George Christensen posted a photo of himself holding a pistol at a rifle range Sunday alongside the comment: “You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky, greenie punks?” The Nationals MP later said the Dirty Harry-style post, which has now been deleted, had been intended as a joke and was removed only after a request from the Nationals Party leadership.
Speaking to Sky News Australia, Christensen said: “If putting a joke up on social media and that’s doing something wrong, well there’s going to be a lot of people in trouble.”
The MP for the Division of Dawson in Queensland was reported to police by environmental activists protesting the opening of the Adani coal mine in the region’s Galilee Basin. Greens leader Richard Di Natale also made a separate complaint to the Australian Federal Police, which are now investigating the post.
Speaking to 3AW Radio Monday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the picture was “very inappropriate.” Turnbull added: “He took it down after he was spoken to about it.”
Writing on Twitter, Queensland Police said that they are aware of the photograph as well as the circumstances behind it. “Preliminary enquiries would indicate that no offence has been committed,” the statement read.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young tweeted a screenshot of a death threat she claims to have received after Christensen’s photo was posted online. In a message containing misogynistic language, the sender writes that they hope Christensen “has one left in the chamber” in order to shoot the politician.
“The licence to send this type of message to anyone, particularly a member of the parliament, has been given by none other than a parliamentarian himself, of course,” Senator Hanson-Young told ABC News.
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The largest newspaper in Brazil, Folha de S Paulo, announced late last week that due to Facebook’s recent changes to their news feed algorithm resulting in what the paper claims is “effectively banning professional journalism,” it would cease publishing content on the social media platform.
The Guardian reported that the popular Brazilian newspaper has an online and print subscription base of nearly 285,000 subscribers and had roughly 204 million page impressions last December, according to the Communication Verification Institute, a non-profit media auditor. The company’s Facebook page has nearly6 million Facebook followers.
The executive editor of Fohla, Sérgio Dávila, told The Guardian that the paper’s decision reflected “the declining importance of Facebook to our readers,” but added that the recent algorithm changes to Facebook’s Newsfeed had precipitated the decision. The paper claimed the new algorithm “privilege[s] personal interaction contents, to the detriment of those distributed by companies, such as those that produce professional journalism.”
Only weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, announced that the company would be changing the algorithm used to determine what shows up in an individual’s Newsfeed to prioritize “meaningful social interactions” and posts by friends, and “trusted” news sources.
Folha noted that the choice to abandon Facebook was “a reflection of internal discussions about the best ways to get the content of the newspaper to reach its readers. The disadvantages of using Facebook as a path to this distribution became more evident after the social network’s decision to reduce the visibility of professional journalism on its users’ pages.”
A separate report in Folha noted that the newspaper’s own analysis found that “fake news pages received five times the number of engagements that professional journalism received” during the month of January.
“This reinforces the tendency of the user to consume more and more content with which it has affinity, favoring the creation of bubbles of opinions and convictions, and the propagation of fake news,” Folha argued. “These problems have been aggravated in recent years by the mass distribution of deliberately false content…as happened in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.”
“In effectively banning professional journalism from its pages in favor of personal content and opening space for ‘fake news’ to proliferate, Facebook became inhospitable terrain for those who want to offer quality content like ours,” Dávila told the Guardian.
There has been widespread concern among civil libertarians, and independent media, about the continuing use of algorithms that effectivelysoft-censors contentthat includes controversial ideas or dissent.
Brazil is the third biggest market in the world for Facebook, with roughly 130 million users, according to statistics portal Statista.
Billionaire investor George Soros says social media companies, particularly Facebook and Google, are becoming “obstacles to innovation” as they have become too powerful and should be broken up.
While often playing an “innovative and liberating role,” the companies are deceiving users “by manipulating their attention” and “deliberately engineering addiction” to their services, Soros wrote on opinion website Project Syndicate.
According to him, the two firms profit from making users stay on their websites for long periods of time. Due to the size of the companies, content providers have to “accept whatever terms they are offered,”but that is only helping Facebook and Google become more profitable.
“Indeed, the exceptional profitability of these companies is largely a function of their avoiding responsibility – and payment – for the content on their platforms,” Soros wrote.
