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Author: Alex Hern

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Facebook and YouTube defend response to Christchurch videos



YouTube says spread of videos of attack was ‘unprecedented in scale and speed’

YouTube and Facebook have defended themselves against accusations that they failed to act quickly enough in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, arguing that their moderation is as good as possible given the number of videos uploaded.

Facebook said on Tuesday that the original stream of the attack was viewed live fewer than 200 times and non-live by 4,000 people before it was removed from the site.

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Academic at centre of Cambridge Analytica scandal sues Facebook



Tech company’s attempts to pin blame on Aleksandr Kogan are defamatory, says lawyer

The academic at the centre of the Cambridge Analytica scandal is suing Facebook for defamation over the social network’s claims that he lied about why he was harvesting personal data from profiles on the site.

Aleksandr Kogan, a former psychology researcher at the University of Cambridge, was the developer of a personality quiz app that paired individual psychological profiles with personal data scraped from the Facebook pages of quiz-takers and their online friends. That data was used as the root of Cambridge Analytica’s “psychometric” approach to targeting users with political adverts tailored to their personalities.

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The racism of technology – and why driverless cars could be the most dangerous example yet



‘Machine vision’ is struggling to recognise darker-skinned pedestrians, and cost pressures could make things worse

There is a rule for dealing with computers: garbage in, garbage out. Put the wrong number of zeroes in your Excel spreadsheet and it will unthinkingly pay your staff pennies on the pound; train a self-driving car to recognise human figures by showing it millions of pictures of white people, and it might struggle to identify pedestrians of other races.

That was the finding of researchers from Georgia Tech, who analysed how effective various “machine vision” systems were at recognising pedestrians with different skin tones. The results were alarming: AI systems were consistently better at identifying pedestrians with lighter skin tones than darker. And not by a little bit: one headline comparison suggests that a white person was 10% more likely to be correctly identified as a pedestrian than a black person.

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Tim Berners-Lee on 30 years of the world wide web: ‘We can get the web we want’



What started out as an idea for a way scientists could share information went on to change the world. Three decades later, its founder reflects on his creation

Thirty years ago, Tim Berners-Lee, then a fellow at the physics research laboratory Cern on the French-Swiss border, sent his boss a document labelled Information Management: A Proposal. The memo suggested a system with which physicists at the centre could share “general information about accelerators and experiments”.

“Many of the discussions of the future at Cern and the LHC era end with the question: ‘Yes, but how will we ever keep track of such a large project?’” wrote Berners-Lee. “This proposal provides an answer to such questions.”

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Tesla performs U-turn over store closures



Car prices to rise by ‘about 3%’ after decision to move to online-only sales reversed

Tesla has reversed a decision to close all its stores and move to an online-only sales model, the company has announced, pending the results of a further review on the usefulness of physical locations.

The initial decision was made as part of a plan to reduce costs at the company, in order to fund an across-the-board immediate price reduction of 6% on Tesla’s cars. Now, however, Tesla will be increasing the price of cars by “about 3%”, erasing half the savings.

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House of Lords report calls for digital super-regulator



New Digital Authority would replace ‘clearly failing’ system of self-regulation of internet

The House of Lords has called for the creation of a digital super-regulator to oversee the different bodies charged with safeguarding the internet and replace the “clearly failing” system of self-regulation by big technology companies.

A new Digital Authority is the chief recommendation of the Lords’ communications committee report, which warns that the patchwork quilt of more than a dozen regulators that oversee the digital realm creates gaps and overlaps.

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Facebook takes down fake account network used to spread hate in UK



More than 100 false accounts posed as far-right and leftwing activists to sow division, says company

Facebook has removed a network of more than 100 accounts and pages for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” on its social networks – the first time it has done so for UK-based operations seeking to influence British citizens.

The operation was spread over Facebook and Instagram and used a network of fake accounts to pose as both far-right activists and their opponents. It ran pages and groups whose names frequently changed in order to drum up more followers and operated fake accounts to engage in hate speech and spread divisive comments on both sides of the UK political debate, Facebook says.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s privacy blogpost: what he said and what he didn’t



Facebook founder talks about new focus on privacy in latest post, but what does it all mean?

My focus for the last couple of years has been understanding and addressing the biggest challenges facing Facebook. This means taking positions on important issues concerning the future of the internet. In this note, I’ll outline our vision and principles around building a privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform.

There are two types of Mark Zuckerberg post: the short feature-packed ones, and the long thinky ones. This is the latter, focused on “vision and principles”.

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YouTube defends decision to keep Tommy Robinson on its site



Firm’s move comes as Amazon removes one of far-right activist’s books from sale

YouTube has defended its decision to keep Tommy Robinson on its platform, arguing that the far-right activist’s content on its site is fundamentally different from the posts that led Facebook and Instagram to delete his account last week.

Additionally, Amazon has removed one of Robinson’s books, Mohammed’s Koran: Why Muslims Kill For Islam, from sale. His autobiography remains on the site. The company confirmed its decision to the Guardian, saying that “we reserve the right not to sell certain inappropriate content”.

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