Facebook Wins Dismissal of US Lawsuits Linked to Terrorism

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed two lawsuits seeking to hold Facebook Inc liable for supporting terrorist groups by letting them use its social media platform to further their goals, including violence against Jews.

US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn dismissed a $3 billion (roughly Rs. 19,450 crores) damages lawsuit by relatives of American victims of Hamas attacks, saying the federal Communications Decency Act regulating Internet content immunises Facebook from liability.

That law “prevents courts from entertaining civil actions that seek to impose liability on defendants like Facebook for allowing third parties to post offensive or harmful content or failing to remove such content once posted,” Garaufis wrote.

Garaufis also dismissed a lawsuit by roughly 20,000 Israeli citizens who feared harm from future violence. He said they had no legal right to demand changes to Facebook’s platform because they could not show any “actual or imminent” injury.

Facebook Wins Dismissal of US Lawsuits Linked to Terrorism

The decision is a setback to efforts to hold companies such as Facebook and Twitter Inc liable for failing to better police users’ online speech.

Robert Tolchin, a lawyer for both sets of the plaintiffs, said Garaufis appeared to sidestep limits under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act on aiding groups such as Hamas, a Palestinian group that the Department of State designates a foreign terrorist organization.

“There is a clash between statutes that the court needed to reconcile but ignored,” Tolchin said in an interview. “We are planning to appeal because we see major errors in the decision.”

 

In an email, Facebook said “there is no place on Facebook for groups that engage in terrorist activity or for content that expresses support for such activity, and we take swift action to remove this content when it’s reported to us. We sympathize with the victims and their families.”

Congress passed the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to regulate online pornography.

Garaufis said applications of that law in other contexts have arguably undermined incentives for internet service providers to remove content, but that it was enough for now to show that Congress’ “focus” was to limit liability.

The Brooklyn lawsuits drew notice after Facebook’s law firm Kirkland & Ellis initially assigned a junior associate to represent the Palo Alto, California-based company, prompting Garaufis to ask if it took the matter seriously.

Facebook quickly flew its deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal, a former federal judge, from California to Brooklyn, where he assured Garaufis that the company had “a very serious interest in keeping terrorism content off” its platform.

The cases are Cohen et al v. Facebook Inc, US District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 16-04453; and Force et al v Facebook Inc in the same court, No. 16-05158.

Facebook Moderation Guidelines Leaked, Show How It Reviews Hate Speech, Extremist Content

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Challenges such as revenge porn have overwhelmed Facebook moderators
  • It reviews around 6.5 million reports of potentially fake accounts a week
  • It confirmed that it was using software to intercept graphic content

Leaked Facebook documents show how the social media company moderates issues such as hate speech, terrorism, pornography and self-harm on its platform, the Guardian reported, citing internal guidelines seen by the newspaper.

New challenges such as “revenge porn” have overwhelmed Facebook’s moderators who often have just ten seconds to make a decision, the Guardian said. The social media company reviews more than 6.5 million reports of potentially fake accounts a week, the newspaper added.

Many of the company’s content moderators have concerns about the inconsistency and peculiar nature of some of the policies. Those on sexual content, for example, are said to be the most complex and confusing, the Guardian said.

Facebook had no specific comment on the report but said safety was its overriding concern.

Facebook Moderation Guidelines Leaked, Show How It Reviews Hate Speech, Extremist Content

“Keeping people on Facebook safe is the most important thing we do. We work hard to make Facebook as safe as possible while enabling free speech. This requires a lot of thought into detailed and often difficult questions, and getting it right is something we take very seriously”, Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management Monica Bickert said in a statement.

Facebook confirmed that it was using software to intercept graphic content before it went on the website, but it was still in its early stages.

The leaked documents included internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts, the Guardian said.

The newspaper gave the example of Facebook policy that allowed people to live-stream attempts to self-harm because it “doesn’t want to censor or punish people in distress.”

Facebook moderators were recently told to “escalate” to senior managers any content related to “13 Reasons Why,” the Netflix original drama series based on the suicide of a high school student, because it feared inspiration of copycat behavior, the Guardian reported.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the documents published on the Guardian website.

Facebook Signs Deal With ESL to Live Stream E-Sports

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Facebook to bring over 5,550 hours of e-sports events, original content
  • It also recently announced a tie-up with Major League Baseball
  • Twitter also partnered with ESL, Dreamhack to live stream tournaments

Taking on Twitter and Amazon-owned Twitch when it comes to live-streaming sport events, Facebook has now announced a partnership with global e-sports company ESL to bring over 5,550 hours of e-sports events and other original content to its platforms.