“The companies claim that they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near-monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulation, aimed at preserving competition, innovation and fair and open access.”
Soros added that as Facebook and Google grow, they are looking to bundle more services to offer to consumers. They “exploit the data they control” and use “discriminatory pricing” to do this, he explained.
“There is a similarity between Internet platforms and gambling companies. Casinos have developed techniques to hook customers to the point that they gamble away all of their money, even money they don’t have.”
Social media companies are “inducing people to surrender their autonomy” with the power to shape people’s attention “concentrated in the hands of a few companies.”
The investor warned these “data-rich IT monopolies” could form an alliance with authoritarian states that “may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even George Orwell could have imagined.”
He said this could happen in Russia and China first, adding that EU regulators are more “farsighted” than those in the US when it comes to social policies.
Since 2010, Facebook allows you to download an archive file of all your interactions with the network. It’s a 5-click easy process that your grandmother can do (more details below).
Inside the .zip, lies an ‘index.html’ page that acts as a portal to your personal data. Visually, it looks like an ad-free stripped down version of Facebook that’s actually quite relaxing.
As I’m trying to reduce my exposure to social networks, I decided to take a look at this info. By extrapolating the data of a single individual (me), I might be able to better apprehend the capabilities of the beast. In the end, it all comes down to what is tracked and what can be deduced from that.
We all gave up on privacy…
… we just don’t fully realise it.
Everything you expect is there: your profile, statuses, messages, friends, pokes (Tinder’s ancestor), photos, videos, comments, events. All of it in a 500mb zip file.
There’s a lot of material and you could sift it for hours. Most of the content is unsurprising but there are a few notable facts that are worth exploring.
Limitless data storage period
Quite simply, Facebook never deletes anything. Unfriended friends, past relationships, former employers, previous names, address book: you name it.
I created my account Friday, September 14, 2007 at 10:59am and all my actions have been recorded ever since. I feel that for the first time in history, 10 years of consistent human behavior have been meticulously gathered, stored & analysed.
Exhaustive photo metadata
Whenever you post a photo to Facebook, it keeps a record of all the data that’s attached to it. That seems quite obvious but I didn’t suspect it was so detailed. Have a look: Camera Maker, Model, Orientation, Exposure, F-Stop, ISO Speed, Focal Length, Latitude, Longitude & Upload IP Address
Abundant log-in & session data points
Every time you open Facebook, the time, location, IP address, browser & device have been recorded. If you’re part of the 1.4B people that use Facebook on a daily basis, they have enough data points to determine your everyday life patterns with great accuracy: home and work address, daily commute, wake up & bed time, travel duration & destination, etc.
Flawless facial recognition
Apparently, Facebook has 232 examples of what I look like.
How does it know? Well, every time you tag a photo, you’re adding to an enormous, user-driven wealth of knowledge and data. Everyday, billions of people are telling an algorithm what a human face looks like, from different angles, at different ages and in different light conditions.
The result? Facebook allegedly said that its image recognition models could recognise human faceswith 98% accuracy & that it could identify a person in one picture out of 800 million in less than five seconds.
Detailed contact list
When you install Facebook’s app on your phone, you give it the right to see your contact list. Once that’s done, Facebook keeps ALL your contacts information forever.
There’s no sneaky move here: the opt-in process on your phone is actually pretty clear about that. But seeing the phone numbers, emails & addresses of everyone you know (or knew) listed on Facebook is a bit disturbing.
Get to know your advertiser
… because he surely knows you.
Facebook main revenue source are ads served by their powerful targeting engine using custom audiences built for advertisers.
Apparently 21 advertisers got access to my Facebook information:
The thing is, Facebook’s been purposely mysterious about what type of information they share with third parties. Despite numerous requests by users throughout the world, their response is systematically:
Advertisers do not give Facebook any users’ contact details. We only get such details in hashed form and they are, in any event, deleted within 48 hours. We are therefore not able to confirm what contact information an advertiser has for a particular user.
But looking at Facebook Business platform provides some details about what info is used in custom audiences targeting: email, phone number, first name, last name, city, state, country, date of birth, age & gender.
So Facebook has a lot of data about you & it shares it with a lot of advertisers: but why should you care?
