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Video: Couple Proves Facebook Is Secretly Listening To Your Conversations

November 16, 2017 1 comment

Some conspiracy theories are harder to dismiss out of hand — like the idea that Facebook is using your phone’s microphone to listen in on your conversations to serve you ads relevant to your interests. There are reports that claim if you use Facebook messenger, you are being recorded even when not on the phone.

While Facebook has been listening to your conversations since 2014, Kelli Burns, a communications professor at the University of South Florida, told The Independent in 2016 that Facebook could be listening in on users’ conversations all of the time to serve them with relevant advertising.

On its part, the social network admitted it uses peoples’ microphones, not for ad-targeting purposes but only as a way of seeing what they are listening to or watching and suggesting that they post about it. Facebook, which has a history of disrespecting users’ privacy, also revealed an easy way to revoke its access to your microphone. Here’s how to stop Facebook from listening to you on your phone.

So, is Facebook recording your conversations? The best evidence against the ‘conspiracy theory’ that Facebook is listening to your conversations is that Facebook strenuously denies it. But you will find it difficult to dismiss this conspiracy theory as totally crazy because there’s evidence that smartphone settings can be easily circumvented to allow surreptitious spying.

Well, if Facebook ads pop up with the same content as your conversations, it definitely feels like Facebook listened to your conversations. A video showing a couple’s successful attempt to get Facebook to show them cat food ads by talking constantly about cat food went viral last summer, and recently made the rounds on Reddit again.

Suspecting Facebook was listening in to his conversations, YouTube user Neville (who has no cats and who has never searched for cats or cat food) conducted a simple experiment.

“My wife and I took a random subject we had NEVER every talked about or searched online and talked about it while her iPhone was on in the background. Two days later, our Facebook advertising completely changed over to cat food for a few days.”

Creepy, yes, but is it true? The couple, obviously, says yes, and many Internet users agree.

Facebook

One Simple Chart Proves That Facebook Thinks You’re A Moron

November 13, 2017 Leave a comment

(Anti Media) Last week we jokingly wrote about a Facebook press release that was apparently an honest effort by the social media giant intended to summarize Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 election using their social media platform. That said, at least to us, it seemed as though Facebook unwittingly proved what a farce the entire ‘Russian collusion’ narrative had become as, after digging through advertising data for the better part of full year, Facebook reported that they found a ‘staggering’ $50,000 worth of ad buys that may have been purchased by Russian-linked accounts to run ‘potentially politically related’ 

Not surprisingly, after being attacked by the mainstream media and even Hillary for “assisting” the Russians, Zuckerberg is once again in the press today fanning the flames of the ‘Russian collusion’ narrative by saying that Facebook will release to Congress the details of the 3,000 ads that MAY have been purchased by Russian-linked accounts.

And while it seems obvious, please allow us to once again demonstrate why this entire process is so utterly bizarre… 

The chart below demonstrates how the $50,000 worth of ad buys that MAY have been purchased by Russian-linked accounts to run ‘potentially politically related’ ads compares to the $26.8 billion in ad revenue that Facebook generated in the U.S. over the same time period between 3Q 2015 and 2Q 2017….If $50,000 can swing an entire presidential election can you imagine what $26.8 billion can do?

Of course, not all of that $26.8 billion was spent on political advertising so we took a shot at breaking it down further.  While Facebook doesn’t disclose political spending as a percent of their overall advertising revenue, we did a little digging and found that political advertising represented ~5% of the overall ad market in the U.S. in 2016.  We further assumed that political share of the overall ad market is roughly half of that amount in non-election years, or 2.5%.

Using that data, we figure that Facebook may get ~3.5% of their annual revenue from political advertising in an average year, or nearly $1 billion per year…give or take a few million.  Unfortunately, as the chart below once again demonstrates, this still does little to support Zuckerberg’s thesis that the $50,000 he keeps talking about is in any way relevant to the 2016 election.

Of course, the pursuit of this ridiculous narrative proves that Zuckerberg has no interest in spreading the truth about how his company impacted (and by “impacted,” we mean “had no impact at all”) the 2016 election, but rather is only interested in shoving his political agenda down the throats of an American public that he presumes is too stupid to question his propaganda. 

That said, if Zuckerberg is really just on a mission for truth, as he says he is, perhaps he can stop patronizing the American public and disclose the full facts surrounding political advertising on Facebook.  We suspect a simple financial disclosure detailing how much political advertising was sold on Facebook from 3Q 2015 – 2Q 2017, broken down by political affiliation, would go a long way toward proving just how meaningless $50,000 is in the grand scheme of things. 

