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Apple releases iOS 14.8 and macOS 11.6 to address WebKit and PDF vulnerabilities | Engadget

One day before its next major event, Apple has released iOS 14.8, iPadOS 14.8, watchOS 7.6.2 and macOS Big Sur 11.6. All four are minor updates that don’t add new features to their respective operating systems but include important security fixes. As such, Apple recommends all users download them as soon as they can.

Depending on the update, it addresses as many as two issues. One relates to the CoreGraphics framework in iOS, iPadOS and macOS, while the other stems from Apple’s WebKit browser engine. In both instances, the company says it’s aware of at least one report where the vulnerabilities may have been actively exploited to execute arbitrary code.

On an iPhone or iPad, you can manually check for iOS 14.8 and iPadOS 14.8 by opening the Settings app on your device, tapping “General” and then “Software Update.” On macOS, meanwhile, open the System Preferences menu and then click on “Software Update.”


Facebook’s program for VIPs allows politicians and celebs to break its rules, report says | Engadget

Facebook has for years used a little known VIP program that’s enabled millions of high-profile users to skirt its rules, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.

According to the report, the program, called “XCheck” or “cross check” was created in order to avoid “PR fires,” the public backlash that occurs when Facebook made a mistake affecting a high profile user’s account. The cross check program meant that if one of these accounts broke its rules, the violation was sent to a separate team so that it could be reviewed by Facebook employees, rather than its non-employee moderators who typically review rule-breaking content.

Facebook had previously disclosed the existence of cross check, which had also been reported on by other outlets. But The Wall Street Journal report revealed that “most of the content flagged by the XCheck system faced no subsequent review.” This effectively allowed celebrities, politicians and other high profile users to break rules without consequences.

In one incident described in the report, Brazilian soccer star Neymar posted nude photos of a woman who had accused him of sexual assault. Such a post is a violation of Facebook’s rule around non-consensual nudity, and rule breakers are typically banned from the platform. But the cross check system “blocked Facebook’s moderators from removing the video,” and the post was viewed nearly 60 million times before it was eventually removed. His account faced no other consequences.

Last year alone, the cross check system enabled rule-breaking content to be viewed more than 16 billion times before being removed, according to internal Facebook documents cited by The Wall Street Journal. The report also says Facebook ‘misled’ its Oversight Board, which pressed the company on its cross check system in June when weighing in on how the company should handle Donald Trump’s “indefinite suspension.” The company told the board at the time that the system only affected “a small number” of its decisions and that it was “not feasible” to share more data.

“The Oversight Board has expressed on multiple occasions its concern about the lack of transparency in Facebook’s content moderation processes, especially relating to the company’s inconsistent management of high-profile accounts,” the Oversight Board said in a statement shared on Twitter. “The Board has repeatedly made recommendations that Facebook be far more transparent in general, including about its management of high-profile accounts, while ensuring that its policies treat all users fairly.”

Facebook told The Wall Street Journal that its reporting was based on “outdated information” and that the company has been trying to improve the cross check system. “In the end, at the center of this story is Facebook’s own analysis that we need to improve the program,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone wrote in a statement. “We know our enforcement is not perfect and there are tradeoffs between speed and accuracy.”

The revelations could prompt new investigations into Facebook’s content moderation policies. Some information related to cross check has been “turned over to the Securities and Exchange Commission and to Congress by a person seeking federal whistleblower protection,” according to The Wall Street Journal.


Instagram is internally testing a feature that’ll show some people higher in its feed | Engadget

Instagram is working on a tool that could give people more control over its famously obtuse feed algorithm. Mobile developer Alessandro Paluzzi recently shared screenshots of an in-development feature called Favorites. Those images suggest the tool will allow you to add friends, family members and creators to a list of accounts you want the software to prioritize when you’re scrolling through your feed.

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Since Instagram switched from a chronological feed to an algorithmic one back in 2016, people have consistently complained the app doesn’t do an adequate job of showing them the images and videos they want to see the most. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, tried to speak to those concerns recently when he wrote a blog post about how the platform’s various algorithms work. Currently, the feed algorithm tends to look at the popularity of a post, in addition to your recent activity and history of interacting with someone, when deciding how to prioritize the content it shows you.

It’s unclear if Favorites will become an official feature within Instagram. A spokesperson for Instagram told Engadget the company is currently testing the tool internally but offered no further details on when we might see an external test, if at all.