Was It Worth It?




Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that he does not understand the 1st Amendment. Or what “political speech” actually is.

Now, within the context of his creation, Facebook, he is free to promote or suppress speech as he sees fit. The problem is that he doesn’t want to do it. I mean, he does want to do it, but he doesn’t want to be blamed for it. Instead, he wants the government to do it for him.

The problem is, of course, that like many in the entertainment and governmental industries, he doesn’t seem to grasp that the Government cannot do that… well… in fairness, there aren’t very many people who grasp that.

It all makes my annual question to 129 men who died this day in 1963 more poignant.


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You don’t have to delete Facebook, but you could definitely be using it better | Popular Science

You don’t need to stop using Facebook, but you should stop using it so poorly.

Source: You don’t have to delete Facebook, but you could definitely be using it better | Popular Science

Facebook’s Privacy Message Undermined by the Times—Again | WIRED

Facebook has spent much of 2018 apologizing to people. A recent New York Times investigation calls all those apologies into question.

Source: Facebook’s Privacy Message Undermined by the Times—Again | WIRED

IF THERE IS one message Facebook has been trying to send to the world in 2018, it’s that it understands that it needs to rethink the way it operates as a company. It says it understands that it must better police the content that appears on its platforms. And as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal early this year, it says that it must be more effective in how it protects user data, more transparent about all the data it collects on them, and more clear about who has access to it. CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said fixing Facebook was his project for 2018, and he said earlier this year that he was dedicating enough resources to the problem that we should expect to see tangible progress as we approached 2019.

But facts have proven to be inconvenient things for Facebook in 2018. Every month this year—and in some months, every week—new information has come out that makes it seem as if Facebook’s big rethink is in big trouble. The billions the company is spending to fix itself, along with slowing advertising growth in Europe and North America, have stalled revenues. Its once highflying stock price is down 35 percent. Well-known and well-regarded executives, like the founders of Facebook-owned Instagram, Oculus, and WhatsApp, have left abruptly. And more and more current and former employees are beginning to question whether Facebook’s management team, which has been together for most of the last decade, is up to the task.

Technically, Zuckerberg controls enough voting power to resist and reject any moves to remove him as CEO. But the number of times that he and his number two Sheryl Sandberg have overpromised and underdelivered since the 2016 election would doom any other management team. And so for the first time in Facebook’s storied history as a public company, employees, investors, and users are beginning to wonder if the only way to solve Facebook’s current spate of problems is to replace them.

Just since the end of September, Facebook announced the biggest security breach in its history, affecting more than 30 million accounts. Meanwhile, investigations in November revealed, among other things, that the company had hired a Washington firm to spread its own brand of misinformation on other platforms, including borderline anti-Semitic stories about financier George Soros. And only two weeks ago, a cache of internal Facebook emails dating back to 2012 revealed that at times Facebook thought a lot more about how to make money off its users’ data than it did protecting it.

Now, according to a New York Times investigation into Facebook’s data practices published Tuesday, long after Facebook said it had taken steps to protect user data from the kinds of leakages that made Cambridge Analytica possible, it continued special, undisclosed data sharing arrangements with more than 150 companies—some into this year. And unlike with Cambridge Analytica, the Timessays, Facebook provided access to its users’ data knowingly, and on a greater scale.

Some companies like Microsoft’s Bing search engine had access to all a Facebook user’s friends without consent. Apple devices had access to the contact numbers and calendar entries of people who had changed their account settings to disable all sharing. Spotify and Netflix had the ability to read users’ private messages. The search engine Yandex was one of the companies with special access, even though it has long been suspected of having special ties to the Kremlin. The Times had access into 2017 to users’ friend lists for an article-sharing application it had discontinued in 2011; the company told its reporters that it was not obtaining any data. Apple, Spotify, Yandex, and Netflix told the Times that they were unaware Facebook granted them such broad access.

There have been murmurings all year over whether Congress might pass new data protection laws akin to the GDPR in Europe, or whether the FTC would fine Facebook for violating its 2011 consent decree with the agency. Now it would not be a stretch to wonder if both those things aren’t imminent when the new Congress convenes in January. Already—today—the attorney general for the District of Columbia decided to sue Facebookfor alleged data misuse stemming from Cambridge Analytica. It’s likely to have company in that effort.

Facebook told the Times that no data was mismanaged or misused, that the data was all available publicly, that it considered its partners to effectively be part of Facebook and therefore subject to the same strict rules of conduct, and that as a result of all this it was not in violation of any statutes or its consent decree with the FTC.

