Meta has launched a new, free online digital security and safety training course for journalists and human rights defenders, which takes participants through a range of key elements to help protect their privacy, counter harassment and more.
As explained by Meta:
“Supported by the Meta Journalism Project, the self-paced 90-minute course will teach journalists and human rights defenders how to protect their digital assets and increase the security of their operations.”
Course modules include
- Laying a strong digital security foundation
- Secure social media usage
- How to report from difficult situations in a secure fashion
- Countering online harassment
Journalists and civil society advocates will soon also be able to participate in a series of webinars on digital security to further enhance their learning.
The course couldn’t be more timely, with Russian authorities now banning social media platforms and news outlets over what it claims has been misreporting of its invasion into Ukraine.
Both Facebook and Twitter have been blocked for Russian users (Instagram and WhatsApp remain active), while the BBC is one of several major news outlets that’s been forced to shut down its Russian operations due to a recent law change which ‘appears to criminalize the process of independent journalism’ in Russia.
Amid efforts to control what journalists can and cannot report, maintaining safety for correspondents is crucial, and this course will help improve digital literacy, in order to maximize online sources without putting yourself or your contacts at undue risk.
It’s a good initiative, and hopefully it will enable more journalists to better understand their options in this respect.
You can read more about Meta’s new security and safety training course here.
Meta’s Adding More Ad Targeting Information to its Ad Library Listings
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytics scandal, Meta has implemented a range of data protection measures to ensure that it limits access to users’ personal data and insight, while at the same time, it’s also been working to provide more transparency into how its systems are being used by different groups to target their messaging.
These conflicting approaches require a delicate balance, one which Meta has largely been able to maintain via its Ad Library, which enables anyone to see any ad being run by any Facebook Page in the recent past.
Now, Meta’s looking to add to that insight, with new information being added to the Ad Library on how Pages are using social issue, electoral or political ads in their process.
As you can see here, the updated Ad Library overview will include more specific information on how each advertiser is using these more sensitive targeting options, which could help researchers detect misuse or report concerns.
As explained by Meta:
“At the end of this month, detailed targeting information for social issue, electoral or political ads will be made available to vetted academic researchers through the Facebook Open Research and Transparency (FORT) environment […] Coming in July, our publicly available Ad Library will also include a summary of targeting information for social issue, electoral or political ads run after launch. This update will include data on the total number of social issue, electoral and political ads a Page ran using each type of targeting (such as location, demographics and interests) and the percentage of social issue, electoral and political ad spend used to target those options.”
That’s a significant update for Meta’s ad transparency efforts, which will help researchers better understand key trends in ad usage, and how they relate to messaging resonance and response.
Meta has come under scrutiny over such in the past, with independent investigations finding that housing ads, for example, were illegally using race-based exclusions in their ad targeting. That led to Meta changing its rules on how its exclusions can be used, and this new expansion could eventually lead to similar, by making discriminatory ad targeting easier to identify, with direct examples from Meta’s system.
For regular advertisers, it could also give you some additional insight into your competitors’ tactics. You might find more detailed information on how other brands are honing in on specific audiences, which may not be discriminatory, but may highlight new angles for your own marketing efforts.
It’s a good transparency update, which should glean significant benefits for researchers trying to better understand how Meta’s intricate ad targeting system is being used in various ways.
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