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Zuckerberg: Advertisers will be back to Facebook ‘soon enough’

As the ads boycott grows, Mark Zuckerberg shows no sign of backing down.

“My guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough” the Facebook chief executive has said.

Campaigners accuse the tech firm of being too slow and reluctant to remove some hateful content.

But Zuckerberg added: “We’re not going to change our policies or approach on anything because of a threat to a small percent of our revenue.”

The comments were made to Facebook staff at a private meeting last Friday, and were subsequently leaked to the Information news site.

The social network has confirmed they are accurate and also announced a fresh development: its chief executive is to meet the organisers of the boycott – Stop Hate for Profit.

It illustrates the concurrent ways Facebook is dealing with the matter.

The first is to be publicly conciliatory: offer smaller changes and hit home its message that hate has no place on the platform.

The second is to privately play down the impact of the boycott: reassure advertisers and resist any fundamental changes to Facebook’s business model.

Balancing act

Yesterday the firm’s global affairs chief, Sir Nick Clegg, published an open letter to the ad world.

He attempted to assuage fears the company hadn’t done enough to combat hate. Not surprisingly, he didn’t echo his boss and add: “You’ll be back.”

Now, of course companies have different internal- and external-facing messages.

But this one in particular underlines the delicate tightrope that Facebook is trying to tread.

The company is undoubtedly rattled by this boycott. According to a list compiled by its organisers, more than 600 brands are now involved.

This week Facebook sent an email to companies and ad agencies assuring them it was doing all it could to remove hate speech.

“This work is never finished, and we’re proud of how our apps can help people come together, learn, and organize against hate and show their solidarity” an email to one ad agency said.

But the boycott isn’t hurting Facebook as much as you might think.

In fact, Zuckerberg, in that same employee meeting, called the problem a “reputational and a partner issue” rather than a financial one.

And he has a point. The vast majority of companies are still advertising with Facebook.

Take the UK for example.

Last year, the analytics company Pathmatics carried out a study into which companies were spending the most on Facebook ads seen in the country.

They included:

  • Tesco
  • Microsoft
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • BT
  • Vodafone
  • American Express

With the exception of Microsoft, all of the top 10 spenders identified still appear to be advertising on Facebook.

And thousands upon thousands of small-to-medium-sized businesses are doing likewise.

Return to Washington

One advertising executive sent me an expletive-riddled text yesterday, dismissing the idea its clients would stop advertising on Facebook.

It’s that kind of message that gives Zuckerberg reason to be bullish.

Areeq Chowdhury, from WebRoots Democracy, also believes the companies that have joined the boycott will come back.

“The advertising being offered by these internet giants is unparalleled.” he says.

“The level of targeting they can achieve is not matched anywhere else, so I find it hard to believe that a lot of them will stop advertising in the long run.”

That seems to be what the market thinks, too.

After a dip in Facebook’s share price, it’s back to pretty much where it was last week.

So, Facebook’s strategy so far seems to be working.

The far greater worry is contagion – for example, if users started to leave Facebook and Instagram in large numbers in response to the boycott. But once again, there’s little evidence of that happening.

On Wednesday, it was confirmed that Zuckerberg – along with Google’s Sundar Pichai, Apple’s Tim Cook and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – would testify before Congress in an antitrust hearing later this month.

If the boycott continues to gather force, it could be an uncomfortable encounter, however secure Facebook may feel.

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PS5 and Xbox Series X: Video game NBA 2K21 to cost more on new consoles

Games publisher 2K will charge £5 more for its forthcoming NBA 2K21 basketball game on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles.

It is the first company to reveal how it will price software for the next-generation machines.

Sony and Microsoft have yet to reveal how much they plan to charge for the new hardware.

One analyst said it was not unusual for new console games to be priced at a premium.

