SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS RACE TO TACKLE RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION
Amid the Russian invasion into Ukrainian territory, social media platforms are making attempts to take down disinformation campaigns originating from the Kremlin, Politico reports.
Social media posts claiming that the Ukrainian government is responsible for a genocide, and that Ukraine launched an unprovoked attack on Russia, have been circulating widely, racking up millions of hits, likes and shares.
Descriptions of Ukrainians as ‘nazis’ and rumours that Ukrainian troops are using illegal chemical weapons have spread widely online, a report by EU vs Disinfo suggests, while posts tagged with ‘refugee’ spread widely after Russian media outlets reported that civilians from the Donbas region had been evacuated to Russia.
The spread of disinformation on social media platforms comes as tech giants come under increased scrutiny from lawmakers over the effectiveness of their efforts to combat the spread of false and harmful content online.
Parent of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, Meta, said it had set up a specialist unit in response to the Ukraine crisis in a bid to counter the spread of false information on its platforms.
CHILDREN CAN ENTER VIRTUAL STRIP CLUBS IN THE METAVERSE
Child users are being allowed into virtual strip clubs in Meta’s virtual reality app the Metaverse, according to a BBC investigation.
As part of the investigation, a BBC researcher created an account posing as a 13-year-old girl and was allowed into virtual reality forums in which avatars were ‘simulating sex.’
The researcher found evidence of grooming and rape threats and was approached with offers of sex by numerous male users.
The NSPCC’s head of child safety online policy, Andy Burrows, told the BBC that the findings showed “children being exposed to entirely inappropriate, really incredibly harmful experiences.”
“This is a product that is dangerous by design, because of oversight and neglect.”
GOVT PLANS TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM ANONYMOUS TROLLS
Social media users will be given more control over blocking anonymous trolls, as part of new measures to regulate social media firms, the government has announced.
The Online Safety Bill will be updated with two new provisions. The first will require social media platforms to allow users to block any user who is not verified, while a second will mandate platforms to allow users to opt out of seeing any harmful content.
The government has ruled out banning anonymous accounts altogether, suggesting that the softer approach of facilitating blocking such accounts provides “a better balance between empowering and protecting adults – particularly the vulnerable – while safeguarding freedom of expression online.”
“Tech firms have a responsibility to stop anonymous trolls polluting their platforms,” said Digital Secretary, Nadine Dorries.
“People will now have more control over who can contact them and be able to stop the tidal wave of hate served up to them by rogue algorithms.”
9 TECH FIRMS UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR ENDANGERING CHILDREN
Nine tech firms are under investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for endangering children online, according to a report by the Telegraph.
The ICO has written to the 9 firms in relation to potential breaches of the Children’s Code, a data protection code of practice for online services used by children.
The investigation follows complaints of breaches brought to the ICO’s attention by children’s campaign group 5 Rights Foundation. 5 Rights said Apple, Omegle and Instagram were in breach of the code for allowing children to access dating apps, engage with sexual material and access self-harm material.
Chair of 5 Rights, Baroness Beeban Kidron, said she was expecting formal action to be taken against the tech companies as a result of the investigation. “Time and time again we see them failing their most vulnerable users and investing lobbying power to water down proposals for tighter online regulation,” 5 Rights said in a blog post.
Gooseberry Planet offers a range of resources for children, teachers and parents. Visit our website for more details.