Summary of “What We Want Doesn’t Always Make Us Happy”

To an economist, utility simply means how much people want something.
If an economist observes people working hard and making sacrifices to buy houses, then the conclusion is that houses must have lots of utility to those people.
Modern economists tend to assume that utility is good – that people should get what they want.
Bentham’s utilitarianism conceived of a good society as one that makes its people happy.
Economists tend to use a method that’s a lot cheaper and quicker – they send out surveys and questionnaires asking people how happy they are.
Why are people willing to pay so much money for something that reduces their happiness? One possibility is that social media acts like an addictive drug – in fact, the people Allcott et al.
So what should society do about the disconnect between utility and happiness? The question raises the thorny issue of paternalism and whether it’s government’s role to push people to do things they don’t want to do, simply because they might be happier as a result.
If people are consistently making mistakes that lead to a less happy society, it’s a problem that should be addressed.

The orginal article.

Summary of “One year inside Trump’s monumental Facebook campaign”

Over the course of 2019, the Trump campaign spent nearly $20m on more than 218,000 different Facebook ads, a new Guardian analysis shows.
In order to understand how Trump is communicating with Americans on Facebook in the 2020 election cycle, the Guardian built a database of all 218,100 campaign ads launched by the Trump campaign in 2019, using the Facebook political ad archive application programming interface, or API. The analysis is the most comprehensive of the Trump re-election campaign’s Facebook advertising to date.
Of the hundreds of thousands of Facebook ads the Trump campaign ran in 2019, the most successful could reasonably be described as the most boring.
The Facebook API allowed us to download the ad copy for all 218,100 Trump ads, but not the photos or videos.
The Trump campaign spent $19.4m on 218,100 different Facebook ads in 2019, which were seen between 633m and 1.3bn times.
Facebook ads are designed to induce online actions, and almost all of the Trump campaign’s ads are clearly intended to produce one of four: donating money, attending a rally, buying campaign merchandise, or providing the campaign with a user’s email address or mobile phone number.
The Trump campaign ran 5,551 Facebook ads promoting contests to win two signed hats – the “One millionth Make America Great Again hat” and the “First Keep America Great hat”.
Bloomberg’s campaign appears to be mimicking some aspects of Trump’s campaign, running hundreds of minor variations on similar ads and aiming to inflame viewers’ anger with negative ads about Trump.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Are You Really the Product?”

Facebook doesn’t really care about its users, the saying implies, because they’re not the ones ultimately opening their wallets; advertisers are.
The people who accused TV of treating viewers as the product had a very different beef than the ones now alleging that Facebook and other internet platforms mistreat their users.
The personalized-advertising model employed by Facebook, Google, and other online platforms is the product of that unholy union.
Facebook’s own response to the notion of its customers being the product didn’t exactly help its cause.
What people seem to mean when they say that you’re Facebook’s product is that Facebook treats you like a product-that it fails to respect your individualism, your humanity, or your long-term interests.
So the real questions are: Is Facebook’s free model the primary cause of its shortcomings as a source of information and a guardian of users’ data? And if so, what possible remedies does that suggest? Specifically: Would requiring people to pay for Facebook really fix its problems?
Facebook’s mistake in the Cambridge Analytica case was that it failed to treat users’ data as a valuable product.
If we don’t like how Facebook is treating us, we shouldn’t throw up our hands and call ourselves the product of a system over which we have no control.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Disinformation For Hire: How A New Breed Of PR Firms Is Selling Lies Online”

There is now a worldwide industry of PR and marketing firms ready to deploy fake accounts, false narratives, and pseudo news websites for the right price.
Around the globe, politicians, parties, governments, and other clients hire what is known in the industry as “Black PR” firms to spread lies and manipulate online discourse.
A BuzzFeed News review – which looked at account takedowns by platforms that deactivated and investigations by security and research firms – found that since 2011, at least 27 online information operations have been partially or wholly attributed to PR or marketing firms.
The emergence of black PR firms means investigators at platforms, security firms, and within the intelligence community are “Spending increasing amounts of time looking at the disinformation-for-hire services that are out there,” said Otis.
Black PR services have become so lucrative in the Philippines that many PR firms feel pressured to offer them.
Ong said PR firms use industry jargon while communicating with clients to help “Neutralize the stigma of the real disinformation work that they do.”
The rise of black PR firms is on the radar of the global PR industry, which has long battled problems of its own making.
In spite of the increasing number of information operations being attributed to PR or marketing firms, Ingham said, these firms are the exception.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Internet Deception Is Here to Stay-So What Do We Do Now?”

