Public anger at the ills unleashed by social media currently burns hottest on Facebook — namely, its profiting off political lies posted by masked operatives. Many also blame Facebook for stoking the modern hell of FOMO — fear of missing out. We speak of the feelings of inadequacy fanned by friends’ jolly vacation and party posts, presentations that make many think everyone is having a better time than they are.
Zuckerberg this week at the Senate hearing on Facebook’s failures regarding privacy, fake news and foreign interference in elections: “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook. I run it. And I’m responsible for what happens here.” Well, that makes us feel a whole lot better. Zuckerberg wisely dressed up for the grilling but still issued kid-in-a-T-shirt apologies.
“There’s an issue of content discrimination,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington. “It is not a problem unique to Facebook. There’s a number of high-profile examples of edge providers engaging in blocking and censoring religious and conservative political content… What is Facebook doing to ensure that its users are treated fairly and objectively by content reviewers?”
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg withstood his first of two days of testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday, responding to Senatorial questions for hours. Zuckerberg held his own at the joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees, responding to a series of privacy concerns stemming from a data breach by Cambridge Analytica.
Three-thousand Google employees have signed a letter protesting the internet giant’s contract with the Defense Department to develop artificial intelligence in order to analyze imagery collected by drones. The employees are calling on Google CEO Sundar Pichai to cancel the project immediately and to “enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.”
One of 2018’s most remarkable campaign stories is unfolding on the back roads and small-town squares of rural Texas, where Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a three-term congressman from El Paso, is within striking distance of unseating arguably the nation’s most despised senator, Texas Republican Ted Cruz.
A number of Facebook pages, accounts, and groups pushing fake news and hyperpartisan content to Americans are linked to websites registered in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The pages have nearly 200,000 followers combined and the groups have nearly 60,000 followers combined. This is another example of foreign actors spreading fake news on Facebook.
Around 400 fiber-optic cables are responsible for transporting data for most of the world’s emails, text messages and phone calls. Cutting several of the cables at strategic points could have a major impact on communication channels worldwide. General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of the U.S. European Command, told Congress in March that Russian naval ships and submarines are poking around the cables.
“President Trump has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world. Hundreds each month. He has broken up trafficking rings in high places everywhere. notice that. I disagree on some things, but give him benefit of doubt-4 now,” tweeted the actor, whose show, Roseanne, returned to ABC Tuesday to sky high ratings.
Holmes amassed several billion selling a modern Silicon Valley fantasy using old-fashioned smoke and mirrors. She built a “narrative” around herself as the mythical tech genius. She wore black turtlenecks like Steve Jobs. She reveled in having dropped out of college like Jobs and Bill Gates. She gave her blood-analyzing device the brainy but simple name of “Edison.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is not afraid to step into battle. After losing both of her legs while serving in the Iraq War, Duckworth joined the U.S. Senate, where she made a name for herself as an outspoken advocate for veterans and active-duty service members. On Wednesday, right-wing outlet RedState found itself in the crosshairs after it tried to pick a fight with the combat veteran — a mistake it isn’t likely to repeat.
Stoneman Douglas high school student Emma Gonzalez’s words, “We call BS,” have already become iconic, adorning thousands of placards at this weekend’s March for Our Lives rally across the country. Now the right is attempting to weaponize the Parkland survivor’s newfound fame in the form of a photoshopped image of her tearing up a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
“I think we let the community down, and I feel really bad and I’m sorry about that,” he told Recode’s Kara Swisher. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, appearing on CNBC, also offered an apology: “I am so sorry that we let so many people down.”
The media frenzy and political umbrage over the apparent theft of upwards of 50 million Facebook user profiles in 2014 by Cambridge Analytica, a British-based voter targeting operation co-founded by Steve Bannon, to assist Trump’s 2016 campaign is overlooking a critical fact: Bannon’s data didn’t deliver.
Tech companies have repeatedly failed to protect the consumers who use their platforms, and despite the outrage that arises when news of another failure breaks, remarkably little has been done to fix the problem. Consumers have been left to deal with fake news, predatory political ads, and data breaches largely on their own without assistance from companies, government, or other institutions.
Exhibit A for this dynamic is the 2016 Trump campaign’s use of digital media, especially Facebook. In late February, President Trump named Brad Parscale, his digital director, as his 2020 re-election campaign manager. In the meantime, Parscale has been helping the Republican Party raise millions from small donations online.
Facebook said in a statement that it suspended Cambridge Analytica and its parent group Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) after receiving reports that they did not delete information about Facebook users that was inappropriately shared. Facebook did not mention the Trump campaign or any political campaigns in its statement, attributed to company Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal.
Cambridge Analytica, the Trump campaign’s data firm, harvested private information from more than 50 million unwitting Facebook users in what is being described as one of the largest data breaches in the social media giant’s history. That data — taken without authorization — was used to build a digital operation that guided Trump’s campaign for the presidency…
“Maybe they are not even Russians but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked; maybe they have dual citizenship of a green card; maybe the U.S. paid them for this. How can you know that? I do not know either,” he said.
Russian propaganda runs rampant on the online message board Reddit, especially on the notorious Trump supporters’ subreddit r/The_Donald. A search on Reddit for Russian propaganda outlets RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik News turns up well over 200 examples apiece.
The action comes after ProPublica reports detailing the organization’s terrorist ambitions and revealing that the California man charged with murdering Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old college student found buried in an Orange County park earlier this year, was an Atomwaffen member.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology paints a grim portrait of life as an Uber or Lyft driver. According to a new study titled “The Economics of Ride-Hailing: Driver Revenue, Expenses, and Taxes,” a motorist for the ride-sharing apps makes an average of $3.37 per hour—and that’s before taxes. At least 74 percent of employees earn below minimum wage in their respective states.
When poll workers arrived at 6 a.m. to open the voting location in Allentown, New Jersey, for last November’s gubernatorial election, they found that none of the borough’s four voting machines were working. Their replacements, which were delivered about four hours later, also failed. Voters had to cast their ballots on paper, which then were counted by hand.
As speculation builds over the extent of Russian meddling in 2018’s elections, the deceptive and influential tactics revealed in last week’s indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller—as well as some newer tactics—are already in use by U.S. politicos with pro-corporate, pro-GOP agendas.
Americans who care about democracy and voting should stop jumping to conclusions about Russians hunkered down in Moscow cyber-bunkers, and instead look at what’s happening on these shores as shoddy journalists and Silicon Valley’s content curators are doing Vladimir Putin’s work for him.