Reason #236 NOT To Use Facebook

February 3, 2019

From TechCrunch:

“Facebook  has been secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that lets the company suck in all of a user’s phone and web activity, similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and that was removed in August. Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access to network traffic in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity, a TechCrunch investigation confirms …

Since 2016, Facebook has been paying users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month plus referral fees to sell their privacy by installing the iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app … The program is administered through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest to cloak Facebook’s involvement ,,, For kids short on cash, the payments could coerce them to sell their privacy to Facebook.”

Seven hours after this story was published, Facebook told TechCrunch it would shut down the iOS version of its Research app in the wake of the report.

 

 

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Reason #235 NOT To Use Facebook

January 20, 2019

RevealNews.org has uncovered documents showing how Facebook made money (or”inappropriately profited”) from children by exploiting the confusion some kids have between real and fantasy money.

“The lead plaintiff in the case was a child who used his mother’s credit card to pay $20 while playing a game on Facebook. The child, referred to as “I.B.” in the case, did not know the social media giant had stored his mom’s payment information. As he continued to play the game, Ninja Saga, Facebook continued to charge his mom’s credit card, racking up several hundred dollars in just a few weeks. The child “believed these purchases were being made with virtual currency, and that his mother’s credit card was not being charged for these purchases,” according to a previous ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Beth Freeman.  When the bill came, his mom requested Facebook refund the money, saying she never authorized any charges beyond the original $20. But the company never refunded any money, forcing the family to file a lawsuit in pursuit of a refund.

The documents — which have been withheld by the company for years — reveal “widespread confusion by children and their parents, who didn’t understand Facebook continued to charge them as they played games.”  Even Facebook employees worried about the issue:

“In nearly all cases the parents knew their child was playing Angry Birds, but didn’t think the child would be allowed to buy anything without their password or authorization first,” according to an internal Facebook memo. The memo noted that on other platforms, such as Apple’s iPhone, people were required to reauthorize additional purchases, such as by re-entering a password … Yet the company continued to deny refunds to children, profiting from their confusion.”

 

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Reason #234 NOT to use Facebook

November 18, 2018

This article from the New York Times is long and important.  It looks at the management practices espoused by Zuckerberg and Sandberg, and the serious issues that arisen.

” … as evidence accumulated that Facebook’s power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view. At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives …

While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation.

Facebook’s internal investigation on the extent of Russia interference in the 2016 elections was thorough and devastating, and Zuckerberg and Sandberg decided to hide as much of it as possible, But pressure from Congress was too much:

After stalling for weeks, Facebook eventually agreed to hand over the Russian posts to Congress. Twice in October 2017, Facebook was forced to revise its public statements, finally acknowledging that close to 126 million people had seen the Russian posts …

In March, The Times, The Observer of London and The Guardian prepared to publish a joint investigation into how Facebook user data had been appropriated by Cambridge Analytica to profile American voters. A few days before publication, The Times presented Facebook with evidence that copies of improperly acquired Facebook data still existed, despite earlier promises by Cambridge executives and others to delete it. Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg met with their lieutenants to determine a response. They decided to pre-empt the stories, saying in a statement published late on a Friday night that Facebook had suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform. The executives figured that getting ahead of the news would soften its blow, according to people in the discussions. They were wrong.

For anyone interested in how these huge corporations manage the politics of their business, this is a detailed study.

 

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Reason #232 NOT to use Facebook

April 4, 2018

After all the scandal and revelation over the last couple of weeks of bad governance at Facebook, I am shocked and amazed that anyone still has an account there.

I truly believe that people are mindlessly surrendering themselves to the corporation for a quick buzz and constant contact. It is sad. Sad mostly because these chickens WILL come home to roost for everyone concerned. This may all seem a little like some titanic battle over how elections are run and won (correct at one level), but it has very important aspects much closer to home to do with your personal identity, your ability to freely choose, and your possible futures.

I would have hoped that the shenanigans revealed this week would make these series of posts irrelevant.  But I haven’t seen the kind of mass move to leave FB that reasonably should have happened by now.  So, I guess, I’ll just keep count of the staggeringly large number reasons NOT to use Facebook.

