Facebook Announces Steps To Stop Election Misinformation

In a CBS This Morning interview, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks with Gayle King about new measures the social media company is taking before the November election.

Among other measures, Facebook promises to flag – or in some cases, remove – misinformation about voting related to the coronavirus.

Zuckerberg also announced Facebook will not accept new political ads in the final week before the presidential election and will squash attempts by candidates who claim false victories by sending users to accurate voter returns on the results.

Guess What The Top Performing Political Facebook Posts Are?

New York Times tech journalist Kevin Roose explains how Donald Trump could very well win a second term in the White House.

Every morning, Roose checks the top-performing Facebook link posts by U.S. pages and shares them via a Twitter account.

If you’re a moderate, or land left of center politically, you may not be aware (or see) how Trump’s ‘silent majority’ is still out there.

From the New York Times:

Most days, the leader board looks roughly the same: conservative post after conservative post, with the occasional liberal interloper.

But what sticks out, when you dig in to the data, is just how dominant the Facebook right truly is. Pro-Trump political influencers have spent years building a well-oiled media machine that swarms around every major news story, creating a torrent of viral commentary that reliably drowns out both the mainstream media and the liberal opposition.

The result is a kind of parallel media universe that left-of-center Facebook users may never encounter, but that has been stunningly effective in shaping its own version of reality.

Inside the right-wing Facebook bubble, President Trump’s response to Covid-19 has been strong and effective, Joe Biden is barely capable of forming sentences, and Black Lives Matter is a dangerous group of violent looters.

Mr. Trump and his supporters are betting that, despite being behind Mr. Biden in the polls, a “silent majority” will carry him to re-election.

News Round-Up: August 1, 2020

Reichen and Chip win Season 4 of The Amazing Race (screen capture)

Some news items you might have missed:

Instinct Magazine: My colleague at my ‘other home’ has done a terrific round-up of LGBTQ reality show winners over the years including Amazing Race Season 4 champs Reichen and Chip (above). Hit the link for winning LGBTQ moments from Survivor, Big Brother and more.

Global News: Shane Daum, 43, reports he was gay-bashed by a group of seven individuals while camping in British Columbia. During the incident, the men (who recognized him from his local grocery store) held his dog as they beat him unconscious. He was treated for a concussion, but law enforcement says they aren’t pressing charges because there are “no independent witnesses to identify any particular accused at the time.”

Out Music: With his work in television, film and theater, Tituss Burgess is quickly emerging as one of the entertainment industry’s most versatile and dynamic performers. Burgess recently dropped his first single, “Dance M.F.,” aimed squarely at the dance music culture and this year’s many unstoppable virtual pride celebrations.

The track is a sultry sexy stomper with an attitude that is certain to bring comfort and escapism to our currently socially distanced souls. Burgess says the song “is a love letter to all the party people who in spite of the pandemic, are still committed to ‘live their best lives,’ party on down and celebrate Pride safely while in lockdown.”

Variety: Facebook is unleashing hundreds of thousands of music videos in the U.S. starting this weekend — a direct challenge to YouTube, which has had a virtual lock on the internet music-video space for years. With the U.S. launch of music videos, which Facebook has been actively developing since at least last fall, the company has updated Artist Pages of musicians and singers with a new section to let users browse their official music videos.

Yahoo News: Now that Donald Trump’s big GOP donor buddy Louis DeJoy has been installed as Postmaster General, orders are going out to employees reducing hours and services. I’m sure it’s all part of a plan to hobble voting by mail which Trump has been demonizing for weeks now for alleged ‘election fraud’ potential.

The Hill: Some Republicans are urging GOP leaders to abandon the attacks on mail-in voting and to instead embrace it, warning that the president is effectively sabotaging his own party. The impact could be particularly pronounced in Florida, a battleground state where Republicans have traditionally outpaced Democrats among absentee voters. It’s also the preferred method of voting for many seniors, who broke for Trump in 2016.

InstaHunks: I thought I’d share another shot of Backyard Envy host Garrett Magee since he made such a splash yesterday in my post about the upcoming Season 2 premiere on Tuesday, August 4.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Garrett Magee (@garrettbmagee) on

News Round-Up: July 15, 2020

Joe Blizzard (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Woofy Joe Blizzard (above), signaling in from Yosemite National Park, calls this “being a nerd, as usual.” Nerd???

