Technology

Facebook Stock Plunges

John Gruber: “In the short run I always caution against reading anything into the market’s sense, but in this case I think investors are right. Facebook is in some serious trouble. This Cambridge Analytica scandal proves that Facebook ought to be heavily regulated, and that’s not good for Facebook’s bottom line.”

“I  take issue, though, with the phrase ‘ended up in the hands of’. The implication with that phrasing is that Cambridge Analytica hoodwinked Facebook, or breached some sort of defenses. They didn’t. The information Cambridge Analytica obtained was exactly the information Facebook provides to advertisers by design. Cambridge Analytica just used that data in ways Facebook didn’t anticipate. Or perhaps better said, Facebook never anticipated that when people started to realize just what Facebook enables, there’d be outrage.”

Judge Says Trump Should Mute, Not Block, Followers

“A judge is recommending that President Trump mute rather than block some Twitter followers to resolve a First Amendment lawsuit,” the AP reports.

“Manhattan federal Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald on Thursday suggested a settlement as the preferred outcome after listening to lawyers argue whether it’s constitutional for Trump to block his critics.”

Russians Released Anti-Clinton Video Game

“Russians created an anti-Hillary Clinton video game called ‘Hilltendo’ and tried to make it go viral in the weeks before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, CNN has determined through a review of internet records and computer code.”

“It’s one of the strangest ways yet discovered that Russians tried to influence the American election. But it’s indicative of just how creative Russian internet trolls were willing to be.”

Facebook Was Tool of Choice for Russians

New York Times: “While the indictment does not accuse Facebook of any wrongdoing, it provided the first comprehensive account from the authorities of how critical the company’s platforms had been to the Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election. Facebook and Instagram were mentioned 41 times, while other technology that the Russians used were featured far less. Twitter was referenced nine times, YouTube once, and electronic payments company PayPal 11 times.”

“It is unprecedented for an American technology company to be so central to what the authorities say was a foreign scheme to commit election fraud in the United States.”

The Coming Information Apocalypse

BuzzFeed News: “Aviv Ovadya saw early what many — including lawmakers, journalists, and Big Tech CEOs — wouldn’t grasp until months later: Our platformed and algorithmically optimized world is vulnerable — to propaganda, to misinformation, to dark targeted advertising from foreign governments — so much so that it threatens to undermine a cornerstone of human discourse: the credibility of fact.”

“But it’s what he sees coming next that will really scare the shit out of you.”

”That future, according to Ovadya, will arrive with a slew of slick, easy-to-use, and eventually seamless technological tools for manipulating perception and falsifying reality.”

Sasse Quits Using Twitter

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) “is known as one of the more prolific Twitter users in Congress, often writing his own tweets himself to chime in on policy issues, crack jokes, and in some cases, rebuke President Donald Trump. But over Christmas weekend last year, Sasse stopped tweeting and has not picked up the phone since,” Business Insider reports.

Sasse sees his sabbatical from Twitter as a healthy decision too, because “there’s just a ton of data about the way social media is designed to create dopamine hits for teenage kids.”

Missouri Governor Sued Over Disappearing Messages

Missouri Gov. Eric Greiten’s (R) office is being sued over its use of Confide, “an ephemeral messaging mobile app, which they say is in violation of state public records law,” Ars Technica reports.

Confide, like Signal and other popular encrypted-messaging apps, auto-deletes messages after a certain period of time, making automated record-keeping of those messages very difficult, if not impossible. Use of such apps by public employees for official business is almost certain to run afoul of transparency laws.”

Mueller Has Interviewed Facebook Staff

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his office “have interviewed at least one member of Facebook’s team that was associated with President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign,” Wired reports.

“Facebook and other social platforms have emerged as a key part of that investigation, not only because the company embedded staff with the San Antonio-based digital team working on Trump’s campaign, but also because it sold more than 3,000 Facebook and Instagram ads to fake accounts linked to the Russian propaganda group Internet Research Agency.”

China Has Ambitious Plans to Track Its Citizens

China’s government is embracing facial recognition by combining footage from security cameras with videos from private cameras to create a nationwide surveillance system, the Washington Post reports.

Officials hope to utilize the footage to track citizens’ activity and beliefs, eventually assigning everyone a “social credit” score representing whether the government can trust the person.

Ex-Facebook Exec Says Social Media Is Ripping Us Apart

Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make, The Verge reports.

Said Palihapitiya: “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”

He added: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”

Bipartisan Panel Recommends Hacking Safeguards

“A bipartisan Harvard University project aimed at protecting elections from hacking and propaganda will release its first set of recommendations today on how U.S. elections can be defended from hacking attacks,” Reuters reports.

“The 27-page guidebook shown to Reuters ahead of publication calls for campaign leaders to emphasize security from the start and insist on practices such as two-factor authentication for access to email and documents and fully encrypted messaging via services including Signal and Wickr.”