On one subject, there was an overwhelming consensus: 85 percent of respondents agreed that the “Social benefits of internet use will far outweigh the negatives over the next decade,” noting that the internet by and large “Improves social relations and will continue to do so through 2020.” They pointed to the ease of communication and wealth of knowledge granted by the information age as reasons to be optimistic about the future.
The blog, social media accounts, and nearly six years of forum postings under the name Amina Arraf were all fake.
In a group that has become sensitized to trolling-where the rate of deception is high-many honestly na├»ve questions may be quickly rejected as trollings Compared to the physical world, it is relatively easy to pass as someone else online since there are relatively few identity cues … Even more surprising is how successful such crude imitations can be.
The following month, in August 2012-on a Friday before a holiday weekend, in typical tech company fashion-Facebook said it had identified and removed fake Likes used by a number of pages to make them seem more popular than they were.
“Fraudsters are clearly using Facebook, too, hence all the fake ‘likes.’ And they’ll be racing to thwart Facebook’s filters. Summer ends this weekend with a victory for Facebook’s ‘like’ engineers. But the arms race has just begun.”
The volume of fake traffic from bots pretending to be real viewers rivaled the traffic from actual humans.
Some employees worried the imbalance could bring about what they called “The Inversion,” where YouTube’s manipulation detection systems would get confused and interpret fake views as real, and flag those made by humans as suspicious.
The practice has become so profitable and popular that entire sub-industries have formed to both produce fake likes, followers, and views, and catch those who purchase false engagement.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Two Myths of the Internet”

They didn’t need Cambridge Analytica’s two-year-old user data; they already had Facebook’s targeting power, and its staff, at their disposal.
Sitting in the same San Antonio office as Cambridge Analytica staff, Facebook employees aided Trump as the campaign surgically segmented voters and customized messages to motivate them to donate, attend rallies, knock on doors, and ultimately vote for its candidate.
A hundred different things influenced voters that year, but Trump’s digital campaign head, Brad Parscale, understood that Facebook’s ability to identify and motivate potential Trump voters in swing states made a difference-perhaps the key difference.
Clearly, Facebook had boosted Trump as it had Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines and Narendra Modi in India.
Bolsonaro, like Modi, had run his campaign on Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp-Facebook’s encrypted private messaging service.
In the meantime, news media reported on Facebook’s role in amplifying calls to genocide in Myanmar, as well as sectarian violence in India and Sri Lanka.
Facebook, with its 2.5 billion users in more than 100 languages, is unlike any communicative tool we have ever had. It should bear the brunt of our criticism and regulatory attention, but not the full extent of it.
Just as we need not look to Bond villains like those who ran Cambridge Analytica to blame for our fates, we should remember that Facebook merely amplifies and concentrates dangerous trends already extant in the world.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How A Massive Facebook Scam Siphoned Millions Of Dollars From Unsuspecting Boomers”

