A year ago, Facebook apologized for allowing advertisers to target its users based on their status as "Jew haters" and blamed an algorithmic system that automatically picked up on the most popular discussions on the platform and turned them into ad-targeting segments.
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Youtube allows people -- some of them not very nice -- to earn incredible livings by performing stunts, playing videogames, creating sketches, anything that attracts an audience.
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Rod McCullom at Undark has a terrific overview of the perpetual "virtual lineup," where half of all American adults "are enrolled in unregulated facial recognition networks used by state and local law enforcement agencies." Read the rest
Since the earliest days of ecommerce, analysts have predicted that retailers would use their estimations of their customers' willingness to pay to invisibly, instantaneously reprice their goods, offering different prices to each customer. Read the rest
An article that went viral last week attributed Trump's Electoral College victory to the dark big data sorcery of Cambridge Analytica, a dirty, dementor-focused big data company that specializes in political campaigns. Read the rest
Edward Snowden's Periscope interview with Jack Dorsey -- hosted by the Pardon Snowden campaign ranged over a lot of territory, including the special problems of metadata surveillance (metadata can be "more intrusive" than content "because it can be understood at scale"); asymmetry in privacy (where "an increasing imbalance of power" arises between citizens, with no privacy, and officials with all the privacy: "We can't even see their tax-returns"); the problems of relying on the rule of law in a "global context" where surveillance crosses borders and jurisdictions; and fake news, which Snowden thinks can't be solved by asking Google to be a "referee" but rather when "We talk and we share and we point out what is true." Read the rest
Michèle B. Nuijten and co's statcheck program re-examines the datasets in peer-reviewed science and flags anomalies that are associated with fakery, from duplication of data to internal inconsistencies. Read the rest