 

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Reason #232 NOT To Use Facebook

March 26, 2018

 

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Reason #231 NOT to use Facebook

February 15, 2018

Facebook’s latest “data protection” gizmo actually tracks everything you do online, might store it forever, and definitely feeds all the information to the company for its own use. An article in WIRED explains that Onavo

“falls far short of the privacy protections that VPN users reasonably expect … Onavo is more pervasive than standard VPNs, and attempts to be on all the time instead of just when you want a little extra protection. This seems like a way for the app, and by extension Facebook, to track your browsing all the time, not just when you’re on the social network …

‘Onavo collects your mobile data traffic,’ reads the App Store description. ‘This helps us improve and operate the Onavo service by analyzing your use of websites, apps and data. Because we’re part of Facebook, we also use this info to improve Facebook products and services, gain insights into the products and services people value, and build better experiences.’ If you’re looking for the privacy benefits of a VPN, this is not what you want to hear …

‘Unlike other providers, Onavo Protect tries to keep the VPN connected all the time, and channel all internet traffic,’ says Ankur Banerjee, a technology architecture delivery team lead at the management consulting firm Accenture. ‘Even turning the VPN off is buried deep inside the settings of the app rather than making it front-and-center on the app home page. They could spin this as saying they’re trying to keep the customer protected all the time, but the obvious thing they are perhaps trying to do here is ensure that the user forgets Onavo even exists’.”

Sounds like business as usual for Facebook.

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Reason #230 NOT to Use Facebook

January 22, 2018

According to a fascinating piece by Cory Doctorow, the dictatorship in Cambodia has been using Facebook to undermine the opposition in that country, by suppression, false news, and violence.

“The Cambodian government has cultivated a deep expertise in Facebook’s baroque acceptable conduct rules, and they use this expertise to paint opposition speech as in violation of Facebook’s policies, using the company’s anti-abuse systems to purge their rivals from the platform. Offline, the government has targeted the independent press with raids and arrests, shutting down most of the media it does not control.”

And they seem to have been directly aided by Facebook itself.

“[L]ast October, Facebook used Cambodia in an experiment to de-emphasize news sources in peoples’ feeds — a change it will now roll out worldwide — and hid those remaining independent reporters from the nation’s view.

Opposition figures have worked with independent researchers to show that the government is buying Facebook likes from clickfarms in the Philippines and India, racking up thousands of likes for Khmer-language posts in territories where Khmer isn’t spoken. They reported these abuses to Facebook, hoping to get government posts downranked, but Facebook executives gave them the runaround or refused to talk to them. No action was taken on these violations of Facebook’s rules …

[T]he decisions made by Facebook can seem mysterious and arbitrary. But for the Cambodian government, that process has been streamlined by Facebook. Duong said every couple of months, his team would email an employee they work with at Facebook to request a set of accounts be taken down, either based on language they used or because their accounts did not appear to be registered to their real names, a practice Facebook’s rules forbid. Facebook often complies, he said.”

The Cambodian regime is anti-democratic and is well-known for suppressing human rights and for its corruption. Facebook obviously doesn’t care.

 

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Reason #229 NOT To Use Facebook

September 15, 2017

Companies and organisations that want to advertise on Facebook can apparently choose to target their ads to a wide variety of demographics. That sounds like a useful tool. However, as the Guardian reports:

“Facebook has allowed advertising to target users interested in the topics of “Jew hater” and “How to burn Jews”, according to an investigation that adds to mounting criticisms of the way the company allows and profits from unethical ads. ProPublica, an investigative news organization, reported on Thursday that the social network’s self-service ad-buying system allowed people to direct advertisements to nearly 2,300 users interested in several explicitly antisemitic subjects, including a category labeled “History of ‘why Jews ruin the world’”.”

