Is India the frontline in big techs assault on democracy? | John Harris

Encrypted messaging polarises voters and prevents public scrutiny, says Guardian columnist John Harris In 10 days time, two political dramas will reach their denouement, thanks to the votes of a combined total of about 1.3 billion people. At the heart of both will be a mess of questions about democracy in the online age, and how or even if we can act to preserve it. Elections to the European parliament will begin on 23 May, and offer an illuminating test of the rightwing populism that has swept across the continent. In the UK, they will mark the decisive arrival of Nigel Farages Brexit party, whose serving notice of a politics brimming with bile and rage, masterminded by people with plenty …

Nick Clegg rejects Facebook break-up calls backed by Kamala Harris

California Democrat favours action against social media giant but former deputy PM says new employer a great American success Facebook head of global affairs Nick Clegg has rejected calls for the social media giant to be broken up, an idea gaining currency among contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, with Kamala Harris seemingly its latest convert. Earlier this week, Facebook has led such calls on the campaign trail. Clegg, 52, was deputy prime minister to David Cameron between 2010 and 2015. He spoke to CNNs Reliable Sources on Sunday. Hughes, he said, had quite rightly highlighted complex issues affecting Facebook, such as data use, privacy and election interference. But, he said, chopping a great American success story into bits is …

The Existential Crisis Plaguing Online Extremism Researchers

A couple of hours after the Christchurch massacre, I was on the phone with Whitney Phillips, a Syracuse professor whose research focuses on online extremists and media manipulators. Toward the end of the call, our conversation took an unexpected turn. Phillips said she was exhausted and distressed, and that she felt overwhelmed by the nature of her work. She described a “soul sucking” feeling stemming in part from an ethical conundrum tied to researching the ills of online extremism and amplification. In a connected, searchable world, it’s hard to share information about extremists and their tactics without also sharing their toxic views. Too often, actions intended to stem the spread of false and dangerous ideologies only make things worse. The …

Facebook to use AI to stop telling users to say hi to dead friends

Algorithmic features have sent suggestions to wish happy birthday to those whove died Facebook has promised to use artificial intelligence to stop suggesting users invite their dead friends to parties. The sites freshly emotionally intelligent AI is part of a rash of changes to how Facebook handles memorialised accounts pages whose owner has been reported deceased, but that are kept on the social network in their memory. Memorialisation of accounts allows for treasured images, videos and posts to be kept online, as well as providing a focal point for grieving friends and relatives to share memories. But the feature has caused its fair share of pain: since the account is kept on the social network and treated similarly to any …

Sri Lanka’s social media blackout reflects sense that online dangers outweigh benefits

Features that make Facebook so useful for spreading information have also made it potentially dangerous The Sri Lankan governments killed more than 200 people are concluded, the government said. Non-Facebook social media services dominant platforms in the country. For Facebook in particular, Sri Lankas decision represents a remarkable comedown from a time, less than three years ago, when Facebook was viewed as one of the worlds most important emergency response institutions, as safety check product and its suite of tools enabling the rapid dissemination of information and live video were at the time viewed as a potential boon to global disaster response. Survivors could use Facebook to mark themselves safe; governments could use Facebook to broadcast live updates; and NGOs …

Todays News: Read the Mueller Report; Change Your Instagram Password

Tech news you can use, in two minutes or less: The Mueller Report is much worse for Trump than Barr let on The full (but redacted) Mueller Report is finally here, in its 448 pages of glory. There are lots of takeaways, but the bottom line is the report is much more damaging to Trump than Trump-appointed attorney general William Barr initially said. Facebook exposed millions of Instagram passwords Last month, Facebook revealed they had accidentally saved millions of Facebook passwords in a way that allowed company employees to see them. Today they admitted that millions more Instagram users were affected than the company originally thought. Now would be an excellent time to change yours. WIRED Recommends: Marmot Eclipse Rain …

Hundreds of millions of Facebook records exposed on public servers report

Material discovered on Amazon cloud servers in latest example of Facebook letting third parties extract user data More than 540m Facebook records were left exposed on public internet servers, cybersecurity researchers said on Wednesday, in just the latest security black eye for the company. Researchers for the firm UpGuard discovered two separate sets of Facebook user data on public Amazon cloud servers, the company detailed in a Bloomberg, which first reported the leak, contacted Facebook. The smaller dataset was taken offline during UpGuards investigation. The data exposure is not the result of a breach of Facebooks systems. Rather, it is another example, akin to the privacy-focused platform are hampered by its own past practices and what UpGuard researchers called the …

