Nick Clegg, who leads public affairs, to explain the company’s role in removing content tied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to attendees. The employee called the situation in Israel “fraught” and asked how Facebook was going “to get it right” with content moderation.

Mr. Clegg ran through a list of policy rules and plans going forward, and assured staff that moderation would be treated with fairness and responsibility, two people familiar with the meeting said. The discussion was cordial, one of the people said, and comments in the chat box beside Mr. Clegg’s response were largely positive.

But some employees were dissatisfied, the people said. As Mr. Clegg spoke, they broke off into private chats and workplace groups, known as Tribes, to discuss what to do.

Dozens of employees later formed a group to flag the Palestinian content that they said had been suppressed to internal content moderation teams, said two employees. The goal was to have the posts reinstated online, they said.

Members of Facebook’s policy team have tried calming the tensions. In an internal memo in mid-May, which was reviewed by The Times, two policy team members wrote to other employees that they hoped “that Facebook’s internal community will resist succumbing to the division and demonization of the other side that is so brutally playing itself out offline and online.”

One of them was Muslim, and the other was Jewish, they said.

“We don’t always agree,” they wrote. “However, we do some of our best work when we assume good intent and recognize that we are on the same side trying to serve our community in the best possible way.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Instagram blocked posts about the Aqsa Mosque in a terrorism screening error.

Instagram removed some posts and restricted access to other content that used hashtags related to the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem after mistakenly associating the name with a terrorist organization, according to an internal company message.

The error, acknowledged by Facebook, which owns Instagram, added a new irritant to the crisis roiling Jerusalem and spreading elsewhere in Israel and the occupied territories. The crisis began over an Israeli police crackdown around the mosque, which is built atop a site holy to Muslims and Jews.

Facebook said in the message that while “Al-Aqsa” often refers to the mosque, “it is also unfortunately included in the names of several restricted organizations.” Although the company did not identify those groups, the State Department has designated the Aqsa Martyrs Brigade as a foreign terrorist organization, and several other groups with “Al-Aqsa” in their names have had sanctions imposed on them by the United States.

As a result, the company said, some content related to the Aqsa Mosque was mistakenly removed or restricted.

BuzzFeed News, had fueled criticism that Instagram and other social media platforms were censoring Palestinian voices after a raid by the Israeli police on the mosque left hundreds of Palestinians and a score of police officers wounded.

Facebook’s internal message said the company was making changes to ensure that the term “Al-Aqsa” by itself does not prompt restrictions or removals.

“These mistakes are painful, erode the trust of our community and there is no easy fix for that,” the Facebook employee wrote. “While I cannot promise that future errors will not occur — I can promise that we are working earnestly to ensure that we are not censoring salient political and social voices in Jerusalem and around the world.”

Twitter, which had also been accused of unfairly blocking Palestinian content, said in a statement that it used a combination of technology and people to enforce its rules.

“In certain cases, our automated systems took enforcement action on a small number of accounts in error through an automated spam filter,” Twitter said in a statement. “We expeditiously reversed these actions to reinstate access to the affected accounts.”

View Source

Dozens of state prosecutors tell Facebook to stop its plans for a children’s version of Instagram.

Attorneys general for 44 states and jurisdictions called on Facebook to halt plans to create a version of Instagram for young children, citing concerns over mental and emotional well-being, exposure to online predators and cyberbullying.

In a letter on Monday to Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, the prosecutors warned that social media can be harmful to children and that the company had a poor record of protecting children online. Facebook, which bought the photo-sharing app Instagram in 2012, currently has a minimum age requirement of 13 to use its products. According to federal children’s privacy rules, companies must ask parents for permission to collect data on users younger than 13.

The law enforcement officials pointed to research showing how the use of social media, including Instagram, has led to an increase in mental distress, body image concerns and even suicidal thoughts. A children’s version of Instagram doesn’t fill a need beyond the company’s commercial ambitions, the officials said in the letter.

“Without a doubt, this is a dangerous idea that risks the safety of our children and puts them directly in harm’s way,” Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, said in a statement. “There are too many concerns to let Facebook move forward with this ill-conceived idea, which is why we are calling on the company to abandon its launch of Instagram Kids.”

