Tag Archives: Facebook

Watchdog Fights Back as Facebook Attempts to Shut Down Research Exposing ‘Political Disinformation’ in Ad Practices

“Rather than combat the rampant disinformation and hate on its platform, Facebook has decided to go after the people who are helping voters understand who is trying to influence their votes.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-26-2020

In response to Facebook’s attempt to cancel a NYU research project that has been collecting data about the company’s ad-targeting practices, Common Cause has launched a petition imploring the social media giant to “shut down disinformation on their platform—instead of trying to shut down the advocates and academics who are trying to expose it.” (Photo: Legal Loop)

In response to Facebook’s attempt to shut down a New York University research project that has been collecting data about the social media corporation’s ad-targeting practices, progressive advocacy group Common Cause has launched a petition drive imploring the technology behemoth to “let the program continue and instead shut down the rampant disinformation on the platform.”

After researchers at the NYU Ad Observatory recruited more than 6,500 volunteers to collect data about the ads Facebook shows them by using a specially designed browser extension, the social media giant informed the university in a mid-October letter that the project violates the site’s rules against bulk data collection, according to reporting from The Hill late last week. Continue reading

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FCC Head and Internet’s Most Hated Man Ajit Pai Just Vowed to Kill First Amendment Rights Online

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has vowed to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Act on President Trump’s orders in a move that threatens to curb what’s left of Americans’ first amendment rights online.

By Raul Diego.  Published 10-16-2020 by MintPress News

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Citing “censorship outcry” from the three branches of government, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced yesterday via tweet the agency’s intention to move forward with regulation of social media by looking to modify Section 230 of the Communications Act, which protects the likes of Facebook and Twitter from the parts of the U.S. code that opens publishers to legal challenges over the content posted to their platforms, which inevitably puts content creators, themselves, in the cross hairs of the legal system without the benefit of their first amendment rights.  Continue reading

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In Effort to ‘Cultivate Hopelessness,’ Trump 2016 Campaign Used Facebook for Deterrence Operation Targeting Millions of Black Voters

The social media giant, said one critic, “is the newest frontier in a long history of suppression of the Black vote.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-28-2020

Photo by Ben Combee from Austin, TX, USA (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign sought to persuade 3.5 million Black voters in key battleground states to stay home on Election Day by targeting them with negative Facebook ads about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to a Monday report on Britain’s Channel 4 News.

A massive data leak obtained by the U.K. outlet shows that four years ago Trump’s digital campaign team compiled files on 198 million American voters, which included information about their domestic and economic status obtained from market research companies. An algorithm then divided the voters into eight categories, called “audiences,” so they could be targeted with tailored ads on Facebook and other social media platforms. Continue reading

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Anger and Confusion After Facebook Suspends Environmental and Indigenous Groups’ Accounts Ahead of Pipeline Protest

“Facebook is actively suppressing those who oppose fascism and the colonial capitalists,” said one First Nations activist.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-22-2020

Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Event – Rail Yard near Pioneer Village Station Blockaded – Vaughan, Toronto, Ontario – February 15, 2020. Photo: Jason Hargrove/flickr/CC

Environmental groups reacted with confusion and anger after Facebook temporarily suspended their accounts over the weekend, just days after the social media giant announced an initiative aimed at combating climate misinformation.

The Guardian reports some of the largest and most respected progressive groups—including Greenpeace USA, Rainforest Action Network, and Climate Hawks Vote—were among the hundreds of accounts of Indigenous, climate, and social justice organizations that Facebook suspended. Continue reading

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What ACLU Says Was Trump Call to “Literally Murder Protesters,” Facebook Says Doesn’t Violate Standards

“Facebook has once again failed to act against an explicit violation of its own rules and has allowed the violent and racist post to remain up.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-30-2020

Photo: Anthony Quintano/flickr/CC

Civil rights advocates are condemning Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg over a decision announced late Friday to let stand a post by President Donald Trump that threatened to have the U.S. National Guard open fire on demonstrators in Minneapolis enraged over the police killing of George Floyd.

