Facebook’s website had an entire section devoted to touting the “success stories” of political campaigns that used the social network to influence electoral outcomes. That page, however, is now gone, even as the 2018 congressional primaries get underway.
Perhaps at some point in the past few years you’ve told Facebook that you like, say, Kim Kardashian West.
What you probably missed is that researchers had figured out how to tie your interest in Ms. Kardashian West to certain personality traits, such as how extroverted you are (very), how conscientious (more than most) and how open-minded (only somewhat). And when your fondness for Ms. Kardashian West is combined with other interests you’ve indicated on Facebook, researchers believe their algorithms can predict the nuances of your political views with better accuracy than your loved ones.
Facebook creates a detailed psychological profile of you, to determine your weaknesses, vulnerabilities and key times to “see you something” via advertising or propaganda messaging. “Something” may be a product, a service or someone’s ideology.
More on this in the next post.
Facebook said Wednesday that most of its 2 billion users likely have had their public profiles scraped by outsiders without the users’ explicit permission, dramatically raising the stakes in a privacy controversy that has dogged the company for weeks, spurred investigations in the United States and Europe, and sent the company’s stock price tumbling.
It seems likely that more than just “public” data was taken. Facebook is not telling anyone what was taken (why the secrecy?)
It seems highly likely that the vast amount of private data, detailed in my other post, was also taken, through the “Apps Others Use” data theft system built by Facebook. Effectively, everything everyone ever posted, Liked, plus Facebook’s assessment of each of us – was lifted by potentially hundreds of thousands of apps.
Apps were also able to scrape the posts and profiles of private groups.
Their privacy violations have been vast. It is difficult to see how Facebook remains a sustainable business.
Mark Zuckerbeg is a lying scoundrel.
Prior to 2014, applications using the Facebook platform could download nearly everything posted by users, including photos, Likes, Interests, Groups and more – including from the friends of the person running the app – even items restricted to “Friends only” – and did so without permission of the Friends.
Everything ever posted on Facebook was “Public” to applications that requested access to “Friends” data.
An estimated 10+% of Facebook applications requested permission to access the data of Friends. Presumably most collected a limited set of personal data, but with 9 million applications in existence today, that would be 900,000 applications.
What could they get?
- Every post you ever made on your Timeline (including those that were to Friends and not Public)
- Every photo you posted online,
- A list of every Like you ever made on Facebook
- Every group you belonged to
- The Facebook determined list of “Interests” (determined by Group membership, Pages you Liked/Followed, and possibly text analysis)
- Your family relationships
- Your religion and politics
Here is Table 5 from a 2015 paper, cited below, capturing the Facebook API permissions in effect at the time. Applications could scrape any of the data listed in the “Friends Data” column, which is essentially everything as “friend.status” refers to timeline posts.
In 2014, Facebook rewrote this programming interface to restrict access to Friend’s data. Apps approved after that point were restricted – however, apps approved prior to that point could continue to run and continue to collect data.
Until last weekend, Facebook had a hidden privacy setting for Apps Others Use.The default settings for this page had almost every item as share-able. I took this snapshot after I had cleared the settings; Facebook deleted this the next day.
When most every item was checked (and the default was checked) Apps run by your friends had access to all of your personal activity. This included everything you “Liked” on Facebook, plus all Interest and Group memberships – even apparently posts on your Timeline intended for Friends-only.
Consumer Reports noted that applications were sharing data for Friends – back in a 2012 online column (https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/06/facebook-your-privacy/index.htm).
An estimated 10% of Facebook applications requested access to your “Friends”. Thus, it is highly likely everything we shared with Facebook, including items to “Friends” only was scraped, including Timeline posts, Photos, Likes and more and are now stored in non-Facebook, private, third-party databases.
It is likely that if applications could this, then major intelligence agencies also scraped this data.
Most apps would not have collected all of the possible data but just a limited subset. However, a combination of several apps, each collecting a subset, could merge their data together to ultimately collect everything about everyone.
News reports about the Cambridge Analytica beach now affecting 87 million (mostly) Americans are missing the story. It is likely that nearly all 2 billion Facebook users have had their data scraped, including what they thought was private information.
