Whistleblowers, Advertising, Transparency, More: ResearchBuzz Facebook Roundup, November 18, 2021


The Verge: Meta Goes Into Lockdown. “Last month, a researcher for Meta prepared a talk for colleagues that they knew would hit close to home. The subject: how to cope as a researcher when the company you work for is constantly receiving negative press. The talk had been approved to show at the company’s annual research summit for employees in early November. But shortly before the event, Meta’s legal and communications department determined that the risk of the contents leaking were too great. So it disappeared from the research summit’s agenda days before, along with another pre-taped talk describing efforts to combat hate speech and bullying. Both talks never saw the light of day.”


MakeUseOf: What Happens to Your Data if Facebook Ever Dies?. “Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is a vast conglomerate—and they’re showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. The company has even acquired multiple businesses and branched out to other services to take the lead in social media technology. But what if, for some crazy reason, Facebook ceases to exist? What would happen to all your personal data stored both on your public profile and in the company’s servers? Let’s take a look at what happened to Myspace and see if Facebook will suffer the same fate.”


CNET: Facebook accused of ‘misleading’ public about ads targeting teenagers. “Facebook is still gathering data from children and teenagers, despite making changes to how advertisers can reach young people earlier this year, a report released late Monday from advocacy groups Reset Australia, Fairplay and Global Action Plan says.”

Los Angeles Times: What Facebook knew about its Latino-aimed disinformation problem – Los Angeles Times . “It was October 2020, election conspiracy theories threatened to pull America apart at its seams, and Jessica González was trying to get one of the most powerful companies in the world to listen to her. It wasn’t going well. After months of trying to get on their calendar, González — the co-chief executive of media advocacy group Free Press — had finally managed to secure a meeting with some of the Facebook employees responsible for enforcing the social platform’s community standards. The issue at hand: the spread of viral misinformation among Latino and Spanish-speaking Facebook users.”

American Independent: Experts say Facebook’s new ad policy won’t do much but hurt small political campaigns. “Facebook announced a major change to its advertising interface on Nov. 9, barring firms from targeting users based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Experts say the change appears to be somewhat cosmetic, in response to the company’s recently battered public image, and that big firms will be able to circumvent the prohibition easily. But the shift could have a more profound effect on campaigns without a data team at their disposal who might not otherwise navigate the new parameters as effectively.”


Washington Post: Facebook took down a New Mexico militia group’s accounts. Prosecutors say it deleted key evidence.. “In an era when extremist groups commonly organize online, the legal showdown highlights a tension between the pressure digital platforms face to remove problematic accounts and content, on the one hand, and authorities’ interest in accessing that information for real-world prosecutions, on the other. And it raises questions about what privacy protections, if any, those platforms — from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube and others — owe to people and organizations they’ve banned.”

Techdirt: Facebook Whistleblower Testifies Before ‘Grand Committee On Disinformation’; Which Includes Countries That Lock People Up For Criticizing The Gov’t. “It didn’t get as much press as some of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s other high profile talks to government inquisitors, but last week, Haugen testified before the rather Orwellian International Grand Committee on Disinformation. This is a bizarre ‘committee’ set up by regulators around the world, but its focus — and its members — are kind of notable.”

AFP: Hackers Targeted Afghan Officials on Facebook Amid Taliban Offensive. “Facebook revealed Tuesday it had worked to block a hacker group that targeted the accounts of people tied to Afghanistan’s then-government and security forces as the Taliban was moving in to take power. The Pakistan-based group, known as SideCopy, used ‘romantic lures’ from what appeared to be young women on the platform to try to trick the targets into giving the hackers access to their pages.”


Michigan Daily: It’s time for Facebook to end. “It’s no coincidence that the best film from the 2010s was — according to Quentin Tarantino and myself — David Fincher’s ‘The Social Network.’ At the time, the movie’s depiction of the protagonist, Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg), seemed a bit over-the-top. Today it feels like they held back. The inherent evils of Zuckerberg’s monstrosity have been evident for years; a solution cannot be delayed any longer. ”

SoyaCincau: Instagram’s video selfie human verification is easily defeated by a Barbie doll. “Instagram was found requesting users to submit video selfies to verify that they are a real human, however it was found to be easily fooled by simply using a Barbie doll. The video selfie verification system was recently spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra, but it actually showed up for some users last year.”

Arizona State University: The ethical implications of facial recognition technology. “The move to shutter facial recognition on Facebook comes at a time when use of the technology has become exceedingly controversial…. The Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at Arizona State University critically examines issues of ethical innovation like these, focusing on humane technology and our relationship to the built environment. Center Director Elizabeth Langland and Associate Director Gaymon Bennett gave insight on the ethicality of facial recognition technology and what this news means for the future of power and privacy on social media.”

The Conversation: We know better than to allow Facebook to control the metaverse. “In the midst of the scandals of the Facebook papers, Facebook rebranded the company as Meta. The new name was designed to reflect a focus beyond the Facebook social network platform, and into the metaverse — the extension of the internet into three-dimensional virtual reality (VR) spaces. However, given Facebook’s handling — or mishandling — of their current social responsibilities, we should be cautious about how much control a single company should have over the potential metaverse.” Good morning, Internet…

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