Social giants to testify before Congress on extremist content

social media moderation
Panithan Fakseemuang/123RF
Social media giants are once again being asked to testify before the U.S. Congress — this time, about “extremist propaganda.” Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will each have representatives testify before the Senate Commerce Committee next week, on January 17. The hearing, called “Terrorism and Social Media: #IsBigTechDoingEnough,” is expected to look into how the platforms handle extremist content.

The Commerce Committee’s leader, Sen. John Thune, said the meeting is designed to discuss how social media platforms are handling extremist propaganda and what the tech giants are doing to prevent the spread of those posts. According to Recode, the networks’ handling of hate speech, racism, fake news and other abusive content could also become part of the discussion.

Facebook’s global policy management head, Monika Bickert, Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy, Carlos Monje, and YouTube’s global head of public policy and government relations Juniper Downs will present testimony to the committee.

Questions on how social networks handle extremist content have led to several changes within the networks over the past two years, but the hearing will discuss if those steps are enough. Removing extremist content isn’t a U.S.-only issue either — the European Union is currently running a voluntary Code of Conduct and calling for networks to quickly detect and remove hate speech. In 2016, the three social networks, along with Microsoft, formed a group to build a shared database of extremist content, with the goal of making those types of posts easier to remove across all platforms.

YouTube has implemented several changes over the last year after several big brands pulled their ads upon discovering ads were running with extremist videos and other forms of hate speech. In August, the platform said that advances to its A.I. algorithms led to 75 percent of those videos getting booted before a human user could even flag them, while videos that fall into a gray area not quite against community guidelines began seeing penalties.

Twitter faced growing concern in 2016 and locked out 230,000 accounts for extremist content in August, followed by another removal of around 377,000 accounts over a period of six months. The platform recently started removing the blue verification badge from some users after facing criticism for giving a known white supremacist the badge.

Last year, Facebook shared insight into how the platform tackles extremist content using both A.I. and staff. A.I., for example, can identify duplicate videos that Facebook has already removed, preventing another group from sharing the same removed content, while another algorithm looks for keywords in text. The company’s review staff is expected to increase to 20,000 this year and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made fixing abuse on the platform his personal goal for 2018.

According to The Hill, it’s rare to see representatives from the social media giant testifying in Washington, yet all three groups also testified concerning Russian interference in the U.S. election. A slew of recent events could lead to legislation catching up to social media technology, ranging from new proposals for managing political ads in the U.S. to a now active law in Germany requiring removal of hate speech.

Social Media

Facebook axes alleged discriminatory targeting of ads after civil settlements

Facebook advertisers can no longer use targeting for age, gender or zip code when advertising in the housing, jobs, and credit categories. The changes come as part of a civil settlement, following earlier changes to remove racial targeting.
Social Media

New Zealand attack shows that as A.I. filters get smarter, so do violators

The shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand were livestreamed to social media, and while stats show networks are improving at removing offending videos, as the system improves, so do the violators' workarounds.

Intel and Facebook team up to give Cooper Lake an artificial intelligence boost

Intel's upcoming Cooper Lake microarchitecture will be getting a boost when it comes to artificial intelligence processes, thanks to a partnership with Facebook. The results are CPUs that are able to work faster.

How you can share your best gaming moments with friends on the PS4

Check out Digital Trends' quick guide to everything you need to know to save your outstanding PlayStation 4 gameplay moments, share them online, and transfer them to your computer.
Social Media

Yep, it’s not just you. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are down for many

Facebook's family of apps has been suffering issues for much of the day. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook itself have been out of action for users around the world, with the company scrambling to sort it out.
Social Media

Facebook may soon let you watch live TV with friends in Watch Party

Facebook Watch Party is designed to allow friends to watch together, even when they can't be in the same physical space. Now, that feature could be expanding to include live TV. Facebook announced a test of the feature, starting with live…
Social Media

Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Facebook confirmed it is cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. According to a report, the company is under investigation for sharing user data with smartphone and tablet companies.
Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.

Snapchat could soon let you play games in between your selfies

If a new report is accurate, Snapchat will be getting an integrated gaming platform in April. The platform will feature mobile games form third-party developers, and one publisher is already signed on.
Social Media

Twitter is testing a handy subscription feature for following threads

Twitter has recently started testing a feature that lets you subscribe to a thread so that you’ll no longer need to like a comment or post to it yourself in order to receive notifications of new contributions.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.

There’s more space on MySpace after ‘accidental’ wipe of 50 million songs

MySpace is no longer a safe refuge for music and media produced in the 2000s. It said that almost any artistic content uploaded to the site between 2003 and 2015 may have been lost as part of a server migration last year.

Insta-checkout? New Instagram service lets you shop without leaving the platform

Shopping on Instagram no longer means leaving the platform to checkout in a web browser. Instagram checkout launched in beta today with a handful of retailers, allowing users to checkout without leaving the app.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. But with so many subreddits to choose from, exploring them can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.