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January 20, 2022 T&S Newsletter

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T&S Early Warning News

Get ahead of new stories that are impacting the T&S industry.

Tech giants grilled on social media safety

7News | Jan 19, 2022

Company Listed: Google, Facebook Meta, TitTok, Instagram

Some of the world's biggest tech companies have been grilled on the policies and guidelines they say aim to keep users safe online.

Representatives from Google, TikTok and Meta - the company which owns Facebook and Instagram - were questioned on Thursday by a parliamentary committee over proposed laws that would hold them accountable for online harassment and abuse on their platforms.

The federal government wants to introduce the laws that would force social media platforms to take down offending posts and, in some circumstances, reveal the identity of anonymous posters.

Social media companies say they have a commercial interest in keeping Australians safe online because otherwise they would lose users.

But Reset Australia - an organisation working to address digital threats to Australian democracy - says the public don't want safety issues to be left to social media companies to regulate.

Data policy director Rys Farthing said social media companies needed to be legally held to account for the risks their platforms create, particularly for children.

Read more


Microsoft is bigger than Google, Amazon and Facebook. But now lawmakers treat it like an ally in antitrust battles.

The Washington Posts | Jan 19, 2022

Company Listed: Google, Facebook Meta, Microsoft, Instagram

When Google announced in 2019 that it would acquire Fitbit for $2 billion, lawmakers didn’t hide their frustration.

“By attempting this deal at this moment, Google is signaling that it will continue to flex and expand its power despite this immense scrutiny,” Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, said in a statement the same day the deal was announced.

But more than 24 hours after Microsoft announced its plans to purchase Activision for nearly $70 billion, aggressive trustbusters in Congress were uncharacteristically quiet. Core sponsors of antitrust legislation targeting the tech industry, including Cicilline, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) did not immediately comment to The Washington Post on the deal.

The silence underscores how Microsoft has carved out a distinct reputation among policymakers, distancing itself from the political scrutiny embroiling its top competitors in Washington. As Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google were marshaling their Washington resources to beat back competition legislation up for debate on Capitol Hill this week, Microsoft smoothly announced one of the largest acquisitions in the history of the tech industry. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Read more


Google and Meta on the defensive in Australian social media probe

ZDNet | Jan 19, 2022

Company Listed: Google, Facebook Meta

Tech giants Google and Meta appeared before the Australian Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety on Thursday morning, with both companies being grilled about misinformation and cyberbullying existing across their platforms.

Google's director of government affairs and public policy Lucinda Longcroft was repeatedly asked by the committee about YouTube displaying Clive Palmer's United Australia Party (UAP) ads containing COVID-19 misinformation.

At least nine UAP ads presented incomplete extracts of a Therapeutic Goods Administration's (TGA) report on vaccinations to convey misleading COVID-19 information, according to committee deputy chair and Labor representative Tim Watts.

Conceding the existence of these ads on YouTube, Longcroft told the committee that the platform's COVID-19 misinformation policies are "robust, rapid, and effectively enforced" as it had issued one strike to the UAP for these ads, which removed the political party's YouTube privileges for a week.

YouTube has a three-strike system whereby a YouTube channel is terminated permanently if it receives three strikes within 90 days.

Read more


Editor of BMJ slams 'ideological' Facebook for 'trying to control how people think' after social media giant labelled journal's report into alleged Pfizer Covid trial scandal 'misleading'

DailyMail | Jan 19, 2022

Company Listed: Google, Facebook Meta

The editor of the British Medical Journal has slammed Facebook for 'censoring' its report into allegations of malpractice during Pfizer's Covid vaccine trials.

Dr Kamran Abbasi accused the social media giant of suppressing 'fully fact-checked' journalism and 'trying to control how people think'.

A BMJ investigation in November warned that a contractor which ran a number of Pfizer's original jab studies may have falsified data and skewed findings.

Its report was based on dozens of internal documents, photos, audio-recordings, videos and statements from three former employees.

But when some users shared the journal entry on Facebook, their post was automatically given a 'missing context' label.

The shared article was also accompanied by a warning that said it could 'mislead people' and a link to a fact-checking website.

The BMJ is lodging a complaint with Facebook's Oversight Board this week after a failed appeal to Mark Zuckerberg to have the tags removed made via an open letter.

Dr Abbasi wrote in the BMJ today: 'We should all be very worried that Facebook, a multibillion dollar company, is effectively censoring fully fact checked journalism that is raising legitimate concerns about the conduct of clinical trials.'

He added: 'Facebook’s actions won’t stop The BMJ doing what is right, but the real question is: why is Facebook acting in this way? What is driving its world view?

Read more


Should bad science be censored on social media?

