Facebook on the Hot Seat Before Senate Judiciary Committee

This is a dedicated post to capture your comments about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon. At the time of this post Zuckerberg has already been on the hot seat for more than two hours and another two hours is anticipated.

Before this hearing today I have already begun to think Facebook’s oligopolic position and its decade-plus inability to effectively police its operation requires a different approach than merely increasing regulation. While Facebook isn’t the only corporation monetizing users’ data as its core business model, its platform has become so ubiquitous that it is difficult to make use of a broad swath of online services without a Facebook login (or one of a very small number of competing platforms like Google or Twitter).

If Facebook’s core mission is connecting people with a positive experience, it should be regulated like a telecommunications provider — they, too, are connectors — or it should be taken public like the U.S. Postal Service. USPS, after all, is about connecting individual and corporate users by mediating exchange of analog data.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) offers a potential starting point as a model for the U.S. to regulate Facebook and other social media platforms. GDPR will shape both users’ expectations and Facebook’s service whether the U.S. is on board or not; we ought to look at GDPR as a baseline for this reason, while compliant with the First Amendment and existing data regulations like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

What aggravates me as I watch this hearing is Zuckerberg’s obvious inability to grasp nuance, whether divisions in political ideology or the fuzzy line between businesses’ interests and users’ rights. I don’t know if regulation will be enough if Facebook (manifest in Zuckerberg’s attitude) can’t fully and willingly comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s 2011 consent decree protecting users’ privacy. It’s possible fines for violations of this consent decree arising from the Cambridge Analytica/SCL abuse of users’ data might substantively damage Facebook; will we end up “owning” Facebook before we can even regulate it?

Have at it in comments.

UPDATE — 6:00 PM EDT — One of my senators, Gary Peters, just asked Zuck about audio capture, whether Facebook uses audio technology to listen to users in order to place ads relevant to users’ conversational topics. Zuck says no, which is really odd given the number of anecdotes floating around about ads popping up related to topics of conversation.

It strikes me this is one of the key problems with regulating social media: we are dealing with a technology which has outstripped its users AND its developers, evident in the inability to discuss Facebook’s operations with real fluency on either the part of government or its progenitor.

This is the real danger of artificial intelligence (AI) used to “fix” Facebook’s shortcomings; not only does Facebook not understand how its app is being abused, it can’t assure the public it can prevent AI from being flawed or itself being abused because Facebook is not in absolute control of its platform.

Zuckerberg called the Russian influence operation an ongoing “arms race.” Yeah — imagine arms made and sold by a weapons purveyor who has serious limitations understanding their own weapons. Gods help us.

EDIT — 7:32 PM EDT — Committee is trying to wrap up, Grassley is droning on in old-man-ese about defending free speech but implying at the same time Facebook needs to help salvage Congress’ public image. What a dumpster fire.

Future shock. Our entire society is suffering from future shock, unable to grasp the technology it relies on every day. Even the guy who launched Facebook can’t say with absolute certainty how his platform operates. He can point to the users’ Terms of Service but he can’t say how any user or the government can be absolutely certain users’ data is fully deleted if it goes overseas.

And conservatives aren’t going to like this one bit, but they are worst off as a whole. They are older on average, including in Congress, and they struggle with usage let alone implications and the fundamentals of social media technology itself. They haven’t moved fast enough from now-deceased Alaska Senator Ted Steven’s understanding of the internet as a “series of tubes.”

45 replies
  1. Buford says:

    I noticed an obvious lie by the Zuck…He said that they delete all of the private information when one quits…Not true…I quit some time ago after three months…All of the information is still there, just waiting for me to sign up again…I jumped through their hoops, and all I got was a lousy lie…

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      “Delete” or “deactivate”? They’re different, and FB makes the latter much more obvious than the former.

      • Rayne says:

        That — I just lost a comment to that effect. Deactivating an account merely pulls a switch making a user’s data go dark and get pulled to the back closet. Deletion takes longer and is more cumbersome; Facebook doesn’t make it easy for a couple reasons, the first is commercial value and the second is the possibility users may have second thoughts about a permanent irreversible action about an activity which requires more hands-on interaction. Deactivation can be reversed.

        I’d be interested in knowing how long it’s taking right now for users to delete their accounts.

  2. Rayne says:

    Sen. Tillis (R-SC) going off with Whataboutism, in effect “But Obama’s campaign…” Idiot.

