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.

Read the rest

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