Facebook’s Oversight Board issued a transparency report Thursday scolding the tech giant for concealing details of its content review process and demanding more transparency.
The report criticized Facebook for failing to disclose the existence of its “cross-check” content review system, the details of which were leaked to The Wall Street Journal by Frances Haugen and published in September. The cross-check system applies different moderation standards to accounts belonging to celebrities or other popular accounts, which Facebook did not disclose when asked.
Facebook is reportedly planning on rebranding and is set to announce a new company name next week, according to The Verge.
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg intends to announce the new name at the Facebook Connect conference on Oct. 28, a source familiar with the matter told The Verge. The rebrand is reportedly an attempt by Zuckerberg to shift public perception of the company as a social media platform to a technology conglomerate with several different products beyond the Facebook social network.
Facebook’s seemingly-unending stream of bad publicity continued this week, when it was fined nearly $70 million by the United Kingdom for what is being described as a deliberate lack of compliance into an anti-trust investigation.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy for nearly a year, and ordered the company to produce information “required information related to an initial enforcement order (IEO) placed on it by the watchdog, despite repeated requests for it to do so,” according to TechCrunch.
Facebook reached separate settlement agreements with the Department of Justice and Department of Labor on Tuesday, resolving claims that the tech giant discriminated against U.S. workers in hiring and recruiting.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Facebook in December 2020, alleging the company refused to hire or recruit qualified U.S. workers in thousands of open positions by reserving spots in its workforce for temporary visa holders through its permanent labor certification (PERM) program. The DOJ also alleged that Facebook intentionally tried to deter U.S. workers from applying for certain positions.
Author and Senior Editor at The Federalist Mollie Hemingway held nothing back in her forthcoming book “RIGGED,” detailing the irregularities in the 2020 election.
One chapter of that book is titled “Zuckerberg Should Be in Jail,” referencing Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg.
Another former Facebook employee says she is willing to testify before Congress on the tech giant’s business practices.
Sophie Zhang is a former Facebook data scientist and whistleblower who, in September 2020, revealed “influence” operations perpetrated by “authoritarian regimes” that took place on Facebook. Zhang told CNN in an interview Sunday that she provided information regarding “potential criminal violations” by Facebook to a U.S. law enforcement agency at the time. Zhang also said that she is willing to testify before Congress about her allegations of criminal conduct by Facebook.
Ritual humiliation of social media companies is becoming something of a tradition. Most typically, social media CEOs are hauled before Congress, harangued for a day, promise to “do better,” and then go back to business as usual.
Last week a new kind of social media witness appeared: a whistleblower. Frances Haugen emerged with a great deal of fanfare, complete with a public relations firm, a verified account on Twitter, and a fawning entourage, including members of the press and Congress. But instead of denouncing social media for its excessive power, wealth, and hostility to traditional American values, Haugen pleaded for regulations that happen to align with the peculiar values and interests of Silicon Valley.
Former President Trump has filed another lawsuit against Facebook, requesting that a federal judge order the Big Tech platform to reinstate his account.
Trump was suspended from most significant social media platforms in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. Later in the year, he filed class-action lawsuits against Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and their respective CEOs.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence on Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen late Tuesday, rebutting several of her allegations in a Facebook post.
“At the most basic level, I think most of us just don’t recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted,” Zuckerberg wrote in a letter to Facebook employees posted to his account. “Many of the claims don’t make any sense.”
After Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before the Senate Commerce Committee Monday, a hearing which focused largely on Facebook’s negative impact on children, GETTR CEO Jason Miller released a statement.
In a press release, Miller said the following:
Parents who protest public school policies on race, gender and COVID-19 are crying foul after Attorney General Merrick Garland promised to “discourage” and prosecute “harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against school boards, administrators, teachers and staff.
His “mobilization of [the] FBI against parents is consistent with the complete weaponization of the federal government against ideological opponents,” Rhode Island mother Nicole Solas, who is waging a public records battle with her school district over race-related curriculum, told Just the News.
Facebook knowingly chooses to prioritize its profits over the safety of its users, Frances Haugen, a whistleblower and former Facebook employee, said in an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday.