The news came after Facebook announced a tie-up with Major League Baseball (MLB) earlier this week to live stream 20 regular season games on the social network.

Facebook Signs Deal With ESL to Live Stream E-Sports

“The move will aid Facebook in challenging Amazon-owned Twitch as well as Twitter, both of which have esports deals as part of their efforts in the live-streaming space,” technology website TechCrunch reported on Saturday.

In March, Twitter partnered with ESL and Dreamhack to live stream tournaments and other e-sports events. More than 15 events in the ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) and DreamHack circuits will be live streamed globally on Twitter and connected devices.

In addition to all Intel Extreme Masters and ESL One tournament content, ESL will also produce live original content for Twitter, including a weekly 30-minute show featuring highlights and behind-the-scenes footage.

The social network has also updated its developer policies so that people cannot use the platform just for attention grabbing and flooding people’s news feeds with irrelevant content.

The move will explicitly forbid live videos that are “only images” (including animated images) or polls linked to largely inanimate material.

 

Facebook Rolls Out New 'Order Food' Feature for Mobile and Web

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The feature is showing up for select people in US
  • It appears on web and the app as well
  • The ‘Order Food’ feature is powered by Delivery.com and Slice

Facebook is rolling out a new ordering food feature, in a bid to keep users hooked onto its app, and not stray off to another app for other tasks. The social media giant now has a new option on Web and mobile allowing users to order food online. This ‘Order Food’ feature is showing up for select users for now, and only users in America are set to get it first.

Facebook Rolls Out New 'Order Food' Feature for Mobile and Web

This new feature is possible due to Facebook’s partnership with Delivery.com and Slice in the US, announced back in October. TechCrunch reports that the option shows up on Facebook’s side bar or the app’s main menu. By clicking on it, the Order Food option throws up all the supported restaurants. The restaurants are displayed with a featured image, rating, cuisine, and a price point. There’s a Start Order button at the bottom of it, clicking on which will take you to the selected restaurant’s page. It then shows you if the restaurant is open for delivery or pickup. You can then add delivery address or switch to pickup, whatever you prefer. Then from the menu, you select what you want to order, see how much delivery fee is levied, final amount to be paid, check your cart, choose mode of payment, and confirm the order.

The feature is fairly simple, and is self-explanatory, once you begin to use it. Once the order is confirmed, it gives you an average estimate time of delivery as well. Unfortunately, this feature could not be tested by us, as the option is only showing up for select users in US for now. There is no word on if Facebook plans to roll this service out to other countries. Food ordering services like Delivery.com and Slice will benefit heavily from this new feature, as it can reach out and tap into the large audience database of Facebook. Facebook confirmed the roll out of the new feature to TechCrunch.

 

From the user’s point of view, it eliminates the need to open another app to order food, and can now do an additional task from Facebook itself. Ride sharing app Uber also tapped into the online food ordering market with UberEats, and has launched the service in India earlier this month. However, Facebook has made this feature available within its app, and hasn’t launched a separate app like Uber.

Let us know if this feature is showing up for you, and whether it is working smoothly in the comments below.

Facebook Testing Tools to Help People Discover Local News

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Facebook testing products that meaningfully engage with their community
  • The test have just begun and are on three products
  • Facebook is also using software to intercept graphic content

A day after reports emerged of guidelines that Facebook follows to censor sensitive content, the social media giant said it is testing products to connect its users to local news.

As part of its ongoing push to build relationships with local publishers, Facebook is testing products that meaningfully engage with their community, a report on Poynter.org website said on Monday.

The tests, part of the Facebook Journalism Project, have just begun and are on three products, Poynter quoted a Facebook spokesperson as saying.

Facebook Testing Tools to Help People Discover Local News

“One points users in community-linked Facebook groups to additional local news. Another, launching Tuesday, offers users who make their cities of residence public a badge identifying them as a local when they comment on a local publisher’s stories. A third helps people find local groups,” the spokesperson said.

 

The social media giant is looking to establish baseline metrics for the availability and discoverability of news and identify the levers that move users to consume, share, comment and form community around local news.

“This test allows administrators of groups that regularly discuss local news to add a news unit to the group. This unit will be dynamically populated based on our local news classifier with recent articles from publications that serve the location of the group. Members can then easily share an article from the unit as a link share in the group,” he said.

According to the spokesperson, publishers want new ways to connect local stories to people in the communities they serve and are encouraged to see the company testing product ideas specific to local news distribution.

