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VentureBeat

After boycotts, advertisers and social media giants agree on steps to curb hate speech

(Reuters) — Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have agreed on first steps to curb harmful content online, big advertisers announced on Wednesday, following boycotts of social media platforms accused of tolerating hate speech. Under the deal, announced by the World Federation of Advertisers, common definitions would be adopted for forms of harmful content such as hate speech and bullying, and platforms would adopt harmonized reporting standards. The deal comes less than six weeks before a polarizing U.S. presidential election. Three months ago, major advertisers boycotted Facebook in the wake of anti-racism demonstrations that followed the death of George Floyd, an American Black man, in police custody in Minneapolis. Advertisers have complained for years that big social media companies do too little to prevent ads from appearing alongside hate speech, fake news, and other harmful content. Big tech companies have begun taking steps to fend off calls for more regulation. The platforms agreed to have some practices reviewed by external auditors and to give advertisers more control over what content is displayed alongside their ads. “This is a significant milestone in the journey to rebuild trust online,” said Luis Di Como, executive vice president of global media at Unilever, one of the world’s biggest advertisers. “Whilst change doesn’t happen overnight, today marks an important step in the right direction.” Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president for Global Marketing Solutions, said the agreement “has aligned the industry on the brand safety floor and suitability framework, giving us all a unified language to move forward…Continue readingAfter boycotts, advertisers and social media giants agree on steps to curb hate speech

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Wired

Democracy Will Only Work If the Social Media Giants Grow Up

Last weekend, the president of the United States urged Americans to vote twice in the upcoming election. This brazen—and illegal—suggestion spread quickly across social media and once again underscored the unprecedented risks of this election season: the Covid-19 pandemic, an onslaught of disinformation, and online echo chambers stoking vitriol that could turn to violence. With more Americans than ever working, going to school, and gathering online, social media platforms have an urgent responsibility to step up in order to ensure the integrity of this election. So far, they haven’t done nearly enough. As a former chair of the Federal Elections Commission, this is an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. During my tenure I made the changing role of technology in our elections a major focus. I know there’s a road map to protect our elections. Unfortunately, the FEC does not even have a quorum currently, and therefore cannot take action on this. Quorum or no quorum, the FEC has been discussing online advertising for five years and failed to regulate the industry in any way. Protecting the 2020 election requires social media companies to act now. WIRED OPINION ABOUT Ann Ravel is the former chair of the Federal Election Commission and the Digital Deception project director at MapLight. She is a Democratic candidate for the California State Senate. To be sure, companies across Silicon Valley have taken some important steps. Facebook’s Voting Information Center, Twitter’s expansion of its civic integrity policy, and YouTube’s crackdown on videos using…Continue readingDemocracy Will Only Work If the Social Media Giants Grow Up

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TechCrunch

Conan O’Brien on how to embrace an ever-changing media landscape – TechCrunch

“Like most of the best things in my life,” Conan O’Brien explains, with a wry smile, “the success of the podcast was a complete surprise.” The answer is a typically self-effacing one from the comedian. Since launching “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” nearly two years ago, the show has quickly risen up the podcasting charts to become one of the country’s most popular. For those who have followed his 30-odd-year career in entertainment, it’s easy to see why. Quick-witted and almost superhumanly affable, the transition to podcasting seems almost a given in retrospect. After all, hosting a series of late-night network talk shows for decades isn’t exactly starting from scratch when it comes to launching a new entertainment venture. Nor, for that matter, is having tens of millions of Twitter followers and your own online media company, Team Coco. Not that things have always been easy. A long-promised Tonight Show slot wasn’t all he’d hoped for, leading to a very public exit from the most-coveted show in late night after just under eight months. It was the shortest tenure in the series’ history, culminating in a televised “exit interview” with Steve Carrell that found The Office star shredding his NBC badge. But O’Brien’s late-night hiatus was short-lived. Later that year, he returned with TBS’ Conan, which will celebrate its 10th year on the air in November (and is renewed at least through 2022). The 2018 launch of “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” found the comedian embracing the new-found freedom of…Continue readingConan O’Brien on how to embrace an ever-changing media landscape – TechCrunch