While the ACLU earlier on Friday condemned the social media post by Trump—a message that was shared on both Twitter and Facebook—as “hypocritical, immoral, and illegal” and nothing less than a call to “literally murder protesters,” Zuckerberg in his statement said Facebook “decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.” Continue reading

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Espionage and repression in the Middle East courtesy of the West

Western companies are providing surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

By Jon Hoffman.  Published 5-13-2020 by openDemocracy

Cellphone tower | Picture by Peter Bjorndal / pixabay.com. Public Domain

Regime-directed surveillance has taken new forms within the Middle East as governments have been forced to adapt to new technological and social environments. While government surveillance of its citizens is not new to the region, this old authoritarian impulse has been revamped in the attempt to subvert opposition and monitor dissidence amid widespread use of social media and access to smartphones within the region.

New forms of targeted hackings and espionage have therefore become commonplace throughout the region, and often extend across borders into the international arena. Western companies, governments, and individuals have provided extensive assistance to the surveillance efforts of these governments, often by supplying them with the necessary technology and expertise needed to conduct such sweeping operations. However, regional countries – particularly Israel – have increasingly constructed and exported their own indigenous operations and platforms designed to surveil their publics. Conducted on a mass scale and bolstered by western technological support, these new and sophisticated forms of surveillance have supplied these governments with the tools necessary to go on the offensive against all who seek to challenge the status quo. Continue reading

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Millions of People Face Stimulus Check Delays for a Strange Reason: They Are Poor

The IRS has had trouble getting money to people quickly because millions of Americans pay for their tax preparation through a baroque system of middlemen.

By Paul KielJustin Elliott and Will Young. Published 4-24-2020 by ProPublica

Image: Jernej Furman/flickr/CC

Last week, a group of angry and desperate Citi Tax Financial customers gathered outside the company’s storefront in Augusta, Georgia. Millions of Americans had received a big deposit from the IRS in their bank accounts, but they had not. The IRS website told them their coronavirus stimulus checks were deposited in an account they didn’t recognize.

With an officer from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office beside him and another officer shouting for people to be quiet, the tax preparation company’s owner told the crowd of about 60, only a few of whom wore masks, that he didn’t have their money. Continue reading

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US Military Building Presence in Saudi Arabia for First Time in 17 Years

Some 2,500 US troops have arrived at their new home for the foreseeable future, the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia.

By Alan Macleod   Published 2-28-2020 by MintPress News

Royal Saudi Air Force’s Maj. Gen. Khaled Al-Shablan, Prince Sultan Air Base installation commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Brent Chadick, 378th Air Expeditionary Wing command chief, escort U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a tour of Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Feb. 20, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Charles)

Amid rising tensions with Iran, the United States is increasing its military presence in Saudi Arabia- separated from the Islamic Republic by only the Persian Gulf. Some 2,500 troops have arrived at their new home, the Prince Sultan Air Base, some 60 km southeast of Riyadh. On Iran, General John Walker, commander of the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing at the base, said: “We face a thinking enemy that is playing a real regional conflict for keeps, and they’re very good.”

While the U.S. government has not given any indication of how long it expects its forces to be there, temporary structures are being replaced with more substantial ones, and the arrival of fighter jets suggests they are there for the long haul. Roads are also being resurfaced to and from the base. Continue reading

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US Clearing Anti-War Voices Off Social Media in Vast Censorship Operation

The Trump administration is ramping up its information war by suspending accounts and removing content.

By Darius Shahtahmasebi. Published 1-14-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

Instagram and its parent company Facebook are removing posts that appear to be in support of the late Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in order to comply with U.S. sanctions, a company spokesperson recently told CNN.

We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership,” the spokesperson said in a statement. Continue reading

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Unprecedented ‘Architecture of Surveillance’ Created by Facebook and Google Poses Grave Human Rights Threat: Report

“Their insidious control of our digital lives undermines the very essence of privacy and is one of the defining human rights challenges of our era.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-22-2019

A new report from Amnesty International says Facebook and Google have a “surveillance-based business model.” (Photo: flickr/GostGo/cc)

A new report from Amnesty International accuses Facebook and Google of having a “surveillance-based business model” that threatens users’ right to privacy and other human rights.

The tech giants, said Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty International, have amassed “unparalleled power over the digital world by harvesting and monetizing the personal data of billions of people. Their insidious control of our digital lives undermines the very essence of privacy and is one of the defining human rights challenges of our era.” Continue reading

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