“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Haugen told Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” Sunday night. “And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”
Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, leaked thousands of internal company documents to The Wall Street Journal last month which detail the inner workings of the company. The leaked documents showed that Facebook employs a separate content review system for high-profile accounts, the company has conducted research into the harms its Instagram platform has on teen users, and it stokes controversy by boosting inflammatory content.
Platforms owned by Facebook all experienced outages at the same time late Monday morning, and could not be accessed.
Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all went down Monday morning, according to outage tracking site Downdetector. Facebook was first reported down around 11:15 a.m., with reports peaking around 12 p.m. with over 100,000 reported outages, according to the site.
When users attempted to access Instagram, a message reading “5xx Server Error” appeared. A message reading “Sorry, something went wrong” appeared when users tried to access Facebook.
Facebook researched how to market its products and services to preteen users, studying kids’ playdates and developing strategies to address parents’ concerns, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.
The tech giant established a three-year project beginning in 2018 to study and develop marketing strategies geared towards preteen users, company documents seen by The Wall Street Journal revealed. Facebook conducted over a dozen studies to figure out which services most appeal to children under the age of 13, and what are parents’ chief concerns.
Facebook has paused development of a version of its image-sharing platform Instagram specifically geared towards children, the company announced Monday.
The tech giant decided to suspend work on the project in order to “work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators,” and “demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today,” Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, wrote in a statement Monday.
Facebook released its updated Content Distribution Guidelines on Thursday, shedding more light on how the tech giant decides what content it suppresses.
While Facebook has previously provided some details on the types of content that receive reduced distribution in Facebook’s News Feed, the updated guidelines are designed to provide clarity and accessibility, Director of Product Management Anna Stepanov announced in a blog post Thursday.
This week the Wall Street Journal unveiled “The Facebook Files” – an investigative series based on leaked internal Facebook materials that offer an unvarnished look at how the social media giant sees its platform and its impact on society. A central theme of the reporting is the degree to which Facebook’s own research is at odds with its public statements, and that internally it has recognized the harms the platform causes for society even while publicly touting its benefits.
The Journal’s reporting raises myriad concerns over the state of social platforms generally today, from Instagram’s toxic influence on teenage girls to the impact of algorithmic changes on political discourse to how Facebook secretly shields influential users from its content moderation rules.
Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters wants to break up Big Tech and ban their business practices he believes are harmful.
“I think Republicans need to reacquaint themselves with their history of antitrust enforcement, and realize huge concentrations of power in private hands can violate people’s liberties just as much as government,” Masters said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Masters, who announced his candidacy in July, serves as chief operating officer at investment firm Thiel Capital and runs the Thiel Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by billionaire investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. He competes in a crowded Republican primary with fellow candidate and current Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the chance to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022.
Facebook announced a grant program Thursday to fund fact-checking groups combating the spread of “climate misinformation.”
The program is designed to provide Facebook users with accurate and reliable information on topics related to climate change, such as sea levels and global warming, Facebook announced. The company said it launched the initiative partly in response to an August report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that highlighted the negative impact humans have on the environment.
Facebook is aware that Instagram, an image-sharing social media platform it owns, has harmful effects on the self-esteem of teen girls, according to leaked research seen by The Wall Street Journal.
Internal research, documents and research reportedly show that Facebook has studied the harmful effects Instagram can have on its users, especially teen girls, according to the WSJ.
“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” one slide from an internal research report read, with another saying that “teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.”
Facebook is spending $100 million to buy up the outstanding invoices of small businesses owned by women, racial minorities, veterans, disabled people and LGBTQ+ people, the company announced last week.
The Invoice Fast Track Program allows certain “small, midsize and diverse-owned businesses” to submit outstanding invoices to Facebook. The tech giant then buys the invoices, giving the business cash immediately, and the business’ customers pay Facebook instead.
The program is designed to help “diverse-owned” businesses improve their cash flow and hire more employees, according to the program’s description.
Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) in Virginia denied that one of its departments calls itself “woke” in an automated voice message, Fox News reported Friday.
“Sorry, woke special services 2 email is not available, record your message at the tone,” the Department of Special Services automated voicemail appeared to say. FCPS said the message actually said “Wok” for one of their administrative centers, Willow Oaks, Fox News reported.
The Department of Special Services organizes into four different offices which includes help with psychology services, student safety and wellness, social work and special education.
