👓 Thanks to Facebook, Your Cellphone Company Is Watching You More Closely Than Ever | The Intercept

Read Thanks to Facebook, your cellphone company is watching you more closely than ever by Sam BiddleSam Biddle (The Intercept)

AMONG THE MEGA-CORPORATIONS that surveil you, your cellphone carrier has always been one of the keenest monitors, in constant contact with the one small device you keep on you at almost every moment. A confidential Facebook document reviewed by The Intercept shows that the social network courts carriers, along with phone makers — some 100 different companies in 50 countries — by offering the use of even more surveillance data, pulled straight from your smartphone by Facebook itself.

Offered to select Facebook partners, the data includes not just technical information about Facebook members’ devices and use of Wi-Fi and cellular networks, but also their past locations, interests, and even their social groups. This data is sourced not just from the company’s main iOS and Android apps, but from Instagram and Messenger as well. The data has been used by Facebook partners to assess their standing against competitors, including customers lost to and won from them, but also for more controversial uses like racially targeted ads.

📑 Thanks to Facebook, Your Cellphone Company Is Watching You More Closely Than Ever | The Intercept

Annotated Thanks to Facebook, Your Cellphone Company Is Watching You More Closely Than Ever by Sam BiddleSam Biddle (The Intercept)
>“If Facebook is providing a consumer’s data to be used for the purposes of credit screening by the third party, Facebook would be a credit reporting agency,” Reidenberg explained. “The [FCRA] statute applies when the data ‘is used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer’s eligibility for … credit.'” If Facebook is providing data about you and your friends that eventually ends up in a corporate credit screening operation, “It’s no different from Equifax providing the data to Chase to determine whether or not to issue a credit card to the consumer,” according to Reidenberg.  

📑 Thanks to Facebook, Your Cellphone Company Is Watching You More Closely Than Ever | The Intercept

Annotated Thanks to Facebook, Your Cellphone Company Is Watching You More Closely Than Ever by Sam BiddleSam Biddle (The Intercept)
“It sure smells like the prescreening provisions of the FCRA,” Reidenberg told The Intercept. “From a functional point of view, what they’re doing is filtering Facebook users on creditworthiness criteria and potentially escaping the application of the FCRA.”  

📑 Thanks to Facebook, Your Cellphone Company Is Watching You More Closely Than Ever | The Intercept

Annotated Thanks to Facebook, Your Cellphone Company Is Watching You More Closely Than Ever by Sam BiddleSam Biddle (The Intercept)
In an initial conversation with a Facebook spokesperson, they stated that the company does “not provide creditworthiness services, nor is that a feature of Actionable Insights.” When asked if Actionable Insights facilitates the targeting of ads on the basis of creditworthiness, the spokesperson replied, “No, there isn’t an instance where this is used.” It’s difficult to reconcile this claim with the fact that Facebook’s own promotional materials tout how Actionable Insights can enable a company to do exactly this. Asked about this apparent inconsistency between what Facebook tells advertising partners and what it told The Intercept, the company declined to discuss the matter on the record,  

📑 Thanks to Facebook, Your Cellphone Company Is Watching You More Closely Than Ever | The Intercept

Annotated Thanks to Facebook, Your Cellphone Company Is Watching You More Closely Than Ever by Sam BiddleSam Biddle (The Intercept)
How consumers would be expected to navigate this invisible, unofficial credit-scoring process, given that they’re never informed of its existence, remains an open question.  

👓 Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us? | The New Yorker

Read Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us? by Cal Newport (The New Yorker)
Alongside these official responses, a loose collective of developers and techno-utopians that calls itself the IndieWeb has been creating another alternative. The movement’s affiliates are developing their own social-media platforms, which they say will preserve what’s good about social media while jettisoning what’s bad. They hope to rebuild social media according to principles that are less corporate and more humane.

Excited to see that the IndieWeb “hobby” I’ve been spending a lot of my time on for the past few years has made it into The New Yorker!

👓 Should the Media Quit Facebook? — The Disinformation War | Columbia Journalism Review

Read Should the Media Quit Facebook? — The Disinformation War by Mathew Ingram (The Disinformation War)
With all that has transpired between Facebook and the media industry over the past couple of years—the repeated algorithm changes, the head fakes about switching to video, the siphoning off of a significant chunk of the industry’s advertising revenue—most publishers approach the giant social network with skepticism, if not outright hostility. And yet, the vast majority of them continue to partner with Facebook, to distribute their content on its platform, and even accept funding and resources from it.

