#Facebook to force “Page” owners to hand over verified phone number and address information

We’re introducing Page publishing authorization starting with people who manage a Page with a large audience in the US.

Source: New Authorization for Pages | Facebook Business

Facebook can and will use the phone number as a personal identifier with which to track one’s activities outside of Facebook. I did not give Facebook my phone number because I know they use that to cross link your account to third party data.

Have you ever used a store loyalty card? All of those are associated with your phone number and are used by retailers to track all of your purchases. That information, in turn, is sold to third party data aggregators, such as Axciom, who in turn re-sell the collection of data to others. The data is used, presumably, to target marketing efforts. The phone number is the key identifier used to link together your online (Facebook, Twitter, ad networks) with your offline retail purchase history.

I run a software programming page that likely falls into the category of requiring this new verification. That page is the primary reason I did not delete my Facebook account, but instead dropped out of about 65 groups, unfollowed all other Pages and removed about 1/4 of my “friends.

But our Facebook AI algorithms will solve everything!

FACEBOOK says it “regrets” an algorithm blunder that caused balloons and confetti to appear in posts about the deadly earthquake in Indonesia

because the same spelling of a word means “I’m unhurt” or “congratulations” depending on context. Facebook automatically displayed animated festive balloons on people using FB to tell their friends they were safe by mistakenly thinking the messages contained congratulatory quotes.

Facebook has repeatedly said it will use artificial intelligence (aka artificial stupidity) algorithms to identify and halt hate speech and fake news. What could possibly go wrong?

Source: Facebook ‘regrets’ Indonesia earthquake balloons gaffe that saw festive animations added to quake messages

Did Vox advocate censoring social media? No.

This propaganda poster is now spreading online.

The original Vox Tweet is here. It contains a link to a video explaining their thinking. They are clear in their video that they are not advocating censoring these individuals. The video concludes with the problems that emerge when speech is censored and the practical problems of policing platforms like YouTube that see 400 hours of new video uploaded every minute.

The Vox video does not encourage censorship.

Commentary

There is, though, a small problem in the Vox video:  Vox lists only right wing provocateurs, perpetuating the idea that only the right spreads propaganda on social media. Vox does not mention any left wing propagandists. In effect, Vox is delivering its own meta-propaganda message by omitting key information.

This is perplexing as one of the most prolific fake news propaganda purveyors is a left wing, online, social-media based, for profit publishing operation with over 7.4 million followers on Facebook alone. See our series on the false propaganda about Denmark or their propaganda poster that caused me to start this web site (and  more examples on this blog).

Propaganda originates from both the right and the left, and through social media, is widely shared by both the left and the right. Left wing and right wing enthusiasts are each likely to be influenced by propaganda that targets their emotional hot buttons.

Journalists and Academics seek special privileges on Facebook

Facebook restricts certain conduct on its platform. However, journalists and academics are seeking to be treated as special, and receive special privileges to do things that are prohibited for others.

Journalists and academics, for example, would be permitted to set up fake accounts with fake or curated content, for the purpose of studying users.

Individuals, however, would be banned from conducting the exact same research and thus, would be prohibited from verifying or evaluating the work of journalists and academics. Basically, the proposal is to have a group of “elite” Facebook users and everyone else are lab rats.

“Facebook, Apple and YouTube remove pages and podcasts from Alex Jones for hate speech violations”

Source: Apple bans Alex Jones podcasts; Facebook pulls four pages

But not Twitter – says Jones’ does not violate their policies.

Alex Jones is a long time conspiracy theorist (everything that happens in the world is a plot by secret powers) who used social media platforms to amplify his often untrue and hurtful ideas. Millions of people are said to have subscribed to his propaganda operation.

(Amusingly, Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, PInterest, LinkedIn, and MailChimp – all made their shutdown effective roughly simultaneously, which in turn, is feeding the conspiracy theories that this was a coordinated shutdown by Big Tech…. arghhh…)

Separately, earlier this year, Patreon cut off China’s most watched Youtuber and Maker, Naomi Wu. It’s a complicated story but Vice.com apparently used their legal team to cut off Wu’s Patreon account (and her primary source of funding). Their “legal team” was Sarah Jeong, a lawyer recently appointed to the NY Times Editorial Board. Jeong has come under fire for hateful and angry tweets of her own.

Elsewhere, left wing Media Matters advocates that Facebook should censor “climate change deniers”.

When social media organizations cut off access, it raises questions about the power of corporations to control what we see, what we read, and how we are influenced. Censorship is one of the most powerful forms of propaganda as it cuts off alternate views from being expressed, especially from those we may disagree with. Censorship is the opposite of diversity.

