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Will Facebook’s Coming ‘Oversight Board’ See it Change its Approach on Political Content?

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As Facebook continues to grapple with tough questions around what should and should not be allowed on its platforms, its new Content Oversight Board, which will help relieve some of the pressure on Zuck and Co. around such rulings, is still working through its initial training and onboarding phase, which has been slowed slightly by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the Oversight Board is watching over the current situation:

“The events in the United States have been deeply painful to watch for all our Members. As an organization with a global scope and focus on free expression and human rights, we recognize that many communities around the world are confronting other crises at this moment, but it is impossible to ignore what is happening on the streets of US cities.”

Eventually, the Oversight Board, which is made up of a range of experts in various fields, including civil rights, constitutional law and politics, will help Facebook determine the best way forward on its content rulings, which will include those relating to content posted by political leaders. 

But while Facebook could use that additional insight right now, it’s not ready yet.

‘We are not in an immediate position to make decisions on issues like those we see unfolding today,’ the board says, but:

“When the Board goes operational, we will not shy away from tough decisions and intend to act without consideration of Facebook’s economic, political or reputational interests. We are not here to defend Facebook and will be transparent in the decisions we make and the changes we call on the company to make to protect free expression, users and society.”

As present, the Board is going through the final stages of training, which includes instructions on the new Case Management Tool that Facebook has created to facilitate the Board’s work. The Board expects to be up and running by the end of this year – which could mean that it will be in place in time for the US Election, and the various rulings that will likely be required in the election campaign.

It could end up providing a significant boost to Facebook’s efforts in this respect – and it may well be that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is currently deferring any significant changes in its existing policies on such until the Board is operational. 

But then again, Facebook will always have the capacity to overule the Board’s decisions.  

As the Board notes:

“The Oversight Board was created to make binding and independent decisions on the most challenging content issues on Facebook and Instagram. As such, how Facebook treats posts from public figures that may violate their community standards are within the scope of the Board, and are the type of highly challenging cases that the Board expects to consider when we begin operating in the coming months.”

But as has been also explained previously:

“Facebook is committed to implementing the board’s decision on individual pieces of content within seven days, as outlined in the bylaws. Facebook will also assess the technical and operational feasibility of applying the decision to identical content with parallel context. When the board provides an additional policy recommendation, Facebook will review that guidance.”

So Facebook is only committing to action on individual posts, it won’t necessarily have to implement any policy changes as the Board advises.  

Still, it will add an extra check to Facebook’s process, and could end up being a significant difference-maker in issues like those the platform is currently facing.

We’ll have to wait and see how that relationship works in practice, but for those calling for change, it may still be coming – even if Zuckerberg himself is standing firm on his position.

Socialmediatoday.com

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The Most Visited Websites in the World – 2023 Edition [Infographic]

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The Most Visited Websites in the World - 2023 Edition [Infographic]

Google remains the most-visited website in the world, while Facebook is still the most frequented social platform, based on web traffic. Well, actually, YouTube is, but YouTube’s only a partial social app, right?

The findings are displayed in this new visualization from Visual Capitalist, which uses SimilarWeb data to show the most visited websites in bubble chart format, highlighting the variance in traffic.

As you can see, following Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the next most visited social platforms, which is likely in line with what most would expect – though the low numbers for TikTok probably stand out, given its dominance of modern media zeitgeist.

But there is a reason for that – this data is based on website visits, not app usage, so platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, which are primarily focused on the in-app experience, won’t fare as well in this particular overview.

In that sense, it’s interesting to see which social platforms are engaging audiences via their desktop offerings.

You can check out the full overview below, and you can read Visual Capitalist’s full explainer here.

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Cheeky branding wins (and missteps)

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Cheeky branding wins (and missteps)

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Branding and rebranding is getting more fun, here we look at some of cheekiest brands that have caught our eye – for the right and wrong reasons.



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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

Over the past year, Google has repeatedly noted that a China-based group has been looking to use YouTube, in particular, to influence western audiences, by building various channels in the app, then seeding them with pro-China content.

There’s limited info available on the full origins or intentions of the group, but today, Google has published a new overview of its ongoing efforts to combat the initiative, called DRAGONBRIDGE.

As explained by Google:

In 2022, Google disrupted over 50,000 instances of DRAGONBRIDGE activity across YouTube, Blogger, and AdSense, reflecting our continued focus on this actor and success in scaling our detection efforts across Google products. We have terminated over 100,000 DRAGONBRIDGE accounts in the IO network’s lifetime.

As you can see in this chart, DRAGONBRIDGE is by far the most prolific source of coordinated information operations that Google has detected over the past year, while Google also notes that it’s been able to disrupt most of the project’s attempted influence, by snuffing out its content before it gets seen.

Dragonbridge

Worth noting the scale too – as Google notes, DRAGONBRIDGE has created more than 100,000 accounts, which includes tens of thousands of YouTube channels. Not individual videos, entire channels in the app, which is a huge amount of work, and content, that this group is producing.

That can’t be cheap, or easy to keep running. So they must be doing it for a reason.

The broader implication, which has been noted by various other publications and analysts, is that DRAGONBRIDGE is potentially being supported by the Chinese Government, as part of a broader effort to influence foreign policy approaches via social media apps. 

Which, at this kind of scale, is a concern, while DRAGONBRIDGE has also targeted Facebook and Twitter as well, at different times, and it could be that their efforts on those platforms are also reaching similar activity levels, and may not have been detected as yet.

Which then also relates to TikTok, a Chinese-owned app that now has massive influence over younger audiences in western nations. If programs like this are already in effect, it stands to reason that TikTok is also likely a key candidate for boosting the same, which remains a key concern among regulators and officials in many nations.

The US Government is reportedly weighing a full TikTok ban, and if that happens, you can bet that many other nations will follow suit. Many government organizations are also banning TikTok on official devices, based on advice from security experts, and with programs like DRAGONBRIDGE also running, it does seem like Chinese-based groups are actively operating influence and manipulation programs in foreign nations.

Which seems like a significant issue, and while Google is seemingly catching most of these channels before they have an impact, it also seems likely that this is only one element of a larger push.

Hopefully, through collective action, the impact of such can be limited – but for TikTok, which still reports to Chinese ownership, it’s another element that could raise further questions and scrutiny.

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