Tag Archives: Cambridge Analytica

Thoughts on Sophos commentary on FB and YouTube

Here are a couple of Sophos articles that caught my eye, and which I felt compelled to comment on at more length.

  • For Sophos, Paul Ducklin picked up on Facebook’s page How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica? Useful, I suppose, if you can’t remember whether you might have clicked on Cambridge Analytica’s This is your digital life app. And of limited use if it tells you that one or more of your friends clicked on it and so may have shared your profile data. Limited in that it won’t tell you which of your friends did so. Well, I suppose you should be grateful that Facebook is preserving somebody’s privacy, even if it’s not yours.  And it may be useful in that it prompts you to check your privacy settings.
  • Another Sophos article by Lisa Vaas notes that YouTube illegally collects data from kids, group claims. The group of privacy advocates in question asserts that ‘a study … found that 96% of children aged 6-12 are aware of YouTube and … 83% of children that know the brand use it daily … The group is urging the FTC to investigate the matter as it is illegal to collect data from kids younger than 13 under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).’ YouTube’s fallback position would presumably be that it isn’t intentionally contravening COPPA because ‘YouTube is not for children’. Hence the creation of the separate YouTube Kids app.

David Harley

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Anti-social media: a heavy day

Updates to the Anti-Social Media page:

I’ll be adding some links to which I added more commentary shortly.

David Harley

Social media and privacy

Resources updates, 26 March 2018

Updates to Anti-Social Media

Updates to Specific Ransomware Families and Types

Updates to Cryptocurrency/Crypto-mining News and Resources

David Harley

Facebook Fallout

Added to the ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA page today:

  • For Tech Beacon, Richi Jennings does a good job (as usual) of finding ‘bloggy bits’ relating to the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica mess: No ‘likes’ for Facebook’s API leak, but it’s not a data breach—and not news. And no, the fact that Facebook collects and shares too much information isn’t exactly news. Nor, come to that, the fact that Facebook has itself engaged in some experimental social engineering though I’m guessing that fewer people are or ever were aware of those particular experiments. I think I’ll probably come back to that…
  • A comment to Richi’s announcement of that Tech Beacon article – ironically, on Facebook – brought my attention to this article by Kalev Leetaru for Forbes:

    The Problem Isn’t Cambridge Analytica: It’s Facebook. The article makes some excellent points. For instance:

    • “In 2014 academic researchers at Cornell and Facebook published research in which they had manipulated the emotions of three quarters of a million users … the research had been fully approved by Facebook and Cornell, with ethical review by Cornell’s IRB.” Yes, that’s one of the experiments I was thinking of.
    • “A central theme of the rhetoric and coverage of Cambridge Analytica is that it somehow violated accepted societal norms over the use of Facebook data … referring to it in the cybersecurity parlance of a data “breach.” In fact, this could not be further from the truth in our modern “surveillance economy.”
  • Taylor Lorenz for The Daily Beast: Mark Zuckerberg Swears He’ll Protect Your Data—Next Time – “The Facebook chief promised users that he would do more to ensure that their online lives weren’t put up for sale. One small problem: that’s kind of Facebook’s business model.”
  • Matthew Yglesias, for Vox (that’s the news site, not the music equipment manufacturer), comments on The case against Facebook – “It’s not just about privacy; its core function makes people lonely and sad.” Well, you could argue with that tagline. FB does have a useful function in terms, for instance, of connecting with friends far away. If you keep the Big Picture in mind, you sometimes forget that there are valid reasons why people are prepared to compromise their data by using Facebook (if they think about it at all). Still, there are plenty of very valid points in the article:
    • “…according to Craig Silverman’s path-breaking analysis for BuzzFeed, the 20 highest-performing fake news stories of the closing days of the 2016 campaign did better on Facebook than the 20 highest-performing real ones.”
    • “By turning news consumption and news discovery into a performative social process, Facebook turns itself into a confirmation bias machine — a machine that can best be fed through deliberate engineering….Meanwhile, Facebook is destroying the business model for outlets that make real news.”
  • Kurt Wismer makes a good point about the get-me-out-of-here trend in The problem with #DeleteFacebook. “…a movement to abandon Facebook is going to open up a lot of opportunities for fraud all at once.” He suggests disabling rather than deleting an account. (Actually, I have a similar strategy regarding LinkedIn: I’m not job-hunting any more, but I don’t want to make misuse of my name too easy.)
  • While Brian X. Chen points out for the New York Times: Want to #DeleteFacebook? You Can Try. A few pertinent points here, too:
    • “Keep in mind that Facebook isn’t the only company capable of collecting your information. One big culprit: Web trackers, like cookies embedded into websites and their ads. They are everywhere, and they follow your activities from site to site.”
    • “…you may be better off tweaking your privacy settings on the site.”
  • Help Net Security: Facebook’s trust crisis: Has it harmed democracy?  – “Facebook is losing the faith of the Americans people, according to the Digital Citizens Alliance.

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David Harley

Resource updates 21st March 2018

Additions to the new Anti-Social Media page:

Additions to Meltdown/Spectre – Related Resources