If they drill too deep they'd need to face very uncomfortable questions about other platforms too, e.g Palantir (Thiel was right there lurking ;)). Facebook is the Internet in many countries (making them less resilient and even more prone to meddling than the US). And so looking at it from the IC perspective FB is too big to fail:
- Remember Palantir worked with CA on the Facebook data it acquired: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16690721
- Remember how confident in May 2016 Thiel was of a Trump presidency and when he openly started endorsing Trump? Was he operating with more knowledge than available to the general public: http://fortune.com/2016/05/10/peter-thiel-trump-delegate/
- His $1.25 million donation in October 2016 seems even more interesting now: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/technology/peter-thiel-do...
- Leaked Palantir Doc Reveals Uses, Specific Functions And Key Clients https://techcrunch.com/2015/01/11/leaked-palantir-doc-reveal...
- This is who runs PRISM: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/is-this-who-runs-prism
Oh and Palantir enables Immigration Agents to Access Information From the CIA: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13895827
Also more uncomfortable questions: https://twitter.com/RidT/status/983789426340921349
We got a demo of Seisent, since bought by LexisNexus, mid-2000s. Our use case was to uniquely identify patients to improve record matching across heterogeneous databases.
Back then, Seisent was just based on publicly available data. It spanned all of North America, The Caribbean, and a good portion of Central and South. In those regions, every single person has been unqiuely identified. Easy to do thru process of elimination with that much data.
When shown my own data set, everything about me was right there. Everywhere I've ever lived, worked. My entire legal trail, like mortgages, marriage. Seisent even inferred my ex-wife's affair (FOAF).
Seisent sold their tech (big graph database, query language, some gear) to the NSA. Who was able to add non-public data. Like phone records, electronic transactions, etc.
That was 10+ years ago. Now I imagine they're slurping data up globally.
Siesent, Palantir, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, etc effectively know everything about everybody.
I assume foreign efforts are doing the same.
I'm sure they have a lot of data, but like anyone else, it's dirty data, and it's difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from it.
PS- One of Seisent's selling points was helping to solve cold cases. The successful example I remember was matching MOs from a set of crimes in multiple areas and then identifying all the persons matching the profile who could also be in those areas at those times.
How about a single targeted advert for a product I want to buy? (Note: products I already bought and then start seeing tons of advertisements for don't count)
> PS- One of Seisent's selling points was helping to solve cold cases.
Did it actually help solve those cases? I haven't heard of any dramatic drops in unsolved murders, or huge numbers of cold cases being closed.
If they really do "effectively know everything about everybody", they're keeping damn quiet about it.
Yeah, Thiel is more conservative than most big names in tech, but that's not surprising given that Palantir started focused on the national defense space.
Oh, and "PRISM"? Yeah, that's just a data importer. Completely separate from the secret CIA project, it's just a classic naming conflict. It was originally named "Palantir Data Importer" or something of that ilk, but Palantir loves fancy names, so re-branded it Prism (which is actually a clever name, as prisms takes white light and separates it into colors, much like the importer takes unstructured or semi-structured data and separates the entities and relationships).
Source: Am former Palantir engineer
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D-WASH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome Mr. Zuckerberg.
Do you know who Palantir is?
ZUCKERBERG: I do.
CANTWELL: Some people refer to them as a Stanford Analytica. Do you agree?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I have not heard that.
Do you think Palantir taught Cambridge Analytica, as press reports are saying, how to do these tactics?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I do not know.
CANTWELL: Do you think that Palantir has ever scraped data from Facebook?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not aware of that.
CANTWELL: Have you heard of Total Information Awareness? Do you know what I'm talking about?
ZUCKERBERG: No, I do not.
CANTWELL: Okay. Total Information Awareness was, 2003, John Ashcroft and others trying to do similar things to what I think is behind all of this — geopolitical forces trying to get data and information to influence a process.
So, when I look at Palantir and what they're doing; and I look at WhatsApp, which is another acquisition; and I look at where you are, from the 2011 consent decree, and where you are today; I am thinking, “Is this guy outfoxing the foxes? Or is he going along with what is a major trend in an information age, to try to harvest information for political forces?”
And so my question to you is, do you see that those applications, that those companies — Palantir and even WhatsApp — are going to fall into the same situation that you've just fallen into, over the last several years?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I'm not — I'm not sure, specifically. Overall, I — I do think that these issues around information access are challenging.
To the specifics about those apps, I'm not really that familiar with what Palantir does. WhatsApp collects very little information and, I — I think, is less likely to have the kind of issues because of the way that the service is architected. But, certainly, I think that these are broad issues across the tech industry.
> ZUCKERBERG: No, I do not.
Hard to believe someone who has spent the past decade looking at how to monetize data has never heard of TIA.
Your average Ivy League CS grad is familiar with the bottom-line summary of what Palantir does - all the claims about secret projects aside, they do give tech talks and put product demos online. Zuckerberg is claiming he's not even familiar with that stuff?
"Going to tweet out amounts received by each Congressperson from Facebook since 2014 as they speak in this hearing"
this is worth gold!
That's the point.
Imagine the result of all this is a piece of legislation that doesn't hamper Facebook in any significant way but imposes large fixed compliance costs on tech companies.