A very solid question to be asking and to be working on answers for. 

Personally I feel like newspapers, magazines, and media should help to be providing IndieWeb-based open platforms of their own for not only publishing their own work, but for creating the local commons for their readers and constituents to be able to freely and openly interact with them.

They’re letting Facebook and other social media to own too much of their content and even their audience. Building tools to take it back could help them, their readers, and even democracy out all at the same time.

Sadly, based on what I’m seeing here, however, even CJR has outsourced their platform for this series to SquareSpace. At least they’re publishing it on a URL they own and control.

📖 15% done with Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro

📖 15% into reading Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It by Mike Monteiro

Read Chapters: The Ethics of Design, How Designers Destroyed the World, and Moving Fast and Breaking Things

I was very reticent about this book at first, but it is way more essential than I initially thought! I knew I was going to know almost all of the examples, and I’ve generally been right on that account so far, but he’s going beyond the problems with potential solutions. I was worried it was going to be something that I would appreciate and heartily recommend to others without getting much out of it myself, but it reads quickly and easily and there’s a lot here that I want to come back and ponder about further.

Despite the fact that I don’t feel like a professional web designer by trade, what he’s talking about here are standards of human care and interaction that anyone who makes anything should be thinking about on a daily basis. Whether you’re building or creating things for others or even making your own daily life, at heart, you’re designing something.

If Chuck Chugumlung hasn’t come across this book yet with respect to his Design X Pasadena group, I’ll recommend it heartily to him.

I also find myself thinking a lot about how people are building and designing technologies in the edtech space. May of the researchers, professors, and instructional designers I know are immersed in some of the ethics and morals behind using these technologies. Generally I hear them talking about what they “wish” they had as tools, but often they seem to be stuck with things they don’t really want and are then attempting to figure out ways around these technologies after-the-fact so that they can use them in an ethical manner. They really need to stand up, refuse to use what they’re given, and demand better design from the start. Even if they’re incapable of building their own tools, they’re slowly, but surely going to loose the war if they don’t move upstream to where the actual decisions are being made. Fortunately some of the work I see in the OER space is being done at the grass roots where people have more choice and say in the design, but I worry that if they’re not careful, those tools will be siloed off with bad design choices by for-profit companies as well.

Title and author on a white background at the top with a red filtered view of an atomic mushroom cloud explosion on the Bikini atoll in the Pacific Ocean

Acquired Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It by Mike Monteiro (Mule Books)

The world is working exactly as designed. The combustion engine which is destroying our planet’s atmosphere and rapidly making it inhospitable is working exactly as we designed it. Guns, which lead to so much death, work exactly as they’re designed to work. And every time we “improve” their design, they get better at killing. Facebook’s privacy settings, which have outed gay teens to their conservative parents, are working exactly as designed. Their “real names” initiative, which makes it easier for stalkers to re-find their victims, is working exactly as designed. Twitter’s toxicity and lack of civil discourse is working exactly as it’s designed to work.The world is working exactly as designed. And it’s not working very well. Which means we need to do a better job of designing it. Design is a craft with an amazing amount of power. The power to choose. The power to influence. As designers, we need to see ourselves as gatekeepers of what we are bringing into the world, and what we choose not to bring into the world. Design is a craft with responsibility. The responsibility to help create a better world for all. Design is also a craft with a lot of blood on its hands. Every cigarette ad is on us. Every gun is on us. Every ballot that a voter cannot understand is on us. Every time social network’s interface allows a stalker to find their victim, that’s on us. The monsters we unleash into the world will carry your name. This book will make you see that design is a political act. What we choose to design is a political act. Who we choose to work for is a political act. Who we choose to work with is a political act. And, most importantly, the people we’ve excluded from these decisions is the biggest (and stupidest) political act we’ve made as a society.If you’re a designer, this book might make you angry. It should make you angry. But it will also give you the tools you need to make better decisions. You will learn how to evaluate the potential benefits and harm of what you’re working on. You’ll learn how to present your concerns. You’ll learn the importance of building and working with diverse teams who can approach problems from multiple points-of-view. You’ll learn how to make a case using data and good storytelling. You’ll learn to say NO in a way that’ll make people listen. But mostly, this book will fill you with the confidence to do the job the way you always wanted to be able to do it. This book will help you understand your responsibilities.

book cover of Ruined by Design featuring the title and a red and black image of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb

Has anyone read Mike Monteiro’s new book “Ruined by Design”? Sounds very IndieWeb in flavor… (or at least anti-silo/anti-corporate)

I just noticed he’s touring with his book and will be in my backyard later this month: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mike-monteiro-lets-destroy-silicon-valley-tickets-60958127400

I love the line for it: “This isn’t a talk, this is a union meeting.”

