Facebook Still Working to Remove All Videos of New Zealand Terrorist Attack

Facebook is continuing to work to remove all video of the mass shooting in New Zealand which the perpetrator livestreamed Friday, the company said Sunday.

“We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues,” Mia Garlick of Facebook New Zealand said in a statement Sunday.

Garlick said that the company is currently working to remove even edited versions of the original video which do not contain graphic content, “Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities.”

In the 24 hours following the mass shooting, which left 50 people dead, Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of the attack, of which 1.2 million were blocked at upload, the company said.

Facebook’s most recent comments follow criticism of the platform after the shooter not only livestreamed the 17 graphic minutes of his rampage, using a camera mounted on his helmet, but also had posted a 74-page white supremacist manifesto on Facebook.

Earlier Sunday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference that there were “further questions to be answered” by Facebook and other social media platforms.

“We did as much as we could to remove or seek to have removed some of the footage that was being circulated in the aftermath of this terrorist attack. Ultimately, though, it has been up to those platforms to facilitate their removal and support their removal,” she said.

The attack came during Friday prayers when the Al Noor Mosque and the nearby Linwood Mosque were filled with hundreds of worshippers. The victims of Friday’s shooting included immigrants from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Social Media Scramble to Remove New Zealand Suspect’s Video

They built their services for sharing, allowing users to reach others around the world. Now they want people to hold back.  

 

Facebook and other social media companies battled their own services on Friday as they tried to delete copies of a video apparently recorded by the gunman as he killed 49 people and wounded scores of others in the attack on two New Zealand mosques Friday.  

 

The video was livestreamed on the suspect’s Facebook account and later reposted on other services.  

 

According to news reports, Facebook took down the livestream of the attack 20 minutes after it was posted and removed the suspect’s accounts. But people were able to capture the video and repost it on other sites, including YouTube, Twitter and Reddit.  

 

YouTube has tweeted that it is “working to remove any violent footage.” A post from one user on Reddit asks others not to “post the videos. If you see the videos, bring it to the moderators’ attention.” 

 

Criticism of pace

 

Despite the companies’ quick actions, they still came under fire for not being fast enough. Critics said the platforms should have better systems in place to locate and remove content, instead of a system that helps others facilitate its spread once something is posted. 

 

One critic, Tom Watson, a member of the British Parliament and deputy leader of the Labor Party, called for YouTube to stop all new videos from being posted on the site if it could not stop the spread of the New Zealand video.  

Resistance to censorship

The companies’ race to stamp out the New Zealand video highlighted the dilemma that social media companies have faced, particularly as they have allowed livestreaming.  

 

Built on users’ content, Facebook, YouTube and others have long resisted the arduous task of censoring objectionable content.   

 

At hearings in Washington or in media interviews, executives of these firms have said that untrue information is in itself not against their terms of service.

Instead of removing information deemed fake or objectionable, social media companies have tried to frame the information with fact checking or have demoted the information on their sites, making it harder for people to find.

That is what Facebook appears to be doing with the anti-vaccination content on its site. Earlier this month, Facebook said it would curtail anti-vaccination information on its platforms, including blocking advertising that contains false information about vaccines. It did not say it would remove users expressing anti-vaccination content.

But sometimes the firms do remove accounts. Last year, Facebook, Twitter and others removed from their platforms Alex Jones, an American commentator, used for spreading conspiracy theories and stirring hatred.  

 

More monitors

 

In the past year, some social media companies have hired more people to monitor content so that issues are flagged faster, rather than having to wait for other users or the firm’s algorithms to flag objectionable content.

With the New Zealand shooting video, Facebook and other firms appeared to be in lockstep, saying they would remove the content as quickly as they found it.  

 

But there have been more calls for human and technical solutions that can quickly stop the spread of content across the internet. 

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Facebook Product Chief Cox to Leave in Latest Executive Exit

Facebook Inc said on Thursday Chief Product Officer Chris Cox will leave the social media network after 13 years, adding to a recent string of high-profile exits.

Also departing is WhatsApp Vice President Chris Daniels, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post. The company does not immediately plan to appoint anyone to fill Cox’s role in the near term, he said.

Cox, among the first Facebook hires, gained oversight of WhatsApp and Instagram following the exits of their founders. In September, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger resigned as chief executive officer and chief technical officer of the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook.

Jan Koum, the co-founder of WhatsApp, left in April last year.

