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Thread: BREAKING: Facebook announces intention to close stable door

  1. #1
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Default BREAKING: Facebook announces intention to close stable door

    Former employee of creepy evil alt-right affiliated firm Cambridge Analytica has revealed embarrassing and creepy details about the work the firm did with the help of extremely detailed data on 50 million Facebook users:



    At issue is the scandalous revelation that extremely detailed data on individuals was obtained even though they themselves never gave their consent. Facebook's default settings at the time enabled a app developer to get info not only on the app's users but also on those users' friends, unless said friends changed their privacy settings.

    In response to this story (the outline of which was known or suspected a year and a half ago), Facebook announced that it had suspended CA:

    https://newsroom.fb.com/news/h/suspe...dge-analytica/



    Carole Cadwalladr has been pursuing this story for a while, and the Guardian has some more details:

    https://www.theguardian.com/technolo...data-algorithm

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/201...ce-us-election

    NYTimes and others have also covered the story in the US: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/u...-campaign.html



    FB claims no laws were broken, that they did everything in its power to stop this but that they were misled by Kogan (the researcher). Kogan had permission to collect and use this data for academic work but passed it on to third parties. When this was discovered--somehow--FB requested that he and the third parties in question certify that the data had been destroyed. However, we know that, even in 2016, months before the US election, FB was aware not all data had been destroyed. No meaningful action appears to have been taken, and, as we know, FB has been anything but forthcoming in responding to questions from investigators and journalists. Users--even those who were directly impacted--have received very little information, and that only after significant pressure on FB.

    FB claims no laws were broken, but it appears they--or at least Kogan--may be significantly exposed to legal liability in the UK, where laws expressly prohibit gathering this sort of data for one purpose and then using it--without consent--for another purpose entirely.

    I think this is all very interesting and I believe it may lead to a change in the way these massive platforms and their activities are regarded--and regulated. Microtargeting on FB is very valuable for large companies and this ability accounts for a great deal of FB's allure to businesses. While it's cool in some respects to be able to show diaper ads to an FB user expecting a baby in a week, these features also enable businesses to selectively advertise to white people rather than to black people, enabling racial discrimination in areas such as housing. In the political context, it can help further agendas inimical to democracy and social cohesion, enabling hostile foreign actors to subvert the democratic process of a country.

    Seen some proposals for how best to respond to these events. At a minimum, I think the legality of the data harvesting and selling--and FB's subsequent actions--should be investigated.

    Do platform owners have any responsibility for criminal activity on their platforms, in the way a landlord may be responsible for not doing enough to stop criminal activity on his property? Some say making platform owners liable will kill app markets completely, which I believe is unlikely. Nevertheless, it would certainly increase their burden, perhaps substantially.

    Some have suggested that the simplest and most palatable response to this is to make microtargeting for political purposes illegal (with exceptions that make it similar to handing out flyers at the local level) and political advertising on social media more carefully regulated. Eg. a campaign would have to be officially registered as such when buying ads on FB, and wouldn't be able to tailor & target political ads at the individual level, being required, instead, to show the same things to a large and mixed population. Failure to comply with the law would be criminal.

    I think this idea has many problems but it's more workable and a more reasonable compromise than many others. Significant flaws: easy to get around restrictions by identifying and exploiting polarizing subjects that are strongly correlated with political affiliation and behavior; problems with fuzzy definitions; possibly unfair (other users not similarly restricted) and damaging to businesses (FB loses revenue, obv).

    Were such a change implemented, I believe FB & co. should be required to report suspicious/illegal activity to authorities in addition to the usual measures it takes to sanction misuse (eg. suspension), similar to how banks may be required to report suspicious activity.

    Whatever the response may be, I think it's fair to say a response is required.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  2. #2
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Note: no doubt Dread & Wiggin for example will be eager to point out the apparent hypocrisy of objecting to these shenanigans when they're used to help Trump, while applauding them when they were used to help Obama. This is a common refrain and, when we know more details about the Obama campaigns' use of FB data and microtargeting, we may indeed find that they've been similarly dodgy. I have seen no evidence to suggest that those campaigns violated FB's ToS in the same way or to the same extent, or did anything that might be illegal.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  3. #3
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/c...russia-n857751

    Note: lying to parliament is actually normal behavior these days
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

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    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Trusting Facebook to monitor itself is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

    To claim they protect privacy belies the fact that sharing information is at the heart of their business model, especially for their paying advertisers (who obviously don't get much scrutiny, so long as their check clears). They can try to blame this on third parties, or a "failure to follow rules", but it won't change the fact that they do a crappy job of screening their actual profit-providers. Apparently anyone can claim they're doing "academic research" and Facebook looks the other way, until they get caught for enabling bad actors, thanks to whistle-blowers or investigative journalists.

  5. #5
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Annecdotal tangent: I'm surprised that millions of people are just now figuring out that there's no such thing as "Free", especially on an internet social media platform like Facebook. If you're sharing your life in photos and storied posts, or "friending" people on a "free" platform like Facebook, you've already decided to trade a certain degree of privacy for convenience (no matter what you think 'privacy' settings actually protect).

