TikTok to automatically remove content that violates policy

TikTok to automatically remove content that violates policy
TikTok said Friday it will use more automation to remove videos from its platform that violate its community guidelines. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 09 July 2021

TikTok to automatically remove content that violates policy

TikTok to automatically remove content that violates policy
  • If a violation is identified, the video is removed and the user is notified, TikTok said
  • The coming weeks it will begin automatically removing content that violate policy over minor safety, sexual activities, graphic content and illegal activities

BEIRUT: Short-video sharing app TikTok said on Friday it will use more automation to remove videos from its platform that violate its community guidelines.
At present, videos uploaded to the platform go through technology tools that work to recognize and flag any potential violations which are then reviewed by a safety team member. If a violation is identified, the video is removed and the user is notified, TikTok said.
The ByteDance-owned company added that over the next few weeks it will begin automatically removing some types of content that violate policy over minor safety, adult nudity and sexual activities, violent and graphic content and illegal activities and regulated goods.
This will be in addition to the removals confirmed by the safety team.
The company said this will help its safety team to concentrate more on highly contextual and nuanced areas, such as bullying and harassment, misinformation and hateful behavior.
TikTok also added it will send a warning in the app upon first violation. However, in case of repeated violations, the user will be notified and the account can also be permanently removed.
The changes come as social media networks, including Facebook and TikTok, have come under fire for amplifying hate speech and misinformation globally across their platforms.


Facebook paying fine to settle US suit on discrimination

Critics of the practice contend that the foreign nationals will work for lower wages than US citizens. (File/AFP)
Critics of the practice contend that the foreign nationals will work for lower wages than US citizens. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 October 2021

Facebook paying fine to settle US suit on discrimination

Critics of the practice contend that the foreign nationals will work for lower wages than US citizens. (File/AFP)
  • Facebook is paying a hefty fine to resolve allegations that it discriminated against US workers in favor of foreigners with special visas to fill high-paying jobs
  • Facebook sponsored the visa holders for “green cards” authorizing them to work permanently.

WASHINGTON: Facebook is paying a $4.75 million fine and up to $9.5 million to eligible victims to resolve the Justice Department’s allegations that it discriminated against US workers in favor of foreigners with special visas to fill high-paying jobs.
Facebook also agreed in the settlement announced Tuesday to train its employees in anti-discrimination rules and to conduct more widespread advertising and recruitment for job opportunities in its permanent labor certification program, which allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently.
The department’s civil rights division said the social network giant “routinely refused” to recruit, consider or hire US workers, a group that includes US citizens and nationals, people granted asylum, refugees and lawful permanent residents, for positions it had reserved for temporary visa holders.
Facebook sponsored the visa holders for “green cards” authorizing them to work permanently. The so-called H-1B visas are a staple of Silicon Valley, widely used by software programmers and other employees of major US technology companies.
Critics of the practice contend that the foreign nationals will work for lower wages than US citizens. The tech companies maintain that’s not the case, that they turn to foreign nationals because they have trouble finding qualified programmers and other engineers who are US citizens.
“In principle, Facebook is doing a good thing by applying for green cards for its workers, but it has also learned how to game the system to avoid hiring US tech workers,” said Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “Facebook started lobbying to change the system more to its liking starting back in 2013 when the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate was being negotiated.”
The settlement terms announced Tuesday are the largest civil penalty and back-pay award ever recovered by the civil rights division in the 35-year history of enforcing anti-discrimination rules under the Immigration and Nationality Act, officials said. The back pay would be awarded to people deemed to have been unfairly denied employment.
The government said Facebook intentionally created a hiring system in which it denied qualified US workers a fair opportunity to learn about and apply for jobs that it instead sought to channel to temporary visa holders.
“Facebook is not above the law and must comply with our nation’s federal civil rights laws, which prohibit discriminatory recruitment and hiring practices,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke told reporters in a telephone conference. “Companies cannot set aside certain positions for temporary visa holders because of their citizenship or immigration status.”
Facebook also agreed in a separate settlement with the Labor Department to expand its recruitment for US workers and to be subject to ongoing audits to ensure compliance.
The company based in Menlo Park, California, said it believes it met the government’s standards in its practices. It said it agreed to the settlements to end the litigation and move ahead with its permanent labor certification program — which it called an important part of its “overall immigration program.”
“These resolutions will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the US and around the world, and supporting our internal community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence,” Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook says it ended the April-June quarter this year with over 63,400 full-time employees globally and has 3,000 current job openings.
The lawsuit was filed against Facebook last December by the Justice Department under the Trump administration. The alleged violations are said to have occurred from at least Jan. 1, 2018 to at least Sept. 18, 2019.
A $4.75 million fine and $9.5 million in back pay are a trifle for a company valued at $1 trillion with revenue of nearly $86 billion last year. But the announcement comes at a time of intense public discomfort and scrutiny for Facebook.
Public allegations and testimony to Congress from a former Facebook data scientist that the company disregarded internal research showing harm to children have raised a public outcry and calls for stricter government oversight of the company. The former employee, Frances Haugen, accused Facebook of prioritizing profit over safety and being dishonest in its public fight against hate and misinformation.
The company is also awaiting a federal judge’s ruling in an epic antitrust suit filed against it by the Federal Trade Commission. Calls from critics and lawmakers of both parties to break up the behemoth company are intensifying.