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Wired

How to Break Out of Your Social Media Echo Chamber

Many people love social media because their feeds are a safe space to share pictures of celebrities who #stayhome wearing masks, discuss the Black Lives Matter protests, and strategize to solve climate change. And many people love social media because their feeds are a safe pace to share pictures of celebrities #tricked into wearing masks, discuss the Black Lives Matter rioters, and strategize to stop the climate change hoax. It’s a tale of two feeds, because thanks to confirmation bias and powerful proprietary algorithms, social media platforms ensure we only get a single side of every story. Even though most Americans continue to describe themselves as holding balanced views, we still naturally gravitate toward certain content online. Over time, algorithms turn slight preferences into a polarized environment in which only the loudest voices and most extreme opinions on either side can break through the noise. What Is Confirmation Bias? Confirmation bias is the natural human tendency to seek, interpret, and remember new information in accordance with preexisting beliefs. Consider it our brains’ default setting. Just by going through life, humans discover all sorts of information through focused research, general experience, and wild hunches—and it feels especially good to our brains when what we learn matches what we already expected. Also called “myside bias,” confirmation bias is an innate, universal trait that shows up across cultures. It’s a part of all of us, although once we acknowledge its presence we can take steps to diminish the hold it has on our…Continue readingHow to Break Out of Your Social Media Echo Chamber

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TechCrunch

SmartNews’ Kaisei Hamamoto on how the app deals with media polarization – TechCrunch

Six years ago, SmartNews took on a major challenge. After launching in Japan in 2012, the news discovery app decided that its first international market would be the United States. During Disrupt, co-founder Kaisei Hamamoto talked about how SmartNews adapts its app for two very different markets. Hamamoto, who is also chief operating officer and chief engineer of the startup, which hit unicorn status last year, also dove into how the company deals with media polarization, especially in the United States. At Disrupt, SmartNews announced a roster of major new features for the U.S. version of the app, including sections dedicated to voting information and articles related to local and national elections. Hamamoto said the SmartNews’ goal is to make the app a “one-stop solution for users’ participation in the election process.” The media landscape has changed a lot since SmartNews was founded in 2012. In the U.S., SmartNews is tackling the same issues as many journalists are: increasing polarization, especially along political lines, and monetization (SmartNews currently has more than 3,000 publishing partners around the world and splits ad revenue with them). And, of course, it’s up against a host of new competitors, including Apple News and Google News. While many Japanese startups focus on other Asian markets when expanding internationally, SmartNews decided to enter the United States because it is home to some of the most influential media companies in the world. On the engineering side, Hamamoto said the company also wanted to tap into the country’s AI…Continue readingSmartNews’ Kaisei Hamamoto on how the app deals with media polarization – TechCrunch

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Tech Radar

Virgin Media launch new 4G plans to keep UK SMBs connected

Virgin Media is expanding its small business and home office portfolio with the launch of converged networking products that promise to keep customers connected even if there is an issue with their fixed line broadband.   The ‘4G Back-Up’ service provides SMBs with a 4G dongle that plugs into an existing Virgin Media router. Should anything happen to the wired broadband connection, the router will automatically switch to the mobile network, minimising disruption. The service costs £7 a month with any fibre package and there are no data restrictions. Although Virgin Media says an issue is unlikely, it has suffered a number of significant outages in the past – most notably in July.  Meanwhile, ‘4G Start-Up’ also provides SMBs with a dongle that can be used until Virgin Media has completed the engineering work for a new connection. This ensures businesses can remain connected if they move premises or are switching from another provider. 4G Start-Up is £40 a month with any business broadband package. Both complement the recently launched ‘HomeWorks’ service which provides home workers with “busines-grade” engineering support, IT assistance, and security. The Coronavirus pandemic has seen millions of people work from home rather than commute to the office and with lockdown restrictions still in place, there is acknowledgement that this could become a long-term trend. While the UK’s broadband infrastructure has largely remained resilient despite the additional demand, many organisations are now looking to move beyond ‘ad-hoc’ measures and ensure that employees have access to sufficient, reliable…Continue readingVirgin Media launch new 4G plans to keep UK SMBs connected

