The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found troubling evidence that there is a thriving marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews. After web sweeps performed in the period November 2018 to June 2019, the CMA was concerned about over
100 eBay listings offering fake reviews for sale. It also identified 203 during the same period 203 26 Facebook groups in total where people offered to write fake reviews or businesses recruited people to write fake and misleading reviews on popular
shopping and review sites.
It is estimated that over three-quarters of UK internet users consider online reviews when choosing what to buy. Billions of pounds of people's spending is influenced by reviews every year. Fake and
misleading reviews not only lead to people making poorly informed choices and buying the wrong products, but they are also illegal under consumer protection law.
The CMA is not alleging that Facebook or eBay are intentionally
allowing this content to appear on their websites. Since the CMA wrote to the sites, both have indicated that they will cooperate and Facebook has informed the CMA that most of the 26 groups have been removed. The CMA welcomes this, and expects the sites
to put measures in place to ensure that all the identified content is removed and to stop it from reappearing.
Andrea Coscelli, CMA Chief Executive said:
Lots of us rely on reviews when shopping
online to decide what to buy. It is important that people are able to trust that reviews are genuine, rather than something someone has been paid to write.
Fake reviews mean that people might make the wrong choice and end up with
a product or service that's not right for them. They're also unfair to businesses who do the right thing.
We want Facebook and eBay to conduct an urgent review of their sites to prevent fake and misleading online reviews from
being bought and sold.
An art exhibit that aimed to spark conversation about violence against women by showing Barbie dolls being abused has been moved out of a shop window.
A few complaints were made about the collection, named Girls World , which were displayed
in a Middlesbrough shopping centre in full view of children.
The work showed pictures of the children's toy being kicked by boyfriend Ken, giving birth to an unwanted child, and hanging herself from a tree. It was hoped the display, created by
artist Lidia Lidia, would raise awareness of violence against females.
The exhibition was first put up on April 10 and was due to run for a fortnight before being removed from the front window on April 18. The exhibition has now been moved to the
back of the gallery, in Middlesbrough, where it will remain until May 11.
In a statement, Lidia Lidia thanked the co-directors of the Pineapple Black galler for showing the 'somewhat controversial piece and apologised to people who found her work
uncomfortable. She added:
I am totally aware that my work is provocative and sometimes disturbing but I strongly believe that art nowadays is one of the most powerful tools for shaping a fair and equal society.
NewsGuard is a US organisation trying to muscle in governments' concerns about 'fake news'' It doesn't fact check individual news stories but gives ratings to news organisations on what it considers to be indicators of 'trustworthiness'.
At the moment
it is most widely known for providing browser add-ons that displays a green shield when readers are browsing an 'approved' news website and a red shield when the website is disapproved.
Now the company is pushing something a little more Orwellian.
It is in talks with UK internet providers such that the ISP would inject some sort of warning screen should an internet user [inadvertently] stray onto a 'wrong think' website.
The idea seems to be that users can select whether they want these
intrusive warnings or not, via a similar mechanism used for the parental control of website blocking.
NewsGuard lost an awful of credibility in the UK when its first set of ratings singled out the Daily Mail as a 'wrong think' news source. It
caused a bit of a stink and the decisions was reversed, but it rather shows where the company is coming from.
Surely they are patronising the British people if they think that people want to be nagged about reading the Daily Mail. People are
well aware of the bases and points of views of news sources they read. They will not want to be nagged by those that think they know best what people should be reading.
I think it is only governments and politicians that are supposedly concerned
about 'fake news anyway'. They see it as some sort blame opportunity. It can't possibly be their politicians' own policies that are so disastrously unpopular with the people, surely it must be mischievous 'fake news' peddlers that are causing the grief.
Facebook has banned far-right groups including the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL) from having any presence on the social
network. The banned groups, which also includes Knights Templar International, Britain First and the National Front as well as key members of their leadership, have been removed from both Facebook or Instagram.
Facebook said it uses an extensive
process to determine which people or groups it designates as dangerous, using signals such as whether they have used hate speech, and called for or directly carried out acts of violence against others based on factors such as race, ethnicity or national
This week we have seen David Lammy doubling down on his ludicrous comparison of the European Research Group with the Nazi party, and Chris Key in the Independent calling for UKIP and the newly formed Brexit Party to be banned from
television debates. It is clear that neither Key nor Lammy have a secure understanding of what far right actually means and, quite apart from the distasteful nature of such political opportunism, their strategy only serves to generate the kind of
resentment upon which the far right depends.
Offsite comment: Facebook is calling for Centralized Censorship. That Should Scare You
If we're going to have coherent discussions about the future of our information environment, we--the public, policymakers, the media, website operators--need to understand the technical realities and policy dynamics that shaped the response to the
Christchurch massacre. But some of these responses have also included ideas that point in a disturbing direction: toward increasingly centralized and opaque censorship of the global interne
Wikileaks was a whistle blowing website that shone a light on how governments of the world have been running our lives. And it was not a pretty sight.
Julian Assange who ran Wikileaks, is surely a freedom of speech hero, however he broke many serious
state secret laws and has been evading the authorities via diplomatic immunity afforded to him by the Ecuadorean embassy in London. This has now been rescinded and Assange has been duly arrested. He is now in serious trouble and will surely end up being
sent to the USA to answer the accusations.
It is hard to see that the prosecuting authorities will be convinced by ethics or morality of the ends justifying the means.