During the previous week, it was revealed that:

“a group that appeared to be based in Russia had spent $100,000 on ads [on Facebook] promoting political messages in a two-year period. The ads had spread divisive views on topics such as immigration, race and LGBT rights … A recent report in the Daily Beast suggested that Russian operatives used Facebook’s events tool to organize and promote political protests and anti-immigrant rallies while hiding behind false identities.”

It seems that, until they are found out and shamed, Facebook will sell anything to anyone provided it makes money for them; and ethics be damned.

 

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Reason #228 NOT to Use Facebook

June 16, 2017

Facebook wrote some code that was so faulty that it revealed to terrorists the names of FB moderators who were charged with shutting down terrorist postings. As the Guardian reported:

Of the 1,000 affected workers, around 40 worked in a counter-terrorism unit based at Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. Six of those were assessed to be “high priority” victims of the mistake after Facebook concluded their personal profiles were likely viewed by potential terrorists. The Guardian spoke to one of the six, who did not wish to be named out of concern for his and his family’s safety. The Iraqi-born Irish citizen, who is in his early twenties, fled Ireland and went into hiding after discovering that seven individuals associated with a suspected terrorist group he banned from Facebook – an Egypt-based group that backed Hamas and, he said, had members who were Islamic State sympathizers – had viewed his personal profile … Overwhelmed with fear that he could face retaliation, the moderator, who first came to Ireland as an asylum seeker when he was a child, quit his job and moved to eastern Europe for five months.

Any complex system can have issues, but, once discovered,

the bug in the software was not fixed for another two weeks … By that point the glitch had been active for a month. However, the bug was also retroactively exposing the personal profiles of moderators who had censored accounts as far back as August 2016.

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Reason #227 NOT to use Facebook

May 19, 2017

Because of their censorship in Malta.

Facebook has deleted four posts from a Maltese journalist and they blocked him from his FB account because — well, why is still an open question (“Facebook is investigating the circumstances of the deletions and declined to comment”).

“The posts, which were written in Maltese, contained allegations of wrongdoing by prime minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Keith Schembri, and minister of energy Konrad Mizzi. Each post included images of documents from the Panama Papers leak … The deletions raise questions about how Facebook moderates journalism.”

 

Sure looks as if the local  FB office wanted to protect the power elite.

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Reason #226 NOT to use Facebook

May 11, 2017

During the Presidential campaign last year, Mark Zuckerberg occasionally complained about Trump policy ideas, especially those that hurt his own business (like immigration reform).  However, FB was also a major source and platform for much of the fake news that helped swing the campaign to Trump.

There has been much talk this year that Zuckerberg will run for office in 2020. What as, one wonders. Many of Trump’s polices, such as tax reform, will do little but make Zuckerberg even richer than he already is,  and it cannot be a coincidence that he has had “multiple” telephone conversations with Trump since the inauguration.

Now, Facebook has attacked and censored a group that supports women’s right to choose by assisting them to access medical supplies (I wonder how many big pharma companies are banned from FB for promoting “drug use?)  This is music to the far-right GOP base and provides yet another reason NOT to use Facebook.

 

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Reason #225 NOT to use Facebook

January 20, 2017

Because Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire bully-boy trying to force Hawai’ians off their land. He thinks that his $100 million is more important than the rights these folks have built up over generations. And he is trying to buy the law to get what he wants. As one local says:

“he moves in and acts just like the Evil Rich White Man taking from the Hawaiians. That is so gnarly. Zero respect.”

 

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Reason #224 NOT to Use Facebook

January 2, 2017

neptune_in_bolognaI guess I had some hope that a new year would bring new sense to the censors at Facebook. But no; here we are just two days into the year and already they are censoring well-known works of art.

If anyone had been a tourist in Bologna, they will have seen the magnificent 500-year old statue of Neptune in the square named for the old god.  A local artist wanted to use a picture of the statue to decorate her FB page. But FB said no. This glorious statue they said, “violates Facebook’s guidelines on advertising. It presents an image with content that is explicitly sexual and which shows to an excessive degree the body, concentrating unnecessarily on body parts.”

