Technology

Facebook Will Give Congress Copies of Russian Ads

Facebook reversed itself and will give Congress copies of 3,000 political ads bought through Russian accounts, the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “The high-profile announcement came after Facebook spent two weeks on the defensive amid calls for greater transparency about 470 Russia-linked accounts the company took down after they had promoted inflammatory messages on divisive issues. Facebook had previously shown Congressional staffers a sample of the ads, some of which attacked Hillary Clinton or praised Donald J. Trump, but had not shared the entire collection.”

Politico: “The ads have become of increasing interest to Mueller and his team, according to people familiar with the investigation, because they could show Russian efforts to interfere — and who was behind them.”

Parties Prep for Battle Against Hackers

“The political world is officially obsessed with cybersecurity in 2017 — especially the Democrats burned by the hacking of their committees and operatives during the 2016 election,” Politico reports.

“Much of the Democratic Party’s permanent apparatus has already changed its day-to-day operations as a result, while beginning the slow process of persuading its decentralized, startup-like campaign ecosystem to follow suit.”

“House Democrats’ top strategists have urged consultants working on their campaigns to start using Wickr, the end-to-end encrypted messaging app used inside the DCCC — but the consulting community has been slow to give up email and embrace the program… Security measures vary widely from race to race, leaving many still vulnerable to hacking, and members of both parties say they are seeking centralized clearinghouses of anti-hacking information and services.”

Both Parties Move Against Facebook

Mike Allen: “Members of Congress in both parties have begun exploring possible legislative action against Facebook and other tech giants, setting the stage for a potentially massive battle in the midterm election year of 2018.”

“Following revelations about fake news and paid Russian propaganda on Facebook during last year’s election, big tech has become a big target, with politicians across the spectrum declaring on Sunday shows that more scrutiny, transparency and restrictions are needed.”

“The shift against the companies has been sudden, and is one of the biggest stories of the year.”

Facebook Doesn’t Know Extent of Russian Ad Buys

CNN: “One week after it told the country that it had sold $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian troll farm during the 2016 election, Facebook is still not sure whether pro-Kremlin groups may have made other ad buys intended to influence American politics that it simply hasn’t discovered yet.”

“These sources said it is entirely possible that unidentified ad buys may still exist on the social media network today. One issue preventing Facebook from making a full accounting of the problem is that ads are purchased through the company’s self-service tool, which allows buyers to independently purchase and target ads, often without human interaction on Facebook’s side of the transaction.”

Mueller Probe Has ‘Red-Hot’ Focus on Social Media

“Russia’s effort to influence U.S. voters through Facebook and other social media is a ‘red-hot’ focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election and possible links to President Trump’s associates,” Bloomberg reports.

“Mueller’s team of prosecutors and FBI agents is zeroing in on how Russia spread fake and damaging information through social media and is seeking additional evidence from companies like Facebook and Twitter about what happened on their networks.”

“The ability of foreign nations to use social media to manipulate and influence elections and policy is increasingly seen as the soft underbelly of international espionage… because it doesn’t involve the theft of state secrets and the U.S. doesn’t have a ready defense to prevent such attacks.”

The Bad New Politics of Big Tech

Ben Smith: “Facebook should probably ease out of the business of bland background statements and awkward photo ops, and start worrying about congressional testimony. Amazon, whose market power doesn’t fall into the categories envisioned by pre-internet antitrust law, is developing a bipartisan lobby that wants to break it up. Google’s public affairs efforts are starting to look a bit like the oil industry’s.”

“These are the existential collisions with political power that can shake and redefine industries and their leaders, not the nickel-and-dime regulatory games Silicon Valley has played to date.”

Putin Says Whoever Leads In AI Will Rule the World

Russian president Vladimir Putin has joined the war of words concerning the international race to develop artificial intelligence, The Verge reports.

Said Putin: “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

Elon Musk responds: “Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3.”

