Deleting Facebook is not enough: without antitrust, the company will be our lives' "operating system"

Facebook is the poster-child for the techlash, the worst offender in the monopolistic bunch, and recent books like Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy by Siva Vaidhyanathan (previously) and Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier present variations on the main critiques of Facebook with some prescriptions for what to do about it. Read the rest

Facebook lied: its in-home "Portal" cameras will collect your data

Facebook Portal is a camera that is supposed to follow you around your house while you videoconference; the product launch was repeatedly delayed because of the company's string of horrific privacy breaches; when the company finally pulled the trigger on the launch it was at pains to insist that Portal would not collect your data while you used it. Read the rest

Facebook's new product: every-room cameras for your home

Facebook's newest product is "Portal," a home camera intended to follow you from room to room while you videoconference. Read the rest

A detailed anatomy of the hack that compromised Facebook's 50 million user breach

Yesterday, at least 90,000,000 Facebook users were forced to log back into the service without any explanation; later, the company revealed that at least 50,000,000 of them had been hacked, but wouldn't say how. Read the rest

Facebook's spam filter blocked the most popular articles about its 50m user breach

When news broke yesterday that Facebook had suffered a breach affecting at least 50,000,000 users, Facebook users (understandably) began to widely share links to articles about the breach. Read the rest

Facebook's been caught using their customers' 2FA information to spam them with text ads

Just when you thought that Facebook couldn't get any more greasy, they have outdone themselves in a manner that places them well beyond even the most succulent of French Chef finger-kisses: the phone numbers that many folks gave them in order to activate the service's two-factor authentication protection? Zuckerberg and his crew are using it to serve up advertisements to unsuspecting users.

From TechCrunch:

Facebook’s confession follows a story Gizmodo ran a story yesterday, related to research work carried out by academics at two U.S. universities who ran a study in which they say they were able to demonstrate the company uses pieces of personal information that individuals did not explicitly provide it to, nonetheless, target them with ads.

While it’s been — if not clear, then at least evident — for a number of years that Facebook uses contact details of individuals who never personally provided their information for ad targeting purposes (harvesting people’s personal data by other means, such as other users’ mobile phone contact books which the Facebook app uploads), the revelation that numbers provided to Facebook by users in good faith, for the purpose of 2FA, are also, in its view, fair game for ads has not been so explicitly ‘fessed up to before.

The best part of all of this is that, according to TechCrunch, Facebook had the chance to confess to their shitty behavior some time ago when it was revealed that users who submitted a phone number for 2FA purposes were being spammed with texts ads sent to their smartphones. Read the rest

Whatsapp founder: I sold out, but I walked away from $850,000,000 when I quit Facebook

In 2014, Facebook bought the messaging system Whatsapp for $22B; it was a weird fit, because Whatsapp founders had decried Facebook's surveillance-based business model and targeted advertising, and had promised its users "No ads, no games, no gimmicks." Read the rest

Facebook kremlinology: Instagram founders' exodus signals immanent facebookization

Facebook's acquisition spree -- including huge-dollar payouts for Instagram and Whatsapp -- was supposed to shore up the company's crumbling user base by creating a "family" of semi-independent companies with diverse approaches to business, sharing a back-end of engineering, marketing and other resources, but offering very different propositions to users. Read the rest

John Oliver on Facebook's role in fomenting genocide, pogroms and authoritarianism.: "a toilet"

Facebook usage is falling in the US and Canada, especially among young people, but it's still dominating the internet overseas, especially in countries where Zero Rating is legal. Read the rest

Tim "Net Neutrality" Wu on the case for breaking up Facebook

Competition scholar and cyberlawyer Tim Wu (previously) is best known for coining the term "Net Neutrality," but his work ranges over all sorts of issues related to technology, competition, monopoly and innovation; in his forthcoming book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, he makes the case for breaking up the tech giants, starting with Facebook -- because the problem with Big Tech isn't "tech," it's "big." Read the rest

Apple removes Facebook's deceptive, surveillant VPN from the App Store

Onavo (previously) was an Israeli startup that Facebook bought; the company has made a series of apps that masqueraded as utility software while gathering competitive intelligence that Facebook used to target its rivals by monitoring users' behavior. Read the rest

Facebook will subject all of its users to "trustworthiness scores," similar to China's Citizen Scores

Every Facebook user will be assigned a "trustworthiness score" derived from a mix of user complaints and secret metrics derived from spying on user activity on the system (Twitter has a comparable system). Read the rest

Facebook sends man animation featuring cartoon characters dancing on his mother's grave

Facebook wants you to "engage" with its service, so they have an algorithm that plucks your most favorited images out of your past stream and adds dancing whimsical cartoon characters and then rams the resulting animation into your eyeballs, because why not? Read the rest

Talking surveillance, elections, monopolies, and Facebook on the Bots and Ballots podcast

Grant Burningham interviewed me for his Bots and Ballots podcast (MP3), covering a bunch of extremely timely tech-politics issues: Facebook and the impact of commercial surveillance on democratic elections; Alex Jones, censorship and market concentration; and monopolism and the future of the internet. Read the rest

American Conservative laments market concentration and private property as bad for free expression

For years, the big social media platforms have used their market dominance to decide who could speak and on what terms: they forced drag queens and trans people to use their "real" names; kicked Black Lives Matter activists off their platforms; and allowed autocratic rulers to force opposition activists to expose themselves to arrest and torture as a condition of using their platforms. Read the rest

Facebook throws an extra $10m at Zuck's personal security

Zuckerberg -- who says privacy isn't a value that's important to most people any more -- owns the four houses on either side of his Silicon Valley house so that no one can use them as a perch to spy on him; he bought 100 acres around his Hawai'ain beach house, suing native Hawai'ians to force them to sell to him, so that he could have a buffer between him and the world. Read the rest

Leaked Facebook memo reveals "psychological trick" developed to entice high-school students to sign on

In October 2017, Facebook bought the startup TBH, whose product was an enormously successful polling app aimed at high-school students; as part of TBH's integration into the company, they circulated memos detailing the "psychological trick" they developed to maximize their penetration into high-schools and suggested ways this could be adapted for use by Facebook itself. Read the rest

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