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Facebook Faces Criticism from U.K. Lawmakers re Fake News

 

A U.K. House of Commons panel recently said that Facebook should not be in a position of marking its own homework regarding fake news.  The committee, which is investigating fake news on the internet, said the reluctance of the social network to disclose information is proof that stricter rules are required to hold social media platforms accountable for content.

House of Commons calls for new and stringent rules for combating fake news

The British parliamentary committee said the company’s resistance to providing information about fake news does not bode well for future transparency.  Such concerns are not limited to Britain. In Washington, the Senate Intelligence Committee collaborated with the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee and announced that it would hold its own hearing on foreign influence operations over social media.

In an emailed statement, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said “The threat posed by this challenge is not just an American problem — it is one that confronts all free societies, and we need to work together to ensure we are protecting our democracy.”

Facebook’s fake news problems began to pick up steam when American intelligence agencies concluded that Russians had tried to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by using fake identities to spread propaganda on Facebook and other social media platforms. U.S. and European lawmakers have historically treated the social media platforms as passive platforms for content shared by users.  Laws have protected the companies from liabilities for copyright infringement, privacy violations, defamation and other issues.

Committee asks for a new tax and a working group of experts

The U.K. committee asked that social media platforms exercise control and take responsibility for the content being posted on their platforms. The report said that social networking sites cannot hide behind the claim of being just a “platform,” and noted that these companies already demonstrate their control by changing what is and is not seen on their platforms based on human intervention and algorithms.

The committee also asked for the establishment of a “working group of experts” which would rate the credibility of accounts or websites to let people see the level of verification at first glance, and a new tax on internet companies, which would pay for the larger oversight.

Additionally, the committee called for mandatory public disclosure of the sponsors of any paid communication or online political advertisement, in order to deal with influence campaigns. Moreover, it recommended increasing the fines for legal infractions by the tech giants from the small sum of 20,000 British pounds to a fixed percentage of revenue of the offending company.

Facebook Faces Criticism from U.K. Lawmakers

 

 

 

 

A U.K. House of Commons panel recently said that Facebook should not be in a position of marking its own homework. The committee, which is investigating fake news on the internet, said the reluctance of the social network to disclose information is proof that stricter rules are required to hold social media platforms accountable for content.

House of Commons calls for new and stringent rules for combating fake news

The British parliamentary committee said the company’s resistance to providing information does not bode well for future transparency.  Such concerns are not limited to Britain. In Washington, the Senate Intelligence Committee collaborated with the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee and announced that it would hold its own hearing on fake news and foreign influence operations over social media.

In an emailed statement, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said “The threat posed by this challenge is not just an American problem — it is one that confronts all free societies, and we need to work together to ensure we are protecting our democracy.”

Facebook’s problems began to pick up steam when American intelligence agencies concluded that Russians had tried to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by using fake identities and fake news to spread propaganda on Facebook and other social media platforms. U.S. and European lawmakers have historically treated the social media platforms as passive platforms for content shared by users.  Laws have protected the companies from liabilities for copyright infringement, privacy violations, defamation and other issues.

Committee asks for a new tax and a working group of experts

The U.K. committee asked that social media platforms exercise control and take responsibility for the content being posted on their platforms. The report said that social networking sites cannot hide behind the claim of being just a “platform,” and noted that these companies already demonstrate their control by changing what is and is not seen on their platforms based on human intervention and algorithms.

The committee also asked for the establishment of a “working group of experts” which would rate the credibility of accounts or websites to let people see the level of verification at first glance, and a new tax on internet companies, which would pay for the larger oversight.

Additionally, the committee called for mandatory public disclosure of the sponsors of any paid communication or online political advertisement, in order to deal with influence campaigns. Moreover, it recommended increasing the fines for legal infractions by the tech giants from the small sum of 20,000 British pounds to a fixed percentage of revenue of the offending company.

Only 5% of Cryptocurrency Investors Make Money

 

Since December 2017, the number of cryptocurrency investors has been high due to the rise in value (and resulting popularity) of cryptocurrency.  Yet most people do not understand the products themselves.  For example, a Britain-based investment group recently released a report which revealed that around 20 million Britons do not understand Bitcoin at all.

Cryptocurrency investors do not make much profit

The crypto currency market is doing pretty well, as the price of Bitcoin (BTC) has reached the mark of USD 8,000 again (USD 8,222 at the time of writing). But the report paints a less rosy picture: only about 5% of cryptocurrency investors have made financial profit from Bitcoin.

The report notes that only 7% of Britons think that Bitcoin is more valuable than stocks. In addition, the report says that the range of sentiment among people in Britain ranges from lack of understanding of cryptocurrency to no confidence in it. It also argues that Bitcoin fever is a bubble waiting to burst (a much debated topic!)

The research, which was based on a total of 2,007 respondents, did say, however, that the crypto market in the country is very strong, with cryptocurrency trade thriving.

More interesting figures from the report

Over 3 million Brits have invested in crypto markets by using an e-trading platform, according to the report. But only 5% of those 3 million took any kind of advice from a cryptocurrency investor, an expert or a financial advisor.

Moreover, about 2.5 million of Brits have invested in cryptocurrency quite casually without even understanding the investment completely. The investment group report asserted that Britons fundamentally do not have sufficient knowledge or information about cryptocurrencies: “In fact, many have no knowledge about the subject whatsoever.”

The company’s CEO expressed concern for the public ignorance:  “I do not believe this is a reflection of UK investors’ risk profile, as a positive appetite for alternative finance remains, but to see that investments have been made without proper financial advice and a lack of facts and education is very concerning.”

 

WhatsApp Limits Forwarding in India: 5 Recipients per Message

WhatsApp recently announced a new limit on message forwarding for users in India in order to combat fake news.  People in India forward more messages, videos and photographs than users in any other country, according to the messaging platform.

WhatsApp takes a brilliant step to curb fake news

Whatsapp will be deleting the quick forward button as well in an attempt to prevent the spread of fake news via its messaging system. The quick forward button is placed next to the media messages and its removal is intended to discourage mass forwards in the country.

These steps comes at a time when the social media giant Facebook, which owns Whatsapp, is attempting to fight the fake news problem.

The fake news problem has caused several problems nationwide. Also, with the approach of the Indian elections, there is concern that the spread of fake news will increase during that period. In a statement, the Facebook-owned company said it believes that these changes, which it will continue to evaluate, will aid in keeping the messaging platform the way it was designed to be, which is as a “private messaging app.”

Additionally, the company is testing these new features and limitations across the world, but it did not disclose the limit that is set on the forwarding of messages in other countries. Its blogpost focused on India: “In India – where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world – we’ll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages.”

IT Ministry asks WhatsApp to be more serious this time

WhatsApp has 200 million users in India, and the new limitations come only a day after the Indian government asked the company to introduce strict steps to curb the fake news threat. The company says in its blog that it is deeply committed to the safety and privacy of users, which is why the app is end-to-end encrypted.

In a letter, the IT Ministry of India had asked the messaging platform for more effective solutions to distinguish between mass forwards and personally crafted messages. In the past few months, there have been an increase in cases of mob-fury and lynching across India due to the circulation of false information and fake news on the messaging platform. Earlier, the company came with full-page advertisements with tips to stop false information.

The government had told the company that the seriousness of the issue warrants a stronger response. It had asked WhatsApp to introduce changes that can facilitate enforcement of law, and bring in accountability and traceability when an inflammatory or provocative message is detected.