    The problem wasn’t political campaigns using Facebook. The problem was 1) unethical use of data for social experimentation without users’ fully informed consent, 2) the extraction of that data by social experimenters in violation of Facebook’s terms, and 3) the use of Facebook for campaign messaging by unregistered foreign agents in violation of federal campaign laws.

    In the end, Tillis pulls a “not a question, more of a statement” political statement about Facebook needed to be apolitical. Asshole.

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Kamala Harris is in the weird position of being a former state AG who has some degree of savvy over the interaction of tech and law and consumer privacy, but also has Facebook (and Google) as her constituents.

    This became a privacy hearing — as if FB were Equifax or some other Keeper Of The Insecure SSN — when it needed to be more about algorithmic transparency and the monetization of extremism and bullshit through the ad platform and opaque consent agreements and leaky default settings and the recombination of various facets of personal data and personal-data brokerage in general. (A great question would have been “do you use Facebook with the default privacy and sharing settings, and if not, why not?” Another one would be “what protections ensure that the uploaded Custom Audiences used to generate Lookalike Audiences aren’t misusing personal data?”)

  4. SpaceLifeForm says:

    So, Zuck gets to lie (not under oath) and obfuscate the reality that it is really a huge spyop.

    The data does not get deleted when the user believes so.

    FB already admitted that call logs and texts will be retained a year.   Should not even see call logs.

    Should not see texts if you use a different text app.

    Clearly, a spyop, likely under NSL.

    Zuck and congresscritters laughing it up over cocktails now.

    Until any TLA proves their worth, none can he trusted.

  5. yogarhythms says:

    I clicked on FB World Icon and chose “Delete”. NOTE warning stated action is irreversible and surely i would want to back up everything FB to a cloud before Delete. i chose to Delete with out back up. I was told it would take internal work requiring 14 days to delete my FB account. I will report with update after 14 days. I just tried FB log in with ID and PW; message appeared Warning April 16 your FB account will  be deleted. Hot Buttons appear: Confirm Delete? Cancel Delete. Chose confirm delete and was not logged into FB.

  6. greengiant says:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/all-the-data-facebook-google-has-on-you-privacy   Reporter was close to a gigabyte from each vendor.

    As noted elsewhere, every web page with a FB, twitter,  linkedin, instagram etc share icon which then forwards to FB etc every IP address,  browser etc who visits the page through the use of an internet artifact.  You do not even need to be a FB member to have a FB stasi file on your IP address. A no cookie  trick one can assume adware/malware, browser, google, twitter, search, and in 2018 your US ISP use.   FB also offered a VPN service where the terms are that FB records every bit that passes through.  Though google’s store of all android phone metadata and texts is more aggregous to some.

    Mentioned before that in the US your ISP is likely to forward all your web clicks to google just to use the black list service provided.

    All smart TVs are sending all voice heard to third party voice recognition vendors along with Amazon spyware, which seems to be the source of unwanted ads if not gmail contents.  Possibly FB stopped at mouse tracking?

  7. Rapier says:

    I didn’t listen because I was certain that the boy billionaire of information would provide no information.

    Was I wrong?

    The medium is the message.

  8. TheraP says:

    Our household is anomalous in that neither one of us has ever had a Facebook account. Many were the “invitations” to join that used to come to me. Repeatedly! I’m sure it was not because others intended to “invite” me, but simply because Facebook vacuumed up their email addresses and sent off “invitations” to those addresses not yet on Facebook, I’m sure without their permission.

    Watching just a bit of Zuckerberg’s testimony, I said to my spouse: “I don’t think I trust this guy very much.” He had an even stronger reaction: “100% I do not trust him!” Those reactions were based on what we could observe of his personality and his obvious very practiced “sloganeering” I would call it. We had maybe an even worse reaction to Sheryl Sandburg being interviewed by Judy Woodruff: “Proactive… proactive… proactive” (ad infinitum).

    It annoys me that certain groups can be joined only via Facebook. The PBS/Times “book group” as an example. But I simply refuse to join this Behemoth. Over and over I’ve watched as mistakes were made, people got hurt or victimized and apologies were made. These folks act as if an apology makes things ok. That once made, no one has a right to refer back to the problem. The canned answer if raised again: “He’s apologized for that!”

