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Tag Archives: myanmar

Facebook expands downvote tests on comments

Mark Twain had it right: There’s no such thing as a new idea. To wit: Facebook is currently testing arrows to let users ‘up’ vote or ‘down’ vote individual comments in some of its international markets. Digg eat your heart out. Reddit roll over. This particular trial of upvoting/downvoting buttons is limited to New Zealand and Australia for now, according to Facebook (via  The Guardian ). The latest test is a bit different to a downvote test Facebook ran in the US back in February — when it just offered a downvote option. (And if clicked it hid the comment and gave users additional reporting options such as: “Offensive”, “Misleading”, and “Off Topic”.) The latest international test looks a bit less negative — with an overall score being recorded next to the arrows which could at least reward users with some positive feels if their comment gets lots of upvotes. Negative scores could do the opposite though. It’s not certain whether the company will commit to rolling out the feature in this form — a spokesman told us this is an early test, with no decision made on whether to roll it out for Facebook’s 2.2BN+ user base — but its various tests in this area suggest it’s interested in having another signal for rating or ranking comments. In a statement attributed to a spokesperson it told us: “People have told us they would like to see better public discussions on Facebook, and want spaces where people with different opinions can have more constructive dialogue.  To that end, we’re running a small test in New Zealand which allows people to upvote or downvote comments on public Page posts. Our hope is that this feature will make it easier for us to create such spaces, by ranking the comments that readers believe deserve to rank highest, rather than the comments that get the strongest emotional reaction.” The test looks to have been going on for a couple of weeks at least at this point — a reader emailed TC on April 14 with screengrabs of the trial on comments for New Zealand Commonwealth Games content…   Facebook emphasized the feature is not an official dislike button

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Twitter doesn’t care that someone is building a bot army in Southeast Asia

Facebook’s lack of attention to how third parties are using its service to reach users ended up with CEO Mark Zuckerberg taking questions from Congressional committees . With that in mind, you’d think that others in the social media space might be more attentive than usual to potentially malicious actors on their platforms. Twitter, however, is turning the other way and insisting all is normal in Southeast Asia, despite the emergence of thousands of bot-like accounts that have followed prominent users in the region en masse over the past month. Scores of reporters and Twitter users with large followers — yours truly included — have noticed swarms of accounts with generic names, no profile photo, no bio and no tweets have followed them over the past month. It’s been a month already and the twitter bots just keep showing up. Anyone else seeing the same thing? pic.twitter.com/YEGcGnUYxd — Lulu Yilun Chen (@luluyilun) April 18, 2018 The deluge of Asia @Twitter bot follows continues unabated. Sigh pic.twitter.com/jD5JbOQnT2 — Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor) April 10, 2018 These accounts might be evidence of a new ‘bot farm’ — the creation of large numbers of accounts for sale or usage on-demand which Twitter has cracked down on — or the groundwork for more nefarious activities, it’s too early to tell. In what appears to be the first regional Twitter bot campaign, a flood of suspicious new followers has been reported by users across Southeast Asia and beyond, including Thailand , Myanmar  Cambodia , Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka among other places. While it is true that the new accounts have done nothing yet, the fact that a large number of newly-created accounts have popped up out of nowhere with the aim of following the region’s most influential voices should be enough to concern Twitter. Especially since this is Southeast Asia, a region where Facebook is beset with controversies — from its role inciting ethnic hatred in Myanmar , to allegedly assisting censors in Vietnam , witnessing users jailed for violating lese majeste in Thailand , and aiding the election of controversial Philippines leader Duterte . Then there are governments themselves. Vietnam has pledged to build a cyber army  to combat “wrongful views,” while other regimes in Southeast Asia have clamped down on social media users. Despite that, Twitter isn’t commenting. The U.S.

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In Senate hearing, Zuckerberg faces blame over violence in Myanmar

While the recent Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal is the main focus for American lawmakers questioning Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg today , the company’s record beyond the U.S. raises even more alarms. During the hearing, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy brought up the company’s role in the ongoing ethnic violence in Myanmar, citing one incident where death threats against a Muslim journalist did not meet violate the platform’s rules. In Myanmar, journalists are regularly arrested and even killed for reporting on the government’s activities. “Six months ago I asked your general counsel about Facebook’s role as a breeding ground for hate speech against Rohingya refugees,” Leahy said. “Recently, U.N. investigators blamed Facebook for playing a role in inciting the possible genocide in Myanmar, and there has been genocide there.” Using screenshots mounted on a poster, the Senator cited a specific threat calling for the death of Muslim journalist in the country: “That threat went straight through your detection systems. It spread very quickly and it took attempt after attempt after attempt and the involvement of civil society groups to get you to remove it. Why couldn’t it be removed within 24 hours?” Screenshot from C-Span Leahy interrupted Zuckerberg when he began to opine about the country’s tragedy. “We all agree it’s terrible,” Leahy said, pressing the Facebook founder for substantive answers. Zuckerberg cited the language barrier as one of the main obstacles to proper moderation of hate speech and calls for violence. “Hate speech is very language specific. it’s hard to do it without people who speak the local language and we need to ramp up our effort there dramatically,” Zuckerberg said.

