrying out a new experiment on the mental health of thousands of contractors, like the one who wrote to me. It's the classic Facebook that moves fast: it appeases a group of vocal critics, even if it puts a less vocal group at risk, and I worry about the consequences. It would be a shame if a civil rights audit of the platform led to a new mental health crisis among its contractors.


Trump officials weigh repression of encryption

Eric Geller reports on an idea that, although it is very much in the early stages, could lay the foundations for a major confrontation with Silicon Valley:

Senior officials in the Trump administration met Wednesday to discuss whether to seek legislation that would prohibit technology companies from using encryption forms that police can not break – a provocative step that would reopen a long-running dispute between federal authorities and Silicon. Valley

The encryption challenge, which the government calls "dying down," was the focus of a National Security Council meeting on Wednesday morning that included No. 2 officials from several key agencies, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Virginia laws on "revenge of pornography" now officially cover the flaws

Adi Robertson reports that Virginia has moved with surprising speed to criminalize the act of making false pornography about people without her consent:

Virginia has officially expanded its ban on non-consensual pornography to include realistic false videos and photos, including computer-generated "deep facts." The amendment was approved earlier this year and goes into effect today, making Virginia one of the first places with a law that covers deep flaws.

Since 2014, Virginia has prohibited the dissemination of images or videos of nudes "with the intention of coercing, harassing or intimidating". another person. The amendment clarifies that this includes "a falsely created photographic or fixed image," which could refer to a "deep" video, but also to Photoshop images or false images. Violation of the rule is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries up to 12 months in prison and up to $ 2,500 in fines.

Inside the Facebook secret group of the Border Patrol Where the agents joke about the deaths of migrants and the post-sexist memes

A.C. Thompson writes a disturbing profile of the 3-year-old Facebook group, which has approximately 9,500 members. Members recently "shared derogatory comments about Latino legislators who plan to visit a controversial Texas detention center on Monday, calling them" trash cans "and" hoes, "Thompson writes.

Perhaps the most disturbing publications point to Ocasio-Cortez. One includes an illustration of a picture of her oral sex in an immigration detention center. The text accompanying the image reads, "Special Lucky Illegal Immigrant Glory Hole, starring AOC."

Another is a picture of a smiling president Donald Trump who forces the head of Ocasio-Cortez towards his groin. The agent who posted the image commented: "That's just bitches, the masses have spoken and today's democracy won."

Big Data Supercharged Gerrymandering.

Louise Matsakis investigates technological solutions for gerrymandering, which everyone hopes to make worse Following the Supreme Court decision on the issue last week:

The good news is that the technology needed to process census data and draw maps of the district has been democratized, now it is much easier, and cheaper, for journalists, Researchers and civil rights groups track redistricting, using free or low-cost tools that run on a laptop.If a political party tries to redraw the map, citizens can quickly verify whether the changes they would equal a gerrymandering. "People will know in an instant that this is really screwed up," Li says. type of instant analysis in the past. " He pointed to the proliferation of open source groups that study fraud, such as the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

Twitter conspiracy theory Accused of a felony in Lynch Threat against Muslim candidate

This is a rare case in which a death threat on Twitter leads to a real felony charge. Kevin Poulsen reports:

Federal prosecutors in North Carolina filed criminal charges for an anonymous Twitter feed that threatened to attack a Muslim lawyer who was competing for a seat in the Virginia Senate, marking a rare police action directed against hate speech in social networks.

Joseph Cecil Vandevere, of Buncombe County, North Carolina, was charged on June 20 with a single charge of transmitting an interstate threat, a felony. FBI agents identified Vandevere as the author of a March 2018 tweet to Qasim Rashid, a lawyer and author who this month became the first Muslim to win a primary career in Virginia.

Trump Consultant is Trolling Democrats With Biden Site that is not Matthew Rosenberg of Biden

finds a good fake political website on the World Wide Web. Does the existence of this page, and its popularity, suggest that Facebook is becoming a less attractive place for counterfeiting?

For most of the past three months, Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s most popular website has been a small piece of misinformation. designed to look like the official website of the former vice president's campaign, but it's definitely not pro-Biden. […]

Everything the site says about its creator is buried in the small print at the bottom of the page. The site, he says, is a political parody built and paid for "BY A US citizen FOR US citizens," and it is not the work of any campaign or political action committee.

Operation Tripoli

Check Point Research discovered a year-long effort to spread malware in Libya:

It seems that the tense political situation in Libya is useful for some, who use it to lure victims to do Click on links and download files that are supposed to report the latest air attack in the country, or the capture of terrorists, but contain malware. […]

According to the information we shared, Facebook removed the pages and accounts that distributed the malicious artifacts belonging to this operation.


Facebook's new terms of service explain how the ads are directed

Facebook Terms of Service Russell Brandom reported:

Facebook has published new terms of service, with more details on the Content removal, ad targeting and intellectual property rights of users. According to Facebook, the new terms do not represent a change in the way the platform really works, but rather aim to provide users with a clearer image of the platform. The new terms will come into effect on July 31.

