Social media

Social media round-up: May 2017

May has been jam-packed with social media shenanigans.

First, I report on the growth in older social media users, the rise of social media scams, mental health issues arising from social media use, LinkedIn hitting 500 million users, Facebook allegedly ‘toying’ with our emotions to help advertisers, and a social media win for Tasmanian police.

I follow with my continued exploration of ‘fakes news,’ which continues to represent a troubling issue on social media and for society generally, and is seen by some now as an unprecedented threat to democratic systems.

Next, I look at the intersection of free speech and social media, including the murder of a Maldives blogger, the censoring of a Pulitzer winning journalist on Facebook, Facebook temporarily suspending a troublesome Chinese billionaire and a women’s abortion support group, the United Arab Emirates issuing a jail threat over a viral dancing video, Thailand’s continuing war on critics of its monarchy, Ukraine blocking popular Russian social media services, and accusation against US police of improper targeting of social media users.

I explore tales of social media gone wrong, from the latest social media related unfair dismissal case out of Australia’s Fair Work Commission, to the ongoing troubles of social media operators with extremist and abusive content, an Austrian’s court decisions requiring Facebook to remove hate speech, an NBA star getting into trouble over an Instagram post, former Playboy Playmate Danielle Mathers being sentenced to community service over a breach of privacy on Snapchat, Russian YouTuber convicted over playing Pokémon in a church, Twitter permanently suspending ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shrkeli, and the leaking of Facebook’s internal guidelines for dealing with extremist and abusive content.

This month’s social media defamation tale comes from Switzerland, and revenge porn is back in the spotlight with a conviction of a blackmailer, and ongoing legislative developments at the Commonwealth level, and in NSW.

Journalist Kurt Eichenwald’s legal action against a social media troll continues over the GIF of a strobe light which caused him to suffer an epileptic fit, Facebook Live continues to court controversy, YouTube pranksters lose custody of their children, and the interaction of juries and social media spark interest again.

Two new social media linked copyright cases popped up this month, one targeting a Kardashian, another a popular Taiwanese YouTuber.

I wrap up this month with Facebook’s bad regulatory month in Europe, copping two fines, one for breach of privacy regulations, another for violating antitrust rules, and a corporate social media marketing campaign going wrong yet again.

See all previous issues of
Social Media Round-Up

Tweet of the month

Tweet of the month goes to the Autonomous Space Agency Network (ASAN), with a language warning.

ASAN is the first branch of a global network of community based space exploration programs, promoting open-source, DIY space exploration – amateur space exploration.

The subject of the tweet in question has been called the first political protest ever in space, although admittedly Aphrodite 1, a helium-filled weather balloon, reached only about 90,000 feet (27.43 kilometres), putting it only into near-space.

The tweet quotes Apollo 14 astronaut Dr Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the moon and a colourful character, who famously said while viewing Earth from space:

You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that, you son of a bitch.”

Culture and social media | Fake news and phishing | Free speech | Social media gone wrong | Crime (and punishment) | Juries and lawyers | Copyright | Regulatory issues | Corporate social media

Culture and social media

Older Australians connect on social media

Facebook has experienced unexpected growth in older users, dubbed as ‘the grandparent effect,’ as they sign up in increasing numbers to stay in touch with family, and each other.

Social media based scams are on the rise

The ubiquity of social media and its growing use has implications beyond fake news, hate speech, harassment, and trolling.

Fraudsters and criminals are also increasingly taking advantage of social media, as social networks had become a virtual hunting ground for the gullible.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s annual scam report identifies a 47% increase in online scams. The joint report by the ACCC and the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network revealed over 200,000 reports of online scams with losses totalling close to $300 million.

The crimes range from ‘sextortion,’ to dating and romance scams, and fake trading sites.

Instagram ranked the worst social network for young people’s mental health

According to a survey of around 1,500 14 to 24-year olds in the United Kingdom, Instagram is the social network most likely to cause feelings on inadequacy and anxiety.

The Royal Society of Public Health and the Young Health Movement published the report titled ‘#StatusOfMind,’ which evaluates and rates social networks based on feedback from young users. Concerningly, the research shows a 70% increase in rates of anxiety and depression over the past 25 years, and links that increase to social media use.

LinkedIn reaches new milestone

If you need any further proof of the increasingly pervasive nature of social media, the latest milestone by professional social media network LinkedIn delivers half a billion of them.

