Click to enlarge — Marsel Van Oosten
Click the link at Marsel Van Oosten’s name to learn the story behind the photo.
Click to enlarge — Marsel Van Oosten
Click the link at Marsel Van Oosten’s name to learn the story behind the photo.
❝ Twitter was the first big tech company to say it would refuse to hand over data to help the United States government build a registry President-elect Donald Trump has described that would be used specifically to track Muslim-Americans…
As of Friday, companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, IBM, Uber and Microsoft have all chimed in to likewise refuse to hand over data to help build a database that would profile Muslim-Americans…
❝ Trump’s potential plan to create a registry of Muslim-Americans was a topic that surfaced repeatedly on the campaign trail. And, unlike many of Trump’s campaign promises, this one may actually be on the table. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a member of Trump’s transition team, said that after the election, Trump’s policy advisers began discussing a proposal to build the registry…
❝ Trump has promised to be heavy on surveillance, which has long required the cooperation of technology companies that collect user data to provide services and sell ads. Companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google get so many requests for user data from the government and law enforcement that they voluntarily publish regular transparency reports to detail, in broad figures, how these requests are made and fulfilled…
❝ Twitter, the one major tech company noticeably absent from Trump’s tech summit, has long had an anti-surveillance rule. Earlier this year, Twitter shut off access to at least two different companies that were providing surveillance services to U.S. law enforcement efforts.
Nice to see a number of money-making geeks still care about constitutional freedoms. Even even a few that our elected officials in Congress and the White House haven’t gotten round to explicitly codifying. Like privacy.
❝ Business isn’t good at a Chicago tech company that was outed last month for its practice of buying social media data and re-selling it to police.
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that Geofeedia had been given access to data by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which Geofeedia used to build software products for police that the ACLU called “surveillance tools.” Facebook and Instagram took cut off Geofeedia’s access in September, and Twitter blocked access after reviewing the ACLU report in October.
❝ Losing access to those social media data feeds seems to have had a big impact on Geofeedia’s business. A Geofeedia spokesperson today told the Chicago Tribune that it laid off 31 employees out of about 60 total…
Nice to see a company lose out because their opportunist corruption of civil liberties is turned out.
❝ The company…claimed more than 500 customers, including police agencies in Chicago, Denver, Seattle, and Baltimore. Denver police paid $30,000 for a one-year subscription. In a funding request, a Denver police lieutenant said the service would be used to monitor large public events, like Denver’s annual marijuana rally and Martin Luther King Day march.
I hope there aren’t too many fools out there thinking this invasion of privacy and civil liberties is going to retreat anytime soon. Not so incidentally, how about inquiring if your city has been sending these scumbags a monthly check?
❝ Facebook is facing increasing criticism over its role in the 2016 US presidential election because it allowed propaganda lies disguised as news stories to spread on the social-media site unchecked…
❝ Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell called Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s reaction to this criticism “tone-deaf.” His public stance is that fake news is such a small percentage of the stuff shared on Facebook that it couldn’t have had an impact. This even while Facebook has officially vowed to do better and insisted that ferreting out the real news from the lies is a difficult technical problem.
❝ Just how hard of a problem is it for an algorithm to determine real news from lies?
During a hackathon at Princeton University, four college students created one in the form of a Chrome browser extension in just 36 hours. They named their project “FiB: Stop living a lie.”
❝ The students are Nabanita De, a second-year master’s student in computer science student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Anant Goel, a freshman at Purdue University; Mark Craft, a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Qinglin Chen, a sophomore also at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
❝ Their News Feed authenticity checker…classifies every post, be it pictures, adult content pictures, fake links, malware links, fake news links as verified or non-verified using artificial intelligence…
The browser plug-in then adds a little tag in the corner that says whether the story is verified.
Game, set and match. Facebook is one of the sponsors of that hackathon. Better take a closer look at the coders, Zuck.
❝ Facebook is deciding how the media should do its job again, even though CEO Mark Zuckerberg has insisted it’s “not a media company.” This time, two Palestinian news organizations say one of their Facebook pages, and the personal accounts of seven editors and executives, were suspended, al Jazeera reported. This prevented them from accessing their organizations’ Facebook pages, which collectively have 11 million “likes.”
The news organizations allege that the suspensions were the result of an agreement Facebook struck with Israel earlier this month to monitor incitement to violence on the platform. Facebook says it was a mistake with the way it handles accounts that have been flagged for review.
❝ Facebook reinstated the accounts over the weekend (Sept. 24) and apologized…Blah, blah, blah.
I think it was a warning on behalf of the Netanyahu government.
I contributed – a while back – to a Facebook site that averages 5 million hits a week – that was periodically shutdown, blocked or otherwise had access limited because it was critical of Israel’s apartheid policies. None of this surprises me.
❝ The system has caused outrage before, as was the case recently in Norway, when it removed posts with a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph — the “napalm girl” of the Vietnam war — because it depicted a child’s nude form. Facebook reversed its position after Norway’s prime minister got involved.
Corporate politics, today, ain’t especially different from the class history of corporate politics. The reach is global, focused or broad in effect. Only the industries and sophistication have changed. Or not.
