Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

Facebook employees revolt over Zuckerberg’s stance on Trump

June 1st, 2020
A man in a suit looks nervously around a courtroom.

Enlarge / Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook profile that he had been "struggling with how to respond" to Donald Trump’s posts (credit: Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg is facing a backlash from within Facebook after several senior employees publicly criticized the chief executive for refusing to take action over posts by President Donald Trump that Twitter censured last week for “glorifying violence.”

As protests and rioting over the death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, spread through several American cities this weekend, Mr. Zuckerberg was forced to defend Facebook’s position as—in his words—“an institution committed to free expression.”

On Friday, Mr. Trump posted on both Facebook and Twitter that he would respond to violent protests with military force, saying: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” But while Twitter slapped a warning on the post and hid it from view, Facebook left the message intact.

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Posted in Facebook, fact checking, Policy, Trump | Comments (0)

FCC Republican excitedly endorses Trump’s crackdown on social media

May 29th, 2020
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr speaking at a conference and gesturing with his hands.

Enlarge / FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Republican Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission is cheering on President Trump's attack on Big Tech this week. The commissioner also accused social media platforms of bias against the president and of trying to swing the 2020 presidential election.

Carr has supported Trump's action in a series of tweets, in an official statement posted on the FCC website, and in interviews including one with Lou Dobbs on the Fox Business channel.

"This is really welcome news," Carr told Dobbs. "Since the 2016 election, the far left has hopped from hoax to hoax to hoax to explain how it lost to President Trump at the ballot box. One thing they've done is look to social media platforms and they've put pressure on them for the crime, in their view, of staying neutral in the 2016 election and they're committed to not letting those platforms stay neutral in the run-up to 2020. So this step by President Trump shines a light on some of that activity and tees up some steps that can be taken."

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Posted in brendan carr, Facebook, FCC, Policy, Trump, Twitter | Comments (0)

Big Tech goes on pandemic M&A spree despite political backlash

May 29th, 2020
Big Tech goes on pandemic M&A spree despite political backlash

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Big technology companies are hunting for deals at their fastest pace in years, racking up acquisitions and strategic investments despite increased regulatory scrutiny during the coronavirus-led market turmoil.

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have announced 19 deals this year, according to Refinitiv data from May 26, representing the fastest pace of acquisitions to this date since 2015.

The Financial Times on Tuesday reported Amazon was also in advanced talks to purchase the self-driving car company Zoox, which was valued at $3.2 billion two years ago. Meanwhile, Facebook in March announced its largest international investment yet, purchasing a $5.7 billion stake in the juggernaut Indian telecoms operator Reliance Jio.

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Posted in Alphabet, amazon, apple, Facebook, google, M&A, Policy | Comments (0)

Trump is desperate to punish Big Tech but has no good way to do it

May 29th, 2020
Highly stylized presidential emblem.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Donald Trump is mad at Twitter, Facebook, and other big technology companies, and in an Oval Office statement on Thursday, he pledged to do something about it.

"A small handful of social media monopolies controls a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States," he said. "They've had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter, virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences."

After his comments, Trump signed an executive order designed to bring social media companies to heel. But Trump has a problem: US law doesn't give the president much actual authority over technology companies. Indeed, the First Amendment arguably prohibits the federal government from second-guessing the editorial decisions of private companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

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Posted in Donald Trump, Facebook, Features, free speech, Policy, Section 230, Twitter | Comments (0)

Zuckerberg dismisses fact-checking after bragging about fact-checking

May 28th, 2020
A frowning man in a business suit.

Enlarge / Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress in April 2018. It wasn't his only appearance in DC this decade. (credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Almost exactly two weeks ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was touting the success his platform has had with fact-checking and false-content warnings on posts. This week, however, Zuckerberg told Fox News that, really, he doesn't think Facebook should be in the fact-checking business at all.

"I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online," Zuckerberg said in an interview with Dana Perino. "Private companies probably shouldn't be, especially these platform companies, shouldn't be in the position of doing that."

The comments come amid a renewed debate about fact-checking on social media as Twitter and its most famous user, President Donald Trump, find themselves at odds. Twitter appended a fact-check notice—its first—to two Trump tweets relating to mail-in ballot fraud. In retaliation, Trump is expected to sign a new executive order as soon as today explicitly targeting Facebook's and Twitter's ability to fact-check, restrict, or otherwise manage content.

