ISLAMABAD: Social media giants Facebook and Instagram have installed artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor sensitive posts, especially on religious and social occasions, to “keep society from unrest and turmoil” while keeping local sensitivities in mind.

Briefing media on Thursday about measures taken by Meta — the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp — Policy Communications Lead for South Asia and Asia Pacific Fahad Qadir said the company regularly updates its security and privacy policies because social media is a fast-moving platform.

“To avoid any miscreant’s activity on sensitive occasions like Muharram [and] other religious occasions or even volatile political situations, we have special IT-based arrangements to monitor such movement, and if reported, such posts are blocked very soon,” Mr Qadir said.

In reply to a question, he said Meta has a very strict policy regarding takedown requests (TDR), or sharing the data of any user or account with regulatory bodies or governments.

Meta claims local sentiments kept in mind to avoid unrest

He highlighted that Pakistan Tele­communications Auth­ority (PTA) was the contacting agency in the country and if the government wanted to block any content, the telecom sector regulator, PTA, writes to Meta and cites reasons. The company then blocks the content only if it goes against the safety guidelines and not just because of any political reason, he clarified.

Privacy Policy Manager at Meta in Asia Pacific Arianne Jimenez, who attended the briefing via video link, said that protecting people’s information was central to Meta’s vision of being a privacy-focused communications platform.

She said Meta does not sell users’ data to anyone, and informed about upgraded privacy policy, giving more control to Facebook users over data privacy.

“That’s why it has built tools to give people more transparency and control over how their data is used,” she said, adding these tools included privacy checkup, privacy shortcuts, manage activity, audience selector tool and the privacy centre.

The interactive session was part of the awareness campaign by Facebook, since it is a social media platform largely used by females and youngsters, but they are not aware of options available to them to protect their private data, including pictures.

“These tools make privacy, security, and ad control settings more accessible to the users, besides helping them decide who can see what they share and control how people find them on Facebook,” Ms Jimenez said.

She pointed out that Meta has enhanced its “Ad Preferences’ to let people take control of their advertisement preferences.

“The Meta tools, ‘Why am I seeing this ad?’ and ‘Why I am seeing this post’ help people adjust their preferences by clicking on any advertisement,” she added.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2022

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