But it is an added factor for gamers to consider at a time when finances are under strain because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is commonplace for games on new platforms to cost more than the older platforms, but the situation is made more complex because of backwards compatibility on Xbox Series X and PS5,” Piers Harding-Rolls from the, Ampere Analysis consultancy, told the BBC.

While 2K publishes recommended prices, retailers may decide to charge different amounts for the game.

Compatibility

Sony and Microsoft have both made compatibility pledges for their new consoles.

Sony has announced that dozens of popular PS4 games, including the 100 most played, will work on the PS5.

Microsoft is promoting its “smart delivery” initiative, which lets players buy a game once and use it on any of its Xbox One or Series X consoles. It also has a “play anywhere” scheme that lets players access a purchased game on both an Xbox console and a Windows PC.

2K Games told the BBC the title was not part of the “play anywhere” scheme.

NBA 2K21 will be a launch title for both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, which are expected to go on sale in time for Christmas.

The edition for existing machines will be released on 4 September.

The standard version of the game will cost the same regardless of whether a player buys a physical disc or a digital download:

  • £49.99 on the Nintendo Switch
  • £59.99 on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One ($59.99 in the US)
  • £64.99 on PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X ($69.99 in the US)

Next-generation

2K said the game had been “built from the ground up for next-generation consoles”, but has not yet said how it will differ between the two generations.

“We believe our suggested retail price for NBA 2K21 on next-generation platforms fairly represents the value of what’s being offered: power, speed and technology that is only possible on new hardware,” the company told the BBC.

“Making games is an expensive business and production costs continue to escalate, so I can see why publishers want to charge more for enhancements on the new consoles,” said Mr Harding-Rolls.

“However, with Microsoft pushing its smart delivery strategy and third parties following their own policies, the situation is becoming unnecessarily complex for gamers.”

A deluxe version of the sports simulator – called Mamba Forever – will celebrate the lifetime achievement of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who died in 2020.

It will cost:

  • £84.99 on both the current and next-generation console ($99.99 in the US)
  • £79.99 on PC
  • £79.99 on Google Stadia

2K has it said it will:

  • give players who buy the deluxe version on PS4 or Xbox One access to the standard version of the game on PS5 or Xbox Series X
  • give players who buy the deluxe version on PS5 or Xbox Series One access to the standard version of the game on PS4 or Xbox One
  • introduce “initiatives to bridge the two versions of the game”, including a shared virtual currency wallet within the same console family.

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Google’s Fitbit takeover probed by EU regulators

The EU is questioning whether Google’s proposed takeover of Fitbit will harm competition, or give it access to too much personal data.

Fitbit makes fitness-tracking watches that monitor the wearer’s heart rate and activity levels.

A group of 20 consumer groups and privacy advocates have called for Google’s takeover to be blocked.

Google said it would not use Fitbit data to target advertising and would be “transparent” about the data gathered.

It announced it was buying loss-making Fitbit for $2.1bn (£1.68bn) in November 2019.

The move would help Google expand its wearables business and offer its own-brand smart watches to rival the Apple Watch.

‘Intimate information’

But some are concerned that Google already has a wealth of personal information about many people who use its products.

As part of its campaign opposing the takeover, Privacy International said: “We don’t think any company should be allowed to accumulate this much intimate information about you.”

EU regulators will decide by 20 July whether to allow the deal or launch an investigation.

They have sent detailed questionnaires to several of Google and Fitbit’s rivals, asking whether the takeover will put them at a disadvantage.

Australia’s competition authority has also said it may have concerns about the deal,and will make a decision in August.

“This deal is about devices, not data,” Google told Reuters news agency.

“We believe the combination of Google’s and Fitbit’s hardware efforts will increase competition in the sector.”

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Police infiltrate encrypted system, arrest hundreds ‘leading secret criminal lives’, and seize £54m

Police have arrested hundreds of suspected top-tier criminals involved in murder, gun smuggling and drug trafficking after infiltrating their encrypted phone system.