That said, somehow we suspect ‘truth’ is not really Zuckerberg’s end goal, now is it

Facebook Founder Warns Social Media Is ‘Weakening’ Our Brains

November 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Sean Parker, the founder of Facebook, says he believes the social network giant is rewiring our brains and making them vulnerable to psychological attacks. 

Parker, 38, said at an Axios event Wednesday at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia that Facebook has become a dangerous “social validation feeedback loop.”

“It’s exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with because you’re exploiting vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors, creators, it’s me, it’s Mark… understood this consciously and we did it anyway.”

Axios.com reports: In the green room, Parker mentioned that he has become “something of a conscientious objector” on social media.

By the time he left the stage, he jokingly said Mark Zuckerberg will probably block his account after reading this:

“When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, ‘I’m not on social media.’ And I would say, ‘OK. You know, you will be.’ And then they would say, ‘No, no, no. I value my real-life interactions. I value the moment. I value presence. I value intimacy.’ And I would say, … ‘We’ll get you eventually.’”

“I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and … it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other … It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

“The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’”

“And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.”

“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

“The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”

P.S. Parker, on life science allowing us to “live much longer, more productive lives”: “Because I’m a billionaire, I’m going to have access to better health care so … I’m going to be like 160 and I’m going to be part of this, like, class of immortal overlords. [Laughter] Because, you know the [Warren Buffett] expression about compound interest. … [G]ive us billionaires an extra hundred years and you’ll know what … wealth disparity looks like.”

Facebook Censored Me and I’m Not the Only One

November 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Facebook’s campaign against “fake news” is having unsettling effects on what it does and does not consider newsworthy.

(FEE) —  Responding to Russian-funded political advertisements, Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg declared last month that “we will do our part to defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation.” But Facebook is effectively sowing disinformation by kowtowing to foreign regimes and censoring atrocities such as ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. In the name of repressing fake news and hate speech, Facebook is probably suppressing far more information than Americans realize.

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The Waco Debacle

Facebook blocked a post of mine last month for the first time since I joined it nine years ago. I was seeking to repost a blog article I had written on Janet Reno, the controversial former attorney general who died last year. I initially thought that Facebook was having technical glitches (no novelty). But I checked the page and saw the official verdict: “Could not scrape URL because it has been blocked.”

“Pshaw!” I said, or some other one-syllable epithet. I copied the full text of the article into a new blog post. Instead of using “Janet Reno, Tyrant or Saint?” as the core headline, I titled it: “Janet Reno, American Saint.” Instead of a 1993 photo of the burning Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, I substituted an irreproachable official portrait of Reno. Bingo — Facebook instantly accepted that crosspost. I then added a preface detailing the previous blockage and explaining why I sainted Reno. The ironic headline attracted far more attention and spurred a torrent of reposts by think tanks and other websites.

So when did showing the home of more than 70 people engulfed in flames after an FBI assault become beyond the pale? Facebook presumably blocked everyone who sought to share that image from the most vivid law enforcement debacle of the 1990s.

This was not the first time Facebook erased an iconic image that the U.S. government would be happy to see vanish. Facebook likely deleted thousands of postings of the 1972 photo of a young Vietnamese girl running naked after a U.S. plane dropped napalm on her village.  After coming under severe criticism last year, Facebook announced that it would no longer suppress that image. Unfortunately, Facebook is unlikely to disclose a list of the images it bans. Because most Americans are clueless about current events and recent history, they will have little idea of what vanishes into the Memory Hole.

Active Censorship

Zuckerberg also promised last month to continue working “to ensure our community is a platform for all ideas and force for good in democracy.” But the Facebook vision of democracy does not include freedom of information. Facebook instructs its employees that “we will not censor content unless a nation has demonstrated the political will to enforce its censorship laws.” But in such cases, Facebook happily teams up with heavy-handed politicians to crush dissent and suppress heretical notions.

In Turkey, IndiaPakistan, and Morocco, Facebook routinely suppresses comments from regime opponents. Facebook cooperates closely with the Israeli government and “Palestinian groups are blocked so often that they have their own hashtag, #FbCensorsPalestine.”