Got a .azw version of the book for my Kindle.

Replied to facebook backfeed via email notifications (unlikely) · Issue #854 · snarfed/bridgy by Ryan Barrett (GitHub)

thanks @grantcodes!

i could come up with gmail, sieve, etc email filters for people to install that would forward all facebook emails except password resets. or maybe only notification emails. still seems iffy security wise, and awful UX, but...meh?

quick poll time. hey @aaronpk @chrisaldrich @jgmac1106 @grantcodes @dshanske @tantek and others: if you could get facebook backfeed again by setting up an email filter like this, but it'd be somewhat sketchy security wise (discussion above), and might be inconsistent and incomplete, and the bridgy UI might be weak or nonexistent...would you do it? feel free to emoji respond +1 for yes, -1 for no. also feel free to @-mention anyone else who might vote.

I should have outlined this originally… Likely safer (for Bridgy and the end user) would be to follow the model of posting to WordPress via email (or services like Reading.am which allow posting to it via custom email addresses). Bridgy could provide users with a private hashed email address like 123xyzABC@brid.gy which could be linked to their particular account to which they could manually (or automatically) forward the relevant Facebook notification emails. Upon receipt, Bridgy would know which account sent it and could also match it to the user’s post URL as a check before sending the appropriate webmentions.

This would leave Bridgy free from being the potential source for security leaks and put the onus on the end user. You’d naturally need to have the ability to reset/change the user’s hash in the case that they accidentally allowed their custom email address to leak, although generally this isn’t a huge issue as emails which don’t match the user’s account/endpoints would be dropped and not send webmentions in any case. (In some sense it’s roughly equivalent to my being able to visit https://brid.gy/twitter/schnarfed and clicking on the Poll now or Crawl now buttons. It’s doable, but doesn’t give a bad actor much. You’d probably want to rate limit incoming emails to prevent against mass spam or DDoS sort of attacks against Bridgy.)

A side benefit of all of this is that those who have kept their old email notifications could relatively easily get much of their past missing back feed as well. Or if they’re missing back feed for some reason, they could easily get it by re-sending the relevant emails instead of some of the current manual methods. Perhaps allowing preformatted emails with those same manual methods could be used to do back feed for Facebook or other providers as well?

We could also put together some forwarding filters for common platforms like gmail to help people set up autoforwarders with appropriate keywords/data to cut down on the amount of false positive or password containing emails being sent to Bridgy.

The one potential privacy issue to consider(?) is that this set up may mean that Bridgy could be sending webmentions for private messages since users get both private and public message notifications whereas the API distinguished these in the past. To remedy this, the comment URL could be tested to see if/how it renders as a test for public/private prior to sending. Separately, since Bridgy doesn’t need to store or show these messages (for long?), private messages could be sent, but potentially with a payload that allows the receiving end to mark them as private (or to be moderated to use WordPress terminology). This would allow the user’s website to receive the notifications and give them the decision to show or not show them, though this may be a potential moral gray area as they could choose to show responses that the originator meant to be private communication. The API would have prevented this in the past, but this email method could potentially route around that.

👓 Facebook perfects the art of the news dump | CNN

Read Facebook perfects the art of the news dump (CNN)
On the Thursday before a major holiday weekend, and an hour before the much-anticipated Mueller report was released to the public, Facebook updated a month-old blog post titled "Keeping Passwords Secure" with a few lines of italicized text.

Extension of the Insights » Posting Activity functionality

Filed an Issue Automattic/jetpack (GitHub)
Increase your traffic, view your stats, speed up your site, and protect yourself from hackers with Jetpack.

I’ve been enjoying the idea that JetPack is providing a Github contributions-like functionality at https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/example.com under the heading Posting Activity.

Orderly grid of squares representing dates which are grouped by month with a gradation of colors on each square that indicate in heat map fashion how frequently I post to my website.

Seeing this naturally provides me some additional motivation to post more often, which is generally a good thing for the platform. It also dovetails in visually with the “you have posted X days in a row” notifications sent by the mobile app.

