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Sri Lanka Shut Down Social Media. My First Thought Was ‘Good.’

So was mine.

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As a tech journalist, I’m ashamed to admit it. But this is how bad the situation has gotten.

This is the ugly conundrum of the digital age: When you traffic in outrage, you get death.

So when the Sri Lankan government temporarily shut down access to American social media services like Facebook and Google’s YouTube after the bombings there on Easter morning, my first thought was “good.”

Good, because it could save lives. Good, because the companies that run these platforms seem incapable of controlling the powerful global tools they have built. Good, because the toxic digital waste of misinformation that floods these platforms has overwhelmed what was once so very good about them. And indeed, by Sunday morning so many false reports about the carnage were already circulating online that the Sri Lankan government worried more violence would follow.

It pains me as a journalist, and someone who once believed that a worldwide communications medium would herald more tolerance, to admit this — to say that my first instinct was to turn it all off. But it has become clear to me with every incident that the greatest experiment in human interaction in the history of the world continues to fail in ever more dangerous ways.

In short: Stop the Facebook/YouTube/Twitter world — we want to get off.

Obviously, that is an impossible request and one that does not address the root cause of the problem, which is that humanity can be deeply inhumane. But that tendency has been made worse by tech in ways that were not anticipated by those who built it.

I noted this in my very first column for The Times almost a year ago, when I called social media giants “digital arms dealers of the modern age” who had, by sloppy design, weaponized pretty much everything that could be weaponized.

“They have weaponized civic discourse,” I wrote. “And they have weaponized, most of all, politics. Which is why malevolent actors continue to game the platforms and why there’s still no real solution in sight anytime soon, because they were built to work exactly this way.”

So it is no surprise that we are where we are now, with the Sri Lankan government closing off its citizens’ access to social media, fearing misinformation would lead to more violence. A pre-crime move, if you will, and a drastic one, since much critical information in that country flows over these platforms. Facebook and YouTube, and to a lesser extent services like Viber, are how news is distributed and consumed and also how it is abused. Imagine if you mashed up newspapers, cable, radio and the internet into one outlet in the United States and you have the right idea.

A Facebook spokesman stressed to me that “people rely on our services to communicate with their loved ones.” He told me the company is working with Sri Lankan law enforcement and trying to remove content that violates its standards.

It pains me as a journalist, and someone who once believed that a worldwide communications medium would herald more tolerance, to admit this — to say that my first instinct was to turn it all off. But it has become clear to me with every incident that the greatest experiment in human interaction in the history of the world continues to fail in ever more dangerous ways.

In short: Stop the Facebook/YouTube/Twitter world — we want to get off.

 

But while social media had once been credited with helping foster democracy in places like Sri Lanka, it is now blamed for an increase in religious hatred. That justification was behind another brief block a year ago, aimed at Facebook, where the Sri Lankan government said posts appeared to have incited anti-Muslim violence.

“The extraordinary step reflects growing global concern, particularly among governments, about the capacity of American-owned networks to spin up violence,” The Times reported on Sunday.

Spin up violence indeed. Just a month ago in New Zealand, a murderous shooter apparently radicalized by social media broadcast his heinous acts on those same platforms. Let’s be clear, the hateful killer is to blame, but it is hard to deny that his crime was facilitated by tech.

In that case, the New Zealand government did not turn off the tech faucets, but it did point to those companies as a big part of the problem. After the attacks, neither Facebook nor YouTube could easily stop the ever-looping videos of the killings, which proliferated too quickly for their clever algorithms to keep up. One insider at YouTube described the experience to me as a “nightmare version of Whack-a-Mole.”

New Zealand, under the suffer-no-foolish-techies leadership of Jacinda Ardern, will be looking hard at imposing penalties on these companies for not controlling the spread of extremist content. Australia already passed such a law in early April. Here in the United States, our regulators are much farther behind, still debating whether it is a problem or not.

It is a problem, even if the manifestations of how these platforms get warped vary across the world. They are different in ways that make no difference and the same in one crucial way that does. Namely, social media has blown the lids off controls that have kept society in check. These platforms give voice to everyone, but some of those voices are false or, worse, malevolent, and the companies continue to struggle with how to deal with them.

