To Facebook, or not to Facebook - that is the question. This week Beth and Kelly take a look at the recent stories surrounding the world's largest social media platform and try to decipher the real from the fake.
At the recent Facebook Developer's Conference (called the F8), Mark Zuckerberg has finally admitted that fake news spread through facebook is a real issue, and he said this in regard to the company’s plan to fight fake news, spammers and divisive bots:
"There's no guarantee that we get this right," Zuckerberg said. "We will make mistakes, and there will be consequences, and we will need to fix them. But what I can guarantee is that if we don't work on this, the world isn't moving in this direction by itself."
So, what are they going to do to protect our data more carefully, so firms like Cambridge Analytica cannot mine your personal information? They claim they have stopped working with third-party data providers, such as Acxiom and Experian, who have historically helped marketers target advertising based on users information. Additionally, the plan to create an approval process for all apps that require access to more personalized information, such as photos, events, check-ins, etc.
We heard in the congressional hearing that Facebook unfairly targets conservatives - while this is far from proven, former republican senator John Kyl and his Washington law firm, along with The Heritage Foundation are on the case. You may remember Sen. Kyl for his own fake news, when he claimed: Abortion services are "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." Hopefully we don’t shock you when you hear this allegation is pants on fire false. Abortion services are actually about 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services.
Heritage Foundation is, of course, a conservative think tank who boasts Rebekah Mercer as a board member.
Beth thinks we should all take a break and check out the bad-lip-syncing version of The Zuck's congressional questioning:
Regarding the bias against conservative news, we would point out that a great many of the conspiracy theorists, from InfoWars, Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, Breitbart, (and more) are conservative. Allowing them to have more free reign to spread fake news as they have in the past could be dangerous.
On a positive note, Facebook has also vowed to complete a civil rights audit, led by Laura Murphy, the former Director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. This audit follows another congressional investigation into Facebook’s advertising demographic targeting, which disproportionately affected minorities:
“Facebook provided realtors, for example, with ad-targeting options that allowing them to “narrow” their ads to excluded, among others, black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans. The ad-targeting mechanism may have also allowed realtors—or homeowners looking to rent out or sell their own properties—to exclude people with disabilities as well.”
Seriously - Fuck those guys.
Well, the semi-good news this week is that Cambridge Analytica is shutting down. Maybe. They will be filing for bankruptcy in the US, but, just like Blackwater it’s far more likely they’ll close shop as Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group (the British parent organization) and start doing the same thing under a different name. Blackwater's founder, Erik Prince is even closely associated with Cambridge Analytica. In fact, it looks like they’ve already started doing just that in the UK:
“The UK's official registrar of businesses and organizations, Companies House, lists an active company called Emerdata Limited, headquartered at the same offices as SCL Elections and run by much of the same management and investors as Cambridge Analytica. It even describes itself as a 'data processing, hosting and related activities' organization.”
So, what can we do to protect our data? Some people will delete their Facebook accounts, but that's not an option at this point for everyone. It's clear that both users and creators need to be working together to ensure our info stays as safe as possible.
Beth's Jam of the Week, How You Like Me Now? by The Heavy:
Kelly's Jam of the Week, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett:
According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world's only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.
So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth's mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.
And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .
Zuckerberg doubles down on Facebook’s fight against fake news, data misuse
Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal
Exclusive: Facebook commits to civil rights audit, political bias review
Jon Kyl says abortion services are “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does”
The Heritage Foundation
Facebook is Under Investigation for Alleged Housing Discrimination (Again)
The power players behind Cambridge Analytica have set up a mysterious new data company
Cambridge Analytica dismantled for good? Nope: It just changed its name to Emerdata
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