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Posted in Facebook, fact checking, falsehoods, hypocrisy, Policy | Comments (0)

Leaked draft details Trump’s likely attack on technology giants

May 28th, 2020
Leaked draft details Trump’s likely attack on technology giants

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

The Trump Administration is putting the final touches on a sweeping executive order designed to punish online platforms for perceived anti-conservative bias. Legal scholar Kate Klonick obtained a draft of the document and posted it online late Wednesday night.

"In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online," the draft executive order states. "This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power."

The document claims that online platforms have been "flagging content as inappropriate even though it does not violate any stated terms of service, making unannounced and unexplained changes to policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints, and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse."

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Posted in Donald Trump, Facebook, Policy, Twitter | Comments (0)

Proposed bill would ban microtargeting of political advertisements

May 26th, 2020
A serious woman in a suit raises a gavel.

Enlarge / Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) chairing a House committee hearing pandemic-style on Thursday, May 14 2020. (credit: Greg Nash—Pool | Getty Images)

Internet-based advertising has been a boon for both political campaigns and disinformation campaigns, which love to take advantage of the ability to slice and dice the electorate into incredibly tiny and carefully targeted segments for their messaging. These ads—which may or may not be truthful and are designed to play very specifically on tiny groups—are incredibly difficult for regulators, researchers, and anyone else not in the targeted group to see, identify, analyze, and rebut.

Google prohibits this kind of microtargeting for political ads, while Twitter tries not to allow any political advertising. Facebook, on the other hand, is happy to let politicians lie in their ads and continue microtargeting on its platform. Members of Congress have challenged Facebook and its CEO to explain this stance in the face of rampant disinformation campaigns, but to no avail.

Lawmakers now want to go further and make this kind of microtargeting for political advertising against the law. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) today introduced a bill (PDF) that would amend federal election law to do just that.

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Posted in Advertising, congress, Facebook, google, microtargeting, Policy, political advertising, Twitter | Comments (0)

Facebook workers get remote work option—but it could come with a pay cut

May 22nd, 2020
Mark Zuckerberg demonstrates an Oculus Rift headset at a 2016 event.

Enlarge / Mark Zuckerberg demonstrates an Oculus Rift headset at a 2016 event. (credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Facebook will become far more friendly to remote work, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Thursday livestream to employees that was shared publicly.

"We're going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale," Zuckerberg said. "I think that it's quite possible that over the next five to 10 years, about 50 percent of our people could be working remotely."

Right now, of course, far more than 50 percent of Facebook employees are working from home due to the pandemic. The company has told workers that they'll be free to work remotely through the end of 2020. But even after the COVID-19 threat subsides, Facebook will be more accepting of remote workers than it was before the pandemic.

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Posted in coronavirus, COVID-19, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Policy, remote work | Comments (0)

Facebook takes on Amazon with online shopping venture

May 20th, 2020
The Facebook app displayed on the screen of an iPhone.

Enlarge / The Facebook app displayed on the screen of an iPhone. (credit: Fabian Sommer | picture alliance | Getty Images)

Facebook is hoping that its 2.6 billion users will begin shopping on its platform, as it unveiled a service that puts it in direct competition with Amazon and eBay.

“Facebook Shops” will allow sellers to create digital storefronts on Facebook or Instagram, the company said on Tuesday, adding that it would benefit by gathering valuable data on what shoppers want.

Users will be able to browse products, message businesses to arrange purchases, and in some cases buy them directly via a recently introduced online checkout feature.

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Posted in amazon, Facebook, Gaming & Culture, Policy | Comments (0)

Facebook spends $400M buy Giphy, plans to integrate it with Instagram

May 15th, 2020
Ironically, their logo is static, not animated.

Enlarge / Ironically, their logo is static, not animated. (credit: Giphy)

Seven years ago, Facebook claimed not to support the 21st century's new favorite communication tool, the animated GIF. Oh, how times have changed: Today, Facebook's newest acquisition is one of the Internet's most popular GIF hosting sites.

Facebook is making Giphy part of the Instagram team, the company said today. Axios, which was first to report the transaction, said the deal was valued at about $400 million.

According to Facebook, about half of Giphy's current traffic already comes from Facebook products, especially Instagram. That's perhaps unsurprising, given that Facebook's big three apps—WhatsApp, Instagram, and flagship Facebook—have literally billions of daily users among them.

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Posted in antitrust, Biz & IT, Facebook, GIF, GIFs, giphy, mergers and acquisitions, Policy | Comments (0)