The traditional view of free speech is that the answer to speech we do not like is more speech, not censorship.

Update: Social media platforms have long argued they are not responsible for the user content on their platforms, claiming a “safe harbor” that they are similar to a telephone company which is not responsible for the content of phone calls. However, once they begin censoring the content on their platform, they are de facto admitting they are responsible for the content posted on their platforms. It is difficult to see how these companies can have it both ways – not responsible yet responsible for content.

Commentary

Many people publish items on social media that can at best be described as dumb, but which are also hurtful, mean, and in some cases, are offensive “hate speech”. Many notable personalities have lost their job over past comments. Many of those cut off were posting items that lack class and decorum and were mostly rude to obscenely rude and hurtful. What prompts such people to engage in this way on line?

There are many recent incidents where it seems arrogance plays a role. Perhaps more on that another day.

‘The idea of free information is extremely dangerous’

Why is liberalism under particular threat from big data?

Liberalism is based on the assumption that you have privileged access to your own inner world of feelings and thoughts and choices, and nobody outside you can really understand you. This is why your feelings are the highest authority in your life and also in politics and economics – the voter knows best, the customer is always right. Even though neuroscience shows us that there is no such thing as free will, in practical terms it made sense because nobody could understand and manipulate your innermost feelings. But now the merger of biotech and infotech in neuroscience and the ability to gather enormous amounts of data on each individual and process them effectively means we are very close to the point where an external system can understand your feelings better than you. We’ve already seen a glimpse of it in the last epidemic of fake news.

There’s always been fake news but what’s different this time is that you can tailor the story to particular individuals, because you know the prejudice of this particular individual. The more people believe in free will, that their feelings represent some mystical spiritual capacity, the easier it is to manipulate them, because they won’t think that their feelings are being produced and manipulated by some external system.

….

The idea of free information is extremely dangerous when it comes to the news industry. If there’s so much free information out there, how do you get people’s attention? This becomes the real commodity. At present there is an incentive in order to get your attention – and then sell it to advertisers and politicians and so forth – to create more and more sensational stories, irrespective of truth or relevance. Some of the fake news comes from manipulation by Russian hackers but much of it is simply because of the wrong incentive structure. There is no penalty for creating a sensational story that is not true. We’re willing to pay for high quality food and clothes and cars, so why not high quality information?

Source: Yuval Noah Harari: ‘The idea of free information is extremely dangerous’ | Culture | The Guardian

The sole business of Facebook is propaganda

And it’s now starting to fail because people are no longer comfortable knowing they are handing over personal information “to those creating havoc and dissension”.

Does the Facebook model work and can it be fixed? By design it’s a means for companies or individuals to direct targeted messages, videos, and news to people with particular beliefs and characteristics. That tool is available to pretty much anyone.

Source: Facebook’s Stock Plunge Is a Catastrophe of Mark Zuckerberg’s Own Making | Trending

The Facebook advertising company continues to discriminate against workers based on their age and gender

“Right now as we speak, Facebook is literally sending job ads that exclude people on the basis of their age,” he said. “It’s laudable that the AG has gotten Facebook to agree to some basic first steps, but this agreement really doesn’t do much more than what FB has agreed to do voluntarily.”

The agreement also enables Facebook to continue doing ad discrimination on the basis of gender.

Source: Facebook is now legally bound to stop advertisers from excluding people because of their race – SFGate

Until this agreement was made, Facebook permitted discrimination based on race and sexual orientation. Even after this agreement, however, Facebook will continue to permit advertisers to narrowly target ads based on age and gender.

Numerous large and small corporations in the U.S. have used this feature to display their ads only to those aged 21-34 (as an example) or to target, say, nursing or elementary school teaching ads, only at women. By preventing workers from seeing the job ads, companies use this feature to legally discriminate against hiring workers in entire classes because workers never see the ads and therefore, never apply for the jobs.

Incredibly, the State of Washington’s Attorney General signed an agreement with Facebook that continues the status quo in Facebook age and gender discrimination.

While many may think, “Oh, this only affects ads shown on Facebook”, that is incorrect. Virtually all online ads are delivered by either the Facebook or Google ad networks. Essentially all online advertising including employment ads, is targeting age and gender.

Mark Zuckerberg has long believed in age discrimination and now owns the largest ad network in the world to further his “master age” thesis. Before he turned 30 years old, he famously told Stanford University students in 2007:

“I want to stress the importance of being young and technical,” the tech genius told budding technology entrepreneurs at Stanford University in 2007.

 

“Young people are just smarter. Why are most chess masters under 30? I don’t know. Young people just have simpler lives. We may not own a car. We may not have family. Simplicity in life allows you to focus on what’s important.”