What Facebook Knew and Tried to Hide

Even when the Facebook leaders understood the problem, they tried to hide it.

Right after the election Zuckerburg was dismissive of the idea that Fake News influenced the election.

People within the company thought he was out of touch.

At the time Facebook was under pressure.

Trump had won the election using social media, but Facebook was dismissive.

Facebook employees saw the tip of the iceberg .  They had been following Russian

Mark wanted to find a technical fix.

Sheryl was thinking about the legal risk and was wondering whether they would find out things they didn’t want to know.  Sheryl was thinking about what the consequences would be.

Sheryl yelled at the security team for investigating Russian interference without formal approval.

The leadership was concerned that Washington was controlled by conservatives who would have an adverse reaction to an investigation or efforts to curb this activity.  Conservatives already think Silicon Valley is a bunch of hippies.

There was pressure within Facebook not to publish anything linking activity back to Russia.  Sheryl(?) also signed off on a policy not to take down the Russian troll accounts.

Mark Zuckerburg was traveling the country, milking cows, and acting as though he wanted to run for President.

Sheryl Sandberg was running her own “Lean-In” brand.

Alex Stamos (Security Chief) briefs the audit committee and the board’s response is to yell at Mark(?) and Sheryl(?)

The leadership holds a big meeting and Sheryl yells at Alex Stamos for

  • not briefing her fully
  • admitting that they hadn’t fully got a grip on the situation
  • suggesting that Russia would likely do this again in the future

Alex has gotten in trouble in the past for being too transparent

The Cambridge Analytical Scandal illustrates:

  • The consequences of surveillance capitalism
  • The potential of Facebook to influence elections

Apple CEO Tim Cook castigates Facebook for their business model.

Facebook conducts an advertising campaign and privately goes on attack using the Washington PR opposition research campaign, which uses the NTK network which publishes propaganda.

Confronted with a Propaganda Scandal, they turn to a PR campaign to create their own Propaganda.

Attacks Apple and Tim Cook.  Attack George Soros, arguing the Facebook’s criticism was masterminded by George Soros.  In taking on Soros they are getting into the smear and conspiracy business.

 

Related:

Damage Control at Facebook: 6 Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation

What 7 Creepy Patents Reveal About Facebook

Reading your relationships

One patent application discusses predicting whether you’re in a romantic relationship using information such as how many times you visit another user’s page, the number of people in your profile picture and the percentage of your friends of a different gender.

Classifying your personality

Another proposes using your posts and messages to infer personality traits. It describes judging your degree of extroversion, openness or emotional stability, then using those characteristics to select which news stories or ads to display.

Another proposes using your posts and messages to infer personality traits. It describes judging your degree of extroversion, openness or emotional stability, then using those characteristics to select which news stories or ads to display.

Predicting your future

This patent application describes using your posts and messages, in addition to your credit card transactions and location, to predict when a major life event, such as a birth, death or graduation, is likely to occur.

Identifying your camera

Another considers analyzing pictures to create a unique camera “signature” using faulty pixels or lens scratches. That signature could be used to figure out that you know someone who uploads pictures taken on your device, even if you weren’t previously connected. Or it might be used to guess the “affinity” between you and a friend based on how frequently you use the same camera.

Listening to your environment

This patent application explores using your phone microphone to identify the television shows you watched and whether ads were muted. It also proposes using the electrical interference pattern created by your television power cable to guess which show is playing.

This patent application explores using your phone microphone to identify the television shows you watched and whether ads were muted. It also proposes using the electrical interference pattern created by your television power cable to guess which show is playing.

Tracking your routine

Another patent application discusses tracking your weekly routine and sending notifications to other users of deviations from the routine. In addition, it describes using your phone’s location in the middle of the night to establish where you live.

Inferring your habits

This patent proposes correlating the location of your phone to locations of your friends’ phones to deduce whom you socialize with most often. It also proposes monitoring when your phone is stationary to track how many hours you sleep.

How a Powerful Spy Camera Invented at Duke Ended Up in China’s Hands

High-tech camera, conceived by scientists for the Pentagon, finds light by moving east

Five years ago, a group of Duke University scientists developed a pioneering gigapixel camera to provide long-range surveillance for the U.S. Navy through a sponsorship from the Pentagon.

The technology, never picked up by the U.S. government, is now being used by Chinese police to identify people from nearly a football field away, after lead Duke researcher David Brady moved to China in 2016 to kick-start his business.

.. Surveillance startups using AI are booming in China as Beijing spends $30 billion a year on public-safety projects, including a vast network of cameras that aims to cover public squares, major crossroads and train stations. To feed that demand, Mr. Brady’s Aqueti China Technology Inc. developed Mantis, a 19-lens camera with processors that combine images into a 100-megapixel frame that users can zoom in on in extraordinary detail.

.. “A government doesn’t need the hand of technology to be oppressive,” he said.

What Mark Zuckerberg Didn’t Say About What Facebook Knows About You

Facebook has a lot more data about us than it lets on—and its tools for providing ‘complete control’ don’t do enough

When you request and download your data from Facebook—a feature Mr. Zuckerberg repeatedly referred to in answers to questions about control—this stored browsing history isn’t there.

That is reasonable, says Antonio Garcia-Martinez, a former Facebook ad-targeting product manager and current Facebook gadfly. Facebook targets ads based on an abstraction derived from your browsing history——an abstraction such as your interest in golf. When you download your data, Facebook tells you what it thinks your interests are but doesn’t provide the specific evidence for why it thinks that.

“If you downloaded this file [of sites Facebook knows you visited], it would look like a quarter to half your browsing history,” Mr. Garcia-Martinez adds.

Another reason Facebook doesn’t give you this data: The company claims recovering it from its databases is difficult. In one case, it took Facebook 106 days to deliver to a Belgian mathematician, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, all the data the company had gathered on him through its most common tracking system. Facebook doesn’t say how long it stores this information.

When you opt out of interest-based ads, the system that uses your browsing history to target you, Facebook continues tracking you anyway. It just no longer uses the data to show you ads.

There is more data Facebook collects that it doesn’t explain. It encourages users to upload their phone contacts, including names, phone numbers and email addresses. Facebook never discloses if such personal information about you has been uploaded by other users from their contact lists, how many times that might have happened or who might have uploaded it.

This data enables Facebook not only to keep track of active users across its multiple products, but also to fill in the missing links. If three people named Smith all upload contact info for the same fourth Smith, chances are this person is related. Facebook now knows that person exists, even if he or she has never been on Facebook. And of course, people without Facebook accounts certainly can’t see what information the company has in these so-called shadow profiles.

.. There’s also a form of location data you can’t control unless you delete your whole account. This isn’t the app’s easy-to-turn-off GPS tracking. It’s the string of IP addresses, a form of device identification on the internet, that can show where your computer or phone is each time it connects to Facebook.

Location is a powerful signal for Facebook, allowing it to infer how you are connected to other people, even if you don’t identify them as family members, co-workers or lovers.

.. All this data, plus the elements Facebook lets you control, can potentially reveal everything from your wealth to whether you are depressed.

Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and a host of smaller companies that compete with and support the giants in the digital ad space have become addicted to the kind of information that helps microtarget ads.