Uvalde Victims’ Families Slap Meta with Lawsuit: Report

Family members of the victims of a mass shooting in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, filed a lawsuit against Meta, the owner of Instagram, Friday, according to multiple reports.

Two teachers and 19 children died in the May 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde before Border Patrol agents stormed the classroom and fatally shot the perpetrator. The lawsuit also targets Activision, the maker of the Call of Duty video game franchise, and Daniel Defense, which made the rifle used in the shooting, CBS News reported.

Read More

Commentary: Big Tech Wants to Crush Your Entire World and Trap You in Virtual Hell

Woman wearing Apple Vision Pro goggles

Apple’s recent ad for a new, thinner iPad featured a hydraulic press smashing everything the new gadget could supposedly replace: paints, musical instruments, a clay bust, arcade cabinets, record players, books.

The new iPad promises a future in which humanity has forgotten the whisper of the brush over the canvas, the vibration of a guitar string, the joy of finding a note tucked into an old used book, and the easy camaraderie of children cheering each other on as they take turns at a challenging arcade game. The craftsmanship that went into these objects is now obsolete. You don’t have to go anywhere, touch anything.

Read More

Rubio, Consumer Advocate Want Chinese Online Retailers Investigated

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

Lawmakers and consumer advocates are calling for a federal investigation into online Chinese retailers Temu and Shein.

The companies have spent billions of dollars in online American advertising with social media companies such as Meta, parent of Facebook and Instagram, and Google. The probe is warranted, critics say, because of anti-competitive practices skirting U.S. trade and public safety regulations; alleged use of slave laborers to make products sold at cut-rate prices; and advertising targeting children, low-income families and older Americans.

Read More

Moms Inadvertently Expose Daughters to Predators on Instagram in Quest for Money and Fame, Investigation Reveals

Instagram User

Mothers are inadvertently exposing their young daughters to male predators on Instagram in a quest to garner money and fame, an investigation published by The New York Times on Thursday found.

The accounts, numbering in the thousands, reveal how social media platforms are altering the definition of childhood and the increasing commodification of young girls, the NYT found. In some cases, mothers managing the accounts actively sell photographs, previously worn outfits and chat sessions with their underage daughters.

Read More

Zuckerberg Says Meta Has No Plans to Go Through with a Kids’ Version of Instagram

Mark Zuckerberg

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress on Wednesday said the tech firm has “no plans” to make a kids version of its Instagram platform. 

He acknowledge “discussions internally” on the idea but also said Meta has not “actually moved forward with that, and we currently have no plans to do so.”

Read More

New Mexico Sues Facebook and Instagram for Hosting Child Sexual Abuse, Solicitation, and Trafficking Content

New Mexico is suing Facebook and Instagram for creating “prime locations” for sexual predators to share child sexual abuse, solicitation, and trafficking content.

NM Attorney General Raúl Torrez filed a civil suit filed against Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, alleging that “certain child exploitative content” is ten times “more prevalent” on Facebook and Instagram than on pornography site PornHub and the adult content platform OnlyFans.

Read More

China Ramps Up Crackdown on American Tech

Over the past few months, China has escalated its efforts to exert control over American technology companies by implementing new requirements, bans and restrictions.

The Chinese government is clamping down on American technology companies by throttling their already limited access to the country’s massive economy, according to new requirements, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. The country has also challenged American technology dominance by developing rivals to the latest smartphones and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as announcing export limits to key metals in July.

Read More

Meta’s Oversight Board Rules That Company Stifled Speech by Removing Posts About Abortion

Meta’s Oversight Board ruled Wednesday that Facebook and Instagram showed “patterns of censorship” by removing posts about abortion that the social media platforms claimed constituted death threats.

The board had been weighing a series of posts that were initially taken down by Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, for potential death threats against both pro-abortion and pro-life advocates before being reinstated after appeals from the users. The board took up the case in June and announced this week that Facebook had erred by removing the posts, according to the ruling.

