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WSJ: Facebook is exempting high-profile users from some content rules
by Paul Hill
The Wall Street Journal has seen internal Facebook documents that show high-profile users are not governed by the website’s rules like the rest of us are. Apparently, those users who are newsworthy, influential or popular, or are ‘PR risky’ can get away with more on the platform without being reprimanded.
Facebook uses a system called cross-check (XCheck) to exempt high-profile users including former President Donald Trump, footballer Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, and Senator Elizabeth Warren from some moderator oversight. According to the paper, cross-check prevented moderators from deleting a post by Neymar that showed screenshots of his WhatsApp chats that included nude photos of a woman who accused him of rape – had any normal users posted these, Facebook’s moderators would have deleted the post.
It’s understandable that Facebook would want a system like XCheck in place to avoid controversy, however, the system does alert the company if it thinks it has spotted questionable content. The major flaw, though, is that Facebook reviewed less than 10% of this content before last year. Another issue highlighted by the documents is that most Facebook employees can add accounts to XCheck but records are not always kept of who has been added to the list or why they were added.
In response to the WSJ’s findings, Facebook said that it realises the problems with XCheck and has been trying to get rid of the system. It also proposed a plan to restrict the number of Facebook employees who are granted the ability to add new users to XCheck.
The person who provided the documents to WSJ is apparently requesting federal whistleblower protection and the documents are set to be handed over to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Congress where officials will be able to further scrutinise them.
Source: Business Insider via Wall Street Journal (Paywall)
Facebook rebukes the UK's CMA over its position on the Giphy acquisition
by Paul Hill
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a letter it has received from Facebook. It is in response to the CMA’s concerns over Facebook’s purchase of Giphy. The social media firm accused the CMA of failing to show how the Giphy acquisition has lead to a ‘substantial lessening of competition’ and it says that the CMA has failed to list alternatives to address concerns it has.
According to the CMA, Giphy had just started getting into advertising when it was acquired by Facebook, and according to the regulator, this deprived the ad market of a much-needed competitor. Facebook says this is really none of the CMA’s concern though because Giphy’s ads didn’t operate in the UK.
In its letter, Facebook said:
The CMA has not yet responded to Facebook’s letter but it’s very unlikely it'll stop going after Facebook just yet. As Facebook doesn't seem very compliant, this fight between the CMA and Facebook could drag on for a while yet.
WhatsApp will soon allow users to hide Last Seen, Profile Photo and About from specific contacts
by Anmol Mehrotra
WhatsApp is working on a new feature that will allow users to block specific contacts from seeing the "last seen" status.
First spotted by WABetaInfo, the long overdue feature will give users a bit more control over their privacy. Currently, WhatsApp allow users to show their last seen to everyone, contacts, or nobody but the new setting will let users choose specific contacts that will not be able to see the last seen status of the user. Do remember that if you hide your last seen status from a specific contact, you will not be able to see their last seen as well. Furthermore, WABetaInfo noted that the option will be added to profile picture and "about", allowing users to hide those from specific contacts as well. The site has also shared a screenshot from WhatsApp for iOS showing the feature in action.
While the screenshot shows the iOS version of WhatsApp, WABetaInfo notes that the feature will be available for WhatsApp for Android as well. As for the timeline, the publication notes that it is currently under development and should roll out to WhatsApp Beta testers in a future update. There is no word on when it will start rolling out to the general public.
Black men identified as "Primates" by Facebook's not so intelligent AI
by Sayan Sen
Face recognition nowadays on various social media, among other places online, is driven by specialist face recognition AI. While AI is generally thought to be getting intelligent over time, sometimes, there can be major mishaps too. In the latest such case, as spotted by The New York Times, the Facebook AI recently identified black men in a Daily Mail Facebook video from June 2020 as "Primates".
The video is available for viewing via this link and the AI puts up a prompt reading "Keep seeing videos about Primates?" as can be seen in the screenshot below:
Company spokeswoman Dani Lever has apologized for this "unacceptable error" and has offered the following statement to The New York Times:
In relation to the improvements Lever speaks of, the company is probably referring to the recent massive date set it revealed in April for the purpose of AI research and training, or something similar. Clearly, though, Facebook's AI still isn't as intelligent as the social media giant wants to be yet if it thinks black people are the same thing as apes.
Source and image: NYTimes