The illusion of improving social media platforms

By Om Malik

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Tinbergen, writing for the Washington Post have applauded the social media platforms’ recent efforts to reign in “hate speech, misinformation and posts that potentially incite violence.” These posts were coming from the US president and many of his supporters. When asked what I thought of this step forward, here is what I told them:

“A lot of what has been previously thought of as fringe behavior has been brought to center stage by these platforms. They’ve been complicit for a very long time. You can ban a few people — even the president — but on platforms that have a billion people, there are so many dark corners. And instead of coming up with a solution for the entire network, they are banning individuals.

The Washington Post (Subscription Required.)

I have been screaming in the wind for a long time — and will say this again. The incentives to undertake real change aren’t there for these platforms. Most of them will have to retweak and re-imagine their algorithms. They won’t do that because, in doing so, they will have to move away from the current model of monetizing attention and engagement from advertising.

It will undermine how they make money, and thus there is no upside for anyone — including Facebook to Twitter to YouTube. So what do they do? They do the equivalent of re-arranging the chairs on the deck of a listing ship. People applaud them for doing something. They get some good publicity. And soon enough, the world moves on to another outrage.

Say it, again, my brother!

Leave Facebook

By OM MALIK

One vote doesn’t seem like much. On its own, it hardly matters at all. But if you think of yourself as part of something bigger — America, let’s say — then that one vote can make a difference. Many votes together can change the course of history. If you don’t make good use of your vote, you enable those who would abuse our ideals to come into power, maintain control, and destroy what we value.

Facebook is no different. You might be one person with just one account, but you are not powerless. Being a part of Mark Zuckerberg’s algorithmic empire is a choice. If you believe that Facebook is causing long-term damage to our society, and you don’t agree with their values or their approach to doing business, you can choose to leave.

I left Facebook under two years ago, but I remained trapped in Zuck’s hell on earth. Instagram and Whatsapp had a major control on me for some stupid reasons. No more. I disagree with the company, and its leaders so much that I won’t spend any of my attention or energy on its platforms. My mother will have to actually call me on the phone. My friends will have to email me. And you will have to come to my homestead on the Internet to see my photos and visuals.

I have made my choice, and I encourage you to make yours. If you disagree with Facebook and its policies, leave. You might be one account, but if you are one among millions, you will make a difference. Let go of the need for traffic or attention that has kept you coming back to the hell on earth that is Facebook. While you are at it, get off Instagram, and use something other than WhatsApp. Otherwise, you are just endorsing Zuck’s way of doing business — and it is a dirty business.

Scrub away Facebook tracking your history — even when you’re Off Facebook

Ever suspect the Facebook app is listening to you? What we now know is even creepier.

Facebook is giving us a new way to glimpse just how much it knows about us: On Tuesday, the social network made a long-delayed “Off-Facebook Activity” tracker available to its 2 billion members. It shows Facebook and sister apps Instagram and Messenger don’t need a microphone to target you with those eerily specific ads and posts — they’re all up in your business countless other ways.

You can see how Facebook is stalking you…The “Off-Facebook Activity” tracker will show you 180 days’ worth of the data Facebook collects about you from the many organizations and advertisers in cahoots with it. This page, buried behind lots of settings menus (here’s a direct link), is the product of a promise CEO Mark Zuckerberg made during the height of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal to provide ways we can “clear the history” in our accounts.

The article is worthwhile, an easy read…and here’s a link to the article. Meanwhile, I’ve included the direct link in the paragraph above. It is easy enough to just click the link, read and make your choice(s).

I did.

Facebook says they’ll stop abusing your privacy [a little bit]

” Facebook Inc will no longer feed user phone numbers provided to it for two-factor authentication into its “people you may know” feature, as part of a wide-ranging overhaul of its privacy practices, the company told Reuters.

” Revelations last year that Facebook was using personal data obtained for two-factor authentication to serve advertisements enraged privacy advocates, who called the practice deceptive and said it eroded trust in an essential digital security tool…

” Facebook initiated the updates in connection with its $5 billion settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which required it to boost safeguards on user data to resolve a government probe into its privacy practices.

The FTC order, which is still pending approval in court, said Facebook failed to disclose that the phone numbers provided for two-factor authentication also would be used for advertising, and specifically barred that approach to security tools.

If a thief has to change style, methods, to stay out of jail – while continuing to steal – of course, he will exert the effort.

Facebook to ban two white nationalist groups


Megan Jelinger/Anadolu Agency

❝ Facebook will no longer allow Red Ice TV and Affirmative Right to use its platform, following a Guardian report on the continued presence of prominent white nationalist organizations on the site eight months after a promised ban.