BBC News| Jan 19, 2022

Company Listed: Google, Facebook Meta

When it comes to understanding science and making health decisions, it can have life-or-death consequences.

People dissuaded from taking vaccines as a result of reading misleading information online have ended up in hospital or even died.

And inaccurate or completely made-up claims about 5G and the origins of Covid-19 have been linked to violence and vandalism.

But completely removing information can look a lot like censorship, especially for scientists whose careers are based on the understanding that facts can and should be disputed, and that evidence changes.

The Royal Society is the world's oldest continuously operating scientific institution, and it is attempting to grapple with the challenges posed by our newest ways of communicating information.


In a new report, it advises against social media companies removing content that is "legal but harmful". Instead, the report authors believe, social media sites should adjust their algorithms to prevent it going viral - and stop people making money off false claims.


But not everyone agrees with that view - especially researchers who are experts in tracking the way misinformation spreads online, and how it harms people.


The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) maintains there are cases when the best thing to do is to remove content when it is very harmful, clearly wrong and spreading very widely.

Read more


TechScape: The US government may be one step closer to breaking up Meta

The Guardian | Jan 20,2022

Company Listed: Facebook Meta


Mark Zuckerberg has a fascination with ancient Rome, but last week a court decision threatened the future of another empire: his own.


Judge James Boasberg said the US competition watchdog can pursue the break up of Meta – the owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – paving the way for a costly and lengthy legal battle. Boasberg had dismissed the Federal Trade Commission’s first attempt in June, but this time he was swayed by a revised FTC complaint under its new chair, Lina Khan.


As the judge stressed in his 48-page decision, it is “anyone’s guess” whether the FTC will win its case against a $920bn (£675bn) business that can afford very decent lawyers. Boasberg, a Washington-based district judge who hears cases under federal law, has simply ruled that the FTC has a “plausible claim” under the Sherman Act, which prevents monopolistic companies from ripping off consumers.


Even so, Boasberg has given the FTC’s case a boost. He is allowing the claim to proceed even though Meta operates in what competition experts call a zero-price market. As billions of people around the world know, Meta’s services are free – how can consumers in the US be harmed economically by a service they don’t pay for?

Read more


Misinformation Campaigns

Original insights from ongoing misinformation campaigns across the globe.


Fake WhatsApp Anniversary Financial Scam


Topic: Financial Misinformation

Location: Nigeria, Africa

Date: January 15, 2022

Company Listed: WhatsApp



Summary: As of Thursday, January 15, 2022, a financial scam (both viral and misleading) was circulating on WhatsApp in Nigeria suggesting that people could get 50GB of free data across all networks for 90 days in celebration of WhatsApps 10th Anniversary by clicking on a link. The offer further notes that it will only be valid until January 18, 2022.


Evidence: This is a screenshot of the offer as seen on WhatsApp.


Facts:

The offer includes the following URL https[:]//xn9.work/?Anniversary-2022-Gifts?ref=1642246252

Xn9.work that Kaspersky Lab detected as malware (see results).


Further investigations on the link showed that it is fake and misleading. The scammers are attempting to defraud people of their personal information and to also gain additional traffic to their sites.

Upon clicking on the link, users are required to provide phone numbers and further share the link on WhatsApp to receive the free data gift. The site also used fake testimonials to gain trust from users.

According to the offer, WhatsApp is gifting free data to celebrate its 10th year anniversary. However, upon further investigation, WhatsApp has been in existence since 2009, making this at least 13 years of existence, not 10.


Also, social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter show no promotion of such an important anniversary as claimed by the viral WhatsApp message.

Keywords: https[:]//xn9.work/?Anniversary-2022-Gifts?ref=1642246252

Xn9.work; “I Have Received Mine”; “Celebration of WhatsApp Anniversary”; “To celebrate our 10th anniversary”


T&S Policies & Regulations

Regulatory news and policy decisions impacting the T&S ecosystem.

Compare and review T&S Policies for dozens of companies here


Government-Issued Digital IDs Lay Foundation for Online and Offline Trust

Pymnts.com | Jan 18, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media


More businesses than ever are using biometrics to make sure that people accessing services and making transactions are who they say they are.


But as Jumio Chief of Digital Identity Philipp Pointner told PYMNTS in an interview, efforts to establish verification standards are currently bifurcated. On one hand, documents issued by the government are opening the doors to digital verification. Indeed, research done in collaboration between PYMNTS and Jumio has noted that 73% of respondents support using a government digital ID solution to access public online services. And then there are the private sector’s own identity initiatives, which are not connected to government services.


As Pointner posited, we’re long overdue for a convergence of those two worlds — a form of ID with government-grade security that holders can also use to access private-sector services. Taking a page from developing practices seen in Europe, the core goal rests with the transparent collection, exchange and use of data.