The platform now has 500 million users. It’s not quite Facebook’s almost 2 billion users but, for a social network built around professional users, it is certainly an impressive achievement.

Is Facebook ‘toying’ with your emotions?

Research presented by Facebook to advertisers had caused considerable outrage this month when it was revealed Facebook suggested it could identify the mental state and mood of its users, and target advertising at them accordingly.

As soon as the matter became the subject of public attention Facebook immediately apologised over the issue, but later noted the documents in question merely represented the results of research by Facebook.

Tasmanian police wins social media

In recent months there have been incidents of police use of social media that left us wondering: if the police can’t get it right, what chance do the rest of us have?!

A pair of Tasmanian police officers won social media this week when a young gentleman posted a selfie he found on his phone after a big night out.

He was helpfully and safely delivered home by two of Tasmania’s finest, who decided to leave him with a small memento of his big night out – a selfie on his mobile phone. Just in case he couldn’t remember how he got home …

After discovering the image on his mobile phone next morning, he posted the photo to Reddit. Tasmanian police shared his post on their Facebook page, and the rest is viral social media history.

Fake news and phishing

The French presidential election sparked a new cyber-war front

Hacking and fake news seem to go hand-in-hand now when it comes to the cyber-arsenal being unleashed against politicians by opposing forces.

Emmanuel Macron, the new President of France, was targeted by a phishing attack just days before the French election in an attempt to access confidential campaign information.

Digital sleuths believe the attack it traceable to Russia’s state apparatus, and was intended to support Mr Macron’s rival, the far-right Marine Le Pen in the presidential race.

American far-right activists then engaged in the heavy promotion of Mr Macron’s hacking on social media.

Facebook acknowledges government manipulation and exploitation of its platform

A white paper by the social network titled ‘Information Operations and Facebook,’ notes it has identified well-funded and subtle techniques used by nations and other organisations to spread misleading information and falsehoods for geopolitical purposes.

The matter goes well beyond the ‘fake news’ phenomenon, and includes content seeding, targeted data collection, and organised multitudes of fake accounts designed to amplify particular points of view, create distrust, and spread confusion.

Google continues its fight against fake news and phishing

Alphabet Inc., announced fundamental changes to its algorithm, designed to prevent false information shooting to the top of its results pages.

Google will also task 10,000 of its employees with monitoring results, and flagging sites spreading propaganda, conspiracy theories, and downright lies.

Google also announced an effort to protect Google mail users against a phishing attack, by revoking access to those identified engaging in the attack, and offering information to users on how to better protect themselves.

Facebook also tinkers with its algorithm

Facebook also announced it would update its ranking algorithm to target ‘low-quality’ websites in its ongoing efforts to fight fake news and misinformation.

We hear from our community that they’re disappointed when they click on a link that leads to a web page containing little substantive content and that is covered in disruptive, shocking or malicious ads. People expect their experience after clicking on a post to be straightforward.

Starting today, we’re rolling out an update so people see fewer posts and ads in News Feed that link to these low-quality web page experiences. Similar to the work we’re already doing to stop misinformation, this update will help reduce the economic incentives of financially-motivated spammers.

Fake news and the UK election

The threat of fake news to the democratic process is finally being taken seriously following recent experiences in the United Sates, France, and elsewhere in the European Union.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) issued a report this month, titled ‘Securing Democracy in the Digital Age,’ declaring the internet and social media now pose an unprecedented threat to Australia’s democratic systems, and an urgent response is needed to safeguard against attacks.

Accordingly, Facebook is taking special steps leading up to the UK general election next month.

The social network had published a series of ads in British newspapers warning the public of fake news, and offering tips on how to identify online misinformation, just as a BBC Panorama investigation found the social network played a decisive role in both the US election and Britain’s BREXIT referendum.

Australia’s Senate inquiry into fake news

Last month I reported on Senator Sam Dastyari’s proposed Senate inquiry into fake news.

Media bosses who faced the inquiry into the Future of Public Interest Journalism to date were grilled about the viability of journalism in the fast-changing media environment, and fake news, among other things.

The Committee is expected to present its final report on or before 7 December 2017.

Media in the cross hairs … literally

The other side of the fake news phenomenon is inept, incompetent politicians accusing the fourth pillar of democracy of spreading ‘fake news.’

