Tag Archives: Mark Zuckerberg

Truth In Media with Ben Swann, Episode 17: Facebook Bans Stay-At-Home Protest Posts, Calling Them “Harmful Misinformation”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company won’t allow promotion of protests “that defy government’s guidance” on social distancing.


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UK Parliamentary Committee Presses Zuckerberg to Address Privacy, User Data Questions

Damian Collins, Member of Parliament (MP) and chair of the UK’s Parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, recently issued a letter to Rebecca Stimson, the head of public policy at Facebook UK, renewing the committee’s request for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s physical presence before Parliament as well as additional information detailing the company’s protocols.

Zuckerberg has repeatedly refused the committee’s multiple requests to appear for questioning. Most notably, following the Cambridge Analytica revelations earlier this year, the DCMS committee requested that “a senior Facebook executive” provide testimony about “how Facebook acquires, stores, and protects users’ data,” according to a report from The Verge. While Zuckerberg himself appeared before US Congress earlier this month and spoke with legislators for several hours, Facebook’s chief technical officer Mike Schroepfer met with the DCMS committee later in the month, during which he faced a reportedly tougher series of questioning regarding “the company’s data-collection techniques, oversight of app developers, fake accounts, political advertising and links to the voter-targeting firm Cambridge Analytica,” as noted by The New York Times.

In the request for Zuckerberg to appear before the DCMS committee, Collins expressed dissatisfaction with the information and responses provided by Schroepfer at the previous hearing and further claimed that Schroepfer “failed to answer fully” dozens of inquiries.

“This is especially disappointing to the committee considering that in his testimony to Congress Mark Zuckerberg also failed to give convincing answers to some questions,” Collins wrote.

“It is worth noting that, while Mr Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the UK parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country. We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but, if not, the committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK,” Collins noted.

[Related: Facebook Dodges New EU Privacy Regulations]

As Zuckerberg is reportedly set to visit with Parliamentary members later this month, he has been requested to appear before the committee on May 24. Collins listed the following questions to be answered by May 11, noting that “Mr. Schroepfer agreed that his team would follow up on the questions included below”:

1. What is the percentage of sites on the internet on which Facebook tracks users?

2. Did the Internet Research Agency use custom audiences? What targeting tools did the IRA use for their advertising? Did they have a custom audience for state-by-state campaigns/races in the USA? Did they use look-alike audiences from Facebook as part of their advertising spend?

3. What is Facebook’s definition of a political advertisement? What budget does Facebook put behind examining the parameters and use of political adverts?

4. How many developers did your enforcement team at Facebook take action against between 2011-2014?

5. Does the NDA signed with Dr Kogan prevent legal action being taken? What was the date of the agreement? Was there a payment made to Dr Kogan? [NB later in the session Mr. Schroepfer said that a) the date was June 2016 and that b) no payment was made, but it would be useful to have these points confirmed in writing. Confirmation was given in the session that the full NDA document would be provided to the Committee.]

6. Who was the person at Facebook responsible for the decision not to tell users affected in

7. Who at Facebook heads up the investigation into Cambridge Analytica, including all the
strands of the investigation?

8. Has Joseph Chancellor signed an NDA?

9. Agreement to provide documentation that Cambridge Analytica had certified the deletion of the data.

10. What was the number of paid adverts from the IRA during the US election?

11. From which country did the $2million that AIQ spent on ads come?
12. How many UK Facebook users and Instagram users were contacted by non-UK entities during the EU referendum?

13. How many clicks or swipes does it take to alter your Facebook privacy settings on a
smartphone? What steps are you taking to reduce the lengthy process of changing one’s
privacy settings?

14. What proportion of political campaigning ads globally are run on your platform? Do you have a rough estimate, based on average political campaign spend data?

15. What data on dark ads do you have?

16. Is it possible for Facebook to view pages set up during elections (e.g. the EU Referendum campaign) that host dark ads, and then are taken down a day later? Is it possible that no-one would ever be able to audit these dark ads, as no one (not even Facebook) would see them during the time they are online?

17. Was there any link between the US elections and the 2017 purge of fake accounts?

18. What proportion of the fake accounts you purged had any involvement from Russia?

19. Do you know how many developers were using and selling data on to third parties such as GSR? Is GSR the only company that has received letters from Facebook, demanding that they delete their Facebook data?

20. What kind of developer activity leading up to 2014 led to Facebook’s major policy changes related to sharing friends’ data? (Please give specific examples.) Were these changes responding to genuine concerns among Facebook users?