“Bring the world closer…”
… to ads.
I used to think there was no real drawback in ceding a lot of personal data to a 3rd party. After all, I get a free service that’s pleasant to use & really helpful.
Eventually, I realised that the harm potential really depends on 2 factors: the intentions & means of action of the organisation that harvests your data.
That’s where Facebook gets really frightening: it’s hugely powerful & its only objective is to maximise the time spent & interactions made with its platform (just look at its financial KPI’s).
Don’t be fooled by the “bring the world closer together” motto: if Facebook’s here, it’s only to make money by selling ads. And to do that, they must target — in the most precise manner — the highest possible amount of eyeballs.
Facebook is now planning to change the way it presents news to the users by introducing a ranking system aimed at defining what it deems “quality news.”
“We are, for the first time in the history of Facebook, taking a step to try to define what quality news looks like… I think we would agree that not all news is created equal, and this is a big step for us to begin thinking about that,” Facebook’s Head of News Partnerships Campbell Brown told the Recode Code Media conference in California on February 12.
The world’s biggest social network says its fight will help make it a more credible source for getting information and that it will prioritize the way it handles stories to prevent fake news. Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said earlier that the company is going to rely on a user survey to help to determine which sources are “trustworthy.”
RT spoke to internet law expert and social solicitor Yair Cohen, who thinks that social media companies aren’t revealing the real criteria of a filter.
RT: The Facebook news head said news isn’t created equal. Who should decide what’s quality among all the quantity of stories?
Yair Cohen: The original idea was that the Facebook users will decide what quality is and what is not quality. Now, it seems that Facebook wants to make this decision. I think that Facebook is clearly concerned about governments taking over, moderating and removing content from its own platform. So, Facebook has decided to take the initiative and moderate its own content. …Currently, Facebook has got approximately 7,000 individuals who are responsible for creating policies for Facebook, policing those policies and then making a decision what content should be viewed by users, what content shouldn’t be viewed by users. But these 7,000 are not operating within any form of transparency. Nobody really knows what they are doing and I think this is quite dangerous.
RT: When we look at fake news or quality news, what criteria can be used to create a ranking system?
YC: It is a subjective issue, the most important thing is that people will know what criteria is being used… I just came back from a conference in California, it was the first conference of its kind where the leaders of the largest social media companies got together to speak for the first time publicly about how they moderate and remove content. And it was very clear that the whole process is being done in secret. There is no published criteria. And the reason they say they don’t publish the criteria – they don’t want people to manipulate the content. So, the whole process is very highly secretive. Provided we know what the criterion is, then we can judge for ourselves whether it is right for Facebook or for any other organization to remove content or not. But as long as we don’t know about it, it seems to me pretty much totalitarian, this whole regime.
RT: This ranking system in essence could be called biased if a single group is making all the decisions, would you agree?
YC: I certainly agree with that. It is a very small group which is not accountable to anyone, all the decisions are being made in secret, the algorithm is secretive. There is going to be artificial intelligence, there is going to be some machine-generated content removal, but quite a lot of decisions still will be made by a human. We don’t really know who these people are. I think it is highly dangerous that… a very small group of people will decide perhaps, that it is in their view, or in people’s interest to promote a political party, they might have their own bias towards what is bias and what is not bias.
RT: Can this new initiative really help eliminate fake news?
YC: I think this initiative is really designed by the social media companies to try and prevent government intervention in the content removal process. It will certainly not affect the quality, so to speak, of any news.
Facebook’s Community Standards Department will ban your account for identifying corruption from the liberal left. However, take an indicted terrorist, Facebook will make sure their account remains before the public eye. We can draw no othr conclusion than the fact that Facebook supports terrorism.
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Video has been an obsession for Facebook, as it tries to swipe the most advertising dollars migrating off television before YouTube can get them. Facebook has been aggressively advancing the number of clips and live streams that bubble up to the top of your News Feed and has rolled out a central hub for TV-like programming called Watch.
“You always have to take competition seriously. You don’t win by looking backwards; you win by looking at your customers and looking forward,” she said.
Facebook didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.
Also, Wojcicki said YouTube planned on Tuesday to roll out its Red subscription tier much wider internationally to about 100 countries, from the five where it operates now.