Britain fines Facebook $70 mln for breaching order in Giphy deal

Facebook had refused to report all the required information, despite multiple warnings, the CAM said. (File/Twitter)
Facebook had refused to report all the required information, despite multiple warnings, the CAM said. (File/Twitter)
Updated 20 October 2021

Britain fines Facebook $70 mln for breaching order in Giphy deal

Facebook had refused to report all the required information, despite multiple warnings, the CAM said. (File/Twitter)

LONDON: Britain’s competition regulator has fined Facebook 50.5 million pounds ($69.6 million) for breaching an order imposed during its investigation into the US social media giant’s purchase of GIF platform Giphy, the agency said on Wednesday.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Facebook had deliberately failed to comply with its order, and the penalty served as a warning that no company was above the law.
Facebook said it strongly disagreed.
The CMA said Facebook had failed to provide full updates about its compliance with requirements to continue to compete with Giphy and not integrate its operations with Giphy’s while its investigation was ongoing.
Facebook had refused to report all the required information, despite multiple warnings, the CAM said, and it therefore considered the failure to comply deliberate.
“We warned Facebook that its refusal to provide us with important information was a breach of the order but, even after losing its appeal in two separate courts, Facebook continued to disregard its legal obligations,” said Joel Bamford, senior director of mergers at the CMA.
“This should serve as a warning to any company that thinks it is above the law.”
Facebook said: “We strongly disagree with the CMA’s unfair decision to punish Facebook for a best effort compliance approach, which the CMA itself ultimately approved.
“We will review the CMA’s decision and consider our options.”


Social media is driving a new world of marketing, says major report

Social media is driving a new world of marketing, says major report
Updated 20 October 2021

Social media is driving a new world of marketing, says major report

Social media is driving a new world of marketing, says major report
  • WARC, TikTok and Publicis Groupe’s report “From Discovery to Purchase: The Role of Community Commerce” reveals the potential of creator-driven marketing for brand growth

DUBAI: WARC, TikTok and advertising conglomerate Publicis Groupe have together released a report exploring the role of social communities in influencing purchase decisions.

“As social media’s popularity and influence continue to grow, community commerce is rapidly evolving to provide an innovative, effective and fast-paced way for brands and retailers to sell directly to consumers,” said Alex Brownsell, a senior editor at WARC.

The report, titled “From Discovery to Purchase: The Role of Community Commerce,” said social commerce describes the growing retail opportunities and solutions presented by social media. Community commerce is a narrower subset that specifically refers to entertaining, compelling content, often by creators, that just happens to feature brands.

As more people spend time on social media, community commerce sits at the intersection of community, shopping and entertainment. With a non-intrusive and authentic approach, brands can fit seamlessly into this social environment and engage with audiences by connecting around specific interests or hashtags.

“The intersection of community, shopping and entertainment is what’s really different about TikTok. I can move from being entertained by my favorite creators into a shopping moment — or telling my friends about it or sharing it — pretty easily,” said Amy Lanzi, EVP, North America practice lead, Publicis Commerce.

Social platforms have disrupted the path to purchase by spontaneously inspiring users to shop as they discover new products. In fact, social platforms inspired 70 percent of consumers to shop, even when they were not looking to, according to the report.

Moreover, an average of 85 percent have purchased a product or service after seeing it advertized or reviewed on social media and 77 percent said that social platforms helped them get ideas about brands and products they had never thought of before.

“The funnel has collapsed and impulse buying is at an all-time high; people are spending more time on social media platforms, so why not go where the consumer is?” said Ryan Hartsfield, social media director at Monster Energy.