This latest phenomenon of falsely accusing respected, mainstream media outlets of publishing fake news in an attempt to cover incompetence, and sometimes outright wrongdoing, is starting to create a dangerous environment for journalists in our Western democracies.

This unsettling development is illustrated by the recent violent attack on The Guardian’s journalist Ben Jacobs by millionaire Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte, and the recent shooting attack on the offices of Kentucky newspaper, the Lexington Herald Leader.

Free speech

Blogger stabbed to death in the Maldives

Highlighting the plight of bloggers and the dangers of free speech in many places around the world, Yameen Rasheed of The Daily Panic has been found stabbed to death in his apartment.

The young secularist was well-known for satirising the Maldives’ political and religious establishment, and had been targeted with regular death threats.

Back in 2015 he even spent a few weeks in prison after participating in an anti-government rally in the capital.

Predictably, no one has been charged with his murder and the United Nations is calling on the Maldives to investigate the matter.

Facebook blocks Pulitzer winning journalist

Facebook has temporarily censored Matthew Caruana Galizia, a renowned, award-wining investigative journalist, over a series of posts in which he alleged corruption by the prime minister of Malta and his associates.

Mr Galizia, member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ award-winning Panama Papers team, raised concerns about being subjected to censorship by Facebook.

For me, this process was enlightening because I realised how crippling and punitive this block is for a journalist.

Mr Galicia uses his Facebook page to disseminate the results of his investigations and he sees Facebook as an important journalistic tool.

Facebook didn’t just lock him out of his account though. They also deleted four of his posts, on the basis they violated the network’s community standards. Facebook is reportedly investigating the circumstances of the deletions. Nevertheless, the lockout and the deletions raise serious questions about Facebook’s moderation of journalism.

Facebook temporarily suspends outspoken Chinese-born billionaire

Mr Guo Wengui, the Chinese-born ‘fugitive’ billionaire who now lives in New York, had become known for making accusations of corruption against family members of top-ranking Chinese Communist Party officials.

Facebook had temporarily suspended his account late last month for reasons that are unclear. After he publicly complained about the suspension, Facebook restored his account and explained the suspension was a ‘mistake’.

Facebook temporarily suspends page of abortion support group

Facebook created waves by temporarily ‘unpublishing’ the Facebook page of an organisation that offers women abortion support, including access to abortion pills, using its policy against the ‘promotion or encouraging drug use.’

The Amsterdam based Women on Web is a digital community of women who have had abortions, medical doctors, researchers, and individuals and organizations that support abortion rights.

The suspension caused online outrage and an instant campaign calling on Facebook to restore the page. A day later Women on Web were back on Facebook.

Sometimes you can’t help but wonder how and why Facebook keep making the same serious errors of judgment.

Facebook is a place for people and organizations to campaign for the things that matter to them, and Women on Web is an example of that. In this instance the account was disabled in error but has now been restored. We apologise for this and for any inconvenience caused.

UAE jail threat over viral social media video

The United Arab Emirates issued a stern jail threat after a dancing video had gone viral on Facebook and Twitter in the restrictive nation.

The Attorney-General of the UAE, Hamas Saif Al Shamsi called on parents to put an end to the phenomenon:

Young people should adhere to the virtues and values of morality and should not practice such acts that affect the public morals so as to respect the national identity.

The video, set to the music of popular Emirati performer Eida Al Menhali, shows young Emiratis, who are hiding their faces, performing parts of the traditional yowla dance in a classroom.


Thailand’s war on free speech and social media, in particular Facebook, had continued this month. The threats from Thailand to Facebook came thick and fast, with the hunt for critics of the Thai monarchy reaching fever pitch.

In one demand, the Thai government instructed Facebook to block some 600 local Facebook pages as ordered by the Thai Criminal Court. Facebook indicated it would look at the request and consider it on a case-by-case basis.

The request followed an ultimatum by Thailand over a video of Thailand’s king strolling through a shopping mall in Germany wearing a (very) revealing crop-top …

Later in the month Thailand served up another four-day ultimatum to Facebook for the removal of a further 131 Facebook pages.

Facebook appears to be suffering a classic case of give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile. It remains to be seen whether Thailand’s censorship crusade will spark a pushback from Facebook.

Ukraine blocks Russian social networks

One can’t help but approach Ukraine with a level of sympathy given the threat represented by Russia to its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia is also well known for operating effective and ruthless social media propaganda, and fake news, networks.

