Tag Archives: Facebook

How social media – aided by bots – amplifies Islamophobia online

Islamophobia has changed in the 20 years since Sept. 11. Now, much of it plays out on social media.
Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Saif Shahin, American University

In August 2021, a Facebook ad campaign criticizing Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the United States’ first Muslim congresswomen, came under intense scrutiny. Critics charged that the ads linked the congresswomen with terrorism, and some faith leaders condemned the campaign as “Islamophobic” – that is, spreading fear of Islam and hatred against Muslims.

This was hardly the first time the pair faced Islamophobic or racist abuse, especially on the internet. As a communications professor who studies the politics of race and identity online, I have seen that Omar is often a target of white nationalist attacks on Twitter. Continue reading

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Feds are increasing use of facial recognition systems – despite calls for a moratorium

Government agencies are increasingly using facial recognition technology, including through security cameras like this one being installed on the Lincoln Memorial in 2019.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

James Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Despite growing opposition, the U.S. government is on track to increase its use of controversial facial recognition technology.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on Aug. 24, 2021, detailing current and planned use of facial recognition technology by federal agencies. The GAO surveyed 24 departments and agencies – from the Department of Defense to the Small Business Administration – and found that 18 reported using the technology and 10 reported plans to expand their use of it. Continue reading

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Digital Rights Groups Hail Record €746 Million Amazon Data Privacy Fine

La Quadrature du Net, whose complaint led to the Luxembourg fine, called the penalty a “first step,” but said that “we need to remain vigilant” in the face of Amazon’s ongoing violations.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-30-2021

Amazon/AWS offices in Luxembourg. Photo: -wuppertaler, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Digital rights advocates on Friday applauded a €746 million fine levied against Amazon by a Luxembourg regulator for the tech giant’s violation of European Union data privacy laws.

The record penalty—which converts to about U.S. $886 million—was imposed on July 16 by CNPD, Luxembourg’s data protection agency, and disclosed in an Amazon regulatory filing (pdf) on Friday, according to Bloomberg. Continue reading

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To achieve press freedom, we must rewrite journalism

It is time to liberate our media systems from the political and economic forces that have long subtly controlled them

By Dan Hind.  Published 4-30-2021 by openDemocracy

Monday will mark World Press Freedom Day. It’s a moment to celebrate the work that journalism does in holding power to account. It’s also a moment to raise awareness of the dangers facing journalists in many countries. At least 1,400 journalists have been killed for doing their job in the three decades since the first World Freedom Day in 1991. Many of those were killed by their own governments, or by organised crime groups linked to political elites. This year’s coverage will focus on this violence, and on the culture of fear it is intended to promote. And this is right and proper. As long as people can’t go to work without fear of violent retribution there is a pressing need to bear witness. Continue reading

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‘What Is Going On Here?’ Alarm as Document Reveals USPS Is Monitoring Social Media Posts

“What possible justification could there be for USPS running this kind of social-media surveillance program?”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-23-2021

Photo: SidewaysSarah/flickr/CC

An internal government bulletin obtained by Yahoo News this week revealed that the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service is monitoring social media posts as part of a surveillance operation known as iCOP, a secretive program that sparked alarm among rights groups and civil liberties advocates.

The sensitive bulletin concerns the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) recent surveillance of Facebook, Parler, and Telegram posts related to the March 20 World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, anti-coronavirus lockdown and anti-vaccine demonstrations organized by far-right groups. Continue reading

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Privacy Champions Urge Passage of ‘Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale’ Act

“Intelligence and law enforcement agencies must come to understand that the American people are off limits to warrantless mass surveillance, no matter how it is done.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-21-2021

Phpto: Microsiervos/flickr/CC

Federal agencies have taken advantage of legal loopholes to collect massive amounts of personal information from cell phone and internet users without congressional or judicial authorization for years, but that practice is being challenged by a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers who introduced legislation on Wednesday that would prevent the U.S. government from buying individuals’ information from data brokers without a court order.

Led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a group of 20 senators introduced the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act (pdf) in the upper chamber of Congress. Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) also unveiled an equivalent bill in the House. Continue reading

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Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

Amid a 2018 Turkish military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with Turkey’s demand to block the page of a mostly Kurdish militia. “I am fine with this,” Sandberg wrote.

By Jack Gillum and Justin Elliott.  Published 2-24-2021 by ProPublica

Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook’s top executives faced a political dilemma.

Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments? Continue reading

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Facebook: Genocide is Cool but Don’t Threaten our Profits

“Facebook’s willingness to block credible news sources also stands in sharp distinction to the company’s poor track record in addressing the spread of hateful content and disinformation on the platform.” — Tim O’Connor, Amnesty International Australia

By Alan Macleod  Published 2-19-2021 by MintPress News

Photo: Anthony Quintano/flickr?CC

Australia’s 18 million Facebook users woke up yesterday to find that, without warning, local and global news sites were unavailable, meaning that they could not view or share news at all. Facebook users across the world were also unable to read or access any Australian news publications. The tech giant had taken the step of essentially shutting down its site and “unfriending” an entire nation in response to the government’s proposals to tax them.

Lawmakers in Canberra had drawn up plans to “level the playing field” between social media giants and the traditional press. In practice, this would mean Facebook and Google handing over a sizable chunk of their advertising profits to the government to subsidize struggling news outlets, on whom they depend for content. Continue reading

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‘This Is Not a Game’: Internet Defenders Warn Against Gutting of Section 230—Key Law for Online Speech

“Section 230 is one of the most important laws protecting freedom of expression and human rights in the digital age.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-27-2021

Protect Net Neutrality rally, San Francisco 2017. Photo: Credo Action/Wikimedia Commons/CC

A coalition of internet defenders on Wednesday cautioned lawmakers against responding to this month’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by making “uncareful changes” to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that could “profoundly alter the state of digital free speech and human rights.”

The warning came in a letter to members of Congress and the Biden-Harris administration from a diverse collection of over 70 groups representing issues such as racial justice, sex workers, digital rights, and global human rights. Signatories include Common Cause, Fight for the Future, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Wikimedia Foundation. Continue reading

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Trump lost the election, but he won the online disinformation war

Social media platforms have allowed US conservatives to delegitimise the election and sow mistrust of democracy.

By Peter Geoghegan. Published 11-9-2020 by openDemocracy

Screenshot: WNCT

In late August, roughly five weeks before Americans went to the polls, a story appeared in The New York Times reporting new data about the reach of fringe US conservative outlets on Facebook. The numbers were staggering.

Posts by far-right news site Breitbart had been shared three times as often as posts from the official pages of every Democratic member of the US senate combined in the previous 30 days. Conservative firebrand Ben Shapiro had chalked up 56 million interactions, more than the main pages of ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post and NPR put together. Continue reading

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