Tag Archives: Facebook Censorship

Facebook Struck Secret Deals To Sell Preferential User Data; Used Onavo VPN App To Spy On Competitors

Update: As the giant cache of newly released internal emails has also revealed, Karissa Bell of Mashable notes that Facebook used a VPN app to spy on its competitors.

The internal documents, made public as part of a cache of documents released by UK lawmakers, show just how close an eye the social network was keeping on competitors like WhatsApp and Snapchat, both of which became acquisition targets. 

Facebook tried to acquire Snapchat that year for $3 billion — an offer Snap CEO Evan Spiegel rejected. (Facebook then spent years attempting, unsuccessfully, to copy Snapchat before finally kneecapping the app by cloning Stories.)

Facebook’s presentation relied on data from Onavo, the virtual private network (VPN) service which Facebook also acquired several months later. Facebook’s use of Onavo, which has been likened to “corporate spyware,” has itself been controversial.

The company was forced to remove Onavo from Apple’s App Store earlier this year after Applechanged its developer guide lines to prohibit apps from collecting data about which other services are installed on its users’ phones. Though Apple never said the new rules were aimed at Facebook, the policy change came after repeated criticism of the social network by Apple CEO Tim Cook. –Mashable

A top UK lawmaker said on Wednesday that Facebook maintained secretive “whitelisting agreements” with select companies that would give them preferential access to vast amounts of user data, after the parliamentary committee released documents which had been sealed by a California court, reports Bloomberg.

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The documents – obtained in a sealed California lawsuit and leaked to the UK lawmaker during a London business trip, include internal emails involving CEO Mark Zuckerberg – and led committee chair Damian Collins to conclude that Facebook gave select companies preferential access to valuable user data for their apps, while shutting off access to data used by competing apps. Facebook also allegedly conducted global surveys of mobile app usage by customers – likely without their knowledge, and that “a change to Facebook’s Android app policy resulted in call and message data being recorded was deliberately made difficult for users to know about,” according to Bloomberg.

In one email, dated Feb. 4, 2015, a Facebook engineer said a feature of the Android Facebook app that would “continually upload” a user’s call and SMS history would be a “high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective.” A subsequent email suggests users wouldn’t need to be prompted to give permission for this feature to be activated. –Bloomberg

The emails also reveal that Zuckerberg personally approved limiting hobbling Twitter’s Vine video-sharing tool by preventing users from finding their friends on Facebook. 

In one email, dated Jan. 23 2013, a Facebook engineer contacted Zuckerberg to say that rival Twitter Inc. had launched its Vine video-sharing tool, which users could connect to Facebook to find their friends there. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine’s access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, “Yup, go for it.”

“We don’t feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents,” said Collins in a Twitter post accompanying the published emails. –Bloomberg

We don’t feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.

— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) December 5, 2018

Thousands of digital documents were passed to Collins on a London business trip by Ted Kramer, founder of app developer Six4Three, who obtained them during legal discovery in a lawsuit against Facebook. Kramer developed Pikinis, an app which allowed people to find photos of Facebook users wearing Bikinis. The app used Facebook’s data which was accessed through a feed known as an application programming interface (API) – allowing Six4Three to freely search for bikini photos of Facebook friends of Pikini’s users. 

Facebook denied the charges, telling Bloomberg in an emailed statement: “Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform,” adding “We’ve never sold people’s data.” 

A small number of documents already became public last week, including descriptions of emails suggesting that Facebook executives had discussed giving access to their valuable user data to some companies that bought advertising when it was struggling to launch its mobile-ad business. The alleged practice started around seven years ago but has become more relevant this year because the practices in question — allowing outside developers to gather data on not only app users but their friends — are at the heart of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook said last week that the picture offered by those documents was misleadingly crafted by Six4Three’s attorneys.WaPo

“The documents Six4Three gathered for this baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context,” said Facebook’s director of developer platforms and programs, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, who added: “We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers. Any short-term extensions granted during this platform transition were to prevent the changes from breaking user experience.”

Kramer was ordered by a California state court judge on Friday to surrender his laptop to a forensic expert after he admitted giving the UK committee the documents. The order stopped just short of holding the company in contempt as Facebook had requested, however after a hearing, California Superior Court Judge V. Raymond Swope told Kramer that he may issue sanctions and a contempt order at a later date. 