 

Facebook Gets 'Live Chat With Friends' and 'Live With' Features

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Live Chat With Friends is currently being tested on mobile
  • Live Chat With Friends will be made available broadly in summer
  • Live With feature was earlier available only to public figures

It is not a hidden fact that Facebook has been trying to focus on videos for quite some time and after imitating some features from the rival platforms, it seems like the company has now decided to test waters with its own new features. Facebook has introduced two new features to its Live video service in the form of ‘Live Chat With Friends’ and ‘Live With’.

While it is debatable how useful the addition of ‘Stories’ feature turned out to be, it appears that the new features can really improve the utility of Facebook Live video service substantially. First coming to Live Chat With Friends, the new feature provides users with the option to chat only with their friends while watching a live stream. Earlier, if you might remember, users could only participate in a public chat that was flooded with comments from users across the website.

If you prefer to watch live stream videos with your friends, this feature is likely to really useful to you. “You can invite friends who are already watching or other friends who you think may want to tune in. You’re able to jump back into the public conversation at any time, and you can still continue chatting with your friends via Messenger after the broadcast ends,” Facebook said in its news post.

Facebook Gets 'Live Chat With Friends' and 'Live With' Features

Live Chat With Friends is currently being tested on mobile and will be made available more broadly this summer.

Moving to the Live With feature, users will now be able to invite other users into their live videos without them being required to be in the same vicinity as them. Live With feature allows users to collectively use Facebook Live. Interestingly, users can use this feature in both portrait and landscape modes for having picture-in-picture or side-by-side layout respectively.

In order to use this feature, users simply need to select a guest from the Live Viewers section, or tap a comment from the viewer whom they want to invite. The guest will then have the option to join or reject the request. This feature can help in conducting interviews with people in remote locations and can thereby prove to be extremely useful. Live With feature was earlier made available just for public figures but has now been made available for all users and pages, as per Facebook.

Facebook Trending Topics Tweaked to Show More News Sources

HIGHLIGHTS

  • New design will offer a “carousel” with a variety of websites
  • Aim is to help people “feel more informed about the news in their region”
  • The update “does not affect how trending topics are identified”

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled its latest redesign to its “trending topics” feature – its latest move to give users a variety of sources on important news events.

The huge social network – which has faced criticism for creating “filter bubbles” that reinforce the views of users, and has been accused of bias in selecting its news sources – said the new design will offer a “carousel” with a variety of websites.

“You’ve always been able to click on a topic to see related posts and stories, but we’ve redesigned the page to make it easier to discover other publications that are covering the story, as well as what your friends and public figures are saying about it,” Facebook said in a blog post.

“Now, when you click on a trending topic, you’ll see a carousel with stories from other publications about a given topic that you can swipe through.”

The blog signed by Facebook product manager Ali Ahmadi and designer John Angelo said the aim is to help people “feel more informed about the news in their region.”

They added there would be “no predetermined list of publications” which appear in trending topics and that the update “does not affect how trending topics are identified,” after a series of changes.

Facebook Trending Topics Tweaked to Show More News Sources

Earlier this year, Facebook revised its formula for trending news in an effort to weed out fake news by tweaking its algorithm to diminish the importance of how much a news story is shared.

Last year, Facebook moved to make its trending topics automated, scaling back human selection after critics complained curators were deliberately omitting stories from conservative news outlets.

Facebook made the changes last year despite arguing that its research discovered no systematic bias in story selection.

The social network, which has nearly two billion users worldwide, is an increasingly important source of news for its members.

Facebook has brushed aside the idea that misinformation spread over its network was a major factor in the 2016 US presidential election, but has stepped up efforts to weed out hoaxes and unverified news.

The new “trending” design is rolling out for iPhone users in the US, and will soon be available for Android and desktop, Facebook said.

Facebook Rainbow Reaction Is Here and This Is How You Can Get It Now

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Facebook has added the Rainbow reaction to support LGBTQ Pride
  • There are also Pride-themed masks and frames
  • Pride-themed features on Facebook will till June-end

Facebook has launched a new Rainbow emoji reaction, among several other features, in honour of the LGBTQ Pride Month — celebrated every year in June — and show support to the community and the cause. The Facebook Rainbow reaction is accompanied by a Rainbow Frame for profile pictures, Pride-themed masks and frames in Facebook Camera, and even the option to start fundraisers for the community on the platform. The new features will be available throughout the month of June.

