Sacha Baron Cohen slams Facebook as a home for conspiracy theories

  • Actor Sacha Baron Cohen wrote an op-ed for Time condemning social media platforms for allowing misinformation to spread, and he singled out Facebook in particular.
  • The “Borat” actor, who has come out hard against Facebook before, said the company is a “dutiful ally” to President Donald Trump and attacked the firm for its failure to fact-check misleading political ads and posts.
  • Cohen wrote how the “trifecta” of President Trump, Facebook, and the spread of misinformation has created “a whirlwind of conspiratorial madness” leading up to the 2020 election that could “kill democracy as we know it.”
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Actor Sacha Baron Cohen in an op-ed for Time Magazine called for an end to the proliferation of conspiracy theories on social media platforms — and the actor zeroed in on Facebook specifically.

The actor slammed the company for the role it has played in misinformation spreading online, calling out Facebook’s algorithm that is designed to promote content that more people find interesting. Cohen also called Facebook out for its refusal to fact-check political ads and remove misleading posts.

The actor pointed out that conspiracy theories are more easily spread during times of uncertainty.

“Donald Trump — who averages 23 lies a day and is the world’s greatest superspreader of coronavirus conspiracies —has caught the virus himself. He has a dutiful ally in Facebook — the greatest propaganda machine in history. And this is a time when Americans are especially vulnerable to lies and conspiracies. This trifecta has created a whirlwind of conspiratorial madness,” Cohen wrote in the op-ed.

Cohen’s damning remarks come as the 2020 presidential election looms just weeks away and as social media sites continue to grapple with policing disinformation on their platforms. Facebook has been in the spotlight specifically for giving QAnon networks

House antitrust probe says Amazon has ‘monopoly power’ over sellers, company slams ‘fringe’ findings

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos answers questions via video during an antitrust hearing in July.

A long-awaited report from a U.S. House antitrust subcommittee finds that Amazon “has monopoly power over most third-party sellers and many of its suppliers,” and proposes sweeping reforms for U.S. tech giants including “structural separations to prohibit platforms from operating in lines of business that depend on or interoperate with the platform.”

Amazon called the report fundamentally flawed, saying its “fringe notions on antitrust” presented an inaccurate view of the market and competitive landscape.

The 450-page report from the subcommittee’s Democratic leaders concludes a 16-month investigation into Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple as the operators of major online markets. It finds that the market power of the four tech giants “has diminished consumer choice, eroded innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy, weakened the vibrancy of the free and diverse press, and undermined Americans’ privacy.”

If implemented, the recommendations would have sweeping implications for Amazon’s third-party e-commerce marketplace, one of the pillars of the Seattle tech company’s business.

In a post responding to the report, Amazon said lawmakers wrongly limited the relevant market to e-commerce sales and not the larger U.S. retail industry in determining if the company was dominant.

“The flawed thinking would have the primary effect of forcing millions of independent retailers out of online stores, thereby depriving these small businesses of one of the fastest and most profitable ways available to reach customers,” the company said in its post. “For consumers, the result would be less choice and higher prices. Far from enhancing competition, these uninformed notions would instead reduce it.”

As a measure of total U.S. retail sales, Amazon says its market share is in the single digits. The antitrust report says Amazon’s U.S. online retail market share is often understated as

3 students at online class, computer shop owner hurt as 10-wheeler loses brakes, slams into them

LIGAO CITY—Four persons, three of whom were students taking online classes, were injured after a ten-wheel truck rammed on Tuesday (Oct. 6) the computer shop where they were in along the Maharlika Highway in this city, a police report said.

The injured were identified as Nikko Oriel, 14 years old and a Grade 9 student; Ralf Marcos Quiped, 12 years old and a Grade 6 student; Justine Dela Cruz, 15, a junior high school student and Marion Manga, 27, computer shop owner, according to SSgt. Joel Llmas, Ligao City police investigator.

Llamas said an Isuzu flatbed truck from Guinobatan town was on the national road at the village of Tuburan past noon when it careened off its track and slammed into the computer shop where the students and shop owner were in.

The truck was being driven by Severo Sadia, of Naga City, and on board was the driver’s companion, Jero Abraham, 18.

Sadia told police that the truck lost its brakes and headed straight into the computer shop.

Three of the injured were taken to a hospital for minor injuries. Dela Cruz was pinned on the ground by the truck and brought to Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, the region’s biggest.

TSB


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Amnesty International slams Palantir’s human rights record

Amnesty International is criticizing Palantir’s human rights record a day before the secretive Silicon Valley technology startup is set to go public.

In a report on Monday, Amnesty singled out Palantir’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Palantir’s software allows ICE to build detailed profiles of people in a single location, drawing on existing ICE data, public records and active investigations. 

Amnesty says ICE has also used Palantir’s technology in arresting the parents of children who cross the border unaccompanied and to conduct massive workplace raids, such as a 2019 raid in Mississippi  that swept up nearly 700 workers.

The data company “has sought to deflect and minimize its responsibility to protect human rights,” Amnesty said, adding that “there is a high risk that Palantir is contributing to serious human rights violations of migrants and asylum-seekers.”

“Palantir touts its ethical commitments, saying it will never work with regimes that abuse human rights abroad. This is deeply ironic, given the company’s willingness stateside to work directly with ICE, which has used its technology to execute harmful policies that target migrants and asylum-seekers,” Michael Kleinman, the director of Amnesty International’s Silicon Valley Initiative, said in a statement.

Pressure to cut ties with ICE

Palantir has previously disputed its links with deportations, saying that it does not contract with the ICE division that removes immigrants and says that its software is not used as part of detentions or deportations.

The company declined comment, citing a mandatory “quiet period” prior to its going public. 

Other news reports and activist groups have documented evidence that Palantir’s software is used to carry out deportations. Human rights groups and privacy advocates also have urged Palantir to cut ties with the federal government. The American Civil Liberties Union has