Monthly Archives: July 2018

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RKN Global on transparency of political ads in social media

Twitter and Facebook have recently announced new features that enable users to view information about political ads on their platforms.

Making it easier to identify political ads

Twitter has made it easier for its users to identify political campaign ads and to know who paid for those ads. This feature comes to the platform after the threat of U.S. regulation over the lack of disclosure on ad spending.

Initially, only U.S. federal election campaigning ads will be displayed, according to the announcement, but in the future, the company is planning to make all advertisements searchable. The ad transparency tool follows the company’s recently launched political campaign ad policy.

Last month, Facebook started a searchable archive of U.S. political ads. The data provided by both social media platforms on ads will include information on ad spending, impression data per tweet, and billing.

Both companies will include disclaimers and labels on ads with political content. Furthermore, Facebook is planning to release a political ad archive for Brazil in advance of the country’s upcoming election in October.

Political ads policy causing controversy among news organizations

Facebook’s new political ads policy has caused controversy among news organizations. David Chavern, CEO and President of News Alliance, said in an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, that Zuckerberg’s plan groups quality publishers together with political advocacy organizations and thus dangerously blurs the lines between real reporting and propaganda.

Chavern stated that “It is a fundamental mischaracterization of journalism that threatens to undermine its ability to play its critical role in society as the fourth estate.”

Non-U.S. citizens are banned from publishing political ads aimed at U.S. citizens under the new political ads policy, and people wishing to publish political ads to U.S. Facebook users must go through a certification process. According to a report from the ad buying platform 4C, Facebook’s advertising revenue has hiked 69% year-over-year for the first quarter of 2018 despite scrutiny over its advertising and data protection practices.

RKN Global on: Facebook Takes another Step to Regulate Content

Facebook recently instituted a new content policy that it would not show gun accessory advertisements to users who are under the age of 18.

Facebook updates its advertising content policy page

Facebook has been under a lot of pressure in recent months. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, which exploited the private information of almost 90 million users, greatly harmed the reputation of both the company and its chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg.

The scandal was one of the major reasons why the social network decided to take some stringent steps to combat issues like fake news, hate speech, terrorism and harassment on its platform.

Starting this week, Facebook will first confirm if a user is at least 18 years old and only then allow him or her to view ads for gun holsters and belt accessories.  The company had previously prohibited ads for sales of guns and weapon modifications.

The social networking site has updated its advertising policy page and included examples of what kind of weapon ads are allowed on the platform and what kind of ads are not allowed. For example, ads for gun slings, gun paint and gun cases are allowed, but with the age restriction. Moreover, ads for paintball guns, ammunition or BB guns are not allowed on the platform at all.

New content policy went into effect June 21

Recently, Facebook had to apologize for accidentally making the private posts of 14 million users public and for taking around four days to fix the error. Moreover, the tech company had issues with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the new regulatory framework of data rules for European users.

The new policy comes at a time when the United States is entangled in a nationwide discussion over gun and firearm reform. The debate has intensified because of mass shootings, including school attacks in Santa Fe, Texas, and Parkland, Florida. Facebook’s new ad policy could irritate Second Amendment advocates and conservatives, and there are some who have accused the company of liberal bias and the suppression of conservative voices.

RKN Global on Twitter’s New ‘News Feature’

Twitter has come up with a new feature designed to make it easier to view newsworthy tweets. The social network will alert its users to live events and even present a curated list of tweets about them in their notifications area and at the top of their timeline.

Here’s what the feature is about

The new presentation, which could include live video, is designed to assist users in finding the most relevant and the best tweets for ongoing live events, such as breaking news about an earthquake or a big baseball game. If an event is happening that it believes the user will be interested in, Twitter may send the user a personalized push notification.

Twitter will put those events at the top of the main timeline along with text and pictures to encourage the user to tap in and explore.  When users type something into search, the search function may feature large buttons pointing to the new views.

Twitter to prevent abuse and fake news through human moderators and algorithms

A Twitter official said that the idea of the new feature is to bring people a feature that power users already know how to do, which is ‘find the best tweets by following and searching the right accounts.’