In the early days of the internet, there was a lot of talk of how this was a good thing, getting rid of those gatekeepers. Well, they are gone now, and that means we need to have a global discussion involving all parties on how to handle the resulting disaster, well beyond adding more moderators or better algorithms.

Shutting social media down in times of crisis isn’t going to work. I raised that idea with a top executive at a big tech company I visited last week, during a discussion of what had happened in New Zealand.

“You can’t shut it off,” the executive said flatly. “It’s too late.”

True – but we can encourage or even ban businesses from advertising on it. Then they would whither and die and good riddance.

Over a Dozen Children’s and Consumer Advocacy Organizations Request Federal Trade Commission to Investigate Facebook for Deceptive Practices

It is not just me Tilting at Windmills as some have suggested. The Facebook and related social media threats are real – especially to our children.

Contact:
David Monahan, CCFC: david@commercialfreechildhood.org; (617) 896-9397
Lisa Cohen, Common Sense: lcohen@commonsense.org; (310) 395-2544

Over a Dozen Children’s and Consumer Advocacy Organizations Request Federal Trade Commission to Investigate Facebook for Deceptive Practices

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — February 21, 2019 — Earlier today, Common Sense Media, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, and over a dozen organizations called upon the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether Facebook has engaged in unfair or deceptive practices in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

“Facebook’s practice of ‘friendly fraud’ and referring to kids as ‘whales’ shows an ongoing pattern of the company putting profits over people. Kids, under any circumstances, should not be the target of irresponsible and unethical marketing tactics,” said Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. “Facebook has a moral obligation to change its culture toward practices that foster the well-being of kids and families, and the FTC should ensure Facebook is acting responsibly.”

The FTC complaint is in response to unsealed documents from a 2012 class action lawsuit that Facebook settled in 2016. Upon a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Center for Investigative Reporting, internal documents at Facebook revealed the company knowingly duped children into making in-game purchases and made refunds almost impossible to obtain. Facebook employees called the practice “friendly fraud” and referred to kids who spent large amounts of money as “whales,” a casino-industry term for super high rollers.

Advocates are concerned that Facebook employed unfair practices by charging children for purchases made without parental consent and often without parental awareness. According to Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, “unfair” practices are defined as those that “cause or [are] likely to cause substantial injury to consumers which is not reasonably avoidable by consumers themselves and not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition” (15 U.S.C. Sec. 45(n)). Advocates point to court documents to demonstrate substantial injury to consumers, including one teenager who incurred $6,500 of charges in just a few weeks, and request rates for refunds were 20 times higher than the usual rate of refund requests.

“Facebook’s scamming of children is not only unethical and reprehensible – it’s likely a violation of consumer protection laws,” said Josh Golin, Executive Director of Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood. “Time and time again, we see that Facebook plays by its own rules regardless of the cost to children, families and society. We urge the FTC to hold Facebook accountable.”

Additionally, the complaint asks the FTC to investigate whether Facebook violated COPPA. Unsealed documents show that Facebook was aware that many of the games it offered were popular with children under age 13 and were in fact being played by children under 13. COPPA makes it unlawful for an “operator of a Web site or online service directed to children, or any operator that has actual knowledge that it is collecting or maintaining personal information from a child, to collect personal information from a child” unless it has obtained verifiable parental consent and provided appropriate disclosures.

Advocates are calling for the Commission to recognize the particular vulnerability of young people and investigate whether Facebook is complying with Section 5 and COPPA.

Groups signing on to the complaint include Common Sense Media, Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Consumer Action, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Consumer Federation of America, Children and Screens, Badass Teachers Association, Inc., Media Education Foundation, New Dream, Parents Television Council, Peace Educators Allied for Children Everywhere (P.E.A.C.E.), Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, Public Citizen, Story of Stuff, TRUCE, and Defending the Early Years.

The full complaint can be read here.

Zuck’s asleep at the wheel (or ZZZZing in his wallet) – This time Brexit

Note to Zuckerberg, if you cannot identify and add accountability to your advertisers, then just no! You are the real zucker here.

Britain’s Future has spent £340,000 promoting hard exit – but no one knows who’s funding it

The single biggest known British political advertiser on Facebook is a mysterious pro-Brexit campaign group pushing for a no-deal exit from the EU. The revelation about Britain’s Future, which has never disclosed the source of its funding or organisational structure, has raised concerns about the influence of “dark money” in British politics.

