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Facebook to roll out new tools to tackle fake news

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2016

A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

 

Facebook Inc. said on Thursday it will introduce tools to prevent fake news stories from spreading on its platform, an about-face in response to rising criticism that it did not do enough to combat the problem during the U.S. presidential campaign.

The social network company stressed that the new features are part of an ongoing process to refine and test how it deals with fake news. It has faced complaints this year involving how it monitors and polices content produced by its 1.8 billion users.

Facebook said users will find it easier to flag fake articles on their News Feed as a hoax, and it will work with organizations such as fact-checking website Snopes, ABC News and the Associated Press to check the authenticity of stories.

If such organizations identify a story as fake, Facebook said, it will get flagged as “disputed” and be linked to the corresponding article explaining why.

The company said disputed stories may appear lower in its news feed, adding that once a story is flagged, it cannot be promoted.

A few weeks ago, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said it was a “crazy idea” that fake or misleading news on Facebook helped swing the election in favor of Republican Donald Trump. But criticism persisted amid reports that people in the United States and other countries have fabricated sensational hoaxes meant to appeal to conservatives.

Critics said fake news often was more widely read than news reported by major media organizations.

Ahead of the Nov. 8 election, Facebook users saw fake news reports saying Pope Francis endorsed Trump and that a federal agent who had been investigating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was found dead.

The effort by Facebook is intended to focus on the “worst of the worst” of clear hoaxes created by “spammers for their own gain,” Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president in charge of its News Feed, said in a blog post.

Some far-right conservative writers quickly pounced on the announcement, decrying it as a covert attempt to muzzle their legitimate content.

“Translation: A group of incredibly biased left-wing fake news outlets will bury dissenting opinions,” Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large of the far-right website Infowars, which routinely peddles unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, said on Twitter.

Facebook has struggled throughout the year to mollify conservatives who fear the company may be censoring them. The company fired contractors who managed the site’s trending news sidebar after a report by Gizmodo in May quoted an anonymous employee claiming the site routinely suppressed conservative news.

On Thursday, Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for U.S. public policy, met with President-elect Trump at his Manhattan tower. — Reuters

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Trump, Macron’s awkward French connection amid differences

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

United States President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte for a State Dinner at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 24, 2018. Reuters/Brian Snyder

From spontaneous grooming to effusive praise, US President Donald Trump’s fondness for French President Emmanuel Macron was on full display on Tuesday.

As they posed for a photo opportunity, Trump leaned over and brushed something from the French leader’s shoulder.

After that press availability, he also grabbed the French leader’s hand and guided him toward the oval office.

Later in the day, Macron repeatedly reached out to Trump and patted his arm while he discussed his hopes regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump is a hosting a state dinner for Macron Tuesday evening, a high honor not afforded to all visiting leaders. — Reuters

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Palace: Trump’s support on Duterte’s war on drugs, more important vs. reports

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has refused to pay attention to the latest report of US State Department that expresses alarm over President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”.

Based on the report, the cases of extrajudicial killings are the “chief human rights concern” in the Philippines which shows “a sharp rise with the onset of the anti-drug campaign in 2016”.

But Presidential Spokesperson  Harry Roque said the report directly contradicts US President Donald Trump’s statements which support the anti-drug war.

“Given what we heard from President Trump, let’s just say it exists but we prefer to hold on to the words of President Trump. He is, after all, the president,” Roque said. — UNTV News & Rescue

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Exclusive: Facebook to put 1.5 billion users out of reach of new EU privacy law

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – If a new European law restricting what companies can do with people’s online data went into effect tomorrow (April 20) almost 1.9 billion Facebook Inc users around the world would be protected by it. The online social network is making changes that ensure the number will be much smaller.

Facebook members outside the United States and Canada, whether they know it or not, are currently governed by terms of service agreed with the company’s international headquarters in Ireland.

Next month, Facebook is planning to make that the case for only European users, meaning 1.5 billion members in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will not fall under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect on May 25.

The previously unreported move, which Facebook confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday, shows the world’s largest online social network is keen to reduce its exposure to GDPR, which allows European regulators to fine companies for collecting or using personal data without users’ consent.

That removes a huge potential liability for Facebook, as the new EU law allows for fines of up to 4 percent of global annual revenue for infractions, which in Facebook’s case could mean billions of dollars.

The change comes as Facebook is under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the world since disclosing last month that the personal information of millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, setting off wider concerns about how it handles user data.

The change affects more than 70 percent of Facebook’s 2 billion-plus members. As of December, Facebook had 239 million users in the United States and Canada, 370 million in Europe and 1.52 billion users elsewhere.

Facebook, like many other U.S. technology companies, established an Irish subsidiary in 2008 and took advantage of the country’s low corporate tax rates, routing through it revenue from some advertisers outside North America. The unit is subject to regulations applied by the 28-nation European Union.

Facebook said the latest change does not have tax implications.

‘IN SPIRIT’

In a statement given to Reuters, Facebook played down the importance of the terms of service change, saying it plans to make the privacy controls and settings that Europe will get under GDPR available to the rest of the world.

“We apply the same privacy protections everywhere, regardless of whether your agreement is with Facebook Inc or Facebook Ireland,” the company said.

Earlier this month, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told Reuters in an interview that his company would apply the EU law globally “in spirit,” but stopped short of committing to it as the standard for the social network across the world.

In practice, the change means the 1.5 billion affected users will not be able to file complaints with Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner or in Irish courts. Instead they will be governed by more lenient U.S. privacy laws, said Michael Veale, a technology policy researcher at University College London.

Facebook will have more leeway in how it handles data about those users, Veale said. Certain types of data such as browsing history, for instance, are considered personal data under EU law but are not as protected in the United States, he said.

The company said its rationale for the change was related to the European Union’s mandated privacy notices, “because EU law requires specific language.” For example, the company said, the new EU law requires specific legal terminology about the legal basis for processing data which does not exist in U.S. law.

NO WARNING

Ireland was unaware of the change. One Irish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he did not know of any plans by Facebook to transfer responsibilities wholesale to the United States or to decrease Facebook’s presence in Ireland, where the social network is seeking to recruit more than 100 new staff.

Facebook released a revised terms of service in draft form two weeks ago, and they are scheduled to take effect next month.

Other multinational companies are also planning changes. LinkedIn, a unit of Microsoft Corp, tells users in its existing terms of service that if they are outside the United States, they have a contract with LinkedIn Ireland. New terms that take effect May 8 move non-Europeans to contracts with U.S.-based LinkedIn Corp.

LinkedIn said in a statement on Wednesday that all users are entitled to the same privacy protections. “We’ve simply streamlined the contract location to ensure all members understand the LinkedIn entity responsible for their personal data,” the company said.

Reporting by David Ingram in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco, Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries in Dublin and Douglas Busvine in Frankfurt; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Bill Rigby

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