    The way this very blog appeared when this post went up was the word: F A C E B O O K smack across the top of the page. For a moment, I was horrified! Disoriented! “How could I be in Facebook?” I wondered. I knew it was impossible to get there if you are not a member. But that’s what it felt I was being told. What a relief, like waking from a nightmare, when I realized what I was seeing…. but not till I was scrolling down the page as the “Facebook” title timed out and was replaced by the next title.

    I am a Facebook holdout. I will never join. People have accepted it with no problem. People will urge you to read a certain book or article or watch a video. But no has ever urged me to join Facebook. (Except Facebook itself, posing as other people! Using an email address they stole.)

    There’s nothing missing in my life that I’m aware of. And every single time I read one more way they spy on people, I so grateful I never joined.

  9. Denker Dunsmuir says:

    Although there seems to be a lot of verbiage that FB screwed up, in legal terms it’s hard for this layman to figure where FB should be called to task. FB might have a moral obligation to warn users of how their posts and profiles could be misused in elections, etc. However, that moral obligation is not necessarily a legal responsibility. All similar applications are public-use, social apps where users — by virtue of their manipulation of the applications — IMHO relinquish f2f expectations of privacy and security. To demand otherwise is hypocritical and disingenuous because it is not possible to safeguard privacy and apply security in an open peer-to-peer type, free-sharing environment – the internet and the web. That is one of the downsides of the wonderfulness of the internet. Its original developer (U.S. government, military divisions) never envisioned its current global uses and all the changes the computer industry it spawned have brought to human life. So, it is ironic and appropriate that the U.S. Senate would talk with Mr. Mark Zuckerberg.
    I hope that it is clear to lawmakers that FB in and of itself is not responsible for the shenanigans and kerfuffle of its users, and in the case of Cambridge Analytica — its misuses no matter how egregious users’ conduct might be. As difficult as it may be for users and the American public to accept, the responsibility for the successes of the fiddling done with the 2016 election falls at the feet of the uninformed – the users who failed to include in their daily activities that all must do who live in and wish to maintain the existence of a free and democratic state: Stay informed and knowledgeable, and do not believe everything you hear or in this case, read.  
    Although I am not a fan of any social media apps and communities that FB is a part of, I defend the right of users to use them. And, hope that users will become more sophisticated and informed about how to protect their information and profiles as they use these applications. These apps are wonderful for connecting with others and communicating. They are equally huge portals for misuse as the comments, pictures etc. posted to them never can be erased to my knowledge. The caution here is that those with criminal or devious motives also can and do access and (mis-) use these same apps.
    Given my former comments, it is my opinion that users are responsible to exercise self-discipline and restraint, and not put out there in public on the web anything that is not for broadcast. My approach has been to limit my postings to general, vanilla comments. I leave my deeply felt and passionate rants in the draft file of an email box never to see the light of that Send key.
    There are many ways for users to safeguard themselves, and it is important to do so in any app or online community. I am not a fan of looking to government to play a role in this regard. I am, on the other hand, very supportive of public utility regulation of all these companies — in all industries — who have such enormous global influence upon and contact with people — directly or indirectly. If that occurs, I for one will owe gratitude to Mark Zuckerberg, et al. at Facebook and that will be a very good outcome! (BTW: I am not holding my breath in this 2018 U.S. climate waiting for consumer protections, but one can only hope!)

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      In legal terms: if the US had a data protection regime that came anywhere near that of the EU, FB would be in very deep shit. (And it may well be in deep shit given that it has an Irish HQ and various EU operations.)

       And, hope that users will become more sophisticated and informed about how to protect their information and profiles as they use these applications. 

      This is the neoliberal posture: that with sufficient disclosure about how one’s data is used, one can make the necessary adjustments to check the right boxes to avoid being fucked over. And if one doesn’t, then tough titty. (This is dark-patterns stuff.)

      Does Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook profile use the default security/sharing settings? If not, why not?

    • JD12 says:

      Facebook claims that Kogan collected the data under false pretenses which is a TOS violation and also fraud. It also violates a consent decree with the FTC.