Up until now, beauty and fashion categories were the leaders in the social media space, said Daniela Mercado, head of mobile marketing, Samsung Electronics America. Because of their success, more expensive categories — like luxury and automotive — are now following.

Due to this emerging consumer behavior, brands have an opportunity to connect with their audiences in an entirely new way and spur on-the-spot decisions. An effective way of doing this is by partnering with creators who already have the followers and the ability to inspire and influence them.

Content creators boost discovery (78 percent), educate and inform their audiences (76 percent), and inspire their audiences to try new products (73 percent). Creators and social communities are the new version of “word-of-mouth,” making it a powerful medium for brands.

“Influencers are really important because they each have their own reason for loving our brands. It’s fun to discover why someone is using our products, and we like to elevate and share those voices of discovery because they are authentic and true,” said Kevin Shapiro, SVP, US marketing in consumer beauty, Coty.

The report also found that the purchase funnel has collapsed, with the line between content and commerce becoming increasingly blurry. On average, across social media platforms, only 14 percent of purchases were planned.

It is evident that the rise of community commerce presents great potential for brands. However, it’s important for brands to stay true to the platform they choose and the creators they work with.

“We need to remember that people don’t go on social media to purchase — they go to interact, to check on their friends and favorite celebrities, to engage with content and follow their interests,” said Krinio Christaras, head of media and consumer experience MENAP, Mondelēz International.

She added: “With great content — be it user-generated content, the use of influencers, or brand content — that’s fit for the platform, you give them a great experience, and through that, you give them that opportunity to buy.”

FAST FACTS

On average, 77 percent say that social platforms help them get ideas about brands and products they’d never thought of before.

85 percent have purchased a product or service after seeing it advertised or reviewed on social media.

Social platforms inspire 70 percent of consumers to shop.

Across social media platforms, on average, only 14 percent of purchases were planned.

Content creators boost discovery (78 percent), educate and inform their audiences (76 percent), and inspire their audiences to try new products (73 percent).


Algeria journalist freed after 6 months’ jail for ‘false news’

Algeria journalist freed after 6 months’ jail for ‘false news’
Updated 20 October 2021

Algeria journalist freed after 6 months’ jail for ‘false news’

Algeria journalist freed after 6 months’ jail for ‘false news’
  • ‘Our reporter Rabah Kareche is free again after six months behind bars in Tamanrasset prison’
  • Algeria ranks a lowly 146th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index

ALGIERS: Algerian journalist Rabah Kareche left prison on Tuesday after completing a six-month sentence for “spreading false news,” his newspaper Liberte said.
“Our reporter Rabah Kareche is free again after six months behind bars in Tamanrasset prison” in the country’s desert south, it reported on its website.
An appeals court had sentenced Kareche on October 11 to six months in prison plus six months suspended, a two-month reduction from his original sentence.
His release came as he had already served much of sentence during his trial and appeal.
Kareche was arrested in April after reporting the Tuareg, a Berber minority who have long complained of economic and social marginalization, had protested over “expropriation” of their historical lands.
He was sentenced on August 12 to eight months behind bars plus four months suspended for “spreading false information liable to damage public order.”
He was also accused of posting reports that could trigger “segregation and hatred within society.”
“I’m the victim of a grave injustice,” Liberte quoted him saying as he left prison.
“I did nothing more than my job as a journalist with professionalism.”
Algeria ranks a lowly 146th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.


Facebook shuts fake accounts in Sudan, as fight for public opinion rages online

The battle for public opinion, much of it happening online, is intensifying as Sudan reels from economic crisis and a shaky transition to democracy. (File/Twitter)
The battle for public opinion, much of it happening online, is intensifying as Sudan reels from economic crisis and a shaky transition to democracy. (File/Twitter)
Updated 20 October 2021

Facebook shuts fake accounts in Sudan, as fight for public opinion rages online

The battle for public opinion, much of it happening online, is intensifying as Sudan reels from economic crisis and a shaky transition to democracy. (File/Twitter)
  • Facebook removes two large networks targeting Sudanese users, one of which was linked to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF)
  • Earlier this month, Facebook said it had shut a network of almost 1,000 accounts and pages linked to the RSF