Facebook posted further comment in a blog post, authored by Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of developer platforms and programs. “Today, we’re facing questions about whether Facebook gave large tech companies access to people’s information and, if so, why we did this. To put it simply, this work was about helping people do two things. First, people could access their Facebook accounts or specific Facebook features on devices and platforms built by other companies like Apple, Amazon, Blackberry and Yahoo. These are known as integration partners. Second, people could have more social experiences—like seeing recommendations from their Facebook friends—on other popular apps and websites, like Netflix, The New York Times, Pandora and Spotify,” Papamiltiadis wrote.

“We’ve been public about these features and partnerships over the years because we wanted people to actually use them – and many people did. They were discussed, reviewed, and scrutinizedby a wide variety of journalists and privacy advocates. But most of these features are now gone. We shut down instant personalization, which powered Bing’s features, in 2014 and we wound down our partnerships with device and platform companies months ago, following an announcement in April.

“Still, we recognize that we’ve needed tighter management over how partners and developers can access information using our APIs. We’re already in the process of reviewing all our APIs and the partners who can access them.”

Zuckerberg and his executives are such masters of this kind of sincere apology, it should have a special name like “apolozuck,” or perhaps just “zucked.” It’s truly rhetoric as art. “We’re sorry. We’re as upset as you are. But that thing you are angry at us about happened a few years ago, and we’ve fixed the problems. They happened because we were trying to make Facebook better for you. But we now see how it left your data vulnerable to bad things too. We care more about your data and your privacy than anyone. It won’t happen again. We promise.”

What has enabled them to deliver these apologies year after year was that these sycophantic monologues were always true enough to be believable. The Times’ story calls into question every one of those apologies—especially the ones issued this year.

All year long, Facebook has encouraged the world to believe that a Cambridge Analytica–style data leakage couldn’t happen anymore—that, as Zuckerberg told lawmakers in April, users had “complete control” over what happened to their data. Two weeks ago, after those scheming emails Zuckerberg exchanged with executives about data sharing arrangements were released by the UK Parliament, Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that they were taken out of context.

Except, now it appears Facebook has had all manner of data sharing relationships it hasn’t been telling the world about. “We’ve never sold anyone’s data,” Zuckerberg wrote in his post, and has insisted at various other times this year. But Zuckerberg saying that Facebook has never sold user data is an answer that only an engineer could love. It is technically correct but practically false. Sure, Facebook has never given other companies user data in exchange for cash. But it’s quite obvious to the world now that Facebook for a long time has been giving user data to other companies in exchange for other equally or more valuable things.

There’s a simple takeaway from all this, and it’s not a pretty one: Facebook is either a mendacious, arrogant corporation in the mold of a 1980s-style Wall Street firm, or it is a company that is in much more disarray than it has been letting on. Think about almost everything bad that’s happened to Facebook since the 2016 election: Russian interference, Cambridge Analytica, data sharing, astroturfing. Facebook could have kept all of them from becoming scandals—or at least becoming as big of a scandal—had it just leveled with the world when it had the chance. The fact that it hasn’t suggests that it didn’t want to, or it is just not well managed enough to pull it off.

It’s all hard to read without finally realizing what it is that’s made us so angry with Silicon Valley, Facebook in particular, in 2018: We feel lied to, like these companies are playing us, their users, for chumps, and laughing at us for being so naive.

We’d expect such deceptions from banks, or oil companies, or car makers, or tobacco firms. But companies like Facebook built their brands by promising something different. They told us, “It’s not about the money and the power of being a billionaire and running one of the richest companies on the planet, it’s about making the world a better place—making it more open and connected.” And we fell for the ruse hook, line, and sinker.

Americans are weird about their tycoons. We have a soft spot for success, especially success from people as young as Zuckerberg was when he started Facebook. But we hate it when they become super rich and powerful like he is now and seem accountable to no one. We’ll tolerate rogues like Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle, who once happily admitted to hiring investigators to search Bill Gates’ trash. Ellison makes no effort to hide the fact that he’s in it for the money and the power. But what people despise more than anything is what we have now with the companies in Silicon Valley, especially with Facebook: Greed falsely wrapped in sanctimony.

Facebook gave the world a great new tool for staying connected. Zuckerberg even pitched it as a better internet—a safe space away from the anonymous trolls lurking everywhere else online. But it’s now very debatable whether Facebook is really a better internet that is making the world a better place, or just another big powerful corporation out to make as much money as possible. Perhaps the world would be happier with Zuckerberg and Facebook, and the rest of his Silicon Valley brethren, if they stopped pretending to be people and businesses they are not.