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The Verge

Trump nominates social media hawk as next FCC commissioner

President Donald Trump has nominated longtime telecom lawyer Nathan Simington to be the Federal Communications Commission’s next commissioner, as reported by Law360. Last week, The Verge first reported that Simington had emerged as a leading candidate to replace current Republican Commissioner Mike O’Rielly. Simington, a senior adviser at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), played a significant role in drafting a petition required under the Trump administration’s social media executive order issued over the summer. The order instructs the FCC, after receiving NTIA’s petition, to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The order was issued in May after Twitter fact-checked two of Trump’s tweets that made false statements about mail-in voting. It is unclear when the FCC intends to roll out a formal notice of proposed rulemaking and vote on the measure. Simington’s nomination marks a significant break in the Trump administration’s former FCC nominations. Previously, the administration has nominated Republican commissioners in favor of light-touch telecommunications and technology policy. O’Rielly was previously nominated for a third-term by Trump, but his nomination was abruptly withdrawn after he made a speech expressing concerns over the administration’s social media order that would empower the FCC to take a unique role in regulating content moderation on social media platforms. “As a conservative, I’m troubled voices are stifled by liberal tech leaders,” O’Rielly tweeted in May. “At same time, I’m extremely dedicated to First Amendment which governs much here.” If Simington’s nomination is approved in the Senate, the FCC would have…Continue readingTrump nominates social media hawk as next FCC commissioner

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Engadget

Funimation partners with VIZ Media to expand its streaming anime catalog

Two of the biggest anime distributors in the US are teaming up. On Wednesday, Funimation announced that it’s working with VIZ Media to bring the publisher’s catalog of anime titles to its streaming service. Some of the more notable shows making their way to Funimation with the deal include 2018 sci-fi boxing anime Megalo Box and Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. The latter was penned by Psycho-Pass and Madoka Magica creator Gen Urobuchi. They’ll join existing titles from the VIZ Media catalog, such as Hunter x Hunter, on September 22nd, with more to come at a later date.   The move is likely to affect Crunchyroll, Funimation’s main competitor in the anime streaming space. One of the things to come out of Sony acquiring a majority stake in Funimation back in 2017 was Crunchyroll losing access to Funimation’s back catalog. Source linkContinue readingFunimation partners with VIZ Media to expand its streaming anime catalog

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Mashable

How to escape your social media bubble before the election

Mashable’s series Algorithms explores the mysterious lines of code that increasingly control our lives — and our futures. You live in an online bubble. But, you’re not alone. We all live in an online . Social media algorithms control much of what we see when we log into Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. Why? Why else! These social media companies are chasing after the almighty dollar. For Big Tech companies, it’s all about keeping you on these platforms for as long as they can, engaging with as much content as possible. They make more money from advertisers that way. So, for example, if you’re a big Donald Trump supporter and follow your favorite Fox News pundits, the social media algorithms are going to recommend to you more right-wing pundits to watch and more pro-Trump content to consume. The consequences: skewed worldviews for those unknowingly living in an algorithm-devised bubble.  With the 2020 U.S. presidential election coming up, step out of your bubble. It’s time to understand what’s playing out, so at the very least, you won’t be (that) surprised by whatever the outcome is on Election Day. Here are some steps to take to start popping your social media bubbles. 1. Realize you’re in a bubble Much of what we see on our social media news feeds and timelines are a product of what accounts we follow, what channels we subscribe to, and what content we share and like. Based on that, you may think we’re in charge, that…Continue readingHow to escape your social media bubble before the election

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VentureBeat

Twitter labels deepfake video shared by Trump aide as ‘manipulated media’

Twitter labeled a tweet by White House director of social media Dan Scavino as “manipulated media” today. The original, unaltered video shows Harry Belafonte asleep in an interview with a local TV station. The video shared by Scavino replaces Belafonte’s face with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The Scavino video has been seen more than one million times since being shared roughly one day ago on Twitter. CBS Sacramento anchor John Dabkovich tweeted that he knew the video was a fake six hours ago. At the time this story was published, Twitter hasn’t removed the video, and Scavino has not deleted the post sharing the doctored video. Twitter introduced its synthetic and manipulated media policy in February, and considers whether shared content is manipulated with editing to be deceptive or capable of causing serious harm. Whether a video is labeled or removed entirely is decided on a case-by-case basis. Accounts associated with repeat offenses of the synthetic and manipulated media policy can be permanently suspended, according to the policy. This is fake. You know how I know? I was the coanchor in studio. We were interviewing Harry Belafonte. https://t.co/gPRU9JGyI7 — John Dabkovich (@JohnDabkovich) August 31, 2020 Scavino was the first known Twitter user to have a tweet labeled as manipulated media for sharing an altered video in March which Trump retweeted that falsely depicts Biden endorsing Trump. A former Trump golf caddie and longtime aide to President Trump, Scavino was appointed to White House social media director earlier this year…Continue readingTwitter labels deepfake video shared by Trump aide as ‘manipulated media’