Facebook Can Make VR Avatars Lookand MoveExactly Like You

"There's this big, ugly sucker at the door," the young woman says, her eyes twinkling, "and he said, 'Who do you think you are, Lena Horne?' I said no but that I knew Miss Horne like a sister." It's the beginning of a short soliloquy from Walton Jones' play The 1940's Radio Hour, and as she continues with the monologue it's easy to see that the young woman knows what she's doing. Her smile grows while she goes on to recount the doorman's change of tune—like she's letting you in on the joke. Her lips curl as she seizes on just the right words, playing with their cadence. Her expressions are so finely calibrated, her reading so assured, that with …

Mark Zuckerbergs Facebook mission statement hides his real aim | Emily Bell

Social media founders proclaim their idealism, like modern day messiahs. Yet all they want is global market domination It is hard to remember that there was a blissful time, not so long ago, when company chief executives were anonymous creatures who rarely communicated with the outside world and, when they did, it was through the unengaging medium of a corporate press release. As with many other perfectly good practices, such as working an eight-hour day and going outside for lunch, Silicon Valley has put an end to this. Company statements are often personal homilies and meditations on themselves, their businesses and the world they are imperceptibly improving. Every public statement must contain an epiphany; every earnings announcement, a TED talk. …

5Gs Potential Health Hazard, Zucks Deleted Posts, and More News

Tech news you can use, in two minutes or less: 5G: Cool for your cellphone, terrible for your health? 5G, the cell phone network that promises to exponentially increase data speeds for all, might help load a web page faster but could also hurt your health. It turns out your sweat glands act kind of like antennas in response to the high frequency waves planned to be used in the service, and funding for research on the health effects is relatively slim. 5G is still in its infancy in the US though, so here's to hoping research about its potential health hazards catch up with the technology itself. Facebook had a hell of a weekend Over the weekend, Facebook poked …

Facebook’s Pivot to Privacy Is Missing Something Crucial

If there’s one choice that Facebook has made repeatedly over the past 15 years, it’s been to prioritize growth over privacy. Users were consistently encouraged to make more of their information public than they were comfortable with. The settings to make things public were always a bit easier to use than the ones to make things private. Data was collected that you didn’t have any idea was being collected and shared in ways you had no idea it was being shared. Sometimes data was just suddenly made public all at once. They were the choices of a young man, secure in himself, and confident in the goodwill of the rest of the Internet. They were the choices of someone building …

This Telecom Upstarts 5G Tech Gets a Boost From Facebook

AT&T and Verizon are slowly trickling out the next generation of wireless networks, known as 5G, in parts of a few cities. But even as the major carriers prepare larger 5G launches, San Francisco based startup Common Networks is hoping that it can compete with bigger telecom companies by combining 5G with technology open sourced by Facebook. Common Networks is using 5G to offer home, as opposed to mobile, broadband, essentially competing with internet providers such as AT&T and Comcast. In the city of Alameda, next to Oakland, it has been quietly using a core 5G technology, millimeter wave, to deliver speeds of 1 gigabit per second, equivalent to Google Fiber's signature home broadband service, for $50 a month. These …

Facebook criticised after women complain of inaction over abuse

Amnesty says social media firm must do more to support users who report harassment Human rights campaigners have called for action after a survey revealed that more than half of the reports that women lodge about harassment on Facebook are met with no action from the social media company. The Survation poll, commissioned by the feminist campaign group Level Up, found that 29% of the 1,000 women who took part had been harassed on Facebook. A spokesperson for Amnesty International UK said the extremely worrying findings were indicative of a new frontier of human rights abuses which are often unaddressed: Time and time again we hear social media companies making pledges that they will do better, but their efforts have …

From self-harm to terrorism, online recommendations cast a deadly shadow | John Naughton

The tragic case of Molly Russell has highlighted their malign influence My eye was caught by a headline in Wired magazine: Custodians of the Internet, Gillespies excellent book on the moderation of online content, I might also be interested in Safiya Umoja Nobles Molly Russell, the young teenager who sought out images of self-harm before she took her own life in 2017. It was later discovered, the authors report, that these images were also being delivered to her, recommended by her favourite social media platforms. Her Instagram feed was full of them. Even in the months after her death, Pinterest continued to send her automated emails, its algorithms automatically recommending graphic images of self-harm, including a slashed thigh and cartoon …