Last Wednesday, Amy Sharp, 18, on the run after escaping a Sydney, Australia correction center, requested on Facebook that police replace a posted photo of her with a different one that she preferred (below). They nabbed her on Friday.
The mobile messaging app will soon begin sharing with Facebook the phone numbers and analytics data for its more than one billion users. When messaging app WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum promised the deal wouldn't affect users' privacy.
Facebook claims it has developed a way to force ads to appear irrespective of whether visitors are using adblockers, and will soon begin doing so. The Wall Street Journal reports that the technique is "relatively easy" because Facebook doesn't use third-party ad tech—another way of saying that as Facebook serves both content and ads itself, it is at liberty to make them technically indistinguishable from one another.
“This isn’t motivated by inventory; it’s not an opportunity for Facebook from that perspective,” Mr. Bosworth said. “We’re doing it more for the principle of the thing. We want to help lead the discussion on this.”
It'd be understandable if they took an ads-or-GTFO attitude, or presented this as a fuck-you to adblocking companies, many of which are now sleazy middlemen who can be bought off (which Facebook has vowed not to do.) But Facebook insists that users damage the "Facebook experience" when they take matters into their own hands, so it's still, to them, a battle for control over what users can do on their own computers.
Depending on how they are counted, between a quarter and a third of users block ads. Desktop ads account for only a small portion of Facebook's total ad revenue, but command higher rates than mobile ads and are apparently regarded as a soft target for growth:
Read the rest
Facebook stands to gain financially from showing ads to ad-blocking users. On the company’s second-quarter earnings call in July, Facebook executives said its “ad load”—the volume of ads its users typically see—was in a “good zone.” That means it doesn’t think it can push many more ads to users than they already see during the time they are spending on the social network.
In only 7 minutes, Australian comedy show The Undercurrent explains exactly how companies like Apple, Google and Facebook use offshore registration, transfer payments, debt loading and tax havens to get a lower tax rate than nurses, starving their host countries like Australia of so much money that they're cutting schools, medicare, public broadcasting, climate change and indigenous services. Read the rest
Facebook recently told Fusion reporter Kashmir Hill that Facebook uses location data to recommend friends. People freaked out. Facebook retracted the statement. Then, the social media giant said what, that's crazy, LOL, no. No, we didn't do that at all. Now, Facebook’s communications team tells Hill the confusion arose “because there was a brief time when the social network used location for friend suggestions,” which involved a small percentage of Facebook users and stopped last year.
Well, this sounds like potentially a pretty big deal. Facebook is using smartphone location data to recommend new friends to users, which suggests many possible privacy invasions. This is also a technique NSA uses to track surveillance targets.
The week, the US CBP published a notice in the Federal Register proposing a change to the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record paperwork that visitors to the US fill out when they cross the border, in which they announce plans to ask travellers to "please enter information associated with your online presence." Read the rest
The landlords at City Park Apartments stuck memos on their tenants' doors last week, outlining a "Facebook addendum" requiring tenants to Friend the building on Facebook or lose their lease. Read the rest
As recently as 5 months ago, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey was promising his customers that they could play the software they bought from the Oculus store on "whatever they want," guaranteeing that the company wouldn't shut down apps that let customers move their purchased software to non-Oculus hardware. Read the rest
Facebook workers "routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers," reports Gizmodo, regarding the "trending" topics that are inserted in readers' feeds. This was apparently an issue of individuals working on their own initiative rather than the result of corporate policy, but they were directed to squelch news about Facebook itself and to manually inject "missing" stories into the trending topics.
These new allegations emerged after Gizmodo last week revealed details about the inner workings of Facebook’s trending news team—a small group of young journalists, primarily educated at Ivy League or private East Coast universities, who curate the “trending” module on the upper-right-hand corner of the site. As we reported last week, curators have access to a ranked list of trending topics surfaced by Facebook’s algorithm, which prioritizes the stories that should be shown to Facebook users in the trending section. The curators write headlines and summaries of each topic, and include links to news sites. The section, which launched in 2014, constitutes some of the most powerful real estate on the internet and helps dictate what news Facebook’s users—167 million in the US alone—are reading at any given moment.
In short, Facebook's "trending" stuff comes out of a newsroom-like culture, with editorial direction and values. Which would be fine, except for the fact that Facebook claims that its trending topics are an organic or algorithmic representation of user interests and activities. Read the rest
With the release of a pair of anti-Trump ads, the Clinton campaign has begun to fight a war on two fronts. Read the rest
Surveillance capitalism continues to astound and confound: as Facebook has turned into the traffic-factory life-support for ad-supported media -- and as Facebook profits from those companies by charging for "access" to their own followers -- the amount of personal sharing on Facebook is dropping off sharply. Read the rest