Sri Lankan authorities have blocked most social media services in the country following the Easter Sunday attacks that killed more than 200 people, a group that monitors internet censorship said. The NetBlocks observatory said it detected an intentional nationwide blackout of popular services, including Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Viber. Sri Lankan officials said they were temporarily blocking social media to curtail the spread of false information and ease tensions.
A British woman is facing two years in jail in Dubai for calling her ex-husband’s new wife a “horse” on Facebook, campaigners have said. Londoner Laleh Shahravesh, 55, was arrested at a Dubai airport after flying there to attend her former husband’s funeral. Under the UAE’s cyber-crime laws, a person can be jailed or fined for making defamatory statements on social media. The organization said Ms Shahravesh’s ex-husband’s new wife, who lives in Dubai, reported the comments.
Facebook announced Wednesday that it would ban all “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism” on Facebook and Instagram. The move came less than two weeks after the suspect in the terror attack at two New Zealand mosques streamed the massacre live on the platform. A manifesto allegedly written by the suspect reveals white nationalist views. Facebook said it will start directing people who search for terms associated with white supremacy to organizations that help people leave hate groups.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday posted a 3,000-word note outlining a more “privacy-focused” future for the tech company, saying that communications platforms that protect privacy will “become even more important than today’s open platforms.” Zuckerberg’s new outline comes as Facebook builds out a new integrated messaging service that will allow users on Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp to communicate in private with each other.
YouTube on Thursday said it has started disabling comments on videos of minors following accusations that the platform aided pedophiles in finding clips of young children. The company, which is owned by Alphabet (GOOG), said it has turned off comments on “tens of millions” of videos over the past week that could be subject to “predatory behavior.” It will continue to identify such videos over the next few months. The revelations caused major companies including AT&T (T), Nestle (NSRGY) and Epic Games to pause their advertising on YouTube.
AT&T and Hasbro have become the latest firms to pull adverts from YouTube over claims pedophiles are leaving offensive comments next to videos of children on the platform. The telecoms firm and toymaker follow food giant Nestle, which on Wednesday said it had also “paused” its ads. YouTube said it had taken “immediate action” by deleting offending accounts and reporting the illegal activity to authorities.
WhatsApp users will be blocked from forwarding messages to more than five individuals or groups under new rules the messaging service is rolling out worldwide to fight the spread of misinformation. The five-recipient limit was initially put in place in India last July. A larger limit, of 20 recipients, was put in place globally. WhatsApp said at the time the limits would “help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app”.
YouTube has banned creators from depicting “dangerous challenges and pranks”, after a wave of incidents prompted by a viral challenge involving driving blindfolded pushed it to act. The so-called Bird Box challenge, inspired by the Netflix film of the same name, saw YouTubers imitating scenes from the movie in which characters must perform common tasks while blindfolded. YouTube has banned the depiction of such behaviour completely, citing similar memes such as the tide pod challenge (eating laundry detergent) and the fire challenge (setting yourself on fire)
Tumblr announced that all pornography will be banned from the platform in a move that will change the use of the social media site. Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio cited the platform’s responsibility to ‘different age groups, demographics, cultures, and mindsets’ as an influence on the change. All adult content will be removed from December 17th.
Following criticism from President Trump that Twitter is ‘shadow banning’ and silencing conservative voices, CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed that the company’s employees are ‘more left-leaning.’ Dorsey claimed political ideology does not influence how Twitter determines appropriate behavior on the platform. Dorsey’s comments come amid debate over social media’s influence over public discourse.