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TOPIC: facebook

Who Owns That Meme? The Answer Is All Over The Internet

A look into how copyright laws may or may not be applicable to memes, which normally use an existing image without any consent. The question is a reminder of how the Internet has changed the basics of communication and commerce.


BUENOS AIRES — The meme — a composite picture or joke sent out online — is typically meant to be funny, but can also be seen as a particularly modern and sometimes powerful form of communication. At their best, memes ingeniously sum up an event, a life situation or predicament, breaking down perception barriers with minimal explanations, thanks to the creator's wit.

The meme idea emerged in the scientific world — and not as a joke — and its dynamics may yet deserve a scientific study. Why do some go viral while the vast majority simply disappear? There is certainly little organization in the distribution and evolution of memes, which thrive not on word-of-mouth but on clicks.

But there is another question that is no less important: are memes subject to laws, such as intellectual property or personal image rights?

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How I Lost My Smartphone And Found My Neighbors

A simple tale from Italy of a hundred strangers in a waiting room, and the limits of our modern obsession with privacy.

ROME — Here's a small personal story that has made me smile and reflect for the past few days: It’s about our obsession with privacy, which can be a pointless battle at a time when, in an online crowd of strangers identified only by numbers, we all find ourselves connected.

We all know everything about each other already. We can even find out about each other’s personal tastes, mutual friends or phone numbers. It's a good thing — here's why.

I enter, as I do every day, the large waiting room of a public place where I will spend the next few hours in the company of a hundred or so people. We have known each other for months, but we do not know each other. We are identified by acronyms, a matter of privacy.

I realize I don’t have my phone. I left it at home or lost it — I don’t know. The place where I am is far from the place where I live, and without a phone I can neither use a car-sharing app to get home nor call a cab — and there are never any taxis to hail at the nearby parking lot.

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Who Is Responsible For The Internet's Harm To Society?

A school in the US is suing social media giants for damage done to children's well-being. But fining tech giants is a feeble response to their attacks on society's welfare.

BUENOS AIRES - In January 2023, schools in Seattle in the United States took court action against the websites TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, seeking damages for losses incurred from the psychological harm done to their pupils.

They maintained that behavioral anomalies such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders were impeding pupils' education and had forced schools to hire mental health experts, develop special educational plans and provide extra training for teachers.

Here in Argentina just days after that report, two teenagers died from taking part in the so-called "blackout challenge" on TikTok.

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Uranchimeg Tsogkhuu

Mongolia Is Late To The Internet, And Falling Prey To Digital Fraud

The internet is a new experience for many in the country. That makes people easy prey.

DALANZADGAD — After a lifetime spent tending to cattle in the Mongolian countryside, Sainaa Tserenjigmed settled in the provincial capital of Dalanzadgad and began dreaming of a house of her own.

To build it, she would need a loan of 30 million Mongolian togrogs ($8,800), an amount that seemed out of reach until Sainaa stumbled across a comment on Facebook offering low-interest loans without guarantors. Her interest was piqued.

It was early 2018 and the internet was still a brave new world for Sainaa. The previous year, she’d bought herself a small, white smartphone and her son installed internet at home. “Facebook seemed new and strange, so I started digging tirelessly,” she says. Soon, she was using the platform to watch videos, keep up with the news and communicate with her family and friends.

The person offering loans on Facebook had a foreign-sounding name but his online persona seemed trustworthy to Sainaa and he had many friends, lots of whom were Mongolians. She reached out, expressing a desire to take out a loan.

The response was quick, she says, and the subsequent correspondence unusually friendly. Sainaa was instructed to transfer $120 as a processing fee to receive the first tranche of money. To speed up the process, she decided to schedule four separate transactions in different amounts via Western Union, two to three days apart, amounting to $1,000 in total — more than twice the average monthly salary in Mongolia at the time.

But the person kept asking for more money.

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*Michael Nolan

Biohack Your Brain? New Neurotechnology Products Raise Serious Privacy Questions

A new flood of consumer-facing neuroscience-driven products, including those using electroencephalograms (EEGs) raise complicated questions about data privacy and beyond.