  10. Kevin says:

    At one time, turntable.fm required one of the major privatized-service logins in order to use it.  I didn’t have an account on any of them, so I couldn’t try it.  A while after that, around maybe 2013, they allowed email also.  They have since folded.  Another entity that did this was Khan Academy.  I don’t know if they still do this.  It may also be interesting or relevant to look at the phone verification-by-SMS practice when getting these accounts.  It seems to me that this has something to do with surveillance, or is some effort to construct a non-porous chain of attribution (and promote skin-in-the-game ideas), as landlines and the major smartphones are considered “high stature” while VOIP is rejected.  No attributed phone, no account with telcos and credit card companies?  Then you can’t get an account on Facebook etc.  No account on the majors, and you could be locked out of this other bestiary of internet things.  There may be a similar ranking of status or credibility in email addresses, such as the supposed specialness associated with “edu” domains.  (I’m not sure what an edu is perceived to convey, something about the demographic I guess.)

    I wonder if there is some way of taking the fact that the smuggest arbiters are full of holes in their own right, and using this to argue that they have no legitimacy in lording it over others.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Pushing off the authentication function to bigtechsocmedia was a kind of defensive posture for small-scale startups like turntable.fm — if you use an identity broker, then you’re less vulnerable to an attack and ending up on haveibeenpwned. OpenID was created to fill that gap, but OpenID was to identity verification what PGP was to encryption. (It was like outsourcing credit checks to Experian/Equifax/TransUnion.)

      Identity verification is a Hard Problem. The UK government digital approach — before the top civil servants won their war over GDS — was to define it in granular terms: there are situations where you can do a low-level easy verification, and situations where it needs to be a lot harder. There was a desire not to have a single canonical Government Identity System because if that gets compromised, everyone’s fucked.

  11. JD12 says:

    I found this hearing very disappointing. The whole world was waiting for this and the chairman, Chuck Grassley, doesn’t understand technology and couldn’t even read his statement that staffers obviously wrote for him. Only a couple of Senators had good questions, most didn’t seem to even know what questions they should ask. A lot of it was just asking Zuckerberg about news reports and he really didn’t dispute any of it except for the audio collection. I’ll give Lyndsey Graham credit, he tried to address regulation but Zuck didn’t want to go there.

    I hoped it would be better. We really need to start taking privacy and data security seriously. If companies like Facebook and Equifax don’t face consequences for being careless, then they aren’t going to spend enough resources on prevention.

  12. Bob Conyers says:

    Can anyone who plowed through either the broadcast or the coverage of the hearing say if Z or the interrogators asked about the data of non-members?

    I recently learned that Facebook maintains huge amounts of data on non-members that it collects from its members. For example, the Facebook app tends to grab member contact lists, which obviously contain non-member data. Facebook apparently also purchases or exchanges data from other sources to build out data on members and non-members alike, and it may also attempt to parse through member posts for data on non-members. Then, it builds relationships between members and non-members, and if you Google “Facebook Shadow Profiles” you read horror stories about things like people signing up and finding Facebook already had on file things like support groups they belonged to, or the names of patients of a doctor or therapist they went to.

    There is a lot that’s disturbing about the ways Facebook collects data on non-members, not the least the fact that non-members have no way to know about, correct, or delete data — in other words, people who never agreed to any kinds of terms and conditions have less control over their data than people who did give permission to Facebook.

    Media coverage leading up to the hearing, for reasons I don’t understand, has focused almost solely on what Facebook does with member data, and ignored data protections for non-members. I’m curious if any substantial discussion of non-members will occur.

  13. pseudonymous in nc says:

    It’s future shock, and it’s also context collapse, as Quinn Norton has described at length.

  14. Sabrina says:

    A couple points about this:

    1- I know that the stated purpose of FB is social engagement as mentioned in the post, but study after study finds a linear relationship with levels of FB use correlating with increased levels of anxiety, depression, a sense of isolation, etc. This has been known for a while, and Zuckerburg’s unwillingness over years to change the platform to try to alleviate some of the negativity seems like a blatant admission that his experiment wasn’t based on pro-social motivation. Of course money is important and I wouldn’t expect him to create the platform out of the goodness of his heart, for free, but he could have fine tuned the platform so that users’ experiences were generally positive. The fact that they haven’t been, and he doesn’t care, is extremely problematic.

