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2021-12-01 21:38:07| Engadget

Meta is backing away from its longstanding (if not absolute) ban on cryptocurrency ads. As CNBCreports, Meta has greatly loosened its ban by expanding the number of regulatory licenses it accepts from three to 27. The crypto landscape has "matured and stabilized" enough to justify the change of heart, the company said, including an increased amount of government regulation that sets "clearer responsibilities and expectations."Advertisers still need written permission to run ads for cryptocurrency exchanges, lending and borrowing, crypto mining tools and wallets that let you buy, sell, stake or swap tokens. This does, however, open the door to cryptocurrency businesses that previously couldn't run any ads, not to mention would-be investors who might not be familiar with the market.It's not clear if any additional factors played a role in the reversal, but the timing is notable. The shift comes just a day after Meta's crypto overseer, David Marcus, said he was leaving the company. He spent roughly two years trying to launch Meta's cryptowallet Novi, so far succeeding only with a small test run. The company's in-house cryptocurrency, Diem, has had an even rougher time it has yet to launch following regulatory objections and scaled-back ambitions.Meta isn't necessarily conceding defeat on Diem. That project is independently run, after all. This may simply reflect changing times. While cryptocurrency may still be full of volatility and regulatory uncertainty, the risks are now low enough that Meta isn't worried about problematic sales pitches.


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2021-12-01 21:36:57| Engadget

Following scrutiny from state and federal regulators, Activision Blizzard and its CEO Bobby Kotick now face pressure from an unexpected source. Per Axios, state treasurers from California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Oregon, Delaware and Nevada recently contacted the companys board of directors to discuss its response to the challenges and investment risk exposures that face Activision. In a letter dated to November 23rd, the group tells the board it would weigh a call to vote against the re-election of incumbent directors.That call was made on November 17th by a collection of activist shareholders known as Strategic Organizing Center Investment Group. SOC, which holds about 0.6 percent of Activision stock, has demanded Kotick resign and that two of the boards longest-serving directors, Brian Kelly and Robert Morgado, retire by December 31st.We think there needs to be sweeping changes made in the company, Illinois state treasurer Michael Frerichs told Axios. We're concerned that the current CEO and board directors don't have the skillset, nor the conviction to institute these sweeping changes needed to transform their culture, to restore trust with employees and shareholders and their partners.Between the six treasurers, they manage about a trillion dollars in assets. But as Axios points out, its unclear how much they have invested in Activision, and its not something they disclosed to the outlet. However, Frerichs did confirm Illinois has been impacted by the companys falling stock price.To that point, the day before The Wall Street Journal published its bombshell report on Activision and CEO Bobby Kotick, the company's stock closed at $70.43. The day Californias fair employment agency sued the company its stock was worth $91.88. As of the writing of this article, its trading at about $58.44.The group has asked to meet with Activisions board by December 20th. Weve reached out to Activision for comment.


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2021-12-01 21:36:05| Engadget

Frances Haugen, the former Facebook employee turned whistleblower, testified in Congress for the second time in less than two months. Speaking to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, Haugen once again urged Congress to act to rein in Facebook.Unlike Haugens last Congressional hearing, during which she briefed senators on Facebooks internal research, Wednesdays hearing was meant to be focused on potential reforms of social media platforms. Specifically, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the 1996 law that shields online platforms from liability for their users' actions.This committee's attention and this Congress' action are critical, she said during her opening statement. But she also told Congress they should be careful with changing the law as it could have unintended consequences.As you consider reform to section 230, I encourage you to move forward with your eyes open to the consequences of reform, Haugen said. Congress has instituted carve outs to Section 230 in recent years. I encourage you to talk to human rights advocates who can help provide context on how the last reform of 230 had dramatic impacts on the safety of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, but has been rarely used for its original purpose.Pennsylvania Rep. Michael Doyle began the hearing by acknowledging the importance of Section 230, but said the courts interpretation of the rule should change. To be clear, Section 230 is critically important to promoting a vibrant and free internet, he said. But I agree with those who suggest the courts have allowed it to stray too far.But throughout the hearing, there was little discussion of specific changes or potential legislation that would change 230. Many members of Congress repeated the need for bipartisan action, but there seemed to be little agreement on what actions they should take. Doyle noted in his opening statement that members of the committee have proposed four bills that would make changes to Section 230, including one that would limit protections for companies that deployed malicious algorithms.But those four bills were barely discussed during the four-hour hearing, which once again, veered into other issues. Many Republican members on the committee opted to focus on censorship, and their belief that platforms like Facebook are biased against them. Haugen countered that Facebook could implement changes that would make the platform safer regardless of a users political beliefs.We spent a lot of time today talking about censorship ... what we need to do is make the platform safer through product choices, Haugen said, describing how adding friction to resharing content could reduce the spread of misinformation. We need solutions like friction to make the platform safe for everyone even if you dont speak English.At one point, Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, appeared to grow frustrated. I would like to say to this committee, you've talked about this for years, but you haven't done anything, he said. Show me a piece of legislation that you passed. 230 reform is going to be very important for protecting kids and teens on platforms like Instagram and holding them accountable and liable. But you also as a committee have to do privacy, antitrust and design reform.


