Maxine Waters

I have come to the conclusion that it would be beneficial for all if Facebook concentrates on addressing its many existing deficiencies and failures before proceeding any further on the Libra project.

2 thoughts on “Maxine Waters

  1. shinichi Post author

    Facebook becomes more powerful even as scandals pile up

    The social network’s terrible year is more evidence that no one trusts it.

    by Queenie Wong

    It was becoming a familiar sight on Capitol Hill. In October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, donning a suit and tie, sat in the hot seat and answered questions from US lawmakers for hours.

    This time, Zuckerberg was grilled by the US House Committee on Financial Services about Facebook’s latest venture, a cryptocurrency called Libra. Lawmakers were already angry that the company allowed hate groups to organize, facilitated child exploitation, failed to prevent breaches and allowed misleading political ads. Now, they worried, Facebook could wreak havoc on finance and they let Zuckerberg, who received a skeptical reception when he testified following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, hear their disapproval.

    “I have come to the conclusion that it would be beneficial for all if Facebook concentrates on addressing its many existing deficiencies and failures before proceeding any further on the Libra project,” Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, told the tech boss. It’s a sentiment that’s widely held.

    Zuckerberg’s appearance in Washington came during a year in which his company’s already lengthy list of problems got longer. Facebook has come under fire for a controversial policy of allowing politicians to lie in political ads. Attorneys general from 47 states are investigating the social network for potentially stifling its competition. The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook a record $5 billion for its continued privacy mishaps. A gunman used Facebook to livestream the massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand.

    Here’s the thing: None of that stopped Facebook from growing. About 2.8 billion people use Facebook or its Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp services every month, up nearly 8% from the 2.6 billion who used at least one of those services a year ago. Even as criticism climbs, Facebook is positioning itself to become more powerful. It released a new dating feature in the US, expanded its line of video chat devices, began testing a news service and doubled down on virtual reality. Even the Libra project didn’t slow down. Facebook told Congress it wouldn’t launch its digital coin without regulatory approval, but didn’t push pause.

    The continued growth and continued problems have led, inevitably, to continued complaints by lawmakers, activists and celebrities. Even before the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted in early 2018, the social network had been criticized for failing to sufficiently safeguard user privacy. As the problems piled up, public calls to check Facebook grew.

    “They’ve grown too quickly and have been way too interested in the bottom line without worrying about the consequences,” said Georgetown law professor David Vladeck, who oversaw a Facebook investigation when he led the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection from 2009 to 2012. “Their carelessness and lack of candor is now coming back to haunt them.”

    Familiar problems

    Facebook wants the public and regulators to believe it’s turning over a new leaf.

    Over the past year, the social network started rolling out a long-awaited privacy tool that lets users see a summary of the apps and websites that send Facebook information about their activity. Off-Facebook activity, which took more than a year to launch, has limitations. It lets users disconnect their Facebook accounts from the third-party sharing but not delete the information that’s been collected.

    In a response to discriminatory ad targeting, Facebook said advertisers running housing, employment and credit ads will no longer be able to target users based on age, gender or ZIP code. It’s been working to encrypt traffic on Facebook Messenger and Instagram messages so they can’t be viewed by anyone other than the sender and recipient.

    Despite these steps, Facebook continues to encounter the same basket of problems, prompting its critics to wonder if the company’s changes did anything. After the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook revealed that Russian trolls used the social network to sow discord among Americans. The company, which aims to “bring people closer together,” has been repeatedly accused of harming democracy and allowing people to abuse its services.

    This year wasn’t any different. Facebook rejected calls to pull down an altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made it seem like she was slurring her words. Unlike YouTube, Facebook didn’t remove the video but reduced its spread after fact checkers deemed it false. Zuckerberg defended the decision, but acknowledged the company could have acted more swiftly. Facebook was put on the defensive once again following outcry about it’s decision not to fact-check ads from politicians, a policy that has even divided the company’s leadership and employees. Facebook board member and Trump supporter Peter Thiel wants the social network to keep the current policy, but the company is weighing potential changes including limiting ad targeting, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

    Zuckerberg has stuck to his usual talking points, defending free expression. “I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100% true,” Zuckerberg said during a roughly 40-minute speech at Georgetown University in October.

