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Facebook, Google under fire to bump up social media cleaning

Internet giants Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG) appeared before the US House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday defending efforts to remove hate speech from social media sites.

The lawmakers questioning the tech giants were led by Jerrold Nadler, who stressed that white nationalist groups were targeting religious minorities and communities of color through social media.

In the hearing, Rep. Nadler said, “efforts by media companies to counter this surge have fallen short, and social network platforms continue to be used as ready avenues to spread dangerous white nationalist speech.”

Firms such as Facebook use a mix of AI, algorithms and human review to pull the plug on hate speech and troubling violent content.

Ironically, Google-owned YouTube had screened the hearing live, but had to disable comments on the hearing after receiving hate speech and racist slurs for the same.

Back in January, it was reported that Facebook was on a mission to clean up its platform, in line with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s promise to lawmakers last year.

The political ramifications of the privacy breach scandal involving British data mining firm Cambridge Analytica and the growing concerns about data security had a huge impact on Facebook’s valuation— with the company losing about a quarter of its market share in 2018.

In January, Facebook’s crackdown against Russia-based organizations resulted in the removal of about 300 fake pages launched by Sputnik — a news agency having links to Kremlin. These fake pages and accounts used for spreading propaganda and misleading the people were followed by several thousands of users.

In January, Facebook removed about 300 fake pages having links to Kremlin

The operations of the news network, which created the fake pages, were spread across Eurasia, according to Facebook’s management. Meanwhile, Sputnik reportedly condemned the action terming it a politically-motivated move that is akin to censorship. Worryingly, the manipulation of information  — publishing fake news on Facebook targeting select groups — had helped its perpetrators to influence voters during the presidential poll and control the outcome of the election.

With the fake news campaigners finding new and innovative ways to spread misinformation, this latest US hearing has now taken the tech giants to task and pushing them to ensure more aggressive tactics to combat hate speech and fake news, be it at home or overseas.

 

 

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