Facebook is huge, they pay the costs without even noticing. People who want to dethrone Facebook, or replace it with some decentralized alternative that actually protects privacy, are killed in the cradle by the new fixed overhead.
Facebook gets what they want and the Senators get to look like they've done something, meanwhile nobody pay attention to the fact that the same Senators are about to get a load of campaign money from Facebook.
I don't follow you, how would a decentralized (and presumably non commercial) alternative be affected by this?
Besides the fact that legislation is typically a local affair Facebook would have an advantage versus another commercial player, and whoever wrote the law would most likely focus on those aspects that would have an impact on such players as well.
So for a non-commercial, decentralized and/or federated alternative this would be a huge boon, rather than that it would be killed in the cradle.
Are you anticipating a specific exemption for non-commercial operations? That hasn't been true historically.
For example, the notice and takedown rules in the DMCA require you to register an agent with the copyright office. There is no good reason for this when you have the info listed right on your site, but it makes a great trap for the unwary for anyone without the resources to hire a lawyer to tell them that, and causes grief for distributed networks where it isn't clear who should have to register and it almost certainly isn't the case that every participant actually has. Because the law came about as a negotiation between the big players with nobody even considering how it would affect small businesses and individuals or network architectures different from the then-dominant ones.
Or the regulatory nightmare in finance that has successfully destroyed a huge number of small nonprofit credit unions, or the medical industry where none shall enter without an entire law firm on retainer, etc.
People have just gotten used to it so they don't see what's missing. The idea that any individual or even pair of individuals could conduct a medical trial in today's environment is quite ridiculous, so nobody expects it to happen and then no one is surprised when it doesn't. But that was once the source of most of the progress in modern medicine before it was de facto prohibited by law.
It may be true that federated systems won't be affected because of a lack of enforcement, but that's cold comfort. Plenty will opt out of a system where they have to break the law in order to operate, even if the law is almost never enforced. And laws that everyone violates but are almost never enforced are inherently dangerous because they give the government a pretext to go after whoever they want for unrelated and pernicious reasons.
A little antitrust enforcement certainly wouldn't hurt -- stop letting Facebook buy its competitors. More competition would do two things. First, less people on each network, so less impact for each mistake. Second, more competition creates market pressure. It's much more problematic for Facebook to be able to do this and get away with it because they have a monopoly and users have no alternative, than for them to do this and lose all their users to a vibrant competitive marketplace, serving as a lesson to anyone who would do the same thing.
It also wouldn't hurt if the government would just overtly support decentralized systems. The internet itself, The Tor Project and most of the other decentralized technologies we have all came out of government research grants. Which we don't do nearly as much as we used to in this space.
We could also roll back some of the existing bad laws -- like SESTA -- that are already making it harder for small players to compete.
Companies like Google and Facebook have effectively turned the web into "the internet" for the vast majority of people. Even e-mail has essentially become "the web" for most people thanks to services like gmail capturing so many uninformed and unsophisticated users. IRC, too, is mostly lost to services like Slack.
Corporate interests have mostly erased the concept of an open, decentralized, multi-protocol internet from the public consciousness.
I can see this becoming so bad that the only way to communicate freely would be to tunnel our stuff through TLS on port 443. (That is, doing what looks like HTTPS.)
That is definitely not the result of a lack of regulation. The networks doing that are predominantly not public networks like Comcast, they're private internal corporate networks. The issue is they're a large enough minority that they can't be ignored. But that can't be fixed with regulation of public networks.
In fact, it's caused by certain regulations and pseudo-regulations like PCI-DSS, which require the default-deny policies you're referring to.
When my relatively small company announced that they were installing a Palo Alto firewall and that everyone needed to install client side certificates in order for web browsers to continue working, it set off major alarm bells in my head that led to one conclusion -- "No more non-work related web browsing at the office. No exceptions."
Most of my coworkers (albeit mostly those in support and not developers, but still people at least somewhat familiar with the way computers work) only cared that they'd still be allowed to visit Facebook during the day.
I was assured that "nobody was actively looking at employee web traffic" but that doesn't matter. They didn't even think it was a big deal to put this new monitoring in writing until I made a big stink out of it, and they added this to the employee handbook:
>Each of these communication avenues are subject to monitoring by the IT Security Manager, a supervisor, or the President. When using any of these communications, be aware that a business record is made, which is retained by the company and becomes the company's property. This business record may potentially contain sensitive personal information related to the sites you are viewing and into which you are logging on, including user/password information. If you do not wish to share such information, it is suggested you do not access those items using [employer]'s network.
The web has always been a bit contentious for instance the browser wars are still being fought in some way even today. The problem is that the web is where developers were able to build without concern over who the powers that be even were but now the web has been turned into a creepy surveillance machine.
Our current president even paid Cambridge Analytica to socially engineer all of us. Turns out the tricks that hackers used to employ have been appropriated for use by the web monopolies. I can't think of a way in which this turns into anything good for the average person.
the scourge of p2p protocols
Surely, you aren't suggesting p2p itself is conceptually an abomination in general?
There was this thing called "newsgroups", some day before my time. Wasn't the web.
IRC is still a thing. So is XMPP. Isn't the web.
I'm not sure what you mean by "internet without people". There are plenty of people outside of HTTP.
But yes, as much as I love the web, it's funny how people forget (or never realized) there are other protocols.