“What has happened here is unconscionable,” said Swope. “Your conduct is not well-taken by this court. It’s one thing to serve other needs that are outside the scope of this lawsuit. But you don’t serve those needs, or satisfy those curiosities, when there’s a court order preventing you to do so.”

Trouble in paradise?

As Facebook is now faced with yet another data harvesting related scandal, Buzzfeed reports that internal tensions within the company are boiling over – claiming that “after more than a year of bad press, internal tensions are reaching a boiling point and are now spilling out into public view.”

Throughout the crises, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who maintains majority shareholder control, has proven remarkably immune to outside pressure and criticism — from politicians, investors, and the press — leaving his employees as perhaps his most important stakeholders. Now, as its stock price declines and the company’s mission of connecting the world is challenged, the voices inside are growing louder and public comments, as well as private conversations shared with BuzzFeed News, suggest newfound uncertainty about Facebook’s future direction.

Internally, the conflict seems to have divided Facebook into three camps: those loyal to Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg; those who see the current scandals as proof of a larger corporate meltdown; and a group who see the entire narrative — including the portrayal of the company’s hiring of communications consulting firm Definers Public Affairs — as examples of biased media attacks. –Buzzfeed

“It’s otherwise rational, sane people who’re in Mark’s orbit spouting full-blown anti-media rhetoric, saying that the press is ganging up on Facebook,” said a former senior employee. “It’s the bunker mentality. These people have been under siege for 600 days now. They’re getting tired, getting cranky — the only survival strategy is to quit or fully buy in.”

A Facebook spokesperson admitted to BuzzFeed that this is “a challenging time.”

Source: ZeroHedge

 

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Facebook Sued By PTSD-Stricken Moderator For Non-stop Exposure To “Rape, Torture, Bestiality, Beheadings, Suicide And Murder”

A Northern California woman hired to review flagged Facebook content has sued the social media giant after she was “exposed to highly toxic, unsafe, and injurious content during her employment as a content moderator at Facebook,” which she says gave her post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Selena Scola moderated content for Facebook as an employee of contractor Pro Unlimited, Inc. between June 2017 and March of this year, according to her complaint. 

“Every day, Facebook users post millions of videos, images, and livestreamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide, and murder,” the lawsuit reads. “To maintain a sanitized platform, maximize its already vast profits, and cultivate its public image, Facebook relies on people like Ms. Scola – known as “content moderators” – to view those posts and remove any that violate the corporation’s terms of use.

“You’d go into work at 9am every morning, turn on your computer and watch someone have their head cut off. Every day, every minute, that’s what you see. Heads being cut off,” one content moderator recently told the Guardian.

According to the lawsuit, Facebook content moderators are asked to review over 10 million potentially rule-breaking posts per weekwith an error rate of less than one percent – and a mission to review all user-reported content within 24 hours. Making the job even more difficult is Facebook Live, a feature that allows users to broadcast video streams on their Facebook pages. 

The Facebook Live feature in particular “provides a platform for users to live stream murder, beheadings, torture, and even their own suicides, including the following:” 

In late April a father killed his 11-month-old daughter and live streamed it before hanging himself. Six days later, Naika Venant, a 14-year-old who lived in a foster home, tied a scarf to a shower’s glass door frame and hung herself. She streamed the whole suicide in real time on Facebook Live. Then in early May, a Georgia teenager took pills and placed a bag over her head in a suicide attempt. She live streamed the attempt on Facebook and survived only because viewers watching the event unfold called police, allowing them to arrive before she died.

As a result of having to review said content, Scola says she “developed and suffers from significant psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” – however she does not detail the specific imagery she was exposed to for fear of Facebook enforcing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) she signed. 

Scola is currently the only named plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit, however the lawsuit says that the potential class could include “thousands” of current and former moderators in California. 

As Motherboard reports, moderators have to view a constant flood of information and use their judgement on how to best censor content per Facebook’s “constantly-changing rules.” 

Moderating content is a difficult job—multiple documentaries, longform investigations, and law articles have noted that moderators work long hours, are exposed to disturbing and graphic content, and have the tough task of determining whether a specific piece of content violates Facebook’s sometimes byzantine and constantly-changing rules. Facebook prides itself on accuracy, and with more than 2 billion users, Facebook’s work force of moderators are asked to review millions of possibly infringing posts every day. –Motherboard

“An outsider might not totally comprehend, we aren’t just exposed to the graphic videos—you’ll have to watch them closely, often repeatedly, for specific policy signifiers,” one moderation source told Motherboard. “Someone could be being graphically beaten in a video, and you could have to watch it a dozen times, sometimes with others present, while you decide whether the victim’s actions would count as self-defense or not, or whether the aggressor is the same person who posted the video.” 