Thursday morning on Frist Principles with Phill Kline, host Kline welcomed The Star News Networks CEO and Editor in Chief Michael Patrick Leahy to the phone lines to discuss the changing landscape of journalism and Big Techs’ partnership with social media titans.
Thursday morning on First Principles with Phill Kline, host Kline welcomed Michael Patrick Leahy, CEO of The Star News Network and host of The Tennessee Star Report to weigh in on the developing oligopoly of Big Tech and social media giants.
Calls to fire Glen Ellyn teacher Lauren Crowe were spreading across social media Thursday night after the D41 educator shared a video on Tik Tok promoting books highlighting LGBTQ+ activism to her grammar school students.
Crowe, who teaches third grade at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, posted the video on Tik Tok. It was then shared on Twitter by a user who goes by the name “Libs of Tik Tok.”
“Activist teacher shows off book collection she uses to indoctrinate 3rd grade students,” the user posted.
Facebook says it incorrectly removed the account of the mother of one of the Marines killed in the Kabul terrorist attack last week, following several posts critical of President Joe Biden.
Shana Chappell, mother of Kareem Nikoui, one of the 13 Marines killed in the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport last week, claimed in a Facebook post Monday that her Instagram account had been deleted. Instagram is owned by Facebook.
The mother of a U.S. Marine who died during the ISIS-affiliated attack on Kabul’s airport has been suspended from Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram.
“Shana Chappell, mother of Marine Kareem Nikoui who was killed in Kabul, had her FB and Instagram accounts suspended for posts she made about her son and her feelings about the President and Vice President,” Lynn Afendoulis, former Michigan State Representative, said on Facebook. “This is horrifying. Her son GAVE HIS LIFE FOR OUR COUNTRY. She can say what she wants. Her FB account is back up. For now. God be with her.”
Facebook is considering creating a commission to advise the tech giant on election-related issues including misinformation, The New York Times reported.
The tech company reportedly contacted several academics and policy experts to draft plans for a commission that will advise Facebook on electoral matters and potentially decide policies related to political misinformation and advertising, several people familiar with the plans told The New York Times. Facebook plans to announce the commission in the next few months to be prepared for the 2022 midterms, the Times reported.
Facebook is facing backlash over several decisions in August that critics say indicate a lack of transparency, particularly regarding the problem of misinformation.
The tech company drew criticism after it published a report Saturday detailing the most widely-viewed content on the platform for the first quarter of 2021, showing that the most viewed news article was a factual story published by the Chicago Tribune about a doctor dying two weeks after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Facebook had initially shelved the report and published data on the second quarter of 2021 instead, but released it following an investigation by The New York Times that revealed the tech company withheld the report due to fears it would seem like it was promoting misinformation.
The U.S. government amended its antitrust complaint against Facebook on Thursday, bolstering allegations that the tech company illegally maintained a monopoly.
The amended complaint follows the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) dismissed December 2020 complaint which failed to adequately prove the tech giant’s monopoly in the “Personal Social Networking Services” market.
The FTC alleges that Facebook illegally acquired competitors WhatsApp and Instagram in order to stifle competition, maintaining monopoly power by preventing competitors from operating on Facebook software.
A research group that has been investigating the manipulation of algorithms by Instagram was forced to shut down its research after legal threats from Facebook, according to Breitbart.
The Germany-based group, AlgorithmWatch, was investigating how Instagram favors certain types of content over others, and thus promotes them more heavily on users’ timelines. The group had been utilizing a browser extension that specializes in collecting data from users’ Instagram feeds in order to determine certain trends.
Among other findings, AlgorithmWatch determined that Instagram, a photo-sharing website, more heavily prioritizes images that include faces rather than just text. In May, representatives from Facebook, which owns Instagram, requested a meeting with the project’s leaders; during that meeting, Facebook accused the group, without any evidence, of violating Instagram’s terms of service. They also claimed that the investigation was in violation of the European Union’s GDPR data laws, since the project was allegedly collecting user data without the consent of the users.
Facebook has been courting partnerships with religious groups in hopes of becoming their virtual home, the New York Times reported in late July. Experts and religious leaders told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the social media platform’s interest in shaping the future of religious experience should be closely monitored to protect religious freedom.
Though it is unlikely that a virtual religious experience will replace in-person religious services, the Times acknowledged, Facebook’s partnerships with religious groups expose Facebook’s plans to shape the future of the religious experience — as it has done with both political and social life.