Facebook defended its plans, saying its development of a children’s version of Instagram would have safety and privacy in mind. It wouldn’t show ads on the app, the company vowed.

“As every parent knows, kids are already online,” Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, said in a statement. “We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing.”

View Source

Article on Fourth Grader in ’60 Inspires Journalism Class

Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.

Two years ago, on a soggy January day at the University of Oregon, Peter Laufer, a journalism professor, picked up a copy of The New York Times and presented his students with a reporting challenge.

He read from a feature at the bottom of Page 2 that highlights an article from The Times’s archives each day. It covered the experience in early 1960 of a fourth grader in Roseburg, Ore., not far from the college. She had written to her congressman for the names of Russian schoolchildren with whom she and her classmates could be pen pals, but the State Department denied the request, fearing they would be influenced by Soviet propaganda. The headline on the article read: “U.S. Bars a Girl’s Plea for Russian Pen Pals.”

Credit…The New York Times

“Find that girl!” Mr. Laufer told the class, an exercise designed to teach his students the skill of locating a source and, possibly, a bigger story. He thought she might still be living nearby.

For nine students, that simple instruction turned into a journalism project, which included an on-the-ground reporting trip in Nevada, digging through F.B.I. files from the National Archives and meeting face to face with modern-day fourth graders in southern Russia. This year, they published their findings in a book, “Classroom 15: How the Hoover F.B.I. Censored the Dreams of Innocent Oregon Fourth Graders.”

“It is such a small story, but it resonates so much with the time that it was in,” said Julia Mueller, who worked as the project’s managing editor and wrote a chapter in the book.

Using public records and online databases, the students located the subject of the article, Janice Hall, now married and living near Las Vegas. Her name had been misspelled as “Janis” in the original article, which made it more difficult for the class to locate her.

In 1960, during a tense period of the Cold War, a time when both the United States and the Soviet Union saw every move by the other country as a tactic aimed at world domination, Ms. Hall never had the chance to correspond with Russian students. The reporters were determined to understand why.

They abandoned the syllabus, renamed the course Janice 101 and devoted the rest of the term to unpacking the story.

Each student took a slightly different angle. One examined the fear of communism that had gripped the United States. Another reporter, who was headed to Las Vegas for a spring break trip with her sorority, made a detour to meet Ms. Hall. Yet another interviewed the family of Ray McFetridge, the teacher who had conceived of the pen-pal project and who had died years earlier. Students even obtained the F.B.I. case files on the incident through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“Why wouldn’t you want people to be friends with people across borders?” asked Zack Demars, the lead reporter on the project, outlining the students’ central question.

“I think we discovered that it was because of the level of fear at the time,” he added.

Mr. Laufer, a former NBC News correspondent, thought that a reporter needed to go to Russia to meet with current pupils. He wanted his journalism students to explore what would happen if they tried to connect schoolchildren today.

“We decided that we were not going to leave this hanging,” Mr. Laufer said. “If they couldn’t do it in 1960, we were going to do it in 2020.”

The class decided to take letters written by fourth graders in Yoncalla, Ore., and deliver them to Russian students.

In December 2019, months after the course ended, Mr. Demars took a 13-hour train ride from Moscow to the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, where Mr. Laufer had a contact who agreed to act as a guide.

Mr. Demars met with Russian fourth graders and gave them the letters from their American counterparts. They peppered him with questions: Did he have pets? Did he play sports? What did he think of Ariana Grande?

He also spoke with a group of high schoolers. They discussed American schools and movies and asked to follow him on Instagram. He thinks of these new followers as modern pen pals.

“I don’t talk to them all that often,” he said. “But we interact every now and then, and we have that level of human connection.”

Mr. Demars is now working as a reporter at a small local newspaper in Oregon. During the project, he learned the value of recording individual experiences, which can offer future generations insight into a particular era.

“When I’m out reporting, I’m looking for those things that are commonplace right now but deeply unique to the time period,” he said.

Ms. Hall, 70, said she was amazed to hear from the college students, who are about the age of her grandchildren.

She was also awed by the project, and particularly by Mr. Demars’s persistence: “He hooked up these two fourth grades,” she said, “which is exactly what we were trying to do.”

View Source

Netflix Chronicles Byron Bay’s ‘Hot Instagrammers.’ Will Paradise Survive?

BYRON BAY, Australia — The moral quandaries of life as an Instagram influencer in the famously idyllic town of Byron Bay are not lost on Ruby Tuesday Matthews.

Ms. Matthews, 27, peddles more than vegan moisturizers, probiotic powders and conflict-free diamonds to her 228,000 followers. She is also selling an enviable lifestyle set against the backdrop of her Australian hometown’s crystalline coves and umbrellaed poolsides.

It’s part of the image-making that has helped transform Byron Bay — for better or worse — from a sleepy beach town drawing surfers and hippies into a globally renowned destination for the affluent and digitally savvy.

“I do kind of have moments where I’m like, ‘Am I exploiting this town that I live in?” Ms. Matthews said recently as she sat at The Farm, a sprawling agritourism enterprise that embodies the town’s wellness ethos. “But at the same time, it’s my job. It puts food on the table for my children.”

advertised on Instagram that morning. “They’re basically branding our town.”

The backlash has raised questions about who is entitled to control and capitalize on the cult of Byron Bay, a place now known for its slow and escapist lifestyle, where the bohemian has been glossed into a unified jungalow aesthetic of tasseled umbrellas, woven lanterns, linen clothing and exotic plants.

Some argued that the reality show would focus on a sliver of influencers whose picture-perfect presences on Instagram don’t represent the “real” Byron Bay. In doing so, they said, the show would expose the town to unwelcome outsiders.

“What right do they have to exploit grand Byron?” said Tess Hall, a filmmaker who moved to Byron Bay in 2015 and organized the petition and paddle out. She added that she feared the show would draw “the wrong type of person” to the region and share the town’s secret beach spots with the rest of the world.

“We’re not Venice Beach,” she said. “It’s a different vibe.”

moved to town.

a culture of localism is marketed on a global scale. “Our values of sustainability have powered a market of unsustainability,” she said. “Byron has become a victim of its own brand.”

according to a recent government street count.

Along the coast, some people sleep in tent shantytowns in the sand dunes and bushes, while others — many of them in stable employment — move between short-term accommodations, friends’ couches and their cars.

John Stephenson, a 67-year-old massage therapist, has spent several years living out of his station wagon. “It’s embarrassing,” he said as he gathered belongings from a storage unit before moving into temporary accommodation. “I don’t look like a bum, but I feel like one.”

In other parts of town, though, the illusion remains intact.

One balmy evening at the Cape Byron Lighthouse, a man dressed in a feathered fedora, a bolo tie and neck-to-ankle denim was photographing two of his children picking flowers. He was so consumed with capturing the moment that he did not notice that his third child, sitting behind him, was at risk of falling down the hill.

A woman with a yoga mat slung over her shoulder shouted to him. The woman, Lucia Wang, had just moved to Byron Bay the previous evening. She had come, she said, for the town’s beauty and healing properties.

“The first thing you need to do is just go to the ocean and have a swim,” she said. “Everything will be OK.”

View Source

Meet the Frogmouth, Instagram’s Most Photogenic Bird

Dr. Thömmes explained the I.A.A. method this way: Suppose a photo is liked 12,425 times on Instagram. “That number alone doesn’t have much meaning to it, especially if we want to compare it to another photo,” she said. But by “controlling for reach and time,” she said, “we can for example state that Photo X received 25 percent more likes than the exposure to the audience alone can explain.”

Followers of the National Audubon Society’s Instagram account, which was featured in the study, often respond to colorful species of birds, like owls and hummingbirds, said Preeti Desai, the society’s director of social media and storytelling.

“We’ve always found that close-up portraits of birds resonate the most with our followers,” Ms. Desai said, “but birds engaged in interesting behaviors, whether in photos or videos, showcase unexpected views of bird life that most people don’t see in real life.”

The frogmouth has a knack for blending in with its surroundings because of its plumage coloration, camouflaging as it perches on tree branches. Its name comes from its wide, flattened gape, which can open wide like a puppet’s, making it suitable for catching prey. Mainly located in Southeast Asia and Australia, the frogmouth is a somewhat sedentary bird, said Tim Snyder, the curator of birds at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, which currently has three tawny frogmouths in its care.

The tawny frogmouth’s front-facing eyes — most birds’ eyes sit on the sides of their heads — make them more “personable” and “humanlike,” he said.

“They always look perpetually angry,” Mr. Snyder said. “The look on their face just looks like they’re always frustrated or angry with you when they’re looking at you, and that’s just the makeup of the feathers and the way their eyes look and everything. It’s kind of funny.”

Jen Kottyan, the avian collection and conservation manager at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, calls it “resting bird face.”

View Source

MI5 Has Joined Instagram. It’s Not for the Likes.

“No, we don’t know where Tupac is,” the C.I.A. tweeted in 2014.

In 2016, the agency tweeted a real-time account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden on its fifth anniversary. A spokesman for the agency told ABC at the time that the tweets were intended to “remember the day and honor all those who had a hand in this achievement.” However, the move was largely panned and left many questioning why an intelligence agency needed to have a social media presence at all.

The C.I.A.’s own Instagram account features lighthearted series including #humansofCIA, which spotlights employees. The agency, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday, also recently rebranded its website with a starkly minimalist aesthetic.

Other intelligence agencies, including the F.B.I., which has Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram and YouTube accounts, are active on social media.

Michael Landon-Murray, a professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs who has researched social media use by American intelligence agencies, said that social media had become a part of “image and brand management” for intelligence agencies and “a box that needs to be checked.”

“A lot of what intelligence agencies do is kind of inherently ugly business,” he said. Social media can be a way for the organizations to demystify the public about their operations and “look cool, look funny — in a sense, almost hoodwink the public,” he said.

Those who follow intelligence agencies on social media tend to be fully supportive of the agencies or antagonistic toward them, he said.

“I think that there are potentially helpful uses, and ultimately, I hope that if the public understands intelligence agencies better, that we can have better conversations about things like the efficacy of advanced interrogation techniques,” he said.

View Source

Mark Zuckerberg is urged to scrap plans for an Instagram for children.

An international coalition of 35 children’s and consumer groups called on Instagram on Thursday to scrap its plans to develop a version of the popular photo-sharing app for users under age 13.

Instagram’s push for a separate children’s app comes after years of complaints from legislators and parents that the platform has been slow to identify underage users and protect them from sexual predators and bullying.

But in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook — the company that owns the photo-sharing service — the nonprofit groups warned that a children’s version of Instagram would not mitigate such problems. While 10- to 12-year-olds with Instagram accounts would be unlikely to switch to a “babyish version” of the app, the groups said, it could hook even younger users on endless routines of photo-scrolling and body-image shame.

“While collecting valuable family data and cultivating a new generation of Instagram users may be good for Facebook’s bottom line,” the groups, led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston, said in the letter to Mr. Zuckerberg, “it will likely increase the use of Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform’s manipulative and exploitative features.”

The coalition of nonprofit groups also includes the Africa Digital Rights’ Hub in Ghana; the Australian Council on Children and the Media; the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington; Common Sense Media in San Francisco; the Consumer Federation of America; and the 5Rights Foundation in Britain.

Stephanie Otway, a Facebook spokeswoman, said that Instagram was in the early stages of developing a service for children as part of an effort to keep those under 13 off its main platform. Although Instagram requires users to be at least 13, many younger children have lied about their age to set up accounts.

Ms. Otway said that company would not show ads in any Instagram product developed for children younger than 13, and that it planned to consult with experts on children’s health and safety on the project. Instagram is also working on new age-verification methods to catch younger users trying to lie about their age, she said.

“The reality is that kids are online,” Ms. Otway said. “They want to connect with their family and friends, have fun and learn, and we want to help them do that in a way that is safe and age-appropriate.”

View Source