Brent Longborough did me the enormous favor of translating my latest Locus column, Zuck's Empire of Oily Rags, into Portuguese, and sent it to me to publish.
Alex Jones accused the grieving parents of the dead children of Sandy Hook of being "crisis actors" and kicked off a campaign of brutal harassment by his idiotic followers -- 900,000 of them on Facebook alone. Read the rest
A private Facebook group for women who are carriers of the BRCA breast cancer gene discovered that marketers were able to harvest their names and personal information because of a Facebook privacy loophole. Read the rest
Another shady data company emerges from the ashes of Cambridge Analytica. It's fronted by a man who, in an undercover documentary, once boasted of Cambridge Analytica's links to government intelligence agencies. And the new company has already won a contract in an unnamed African state, the FT reports. Read the rest
Representatives from 8 of America's largest technology companies met with U.S. intelligence officials in May to talk about how to respond to the ongoing Russian cyber-attacks and foreign influence campaigns that affected our 2016 elections, and could alter the course of year’s midterms. Read the rest
After switching computers and phones, Henry Grabar tried not logging into Facebook for nine days; the company's systems noticed and embarked on a relentless campaign of email harassment, automatically emailing him with algorithmically created enticements that were supposed to make him so curious about what all his "friends" were getting up to that he logged back in. Read the rest
Every August, British 16-year-olds get their marks from the GCSE exams, a high-stakes test that has an enormous impact on their future educational and earnings prospects; on results day 2015, the British Army used Facebook targeting to reach these 16-year-olds with messages like "No matter what your results will be, you can still improve yourself in the army." Read the rest
Mark Zuckerberg himself hosted World Hack Moscow, a hackathon in October 2012, handing the mic to Facebook product manager to Simon Cross, who walked the developers through the process of using Facebook's API to gather data on a users' friends, showing them how to get "a ton of information" on the entire friend graph of a Facebook user who gave simple permissions to their apps. Read the rest
Stephen Kohn, a highpowered whistleblower lawyer (he repped both Linda Tripp and the UBS Leaks whistleblower) showed Wired his heretofore confidential SEC complaint against Facebook, which details the undercover sting operations undertaken by his clients to investigate Facebook's role as a platform for the illegal trade in the remains of endangered species, such as rhino horn, elephant tusks, and lion claws. Read the rest
From 2007 onward, Facebook created dozens of data-sharing arrangements with mobile phone vendors that let them raid your friends' personal information as well as your own, in arrangements that are still ongoing today, years after Facebook publicly announced that it had closed off this kind of data-mining by its partners. Read the rest
Facebook's corporate structure allows Zuckerberg to overrule his board of directors and shareholder by giving extra votes to a special class of shares that Zuck gets to hold -- similar to the structure of Google or Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp. Read the rest
"White supremacy" is forbidden on Facebook, but "white nationalism" is OK. They know it's bullshit, elsewhere talking of "overlaps with white nationalism/separatism," but it's what they've got. Motherboard got the docs.
Read the rest
Facebook has increasingly dealt head on with hate speech in recent months, sometimes with mixed results. In December, Facebook admitted to Pro Publica the social network had made mistakes on nearly half of a sample of potentially offensive posts. This month, Facebook accidentally launched a new feature early that would let users flag content for potentially containing hate speech.
In April, Facebook released a selection of rules for when it takes down content, including hate speech. VP of Global Product Management Monika Bickert told reporters that “There’s been a lot of research about how when institutions put their policies out there, people change their behavior, and that’s a good thing.” Facebook did release a sketch of its moderation policies in April, but the material obtained by Motherboard is more granular.
Economists Erik Brynjolfsson, Felix Eggers and Avinash Gannamaneni have published an NBER paper (Sci-Hub mirror) detailing an experiment where they offered Americans varying sums to give up Facebook, and then used a less-rigorous means to estimate much much Americans valued other kinds of online services: maps, webmail, search, etc. Read the rest
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