Facebook Deeply Committed to Keep Lying Political Ads

· · Link

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?

Two Twitter Employees Charged With Spying for Saudi Arabia

· · Link

A complaint unsealed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco revealed that two Twitter employees have been charged with spying for Saudi Arabia.

The complaint also alleged that the employees — whose jobs did not require access to Twitter users’ private information — were rewarded with a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars funneled into secret bank accounts. Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen, and Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen, were charged with acting as agents of Saudi Arabia without registering with the U.S. government.

I wonder if this is a separate incident from Saudi’s Twitter mole.

Facebook Profits on Manipulating Us, an Insider Reveals

· · Link

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

· · Link

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

· · Link

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

· · Link

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.”

Microsoft says Iranian 'Phosphorus' Group Tried to Hack U.S. Presidential Campaign

· · Link

In a blog post today Microsoft says that Iranian hackers attacked a U.S. presidential campaign, current and former U.S. government officials, journalists covering global politics and prominent Iranians living outside Iran.

Four accounts were compromised as a result of these attempts; these four accounts were not associated with the U.S. presidential campaign or current and former U.S. government officials. Microsoft has notified the customers related to these investigations and threats and has worked as requested with those whose accounts were compromised to secure them.

No word yet on what time President Trump asked Iran to interfere with our elections.

If Elizabeth Warren Wins Mark Zuckerberg Will Sue the Government

· · Link

Mark Zuckerberg is scared of Elizabeth Warren over her plan to break up Big Tech monopolies, and a leaked audio recording reveals a rant in which he pledges to sue the government if she wins. You know, just your typical Tuesday stuff.

You have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies … if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. … But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.

Facebook Refuses to Fact-Check Politicians

· · Link

Facebook moves to hold politicians to lower standards than the rest of us, saying that politicians will be exempt from its fact-checking system.

Facebook uses independent third-party fact-checking organizations to help identity fake news, misleading claims and misinformation. However, it said posts made by politicians would not be fact-checked. It said it did not want to be the “referee” in political debates or prevent politicians’ posts from reaching their intended audience. However, it did not define who it counted as a politician.

Mark Zuckerberg won’t fact-check politicians but he’ll gladly take their political advertising money.

This Real-Time Map Shows You the Amazon Forest Fires

· · Link

Ever since Jair Bolsonaro proclaimed that economic growth was more important than protecting the Amazon, there have been 74,155 fires. For the past three weeks, a giant fire has been blazing its way through the forest, and an interactive map lets you watch it.

Many of the fires are set by farmers to clear land. In early August, farmers in the Amazon self-declared a “fire day” to burn trees, emboldened by the fact that the government isn’t enforcing rainforest protections that are part of national law.

“It’s very rare to have fires starting naturally in the Amazon,” says Weisse. “And so almost everything that we’re seeing is a result of human activity, and it’s mostly happening along roads or in farms or where people are.”

How Much Does Your ISP Spend on Lobbying?

· · Link

Paul Bischoff gives us a breakdown of the top 25 lobbying spenders in 2018, and how much they spent.

2018 was the biggest year yet for ISP lobbying at $80 million. Top spenders include AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, which have amassed lobbying expenses of $341 million, $265 million, and $200 million, respectively since 1998.

Russian Network RT America Wants You to Distrust 5G Networks

· · Link

5G graphic (mesh)

Russian network RT America recently aired a segment called “A Dangerous Experiment on Humanity” to get people to distrust 5G. The segment links 5G to brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumors and Alzheimer’s disease, none of which are backed by scientific evidence.

Yet even as RT America, the cat’s paw of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has been doing its best to stoke the fears of American viewers, Mr. Putin, on Feb. 20, ordered the launch of Russian 5G networks in a tone evoking optimism rather than doom.

Russia is definitely not the first to attempt to link certain cellular frequencies to health problems, but a it’s an interesting new twist in the matter.