German official asks Facebook to crack down on hate speech

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere  visited Facebook’s offices in Berlin on Aug. 29 and said that it should do more to keep forbidden content from the social-network platform.

“Facebook should take down racist content or calls for violence from its pages on its own initiative even if it hasn’t yet received a complaint,” Thomas de Maiziere said.

“Facebook has an immensely important economic position and just like every other large enterprise it has a immensely important social responsibility.”

The German government has been critical of Facebook in the past, with political leaders and regulators complaining that it has been too  slow to respond to hate speech and anti-immigrant messages.

To read the news article on this, please hit this link.

Brazilian judge suspends WhatsApp

Brazilian Judge  Daniela Barbosa Assunção de Souza has imposed an indefinite suspension of Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp after it failed to cooperate in a criminal investigation. Reuters reports that it’s the third such incident involving the phone-messaging app since December.

The judge  said the order, affecting more than 100 million users in  Brazil, will be lifted once Facebook surrenders data. But she withheld details of the confidential case.

Reuters reported that WhatsApp stood by its defense that encrypted messages sent over the app are not stored on its servers, “an argument that has won out on appeal, quickly reversing recent blockages that still show the vast discretionary power of Brazil’s lower courts.” Some wonder if it involves political corruption.

“As we’ve said in the past, we cannot share information we don’t have access to. We hope to see this block lifted as soon as possible,” said a WhatsApp spokesperson.

“The office of Brazil’s attorney general reiterated its position that judges who suspend WhatsApp are incorrectly interpreting a 2014 law meant to provide a legal framework for the Internet.”

“Still, that guidance has not stopped judges frustrated with the modern limits of wiretaps in drug-trafficking investigations from going after the service and even briefly jailing a senior Facebook executive in March.”

To read the Reuters story, please hit this link.


Keeping terrorists from social media requires tech solutions more than legal ones


Paul Barrett writes in Bloomberg:

“A lawsuit filed against Facebook Inc. on behalf of terrorism victims in Israel illustrates some of the complications of going to court to remedy violent radicalism.”
“Lawyers for the victims sued Facebook in Manhattan federal court on Monday, seeking $1 billion in damages. They alleged that the U.S. company allowed Palestinian militants affiliated with Hamas, branded by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, to use the online service to plan attacks that killed four Americans and wounded another in Israel, the West Bank, and Jerusalem. The suit alleged that Hamas has used Facebook to share operational information and instructions for carrying out attacks.”
“{I}t’s fair to say that the suit against Facebook faces some serious legal hurdles. First, there is the so-called safe harbor provision of the (U.S.} Communications Decency Act. That measure protects online service providers, such as Facebook, from legal liability related to what their users say. The suit against Facebook argues that the 1992 Anti-Terrorism Act, which prohibits material support to terrorist groups, ought to trump the communications decency law.”

But, Mr. Barrett argues, “In light of … potential legal obstructions, the application of effective blocking technology might work better than litigation. Gabriel Weimann, an expert on terrorism on the Internet at Haifa University told Bloomberg that the focus should be on developing faster ways to detect problematic messages so they can be blocked immediately, before they go viral, Weimann said. ‘Facebook isn’t the only platform,’ he added. ‘There are plenty of others. What will you do? Sue them all?”’

Mr. Barrett went on:

“Facebook clearly knows how to do what Weimann recommends. In March, the company took down a page advocating a new Palestinian uprising against Israel because it made ‘direct calls for violence.’ Better algorithms applied more aggressively could accomplish far more than long-shot, billion-dollar lawsuits. Indeed, Facebook would be wise to explore a settlement of this case built on a foundation of improved blocking technology aimed at violent fanaticism of all sorts.”

To read Mr, Barrett’s article, please hit this link.

Another tech leader is hacked


The Twitter account of Brendan Iribe, who runs Facebook’s virtual-reality headset maker, Oculus, has been hacked, making him the latest in a long line of celebrity and tech bosses to have had their social-media accounts compromised in recent weeks.

This doesn’t exactly expand the public’s confidence in the tech industry.

To read The Guardian’s story on this, please hit this link.

Facebook wins Belgian privacy case


Facebook has  overturned a decision that blocked the social network from using its “datr” cookies to track the Internet activity of logged-out users in Belgium.

This is the latest  in the long-running case that started with the Belgian Privacy Commission (BPC) ordering that Facebook stop using some cookies that let it  track users outside of Facebook.

The Guardian reported that Facebook appealed on the grounds that “Belgium does not have the authority to regulate the social network because its European base of operations is in Dublin, Ireland, and won. The Belgian appeals court also threw out the BPC’s claim that the case was urgent and required expedited procedure.”

To read The Guardian’s report on this case, please hit this link.

Facebook chief’s Twitter, Pinterest accounts reportedly hacked

(June 13th, 2016) In what has caused some chuckling, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter and Pinterest accounts have been resecured, after media reports that the social-media mogul’s  sites had been hacked.


VentureBeat said that Mr. Zuckerberg’s Twitter and Pinterest accounts were compromised over the weekend.

Perhaps most interesting is that the nature of the bogus tweet sent from Mr. Zuckerberg’s Twitter account on Sunday suggests that the alleged hackers may have gained access to the account by using the same password associated with his LinkedIn profile. Sloppy computer hygiene by Mr. Zuckerberg? For more information, hit this link.