The lawsuit also alleges that “Facebook does not provide its content moderators with sufficient training or implement the safety standards it helped develop … Ms. Scola’s PTSD symptoms may be triggered when she touches a computer mouse, enters a cold building, watches violence on television, hears loud noises, or is startled. Her symptoms are also triggered when she recalls or describes graphic imagery she was exposed to as a content moderator.”

Facebook told Motherboard that they are “currently reviewing the claim.”

We recognize that this work can often be difficult. That is why we take the support of our content moderators incredibly seriously, starting with their training, the benefits they receive, and ensuring that every person reviewing Facebook content is offered psychological support and wellness resources,” the spokesperson said. “Facebook employees receive these in house and we also require companies that we partner with for content review to provide resources and psychological support, including onsite counseling—available at the location where the plaintiff worked—and other wellness resources like relaxation areas at many of our larger facilities.”

“This job is not for everyone, candidly, and we recognize that,” Brian Doegan, Facebook’s director of global training, community operations, told Motherboard in June. He said that new hires are gradually exposed to graphic content to “so we don’t just radically expose you, but rather we do have a conversation about what it is, and what we’re going to be seeing.” 

Doegan said that there are rooms in each office that are designed to help employees de-stress. –Motherboard

“What I admire is that at any point in this role, you have access to counselors, you have access to having conversations with other people,” he said. “There’s actual physical environments where you can go into, if you want to just kind of chillax, or if you want to go play a game, or if you just want to walk away, you know, be by yourself, that support system is pretty robust, and that is consistent across the board.”

Read the lawsuit below: 

Source: ZeroHedge

“Can We Trust Facebook?” Mark Zuckerberg’s Non-Answer Says It All

CNN’s soft-ball-pitching, always-smiling, but-trying-ever-so-hard-to-seem-serious Laurie Segall sat across from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tonight as he broke his silence about just WTF happened with regard to the security of ‘our’ data, Cambridge Analytics’ data-mining, Russia, bad-actors, some more Russia, some more meddling, and, oh yeah, data breaches.

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The full interview is below but it was Zuckerberg’s response (or lack of it) to one question, that raises more questions than it answers…

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Segall asked:

Facebook has asked us to share our data, to share our lives on its platform and it has wanted us to be transparent, and people don’t feel like they’ve received that same amount of transparency. They’re wondering what’s happening to their data. Can they trust Facebook?

Zuckerberg replied, in the same manner as his non-apology statement earlier in the day, by waffling endlessly over his prescribed talking points and yet failing entirely to answer Segall’s simple question…

“Yeah, so one of the most important things that I think we need to do here is make sure that we tell everyone whose data was affected by one of these rogue apps, right?” he said.

“And we’re going to do that. We’re going to build a tool where anyone can go and see if their data was a part of this.”

“So the 50 million people that were impacted, they will be able to tell if they were impacted by this?” Segall asked.

“Yeah – we’re going to be even conservative on that. We may not have all of the data in our system today. So anyone whose data might have been affected by this, we’re going to make sure that we tell. And going forward, when we identify apps that are similarly doing sketchy things, we’re going to make sure that we tell people then too, right? That’s definitely something that looking back on this, you know, I regret that we didn’t do at the time, and I think we got that wrong, and we’re committed to getting that right going forward.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper describe Zuckerberg as “perhaps the most powerful man in the world,” noting that his platform is capable in influencing elections and perhaps even wars… little dramatic Anderson…

Fwd to 1:15 for the question (and non-answer)…

Any wiser? Can we trust Facebook?

Perhaps this clip from 2009, when The BBC asked Mark Zuckerberg if Facebook would ever sell personal user data.

His answer? “No! Of course not.”

Actions once again speaking louder than words.

All of which perhaps explains the plunge in the odds of Zuckerberg running for President…

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Source: ZeroHedge

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Facebook Advertisers Start Pulling Out

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Facebook advertisers have threatened to abandon the platform in the wake of a massive data harvesting scandal which began after it was revealed that an app created by two psychologists – one of whom Facebook employs – gathered data on over 50 million Americans and then sold it to political data firm Cambridge Analytics and several others, who used it without consent. 