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2021-12-01 21:13:00| Engadget

Since it launched last month, Battlefield 2042 has gained a reputation for being a buggy mess, instead of a return to form for the long-running shooter franchise. So it's not too surprising to see EA rush out with a slew of post-launch fixes let those problems fester too long, and they risk losing dedicated players to Call of Duty and Halo Infinite. With its third update, which arrives on December 2nd, Battlefield 2042 will get over 150 bug fixes, including some major UI improvements. For instance, you'll be able to more easily see the difference between friends and foes, identify people nearby who you can revive (and vice versa), and also see who needs ammo or health. It'll also take less clicks to prepare your loadout and Plus Menu, and EA has made it easier to determine which attachments you're using. Those aren't groundbreaking changes, to be clear, but they should make the BF 2042 experience smoother when you're in the heat of battle.As for other fixes, the new update should make matchmaking more reliable (especially when it comes to crossplay between platforms); make it easier to tell when enemies are firing at you; and menus should be a lot smoother. Looking ahead, EA says next week it'll start launching Weekly Missions, which will give you XP as you complete them. You know, like very other shooter these days. You can expect to see a cosmetic reward if you plow through all of your challenges.


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2021-12-01 21:00:23| Engadget

Meta/Facebook is today updating the world on how its efforts to remove fake and adversarial networks from its platform are going. The social network has released a new report saying that it has successfully closed down a number of networks for Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB). But in addition to networks of fake profiles all working in tandem, the company has also shed some light on how it deals with additional threats. This includes Brigading the use of negative comments and counter-posting to drown out an individuals posts and Mass Reporting, where Facebooks own anti-harassment tools are used as a weapon. This is another step beyond the broader tactics the company announced back in September, where it pledged to combat broader social harms that took place on its platform.With Brigading, the company took down what it describes as a network of accounts that originated in Italy and France which targeted medical professionals, journalists and public officials. Facebook says that it tracked the activity back to a European anti-vaccine conspiracy movement called V_V, adding that its members used a large volume of fake accounts to mass comment on posts from individuals and news agencies to intimidate them and suppress their views.In addition, those accounts posted doctored images, superimposing the swastika onto the faces of prominent doctors and accusing them of supporting nazism.In Vietnam, Facebook took down a network that was being used to target activists and users critical of the local government. The network would submit hundreds in some cases thousands of complaints against their targets through our abuse reporting flows. Attackers also created duplicate accounts of the users they intended to silence and then reported the real account as an impersonator from the fake account. Facebook added that some of these fake accounts were automatically detected and disabled by the companys automatic moderation tools.As for the more old-fashioned methods of Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior, the company took down networks in Palestine, Poland, Belarus and China. The first was reportedly tied to Hamas, while the second two were crafted to exacerbate tensions during the humanitarian crisis on the border there. In a call with reporters, Facebook said that the Polish network had very good operational security and, so far, it has not been able to tie it to a real-world organization. The Belarusian network, on the other hand, had much poorer operational security, and so the company has tied the activity to the Belarusian KGB.The final network, out of China, has prompted Facebook to publish a deep dive into the activity given the depth of what took place. In its report, the company says that a group created a fake profile of a Swiss biologist called Wilson Edwards who posted material critical of the US and WHO. 48 hours later, and his comments were picked up by Chinese state media, and engaged with by high-level officials. But there was no evidence that Wilson Edwards existed, which prompted the platform to close the account.Researchers found that Edwards was the work of a multi-pronged, largely unsuccessful influence operation, involving employees of Chinese state infrastructure companies across four continents. Facebook wanted to make it clear that Edwards comments were not engaged with organically, and it was only when the posts were reported by state media did things suddenly rise in prominence.One thing that Facebook did identify is the use of guides which were used to train potential network members. The V_V network, for instance, published videos through its Telegram channels that suggested that users replace letters in key words so that it wouldnt be picked up by automatic filtering. The people behind the Chinese network, too, would sometimes inadvertently post notes from their leaders, written in Indonesian and Chinese, offering tips on how best to amplify this content.In addition, Facebook has announced that it has launched a tool, through CrowdTangle, to enable OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) researchers to study disinformation networks. This includes storing any content taken down by the company, allowing a small list of approved third parties the chance to analyze it. Access has, so far, been limited to teams from the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council, Stanford Internet Observatory, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Graphika and Cardiff University.Facebook believes that offering greater detail and transparency around how it finds these networks will enable researchers in the OSINT community to better track them in future.


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