Chuck Schumer’s Facebook ties came donations and a job for his daughter

Do you still believe that your concerns about Facebook privacy matter at all to those in power?

 

What does it take to friend a U.S. senator? If you’re Facebook, all you need is about $50,000 in donations – and a cushy job for the politician’s daughter.

Source: Chuck Schumer’s Facebook ties came donations and a job for his daughter

Facebook employees, including some at the top of its corporate pyramid, have helped fill Schumer’s campaign coffers – and he’s returned the favor by carrying water for the social media giant in Congress, according to a recent report.

And Alison Schumer, the senator’s youngest of two daughters, works as a Facebook product marketing manager – which pays an average of $160,000, according to Glassdoor.com.

“It sure looks hinky,” political strategist Susan Del Percio told The Post. “This is an industry that’s been trying for years to fend off heavy government regulation by actively cultivating relationships with senators and House members.”

Last week, it emerged that Schumer has been a strong advocate of Facebook on Capitol Hill. He pressured Sen. Mark Warner (D- Virginia), one of Facebook’s most aggressive challengers in Congress, to back off from investigating the company, according to The New York Times.

Schumer’s support of Facebook remained steadfast even as it emerged that Russian trolls were using the social media platform to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The company’s also come under fire for lax privacy standards leading to the exposure of users’ personal data.

“Facebook is a very powerful force,” Schumer said in March, as the problems began coming to light. “I think, overall, it’s been a very positive force.”

Top Facebook execs have contributed thousands to Schumer’s campaign fund for years.

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave the senator $5,200 in 2013.

Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s high-profile chief operating officer, kicked in $5,400 – the maximum legal amount – to Schumer’s 2016 re-election campaign.

Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch gave the same sum in 2015.

Newly appointed board member Kenneth Chenault has been a loyal Schumer supporter since 1995. Most recently, he gave $1,200 to the senator’s 2016 primary election campaign and $2,700 in that year’s general election. Chenault has contributed a total of $6,900.

Critics have called out the cozy relationship. In April, right-leaning street artist Sabo plastered the city with posters reading “Conflict of Interest? The daughter of Chuck is working for Zuck,” The Post reported.

Alison Schumer worked for Facebook from 2011 to 2013 and rejoined the company in 2017, according to her LinkedIn profile. Schumer, who could not be reached Saturday, is set to marry Elizabeth Weiland in Brooklyn on Sunday.

“Sen. Schumer has worked aggressively to push Facebook to do more to purge fake accounts and bots used by the right wing and Russians to perpetuate a disinformation campaign and interfere with our elections,” Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said Thursday.

But evidence of the senator’s direct efforts to grease the skids for the company could fuel Republican proposals to clamp down on Facebook.

Conservatives say the company has suppressed right-leaning news sites – LaChance’s traffic cratered by 90% after Facebook introduced a new algorithm in 2017, he said — and has banned Trump supporters unjustly.

“It will force some action,” Del Percio said. “Facebook will see a lot more aggressive questioning and oversight after this.”

24 Hours Before Election, FB Deletes Conservative Network with 1.5 Million Followers

I am just gonna say it here. Anybody that would spend one dime with Facebook – especially after the 2016 Election – is just throwing your money down the toilet. In the words of others, if you are a Conservative, “Facebook hates you.”
Oh sure, they’ll take your money. Right up to the moment that they delete you.
It’s no longer reasonable to say that it was ‘just a few,” or “it’s all just a misunderstanding.” Facebook is a Ponzi scheme, designed to separate you from your money (if you’re stupid enough to give it to them) and your sense of self-worth – if you’re dumb enough to think that those million followers are real in the first place or that they actually mean anything.
You could argue that Facebook is making a mistake in doing this, as it is unlikely to change anybody’s mind and it “proves” that they are suppressing opposition speech. But – trust me on this – Facebook don’t care.

-DB

‘We don’t want a fair shake — we deserve one.’

Source: 24 Hours Before Election, FB Deletes Conservative Network with 1.5 Million Followers

A network of conservative Facebook pages with 1.5 million followers was shut down just 24 hours before one of the most consequential midterm elections in recent memory, according to the proprietor of the network.

Addison Riddleberger is the 21-year-old founder of several large pages that deal with “many hot-button subjects through our Facebook distribution channel.” Riddleberger, a former Conservative Tribune writer, is the proprietor of such pages as “Standing for Americans,” “Freedom Catalog” and “Patriotic Folks.”

