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Facebook bans Russia state media from running adverts, monetising – Al Jazeera English



Move comes hours after Moscow said it was limiting access to Facebook amid fact-checking dispute and invasion of Ukraine.

Facebook says it has restricted Russian state media’s ability to earn money on the social media platform as Moscow’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine reached the streets of Kyiv.

“We are now prohibiting Russian state media from running ads or monetising on our platform anywhere in the world,” Nathaniel Gleicher, the social media giant’s security policy head, said on Twitter on Friday.

He added that Facebook would “continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media”.

Facebook’s parent company Meta said earlier on Friday that Russia would hit its services with restrictions after it refused authorities’ order to stop using fact checkers and content warning labels on its platforms.

Social media networks have become one of the fronts in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, home to sometimes misleading information but also real-time monitoring of a quickly developing conflict that marks Europe’s biggest geopolitical crisis in decades.

“Yesterday, Russian authorities ordered us to stop the independent fact-checking and labelling of content posted on Facebook by four Russian state-owned media organisations,” Meta’s Nick Clegg said in a statement. “We refused.”

His statement came hours after Russia’s media regulator said it was limiting access to Facebook, accusing the American tech giant of censorship and violating the rights of Russian citizens.

On Wednesday, Facebook also released a feature in Ukraine that allows people to lock their profiles for increased security, using a tool the company also deployed after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban last year.

Gleicher said Facebook had set up a special operations centre to monitor the situation in Ukraine “in response to the unfolding military conflict”.

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Student wins national competition for social media tool aimed at reducing misinformation – IT World Canada



Arvin Jagayat, a psychology student at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University), has received an award for his efforts to reduce the spread of misinformation online.

Jagayat is one of five winners of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) national 2022 Storytellers Challenge, and received a C$4000 cash prize.

The competition challenges Canadian post secondary students to tell the story of how social sciences and humanities research is impacting our lives, our world, and our future for the better.

The five winners were announced during the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (Congress 2022), Canada’s largest academic gathering, taking place virtually this year from May 12 to 20.

How it works

Arvin Jagayat

Jagayat, a fifth year PhD student in Toronto Met’s psychology program, created an open-source Mock Social Media Website Tool that can generate simulated social media websites and collect detailed behavioural data on how participants interact with them.

In numerous experiments, his tool was used to examine what motivates people to maintain positive social identities and withhold spreading or interacting with misinformation.

“It’s really hard to measure social media behaviour in a controlled manner,” he said. 

Jagayat said that studies which collect tweets online and run analyses on tweets, which have been done before, don’t really have an idea of the context behind an individual’s decision to engage with something on social media. 

“So what this website allows researchers to do, is to take complete control over the social media environment. Which platform do you want to simulate? What posts do you want? What attachment do you want on those posts?” he explained. “When you actually go to interact with it, not only do you have incredibly detailed behavioural data on what they like, which links did they click and so on, but you can be very certain, because you created this controlled environment, that it’s only because you presented them with this set of posts that they interact in that manner.”

The mock social tool shows a user a series of posts, like news articles, photos, and videos. Users can react by liking or responding with emojis as well as commenting. At the end of the demonstration, it will reveal the list of misinformation they reacted to, if any.

Jagayat said that by being able to control what type of information that he and the rest of his team presents to people, they can look at these different types of misinformation individually and experimentally. He added that in some studies the team did, they were able to compare the same piece of misinformation across different languages and how it’s presented

“We have an idea on the sort of broad scale that maybe some content induces strong negative emotions in people, like fear or anger. But what are the specifics of that content? Those are the questions that we can answer using the tool that are not as easily done with other existing methods, or come with different caveats that make it hard to generalize some cases,” he said.

Creating the tool

Jagayat said he got interested in finding a way to help solve misinformation issues in 2016, just after the U.S. presidential election, where a lot of discourse on social media emerged. 

He started to look into designs of different social media platforms to see if there is any correlation between how a platform looks physically and how misinformation spreads. 

For example, he wanted to look into why misinformation spreads so fast in certain formats, such as on the messaging app WhatsApp. 

“I thought if we had some sort of open source tool that in the future many different people could contribute to… It could help facilitate so much research, not just on misinformation, but stuff like hate speech, racism, or even positive psychology; different things make people happy. It’s not necessarily negative behaviour or misinformation that the tool is designed to assess, it’s any social media content. So at that point, I was like, it can be something powerful. I know it didn’t exist because I’ve tried to look for it,” he said. 

Jagayat said he is constantly working on ways to update the tool. He said he often receives requests from different researchers asking him to add features. 

Right now the group is working to make the platform simulate Facebook and has plans to add a Twitter simulation as well. For the future the goal is to also be able to make the platform look like Instagram, Reddit and TikTok.

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‘Think Before You Link’: app launched to help social media users detect fake profiles – The Guardian



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‘Think Before You Link’: app launched to help social media users detect fake profiles  The Guardian

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These middle school students have a warning about teens and social media –



The town of Rockwall, Texas, has a few claims to fame: Bonafide Betties Pie Company, where “thick pies save lives”; the mega-sized Lakepointe Church; and Lake Ray Hubbard, which is lovely until the wet, Texas heat makes a shoreline stroll feel like a plod through hot butter.

Now add to that list: Rockwall is home to the middle-school winners of NPR’s fourth-annual Student Podcast Challenge.

Their entry, The Worlds We Create, is a funny and sneakily thoughtful exploration of what it means that so many teens today are “talking digitally,” instead of face-to-face. It was one of two winning entries (the high school winner is here) chosen by our judges from among more than 2,000 student podcasts from around the country.

