Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

Employees work in Facebook’s “War Room,” during a media demonstration on October 17, 2018, in Menlo Park, California. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2018
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Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

  • Days after the surprise victory of President Donald Trump, CEO Mark Zuckerberg brushed off assertions that the outcome had been influenced by fictional news stories on Facebook
  • Facebook offered reporters a peek into the war room to show off its improved ability to prevent foreign interference in the upcoming US midterm elections

MENLO PARK, California: Facebook is showing off its new “war room,” a center for combating fake accounts and bogus news stories ahead of upcoming elections.
It’s the social network’s latest public signal that it takes election interference seriously ahead of the midterms.
Facebook didn’t always take the risk of election interference seriously. Days after the surprise victory of President Donald Trump, CEO Mark Zuckerberg brushed off assertions that the outcome had been influenced by fictional news stories on Facebook.
That attitude shifted as criticism of the company mounted.
Facebook offered reporters a peek into the war room to show off its improved ability to prevent foreign interference in the upcoming US midterm elections.
But critics fear the war room is more of a publicity stunt than an effective solution.


Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

Updated 21 July 2019
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Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

  • Twitter said the accounts harassed people linked to the Baha’i faith
  • The Baha’i faith is a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran

WASHINGTON: A day after Twitter suspended the accounts of several Iranian state media outlets, the social networking service said Saturday it acted after harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith.
Amid soaring tensions in the region, heightened by Iran’s seizure on Friday of a British-flagged tanker, some of the affected media outlets had speculated that the suspensions were related to their coverage of the seizure.
But Twitter cited what it said was the coordinated and targeted harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith, a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran.
It did not name the suspended accounts, and said it was continuing to investigate the matter.
“Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules,” read English-language messages on each of the Iranian media outlets’ accounts.
Mehr news agency, which is close to moderate conservatives in Iran, said its Farsi-language account appeared to have been blocked late Friday following its reports on the seizure of the tanker Stena Impero in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it seized the Swedish-owned tanker for breaking “international maritime rules” in the strait, a chokepoint for around a third of the world’s sea-borne oil.
Mehr’s Farsi-language Twitter page was inaccessible on Saturday, along with those of the official IRNA news agency and the agency of the Young Journalists’ Club.
“Since last night and after seizure of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz the account of the Young Journalists’ Club and some other users have been suspended,” the YJC said on its website.
Mehr noted that its Mehr Diplomacy account, which publishes analysis and interviews on foreign policy, was also offline.
Another account taken down belonged to Ali Akbar Raefipoor, a hard-line public speaker.
None of the owners of the suspended accounts said they had been given any reason for the move by Twitter.
The micro-blogging platform is banned in Iran, but many officials still have accounts and people access them by using a virtual private network, or VPN, to bypass censorship.