At the time, Ads Inc. was a growing business with tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue and roughly 20 people in its San Diego office.
Burke’s genius was in fusing the scam with a boiler room-style operation that relied on convincing thousands of average people to rent their personal Facebook accounts to the company, which Ads Inc. then used to place ads for its deceptive free trial offers.
There was just one problem: Ads Inc.’s business was a massive Facebook scam.
The investigation, which is based on internal Ads Inc. documents, interviews, recordings of staff meetings, and publicly available information, reveals that since 2016, Ads Inc. and black hat marketers working with the company have spent more than $50 million placing ads on Facebook through thousands of rented accounts.
Burke’s Facebook account operation eventually became so large that Ads Inc. began selling surplus rented accounts and pages to other marketers for $800 per Facebook login.
BuzzFeed News reviewed more than 100 ads that have run via Ads Inc.’s rented accounts on Facebook in recent months and obtained a list of roughly 1,700 Facebook pages that have been used to run these ads since 2016.
Facebook would shut down accounts and pages, sources said, but it was never able to connect them back to Ads Inc. Ads Inc. outwitted Facebook’s detection systems and ad review process.
Lander declined to comment on how much he knew about how Ads Inc. made its money at the time he and Burke were merging their companies.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Facebook Devalued The Birthday”

It’s even experimented with pre-filling out birthday wishes, allowing you to thoughtfully mark a friend’s special day with a single click.
Some preferred to celebrate their birthday only with family or a select few friends; others simply felt it was a fact about themselves-like their weight or the hospital in which they were born-that was nobody’s business but their own, save certain government agencies, financial institutions, or a bar’s ID checker.
In the early days of the internet, sharing one’s birthday didn’t seem like a big deal, because the network was all twisty passages full of geeks, mostly alike.
Search for birthday in Google Groups’ archive of old Usenet newsgroup postings in the 1980s, and you can find people sharing their full day and year of birth with aplomb, along with detritus such as my 1988 insights about traveling with a Mac Plus as a carry-on on a plane.
I wanted to do a Tom Sawyer funeral, and see who would recall my birthday without a Facebook reminder.
A few days before my birthday this year, I set my birthdate to private, or “Only Me” in Facebook parlance.
No birthday messages on my Facebook wall, no shoutouts on Twitter, no random emails from people I barely knew, all of which had happened in the Facebook era.
Facebook’s increasing aggression about birthdays led to my personal backlash, echoing another comment by the Quora poster I mentioned above: “I don’t like that people say happy birthday to me when they otherwise wouldn’t have remembered to.” We recognize what’s authentic, and Facebook’s attempt to pivot itself back to a more personal service, now that so many other initiatives at manufacturing attention have waned, shows the strain.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why I Married My Best Friend on Facebook”

My Facebook profile says I’m “Married to Haley Moss Dillon,” and has for the last four years.
These Facebook “Marriages” between best friends have become the digital iteration of friendship necklaces, two halves of a heart, bought at Claire’s and displayed as a proclamation.
As if my private misery wasn’t enough, I braced myself for the reactions on Facebook when I updated my relationship status.
It provided us both with an excuse to keep our romantic relationships off of Facebook and let me change my status without actually announcing the breakup.
There’s no Facebook option for “Exes in denial.”
I didn’t even tell my IRL friends about the relationship for the first year or so, let alone have any desire to announce it on Facebook.
The fishbowl experience of Facebook and other online profiles seems in contradiction to this generation’s reputation for being noncommittal-to career paths, to jobs, to relationships.
The simple, seemingly cutesy and trendy move of “Marrying” your best friend on Facebook is a way around that contradiction-maintaining privacy without the suspicious omissions of the information-less profile.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why We’re Better Off With Fewer Friends”

We never need to lose touch with anyone, ever again, as our Facebook friends and Twitter followers grow by the day.
The growth in the number of our friends has actually been accompanied with an increase in social isolation, as Sherry Turkle describes.
OK, so more friends on Facebook doesn’t appear to be a great thing; what about more friends in the real world? Should we try and gain more face-to-face friends?
Fewer Real Friends Unfortunately, in the US and elsewhere it seems we’re going down the popularity route, instead of building close relationships.
In 1985, a survey asked people about how many friends they had discussed important matters with.
Quality time spent with your 15 closest friends and family will have a direct impact on your happiness, health and longevity.
As Ed Diener and Martin Seligman found from an analysis of very happy people, the thing that united them was strong ties to close friends and family and a commitment to spending real face time with them.
There is definitely joy to be gained from throwing a great party with loads of people and following the lives of our otherwise long-lost friends.

The orginal article.