    Privacy and safety woes surrounding Facebook also didn’t die down. Company contractors raised ethical concerns because they listen to and transcribe user audio clips for the social network, Bloomberg reported. Facebook didn’t inform users that third parties might review their audio and ended the practice. Workers were checking the accuracy of the artificial intelligence system used to transcribe voice chats, an option for Facebook Messenger users. A New York Times investigation found that predators were using Facebook’s messaging app to create and share child sexual abuse images, sparking concerns about the company’s plans to encrypt the service. A man accused of killing 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch livestreamed the massacre on Facebook, a reminder the social network’s tools could be used to spread hate.

    Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    Finding solutions

    As Facebook’s problems continue to pile up, lawmakers and regulators are looking for ways to rein in the company’s power.

    US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and others have called for the government to pry Instagram and WhatsApp from the social media giant. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook purchased its rivals to impede competition, the Journal reported.

    Facebook has pushed back against the idea, arguing that breaking up the company wouldn’t solve its problems. The company also said a breakup could hinder its efforts to fight spam, election meddling and crime across all of its services.

    US lawmakers have also proposed new federal privacy legislation aimed at giving consumers more control over their data.

    “There are legal challenges under current law, and the idea of getting new laws passed depends on getting past current political logjams,” said Harry First, a law professor at New York University. “One thing that you do see is a fairly bipartisan agreement that something should be done.”

    Zuckerberg has said the company isn’t opposed to regulation. In an op-ed published in The Washington Post this year, he called for government and regulators to play a “more active role” when it comes to harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

    Congress has been wary about passing privacy legislation in the past because of concerns it might get in the way of innovation, said Vladeck, the Georgetown law professor.

    “They were worried about disrupting what was then thought to be the most vibrant part of our economy,” he said. “While some of the bloom is off the rose, those concerns persist.”

  2. shinichi Post author


    by Queenie Wong (CNET News)

     スーツを着たIT企業幹部は、米国会議事堂では見慣れた光景になった。Facebookの最高経営責任者(CEO)、Mark Zuckerberg氏は10月、スーツとネクタイ姿で公聴会に出席し、数時間にわたって米連邦議会議員たちの厳しい質問に答え続けた。

     この公聴会は、下院金融サービス委員会がFacebookの最新ベンチャー事業である仮想通貨「Libra」についてZuckerberg氏を問い質すために開いたものだ。Facebookがヘイトグループの結成や児童の性的搾取を許容し、データ侵害を阻止しそこない、誤解を招く政治広告を許したことで、政治家たちは既に憤慨していた。今度は、Facebookが金融業界を大混乱させる可能性を懸念し、Zuckerberg氏にLibraを支持しないと言い渡した。同氏がCambridge Analyticaのデータスキャンダル後の公聴会で行った証言は懐疑的に受け取られた。

     Maxine Waters下院議員(カリフォルニア州選出、民主党)はZuckerberg氏に対し、「私の結論は、Libraプロジェクトをこれ以上進める前に、現在問題になっている多数の欠陥や失敗の修正にFacebookが集中することが、万人にとっての利益になるということだ」と告げた。この結論には多くの人々が共感するだろう。


     はっきりしているのは、これだけの問題を抱えていても、Facebookは成長し続けているということだ。約28億人が毎月Facebook、Facebook Messenger、Instagram、WhatsAppの少なくともいずれかを利用しており、その月間アクティブユーザー数(MAU)は1年前の26億人から約8%増加した。批判が高まっても、Facebookはより強力になるような取り組みを続けている。米国でFacebookに新しい出会い機能を追加し、動画チャットデバイスのラインアップを拡張し、仮想現実(VR)の新サービスのテストを開始し、VR事業を強化した。Libraプロジェクトも減速していない。Facebookは議会に対し、規制当局の承認がなければこのデジタル通貨サービスを立ち上げないが、計画の停止もしないと告げた。