Thus restrictive actions by Ukraine must be evaluated through the prism of the war that is being waged by Russia in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, both in the real world, and in cyberspace.

When war is declared, truth is the first casualty.

Ukraine had blocked the country’s two most popular social networks, its most popular email service, and one of its most widely used search engines as part of Ukraine’s sanctions against Russian companies.

In line with the latest trend of geopolitics playing out on social media, the move sparked a meme war between the two countries.

US police accused of targeting social media critics

Writing for The Guardian, journalist Sam Levin suggests that in some cases US police may have targeted social media critics using ethically questionable methods.

He cites the example of Robert Peralta, San Francisco activist and musician, who was charged with threatening to kill law enforcement after he wrote ‘Wow, brother they wanna hit our general. It’s time to strike back. Let’s burn this motherfucker’s house down,’ on Facebook in response to a fellow local activist posting about being ‘choked’ and ‘slammed’ by a sheriff’s deputy at City Hall.

Civil rights campaigners say the Peralta case is part of a disturbing new trend by police and prosecutors targeting activist over their use of social media, by arresting them for what they describe as innocuous political messages protected by free speech.

Social media gone wrong

Social media and the workplace

The latest decision of Australia’s Fair Work Commission (FWC) in Colby Somogyi v LED Technologies Pty Ltd [2017] FWC 1966 highlights the complex issues employers face when it comes to the use of social media by employees, and subsequent employment disputes.

This unfair dismissal case came as a consequence of Mr Somogyi’s post on his personal Facebook page, which was considered by his employer serious misconduct.

I don’t have time for people’s arrogance. And you’re not always right! your position is useless, you don’t do anything all day how much of the bosses (sic) c**k did you suck to get were (sic) you are?

Mr Somogyi argued the dismissal was harsh and unreasonable. He further submitted the post had nothing to do with his own employment, but that it referred to her mother’s employment, and five minutes after posting it, he replaced it with the following:

Let’s Reword my last status so there is no miss-understanding (sic)…

My Poor mum;

Her arrogant boss is bullying her and miss treating (sic) her everyday at work he is trying to push her out of the company, because there is a new girl and she is sucking/f*****g the boss. this new girl has got into my mums (sic) position by being a whore. She comes home most nights upset and a few night (sic) she is crying her eyes out.

She needs to speak to someone or fair work i think but she won’t listen to me.

I am sick of pathetic people’s arrogance and all the bulls**t that people do to others for no reason.

The FWC found that while the original post was ‘crude and immature,’ and ‘offensive and vulgar,’ there was no evidence to show that it was directed at his employer, or any of its employees, and as such there was no valid reason for the termination.

Mr Somogyi was awarded $6,238 compensation.

The case highlights the need for thorough investigations by employers to establish the circumstances and intent of inappropriate social media posts, allowing the employee to respond, consider that response fairly and carefully, and ensure that any subsequent disciplinary action is proportionate and sound.

Meanwhile, the Nebraska Supreme Court imposed a 90-day suspension on lawyer Dustin Garrison, over his Facebook responses to client inquiries, such as ‘relax,’ ‘this is complicated,’ ‘I will explain later,’ and ‘Be happy …’

While he can apply to be reinstated after the suspension period, his reinstatement is conditional upon a probation period of 1 year, which includes monitoring and is subject to certain terms.

Social media abuse and harassment

Social media operators continue to suffer the spotlight over extremist content on their networks, and displeased governments and law enforcement agencies over what is seen as an unsatisfactory response to such content.

They also continue to struggle against abuse, harassment, and trolling. To date, the perpetrators appear to be winning.

In the United Kingdom, a report by the Commons Home Affairs Committee titled ‘Hate crime and its violent consequences inquiry,’ has strongly criticised social media companies for failing to take sufficiently seriously, and take down illegal content. The Committee concluded that social media operators are ‘shamefully far’ from taking sufficient action to tackle hate and dangerous content on their sites.

The inquiry followed the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox by a far-right gunman last year.

In Austria, a court case brought against Facebook by the Green Party over abuse directed at their leader Eva Glawischnig, resulted in a decision requiring Facebook to remove posts deemed hate speech. The Austrian case has international ramifications because it requires the deletion of such materials globally, not just in Austria. The appeals court in Vienna opined that its request should be a matter that can be simply automated by Facebook.

