Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘facebook

Well That Was Quick

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Well it was just yesterday that The New York Times was reporting it looked as though Facebook might be making new inroads into the Chinese market.

Then, overnight, the Times further reported that a Chinese government database, which had shown Facebook had gained approval to open a subsidiary in Zhejiang province, no longer had a record of the registration.

Now the approval has been withdrawn, according to a person familiar with the matter who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

And the Times wrote that the move doesn’t bode well for Facebook’s Chinese renaissance:

While the about-face does not definitively end Facebook’s chances of establishing the company, it makes success very unlikely, the person said. The decision to take down the approval, the person added, came after a disagreement between officials in Zhejiang and the national internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, which was angry that it had not been consulted more closely.

Facebook back in China?  Don’t hold your breath.

Written by turbotodd

July 25, 2018 at 10:49 am

Posted in 2018, china

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Didja Delete Your Facebook Yet?

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People around the globe are having a crisis of conscience.

Do I delete my Facebook account or do I not?

Even Hamlet didn’t have to contend with such an existential crisis.

Get a grip and some perspective, people.  Take a deep breath, and…one….hold…and two….

And then, if you’re really, really concerned about whether or not the privacy trade-off is worth keeping up with the virtual Joneses, Techpinions did some fast research of 1,000 Americans about their feelings and actions re: Facebook post-Cambridge Analytica;

The big takeaways:

  • 17% of respondents said they deleted the Facebook app from their phone over privacy concerns
  • 35% said they were using Facebook less than they used to over the privacy issue
  • 39% said they were “very aware” of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, while 37% said they were “somewhat aware.”
  • 9% reported deleting their Facebook account altogether

So, according to that report, nearly 1 in 10 have said “sayonara” to Facebook. 

For those who stayed, there’s the issue of perhaps exerting more usage of Facebook’s already-extensive privacy controls.  

Facebook VP of global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, spoke at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council in London, and indicated that “we have not seen wild changes in behavior with people saying I’m not going to share any data with Facebook anymore,” and that Facebook users largely haven’t changed their privacy settings in the past four weeks since the Cambridge story broke.

If you don’t want to break up with Facebook, but you’d like to exert more control of how your information is used there, check out this guidance from ZDNet.

It’s like getting your PhD in Facebook privacy!

Written by turbotodd

April 13, 2018 at 9:49 am

Posted in 2018, facebook, privacy

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I Can’t Get Rid of My Friends!

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Okay, Mark Zuckerberg probably had a less rosy day on Capitol Hill yesterday in front of the House, but overall, I would have to say he acquitted himself well.

As for that whole thing I mentioned in an earlier posts about the Senators and Congresspeople hopefully being well briefed by their staffs…well, you could tell from the questioning either A) that didn’t happen or B) the Senators and Congresspeople just didn’t have the depth of knowledge necessary to follow up with thoughtful and probing interrogatory.

Facebook definitely won this round.  Ding ding!

But tech journalists who *do* have some technical chops continue to probe around the edges to find privacy and related holes in Facebook’s business model and capabilities.

Brian Chen, a New York Time’s technology journalist, recently downloaded his full data from Facebook using a tool Facebook has made available to the public.

Chen noted in the piece that his Facebook profile is “sparse” and that he rarely posts anything on the site, and seldom clicks on ads.

And yet within a few clicks of looking through the data, he “learned that about 500 advertisers — many that I had never heard of, like Bad Dad, a motorcycle parts store, and Space Jesus, an electronic band — had my contact information, which could include my email address, phone number, and full name.”

Welcome to Mark Zuckerberg’s closet, Brian.

He also learned that an index file contact the 764 names and phone numbers of everyone in his iPhone’s address book, which Facebook had uploaded when Chen was setting up Facebook Messenger.

Welcome to Mark Zuckerberg’s garage, Brian.

He indicated that Facebook “also kept a history of each time I open Facebook over the last two years, including which device and web browser I used. On Sundays, it even logged my locations, like when I was in a hospital two years ago or when I visited Tokyo last year.”

Welcome to Mark Zuckerberg’s attic, Brian.

But, Chen wrote, what really got his goat was the data he  “had explicitly deleted but that lingered in plain sight.”

He indicated that on his friends list, Facebook had a record of “removed friends,” a dossier of the 112 people he had removed along with the date he had clicked the “unfriend” button. Why should Facebook remember the people he cut off from his life?

Because, Brian.  

It’s Facebook, and that’s what Facebook is and that’s what Facebook does.

And that’s what you, me, and 2 billion other people on the planet signed up for.

Welcome to Mark Zuckerberg’s mansion, Brian.

Written by turbotodd

April 12, 2018 at 9:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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You Thought You Had a Bad Tuesday

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You thought you had a bad Tuesday?

You weren’t sitting in front of a bunch of hot lights and a swarm of photographers before a joint session of the Commerce and Judiciary committees on Capitol Hill.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, was, and judging from coverage of his “performance,” he was a calm and cool customer, absorbing jibes, barbs, and other commentary and questions from a Senate with a wide range of perspectives (No report I’ve seen yet as to how many of the senators had taken campaign contributions from his inquisitors).

The Verge did a nice job of breaking down some of the key issues raised, and who raised them.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked about Facebook’s monopoly power (As in, IS Facebook one?). Zuckerberg: “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.”
  • Multiple senators raised the issue of whether Zuckerberg might consider a paid, ad-free version of Facebook. Zuckerberg said it was possible, but that there would always be a free version.
  • Leaning on AI to improve moderation on the platform: Zuckerberg “invoked the promise of AI to help Facebook quickly sort through hate speech and other problematic posts.”