In June, German police raided dozens of homes across the nation suspected of offensive social media postings and “conducted home searches and interrogations,” according to the New York Times. Facebook is deleting 15,000 posts a month in Germany but the government is threatening a $50-million-plus fine unless Facebook suppresses far more comments. Judith Bergman of the Gatestone Institute commented on the German mandate: “When employees of social media companies are appointed as the state’s private thought police … free speech becomes nothing more than a fairy tale. Or is that perhaps the point?” Other European nations are jumping on the suppression bandwagon. British Prime Minister Theresa May last month called on Facebook to remove purportedly extremist content within two hours of a government demand.

Facebook is massively deleting posts from the victims of the ongoing slaughter of ethnic minority Muslims (known as Rohingya) by Myanmar’s military. Facebook spokeswoman Budhraja explained to The Daily Beast: “We work hard to strike the right balance between enabling expression while providing a safe and respectful experience.”  What is the “right balance” regarding a brutal campaign that is creating hundreds of thousands of refugees and spurring denunciations all over the world?

Facebook last May announced plans to hire an additional 3,000 content reviewers to scrutinize and delete offensive or improper postings or false information. But catch-all notions of “fake news” can abet government coverups. Condemnations of Congress’ 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution were often considered “fake news” (or communist propaganda) until Americans learned how the Johnson administration deceived them into the Vietnam War. Allegations that the feds had any role in that Waco fire were labeled conspiratorial nonsense until 1999 when the Justice Department admitted that the FBI fired pyrotechnic devices into the ramshackle building before the conflagration. Assertions that foreign governments had any role in the 9/11 attacks were summarily condemned until recent disclosures about Saudi financing of the hijackers.

Unlike its role in many foreign nations, Facebook is not functioning as an official censor in the U.S. But the company’s nonchalance about engaging in the electronic equivalent of book burning abroad should spur wariness about its conduct here. There are far too many American politicians who would be happy to browbeat Facebook into silencing their critics.

Google, Facebook, Twitter Sued For Supporting ISIS

October 10, 2017 Leave a comment

The family of a man killed in the Barcelona terror attack are suing Google, Facebook and Twitter for ‘aiding and abetting’ ISIS. 

The three daughters of Jared Tucker, who was among the 13 people killed in the Aug. 17 attack, claim that the Internet giants  were caught “aiding, abetting and knowingly providing support and resources” to ISIS.

Nypost.com reports:  The assault was the worst terrorist attack to hit Spain in more than a decade when a vehicle plowed into pedestrians on Barcelona’s most popular boulevard, Las Ramblas. Thirteen people died and 130 were injured.

The three tech companies, the complaint argues, have “for years knowingly and recklessly provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts to use its social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits.”

The suit, filed by attorneys Keith Altman and Ari Kresch in the US District Court in Northern California, seeks a trial by jury and asks for damages.

The lawsuit hinges on the interpretation of a portion of the 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which provides litigants with broad ways to “seek relief against persons, entities and foreign countries, wherever acting and whenever they may be found, that have provided material support, directly or indirectly, to foreign organizations or persons that engage in terrorist activities against the United States.”

Facebook announced recently that it will use artificial intelligence to spot images, videos and text related to terrorism. YouTube, owned by Google, has also said it will be removing terrorist-related content much faster.

Twitter claimed in 2016 that it shut down more than 360,000 accounts linked to terrorist groups.

“We want to be very open with our community about what we’re trying to do to make sure that Facebook is a really hostile environment for terror groups,” Monika Bickert, director of global policy management at Facebook, told the BBC.

The growing number of ISIS attacks has led big tech firms to focus on removing content uploaded by suspected militants, although many lawmakers and family members of victims have demanded further action.

After a terror attack in London in June, British Prime Minister Theresa May said more needs to be done to stop ISIS from spreading its propaganda.

“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet and the big companies that provide internet-based services [do],” May said, according to the Independent.

Facebook Could Start Using Facial Recognition to Verify Who You Are

October 7, 2017 Leave a comment

(ANTIMEDIA While Facebook has quietly been developing its facial recognition software for Aloha, a controversial video chat device set to debut in May 2018, the company is reportedly testing “a facial recognition feature to help secure your account,” according to TheNextWeb’s Matt Navarro, who posted a screenshot of the new feature on Twitter.

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Facebook confirmed the limited rollout of the software, telling Techcrunch:

“We are testing a new feature for people who want to quickly and easily verify account ownership during the account recovery process. This optional feature is available only on devices you’ve already used to log in. It is another step, alongside two-factor authentication via SMS, that were taking to make sure account owners can confirm their identity.”

