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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
For years, Facebook and other social media companies have erred on the side of lenience in policing their sites — allowing most posts with false information to stay up, as long as they came from a genuine human and not a bot or a nefarious actor, Kaveh writes.
But now, the companies are considering a fundamental shift with profound social and political implications: deciding what is true and what is false.
The big picture: The new approach, if implemented, would not affect every lie or misleading post. It would be meant only to rein in manipulated media — everything from sophisticated, AI-enabled video or audio deepfakes to super-basic video edits like a much-circulated, slowed-down clip of Nancy Pelosi that surfaced in May.
"There is pressure on platforms to act in a more editorial or curatorial way," says Sam Gregory of the human rights nonprofit WITNESS. "You're seeing a greater range of options being deployed by platforms."
What's happening: To defend against the spread of manipulated media, which experts believe threaten elections, businesses and human rights, the companies are now discussing potential new policies to call them out or even take them down.
In recent meetings, experts and representatives from the biggest social networks have debated definitions and new rules for dealing with this vexing question.
There's a new realization among some of the companies that their approach to date may no longer be defensible, says Charlotte Stanton of the Carnegie Endowment, who convened the previously unreported June meeting.
The big issues that still hang over the companies:
But, but, but: Even as social media companies realize they may need to intervene to police some forms of falsehood on their sites, they're under blistering attack from conservatives in the U.S. who claim that the companies' moderation policies are biased against them. A reluctance to ruffle lawmakers and the president could delay or water down new policies.
Photo: Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP/Getty
An untreatable fungus that has been killing off the primary type of banana eaten around the world has reached South America, the main exporter of the fruit.
The threat is to the Cavendish, which makes up 95% of global banana exports. If you have a banana in your kitchen, the chances are it's a Cavendish. But a fungus called Fusarium wilt, more commonly called Panama disease, has wiped out Cavendish plantations in Asia, Africa and Australia, reports Jonathan Lambert in Nature.
The big picture: Cavendish became the main banana export in the 1950s, when an earlier strain of Panama wiped out the prior dominant type of the fruit — the Gros Michel.
Arlington, Virginia. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Getty
The hardest places to buy a home in the U.S. now are the D.C. suburbs of Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia, in the shadow of Amazon's new HQ2, according to a new report by Redfin.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
In the 1980s, U.K. merchants sold some 30,000 pianos a year. Today, the number is about 5,o00, a sign of the decline of the piano as a central part of the British home, writes the FT's Thomas Hale.
Along with the collapse of pianos has been the demise of well-paid professions — tuners, restorers, shopkeepers, dealers, movers and other experts.
This world began dying decades ago.
Why they have all but vanished: Pianos are too large for a lot of apartments, people can't be bothered to cart them around when they move, and they are super-heavy, Hale writes.
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