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Volume 26, Number 9 - 6 September 2021
Published: 2021-09-04
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This month: September 2021
Not too deep: Privacy, resistance, and the incorporation of social media in background checks
In May 2016, the United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) issued “Security Executive Agent Directive 5” (SEAD-5) authorizing the collection, use, and retention of social media information for the personnel security clearance process (PSCP), a process put in place to screen applicants for eligibility for national security and public trust positions. The incorporation of social media was a watershed moment for this process as social media, and even information from the entire Internet, had not been allowed into the investigation process before. The integration was not without resistance to the implementation, though, and backstage concerns about privacy emerged in Congressional hearings. This paper examines the hearing in response to the SEAD-5 to see what the U.S. Congress did and did not discuss at the hearing, ultimately answering how those in charge of policies could overlook deeper privacy complexities, and evaluating what this can mean for government, privacy, and policy researchers.
Also this month
Facebook’s policies against extremism: Ten years of struggle for more transparency
For years, social media, including Facebook, have been criticized for lacking transparency in their community standards, especially in terms of extremist content. Yet, moderation is not an easy task, especially when extreme-right actors use content strategies that shift the Overton window (i.e., the range of ideas acceptable in public discourse) rightward. In a self-proclaimed search of more transparency, Facebook created its Transparency Center in May 2021. It also has regularly updated its community standards, and Facebook Oversight Board has reviewed these standards based on concrete cases, published since January 2021. This paper highlights how some longstanding issues regarding Facebook’s lack of transparency still remain unaddressed in Facebook’s 2021 community standards, mainly in terms of the visual ‘representation’ of and endorsement from dangerous organizations and individuals.