     問題を増やし続けながら成長する同社には、当然ながら政治家、活動家、著名人からの批判が絶えない。Cambridge Analyticaのスキャンダルが2018年に露呈する以前から、Facebookはユーザープライバシーを十分に保護していないとして批判され続けてきた。問題が増えるにつれて、Facebookを調査するよう求める声も高まった。

     ジョージタウン大学ローセンターのDavid Vladeck教授は「Facebookはあまりにも急激に成長し、成長による影響を考慮せずに収益を上げることに集中しすぎた」と指摘した。同氏は2009年〜2012年にFTCの消費者保護局の局長を務めていた時、Facebookの調査を統括した。「同社は今、己の不注意と不正直の報いを受けている」(Vladeck氏)




     差別的なターゲティング広告への批判を受け、Facebookは住宅、求人、ローンに関する広告での年齢、性別、郵便番号に基づくターゲティングを禁止すると発表した。同社はまた、 Facebook MessengerとInstagramのメッセージ機能で、メッセージを送受信する当事者以外が内容を読めないようにトラフィックを暗号化する作業を進めている。


     2019年も同じだ。FacebookはNancy Pelosi下院議長の改変動画の削除要請を拒否した。この動画は、同氏のろれつが回っていないように見せるものだ。この動画をすぐに削除したYouTubeと異なり、Facebookは動画を削除しなかった。ただし、ファクトチェッカーがこの動画が虚偽であると判定した後、動画が拡散しないようにはした。Zuckerberg氏はこの決定を弁護したが、もっと迅速に動くべきだったことは認めた。政治家による広告はファクトチェックしないという決定に対して批判が高まった時も、Facebookは守りに入った。このポリシーは同社の経営陣と従業員の間にも亀裂を生んだ。Facebookの取締役でDonald Trump大統領の支持者でもあるPeter Thiel氏はこのポリシーの継続を望んでいるが、同社は広告ターゲティングの制限を含むポリシー変更を検討していると、The Wall Street Journallが12月17日に報じた。


     Facebookを取り巻くプライバシーと安全性の問題も収まっていない。ユーザーの音声データを聞いてそれをテキスト化する作業について、Facebookの請負業者が倫理的な懸念を持っているとBloombergが報じた。Facebookはユーザーに、第三者が音声データを聞くことを開示していなかった。同社はこの作業を終了した。請負業者の仕事は、Facebook Messengerの機能である音声チャットのテキスト化に使うAIシステムの精度をチェックすることだった。また、The New York Timesの調査で、幼児性愛者がFacebook Messengerを使って幼児の性的虐待画像を共有していることが明らかになり、Facebook Messengerを暗号化する計画に対する懸念が高まった。さらにクライストチャーチでの51人銃殺のライブストリーミングは、同社のツールがヘイト拡散に悪用される可能性を思い出させた。




     米民主党の大統領候補戦に出馬中のElizabeth Warren上院議員、Facebookの共同創業者のChris Hughes氏などが連邦政府に対し、FacebookからInstagramとWhatsAppを引き離すよう呼び掛けた。FTCはFacebookが競争を避けるために競合を買収した疑いで同社を調査していると、The Wall Street Journalが報じた。



     ニューヨーク大学の法学教授、Harry First氏は「現行法の下では法的問題があり、新法を通過させられるかどうかは、これまでの政治的行き詰まりを解消できるかどうかにかかっている。何かをなすべきだという、かなり超党派的な合意があることは確かだ」と語った。

     Zuckerberg氏は、Facebookは規制に従うと語った。同氏は3月、The Washington Postに寄稿した文章で、政府と規制当局に対し、有害コンテンツ、選挙の完全性、プライバシー保護、データの移植性に関して「より積極的な役割を果たす」よう求めた。




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