The regulations should be non-technology specific. Simply it should provide rules about customer/user data. Even if I use pigeons. (But not RFC 1149.)
For example if I log into the Facebook business manager for a company I can see tons of data on Americans but not nearly as many details for Canadians, it's because of these laws. The new E.U. laws are even stricter with regards to personal data and how it's used, no matter who you are.
Why there is no demand for this level of protection in the States by its citizens and representatives is crazy.
Anyone who expects goodwill from Facebook, Google or any company is seriously misguided. Privacy laws need to be in place, actual laws that are bound my the federal legal system, and not just state regulations.
The U.S. is culturally much more opposed to government interference in citizens' interactions, compared to Europe. The U.S. started as a rebellion against an authoritarian government.
I suspect this is because a lot of the first Europeans who migrated to North America were the self-reliant type who actually would flourish best if left alone. What we see as help or protection, they see as interference. (This doesn't explain Canada. Inexplicability is one of Canada's many charms.)
You may not believe that if you live in Myanmar or Kenya. Large amounts of behavioral information in the hands of the wrong people can absolutely be a life or death issue.
Smaller organizations would have a much harder time complying with legal changes that significantly erode the Safe Harbor provisions of the DMCA that make platforms not responsible for the actions of their users.
Not only that, laws have a tendency to set a particular model in stone.
The model large companies use is to collect everything they possibly can and then use bureaucratic processes to control access.
The model small companies and individuals use is to minimize the data they collect and use technical means to ensure that the company has no access to the customer's data at all. This obviously tends to be more secure.
But if the bureaucratic process is required by law regardless of whether it's really protecting anything, the more secure model becomes impossible -- you have to collect all the data because it's the only way to make enough money to pay for the bureaucratic overhead.
There have been a zillion startups that have had collecting user data baked into their business model.
And they can rot like Facebook. Nobody is trying to save them. The problem is you're destroying anyone whose model isn't that.
Come on this isn't a game of semantics.
Edit: I can only speculate as to why people don't like this, but in case it makes a difference it's intended only as historical background for people who missed the start of the experiment.
They can't do whatever they want. So long as the Internet is free from overbearing government restrictions and the ISPs aren't segmenting it (locking users into restricted sandboxes), you can go wherever you want without using Google search, or shopping at Amazon, or using Windows, or using Chrome, or using Facebook, or shopping on eBay, or paying with PayPal.
The only real limiting premise as it pertains to the Internet, are the ISPs and the backbones.
So long as you can get on a free Internet, engineers can perpetually build their own new products at will, crafting new tech universes that didn't exist before. They have been doing that non-stop in every category for the last two plus decades since the Web took off.
Don't like Chrome because it managed to acquire 99% of the market? Fine, spin up your own clone and put it out there. Or use Firefox or Edge a dozen other lesser used competitors.
Don't like Go or C# or Java? Fine, use one of 37 other languages.
Don't like Google search? Fine, use Bing or DuckDuckGo or a dozen other less well known search engines. Build a new one maybe, nobody is stopping you, maybe it's time for a new search paradigm.
Don't like AWS? Fine, use Hetzner, or Digital Ocean, or a dedicated box provider, or Vultr, or Linode or Google Cloud, or Azure, or build your own new competitor.
There are vastly more options today, in essentially every way, than there were in 1995 or 2005.
The free Internet has worked extraordinarily well. It has never stopped producing alternatives, and alternatives have never stopped existing. The only thing that can crush it is government regulation, specifically if they fuck that up.
We most likely will not see any trust-busting as you're describing here. We'll more likely just see more side-effect legislation like the net neutrality repeal or FOSTA/SESTA that will just consolidate power for a few parties and the government at the expense of small businesses.
Sounds like a libertarian conspiracy theory to me, especially when we still don't know what these hypothetical regulations would look like. For instance if they make it easier to access your data, download and delete it they might somewhat weaken the lock-in effect of Facebook and level the playing field somewhat.
Beyond that and even if they make it slightly harder to build a social network in the future it doesn't mean that a reasonable amount of regulation is not worthwhile. If you want to start a bridge-building company you'll have to abide by a massive amount of rules, yet I'm not really sure I want to let the "completely free market" decide what a safe bridge looks like.
I'd call it skepticism or pessism at worst.
Doesn't mean that we shouldn't be very careful about what comes out of this whole discussion and maybe make our voices heard if we deem it unfair or ineffective but we're not there yet.
Can you name a piece of US federal legislation regulating a major industry passed in the last, say, 30 years, where this was not the case?
Notice the number created before vs. after 1967, when the feds started passing vehicle safety regulations.
Also notice how many of those created after 1967 (e.g. Geo, Saturn, Hummer) aren't actually independent, they're just retired marks of the existing incumbents.
Because the safety regulations are designed for huge companies. The companies literally provide cars to the government to be crashed for testing purposes, because destroying a few cars is nothing to Ford or GM.
Regulation can be awful or insignificant.
My state requires strippers to fill out a license and pay 50$. Changed nothing.
However, my state also requires you to put down 1M to start a bank. Thats definitely regulatory capture.
Its too soon to know whats going to be required of data. Databases might become significantly worse to program and require teams to maintain at government standards.
No benefits at all, really?
Remember pre-regulation leaded gasoline and cars without seat belts?
