Beyond fake news: the "constructed realities" of the polarized world

Gilad Lotan -- our favorite fake-news sleuthing data-scientist -- writes about the problem of not-quite-fake news, which is much more pernicious than mere lies: it's news that uses attention-shaping, one-sided "news" accounts that divide their readers into their own "constructed realities." Read the rest

Facebook creates censorship tool to convince China to allow it to do business there

The New York Times reports that Facebook is completing work on censorship software to accommodate demands made by the Chinese government.

The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added.

Filtering fraudulent propaganda is something he insists is both irrelevant and practically impossible, but explicitly censoring credible news comes so easily to him. Seems odd.

Some of us are still talking about Mark Zuckerberg as if he were the moronic child-man depicted in The Social Network, a nerd who must be sighed or screamed at until he Gets whatever human thing is escaping him. But it's long past time to accept that he's a powerful and self-aware adult businessman, as cynical as the best of them, who benefits to our detriment when we cast him in that role.

Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters Read the rest

Hugely successful Facebook fake news author considers himself a "satirist"

Paul Horner says he made more than $10,000 month writing fake news on Facebook that was widely shared by Trump supporters and picked up by the real press -- for example, hoax stories about protesters being paid to turn out against Trump -- and that he targeted Trump supporters as an act of "satire" to show that they would credulously share anything, providing that it confirmed their conspiracy theories about the left and the Democratic party. Read the rest

Facebookers defy Zuckerberg, form fake news "task force"

Days after Mark Zuckerberg called the idea that Facebook -- and specifically, the fake news circulated on Facebook -- had influenced the US election as "a pretty crazy idea," a group of "renegade" Facebook employees have formed themselves into a "task force" to tackle the issue, and have been warned by their managers that they may not speak to the press about this on pain on termination. Read the rest

Google and Facebook's "fake news" ban is a welcome nail in the coffin of "software objectivity"

In the wake of the Trump election -- a triumph of fake news -- both Google and Facebook have announced that they will take countermeasures to exclude "fake news" from their services, downranking them in the case of Facebook and cutting them off from ad payments in Google's case. Read the rest

Zuckerberg: it's crazy to think Facebook fake news influenced voting

New York Mag's Max Read wrote that Facebook, stuffed with hoaxes and largely-right wing fake news, has to face up to its role in promoting political disinformation that helped Donald Trump win the election: "it’s not just that Facebook makes politics worse, it’s that it changes politics entirely."

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg denies this, saying that Facebook doesn't influence people's decisions..

"To think it influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea," Zuckerberg said Thursday evening during the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif... "I do think there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is they saw some fake news."

The obvious quip is to point out that he now has to explain why advertising on Facebook does influence decisions.

But the truth isn't funny: Facebook was exposed years ago secretly experimenting on users to influence psychological states, so it's well-aware of the extent to which they can be manipulated. Read the rest

John Oliver shreds multi-level-marketing pyramid schemes

Oliver's 30+ minute investigative piece on Mary Kay, Amway, Herbalife, Avon, Rodan and Fields and the rest of the MLM basket of deplorables shows how the Facebook era has supercharged these semi-criminal enterprises, entrapping thousands of people in a cycle of debt and deception that is fuelled by celebrity endorsers, including Madeline Albright. Read the rest

Germany investigates Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook over failure to remove hate posts

Prosecutors in Germany have launched a formal investigation of Mark Zuckerberg and other executives at Facebook, the Munich prosecutor's office said Friday, over a complaint that Facebook broke German laws against hate speech and sedition by failing to remove racist hate-posts on the social media service.

Read the rest

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

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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