Facebook Deeply Committed to Keep Lying Political Ads

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Facebook remains committed to keep lying political ads on its platform, saying that private companies shouldn’t make decisions about them.

Instead of banning such ads across the platform, Facebook has opted to introduce new tools for users to limit the way they interact with political ads. The company has expanded its Ad Library tool, an archive which shows all the political ads running on Facebook or Instagram, by adding information on approximately how many people ads reach.

Why would Facebook ban its source of income?

Apple’s Newest Holiday Video Will Make You Cry

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Apple’s newest holiday video is a real tearjerker. A family goes to grandpa’s house for the holidays, and during the trip the parents give the kids an iPad as a way to keep them occupied. When they get to grandpa’s house, it’s a somber atmosphere. We learn that grandma is no longer with them, but the two girls make something special with the iPad as a present. The song is Married Life by Michael Giacchino, from the Up movie.

Facebook is Fine With Political Lies But Bans Pro-Vaccination Ads

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Facebook is happy to let politicians lie in advertisements on the platform, but it bans pro-vaccination ads that are rooted in science.

The study, published today in the journal Vaccine…found that a small group of “well-connected, powerful people” promoting broad anti-vaccination messages had successfully leveraged the platform’s targeted advertising service to reach select audiences…Meanwhile, those behind pro-vaccine messages well far less well funded and centralised, with their advertising often focusing on inoculating against specific conditions.

Privacytools.io Delists Startpage Over System1

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Privacytools.io delists Startpage from its list of privacy tools and services. Startpage had been taken over by Privacy One Group, which itself is owned by System1. System1 is a targeted advertising company with a business model that seemed—to many—to be in conflict with Startpage’s own privacy-centric model.

Because of the conflicting business model and the unusual way the company reacted, claiming to be fully transparent but being evasive at the same time, we have no choice but to de-list Startpage from our recommendations until it is fully transparent about its new ownership and data processing. Remaining questions include…

If Your YouTube Account Isn’t ‘Commercially Viable’ Google Will Delete It

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According to YouTube’s new terms of service, your YouTube account can be terminated if it isn’t commercially viable enough. The phrasing is broad enough that some people think this means Google will take action against people using adblockers.

YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.

I’m personally not sure if that’s the case. You don’t need a Google account to watch YouTube, nor does Google need you to have an account for it to track you.

Facebook Profits on Manipulating Us, an Insider Reveals

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Writing for The Washington Post, Yaël Eisenstat writes about paid political advertising at Facebook and how the company profits off of manipulation.

The “culture of fear,” nasty political campaigns and amplified extreme voices are not new in American society. But the scale to which these platforms have fueled and exacerbated this by using our emotional biases to keep our eyeballs on their screens, to vacuum up our data and sell their targeting tools to advertisers, has tilted the playing field toward the most salacious and fanatical voices.

Twitter Leapfrogs Over Facebook and Bans Political Ads

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I’m actually impressed with Twitter’s move. A corporation is willingly giving up the money it would make from political ads (Although it’s easy for them since these ads were a “small fraction of Twitter’s revenue). Still, kudos.

[Twitter CEO Jack] Dorsey touched on the conflict between hosting paid political ads and trying to fight the spread of misinformation.

“For instance, it‘s not credible for us to say: ‘We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well…they can say whatever they want!'” Dorsey tweeted.

Arguing That Platforms Can't Moderate Content is a Cop Out

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Mike Masnick writes about Elizabeth Warren’s Facebook feud over its advertising policy that leaves room for fake information. He also says it’s “impossible” to moderate content at scale. I disagree. Facebook and the rest of Big Tech have billions of dollars. They absolutely can moderate content. They either choose not to, or put in place petty measures that don’t do anything. Perhaps the new motto for corporations should be, “If you can’t do it ethically, don’t do it at all.” Online platforms should follow the same/similar rules that broadcasters do.

And this is the point that lots of us have been trying to make regarding Facebook and content moderation. If you’re screaming about all the wrong choices you think it makes to leave stuff up, recognize that you’re also going to pretty pissed off when the company also decides to take stuff down that you think should be left up.