    Also, if you're using a platform like Facebook to get your "news", or linking to sources from friends' posts, don't be surprised when that turns out to be targeted propaganda, or even "fake".

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    I'm surprised too about how little aware people are about what things they do on facebooks are used for data mining. I for example never do any of those cute tests you will see other people do.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  7. #7
    Resiste et Mords! Steely Glint's Avatar
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    It's getting closer now, the fear that we have held off for so long
    It's getting closer now to where we know there can be no return
    It's makes no sense to me, what has been set in motion here today
    It makes no sense anymore, was it too little, too late? Or too much too fast?

  8. #8
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    Trusting Facebook to monitor itself is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

    To claim they protect privacy belies the fact that sharing information is at the heart of their business model, especially for their paying advertisers (who obviously don't get much scrutiny, so long as their check clears). They can try to blame this on third parties, or a "failure to follow rules", but it won't change the fact that they do a crappy job of screening their actual profit-providers. Apparently anyone can claim they're doing "academic research" and Facebook looks the other way, until they get caught for enabling bad actors, thanks to whistle-blowers or investigative journalists.
    Can "anyone" do that? The guy in question was a Cambridge University professor, not exactly a random person off the street or party hack.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  9. #9
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    It pleases me immensely that these crooks were entrapped by a master of disguise offering a deal too good to resist, with their corruption caught in video for everyone to see.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

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    This kind of bovine excrement is why I never play those fun 'which Game of Thrones character are you' or 'How many cities can you identify' games people seem to like so much on facebook.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  11. #11
    Resiste et Mords! Steely Glint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    Can "anyone" do that? The guy in question was a Cambridge University professor, not exactly a random person off the street or party hack.
    Apparently, yes.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/201...andy-parakilas
    It's getting closer now, the fear that we have held off for so long
    It's getting closer now to where we know there can be no return
    It's makes no sense to me, what has been set in motion here today
    It makes no sense anymore, was it too little, too late? Or too much too fast?

  12. #12
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    This kind of bovine excrement is why I never play those fun 'which Game of Thrones character are you' or 'How many cities can you identify' games people seem to like so much on facebook.
    Doesn't seem to matter which games *you* play (or personality tests you take) but if your 'friends' do.
    Good article, Steely.

  13. #13
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    Note: no doubt Dread & Wiggin for example will be eager to point out the apparent hypocrisy of objecting to these shenanigans when they're used to help Trump, while applauding them when they were used to help Obama. This is a common refrain and, when we know more details about the Obama campaigns' use of FB data and microtargeting, we may indeed find that they've been similarly dodgy. I have seen no evidence to suggest that those campaigns violated FB's ToS in the same way or to the same extent, or did anything that might be illegal.
    Yes yes YES. Obama was lauded for his smooth, silky use of modern "digital media" to win his election. This is a function of the media. My predictable question is how much of a story would this be if this issue didn't fit into a "People were manipulated into supporting Trump by Russia/technology/racism/lasers" media narrative.

    But I agree as you say there seems to be no real violation of Facebook TOS at the time. Calling this a "breach" seems spurious. Though not removing the data upon request seems to indeed be Bad.

    Facebook will clearly have a reckoning with their 3rd party data access policies; after all they already restricted much of this stuff years ago, so the data relationships today are far narrower than before.

  14. #14
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Update: Facebook now believes the data of 87 million people were improperly shared with CA.

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/...lytica-breach/

    In many cases, exposed data included call & SMS logs:

    https://arstechnica.com/information-...ndroid-phones/

    Zuckerberg will testify before congress. Not sure whether they'll get anything meaningful out of him.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  15. #15
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    He's refused an invitation to testify before Parliament and is sending a deputy instead.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  16. #16
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Sounds like he made apologies, accepted responsibility, promised to "do better", and hoped that would be enough.

  17. #17
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    Sounds like he made apologies, accepted responsibility, promised to "do better", and hoped that would be enough.
    Been doing it for over a decade. The hearing was ridiculous. Entirely the wrong group of interrogators. He ran circles around them, not because he's smart but because the senators are more ignorant than he is.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  18. #18
    Unencrypted Wraith's Avatar
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    It's always great entertainment to get the oldest people you can find and put them in charge of technologies.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    He's refused an invitation to testify before Parliament and is sending a deputy instead.
    Is it news?
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  20. #20
    Senior Member RandBlade's Avatar
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    Not sure what you mean by that Hazir. It was news a week ago when I posted that. With Cambridge being heavily involved in this scandal Parliament is investigating it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Being upset is understandable, but be upset at yourself for poor planning, not at the world by acting like a spoiled bitch during an interview.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    Not sure what you mean by that Hazir. It was news a week ago when I posted that. With Cambridge being heavily involved in this scandal Parliament is investigating it.
    I meant; why is it newsworthy if the CEO of a big US company sends his deputy to the British parliament? It's not like your parliament is important enough to merit the man wasting his time on its inquiries.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  22. #22
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    This is how Facebook collects data on you even if you don’t have an account

    There’s little you can do about it.

    https://www.recode.net/2018/4/20/172...ark-zuckerberg

  23. #23
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Facebook bans some 32 accounts traced to suspected Russian troll-bots trying to influence the 2018 mid-term elections. Good start, but maybe a little too late?

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