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Thibault Camus / AP

Facebook is being accused of knowingly letting pornography and terrorist content sit on its site without removing it, reports The Times.

What happened: Per the report, Facebook failed to remove content that featured ISIS beheadings, pornographic cartoons and glorified hatred, after the content was flagged to moderators. Moderators say the content didn't violate Facebook's community standards, although the standards clearly state: "We remove graphic images when they are shared for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate or glorify violence."

Where it stands: British regulators cited by The Times say Facebook's failure to remove such images in a timely fashion violates British law. Facebook removed the content after being contacted by The Times and says they are grateful to the publication for making Facebook aware of the controversial content. The Times also reported the incidents to the British police.

The legal details: In the U.S., a portion of a law — Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 — is designed to protect tech companies from being held liable for failure to remove indecent content that is automatically distributed on its platform without human oversight. Facebook has grappled with the use of human oversight, as it puts them at risk of making judgement calls that could offend users or advertisers. For example, Facebook came under fire last Spring for its human moderators reportedly suppressing conservative content on its trending topics column. To reduce liability, Facebook later removed human moderators from its trending topics column. (Google recently faced this exact same issue with censoring non-explicit LGTBQ content on YouTube.)

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
30 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.