Twitter intends to prevent abuse or fake news from appearing by using a mix of human curators and computer algorithms to choose the content of these new screens and decide whether the push alert should be sent to the user or not.


Facebook’s Latest Privacy Slip

It doesn’t look like this year is getting any better for Facebook. Recently, the tech giant reported a bug which led some Facebook users to post content publicly, regardless of their previous privacy settings. According to the tech company, the bug, which was reported on Thursday, has affected as many as 14 million Facebook users.

This is how the error happened

According to Facebook, a software bug is responsible for changing an essential privacy setting automatically. The setting, which determines who can see users’ new posts, is sticky, which means it   remains consistent from post to post unless it is changed manually by the user.

The way it should work, once the setting on an account is set to share only with a selected group of Facebook “friends”, the posts will be visible only to them unless the user updates the setting.  The software bug, however, changed the setting to “public” for over 14 million users without any warning to them. This was the reason why people, who were posting content thinking that they were sharing their post with a select group of Facebook friends, may have shared that content with everyone.

The bug did not, however, affect past posts, according to Erin Egan, the chief privacy officer of Facebook. The company has started notifying users who were impacted by to the bug and advised them to review the content that they had posted during the time the bug was active.

Facebook dealing with issues the ‘Mature’ way

Facebook, which has not yet recovered from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, dealt with this scandal in a mature way because it disclosed the bug instead of hiding it from the users. According to CNN, it took a little over five days for Facebook to reveal this problem to its users after it fixed it.

Facebook attributes the speed of sharing the bug with the public to its new transparent and proactive way of handling issues. Egan wrote in his blog post, “We’ve heard loud and clear that we need to be more transparent about how we build our products and how those products use your data – including when things go wrong. And that is what we are doing here.”

One of the main reasons why Facebook disclosed this privacy blunder with its users is that “it cannot blame the bug on outsiders.” The company is run by humans who can make mistakes, and even small mistakes can affect millions of people using the platform. In light of this, even if you have not posted anything on the social media platform during the time of the bug’s effect (mid to late May), it’s probably a good idea to review your privacy and security settings.

Twitter Attempting To Hide Tweets from Trolls

Twitter has declared that it is going to curb harassment and hate speech on its platform by hiding the tweets of trolls. The social network will start using algorithms starting this week to identify accounts which exhibit troll-like behavior.

Twitter set to hide trolls by judging their behavior

In its blog, Serving Healthy Conversation, the company notes that a key issue that it has been working on is addressing what can be called “trolls.” Some troll-like behavior could be good, humorous and fun but what the social media platform is detecting and hiding is behavior that ‘distort[s] and detract from the public conversation.’ The blog notes that some of those troll accounts and tweets violate its policies and that it would take action against them.

The social network will remove trolls’ tweets in public conversations and search results. The micro-blogging site announced that it will start using behavioral signals in the programming which decides what content can show up in communal areas like search and conversations, such as if an account repeatedly mentions another account that does not follow it, if the same person signs up for several accounts at the same time, if an account has not confirmed an email address, or behavior that can be threatening.

Now, these behavioral signals will be considered while organizing and presenting content in communal areas like search and conversation. As this content does not violate Twitter’s policies, it will continue to stay on the platform and will be available if users click on “show more replies” or if they choose to see everything in their search settings.

This change will discourage harassment and trolls on the platform: Twitter

Twitter explains that the result of this new setting is that it will promote healthier conversation on the social media platform and the trolls will be ignored. It notes that in its early testing in markets worldwide, it has already seen a positive impact of the new approach, leading to a 4% fall in reports related to abuse from search and 8% drop in abuse reports from conversations.

Twitter’s recent development is in line with the parallel goal of its rival, Facebook, to encourage meaningful content. This could motivate users to return to Twitter many times a day. According to a report by Pew Research Centre, more than half of US adults say that they use Facebook several times a day while only 26% of them use Twitter throughout the day.

This new change will possibly increase trust of users in the social media platform and help in hiking the user base of Twitter. Twitter has been facing criticism for failing to stop hate speech in its platform for a long time now. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, said in March that he wants to improve the service by allowing healthier debate and critical thinking, so maybe this is just the first step towards that goal? We sure can hope so!