The past few decades of neuroscience research have produced a wide array of technologies capable of measuring human brain activity. Functional magnetic resonance imaging, implanted electrode systems, and electroencephalograms, or EEGs, among other techniques, have helped researchers better understand how our brains respond to and control our bodies’ interactions with the world around us.

Now some of these technologies — most notably, EEG — have broken out of the lab and into the consumer market. The earliest of these consumer-facing neurotechnology devices, relatively simple systems that measured electrical signals conducted across the skull and scalp, were marketed mostly as focus trainers or meditation aids to so-called “biohackers” seeking to better themselves through technology.

However, tech industry giants have lately taken notice, and they are exploring inventive new ways to make use of the inner electrical conversations in our brains.

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Pierre Haski

"Team Jorge" Is A Warning: The Internet Could Kill Democracy — And Quicker Than You Think

The revelations of a clandestine digital operation that provides services to destabilize nations and manipulate opinion are a wake-up call for democratic states to take urgent action, including the need to hold Big Tech accountable.


PARIS — Since the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump, we know that the age of the Internet has now taken manipulation of public opinion to industrial capacity. Thus the lesson of the “Team Jorge” affair — revealed yesterday by a global consortium of journalists — is not that these practices exist: it’s that they are scaling up.

What is at stake here is no more or no less than the survival of our democratic societies. Yes, our democracies are far from perfect, but are now clearly threatened by practices of clandestine purchase of influence, large-scale digital manipulation, and destabilization of assorted nature.

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eyes on the U.S.
Ginevra Falciani and Bertrand Hauger

Eyes On U.S. — California, The World Is Worried About You

As an Italian bestseller explores why people are fleeing the Golden State, the international press also takes stock of unprecedented Silicon Valley layoffs. It may be a warning for the rest of the world.


For as long as we can remember, the world has seen California as the embodiment of the American Dream.

Today, this dream may be fading — and the world is taking notice.

A peek at the Italian list of non-fiction best-sellers in 2022 includes California by Francesco Costa, a book that looks to explain why 340,000 people moved out of the state last year, causing a drop in its population for the first time ever.

To receive Eyes on U.S. each week in your inbox, sign up here.

Why are all these people leaving a state that on paper looks like the best place in the world to live? Why are stickers with the phrase “Don't California my Texas” attached to the back of so many pick-up trucks?

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In The News
Laure Gautherin, Renate Mattar, Sophia Constantino and Anne-Sophie Goninet

U.S. Midterm Results, New North Korea Missile, Huge Facebook Layoffs

👋 Adishatz !*

Welcome to Wednesday, where the expected Republican midterm victory wave turns out to be more of a ripple, Zelensky remains defiant as battles intensify in Donetsk, and 2,300 year-old bronze statues are found in pristine condition in Tuscany. Meanwhile, Chinese-language media The Initium has rare testimonies from workers forced to flee China’s huge Foxconn factory, for fear of being trapped inside by COVID orders.

[*Occitan, France]

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Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

Ukraine’s Double Anniversary, U.S. Strikes In Syria, Pub Extinction

👋 Jó napot!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukraine celebrates Independence Day exactly six months into the war with Russia, the U.S. military targets militia-held areas in eastern Syria, and it may be “last orders” time for a great many UK pubs. Meanwhile, São Paulo-based Agência Pública uncovers efforts by Trump supporters to get Jair Bolsonaro reelected in Brazil.


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Yuri Litvinenko and Valeria Lebedeva

Instagram Nyet! Russian Influencers Lose Mojo On Homegrown Platforms

It's a different kind of "migration" indeed, from Instagram to VKontakte, after U.S. social media were banned in Russia. It's yet another kind of difficulty for Russians trying to continue with daily life.

MOSCOW — Since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, access to international digital platforms and social networks within Russia has become virtually impossible. Facebook and Instagram were banned in late March, the activities of their parent company Meta were declared extremist and blocked, and Twitter was quickly added later to the hit list.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

The platforms themselves also set restrictions: in particular, YouTube prevented the ability to monetize content in Russia, Meta blocked certain advertisers' accounts, and TikTok limited the download of new videos and access to foreign content.