    2- His testimony today was very much like watching a guilty person pretend to know absolutely nothing while standing there holding the murder weapon. To the point that I’d wonder about his ability to create the platform he did (though of course there’s some duplicitous measures in the FB origin story, as well). He seemed “off”, most likely due to the substance of his answers being implausible (no way he had no idea of the magnitude of the CA scheme before it surfaced- makes me wonder about additional pay to play schemes that he has been paid enough to ignore). His answers are combined with an odd lack of emotionality, and someone else mentioned his inability to grasp nuance- that is probably partly to keep track of his answers and simplify his story, but also because he genuinely doesn’t get nuance. In every previous interview I’ve seen with him, he seems oddly oblivious and strikes me as disingenuous. I think his emotional range is limited and that’s what comes through in interviews- whether or not that emotional limitation ventures into the realm of low empathy and personality disorder characteristics can’t be known from interviews, but he does not strike me as an empathetic individual even at the best of times. I would not be in the least surprised if other CA-like schemes have been going on for years in such an unregulated industry, and he just looked the other way as long as he could maintain plausible deniability.

    3- about the interviewers themselves, the questions he was asked seemed odd occasionally, and it did seem as though the senators asking them didn’t have a grasp on the tech (very likely), I almost have to wonder if some of that was to ask questions that fundamentally lacked “teeth”, so to speak, and would therefore not get to the heart of the matter as it pertained to voter influencing along with data aggregation. I realize that’s pure speculation on my part, but there is very little incentive for a republican-led committee to discover the depths of user data manipulation and mishandling that may have allowed the election to swing in their candidate’s favor.

    • Jd12 says:

      I think the negativity did sort of evolve over time and Zuck may be too close to it to have noticed. I’m just going on my experience, but FB peaked shortly after the smartphone revolution. Friends, family, and coworkers used it a lot and most of it was positive, new pictures and old pictures and memories. Now I think most young people have migrated over to Snapchat.

      In the last 4 or 5 years FB has become a lot more like a news aggregator, and obviously bad news gets more reaction. FB execs could’ve been looking at which sites are getting traffic, and not realizing how much controversy was driving it. There is no excuse for them to continue like that now though.

      Part of the problem, sadly, is preying on the ignorant. I remember hearing  during the 2016 campaign that Breitbart got the most comments, by a wide margin. I looked at their posts. The headlines were a little provocative and the posts were all very short, but the comments were just toxic. There wasn’t really logic, it was all just tribal attacks on Obama, Bernie, Clinton, even if the subject had nothing to do with them. Of course words like liberal, leftist, snowflake were used a lot. I knew Breitbart had to be aware of what they were doing, it wasn’t stuff I agreed with but it looked subtle to me at the time, and I knew the media as a whole was struggling with revenue. But now the CA expose has shined a new light on all of it and it wasn’t subtle at all. It’s disturbing how intentional it was.

    • Rayne says:

      I’ve been trying to sort out a response to your comment, but I’m going to be politically incorrect here and make a point I’ve made in comments before. When you observed, “He seemed ‘off’,” I think it’s really important to recognize the tech industry and its venture capital parents have encouraged the selection of people with intense technical skills who are focused on discrete, quantifiable, monetizable benchmarks.

      This means the tech industry has been very favorable for people who are on the autism spectrum, beginning from the mildest form of Asperger’s onward. They don’t do well with social cues. Don’t ask them to read the room, whether an actual room filled with people or audience response at large.

      I’ll cut Zuckerberg slack on appearances before Congress for this reason; I suspect he’s on the spectrum.

      That said, he’s running a social media platform and he’s going to have to do a far better job of addressing the social component of this media. The public should have seen this problem coming from a guy who began work as a sophomore by dabbling with a database of non-consensually collected university students’ images.

  15. Trip says:

    Warning: This comment might be long.

    I couldn’t watch any of it. This is political theater intended to do nothing, but create the appearance that government is doing ‘something’ and that Zuckerberg is simply naive about his own business model, and gets to publicly say, “Oops, my bad, so So-w-w-y”, once again. And with the phony contrition elicited, everyone will say it’s time move on again. Forgive and forget. This time he REALLY means it.
    The sole purpose and the monetary value of Facebook, is user data. It has no other value to Zuckerberg. Facebook is a data harvesting behemoth. Nothing else. You sign away rights to your personal journal so Zuckerberg can make bank. Facebook is not a public service. Facebook will never be a public service, it is a private business capitalizing on your diary, inner most thoughts, photos, in other words, EVERY. SINGLE. ELEMENT.OF.YOUR.PRIVATE.LIFE.

