Facebook, Twitter among platforms failing to prevent harmful content - agency

Feb 8 (Reuters) – Facebook, Twitter andAlphabet’s YouTube failed to curb hate speech andmisinformation last year as the United States struggled withwidespread polarization about the presidential election andcoronavirus, a study released on Monday showed.

Advertising agency IPG Mediabrands conducted anaudit grading how the top social media platforms had progressed,or fallen back, across 10 categories that encompass what itcalls “media responsibility,” including protecting children’swellbeing and providing more transparency for advertisers.

The three social media giants all performed worse instopping hate speech on their platforms in the second half of2020 compared with the first, IPG Mediabrands said in a reporton its updated audit.

Facebook showed improvements in clamping down on false andmisleading content, for instance removing pages and groupsrelated to the QAnon conspiracy theory. YouTube made nosignificant changes to its misinformation policies, leading to alower score in the category, the agency said.

Nine social media platforms agreed to participate in theaudit.

Of them, smaller platforms made notable advances throughout2020, including Chinese-owned app TikTok, which faced the threatof a U.S. ban last year over concerns about user data privacy.

The short-form video app made the biggest improvements outof the nine, taking steps like partnering with outside companiesto protect advertisers from appearing next to unsuitablecontent, and giving users better control over the types ofvideos they see, said Elijah Harris, global head of social atMediabrands agency Reprise.

Mediabrands’ previous audit found ad placements on TikTokwere at higher risk for so-called brand safety issues, butTikTok made improvements after “embracing our findings with openarms,” Harris said.

Pinterest suspends accounts that continuouslyspread misinformation and Reddit prioritizes fact-checking forcategories like election and health content, which helped bothcompanies score the largest improvements in fighting false andmisleading content, Mediabrands said.

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