All this has resulted in another mass migration since the start of the war: this time, of a different sort. Russians who earn their living through Western social media must now move their online activity to domestic Russian platforms.

Expectations and Reality

Russian social networks have been busy boasting a growing audience. A representative of VKontakte, the Russian Facebook equivalent, told Kommersant that in March, the daily number of users in the Russian Federation increased by 9% and the total monthly audience in the country amounted to 72 million, the first time it ever exceeded 50 million. Other networks such as Odnoklassniki and Gazprom-Media, which owns the Yappy short-video service, have claimed similar growth.

The transition of the Facebook and Instagram audience to Russian platforms was facilitated not only by its unilateral blockage, but also by the lack of clarity regarding the consequences for those who continued to use the sites via VPN.

The decision of the Moscow Court on Meta states that judicial protection measures do not limit the use of social networks by users who are not involved in prohibited activities. The wording raised major questions, though. The office of the Prosecutor General was asked for clarifications as lawyers wanted to understand whether individuals and legal entities can be held administratively and criminally liable for posting links to Meta resources, “liking” posts, using platform symbols, as well as using the messaging tools that have become integrated into daily life.

No clarification has yet been given.

Lost In Translation

Mediascope notes that the Telegram messaging platform is growing the fastest of all Russian social channels: its average daily coverage has grown from 25% (for the period February 21–27) to 34% (April 11–15). The platform accounts for a significant portion of news content consumption, according to Mediascope.

The coverage of VKontakte has not changed so noticeably - from 38% to 41%, while Odnoklassniki has hardly changed at all. In comparison, the average Instagram reach fell from 32% to 12% and Facebook from 8% to 2%,

But for influencers, the change is not as easy as it seems at first glance. Indeed, Epicstars Communications Director Anastasia Yermoshina said that popular bloggers with an audience of more than 1 million subscribers will not be able to quickly transfer them to new platforms.

The Russian services themselves aren't ready to accept users from Facebook or Instagram.

When switching from Instagram to other social networks, bloggers can lose around 15-20% of the "legacy" audience.

As a result, neither bloggers nor advertisers “can immediately adapt to all the changes and are in no hurry to leave their usual platforms,” Ekaterina Bibik, head of Admitad Affiliate in Russia, emphasizes. Nor are the Russian services themselves yet ready to accept users from Facebook or Instagram.

Kirill Lubnin, vice-president of the CROS agency for strategy and development notes another issue. Users of VKontakte and Odnoklassniki discuss politics and topical issues less than people on Facebook and Instagram who bypass their blocking.

There is a lot of consumer and entertainment content on VK social networks, as well as "content with a regional or territorial reference," he noted. Russian social networks when compared to Instagram, are less aimed at the audiences of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and instead appeal to more rural ones.

Differences in user preferences are largely related to how the platforms were positioned in the early stages of development, Kirill Borisov explains: “Aesthetic content has a greater response on Instagram than on other platforms, since the philosophy of “sharing photos” is still alive.”

\u200bScreen of a smartphone displaying the logos of the social networks

Screen of a smartphone displaying the logos of the apps VKontakte, Twitter, RT News, Facebook, Instagram and Telegram.

Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez/dpa/ZUMA

Telegram Is Different

The move to Russian platforms comes with another challenge. Here, the tools for advertisers are still geared towards groups: “In order to become commercially successful, a blogger has to create communities. For many, this is a new practice.”

The hype simply won’t last.

Originally conceived by the founder Pavel Durov as a means of secure messaging, Telegram has become something closer to a social media platform with the addition of “groups” and “channels”. This format, though, remains entirely different to that of Instagram, and bloggers who don't readjust their habits could be at risk of having their followers turn off notifications and therefore drop in audience reach.

While some influencers are taking the move in their stride, attempting to master Russian social networks as quickly as possible and avoid severe drops in earnings, others consider attempts to replace Western social networks with others as doomed to failure. Influencers “may try to build their following on the new platforms," says Yermoshina, "but in the long run, the hype simply won’t last."

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