Odds and Ends 

What history could tell Mark Zuckerberg

Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg obsessed over the wrong bit of history. Or else didn’t study his preferred slice of classical antiquity carefully enough, faced, as he now is, with an existential crisis of ‘fake news’ simultaneously undermining trust in his own empire and in democracy itself. A recent New Yorker profile — questioning whether the Facebook founder can fix the creation he pressed upon the world before the collective counter-pressure emanating from his billions-strong social network does for democracy what Brutus did to Caesar — touched in passing on Zuckerberg’s admiration for Augustus, the first emperor of…

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UK parliament seizes cache of internal Facebook documents to further privacy probe

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may yet regret underestimating a UK parliamentary committee that’s been investigating the democracy-denting impact of online disinformation for the best part of this year — and whose repeat requests for facetime he’s just as repeatedly snubbed. In the latest high gear change, reported in yesterday’s Observer, the committee has used parliamentary powers to seize a cache of documents pertaining to a US lawsuit to further its attempt to hold Facebook to account for misuse of user data. Facebook’s oversight — or rather lack of it — where…

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Zuckerberg rejects facetime call for answers from five parliaments

Facebook has declined once again to send its CEO to the UK parliament — this time turning down an invitation to face questions from a grand committee comprised of representatives from five international parliaments. MPs from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK have joined forces to try to pile pressure on the company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to answer questions related to his “platform’s malign use in world affairs and democratic process”. The UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, which has been running an enquiry into online disinformation for the best…

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WhatsApp hits Indias Jio feature phones amidst fake news violence

False rumors forwarded on WhatsApp have led angry mobs to murder strangers in India, but the Facebook-owned chat app is still racing to add users in the country. Today it launched a feature phone version of WhatsApp for JioPhone 1 and 2’s KaiOS, which are designed to support 22 of India’s vast array of native languages. Users will be able to send text, photos, videos and voice messages with end-to-end encryption, though it will lack advanced features like augmented reality and Snapchat Stories-style Status updates. WhatsApp was supposed to launch…

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Facebook starts fact checking photos/videos, blocks millions of fake accounts per day

Facebook has begun letting partners fact check photos and videos beyond news articles, and proactively review stories before Facebook asks them. Facebook is also now preemptively blocking the creation of millions of fake accounts per day. Facebook revealed this news on a conference call with journalists [Update: and later a blog post] about its efforts around election integrity that included Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, who’s reportedly leaving Facebook later this year but claims he’s still committed to the company. A photo of Parkland shooting survivor Emma González ripping up…

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NYT reporter wonders how Twitter’s going to handle this fake news about Joe Biden being creepy

As Twitchy reported Monday, Twitter user Richard Armande Mills (@RAMRANTS) compiled a number of video clips showing former Vice President Biden interacting with women — often young women and girls — in creepy ways. You know, the hair sniffing thing. The New York Times’ Nicole Perlroth has caught wind of Mills’ thread and is wondering how Twitter is going to “handle” it. In the past 24 hours, a new alt-right fake news meme had emerged of Biden as predator. How will @twitter handle? https://t.co/AfOCnJLu0D — Nicole Perlroth (@nicoleperlroth) November 14, 2017 “A…

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