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Talk Social: 18 February, 2020

Ofcom handed new powers over social media

UK regulator Ofcom will hold social media companies to account for potentially harmful content on their platforms under new powers.

Until now, firms like Facebook, Tiktok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter have largely been self-regulating. The companies have defended their internal moderation processes, but critics have long called for external controls to keep vulnerable users safe.

Ofcom will have powers to make the companies responsible for protecting people from harmful content, but it is unclear what penalties they will be able to enforce. 

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Facebook unveils hobby tracking app

 

Facebook has quietly released a new app called Hobbi aimed at hobbyists who want to organise photos of their projects.

Users who sign up can choose their interests from a long list that includes board games, gardening, crochet and exercise then upload photos of their creative process. Hobbi users can also follow nearby people who share their passions.

Many commentators have pointed out the app’s similarities to Pinterest. Facebook has a track record of launching clones of popular apps and services, many of which don’t survive for long.

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Facebook Dating delayed in Europe

Facebook Dating, which was due to be launched in Europe in time for Valentine’s Day, has been delayed after an intervention by a regulator.

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) intervened after it was told about the feature just 10 days ahead of the planned launch with “no information or documentation provided”.

Facebook has said it has now completed the necessary paperwork but no new date has been set for the rollout.

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Snapchat launches ‘Here for you’ mental health resource

Snapchat has announced the launch of a new set of tools to help users locate mental health resources when they are in need.

‘Here For You’ will link to a “special section within Snapchat’s search results” when users search words which could imply that they need help with health and wellness issues. For example, users searching for keywords such as anxiety or anorexia would be served information on how to find advice and support.

Given the increasingly significant role social platforms play in young people’s lives, it’s good to see more action being taken to protect the vulnerable and impressionable users.

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Instagram is fighting the spread of coronavirus misinformation

Instagram is rerouting people who click the #coronavirus hashtag from misleading or false information to more credible sources.

Users who click the hashtag will now see a notice encouraging them to visit the government website of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention for the most up to date information.

Facebook and YouTube are also cracking down on fake and unverified coronavirus content, removing dozens of videos exposing unconfirmed or fake facts.

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