These developments come on top of legislative action last month in Germany, where legislators are moving forward with a new law to fine social media operators if they fail to remove illegal content in a timely fashion.

Microsoft responded this month to growing corporate concerns about their ads running next to abusive and otherwise offensive content with a new tool through its Azure cloud computing platform, which turns up the heat on other technology giants. Video Indexer is an image and video recognition product that can identify faces, voices, even emotions, in moving pictures, enabling customers to identify images quickly and efficiently.

No doubt big business will be using every possible tool at their disposal to ensure placement of their advertising is strictly controlled, especially in light of the latest report by the Australian Financial Review, which discovered that leading Australian brands continue to unwittingly fund rogue websites, including piracy.

This month saw NBA Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas fined $25,000 after he was overheard threatening a fan in a video posted to Instagram.

I will f**k you up and you know that … Come right here and say it.

In November last year I reported on former Playboy Playmate Danielle Mathers being charged over an incident in which she shared a photo of a 70-year-old fellow gym-goer taken inside the locker room, on Snapchat, without the lady’s consent.

Ms Mathers didn’t contest the charge, and will perform 30 days community labour as her punishment for invading another person’s privacy. She has also been placed on probation for three years.

In Russia YouTuber, Russian Sokolovsky was convicted of ‘inflicting religious hatred’ over playing Pokémon inside the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg. Thankfully, he received a suspended sentence, however it is a substantive three and a half year sentence considering the arguably benign nature of the offence.

Meanwhile Twitter took action against online abuse and harassment by permanently banning notorious ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli from the platform, following his creepy interactions with Teen Vogue editor Lauren Duca after she publicly rejected his invite to Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Facebook’s monitoring guidelines leaked

Earlier this month The Guardian leaked Facebook’s internal rulebook on inappropriate content, and its revelations left more questions than they answered.

The documents appear to show that Facebook receives over 6.5 million reports a week relating to fake accounts, and in January alone more that 50,000 posts were flagged as revenge porn. One can’t even imagine how this volume of materials could be processed.

Arguably, no matter what Facebook does, it will either be accused of censorship, or failing to protect users from harmful materials, so the network essentially performs the cyber equivalent of tightrope walking when it comes to moderating content.

For example, Facebook’s policies on live streaming self-harm, based on expert advice they received, note that Facebook does not wish ‘to censor or punish people in distress who are attempting suicide,’ and ‘what’s best for the safety of people watching these videos is for us to remove them once there’s no longer an opportunity to help the person.’

Meanwhile other experts are of the view that such videos should be hidden from public view, but it would be ‘possible to still get in touch with that person and intervene.’

Experts are also urging Facebook to be more decisive when determining inappropriate content, especially when it comes to the abuse and bullying of children.

Perhaps one of the most surprising revelations was the fact that Facebook appears to flout Holocaust denial laws except where a threat of legal action is real. The leaked files appear to indicate that moderators are only instructed to take down Holocaust denial material in four of the 14 countries where it is outlawed, if reported. This is a disturbing revelation.

It is perhaps not surprising in light of these unexpected revelations that the European Union is working on a plan to make social media companies more accountable for hate speech and other illegal materials.

The infamous Fyre Festival flop and the role of social media influencers

The failed Fyre Festival was billed as a luxury, musical Bahamas getaway, supported in the run-up by an army of social media influencers who now stand accused of trading their posts promoting the event for lavish perks.

The Festival, now the subject of a $100 million lawsuit, is the latest reminder of the murky world of social media influencers, and the often unenforced legal framework around their activities.

While the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had repeatedly warned social media influencers, including celebrities, that they are required to disclose paid sponsorships, it is yet to take tangible action in respect of breaches. It remains to be seen whether the Fyre Festival fiasco will finally force the hands of the FTC to take action.

Related stories:
Is Instagram’s recent most ‘liked’ photo illegal?
Truth in Advertising Inc. versus the Kardashian clan
Social media ‘influencers’ under the spotlight

Social media and defamation

In the latest spectacular social media defamation case to come out of the courts, a man has been found guilty of defamation in Switzerland because he ‘liked’ Facebook posts accusing Erwin Kessler, the president of an animal rights group, of anti-Semitism and racism.

Mr Kessler brought the case arguing the ‘likes’ helped to spread the content by making it visible to a larger number of people.

