Tag Archives: Mark Zuckerberg

How social media sites handle political ads

Online platforms including Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google face growing pressure to stop carrying political ads that contain false or misleading claims ahead of the U.S. presidential election.

In the United States, the Communications Act prevents broadcast stations from rejecting or censoring ads from candidates for federal office once they have accepted advertising for that political race, although this does not apply to cable networks like CNN, or to social media sites, where leading presidential candidates are spending millions to target voters in the run-up to the November 2020 election.

The following is how social media platforms have decided to handle false or misleading claims in political ads:

FACEBOOK

Facebook exempts politicians from its third-party fact-checking program, allowing them to run ads with false claims.

The policy has been attacked by regulators and lawmakers who say it could spread misinformation and cause voter suppression. Critics including Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren have also run intentionally false Facebook ads to highlight the issue.

Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has defended the company’s stance, arguing that it does not want to stifle political speech, but he also said the company was considering ways to refine the policy.

Facebook does fact-check content from political groups. The company also says it fact-checks politicians if they share previously debunked content and does not allow this content in ads.

TWITTER

Twitter Inc has banned political ads. On Friday it said this will include ads that reference a political candidate, party, election or legislation, among other limits.

The company also said it will not allow ads that advocate for a specific outcome on political or social causes.

“We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in a statement last month.

Some lawmakers praised the ban but critics said Twitter’s decision would benefit incumbent and hurt less well-known candidates.

Officials from the Trump campaign, which is out-spending its Democratic rivals on Facebook and Google ads, called the ban “dumb” but also said it would have little effect on the president’s strategy.

The overall political ad spend for the 2018 U.S. midterm elections on Twitter was less than $3 million, Twitter’s Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal said.

“Twitter from an advertising perspective is not a player at all. Facebook and Google are the giants in political ads,” said Steve Passwaiter, vice president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group at Kantar Media.

GOOGLE

Google and its video-streaming service YouTube prohibit certain kinds of misrepresentation in ads, such as misinformation about public voting procedures or incorrect claims that a public figure has died.

However, Google does not have a wholesale ban on politicians running false or misleading ads.

In October, when former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign asked the company to take down a Trump campaign ad that it said contained false claims, a Google spokeswoman told Reuters it did not violate the site’s policies.

YouTube has started adding links and information from Wikipedia to give users more information around sensitive content such as conspiracy theory videos, but a spokeswoman said this program does not relate to ads.

SNAP

Snap Inc allows political advertising unless the ads are misleading, deceptive or violate the terms of service on its disappearing message app Snapchat.

The company, which recently joined Facebook, Twitter and Google in launching a public database of its political ads, defines political ads as including election-related, advocacy and issue ads.

Snap does not ban “attack” ads in general, but its policy does prohibit attacks relating to a candidate’s personal life.

TIKTOK

The Chinese-owned video app popular with U.S. teenagers does not permit political advertising on the platform.

In an October blog post TikTok said that the company wants to make sure the platform continues to feel “light-hearted and irreverent.”

“The nature of paid political ads is not something we believe fits the TikTok platform experience,” wrote Blake Chandlee, TikTok’s vice president of global business solutions.

The app, which is owned by Beijing-based tech giant ByteDance, has recently come under scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers over concerns the company may be censoring politically sensitive content, and raising questions about how it stores personal data.

REDDIT

Social network Reddit allows ads related to political issues and it allows ads from political candidates at the federal level, but not for state or local elections.

It also does not allow ads about political issues, elections or candidates outside of the United States.

The company says all political ads must abide by its policies that forbid “deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising” and that prohibit “content that depicts intolerant or overly contentious political or cultural topics or views.”

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft Corp, banned political ads last year. It defines political ads as including “ads advocating for or against a particular candidate or ballot proposition or otherwise intended to influence an election outcome.”

Search engine Bing, which is also owned by Microsoft, does not allow ads with political or election-related content.

PINTEREST

Photo-sharing site Pinterest Inc also banned political campaign ads last year.