    Our esteemed government recently legislated more players into the lucrative harvesting game, via providers. Then they decided that after collecting data, big-brother-private industry could decide what you are allowed to see by killing net neutrality, (perhaps, in the future, based on your psychological profile, from info extracted across the web, compiled into a mega-dossier). The government promotes this crap, they have no intention of undoing it.

    This dog and pony show is theater of the absurd…Very little happens because nothing meaningful can happen. It’s all already cooked into the dish, and they all eat at the same trough. Zuckerberg wants to grow FB, to get richer. He even restructured his finances to accomplish this, with a BS PR announcement that it was “charity”.  Zuckerberg is full of shit, as are the questioners, and the softball lobbing of questions is intended to give him a home run.  There is so much ‘benefit of the doubt’ from TV talking heads .

    Don’t doubt. Think.

    Let’s recap:
    Facebook CEO Admits To Calling Users ‘Dumb Fucks’
    Mark Zuckerberg admits in a New Yorker profile that he mocked early Facebook users for trusting him with their personal information. A youthful indiscretion, the Facebook founder says he’s much more mature now, at the ripe age of 26. “They trust me — dumb fucks,” says Zuckerberg in one of the instant messages, first published by former Valleywag Nicholas Carlson at Silicon Alley Insider, and now confirmed by Zuckerberg himself in Jose Antonio Vargas’s New Yorker piece.

    Don’t be a dumb fuck.

    ‘Utterly horrifying’: ex-Facebook insider says covert data harvesting was routine
    Parakilas said he “always assumed there was something of a black market” for Facebook data that had been passed to external developers. However, he said that when he told other executives the company should proactively “audit developers directly and see what’s going on with the data” he was discouraged from the approach. That feature, called friends permission, was a boon to outside software developers who, from 2007 onwards, were given permission by Facebook to build quizzes and games – like the widely popular FarmVille – that were hosted on the platform.
    The apps proliferated on Facebook in the years leading up to the company’s 2012 initial public offering, an era when most users were still accessing the platform via laptops and computers rather than smartphones.
    Facebook took a 30% cut of payments made through apps, but in return enabled their creators to have access to Facebook user data.

    Of course, what is posted above doesn’t even get into the bad actor element of foreign interference for profit. Facebook is about profit.

    Zuckerberg is now offering bandaids, for a gaping festering wound, in order to maintain his model, without sufficient and strong regulation. Slight of hand at play.


    • Trip says:

      And no one saw it coming, right? Not enough whistleblowers and red-flaggers?


      IamA classmate of Mark Zuckerberg who created the initial school-wide Facebook at Harvard in 2003, which Mark joined and copied. AMA!
      I think Mark’s Facebook has become damaging to a lot of people in a number of ways, some of which I actually did anticipate. Others, not so much.
      •    I was initially quite afraid that without a cautious person at the helm, all kinds of privacy issues would quickly snowball and harm a lot of people. Mark took the opposite approach, encouraging students to post their sexual orientation and dating status right from the start. Arguably, this is a large part of what made the site interesting to other students, but it also of course presents a real potential for danger.
      •    I was also afraid from the outset of what government actors might do with such a database, if anyone was able to compile it. This turned out to be a reasonable fear. Facebook is implicated in all kinds of government work now, from the NSA Prism scandal to DEA investigations to local law enforcement campaigns.
      •    I didn’t know that people would find Facebook so addictive, and it’s not likely that Mark knew it would be either. The addiction aspect I find problematic because it causes people to waste huge amounts of time engaging in what is essentially a fake world, leading to depression and anxiety for many. This leads me to think that Facebook may actually be as dangerous as cigarettes in some ways; it’s certainly been designed to addict users at this point, much as cigarettes were designed to deliver the maximum nicotine kick by tobacco companies.
      •    There’s a lot of fraud that takes place via Facebook, both in terms of advertising fraud and fake users trying to defraud other users. That’s something that could have been avoided had Mark chosen to focus more on keeping the network safe rather than on growing it larger.


    • Sabrina says:

      This. So much this. I didn’t want to state it quite so plainly, but yes, the entire thing was theatre, with both Zuckerburg and the senators going through the motions, neither of whom are really interested in actually getting to the bottom of this and finding solutions. A dog and pony show, indeed, with dead-eyed Zuckerburg answering questions in a monotone voice. His emotional disengagement could not be more apparent.