Why are you still using Facebook? Facebook is a dangerous platform that has operated for 14 years in a reckless manner.
Symeondiis, I., Tsormpatzoudi, P., and Preneel, B. (2015). Collateral damage of Facebook Apps: an enhanced privacy scoring model
Facebook (and Youtube and Twitter) have conducted a global experiment on human populations without consent of the guinea pigs by analyzing our “Likes”.
Facebook’s digital model of us is more accurate than our own understanding of ourselves.
Computers need evaluate as few as 100 Likes to make a judgement more effective than a human. Analyzing just 300 Likes enables the model to know more about the subject than does the subject’s spouse. Computer models achieve “peak” accuracy when more than 500 Likes are observed.
We show that (i) computer predictions based on a generic digital footprint (Facebook Likes) are more accurate (r = 0.56) than those made by the participants’ Facebook friends using a personality questionnaire (r = 0.49); (ii) computer models show higher interjudge agreement; and (iii) computer personality judgments have higher external validity when predicting life outcomes such as substance use, political attitudes, and physical health; for some outcomes, they even outperform the self-rated personality scores. Computers outpacing humans in personality judgment presents significant opportunities and challenges in the areas of psychological assessment, marketing, and privacy.
Given the variety of objects, subjects, brands, and people that can be liked and the number of Facebook users (>1.3 billion), Likes represent one of the most generic kinds of digital footprint. For instance, liking a brand or a product offers a proxy for consumer preferences and purchasing behavior; music-related Likes reveal music taste; and liked websites allow for approximating web browsing behavior. Consequently, Like-based models offer a good proxy of what could be achieved based on a wide range of other digital footprints such as web browsing logs, web search queries, or purchase records
Youyou, W., Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D. (2015). “Computer-based personality judgements are more accurate than those made by humans”. PNAS. January 27, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1418680112 Retrieved from: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/4/1036 on April 3, 2018.
Likes are the Secret Sauce of Social Media Surveillance
“Likes” are the secret sauce. We give Likes out of kindness and believing we may have been thoughtful towards a “Friend”. We give Likes, sometimes as a form of “bookmark” so we can find something later, by reviewing our Likes. The entire process was conceived as a form of mind control, to cause us to reveal our thought processes and patterns.
We now know – never, ever click Like on Facebook or Youtube or Twitter and never click +1 on Google platforms. It is unclear what is collected by Instagram and how Likes are evaluated on that platform but it is presumed that Instagram (aka Facebook) ties photo Likes to the image tags used in photo descriptions.
These platforms have created a psychological profile of every user. The analysis includes not only our Likes, but our Group memberships, our self selected Interests (Page Likes, especially), our self provided background such as education or religious interests, an analysis of our text, analysis of our online web site visits (Facebook and Google both track our web site visits across the web), and may include text analysis of posts we have made on other web sites or web sites that we operate ourselves, such as blogs like this one.
While Facebook let’s us download “our data”, Facebook does not provide us with the psychological model they have created about each of us. We do not know what it contains nor do we have any way to correct errors in that model.
When you install the Instagram app, it wants access to your Phone and SMS functions on your phone. Today we know that Facebook’s Messenger app harvested ALL of your call and text records and stored them in the Facebook spy database.
Instagram is a product of Facebook and absolutely cannot be trusted regarding personal privacy. Facebook’s policy is to collect all information, everywhere.
Therefore do not permit Instagram access to features it does not need. And remember NEVER EVER upload your Contacts list to an app or a web site. Access to Contacts is not really for your benefit – it is for the app or service provider to harvest all the names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers in your address book.
Therefore, when you install Instagram, set all permissions as follows.
Yesterday I installed Android Snapchat on my phone. By default SnapChat wanted access to my Contacts list, Phone and SMS – in other words, all my call records.
SUGGESTION – Install apps and before opening the app, go to Settings | Apps | and select the app you just installed. Find Permissions on the app’s attributes. Click on that, and then uncheck any Permissions that seem suspect. Then and only then, run the app for the first time.