“But that’s all come to a crashing halt as we’ve lost three crucial things in what appears to be a last-second midterm purge: I lost my personal Facebook account (it’s been disabled), we lost over 1.5 million Facebook followers, and the $25,000 in Facebook approved ads we spent building our network has simply gone down the drain,” Riddleberger wrote in a news release.

In the release, Riddleberger insisted he’s kept abreast of Facebook’s policies regarding news — but that simply wasn’t enough for the suzerains of Menlo Park, apparently.

Riddleberger described how, “at 10:40 pm on November 4th, my personal Facebook account was disabled — where I am an administrator for the pages, where my family photos are posted, and where many years of my young life are documented.”

“Just hours later, at 12:52 am on November 5th — 24 hours before election day — the vague Facebook emails notifying us of our removed pages began rolling in. The emails were curt, but here’s the sentence that says it all: ‘Pages that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed. We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group, or that are set up by an unauthorized individual.’

“Our pages were not in violation of being ‘hateful, threatening, or obscene’, as we’ve published news nearly identical in tone for almost three years straight. Our pages were even vetted and approved for Facebook’s prestigious ‘Instant Articles’ feature, which has very strict rules about what kind of content can be published,” Riddleberger wrote.

All in all, eight pages run by Riddleberger were unpublished or deleted. And it’s not as if these were minor pages, either.

“At the beginning of September, we published a story titled, “‘American Sniper” Wife Ends Silence, Goes Directly After Nike And Kaepernick,’ which ended up being the most shared/ engaged article in all of Facebook news for that week, as reported by NewsWhip,” Riddleberger wrote.

“After the extreme viral nature and reach of the story, Snopes was contacted to verify the story and in rare form for conservative pages, they officially stamped it ‘correct attribution.’ I feel that it’s important to point this out to reiterate that we do NOT publish what biased fact-checkers label as ‘fake news.’”

In an interview Monday with The Western Journal, Riddleberger said he received a vague warning from Facebook two days before the pages were taken down. The automated messages didn’t provide a point of contact at Facebook, but listed a number of ambiguous reasons pages could be deleted — including sending users to so-called “ad farms” that provide little content but are loaded with ads.

At the time, Riddleberger said, he and his team believed this was the culprit; they had started with a new ad company just days before. To be as careful as possible, they not only cut off ties with the company but went ad-free for several days.

“I mean, I’m so clueless as to what’s going on because — to spend 25 grand on (Facebook advertising) and to not have a Facebook rep reach out and jump on a call and say, ‘hey, your investment is at risk of being completely removed, you need to really look at this’ … is absolutely sickening and completely unprofessional,” Riddleberger said.

Was it offensive or sensationalistic content? That would require the content to be flagged offensive, according to Facebook guidelines — and, according to Riddleberger, none of his content has ever been flagged.

Riddleberger’s team felt that the only possible culprit, if Facebook was indeed following its own rules when it suspended the accounts, was that it felt that Riddleberger’s account was fake. That, he said, would explain why his personal account was taken down as well.

“Nothing else makes sense,” he said.

Except that doesn’t quite make sense, either. Riddleberger said that he was verified to run political advertisements on Facebook, a process that requires extensive identification after the Russian ad scandal during the 2016 election cycle. To achieve that verification, Riddleberger says he had to provide extensive proof of who he was — including showing them his passport.

In other words, if his version of events is accurate, Facebook ought to have known Addison Riddleberger was a very real person.

So, what was the actual offense? Well, in a bit of a Kafkaesque turn, Facebook left Riddleberger to find that out with very little evidence.

“How unfair is it for them to claim you’ve possibly done multiple things and then leave it to you to figure out in 24 hours what exactly you’re doing when you have an entire company and an entire (group) of pages posting articles with completely different content?” Riddleberger asked. “How exactly are you expected to drill down and figure out exactly the one issue they want you to fix is with these automated, vague, Big Brother-like Facebook messages?”

In isolation, this wouldn’t necessarily be a story. However, this latest round of deletions seems to represent a pattern — and a pattern that almost always seems to go in one ideological direction.

Take the case of the Susan B. Anthony List, a prominent pro-life conservative women’s organization whose ads were blocked by Facebook. According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook was more than willing to take the SBA List’s money, just not willing to show the ad, which was in support of Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who’s running for Senate.

However, Facebook itself admitted it was in error in that situation.

“This ad does not violate Facebook’s policies and should never have been disapproved,” a Facebook representative told Tennessean. “We’re sorry for this mistake — the ad has been restored and is now running on Facebook.”

Then there was the Facebook purge last month where hundreds of pages were deleted.

“Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of Groups and Pages to drive traffic to their websites. Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was. Others were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate,” a statement from Facebook read, according to Heavy.