❝ If you were to pick a handful of images that changed how people think about war, Nick Ut’s most famous photograph would surely be among them. The image of 9-year-old Kim Phuc running from napalm — her skin burning, her clothes burned away — defined the horrors of the Vietnam War.
❝ Norwegian author Tom Egeland had the lasting power of Ut’s work in mind when he shared the photo to Facebook weeks ago. But when Facebook’s moderators saw the Pulitzer Prize-winning image, they saw not its documentary significance or its impact on the world, but a violation of the site’s nudity policy.
Facebook’s moderators removed the photograph from Egeland’s page, along with its accompanying text. His account was suspended for 24 hours after he shared an interview with Phuc criticizing Facebook’s decision to censor this image, he said. But that was just the beginning of the incredible outrage at Facebook that has swept across Norway in recent days, becoming the subject of an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from Norway’s largest newspaper, and rising all the way up to the country’s prime minister.
❝ After initially defending its decision to remove the photograph, Facebook decided to “reinstate” the image on Friday afternoon, according to a written statement from a Facebook spokeswoman. “We recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time,” the statement reads. “Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal.”…
❝ While Zuckerberg recently said that Facebook is “a tech company, not a media company,” this incident highlights just how much control the platform can wield over what media its users do (and don’t) see.
Espen Egil Hansen, the editor of Aftenposten — Norway’s largest paper — called Zuckerberg the “world’s most powerful editor” in an open letter to Zuckerberg protesting Facebook’s censorship of the photo, which was published on Friday morning.
“I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly,” he wrote.
❝ The outrage in Norway escalated when Prime Minister Erna Solberg posted the image to her own Facebook page on Friday, after the publication of Aftenposten’s letter. “Facebook gets it wrong when they censor such pictures. It limits the freedom of speech,” she wrote in an accompanying statement that was translated by Reuters. “I say yes to healthy, open and free debate — online and wherever else we go. But I say no to this form of censorship.”
Solberg’s post, along with the statement, then disappeared. A spokesman for the prime minister’s office confirmed that she “did not remove it” herself from her own page — instead, Facebook deleted it.
❝ She later reposted the image — censoring Phuc’s entire body with a large black box — and called on Facebook to reconsider its policies. She paired the censored version of Ut’s work with several other censored versions of iconic photos, writing, “What Facebook does by removing images of this kind, good as the intentions may be, is to edit our common history.”
❝ Aftenposten ran its direct address letter to Zuckerberg on the front page of its paper. “I am writing this letter to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove a documentary photography from the Vietnam war made by Nick Ut. Not today, and not in the future,” Hansen, the paper’s editor, wrote.
“The media have a responsibility to consider publication in every single case. This may be a heavy responsibility. Each editor must weigh the pros and cons,” Hansen wrote. “This right and duty, which all editors in the world have, should not be undermined by algorithms encoded in your office in California.”
After more bullshit, Facebook finally relented.
RTFA and you’ll bump into all the rationales Facebook editors offered up to excuse and continue their censorship. Eventually, you can read their attempt to excuse their actions. It reads like a press release from any government, any corporate behemoth, trying to excuse a self-serving attempt to control access to history, to politics, to the freedom of individuals to decide what they wish to see and read.
That’s what it comes down to.
Don’t kid yourself about geeks being liberal or tech entrepreneurs automatically having the best interests of the world at heart. The breed has no corner on the market for kindness, care or concern – for either individual rights or the end of the world. Dollar$ govern the system. Don’t count on Harvard dropouts to be less likely to harbor bigotry and reactionary foolishness than any less-educated populist idjit.
Of course that includes the head of Facebook, the corporation. Ultimately, Mark Zuckerberg sets the standards of the company he started.
❝ Whether users are outspoken or not regarding their political views on their Facebook posts, the social network will still label them as either liberal, moderate or conservative.
❝ Facebook has come up with a system to determine a user’s political leanings, based on his or her activity on the social network. The labels are not hidden from users, though, as they can be checked by accessing an account’s advertising preferences on Facebook.
On a browser, users should visit a specific Facebook page containing their ad preferences. They should then choose the Lifestyle and Culture tab under the Interests header and then look for a box labelled US Politics. If it is not there, clicking on the See More button should bring it up.
The label for a user’s political views will be shown in parentheses as liberal, moderate or conservative. Like all the other ad preferences on the page, it can be removed by clicking the X button in the top right corner, in case users are not comfortable with being tagged with such a label for their political leanings…
❝ …The process is likely based on the user’s interests that somehow correlate with political views…but up to what extent and which interests exactly are unknown.
Facebook has been collecting information on its users for years, with all of what the social networks knows about each user accessible through the Ad Preferences page.
Little boxes, little boxes. Everyone making money off your cyberlife loves to put you into little boxes. Packaged all tidy, labeled to fit the crap definitions of a consumerist society – you’re crammed into a larger box of same-as-everyone-else they think you are.
❝ In the middle of a five-hour standoff that ended in the death of 23-year-old Korryn Gaines, Facebook granted an emergency request from the Baltimore County police department to take her social media accounts offline, police have said.
