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March 15, 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.

Digital Human Rights Need a Single Home in U.S. Government

Foreign Policy | Mar 14, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Digital authoritarianism - the use of information technology by authoritarian regimes to surveil, repress, and manipulate domestic and foreign populations—is on the rise. In China, the Great Firewall and other systematic tools of digital oppression define the norms of public and private discourse. In Turkey, Wikipedia was banned for nearly three years before the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that the ban was a violation of freedom of expression. In Myanmar, a military coup has instituted nightly internet shutdowns. The Washington Post, as part of the global Pegasus Project, has uncovered widespread abuse of spyware technology to monitor dissidents.

The list of such abuses of the human right to participate in free and open digital discourse is long. Moreover, the methods of digital authoritarianism are broad: blocking access to the internet, censoring content, flooding the information sphere with disinformation in addition to co-opting social media and other online platforms. These methods are enabled by an array of tools and technologies, including surveillance, censorship, social manipulation, cyberattacks, and targeted online persecution. Technologies such as artificial intelligence vastly expand the reach of these tools.

While authoritarian regimes have always tried to tightly control their people, the modern means by which we communicate bring new and frightening dimensions. What is equally disturbing is that democratic governments, including that of the United States, have been for the most part observers of digital oppression.

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Russia Bans Instagram Access for 80 Million Users

Inside book | Mar 14, 2022

Company Listed: Instagram

At midnight, Russia officially cut off access to Instagram, banning the platform for much of the country’s population. The ban comes just days after Moscow vowed to restrict access to the photo-sharing app in retaliation for Facebook parent company Meta’s decision to allow calls for violence against Russian soldiers on its platforms.

On Friday, Instagram users in Russia were given a 48-hour grace period by Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzorto and told to transfer their photos and videos from Instagram before the ban went into effect at midnight Sunday, when they would no longer be able to access their accounts.

“We need to ensure the psychological health of citizens, especially children and adolescents, to protect them from harassment and insults online,” Roskomnadzor said, explaining why the platform was being shut down.

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SIU professor aims to prevent fraud caused by ‘sock puppet’ social media accounts

News.Siu | Mar 14, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

“Hey everyone, don’t accept anything from me. It’s not me!” How many times has a message like this come across your social media feed? A researcher at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is working on technologies to stop “sock puppet” requests that can lead to profile hacking, identity theft and other havoc for social media users.

Sajedul Talukder, assistant professor in SIU’s School of Computing and director of the Security and Privacy Enhanced Machine Learning Lab, has received a $158,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Research Initiative to investigate ways to prevent “sock puppet” connection requests, which are false online identities and user accounts created for deceptive purposes.

Talukder aims to build a digital framework rooted in cognitive psychology, user-centric research and machine learning methods to defend against such accounts and requests in online social networks. The work will begin in April and last at least two years.

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AARP says Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has declared social media a “Gold Mine” for scammers

Bullrunnow | Mar 14, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

According to AARP the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has declared social media a “Gold Mine” for scammers after consumers reported losing $770 million in social media scams in 2021. That was double the amount of reported losses from 2020 – and we know fraud is severely under-reported, so the real losses are likely much higher.

The top three social media scams in 2021 were investment scams (many related to cryptocurrency), romance scams and shopping scams peddling counterfeit goods or not shipping anything at all.

According to the FTC, criminals are able to use the information we provide about ourselves on social media sites to target us with ads for fake products. The relatively low cost to advertise on these sites also makes it easier for crooks to cast a wider net.

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Russian government accounts are using a Twitter loophole to spread disinformation

The Conversation | Mar 15, 2022

Company Listed: Twitter, Social Media

In February this year, reports surfaced on Twitter and Facebook that the Ukrainian government was undertaking a mass genocide of civilians. Around the same time, conspiracy theorists began saying Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was an agent of the “New World Order”.

These claims have been thoroughly debunked, but not before attracting millions of views and offering a purported justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. More recently, Russian and Chinese officials have claimed the United States has funded bioweapons research in Ukraine.

Social media has played a crucial role in the spread of these and other false claims. We have identified a network of dozens of Russian government Twitter accounts using a loophole in the platform’s rules to run a coordinated program of disinformation.

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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

China plans to extend game restrictions on minors; live streaming and social media under scanner

News 9 Live | Mar 15, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

On Monday, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) released a draft document named 'Regulations on the Protection of Minors on the Internet' gaming companies, live streaming platforms and online video and audio content providers to create a "youth mode" for minors who use their services.

Apart from creating a youth mode, such companies are required to follow relevant Chinese regulations and standards in terms of use period, duration, functions and content, etc. Meanwhile, they are also required to provide time, authority and consumption management features for guardians of such minors "to perform guardianship duties."

The draft rules mandate that online live broadcast service providers should not allow minors under the age of sixteen to create live broadcast publisher accounts and further establish a 'dynamic verification mechanism' for the real identity information of online live streamers.

Online service providers in China would be required to regulate and "reasonably limit" the single consumption amount and the single-day cumulative consumption amount of minors in the use of online products and services.

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Social media ‘censorship plan’ for South Africa is on the way

Businesstech | Mar 14, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Less than two weeks after president Cyril Ramaphosa approved the Films and Publications Amendment Act, South Africa’s Film and Publications Board (FPB) is already dealing with its first major test case.

The Amendment Act, which came into effect from 1 March 2022, significantly expands the FPB’s mandate, migrating it from a simple classification authority to a fully-fledged regulator, with the legitimate powers to issue and renew licences (certificates), accredit distributors and impose fines, in case of non-compliance.

The Act also gives the FPB power to regulate almost all online content published in South Africa – not just the movies and television it has previously regulated.

The regulator has also confirmed that it is now developing new guidelines about what can be shared on social media platforms.

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South Africa regulator refers Meta to tribunal over dominance

Economic times | Mar 15, 2022

Company Listed: Meta

South Africa's Competition Commission on Monday said it had referred Facebook and WhatsApp owner Meta Platforms to a tribunal for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the market.