Facebook told lawmakers it blocked or removed 265,000 posts for violating the social network’s policies against voter interference and rejected 3.3 million ad submissions as part of its effort to protect the recent US elections against misinformation and foreign influence. The action was cited in a 22-page report summarizing the company’s election work that was distributed Dec 18 to a wide array of members of Congress as well as officials in the outgoing Trump administration and incoming team of President-elect Joe Biden.
As the country’s most powerful newsmaker and the person in charge of a government that’s been aggressively pursuing antitrust cases against big tech companies, President Donald Trump does have leverage over Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. So the chief executive officer could be forgiven for flattering President Trump.
Facebook removed two networks of accounts linked to white supremacy groups, but hasn’t seen any attempted foreign interference on its platforms related to the recent Black Lives Matter protests across the US targeting police brutality. Attorney General William Barr said that the US government has seen evidence of “foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence.” But Facebook officials said they haven’t detected foreign influence on the social network.
Apparently, the Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into Facebook for possible antitrust violations, an early-stage probe that is examining competition in its oldest business -- social media. The agency has already contacted third parties that could aid in the investigation as it tries to understand competitive dynamics. Though the company has made many acquisitions and expanded into new businesses, including messaging, virtual reality and e-commerce, the FTC’s probe is focused on its most long-standing offering -- social networking.
You can boil Facebook’s election plan down into three main challenges:
BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith was confused as hell and he wasn’t going to take it anymore. So while he’s not exactly Howard Beale, the famously pugnacious editor of BuzzFeed pressed hard recently on global news partnerships head Campbell Brown to explain how Facebook defines journalism and who practices it. The focus of his ire was the presence of six conservative publications at a biannual meeting that Brown ran recently with a group of editors and publishers Facebook works with.
Facebook says millions of users who thought they were sharing privately with their friends may have shared with everyone because of a software bug
As many as 14 million Facebook users who thought they were posting items that only their friends or smaller groups could see may have been posting that content publicly, the company said. According to Facebook, a software bug, which was live for 10 days in May, updated the audience for some user’s posts to “public” without any warning. Facebook typically lets users set the audiences who get to see posts; that setting is “sticky,” which means it remains the default setting until manually updated.
Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram was the greatest regulatory failure of the past decade, says Stratechery’s Ben Thompson
For years, Facebook has argued that it’s a platform: An unbiased technology service for all ideas, brands, media companies and people to distribute their work. That’s not really the case, argues Ben Thompson, the founder of the influential tech newsletter Stratechery. Thompson argued that Facebook and Google, two well-known “platforms,” are actually more like aggregators, an important distinction.
Facebook users will soon be able to opt out of one of Facebook’s key data gathering practices: Its collection and use of people’s web browsing history, which the company uses to sell targeted ads. As part of an upcoming feature called “clear history,” users can delete their browsing data from Facebook‘s servers, or ask the company not to collect it to begin with. Your browsing data could still be retained in an anonymous, aggregated set for companies that use Facebook for analytics purposes, but it wouldn’t be tied to your profile or used for targeting, a spokesperson confirmed.
Facebook wants to make it easier for people to find local news from vetted sources. The social network is testing a new section inside its app called “Today In,” a feed made up entirely of local news, events and announcements. The test is running in just six cities for now: New Orleans (LA), Little Rock (AR), Billings (MT), Peoria (IL), Olympia (WA), and Binghamton (NY). Facebook users who self-identify as living in those areas will be able to visit the new section to see local information, like stories from local publishers or emergency updates from local authorities.