I’m sure it all may be on the roadmap somewhere, but in case it’s not I thought I’d leave a few ideas about continuing to extend this awesome functionality and related UI features.

  • It would be nice to be able to display more than one calendar year of activity. Perhaps a tabbed UI could provide access to prior years while still being relatively compact? (This could be similar to “All Time Views” just below it which has button (aka tab) options for “Months and Years” or “Average per Day”.
    A visual representation of the button/tabbed functionality for "All Time Views" described in the text.
  • While hovering over a particular square representing a date provides some useful information like the number of posts on a particular date, it would be awesome if clicking on that date would take one to the correct archive page for that date. This is not too dissimilar to from GitHub’s functionality and the permalinks for each day should already exist in core. Example: https://example.com/2019/04/17 to show all of that day’s posts.
  • Similar to the functionality for posts, it would be interesting to have a similar set up for comments to allow sorting through those visually as well.
  • It would be awesome to have all of the above rolled up into a widget that would allow one to post the visual data for several months and/or years visually on a sidebar, footer, or other widgetizeable area. This also provides site readers the ability to quickly jump to a particular date and/or set of posts much like the Archives widget allows, but with a more visual interface.
  • If there is a widget, while I’m sure that many will love the blue WordPress-based color scheme, many will want to key their colors off of their theme as a customizable widget option.
  • Given the infrastructure for creating a lot of the above functionality, one could go a half step further and create an “On this Day” feature similar to that of Facebook, Timehop, and many others which allow one to create archive page views for what happened on this same day a year ago, two years ago, three, four, etc. This could be wonderfully useful for a wide variety of sites to look back at birthdays, anniversaries, and red letter dates as well as the average Tuesday. To my knowledge there is only one old plugin that I was able to find after some serious search that has somewhat similar functionality: Room 34 presents On This Day. There is also some similar functionality like this recently built into the Post Kinds Plugin which creates archive views for several date-based permalinks. This would be all the better if there is a better API for such an endpoint so that it could be tied into third party platforms like Timehop which are overly focused on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc., but which could include WordPress-based websites.

Also as I post this, and as I’m thinking the functionality is relatively new, I notice that my JetPack enabled .org site only has Posting Activity that goes back to mid-October 2018 (despite the fact that it should go back much further), while my wordpress.com site has data that goes far back beyond that date. Is this a potential bug, or could it be the case that my self-hosted site hasn’t been parsed back far enough to cover more time yet? It may also be related to the fact that I’ve recently (this week) disconnected and reconnected JetPack to do some troubleshooting.

🎧 The World’s Biggest Problem | On the Media | WNYC Studios

Listened to The World's Biggest Problem from On the Media | WNYC Studios

The messaging behind the Green New Deal; a former insider's look at Facebook's problems; a potential solution; and the godfathers of the modern newspaper column.

At Tuesday's State of the Union, President Trump continued to call for a wall at the southern border. Meanwhile, some Democrats point to the real crisis: climate change. A look at the messaging of urgency and hope around the Green New Deal. And, a former mentor to Mark Zuckerberg lays out his deep criticisms of Facebook. Then, a Facebook employee makes the case for one potential solution. Plus, a new documentary about Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin, two New York City reporters, who helped turn column writing into an art form.

1. Kate Aronoff [@KateAronoff], contributing writer with The Intercept, on how Democrats are selling the urgent need to address climate change. Listen.

2. Roger McNamee [@Moonalice], author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, on the damage that Facebook has done. Listen.

3. Andy O'Connell [@facebook], manager of content distribution and algorithm policy at Facebook, on the network's new "Supreme Court" for content moderation.  Listen.

4. Jonathan Alter [@jonathanalter], filmmaker and journalist, on the legacy of two masterful newspaper columnists. Listen.

👓 Thousands of leaked Facebook documents show Mark Zuckerberg as ‘master of leverage’ in plan to trade user data | NBC News

Read Thousands of leaked Facebook documents show Mark Zuckerberg as ‘master of leverage’ in plan to trade user data (NBC News)
Facebook’s leaders seriously discussed selling access to user data — and privacy was an afterthought.

The story somehow just gets worse and worse and still they just apologize and continue on as usual… It’s shocking to see so many who raised ethical issues along the way are remaining silent now, ostensibly because they are still on the gravy train and are enriching themselves by staying silent.