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of the social media giant gave several interviews Wednesday after spending three days in hiding, ostensibly with a crisis management team which advised him not give wholly unsatisfactory answers to one of the largest data breaches in history. 

The scandal is pushing some Facebook advertisers to consider dropping the platform, reports The Times

ISBA, a British group of advertisers that spend hundreds of millions of pounds a year on Facebook, demanded answers. It is understood that some of its 3,000 brands, which include those of the consumer goods companies Unilever and P&G, will not tolerate association with Facebook if it emerges that users’ data has found its way into the hands of brokers and political campaigners without authorisation. Sources close to the trade body said that if the company’s answers were not satisfactory, advertisers might spend their money elsewhere. ISBA will meet Facebook executives this week.

Others, such as Mozilla – the company behind the Firefox browser – have already pulled out, or as it said have “pressed pause” on Facebook advertising. In a scathing post, Mozilla said that “when Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps, we’ll consider returning.” Until then, “Mozilla will advertise elsewhere” as it warned in a blog post this morning:

Mozilla is pressing pause on our Facebook advertising. Facebook knows a great deal about their two billion users — perhaps more intimate information than any other company does. They know everything we click and like on their site, and know who our closest friends and relationships are. Because of its scale, Facebook has become one of the most convenient platforms to reach an audience for all companies and developers, whether a multibillion corporation or a not-for-profit.

We understand that Facebook took steps to limit developer access to friends’ data beginning in 2014. This was after Facebook started its relationship with Cambridge University Professor Aleksandr Kogan, whose decision to share data he collected from Facebook with Cambridge Analytica is currently in the news. This news caused us to take a closer look at Facebook’s current default privacy settings given that we support the platform with our advertising dollars. While we believe there is still more to learn, we found that its current default settings leave access open to a lot of data – particularly with respect to settings for third party apps.

We are encouraged that Mark Zuckerberg has promised to improve the privacy settings and make them more protective. When Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps, we’ll consider returning.

We look forward to Facebook instituting some of the things that Zuckerberg promised today

Meanwhile, Facebook shares remain under rising pressure – falling approximately 8.6% in three trading sessions and down again on Thursday pre-market as investors – particularly “ethical” investment funds – reconsider their decision to hold the increasingly radioactive company.

Nordea, the largest bank in the Nordic region, which manages about £283 billion (~$400 billion USD), said that it had put some of its Facebook investments in “quarantine” while it assessed the scandal. Union Investment, a German group that manages about £255 billion ($360 billion USD), said that it was reviewing its holding of Facebook shares. –The Times

Investors have also launched several lawsuits against Facebook, claiming that the company made “false and misleading statements” regarding its privacy policies and who they share data with. 

One San Francisco shareholder, Fan Yuan, filed a lawsuit on behalf of an undisclosed party of investors who claim that Facebook’s “omissions” led to a “precipitous” decline in the company’s stock price – wiping out nearly $50 billion of value on Monday and Tuesday. 

A Maryland woman who said that she was “frequently targeted with political ads while using Facebook” during the 2016 US election filed a separate suit against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, alleging that the companies had treated her personal data with “absolute disregard”. Cambridge Analytica denies that it used Facebook data to “microtarget” political adverts when it worked for the Trump campaign. –The Times

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Yesterday, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who Mark Zuckerburg turned into a billionaire after Facebook bought his company for $22 billion, is now telling people to delete their Facebook accounts, promoting hashtag #deletefacebook.

Action was referencing the online movement that is gaining steam in the wake of the data harvesting scandal.

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After staying on for three years, Acton quit Facebook in September, and is now a major backer of rival messaging service Signal, which boasts encryption to make its messages resistant to government surveillance.

In a Wednesday night interview with CNN, Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook “made mistakes,” and that “This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry that this happened. Our responsibility now is to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Zuckerberg also vowed to notify all users “whose data might have been affected” by the breach, and will be “happy” to testify before congress “if it’s the right thing to do.” 

Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that he has pledged to investigate suspicious apps and ban developers who violate data sharing rules or refuse to comply with an audit. He added: “We will restrict developers’ data access even further to prevent other kinds of abuse. For example, we will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app in three months. We will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in — to only your name, profile photo and email address.”

“We’ll require developers to not only get approval but also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their private data. We’ll have more changes to share in the next few days.”

That said, tens of thousands of apps could be harvesting data… 

Yesterday Dr Kogan, the Russian-linked Cambridge academic who obtained the data of 50 million users by offering “personality quizzes” before selling the data to Cambridge Analytica, told the BBC that “tens of thousands” of apps could have done the same thing.

