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November 3, 2021

Facebook to shut down its facial recognition program

On Tuesday, Facebook announced an end to its facial recognition program amid growing concerns from users and regulators.

“There are many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society, and regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use,” Facebook said. “Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”

The social media platform, whose parent company is now called Meta, said it would delete more than 1 billion individual facial recognition templates. Additionally, Facebook will no longer automatically recognize people’s faces in photos or videos.

The move comes as former employee Frances Haugen released a collection of internal company documents to news outlets and lawmakers.

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Facebook plans to shut down its facial recognition program

October 17, 2021

Father calls on Facebook for action after video of his daughter’s murder resurfaces

TV news journalist Alison Parker was shot and killed while reporting in 2015, and video of her murder keeps resurfacing on Facebook and Instagram. Parker’s family asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action against the social media monolith for failing to remove video of her death.

Andy Parker, Alison’s father, said the company violates its terms of service in hosting videos on Facebook and Instagram that glorify violence.

In Aug. 2015, a former co-worker shot and killed Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward. The gunman recorded the shootings, and that’s the footage that keeps resurfacing on the platforms.

“The reality is that Facebook and Instagram put the onus on victims and their families to do the policing of graphic content — requiring them to relive their worst moments over and over to curb the proliferation of these videos,” the complaint reads.

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Slain reporters father takes on Facebook over video of shooting death

October 11, 2021

Most Americans believe rampant misinformation is a problem: poll

A new poll from The Pearson Institute and AP/NORC finds that almost all Americans agree that the rampant spread of misinformation is a problem and that social media platforms are mostly the cause.

A majority of 95 percent of respondents said that misinformation is an issue when trying to access important information. Roughly half blamed the US government, and about three-quarters blamed social media and tech companies.

There was a bipartisan difference among those who blame the government for the spread of misinformation. The poll found that 61 percent of Republicans say the government bears the brunt of responsibility for spreading misinformation, compared with 38 percent of Democrats.

“The AP-NORC poll is bad news for Facebook,” said Konstantin Sonin, a professor of public policy at the University of Chicago. “It makes clear that assaulting Facebook is popular by a large margin — even when Congress is split 50-50, and each side has its own reasons.”

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Americans agree misinformation is a problem, poll shows

October 5, 2021

Facebook whistleblower says the product is harmful for children, democracy

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen told Congress on Tuesday that the platform harms children and “weakens democracy” by fueling polarization in the US — and its executives, chiefly Mark Zuckerberg, refuse to change because they value profits above all.

Haugen, a former data scientist for the social media conglomerate, testified before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. She accused the company of being aware of apparent harm to some teens from Instagram and being dishonest in its public fight against hate and misinformation.

“Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy,” Haugen said. “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people.”

“Congressional action is needed,” she added. “They won’t solve this crisis without your help.”

Haugen’s work centered around algorithms, and she said a 2018 change resulted in more divisiveness and ill will in the network. Additionally, Haugen leaked research that indicates the harmful effects of Facebook’s photo-sharing platform, Instagram, on teens.

One internal study cited 13.5 percent of teen girls saying Instagram exacerbates suicidal thoughts and 17 percent saying it exacerbates eating disorders.

“Facebook knows that they are leading young users to anorexia content,” Haugen said. “It’s just like cigarettes. Teenagers don’t have any self-regulation. We need to protect the kids.”

“The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from the U.S. government and from governments around the world,” Haugen said. “The documents I have provided to Congress prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages.”

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Ex-Facebook employee says network hurts kids, fuels division

October 5, 2021

Facebook employees unable to enter buildings amid major social media outage

Various platforms owned by Facebook, including Instagram and WhatsApp, experienced major outages on Monday. As employees of the social media conglomerate attempted to access buildings to fix the outage, their digital badges failed to work.

“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products,” said Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Facebook. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

Some workers reported issues with making calls on work cell phones and receiving emails.

The outage comes a day after whistleblower Frances Haugen testified against Facebook, her former employer.

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Facebook employees’ badges not allowing them in buildings amid outage

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