Hmmmm…smells like a wind blowing from the east.

The little-known campaign group has spent more than £340,000 on Facebook adverts backing a hard Brexit since the social network began publishing lists of political advertisers last October, making it a bigger spender than every UK political party and the government combined.

However, there is no information available about who is ultimately paying for the adverts, highlighting a key flaw in Facebook’s new political transparency tools.

The sophisticated campaign includes thousands of individual pro-Brexit adverts, targeted at voters in the constituencies of selected MPs. The adverts urge voters to email their local representative and create the impression of a grassroots uprising for a no-deal Brexit. The MPs then receive emails, signed by a “concerned constituent”, demanding a hard Brexit. The emails do not mention the involvement of an organised campaign group.

Britain’s Future’s public presence contains links to just two individuals: an ex-BBC Three sitcom writer turned journalist, and, indirectly, a former BNP candidate who lives on a farm called Rorke’s Drift in the Yorkshire dales.

The site’s public face is Tim Dawson, who created the sitcom Coming of Age while still in his teens before going on to contribute to Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. In recent years he has stood for election to Manchester city council as a Conservative candidate before last year taking control of Britain’s Future.

However, there is no information available about who is ultimately paying for the adverts, highlighting a key flaw in Facebook’s new political transparency tools.

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Under Facebook’s transparency rules, a representative of Britain’s Future would have been required to provide a valid UK postal address before placing political adverts, but this information was not made public. There are no checks on the ultimate source of any funds.

Facebook said it was only thanks to its new political ad transparency tools, introduced after the EU referendum and soon to be rolled out across the UK, that it was possible to see the extent of political advertising placed by Britain’s Future. There is no equivalent database for Google, Twitter or other online advertisers.

(Good point Facebook, in all fairness, the same rules need to apply accross all social media!)

Dawson’s pro-Brexit campaign group has spent more than a third of a million pounds on targeted Facebook and Instagram adverts in just a few months, including more than £50,000 last week alone, urging voters to email their local MP and tell them to get Britain out of the EU. An further unknown sum has also been spent buying up adverts alongside Google search results related to Brexit, suggesting that the total amount spent by his organisation on online campaigning could be much higher.

Throughout all this, Dawson, who these days makes a living from writing occasional pieces for the Daily Telegraph and the Spiked website, has declined to comment on the source of his funds, other than to tell the BBC that he was “raising small donations from friends and fellow Brexiteers”. There was no answer at his flat in Manchester and he has repeatedly declined to answer questions on how he has access to levels of funding that dwarf many high-profile campaigns.

According to its Facebook page, there are at least five individuals involved in the administration of Britain’s Future, although there are few clues as to who they are. Its “About Us” page contains a map centred on a remote building in the Yorkshire Dales north of Harrogate. This is Rorke’s Drift farm, named after the 1879 battle in South Africa where a small group of British soldiers made a successful last stand against thousands of Zulu warriors, an incident later depicted in the Michael Caine film Zulu.

The farm is home to Colin Banner, a former British National Party candidate. When contacted by the Guardian, he insisted that he had no knowledge of Dawson, was not aware of Britain’s Future, and was not involved in placing the adverts.

In a rare statement, Dawson declined to answer questions on funding or who was behind Britain’s Future. He said it was pure coincidence that his website was pointing to the remote home of a one-time BNP candidate and thanked the Guardian for bringing it to his attention.

“Britain’s Future has never associated with, nor would it ever associate with Colin Banner, or any BNP member. I have never met with, spoken to, or associated with Colin Banner, or any BNP member, nor would I want to. To state otherwise would be untrue.

“Designing the website required selecting a point on the map of the UK. The coordinates were randomly selected so the map of the UK would display centrally on the webpage. It was solely a design decision.

“The purpose of Britain’s Future is to represent the views of 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union – regardless of background. This is about delivering on the result of the referendum.”

No law is being broken by Britain’s Future’s campaigning. Outside of an election period, it is legal for any individual or campaign group to pay to promote political material without declaring where the funds come from. Britain’s Future is not a political party and does not appear to have any intention of putting forward candidates in elections, so is not regulated by laws requiring large political donations to be publicly declared.

