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Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, recently released an op-ed in The New York Times, “It’s Time to Break Up Facebook,” expressing concern about the monopolistic nature of Facebook and the power wielded by Mark Zuckerberg.

Leapfrogging off concerns raised about Facebook’s recent mistakes, including “the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention,” Hughes urges for more than governmental oversight over the company: he suggests that the F.T.C. and Justice Department break up Facebook into multiple companies (and thus undoing its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp).

He justifies this call to action based on the need to create a competitive market (which cannot be achieved organically due to the enormous amount of capital needed to “take on” Facebook) and to engender more governmental oversight over sensitive privacy and “free speech” policies, thus curbing Zuckerberg’s lone decision-making as majority share holder.

While Hughes defends Zuckerberg’s character, he questions whether any one person should be allowed so much control over billions of people. And to that end, he leaves us to ponder several important questions, such as “Should we be worried that Facebook owns all of our private conversations and photos?”; “To what extend is the company’s knowledge about our interests invasive?”; and “Is Facebook really ‘free’ or do we pay for it with our time and data?”

Read the full article here: “It’s Time to Break Up Facebook”

A counter-argument in the NYT by Nick Clergg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs and communications, can be found here: “Breaking Up Facebook Is Not the Answer”

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Internet Rules per Zuckerberg

In the Washington Post article, “Mark Zuckerberg: The Internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these four areas”, Zuckerberg calls for the government to make more regulations to preserve the legitimacy of the internet and safety for its consumers. Specifically, by: (1) regulating harmful content, (2) preserving election integrity, (3) protecting the privacy of its users, and (4) improving the maintenance of data. Zuckerberg explains each as they pertain to certain needs in mending internet usage on various platforms which are not limited to Facebook. The first is (1) the need for a standardized metric to evaluate and determine what constitutes “harmful content”. Zuckerberg states that Facebook works with an independent agency in this vein and recommends a different third-party to govern harmful content in accordance with the new comprehensive standards. Concerning (2) election integrity, Zuckerberg mentions that Facebook already improved the verification of political ads and created searchable archives for them; however, he argues that determining which ads classify as ‘political’ is not always clear. With regards to the (3) confidentiality of personal information, he proposes that more countries should adopt privacy policies, like GDPR, which would coordinate a framework for data protection across the globe. This framework would allow users to choose how their information is used and better ensure that privacy standards are universally met. He also stresses that this information should not be stored locally (where it is most vulnerable). Zuckerberg admits that there should be recognized protocol to “hold companies such as Facebook accountable by imposing sanctions when [they] make mistakes” and that regulations which vary by country or state will not be as successful as a “common global framework”. To address (4) data portability, Zuckerberg proposes that well-defined statutes outlining which agency is responsible for protecting information when it moves between services (different apps etc.) are necessary. He concludes that Facebook has made tremendous strides to identify and locate harmful content, to remove posts related to election interference, and to improve the transparency of ads. Additionally, Zuckerberg welcomes a discussion with lawmakers around the world to promote this agenda and acknowledges that there are many other issues to address.

Link to full article below:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mark-zuckerberg-the-internet-needs-new-rules-lets-start-in-these-four-areas/2019/03/29/9e6f0504-521a-11e9-a3f7-78b7525a8d5f_story.html?utm_term=.5db312329cea

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Twitter is Testing a ‘Hide Tweet’ Option

Keeping conversations civil, active and engaging on social media could be challenging. As Social Mediums, we discuss at length how to keep conversations healthy and how to deal with trolls. Until now Twitter provided three options to this matter: block, mute, or report, but none of them completely addressed the issue. The first two only affect the experience of the blocker, and ‘report’ only works for the content that violates Twitter policies. But all this is about to change as Twitter is working on a new feature that will let users the ability to hide replies to their tweets, giving them more ways to control what is seen in their feeds. 

– The Social Mediums. 

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Gutenberg – The New WordPress Editor | CUNY Academic Commons News

While you think Facebook and Twitter when you think social media, much of our work is with more traditional “social networks” like the Commons. WordPress, which is the “guts” of the Commons has had the same basic post/page editor for over ten years. It’s lurching towards a significant change with a slow roll out of the Gutenberg editor interface. It’s been available as a plug in for some time, but has just become part of the most recent WordPress versions. In the future, it will likely replace the classic editor. In this tutorial from the Commons, the team outlines how the Commons is working to make this transition smooth and some basic instruction on how to use the editor. — Paul
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Facebook Will Now Allow Pages to Join Facebook Groups – From Social Media Today

One of the issues we discussed at length when the Social Mediums first started working at the GC was how to embody our programs on Facebook. At the time, Facebook was working to suspend “fake” people. Some of us wanted the social interaction that was only available to a person–there is something meaningful in, say, the GC Music Program “liking” the photo of a music student’s most recent recital. Then, there was some consternation deciding to have a “group” vs. a “page.” This change looks like it opens up some of the possibilities we’d missed out on originally. I’m interested in how this changes the way our programs can engage with current and prospective students, as well as faculty and visiting scholars. — Paul, English Social Media Fellow.