While in 1998 Mr Kessler was convicted of racial discrimination over a campaign designed to prevent the lifting of a ban on ‘shechita’, a Jewish religious method of slaughtering animals, the court held that he could not be accused of racism without proof 19 years after that conviction.

The 45-year-old defendant received a suspended sentence and a fine of CHF4,000.

Crime (and punishment)

Revenge porn

In Perth, Western Australia, Leigh Abbot, who extorted close to $160,000 by threatening to release sexually explicit photos of 12 women he met between 2014 and 2016 using online dating Apps, has been jailed for five and a half years.

Mr Abbot, who usually targeted single mothers, told police it was ‘just too easy’ to do so.

In the ACT’s Childrens Court a 17-year-old is also about to be sentenced over the death of a man who took his own life after he was targeted by a devious scam on gay dating App, Grindr.

The first comprehensive survey of its kind in Australia, conducted by the RMIT University and Monash University, on the subject of revenge porn indicates ‘mass scale victimisation’ with often devastating impact.

According to the research, one-fifth of respondents indicated they had nude or sexual images taken without their consent.

Meanwhile the Federal Government continues to explore how it could best deal with revenge porn, and now formally called for public submissions on developing civil penalties to deal with the issue.

NSW is in the process of introducing a bill to specifically criminalise revenge porn, and make it punishable by up to three years in jail, and $11,000 in fines. The Crimes Amendment (Intimate Images) Bill 2017 will make it an offence to intentionally record or distribute an intimate image of a person without their consent

The State and Territory Attorneys-General also continue to discuss the harmonisation of laws relating to the criminalisation of revenge porn, after South Australia and Victoria had already passed laws to deal with the issue.

Child exploitation in Queensland shows half of convicted offenders are children

Data for the 10 years to 30 June 2016 shows that of the 3,035 offenders dealt with by the Queensland criminal justice system for child exploitation material, 1,498 were under the age of 17.

While most of them received diversion, with the vast majority ending up with a formal police caution, the numbers indicated a serious issue, given most of the young offenders ended up on the wrong side of the law over ‘sexting-based’ offences.

The numbers highlight the dire need for the better education of young people about their conduct on social media and texting services, and raise the question whether the rules need some adjustment to avoid the unnecessary criminalisation of children.

Kurt Eichenwald takes the next step in his groundbreaking lawsuit

You may recall my previous reports on this case which effectively asks whether a tweet can constitute an assault.

The tweet in question was a GIF of a flashing strobe tweeted at a man known to suffer from epilepsy. To avoid any doubt about the motivation of the sender, the GIF was sent with the message: ‘You deserve a seizure for your posts.’

Mr Eichenwald has now filed a civil suit against John Rivello, the man identified by authorities as the perpetrator. Mr Rivello is also facing criminal charges over his action.

Facebook Live

Facebook Live’s troubles continue unabated, as Sweden jailed a trio this month for live streaming the rape of a woman.

I first reported on this crime back in January, just as crimes being live streamed on Facebook had emerged as a serious issue.

One of the latest crimes broadcast on Facebook was the disturbing murder of an 11-month-old girl by her own father in Thailand. The mother of the child stumbled across the video and rushed to alert police, but she was too late.

Wuttisan Wongtalay had committed suicide after the murder, leaving the police to try to piece together this latest tragedy amplified globally by social media.

The videos in question remained online for around 24-hours before they were taken down by Facebook.

The concern over live streaming on Facebook was made worse by the live streaming of the execution of three men accused of being traitors by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The footage appears to have been live streamed by a bystander, but was removed within 30 minutes by Facebook.

As part of its response to rising violent content on Facebook, including Facebook Live, Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook would add 3,000 employees tasked with monitoring violence.

One saving grace of Facebook Live this month was the rescue of a young girl in Georgia who live streamed her own suicide attempt.

The 15-year-old was saved just in time by local law enforcement officials after they were alerted to the suicide attempt.

YouTube pranksters DaddyOFive lose custody of children

The YouTube community stepped in and notified police over their concerns for the wellbeing of the children of YouTube celebrity couple, going by the name of DaddyOFive.

Their channel has over 700,000 subscribers, and included videos of Mike Martin repeatedly ‘pranking’ 9-year-old Cody which saw him in tears.

Concerns arose because the videos they uploaded were seen as gratuitously cruel pranks on their children, Cody, and Emma aged 12. The children are now in the custody of their biological mother.