I dont know the history of leaded gasoline, but I worked in safety, and car companies were definitely moving toward safe vehicles.
"Auto makers, who have been fighting the introduction of air bags for nearly a decade as too costly and only marginally effective, have gone a long way toward their goal of bypassing the federal regulations. "
"But the history of catalytic converters reveals another side of Detroit. The industry refined the technology only after Congress imposed strict limits and deadlines and foreign car makers threatened to develop cleaner engines."
"The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group, said that the refining industry had been making efforts in anticipation of today's rules to ''insure against future supply disruptions.
'But the announced lead-reduction schedule will create a substantial problem for the refining industry in providing motorists with adequate quantities of high-quality gasoline at reasonable costs,'' the institute's statement said."
What is the ask here? A ZIP with all your information? A JSON file with your friendship graph? How would that be readable to most people? I doubt that Facebook's data structures are so portable that they could just be placed into another social network? Even assuming you have the data, Facebook's value is in the IP and ML algorithms. Facebook sure as hell isn't giving those up.
Even assuming all that, how does it take us further forward than what we have now?
There's a lot of arguments to the effect of 'something needs to be done' but not much detail on what an alternative looks like.
Making scraping of your personal data a statutory right, including the building and distributing of tools for it.
No need to force FB to publish anything, just prevent them from blocking anyone who uses a tool to scrape their own data through the regular UI. This should draw the boundaries of responsibility in the right place.
This would allow e.g. a “messaging” bridge which automatically interfaces with the messages part of the site, and bridges it to any tool (or API) you want. At least per user per account. This would force de facto federation without putting a burden on FB.
The disingenuous loophole the government is so fond of whereby you sharing information with a third party suddenly negates ALL expectation of privacy and 4th Amendment protections is a farce. Signing up for Facebook should not be a "first sale" of your personal information or right to privacy.
Of course, no tech company that has ridden the free ride of harvesting personal data would be on board with ANYTHING like that.
They can keep their IP and algorithms if they want, but if I don't consent to the fruits of my existence being fed through them, then that is where it needs to stop.
No company should feel safe with involuntarily increasing a user's digital footprint. Period.
That covers not asking to and being explicitly told not to. A person has an inalienable right to maintain final authority over their digital presence. The only exception that makes sense to me is for the press. Though I haven't thought that implication through completely yet.
If something needs to be done let's at least give one chance to the people who seem to be trying to do something.
Do you run your own company and find the regulations dont require you to hire a multi-thousand dollar legal team at every turn?
Are you an internet user that thinks that what the government says wont be exploited?
I worry that my kids will be unable to start businesses due to regulations, or rather their friends wont be able to start businesses. I am a top 4%er and I'll simply pay for the legal teams needed. I know my competition making 40k/yr cannot.
> Are you an internet user that thinks that what the government says won't be exploited?
Nope, I'm a normal person, not actually a strawman. As long as there's government, it will be exploited; but, you're throwing out the baby with the bathwater by arguing that because people will exploit loopholes, we should eliminate (all) regulations. Instead of supporting a representative that tries to eliminate two regulations for every new one, how about supporting a half-intelligent representative?
You're worried people won't be able to start businesses? Where is Facebook's big competition? Can your kids' friends start a business now to compete with Facebook? No -- so why are you worried that they won't be able to do something in the future that they can't do now?
I disagree with this. I think at the current time they can.
In any case, the reason they might be able to at the current time is the blood in the water from the "reasonable regulations" people.
What??? I watched most of it, and while Zuckerberg agreed that legislation in some areas are needed, he was quite clear that most times that he does not think legislation is the answer. He said that they would internally implement things.
Multiple senators kept trying to get direct yes/no if he would support such regulation and he would say "I look forward to my team discussing that with you" when they wanted hard "yes" that he would champion regulation.
So I don't understand your post at all...
As for stifling competitors, Facebook actually benefit from a free-for-all Internet because they can watch trends and identify what needs to be done to capture each successive generation of users, slowly folding them into the big Facebook family.
I don't like the company but I don't think they want to lock the Internet down . I reckon they know that will just lead to something really disruptive and destructive that they won't see coming, like some app that spreads by sideloading.
It was obvious that, for a lot of the senators, the questions had been supplied to them and they didn't really understand what they were asking beyond a superficial level. They'd start out with a pretty solid question or two, but then be completely unable to follow up. Quite a few of them ended up wasting almost their whole time getting sidetracked by unimportant misunderstandings.
The CEO needed to be under oath so that lying would carry consequences, and they needed someone who could cut through the BS of how some of the answers were worded.
We need more programmers, engineers, etc running for office.
And also he emphasized too much how people are in control of what data they share. The better question is, what data does Facebook save that the users can't see: all the analytics, all the location tracking, all the websites they visit. I didn't volunteer that data to you, Zuck, and I can't even control whether you have that data or not! (Well ok, on desktop I have Ghostery that blocks many many tracking pixels...).
Don't touch my tabs! :
"Don't touch my tabs" does not exist on Chrome, but some random author created an extension that adds rel=noopener to all _blank links:
uBlock Origin is a low footprint (compared to other ad/tracker blockers) extension primarily maintained by one person who refuses to even take donations for it. Scroll down to the "About" section on the GitHub page  and see this Wiki page on donations , which at this point in time states:
> Why don't you accept donations?
