Summary of “The Trouble with Tech’s “Think of the Children” Campaign”

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, a wave of current and former tech employees came forward to publicly denounce the products they helped create.
“They look at the role Facebook now plays in society, and how Russia used it during the election to elect Trump, and they have this sort of ‘Oh my God, what have I done’ moment,” one early Facebook employee told my colleague Nick Bilton.
Former Facebook executives Sean Parker and Chamath Palihapitiya piled on; “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” Parker warned, while Palihapitiya asked rhetorically, “Do I feel guilty? Absolutely I feel guilt.”
As The New York Times reported on Sunday, the trend has resulted in the formation of a nonprofit group made up of former Facebook and Google employees, dubbed the Center for Humane Technology.
The center will reportedly partner with Common Sense Media to produce an ad campaign called “The Truth About Tech,” which will target 55,000 U.S. public schools, as well as a concerted lobbying effort on Capitol Hill.
Per the Times, both groups will work together to push back against tech addiction and advocate for more transparency around how tech products affect consumers’ health.
The group includes early Facebook investor Roger McNamee; former in-house Google ethicist Tristan Harris, who has been an outspoken critic of Big Tech; former Facebook operations manager Sandy Parakilas; former Apple and Google communications executive Lynn Fox; technologist Renée DiResta; and Justin Rosenstein, the co-founder of Asana who created Facebook’s Like button.
“One can only assume that Facebook introduced it to engage users younger and younger,” developmental behavioral pediatrician Jenny Radesky told the Associated Press.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built”

“The largest supercomputers in the world are inside of two companies – Google and Facebook – and where are we pointing them?” Mr. Harris said.
Chamath Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist who was an early employee at Facebook, said in November that the social network was “Ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
The new Center for Humane Technology includes an unprecedented alliance of former employees of some of today’s biggest tech companies.
Apart from Mr. Harris, the center includes Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook operations manager; Lynn Fox, a former Apple and Google communications executive; Dave Morin, a former Facebook executive; Justin Rosenstein, who created Facebook’s Like button and is a co-founder of Asana; Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook; and Renée DiResta, a technologist who studies bots.
Jim Steyer, chief executive and founder of Common Sense, said the Truth About Tech campaign was modeled on antismoking drives and focused on children because of their vulnerability.
Already, Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, told The Guardian last month that he would not let his nephew on social media, while the Facebook investor Sean Parker also recently said of the social network that “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
Mr. McNamee said he had joined the Center for Humane Technology because he was horrified by what he had helped enable as an early Facebook investor.
“Facebook appeals to your lizard brain – primarily fear and anger,” he said.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Once Cozy With Silicon Valley, Democrats Grow Wary of Tech Giants”

Officials looked to the internet to solve problems in education, income inequality and global democracy.
Titled “#DigitalDeceit: Exposing the Internet Technologies of Precision Propaganda,” their report argues that the interests of internet giants in helping advertisers run persuasive campaigns are aligned with those of someone looking to spread misinformation.
The authors suggest a few ways to regulate the advertising technology industry, including requiring more transparency for political advertising, restricting data collection or ad targeting on political issues, and strengthening consumer protection and competition policies.
Republicans have also expressed concerns about internet giants.
“The internet was once heralded as the great democratizing tool,” Mr. Wheeler said.
In the same way digital advertising campaigns spend relatively small sums of money to reach millions of people, any party with an interest in swaying sentiment can gain access to reams of behavioral data on the internet to target specific audiences.
Fundamentally, the problem is that “Disinformation campaigns and legitimate advertising campaigns are effectively indistinguishable on leading internet platforms,” Mr. Ghosh and Mr. Scott wrote.
Ultimately, the underlying business model of digital advertising hasn’t changed, and it’s not clear how Facebook will handle content that advertisers pay to promote.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Facebook Doesn’t Like What It Sees When It Looks in the Mirror”

Facebook is leading the charge, with the announcement last week by Mr. Zuckerberg that the company felt “a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being.” In practical terms, this means that Facebook will be reducing the amount of so-called public content – often provocative posts from businesses and news organizations – in favor of personal content, posts from friends and family.
In 2005, speaking at Stanford, he described how he and a friend were “Seeing if we could use the information that we had to compute who we thought were going to be in relationships. So, we tested this about a week later, and we realized that we had over a third chance of predicting whether two people were going to be in a relationship a week from now.” Through this deep knowledge of its users, Mr. Zuckerberg explained, Facebook could determine “What actually matters to each person on a more granular level.”
More than a decade later, Facebook is still using these social-engineering tools to probe its users’ psyches.
Mr. Zuckerberg says Facebook will be steering users to healthier interactions.
“I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” he wrote in a post on Facebook.
Mr. Zuckerberg says he is making changes to Facebook so that when his young daughters, Max and August, grow up, they will “Feel like what their father built was good for the world.”
Turns out, an enlightened, socially engaged Facebook has a similar outlook as the amoral, audience-seeking Facebook.
In other words, don’t count on Facebook to disrupt Facebook any time soon.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Facebook killing news is the best thing that ever happened to news”

