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  • Geebo 9:59 am on November 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, , , Sandy Parakilas   

    Former Facebook Exec: Facebook can’t be trusted 

    Former Facebook Exec: Facebook can't be trusted

    In the wake of governmental calls for potential regulation against Facebook, one former Facebook employee has come out to say that Facebook must be regulated since they won’t regulate themselves. Former operations manager Sandy Parakilas wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times where he calls for the government to regulate Facebook since Facebook cares more about putting a stop to bad PR than they do about privacy.

    In his piece, Parakilas relates a story from before Facebook’s IPO where a game developer was using Facebook’s user information to automatically generate profiles of children without their consent. When the developer was confronted they claimed that no violation of Facebook policy took place and that there was no way to verify if this was true or not.

    Mr. Parakilas also calls out the fact that Facebook discovered Russian tampering on their platform after payments for ads were received in foreign currency. He says that much like his own investigation into the game developer, this should have been an easy thing to stop and he calls on the government to regulate Facebook as democracy itself is at stake with the amount of power Facebook yields.

    Facebook has almost become a world power in itself with the amount of information it possess and its infiltration into our lives. Without regulation it will just become a political tool for hire, being used by any entity who has the money to buy whatever influence they want.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on November 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brexit, Facebook, ,   

    Did Russian Facebook meddling influence another election? 

    Did Russian Facebook meddling influence another election?

    According to recent reports, there may have been Russian involvement in another historical election besides the 2016 US Presidential election. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre is said to be getting ready to announce that there was severe Russian interference when it came to the 2016 Brexit referendum. As with the US election, Russian groups were said to have allegedly placed Facebook ads in the UK stirring the flames of nationalism and anti-immigration movements.

    Buzzfeed has reported that Facebook has admitted there may have been Russian bought ads in the UK about the Brexit vote. Interfering in the Brexit vote doesn’t just affect England but affects the whole of the European Union if not all of Europe. When the UK leaves the EU this will have a negative economic impact on the rest of Europe which Russia may be trying to exploit, all through a social network used mainly for cat pictures.

    Facebook has more users than most countries have citizens. It wields massive influential power but that power has grown wildly out of their control and Facebook doesn’t seem to be doing much to rein that power in. Instead, they’re letting burn out of control while trying to tell everyone that everything is fine. Even while they’re allegedly being manipulated by world superpower with a history of meddling in the political affairs of other nations.

     
  • Geebo 8:57 am on November 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Colin Stretch, Facebook, , , , ,   

    Are cowardly CEOs afraid to face Congress over Russia probe? 

    Are cowardly CEOs afraid to face Congress over Russia probe?

    Not pictured: Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Page

    This week, Congress continued its probe into alleged Russian influencers purchasing ads on the internet’s three top platforms, Facebook, Google and Twitter. Rather than appearing themselves, the CEOs of each company sent their legal counsel in their stead. Yes, that’s not unheard of for businesses to send their legal representatives to Congress, but we’re talking about these companies taking money from foreign entities that might have influenced the outcome of the 2016 election.

    While Congress by and large can be tech-illiterate, at least one Senator seemed to hammer the point home that these companies probably knew who they were taking money from. Minnesota Senator Al Franken showed everyone just how unwilling these companies are to divulge the truth.

    Senator Franken put forth a poignant argument to Facebook’s legal Counsel, Colin Stretch…

    “People are buying ads on your platform with roubles. They’re political ads. You put billions of data points together all the time. That’s what I hear that these platforms do: they’re the most sophisticated things invented by man, ever. Google has all knowledge that man has ever developed. You can’t put together roubles with a political ad and go hmm, those two data points spell out something bad?”

    Stretch replied: “Senator, it’s a signal we should have been alert to and in hindsight–”

    But Franken cut him off, asking whether Facebook would pledge not to publish a political ad paid for in North Korean won. As Stretch demurred, Franken interjected fiercely: “Please answer yes or no, sir. You’re sophisticated. You’re the chief legal counsel for Facebook. Please answer yes or no.”

    Of course, Senator Franken did not get a straight answer out of Stretch. Instead the counselor hemmed and hawed his way through a non-committal answer.

    However, the question remains, why weren’t the CEOs there to answer questions directly? What exactly are they afraid of? Perjury perhaps? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t comment on the hearings until the day after Stretch’s testimony on an earnings call.

    “I’m dead serious,” Zuckerberg said. “I’ve directed our team to invest so much in security on top of the other investments we’re making it will significantly impact our profitability going forward.” That investment will include hiring at least 10,000 new employees to focus on security and enforcement. CFO David Wehner later clarified that many of those new jobs won’t be full time but rather contract positions at partner companies.

    “Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits,” Zuckerberg said.

