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Facebook: Nick Clegg avoids questions on whistleblower Haugen’s testimony

Nick Clegg

Facebook: Nick Clegg avoids questions on whistleblower Haugen’s testimony

The Facebook executive Nick Clegg took a damage-limitation tour of US political talkshows on Sunday, but remained evasive over questions about the social media giant’s contribution to the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January this year.

The former British deputy prime minister, now Facebook vice-president of global affairs, was responding to a barrage of damaging claims from the whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Appearing before a Senate committee this week, Haugen said a proliferation of misinformation and unchecked hate speech on Facebook helped encourage the pro-Trump mob that stormed Congress, seeking to overturn the election result.

Haugen will also meet with the House committee investigating the Capitol attack.

Clegg insisted individuals were responsible for their own actions on 6 January, and would not say if he believed Facebook bore any responsibility for amplifying toxic messaging such as Donald Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election.

“Given that we have thousands of algorithms and millions of people using it, I can’t give you a yes or no answer to individual personalised feeds each person uses,” Clegg told CNN’s State of the Union.

“Where we see content we think is relevant to the investigation, to law enforcement, of course we cooperate. But if our algorithms are as nefarious as some people suggest, why is it that those systems have reduced the prevalence of hate speech on our platforms to as little as 0.05%?”

A week ago, Clegg blasted suggestions that social media contributed to the insurrection as “ludicrous”, and strongly resisted claims that Facebook ignored problems on its platform.

But after Haugen’s searing testimony that Facebook was harming children and damaging democracy globally in its quest to place “astronomical profits before people”, Clegg cut a more contrite figure on CNN, NBC’s Meet the Press and ABC’s This Week.

He outlined steps he said the company was taking to “reduce and mitigate the bad and amplify the good”, including new tools to direct users, especially teenagers, away from harmful content on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. He also said Facebook was open to discussions over stricter regulation including internet privacy legislation.

“We will, of course, seek to make ourselves ever more transparent, so people can hold us to account,” Clegg told ABC. “We understand that with success comes responsibility, comes criticism, comes scrutiny.

“We’re going to give new tools to adults, to parents, so they can supervise what their teens are doing online. And we want to give users more control. We give users the ability to override the algorithm, to compose their own newsfeed. Many people who use Facebook in the US and elsewhere want to see more friends, less politics.”

Pressure is growing in Congress for tighter restrictions on social media companies, including moves to break up Facebook dating from the Trump administration.

The Democratic Massachusetts senator Ed Markey said last month Facebook was “just like big tobacco, pushing a product that they know is harmful to the health of young people, pushing it to them early, all so Facebook can make money”.

Clegg said legislators should step in.

“We’re not saying this is a substitution of our own responsibilities,” he told NBC, “but there are a whole bunch of things that only regulators and lawmakers can do. I don’t think anyone wants a private company to adjudicate on these difficult trade-offs between free expression on one hand and moderating or removing content on the other.

“Only lawmakers can create a digital regulator … we make the best judgment we possibly can but we’re caught in the middle. Lawmakers have to resolve that themselves.”

Amy Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota and former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, welcomed Clegg’s stance but said social media companies had missed the opportunity to govern themselves.

“I appreciate that he is willing to talk about things but I believe the time for conversation is done, the time for action is now,” she told CNN. “If they’re willing to sign on I’m all for it, but so far we haven’t seen that.

“Look, where we are now, you know, the guy down the street[’s] mother-in-law won’t get a vaccine because she read on social media that it would implant a microchip in her arm. We need privacy legislation. We’re one of the few countries that doesn’t have a federal privacy policy.”

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Entertainment

Wap Tv Bags Outstanding Indigenous Television Award

At the 2022 edition of the Marketing edge awards, a popular cable channel, WapTV, has won the award for the ‘Outstanding Indigenous TV Channel of the Year’.

The award ceremony, which took place at Harbour Point Hall, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Friday September 16, 2022, came just weeks after the station received two honours at two separate events– ‘Best Family Entertainment TV Channel’ at the Kaduna International Film Festival; and ‘Indigenous TV Station of the Year’ at the Top Society Man of the Year Awards.

Expressing delight at the honour, the Managing Director of the station, Wole Adenuga (Jnr), said, “We are nothing without our viewers. When our presenters started speaking 100 per cent pidgin English on air, it was out of a need to reach the majority of Nigerians across various educational levels and socio-economic classes. We appreciate the millions of viewers who watch our channel on satellite TV, as well as the over 500,000 subscribers on our YouTube channel, which accumulates over 2.8 million views monthly.”

Launched in 2012, the station is a 24-hour family entertainment channel which shows TV dramas, comedy series, Nigerian movies (English, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa), reality shows, events, music videos, celebrity interviews, and other programmes.

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Entertainment

Elton John To Perform At White House

Multiple Grammy award winning artiste, Elton John is set to perform at the White House this week in commemoration of his record-breaking career as the British superstar continues his marathon global farewell tour.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host the “Rocket Man” singer for “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme” on the South Lawn on Friday, the White House announced.

The administration said the evening would celebrate the “unifying and healing power of music, commend the life and work of Sir Elton John, and honor the everyday history-makers in the audience.”

The White House added that the Bidens will offer remarks at the event.

The gig — which follows a performance last week by James Taylor — is part of a return of public events at the White House following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

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Entertainment

Cardi B Announces Wedding Plans

Female american rap sensation, Belcalis Almanzar, popularly known as Cardi B has announced plans for her wedding ceremony.

The announcement is coming exactly five years after officially marrying colleague rapper, Offset.

The couple secretly got married on the 20th of September 2017, and after much speculation by the public, Cardi B confirmed the rumour in June 2018.

On their first year anniversary, she shared a picture of the secret event in which she donned a white tracksuit and held onto her husband’s hand.

However, the Bodak Yellow rapper has announced her plans for a wedding ceremony as the marriage clocked five years on Monday.

“5 years married, its time for my wedding,” she tweeted.

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