In terms of actionability, Zuckerberg referred repeatedly to changes in the product that will better prevent data leakage and make privacy shortcuts easier to find, as well as restrict data shared with developers.

Will it be enough to keep regulation and/or legislation at bay? Doubtful. On the other hand, I hardly see a pro-regulatory government about to completely throw the book at one of the world’s most successful Internet companies.

So I’ll quote from that bastion of Congressional wisdom, SchoolHouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill”:

I’m just a bill
Yes I’m only a bill,
And I got as far as Capitol Hill.
Well, now I’m stuck in committee
And I’ll sit here and wait 
While a few key Congressmen discuss and debate
Whether they should let me be a law.
How I hope and pray that they will,
But today I am still just a bill.

Written by turbotodd

April 11, 2018 at 8:58 am

Posted in 2018, facebook, legislation, privacy

Tagged with , ,

We Still Connect People

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And…now the Facebook “memos” are starting to leak.

This one headlines a story from BuzzFeed, from Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook vice president writing on June 18, 2016:

So we connect more people. 

That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.

And still we connect people.

The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned.

The memo was apparently titled “The Ugly.”

What happened to the Good and the Bad preceding the Ugly?

BuzzFeed’s team suggests this memo “reveals the extent to which Facebook’s leadership understood the physical and social risks the platform’s products carried — even as the company downplayed those risks in public.”

And they point out Bosworth was no newbie — he’d been with the company since 2006, working on everything from the introduction of the News Feed (which many people forget instigated its own privacy outcry) to Facebook’s anti-abuse system and AR/VR efforts.

Mark Zuckerberg apparently didn’t respond at the time, but did respond to BuzzFeed after publication of their story:

Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We’ve never believed the ends justify the means.

We recognize that connecting people isn’t enough by itself. We also need to work to bring people closer together. We changed our whole mission and company focus to reflect this last year.

More from Bosworth’s memo:

I know a lot of people don’t want to hear this. Most of us have the luxury of working in the warm glow of building products consumers love. But make no mistake, growth tactics are how we got here. If you joined the company because it is doing great work, that’s why we get to do that great work. We do have great products but we still wouldn’t be half our size without pushing the envelope on growth. Nothing makes Facebook as valuable as having your friends on it, and no product decisions have gotten as many friends on as the ones made in growth. Not photo tagging. Not news feed. Not messenger. Nothing.

In almost all of our work, we have to answer hard questions about what we believe. We have to justify the metrics and make sure they aren’t losing out on a bigger picture. But connecting people. That’s our imperative. Because that’s what we do. We connect people.

The cynical business side of me says, “Of course it was all about growth.”

The humanitarian side of me’s reaction says, “Really? ‘We have to answer hard questions about what we believe?’”

What were the questions Facebookers asked themselves about their massive, breakneck growth, and what were their answers?

Once again, I refer you to Mark Zuckerberg’s coming testimony on Capitol Hill.  It could be the grilling of the century.

Written by turbotodd

March 30, 2018 at 8:57 am

Posted in 2018, facebook

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Facebook to Limit 3rd Party Data

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Facebook is going to start to limit how much data it makes available to advertisers buying hyper-targeted ads on the social network, according to a report from Recode.

Specifically, Facebook has indicated it would stop using data from third-party data aggregators, including companies like Acxiom and Experian, both of which have extensive data stores of offline data such as purchasing activity which Facebook could use to supplement its own data set.

Recode recounts that Facebook previously let advertisers target people using data from a number of sources (beyond Experian and Acxiom), including:

  • Data from Facebook, which the company collects from user activity and profiles.
  • Data from the advertiser itself, like customer emails they’ve collected on their own.

Official confirmation of the move came from Graham Mudd, a product marketing manager at Facebook:

We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories,” Mudd said in the statement. “This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.

Recode notes, however, that even had the move been made earlier, this decision would not have impacted the outcome of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which that firm collected the personal data of some 50 million Facebook users without their permission.

In related news, Facebook has also introduced new, more centralized privacy controls that are “easier to find and use”:

We’ve redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they’re now accessible from a single place. We’ve also cleaned up outdated settings so it’s clear what information can and can’t be shared with apps.

The new “Privacy Shortcuts” menu is just that, a menu where you can “control your data in just a few taps, with clearer expectations of how our controls work.”

As for all the various and sundry your data has been used by the company in the past, I guess we’ll just have to wait for Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony on Capitol Hill.

Be sure to share with all your friends. ; )

Written by turbotodd

March 29, 2018 at 9:57 am

Posted in 2018, facebook, privacy, social media

Tagged with , ,

Bad Facebook Hair Day

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Facebook’s having a bad hair day.

Or maybe it’s a whole week.

Month? 

Year?!

Their stock plunged 5 percent today after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission confirmed it had opened a “non-public probe” into the company’s privacy practices.

According to a CNBC report:

“The FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook. Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices,” the agency said in a statement. 

If Facebook was found to have violated a consent decree it signed with the FTC in 2011, each violation could cost the company $40,000.

Late last week, The Guardian provided a good summary and the latest developments of Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook (read: our) data, including details revealing how politicians and regulators have responded around the world.

And Facebook faces a grassroots movement calling for people to delete their Facebook accounts, #DeleteFacebook.

How many will actually go through with it, only time will tell.

What the entire episode tells me, though, is that privacy isn’t dead — never is, never was, and people are finally starting to come to terms with just how valuable their personal information has been to others (Facebook), and how much it should be to themselves.

Written by turbotodd

March 26, 2018 at 10:45 am

Posted in 2018, facebook

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