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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Facebook failed to stop a child bride being auctioned on its platform

Facebook failed to prevent its platform being used to auction a 16-year-old girl off for marriage in South Sudan.

Child early and forced marriage (CEFM) is the most commonly reported form of gender-based violence in South Sudan, according to a recent Plan International report on the myriad risks for adolescent girls living in the war-torn region.

Now it seems girls in that part of the world have to worry about social media too.

Vice reported on the story in detail yesterday, noting that Facebook took down the auction post but not until after the girl had already been married off — and more than two weeks after the family first announced the attention to sell the child via its platform, on October 25.

Facebook said it first learned about the auction post on November 9, after which it says it took it down within 24 hours. It’s not clear how many hours out of the 24 it took Facebook to take the decision to remove the post.

A multimillionaire businessman from South Sudan’s capital city reportedly won the auction after offering a record “price” — of 530 cows, three Land Cruiser V8 cars and $10,000 — to marry the child, Nyalong Ngong Deng Jalang.

Plan International told Vice it’s the first known incident of Facebook being used to auction a child bride.

“It is really concerning because, as it was such a lucrative transaction and it attracted so much attention, we are worried that this could act as an incentive for others to follow suit,” the development organization told Vice.

A different human rights NGO posted to Twitter a screengrab of the deleted auction post, writing: “Despite various appeals made by human rights group, a 16 year old girl child became a victim to an online marriage auction post, which was not taken down by Facebook in South Sudan.”

We asked Facebook to explain how it failed to act in time to prevent the auction and it sent us the following statement, attributed to a spokesperson:

Any form of human trafficking — whether posts, pages, ads or groups is not allowed on Facebook. We removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook. We’re always improving the methods we use to identify content that breaks our policies, including doubling our safety and security team to more than 30,000 and investing in technology.

The more than two-week delay between the auction post going live and the auction post being removed by Facebook raises serious questions about its claims to have made substantial investments in improving its moderation processes.

Human rights groups had directly tried to flag the post to Facebook. The auction had also reportedly attracted heavy local media attention. Yet it still failed to notice and act until weeks later — by which time it was too late because the girl had been sold and married off.

Facebook does not release country-level data about its platform so it’s not clear how many users it has in the South Sudan region.

Nor does it offer a breakdown of the locations of the circa 15,000 people it employs or contracts to carry out content review duties across its global content platform (which has 2 billion+ users).

Facebook admits that the content reviewers it uses do not speak every language in the world where its platform is used. Nor do they even speak every language that’s widely used in the world. So it’s highly unlikely it has any reviewers at all with a strong grasp of the indigenous languages spoken in the South Sudan region.

We asked Facebook how many moderators it employs who speak any of the languages in the South Sudan region (which is multilingual). A spokeswoman was unable to provide an immediate answer.

The upshot of Facebook carrying out retrospective content moderation from afar, relying on a tiny number of reviewers (relative to its total users), is that the company is failing to respond to human rights risks as it should.

Facebook has not established on-the-ground teams across its international business with the necessary linguistic and cultural sensitivities to be able to respond directly, or even quickly, to risks being created by its platform in every market where it operates. (A large proportion of its reviewers are sited in Germany — which passed a social media hate speech law a year ago.)

AI is not going to fix that very hard problem either — not in any human time-scale. And in the meanwhile, Facebook is letting actual humans take the strain.

But two weeks to notice and takedown a child bride auction is not the kind of metric any business wants to be measured by.

It’s increasingly clear that Facebook’s failure to invest adequately across its international business to oversee and manage the human rights impacts of its technology tools can have a very high cost indeed.

In South Sudan a lack of adequate oversight has resulted in its platform being repurposed as the equivalent of a high-tech slave market.

Facebook also continues to be on the hook for serious failings in Myanmar, where its platform has been blamed for spreading hate speech and accelerating ethnic violence.

You don’t have to look far to see other human rights abuses being aided and abetted by access to unchecked social media tools.


Source: TechCrunch

Google Play movie rentals are all $1 for Thanksgiving – CNET

In case Netflix doesn’t have what you’re looking for.
Source: CNET

Google's 'Not Pink' Pixel 3 XL goes under the macro lens – CNET

The understated pale pink Pixel 3 XL looks great up close under a macro lens.
Source: CNET

Propel's excellent Star Wars drones: On sale for just $40 – CNET

These are definitely the drones you’re looking for, at a price too good to pass up.
Source: CNET

HP Spectre Folio: Getting my hands on the leather shell of this luxury laptop – CNET

A 13-inch leather-clad laptop that would make even Ricardo Montalban jealous.
Source: CNET

This Thanksgiving, Ditch the Food Psychology

Cornell scientist Brian Wansink rocketed to fame by crafting easy, appealing rules on how to avoid overeating. Turns out, though, they’re probably not all true.
Source: Wired

How Unofficial Concert Recordings Flowered in the 21st Century

Live-music tapers, data archivists, and media technologists are creating an authentic musical underground in a freemium world, a hideout where listening habits go unmonitored and unmonetized.
Source: Wired

Creepy or Not, Face Scans Are Speeding up Airport Security

Who cares if you hate it? This time- and effort-saving tech is spreading, and fast.
Source: Wired

Google’s News Initiative heads to APAC with grants of up to $300K for media orgs

Google is expanding its efforts to support media to Asia Pacific after the search giant brought its Google News Initiative to the region.

Known as GNI, the program is designed to “help quality journalism thrive in the digital age” by providing grants (i.e. cash without equity) to media organizations that are judged to have potential. The initiative started life in Europe in 2015 with a $170 million funda $300 million U.S-based incarnation went live earlier this year. It has also extended to YouTube after GNI set aside $25 million and pledged to work with media figures to combat fake news and develop new features.

For Asia Pacific, Google isn’t saying precisely how large the kitty is, but it is promising grants of “up to” $300,000 for publishers developing new and innovative business models and revenue streams.

“We are inviting proposals for projects aimed at increasing revenue from readers, including subscriptions, membership programs, contributions and/or new digital products and services. A panel of Googlers and other tech industry executives will review the submissions and fund selected projects up to $300,000 and finance up to 70 percent of the total project cost,” Kate Beddoe, Google’s head of news and publishing partnerships, wrote in a blog post.

A company spokesperson told TechCrunch that the grants will be staggered. Success applicants will be provided with their grant in tranches in exchange for sharing their experiences with the wider community, for example, as materials published online or at events. That information exchange is aimed at helping media within Asia Pacific to learn from each another and more generally share sustainability ideas and war stories.

The fund was announced today but it won’t kick off until 2019.

Those wanting to submit applications can do so at the dedicated website (here) from November 28 until January 9. Google said it’ll provide additional details on December 11 when it will host an “APAC town hall at its Singapore office — the live stream for that is here.

Google isn’t the only one backing media across APAC through grants. Blockchain media startup Civil recently announced a $1 million fund for Asia, although it remains to be seen if that will go ahead since the company canceled its ICO after failing to hit its $8 million minimum target.


Source: TechCrunch

Cyber Monday sales: 3 dirty little secrets – CNET

Commentary: Don’t delay a good Black Friday purchase — the Cyber Monday deals aren’t likely to be dramatically better.
Source: CNET

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