Tag Archive | "Facebook"

I Didn’t Join Facebook to “Feel Safe”


NOVANEWS
Image result for FACEBOOK CARTOON
By Thomas L. Knapp | William Lloyd Garrison Center 

In early August, Facebook and other social media services banned content from radio/Internet shock jock Alex Jones. Surprising? No.  Jones’s  number was due to come up. The big players in Internet media have spent the last few years  attempting to appease the perpetually outraged (and therefore unappeasable) by banning and blocking a continuous parade of Most Despised Persons of the Week.

Wikipedia describes Jones’s “INFOWARS” (yes, in all-caps) site as “a far right American conspiracy theorist and fake news website and media platform.” He’s continuously embroiled in litigation with plaintiffs ranging from the makers of Chobani yogurt to the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims.  Definitely despised. So now it’s his turn.

The apparent end game: Turning the Internet into the same bland, homogeneous goop we got from network TV circa the 1950s — content without any rough edges that might spook advertisers. And they’re using pretty much the same justifications as movie and TV studios did with that era’s McCarthyist “blacklists.” To paraphrase Henry Ford, you can have any color Internet you want, so long as it’s beige.

Facebook’s statement on Jones: “We believe in giving people a voice, but we also want everyone using Facebook to feel safe.”

Really?

Why on Earth would Facebook’s users require protection from Alex Jones? He’s loud and red-faced and nuts, but it’s not like he can pop out of the screen and grab us. We don’t have to watch him. We don’t have to press the play button, we don’t have to turn the volume up from mute, and we can even block other users who try to push him at us.

Business note to Facebook: These “I don’t feel safe” people will never “feel safe” enough to stop demanding that you reduce the content options other Facebook users enjoy. It’s not about their actual safety. It’s about their compulsion to run everyone else’s lives.

Presumably there are more people in the “other Facebook users” category than in the “make anything that might conceivably cause me mental discomfort go away” category. For now, anyway. Keep this kind of thing up and sooner or later people who want more out of social media than finger-painting and group rounds of “Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore” will leave Facebook and go looking for that mythical Wild West Internet the “Poor Me! What About My Feelz?” crowd is always whining about.

Facebook is  plenty big enough for “live and let live” to work just fine. We choose our Facebook friends. We control what we share with them and we don’t have to look at what they share with us unless we want to.

Please, stop letting those who WON’T live and let live control your content policies.

 

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Facebook Security Officer: Not All Speech Is “Created Equal”


Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer, presented an overview of the Orwellian censorship regime implemented by the world’s largest social media company last week at an annual military conference in Tallinn, Estonia.

Speaking before an audience of generals, intelligence agents and US-aligned Eastern European politicians, Stamos warned that millions of “people who feel they have been ignored or oppressed” are using Facebook to “push for radical politics.”

The speech was an account of how the company is partnering with the US and other governments throughout the world to control public discourse online, with the primary but unstated aim of suppressing access to left-wing, anti-war and socialist viewpoints.

Stamos was speaking at CyCon, a conference sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on cyberwar and psychological operations. The very presence of a social media company at such an event, just a few hundred miles from NATO’s heavily-militarized border with Russia, makes clear the extent to which the US technology giants have been integrated into the US military-intelligence apparatus and its international operations.

Stamos began by pointing to a map of the social connections facilitated by Facebook.

“As the people who have drawn those lines, and given folks the ability to make those connections,” Stamos said, Facebook has the “responsibility to understand and to mitigate” the risks that its platform might be “used for bad,” which he called an attack “against the ideals of Facebook.”

First, Stamos said Facebook is seeking to combat “fake news” through “changes in the news feed that surface this content to people.”

But instead of seeking to determine if a piece of news is “fake,” Facebook is carrying out mass profiling of news sources by “Look[ing] to metadata around the people who have created the account, the news site that’s running it,” to evaluate whether it is “trustworthy.” Through this Orwellian censorship regime, Facebook segregates news organizations into categories and determines how many people are able to view their postings on that basis.

In other words, the company’s evaluation of whether a piece of news is “fake” is determined not by whether it is accurate, factually grounded or verifiable, but rather by who posts it. The logical implication is that if one of Facebook’s “partners” in the establishment media posts a story, no matter how inaccurate, biased, or poorly sourced, the company will still promote it as “trustworthy.”