21. How many Facebook staff have been added to the app review team since 2014?

22. What is the legal situation regarding Facebook storing non-Facebook users’ data?

23. Did Facebook pass user information to Cambridge Analytica or to Aleksandr Kogan?

24. At the 8 February evidence session, Chris Matheson asked Simon Milner, “Have you
ever passed any user information over to Cambridge Analytica or any of its associated
companies?” Simon Milner replied “No”. Chris Matheson asked, “But they do hold a large
chunk of Facebook’s user data, don’t they?” Simon Milner said, “No. They may have lots of
data, but it will not be Facebook user data. It may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided.” [Qq 447-448] Do you agree with this answer?

25. At the time of Simon Milner’s testimony in February 2018, who at Facebook knew about
Cambridge Analytica? Who was in charge?

26. When did Mark Zuckerberg know about Cambridge Analytica?

27. Can you tell us about the financial links between SCL and Cambridge Analytica? (In evidence Mr Schroepfer said he had knowledge to share about this.)

28. How much money has been made from fraudulent ads (for example – but not limited to- the recent case of financial expert Martin Lewis?) When you find out they have been fraudulent, do you return the money to the purchaser of the ads?

29. Can we see copies of adverts from AIQ? Who saw these adverts shown to? Who paid for them?

30. Why wasn’t GSR identified during audits of third party developers?

31. How can the feature allowing users to edit previews of article (in response to concerns over Fake News) be removed?

32. What work is Joseph Chancellor doing right now for Facebook? What is his job title? Was Facebook aware of Joseph Chancellor’s involvement in GSR at the time of his application to the company, or during his employment?

33. Mr Schroepfer said that recruitment is taking place to boost work being done in Myanmar. When is this happening and can you provide more details?

34. What is the average time taken to respond to content that has been reported to Facebook in the region?

35. How many fake accounts have been identified and removed in Myanmar?

36. How much of your revenue is derived from Myanmar?

37. Are custom audiences used as a tool by AIQ using the GSR data from the US? What was the total value of AIQ/Vote Leave spend on Facebook? Can we see examples and copies of adverts that they used? To whom were they sent, and who decided what kind of targeting to use?

38. Is there evidence that CA/SCL shared data with AIQ?

39. Why was data responsibility moved from Facebook Irl to Facebook Inc in California just one month before GDPR kicks in?

Facebook Moves to Ban Advertising Promoting Cryptocurrency

Menlo Park, CA – On Tuesday, Facebook announced a new policy banning ads promoting cryptocurrency, as a means of preventing what the company called “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”

This means that advertisers – including companies that operate fully legal businesses – will be banned from the promotion of cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, the most widely accepted crypto. Additionally, the promotion of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and binary options will be eliminated by Facebook, according to a blog post by the company.

Advertisements that violate the new policy will not only be banned from Facebook’s core app, but also from Instagram and the company’s ad network, Audience Network, which places ads on third-party applications.

In the official announcement by Facebook Product Management Director Rob Leathern, he wrote:

“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception. That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith.”

Leathern added, “This policy is intentionally broad while we work to better detect deceptive and misleading advertising practices, and enforcement will begin to ramp up across our platforms including Facebook, Audience Network and Instagram.”

The move comes on the heels of persistent claims of spam-like and fraudulent cryptocurrency ads on the platform. The decision has been largely welcomed by savvy crypto enthusiasts, who recognize that these types of spammy advertisement often do not promote the actual benefits of cryptocurrency, according to Kai Sedgwick, in a report from Bitcoin.com.

The report by Bitcoin.com went on to explain:

Of the myriad places on the web where a person can learn about cryptocurrencies, Facebook is possibly the worst. Its users tend to be less sophisticated than those who frequent other social networks, and are easy prey for scammers, charlatans, and snake oil salesmen.

The moratorium on crypto ads can only benefit the cryptocurrency community. Scams such as Bitconnect and Arisebank are allowed to ferment on platforms such as Facebook, out of the reach of sharp-tongued Twitter traders who would otherwise call them out. Examples of ads that Facebook cites as being in contravention of its new policy include “New ICO! Buy tokens at a 15% discount NOW!”

Just how effective the crypto ad ban will be remains to be seen, as last year, following a report by ProPublica, which revealed Facebook was allowing advertisers to discriminate based on race, the company announced a ban on discriminatory ads. When ProPublica conducted a follow up over a year later, it was still able to purchase discriminatory advertising that would allow advertisements to not be shown to blacks or Jews.

Interestingly, the move has prompted speculation as to whether Facebook is attempting to position itself to launch its own blockchain product, with the implication being that it is removing all conversation around the competition. Although there is no hard evidence to suggest that is the impetus behind the crypto ban, at the beginning of January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly described cryptocurrency as something that can “take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands.”

