Facebook Content Oversight Board Announces First Round Of Rulings: The board, which was established last year to review content moderation decisions for the social network, overruled four out of five of Facebook’s decisions to remove posts containing hate speech, the incitement of violence, misinformation, and adult nudity; the board is also set to soon rule on Facebook’s recent decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.
WhatsApp Implements Biometric Authentication For Desktop Logins: The messaging service announced that users who employ biometric authentication to access the app on their phones will now be required to authenticate access to the phone app before logging into the web browser or desktop versions of the service; the move is intended to ensure that anyone who might obtain access to another’s phone cannot link the phone user’s account to their own web browser.
CCPA Inspires Global Privacy Opt-Out Standard: Provisions in the California Consumer Privacy Act that provide consumers a right to opt-out of having their personal information sold by websites they visit have given rise to a new privacy standard, known as Global Privacy Control, which is designed to function as a single-click, automated global opt-out mechanism that enables internet users to signify to sites that they don’t want their data collected and shared.
Information Security and Cyberthreats
Data Breaches Down In 2020: A report from the Identity Theft Research Center indicates that there were fewer data breaches in 2020 than in previous years, but that cyber criminals were still able to run lucrative schemes by leveraging previously stolen data or engaging in ransomware attacks; according to the report, the approximately 1,100 data breaches in 2020 affected 300 million individuals—but those numbers do not account for yet-unknown incidents or recent attacks for which the full impact is still uncertain, such as the SolarWinds hack.
Free Expression and Censorship
Stock-Talk Channels Suspended, Reinstated, In Wake Of GameStop Stock Run: Instant messaging service Discord banned the WallStreetBets server for allegedly hosting “occasional content that violates [its] Community Guidelines,” but is now working with a WallStreetBets team to moderate a new server; similarly, the WallStreetBets subreddit went private for a period of time due to “technical difficulties based on the unprecedented scale as a result of the newfound interest in” the forum.
Facebook To Stop Recommending Political And Civic Groups: As part of an effort to prevent “fighting and politics” from taking over its platform and “to make sure the communities people connect with are healthy and positive,” Facebook announced that it would stop recommending “political and civic groups” among the types of pages for users to follow.
2016 Election Misinformation Spreader Charged With Voter Suppression: Federal authorities charged the alt-right figure who went by the pseudonym Ricky Vaughn with conspiracy to “disseminate misinformation designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote” during the 2016 election cycle by, among other things, designing meme-based misinformation campaigns that encouraged people to vote using illegitimate methods, such as by posting their votes on Facebook or Twitter or through text messages; the use of social media messages in this case could amount to a “tectonic shift in how the federal government tries to enforce laws against election interference.”
On the Lighter Side
Spotify Wants To Know How You’re Feeling: A patent for speech-recognition technology granted to the music streaming service would enable it to detect listeners’ emotions and recommend appropriate music based on characteristics of listeners’ speech, including “intonation, stress, [and] rhythm.”
Academic Director, Fordham CLIP
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP