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Breakup isn’t the answer, Facebook’s Zuckerberg says

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Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday rejected the idea of breaking up the social media giant as off-target, saying it could hamper the fight against deceit and harmful online content.

The Facebook co-founder’s defense of the leading social network came as it reported it recently disabled billions of bogus accounts set up by “bad actors” and that five percent of active accounts are likely fakes.

Facebook and its family of apps including Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp face competition around the world from rivals such as Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and others in a “competitive and dynamic environment,” Zuckerberg said.

The company does not rule the digital advertising market, which is topped by Google, he noted.

“I think arguments that we are in some sort of dominant position there might be a little stretched,” Zuckerberg said on a conference call about its latest content policy enforcement report.

“The question is, what problems are you trying to solve?”

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AFP/File / Lionel BONAVENTURE Facebook says five percent of its active accounts are likely fakes 

He argued that breaking up the company might mean fewer resources to curb harmful online content and election interference and improve privacy and the portability of personal data.

“Those are the most important social issues right now, and I don’t think breaking up the company is going to address those,” Zuckerberg said.

“As a matter of fact, I think it is going to make it harder.”

Facebook’s success has enabled it to invest heavily in artificial intelligence and workers to watch for rule-breaking content and activity at the social network, according to Zuckerberg.

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“The degree to which the success of this company has allowed us to fund these efforts for safety is massive,” Zuckerberg said.

“We are able to do things that are not possible for other folks to do.”

Facebook announced separately it is creating an independent board to act as a final court of appeals or sorts for disputes about content taken down at the social network.

Decisions of the board will be binding, with Facebook promising to abide by outcomes.

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Zuckerberg referred to the independent advisory board and said he cared deeply about people’s freedom of expression when asked about the White House setting up a website to collect input from people who feel they have been unfairly censored on social media.

– Spammer onslaught –

GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / JUSTIN SULLIVAN Facebook said it blocked some two billion efforts to create fake accounts on the leading social network

Facebook disabled 2.19 billion accounts in the first quarter of this year, nearly double the number of accounts nixed in the prior three-month period, according to vice president of integrity Guy Rosen.

“The amount of accounts we took action on increased due to automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time,” Rosen said.

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Facebook disabled most of the accounts as automated imposters were trying to establish them or shortly after they were made, according to Rosen.

The bulk of the fake accounts were the work spammers using automated systems, and with an apparent end-goal of making money, Facebook executives said.

The leading social network, meanwhile, estimated that five percent of its 2.4 billion monthly active users were fake accounts yet to be uncovered.

The California-based company also said it has made progress in battling hate speech, automatically detecting 65 percent of the content removed instead of needing to wait for users to report it.

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AFP/File / Amy Osborne Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social media giant has invested heavily in safety, amid criticism that it failed to stop online manipulation and livestreaming of violent content

Facebook took down four million posts considered hate speech in the first quarter of this year and continues to invest in technology to better detect such material in various languages and regions, according to Rosen.

The social network also said that it has booted more than 200 white supremacist organizations.

Facebook reported progress in efforts to prevent the social network from being used for illegal sales of drugs or guns.

It “took action” in the quarter against 900,000 pieces of content related to drug sales, of which some 83 percent was detected by software.

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How Teach for America evolved into an arm of the charter school movement

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When the Walton Family Foundation announced in 2013 that it was donating $20 million to Teach For America to recruit and train nearly 4,000 teachers for low-income schools, its press release did not reveal the unusual terms for the grant.

Documents obtained by ProPublica show that the foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach For America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school. The two-year grant was directed at nine cities where charter schools were sprouting up, including New Orleans; Memphis, Tennessee; and Los Angeles.

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Commentary

Why do conservatives hate Oberlin College so much?

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When I was an undergraduate at Oberlin in the mid-Aughts, there was a student in my class year who was obsessed with 19th-century British Royal Naval culture. Every Friday evening, he would host a sing-along in a dorm lounge, for which he would bring xeroxes of historical sea shanty lyrics and pass them around so that we could sing along, waving our glasses of “grog.” This was a semi-established event — he had distributed flyers around campus advertising the weekly British Royal Naval sea-shanty singalong and grog-drinking event, which would extend late into the night. Though he was not a resident of the dorm where it took place, he was welcomed into the lounge by its members, and became a fixture of sorts.Like many well-endowed liberal arts schools in rural areas, Oberlin College functions as a sort of de facto social welfare state, and is designed to encourage and cultivate one’s passions, even if they are not strictly academic. Thus, after writing up a proposal for the student-run activities board, the same student, the British Royal Navy culture guy, was able to plan, organize and execute a ticketed Royal Naval Ball, held in the atrium of the science center. The event featured 20 dishes of authentic British era-appropriate cuisine, cooked by student chefs, several courses of wine and port, and a violinist present to play period-specific music. The whole affair culminated with a traditional, British partner line dance — its sole inauthenticity the fact that we didn’t pay attention to our dance partners’ genders the way the Brits would have.
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2020 Election

Here are 5 reasons why 2020’s down-ballot races could reshape America’s future

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The political press always tends to focus mostly on the marquee race for the White House but that's especially true this cycle, as Donald Trump runs for a second term. He demands attention and his antics enrage his opponents and delight his supporters in equal measure.

But national reporters risk missing the big picture by centering so much of their reporting at the top when many of the most important political battles in 2020 will take place further down the ballot.

Trump is catnip for reporters and their editors, but the dearth of coverage of downballot races didn't begin with his election. As the news media in general faces structural changes—with print circulation declining and much of their work moving into digital spaces that are more difficult to monetize--publishers have cut back on reporters assigned to the state and local government beat. Nevertheless, Trump has arguably worsened the trend by getting so much airtime— one estimate suggested that over the past four years, Trump has taken up, on average, 15 percent of the entire daily news cycle on the three leading cable networks, nearly three times what Obama did.

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