Facebook Archives — LIRNEasia


Hammered by retrospective tax determinations and non-traditional pricing plans introduced by Reliance Jio, the Indian telecom sector appeared to be in some kind of death spiral. But T.K. Thomas, one of the most knowledgeable observers of the sector, sees hope in the recent infusions of funds by entities ranging from Facebook to the Government of India. Beyond the immediate cash inflows he sees the overall prospects as positive: More than 50 per cent of the market is still not connected by data services.
As I was reading about Facebook becoming the largest minority shareholder of Reliance Jio, I was reminded of a piece I worked up on the flight back from Baku in late 2012 after doing serious damage to ETNO’s efforts to impose an archaic termination fee regime on the Internet. Here’s the last para (it was a parable, so the quotation may not make sense all by itself; please read the post): Parallel to this confrontation, there were those on both sides who sought common ground. Could the “big data” capabilities of the amusement park, used for marketing and for smoothening the peaks and valleys of demand for its attractions, be mobilized to better manage the demand for the trains? Could the amusement park take over parts of the ticketing and reception interfaces (the stations) of the system? Could there be joint ventures?
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has objected to the completion of the 12,971km Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), according to the Wall Street Journal. Once commercially launched in Q3 2019, the roughly $400 million PLCN system will plug El Segundo (California) with multiple Asian destinations: Aurora and San Fernando City (both in Philippines), Deep Water Bay (Hong Kong) and Toucheng (Taiwan). GU Holdings (a subsidiary of Google), Edge Cable Holdings (a subsidiary of Facebook) and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) have teamed up to build this 144 Tbps capacity of transpacific cable, which is composed of six fiber pairs. It will be the first cable connecting Hong Kong and the U.S.
Screenshot of the article as published on the Foreign Policy website The biggest barrier to policing social media is language. Based on a draft LIRNEasia white paper on neural language processing. Published in Foreign Policy.
LIRNEasia’s research on ICTs and gender in Myanmar was presented at the Myanmar Digital Rights Forum that took place on 18 and 19 January 2019 in Yangon.
India keeps shutting down the Internet. This necessarily involves shutting down Facebook. Few pay attention. Sri Lanka has never shut down the Internet. But it restricted access to some social media including Facebook in March 2018.
We’ve been thinking about the implications of differential access to data for a while. Here‘s a detailed discussion: Some scholars said Facebook’s recent privacy changes may have gone too far by also cutting off academics who behaved responsibly. “Academics would argue that we need access to primary data,” said Dr. Nielsen of Oxford. He said the changes might lead to an asymmetry, with internal Facebook researchers accumulating mounds of data while outside academics would not.
If anything, it is Facebook that is a bigger culprit or conduit for hate speech, not so much the picture-less/video-less Zero Rated Facebook version. So suddenly celebrating the pull-out/failure of the Zero Rated Facebook, while the full version of  Facebook is alive and well is rather misguided.
I do not appear to have blogged about it, but the first time I brought up this issue was at the 2013 (Bali) or 2014 (Istanbul) IGF. If consent-based privacy rules are imposed on the existing concentrations of behavioral transaction-based data, there will be considerable to negative implications for SMEs and start ups on one side and for those engaged in data analytics for the public good. It is interesting that the Economist is highlighting this issue: Along with other tech firms, it should create an industry ombudsman whose jobs would include making access to platforms easier for independent researchers. Instead of opening up, however, the risk is that Facebook will throw up walls: its decision to kick third-party data-brokers off the platform has the convenient effect of both protecting users’ data and entrenching its power as a source of those data.
LIRNEasia and CPRsouth were created to contribute to better laws, policies, regulation and implementation in the emerging Asia Pacific. There are many ways to do this, including the actual training of the relevant people within government. For example, from 2013 onward we have conducted multiple training and awareness programs for legislators and regulatory staff in Myanmar. To say that Myanmar legislators need help with understanding new technologies and new business models is one thing. To say that members of the US Congress do is quite something else.
I probably learned more useful things from working as a lowly assistant for an expert witness in US v AT&T, than from my formal education. So I was all agog when the next big anti-trust case came up, US v Microsoft. But that was also when I began to realize the need rethink of the core concepts. This article in Medium (I hope it will not be paywalled) makes an insightful comparison between the tying arguments that were central the Microsoft case and the loose claims of monopoly being bandied about in relation to Facebook now. While some of the questions and concerns echoed those the senators had two decades ago, Microsoft and Facebook’s situation could not be more different.
I said in my NYT piece that banning was not the answer. We needed to work with them to address the very real problems that are facing our societies, based in part on the accelerant qualities of social media. Who is “we”? Not just governments, but also researchers (I cited some MIT research) and civil society. But that was before Aleksandr Kogan.
I first started talking about Facebook being the Internet for many people in our countries in 2012. But the story by Quartz is what really hit the big time. Now it is appearing in debates around the debate de jour: Should we all just leave Facebook? That may sound attractive but it is not a viable solution. In many countries, Facebook and its products simply are the internet.
After a weeklong blackout, the Sri Lankan government lifted its nationwide ban on social media on Thursday. Facebook and several other platforms had been shut down after days of violence targeting Muslims in the Kandy district, a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims.
Online hate speech has become commonplace in Myanmar. PEN Myanmar (2015) analysed posts from Facebook over a year, noting that the incidence of hate speech pertaining to a topic was often tied to a controversial, topical event– the appearance of posts regarding politics, for instance, increased during the elections held in November 2015. LIRNEasia and MIDO, along with Kantar TNS Myanmar, were on the field carrying out qualitative research in Myanmar in late August 2017 when conflict in the Rakhine region escalated.  Many accounts revolved around the prevailing conflict came up in the interviews with 95 respondents in Yangon, Mandalay and Myitkyina. A few respondents openly expressed their displeasure regarding the situation, and spoke of how the posts they encountered online pushed them to want to incite violence.
I was asked by the FT about the Facebook shut-down decision of the government. Here is my response: It is true that Facebook as well as Viber, etc. have been, and are being, extensively used by various extremist groups to organize. The climate for this conflagration was created by mainstream media such as Divaina, which gave coverage to hate speech as well as by hate speech messages that were circulated among their circles of friends and family without central direction by members of the majority community using social media, not limited to Facebook. The root cause of the problem lies in this insidious spread of falsehoods and hate over multiple years, not solely in the specific messages being communicated now.