Facebook’s policy on “fake news,” in other words, is political blacklisting.

In order to block “foreign influence operators,” Stamos said, Facebook is carrying out “manual investigations of organized groups,” and it is using machine learning to find “bad actors” at “scale” across its billions of users.

However, he added,

“The biggest growth category of information operations that we’re going to see over the next couple of years is domestic influence operations”—that is, political organizations who are seeking to “influence” politics in their own countries.

Facebook is targeting groups of “people who feel they have been ignored or oppressed,” whose “goal” is to “push for radical politics,” he said. These groups, he noted, can be “quite large.” As an example, Stamos mentioned Anonymous, a “hacktivist” group that supported the Occupy Wall Street protests against social inequality and was associated with support for the online journalism group WikiLeaks.

Alex Stamos speaking at CyCon

Numerically, however, the largest target of Facebook’s censorship measures consists of “individual participants,” who are often motivated by “legitimately held beliefs” to become “partners in information operations.” That is, millions of people who are not part of any organized political group, but who voice their agreement with the political views promoted by groups targeted by Facebook by sharing their content or voicing their support.

A “domestic operator,” he said, can have “thousands and thousands of people who believe in your cause.” The effect of “these people should not be understated,” he said.

To stifle the political statements of the broader public is open political censorship. For that reason, Facebook must be careful not to appear to stifle public discourse, but to block the “effectiveness” of the public in participating in “organized campaign[s].”

Stamos stated,

“Our response here has to be very, very careful because part of free expression means that sometimes people are going to say stuff you don’t agree with, right? Part of freedom is the freedom for people individually to be wrong, and we have to allow people to be wrong and to say things that while they don’t fall afoul of our hate speech standards or standards meant to ensure safety, but that are considered inappropriate, those are the kinds of things that open societies have to accept. But we do want to implement product enhancements to make sure that we are reducing the effectiveness of these people to be part of, unwittingly part of, an organized campaign.”

These “product enhancements” include redirecting users to content that Facebook approves of and providing “educational cues” informing them that their views are “disputed.”

Under American law, Facebook is regulated like a communications utility, similar to a phone company or a package delivery service. It has neither the “responsibility” nor the right to impose its “ideals” onto its users.

In the company’s view, however, the fact that it acts as a communications platform gives it the paternalistic obligation to police what its users say and block their speech if the company disagrees with it.

The social content of these “ideals” is made clear by the military-intelligence audience Stamos was speaking before. Over the course of the past two years, Facebook has come under relentless pressure from the US government to serve as an agent of the state intelligence forces to censor and suppress oppositional views on its platform. Leading advocates of censorship, including Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, have made clear that the company will face intense regulatory and public pressure if it does not comply with their demands to stifle political opposition online.

In so doing, Facebook is acting as an agent of the American state, doing its dirty work to subvert the public’s constitutionally-protected freedoms of speech and assembly.

In perhaps his most ominous statement, Stamos concluded by calling for broader social changes in line with the measures Facebook has already taken. “Our societies overall are going to have to start to adapt to the idea that not all information is created equal,” he concluded. His conclusion harkens to the motto of the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

With the vast majority of written communication taking place online, Facebook’s actions, together with other technology companies, constitute the largest, most comprehensive regime of censorship in human history. Outside of and in contradiction to fundamental constitutional and human rights, Facebook claims the right to determine what hundreds of billions of people read and say.

The World Socialist Web Site is fighting to expose the effort by Facebook, Google and other technology giants to censor the internet, which is the spearhead of a drive to dismantle the freedoms of association and expression across the world. We urge all of those who want to take up this struggle to contact us.

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As Facebook Ire Grows, Senator Says Zuckerberg “Ought to Be Subpoenaed”


NOVANEWS

By Jake JohnsonCommon Dreams 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at Facebook's F8 Developer Conference on April 18, 2017 at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference on April 18, 2017, at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

As the damning details of Facebook’s largest-ever data breach at the hands of pro-Trump data firm Cambridge Analytica continue to pour in — and as the social media giant’s share price continues to plummet as a result — Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Monday called on CEO Mark Zuckerberg to “testify under oath” before Congress to explain why his company took so long to notify users that their information had been compromised.

