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Last Week Online #64 – Thiel leaves Meta's board to support Trump allies

Anna Loverus
Anna Loverus
2 min read

In a world of TikTok, could Facebook become be the good guy, or is it too late?

Meta's Oversight Board suggests stricter rules concerning doxxing

On Tuesday, Meta's external advisory organisation issued new recommendations asking the company to bolster its policies that protect users against doxxing – sharing personal identifying details about someone.

Last year, Meta (then Facebook) requested advice on the policy, acknowledging that it had difficulty balancing access to public information with privacy concerns. Meta's Privacy Violations Policy currently has an exception when personal identifying details are shared in cases when that information becomes "publicly available".

The Oversight Board recommended that Meta remove this exception. They cite how privacy breaches can be "difficult to remedy". If once someone's address is out in the open, there is no return. The board recommend a few common-sense exceptions, such as when someone shares a picture of their own home.

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel to exit Meta's board to support Republican politicians

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Palantir and the first outside investor in Facebook, has been on Meta's board since 2005. He is now backing several Trump-aligned politicians in the midterm elections.

While always a champion of unrestricted speech on Facebook's platforms, the US-German venture capitalist has become more politically active during the last year. And in the previous year, Peter Thiel has become one of the largest donors of the Republican Party. He gave $10 million (out of his $9.13 billion net worth) each to the campaigns of Blake Masters, who is running for Senate in Arizona, and J.D. Vance, who is running for Senate in Ohio.

Meta has been involved in several political controversies during the last couple of years. On January 7 2021, Facebook decided to ban Donald Trump from Facebook and Instagram (a decision later revised to a two-year suspension). After this, Peter Thiel has publicly voiced his disagreement with content moderation decisions at Facebook and other major social media platforms.

Both Israel and European Parliament will investigate the use of Pegasus surveillance spyware

This week, the Israeli government announced that it would investigate reports of Israeli police using NSO Group's spyware Pegasus against its citizens. Local media reports claimed that targets included people involved in the corruption trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

These findings come the same week as the European parliament is preparing to launch a committee of inquiry into the Pegasus scandal (uncovered last year) after evidence of government critics in Poland and Hungary being targeted with the surveillance software. The committee will seek testimony from intelligence services, elected politicians, and senior officials from its member states.

The Pegasus software allows an operator to take control of a target's mobile device, access all data even from encrypted messaging apps and turn on audio or video recording. Last year, it was revealed that Pegasus software was being used against journalists, activists and politicians in numerous countries worldwide.

Entertaining Podcast Episode:

The Daily – A Movement to Fight Misinformation ... With Misinformation.

New York Times – A parody conspiracy theory called Birds Aren't Real has spread widely online, aiming to puncture misinformation using absurdism. Could that work?

Last Week Online

Anna Loverus Twitter

Thinker and doer. Loves running, wine, and human behaviour.

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