This includes advertising for political candidates, political action committees (PACs), legislation, or political issues with the intent to influence an election, according to the site’s ads policy.

“We want to create a positive, welcoming environment for our Pinners and political campaign ads are divisive by nature,” said Pinterest spokeswoman Jamie Favazza, who told Reuters the decision was also part of the company’s strategy to address misinformation.

TWITCH

A spokeswoman for Twitch told Reuters the live-streaming gaming network does not allow political advertising.

The site does not strictly ban all issue-based advertising but the company considers whether an ad could be seen as “political” when it is reviewed, the spokeswoman said.

Twitch, which is owned by Amazon.com Inc, is primarily a video gaming platform but also has channels focused on sports, music and politics. In recent months, political candidates such as U.S. President Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders have joined the platform ahead of the 2020 election.

REUTERS

Facebook unites payment service across apps with Facebook Pay

Facebook Inc said on Tuesday it was launching Facebook Pay, a unified payment service through which users across its platforms including WhatsApp and Instagram can make payments without exiting the app.

The social network said the service would allow users to send money or make a payment with security options such as PIN or biometrics on their smartphones.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year the company is planning to unify the messaging infrastructure across its platforms.

He said the company would encrypt conversations on more of its messaging services and make them compatible as direct messaging was likely to dwarf discussion on the traditional, open platform of Facebook’s news feed in a few years.

Facebook said the new service will collect user information such as payment method, date, billing and contact details when a transaction is made and that it would use the data to show targeted advertisements to users.

Advertising practices of Facebook have been in the spotlight for the past few years amid growing discontent over its approach to privacy and user data.

Facebook Pay will be available on Facebook and Messenger this week in the United States, the company said in a blog post.

REUTERS

WhatsApp adds shopping catalog feature, courting e-commerce

Facebook Inc  on Thursday launched a catalog feature for its WhatsApp messaging app, it said in a blog post, building out the service’s e-commerce tools as it moves slowly toward monetizing the app it bought in 2014 for $19 billion.

Facebook has been trying to boost revenue from higher-growth units like Instagram and Whatsapp, which has 1.5 billion users. The company’s flagship News Feed product continues to draw big ad dollars, but is struggling to generate new users.

The move comes after Facebook added a shopping feature to Instagram in March that lets users click a “checkout” option on items tagged for sale and pay for them directly within the app.

The new WhatsApp tool stops short of that, as transactions still occur elsewhere. But small businesses, the main users of the free WhatsApp Business app, can now display a “mobile storefront” showcasing their wares with images and prices.

“We’re opening commerce as a new chapter,” Amrit Pal, a product manager at WhatsApp, told Reuters. “We hear from businesses every day that WhatsApp is where they meet their customers, rather than sending them to a website.”

Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has announced plans to shift the company’s focus to private chats, adding bots and augmented reality tools in recent years to encourage businesses to communicate with consumers on its messaging services.

Facebook said last year that it would start charging businesses for sending marketing and customer service messages on WhatsApp at a fixed rate for confirmed delivery, ranging from 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message depending on the country.

More than 100 businesses are now using that paid product, according to a WhatsApp spokesman, while around 5 million use the free WhatsApp Business service. Facebook has not disclosed revenue from its business messaging efforts.

WhatsApp’s catalog feature is available for users in Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Britain and the United States and will be rolled out around the world in the next few weeks, said the spokesman.

Facebook’s Libra could come under some existing rules – Watchdog

Existing securities rules could apply to “stable coin” digital currency initiatives such as Facebook’s Libra project to help realise its benefits, global securities watchdog IOSCO said on Monday as policymakers examine whether new regulation is needed.

The watchdog, made up of securities regulators from across the world, including the United States, Europe and Japan, said an assessment of stable coins found they can potentially offer benefits as well as pose risks.

A stable coin is a digital currency tied to a “stable” asset or basket of assets that can range from real currencies to commodities. Libra would be pegged to bank deposits and government securities across several currencies such as the dollar and euro.

Nonetheless, Facebook’s plans to launch Libra have raised concerns ranging from consumer protection to money laundering and even the notion that the traditional monetary system could be disrupted.