“As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network. …This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through,” Cox said in a Facebook post.

Will Cathcart, vice president of product management, will now lead WhatsApp and Head of Video, Games and Monetization Fidji Simo will be the new head of the Facebook app, Zuckerberg said.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

US General: Google’s Work in China Benefiting China’s Military

The United States’ top general said on Thursday that the Chinese military was benefiting from the work Alphabet Inc’s Google was doing in China, where the technology giant has long sought to have a bigger presence.

“The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military,” Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

“We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit,” he said.

“Frankly, ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is, it is more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.”

Last year Google said it was no longer vying for a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the U.S. Defense Department, in part because the company’s new ethical guidelines do not align with the project.

In June, Google said it would not renew a contract to help the U.S. military analyze aerial drone imagery when it expires, as the company sought to defuse an internal uproar over the deal.

At the same time, Google said it has “no plans” to relaunch a search engine in China, though it is continuing to study the idea.

During the hearing, Republican Senator Josh Hawley sharply criticized the tech company, referring to it as “a supposedly American company.”

Technology companies have recently been a favorite target of many members of the U.S. Congress, who have criticized them over a wide range of issues such as privacy, work in China and allowing foreign meddling in U.S. elections.

Lawmakers and Google employees have raised concerns the company would comply with China’s internet censorship and surveillance policies if it re-enters the Asian nation’s search engine market.

Asked about Dunford’s comments, Google referred to previous statements.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has previously said the company has invested in China for years and plans to continue to do so, but that the company also was continuing to work with the U.S. government on projects in health care, cybersecurity and other fields.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Instagram Returns After Outage; Facebook Still Down for Some

Instagram is back up after suffering a partial outage for more than several hours, the photo-sharing social network platform said in a tweet, but its parent Facebook Inc.’s app still seemed to be down for some users around the globe.

Certain users had trouble in accessing widely used Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook apps earlier Wednesday, in one of the longest outages faced by the company in the recent past.

“Anddddd… we’re back,” Instagram tweeted:

Facebook did not provide an update.

Social media users in parts of United States, Japan and some parts Europe were affected by the outage, according to DownDetector’s live outage map. Facebook users, including brand marketers, expressed their outrage on Twitter with the #facebookdown hashtag.

“Ya’ll, I haven’t gotten my daily dosage of dank memes and I think that’s why I’m cranky. #FacebookDown,” a user Mayra Mesina tweeted. 

The Menlo Park, California-based company, which gets a vast majority of its revenue from advertising, told Bloomberg that it was still investigating the overall impact “including the possibility of refunds for advertisers.”

A Facebook spokesman confirmed the partial outage, but did not provide an update. The social networking site had issues for more than 12 hours, according to its developer’s page.

Facebook took to Twitter to inform users that it was working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and confirmed that the matter was not related to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

In a DDoS attack, hackers use computer networks they control to send such a large number of requests for information from websites that servers that host them can no longer handle the traffic and the sites become unreachable.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Facebook, Instagram Suffer Outages

Facebook says it is aware of outages on its platforms including Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, and is working to resolve the issue.

According to downdector.com, which monitors websites, the outages started around 12 p.m. E.T. on Wednesday in parts of the U.S., including the East and West Coast, parts of Europe and elsewhere. Both Facebook’s desktop site and app appeared to be affected. Some users saw a message that said Facebook was down for “required maintenance.”

Facebook did not say what was causing the outages, which were still occurring as of 2:15 p.m. E.T., or which regions were affected.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Spotify Files EU Antitrust Complaint Against Apple 

Spotify has filed a complaint with European Union antitrust regulators against Apple, saying the iPhone maker unfairly limits rivals to its own Apple Music streaming service. 

Spotify, which launched a year after the 2007 launch of the iPhone, said on Wednesday that Apple’s control of its App Store deprived consumers of choice and rival providers of audio streaming services to the benefit of Apple Music, which began in 2015. 

Central to Spotify’s complaint, filed with the European Commission on Monday, is what it says is a 30 percent fee Apple charges content-based service providers to use Apple’s in-app purchase system (IAP). 

Forced to raise price

Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s general counsel, said the company was pressured into using the billing system in 2014, but then was forced to raise the monthly fee of its premium service from 9.99 to 12.99 euros, just as Apple Music launched at Spotify’s initial 9.99 price. 