CAIRO/KHARTOUM: Facebook says it has shut down two large networks targeting users in Sudan in recent months, as civilian and military leaders spar with one another over the future of an interim power-sharing arrangement.
The battle for public opinion, much of it happening online, is intensifying as Sudan reels from economic crisis and a shaky transition to democracy following 30 years under President Omar Al-Bashir, who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2019.
Facebook said one of the networks of inauthentic pages it took down was linked to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the other was populated with people who researchers, hired by the civilian government, flagged as supporters of Bashir agitating for a military takeover.
This week, hundreds of protesters set up camp outside the presidential palace demanding that the military overhaul the cabinet, in what would effectively amount to a coup.
Earlier this month, Facebook said it had shut a network of almost 1,000 accounts and pages with 1.1 million followers run by people the company said were linked to the RSF.
The network boosted RSF official media feeds and other content related to the militia, led by powerful General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo who is deputy head of the ruling Sovereign Council and seen by some Sudanese as harboring political ambitions.
Representatives for the RSF and Dagalo did not respond to requests for comment. The government had no comment on the RSF-related takedown. Dagalo, widely known as Hemedti, denies he is out for personal empowerment and has said in the past that he is committed to the democratic transition to civilian rule.
Facebook’s director of threat disruption, David Agranovich, told Reuters the network was identified by the platform’s own internal investigation.
The company also said it removed a second network in June, after being tipped off by Valent Projects, an independent research firm hired by Sudan’s Information Ministry to look into activity linked to Bashir loyalists.
Facebook said the network comprised more than 100 accounts and pages and had more than 1.8 million followers.
The Sudanese government’s efforts to fight what it describes as ex-regime loyalists working to undermine the transition has not previously been reported.
Loyalists were “working systematically to tarnish the image of the government,” the ministry said in a statement to Reuters, referring to social media posts in the network identified by Valent.
In both networks, posts mimicked news media but offered skewed coverage of political events, according to Facebook and some independent researchers.
Those Sudanese with Internet access — estimated at about 30 percent of the 45 million population — depend heavily on social media for news.
The military-civilian partnership that replaced now-jailed Bashir in 2019 has been pushed to breaking point in recent weeks in the aftermath of what authorities called a failed coup attempt.
Civilian officials have accused both Bashir loyalists and the military of stirring up unrest, including in the east of the country where tribal protesters have been blocking shipping at Port Sudan, exacerbating shortages stemming from a long-running economic crisis.
Military leaders deny the accusations and say they are committed to the transition to democracy.

’AGITATION’
While Facebook says it uses technical signals on its platform to target groups working to mislead users about their identity, researchers like Valent Projects say they rely on analysis of content, noting for example when a single post is shared simultaneously by different accounts.
Valent Projects said the network it identified was more than three times larger than Facebook’s assessment, attracting more than 6 million followers and continuing to grow.
It was active as recently as this week, agitating for a military takeover as protesters gathered in central Khartoum, and last month in the aftermath of the coup attempt, said Valent Projects representatives.
“It looks like they were trying to give the impression of grassroots support for such a move,” said founder and director Amil Khan.
When asked about the differing assessments, Facebook’s Agranovich said the company was confident it had shut down the entire network and that other accounts Valent identified were not connected.
He said Facebook would continue to monitor for any revival of the network.
Some of the network’s posts say Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is not a Muslim and accuse his staff of being paid in dollars, a charge they have denied.
Contributors promote the return of Bashir, jailed on corruption and other charges and wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of atrocities in the Darfur conflict. Bashir has denied all charges.
The network amplified calls for civil disobedience in the east, said Zouhir Al Shimale, Valent Projects’ head of research.
It also promoted protests ahead of the June 30 anniversary of the coup in which Bashir took power in 1989, according to the research firm.
“People in Sudan thought there was just going to be a massive demonstration because they saw so much activity,” said Khan, citing a movement called Akhtona (“Get out of the way“) in local Arabic dialect. In the end some 3,500 people showed up.
Contacted by Reuters, three administrators of pages that Facebook left running denied being part of a network.
“The ruling bodies today categorize any criticism of their oppressive policies and poor economic and political management as being related to the former regime,” said one of them, who declined to be identified.
The information ministry said it took no legal measures against the pages or administrators. “The Sudanese government is committed to protecting freedom of expression,” it said.
Two takedowns previously announced by Facebook, in December 2020 and May 2021, targeted accounts boosting Dagalo and the RSF, according to researchers at Stanford Internet Observatory and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.
In both networks Facebook said it found links to the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), the officially defunct group accused of meddling in the 2016 US elections.
Anna Bogacheva, who the United States accused of carrying out IRA operations to interfere with elections and political processes, declined to answer questions about IRA when reached by phone.
Agranovich said the most recently targeted network linked to the RSF did not reveal foreign links, and appeared part of a growing trend of domestic influence operations.