Facebook Claims it can Protect Elections But Lets Politicians Lie

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Facebook announced new features today that it claims can stop 2020 election interference. However, its advertising policy lets politicians lie and gladly pockets the money it gets from allowing it.

One new feature is called Facebook Protect. By hijacking accounts of political candidates or their campaign staff, bad actors can steal sensitive information, expose secrets, and spread disinformation. So to safeguard these vulnerable users, Facebook is launching a new program with extra security they can opt into.

Mark Zuckerberg on letting politicians lie in Facebook ads: “I don’t think people want to live in a world where you can only say things that tech companies decide are 100 percent true. And I think that those tensions are something we have to live with.”

Oops! Twitter Accidentally Used Your Phone Number for Ads

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Twitter admitted yesterday that it “unintentionally” used some email addresses and phone numbers for advertising purposes. These phone numbers were specifically used to keep your account safe with two-factor authentication.

We recently discovered that when you provided an email address or phone number for safety or security purposes (for example, two-factor authentication) this data may have inadvertently been used for advertising purposes, specifically in our Tailored Audiences and Partner Audiences advertising system.

This is exactly why SMS-based two-factor authentication needs to go away. SMS is inherently insecure, as the FBI recently noted. Funnily enough, I recently removed my phone number from Twitter, although it’s probably too late.

Earbuds Commercial Shot on iPhone 11 Pro Max

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An ad for noise-cancelling earbuds from Koss Heaphones was shot on the iPhone 11 Pro Max by videographer Martin Moore.

Recently shot this Koss Headphones Commercial on an iPhone 11 Pro Max using FiLMiC Pro on FiLMiC Extreme 4K 24fps, Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Gimbal. Edited in FCPX and exported with Apple ProRes 422.

Mr. Moore is known for shooting commercials with iPhones. Last year he created several using the iPhone XS Max. It’s a great way to show off the video capabilities of Apple’s devices. You can check it out here.

Safari 13 Just Killed uBlock Origin and Other Extensions

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Safari 13 deprecates support for legacy extensions. Instead, you now how to download them through the Mac App Store. A GitHub user explained the uBlock Origin situation and recommends adblocking alternatives.

Get a content blocker. Not nearly as powerful as uBO, but the best option if you want to stay with Safari. Do not get the app called “uBlock”, this is unassociated with uBlockOrigin (read about the split here), and is simply a content blocker with a big negative feature of having acceptable ads built in

Google Built Fake Webpages Called 'Push Pages' to Defy GDPR

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As part of Google’s DoubleClick/Authorized Buyers advertising system, the company created hidden webpages for advertisers that violate its own policies.

Google Push Pages are served from a Google domain (https://pagead2.googlesyndication.com) and all have the same name, “cookie_push.html”. Each Push Page is made distinctive by a code of almost two thousand characters, which Google adds at the end to uniquely identify the person that Google is sharing information about. This, combined with other cookies supplied by Google, allows companies to pseudonymously identify the person in circumstances where this would not otherwise be possible.

Google Bans Apple Card From Advertising Platform

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Google doesn’t want customers to use virtual card numbers, and that includes the one Apple Card uses. An anonymous person writes about their experience.

Last week I received my Apple Card and decided to use it on my Google Ads account for another project. Getting a little bit of daily cash back for my meager ad spend was attractive. Within a couple of hours of updating my payment method my account had become suspended for suspicious payment activity.

I’m writing this to warn anyone else that intended to use the card online that you may experience… difficulties. And if you’re planning on using the Apple Card for anything important, think again.

It makes sense, on the premise that tracking companies like Google would oppose private measures like the Apple Card. I assume other virtual cards like Privacy.com would suffer the same fate.

Google Privacy Sandbox Probably Won't Protect Your Privacy

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Advertising company Google wants to build a “Google privacy sandbox” as a way to improve personalized ads while attempting to remove the “personalized” part.

The goal of these proposals is to promote a dialog on ways browsers could advance user privacy, while still ensuring publishers can earn what they need to fund great content and user experiences, and advertisers can deliver relevant ads to the right people and measure their impact.

Or, if you want to support websites with ads while also protecting your privacy, stick to Safari.