Baltimore County police officers shot and killed Gaines on Monday after she barricaded herself inside her Randallstown apartment with her five-year-old son and pointed a shotgun at officers attempting to serve an arrest warrant on charges stemming from a 10 March traffic stop including disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
❝ Gaines was using social media to broadcast the standoff, which began when officers showed up on Monday morning to serve a warrant. Police officials asked Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, to suspend Gaines’ accounts through what police called a “law enforcement portal”, a part of the site open to certified law enforcement agencies.
At some point after that, police shot Gaines, killing her…
❝ Though Baltimore County has implemented a body camera program, it is only a few weeks into implementation and according to police none of the officers involved were wearing body cameras, meaning the Facebook video could become particularly important. A police spokeswoman, Elise Armacost, said the department was obtaining a warrant to obtain the videos as evidence.
Activists, however, see such video as the only hope of countering the police narrative. “They get on the 11 o’clock news or the Baltimore Sun with the police side and then everyone forgets it,” said Duane “Shorty” Davis, a Baltimore activist who regularly films encounters with police. “They control the narrative, but in controlling the narrative they have to control social media, because it’s our narrative,” he said. “To keep our message from getting out, they’re going to take [social media] out.”…
❝ No officers were injured, but Gaines’ child was also shot. He was wounded in the arm and is in a good condition in hospital.
Check with your state chapter of the ACLU. I keep an app on my iPhone that streams video directly to the New Mexico chapter via the Cloud. Kept encrypted and secure.
Maybe not as effective as live stream trying to keep coppers from killing you – until they become aware of many folks using the service. Regardless, you’re recording what actually happens. The police, NO social media has any way of interfering with the recording. Of course, the coppers can use electronic devices to interfere with cellphone access. My iPhone is setup to communicate both via wifi and the Web as well as a cellular device.
Yes, I realize we have sufficient tame judges that even this avenue might be blocked. Hackers, geeks, will come up with more answers.
Note #1: The DOJ Report from their investigation of the Baltimore Police Department.
Note #2: Sample form used by cops on the beat to guide paperwork for arrests. It presumes the person arrested is Black.
❝ If Facebook knows what your status update is about, it can show it to people who care about that topic. If it understands the difference between “I just got out of the taxi” and “I need a ride” messages, it can ask if you want an Uber. If it detects that you’re trying to sell something in a status update, it can automatically format post with the price and item details. And if Facebook can determine what kinds of comments on celebrities’ posts are interesting and not just “OH MY GOSH I LOVE YOU”, it can surface ones you’ll actually want to read.
These are the big applications for Facebook’s newest artificial intelligence system called “DeepText”. 400,000 new stories and 125,000 comments on public posts are shared every minute on Facebook. DeepText will help Facebook analyze several thousand per second across 20 languages with near-human accuracy.
One of the first obvious applications for DeepText will start rolling on Messenger. When DeepText identifies a sentence it thinks means you need a ride, it will suggest you use Messenger transportation integrations with services like Uber and Lyft. Recognizing “I need a ride” is easy, but it should also be able to pick up on things like “Should I call a car?”, “I can pick you up in 20”, or “I’ll get an Uber”.
Yes, there are beaucoup positive potential applications of the tech. Like any other. Privacy vs serviceable suggestions are immediate questions that you have to decide. Whether or not you have any control over the questions and answers is between you and Facebook, though.
Max Schrems — Getty Images
A privacy campaigner has scored a legal victory that could bolster his attempts to prevent Facebook from being able to pass EU citizens’ data to the US authorities.
An opinion issued by the European Court of Justice says that current data-sharing rules between the 28-nation bloc and the US are “invalid”.
The decision could affect other tech firms’ abilities to send Europeans’ information to US data centres.
Although the EU’s highest court tends to follow the opinions of its legal adviser, the 15 judges involved have yet to issue a conclusive ruling of their own on the matter.
Even so, Max Schrems – the activist who prompted the case – suggests there could be far-reaching consequences.
“Companies that participate in US mass surveillance and provide, for example, cloud services within the EU and rely on data centres in the US may now have to invest in secure data centres within the European Union,” he said…”
The origins of Mr Schrems’ dispute with Facebook can be traced back to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks about US cyberspies’ activities.
In 2013, Snowden released details about a surveillance scheme operated by the NSA called Prism, which provided officials with ways to scrutinise data held by US tech firms about Europeans and other foreign citizens.
Mr Schrems alleged that, in light of the revelations, EU citizens had no protection against US surveillance efforts once their data had been transferred.
He targeted Facebook in particular because of the wide range of data it gathered and the number of people using it.
However, when he took the case to Ireland – where Facebook’s European headquarters are based – it was initially rejected.
The Irish data watchdog said the Safe Harbour agreement between the US and EU prevented it from intervening…
The EU forbids the transfer of personal data to other parts of the world that do not provide “adequate” privacy protections.
RTFA for lots more detail. Living in the belly of a lying beast has to make me smile – or rant – every time our government accuses anyone else on the planet of cyber spying. No other nation has invested so much in the cause of technology designed for the sole purpose of spying on every individual on this wee blue marble in the Milky Way galaxy.