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg wrote:

For example, one of the most interesting questions in technology right now is about centralization vs decentralization. A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people’s hands. (The first four words of Facebook’s mission have always been “give people the power”.) Back in the 1990s and 2000s, most people believed technology would be a decentralizing force.

But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.

There are important counter-trends to this –like encryption and cryptocurrency — that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands. But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.

These statements by Zuckerberg may be considered ironic, as the centralization of Facebook has led to the soft censoring of material that runs contrary to the corporate-government narrative. This soft-censorship is achieved by continual tweaks to the Facebook algorithm; the latest of which was rolled out last week under the auspices of limiting the reach of “untrustworthy news sources” while boosting local news outlets and posts from friends and family.

In real time, this equates to large swaths of independent media and citizen journalists being squeezed out of existence, as their reach, and subsequent ad revenue, is decimated as large corporate entities are relatively unscathed.

There will likely be pushback from tech investors and entrepreneurs that believe the wholesale ban punishes an entire sector of technological innovation and crypto-related services and products. In fact, two prominent tech investors — Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen — sit on Facebook’s board, both of whose firms are strong supporters of the ongoing crypto revolution. Additionally, David Marcus, the head of Facebook Messenger, sits on the board of the mega-popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.


What Happened To Zuckerberg’s $100 Million Donation To New Jersey Schools?

Newark, NJ– In 2010, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously announced on the Oprah Winfrey Show that he would be donating $100 million to repair the school system in Newark, New Jersey. Zuckerberg then teamed up with Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and the city’s Mayor at the time, Cory Booker, to create a foundation called Startup:Education.

At that time Newark was unquestionably in need of help, as its graduation rate had sunk below 67% and the city was struggling with high crime and poverty rates. Booker and Christie had already been discussing massive educational reform including a goal to make Newark “the charter school capital of the nation.” The foundation created by Zuckerberg, Christie and Booker had the vision of implementing new educational programs to transform the Newark school system into “a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation”, according to Zuckerberg.

Some of the stipulations from Zuckerberg included hiring a “transformational leader” as a superintendent and finding donors to match his $100 million. Cami Anderson was appointed by Christie in 2011 and she had attempted different reform methods, including closing twelve of the city’s worst K-8 grade schools and consolidating them into eight “renew schools” that operated similarly to charter schools. Anderson’s latest plan, One Newark, is supposed to allow parents to choose from 55 public and 16 charter schools to send their children. That plan is currently riddled with complications, such as lack of student transportation.

Nearly four years later many are left wondering if any progress in Newark has been made from his gift. According to an in-depth analysis from the New Yorker, most of Zuckerberg’s hundred million dollars “has been spent or committed.” Despite the efforts from Anderson to develop changes inside the schools, a great deal of that money- over $20 million- went to pay consultants for things like public relations, human resources, and communications. Some consultants were being paid about $1,000 per day. Back pay for the teacher’s union and seniority protections were also high, costing additional tens of millions of dollars. “Everybody’s getting paid, but Raheem still can’t read,” noted Vivian Cox Fraser, the president of the Urban League of Essex County. Newark’s test scores have barely budged, and their educational outlook remains dismal.

Newly elected Newark Mayor Ras Baraka opposes the the One Newark plan brought by Anderson, calling it “a dismantling of public education”. The hemorrhage of funds coupled with disputes over what reforms should take place in Newark has contributed to ongoing uncertainty about the city’s educational future.

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Mark Zuckerberg “Calls Obama” To Say How Mad He Is About NSA Spying

On the heels of the revelation that the NSA impersonated Facebook to Infect Millions of Computers, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a message on Facebook that he called President Obama to express how mad he is about NSA Spying.

Here is the message Zuckerberg posted:

“As the world becomes more complex and governments everywhere struggle, trust in the internet is more important today than ever.

The internet is our shared space. It helps us connect. It spreads opportunity. It enables us to learn. It gives us a voice. It makes us stronger and safer together.

To keep the internet strong, we need to keep it secure. That’s why at Facebook we spend a lot of our energy making our services and the whole internet safer and more secure. We encrypt communications, we use secure protocols for traffic, we encourage people to use multiple factors for authentication and we go out of our way to help fix issues we find in other people’s services.

The internet works because most people and companies do the same. We work together to create this secure environment and make our shared space even better for the world.

This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.
The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.

I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.

So it’s up to us — all of us — to build the internet we want. Together, we can build a space that is greater and a more important part of the world than anything we have today, but is also safe and secure. I’m committed to seeing this happen, and you can count on Facebook to do our part.”