LGBTQ Nation: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed four pro-LGBTQ bills into law this week. The new laws range from banning gay/trans panic legal defenses in cases of violence, making PrEP easier for gay folks to obtain to prevent HIV infection, and making it easier for trans people to change the gender markers on their state ID documents.

GMA: Mary Trump, niece to President Trump, whose new book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, was just released, speaking to ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos about her uncle: “He is utterly incapable of leading this country, and it’s dangerous to allow him to do so.” It’s worth noting that Ms. Trump is a trained clinical psychologist.

Washington Blade: Facebook and Instagram have announced they will ban conversion therapy content/posts on their sites, following a block on paid ads promoting the practice earlier this year.

Instinct Magazine: LA Pride has announced that it will be moving out of West Hollywood after almost five decades of celebration citing ongoing construction in West Hollywood Park as well as the changing demographics of Greater Los Angeles.

VOTE: Eight of America’s leading fitness photographers have joined forces for “Flex Your Vote,” a new campaign that urges the LGBTQ community and its allies to the polls this November.

“It’s painfully clear why this is the most important time in our lifetimes to vote,” says Mike Ruiz, the campaign’s organizer. “We are being engulfed by a pandemic, millions are unemployed, the government is riddled with corruption. We need to change the direction of this country or we are headed towards a dictatorship where we will be stripped of our rights.”

Facebook Co-Founder Considers Breaking Up The Social Media Giant

Chris Hughes

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes suggests it’s time to consider breaking up the monopoly that is Facebook.

Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares.

Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.

And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them. We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be. Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American. It is time to break up Facebook.

Hunky Brian Sims Banned From Facebook For Reporting Homophobic Troll

Pennsylvania lawmaker Brian Sims was banned from his own Facebook account after reporting a troll calling him 'faggot' online
Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims  (image via Facebook)

I love that woofy, gay Pennsylvania state legislator Brian Sims does not back down from trolls and haters.

So, last week when a woman who appeared to be named “Jill Freb” sent him a message on social media reading, “You get out, f*gg*t,” Sims didn’t pause to share the comment with his followers.

Sims wrote, “Anyone know my new friend Jill?” He posted a pic of the comment and asked his peeps to report the comment to the powers that be at Facebook

But then, is a strange reversal, Sims himself was blocked from posting on his own account for sharing Kreb’s homophobic comment.

“Last night, I got back from the governor’s swearing-in ceremony,” Sims told Metro Weekly. “I went to put up some information about the swearing-in and a trans candidate who’s announcing a campaign today, and I got a notification that, because of that specific post with her telling me to “get out” and calling me a “faggot” — not even the other posts associated with it — I had been blocked from all my accounts, both public and personal.”

Eventually, Sims got his Facebook account reinstated, admittedly because he happens to know some folks there.

But Sims wasn’t done with the issue.

“I have dozens of connections to Facebook and had to use all of them to fix this,” he wrote. “What happens to the person who doesn’t know anyone there?”

He went on to say he never received any “explanation from Facebook Diversity, Government and Politics on Facebook or Facebook HQ” about the lockdown.

Eventually, Facebook responded to MetroWeekly with a statement regarding the ‘mistake.’

“We allow people to share messages they receive even hateful ones,” wrote the Facebook spokesman. “Removing this post was a mistake in misunderstanding that it was discussing a message Representative Sims had himself experienced. The post does not violate our Community Standards and has been restored and Representative Sims is no longer in a feature block.”

But Sims still has concerns for the free speech of those who may not have his connections or position.

“This isn’t just about getting my Facebook page turned back on,” said Sims. “This either needs to continue or start a conversation about what Facebook is doing, authentically, substantively, to make sure they’re not culling legitimate speech and not endorsing, supporting, or lifting up illegitimate speech — whether it’s hate speech or fake accounts.”

Keep fighting, Brian. We think you’re awesome.

No More Pride Reaction Emoji On Facebook

Remember during Pride Month last year, Facebook gave us the uber-adorable rainbow Pride reaction emoji?