“Zuckerberg ought to be subpoenaed to testify if he won’t do it voluntarily,” Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters late Monday, echoing demands of other lawmakers. “He owes it to the American people who ought to be deeply disappointed by the conflicting and disparate explanations that have been offered.”

Blumenthal’s request comes amid growing calls — both in the US and overseas — for Zuckerberg to answer for his company’s failure to ban Cambridge Analytica in 2015, when the platform first discovered that the personal information of millions had been harvested in violation of company policy.

Since details of Cambridge Analytica’s exploitation of Facebook were published by the New York Times and the Observer over the weekend, the social media giant has downplayed the incident, argued that it doesn’t constitute a data breach at all, and maintained that Cambridge Analytica is solely to blame for the improper harvesting of personal data.

But privacy advocates have argued that while Cambridge Analytica should be held accountable for its actions, Facebook cannot be let off the hook.

“Facebook really only has itself to blame for this mess. Even with tweaks, the company has consistently privileged data collection and monetization over user privacy,” argued The New Republic’s Alex Shephard in an article on Tuesday. “This has allowed it to become one of the most powerful and valuable corporations on the planet. But it has also made it the perfect platform for shady influence campaigns. Of course, the biggest problem with this scandal isn’t that Cambridge Analytica is shady — it’s that Facebook is.”

As the Observer noted in its explosive report on Saturday, Facebook “failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals.”

In a letter (pdf) to Zuckerberg — who has yet to make a public statement about the incident — delivered on Monday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) highlighted “the ease with which Cambridge Analytica was able to exploit Facebook’s default privacy settings for profit and political gain” and demanded to know how many similar incidents have occured over the past decade.

This breach, Wyden wrote, “throws into question not only the prudence and desirability of Facebook’s business practices and the dangers of monetizing consumers’ private information, but also raises serious concerns about the role Facebook played in facilitating and permitting the covert collection and misuse of consumer information.”

“With little oversight — and no meaningful intervention from Facebook — Cambridge Analytica was able to use Facebook-developed and marketed tools to weaponize detailed psychological profiles against tens of millions of Americans,” Wyden concluded. “With this in mind, I ask that you provide further information on Facebook’s role in this incident and the overall awareness your company maintains into third-party collection and use of Facebook user data.”

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Zuckerberg Promises Facebook Not to Fact Check Stories Based on Politics


NOVANEWS

US government officials have recently suggested suppressing independent and alternative media outlets they consider “fake”

zuckerberg-sputnik

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has given assurances that his social media site’s offensive against fake news will be limited to stories that are patently false, according to Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has given assurances that his social media site’s offensive against fake news will be limited to stories that are patently false, Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell said in a statement.

Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell

Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell

“I expressed grave concern with this decision and the liberal ‘fact-checking’ organizations Facebook has chosen,” Bozell said. “Mr. Zuckerberg assured me that his express aim is to eliminate only patently false news stories from Facebook.”

Facebook announced earlier in the week that they are partner with third-party fact checkers in an attempt to stop fabricated stories posing as news from reputable from polluting its feed.

An often-cited example is a widely circulated story on Facebook during the US presidential campaign claiming that Pope Francis had endorsed President-elect Donald Trump.

Critics have pointed out Facebook’s selection of fact checkers, which included partisan backers of failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton such as billionaire George Soros’ Media Matters and left-leaning news outlets such as PolitiFact and Snopes.com.

“Conservatives need to scream bloody murder about this,” the Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway Tweeted. “These organizations cannot be trusted to be fair.”

The Federalist’s Sean Davis tweeted: “Facebook responded to revelations that it blacklisted conservatives by giving DNC [Democratic National Committee] propaganda outfits power to blacklist conservatives.”

To critics, which the fact checkers are biased and distinguishing between made-up stories and ones that the news police do not agree with, is a risky proposition.

US government officials have recently suggested suppressing independent and alternative media outlets they consider “fake” all the while the corporate mainstream media has engaged in biased as well as outright false reporting and lost credibility among huge segments of US society.

Nevertheless, Bozell of the conservative Media Research Center said he would accept Zuckerberg’s pledge in good faith with the hope that his statement will be his last on the issue.


Also see: 

Facebook is going to use Snopes and other fact checkers to combat fake news

Ministry of Truth: Facebook will now tell you what is real vs fake news

The Conspiracy to Shut Down Truth, Donald Trump, and The American People

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