> I don't want the administrative workload coming with donations. I don't want the project to become in need of funding in any way: no dedicated home page + no forum = no cost = no need for funding. I want to be free to move onto something else if ever I get tired working on these projects (no donations = no expectations).
> Have a thought for the maintainers of the various lists. These lists are everything. This can't be emphasized enough.
Also see uBlock Origin's manifesto. 
For me, using uBlock Origin along with Privacy Badger  from EFF is a good combination.
I think a better solution would be either:
1) When elected officials run for office, they explicitly state who their go-to advisor for internet and technology matters is. That way, they are not so reliant on the technical advice of lobbyists. The flaw in this is that now those advisors' opinions on unrelated matters are subject to scrutiny. I can easily imagine a scandal because it turns out that some senator's advisor said something dumb about abortion 5 years prior to an election. I'd like to say "well, don't judge the advisor on things unrelated to their area of expertise", but where do you draw that boundary? Is someone's opinion on domestic violence or prostitution really irrelevant to how they advise a senator on FOSTA?
2) The UK has been framing the House of Lords as a council of experts for a while now. I don't know how well it actually works as one though.
Hard to take that seriously in any regard, much less as 'experts'.
You can't inherit any of the seats any more, you can inherit a title that means the other Lords could pick you for their chamber without anybody else sending you, this was supposed to be temporary but no other mechanism has ever been approved to replace it. But nobody automatically gets a seat, either they were sent there or they were chosen by the others.
It's basically pot luck, unfortunately.
Sometimes the Lords have quite enlightened debates, where several contributors clearly do have expert knowledge in a field and others do respect that and politely defer to those with more relevant experience. Consequently, sometimes they really do send proposed laws back to the Commons with helpful amendments suggested.
However, sometimes they have no idea what they're talking about at all. It's not unusual to see a committee of Lords hearing evidence from high-ranking civil servants on some issue where the entire session looks like one old, rich, out-of-touch person after another declaring an interest due to their own business activities and all of them collectively missing the point for several hours.
It's not a universal truth, but I'm afraid discussions around science and technology subjects tend to fall into the latter category, other than perhaps on medical matters, where there does seem to be enough knowledge and expertise within the Lords to allow constructive and intelligent debate.
> one could just as easily say that we need more senators who are nurses, petroleum engineers, hydrological engineers, pilots, soldiers, teachers, tax accountants, actuaries...
I agree! That's what my "etc" was for. I would love to see more everyday people run for office so our elected officials can be a better representation of the everyday people they're supposed to represent.
Well, that and there's no reason to think that the candidate won't just reach into the lobbyist pool to pick their advisor.
Still, you're absolutely right that having lawmakers that are themselves technical experts is not super important, or likely. They always rely on staff, and that's fine. No one person can know everything about everything.
Ok but even from their perspective, and I'm trying to not give too much credit here, but there is a difference between giving specific, authorized government agencies a blank check to spy on whoever they want to in order to achieve their mission of national security, and giving a blank check to any company that wants to collect unlimited information and surveillance on its users in order to accomplish whatever goal it desires. They're very different questions even though they both involve personal privacy.
Do I trust MZ and FB? Yes, as much as I trust Uncle Sam. Hint: Not much. The sham is on us. Again.
The reality is, he'd be screwed.
Nor can we discount FB isn't a favored front of sorts for various "data collection agencies."
p.s. I find it (sadly) funny how so many are upset with ZM and FB, but are completely unaware about Snowden, Obama's expansion of the Patriot Act, etc.
FB is the obvious scapegoat. It currently has to play the role, even if it hates doing so. But for how long?
The vast majority of FB users don't understand tech, and that's the root problem.
These hearings aren't for technical minded people. If they were, there would be technical minded people asking the questions.
I suspect what we watched was fairly well scripted theater, right down to the humiliating booster seat as well as the talking points cheat sheet that he "accidentally" let a reporter get a picture of. This wasn't about discovery, truth, or justice, it is about shaping public opinion.
But hey, maybe I'm wrong, maybe what comes out of this will be some reasonable regulations that the technical community will more or less agree do in fact provide substantial improvements to privacy of individuals. I'd happily take the other side of that bet though.
I am glad of this whole debacle simply because people won't act like I'm a freak anymore just because I won't use FB.
Agreed. And the irony completely stomps on the absurdity meter.
usually hype cycles last a few months, until the next outrage takes over to keep people busy.
If you think of what we do know, the unknowns are likely 10x as freightening.
Maybe the Senate’s deference in part is motivated by their belief he may run and win in a few years and they hope to win favor from a man they may end up working for.
Secondly perhaps it is motivated by them not wanting to appear too knowledgeable nor too much of a threat to Mark, to put him at ease, lest they otherwise provoke his wrath.
Third I think their attitude is certainly motivated by the awareness, from those in governments, just how powerful internet giants, particularly FB, are. I believe in no small ways have these
companies upended the conventional relationships of individuals,
and corporate individuals, to the state. They command vast resources, such as people and intelligence ( and automated processes pertaining to them, i.e, algorithms or bureaucracy, pick your favorite term ), traditionally the purview only of state entities.
I’m quite sure that many in government consider these companies are direct threats to the future of their model of governance. But they also feel they must handle them very delicately. Because they do not want to risk a premature confrontation they are unprepared for.