      Also I didn’t know about his “dumb fucks” comment, but it doesn’t surprise me. His contempt towards the users (or products) on his platform has been notable since he hasn’t made any attempts to hide it. That, combined with his belief that he is superior to the working people, and you have clear narcissistic tendencies. Scarily, this is what happens when capitalism goes unfettered- favoring unempathetic CEOs since they outperform those with the handicap of emotionality. Awful.

      PS. Not sure where I read this, but to paraphrase, something like only 6 senators out there hadn’t received campaign contributions from FB. Enough incentive to play softball, I imagine.

  16. vertalio says:

    I deleted my account about 6 weeks after the ’16 election (combination of disgust and whiff of rat-scent); took the full two weeks to “vanish”.

    Several times since then, I find ads popping up that reflect recent phone conversations held with Facebook users.  Coincidence, I’m sure.

  17. Jill says:

    Carol Davidson, who works for Rentrak , on June 15, 2015 at the Personal Democracy Forum 

    DAVIDSEN: Facebook 2012 Election had the ability for people to opt in. The Obama campaign, like, rocked this, right? We got people to opt in. And the privacy policies at that time on Facebook were that if they opted in, they could tell us who all their friends were, okay? So they told us who all their friends were. This is very much how local campaigns work, right? People sit in a room. It’s a really small thing. All of their biggest supporters surround the table, and they, like, circle the names of the people that they know and that they’re gonna outreach to. And they figure out how to fill in the gaps of the people that they don’t know. The Obama campaign just did this on a digital — in a digital level, on a much larger level. But we were actually able to ingest the entire social network, social network of the U.S. that’s on Facebook, which is most… That’s most people.”


  18. yogarhythms says:

    Sabrina, “but study after study finds a linear relationship with levels of FB use correlating with increased levels of anxiety, depression, a sense of isolation, etc”. by Sabrina. FB mirrors social reality it is not causative. Increased levels of anxiety and depression and isolation are epidemiologically social epidemics. Delete FB. Walk outside and leave your magic phone at home. Keep posting and we will keep reading.

  19. Kim Kaufman says:

    Here are a few of my thoughts.

    Democracy Now did a good show on this today with Zeynep Tufekc. Learned more than more other commentators so far.

    I did not watch any of it but have heard many clips by now. The one thing I liked from a clip of Kamala Harris (and being in CA, there’s not a whole lot I like about her), is that she is not afraid to interrupt men. Men interrupt women all the time but rarely vice versa. Not germane but still noted.

    There was an article a while ago about someone downloading all his data from google and facebook. Google had a gazillion times more than fb. I actually think Google is much more dangerous and pernicious. They just haven’t been stupid enough to get caught at anything that would let the public know exactly what they’re doing with all that data of ours.

    I use very few apps. If I go to fb, I do it through the old school web browser, e.g. Any site that requires a fb login, I avoid. Google is everywhere in things we don’t even know they’re capturing stuff, I think.

    As for what to do going forward, that’s super hard. One thing, perhaps, is prevent fb from buying more companies, i.e., they’ve been buying up and shutting down potential competitors. Let there be competition! It may be too late, of course.

    • Rayne says:

      I like much of what Tufekci has said about this Facebook-Cambridge Analytica/SCL scandal, but I am cautious about following her blindly, no matter how willing she is to push back when men try to talk over her.

      Remember the 17-OCT-2016 burning of a local GOP campaign office in North Carolina, when she advocated for people to donate to rebuild the office? Yeah. That unsolved fire was sketchy as hell, as sketchy as the so-called coup in Turkey. Look how easy it was to obtain support for a political party which in turn torched democracy. Now imagine what the data from interactions related to her tweet and those subsequent donations look like in terms of creating new pro-GOP content and identifying suggestible audiences.

      Actions speak as loudly as words when viewed through the lens of data.

      • Kim Kaufman says:

        Yikes. I never heard of her before today although I vaguely remember that story. I would be curious to know what you think of DN show today. More than relying on DN for my news, I listen to see what the queen of the left gatekeeper is saying to that audience which largely is uncritical. Full disclosure: I was on the board of Pacifica station KPFK and have issues with Amy Goodman in her dealings with Pacifica (I have never met her).  Of all the terrible things Bill Clinton did, his Telecommunications Act of whatever year was the worst. A diversity of independent media is critical.

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