Once again, FB’s managers show themselves as dull-witted as any Victorian. What is in their minds is what is “dirty”, not this piece of art that has stood unmolested in the public square for 500 years.  We can only assume that these idiots – and I am sorry but that’s what they are — keep their eyes closed as they wander around Italy and Greece. More likely, they don’t visit these sites because they don’t want to be upset: they stick to EPCOT and Six Flags.

 

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Reason #223 NOT to use Facebook

November 22, 2016

anti-facebookBecause they have developed or are developing software to allow the Chinese government to censor Facebook in China. This is their commitment to free speech, eh?

Zuckerberg says it is better to be “part of a conversation”, which is Silicon Valleyese for “we can’t make a profit in China unless we let the government screw with our members’ values.

It is good to read that some FB employees are quitting in protest but, frankly, FB can simply offer more money to attract more coders and systems managers whose resumes do not include any social conscience.

 

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Reason #222 NOT to use Facebook

October 28, 2016

Because they support racial exclusion for advertizers.

“When we showed Facebook’s racial exclusion options to a prominent civil rights lawyer John Relman, he gasped and said, “This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find.”  The Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it illegal “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators can face tens of thousands of dollars in finesThe Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits the “printing or publication of notices or advertisements indicating prohibited preference, limitation, specification or discrimination” in employment recruitment.

Seems that Facebook is the perfect vehicle for racists, white supremacists, and other immoderate radicals to peddle their hate-filled wares to their own kind.

 

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Reason #221 NOT to Use Facebook

October 20, 2016

Because Facebook is so intimidated by women’s bodies, they have deleted a Swedish Cancer Society video that shows — using animations only — how to check for potentially cancerous lumps.

Zuckerberg’s 19th century prurience is costing women their lives. For me, this is almost a war crime.

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Reason #220 NOT to use Facebook

August 26, 2016

 

No facebookEven though their own research shows that 80% of users react negatively if an ad’s sound is turned on when a video starts, that is exactly what Facebook is planning to happen now.

According to a story in Consumerist, the current default is to have the sound OFF, but Facebook wants to change that in case you miss any of the important advertising messages FB’s paymasters are sending you.

You will soon have to specifically switch the sound off because, of course, advertisers are more important than members’ convenience.

 

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Reason #219 NOT to use Facebook

May 22, 2016

No facebookBecause they are using their virtual monopoly position in an anti-competitive manner to squeeze competitors to their various products. According to a report on PCTechMag:

“Facebook owned Instagram has started blocking ‘add me’ links to rival platforms Telegram and Snapchat , in users’ bios. Until recently, users added their Snapchat profile links to their Instagram bios but this is no more …

Telegram Messenger App tweeted, “Another @Facebook tentacle closes on users’ ability to share a link to their Telegram profile. #hypocrisy.”  For Telegram, this is not only the first but a second Facebook owned product that has curtailed user’s freedom to share links to their Telegram profiles. The same was seen done by Whatsapp last year, also arguably their biggest rival in the Instant Messaging space.

So much for free enterprise, eh.

 

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Reason #218 NOT to use Facebook

May 9, 2016

anti-facebookBecause they manipulate the news feeds spoon-fed to their members.

Although FB claims their “trending” news stories are “an organic or algorithmic representation of user interests and activities,” they actually have a whole team manipulating which stories get fed to the “trending topics” list. As the article makes clear “Managers also instructed them to insert stories that were not trending despite being in the news.”

Now, I have little or no sympathy for anyone who gets their news from Facebook, but this illustrate the normal level of respect FB gives to its members.

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Reason #217 NOT to use Facebook

April 18, 2016

Because they have way too much power over content.

This week they suddenly, and without any explanation, closed the FB page of The Shade Room.  The Shade Room, apparently, is a celebrity gossip/news site. I have never visited but I learn it has earned more than 4.4 million likes; and the owner/manager of the site, Angie Nwandu, was listed as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 In Media this year.  Ms Nwandu reports that she has been targeted before by Facebook.

Because no explanation has been forthcoming, one can theorize that one of Zuckerberg’s Hollywood pals didn’t like something The Shade Room wrote and he agreed to censor them without further ado.

 

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