In an operation led by the UK’s National Crime Agency, investigators say they have seized £54m in cash, two tonnes of cocaine, 77 firearms including assault rifles, sub-machine guns and grenades and prevented contract killings.

Many of the targets are said to have considered themselves “untouchable” – posing as respectable, wealthy tycoons with lifestyles built on the profits of legitimate businesses.

Image:
Investigators seized £54m in cash

One source said: “Many were seen by friends and neighbours as pillars of society, but in reality were leading secret, glamorous lives they thought would go on forever.”

Every police force in Britain was involved in Operation Venetic, which was launched in April after analysts managed to infiltrate the secretive Encrochat mobile telephone system used by organised criminals around the world.

The system which was hosted in France was taken down during the police operation.

Users paid £1,600 a month for a bespoke Encrochat handset which offers a highly encrypted communication platform.

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Around two tonnes of Class A and B drugs were confiscated

The NCA says there were 60,000 users around the world and 10,000 in the UK, all off them suspected criminals.

Organised crime gangs used Encrochat to underpin their operations, swapping images of guns and drugs for sale and building in codes and timers that wiped data automatically.

The NCA said some law enforcement officers – fewer than ten – were among those arrested after being “compromised” in intercepted messages.








Met chief hails raids against organised crime

The Metropolitan Police played a key role, arresting 132 suspects and seizing £13m in cash and 14 firearms including Scorpion sub-machine guns.

In one dawn raid, officers used specialist counter-terror firearms officers and stun grenades to arrest a dangerous suspect involved in firearms and major drug trafficking.

Image:
Every police force in Britain was involved in Operation Venetic

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “This is an amazing moment. We’ve known for ages that some organised criminals we have dealt with over the years but have never been able to bring to justice for the most serious offences, have been turning to encrypted devices they thought were completely impenetrable.

“They thought they were never going to get caught and were able to use those devices without worry and this shows that law enforcement will be able, in the future, wherever you hide to come after you. These people have been hiding for far too long.

“So this is just the beginning. We have arrested large numbers of people. We have many more to arrest and we will be disrupting organised criminal networks as a result of these operations for weeks and months and possibly years to come.

“I think it is a game changer because it shows people that you need to be very frightened because we may already be after you now on the basis of what you have been doing.”

Image:
Weapons including assault rifles were also found

The National Crime Agency said investigators had seized 106 Encrochat mobile handsets during the operation so far and prevented the murder of several individuals who were the targets of rival gangs.

NCA Director of Investigation’s Nikki Holland said: “These are people who are causing vast amounts of misery and harm acrossd the UK.

“These are what we would call iconic untouchable, these are people that have worked with impunity and evaded law enforcement and now we have been able to get inside and see exactly what they are doing.”

The operation involved law enforcement agencies across Europe and is thought to be the biggest ever against organised crime groups.

One gang it targeted was thought to be smuggling guns and drugs through a network spanning Europe and the United Arab Emirates.

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Video game loot boxes ‘are gambling’, says House of Lords

Purchasing loot boxes in video games is equivalent to gambling, according to a House of Lords committee, which recommends that the controversial products be regulated under the Gambling Act.

Loot boxes can be purchased in many games – including those popular with younger players such as FIFA – and offer randomised rewards, some of which would be worth far more than the cost of the purchase itself.

The way the purchases offer mystery in-game rewards to players means they should be classified as gambling, according to a new report by the House of Lords Gambling Committee.

The committee called for the government to “act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation”.

Image:
Players can buy packs of random cards in FIFA Ultimate Team to build their squads

Globally, the market for loot boxes in games is estimated to be worth £20bn, with the UK market valued at £700m.

In the case of football game FIFA, made by Electronic Arts and one of the UK’s top-selling game franchises, they are trading card-style packets that can be bought with either real money or a digital currency earned by playing.

But some games have removed them after intervention from governments – Fortnite got rid of its version of loot boxes last year after Belgium and the Netherlands declared them to be illegal gambling.