But if any person alive today was going to mount some sort of the future coup against conventional government, spearheaded by the new tech elite, then Mark is a perfect candidate. He is a student of history and demonstratedly strategically effective.
In this light, perhaps the biggest takeaway of a public questioning such as this is how much of a theatrical side show and possibly a distraction it is from the new reality these powerful groups find themselves contesting.
The US Senate doesn't work for the President. They're part of independent branches of government.
Just because Trump could do it, doesn't mean Zuck could.
You have to be likeable. You have to be good on camera. He was the villain in his own movie for gods sake.
Conservatives hate him because he is a liberal nerd.
Liberals hate him because he is a corporate tool.
We will accept stupid. We will accept dishonest. We will accept mean.
But we won't accept entitlement or arrogance. There is nothing less popular than a genius or wealthy person who knows they matter more than normal people and acts like it.
Trying to act like a "normal person" is the most important part of being a politician. He will never do that to an acceptable level.
He may have an advantage no one else does, with demographic info from Facebook. He may be the person who could basically appoint any person he wants to the office of the Presidency. But that doesn't mean he could appoint himself.
For example, the infamous pixel code.
<!-- Facebook Pixel Code -->
fbq('init', '477623695968553' ); fbq('track', 'PageView');
<noscript><img height="1" width="1" style="display:none"
<!-- DO NOT MODIFY -->
<!-- End Facebook Pixel Code -->
Like all ruby apps you need a full build environment and tons of dependencies, and if by chance a specific gem fails to compile you are toast in dependency hell.
Given the goal of the project an easier to install and use stack would have helped them.
All users have to do is go to https://podupti.me/ and pick a pod.
That's what I did a few weeks ago and I have begun drawing my friends over to it. Every few days I go on facebook and talk about what I've figured out about diaspora.
I've also begun posting my hobby content on diaspora first, then facebook a few days later. When I post on diaspora, I post the invitation to see it on diaspora.
Listening to Zuck's weaseling yesterday I felt vindicated.
Not sure how well the package manager works with the long list of gems - https://github.com/diaspora/diaspora/blob/develop/Gemfile
It is not difficult to install. What is wrong with Ruby? I like Ruby.
I was underwhelmed with what Diaspora actually is though.
Understanding the full context of this hearing is vital to your opinion on the matter. I'm nobody with an outsider's perspective, but to me Facebook has made very few errors in bad faith. This whole uproar has been about Facebook's well known (or, what I once thought was well know, I guess) practices as a data and advertising platform. We know Facebook cooperates with governments around the world to produce data on its citizens. We know what can happen with our data if we _let_ it fall into the wrong hands.
I started using Facebook when I was 13 in 2007. (As a side note, I think Facebook should not be sharing data about minors to any parties.) I filled out a fair few questionnaires and I may have even participated in "Your digital life" somewhere along the line. At that time I started using Facebook it was providing an interface for establishing informed consent (basically their OAuth flow), to the extent at which it was reasonable for them (which to this day extends beyond the requirements of the law in the US as far as I know.) I consented to sharing my data with the 3rd party, which was essentially a license for that party to own that data. I knew that, and I did it anyway because I couldn't predict the ramifications of its collection and aggregation by a hostile party.
I think the people who are most upset about this whole controversy are the ones who blame it for Russia's Active Measures.
In my opinion, the solution isn't a GDPR-esque approach. I think we have to teach people why data is valuable and how it can be used against them. This is important for both creating an intellectual barrier to the efficacy of propaganda and so that people can make real, informed decisions about their privacy so that when they're asked if they want to share their friends' birthdates and phone numbers, they know what their answer should be.
I consented to sharing my data with the 3rd party, which
was essentially a license for that party to own that data.
What about when you get a 'shadow profile' based on tracking buttons and pixels on other websites. Have you consented?
How about if you've brought from example-retailer.com in the past and they upload your full contact and mailing details to Facebook to make an ad campaign that targets (or skips) existing customers?
When you don't participate in anything like quizzes on FB Platform, but your grandma does so FB hands your details over to the quiz company anyway as part of Grandma's list of friends, have you consented?
What about when you deliberately haven't given certain data to Facebook, and they buy it from a advertising data broker instead?
IMHO people who think consent is the only issue here don't fully understand the problems.
Oh no NOT MY NAME PHONE NUMBER AND EMAIL!!! How dare they find such PRIVATE AND SENSITIVE INFORMATION!!
Christ, there are probably hundreds of data firms that have this basic info on most everyone in their target group.
There are levels of privacy, and freaking out because your friend shares his contact list is about the lowest one I can think of.
As for the grandma analogy, you indeed did consent to your data being shared, as thats what you agree to as being part of Facebook
And thieves are indeed liable for returning money.
Imagine my friend writes down my phone number in his iPhone's contacts list, and then installs an app – let's say some random game. The game asks for permission to access contact info, which my friend grants because he's careless. The game steals contact info and does various nefarious things with it.
In this analogy, Facebook is Apple, and Cambridge Analytica's app is the phone game. I don't think there's a good solution to this problem, except to make it harder for third-party apps to access contact information, which both Facebook and Apple have been doing.