Spotify then ceased use of Apple’s IAP system, meaning Spotify customers could only upgrade to the fee-based package indirectly, such as on a laptop. 

Under App Store rules, Spotify said, content-based apps could not include buttons or external links to pages with production information, discounts or promotions and faced difficulties fixing bugs. Such restrictions do not apply to Android phones, it said. 

“Promotions are essential to our business. This is how we convert our free customers to premium,” Gutierrez said. 

Voice recognition system Siri would not hook iPhone users up to Spotify, and Apple declined to let Spotify launch an app on its Apple Watch, Spotify said. 

Spotify declined to say what economic damage it believed it had suffered. 

“We feel confident in the economic analysis we have submitted to the commission that we could have done better than we have done so far,” Gutierrez said. 

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Tech To Soon Offer Way for People to Interact Across Generations

Google, Amazon and Apple have capitalized on technology that makes virtual personal assistants possible.  Now a new application allows the user to have a virtual conversation with a video recording of a real person.  How does that work and why is it needed?  VOA’s Elizabeth Lee explains.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Self-driving Test Vehicle Added to Auto History Museum

One of General Motors’ first self-driving test vehicles is going on display at an automotive history museum in suburban Detroit.

The Henry Ford history attraction announced Tuesday that it has acquired a modified pre-production Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle.

The GM-donated vehicle originally made its debut testing on the streets of San Francisco in 2016. Now it will be displayed at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn.

 

The camera- and sensor-equipped vehicle is the first autonomous car to be added to The Henry Ford collection. It’ll be next to a 1959 Cadillac El Dorado at the “Driving America” exhibit, which chronicles the history of the automobile.

 

The Henry Ford President and CEO Patricia Mooradian says self-driving capabilities “will fundamentally change our relationship with the automobile.” She says the acquisition “is paramount in how we tell that story.”

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

At Age 30, World Wide Web Is ‘Not the Web We Wanted’

At the ripe old age of 30 and with half the globe using it, the World Wide Web is facing growing pains with issues like hate speech, privacy concerns and state-sponsored hacking, its creator says, trumpeting a call to make it better for humanity.

Tim Berners-Lee on Tuesday joined a celebration of the Web and reminisced about his invention at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, starting with a proposal published on March 12, 1989. It opened the way to a technological revolution that has transformed the way people buy goods, share ideas, get information and much more.

It’s also become a place where tech titans scoop up personal data, rival governments spy and seek to scuttle elections, and hate speech and vitriol have thrived — taking the Web far from its roots as a space for progress-oriented minds to collaborate.

As of late 2018, half of the world was online, with the other half often struggling to secure access.

Speaking at a “[email protected]” conference at CERN, Berners-Lee acknowledged that a sense among many who are already on the Web has become: “Whoops! The web is not the web we wanted in every respect.”

His World Wide Web Foundation wants to enlist governments, companies, and citizens to take a greater role in shaping the web for good under principles laid out in its “Contract for the Web.”

Under the contract, governments are called upon to make sure everyone can connect to the internet, to keep it available and to respect privacy. Companies are to make the internet affordable, respect privacy and develop technology that will put people — and the “public good” — first. Citizens are to create and to cooperate and respect “civil discourse,” among other things.

“The Contract for the Web is about sitting down in working groups with other people who signed up, and to say, ‘Ok, let’s work out what this really means,’” Berners-Lee said. It was unclear, however, how such rules would be enforced.

Berners-Lee cautioned it was important to strike a balance between oversight and freedom but difficult to agree what it should be.

“Where is the balance between leaving the tech companies to do the right thing and regulating them? Where is the balance between freedom of speech and hate speech?” he said.

The conference, which brought together Internet and tech experts, also gave CERN the chance to showcase its reputation as an open-source incubator of ideas. Berners-Lee worked there in the late 1980s, and had been determined to help bridge a communications and documentation gap among different computer platforms.

As a young English software engineer at CERN, Berners-Lee, who is now 63, came up with the idea for hypertext transfer protocol — the “http” that adorns web addresses — and other building blocks for the web.

The “http” system allowed text and small images to be retrieved through a piece of software — the first browser — which Berners-Lee released in 1990 and is considered the start of the web. In practice, the access to a browser on a home computer made the internet easily accessible to consumers for the first time.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Berners-Lee recalled how his research was helped his former boss at CERN, Mike Sendall, who wanted a pretext to buy a then-new Next computer by Steve Jobs’ Apple needed for his research.