Even the anti-Brexit People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum, backed with financing from the billionaire George Soros, has spent less on Facebook than Britain’s Future. Its website is essentially a personal blog on arguments for Brexit, with a discreet PayPal button soliciting donations.

Under Facebook’s transparency rules, a representative of Britain’s Future would have been required to provide a valid UK postal address before placing political adverts, but this information was not made public. There are no checks on the ultimate source of any funds.

Facebook said it was only thanks to its new political ad transparency tools, introduced after the EU referendum and soon to be rolled out across the UK, that it was possible to see the extent of political advertising placed by Britain’s Future. There is no equivalent database for Google, Twitter or other online advertisers.

Dawson previously stood as the Conservative council candidate in Manchester’s Hulme ward last year and finished a distant sixth. He gave an interview to Country Squire Magazine, explaining that he had recently embraced politics after becoming exasperated with the leftwing bias of the BBC: “There are lots and lots of Conservatives in this country and they deserve to be represented in our cultural landscape.”

Last month, a report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport warned that electoral law was out of date and vulnerable to manipulation by hostile forces, and that the need to update it was urgent.

Public Enemy #1: Facebook

What a disgusting despicable bunch of excuses for human beings: Zuckerberg, Sandberg and their ilk. They rape you of your privacy and hire lowly lobbyists to corrupt politicians to protect their business model. What scum of the earth.

If you work for Facebook, I would think about looking for a new job. Their days are (hopefully) numbered.

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Revealed: Facebook’s global lobbying against data privacy laws

Facebook has targeted politicians around the world – including the former UK chancellor, George Osborne – promising investments and incentives while seeking to pressure them into lobbying on Facebook’s behalf against data privacy legislation, an explosive new leak of internal Facebook documents has revealed.

The documents, which have been seen by the Observer and Computer Weekly, reveal a secretive global lobbying operation targeting hundreds of legislators and regulators in an attempt to procure influence across the world, including in the UK, US, Canada, India, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia and all 28 states of the EU. The documents include details of how Facebook:

• Lobbied politicians across Europe in a strategic operation to head off “overly restrictive” GDPR legislation. They include extraordinary claims that the Irish prime minister said his country could exercise significant influence as president of the EU, promoting Facebook’s interests even though technically it was supposed to remain neutral.

• Used chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg’s feminist memoir Lean In to “bond” with female European commissioners it viewed as hostile.

• Threatened to withhold investment from countries unless they supported or passed Facebook-friendly laws.

He noted it was “not a secret” that he had helped launch Sandberg’s book at 11 Downing Street and added: “The book’s message about female empowerment was widely praised, not least in the Guardian and the Observer.”

In fact, the memo reveals that Sandberg’s feminist memoir was perceived as a lobbying tool by the Facebook team and a means of winning support from female legislators for Facebook’s wider agend

The documents appear to emanate from a court case against Facebook by the app developer Six4Three in California, and reveal that Sandberg considered European data protection legislation a “critical” threat to the company. A memo written after the Davos economic summit in 2013 quotes Sandberg describing the “uphill battle” the company faced in Europe on the “data and privacy front” and its “critical” efforts to head off “overly prescriptive new laws”.

Most revealingly, it includes details of the company’s “great relationship” with Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister at the time, one of a number of people it describes as “friends of Facebook”. Ireland plays a key role in regulating technology companies in Europe because its data protection commissioner acts for all 28 member states. The memo has inflamed data protection advocates, who have long complained about the company’s “cosy” relationship with the Irish government.

The memo notes Kenny’s “appreciation” for Facebook’s decision to locate its headquarters in Dublin and points out that the new proposed data protection legislation was a “threat to jobs, innovation and economic growth in Europe”. It then goes on to say that Ireland is poised to take on the presidency of the EU and therefore has the “opportunity to influence the European Data Directive decisions”. It makes the extraordinary claim that Kenny offered to use the “significant influence” of the EU presidency as a means of influencing other EU member states “even though technically Ireland is supposed to remain neutral in this role”.

It goes on: “The prime minister committed to using their EU presidency to achieve a positive outcome on the directive.” Kenny, who resigned from office in 2017, did not respond to the Observer’s request for comment.