“I just want people to know that Facebook is a place where, when they do feel discouraged or depressed or isolated, that they could go to Facebook and they could immediately connect with a group of people that care about them,” Nona Jones, a nondenominational minister and Facebook’s director for global faith partnerships, told the Times.
Corporations were silent on why they chose to suspend political contributions to Republicans, but not Democrats who have objected to election results.
More than 15 major U.S. companies that announced they would suspend giving money to members of Congress following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot didn’t respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation about their political contribution activity following the 2016 presidential election. The corporations were quick to condemn Republicans lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election earlier this year, but apparently didn’t criticize or punish Democrats who have similarly objected to election results in the past.
Last Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed that the Biden administration will partner with Facebook and other social media platforms to surveil COVID-related posts. They plan to flag and censor people whom the administration considers to be purveyors of COVID “disinformation” or “misinformation.”
During a press conference Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki dodged addressing whether the White House will reveal which Facebook posts it flags as misinformation.
Psaki said last week that the White House will flag posts deemed vaccine misinformation to Facebook. But the White House press secretary did not address Monday whether the White House will “publicly release information on posts that it considers misinformation on vaccines that it’s asked Facebook to block.”
An influential COVID policy skeptic is threatening to sue Facebook for suspending his account based on a graphic he posted Tuesday, titled “Masking Children is Impractical and Not Backed by Research or Real World Data.”
Justin Hart was identified in a recent MIT paper as one of a handful of “anchors” for the anti-mask network on Twitter. He’s also chief data analyst for the COVID contrarian website Rational Ground.
A warning letter to Facebook from Hart’s lawyers at the Liberty Justice Center said the graphic was “science-based and contains footnotes to scientific evidence supporting its claims.” Facebook issued him a three-day suspension the next day, citing the post as misinformation. The page remains live but the post is no longer there.
Just a day after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted that the Biden administration is colluding with Facebook to censor “misinformation,” Psaki advocated for even more online censorship.
During a Friday press briefing, she advised social media companies to “create robust enforcement strategies that bridge their properties and provide transparency about rules.”
In a Thursday press conference, Press Secretary to President Joe Biden admitted that the White House is colluding with Facebook to censor content on the social media platform.
“We are in regular touch with the social media platforms and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff and also members of our COVID-19 team — given as Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue, of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic,” Psaki reportedly said
Facebook filed a petition Wednesday asking for Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan to recuse herself from the FTC’s antitrust case against the company.
The tech giant argued in the petition that Khan’s public statements, in which she suggested Facebook’s conduct constituted an antitrust offense, violated the company’s due process rights.
Virginia won first place in CNBC’s ranking of top states for business in 2021, a repeat performance from 2019, the last time the ranking was issued. On Tuesday, Governor Ralph Northam stopped in the Port of Virginia for a CNBC broadcast and a press conference.
“Virginia continues to be the best place to do business because of our world-class education institutions, talented workforce, and shared commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion,” Northam said in a press release.
For Big Tech billionaires, these are the best of times, and the worst of times.
Why the best? Because the long arm of social media and online commerce has never reached further and deeper into Americans’ culture, spending habits, lifestyles, and worldview. Likewise, the net worth of these billionaires has risen to undreamed-of heights. COVID was, for tech barons, a blessing in disguise: it trapped Americans indoors, where they could do little else but browse the web, consume digital entertainment, and spend their stimulus dollars on imported Chinese doohickeys. Even as the dreaded virus has retreated, Big Tech has successfully locked in its gains.
Why the worst of times, though? The very rise of Big Tech has portended greater scrutiny. The debasement of Big Tech’s competitors and natural enemies—from brick-and-mortar stores to Trump supporters—has ensured that the drumbeat of criticism of social media companies and online retailers has never been more stridently percussive.
The founder of CloutHub, a free speech social media network, has responded to former President Donald J. Trump’s class action lawsuit against several Silicon Valley titans, which the forty-fifth president announced Wednesday.
“I am pleased that President Trump is fighting back against Big Tech corporations after enduring months of blatant injustices,” Jeff Brain said in press release. “His lawsuit is based on the infringement of his fundamental free speech rights that powerful companies such as Facebook and Twitter imposed based on their own political bias; a bias that has no place with such important keepers of our national public square online.”