Berners-Lee said Sendall told him to ”‘pick a random program to develop on it … Why don’t you do that hypertext thing?’”

Berners-Lee has since become a sort of father figure for the internet community, been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and named as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century by Time magazine.

While he now wants to get the debate going, other panelists expressed concerns like the increasing concentration of control of the internet by big corporate players, and fretted about a possible splintering of cyberspace among rival countries.

“The challenges come from the same things that make it (the Web) wonderful, and that’s the difficulty,” said conference panelist Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science.

“The openness is wonderful, the connectivity is wonderful, the fact that it was created as a network for academics who are kind of into trusting each other…” she said.

Now with the Web, “there’s an enormous amount of centralization going on, with a few big players becoming gatekeepers. Those few big players have built, basically, surveillance machines,” she said. “It’s based on surveillance profiling us and then targeting us for ads — which wasn’t the original idea at all.”

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

US Warns of WTO Action Over ‘Discriminatory’ New Digital Taxes

The U.S. is weighing a complaint at the World Trade Organization against “discriminatory” new taxes on digital giants such as a Facebook and Google which are being planned by France and other EU nations, a top US trade official said Tuesday.

“We think the whole theoretical basis of digital service taxes is ill-conceived and the effect is highly discriminatory against US-based multinationals,” Chip Harter, a Treasury official and US delegate for global tax talks, said in Paris.

Speaking ahead of two days of talks at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Harter added that “various parts of our government are studying whether that discriminatory impact would give us rights under trade agreements and WTO treaties.”

The OECD is spearheading talks aimed at forging a new global agreement on taxing technology and digital giants who often declare their income in low-tax nations, depriving other countries of billions in revenue.

But that overhaul is expected until next year at the earliest, prompting France, Britain, Spain, Austria and Italy to move ahead with their own versions of a so-called “digital services tax” as soon as this year.

Last week France unveiled draft legislation that would set a 3.0-percent levy on digital advertising, the sale of personal data and other revenue for tech groups with more than 750 million euros ($844 million) in worldwide revenue.

It would be applied retroactively from January 1, 2019, while the measures in the UK and other European countries might not come into effect until next year.

“We do understand there’s political pressure around the world to tax various international businesses more heavily, and we actually agreed that that is appropriate,” Harter told journalists.

“But we think it should be done on a broader basis than just selecting a particular industry,” he said.

 

 

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Apple: ‘It’s Show Time’ March 25, TV Service Announcement Expected

Apple on Monday invited media to a March 25 event at the Steve Jobs Theater on its campus in Cupertino, California, where it is expected to launch a television and video service.

Sources previously told Reuters that the company is targeting April for the launch of a streaming television service that will likely include subscription TV service.

Apple often launches products and services in the weeks following an event.

In its invitation, Apple did not specify the focus of the event and gave a single-line description: “It’s show time.”

Apple has long hinted at a planned video service, spending $2 billion in Hollywood to produce its own content and signing major stars such as Oprah Winfrey. Sources familiar with the matter earlier told Reuters that the service may resell subscriptions from CBS, Viacom and Lions Gate Entertainment’s Starz among others, as well as Apple’s own original content.

The TV service is expected to launch globally, an ambitious move to rival services from Netflix Inc and Amazon.com’s Prime Video. Apple’s App Store, where the service is likely to be distributed, is currently available in more than 100 countries.

The potential sales from a television service have become a focus of investors after Apple in January reported the first-ever dip in iPhone sales during the key holiday shopping period and said it would lower iPhone prices in some markets to account for foreign exchange rates.

Apple is also in discussions with HBO, part of AT&T-owned WarnerMedia, to become part of the service and it could yet make it in time for the launch, according to a person familiar with the matter.

While there is a chance Apple will update its iPads or Apple TV devices later this month, the event is likely to be Apple’s first major media event in which hardware is not the primary focus, said Ben Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies.

That is a big shift for Apple, which earlier this year moved to make its Apple Music services work on smart speakers from rivals such as Amazon and partnered with Samsung Electronics to let Samsung television owners watch video purchased from Apple on Samsung sets.

“I don’t look at that as saying Apple has given up on the (Apple smart speaker) HomePod or the Apple TV – those will be the products where Apple Music or an Apple movie experience work the best,” Bajarin said. “But Apple is smart to not limit the places people can consume their services.”

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!