A Facebook spokesperson said on Tuesday that the company has now determined that Red Ice TV and Affirmative Right violate its policy against “organized hate”. The ban will include the pages of the Red Ice TV hosts Lana Lokteff and Henrik Palmgren, as well as their internet radio show, Radio3Fourteen…

❝ YouTube banned Red Ice in October for repeated violations of its ban on hate speech.

❝ Facebook has for years failed to proactively police its site for hate groups and white supremacists, despite a longstanding ban on “hate”. As white nationalist terrorist attacks rose around the world, the company maintained a policy distinction between white supremacism and white nationalism until March of this year, when it finally agreed to ban white nationalist content. The company still allows Holocaust denial content, though it says that it works to prevent such content from spreading…

What? Did you think foot-dragging was wholly-owned by the Republican Party. The only part that surprises me is these dilettantes of democracy believe folks angry over backdoor support for bigots will simply forget about them after a while.

Facebook Making Millions Off Gun Permit Scam

❝ One of Facebook’s biggest political advertisers is running an elaborate scheme to trick people into believing that a legal “loophole” allows them to qualify for and purchase concealed-carry permits online. The multimillion-dollar ad operation actually sells handgun safety certificates rather than legitimate permits, and urges people to buy them right away before Democrats intervene.

❝ But the scam goes far beyond false advertising

Of 50 ads launched in October, more than one-in-three contain links enabling people to bypass either critical caveats (including the fact that the certificate is not a permit), the safety training that’s required by law, or both. Nearly one-in-five of the ads — which have been viewed millions of times — feature a shareable link that takes people directly from Facebook to a checkout page with the message, “Congratulations! You PASSED!” where they’re told to fill in their billing information in 15 minutes or less to get their certificates…

❝ At the very bottom, there are also a few small, grey-on-grey lines stating that the certificate is “not a license or permit to carry a concealed weapon in any state.”

Truth in advertising, eh?

Facebook Fail over illicit gun sales

Facebook launched its Marketplace feature four years ago, allowing its more than two billion users to buy and sell almost any secondhand item by clicking a button on their home page. The private sale of many items, including guns, is specifically forbidden by Facebook rules.

But sellers are getting around that with a simple trick: They list gun cases or boxes at inflated prices. Those postings have become code for the real thing, while in many instances evading Facebook efforts to screen postings for banned items. Sellers, via private messages, describe the more valuable content, the gun itself, with would-be buyers and hash out a deal…

A spokeswoman for Facebook said the social-media giant takes immediate action against individuals caught selling guns on the Marketplace platform and removes violating content, but didn’t discuss specifics. She didn’t comment specifically on the gun-case tactic.

As noted previously, I grew up in New England when it was the Arsenal of America. My father and every one of his 7 brothers and sisters – and his father – worked in the firearms industry during some part of their working life. I grew up with what were sensible rules about firearms pre-NRA nutballism. I’m still a gun owner. This crap would have been prosecuted BITD.

Employers Used Facebook to Keep Women and Older Workers From Seeing Job Adverts


DO NO HARM, EH?

❝ Two years ago, ProPublica and The New York Times revealed that companies were posting discriminatory job ads on Facebook, using the social network’s targeting tools to keep older workers from seeing employment opportunities. Then we reported companies were using Facebook to exclude women from seeing job ads.

Experts told us that it was most likely illegal. And it turns out the federal government now agrees.

❝ A group of recent rulings by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found “reasonable cause” to conclude that seven employers violated civil rights protections by excluding women or older workers or both from seeing job ads they posted on Facebook.

The agency’s rulings appear to be the first time it has taken on targeted advertising, the core of Facebook’s business…

I stopped being surprised by crap like this from social media long, long ago.

Facebook wants to manage your wifi network for you

❝ Back in 2017, Facebook rolled out the “Find Wi-Fi” feature globally, a feature that lists the nearby Wi-Fi networks that Page owners shared with Facebook. Two years later, Facebook is working to expand this feature from being a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks to a service that manages the Wi-Fi connections on the device.

❝ Facebook needs more geolocation data to hyper-target advertising and information — but mostly advertising — and know even more personal information about you. Of course, it can also learn what services you use and when you use them with this connection manager. They have learned well from their big brother, Google. Sigh!

Which is why I have such a negative attitude towards Facebook and Google. They are exclusively profit-driven creatures. Loyal only to the ethos, motivations of 19th Century capitalism. Given the profit structure of high tech, it’s unneeded. Apple [and others] have proven that.