    Which doesn’t address the problem at hand at all. Zuckerberg was then said to have handed off the remainder of the call to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

    Facebook was the biggest offender in this story having served up alleged Russian ads to at least 125 million American users. Considering the entire population of the US is 323 million, that’s not a small percentage of potential voters who saw these misleading ads. That’s more than enough people to sway an election one way or the other. If protecting the community is more important than profits, why take the foreign money at all for American political ads? Facebook can claim hindsight is 20/20 all they want, but there were accusations of Russian political meddling even before these ads appeared on Facebook. So how could accepting Russian currency for American political ads not throw up a red flag?

    If you don’t think the CEOs of this company aren’t cowards, please think of this for a moment. Even Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer eventually appeared before Congress. So when the CEO of a company that reportedly makes money from the sexual slave trade in this country appears before Congress and these other CEOs don’t, it goes a long way in showing just how scared of Congress they probably are.

     
  • Geebo 9:07 am on October 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Facebook   

    Facebook to manually review ads, so why don’t others? 

    Facebook to manually review ads, so why don't others?

    Facebook has come under fire recently for allegedly accepting money for ads from a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency. For two years these ads ran which intended to fuel the fires of rampant political discord already troubling our country. Some of the ads could have even been viewed as racist or anti-Semitic. After turning over records of these ads to Congress, Facebook announced they would be hiring 1000 people to manually review certain ads targeted toward religious, ethnic, and social groups.

    However, this blog post ultimately is not about Facebook, but another website that touts itself as being socially responsible. We’re of course referring to craigslist. From its iconic purple peace sign logo to the numerous charitable foundations craigslist founder Craig Newmark has donated to, craigslist appears on the surface to be this socially conscious entity, yet they still do nothing to try to protect their own users.

    Craigslist ads remain largely unmoderated which has led to a vast number of scams and violent crimes. Their rants & raves section is filled all sorts of vitriol and hate from blatant racism to calls for violence. Their casual encounters section is often the playground of child predators looking for their next victim. Yet craigslist does not hire any moderators, refusing to expand from their alleged two dozen employees.

    While craigslist may not be as lucrative as Facebook, I think they could probably scrounge enough to money to hire a team of moderators. They just choose not to.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Facebook, Slate   

    Craigslist has nothing to teach Facebook 

    Craigslist has nothing to teach Facebook

    Noted news and opinion website Slate recently published an article entitled “What Facebook Can Learn From Craigslist”. One could assume by the headline that Slate must mean craigslist can teach Facebook something about Facebook Marketplace, but that’s not the point Slate is trying to make. Instead, Slate makes the questionable claim craigslist has ‘conquered’ its own content moderation, which leads to the question, what moderation?

    Granted, Facebook has had its own controversies lately with Facebook Live being used to broadcast a number of crimes and suicides, and the ever-growing problem of hate speech, however craigslist should not be held up as a shining example of how content should be moderated. In researching this post, it took me literally under a minute to see something racist posted in craigslist’s forum section. That’s not even taking into account the number of news stories that go out almost daily that contain the words ‘beware’ and ‘craigslist’.

    Let’s not forget the 115 victims that have been allegedly killed during craigslist transactions.

    If anything, craigslist could learn from Facebook. While craigslist only has 40 employees, Facebook has hired contracted content moderators to at least try to curb some of the material that goes against Facebook’s terms of service. Craigslist wouldn’t even remove their adult ads section until well after CNN’s Amber Lyon famously approached craigslist founder Craig Newmark, as pictured above, about the human trafficking that took place on craigslist.

    The only thing that craigslist can teach is how not to do things.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, , ,   

    Facebook turns to old media to fight fake news prior to UK election 

    Facebook turns to old media to fight fake news prior to UK election

    In the run up to Election Day in the UK, Facebook has turned to an unlikely ally in their continuing struggle against ‘fake news’. The social network behemoth has taken out several print ads in UK newspapers on how to recognize fake news.

    While the ads do contain helpful information on how to be a more discerning news consumer, it does indicate something Facebook probably won’t admit to itself. Facebook may feel some responsibility for the fake news that many think unduly affected the 2016 US Presidential Election. Thousands of dummy Facebook accounts have also been purged in anticipation of the election.

    However, the problem with the fake news argument is certain individuals have such a confirmation bias that they can’t be turned into more responsible content consumers. Take vaccinations for example. It was once claimed vaccinations caused autism, which caused many parents to forgo immunizations for their children. Even though that claim has been discredited many times over, there are still many people who cling to that fallacy.

    For many people, politics are their vaccinations. They blindly follow whatever dogma their chosen political party subscribes to no matter who the candidate may be. With those political leanings, many of these people will only read news from sources biased towards their own affiliation. It’s too late for Facebook users like that, they are lost to us.

    The only way to combat this kind of ignorance is for those of us who can discern fake news from fact to become more active in political matters and to get out and actually vote.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, , propaganda   

    Facebook claims that foreign agents used propaganda to influence 2016 election 

    Facebook claims that foreign agents used propaganda to influence 2016 election

    Facebook recently released a report claiming that there were agents they believe were backed by foreign governments who tried using the social network to influence the 2016 presidential election. While not outright saying that it was the Russians, Facebook did say in its report that their findings did not contradict the US Director of National Intelligence’s claim that Russia was allegedly interfering.

