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  • Geebo 10:07 am on February 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alexey Navalny, , Facebook, , Roskomnadzor,   

    Facebook yields to Russian internet police 

    Facebook yields to Russian internet police

    In America, if someone had video of a Presidential cabinet member taking bribes from a top business magnate, that story would not only be all over the news but it would be the trending topic on social media and Facebook wouldn’t lift a finger to stop it. Now if that happened in Russia? Not so much.

    Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny claims to have a video that was posted to Instagram that shows Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko on the yacht of a Russian oligarch where bribes were said to have allegedly taken place. Not only did the Russian courts rule that the video violated Prikhodko’s right to privacy but the Russian ‘media watchdog group’ Roskomnadzor ordered Facebook owned Instagram to remove two more posts in relation to the matter. Facebook was more than happy to oblige.

    An Instagram representative released the following statement to CNBC

    “When governments believe that something on the internet violates their laws, they may contact companies and ask us to restrict access to that content. We review such requests carefully in light of local laws and where appropriate, we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory.”

    “We are transparent about any content restrictions we make for government requests with local law in our Transparency Report.”

    What they don’t seem to be transparent about is when a post is removed due to political motivations.

    While such a politically motivated move of this magnitude has not yet happened in the US, could one be that far behind, and would Facebook be so willing to comply if it did?

  • Geebo 10:29 am on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook,   

    Has Facebook been caught in the ballot box again? 

    Has Facebook been caught in the ballot box again?

    Facebook’s shady political ad practices have been in the news ever since the 2016 Presidential election when it was discovered the platform accepted foreign money for ads that were disguised as American political ads. They’ve been called before Congress multiple times without ever giving a satisfactory answer as to whether or not they will or can stop this practice. Now, Facebook has run afoul of an election law and has yet to give those seeking answers any pertinent information.

    The city of Seattle has asked Facebook to provide information about campaign ads on the social network that were displayed during last year’s city elections. Seattle has a law in place that states those who pay for political campaign ads in the city must be revealed or face a potential $5,000 per ad penalty. Facebook claims they’ve sent Seattle the necessary information, however, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission say that Facebook has not “come close to meeting their public obligation.”

    What makes matters worse is that Facebook could easily pay these penalties with the change found in Mark Zuckerberg’s couch cushions. Facebook is far from lacking in the funding department which in turn could have undue influence on just about any election that an ad buyer wishes to undermine while Facebook allegedly hides their identity. This is the true threat to Democracy in our country.

  • Geebo 10:09 am on January 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cambodia, Facebook, Hun Sen, Kem Sokha   

    Facebook is helping crush dissent in yet another country 

    Facebook is helping crush dissent in yet another country

    In yet another story that’s becoming all too common, Facebook has once again been accused of being used by an oppressive government to silence the opposition. Previously, we’ve discussed how Facebook was used in Myanmar to help persecute the Rohingya minority in that country, and how the Philippine government was using Facebook to try to silence an opposition news outlet. Now, Buzzfeed News has an extensive article about how the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, is using Facebook to jail any opposition and dissenters.

    In a nutshell, a pro-government media outlet in Cambodia has used a disinformation campaign on Facebook to not only try to discredit the opposition leader, Kem Sokha, but it also led to Kem being arrested for treason and the opposition party being dissolved. The Cambodian government hasn’t been exactly shy about how they use Facebook either. An aide to Hun Sen is even quoted in the Buzzfeed article stating they have a good relationship with Facebook and how helpful they’ve been with closing accounts that criticize the government.

    Not surprisingly, this comes at a time when Facebook has admitted that it can’t guarantee it’s good for democracy. How much more will it take before Facebook realizes it’s created a monster of power that is out of its own control and who could possibly stop it at this point?

  • Geebo 10:37 am on January 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, Philippines, Rappler, Rodrigo Duterte   

    Is Facebook complicit in helping oppressive regimes silence their critics? 

    Is Facebook complicit in helping oppressive regimes silence their critics?

    If you’re not familiar with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, he is a controversial figure to say the least. During his campaign for the Presidency, Duterte was refereed to by American media as the Donald Trump of the Philippines for his boisterous ways and outspoken manner, however, Duterte has long since surpassed President Trump in terms of controversy.

    After taking office, President Duerete declared a war on drugs in the Philippines and has allegedly used it as an excuse to order the police executions of thousands of so-called offenders. No arrests, no trials, only death. He has been harshly criticized not only on the world stage for alleged human rights abuses but by some media outlets in the Philippines as well. Considering the Philippines has a history of journalists being assassinated, this is a pretty big deal.