“There should be a purpose defining what you are allowed to do with the data — and then, outside of that purpose, you’re not allowed to use the data,” he said.

Read more


All change for the Online Safety Bill?

Lexology | Jan 19, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill has recommended significant changes to the draft Online Safety Bill published by the government in May 2021.

The Bill as currently drafted would create very significant new responsibilities for services which host user-generated content and search services. For more information, see our set of articles here.

What impact will the Committee's recommendations have?

If the Committee's recommendations were to be adopted by the government into a revised draft Bill, those responsibilities would apply over more services, content and activity, and would be more exacting and subject to more scrutiny. Some of the recommendations would require services to redesign the very features that make them popular with and convenient for users.

The tenor of the report is that online services have potential for significant and widespread harm and, before they can consider the good they can achieve, they have to be designed to avoid harms and then continually take action to prevent harmful content and activity arising. In a concept which runs through the report, the Committee's view is that service providers should be "liable for failure to take reasonable steps to combat reasonably foreseeable harm resulting from the operation of their services"

Read more


T&S Careers & Jobs

T&S jobs posted recently, often within the last 24 hours, looking for top talent.

Check out all the recent T&S job postings here


Director of Trust & Safety

Rockstar Games | New York, NY, USA

Posted: Jan 20, 2022

  • 10+ years experience in Trust/Safety, Content Moderation, Communications, Fraud, Abuse, Compliance, Operations, or equivalent field

  • Experience building and scaling massive online products, preferably at a global scale

  • In-depth knowledge of safety and security protocols and how they pertain to digital products

  • Strong track record of hiring and developing great talent, including recruitment of full-time staff and managing external vendor relationships where needed

  • Proven ability to work directly with all cross-functional teams and management

  • Experience in public-facing communications to users


Senior Director of Product, Trust & Safety - Remote

Upwork | Illinois City, IL, USA

Posted: Jan 19, 2022

  • Extensive experience leading and growing Product Management teams, building vision and roadmap, setting and achieving aggressive goals, and working seamlessly with design, analytics, marketing and operations

  • Empathy for customers and experience delivering features and updates that surprise and delight customers while still deterring malicious or low-quality actions

  • Strong communication abilities, and experience working with and presenting to executives both internally and externally


Senior Applied Scientist II, Trust & Safety (BK, SF, or Remote)

Etsy | Brooklyn, NY, USA

Posted: Jan 20, 2022

  • You have a track record of applying machine learning techniques in addressing risk/fraud problems in the industry

  • You have focused expertise in one of the following fields: graph models, unsupervised anomaly detection, deep learning, natural language processing, or reinforcement learning

  • You have solid software development skills

  • You are comfortable with using git, Linux environments, dockers, and other tools for writing robust, production-ready code

  • orientation, age, citizenship, marital or family status, disability,

  • veteran status, or any other legally protected status

Senior Director I, Specialty Compliance and Ethics, Ecomm, Trust...

WAL-MART | USA

Posted: Jan 20, 2022

  • You are highly motivated, and customer focused

  • You have global risk management experience

  • You have operations experience - domestic and international

  • You have proven success collaborating across a matrix organization to get things done

  • You have demonstrated your ability to be a cross-functional team player who can make decisions firmly and objectively

  • You have a hands-on entrepreneurial style while managing functional responsibility and key relationships

Vice President, Technology, Trust and Safety

FOX News Channel | Los Angeles, CA, USA

Posted: Jan 20, 2022

  • Experience in online social dynamics and community moderation at scale

  • Prior experience with leading technical and policy approaches to safe community development

  • Comfortable collaborating across functions and teams to drive results


T&S FAQs

What is T&S?

Great question (and one the industry hasn’t fully agreed upon). Think of Trust & Safety as the organization that protects social media and Big Tech companies and users from online abuse. As long as users are able to generate content online, time has told us that a minority of these users will create content that is offensive, scandalous, fraudulent, disingenuous, misinformative, hateful, spiteful, and harmful. T&S fights this with flexible policies, resilient operations, and informed detections.


Is T&S interesting?

That depends. If you enjoy stopping bad actors and keeping good people safe, then you’ll love T&S. It requires understanding new technologies and staying on top of breaking issues across society and the world. It also pays Big Tech salaries (no coding skills required).


How do you get into T&S?

That’s the tricky part. The short answer is: not easily. Most T&S orgs are part of Big Tech and (as a result) pay extremely well, so jobs are highly competitive. If you don’t know someone in the industry who can help refer you in, then you can learn more about T&S policies, current events, issues, regulations, and jobs at trustsafetyinstitute.com to improve your hiring chances and start doing meaningful work that helps people.