Lawsuit: mayor's social media blocklists are public records


Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine has a history of blocking his critics on social media, including Grant Stern, who runs the Photography is Not a Crime group. Read the rest

Facebook's crackdown on publishers feeds has sites paying celebs to repost


Facebook -- which accounts for as much as 75% of the traffic to popular websites -- tweaked its algorithm to downrank those same publishers, who had been engaged in an arms-race to dominate Facebook users' feeds through techniques intended to gain high rank in Facebook's secret scoring system. Read the rest

VERIFIED Mark Zuckerberg defends Facebook's association with Peter Thiel


Update: According to The Verge, Facebook has verified the authenticity of the screenshot below.

In what appears to be an internal Facebook post, Zuckerberg defends his company's ongoing association with Peter Thiel -- Facebook investor/board member and major donor to white-supremacist/pro-rape presidential candidate Donald Trump. Read the rest

Facebook 'near-billionaire' Palmer Luckey secretly funding racist pro-Trump hate meme machine


Palmer Luckey is the founder of virtual reality tech firm Oculus, which was bought by Facebook for $2 billion. With a portion of his huge pile of Oculus cash, Luckey is funding a pro-Donald Trump “shitposting” tactical team that churns out racist, sexist, hatey anti-Hillary Clinton memes and works to make them go viral.

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Facebook inflated a key video view metric by 60-80% for two years

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
No one saw this coming, except everyone who works in online video. The Wall Street Journal reports that social media giant Facebook over-reported video ad view time on its platform for two whole years, citing unnamed sources.

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We need a new science of measurement to figure out when AI is working and why it fails


Writing on Medium, AI researcher Kate Crawford (previously) and Simply Secure (previously) co-founder Meredith Whittaker make the case for a new scholarly discipline that "measures and assesses the social and economic effects of current AI systems." Read the rest

Why Facebook's "It's too hard" excuse for Vietnam war photo takedown is bullshit


On Friday, Facebook started deleting posts containing "The Terror of War," Nick Ut's photo depicting a young Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack on her village; Facebook approach this photo with a scorched earth (ahem) policy, even deleting it when it was posted by the Prime Minister of Norway. Read the rest

Facebook bans famous war photo because the screaming, napalmed child's genitals are offensive


Facebook has banned one of the most famous images of the Vietnam war—then 9-year-old Kim Phuc running naked from a napalm attack on her village—for contravening the site's prohibition on "nudity." It even removed a posting of it by the Norwegian Prime Minister.

The editor of Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten said the entire post, which was about iconic war imagery, was later deleted and the account of the reporter behind it suspended.

Espen Egil Hansen has accused Mark Zuckerberg of "an abuse of power".

Facebook said it has to restrict nudity for cultural reasons.

Mr Hansen said the image of Kim Phuc, then aged nine, was removed less than 24 hours after the newspaper received a request from the firm to either take down the image or pixelate it and before it had responded.

Phuc suffered horrific burns in the attack, which she described as "a blast of heat which felt like someone had opened the door of an oven." Though it was unlikely she'd survive, journalists Nick Ut (who shot the photo) and Christopher Wain took her to hospital and she pulled through. She lives in pain to this day, and the photograph is part of the world's cultural heritage, a powerful warning of the horror of war.

Facebook's won: it doesn't have to pretend to care anymore about being the "public square" it sometimes affects to be. But let's hope it can be convinced to reconsider this one.

It's time for expectations to change, though. Nobly declaring "I shall not comply with your requirement to remove this picture" only highlights to whom publishers have ceded their power, given that Facebook already removed the picture. Read the rest

Escaped convict requests police post a different "wanted photo" of her on social media


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 Guardian)

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WhatsApp wooed users with privacy promise, but will soon share data with Facebook

A Facebook logo is displayed on the side of a tour bus in New York, 2015. REUTERS

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.

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48 hours later, Adblock Plus beats Facebook's adblocker-blocker


On August 9, Facebook announced that it had defeated adblockers; on August 11, Adblock Plus announced that it had defeated Facebook. Read the rest

Facebook declares war on adblockers, claims it can prevent them detecting ads

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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:

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.

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How to pay no taxes at all! (if you're Apple, Google or Facebook)


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: We did ‘a test’ last year using some people's location data to suggest friends

Photo: Reuters

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.

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Privacy invasion? Facebook is using your phone's location data to suggest friends

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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.

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US Customs and Border Protection wants to ask for your "online presence" at the border


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

Oculus quietly drops DRM from its VR systems


In May, Facebook division Oculus broke its longstanding promise not to use DRM to limit its customers' choices, deploying a system that prevented Oculus customers from porting the software they'd purchased to run on non-Oculus hardware. Read the rest

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