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The Graphic Truth: China's social media spin blitz

China is no stranger to using social media networks to influence public opinion. But as Chinese foreign policy becomes increasingly assertive, they are doing a lot more to win foreign hearts and minds on Facebook and Twitter. A joint investigation by the AP and the Oxford Internet Institute has revealed how Chinese diplomats and state media outlets are coordinating on social media to strategically amplify messages from Beijing — which are then further amplified by an army of fake accounts that Facebook and Twitter keep playing whack-a-mole with. We take a look at China's public diplomacy activity, reach, and engagement on Facebook and Twitter over the span of a few months since mid-2020.

Apple vs Facebook, a clash of the tech titans; social media algorithms scrutiny

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

How big of a blow is Apple's new privacy feature to companies like Facebook, who depend on tracking users?

The long-awaited update, including enhanced privacy features, actually empowers those users to decide not to be tracked. So that's great news for people who are sick of how the data trail they leave behind on the web is used. But it has to be said, that simple feature settings changed by Apple cannot solve the problem of misuse of data and microtargeting alone. Still, Apple's move was met with predictable outrage and anti-trust accusations from ad giant Facebook. I would anticipate more standard setting by companies in the absence of a federal data protection law in the United States. That's just to mention one vacuum that big tech thrives on.

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Netanyahu out of time; Scottish independence; Facebook on Trump ban

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

No more Netanyahu? Is Israel on the verge of new leadership?

Oh, we've seen this story before. I saw one commenter from the Israeli press saying, "Even a magician eventually runs out of rabbits to pull out of hats," but I'm not sure. Assuming that Netanyahu can't get this government together and it'd be knife-edge if he can and it won't last very long, the idea that the opposition could pull it together is also pretty low. It would be like seven parties together in a coalition, incredibly hard to do, which means Israel may be heading for a fifth election, which would be a problem except for the fact that their economy is doing pretty well right now and their vaccinations are fantastic. So, no, he might still be there for a bit.

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EU & US: democracy frames tech approaches; Australia & Facebook flipflop

In a world where data is more valuable than oil and cyberattacks are rapidly emerging as modern warfare, our new series Cyber in 60 Seconds explores what it all means for you—from data privacy to national security. Hosted by Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center and former European Parliamentarian, this weekly video series will bring you the latest news on big tech, privacy protection and emerging trends in cyberspace.
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What We’re Watching: Facebook refriends Australia, Biden on Afghan fence, Philippine labor for COVID jabs

Facebook "refriends" Australia: Last week, Facebook abruptly blocked news from appearing on Australian users' feeds after Canberra proposed a law requiring Big Tech companies pay news outlets for sharing their content. Facebook came under fire globally for banning news sharing in Australia, including crucial public health announcements on COVID. Now, five days later, Facebook has reversed course to suddenly lift the news ban. "Facebook has re-friended Australia," Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said after speaking with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. So, what changed? The two sides say they have reached a compromise, though some details remain murky. The Australian government will make several amendments to the Big Tech bill — including one that will allow Facebook to circumvent the new code and avoid hefty fines — if the social media platform shows a "significant contribution" to Australia's local journalism scene. In theory, this would require Facebook to prove it has cut enough deals with Aussie media companies to pay them for content — but what constitutes "enough" remains unclear. Frydenberg said Australia has been a "proxy battle" for the rest of the globe on Big Tech regulation. Indeed, Europe and the US have been fastidiously taking notes.

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What We're Watching: UN blasts rich vaccine hoarders, Hotel Rwanda hero on trial, Facebook unfriends Australia

UN demands equitable vaccine rollout: After revealing that 10 wealthy countries have bought up a whopping three-quarters of available COVID vaccines while 130 nations have yet to receive a single dose, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on Thursday for a global vaccination plan so everyone can roll out vaccines as soon as possible. Guterres' appeal comes as COVAX — the global facility that aims to provide vaccines to the developing world — has already fallen behind on its goal to inoculate at least 20 percent of the world's population by the end of 2021. Fed up with the delay, in recent weeks many developing countries have bypassed COVAX to purchase their own jabs directly from China, India, and Russia. But even scaling up private deals won't be enough to offset what the World Health Organization has dubbed the "moral failure" of leaving poor nations behind on vaccinations. There are also economic considerations at play: vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations could cost the global economy as much as $9.2 trillion this year, according to an ICC study. We're watching to see if the UN's task force will do anything to move the needle on equitable vaccine distribution, because the world is not going back to normal until most countries get jabs into arms.

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Quick Take: Hypocrisy, truth, & authenticity in today's environment

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here. And happy Tuesday to you. I've got a Quick Take starting a little bit later because heck, we had a day off yesterday. It was President's Day. I hope you all enjoyed it. And even in Texas, I know it's tough down there right now, and not much fun. Here in New York, it's actually starting to thaw, which I appreciate, Moose does too.

Want to talk a little bit about hypocrisy, about truth, about authenticity, and what it means in today's environment. There is so much of the news that is driven by people not being trustworthy, by fake news.

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