A year ago, smarting over public criticism of its role in promoting division and stoking racism, Facebook announced a major shift in its newsfeed algorithm which would downrank posts from media organizations and uprank the things sent by your friends on the network, in the name of promotion a gentler form of "engagement" that would emphasize discourse over clickbait, which founder Mark Zuckerberg promised would be "time well spent." Read the rest
A few years ago, a friend of mine, Nico Sell (who runs the Defcon kids' programming track r00tz) asked me to join the advisory board for her startup, Wickr, which does "ephemeral messaging," a subject that is greatly in the news with Facebook's recent announcement of a new kind of "ephemeral messaging" option. Read the rest
Hump is a festival showcasing homemade pornographic shorts (5 minutes or less), created by beloved sex- and relationship-advice columnist Dan Savage (the guy who made Rick Santorum's name synonymous with the residue of lube, semen and fecal matter produced by anal sex; and who created the "It Gets Better and Impeach the Motherfucker Already campaigns). Read the rest
At least he knows how it's all going to end: fleeing pursuers who have located the secret tunnel in his corporate lair.
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Zuckerberg doesn't typically work in a cordoned-off office like a traditional corporate executive. Instead, his regular desk is on the floor of Facebook's open-plan office, just like everyone — but executive-protection officers sit near his desk while he works, in case of security threats. Facebook's offices are built above an employee parking lot, but it's impossible to park directly beneath Zuckerberg's desk because of concerns about the risk of car bombs. ... There's also a persistent rumor among Facebook employees that he has a secret "panic chute" his team can evacuate him down to get him out of the office in a hurry. The truth of this matter remains murky: One source said they had been briefed about the existence of a top-secret exit route through the floor of the conference room into the parking garage, but others said they had no knowledge of it. Facebook declined to comment on this.
Mark Zuckerberg's 3,000 word blog post about his plan to create a parallel set of Facebook services that contain long-overdue privacy protections has plenty to please both the regulators who are increasingly ready to fine the company billions and possibly even break it up, but also privacy advocates who will rightly cheer the announcement that the service will be increasing its end-to-end encryption offerings, only storing data in countries with good track records on human rights and the rule of law, and allowing users to mark some of their conversations as ephemeral, designed to be permanently deleted after a short while. Read the rest
Even if you don't use it, Facebook is embedded across the web and in apps through ads, share buttons, tracking pixels and so forth, watching everything and everyone. Katherine Brindley set out to find how forthright the company was in its claims not to track users who engage privacy controls. Not very.
"I enabled a bunch of privacy settings and still felt like my Facebook/Insta ads were a little too relevant. So I faked a pregnancy by downloading the What to Expect app to see how long it would take for FB to hit me with a maternity ad. The answer? 11 hours."
Facebook won't stop claiming the high ground, and will even present new high ground to claim. But the truth is that its algorithmic exploitation of human weakness is barely concealed, yet it lies chronically and decisively about every aspect of what it does, while respecting no master — not governments, not courts, not users — in turning political chaos and personal misery into profit. As Will Oremus puts it, Facebook is "a massive, global, highly sophisticated surveillance operation that no one can opt out of—and its privacy features are largely illusory." Read the rest
Last September, Facebook drew fire for abusing the phone numbers users provided for two-factor authentication messages, sending spam advertising messages over the same channel -- now, rather than reforming its ways, Facebook has doubled down on poisoning the security well, by adding a no-opt-out policy of allowing anyone in the world to search for you by phone number if you provide that number for two-factor auth. Read the rest