“Our analysis has shown that so-called ‘stable coins’ can include features that are typical of regulated securities,” IOSCO chair Ashley Alder said in a statement.

This means that existing securities rules on disclosures, registration and reporting may apply.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told U.S. lawmakers last month that Libra was a “risky project”, but that it could lower the cost of electronic payments and open up the global financial system to more people.

The tone of IOSCO’s statement is more nuanced than some of the comments from policymakers in European countries like France and Germany, who want Libra blocked. Facebook Libra is due to launch in 2020.

“It is important that those seeking to launch stable coins, particularly proposals with potential global scale, engage openly and constructively with all relevant regulatory bodies where they may be seeking to operate,” Alder said.

There is a need for a detailed understanding of the rights and obligations a stable coin confers on participants and the continuing obligations of the sponsor.

“We therefore encourage international collaboration, so the risks relating to stable coins can be identified and mitigated, and the potential benefits realized,” said Alder, who also heads Hong Kong’s securities regulator.

IOSCO said it would help the global Financial Stability Board’s work on stable coins for the G20 Group of 20 Economies.

The FSB, chaired by Randal Quarles, the Fed’s vice chair for supervision, is looking at whether there are regulatory “gaps” around global stable coins.

REUTERS

I don’t just want to push Trump off Twitter, I want to push him out of the White House – Warren

Elizabeth Warren

 

U.S. Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren went after big tech companies during the Democratic debate on Tuesday but brushed off rival Kamala Harris’s challenge to join her in calling for President Donald Trump’s suspension from Twitter.

Warren, a U.S. senator who is in a virtual tie with former Vice President Joe Biden in many opinion polls in the Democratic race, argued for her proposal to split up major tech firms such as Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc and Amazon.com Inc over antitrust concerns, in what was the most wide-ranging discussion of big tech in the Democratic debates to date.

“I’m not willing to give up and let a handful of monopolists dominate our economy and our democracy. It’s time to fight back,” Warren said in the debate in Westerville, Ohio.

But she did not engage with the request by Harris, also a U.S. senator, that she join her in calling for Twitter Inc to suspend Trump’s account. Harris has argued that Trump uses the platform to intimidate his opponents and threaten violence.

“It is a matter of safety and corporate accountability,” Harris pushed, while Warren refused to engage, instead saying she was focused on beating Trump in the November 2020 election.

“I don’t just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House. That’s our job,” Warren responded.

Warren, who said on Tuesday she would not accept campaign contributions of more than $200 from executives at large tech companies or big banks, then pivoted to focus on whether candidates were taking money from big tech.

Social media companies, which are under pressure to police their platforms in the run-up to the 2020 election, have most recently been attacked by Democratic candidates, including Warren and Biden, for allowing politicians to run ads with false or misleading claims on their platforms.

This month, leaked audio from an internal Facebook meeting in July disclosed Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg telling staff they would “go to the mat” to defeat Warren’s expected effort to break up the company if she is elected president.

The other Democrats on stage did not explicitly endorse Warren’s plan to split up the major tech firms but voiced concerns about competition.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, another longtime critic of big tech firms and corporate influence, said the United States needed a president with “the guts to appoint an attorney general who will take on these huge monopolies.”

Former U.S Representative Beto O’Rourke said he would be “unafraid to break up big businesses” but that he did not think it was the president’s role to designate which companies should be broken up.

In a moment that swiftly generated memes on Twitter, entrepreneur Andrew Yang took a swing at Microsoft Corp’s search engine Bing.

“Competition doesn’t solve all the problems. It’s not like any of us wants to use the fourth-best navigation app,” Yang said. “There is a reason why no one is using Bing today. Sorry, Microsoft, it’s true,” he added.

“Bing just got dunked on, feel free to google it tomorrow,” tweeted comedian Aparna Nancherla.

Yang also argued that people should receive a share of the economic value generated from their data.

“How many of you remember getting your data check in the mail?” asked Yang. “It got lost. It went to Facebook, Amazon, Google.”