John Naughton, a Cambridge academic and Observer writer who studies the democratic implications of digital technology, said the leak was “explosive” in the way it revealed the “vassalage” of the Irish state to the big tech companies. Ireland had welcomed the companies, he noted, but became “caught between a rock and a hard place”. “Its leading politicians apparently saw themselves as covert lobbyists for a data monster.”

A spokesperson for Facebook said the documents were still under seal in a Californian court and it could not respond to them in any detail: “Like the other documents that were cherrypicked and released in violation of a court order last year, these by design tell one side of a story and omit important context.”

The 2013 memo, written by Marne Levine, who is now a Facebook senior executive, was cc-ed to Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s then head of policy and global communications, the role now occupied by Nick Clegg. As well as Kenny, dozens of other politicians, US senators and European commissioners are mentioned by name, including then Indian president Pranab Mukherjee, Michel Barnier, now the EU’s Brexit negotiator, and Osborne.

The then chancellor used the meeting with Sandberg to ask Facebook to invest in the government’s Tech City venture, the memo claims, and Sandberg said she would “review” any proposal. In exchange, she asked him to become “even more active and vocal in the European Data Directive debate and really help shape the proposals”. The memo claims Osborne asked for a detailed briefing and said he would “figure out how to get more involved”. He offered to host a launch for Sandberg’s book in Downing Street, an event that went ahead in spring 2013.

Osborne told the Observer: “I don’t think it’s a surprise that the UK chancellor would meet the chief operating officer of one of the world’s largest companies … Facebook and other US tech firms, in private, as in public, raised concerns about the proposed European Data Directive. To your specific inquiry, I didn’t follow up on those concerns, or lobby the EU, because I didn’t agree with them.”

He noted it was “not a secret” that he had helped launch Sandberg’s book at 11 Downing Street and added: “The book’s message about female empowerment was widely praised, not least in the Guardian and the Observer.”

In fact, the memo reveals that Sandberg’s feminist memoir was perceived as a lobbying tool by the Facebook team and a means of winning support from female legislators for Facebook’s wider agenda.

In a particularly revealing account of a meeting with Viviane Reding, the influential European commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, the memo notes her key role as “the architect of the European Data Directive” and describes the company’s “difficult” relationship with her owing to her being, it claims, “not a fan” of American companies.

“She attended Sheryl’s Lean In dinner and we met with her right afterwards,” the memo says, but notes that she felt it was a “very ‘American’ discussion”, a comment the team regarded as a setback since “getting more women into C-level jobs and on boards was supposed to be how they bonded, and it backfired a bit”.

The Davos meetings are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Facebook’s global efforts to win influence. The documents reveals how in Canada and Malaysia it used the promise of siting a new data centre with the prospect of job creation to win legislative guarantees. When the Canadians hesitated over granting the concession Facebook wanted, the memo notes: “Sheryl took a firm approach and outlined that a decision on the data center was imminent. She emphasized that if we could not get comfort from the Canadian government on the jurisdiction issue, we had other options.” The minister supplied the agreement Facebook required by the end of the day, it notes.

U.S. Lawmaker Says Facebook Cannot Be Trusted to Regulate Itself

No shit Sherlock

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WASHINGTON — Democratic U.S. Representative David Cicilline, expected to become the next chairman of House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, said on Wednesday that Facebook Inc cannot be trusted to regulate itself and Congress should take action.

Cicilline, citing a report in the New York Times on Facebook’s efforts to deal with a series of crises, said on Twitter: “This staggering report makes clear that @Facebook executives will always put their massive profits ahead of the interests of their customers.”

“It is long past time for us to take action,” he said.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said a year ago that the company would put its “community” before profit, and it has doubled its staff focused on safety and security issues since then. Spending also has increased on developing automated tools to catch propaganda and material that violates the company’s posting policies.

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“We’ve known for some time that @Facebook chose to turn a blind eye to the spread of hate speech and Russian propaganda on its platform,” said Cicilline, who will likely take the reins of the subcommittee on regulatory reform, commercial and antitrust law when the new, Democratic-controlled Congress is seated in January.

“Now we know that once they knew the truth, top @Facebook executives did everything they could to hide it from the public by using a playbook of suppressing opposition and propagating conspiracy theories,” he said.

“Next January, Congress should get to work enacting new laws to hold concentrated economic power to account, address the corrupting influence of corporate money in our democracy, and restore the rights of Americans,” Cicilline said.