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Facebook is again criticized for failing to prevent religious conflict in Myanmar

Today marks the start of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s much-anticipated trip to Washington as he attends a hearing with the Senate, before moving on to a Congressional hearing tomorrow. Away from the U.S. political capital, Zuckerberg is engaged in serious discussions about Myanmar with a group of six civil society organizations in the country who took umbrage at his claim that Facebook’s systems had prevented messages aimed at inciting violence between Buddhists and Muslims last September. Following an open letter to Facebook on Friday that claimed the social network had relied on local sources and remains ill-equipped to handle hate speech, Zuckerberg himself stepped in to personally respond. “Thank you for writing it and I apologize for not being sufficiently clear about the important role that your organizations play in helping us understand and respond to Myanmar-related issues, including the September incident you referred to,” Zuckerberg wrote. “In making my remarks, my intention was to highlight how we’re building artificial intelligence to help us better identify abusive, hateful or false content even before it is flagged by our community,” he added. Zuckerberg also claimed Facebook is working to implement new features that include the option to report inappropriate content inside Messenger, and adding more Burmese language reviewers — two suggestions that the Myanmar-based group had raised. The group has, however, fired back again to criticize Zuckerberg’s response which it said is “nowhere near enough to ensure that Myanmar users are provided with the same standards of care as users in the U.S. or Europe.” Young men browse their Facebook wall on their smartphones as they sit in a street in Yangon on August 20, 2015. Facebook remains the dominant social network for US Internet users, while Twitter has failed to keep apace with rivals like Instagram and Pinterest, a study showed. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images) In particular, the six companies are asking Facebook and Zuckerberg to give information around its efforts, including the number of abuse reports it has received, how many have been removed, how quickly it has been done, and its progress on banning accounts. In addition, the group asked for clarity on the number of Burmese content reviewers on staff, the exact mechanisms that are in place for detecting hate speech, and an update on what action Facebook has taken following its last meeting with the group in December. “When things go wrong in Myanmar, the consequences can be really serious — potentially disastrous,” it added. The Cambridge Analytica story has become mainstream news in the U.S.

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Facebook is again criticized for failing to prevent religious conflict in Myanmar

Today marks the start of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s much-anticipated trip to Washington as he attends a hearing with the Senate, before moving on to a Congressional hearing tomorrow. Away from the U.S. political capital, Zuckerberg is engaged in serious discussions about Myanmar with a group of six civil society organizations in the country who took umbrage at his claim that Facebook’s systems had prevented messages aimed at inciting violence between Buddhists and Muslims last September. Following an open letter to Facebook on Friday that claimed the social network had relied on local sources and remains ill-equipped to handle hate speech, Zuckerberg himself stepped in to personally respond. “Thank you for writing it and I apologize for not being sufficiently clear about the important role that your organizations play in helping us understand and respond to Myanmar-related issues, including the September incident you referred to,” Zuckerberg wrote. “In making my remarks, my intention was to highlight how we’re building artificial intelligence to help us better identify abusive, hateful or false content even before it is flagged by our community,” he added. Zuckerberg also claimed Facebook is working to implement new features that include the option to report inappropriate content inside Messenger, and adding more Burmese language reviewers — two suggestions that the Myanmar-based group had raised. The group has, however, fired back again to criticize Zuckerberg’s response which it said is “nowhere near enough to ensure that Myanmar users are provided with the same standards of care as users in the U.S. or Europe.” Young men browse their Facebook wall on their smartphones as they sit in a street in Yangon on August 20, 2015. Facebook remains the dominant social network for US Internet users, while Twitter has failed to keep apace with rivals like Instagram and Pinterest, a study showed. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images) In particular, the six companies are asking Facebook and Zuckerberg to give information around its efforts, including the number of abuse reports it has received, how many have been removed, how quickly it has been done, and its progress on banning accounts. In addition, the group asked for clarity on the number of Burmese content reviewers on staff, the exact mechanisms that are in place for detecting hate speech, and an update on what action Facebook has taken following its last meeting with the group in December. “When things go wrong in Myanmar, the consequences can be really serious — potentially disastrous,” it added. The Cambridge Analytica story has become mainstream news in the U.S. and other parts of the world, yet less is known of Facebook’s role in spreading religious hatred in Myanmar, where the government stands accused of ethnic cleansing following its treatment of the minority Muslim Rohingya population.

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Myanmar group blasts Zuckerberg’s claim on Facebook hate speech prevention

It’s becoming common to say that Mark Zuckerberg is coming under fire, but the Facebook CEO is again being questioned, this time over a recent claim that Facebook’s internal monitoring system is able to thwart attempts to use its services to incite hatred. Speaking to Vox , Zuckerberg used the example of Myanmar, where he claimed Facebook had successfully rooted out and prevented hate speech through a system that scans chats inside Messenger. In this case, Messenger had been used to send messages to Buddhists and Muslims with the aim of creating conflict on September 11 last year. Zuckerberg told Vox: The Myanmar issues have, I think, gotten a lot of focus inside the company. I remember, one Saturday morning, I got a phone call and we detected that people were trying to spread sensational messages through — it was Facebook Messenger in this case — to each side of the conflict, basically telling the Muslims, “Hey, there’s about to be an uprising of the Buddhists, so make sure that you are armed and go to this place.” And then the same thing on the other side. So that’s the kind of thing where I think it is clear that people were trying to use our tools in order to incite real harm. Now, in that case, our systems detect that that’s going on. We stop those messages from going through. But this is certainly something that we’re paying a lot of attention to. That claim has been rejected in a letter signed by six organizations in Myanmar , including tech accelerator firm Phandeeyar. Far from a success, the group said the incident shows why Facebook is not equipped to respond to hate speech in international markets since it relied entirely on information from the ground, where Facebook does not have an office, in order to learn of the issue. The messages referenced by Zuckerberg, and translated to English by the Myanmar-based group The group — which includes hate speech monitor Myanmar ICT for Development Organization and the Center for Social Integrity — explained that some four days elapsed between the sending of the first message and Facebook responding with a view to taking action. In your interview, you refer to your detection ‘systems’. We believe your system, in this case, was us – and we were far from systematic. We identified the messages and escalated them to your team via email on Saturday the 9th September, Myanmar time

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