Facebook pushes ad overhaul before 2018 US election

Facebook said this month it would hire 1,000 more people to review ads and ensure they meet its terms. (Reuters)
Updated 12 October 2017
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Facebook pushes ad overhaul before 2018 US election

SAN JOSE, California: Facebook has begun overhauling how it handles political ads on its platform and may put some changes in place before US elections next year, Facebook’s chief technology officer said on Wednesday.
US congressional and state elections set for November 2018 present a deadline of sorts for Facebook and other social media companies to get better at halting the kind of election meddling that the US accuses Russia of.
“We are working on all of this stuff actively now, so there is a big focus in the company to improve all of this on a regular basis,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said in an interview.
“You’re going to see a regular cadence of updates and changes,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of a conference that Facebook is hosting about virtual reality technology.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said last month that the company would begin treating political ads differently from other ads, including by making it possible for anyone to see political ads, no matter whom they target. US lawmakers had begun calling for regulations.
Disclosures by Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google that their products were battlegrounds for Russian election meddling last year have turned into a crisis for Silicon Valley.
Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is in Washington this week meeting US lawmakers.
Moscow has denied allegations of meddling in last year’s US presidential election.
Implementing changes is tricky, Schroepfer said, because Facebook does not want to stifle legitimate speech and because of the volume of material on Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 2 billion users and 5 million advertisers.
“We’re investing very heavily in technical solutions, because we’re operating at an unprecedented scale,” he said.
Facebook is also using humans. The company said this month it would hire 1,000 more people to review ads and ensure they meet its terms.
Schroepfer, 42, has been Facebook’s CTO since 2013 and previously was director of engineering. He also sits on Facebook’s board of directors.
Facebook has dealt with problematic user-generated content in the past, he said.
“We don’t want misuse of the platform, whether that’s a foreign government trying to intercede in a democracy — that’s obviously not OK — or whether it’s an individual spewing hate or uploading pornography,” he said.


Italian mobster jailed for vicious attack on journalist

Updated 52 sec ago
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Italian mobster jailed for vicious attack on journalist

  • Questioned on his ties to the far-right CasaPound movement, Spada suddenly lunged and headbutted the reporter, breaking his nose, before pulling out a cosh, hitting him and chasing him down the street.
  • The Spada clan is notoriously violent. Seven members of the family were sentenced to a combined 56 years in jail in October 2017, and Roberto’s brother Carmine was ordered to serve 10 years in 2016 for extortion and mafia association.

ROME: A notorious Italian mobster, Roberto Spada, was sentenced Monday to six years in jail for violently assaulting a journalist during an interview in 2017, the video of which immediately went viral.
The assault, which shocked Italy, occurred last November in the seaside town of Ostia, near Rome.
Daniele Piervincenzi, who works for the Rai national television broadcaster, was asking the brother of a jailed mafia boss about his political allegiances when he was set upon while a camera was rolling.
Questioned on his ties to the far-right CasaPound movement, Spada suddenly lunged and headbutted the reporter, breaking his nose, before pulling out a cosh, hitting him and chasing him down the street.
Spada was arrested for assault aggravated by mafia-style violence, with prosecutors saying his behavior was typical of methods used by organized crime groups to control territory.
Spada’s accomplice in the assault Ruben Nelson Alvarez del Puerto was jailed for six years.
The sentence is slightly less that the eight years and nine months called for by the public prosecution.
According to Italian media, the sentence also calls for one year’s probation at the end of the prison sentence and compensation to be paid to Piervincenzi and his cameraman Edoardo Anselmi who was also targeted in the attack.
The Spada clan is notoriously violent. Seven members of the family were sentenced to a combined 56 years in jail in October 2017, and Roberto’s brother Carmine was ordered to serve 10 years in 2016 for extortion and mafia association.