    One of these outlets is known as Rappler and they have been critical of President Duterte’s treatment of the people being executed by police. Instead of using any kind of violent force against them, Duterte’s administration is accused of allegedly using a campaign of misinformation against Rappler which led to government taking away Rappler’s license.

    And where was this misinformation campaign waged? On Facebook of course. Considering Facebook has an office in Manila and has partnered with the Duterte administration on a high-speed internet project this really should come as no shock.

    Sadly, this is just another example of how much power Facebook wields in the geopolitical stage. Facebook has the potential to literally topple regimes or silence the opposition to such oppressors with just a few clicks of a mouse or swipe of a touchscreen. Should one company hold this much power on such a global scale?

  • Geebo 10:06 am on January 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alphabet, , , Facebook, ,   

    Facebook, Twitter, and Google to be called before Congress again 

    Facebook, Twitter, and Google to be called before Congress again

    Not too long ago, tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, were called to testify before Congress about their alleged roles in foreign meddling of the 2016 Presidential Election. Now those same companies are being asked to return to Washington to testify about their part in the dissemination of extremist propaganda. If you’ll recall, the tech companies did not do themselves any favors in their testimony over the Russian backed ads from the election.

    At that time, we asked if the CEOs of each respective company were afraid to appear before Congress themselves. It may appear that the answer to that question is yes, they are scared. Once again, instead of Larry Page, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg testifying before congress about their platforms we’ll instead have the heads of each company’s public policy department. Even though they have the records of the disastrous performance of their companies’ last representatives, I doubt this new crop of underlings will fare any better.

    This also comes on the heels of Mark Zuckerberg himself stating that Facebook is ‘broken’ in his pledge to fix the platform. If he’s aware of the problems that have befallen his ubiquitous network then why is he uncomfortable to appear before Congress to make these same promises? As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thee companies indeed have absolute power over most of our daily lives. To not be completely transparent shows that they probably have many things to hide.

  • Geebo 10:13 am on January 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, ,   

    Should Facebook be broken up? 

    Should Facebook be broken up?

    British media trade magazine Press Gazette recently ran an article where one of the directors of the London School of Economics has called for Facebook and Google to be broken up as virtual monopolies. While the two companies may not be publishers themselves, in today’s digital world these two companies have an enormous influence on what media gets to be shared. While the UK has stricter antitrust laws should Facebook and Google be broken up in the US?

    When we think back to monopolies in the US being broken up we think back to companies like Standard Oil, US Steel and AT&T. While Facebook and Google are not similar companies to these ones from history, they do trade in the currency of our modern age, information, which these two companies do seem to have an inordinate amount of control on the flow of information. Even noted consumer advocate Ralph Nader says these companies release products and policies out onto the world without realizing what the consequences will be.

    Now, some may say that Facebook and Google aren’t monopolies and that there is competition to these platforms, but is there really? While there may be other social networks and other search engines do any of them even compare to the industry leaders? Facebook has 2 billion users. Can anyone even name what the #2 social network is? Even if it is Twitter, their userbase doesn’t even come close to Facebook’s. What is the #2 search engine? Yahoo? Bing? Google is so large that their name has become a verb for looking things up on the internet.

    Due to their undue influence on today’s media, maybe it’s time for Facebook and Google to start thinking smaller before the government does it for them?

  • Geebo 10:10 am on December 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ethnic cleansing, Facebook, Myanmar, Rohingya   

    Is Facebook complicit in ethnic cleansing? 

    Is Facebook complicit in ethnic cleansing?

    If you’re not familiar with the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, they’ve been called the most persecuted people in the world. The government of Myanmar has been accused of what essentially amounts to ethnic cleansing of trying to remove the minority Muslim Rohingya in the largely Buddhist country. Myanmar even refuses to recognize them as citizens while placing discriminatory restrictions against them.

    So how does Facebook fit into all of this? According to reports by both The Atlantic and The Daily Beast, Facebook is considered the de facto internet in Myanmar. And much like it has in America, Facebook has been used to spread false information about the Rohingya people. To compound matters, Facebook is being accused of deleting the posts of pro-Rohingya activists under the vague terms of their ‘community guidelines’. Not just in Myanamar either as a Canadian activist has said that some of his posts criticizing the Myanmar government have been deleted. In many other cases, entire Facebook accounts have been deactivated. Meanwhile, Facebook’s response to the criticism can be summarized as a dismissive ‘we’re looking into it.’