SnapChat runs fine with most permissions turned off. Since I do not plan to use video features, I kept the microphone turned off.
If the app tries to do something that requires one of these permissions, it will ask you to enable the permission. You can then decide whether you want to give it that permission.
Note – the Snapchat app tries to get you to sign up by giving them your phone number. DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR PHONE NUMBER WHEN YOU DO NOT NEED TO.
In fact, you can sign up with just an email address. I used my new alternate email address to create my account. Their verification message was then sent to that email address.
Snapchat runs fine other than nagging about wanting me to enter a phone number. The phone number is what enables them to troll your data and link you to other databases.
SUGGESTION – go through all of our existing apps today. Delete apps you are no longer using or very seldom use. Review the permissions on remaining apps and unless you see a compelling reason for the permission, turn it off. Half of the apps on my phone were requesting Location permission but most had no need for that information. Many are requesting Phone, SMS and Contacts with no obvious reason they need that data. A reasonable guess is that half of all Android apps are collecting data from us.
An internal post reacting to the memo found employees angry and heartbroken that their teammates were sharing internal company discussions with the media. Many called on the company to step up its war on leakers and hire employees with more “integrity.”
The reference to “hire employees with more ‘integrity'” sounds like a headline in The Onion! Facebook has no understanding of business ethics!
Last Friday, I hypothesized that I saw only left wing political propaganda on Facebook in 2016 because Facebook had presumably identified me as “Liberal”. This hypothesis is now confirmed. This political attribute was used by Facebook as a filter – I saw left wing click bait ads, and due to Facebook’s news feed filtering, I only saw left wing propaganda posters shared by “friends”.
As a consequence of that, most of the propaganda posters I evaluated on this blog were left wing posters. I did, at times, search for conservative propaganda to examine (but never could find that much). I was mystified as to why I saw only left wing propaganda while the news media was telling us that all social media propaganda was conservative.
Now we know how this occurred – here is the Facebook description of my politics in a single word:
Facebook was deliberately censoring conservative propaganda so I never saw it- and censoring based on a lie. Also, I do not own a Galaxy S6 and never have. Their data base model is garbage.
I posted my politics on the About page. I took an online survey of issues and policies and the survey concluded I should vote for Bernie Sanders or Rand Paul, with equal measure even though the two are nearly opposites!
Thereafter, the list alternated left/right/left/right down the list, showing that characterizing me as left or right was hardly a useful distinction. In fact, was not then a member of any political party and I had not been a party member for decades. However, in the spring of 2017, I joined my state’s Libertarian Party.
Because of this egregious error by Facebook, and my being perplexed by crazy left wing propaganda posters, I started this blog and ended up mostly analyzing (and demolishing) left wing propaganda posters.
This and so much more that we have learned during the past week illustrates that Facebook’s continued operation is dangerous for the safety of the world. Facebook is nothing more than a pure propaganda operation based on global surveillance. Facebook operated in a reckless manner, tearing our society apart and having no regard for what it was doing. I cannot think of a more vile and disgusting organization than Facebook nor a more vile and disgusting individual than the arrogant, narcissistic lying Mark Zuckerberg.
Read this to learn how to see the advertising dossier and other data that Facebook has collected on you.
Deleting the data, now, does not actually delete it from Facebook’s archives. I deleted all of my harvested data earlier this week, then days later I downloaded my Facebook dossier, and it still contains all the groups and pages I had liked, even though I had deleted them.
Here is the reality: the Internet and smart phones are surveillance devices. The primary business of the Internet is surveillance, with the data used to optimize propaganda messages delivered to us.
Smart phones are sold as phones but their actual use is as tracking devices. Every where you travel, every place you stop, is logged and data mined.
Many apps for smart phones purport to provide you with “benefit X”, but their actual mission is they too are collecting your location data.
Google’s Chrome browser, for example, logs every web site you visit – at Google‘s servers.
Everything we do today is collected and data mined to draw conclusions about us (often wrong ones) for the purpose of persuading us to buy something or adopt someone’s agenda.