    The propaganda was supposedly spread through the following ways. First, bad actors would create legitimate looking websites that would post false information, or as we commonly call it now, ‘fake news’. They would then set up fake Facebook accounts by the thousands and repost the false information. Then, actual people, who don’t know it’s false information, would repost these false stories. Surprisingly, this wasn’t done by using bots, or automated scripts, but were done by multitudes of human users.

    The social network has said that it’s taking steps to prevent these kinds of events from happening again, but don’t Facebook’s users bear some responsibility in this matter? It’s so much easier to just click share rather than researching a story. This is especially true for people who prefer to remain in their own echo chambers with their personal biases.

    While Facebook can take steps to try to prevent this spread of misinformation, it’s ultimately up to us to be more discerning with what content we post to our virtual walls.

     
  • Geebo 9:05 am on April 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook,   

    Facebook locks out Marketplace users in bid to fight fake news 

    Facebook locks out Marketplace users in bid to fight fake news

    Recently this blog posed the question “Is Facebook too big for its own good?” Another issue has arisen that requires that question to be asked again, as it seems the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Users of Facebook’s classifieds section called Marketplace have been complaining about being locked out of their Facebook accounts after placing an ad.

    The problem stems from Facebook’s continuous promise to combat fake news among its pages. Users claim after posting an ad for the first time on Marketplace that they’ve been locked out of their accounts while the ad is being reviewed. However, it’s not the content of the ad that’s causing any red flags, but the ads often include pictures which for some reason is triggering Facebook’s review process for fake content. This is similar to the temporary ban some Facebook users have received for posting inappropriate content.

    Facebook has claimed the glitch in the Facebook Matrix has been corrected and only affected a small number of its users. No answer was given as to what caused the problem in the first place. While Facebook is far from infallible one would think they would test these features more thoroughly before implementing them site-wide. As has been stated before, when Facebook tries to be all things to all people it seems they lose a little bit more quality each time a new feature is implemented.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on April 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, , Robert Godwin, Steve Stephens   

    With the latest controversy is Facebook too big for its own good? 

    With the latest controversy is Facebook too big for its own good?

    It happened again, another gruesome crime has been committed with the video being shown on Facebook. This seems to be an unfortunate recurrence for Facebook lately. Already, two violent crimes from Chicago had made national headlines after they were broadcast on Facebook live. Now, as I’m sure you’ve heard, a man from Cleveland was shot and killed randomly and a video of the murder was uploaded to Facebook. On Easter Sunday, 37-year-old Steve Stephens allegedly shot and killed 74-year-old Robert Godwin and recorded himself in the act before uploading the video to Facebook.

    The video of the murder stayed on Facebook for two hours before it was pulled. Facebook claims that they didn’t receive a report about the video until 23 minutes prior to them not only removing the video, but also shutting down Stephens’ Facebook. With Facebook’s desire to keep all their users in their walled garden do they have some responsibility to bear with the crimes that are broadcast on their platform?

    Facebook is trying to be all things to all people with photo sharing, video sharing and now live streaming alongside the regular features they’ve promoted over their long history. However, is Facebook scaling their workforce at the same pace as they keep releasing new features? As was mentioned in the video above, YouTube, which also offers live streaming, states that they employ an army to moderate content and so far have seemed to escape the criminal controversy that Facebook continues to court. There are many livestreaming services available to users that have had their own similar controversies, just not on the level of tragedy that Facebook has. Those other services also don’t have the gigantic userbase that Facebook does. Had they done their homework correctly, Facebook may have implemented better safeguards from keeping these horrific acts from being shared on their pages.

     
  • Geebo 8:59 am on April 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: community policing, Facebook, revenge porn   

    Facebook’s new plan to fight revenge photos has one major flaw 

    Facebook's new plan to fight revenge photos has one major flaw

    The omnipresent Facebook announced that they will be taking new steps to try to prevent what’s known as ‘revenge porn’. These are usually pictures, mostly of women, that were either taken during romantic moments, or taken without their permission that are then posted on social media as a way of the spurned getting back at the ex. Facebook being the top dog in the social network hierarchy sees a lot of this being posted on their site.

    Now, Facebook says that they’ll be implementing photo recognition software to keep such images off their pages. That sounds great in theory, but there’s a major flaw in their approach to this problem: someone needs to report the picture first. It will then be added to a database where Facebook says it will be blocked from being posted across all its properties, including Instagram and WhatsApp.

    The problem with this approach is in most cases these photos are posted to private groups, like the infamous Marines United, where the victims, or anyone with a conscience, won’t have access to the photos to report them.

    If this process sounds a little familiar it’s because it’s very similar to craigslist’s ‘community policing’ where they expect the users to report ads for illegal content. Instead the flagging option in craigslist is abused in so many ways it’s become virtually pointless.

    With Facebook’s and craigslist’s recent joint effort to combat fake news, it seems like they’re putting their heads together on how to make it look like they’re solving a problem without really doing anything about it.

     
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