The story of Facebook in the past few years has been that of a company slow to understand how powerful it has become. But an investigation by The New York Times finds that once Facebook’s leaders understood the problems they faced, they sought to conceal them.
Powerful tools are now available to anyone who wants to look for a DNA match, which has troubling privacy implications.
I find this mechanics relating to privacy in this case to be extremely similar to Facebook’s leak of data via Cambridge Analytica. Something crucial to your personal identity can be accidentally leaked out or be made discoverable to others by the actions of your closest family members.
NPR's Ailsa Chang speaks with Sandy Parakilas, who worked as an operations manager on the platform team at Facebook in 2011 and 2012. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Parakilas says Facebook cannot be trusted to regulate itself.
A bit “I-told-you-so” without any indication of how hard he may have fought for better handling of the data, but there were certainly others outside the company decrying their practices at the time.
This first half of the episode was originally recorded in March, abruptly ended, and then was not completed until April due to scheduling.
It’s been reported that Cambridge Analytica has improperly taken and used data from Facebook users in an improper manner, an event which has called into question the way that Facebook handles data. David Shanske and I discuss some of the implications from an IndieWeb perspective and where you might go if you decide to leave Facebook.
The originating articles that kicked off the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica issue:
- 3/16/18: Facebook’s Newsroom: Suspending Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group from Facebook by Paul Grewal
- “Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do.”
- 3/17/18: The Guardian: Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach
- 3/17/18: New York Times: How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook data of Millions
Related articles and pages
- 3/21/18 Anil Dash: The Missing Building Blocks of the Web, an article bringing the Facebook issue back around to regaining the good parts of the “old web”
- How To Change Your Facebook Settings To Opt Out of Platform API Sharing from the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- 3/24/18: Ars Technica: Facebook scraped call, text message data for years from Android phones
- 3/18/18: The Guardian: Facebook employs psychologist whose firm sold data to Cambridge Analytica
- Mastodon not supporting Webmention specification
- Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil
Recent Documented Facebook Quitters
New York Times Profile of multiple quitters: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/21/technology/users-abandon-facebook.html
IndieWeb Wiki related pages of interest
Potential places to move to when leaving Facebook
You’ve made the decision to leave Facebook? Your next question is likely to be: to move where? Along with the links above, we’ve compiled a short list of IndieWeb-related places that might make solid options.
- Micro.blog for $5/month (or bring your own web site for free)
- WithKnown (Paid service or host your own)
- WordPress.org (self-hosted or managed)
- Mastodon (doesn’t necessarily provide ownership of domain name unless you’re self-hosting an instance)
- Other possible projects/options: https://indieweb.org/projects
How to see if your Facebook data was shared with Cambridge Analytica.
Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief, faced a much tougher crowd in his second day of congressional testimony on data privacy. Calls for oversight are growing.
The Facebook chief faced tough questions on the mishandling of data. But a larger, more difficult question hung over his testimony: What is Facebook?
Painful to listen to how inept the questions were. How exactly do these people represent us? Was there no preparation at all? Even reading a few front page articles in the past two weeks would have better prepped them for questions than what we got.
Five days after details about Cambridge Analytica were made public, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, broke his silence on his company’s role in the data breach.
Minutes after posting a statement on Facebook, he spoke with The New York Times.
On today’s episode:
• Kevin Roose, a business columnist for The Times.
• Facebook, in crisis over the Cambridge Analytica data breach, vows to bolster security and privacy.
• A transcript of Mr. Zuckerberg’s conversation with Mr. Roose and another Times reporter, Sheera Frenkel.
I think Roose humanizes Zuckerberg a bit too much in his discussion of his interview. Facebook has some of the best and brightest engineering talent and a multi-billion dollar war chest. They’ve known about their pending problem for quite a while now and should have long since begun building a remedy. The plain truth is that they’ve actively chosen not to. Worse, even with the swirling problems in the public consciousness, they’re not actively doing anything much to fix things after-the-fact other than paying it some lip service. If Zuckerberg is as seemingly naive as Roose suggests, he needs to be removed from his position.
I’m coming much closer to calling it quits on Facebook. I’ve outlined a plan for extracting myself and just need to begin implementation. I’ve even got a potential scalable plan for family/friends who would like to leave as well.
I actually feel like my remaining on the platform is subsidizing keeping many third world people on it, and the way Facebook has been and is operating in many other countries it becomes a moral issue which is forcing me to actively seek to leave it.
A young Canadian data expert came up with a plan to harvest people’s personal data off Facebook, and to use that information to influence their voting.
On today’s episode:
• Matthew Rosenberg, a New York Times reporter in Washington.
• Consultants for the Trump campaign exploited the Facebook data of 50 million people.
• Cambridge Analytica offered to entrap politicians through seduction or bribery.
• How researchers use Facebook “likes” to sway your thinking.
A fantastic overview of the background for the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story.
After years of letting algorithms make up our minds for us, the time is right to go back to basics.
This article, which I’ve seen shared almost too widely on the internet since it came out, could almost have been written any time in the past decade really. They did do a somewhat better job of getting quotes from some of the big feed readers’ leaders to help to differentiate their philosophical differences, but there wasn’t much else here. Admittedly they did have a short snippet about Dave Winer’s new feedbase product, which I suspect, in combination with the recent spate of articles about Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, motivated the article. (By the way, I love OPML as much as anyone could, but feedbase doesn’t even accept the OPML feeds out of my core WordPress install though most feed readers do, which makes me wonder how successful feedbase might be in the long run without better legacy spec support.)