However, many of the pages almost certainly didn’t fall under that umbrella. One was Right Wing News, a fixture in the conservative media movement. The Free Thought Project, another Facebook fixture that would more than occasionally delve into conspiracy-tactic nonsense but certainly wasn’t outright fake news, was also shut down.

However, many of these pages were relatively small and firmly situated on the political fringe, even by the standards of the internet. The same couldn’t necessarily be said for any of Riddleberger’s pages, which may have been strident but certainly weren’t prone to outright sensationalism or crankery.

They hadn’t fallen afoul of Facebook’s strictures until — suspiciously — just hours before the midterm elections. And Facebook can’t seem to come up with any one specific rule that they’ve violated.

“My message to Facebook is this: Life’s not fair, I get it,” Riddleberger wrote.

“But when we spend $25,000 on ads, submit personal identification multiple times, and comply with every Terms of Service tweak, we expect to be treated fairly in return by the industry-leaders you are. The vague, automated messages about page deletion over issues that don’t apply to us is far from professional and raises far more questions than answers. We don’t want a fair shake — we deserve one.

“Facebook, you have my email address — please reach out and let’s clear this matter up.”

Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. In almost every other case, that’s a plea that’s fallen on deaf ears — and given the highly equivocal and impersonal reasons Riddleberger says he’s received from Facebook, the chances of this turning out much different seem bleak.

 

A New Facebook Suit Makes ‘Pivot to Video’ Even More Myopic | WIRED

A couple of years ago I paid waaaay more money than I should have to an “Expert Consultant” who told me over and over again that Video is the way to go. On the plus side, I figured out how to do it on without spending any more money with him, but as I suspected all along, it’s was just Bantha excrement…

-DB

A new lawsuit alleges that Facebook inflated its video viewership numbers more than previously reported, and then hid the mistake. And that has journalists steamed.

Facebook acknowledged in 2016 that it had been overstating to advertisers the average time users spent watching videos on the platform. But when exactly Facebook found out about that error—and how long the company kept it under wraps—is now the subject of a federal district court lawsuit in California. The suit, filed earlier this week, was brought by Facebook advertisers who allege that Facebook knew about the measurement error for more than a year before it was first reported publicly in The Wall Street Journal.

But advertisers aren’t the only ones seething over the prospect of Facebook knowingly inflating its video viewership; members of the press are, too.

According to the complaint, which Facebook has dismissed as being “without merit,” the company may have been alerted to the analytics error as early as 2015 by advertisers who reported seeing an unrealistic 100 percent average viewership rates on some videos. It was also around that time that many newsrooms across the country began laying off reporters, in what has become snarkily known as the “pivot to video.”

If the tech platforms publishers relied on for advertising and distribution were prioritizing video over text, the thinking went, then video would be key to any media company’s survival. That wasn’t just based on a hunch. In 2015, Facebook tweaked its algorithm to surface Live videos, a feature that had just launched, higher up in News Feed. And the following year, during an interview at Mobile World Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that in a few years “the vast majority of the content that people consume online will be video.”

“They were making this move to video the number one priority across the company and were very vocal about that,” says Jason Kint, CEO of the digital publishing trade organization Digital Content Next. (WIRED parent company Condé Nast is a member.) Publishers, who had already weathered the transition from print to digital only to watch their online ad revenue get leeched away by Facebook and Google for a decade, listened. Outlets like Mic, Fox Sports, and MTV News laid off writers to focus on video. Not long after, page views plummeted. Just two years later, in early 2018, Facebook changed the News Feed again, this time giving videos a demotion.

When the Wall Street Journal broke the news about the complaint Tuesday, it was almost instantly met with anger and frustration from members of the media. “This is especially maddening because the ‘pivot to video’ is not, as this proves, necessarily a consumer-led initiative,” tweeted Phillips Picardi, the editor-in-chief of Out and former chief content officer of Teen Vogue (Teen Vogue is also owned by Condé Nast).

“A lot of friends lost their jobs over this bullshit,” tweeted Benjamin Bailey, a writer for Nerdist. “Facebook outright lied and pushed this whole ‘pivot to video’ narrative. It’s all a big house of cards.”

Source: A New Facebook Suit Makes ‘Pivot to Video’ Even More Myopic | WIRED

Hey, Thanks!

Facebook has informed me that I was not hacked.

So I guess we’re all good, right? I mean, other than those 800 Pages you deleted yesterday, at least one of which I, along with 3.2 Million other people read regularly.

G-d knows you wouldn’t want ideas of which you don’t “approve” floating about in cyberspace…