    This is yet another example of how Facebook’s power and reach has gotten out of their control and probably the most devastating example. Even if it’s not intentional, Facebook gives the impression that they’re largely unsympathetic to the plight of the Rohingya which allows this campaign of hate to continue against them unabated in a country that the Rohingya have lived in for centuries.

  • Geebo 10:32 am on December 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: age discrimination, , Facebook,   

    Is Facebook serving job ads that discriminate by age? 

    Is Facebook serving job ads that discriminate on age?

    It appears that Facebook is once again in hot water for the way it serves its ads. If you’ve been following the Facebook ad saga, first there was the fact that the social media giant accepted foreign currency for ads allegedly trying to influence the 2016 US Presidential election. Then there were allegations that Facebook was serving housing ads that discriminated by race. Now, through a joint investigation by the New York Times and Pro Publica, Facebook is allegedly serving employment ads that are discriminating by age.

    Communications giant Verizon is the one being singled out the most by supposedly targeting their employment ads to people in the 25 to 36 age range. However, reports say that companies such as Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Target and Facebook itself have used such tactics when it comes to hiring ages. There may be legal investigations forthcoming as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits discriminating against people who are over 40 when it comes to employment.

    Facebook says that it’s not their fault. They say this practice is protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1997. This is the same act that Backpage hides behind to continue making money off of obvious ads for prostitution and human trafficking. Facebook’s problem with this argument is that they’re the ones who are offering this specific age targeting options for ads. The sad truth is that Facebook will continue to flaunt their unchecked power until a rival platform comes along that users would be willing to jump to and that probably won’t happen any time soon.

  • Geebo 9:56 am on December 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook,   

    Facebook denies it’s ‘ripping society apart’ 

    Facebook denies it's 'ripping society apart'

    Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya recently addressed a Stanford Graduate School of Business last month that social media is destroying how society works. This got reported by many media outlets as Mr. Palihapitiya said ‘Facebook is ripping society apart’ due to his former connection with Facebook. However, his point was more nuanced than that.

    But that’s not the story here. The story is that Facebook actually took time to descend from their ivory tower to address the masses about this latest round of negative press.

    Chamath has not been at Facebook for over [six] years. When Chamath was at Facebook we were focused on building new social media experiences and growing Facebook around the world. Facebook was a very different company back then, and as we have grown, we have realized how our responsibilities have grown too. We take our role very seriously and we are working hard to improve. We’ve done a lot of work and research with outside experts and academics to understand the effects of our service on well-being, and we’re using it to inform our product development. We are also making significant investments more in people, technology and processes, and — as Mark Zuckerberg said on the last earnings call — we are willing to reduce our profitability to make sure the right investments are made.

    Facebook has definitely grown exponentially since Mr. Palihapitiya was at Facebook, but it’s highly debatable that they’ve realized their responsibilities have grown too. If anything, Facebook has grown out of its own control. From the dissemination of flagrant falsehoods to accusations that their ads can be tailored to focus on or void certain ethnic groups, Facebook appears to have become the faceless corporation of dystopian fiction that only cares about the bottom line. Instead of growing uncontrollably like an amorphous blob that increases in size as it consumes, maybe they should dial things back until the company is in control again instead of being at the whim of bad actors.

  • Geebo 10:34 am on December 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, guns   

    Gun trade alive and well on Facebook 

    Gun trade alive and well on Facebook

    Did you know that you used to be able to buy guns on Facebook? Not from licensed gun dealers but from individual gun owners who could sell their guns to other users without conducting a background check. That was until early 2016 when under pressure from parents groups when Facebook placed an outright ban on their platform of any kind of gun sale.

    However, if you fast forward to today, the trading and selling of guns is still taking place on Facebook. According to the Columbia Missourian, the trading of firearms continues mostly unabated on the social network. Now this isn’t an argument about the 2nd Amendment. This is an argument about Facebook not being able to enforce its own policies.

    Facebook is a private entity and can ban whatever it wants on its network. However, to say your banning something and actually being able to enforce it are two different matters. This is yet another example of how Facebook’s reach has grown beyond their ability to control it. Even the gun traders admit that sometimes a gun will fall into the wrong hands. Without any kind of real enforcement on Facebook’s part, any kind of ban they declare is one in name only.

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