The emerging split in modern trustbusting: Alexander Hamilton's Fully Automated Luxury Communism vs Thomas Jefferson's Redecentralization

From the late 1970s on, the Chicago School economists worked with the likes of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Augusto Pinochet and Brian Mulroney to dismantle antitrust enforcement, declaring that the only time government should intervene is when monopolists conspired to raise prices -- everything else was fair game. Read the rest

Facebook support groups packed with predatory marketers

Looking to Facebook for help with addiction? Take care: the social network is full of predators, and they know where to find vulnerable people. They're sleazy marketers, brokering questionable self-help and inpatient treatment options.

A stranger named Garrett Hall sent Couch a Facebook message. “Hey Lauri [sic], I saw your name on the Affected By Addiction support group, and I had this weird/strong impulse to just reach out,” Hall wrote to Couch. “[A]re you doing ok?” ...

Couch soon got a call from Meghan Calvert, a paid marketer for a treatment center called Pillars Recovery. It’s owned by Darren Orloff, who is part of Affected by Addiction’s volunteer leadership team. Couch, who has a background in sales, knew a sales pitch when she heard it. She told Calvert off for taking advantage of desperate people. ... After the call, Couch was surprised to find that she could not log back in to Affected by Addiction. In fact, she came to realize, she’d been banned.

Specific addiction support groups are the tip of the predatory marketing iceberg, but Affected by Addiction's the one Zuckerberg personally promoted on his own page.

Cat Ferguson:

Facebook, by making desperation so easily searchable, has exacerbated the worst qualities the treatment industry. A word-of-mouth industry with a constant supply of vulnerable and naive targets who feel stigmatized and alone is a scammer’s paradise.

Read the rest

It's laughably simple to buy thousands of cheap, plausible Facebook identities

Twitter draws a lot of fire for making it easy for anyone to set up an anonymous account or a bot; the argument against this says that making it easy to be anonymous also makes it easy to be shady. Read the rest

Bay Area nurses protest, demanding removal of Mark Zuckerberg's name from their hospital

Nurses picketed The Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital And Trauma Center (AKA "Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital") and covered up Zuckerberg's name on the hospital sign, citing concerns that patients would not trust a hospital that was associated with someone with such a long rap-sheet for privacy violations. Read the rest

Zuck tells Parliament they'll have to arrest him if they want him to testify

Earlier this month, Parliament sternly warned Mark Zuckerberg that if they continued to ignore their polite requests for him to testify, they'd issue a "summons" that could result in his being dragged to Westminster in chains the next time he set foot in the UK. Read the rest

Judge to Facebook: stop deliberately misinterpreting my privacy rulings

In a new ruling, US District Judge James Donato included extraordinary recriminations directly against Facebook and its lawyers, whom he upbraided for deliberately misinterpreting his earlier rulings about who can sue Facebook over privacy violations and what kinds of damages they can seek. Read the rest

Facebook has repeatedly fired stalker employees, then covered it up

Multiple Facebookers and ex-Facebookers risked lawsuits by revealing the company's longstanding problem with employees who abuse their access to Facebook's databases to stalk Facebook users, and its longstanding practice of binding all concerned to nondisclosure, keeping it a secret from the people who were stalked by its employees. Read the rest

Cambridge Analytica shut down

Cambridge Analytica, the firm that consulted on Trump's 2016 campaign and mined the data of 87 million Facebook users without their permission, has shut its doors. Same goes for the company's UK counterpart SCL. From Wired:

The decision to close the company's doors internationally was announced to employees during a town hall meeting in the firm's New York City offices Wednesday. One source says that NYC employees were told to pack up and leave immediately....

Just yesterday, Cambridge Analytica's official Twitter account tweeted out a link to a website refuting the waves of bad press the company has received with the caption, "Get the Facts Behind the Facebook Story."

(image by Mark Frauenfelder) Read the rest

Speaking in my professional capacity as a dystopian science fiction writer...

It is hard to imagine a more foolish proposition than putting Mark Zuckerberg in charge of my romantic life. Read the rest

Parliament to Zuck: show up or else

When the Cambridge Analytica scandal first broke -- and along with it, the news that the company had boasted of using deceptive and illegal tactics to sell Brexit -- Parliament asked Mark Zuckerberg to show up and account for himself. He told them to go fuck themselves. Read the rest

Why you couldn't quit Facebook

I tried to quit Facebook, but couldn't, not really, not yet. We know that in some respects we can't quit, because it keeps profiles on everyone anyway, but there's more to it than that. It's got its hooks deep into our relationships with friends and families. As Sarah Jeong writes, it performs work for us.

Facebook had replaced much of the emotional labor of social networking that consumed previous generations. We have forgotten (or perhaps never noticed) how many hours our parents spent keeping their address books up to date, knocking on doors to make sure everyone in the neighborhood was invited to the weekend BBQ, doing the rounds of phone calls with relatives, clipping out interesting newspaper articles and mailing them to a friend, putting together the cards for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and more. We don’t think about what it’s like to carefully file business cards alphabetically in a Rolodex. People spent a lot of time on these sorts of things, once, because the less of that work you did, the less of a social network you had. ...

It’s hard to pin down what Facebook is because the platform replaces labor that was previously invisible. We have a hard time figuring out what Facebook actually is because we have a hard time admitting that at least part of what it supplanted is emotional labor — hard and valuable work that no one wants to admit was work to begin with.

To leave Facebook is to create work for friends and family. Read the rest

Facebook warns investors to expect bigger and worse scandals than Cambridge Analytica

The Cambridge Analytica affair wiped billions off of Facebook's valuation and prompted millions of users to #DeleteFacebook, but inevitably, the company bounced back, reporting high earnings in its quarterly investor disclosures. Read the rest

Thinking through the "What should we do about Facebook?" question

There is, at long last, a public appetite for Doing Something About Facebook (and, by extension, about all of Big Tech); I have been playing with the idea of regulating the outcome, rather than the method: we give Facebook a certain period of time to remedy the situation whereby people "can't afford to leave Facebook" and then, if that situation isn't remedied, impose some sanction and either break them up or give them another go, with more sanctions if they fail. Read the rest

A Bad Lip Reading of Mark Zuckerberg testifying to Congress

It makes me very happy that the "Bad Lip Reading" folks took Zuck's recent testimony footage and made this gem of a video. Read the rest

The problem isn't that Facebook is creepy, it's that it's creepy AND HUGE

Writing in Wired, Rep David N. Cicilline [D-RI], the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary’s Antitrust Subcommittee; and Terrell McSweeny, outgoing Democratic commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission write about the real problem with Facebook: it's a creepy, surveillant company that's also really, really big. Read the rest

The world is no longer willing to tolerate the plague of bullshit "agreements"

Mark Zuckerberg says it doesn't matter how creepy and terrible his company is, because you agreed to let him comprehensively fuck you over from asshole to appetite by clicking "I agree" to a tens of thousands of words' worth of "agreements" spread out across multiple webpages; when questioned about this in Congress, Zuck grudgingly admitted that "I don’t think the average person likely reads that whole document." But as far as Zuck is concerned, it doesn't matter whether you've read it, whether you understand it, whether it can be understood -- you still "agreed." Read the rest

Zuck to Congress: "I'll get back to you" (42 times)

Mark Zuckerberg snuck an amazing Easter Egg into his Congressional testimony, feigning ignorance of the most basic questions about his own company a whopping 42 times, in tribute to Douglas Adams and his classic work of comedic science fiction, "The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy." Read the rest

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