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Also last year, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) published a report revealing that some young people felt addicted to purchasing the items.

The RSPH report found that a majority of young people see both purchasing a loot box (58%) and taking part in skin betting (60%) as forms of highly addictive gambling.

Image:
Fortnite removed loot boxes last year

Children are spending hundreds of pounds “chasing their losses” on money spent on loot boxes, according to the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield.

And back in October, MPs also called for them to be banned.

Console makers Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo recently pledged to force game publishers to disclose the likelihood of particular items being discovered in loot boxes.

However, currently, video game packaging only sports an icon warning of the potential for extra purchases, which do not always involve an element of chance.

Image:
Console makers pledged to force game publishers to disclose the likelihood of items being discovered in loot boxes

Ms Longfield, who talked to 29 gamers aged 10 to 16, said last year: “Children have told us they worry they are gambling when they buy loot boxes, and it’s clear some children are spending hundreds of pounds chasing their losses.

“I want the government to classify loot boxes in games like FIFA as a form of gambling. A maximum daily spend limit for children would also be reassuring for parents and children themselves.

“With 93% of children in the UK playing video games, it is vital that the enjoyment they get comes with tighter rules that protect them from straying into gambling.”

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‘There has to be justice’: Katie Price tells MPs of online abuse her son receives

Katie Price has told MPs her disabled son Harvey has been the target of “disgusting and despicable” abuse from online trolls.

Harvey, whose father is former footballer Dwight Yorke, suffers from partial blindness, Prader-Willi syndrome, autism, and learning and behavioural difficulties, as a result of a rare genetic disorder.

Appearing virtually at the Commons Petitions Committee as part of a parliamentary inquiry into online abuse, Price said trolls have used all kinds of online platforms to attack him, including TikTok, Facebook and even eBay.

Image:
Price and her son, pictured here after first raising the issue with MPs in 2018

Detailing the insults he regularly receives, she said the 18-year-old “gets a lot of racial abuse”, and other “disgusting, despicable things”.

“He gets memes made about it, TikToks, posters, he gets mocked in such a serious, disgusting way, there has to be some kind of justice,” she added.

Price expressed her anger over specific people, including three police officers, cricketer Ben Stokes and comedian Frankie Boyle, who she said had all mocked her son.

“They are laughing at him, not with him,” she said.

More from Katie Price

“He gets a lot of it from football fans, they call him a gorilla.

“I’m not going to say it all, it should be treated the same when it’s written, I think people are more shocked verbally.”

Image:
Harvey was born in 2002, and suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome

Price said she refuses to “hide her son away” in response, or stop him from posting videos of his keyboard playing, as she is “proud of him, proud of the man he’s become”.

She added: “Why should he stop doing it, why should I be told I can’t let him enjoy that, when other people do?

“Harvey touches the hearts of all those he meets – his heart knows no bounds when giving out love and affection.”

Price – who last year spent some time at private mental health hospital The Priory – said the abuse had taken its toll on her too, admitting: “I can see how people end up committing suicide.

“It all goes down to mental health, think what the bullying and trolling does.”

Price added: “We are all allowed freedom of speech but you know when you’re crossing that line, more people are committing suicide, it’s just getting worse, it’s on a wider spectrum.”

Image:
Price said she’s proud of her son and refuses to hide him away

She said she’d had no response from social media companies when she complained about the abuse.

Price added: “There have been more suicides, more mental health issues, more abuse… the language on there is getting worse because people know they can get away with it.”

The former model also said that photos of Harvey taken when he was in hospital suffering from a lung infection were recently shared online.

Additionally, Price said when she was selling her car on eBay, the listing had to be taken down because there were so many abusive comments about Harvey.

She said she printed off the comments and gave them to the police, but added: “They were disgusted, but there was nothing they could do because there was nothing in place.”