It doesn't stop your friends from oversharing but it creates a contract between you and the party requesting your information so there's now some legal recourse for how they use your data. And if the law creates liability for app distributors to ensure apps follow the law then Google and Apple are now on the hook for allowing violations.
What I am arguing for is that it should be against the law for third party apps to copy your contact details from someone else's phone without your permission.
As for the grandma analogy, you indeed did consent
to your data being shared
Is Facebook saying that consent form is irrelevant, and they're entitled to share your data with new companies without showing you that form to get your consent? If so, that seems like the kind of deliberately deceptive approach to that gets people asking for GDPR.
"Zephyr Teachout is an American academic, political activist, and former political candidate."
No solution that involves teaching or educating users will work. It's simply not possible without some drastic measures such as a real change in school curriculum and waiting for the older generations to pass. It doesn't work with IT security, it will not work with privacy either.
if you have exchanged funds with a site how long are they allowed to keep the data. there are tax implications regardless
GDPR defers to data retention laws for all other purposes.
Add to that the risk of them not providing good enough security regarding access to the data (such as with the Cambridge Analytica case), and giving them access to so much of your data becomes an additional problem to consider, since you have no control over that data sharing whatsoever.
Facebook Audience Network is a display ad network like Adwords.
It's deployed widely across the web and mobile apps.
Even for the technically proficient there were issues. For instance, FB changes the privacy policies without notifying anyone. When FB rolled out the friends of friends feature my son was in college. He continually rejected my friend requests saying "we have something better than friendship." Then one day I could see his entire feed. I debated if I should let him know - and finally I called him. He immediately disabled the friends of friends feature. In my opinion this was a data breach.
Two things were the final straw for me. The first was that friends behavior was releasing my data when my friends acted irresponsibly. The second was that FB was tracking data offline of FB.
What might be worse is that had Facebook actually put that screen up, most people would not have bothered to read it. Very few people ever read "Terms & Conditions" and that's a problem. (Just like not reading "Permissions" when installing an app.)
Many people seem to be blaming this on the individuals for not reading it, but I would argue that the problem here is a legal system that allows this kind of dark pattern to be considered consent.
People don't read them because they can't read them.
>read: look at and comprehend the meaning of (written or printed matter) by mentally interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed.
Terms & Conditions are deliberately obfuscated by lawyers and encrypted in legalese. Decrypting these documents into plain english for the average users would go a long ways to breaking the Pavlovian conditioning of checking a Terms and Conditions checkbox for "free" apps.
Facebook is a bad actor. It's good if we can do something about it.
But Facebook is not the root of the problem. There will always be bad actors.
The root of the problem is that people don't care.
I told me friends and relative, again and again, about those issues. I answered any question. I did research, on MY time, to answer their concerns, for them who would not dare spending a second on it. I listened patiently to the witty comments on the fact I didn't have a FB account, for years.
They just didn't care enough to make any effort, any change.
And they still don't, no matter what the scandal feels right now. They will forget tomorrow.
And even if they didn't, they will blame the bad actor, not their choice. And it will start all over again with another bad actor. That's what happen with crazy ex, lying politicians and bad movies.
Now I (somewhat) get that choosing what you buy has a high impact on you life, and so I gave up on expecting people to vote with their wallet. It's sad, because that would have a huge effect, but it's the reality.
But "not using Facebook" is different than choosing to move out of a city or not having a car or other life altering decisions. It's just a communication tool. We have so many.
So I have currently zero empathy for the "victims" of this leak. Quite the contrary, I feel a little angry. Because I have to leave in a world that could be much more beautiful if only people, sometimes, just sometimes, though about the consequences of their life instead of just going with the motion. And this affects much more than privacy. And it's unfair.
And the very fact that you insist on blaming the individuals for a collective problem is why problems like this are so hard to solve.
If so many people don't care about this issue, despite its importance, maybe you should stop blaming them and expecting them to magically start caring, and start thinking about how our society leads them to believe it's not an issue?
Change starts with oneself. Connecting on an individual level, making changes on an individual level, understanding and valuing even minute consequences on the individual level - that’s what going to bring about permanent change. Not more groupthink.
We have brains and decision-making abilities for a reason. Yes, I understand society has a very influential role in how we go about our lives. But that is not some catch-all excuse for not taking any responsibility for our individual behaviors. There are two sides to the coin that both need to be addressed.
Because to me, it seems like the individualist's prescription is just to judge people for making bad choices and hope they make better ones in future.
When you choose to address society, what you’re really doing, if it’s going to work, is addressing the individuals of that society.
Address a bunch of individuals. Or address one individual and have him address 2 people he knows. Etc. More than one way to skin a cat...
TLDR; to skin a society of cats, one way or another, each individual cat needs to get skinned.
And therefore, many choices which would improve society only make sense as collective choices. An individual deciding whether to delete their facebook account is deciding between privacy violation or social isolation. In that context, the privacy violation might actually be the better choice for the individual.
When people criticise that choice, they're noticing that collectively it would be better if everyone made a different choice. But it's pointless to blame individuals for not making a collective choice. If we actually want people to make that choice, we need to act collectively, and transition away from facebook in a coordinated way.
Re-read what I wrote, and then name something I wrote that goes against what you have said about collective action and coordination.
For starters, I did not say “society is just individuals.” I said that the individual is the functional unit of society. When you want society to act on something, what you’re really saying is that you want individuals of a group to act on that, collectively.
