Weekly Roundup 31 May through 8 June
Persian language content moderators for Instagram have come forward alleging that Persian language content moderation is biased due to pressure from the Iranian government. Former and current content moderators have described being offered financial bribes between five and ten thousand euros by Iranian intelligence officers to remove accounts of activists and journalists. Others have attested that they personally know moderators who take orders from the government.
While Meta and Telus International, the company employed by Meta to moderate Persian language content, have denied these claims and stated that the process is organized to prevent personal opinions from influencing moderation, reviewers say there aren’t any “serious consequences” to independently deleting a reported post, and that auditing to review the moderators’ decisions is rare.
Global Tech Policy
- Longtime Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced that she would be stepping down from her post at the social media giant. Sandberg guided Facebook through controversy and towards success, though many critics believe her legacy will be mixed at best.
- The Brazilian government has signed an agreement with Telegram to counter disinformation ahead of the country’s upcoming presidential elections. Telegram is the latest tech company to make such a commitment to Brazil, following Google and Meta.
- A federal judge has blocked a recent Florida law that would prevent social media companies from banning politicians on their platforms. The ruling concluded that private companies’ content moderation policies are extensions of their first amendment rights and therefore not subject to government interference.
- Russian hackers have grown frustrated over their increasing inability to launch ransomware attacks, likely due to stringent Western sanctions. Experts have said that sanctions preventing the use of credit cards in Russia have curtailed the hackers’ ability to hold Western countries hostage.
- Last Friday, Github shared further information on the theft of over 100,000 user credentials last month, which allowed the hackers to access NPM data and customer information. The company acknowledged that the attacker had used OAuth tokens to infiltrate the system and target specific user accounts.
- A recent breach of security servers in Xinjiang has revealed thousands of graphic images and videos depicting Uighur detainees suffering abuse from Chinese authorities. The hack represents a rare breach in the typically impenetrable CCP cyber defenses, which greatly obscure the regime’s citizen surveillance and censorship practices.
Data and Privacy
- Human Rights Watch has found that 89% of government-endorsed education technologies illegally tracked and distributed the information of schoolchildren. Meta was found to be egregiously at fault, with dozens of tech sites sending school data directly to Facebook Pixel, which facilitates targeted ads on Meta platforms.
Gender and Inclusion
- Polish lawmakers have come under fire for creating a national “pregnancy registry,” which reproductive rights activists fear will be used to prohibit women from obtaining abortions in and outside of the nation’s borders. This is only the latest instance of governments using personal data to monitor women’s reproductive health, as activists make similar pleas to tech companies to protect location data that could threaten women's reproductive freedom in the United States.
Other Tech News
- Looking to improve your lackadaisical Wordle score? A bit of basic information theory can go a long way to turning yellows into greens and frustration into bragging rights.
- The New York state legislature recently passed a moratorium on crypto mining as officials begin an investigation into the environmental impacts of the industry. If signed by Governor Hochul, the bill would prevent fossil-fuel plants from being revived for crypto-mining operations.