A Facebook whistleblower told MPs that the company had ignored his warnings and lost control of users’ data by giving easy access to developers. Sandy Parakilas said that when he worked at the company in 2011-12 “personal identifiable data was basically allowed to leave Facebook”. He told MPs that he had warned executives that poor safeguards could enable foreign powers or data brokers to harvest data. –The Times

ISBA notes: “The claims that other apps using the Facebook platform, and pre-dating 2015, have collected similar bodies of personal data and that controls for distribution have been inadequate, raise questions about the possibility that Facebook data has been, or is being used improperly elsewhere. ISBA is asking Facebook for a full account.”

Source: ZeroHedge

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Cambridge Analytica’s London HQ Evacuated Due To Suspicious Package

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It appears Cambridge Analytica has some enemies

Cambridge Analytica’s London headquarters has been evacuated and a major thoroughfare closed as the Metropolitan Police investigates reports of a suspicious package.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s Very Bad Day Of “Damage Control”: Highlights

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Zuckerberg: “I never thought I’d have to safeguard the integrity of elections. ” [well, have you done a good enough job?]

Zuck: “Um, we will see.”

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Bill Blain: “What Struck Me Is What A Monster Facebook Has Become”

Blain’s Morning Porridge – March 22nd 2018

“Gybe: To shift suddenly and forcibly from one side to the other..”

Headwinds have become tailwinds, and Jay Powell opens his tenure at the FED by upgrading the outlook for the US Economy.

As a keen sailor, I have more than a passing interest in from where the wind is blowing. There are a number of things to bear in mind about tailwinds; i) they get you where you expect to go faster – meaning we shouldn’t neglect thinking about how this Goldilocks recovery ends.

And, ii) sailing downwind (ie tailwinds) can prove the most dangerous point of sail – things can go from smooth and stable to disaster in frighteningly short moments as a result of a sudden windshift causing a crash-gybe to flick the crew into the water, or the mast to come tumbling down. I’ve attached a photo showing just how bad tailwind sailing can go…

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The Fed’s message was simple: stronger growth, lower but stable full employment, modestly rising inflation, and rates set to double to double to 3.4% in 2020. Three, maybe four hikes this year, but three next year…. It should not have come as much of a surprise to the market. Some of the news reports say it was “Aggressive”, but what I heard was a dovish “middle-ground” back-loading of further tightening – further hikes to follow if justified. They are not slamming on the breaks, but gently brushing the pedals. Powell summed it up nicely: “The economy is healthier than it has been since before the crisis…”

Cynics might ask which particular crisis?

The world is an increasingly volatile place – a blusterous conflabulation of sentiment, facts, hopes and expectations that tends to spin very differently to Central Bankers scripts.

Perhaps its a modern update Chinese curse, but we live in “unconventional” times – while the Fed is considering tightening policy, the government is looking to Spend, Spend, Spend. We should be keeping a tight eye on employment – with the economy already looking inside NAIRU – how will tax-cuts and fiscal spending impact already tight labour costs? Meanwhile, what about the global economy? What about Populism? Or geopolitics and the threats of a trade-war with China? What about so many other unforseen things…. As we charge downhill with the spinnaker flying, just how stable is that mast?

Next on my worry list this morning is Facebook.

I was out with someone who knows about this kind of stuff – my 23 year old son Jack who is making a career for himself in advertising (and directing music videos in his spare time!). He explained it’s not just Cambridge Analytica that’s been exploiting Facebook and other social media sites through deep diving apps that amuse us with puppy pics, while measuring and tailoring product and messages to our desires and weaknesses.. Its happening across the board – it’s a dimly understood marketing revolution. We just don’t realise how social media users aren’t customers – we’re the product! It was a light-bulb moment…

Almost as revealing as Mark Zuckerberg’s dollar-late appearance last night on CNN. What struck me is that he has as little idea as the rest of us what a monster Facebook has become. Sure, he took responsibility – but does he actually understand what for?

You can’t uninvent stuff – but last night I deep dived my social media pages, changed all the options, put in new passwords and wonder just what a mess we’ve created.

Back in the real world – or is it?