B.S. — Facebook can never put “community” before profits because its that community and the rape of their privacy that is the core Facebook business model. Who they kidding?

Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis

A great article worth a full read! Here we have Facebook creating their own Fake News to cover up their disgusting unethical behavior. This is a long and excellent read and highly recommended. It shows clearly facebook’s pattern of covering up its faults with lobbyists, misinformation, and outright lies.

Note to advertises: Withdraw all advertising on Facebook. Let them die.
Note to Facebook users: Delete your account now

Some brief excerpts…but again, read entire article to see how this disgusting company operates.

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While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.

Anti-Semitic? Need any other proof of the amoral unethical behavior of Facebook? Disgusting. It is behavior that likes that leads to more anti-semitism. Shame!

In Washington, allies of Facebook, including Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader, intervened on its behalf. And Ms. Sandberg wooed or cajoled hostile lawmakers, while trying to dispel Facebook’s reputation as a bastion of Bay Area liberalism.

This account of how Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg navigated Facebook’s cascading crises, much of which has not been previously reported, is based on interviews with more than 50 people. They include current and former Facebook executives and other employees, lawmakers and government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had signed confidentiality agreements, were not authorized to speak to reporters or feared retaliation.

And now let’s see how they use misinformation to combat critics. It is clear that Facebook learned well from their Russian propaganda teachers.

In March, The Times, The Observer of London and The Guardian prepared to publish a joint investigation into how Facebook user data had been appropriated by Cambridge Analytica to profile American voters. A few days before publication, The Times presented Facebook with evidence that copies of improperly acquired Facebook data still existed, despite earlier promises by Cambridge executives and others to delete it.

Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg met with their lieutenants to determine a response. They decided to pre-empt the stories, saying in a statement published late on a Friday night that Facebook had suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform. The executives figured that getting ahead of the news would soften its blow, according to people in the discussions.

They were wrong. The story drew worldwide outrage, prompting lawsuits and official investigations in Washington, London and Brussels. For days, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg remained out of sight, mulling how to respond. While the Russia investigation had devolved into an increasingly partisan battle, the Cambridge scandal set off Democrats and Republicans alike. And in Silicon Valley, other tech firms began exploiting the outcry to burnish their own brands.

“We’re not going to traffic in your personal life,” Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said in an MSNBC interview. “Privacy to us is a human right. It’s a civil liberty.” (Mr. Cook’s criticisms infuriated Mr. Zuckerberg, who later ordered his management team to use only Android phones — arguing that the operating system had far more users than Apple’s.)

Facebook scrambled anew. Executives quietly shelved an internal communications campaign, called “We Get It,” meant to assure employees that the company was committed to getting back on track in 2018.

Then Facebook went on the offensive. Mr. Kaplan prevailed on Ms. Sandberg to promote Kevin Martin, a former Federal Communications Commission chairman and fellow Bush administration veteran, to lead the company’s American lobbying efforts. Facebook also expanded its work with Definers.

On a conservative news site called the NTK Network, dozens of articles blasted Google and Apple for unsavory business practices. One story called Mr. Cook hypocritical for chiding Facebook over privacy, noting that Apple also collects reams of data from users. Another played down the impact of the Russians’ use of Facebook.

The rash of news coverage was no accident: NTK is an affiliate of Definers, sharing offices and staff with the public relations firm in Arlington, Va. Many NTK Network stories are written by staff members at Definers or America Rising, the company’s political opposition-research arm, to attack their clients’ enemies. While the NTK Network does not have a large audience of its own, its content is frequently picked up by popular conservative outlets, including Breitbart.

Mr. Miller acknowledged that Facebook and Apple do not directly compete. Definers’ work on Apple is funded by a third technology company, he said, but Facebook has pushed back against Apple because Mr. Cook’s criticism upset Facebook.

If the privacy issue comes up, Facebook is happy to “muddy the waters,” Mr. Miller said over drinks at an Oakland, Calif., bar last month.

Note to Sandberg: Take your money and retire from public life. The world will be a better place without your sleazy input.

