Weekly Roundup #7
29 July 2021
Welcome to our latest weekly roundup! Here are the latest updates / news about social media from the Podium team.
Facebook More Antivax than Fox News
In a blow to Facebook following scrutiny of anti-vaccine misinformation currently proliferating on the platform, a study reported in The Washington Post explores a link between anti-vaccination beliefs and using Facebook for news. The Covid States Project has been measuring a number of aspects related to Covid-19, including what news sources participants are using, finding that Facebook is a significant one for information on the pandemic. People using Facebook for this type of news are less likely to get vaccinated, and this effect is heightened if Facebook is their only source of news, even compared to other vaccine-skeptical sources such as Fox News. However, this is only a correlation, and the authors state that they cannot prove Facebook caused this — there may well be differences in the people who use Facebook compared to other sources. As ever, more research is needed about the types of content that people on Facebook are exposed to, especially misinformation.
The Real Facebook Oversight Board Report
The Real Facebook Oversight Board, a non-profit organisation set up to critique Facebook, has released a report about Facebook harms over the last quarter, as reported by Mother Jones. The report discusses Donald Trump adverts on Facebook (as we mentioned in a previous Weekly Roundup) finding that 251 ads have been run via his Save America PAC since June. Trump is supposed to be banned from the platform until 2023, but has found a way to circumvent that through this advertising. The Real Facebook Oversight Board has also discovered that Facebook is currently looking for many public policy managers, potentially as a reaction to the increased regulation being planned by governments around the world. This is echoed by Marietje Schaake’s article for the Financial Times, which states that Facebook publicly talks a big game about wanting regulation, while hiring lawyers and lobbyists.
Twitter Dislike Button
Twitter is testing upvoting and downvoting for tweets, reportedly to work out what to show users more of, according to The Verge. Users are apparently seeing a variety of different options, such as both up and down vote options, or just one or the other. While upvoting will be similar to a like, downvoting will not be public. We are, of course, in favour of a more nuanced approach to reacting to tweets, but the non-public nature of the dislike is concerning, particularly if this is used to decide what appears in users’ feeds. So far, Twitter claims it is just to see which replies people find most useful, which would make it more similar to Reddit threads.
Facebook Moderation and Context: Here We Go Again…
A Facebook user who responded to a viral meme about women and their ability to discern between two different shades of nail polish, with the comment “why are men so dumb” was given a ban for hate speech, reports The Independent. The woman thought she was making an obvious joke comment, and not a serious statement about hating men, but due to the use of the words “men” and “dumb”, Facebook considered it an example of hate speech on the basis of protected characteristics. Jokers be warned…
Events in tech
- Ishango is holding “The Democratisation of Data Science”, about inclusivity and experiences of women in data science, at 14:00 BST.
- “Recent Trends in Global Data Protection Law” is being held at 17:00 BST by Women In EDiscovery.
- At 20:00 BST, the Promise Institute and ITLP At UCLA Law are hosting “Misinformation and Synthetic Media” with speaker Sam Gregory from WITNESS.
- At 17:00 BST, Engine is holding a panel to discuss content moderation in “The Nuts & Bolts of Competing Globally: Hosting Content Around the World”, with speakers from Stanford Cyber Policy Center, Center for Democracy & Technology and Mozilla.
- Africaniwa is holding “Exploring the Impact of Information, Disinformation and Misinformation” at 18:00 BST.
- RACE.ED and the University of Edinburgh Business School are hosting “Racial Justice in Organisations: What Are We Getting Wrong?”, with speakers Dr Salima Bhimani and Dr Emily Sena, at 16:30 BST.
- The Guardian Live is hosting authors Cecilia Kang and Sheera Frenkel for a discussion with technology editor Alex Hern about their new book on Facebook, at 20:00 BST.