Read More

Meta’s Epidemic of Chinese ‘Spamouflage’ Propaganda

Meta recently took “what appears to be the largest known cross-platform covert influence operation in the world,” off its platforms, according to the company’s quarterly Adversarial Threat Report released this week.’

The social media accounts that made up the covert influence operation — collectively dubbed “Spamouflage” — were active all over the world, including in America, major U.S. allies, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora.

Read More

New California Bill Would Make Social Media Platforms Liable for Harm Caused to Children

Parents of children who are harmed by the use of social media platforms are one step closer to holding those platforms accountable, thanks to a new bill passed by the California Assembly Judiciary Committee.

The bill was authored by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and is being sponsored by Attorney General Bonta.  

Read More

Meta Launches Paid Verification Service

Meta on Friday launched a paid verification service for Facebook and Instagram that offers a profile badge and identity monitoring services in exchange for subscription fee.

While the company will not charge fees to existing verified accounts, others seeking verification must pay $11.99 per month on the web or $14.99 per month on mobile device, according to The Hill.

Read More

Social Media Use in Children Linked to Significant Brain Changes

Person on phone with Twitter open

A new study from the University of North Carolina shows children and teens who frequently check social media may become more sensitive in the long term to “social feedback” in the form of “likes” and “dislikes” at a time when the brain is experiencing significant developmental changes.

In the study, published at the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, researchers Maria Maza, et al, investigated whether the frequency with which middle-school age children check their Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat social media accounts is associated with long-term changes in brain development as they mature further into adolescence.

Read More

Meta’s ‘Unequal’ Moderation Policy Protects Elites on Facebook and Instagram: Report

Meta’s Oversight Board criticized the social media giant for unfairly favoring certain elite users of Facebook and Instagram, granting them amnesty from certain rules, and failing to publicly disclose the program’s extent.

Meta’s “cross-check” program is supposed to minimize the number of posts Facebook and Instagram incorrectly take down, by having a human review posts by certain “powerful” users when they are found to be violating the rules, according to the Oversight Board. The Board found that, in practice, cross-check protected these accounts, allowing their content to remain up even when it was in violation of the sites’ rules and helping favored accounts receive reduced punishments for infractions, all the while repeatedly failing to detail to the public and the Board which accounts and posts were subject to this policy.

Read More

European Country Fines Instagram $400 Million

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) fined Instagram  €405 million ($403 million USD) Monday over child privacy violations, according to Business Insider.

The fine for failing to protect the privacy of minors stemmed from a variety of default settings for minor-operated accounts that the data watchdog considered improper, according to Business Insider. Children were allowed to operate business accounts, receive messages from adults and had their accounts set to “public” by default, according to Business Insider.

Read More

Big Tech Censored Dozens of Doctors, over 800 Accounts for COVID-19 ‘Misinformation,’ Study Shows

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.

Read More

Amazon and Facebook Spent More Money Than Ever Lobbying in 2021

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.

Read More

Facebook Parent Company Will Make Its Office Workers Get the Vaccine Booster

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.”

Read More

Most Americans Don’t Trust TikTok, Facebook to Keep Their Data Safe: Poll

Facebook logo with smartphone showing lock in front

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.

Read More

China Cuts Checks to American Social Media Influencers to Hype Olympics, Downplay Boycotts

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.

Read More

Instagram Rolls Out Teen Safety Features One Day Before CEO Will Testify in Congress

Adam Mosseri

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.

Read More

State Attorney Generals Launch Investigation into Instagram’s Effects on Kids

Young person on Instagram

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.

Read More

Big Tech Down: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp Experience Widespread Outages

Smartphone with display of social media apps

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.

Read More

Mother of Slain Marine Suspended from Facebook, Instagram After Criticizing Joe Biden

Shana Chappell

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.”

Read More

Facebook Threatens Legal Action Against Group Conducting Research on Algorithm Manipulations

Person looking on Facebook with trending topics

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.

Read More