Last-minute changes to major antitrust legislation working its way through the House appears to exempt several Big Tech companies from being affected by its regulations.
The legislation, which has been months in the making and was crafted to take on Big Tech monopolies, targets a handful of companies while excluding others that also have massive market power, a leading expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Existing federal and state antitrust law already prohibits a wide range of anticompetitive business activity across all industries like unlawful mergers and monopolization.
Facebook users are expressing shock and dismay after being spammed with messages touting a support group for people concerned about “extremists.”
“Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming an extremist?” the message begins. “We care about preventing extremism on Facebook. Others in your situation have received confidential support,” the message continues.
The Facebook message goes on to suggest that “you can help” by joining their support group. “Hear stories and get help from people who have escaped violent extremist groups,” the message concludes.
On Monday, a massive blow was dealt to the effort to have Facebook labeled as a monopoly and possibly be broken up as a result, as reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
Judge James Boasberg, an Obama-appointed judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, dismissed two major antitrust lawsuits filed against the Big Tech giant, with one filed by the Federal Trade Commission and the other filed by a bipartisan group of state attorneys general.
Facebook’s market capitalization, or total dollar value, closed above $1 trillion for the first time ever Monday, making it the fifth U.S. company to reach such size.
Facebook exceeded the $1 trillion mark after a year in which the company experienced massive user and earnings growth, CNBC reported. Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon – all fellow Big Tech companies – are the only other U.S. companies that have also surpassed $1 trillion in market capitalization, according to Axios.
Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott will step down after more than 29 years with Customs and Border Protection, he announced Wednesday.
Scott will remain in his position for around 60 days as the agency transitions, he said in a private Facebook post. A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shared a screenshot of Scott’s Facebook message with the Daily Caller News Foundation and said the agency would make a formal announcement.
“I received my 3R letter today. For those not familiar, that is Federal government slang for the letter issued to (senior executive staff) level employees informing them of a directed reassignment,” Scott said in the post. “The recipient has 3 options – relocate, resign or retire. No rationale or reason is required, nor is it disciplinary.”
CBS 62 Detroit Meteorologist and Multimedia Journalist, April Moss, was officially fired from the station this week after blowing the whistle on the network’s discriminatory practices regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
Moss decided to sit down with Project Veritas founder and CEO James O’Keefe to discuss the behind-the-scenes discrimination and bias after Fox 26 Houston reporter Ivory Hector last week used Veritas to expose how her superiors were trying to “muzzle” her reporting on Hydroxychloroquine.
Moss told O’Keefe that, like Hector, she too was worried that the liberal slant at her station was negatively impacting the public.
Apple CEO Tim Cook called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress last week, warning lawmakers that newly proposed antitrust legislation would harm consumers and hurt innovation, five sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.
Lawmakers introduced a series of antitrust bills that target Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon, The New York Times reports. The legislative efforts seek to rein in the tech companies by addressing alleged anti-competitive practices and by curbing monopoly power, according to a report by CNET.
Pelosi pushed back on Cook’s warnings, asking him to name specific policy objections, two sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.
There are few, if any, political issues that now generate the breadth and intensity of bipartisan backlash as does the rise of Big Tech.
During Donald Trump’s presidency, the major parties largely diverged on their specific grievances against the woke Silicon Valley monopolists who serve as gatekeepers for America’s 21st-century public square. Republicans, by and large, focused on censorship of conservative online speech. Democrats, by contrast, tended to focus on economic concentration; the five American corporations with the largest market caps, for example, are tech behemoths Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google Alphabet, and Facebook. This divergence has stymied efforts to rein in the Big Tech oligarchy on issues such as Section 230, the 1990s-era provision permitting platforms to engage in publisher-like content-moderation decisions without being legally treated as publishers.
Conservatives still have myriad concerns with Big Tech’s noxious brew of speech suppressions, shadow bans, and unaccountable deplatformings. Those concerns are both legitimate and justified by Big Tech’s ever-expanding list of misdeeds. But there is an emerging sea change in the way conservatives conceptualize the relationship between Big Tech’s unfettered content-moderation leeway and the sheer economic clout wielded by the relevant corporate actors.