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Facebook removed 1.3 billion accounts in Oct-Dec

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Facebook removed more than 1.3 billion accounts between October and December 2020, Facebook’s VP of Integrity Guy Rosen wrote in a blog post on Monday.

“We take a hard line against this activity and block millions of fake accounts each day, most of them at the time of creation. Between October and December of 2020, we disabled more than 1.3 billion of them,” Rosen wrote on Monday. “We also investigate and take down covert foreign and domestic influence operations that rely on fake accounts.”

Moreover, Rosen said that Facebook has more than 35,000 people working to tackle misinformation on the platform, adding that the platform uses artificial intelligence to crack down on “deceptive behavior.”

“We’re making progress thanks to these significant investments in both people and in technology such as [artificial intelligence].”

Facebook also removed more than 12 million pieces of content about COVID-19 and vaccines that global health experts flagged as misinformation.

“But it’s not enough to just limit misinformation that people might see,” Rosen said. We also connect people to reliable information from trusted experts.”

Rosen said that they feed users information through labels that attach to certain posts and notifications that appear in people’s feeds on both Facebook and Instagram.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a Big Tech hearing on Thursday with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifying before the committee.

The hearing will be guided by the following principles: increasing meaningful transparency, enhancing oversight and accountability, pushing for consistency and objectivity and exploring competition issues so innovation is unleashed, not quashed.

“Unfortunately, Big Tech has broken any sense of trust that they can be fair stewards for speech and the truth,” Energy and Commerce ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in a statement. “It is time for Energy and Commerce Republicans to act. To be clear, we will not pursue government regulation of speech, but it’s a dereliction of our duty to our constituents to do nothing. As the committee of jurisdiction, we have the honor and duty to lead our conference on these issues.”

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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Pope Francis calls for universal ban on ‘so-called surrogate motherhood’

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Pope Francis called for a universal ban on surrogacy, likening the practice as an unborn child “turned into an object of trafficking.”

“I consider despicable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs,” Francis said in a speech to the Holy See on Monday.

The “uterus for rent” process, as Francis has called it, was estimated to bring in $14 billion in the U.S. in 2022, and is projected to grow to a $129 billion market by 2032. National Review reports Individual surrogacies can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $200,000 plus in the U.S. Rising infertility rates, an increase in the number of fertility clinics, and “sedentary lifestyles” contribute to surrogacy’s recent popularity, according to Global Market Insights.

“A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract,” Francis continued. “Consequently, I express my hope for an effort by the international community to prohibit this practice universally.”

Surrogacy is already banned in many European countries. In the United States, commercial surrogacy, or for-profit surrogacy, is legal in some states, and the practice has been used by celebrities who are very public with their decision to use surrogacy.

Altruistic surrogacy, the method by which a woman carries another person’s child for no official compensation, is legal in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa, Greece, and Iceland, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The speech was about threats to peace and human dignity. “A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract,” Francis continued. “Consequently, I express my hope for an effort by the international community to prohibit this practice universally.”

Francis also listed Russia’s war on Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, climate change, and increased weapons production as great threats to peace on Monday.

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