Both Price and her mother Amy, who in 2018 revealed that she has a terminal lung disease, have called on MPs to introduce tougher consequences for online trolls and introduce a trolls register.

Image:
Price first appeared before the Petitions Committee in 2018

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Price said the logistics of tracking online abusers shouldn’t be difficult, comparing it to other daily transactions.

She said: “If you go and get a mortgage or a car they want to know your name, your address, credit checks, why can’t they do it on social media? There is not enough protection.”

The 42-year old said she will keep fighting for penalties for online trolls across the world, and said a “Harvey’s Law” being introduced would be “the best thing I’ve ever done”.

Price first appeared before the Petitions Committee in 2018, after more than 220,000 people signed her petition to make online abuse a criminal offence.

The documentary Katie Price: Harvey & Me, which looks at the realities of bringing up a disabled child, will air on BBC One later this year.

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TikTok ‘didn’t store’ iPhone clipboard data

Social media platform TikTok has told the BBC it did not receive or store any data from Apple iPhone clipboards.

In a developer trial of the latest update to the phone’s operating system, iOS 14, users are notified whenever an app accesses the handset’s clipboard.

TikTok was one of 53 apps that security researchers had previously flagged as regularly seeking clipboard access.

TikTok said it introduced the move to stop people spamming the platform by copying and pasting the same content.

The platform, owned by Chinese firm Bytedance, also said it disabled the feature via an automated app update pushed out on 27 June.

It was never enabled on Android devices, it added.

“Following the beta release of iOS14 on June 22, users saw notifications while using a number of popular apps,” it said in a statement.

“For TikTok, this was triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behaviour. We submitted an updated version of the app to the App Store removing the anti-spam feature to eliminate any potential confusion.”

Jeremy Burge, the founder of Emojipedia, shared video of Apple’s new notification on Twitter.

“TikTok is grabbing the contents of my clipboard every 1-3 keystrokes,” he wrote.

“iOS 14 is snitching on it with the new paste notification.”

‘Silently readable’

The news had alarmed privacy campaigners.

“People ought to be aware that on mobile devices, in order to try and be helpful they can be doing things that are slightly unexpected,” said Prof Alan Woodward, cyber-security expert at Surrey University.

“It’s not ideal but in this case there is no evidence that it was sending the data anywhere other than the phone. There’s no cause for alarm.”

There are legitimate reasons why apps require clipboard access – the website 9to5 Mac noted back in February that the clipboard is “designed to be silently readable by any app”.

In order to share a website address with a message platform, for example, or to grab a password from a password manager and paste it into a password-protected service, the clipboard has to be accessible,

In research published in March, Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk identified dozens of apps which they said accessed the clipboard.

Apple told them at the time that it did not believe there was an issue with the vulnerability – but its new iOS update now warns iPhone users when it happens.

The pair identified various news channels, games, and social media/messaging platforms which sought clipboard data.

They included Reuters, the New York Times, Russia Today, Fruit Ninja, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Plants vs Zombies, TikTok, Viber and Weibo.

They noted that it was not clear what the apps did with the data.

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How hackers extorted $1.14m from University of California, San Francisco

A leading medical-research institution working on a cure for Covid-19 has admitted it paid hackers a $1.14m (£910,000) ransom after a covert negotiation witnessed by BBC News.

The Netwalker criminal gang attacked University of California San Francisco (UCSF) on 1 June.

IT staff unplugged computers in a race to stop the malware spreading.

And an anonymous tip-off enabled BBC News to follow the ransom negotiations in a live chat on the dark web.

Cyber-security experts say these sorts of negotiations are now happening all over the world – sometimes for even larger sums – against the advice of law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI, Europol and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.

Netwalker alone has been linked to at least two other ransomware attacks on universities in the past two months.

At first glance, its dark-web homepage looks like a standard customer-service website, with a frequently asked questions (FAQ) tab, an offer of a “free” sample of its software and a live-chat option.

