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January 31, 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.

Conspiracy theorists, banned on major social networks, connect with audiences on newsletters and podcasts

The Washington Post | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Joseph Mercola, a leading anti-vaccine advocate whose screeds have been restricted by YouTube and Facebook, this month warned that the unvaccinated might soon be imprisoned in government-run camps. The week before, he circulated a study purporting to use government data to prove that more children had died of covid shots than from the coronavirus itself.

Shut down by major social media platforms, Mercola has found a new way to spread these debunked claims: on Substack, thesubscription-based newsletter platform that is increasingly a hub for controversial and often misleading perspectives about the coronavirus.

Substack, which researchers from the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate say makes millions of dollars off anti-vaccine misinformation, on Wednesday defended its tolerance for publishing “writers with whom we strongly disagree.”

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Why Did Facebook Reject These Ads?

The New York Times| Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: Facebook Meta

For the report, Jackie Rotman, the nonprofit organization’s founder, interviewed employees and leaders at more than 35 companies focused on issues related to women’s sexual health — including pelvic pain, menopause, menstruation and fertility — and surveyed dozens more. (The survey was created in partnership with Origin, a pelvic floor physical therapy company.)

All 60 companies had ads rejected by Facebook, and about half of them said their accounts had been suspended at some point, according to the report, which was released on Tuesday. In most cases, Facebook had labeled the ads as containing “adult content” or promoting “adult products and services.”

In its advertising policies, Facebook says that “ads promoting sexual and reproductive health products or services, like contraception and family planning must be targeted to people 18 years or older and must not focus on sexual pleasure.”

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Twitter stopped caring about 2020 election lies just two months after it was all over

Mashable | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: Twitter

When Twitter banned Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 riots, many rejoiced at finally being rid of relentless misinformation at the hands of the former president. Then, when Twitter then actively enforced its civic integrity policy against further misinformation about the 2020 election, the platform felt a little safer — but apparently that only lasted until two months later, when the platform stopped enforcing the policy against 2020 election lies at all.

Twitter spokesperson Elizabeth Busby recently told CNN that the company has not been enforcing the civic integrity policy in relation to 2020 election lies "since March 2021." Busby also maintained that this change in policy enforcement has been known since June 2021, as reported in a New York Times article. However, the referenced article only mentions that Twitter had "loosened its enforcement since March," while Busby's statement makes clear there has been no enforcement happening at all.

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Covid misinformation is a risk – tech companies need to remove harmful content not tweak algorithms

The News 24 | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Many worldwide have now caught Covid. But during the pandemic many more are likely to have encountered something else that’s been spreading virally: misinformation.

False information has plagued the Covid response, erroneously convincing people that the virus isn’t harmful, of the merits of various ineffective treatments, or of false dangers associated with vaccines.

Often, this misinformation spreads through social media. At its worst, it can kill people. The UK’s Royal Society, noting the scale of the problem, has made online information the subject of its latest report. This puts forward arguments for how to limit misinformation’s harms.

The report is an ambitious statement, covering everything from deepfake videos to conspiracy theories about water fluoridation. But its key coverage is of the Covid pandemic and – rightly – the question of how to tackle misinformation about Covid and vaccines.

Here, it makes some important recommendations. These include the need to better support factcheckers, to devote greater attention to the sharing of misinformation on private messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, and to encourage new approaches to online media literacy.

But the main recommendation – that social media companies shouldn’t be required to remove content that is legal but harmful, but be asked to tweak their algorithms to prevent the viral spread of misinformation – is too limited.

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Joe Rogan Apologizes, Spotify Publishes Content Policy in Response to Neil Young Outcry

WJS | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: Spotify

Joe Rogan, responding to Neil Young’s objections to his podcast and host Spotify, said his show has grown “out of control” and pledged to be more balanced and informed about controversial topics and guests.

In a late Sunday evening 10-minute Instagram video post, Mr. Rogan said, “If I pissed you off, I’m sorry,” referring to growing backlash against him and Spotify Technology SA stemming from the folk rocker’s accusations that they spread false information about Covid-19 vaccines through the popular Podcast.

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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

Instagram, TikTok pull ads for violating 'body image' policies

Local21 | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: TikTok, Instagram

Both Instagram and TikTok reportedly pulled advertisements off their platforms, saying they included misinformation and violated "body image" policies.

The ads, from mental health startup "Cerebral", show a young woman eating various foods, including a donut and cake, according to a report by Forbes.

"Those who live by impulse, eat by impulse," the ads claim, followed by the claim obesity is five times more common among people with ADHD, and then the suggestion Cerebral can help fix those issues by supplying "the tools and proper medication to change impulsive habits."

The young woman is then seen at the end of the ad, smiling and eating a salad.

Instagram's parent company, Meta (formerly Facebook), apparently removed the advertisements from its platform after being contacted by Forbes.

Cerebral offers "expert help" for mental health and seemingly targets a demographic of younger women. On its website, it offers help for "anxiety, depression, insomnia, and ADHD" and claims to provide customers with "online prescriber visits, care counseling, and prescriptions delivered to your door."

The medication promoted in some of Cerebral's offending advertisements is reportedly a class of Type 2 diabetes medication the startup claims is a "wonder drug" for weight loss.

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T&S Good News

Some of the good news in the T&S industry that leaders want to know

Facebook messenger is rolling out End to End encryption for all users.

Digital Information | Jan 31, 2022

Company Listed: Facebook Meta

Messenger has fully rolled out end-to-end encryption for users across the board, making this the second of Meta’s projects to receive the treatment.

While WhatsApp is the application typically known for end-to-end encryption being used as a form of user safety, it entered the social media game much later than Messenger did. The default form of conversation between Facebook users, Messenger was initially just an in-built chat system before it got its own app release back in 2011 for Android and iOS. However, it was ultimately overshadowed by WhatsApp’s own success as an app, with its end-to-end encryption being painted as a privacy feature geared towards making a safer community. Then Facebook decided to acquire the company, integrate it into its menagerie of apps, and WhatsApp’s reputation has been taking blow after blow ever since.

A major reason as to why this is happening is that WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption has been repeatedly noted to be fallible. For example, backups that are created nightly by the application are saved by the platform itself as well, therefore managing to override encryption and spelling out messages. Furthermore, there’s the fact that WhatsApp still manages to siphon user data off of its community, something that kind of flies in the face of the entire privacy image that the platform is attempting to conjure up, but technically doesn’t break end-to-end encryption.

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T&S Careers & Jobs

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

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Sr. Trust & Safety Operations Program Manage

Match Group | Los Angeles, CA, USA