The team behind the pod

Rockwall hugs the eastern shore of the lake and got its name from a wall-like thread of sandstone that unspools beneath the town. “Every street name sounds the same: Lakeshore, Club Lake, Lakeview, Lakeside, and so on…” says the podcast’s narrator, 8th-grader Harrison McDonald. “If it sounds like our town is boring, that’s because it is. But let’s zoom into the center of one of those neighborhoods, on Williams Middle School.”

That’s where Harrison, fellow 8th-grader Blake Turley and 7th-graders Kit Atteberry and Wesley Helmer made the podcast, as part of librarian Misti Knight’s broadcasting class. Knight began teaching Harrison and Blake last year, when they would make videos for the school’s morning announcements. “But then I realized how good [the boys] were, and so I would say this year, I’m honestly more their manager,” she laughs.

Meaning, often Ms. Knight just gives the boys the roughest of ideas and encourages them to get creative. Which is why, when Harrison came to her with an idea for NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge, she said, “Why not?”

Harrison’s interest in the contest surprised no one. He wears chunky headphones around his neck every day, like a uniform, and says he was raised on public radio. “[My family] have a system. On long road trips, we listen to This American Life. On shorter road trips, we listen to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.”

Kit also brought a love of podcasting to the effort: “My dad got me into listening to podcasts, and we would just listen to them in the car and listen to them in the house. You know, he never really got into music. He was mostly into podcasts,” Kit says, especially The Moth.

For their entry, Harrison, Kit and the team wanted to explore how students at Williams Middle School, and likely every other middle and high school in the country, interact on social media. Specifically, when they go on a platform like TikTok or Instagram and create anonymous accounts to share things about school and their classmates.

“People feel anonymous, so they feel like they can do whatever they want”

For example: An account dedicated to pics of students considered “hot.”

“My friend was on there,” Blake says, “and I texted him, ‘Hey, do you know that you’re on this Instagram account?’ And he’s like, ‘What?!’ ”

Most of these accounts “aren’t even gossip,” Blake adds, “they’re just pictures of people sleeping, eating, acting surprised, acting sad.”

One account was dedicated entirely to pictures of students sleeping in class. On some accounts, students are in on the joke, but often they’re not, Harrison says.

“Through the internet … people feel anonymous, so they feel like they can do whatever they want — and get likes for it without any punishment.”

The boys found at least 81 of these accounts at Williams alone. Then they got a bold idea.

Fake it till you make it

“After seeing all of these social media pages, we decided it would be fun if we just made our own profile and posted fake gossip to see the impact it has and how it spreads through a middle school,” they explain in the podcast.

Fake gossip is putting it mildly.

“We knocked on our school police officer’s door and asked if he would pretend to arrest one of our A-V club members for the camera. Surprisingly, he actually agreed,” Harrison says.

It was the first video to go up on their new gossip account. “We didn’t think it would actually get anywhere, but less than 15 minutes later, we heard people starting to talk about it.”

Williams Middle School in Rockwall, Texas.

/ Cooper Neill for NPR


Cooper Neill for NPR

Williams Middle School in Rockwall, Texas.

Next up: The boys staged a fight in the band room, hoping a shaky camera and sound effects added in post-production would convince their classmates it was bigger and very real.

“Some of us would have kids walking up to us daily to tell us how we got absolutely destroyed in that fight or how they didn’t know we were in band. We were having fun with it now,” Harrison says in the podcast. “It didn’t take long for our fake account to start getting more followers than any other gossip account we could find.”

“Our generation prefers talking digitally”

As a social experiment, these four middle-schoolers went from quiet observers of social media to the school’s master muckrakers – even though everything they posted was utterly fake. In that way, the podcast works as a warning about the importance of media literacy — at a time when Americans half-a-century their senior are being suckered by social media every day.

But the podcast isn’t just a scold about fake news. It’s also about how, for kids their age, this is communication.

“We don’t pass notes, we send texts with our phones hidden under our desks,” Harrison says. “We don’t tell people about incidents that happened in class, we post it on TikTok. Our generation prefers talking digitally with each other from a distance, [rather] than communicating with each other in the real world.”

The boys named their podcast, The Worlds We Create.

Ms. Knight, a veteran teacher, says she’s seen these changes in students over the years.

An interior view of Williams Middle School in Rockwall, Texas.

/ Cooper Neill for NPR


Cooper Neill for NPR

An interior view of Williams Middle School in Rockwall, Texas.

“I just think there’s a lot less talking and a lot more, you know, swiping through their phone instead of saying, ‘Hey, guess what I saw today?’ ”

Knight has even seen it in her own family. “I would talk to my husband about, ‘Oh, did you see our eldest daughter?’ She lives in California. ‘She did this or whatever.’ And he would say, ‘How do you know this?’ ”

Her answer: “‘Because I’m following her social media and her friends’ social media.’ Because if you don’t do that, she’s probably not going to pick up the phone and call us and tell us.”

Is that inherently bad? Knight says, no, not necessarily. She does get to see more of what her daughters and her friends, far and wide, are doing.

The boys’ views are similarly complicated. All this “talking digitally” can be a real “curse” for teens, they say, especially when it hurts or excludes others. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

After all, the boys say, the whole purpose of technologies from radio to the telephone, TV to the internet, has always been to help us feel less alone and more connected – by helping us create worlds – and build communities – bigger than the ones we’re born into.

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