When you command an army you’re effectively commanding each individual soldier.. as the soldier is the functional unit of the army. When you want the army to move from one side of the valley to the other, what that translates to is for each individual soldier to move from one side of the valley to the other.
If someone is petitioning for social change and fails to lead individuals - the functional units - to change, then there’s not much happening at all besides someone blowing hot air at “society”
Collective action is just a bunch of individual actions. Yes there is power in syncing up, regardless, it still stems from an individuals decision to take action, with or without others.
The book "The Design of Everyday Things" has this idea that users of things fall into one of two broad groups:
a) users that want fine control and expertise, and are willing to sacrifice simplicity to get it
b) users that want simplicity, and are willing to sacrifice control to get it
I think that most issues of privacy and security boil down to the simple fact that most people are in group b (really, I think that's true of any issue you care to choose). They don't care, and they won't.
The cultural change that could make a difference is when the more secure, more privacy-positive options are also the easier and simpler choices.
And for that, before voting, before anything political or big, there is the day to day life. What you you consume. What you communicate. How you behave.
I don't pretend it's easy. I fail at it most of the time, most of the days. I've failed since I was born.
But it's what matters. Not facebook in particular.
The term "Private Message" is not complicated.
They stole peoples data straight up.
What they do is hide behind these screens you defend.
Written by scumbag lawyers to not be understood or clear.
If Facebook said, "Facebook will take all the information you provide, regardless of format or intent, and monetize it as much as possible, as well as share it with government agencies," I would read that as there is no such thing as a "private message" on Facebook, since it says, "all the information your provide."
> Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?
What do senators do? Primarily, they get themselves elected. They see that Facebook might have a role in that. They're trying to figure out if it can help them, or help their opponents, or if they can turn it from one to the other. Secondarily, while there's so much negative sentiment about Facebook (I'll write about journalists' role and agenda in fanning those flames another time), they want to be seen as asking hard questions. They don't want to be asking hard questions until they know where the advantage to themselves might be, but they want to seem that way. Anything else is just window dressing.
Facebook want to get away with as minimal regulation as possible, and any regulation that does happen it wants to harm its incumbents.
Politicians want to get re-elected, and want regulation in so far as it harms the chances of anyone 'doing a Trump' and using social media to unseat their own Congressional seat. They're not that exercised about privacy otherwise they wouldn't have spent the last year arguing for a right to hack people's phones.
Users want to make the right noises / virtue signals to their friends about privacy but ultimately don't want to pay for Facebook.
'Researchers' want to make a name for themselves off the back of this issue and appear on TV but Oh My God don't ask me any questions about how this actually works or what an alternative looks like.
The media and publishers want the exposure and ad revenue that comes from running this story, but want to avoid anyone asking any difficult questions about them signing over their involvement in FB schemes such as Instant Articles or how they track their own users.
The process worked exactly as designed - it allowed everyone to have their pound of flesh while ensuring nothing actually gets done.
Babylonbee seem to be doing a good job of spreading FBs transgressions via satire:
Zuckerberg: Yes, there are two options. First to deactivate because students and want to suspend and come back because they want to study for exam. Second option is users can totally delete all their data.
Where is the second option anyone from Facebook ? There is only an option to delete the account after you DIE, not an option to delete it when you are alive.
So many lies.
The openness to the idea of AI modulating discourse so that we don't ever have to feel uncomfortable was my favorite part.
After the ban they also enabled forced pre-moderation on all my wall posts (everything I post to my wall gets marked with "We removed this post because it looks like spam and doesn't follow our"), so now I cant post anything at all. Do we need more proofs that Zuckerberg is a Putin's friend? Hello, Facebook! I'm a citizen of Russia who is just being critical of Russia and Putin. How much Russia pays Zuckerberg to censor dissent opinion and promote Russian puppets, like Donald Trump?
Current hearing live on Youtube: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16812334
Zuckerberg Senate Bingo:
I’m going to set aside a day to migrate all of my services, but it’s going to be a pain. Worth it.
Maybe I’ll try again asking even nicer...thanks for sharing.
Why not though? I assume he holds more sway than any senator of any country.
Especially with the follow up question..
Why make the distinction? I don't trust the opinions of journalists over the opinions of the general public, both can be informative and both can be misleading.
Most of the Hacker News community has benefitted by Facebook, as users or through myriad successful open source projects. To take with both hands and to bite is unethical. It is wrong.
Facebook and Zuck aren't the only people who need to change.
Is Facebook a net positive for society? Every positive use of the platform I've seen has been offset by a negative one. Maybe I just have bad friends.
Also the "little to no cost" is debatable, when the users have been packaged and delivered as fresh marketing meat to firms like Cambridge Analytica in exchange for a $500B market cap.
As a thought experiment do you think that in an alternative universe where Zuckerberg doesn't exist there's no social networks? People started using Orkut, MySpace and friends then around 2008 decided "nah, this is silly" then went back to ICQ and sending emails?
Would you mind listing the positives (and negatives as well) that you believe facebook created for society? I'm strongly against Facebook, but I'd be happy to be convinced of its generally positive effects. Though please don't mention their Open Source contributions, that's not Facebook, the social media network.
You can read more about undocumented features of Hacker News here .