Category Archives: Comment on item in the news

Social Media platforms, Algorithm tools & Editorial responsibility

EditorialResponsibilityOn Tuesday August 30th (2016), it was reported that the German government had asked Facebook to remove hateful and illegal posts more quickly, as part of its corporate social responsibility. Social Media companies however are typically reluctant to be very proactive in their approach to such removal, preferring to rely on notifications from the users, because they do not want to be seen to edit the content that is shared since this might lead to them being labelled a publisher. The moment a social media company becomes a publisher it would become liable to media regulations and open to libel laws. This was also the position that Zuckerberg reaffirmed one day earlier during a Q&A in Italy where he said: “No, we’re a tech company, we’re not a media company,” Facebook builds “the tools, we do not produce any of the content.”

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What makes an algorithmic system trustworthy?

FairAlgosIn an age of ubiquitous data collecting, analysis and processing, what determines the trustworthiness and perceived ‘fairness’ of a system that heavily relies on algorithms?

Over the last couple of weeks, Facebook has repeatedly had to defend itself against criticism about the way in which it makes editorial decisions when selecting stories that will appear on its ‘Trending Topics’ and ‘News Feed’.

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Young people’s dream internet

Internet Society

Yesterday was United Nations Day of Anti-Bullying, a day to recognize the epidemic of bullying and online abuse that seems to be rising according to recent surveys by YouGov/Vodafone.

Cyberbullying is becoming an alarming problem among children and young people, not only because of its links to mental health and well-being but because it is so widespread that is becoming to be considered a worse problem among teenagers than drug abuse.

Not all news are disheartening though…

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Apple vs. FBI

apple

Apple is not willing to weaken its hard-to-crack encryption protocols after being asked by a magistrate judge to build a weaker new version of its mobile operating system. This request comes from the FBI as an attempt to access the content of the iPhone used by one of the gunmen involved in the San Bernardino shooting. It has been argued that law enforcement officials wanted to use this high-profile act of terrorism as a way to create political pressure on Apple to comply with the FBI demands and set a dangerous precedent for future cases.

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Launch of #AnalyzeMyData Twitter campaign

AnalyzeMyDataIn celebration of Data Protection Day (also known as Data Privacy Day), please join us for the launch of our #AnalyzeMyData campaign on Twitter. Through this campaign we hope to increase public awareness of the ways in which data is used/misused and establish an evidence base of public opinion on these issues that can be used to support future policy discussions around improved guidelines and regulations for data access consent.

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Analysis of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill (part 2)

IPB

Continuation from part 1

One of the much vaunted features of the IPB by the Home Secretary is the so called ‘double lock’ provided by the requirement that the Judicial Commissioner has to sign off on any warrant in order for it to take effect. So what do we know about the position of the Judicial Commissioner, and how they will be appointed?

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Government surveillance powers require careful legislation

snooper1In the shadow of the tragic attacks in Paris recently, people will undoubtedly be asking themselves again what could possibly be done to improve the safety of innocent civilians and protect all us of from further violence of that, or any other, kind. Predictable, voices will be calling for more powers for security agencies and urging government to rush the newly proposed Investigative Powers Bill (IPB) through parliament so that GCHQ can drag their search net though the internet and stop any future attacks from happening.

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House of Lords vs. Algorithm Overlords!

Lords_v_AIAs a researcher who has spent some time working on AI and Robotics I naturally tend to notice when AI gets discussed in the news. Over the last couple of years, social media and software companies have all started to invest heavily in AI research such as Google’s purchase of the robotics company Boston Dynamics, Facebook, as well as Microsoft, Apple and IBM’s Watson and Deep Blue of course. Partially in response to this, research institutes (e.g. Future of Life institute, Future of Humanity institute, Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI)) and well known scientists and industrialists (e.g. Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark, Elon Musk and Bill Gates) have launched various campaigns and given media interviews to raise their concerns about the possible extinction level threat posed by the possible rise of Superintelligent AI.

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The credibility of online reviews: Fiverr-ing on the side of caution?

Amazon review "Gigs" on Fiverr.
Amazon review “Gigs” on Fiverr.

Scanning through the BBC’s online technology articles this week, I found my interest piqued by the news that Amazon have launched a lawsuit against 1,114 individuals offering review services in exchange for payment. The online marketplace site through which these users were operating, Fiverr, seemed oddly familiar and I soon realised why.

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The People give Peeple a one-star rating

PeepleStarting some time in the middle of last week, much of the social media related news coverage has been dominated by the so called ‘positivity app’ Peeple that proposes to let people give ratings about other people,  and the outright negative response it has elicited in the vast majority of people (including us). Since any such endeavor obviously steps into a massive “ethics minefield”, CaSMa was naturally attracted to looking into this a bit more.

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