‘No Morals’: Advertisers React to Facebook Report

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Several top marketers were openly critical of the tech giant, a day after The New York Times published an investigation detailing how Facebook’s top executives — Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg — made the company’s growth a priority while ignoring and hiding warning signs over how its data and power were being exploited to disrupt elections and spread toxic content. The article also spotlighted a lobbying campaign overseen by Ms. Sandberg, who also oversees advertising, that sought to shift public anger to Facebook’s critics and rival tech firms.

The revelations may be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, chief growth officer for the Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s biggest ad companies. “Now we know Facebook will do whatever it takes to make money. They have absolutely no morals.”

Marketers have grumbled about Facebook in the past, concerned that advertisements could appear next to misinformation and hate speech on the platform. They have complained about how the company handles consumer data and how it measures ads and its user base. But those issues were not enough to outweigh the lure of Facebook’s vast audience and the company’s insistence that it was trying to address its flaws.

And after this article was published online, Mr. Tobaccowala called The New York Times to add to his comments.

“The people there do,” he said, referring to possessing morals, “but as a business, they seem to have lost their compass.”

“So far, the track record basically has been that regardless of what Facebook does, they keep getting more money,” Mr. Tobaccowala said. “The question simply is, will this make people wake up?”

Good question! The stupidity of their user base and the equal stupidity, well actually complicity of their advertisers is a disgrace. What it may take is people to boycott those companies that advertise on Facebook. Maybe in this manner, the final nails can be put into the Facebook coffin.

Facebook Tells Advertisers It Can Reach Many Young People. Too Many

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Facebook faced criticism on Wednesday after an analyst pointed out that the company’s online advertising tools claim they can reach 25 million more young Americans than the United States census says exist.

The analyst, Brian Wieser at Pivotal Research, said in a note Tuesday that Facebook’s Ads Manager says it can potentially reach 41 million 18- to 24-year-olds in the United States and 60 million 25- to 34-year-olds. The catch, according to Mr. Wieser: the census counted just 31 million 18-to-24-year-olds last year and 45 million 25-to-34-year-olds.

“The buyers and marketers I talked to were unaware of this and they are using it for planning purposes,” Mr. Wieser said in an interview. “Buyers are still going to buy from them and plan for them, but this is something that doesn’t need to be an error and puts every other metric they might provide into question.”

The criticism over audience figures comes as Facebook disclosed on Wednesday that hundreds of fake accounts apparently based in Russia had purchased $100,000 worth of political advertising during the American presidential election last year; the tech firm said it had shut down the accounts.

The census figure discrepancy is likely to be a setback for Facebook with advertisers and a boon for outside measurement companies like Nielsen and ComScore, particularly as Facebook vies to make video advertising a bigger part of its business, Mr. Wieser said. Mr. Wieser is one of two analysts with a “sell” rating on Facebook shares, compared to 42 “buy” recommendations and three “hold” ratings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Unethical disgusting company that deserves to be kicked to the curb. Delete your facebook account now.

Made and Distributed in the U.S.A.: Online Disinformation

with Facebook’s help of course!

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SAN FRANCISCO — When Christine Blasey Ford testified before Congress last month about Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault, a website called Right Wing News sprang into action on Facebook.

The conservative site, run by the blogger John Hawkins, had created a series of Facebook pages and accounts over the last year under many names, according to Facebook.

After Dr. Blasey testified, Right Wing News posted several false stories about her — including the suggestion that her lawyers were being bribed by Democrats — and then used the network of Facebook pages and accounts to share the pieces so that they proliferated online quickly, social media researchers said.

The result was a real-time spreading of disinformation started by Americans, for Americans.

What Right Wing News did was part of a shift in the flow of online disinformation, falsehoods meant to mislead and inflame. In 2016, before the presidential election, state-backed Russian operatives exploited Facebook and Twitter to sway voters in the United States with divisive messages. Now, weeks before the midterm elections on Nov. 6, such influence campaigns are increasingly a domestic phenomenon fomented by Americans on the left and the right.

“There are now well-developed networks of Americans targeting other Americans with purposefully designed manipulations,” said Molly McKew, an information warfare researcher at the New Media Frontier, a firm that studies social media.

Politics has always involved shadings of the truth via whisper campaigns, direct-mail operations and negative ads bordering on untrue. What is different this time is how domestic sites are emulating the Russian strategy of 2016 by aggressively creating networks of Facebook pages and accounts — many of them fake — that make it appear as if the ideas they are promoting enjoy widespread popularity, researchers said. The activity is also happening on Twitter, they said.