Juries & lawyers

‘Facebooking’ the jury

A recent article at explored the question whether lawyers should ‘Facebook’ the jury?

The article acknowledges that social media is an excellent source of potentially useful information about prospective jurors, and any lawyer ignoring such publicly available information could be doing their client a disservice.

However, the writer also warns of a delicate balance between accessing such information and keeping on the right side of judges, and ethics regulations.

The useful article goes on to explore the position in number of US jurisdiction, including relevant case law, but the underlying principles have potentially wider application and value.

Jurors using social media

The fairness and impartiality of jurors in the social media age had been the subject of discussions for some time now. Jurors have been caught out checking the identity of a witness, sharing information about the trial, and determining the ‘guilt’ of a defendant even before the trial begun.

One of the ACT’s top defence barristers James Lawton, and Associate Professor of Law at the Australian National University, Mark Nolan, are both concerned about the issue and spoke to ABC News to share their perspectives on the matter.

Mr Lawton thinks ‘[i]t’s probably a bigger problem than we actually know about because I suspect a lot of it occurs but doesn’t get discovered.’


A Kardashian and an alleged copyright infringement on Instagram

Khloe Kardashian has been named in a copyright infringement claim over a photo she posted to Instagram.

The suit claims she had posted the photo of herself without the permission of the copyright holder, a London-based celebrity paparazzi outfit, which took the photo.

Xposure claims the photo in question was licensed for limited use to The Daily Mail only, and Khloe Kardashian re-posted it without their permission, and with the original copyright information removed.

Popular Taiwanese YouTuber faces copyright infringement claim

Chung Wei-ding known as AmoGood for his YouTube videos recapping movies, is facing a lawsuit by local movie studios who claim his videos hurt movie sales.

His videos parody movies by making fun of their plot lines, with a funny voiceover. He has close to a million subscribers.

AmoGood is not giving up without a fight. He responded in a YouTube video dismissing the action against him, noting his work is protected by fair use, and that YouTube backs him.

Regulatory issues

Facebook’s European privacy troubles continue

Facebook is back in the European privacy spotlight following a long investigation by France’s privacy watchdog, Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) which ended with a €150,000 fine for the social network

The fine is admittedly small, but it was the maximum available to CNIL at the time it commenced its investigations. Following amendments to the law late last year, CNIL can now issue fines of up to €3 million.

CNIL’s investigations revealed several privacy failures on part of Facebook, including a massive compilation of personal data of internet users in order to display targeted advertising, and the collection of data on browsing activity of internet users on third-party websites, using a specialised cookie, without knowledge or consent.

Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain continue their investigations into alleged privacy violations by Facebook.

The European Commission fines Facebook

Facebook was also fined this month by the European Commission to the tune of €110 million over misleading information it had given during the vetting of its deal to acquire WhatsApp.

When Facebook notified the acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014, it informed the Commission that it would be unable to establish reliable automated matching between Facebook users’ accounts and WhatsApp users’ accounts. It stated this both in the notification form and in a reply to a request of information from the Commission. However, in August 2016, WhatsApp announced updates to its terms of service and privacy policy, including the possibility of linking WhatsApp users’ phone numbers with Facebook users’ identities.

The Commission has found that, contrary to Facebook’s statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users’ identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility.

The Commission confirmed their decision to fine Facebook over the misleading disclosure has no impact on the acquisition, as clearance for the acquisition was ‘was based on a number of elements going beyond automated user matching.’

Corporate social media

Walkers crisps trolled mercilessly over social media campaign

This month it was Walkers’ turn to walk into a social media quagmire by launching their ‘#WalkersWave’ social media campaign, without sufficient safeguards to monitor the crowdsourced content.

The idea was for the public to tweet selfies of themselves to the UK snack company, and in turn those selfies would be waved by former soccer player Gary Lineker. The campaign used an automated publishing process.

It took trolls practically no time to discover that Walkers failed to closely vet the images, and before long images of serial killers, child-sex abusers, and more were being tweeted at the campaign, with the images ending up being waived by Gary Lineker.

To make things even worse, the images were also being beamed onto giant screens in the centre of Cardiff … unsurprisingly, the social media campaign came to an abrupt halt.

Corporations using social media for customer service, or marketing activities, will never be able to prevent such incidents with absolute certainty, given the public and viral nature of the platform. However, as this latest example illustrates yet again, a lot of thought and planning needs to go into such campaigns to minimise risks.

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