But there is also a countdown timer ticking down to a time when the hackers either double the price of their ransom, or delete the data they have scrambled with malware.

Instructed to log in – either by email or a ransom note left on hacked computer screens – UCSF was met with the following message, posted on 5 June.

Six hours later, the university asked for more time and for details of the hack to be removed from Netwalker’s public blog.

Noting UCSF made billions a year, the hackers then demanded $3m

But the UCSF representative, who may be an external specialist negotiator, explained the coronavirus pandemic had been “financially devastating” for the university and begged them to accept $780,000.

After a day of back-and-forth negotiations, UCSF said it had pulled together all available money and could pay $1.02m – but the criminals refused to go below $1.5m.

Hours later, the university came back with details of how it had procured more money and a final offer of $1,140,895.

And the next day, 116.4 bitcoins were transferred to Netwalker’s electronic wallets and the decryption software sent to UCSF.

UCSF is now assisting the FBI with its investigations, while working to restore all affected systems.

It told BBC News: “The data that was encrypted is important to some of the academic work we pursue as a university serving the public good.

“We therefore made the difficult decision to pay some portion of the ransom, approximately $1.14 million, to the individuals behind the malware attack in exchange for a tool to unlock the encrypted data and the return of the data they obtained.

“It would be a mistake to assume that all of the statements and claims made in the negotiations are factually accurate.”

But Jan Op Gen Oorth, from Europol, which runs a project called No More Ransom, said: “Victims should not pay the ransom, as this finances criminals and encourages them to continue their illegal activities.

“Instead, they should report it to the police so law enforcement can disrupt the criminal enterprise.”

Brett Callow, a threat analyst at cyber-security company Emsisoft, said: “Organisations in this situation are without a good option.

“Even if they pay the demand, they’ll simply receive a pinky-promise that the stolen data will be deleted.

“But why would a ruthless criminal enterprise delete data that it may be able to further monetise at a later date?”

Most ransomware attacks begin with a booby-trapped emaiI and research suggests criminal gangs are increasingly using tools that can gain access to systems via a single download. In the first week of this month alone, Proofpoint’s cyber-security analysts say they saw more than one million emails with using a variety of phishing lures, including fake Covid-19 test results, sent to organisations in the US, France, Germany, Greece, and Italy.

Organisations are encouraged to regularly back-up their data offline.

But Proofpoint’s Ryan Kalember said: “Universities can be challenging environments to secure for IT administrators.

“The constantly changing student population, combined with a culture of openness and information-sharing, can conflict with the rules and controls often needed to effectively protect the users and systems from attack.”

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Online Harms bill: Warning over ‘unacceptable’ delay

The Chair of the Lords Democracy and Digital Committee has said the government’s landmark online protection bill could be delayed for years.

Lord Puttnam said the Online Harms Bill may not come into effect until 2023 or 2024, after a government minister said she could not commit to bringing it to parliament next year.

“I’m afraid we laughed,” he said.

The government, however, said the legislation would be introduced “as soon as possible”.

The Online Harms Bill was unveiled last year amid a flurry of political action after the story of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who killed herself after viewing online images of self-harm, came to light.

It is seen as a potential tool to hold websites accountable if they fail to tackle harmful content online – but is still in the proposal, or “White Paper” stage.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the legislation will be ready in this parliamentary session.

But the Lords committee’s report said that DCMS minister Caroline Dinenage would not commit to bringing a draft bill to parliament before the end of 2021, prompting fears of a lengthy delay.

In her evidence to the committee in May, she had warned that the Covid-19 pandemic had caused delays.

But speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Lord Puttnam said: “It’s finished”.

“Here’s a bill that the Government paraded as being very important – and it is – which they’ve managed to lose somehow.”

The government originally put forward the idea of online regulation in 2017, following it with the White Paper 18 months later, and a full response is now not due until the end of this year.