She also explained the rational behind allowing stars like Logan Paul — a digital star under fire for posting offensive videos to YouTube including one showing a suicide victim — to stay on the service. YouTube has a three-strikes rule, she said. That means creators can have their accounts terminated for three infractions against YouTube’s official policies. Paul hasn’t hit three strikes, Wojcicki said, noting it’s important for the company to enforce its rules consistently.
YouTube, the biggest video resource on the internet, has spent much of the last year battling against backlashes like the one against Paul. Ads running offensive clips spurred an advertiser boycott early last year, and when YouTube responded by more aggressively pulling ads off questionable content, it faced an outcry from creators who say they unfairly lost their money-making power. Whether it’s nightmarish clips slipping into its app for kids, and or channels that border on child exploitation, YouTube has been grappling with its ability to responsibly manage its vast scale.
Wojcicki said Monday that drawing a line about what’s appropriate to exist on YouTube is sensitive because “on one side is censorship and the other is too much freedom of speech.”
“This year we’ve been really focused on growing up,” she said.
A German consumer rights group said on Monday that a court had found Facebookâ€™s use of personal data to be illegal because the U.S. social media platform did not adequately secure the informed consent of its users.
The verdict, from a Berlin regional court, comes as Big Tech faces increasing scrutiny in Germany over its handling of sensitive personal data that enables it to micro-target online advertising.
Within the last week, Facebook announced a ban on all advertisements about bitcoin, initial coin offerings and other cryptocurrencies.
Facebook (along with Google) virtually controls Internet advertising. So their policies have enormous influence over consumer behavior.
Banning ICO advertisements on its platform, for example, will certainly have a negative impact on the amount of money flowing into new ICO’s.
Facebook said it instituted this ban to “protect its users” from financial scams in the cryptocurrency sector. At least, that’s the “official” reason.
And in fairness, there is a ridiculous amount of fraud out there — countless scammy ICO’s and appallingly stupid tokens and coins.
But it’s also possible that Facebook’s main driver in this move goes beyond its desire to protect the well-being of its nearly 2 billion users.
It was only a month ago that Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook would study encryption and the blockchain to “see how best to use them in our services.”
And one of the speakers at the crypto conference that one of our team members attended in New York City yesterday confirmed Facebook is investing a ton of capital into blockchain right now.
It stands to reason that Facebook’s decision to ban crypto advertisements may be rooted in eliminating its own competition, i.e. Facebook may be working on its own proprietary blockchain and cryprocurrency to deploy on its own platform.
One possibility is that Facebook could adopt a similar model to Steemit – a decentralized social network that operates on the blockchain.
It’s up to Steemit’s users to police the site, not a central authority. And the platform rewards its users for good content with small amounts of cryptocurrency and penalizes users for spam and “fake news.”
This would solve a huge problem for Facebook, which has already come under fire from governments across the world for not doing enough to moderate user content including “fake news,” “hate speech,” etc.
Facebook has already hired an army of content moderators, but this is barely been able to make a dent in solving the company’s problem.
So adopting a model like Steemit ,which rewards users with specialized crypto could certainly make sense.
This wouldn’t be the company’s first foray into the arena, either.
When social games like Farmville were popular (maybe they still are, who knows), gamers could pay for e-goods with an in-game currency. Then Facebook created its own currency for people to trade in and out of Farmville and other games.
A full-blown Facebook Token is the logical next step.
Given Facebook’s worldwide dominance, its tokens would have the potential to become enormously popular, practically overnight, and used in everyday transactions in the real world.
The big hope with Bitcoin is that it may one day disrupt conventional fiat currencies. Maybe so. But Bitcoin still has a steep adoption curve before it becomes truly disruptive.
Facebook Tokens, on the other hand, would be adopted by hundreds of millions of people right from the start.
You’d be able to buy and sell products in Facebook Tokens, send money and remittances, pay contract employees overseas, and engage in all sorts of cross-border transactions.
This would essentially make Mark Zuckerberg the world’s central banker… the one person with control over the first truly global currency.
Given that he already controls the #1 media source in the world and has substantial influence over consumer behavior, launching a Facebook Token would solidify his position as the most powerful person on the planet.