How to download and save your Facebook data before deleting

As #DeleteFacebook sweeps across the web in the wake of data misuse, some users are resisting because their account contains valuable information they don't want to lose. Saving all your data is easy to do and may make the decision easier. Read the rest

Just because Cambridge Analytica tells its customers it can sway elections, it doesn't follow that they're any good at it

Unilever founder John Wanamaker famously said, "I know that half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. My only problem is that I don’t know which half." It's an odd testament to the power of advertising, an industry whose executives are incredibly effective at selling their services to other executives, even if they can't prove they're any good at selling their customers' products to the public. Read the rest

How to permanently delete your Facebook account

By now, every sane person realizes that Facebook is horrible.

It uses your personal data in unsavory ways. It sells your data to unscrupulous companies. It encourages businesses to build their online headquarters on Facebook and then ruins those companies by changing its algorithm. And, maybe worst of all, it has one of the ugliest and most confusing interfaces ever made. I deactivated my account a long time ago, but this week's news about Facebook's relationship with the ultra sleazy data mining firm Cambridge Analytica prompted me to permanently delete my account. Wired has an article that shows you how to do it:

Now, to permanently delete your account, you'll need to learn where the delete option resides. The easiest way to find it is by clicking the "Quick Help" icon in the top-right corner, then the "Search" icon. When you see the search field, type “delete account.” You'll see a list of search results. Click on "How do I permanently delete my account?" and Facebook will give you the obscure instructions to “log into your account and let us know.” In this case, “let us know” is code for “delete my account,” so click on that link. From here, the final steps are clear: Enter your password and solve the security captcha, and your request to permanently delete your account is underway.

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A recipe for the deliberately obscured task of changing your Facebook settings to opt out of "platform" sharing

With news that Facebook shows all your friends' data to companies when you interact with their Facebook apps, many people are interested in figuring out how to turn that setting off in their Facebook dashboards. Read the rest

Facebook insists that Cambridge Analytica didn't "breach" data, but "misused" it, and they're willing to sue anyone who says otherwise

Yesterday's bombshell article in the Guardian about the way that Cambridge Analytica was able to extract tens of millions of Facebook users' data without their consent was preceded by plenty of damage control on Facebook's part: they repeatedly threatened to sue news outlets if they reported on the story and fired the whistleblower who came forward with the story. Read the rest

More than a decade's worth of Facebook catastrophes

In the wake of the latest Facebook data breach catastrophe, Josh Constantine rounds up more than a decade's worth of major catastrophes wrought by Facebook's recklessness, greed, and foolishness, from Beacon to the "Engagement Ranked Feed" to the "Engagement Priced Ad Auctions" to the choices that created spamming games like Zynga's offerings, to the mass overwriting of privacy preferences, to "ethnic affinity" ad targeting, to the Real Names policy and the stalkers it abetted to Facebook's global anti-Net-Neutrality campaigns; to self-serve ads; to developer data access and the gift it handed to crooks like Cambridge Analytica. Read the rest

Facebook once boasted of its ability to sway elections, now it has buried those pages

Facebook maintains a repository of success stories trumpeting the advertisers who have attained greatness by buying Facebook ads; most of these are businesses, but until recently, Facebook also trumpeted Florida Governor Rick Scott's use of Facebook ads to "boost Hispanic voter turnout in their candidate’s successful bid for a second term, resulting in a 22% increase in Hispanic support and the majority of the Cuban vote." Read the rest

Trump and the weird attention economy of Facebook

When you try to buy online ads from Facebook's self-serve ad-auctioning platform, merely being the highest bidder isn't enough to guarantee that your ads will get through: Facebook multiplies your bid by a software-generated prediction about how responsive the audience will be to it, so the clickbaitier your ad is, the less it costs to place it. Read the rest

The independent experts who favorably evaluated Facebook's "Messenger Kids" were funded by Facebook

When Facebook rolled out "Messenger Kids," an IM product aimed at the 6-and-up set, it trumpeted that during the product's 18-month development cycle, it had been evaluated by child development experts in order to "safeguard" the young children it was targeting from harm. Read the rest

Exiled Cambodian opposition leader sues Facebook in California over allegations of collusion with Cambodia's dictator

Cambodian dictator Hun Sen has ruled since 1998, and when an opposition leader used Facebook to challenge his election in 2013, Hun Sen teamed up with a fake news outlet called Fresh News to deploy a Facebook-based strategy to consolidate his control and neutralize democratic opposition. Read the rest

In the USA, Trump supporters are the most prolific users and sharers of "junk news" (a mix of untruth and distastefully presented materials)

Oxford's Computational Propaganda Project surveyed 13,500 "politically active" US Twitter users and 48,000 publicly visible Facebook pages, coding them for political affiliation, then measuring how much "junk news" (a news article that fails to live up to three or more of the following: professionalism, style, credibility, bias, counterfeit) was consumed and share by users based on their political affiliation. Read the rest

Facebook hired a pollster to track Zuck's public image, but he quit because working for Facebook filled him with shame

Tavis McGinn came to a job interview at Facebook to do the kind of work he'd done at Google, using analytics to help advertisers refine their campaigns; instead he was offered a job as Zuck's personal pollster, tracking the CEO's approval rating in fine-grained detail as he toured America and the world. Read the rest

Good news: Facebook usership declined in the US and Canada for the first time ever

For the first time ever Facebook usership declined in the US and Canada, from 185 million in Q3 of 2017 to Q4 of 2018.

Could it be that people are wising up to the fact that Facebook is a depressing, computational-propaganda-spewing, personal-data-abusing, walled-in cesspool of little value to anyone but shareholders, advertisers, and election throwers?

Image: Recode

From Recode:

Each user accounted for $26.76 worth of revenue for the company last quarter, and it went up by 35 percent over the same quarter last year.

It’s not clear why that segment got smaller. But it has been a tough year for Facebook in the U.S., and most of the company has been grappling with the fact that Facebook’s service was used by Russian actors to try and sway the 2016 presidential election. Perhaps U.S users are grappling with that, too.

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Facebook allows dangerous fake news about vaccines to go viral

If you want a good example that shows how Facebook cares more about pleasing its shareholders than the it does about stopping fake news, look how this fake news story, which claims a CDC doctor says the flu vaccine is causing the flu outbreak, is spreading across Facebook (current number of shares: 691k). Remember, Facebook has complete control over the stories its users see in their timeline, and Facebook uses this power to encourage people to pay it to promote posts. It could just as easily use this power to throttle dangerous fake news like this, but that would mean less user engagement, and therefore less money to Facebook.

From Think Progress:

A study from NewsWhip found earlier this week that one of the top four stories with the most engagement since Facebook’s change belonged to YourNewsWire, a notorious fake news factory. The story, which claimed that an unnamed “CDC doctor” said the flu vaccine was “causing [the] deadly flu outbreak,” had at the time generated more overall engagements than any story from outlets like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR, or even Fox News. (The YourNewsWire story has since fallen a few slots.) At last check, the YourNewsWire story had nearly a half-million total Facebook engagements.

The YourNewsWire story itself isn’t just fraudulent – it’s also dangerous.

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Step-by-step guide to locking down your Facebook account

If you're still using Facebook (I don't), your data is being used to profile you in seriously creepy ways; the best thing you can do is delete your Facebook account, but second-best is locking down your account, using the deliberately confusing, overly complexified privacy dashboard. Read the rest