Lord Puttnam said a potential 2024 date for it to come into effect would be “seven years from conception – in the technology world that’s two lifetimes”.

Analysis

By Angus Crawford

The death of Molly Russell seemed to galvanise the debate about online harms.

Just 14, she took her own life after viewing a relentless stream of negative material on Instagram. Within days of her father Ian’s decision to talk publicly about what happened, government ministers were calling for a “purge” of social media.

Tech company bosses were summoned, dressed down and warned they might be held personally responsible for harmful content. New legislation was demanded, drafted and put out to consultation.

And 18 months on here we are, left with a warning the new law may have to wait until 2024.

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It’s left some campaigners depressed about the prospects for real change. But two remarkable things have happened this summer.

First the campaign and hashtag #stophateforprofit. Advertisers have begun to pile out of Facebook and Instagram, the company share price plunged 8% in one day and Mark Zuckerberg promised to act.

And here in the UK, reported on only sparsely, the Age Appropriate Design Code was laid before Parliament. It forces online services to give children’s data the highest level of protection. That includes preventing auto-recommending harmful content to young people.

Tighter regulation is coming to the sector, but it will be far from a smooth process.

Lord Puttnam was speaking following the launch of his committee’s latest report, on the collapse of trust in the digital era.

In a statement, the committee said that democracy itself is threatened by a “pandemic” of misinformation online, which could be an “existential threat” to our way of life.

It said the threat of online misinformation had become even clearer in recent months during the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the report’s 45 recommendations were that the regulator of social networks – mooted to be the current broadcast regulator, Ofcom – should hold platforms accountable for content they recommend to large numbers of people, once it crosses a certain threshold.

It also recommended that those companies which repeatedly do not comply should be blocked at ISP level, and fined up to 4% of their global turnover, and that political advertising should be held to stricter standards.

Ofcom’s new chief executive has warned that hefty fines would be part of its plans, if it is appointed as regulator.

DCMS said: “Since the start of the pandemic, specialist government units have been working around the clock to identify and rebut false information about coronavirus.

“We are also working closely with social media platforms to help them remove incorrect claims about the virus that could endanger people’s health.”

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Trump retweets video featuring supporter shouting ‘white power’

President Trump has retweeted a video featuring a supporter shouting “white power” at other demonstrators in Florida.

The footage shows a man in a golf cart that includes “Trump 2020” and “America First” signs responding to protesters who were also shouting and carrying placards expressing their opposition to the president.

According to the person who originally posted the video, it was recorded in a retirement community known as The Villages where the residents were apparently “protesting against each other” – the Trump supporters apparently in a parade of golf carts and the others standing beside this parade.

Image:
The president’s tweet was later deleted

“White power” is a white supremacist political slogan designed to mimic the “black power” slogan which became popular during the civil rights movement, said the Anti-Defamation League in the US.

“It is a commonly shouted at white supremacist events as a racist rallying cry,” the ADL’s glossary of white supremacist terms explains.

Three hours after it was posted, the president’s message apparently endorsing the supporter who shouted this term was deleted.

Before it was deleted, the president’s tweet thanked “the great people of The Villages” stating: “The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon!!!”

More from Donald Trump

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The tweet was criticised by Republican senator Tim Scott, who told CNN’s State of the Union: “There’s no question. He should not have retweeted it and he should just take it down.”

Senator Scott, who is the only black Republican in the US Senate, added: “We can play politics with it or we can’t. I’m not going to.

“I think it’s indefensible, we should take it down. That’s what I think.”

It is not clear if the message was deleted by the president or his team.

The social media company and the Trump administration have repeatedly clashed over the president’s tweets in recent weeks, prompting the White House to drive forward changes to social media regulations.

The original video – which documents both groups of demonstrators shouting at each other, with the counter-Trump protesters audibly swearing – remains available on Twitter.

In a statement to reporters, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said the president was a “big fan of The Villages” but “did not hear the one statement made on the video.”

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