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Author: Alex Hern

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Britons less trusting of social media than other major nations

Majority in UK favour stronger regulation of tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter

Britons trust social media platforms less than any other major nation and favour stronger regulation of Silicon Valley’s technology companies, according to a survey of 23 countries.

More than four in five Britons distrust platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, with other developed nations such as France, Germany and the US not far behind. The attitudes contrast sharply with those in middle-income countries such as Brazil, India and Mexico, where trust is far higher.

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MPs criticise social media firms for failure to report criminal posts

Facebook, Google and Twitter condemned for not telling police about crimes on their platformsFacebook, Google and Twitter have been criticised by a UK parliamentary committee for their refusal to report users to the police when they remove criminal pos…

Facebook bans far-right groups including BNP, EDL and Britain First

Number of organisations and individuals permanently banned for being ‘dangerous’

Years after the company first dismissed fears it was empowering extremists, Facebook has permanently banned a number of far-right organisations and individuals including the British National party (BNP), the English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First .

The ban, which came into effect at midday on Thursday, extends beyond the groups and individuals specifically cited as hate organisations: posts and other content that “expresses praise or support” for them will also be banned, as will users who coordinate support for the groups.

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Facebook uploaded email contacts of 1.5m users without consent

Company says it has stopped using password verification feature that collected data

Facebook has admitted to “unintentionally” uploading the address books of 1.5 million users without consent, and says it will delete the collected data and notify those affected.

The discovery follows criticism of Facebook by security experts for a feature that asked new users for their email password as part of the sign-up process. As well as exposing users to potential security breaches, those who provided passwords found that, immediately after their email was verified, the site began “importing” contacts without asking for permission.

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Online pornography age checks to be mandatory in UK from 15 July

Sites that fail to verify users are over 18 face being blocked under controversial laws

The UK’s controversial age verification system for online pornography will become mandatory on 15 July, the government has confirmed.

From that date, commercial providers of online pornography will be required to carry out “robust” age verification checks on users, in order to keep children from accessing adult content.

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Free speech row as US TV channel forces removal of tweets

Starz criticised over Twitter takedown of users’ links to news story about pirated shows

A US TV channel has forced Twitter to remove tweets linking to a news story about pirated content – including tweets from free speech campaigners complaining that the social network was removing other people’s tweets.

Starz, the network that airs American Gods, The 100 and Knightfall in the US, sent the takedown requests after the copyright and privacy news site TorrentFreak reported on a leak of promotional copies of those TV shows and others. TorrentFreak’s story did not contain any links to the pirated material, although it did include four screenshots of the content in order to report the alleged source of the leak.

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Parenting club Bounty fined £400,000 for selling users’ data

Company illegally shared 34.4m records with 39 companies, information commissioner finds

The parenting club Bounty has been fined £400,000 – one of the largest penalties possible – for sharing its data with marketing agencies without users’ permission.

Bounty offers support and advice to new parents who sign up through its website and mobile app, or are directly recruited on maternity wards. Without securing consent from those parents, the company sold their information to data brokers including Acxiom, Equifax and Sky, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said.

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Amazon staff listen to customers’ Alexa recordings, report says

Staff review audio in effort to help AI-powered voice assistant respond to commands

When Amazon customers speak to Alexa, the company’s AI-powered voice assistant, they may be heard by more people than they expect, according to a report.

Amazon employees around the world regularly listen to recordings from the company’s smart speakers as part of the development process for new services, Bloomberg News reports.

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Facebook to use AI to stop telling users to say hi to dead friends

Algorithmic features have sent suggestions to wish happy birthday to those who’ve died

Facebook has promised to use artificial intelligence to stop suggesting users invite their dead friends to parties.

The site’s freshly emotionally intelligent AI is part of a rash of changes to how Facebook handles “memorialised” accounts – pages whose owner has been reported deceased, but that are kept on the social network in their memory.

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Amazon accused of abandoning 100% renewable energy goal

Slow progress on powering firm’s datacentres using renewables raises questions

Amazon has been accused of abandoning a much-publicised goal of running its datacentres on 100% renewable energy – instead focusing its attention on winning business from the oil and gas industry.

According to a Greenpeace report released earlier this year, some of Amazon’s most important datacentres in the US state of Virginia, where the company has committed to building its second HQ, are powered by only 12% renewable energy. Across the company as a whole, Amazon reached 50% renewable usage in 2018, and has not issued any updates since.

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