Some interesting thoughts on alternative assets yesterday. According to some US research, global investors now hold around 25% of their total assets – accounting to some $7 trillion – in the form of Alternatives – ie things that aren’t “financial assets” such as stocks and shares. We’re very aware that assets like property tend to yield significantly more than financial assets – properly reflecting their lesser liquidity, but also how stocks and bonds have tightened and become inflated as a result of QE policies.

I was reading stuff about how much investors should demand for illiquidity – a base guess being a 1% spread over the risk free rate if you are locked into an illiquid alternative asset for one year rising to 6% for 10-yrs plus. Others say managers should be earning at least a 3% illiquidity premium on illiquid alternatives to justify themselves.

The trick is finding the right people to manage alternatives – for instance a global aircraft leasing firm or a firm with a fleet of ships under management, with all the technical and professional management skills to understand why planes fly and ships float, while also making sure they are working hard to earn a return. Or guys who understand the intricacies of private equity. There aren’t that many conventional bond/equity long/short portfolio managers who’ve got a breeze of an idea on which particular renewable energy projects beats the rest – but there are specialists who do. One approach is to find the right experts to invest on fund’s behalf – and we’ve got such managers we recommend.

That said, the research note yesterday made the case that many investors are utterly unprepared for ill-liquidity risks of alternative / illiquid assets. While the best case is to plan and hold illiquid alternatives through to maturity, its equally important to plan for need – have a plan to sell if you have to.

That said, I think I’ll stick with my 2018 investment strategy: buy assets correlated to global growth, and avoid correlation with inflated liquid assets.

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Facebook Ministry Of Truth Chief Security Officer Quits Over “Spread Of Disinformation”

Less than six months after exclaiming his concerns about algorithmic censorship on social media, and fears about becoming a ‘ministry of truth’, Alex Stamos – Facebook’s chief information security officer – is leaving the tech giant following “internal disagreements” over how the company should handle disinformation spread over its platform, according to the New York Times.

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His departure was reportedly planned long before the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted over the weekend.

Stamos famously unleashed a scathing tweet storm late last year warning the FBI and intrusive Democratic lawmakers (who are again banging the regulation drum) that “censorship is easy”, but separating Russian bots from legitimate posters would be much, much harder, and essentially would require Facebook or the government to become a “Ministry of Truth” – referring to a government ministry from George Orwell’s 1984 responsible for rewriting history.

“It’s very difficult to spot fake news and propaganda using just computer programs,” Stamos said in a series of Twitter posts on Saturday.

“Nobody of substance at the big companies thinks of algorithms as neutral,” Stamos wrote, adding that the media is simplifying the matter.

“Nobody is not aware of the risks.”

So if you don’t worry about becoming the Ministry of Truth with ML systems trained on your personal biases, then it’s easy!

Stamos, according to the NYT, had reportedly clashed with other senior executives over how the company should handle disclosures of “Russian interference” on its platform. Stamos called for more transparency and disclosure.

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His repeated conflicts led to his day-to-day responsibilities being reassigned late last year in preparation for his departure – which wasn’t expected to happen until August.

After his day-to-day responsibilities were reassigned to others in December, Mr. Stamos said he would leave the company. He was persuaded to stay through August to oversee the transition of his duties because executives thought his departure would look bad, the current and former employees said. He has been overseeing the transfer of his security team to Facebook’s product and infrastructure divisions. His group, which once had 120 people, now has three, the current and former employees said.

Stamos is the first senior employee to leave the company since the controversy surrounding the purported $100,000 in fraudulent ad spending by a “Russian troll farm” was first publicly confirmed in September.

Facebook shares, which entered correction territory during Monday’s session, were down 1% after hours, back at the lows of the day…

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“Where’s Mark?” CEO’s Silence On Cambridge Analytica Is Making Facebook Employees Uneasy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will not be making an appearance at an impromptu employee town hall set for Tuesday morning…

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Meet Facebook’s Biggest Holders Who Are Having A Very Bad Day (Or Two)

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Amid the biggest two-day demise in Mark Zuckerberg’s social network in six years, slashing below its 200-day moving-average, many are wondering where the dip-buyers have gone… and who the biggest losers are, so far!

Source: ZeroHedge

Facebook, Twitter And Google Outline Unprecedented Mass Censorship At US Senate Hearing

Behind the backs of the US and world populations, social media companies have built up a massive censorship apparatus staffed by an army of “content reviewers” capable of seamlessly monitoring, tracking, and blocking millions of pieces of content.

The character of this apparatus was detailed in testimony Wednesday from representatives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, chaired by South Dakota Republican John Thune.

