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Recode Daily: Facebook’s auditors say the platform’s white supremacy ban is too narrow

Plus: Secret meetings between Uber and labor unions are causing an uproar.

In this photo illustration a Facebook logo is seen displayed on a phone screen with a silhouetted thumb in front of it. Photo Illustration by Ioannis Alexopoulos/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook’s ban on white nationalism doesn’t go far enough. That’s the word from external auditors Facebook appointed in 2018 to oversee its goals of “advancing civil rights on our platform.” The auditors say that Facebook’s overly narrow implementation of its own rules, which it updated in March, is hampering moderation, according to the Guardian. According to the Facebook auditors, the platform’s shortcoming is that it won’t ban content unless it includes “explicit praise, support or representation of the terms ‘white nationalism’ or ‘white separatism.’” That means content that doesn’t directly mention “white nationalism” or “white separatism” but that still espouses white nationalist ideology is left untouched.
[Alex Hern / The Guardian]

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While we’re talking about Facebook … ProPublica published a report finding that members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents shared derogatory comments about Latina lawmakers who plan to visit a controversial Texas detention facility on Monday, calling them “scum buckets” and “hoes.” Members of the group were also trading jokes in reaction to the news of a migrant’s death while in custody, ProPublica found. The group is three years old and has roughly 9,500 members, and it’s just the most recent example of some law enforcement personnel caught behaving badly in public and private digital spaces. The Plain View Project, a research project, has collected a database of posts and other Facebook content posted by current and former police officers from all over the US that appears to endorse violence, racism, or bigotry.
[A.C. Thompson / ProPublica]

Secret meetings between Uber and labor unions are causing an uproar: Both ride-hail companies were in talks with labor unions to potentially create a loophole to block their drivers from being reclassified as employees rather than independent contractors in California, if a pending bill, AB 5, passes the California State Senate. The news of these meetings has angered drivers and pitted labor unions against each other. According to a New York Times report, Uber and Lyft were trying to woo the SEIU by floating the idea of recognizing a labor organization “that would represent drivers’ interests on certain issues.” The SEIU has since said it supports AB 5 and giving drivers full employee status. Ride-hail drivers in Los Angeles, who helped organize a strike in May for higher pay and union rights, have been angered by news of the backroom discussions.
[Alexia Fernández Campbell / Vox]

Amazon and police in Aurora, Colorado, set up a package thief sting operation that was also a public relations stunt. According to a Vice report, Amazon, Ring (a home security company that sells a video-enabled e-doorbell), and the US Postal Inspection Service collaborated on an operation with the Aurora, Colorado, Police Department in December. The idea was to equip fake Amazon packages with GPS trackers and surveil doorsteps with Ring doorbell cameras in an effort to catch someone stealing a package. The operation also involved a “highly elaborate public relations stunt, which was designed both to endear Amazon and Ring with local law enforcement, and to make local residents fear the place they live.” Vice reported that the parties involved were disappointed when the operation didn’t result in any arrests.
[Caroline Haskins / Vice]

Virginia just became one of the first states to criminalize deepfake revenge porn distribution. The Commonwealth’s new law is an update to an existing law that defines the distribution of non-consensual nudes or sexual imagery as a Class 1 misdemeanor, and adds a category of “falsely created videographic or still image” to the text, according to Ars Technica. The move comes amid a growing backlash against deepfake tech. A few other states have recently proposed legislation banning the use of deepfakes for election manipulation or sexual exploitation. In Congress last month, Rep. Yvette Clarke introduced a bill in the House to make deepfakes “with the intent to humiliate or otherwise harass the person falsely exhibited” a federal crime. And last week, Vox reported that the programmer behind “DeepNude,” an app that used AI to create revenge porn and made it disturbingly easy to doctor images to make it look like someone said or did something they never actually said or did, shut down his program after a strong public outcry.
[Kate Cox / Ars Technica]

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