How to get the new Facebook Rainbow Reaction

To get the new LGBTQ Rainbow Reaction and the other Prime-themed features, you need to ‘like’ the LGBT@Facebook official group. Once you like the page, you will soon see the Rainbow emoji reaction when you long-press on the like button on a post, photo, link, video, etc. Similar is the process to get the new The new features are available only in the US for now, and some even in the US complain of not getting the new features despite liking the page.

Facebook Rainbow Reaction Is Here and This Is How You Can Get It Now

Apart from the Pride-themed features on Facebook, there are some LGBTQ-supporting features on Instagram and Messenger as well. On Instagram, walls in major US cities will be turned into colourful beacons of LGBTQ support, where you can leave supportive comments on your posts. You can also celebrate Pride and be creative with stickers and a rainbow brush. Similarly, Messenger users can use Pride-themed stickers, frames, and effects in the Messenger Camera.

In a statement, Facebook said, “As Pride celebrations begin around the world, Facebook is proud to support our diverse community, including those that have identified themselves on Facebook as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender or gender non-conforming. It added over 12 million people across the globe are part of one of the 76,000 Facebook Groups in support of the LGBTQ community.  The social networking giant noted that more than 1.5 million people plan to participate in one of the more than 7,500 Pride events on Facebook this year.

Facebook Trending Topics Tweaked to Show More News Sources

HIGHLIGHTS

  • New design will offer a “carousel” with a variety of websites
  • Aim is to help people “feel more informed about the news in their region”
  • The update “does not affect how trending topics are identified”

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled its latest redesign to its “trending topics” feature – its latest move to give users a variety of sources on important news events.

The huge social network – which has faced criticism for creating “filter bubbles” that reinforce the views of users, and has been accused of bias in selecting its news sources – said the new design will offer a “carousel” with a variety of websites.

Facebook Trending Topics Tweaked to Show More News Sources

“You’ve always been able to click on a topic to see related posts and stories, but we’ve redesigned the page to make it easier to discover other publications that are covering the story, as well as what your friends and public figures are saying about it,” Facebook said in a blog post.

“Now, when you click on a trending topic, you’ll see a carousel with stories from other publications about a given topic that you can swipe through.”

The blog signed by Facebook product manager Ali Ahmadi and designer John Angelo said the aim is to help people “feel more informed about the news in their region.”

They added there would be “no predetermined list of publications” which appear in trending topics and that the update “does not affect how trending topics are identified,” after a series of changes.

 

Earlier this year, Facebook revised its formula for trending news in an effort to weed out fake news by tweaking its algorithm to diminish the importance of how much a news story is shared.

Last year, Facebook moved to make its trending topics automated, scaling back human selection after critics complained curators were deliberately omitting stories from conservative news outlets.

Facebook made the changes last year despite arguing that its research discovered no systematic bias in story selection.

The social network, which has nearly two billion users worldwide, is an increasingly important source of news for its members.

Facebook has brushed aside the idea that misinformation spread over its network was a major factor in the 2016 US presidential election, but has stepped up efforts to weed out hoaxes and unverified news.

The new “trending” design is rolling out for iPhone users in the US, and will soon be available for Android and desktop, Facebook said.

Facebook Expands Personal Fundraising Tools to More People, Causes

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Facebook will let users ask friends and strangers to give them money
  • The company has been testing the tool since March
  • Latest update adds sports and community fundraisers as options

Facebook is expanding its fundraising tools that let users ask friends and strangers to give them money to help pay for education, medical or other expenses. It is now available to everyone in the US.

The company has been testing the tool, which is similar to online fundraising services such as GoFundMe, since March.Facebook Expands Personal Fundraising Tools to More People, Causes

sports and community fundraisers as options. It’s also possible to raise money for medical expenses for pets, crisis relief, funerals, and a slew of other categories.

To start a fundraiser, scroll down the “menu” icon on mobile until you get to the “fundraisers” category. On desktop, visit facebook.com/fundraisers. Facebook says it will review all fundraisers within 24 hours.

There is a fee of 6.9 percent of the total amount raised plus 30 cents for payment processing, vetting and security.

 

Also this week, Facebook tweaked its Trending Topics algorithm to serve up more news sources to users.

The huge social network – which has faced criticism for creating “filter bubbles” that reinforce the views of users, and has been accused of bias in selecting its news sources – said the new design will offer a “carousel” with a variety of websites.

“You’ve always been able to click on a topic to see related posts and stories, but we’ve redesigned the page to make it easier to discover other publications that are covering the story, as well as what your friends and public figures are saying about it,” Facebook said in a blog post.

Another report claimed that Facebook has signed BuzzFeed, Vox, and other content outlets for original video programming.

Written with agency inputs