The hearing was called to review what technology companies are doing to shut down the communications of political opposition organizations. It represented a significant escalation of the campaign, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, to establish unprecedented levels of censorship and control over the Internet.

Armed with increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems, these technology companies are free to remove and block the communications of their users at the behest of the government, in a seamless alliance between Silicon Valley and the major US spy agencies.

Monika Bickert, head of Global Policy Management at Facebook, told lawmakers that the social media giant now employs a security team of 10,000 people, 7,500 of whom “assess potentially violating content,” and that, “by the end of 2018 we will more than double” the security team.

This group includes “a dedicated counterterrorism team” of “former intelligence and law-enforcement officials and prosecutors who worked in the area of counterterrorism.” In other words, there is a revolving door between the technology giants and the state intelligence and police forces, with one increasingly indistinguishable from the other.

Bickert pointed to the growing use of artificial intelligence to flag content, saying Facebook does not “wait for these… bad actors to upload content to Facebook before placing it into our detection systems,” bragging that much of the “propaganda” removed from Facebook “is content that we identify ourselves before anybody” else has a chance to view it.

She added that Facebook has partnered with over a dozen other companies to maintain a blacklist of content, based on “unique digital fingerprints.” This means that if a piece of content, whether a video, image, or written statement, is flagged by any one of these companies, it will be banned from all social media. This database now includes some 50,000 pieces of content and is constantly growing, officials said.

In other words, the technology giants have created an all-pervasive system of censorship in which machines, trained to collaborate with the CIA, FBI, and other US intelligence agencies, are able to flag and block content even before it is posted.

Juniper Downs, global head of Public Policy and Government Relations at YouTube, likewise boasted that Google uses “a mix of technology and humans to remove content,” adding that YouTube relies on a “trusted flagger program” to provide “actionable flags” based on the flaggers’ experience with “issues like hate speech and terrorism,” words that imply that these “trusted flaggers” are connected to US intelligence agencies.

“Machine learning is now helping our human reviewers remove nearly five times as many videos as they were before,” Downs said, adding that Google’s censorship machine is virtually automated. She said that this year there will be “10,000 people across Google working to address content that might violate our policies.”

Downs declared that since June YouTube has “removed 160,000 videos and terminated 30,000 channels for violent extremism.” The company has “reviewed over two million videos” in its collaboration with “law enforcement, government,” and “NGOs.”

Downs stated that Google is actively engaged in promoting what she called “counter-speech,” that is, the promotion of propaganda narratives. She also pointed to Google’s Jigsaw program as deploying “targeted ads and YouTube videos to disrupt online radicalization,” and “redirecting” users to content that Google approves of.

The hearing also featured the testimony of Clint Watts, a former FBI official, former US Army officer, fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and a leading promoter of social media censorship.

Watts presented the hearing with an unhinged justification for what these massive powers might be used for, in a hypothetical scenario he dubbed “Anwar Awlaki meets PizzaGate.”

“The greatest concern moving forward,” he said, “might likely be a foreign intelligence service, posing as Americans on social media, infiltrating one or both political extremes in the US and then recruiting unwitting Americans to undertake violence against a target of the foreign power’s choosing.”

In this formulation, social opposition, what he calls the “political extremes,” including left-wing politics, is the product of foreign intervention and therefore treasonous. It is also defined as “terrorist” in content and therefore criminal.

Watts expressed extreme fear over the widespread growth of opposition to the policies of US imperialism. He arrogantly decried, “Lesser-educated populations around the world predominately arriving in cyberspace via mobile phones will be particularly vulnerable to social media manipulation.”

The content of Thursday’s testimony points the far-advanced preparations for the establishment of police state forms of rule.

The effort to control speech online is driven by a ruling elite that is immensely fearful of social opposition. Amid growing social inequality and the ever-mounting threat of world war, broad sections of the population, and in particular the working class, are increasingly disillusioned with the capitalist system. Having no social reform to offer, the ruling elites see censorship as the only means to prop up their rule.

Given the explosive content of the statements made at Thursday’s hearing, it is extraordinary that they received no significant coverage in either the print or broadcast media.

The hearing took place just one day after the World Socialist Web Site carried its live webinar, “Organizing Resistance to Internet Censorship,” featuring WSWS chairperson David North and journalist Chris Hedges.

Note: The source article promotes socialism. Whiskey Tango Texas is anti-communism and socialism

By Andre Damon | World Socialist Web Site