serial twitter account deleter. ringleader, apparently.
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A human being at Facebook manually approved the idea of targeting ads to users interested in "white genocide"

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A year ago, Facebook apologized for allowing advertisers to target its users based on their status as "Jew haters" and blamed an algorithmic system that automatically picked up on the most popular discussions on the platform and turned them into ad-targeting segments.

At the time, Facebook promised that they would put humans in the loop, creating human-AI centaurs that would subject the AI's lightning-speed assessments and vast capacity to read and analyze the conversations of billions of people to oversight by sensitive, sensible human beings who would not allow outright fascism and fascist-adjacent categories to surface as ad categories to be targeted for recruitment by violent extremists.

They kept their promise: now humans have to sign off on every ad category that Facebook generates. So when the ad category AI looked at the myriad of Facebook groups devoted to "white genocide" (the conspiracy theory that holds that non-white people are "outbreeding" white people, through a mix of unchecked fertility and "interbreeding") -- such as "Stop White South African Genocide," "White Genocide Watch" and "The last days of the white man"-- it automatically created the "white genocide" ad targeting niche.

And then a human Facebook worker approved this category and made it available for use by anyone with an ad purchasing account on the platform.

What's more, Facebook's algorithm was smart enough to suggest some related keywords that someone who wants to reach "white genocide" fans could use: "RedState," "Daily Caller," and a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory about the plight of white South African farmers that was greatly favored by Robert Bowers, the man who opened fire in Pittsburgh a synagogue last week.

After The Intercept bought some ads targeted at "white genocide" users, Facebook finally suspended the category, confirming that "marketers" had used the category to target the group with "news coverage," and also that a human being had signed off on the category's creation to begin with.

There are lots of conclusions to draw from this. Here are a few:

1. Facebook is undertraining and underresourcing the human people who are supposed to serve as "guard-rails" on the algorithmic creation of ad categories. They need to spend more money on this. Possibly a lot more.

2. Facebook's affinity-tracing algorithm is smart enough to identify the places where fascists and white supremacists lurk on its platform: the fact that it knew that Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller was also a haven for white supremacy tells us that Facebook could, if it wanted to, closely target the human beings whose job it is to monitor discussions for terms-of-service violations.

Facebook draws a distinction between the hate-based categories ProPublica discovered, which were based on terms users entered into their own profiles, versus the “white genocide conspiracy theory” category, which Facebook itself created via algorithm. The company says that it’s taken steps to make sure the former is no longer possible, although this clearly did nothing to deter the latter. Interestingly, Facebook said that technically the white genocide ad buy didn’t violate its ad policies, because it was based on a category Facebook itself created. However, this doesn’t square with the automated email The Intercept received a day after the ad buy was approved, informing us that “We have reviewed some of your ads more closely and have determined they don’t comply with our Advertising Policies.”

Still, the company conceded that such ad buys should have never been possible in the first place. Vice News and Business Insider also bought Facebook ads this week to make a different point about a related problem: that Facebook does not properly verify the identities of people who take out political ads. It’s unclear whether the “guardrails” Leathern spoke of a year ago will simply take more time to construct, or whether Facebook’s heavy reliance on algorithmic judgment simply careened through them.

Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre [Sam Biddle/The Intercept]

(via /.)

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dnorman
9 days ago
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Delete Your Facebook Account: November 3 2018 Edition.
Calgary
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60% of world's wildlife has been wiped out since 1970

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Yellow-throated tanager

Well over half the world’s population of vertebrates, from fish to birds to mammals, have been wiped out in the past four decades, says a new report from the World Wildlife Fund.

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dnorman
14 days ago
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This is fine.
Calgary
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Calgary priest put on leave amid sexual misconduct allegations

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St. Mark

A Catholic priest in Calgary has been placed on leave following allegations of sexual misconduct.

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dnorman
14 days ago
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that's a funny way to spell "was arrested." Odds on him being moved to another church in a small town somewhere so it's forgotten?
Calgary
dreadhead
12 days ago
Just on a brief vacation nothing serious.
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Facing mounting criticism from the right, Facebook has quietly ramped up donations to Republican politicians

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Newly released FEC data shows that Facebook donated to twice as many Republicans as Democrats last month.
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dnorman
23 days ago
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Delete Your Facebook Account: 2018-10-20 Edition.
Calgary
wreichard
23 days ago
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Earth
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awilchak
23 days ago
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delete your facebook
Brooklyn, New York

Facebook hackers stole locations and other private data for millions of users

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A Facebook logo and a phone running Facebook.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

The attackers who carried out the mass hack that Facebook disclosed two weeks ago obtained user account data belonging to as many as 30 million users, the social network said on Friday. Some of that data—including phone numbers, email addresses, birth dates, searches, location check-ins, and the types of devices used to access the site—came from private accounts or was supposed to be restricted only to friends.

The revelation is the latest black eye for Facebook as it tries to recover from the scandal that came to light earlier this year in which Cambridge Analytica funneled highly personal details of more than 80 million users to an organization supporting then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. When Facebook disclosed the latest breach two weeks ago, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he didn’t know if it allowed attackers to steal users’ private data. Friday’s update made clear that it did, although the 30 million people affected was less than the 50 million estimate previously given. Readers can check this link to see what, if any, data was obtained by the attackers.

On a conference call with reporters, Vice President of Product Management Guy Rosen said that at the request of the FBI, which is investigating the hack, Facebook isn’t providing any information about who the attackers are or their motivations or intentions. That means that for now, affected users should be extra vigilant when reading emails, taking calls, and receiving other types of communications. The ability to know the search queries, location check-ins, phone numbers, email addresses, and other personal details of so many people gives the attackers the ability to send highly customized emails, texts, and voice calls that may try to trick people into turning over money, passwords, or other high-value information.

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dnorman
31 days ago
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Delete your Facebook Account: Oct. 12 2018 Edition.
Calgary
dreadhead
30 days ago
I would love to but at least in my circle of friends it remains a core tool for event/trip planning. I have made an effort to limit my usage as much as possible but I wish we could just go back to using email.
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Google+ exposed non-public data for 500k users, then kept it quiet

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Article intro image

Enlarge (credit: Ade Oshineye / Flickr)

Google exposed the private details of almost 500,000 Google+ users and then opted not to report the lapse, in part out of concern disclosure would trigger regulatory scrutiny and reputational damage, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing people briefed on the matter and documents that discussed it. Shortly after the article was published, Google said it would close the Google+ social networking service to consumers.

The exposure was the result of a flaw in programming interfaces Google made available to developers of applications that interacted with users’ Google+ profiles, Google officials said in a post published after the WSJ report. From 2015 to March 2018, the APIs made it possible for developers to view profile information not marked as public, including full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation, and relationship status. Data exposed didn’t include Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers, or G Suite content. Some of the users affected included paying G Suite users.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai knew of the glitch and the decision not to publicly disclose it, the WSJ reported. Based on a two-week test designed to measure the impact of the API bugs before they were fixed, Google analysts believe that data for 496,951 users was improperly exposed. According to the report:

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dnorman
35 days ago
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Jesus Christ. Can we start regulating these bastards yet? Time for Baby Googles?
Calgary
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