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Facebook's terrible week proves tech policy changes are needed

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:

Will the testimony of the whistleblower be a game changer?

Now it certainly was a down week for Facebook, which also faced a major outage and new accusations by Frances Haugen, the whistleblower who provided a trove of information first to the Wall Street Journal, and then gave testimony before US Congress. She reminded the world of how little transparency we really have into what Facebook does and how its business models create societal harms. But really after a week of outcry, we need more than that. Only clear policies will bring back the balance between the power of private companies like Facebook and independent oversight.

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The Graphic Truth: Who uses Facebook products the most?

Chaos ensued globally this week when Facebook – and Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram – went dark. That's because the world's biggest social media platform now reaches more than 3.5 billion people a month. In many places around the globe, these apps are literally a lifeline: many small businesses rely on Facebook to sell their products, families use WhatsApp to keep in touch, and young people are hooked on Instagram. Indeed, if nothing else this week's turmoil reveals the massive extent to which Facebook Inc. influences people's lives — and livelihoods. We take a look at where these three platforms are used most around the world.

Is Facebook like a car or a cigarette?

It's been a rough week so far for Facebook. Accidentally cutting off 3.5 billion people from your services on day one, and then on day two watching a former employee describe in detail to Congress the many ways in which your product harms children and corrodes society generally: this is not good for a brand. But will it spur US lawmakers to beef up regulation of the tech giants?

There are two answers: probably no. and maybe yes.

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China agitating Taiwan to demonstrate power, not start WWIII

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at Chinese warplanes, the Pandora Papers, and Facebook's major outage.

What is China signaling by sending warplanes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone?

Well, it's not their airspace. They've done this before. They do it a lot. In fact, on some days, a year ago, in the past, they've had over 20 incursions on a day. Over the last few days, it has been record levels, so clearly, they're agitated. They want to show that they're strong and assertive. Having said that, we are not on the brink of World War III. There is a greater chance of accidents happening, and that would be a really bad thing, but on balance, this doesn't cross any red lines between the two countries. I think the headlines are a little breathless on it.

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Facebook — OFF

Has a single tech malfunction ever affected quite as many people as this? You do the math, but on Monday an unexplained outage at Facebook left some 3.5 billion users worldwide without access to the social media site, its messaging app WhatsApp, and the photo sharing site Instagram.

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