Major technology companies and social media platforms have removed, suppressed or flagged the accounts of over 800 prominent individuals and organizations, including medical doctors, for COVID-19 misinformation, according to a new study from the Media Research Center (MRC).
MRC’s Free Speech America CensorTrack, an initiative that monitors acts of censorship across online platforms, identified over 41 instances between March 2020 and February 2022 in which doctors, scientists and medical organizations were censored, according to the results of a study shared with Daily Caller News Foundation.
Amazon and Facebook parent company Meta spent more money in 2021 lobbying lawmakers and officials than any year before, according to lobbying disclosure filings.
Amazon spent $20.3 million on lobbying while Meta spent $20.1 million in 2021, according to a review of lobbying disclosure filings by MarketWatch. The figures are record totals for both tech companies, who spent $18.9 million and $19.7 million on lobbying in 2020, respectively.
Google’s lobbying spend for 2021 clocked in at $11.5 million, while Microsoft spent $10.3 million and Apple spent $6.5 million, according to MarketWatch’s review.
Facebook parent company Meta will require its in-person workers to receive a booster shot in addition to a COVID-19 vaccine, the company announced Monday.
By March 28, Meta employees must have received the booster to use the in-person offices of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, The Wall Street Journal reported. Meta is reportedly delaying the reopening of its offices until late March due to the requirement.
“We’re focused on making sure our employees continue to have choices about where they work given the current COVID-19 landscape,” Janelle Gale, Meta’s vice president of human resources, said in a statement, CNBC reported. “We understand that the continued uncertainty makes this a difficult time to make decisions about where to work, so we’re giving more time to choose what works best for them.”
A majority of Americans don’t trust major social media platforms, including TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, to keep their data safe, according to a new poll.
Over 70% of American internet users say they don’t trust Facebook to responsibly manage their personal information or data related to their internet activity, according to the results of The Washington Post/Schar School poll released Wednesday. Similarly, 63% say they don’t trust TikTok to handle their data and 60% say they don’t trust Instagram.
Amazon and Apple were deemed the most trustworthy major tech companies, with just 40% of Americans saying they distrust the tech giants, according to the poll results.
China’s government is paying social media influencers in the U.S. to promote the Beijing Olympics and distract from diplomatic boycotts over its human rights violations, according to disclosures filed with the Department of Justice.
The Chinese consulate is paying Vippi, a New Jersey based public relations firm, $300,000 to have influencers on Instagram, TikTok and Twitch promote the Beijing Olympics, according to the disclosures. The influencers will also be required to promote U.S.-China cooperation on issues including energy and climate change.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have inspired diplomatic boycotts from the U.S., Australia and the U.K. due to China’s purported ethnic cleansing and torture of Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority in Western China.
Instagram unveiled a host of child safety measures and parental controls for its app just one day before chief executive Adam Mosseri is due to testify in Congress.
“At Instagram, we’ve been working for a long time to keep young people safe on the app,” Mosseri wrote in a blog post. “As part of that work, today we’re announcing some new tools and features to keep young people even safer on Instagram.”
The new features include controls allowing parents to set time limits for their kids’ use of Instagram, providing resources on how Instagram works and options allowing kids to notify parents if they report another user. Instagram will also launch its “Take A Break” feature, which asks users to take some time away from Instagram if they’ve been scrolling for a while.
A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general launched a probe into Instagram on Thursday to examine whether the company violated state-level consumer protection laws.
The states are investigating whether Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which owns Instagram, promoted the image-sharing platform “to children and young adults” despite being aware of its negative effects, according to statements from the attorneys general. The probe cites internal Facebook communications and research leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen and published by The Wall Street Journal showing Meta was aware that use of Instagram could contribute to body image and mental health issues among teens.
“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws,” Republican Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement.
Platforms owned by Facebook all experienced outages at the same time late Monday morning, and could not be accessed.
Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all went down Monday morning, according to outage tracking site Downdetector. Facebook was first reported down around 11:15 a.m., with reports peaking around 12 p.m. with over 100,000 reported outages, according to the site.
When users attempted to access Instagram, a message reading “5xx Server Error” appeared. A message reading “Sorry, something went wrong” appeared when users tried to access Facebook.
The mother of a U.S. Marine who died during the ISIS-affiliated attack on Kabul’s airport has been suspended from Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram.
“Shana Chappell, mother of Marine Kareem Nikoui who was killed in Kabul, had her FB and Instagram accounts suspended for posts she made about her son and her feelings about the President and Vice President,” Lynn Afendoulis, former Michigan State Representative, said on Facebook. “This is horrifying. Her son GAVE HIS LIFE FOR OUR COUNTRY. She can say what she wants. Her FB account is back up. For now. God be with her.”
A research group that has been investigating the manipulation of algorithms by Instagram was forced to shut down its research after legal threats from Facebook, according to Breitbart.
The Germany-based group, AlgorithmWatch, was investigating how Instagram favors certain types of content over others, and thus promotes them more heavily on users’ timelines. The group had been utilizing a browser extension that specializes in collecting data from users’ Instagram feeds in order to determine certain trends.
Among other findings, AlgorithmWatch determined that Instagram, a photo-sharing website, more heavily prioritizes images that include faces rather than just text. In May, representatives from Facebook, which owns Instagram, requested a meeting with the project’s leaders; during that meeting, Facebook accused the group, without any evidence, of violating Instagram’s terms of service. They also claimed that the investigation was in violation of the European Union’s GDPR data laws, since the project was allegedly collecting user data without the consent of the users.