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Facebook, Twitter intensify the fight against fake news and violent content

26-December-2017
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Facebook, Twitter intensify the fight against fake news and violent content

Social media has been lauded for creating a space where everyone has an equal opportunity to express their views and opinions. However, its failure to curb hateful conduct, abusive behaviour and fake news has brought a lot of criticism, especially for platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

How Facebook plans to build a ‘safe community’
Intensifying its fight against fake news, Facebook announced two changes this week. First, it decided to scrap the use of ‘Disputed Flags’ to identify false news and instead, it now uses ‘Related Articles’ to help people get more contexts. Second, Facebook is starting a new initiative to better understand how people decide whether the information is accurate or not based on the news sources they depend upon.

Defending Facebook’s decision to of longer using ‘Disputed Flags’ Tess Lyons, Product Manager, Facebook said in a post that academic research shows that “putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs – the opposite effect to what we intended.”

“Demoting false news (as identified by fact-checkers) is one of our best weapons because demoted articles typically lose 80 per cent of their traffic. This destroys the economic incentives spammers and troll farms have to generate these articles in the first place,” she added while requesting people to keep giving feedbacks as Facebook would be “redoubling” its efforts in 2018.

It also announced new tools to prevent harassment on Facebook and in Messenger.
“Based on feedback from people who use Facebook, as well as organizations representing groups who disproportionately experience harassment like women and journalists, we are introducing new features,” said Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety, Facebook.

The new features Facebook has introduced are:
• Proactively recognize and help prevent unwanted contact with friend requests and messages when someone you blocked sets up a new account or tries to contact you from another account they control

• Provide the option to ignore a Messenger conversation and automatically move it out of your inbox, without having to block the sender
How Twitter plans to curb hateful content and violent behaviour
Twitter, earlier this week, said that it would begin to enforce new rules related to how it handles hateful conduct and abusive behaviour taking place on its platform.
As per its new rules on violence and physical harm, Twitter said that specific threats of violence or wishing for serious physical harm, death, or disease to an individual or group of people is in violation of its policies. Further elaborating, Twitter specifies the related content:

• Accounts that affiliate with organisations that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes. Groups included in this policy will be those that identify as such or engage in activity — both on and off the platform — that promotes violence. This policy does not apply to military or government entities and we will consider exceptions for groups that are currently engaging in (or have engaged in) peaceful resolution.

• Content that glorifies violence or the perpetrators of a violent act. This includes celebrating any violent act in a manner that may inspire others to replicate it or any violence where people were targeted because of their membership in a protected group. We will require offending Tweets to be removed and repeated violations will result in permanent suspension.

While expanding on rules to included related content, the microblogging platform said, “its hateful conduct policy and rules against abusive behavior prohibit promoting violence against or directly attacking or threatening other people on the basis of their group characteristics, as well as engaging in abusive behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another person’s voice.”
Twitter further broadens these policies to include additional types of related content:

• Any account that abuses or threatens others through their profile information, including their username, display name, or profile bio. If an account’s profile information includes a violent threat or multiple slurs, epithets, racist or sexist tropes, incites fear, or reduces someone to less than human, it will be permanently suspended. We plan to develop internal tools to help us identify violating accounts to supplement user reports.
• Hateful imagery will now be considered sensitive media under our media policy. We consider hateful imagery to be logos, symbols, or images whose purpose is to promote hostility and malice against others based on their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin. If this type of content appears in header or profile images, we will now accept profile-level reports and require account owners to remove any violating media.

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