On January 12, Facebook announced that it would begin to de-prioritize news publishers and their stories in users’ News Feed over highly engaged-with content shared between friends and family.
The message is clear: in the messy news landscape of a post-Trump world, Facebook would like to distance itself from the ugly stuff.
Facebook, despite all its best intentions, is still just a dumb pipe – a thing that delivers, not the thing itself.
For Facebook, it’s bad if you read or watch content without reacting to it on Facebook.
There’s the opportunity for outlets willing to rely less on social networks to set their fate, publishers who have diversified their traffic sources, who have pushed back on Facebook’s News Feed carrots, who have built brands that resonate with audiences beyond what can be bought or given.
Value not gifted by Facebook could be a very good thing for publishers.
Maybe this time, when Facebook tells news organizations to fire 40 writers and hire 40 video producers, everyone will realize that the experiment isn’t always worth it just because people better at the internet than us tell us so.
Facebook, and its lack of understanding about what news is and how it works, made much of the mess we’re in – and profited off of it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Facebook’s Motivations – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

Nearly three years ago I wrote in The Facebook Reckoning that any publisher that was not a “Destination site” – that is, a site that had a direct connection with readers – had no choice but to go along with Facebook’s Instant Article initiative, even though Facebook could change their mind at any time.
Back in 2016, on the 3Q 2016 earnings call, Facebook CFO Dave Wehner said that Facebook would soon stop growing the ad load on News Feed and that advertising growth would “Come down meaningfully.”
The third advantage is perhaps the least appreciated: buying ads on Google and Facebook is just so much easier.
For about as long as Facebook has been a going concern, the conventional wisdom about their downfall has remained largely the same: some other social network is going to come along, probably amongst young people, and take all of the attention away from Facebook.
In the U.S. the phone book is Facebook and the phone is Snapchat; in Taiwan, where I live, the phone book is Facebook and the phone is LINE. Japan and Thailand are the same, with a dash of Twitter in the former.
Another possible answer is that Facebook fears regulation, and by demonstrating the ability to self-correct and focus on what makes Facebook unique the company can avoid regulatory issues completely.
Facebook is a stand-in for the Internet’s effect broadly: were it not Facebook ruining media’s business model, it would have been some other company.
Facebook’s stated reasoning for this change only heightens these contradictions: if indeed Facebook as-is harms some users, fixing that is a good thing.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Facebook Couldn’t Handle News. Maybe It Never Wanted To.”

It’s not about time spent, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the New York Times, but “That time spent on Facebook is time well spent.” For Zuckerberg well spent means not just more rewarding interactions with friends and family, but less misinformation and fake news – and presumably less congressional scrutiny as well.
“Facebook has research showing that if the percentage of friend/family content gets too low then people don’t find Facebook valuable anymore.” It’s worth noting that this former employee is dubious of Facebook’s spin.
“Facebook has become an essential piece of infrastructure for public content, and we should be wary of anything that undermines the platform’s utility here. The media is on the frontlines of helping our society navigate the present challenges, and Facebook has an obligation to help its community connect with information as readily as with friends.”
With Facebook’s centrality in our lives and the greater culture, the company’s retreat feels less like a selfless act than an abdication of a civic responsibility that Facebook perhaps never truly wanted.
“News on Facebook has actually hurt, not helped, them,” another former senior Facebook employee told BuzzFeed.
To hear Facebook insiders tell it, it’s unclear how much the company truly wanted to be in the media game.
It’s hardly surprising that the Great News Feed Shift of 2018 has made fewer waves inside Facebook HQ. Multiple former employees told BuzzFeed News they believe the move will be popular among Facebook employees.
Still, after years of grand claims from Facebook and its top executives, it’s hard not to view the changes the company is making to its News Feed as an admission that the company overreached and ultimately failed to deliver a new way forward for news.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Facebook’s startling new ambition is to shrink”

In theory, Facebook will make less money off us – or, at least, the rate at which it makes more and more money off us will slow.
Yet as of today, it’s the company’s stated ambition: Facebook wants to shrink.
The change may sound relatively small, but it’s likely to have significant consequences for the broad subset of Facebook users that aren’t individual people: media companies, small businesses, big brands, and everyone else who has come to see Facebook’s News Feed as an essential way to reach audiences and customers.
Facebook has announced similar changes in the past, and the News Feed is still full of news and video from big publishers.
He told The New York Times he is determined to make sure his daughters think Facebook “Was good for the world.” His statement represented an acknowledgement, however oblique, that the opposite might be true.
Facebook is a company that has always been defined by ruthless ambition.
Reading the company’s blog posts, you can feel executives longing for a time when Facebook felt smaller, and less consequential.
Even if Facebook succeeds at phasing the news media out of the News Feed, it’s not clear it will make Facebook a happier place.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed”

All these sites use a platform called Shopify, which is like the WordPress or Blogger of e-commerce, enabling completely turnkey online stores.
The “Vast majority” of the stores on the service are small to medium-sized businesses, the company told me.
One, there are plenty of “Instagram influencers”-which is to say popular accounts-who he can pay to run an ad for his store because there are a bunch of “Naturey” sites.
All he’d need to do was do reverse image searches to find the listings in Aliexpress, suck those products in with Oberlo, and he could effectively clone the store in a few minutes.
First, he creates a Lions Jewel Instagram account, posting a smattering of pictures with a link to his store.
So maybe for his lion store, he’d cobble together “Fun facts about lions” by looking up the most popular lion content on the site, Buzzsumo.
Ganon doesn’t like to waste time on things that don’t generate revenue for his stores.
Ganon’s video series opens by promising that he’ll get his store’s revenue to $1,000 in the first week.

The orginal article.