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Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica

After Apple updated its privacy rules in 2021 to easily allow iOS users to opt out of all tracking by third-party apps, so many people opted out that the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that Meta lost $10 billion in revenue over the next year.

Meta's business model depends on selling user data to advertisers, and it seems that the owner of Facebook and Instagram sought new paths to continue widely gathering data and to recover from the suddenly lost revenue. Last month, a privacy researcher and former Google engineer, Felix Krause, alleged that one way Meta sought to recover its losses was by directing any link a user clicks in the app to open in-browser, where Krause reported that Meta was able to inject a code, alter the external websites, and track “anything you do on any website,” including tracking passwords, without user consent.

Now, within the past week, two class action lawsuits [1] [2] from three Facebook and iOS users—who point directly to Krause's research—are suing Meta on behalf of all iOS users impacted, accusing Meta of concealing privacy risks, circumventing iOS user privacy choices, and intercepting, monitoring, and recording all activity on third-party websites viewed in Facebook or Instagram's browser. This includes form entries and screenshots granting Meta a secretive pipeline through its in-app browser to access “personally identifiable information, private health details, text entries, and other sensitive confidential facts”—seemingly without users even knowing the data collection is happening.

​[…]

In the meantime, the lawsuits say there is an easy way to stop Meta from collecting this info. Instead of clicking on links shared on Facebook or Instagram, copy and paste them directly into your preferred browser.

I have written so much about Facebook and its fucked-up ways that I get tired of repeating myself. But I think it’s important to continue shining a light on the shit that they continue to do. This time specifically targeting iOS users.

#Linked #iOS #Privacy #Facebook

Casey Newton points out “that Sandberg held many roles at Facebook over the years, and helped guide it through several tumultuous periods. In conversations with people who worked closely with her, though, there were really only two distinct eras in Sandberg’s time at Facebook. They fit neatly, into two seven-year periods.”

“From 2008 to 2015, Sandberg played a critical role in Facebook’s rise. Coming from a top business job at Google, she gave the young company a credibility among advertisers that it previously lacked. Mark Zuckerberg trusted her with functions that he viewed as less critical to the company’s success than the product and growth teams on which he spent more of his time.”

Shira Ovide, writing for the New York Times

Sandberg spearheaded a plan to build from scratch a more sophisticated system of advertising that was largely based on what she had helped develop at Google. Ads on Facebook were tied to people’s activities and interests on the site. As at Google, many advertisers bought Facebook ads online rather than through sales personnel, as had been typical for TV or newspaper ads. Later, Sandberg cultivated new systems for Facebook advertisers to pinpoint their potential customers with even more precision.

Google and Facebook transformed product marketing from largely an art to a sometimes creepy science, and Sandberg is among the architects of that change. She shares in the credit (or blame) for developing two of the most successful, and perhaps least defensible, business models in internet history.

All the anxiety today about apps snooping on people to glean every morsel of activity to better pitch us dishwashers — that’s partly Sandberg’s doing.

“The second era, from 2016 on, looked very different.”

Shira Ovide, writing for the New York Times

Sandberg was also partly responsible for Facebook’s failures during crucial moments, notably when the company initially denied and deflected blame for Russia-backed trolls that were abusing the site to inflame divisions among Americans ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

[…]​

Sandberg initially said publicly that Facebook played little role in the organizing of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. That wasn’t quite true. As my colleagues Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang reported, people used Facebook to spread misinformation about election fraud, which fueled anger among the protesters. Some rioters used Facebook to openly discuss the logistics of the attack ahead of time.

In their 2021 book, “An Ugly Truth,” Sheera and Cecilia wrote that to Sandberg’s detractors, her response was part of a pattern of trying to preserve the company’s reputation or her own rather than do the right thing.

Sandberg was also among those responsible for Facebook’s delayed or insufficient initial response in 2018 about news reports that a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, was able to harvest personal information on many millions of Facebook users.

Sheryl Sandberg is leaving behind a mixed legacy for her time at Facebook. I applaud her for her work advocating for women. On the other hand, I deplore her for her partnership, in crime, with Zuckerberg making Facebook the shit hole that it is today. The final chapter of her legacy is yet to come. Let’s see how it turns out?

By the way, Mark it’s time for you to join Sheryl in leaving Facebook/Meta. It’s the end of an era and time for a new chapter.

#Linked #Opinion #Facebook

Alex Heath, writing for The Verge

A group of Facebook engineers identified a “massive ranking failure” that exposed as much as half of all News Feed views to potential “integrity risks” over the past six months, according to an internal report on the incident obtained by The Verge.

The engineers first noticed the issue last October, when a sudden surge of misinformation began flowing through the News Feed, notes the report, which was shared inside the company last week. Instead of suppressing posts from repeat misinformation offenders that were reviewed by the company’s network of outside fact-checkers, the News Feed was instead giving the posts distribution, spiking views by as much as 30 percent globally. Unable to find the root cause, the engineers watched the surge subside a few weeks later and then flare up repeatedly until the ranking issue was fixed on March 11th.

John Gruber:

It really does sound like a bug, and some bugs really are devilishly tricky to track down and fix. But it seems a bit odd that it took Facebook six months to fix this one, given how intense the scrutiny of the company has gotten for the very problem this bug made worse.

Nick Heer:

One of the things I think about a lot is why problems such as this one have basically no repercussions for the companies that create them. In this case, this bug was only made public because someone leaked the internal report, and its possible consequence was significant — Heath writes that it “impacted up to half of News Feed views over a period of months”. But it does not matter, not really. Facebook’s reputation is in the tank and it will not lose users because of this, nor will advertisers pull funds. It does not matter that Facebook increased the spread of bullshit instead of responsibly slowing it, apart from in all the subtle ways it does matter that its massive user base was increasingly misinformed.

Facebooks problem is not a failure of technology, nor a shortcoming in their AI filters. Its problem is its shitty business model. Profits chiefly from engagement and virility. Fuck Facebook!

#Linked #Facebook #Opinion

According to The New Times, “the salad days of Facebook’s lavish employee perks may be coming to an end. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, told employees on Friday that it was cutting back or eliminating free services like laundry and dry cleaning and was pushing back the dinner bell for a free meal from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., according to seven company employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity.” And the employees are pissed.

Well, isn’t that a fucking pity! I guess nothing last forever.

According to Protocol, “Meta company spokesperson Tracy Clayton confirmed the changes, describing them in an email as more reflective of “the needs of our hybrid workforce.”

#Linked #Facebook