The feature will likely be available to more users once developers are satisfied with the product’s reliability, but no other details are available at this time regarding the timeline or implementation.

Facebook ‘Bullied’ Into Releasing Evidence Of Bogus Russian Interference

September 28, 2017 Leave a comment

 

 

Facebook has been bullied into producing bogus non-existent ‘evidence’ that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, after a sustained coordinated attack by mainstream media.

Robert Parry of Consortium News just published an important article slamming The Washington Post’s lame attempt at trying to persuade readers that Russia meddled in the election. In this case, by purchasing a meager $100,000 of Facebook ads.

Libertyblitzkrieg.com reports: The Washington Post, which has a history of falsely claiming certain alternative media websites work for the Kremlin, is owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, which has a $600 million contract with the CIA. When it comes to Russia hysteria, the paper is in a class of its own.

What follows are some key excerpts from Parry’s piece, WPost Pushes More Dubious Russia-bashing. You should read the entire thing and share.

Some people are calling the anti-Russian hysteria being whipped up across the U.S. mainstream news media a new “golden age of American journalism,” although it looks to me more like a new age of yellow journalism, prepping the people for more military spending, more “information warfare” and more actual war.

I know that some people feel that the evidence-lite and/or false allegations about “Russian meddling” are the golden ticket to Trump’s impeachment. But the unprofessional behavior of The New York Times, The Washington Post and pretty much the entire mainstream media regarding Russia-gate cannot be properly justified by the goal of removing Trump from office.

The U.S. mainstream media has clearly joined the anti-Trump Resistance and hates Russian President Vladimir Putin, too. So, we are given such travesties of journalism as appeared as a banner headline across the front page of Monday’s Washington Post, another screed about how Russia supposedly used Facebook ads to flip last November’s election for Trump.

The article purports to give the inside story of how Facebook belatedly came to grips with how the “company’s social network played a key role in the U.S. election,” but actually it is a story about how powerful politicians bullied Facebook into coming up with something – anything – to support the narrative of “Russian meddling,” including direct interventions by President Obama and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a key legislator regarding regulation of high-tech industries.

In other words, Facebook was sent back again and again to find what Obama and Warner wanted the social media company to find. Eventually, Facebook turned up $100,000 in ads from 2015 into 2017 that supposedly were traced somehow to Russia. These ads apparently addressed political issues in America although Facebook has said most did not pertain directly to the presidential election and some ads were purchased after the election.

Left out of the Post’s latest opus is what a very small pebble these ads were – even assuming that Russians did toss the $100,000 or so in ad buys into the very large lake of billions of dollars in U.S. political spending for the 2016 election cycle. It also amounts to a miniscule fraction of Facebook’s $27 billion in annual revenue.

So the assertion that this alleged “meddling” – and we’ve yet to see any evidence connecting these ads to the Russian government – “played a key role in the U.S. election” is both silly and outrageous, especially given the risks involved in stoking animosities between nuclear-armed Russia and nuclear-armed America.

Even the Post’s alarmist article briefly acknowledges that it is still unclear who bought the ads, referring to the purchasers as “suspected Russian operatives.” In other words, we don’t even know that the $100,000 in ads over three years came from Russians seeking to influence the U.S. election. (By comparison, many Facebook advertisers – even some small businesses – spend $100,000 per day on their ads, not $100,000 over three years.)

Monday’s Post exposé simply asserts the claim as flat fact. Or as the article asserts: “what Russian operatives posted on Facebook was, for the most part, indistinguishable from legitimate political speech. The difference was the accounts that were set up to spread the misinformation and hate were illegitimate.”

In responsible journalism, such an accusation would be followed by a for-instance, giving an example of “the misinformation and hate” that the “Russian operatives” – note how they have been magically transformed from “suspected Russian operatives” to simply “Russian operatives” – were disseminating.

Indeed, what is shown in the article is often contradictory to the story’s conclusion. The article says, for instance, “A review by the company found that most of the groups behind the problematic pages had clear financial motives, which suggested that they weren’t working for a foreign government. But amid the mass of data the company was analyzing, the security team did not find clear evidence of Russian disinformation or ad purchases by Russian-linked accounts.”

So, Facebook initially – after extensive searching – did not find evidence of a Russian operation. Then, after continued pressure from high-level Democrats, Facebook continued to scour its system and again found nothing, or as the Post article acknowledged, Facebook “had searched extensively for evidence of foreign purchases of political advertising but had come up short.