Reverb Press’s logo on its Facebook page shows that it has been verified by the social network.

The shift toward domestic disinformation raises potential free speech issues when Facebook and Twitter find and curtail such accounts that originate in the United States, an issue that may be sensitive before the midterms. “These networks are trying to manipulate people by manufacturing consensus — that’s crossing the line over free speech,” said Ryan Fox, a co-founder of New Knowledge, a firm that tracks disinformation.

This month, Twitter took down a network of 50 accounts that it said were being run by Americans posing as Republican state lawmakers. Twitter said the accounts were geared toward voters in all 50 states.

On Thursday, Facebook said it had identified 559 pages and 251 accounts run by Americans, many of which amplified false and misleading content in a coordinated fashion. The company said it would remove the pages and accounts. Among them were Right Wing News, which had more than 3.1 million followers, and left-wing pages that included the Resistance and Reverb Press, which had 240,000 and 816,000 followers.

Facebook said this amounted to the most domestic pages and accounts it had ever removed related to influence campaigns. The company said it had discovered the activity as part of its broader effort to root out election interference. Also, the pages had become more aggressive in using tactics like fake accounts and multiple pages to make themselves appear more popular.

“If you look at volume, the majority of the information operations we see are domestic actors,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security. He added that the company was struggling with taking down the domestic networks because of the blurry lines between free speech and disinformation.

Mr. Gleicher said that the accounts and pages that Facebook took down on Thursday violated its rules about online spam and that many of the domestic organizations probably had financial motivations for spreading disinformation. The organization can make money by getting people to click on links in Facebook that then direct users to websites filled with ads. Once someone visits the ad-filled website, those clicks means more ad revenue.

But while traditional spam networks typically use celebrity gossip or stories about natural disasters to get people to click on links that take them to ad-filled sites, these networks were now using political content to attract people’s attention.

Just say no to Facebook

Soldiers in Facebook’s War on Fake News Are Feeling Overrun

Facebook – the sharp tool of mob psychology

QUOTE

MANILA — The fictional news stories pop up on Facebook faster than Paterno Esmaquel II and his co-workers can stamp them out.

Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, debated a Catholic bishop over using violence to stop illegal drugs — and won. Pope Francis called Mr. Duterte “a blessing.” Prince Harry and his new wife, Meghan Markle, praised him, too. None were true.

False news is so established and severe in the Philippines that one Facebook executive calls it “patient zero” in the global misinformation epidemic. To fight back in this country, the Silicon Valley social media giant has turned to Mr. Esmaquel and others who work for Rappler, an online news start-up with experience tackling fake stories on Facebook.

While Rappler’s fact checkers work closely with Facebook to investigate and report their findings, they believe the company could do much more.

Right – Facebook do more? Never – they rely on eyeballs for their advertising revenue. The best way to get more eyeballs/revenue is to allow spreading of sensationalist fake news.

“It’s frustrating,” said Marguerite de Leon, 32, a Rappler employee who receives dozens of tips each day about false stories from readers. “We’re cleaning up Facebook’s mess.”

On the front lines in the war over misinformation, Rappler is overmatched and outgunned — and that could be a worrying indicator of Facebook’s effort to curb the global problem by tapping fact-checking organizations around the world. Civil society groups have complained that Facebook’s support is weak. Others have said the company doesn’t offer enough transparency to tell what works and what doesn’t.

Facebook says it has made strides but acknowledges shortcomings. It doesn’t have fact checkers in many places, and is only beginning to roll out tools that would scrutinize visual memes, like text displayed over an image or a short video, sometimes the fastest ways that harmful misinformation can spread.

Paterno Esmaquel II, a Rappler reporter, said the false stories on Facebook just kept coming. “We kill one,” he said, “and another one crops up.”CreditJes Aznar for The New York Times

“This effort will never be finished, and we have a lot more to do,” said Jason Rudin, a Facebook product manager.

For fact checkers themselves, the work takes a toll. Members of Rappler’s staff have received death and rape threats. Rappler brought in a psychologist. It debated bulletproofing the windows and installed a second security guard.

The way to end this is to end Facebook and the way to end Facebook is to delete your account.