The videos of TikTok are ridiculous. His strategy to dominate social networks is serious.

Georgia Wells, Yang Jie and Yoko Kubota have a great vision of Bytedance as it makes its way into the United States, in part by spending about $ 1 billion on advertising. There is also an intriguing nugget about his future expansion plans:

Bytedance has expressed interest in buying Snap if the US company. UU It is closer to profitability, according to well-informed people about Bytedance's plans. Bytedance has also considered buying Twitter Inc. and Quora, several people said. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said he has no interest in selling, and a person familiar with Snap said Bytedance did not express interest in Snap.

Memes are the new pop stars: how TikTok became the future of the music industry

Alyssa Bereznak reports on how TikTok became an effective talent scout for the music industry:

Instead of personal connections, the network thrives on a constant stream of so-called "challenges," or prompts that encourage disparate users to engage in a momentary trend, whether it's "eating to the beat" or a dance movement called "woah." " For the dances "Superman" or "In My Feelings", the challenges are capitalized in a cultural moment. But in TikTok, less credibility is given to the creator, and users are often rewarded for adding their own personal spin to an existing action.

In summary, they are like any other meme, except the user, not a single static. Image or video: it is the star. And, as is the case with most social networks, most of the "stars" in TikTok are simply young people who have obtained a massive following for being handsome, knowledgeable about memes, prolific and, sometimes, charismatic.

Increasing costs, Facebook's traffic arbitrage strategies lose effectiveness

Buying Facebook traffic is less profitable than it used to be, according to Tim Peterson:

Ranker had planned to spend $ 40 million to promote its content as Facebook ads in 2018. But the company only ended up spending half of that money, according to Ranker CEO, Clark Benson. The reason was that at the beginning of June of 2018, Ranker saw that the cost of his publications promoted, or increased, increased by approximately 30% during the night.

Around the same time, Topix saw a similar problem with its Facebook ad purchases. According to Tolles, Facebook was not approving its ads as often as before, which made it difficult to publish so many ads on the social network. "There was a lot more pressure to see things individually. So it was harder for us to find something that worked and press the expense, "he said.

Creator of DeepNude, application that strips women's photos, disconnects him


The creator of DeepNude, an application that used an automatic learning algorithm to "undress" the images of women in dresses announced on Thursday that is killing the software, after a viral reaction by the way it targets women.

The application of gay dating Jack & # 39; d resolves a complaint about exposing private photos

Jack'd's parent company will pay $ 240,000 to resolve a complaint from the New York attorney general after leaving private photos in a public AWS cube Adi Robertson reports :

The Register and Ars Technica reported for the first time on Jack's safety failure in February 2019, noting that safety investigator Oliver Hough had informed the company one year before in vain The popular dating application had uploaded photos to an Amazon Web Services storage depot, even when users thought the images were private. The exposed data included photos and photos of nudes that revealed the location of a user, which could put them at risk of blackmail or even arrest in some countries. Jack solved the problem the day Ars published his story.


Walmart in Mexico launches grocery orders through WhatsApp

This is a positive sign of WhatsApp's effort to transform into a commerce application. From Daina Beth Solomon:

A Reuters reporter tested the service on Monday by sending a photo of a handwritten grocery list. A representative of the company responded immediately, punctuating the responses with emojis of smiley faces and little eyes.

The representative said that Superama charges 49 pesos ($ 2.55) for delivery in 90 minutes, or 39 pesos ($ 2.03) for a later delivery time, and would accept payment in cash or with a card at the time of delivery .

Bumble becomes one of the first important dating platforms to introduce video calls and voice calls into the application

Dating applications do not generally offer these functions for a reason: the reason being that you can not trust that men keep their private parts out of the frame of the camera. So we'll see how this is going. Ashley Carman:

Bumble discovered a new way to bring the video to his application: voice in the app or video calls. The function applies to all Bumble use cases, including Bumble Bizz to make professional connections; Bumble BFF to make friends; and Bumble for dates. The option to start a call will appear only once a match has been made. Women can call from that initial match, while men have to wait until the woman has taken the first step. The general appeal is that people do not have to exchange phone numbers to talk, so if they are not paired, the other person loses their ability to make a call.


Libra and taxes

Matt Levine reflects on this Libra's tax implications, which are still in the air:

Surely if you pay taxes in Europe or in the United States or anywhere else , the fluctuating value of Libra will turn it into an extraordinarily inconvenient way of buying things. But once you start paying taxes to Facebook to fund the costs of world government, Libra will be the natural way to do it, and buying things with dollars and euros will start generating annoying problems of capital gains on your Facebook tax return. [19659087] Am I kidding? Of course, of course, but consider that tax lawyer is not wrong. Libra is absurd in the current state of the world, with its national governments, its currencies and its fiscal regimes. Maybe that means that Facebook is joking, or that you have not thought things through, or that you really are not planning for Libra to be a meaningful medium of exchange. Or maybe it means that Facebook is extremely serious and has thought things over and has come to the conclusion that governments, currencies and tax regimes are problems that can be solved.

And finally …

Sometimes, seeing a good post on a social network can make you a customer for life:

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