Facebook gave $120,000 to CPAC, half in cash and half in-kind contributions, Daily Beast reports

Why exactly is Facebook helping to fund CPAC, to the tune of about $120,000 in cash and in-kind contributions?

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Anonymous infiltrated the KKK by friending Blue Lives Matter supporters on Facebook

The Anonymous activists behind "OpKKK" -- which infiltrated and unmasked Klan members, including many in US military and police departments -- began by creating thin-but-plausible fake identities on Facebook that signalled support for "Blue Lives Matter." By friending other accounts that indicated support for Blue Lives Matter, they found themselves being auto-suggested friendships with KKK members. Read the rest

Georgia police captain got his ex-wife jailed for her Facebook comment about him

According to a lawsuit, Corey King, a police captain in Washington County, Georgia, conspired with his friends magistrate Ralph O. Todd and Sheriff's Investigator Trey Burgamy to arrest King's ex-wife, Anne King, and her friend, Susan Hines, for a Facebook exchange in which they commiserated over Captain King's refusal to pick up medicine for his sick children. Read the rest

Trump's big data "secret sauce" sorcery - a much-needed reality check

An article that went viral last week attributed Trump's Electoral College victory to the dark big data sorcery of Cambridge Analytica, a dirty, dementor-focused big data company that specializes in political campaigns. Read the rest

Scenes from the inauguration of President Zuckerberg

Quartz editor Gideon Lichfield has published a science fictional vignette depicting the final backstage moments before the 2025 inauguration of President Mark Zuckerberg's second term. Read the rest

Facebook CSO Alex Stamos is a human warrant-canary for the Trump era

Even before he took the job of Chief Security Officer of Yahoo, Alex Stamos had a reputation for being a badass: a thoughtful security ethicist who served as an expert witness in defense of Aaron Swartz, Stamos cemented his reputation by publicly humiliating the director of the NSA over mass surveillance. Read the rest

Mark Zuckerberg sues over 100 Hawaiians to force them to sell them their ancestral land

In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg (who insists that privacy is dead) bought 100 acres of land around his vacation home in Hawaii to ensure that no one could get close enough to spy on him. Read the rest

Whatsapp: Facebook's ability to decrypt messages is a "limitation," not a "defect"

Facebook spokespeople and cryptographers say that Facebook's decision to implement Open Whisper Systems' end-to-end cryptographic messaging protocol in such a way as to allow Facebook to decrypt them later without the user's knowledge reflects a "limitation" -- a compromise that allows users to continue conversations as they move from device to device -- and not a "defect." Read the rest

A critical flaw (possibly a deliberate backdoor) allows for decryption of Whatsapp messages -- UPDATED

Update: Be sure to read the followup discussion, which explains Facebook's point of view, that this is a deliberate compromise, and not a defect, that makes the app more usable for a wide variety of users, while putting them to little additional risk (namely, that Facebook might change its mind; or be forced to spy on its users; or suffer a security breach or internal rogue employee).

When Facebook implemented Open Whisper Systems' end-to-end encrypted messaging protocol for Whatsapp, they introduced a critical flaw that exposes more than a billion users to stealthy decryption of their private messages: in Facebook's implementation, the company can force Whatsapp installations to silently generate new cryptographic keys (without any way for the user to know about this unless a deep settings checkbox had been ticked), which gives the company the ability to decrypt user messages, including messages that have already been sent in the past.. Read the rest

Mark Zuckerberg says he's not an atheist anymore

Checkmate, atheists! The king of the Internet has found religion.

Zuckerberg, whose Facebook profile once identified him as an atheist, revealed his change of heart on his social media network after he wished everyone on Dec. 25 a “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah” from “Priscilla, Max, Beast and me,” referring to his wife, daughter and dog. When a commenter asked him, “Aren’t you an atheist?” he responded: “No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.”

Zuckerberg aside, Silicon Valley's values will evolve in the immediate future. Monospace-L libertarianism is nothing if not adaptable to circumstances. Read the rest

Blue feed, red feed: side-by-side comparisons of social media feeds by politics

One of the most compelling data visualization projects from this year was Wall Street Journal's Blue Feed, Red Feed, which lets readers see exactly how divergent social media feeds have become, depending on someone's media diet. By coincidence, I capped an example that puts Boing Boing in their blue feed column. Read the rest

50 million people in Myanmar can now get Facebook, and they're spreading a trumpian ethnic cleansing movement

Myanmar has been a technologically backwards authoritarian state for much of the past 50 years, with less than 1% of the country connected to the net, until 2015, when the country held its first elections in decades, a moment that was swiftly followed by a relaxation in telcoms controls and widespread access to the internet via mobile devices. Read the rest

Quitting Facebook feels GREAT

It's been six years since I quite Facebook and not a day goes by that I don't realize that my life is better for it. Read the rest

Even superheroes have problems with social media

The perils of modern online life even affect the Man of Steel. Jimmy Olsen's snap run through Facebook's evil autotagging is more observant than Lois. Lots more brilliant stuff by Brakken here. Read the rest

Trump's presidential hires and advisors own a hell of a lot of fake news sites

Floyd Brown invented the Reagan-era Willie Horton lie, helped create the Citizens United group, and now owns Liftable Media, including sites like Conservative Tribune (50th most-trafficked site in the USA) and Western Journalism (81st), whence came fake news stories like the lie that Obama had altered the White House logo to include a white flag of surrender (the logo change came from GWB's White House); the lie that Muslims had been "ordered" to vote for Hillary; the lie that Obama had encouraged millennial non-citizen Latin@s to vote without fear of reprisals; the lie that Clinton had a Vegas "drug holiday" before the debate; the lie that Obama's birth certificate was not accepted by experts as genuine -- Brown's sites are all included in Facebook's verified news sources. Read the rest

Beyond fake news: the "constructed realities" of the polarized world

Gilad Lotan -- our favorite fake-news sleuthing data-scientist -- writes about the problem of not-quite-fake news, which is much more pernicious than mere lies: it's news that uses attention-shaping, one-sided "news" accounts that divide their readers into their own "constructed realities." Read the rest

Facebook creates censorship tool to convince China to allow it to do business there

The New York Times reports that Facebook is completing work on censorship software to accommodate demands made by the Chinese government.

The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added.

Filtering fraudulent propaganda is something he insists is both irrelevant and practically impossible, but explicitly censoring credible news comes so easily to him. Seems odd.

Some of us are still talking about Mark Zuckerberg as if he were the moronic child-man depicted in The Social Network, a nerd who must be sighed or screamed at until he Gets whatever human thing is escaping him. But it's long past time to accept that he's a powerful and self-aware adult businessman, as cynical as the best of them, who benefits to our detriment when we cast him in that role.

Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters Read the rest

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