So what was missing from Wired’s coverage? More details on what has changed in the space in the past several years. There’s been a big movement afoot in the IndieWeb community which has been espousing a simpler and more DRY (don’t repeat yourself) version of feeds using simple semantic microformats markup like h-feed. There’s also been the emergence of JSON feed in the past year which many of the major feed readers already support.
On the front of people leaving Facebook (and their black box algorithmic monster that determines what you read rather than you making an implicit choice), they might have mentioned people who are looking for readers through which they can also use their own domains and websites where they own and maintain their own data for interaction. I’ve written about this in more depth last year: Feed reader revolution.
One of the more bleeding edge developments which I think is going to drastically change the landscape in the coming years for developers, feed readers, and the internet consumption space is the evolving Microsub spec which is being spearheaded by a group of projects known as the Aperture microsub server and the Together and Indigenous clients which already use it. Microsub is going to abstract away many of the technical hurdles that make it far more difficult to build a full-fledged feed reader. I have a feeling it’s going to level a lot of the playing field to allow a Cambrian explosion of readers and social related software to better leverage more easily reading content on the web without relying on third party black box services which people have been learning they cannot fully trust anymore. Aaron Parecki has done an excellent job of laying out some parts of it in Building an IndieWeb Reader as well as in recent episodes of his Percolator microcast. This lower hurdle is going to result in fewer people needing to rely solely on the biggest feed readers like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for both consuming content and posting their own content. The easier it becomes for people to use other readers to consume content from almost anywhere on the web, the less a monopoly the social networks will have on our lives.
I truly hope Wired circles around and gives some of these ideas additional follow up coverage in the coming months. They owe it to their readership to expand their coverage from what we all knew five years ago. If they want to go a step or two further, they might compare the web we had 15 years ago to some of the new and emerging open web technologies that are starting to take hold today.
Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Google News Initiative will fight fake journalism. Uber self-driving car not at fault for killing pedestrian. Congress passes SESTSA/FOSTA. The city that banned bitcoin mining.
- Jeff's Number: Amazon is #2
- Stacey's Thing: Alexa Kids Court
- Leo's Tool: Samsung My BP Lab
Just by the bulk of URLs, this gives a more serious view of just how ingrained Facebook is in tracking your online life.
This article is even more interesting in light of the other Google blog post I read earlier today entitled Introducing Subscribe with Google. Was today’s roll out pre-planned or is Google taking an earlier advantage of Facebook’s poor position this week after the “non-data breach” stories that have been running this past week?
There’s a lot of puffery rhetoric here to make Google look more like an arriving hero, but I’d recommend taking with more than a few grains of salt.
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what’s true (and not true) online.
we’re committing $300 million toward meeting these goals.
I’m curious what their internal projections are for ROI?
People come to Google looking for information they can trust, and that information often comes from the reporting of journalists and news organizations around the world.
Heavy hit in light of the Facebook data scandal this week on top of accusations about fake news spreading.
That’s why it’s so important to us that we help you drive sustainable revenue and businesses.
Compared to Facebook which just uses your content to drive you out of business like it did for Funny or Die.
Reference: How Facebook is Killing Comedy
we drove 10 billion clicks a month to publishers’ websites for free.
Really free? Or was this served against ads in search?
We worked with the industry to launch the open-source Accelerated Mobile Pages Project to improve the mobile web
There was some collaborative outreach, but AMP is really a Google-driven spec without significant outside input.
See also: http://ampletter.org/
We’re now in the early stages of testing a “Propensity to Subscribe” signal based on machine learning models in DoubleClick to make it easier for publishers to recognize potential subscribers, and to present them the right offer at the right time.
Interestingly the technology here isn’t that different than the Facebook Data that Cambridge Analytica was using, the difference is that they’re not using it to directly impact politics, but to drive sales. Does this mean they’re more “ethical”?
With AMP Stories, which is now in beta, publishers can combine the speed of AMP with the rich, immersive storytelling of the open web.
Is this sentence’s structure explicitly saying that AMP is not “open web”?!
Interesting to see this roll out as Facebook is having some serious data collection problems. This looks a bit like a means for Google to directly link users with content they’re consuming online and then leveraging it much the same way that Facebook was with apps and companies like Cambridge Analytica.
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
Paying for a subscription is a clear indication that you value and trust your subscribed publication as a source. So we’ll also highlight those sources across Google surfaces
So Subscribe with Google will also allow you to link subscriptions purchased directly from publishers to your Google account—with the same benefits of easier and more persistent access.
you can then use “Sign In with Google” to access the publisher’s products, but Google does the billing, keeps your payment method secure, and makes it easy for you to manage your subscriptions all in one place.
I immediately wonder who owns my related subscription data? Is the publisher only seeing me as a lumped Google proxy or do they get may name, email address, credit card information, and other details?
How will publishers be able (or not) to contact me? What effect will this have on potential customer retention?
Following much of the recent Facebook privacy and data scandal over the past several days, 1–4 today I deleted 169 of 184 apps which had access to all or parts of my Facebook data. Often many of them also had access to data by proxy of my family, friends, and acquaintances.
Of those apps still remaining, 7 are apps that I’ve made personally, and the remainder solely help me export data from Facebook. Short of quitting the platform altogether, this feels like a good first step to limiting the data that I leak into the platform and their partners.
For several years now I’ve been posting content to my own personal website first and syndicating it to Facebook secondarily. Few, if any, of these old apps need any legitimate access to my account anymore presuming that they ever really did.
Want to do an audit of your own app access and make a similar purge? The IndieWeb community has some resources for doing so quickly. Looking for a better place to own and better control your own data? They can help there too.