China Is Reading Its Citizens’ Faces

Wall Street Journal: “Facial-recognition technology, once a specter of dystopian science fiction, is becoming a feature of daily life in China, where authorities are using it on streets, in subway stations, at airports and at border crossings in a vast experiment in social engineering. Their goal: to influence behavior and identify lawbreakers.”

“China is rushing to deploy new technologies to monitor its people in ways that would spook many in the U.S. and the West. Unfettered by privacy concerns or public debate, Beijing’s authoritarian leaders are installing iris scanners at security checkpoints in troubled regions and using sophisticated software to monitor ramblings on social media. By 2020, the government hopes to implement a national ‘social credit’ system that would assign every citizen a rating based how they behave at work, in public venues and in their financial dealings.”

U.K. Parliament Investigates Cyberattack

British officials were investigating a cyberattack on the country’s Parliament after discovering “unauthorized attempts to access parliamentary user accounts,” the AP reports.

An email sent all those affected described a “sustained and determined attack on all parliamentary user accounts in an attempt to identify weak passwords. These attempts specifically were trying to gain access to our emails.”

How Google Is Being Gamed to Fool Americans

Paste Magazine shows how Google search results are being manipulated by pro-Trump forces.

Together, we’re going to Google the phrase “trump no evidence collusion.” (And because Google searches change over time, I’ll drop screenshots of my results here.) What will emerge is a picture of an invisible hand writing a specific argument, over and over and over. That hand belongs to Robert Mercer, Trump’s data man, who gamed Google and fake news during the campaign and whose return to the scene is heralded by Trump’s war room and bot boom…

Before we begin, though, we need to establish the fact that this statement is a lie: “There’s no evidence of collusion!” The reason I’m using this specific example is because this highly nuanced claim is the perfect loophole to exploit for misinformation, to shade the truth as lie and get away with it clean…

Here’s what I saw when I Googled “trump no evidence collusion” on the afternoon of May 29… How many mainstream sites do you see on the first page? Zero. Let’s go to page two… Ah! There, buried under InfoWars and National Review and The Blaze and not one, not two, but three pieces from The Free Beacon, we finally find good old Reuters! And, lo: the good old Washington Post!

James Comey’s Secret Twitter Account Found

Gizmodo: “There is only one person currently following the account: Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare…  a personal friend of James Comey… ProjectExile7 follows 27 other accounts, the majority of which are either reporters, news outlets, or official government and law enforcement accounts.”

“And of the 39 total tweets the account has liked thus far, eight refer directly to the FBI or James Comey himself.”

Congress Guts Internet Privacy Rules

“The House of Representatives voted to repeal rules preventing internet service providers from selling their customers’ web browsing and app usage data without explicit consent,” Gizmodo reports.

“The Senate passed the same bill last week, which means the only obstacle that remains is a signature from President Trump—and the White House has already signaled he will do so.”

How Big Data Broke Politics

NBC News: “Polarization is no longer just polluting the system — it’s paralyzing it. The deepening divide between the right and the left has largely hollowed out the center of American politics, from the politicians who once occupied the large ‘middle’ to the voters who once gravitated to them.”

“Here’s our theory: The reason our lawmakers aren’t responding to the center of the electorate is because they’ve concluded (with ample electoral evidence) that they don’t need centrist or swing voters to win.”

“Why? Big Data — a combination of massive technological power and endlessly detailed voter information — now allows campaigns to pinpoint their most likely supporters. These tools make mobilizing supporters easier, faster and far less expensive than persuading their neighbors.”

Russian Hackers Target Liberal Groups

Bloomberg: “Russian hackers are targeting U.S. progressive groups in a new wave of attacks, scouring the organizations’ emails for embarrassing details and attempting to extract hush money, according to two people familiar with probes being conducted by the FBI and private security firms.”

“At least a dozen groups have faced extortion attempts since the U.S. presidential election, said the people, who provided broad outlines of the campaign. The ransom demands are accompanied by samples of sensitive data in the hackers’ possession.”