That prompted Warner to fly out to Silicon Valley to personally press Facebook executives to come up with the evidence to support the Democrats’ theory about Russia paying for carefully targeted anti-Clinton ads in key districts.

The Post’s article reported that “Finally, [Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex] Stamos appealed to Warner for help: If U.S. intelligence agencies had any information about the Russian operation or the troll farms it used to disseminate misinformation, they should share it with Facebook. The company is still waiting, people involved in the matter said.”

If the context of this story were changed slightly – say, it was about the U.S. government trying to influence public opinion in another country (which actually does happen quite a bit) – the Post would be among the first news outlets to laugh off such allegations or dismiss the vague accusations as a conspiracy theory, but since these allegations fit with the prejudices of the Post’s editors, an entirely different set of journalistic standards is applied.

What the article also ignores is the extraordinary degree of coercion that such high-level political pressure can put on a company that recognizes its vulnerability to government regulation.

In other words, another way to have framed this story is that powerful politicians who could severely harm Facebook’s business model were getting in the face of Facebook executives and essentially demanding that they come up with something to support the Democratic Party’s theory of “Russian meddling.”

Careerist journalists understand that there is no danger in running with the pack – indeed, there is safety in numbers – but there are extraordinary risks to your career if you challenge the conventional wisdom even if you turn out to be right. As one establishment journalist once told me, “there’s no honor in being right too soon.”

So, for the Post reporters responsible for the latest journalistic violation of standards – Adam Entous, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg – there will be no penalty for the offense of telling about Russia’s alleged “disinformation” and “fake news” – rather than showing, i.e., providing actual examples. When it comes to Russia these days – as with the Vietcong in the 1960s or Iraq in 2002-03 – you can pretty much write whatever you want. All journalistic standards are gone.

The most concerning part of the article, which Parry correctly highlights, is the fact that Facebook looked for months and couldn’t find anything. Then it suddenly comes up with something for desperate politicians to point to after months of pressure.

For example, here’s what The Washington Post itself noted in its piece:

The extent of Facebook’s internal self-examination became clear in April, when Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos co-authored a 13-page white paper detailing the results of a sprawling research effort that included input from experts from across the company, who in some cases also worked to build new software aimed specifically at detecting foreign propaganda.

Notably, Stamos’s paper did not raise the topic of political advertising — an omission that was noticed by Capitol Hill investigators. Facebook, worth $495 billion, is the largest online advertising company in the world after Google. Although not mentioned explicitly in the report, Stamos’s team had searched extensively for evidence of foreign purchases of political advertising but had come up short.

A few weeks after the French election, Warner flew out to California to visit Facebook in person. It was an opportunity for the senator to press Stamos directly on whether the Russians had used the company’s tools to disseminate anti-Clinton ads to key districts.

Officials said Stamos underlined to Warner the magnitude of the challenge Facebook faced policing political content that looked legitimate.

Stamos told Warner that Facebook had found no accounts that used advertising but agreed with the senator that some probably existed. The difficulty for Facebook was finding them.

For months, a team of engineers at Facebook had been searching through accounts, looking for signs that they were set up by operatives working on behalf of the Kremlin. The task was immense.

Warner’s visit spurred the company to make some changes in how it conducted its internal investigation. Instead of searching through impossibly large batches of data, Facebook decided to focus on a subset of political ads.

Technicians then searched for “indicators” that would link those ads to Russia. To narrow down the search further, Facebook zeroed in on a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency, which had been publicly identified as a troll farm.

“They worked backwards,” a U.S. official said of the process at Facebook.

The breakthrough moment came just days after a Facebook spokesman on July 20 told CNN that “we have seen no evidence that Russian actors bought ads on Facebook in connection with the election.”

Did Facebook get a call from Warner after the July 20th statement? From Obama? Who knows, but the way this unfolded seems questionable.

Facebook’s talking points were about to change.

By early August, Facebook had identified more than 3,000 ads addressing social and political issues that ran in the United States between 2015 and 2017 and that appear to have come from accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency.

After making the discovery, Facebook reached out to Warner’s staff to share what they had learned.

What does this timeline look like to you? To me it looks like Facebook couldn’t find anything damning, and then finally after months of enormous political pressure to find something to fit the desperate and collapsing Russia narrative, the company came up with a measly $100,000 worth of ads, which in many cases had nothing to do with the election or the specific candidates.

Consider me unconvinced.

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