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The Chinese government faces a quandary: how to convince its people that what it said about a chained woman is true.
The NewYork Times | March 1, 2022
Company Listed: Social Media
Since a short video of the woman chained in a doorless shack went viral in late January, the Chinese public has taken the matter into its own hands to find out who she is, whether she is a victim of human trafficking and why the apparently mentally ill woman had eight children.
The public thought it couldn’t trust a government that was not truthful about her identity and that was acquiescent when it came to forced marriages involving human trafficking.
On Chinese social media, users dug up a marriage certificate with a photo of a woman who was identified by the government as the chained woman but looked different from her. They dived into court documents that showed the region where she lived has a dark history of human trafficking. Long-retired investigative journalists traveled to a village deep in the mountains, knocking on each door, to verify the government’s claim that she grew up there.
Montana AG opens investigation into TikTok
Helenair | March 1, 2022
Company Listed: TikTok
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen on Monday announced a civil investigation into social media giant TikTok for potential violations of the state consumer protection act.
Knudsen said in a press release Monday the investigation seeks to answer questions about whether the social media company is intentionally distributing a dangerous product without adequate warning.
This is a critical investigation to protect Montana children and assist Montana parents," Knudsen said, citing reports of the platform being used by drug cartels, sexual predators, pornography distributors and inciting troubling behavior by teens.
Montana is happy to take the lead at looking into potential violations of state law by this Chinese social media goliath to help parents keep their children safe online and crack down on platforms which potentially misrepresent their safety features for financial gain," Knudsen said.
Ukrainians turn to encrypted messengers, offline maps and Twitter amid Russian invasion
Tech Crunch | March 1, 2022
Company Listed: Twitter, Google
Ukrainians have turned to offline mapping and encrypted communication apps in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country, which is displacing millions who have left their homes to either fight back or flee to neighboring countries. According to data from app store intelligence firm Apptopia, over the past several days Ukrainians have been downloading various communication apps, offline maps and more where they can keep up with the latest news and information, like Twitter and streaming radio apps.
Currently, the top five apps in the country’s iOS App Store include the private messenger Signal, messaging app Telegram, Twitter and offline messengers Zello and Bridgefy. Elsewhere in the top 10 is WhatsApp; Maps.Me, an offline maps app that’s now ranking a half dozen spots higher than Google Maps, which has now just pulled its live traffic (info dubbed a security risk); and Starlink’s app from SpaceX — the latter which jumped up 39 spots after Elon Musk announced the satellite internet service was now active in the country. (Of course, to what extent the service is actually viable in the places it’s needed may be reflected in the app’s rank going forward.
Flood of Russian misinformation puts tech companies in the hot seat
The Guardian| March 1, 2022
Company Listed: Facebook Meta, Twitter
Millions of people are flocking to platforms such as Facebook, TikTok and Twitter for round-the-clock updates the Russian invasion of Ukraine – renewing scrutiny of the outsized role that tech companies play in disseminating news of war.
Social media has long been instrumental in distributing frontline footage, but Ukraine presents a new scale of global conflict for private platforms to navigate.
Tech companies are facing a constant stream of mis- and disinformation, propaganda from Russian-backed outlets, violent content, and on-the-ground footage of fleeing refugees, causing world leaders and tech watchdogs to call for greater accountability and transparency in how companies wield their powerful platforms.
Ukrainian officials last week pleaded with US tech giants to take action against Russia, urging them to restrict access to their services within Russia, more forcefully curtail the spread of misinformation, and crack down on Russian state-backed outlets.
“In 2022, modern technology is perhaps the best answer to the tanks, multiple rocket launchers and missiles,” Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, said in a letter to Tim Cook asking the Apple CEO to cut off Russia’s access to the App Store.
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China’s algorithm law takes effect to curb Big Tech’s sway in public opinion
SCMP | March 1, 2022
Company Listed: Social Media
A new regulation in China designed to rein in the use of recommendation algorithms in apps went into effect on Tuesday, representing Beijing’s latest effort to curb the influence of Big Tech companies in shaping online views and opinions.
The rules come at a time when misinformation and fake news are running rampant on Chinese social media despite extensive government censorship. In recent days, platforms such as microblogging site Weibo, ByteDance’s short video-sharing app Douyin, and Tencent Holdings’ ubiquitous message app WeChat have shut down thousands of accounts that were spreading provocative content related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s internet watchdog, unveiled the draft of the regulation last August, hoping to “regulate algorithm-empowered recommendation activities on the internet”.
Crypto’s Impact on Russian Sanctions Could Lead to Tougher Regulation
PYMNTS | March 1, 2022
Company Listed: Social Media
Whether or not Russia is able to use cryptocurrency to bypass sanctions is the hottest question in the virtual assets industry.
With the SWIFT messaging system now closed to many major Russian banks and sanctioned companies and oligarchs, the traditional banking system is choking off President Vladimir Putin’s economy and strongest allies.
Could bitcoin come to their rescue?
One answer is yes, of course. In many ways, that was the basic purpose of bitcoin and most of the other cryptocurrencies that followed it. To be, according to the first sentence of the bitcoin white paper: “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”
Both Iran and North Korea have used cryptocurrencies for some time to evade sanctions, and there are plenty of tools designed to obscure crypto transaction more than they already are by default: decentralized finance (DeFi) exchanges for one. Their transaction volume is growing rapidly, they do not require — or even have — anti-money-laundering (AML) tools to identify customers and have, in theory at least, no employees or owners for law enforcement to chase.
T&S Good News
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Creating Trust and Safety During the New Technology Revolution
InfoSecurity | March 1, 2022
Company Listed: Social Media
The enormous benefits and concurrent challenges involved in the rollout of emerging technologies were discussed during the opening keynote on day one of the Mobile World Congress 2022 in Barcelona, Spain.
Introducing the session, Mats Granryd, director general of GSMA, said that it is very possible to imagine the future technology possibilities of tomorrow right now. He pointed out that many sci-fi films in the past have been surprisingly accurate in their predictions of future life. “I am amazed how much right they got about the future – space travel, human-like robots, self-driving vehicles and no cables anywhere,” he noted.
The current technology revolution will involve moving from simple connectivity to meaningful connectivity, underpinned by 5G, according to Granryd. This will affect all industries, “from automotive to aviation, education to entertainment and manufacturing to the metaverse.” This “intelligent connectivity” will be enabled by a combination of 5G, AI and big data.
Protecting children in the metaverse: it’s easy to blame big tech, but we all have a role to play
CanadianInquirer | March 1, 2022
Company Listed: Meta Verse
In a recent BBC news investigation, a reporter posing as a 13-year-old girl in a virtual reality (VR) app was exposed to sexual content, racist insults and a rape threat. The app in question, VRChat, is an interactive platform where users can create “rooms” within which people interact (in the form of avatars). The reporter saw avatars simulating sex, and was propositioned by numerous men.
The results of this investigation have led to warnings from child safety charities including the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) about the dangers children face in the metaverse. The metaverse refers to a network of VR worlds which Meta (formerly Facebook) has positioned as a future version of the internet, eventually allowing us to engage across education, work and social contexts.