Ah, good times 🙂

Yep – along with a thumbs-up, a sad or mad face, and love reaction we had the rainbow emoji even though it was only for Pride Month.

Last year, the rainbow flag was used millions of times as a reaction on multiple posts, pictures and events on social media.

But this year, our social media will be a bit less colorful as Facebook has decided to drop its Pride reaction emojis. It seems last year was just a “new experience test.”

Lisa Stratton, a spokeswoman from Facebook, told Business Insider that the social media giant is ending all custom reactions “for major holidays or moments in culture.”

Maybe on Mother’s Day you might have noticed the themed “flower” reactions were absent this year.

That said, though, it’s not all bad news.

Facebook is releasing a new set of Pride-themed filters and stickers for Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Of course, Instagram has afforded us the rainbow emoji for some time now.

And, according to the Book of Face, the new stickers and filters will be available all year long – not just Pride Month.

Facebook Ends Ad Targeting By Sexual Orientation

For years, companies that offered services of specific interest to the LGBTQ community have been able to target their advertising to that particular audience utilizing the social media giant’s “interested in” option.

But last month, Facebook quietly eliminated the ability to direct ads to folks based on sexual orientation. An exception, however, was made for dating apps to continue using that targeting option.

The change has impacted not only businesses that target the gay community, but important non-profit groups, like The Trevor Project, who offer life-saving services.

More from Buzzfeed:

Facebook stopped allowing “interested in” targeting as part of a major overhaul of its ad platform, which the company initiated after facing scrutiny from users and Congress last year. Bad actors have mercilessly exploited the platform in recent years, including Kremlin-linked trolls who used its targeting options to reach millions of Americans in an effort to divide the country during the 2016 election. And dozens of companies have used Facebook’s ad targeting options “to exclude older workers from job ads,” a recent Propublica investigation found.

Some organizations supporting the LGBT community aren’t opposed to Facebook’s move. A spokesperson for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) told BuzzFeed news that Facebook’s call to remove identity-based targeting while keeping interest-based targeting is “a fair compromise” that could prevent malicious uses of the ad platform. GLAAD, an advocacy organization, does not use the identity-based targeting, or have a need for it the way the Trevor Project does.

But Facebook’s reluctance to allow the Trevor Project to use the criteria, even as it’s made special accommodations for dating apps, has frustrated the nonprofit. It was using the targeting to promote a national mental health survey. “We have a very limited budget, and so now I have to throw money at the wind, hoping it’s going to reach the group I want to reach,” Stowell said.

Facebook says dating apps are allowed to continue using sexual orientation thanks to a “legacy requirement.” The social media company added, however, that will end at the end of April.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Breaks Silence “We Made Mistakes”

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a lengthy post on (where else?) Facebook, apologized for mistakes made by his company and outlined steps the social media giant plans to take for protect user data in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica debacle which revealed millions of users data was “harvested” for political use by folks working on behalf of the Trump campaign.

We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.

[snip]

I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.

I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together. I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we’d like, but I promise you we’ll work through this and build a better service over the long term.

After a detailed timeline of how Zuckerberg sees the Cambridge Analytica debacle, the CEO listed steps to be taken including:

• Conducting full audits of apps with suspicious activity and/or access to large amounts of data.

• Restricting developers’ data access and removing access completely for apps that you haven’t used in 3 months.

• Making it easier to know which apps you’ve actually given access to.

According to reports, Facebook’s stock has taken a $50 billion hit since news of the Cambridge Analytica saga was made public.

Folks have also noticed that Zuckerberg has sold lots of his own stock in recent weeks.

Facebook Stock Dives On News Of Cambridge Analytics “Harvesting” User Data For 2016 Election

In light of the recent revelations of a data breach by Cambridge Analytics of millions and millions of Facebook users, the social media’s stock has dropped drastically today.

From Bloomberg:

Facebook Inc. shares posted their steepest drop since 2015 as U.S. and European officials demanded answers to reports that a political advertising firm retained information on millions of the social network’s users without their consent.

Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are calling on Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to appear before lawmakers to explain how U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica, the data-analysis firm that helped Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency, was able to harvest the personal information.

According to The Daily Beast, Facebook has so far lost $42 billion in market value.