Summary of “Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy?”

Dick Costolo, the former C.E.O. of Twitter, told me, “He’s a ruthless execution machine, and if he has decided to come after you, you’re going to take a beating.” Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, said, “There are a number of people in the Valley who have a perception of Mark that he’s really aggressive and competitive. I think some people are a little hesitant about him from that perspective.” Hoffman has been an investor in Facebook since its early days, but for a long time he sensed that Zuckerberg kept his distance because they were both building social networks.
The Internet Research Agency, a firm in St. Petersburg working for the Kremlin, drew hundreds of thousands of users to Facebook groups optimized to stoke outrage, including Secured Borders, Blacktivist, and Defend the 2nd. They used Facebook to organize offline rallies, and bought Facebook ads intended to hurt Hillary Clinton’s standing among Democratic voters.
Nick Bilton, a technology writer at Vanity Fair, tweeted that Zuckerberg was losing $2.7 million per second, “Double what the average American makes in an entire lifetime.” Facebook’s user base had flatlined in the U.S. and Canada, and dropped slightly in Europe, and executives warned that revenue growth would decline further, in part because the scandals had led users to opt out of allowing Facebook to collect some data.
Facebook was, in the words of Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, becoming a pioneer in “Persuasive technology.” He explained, “A hammer, in your hand, is non-persuasive-it doesn’t have its own ways of manipulating the person that holds it. But Facebook and Snapchat, in their design features, are persuading a teen-ager to wake up and see photo after photo after photo of their friends having fun without them, even if it makes them feel worse.” In 2015, Harris delivered a talk at Facebook about his concern that social media was contributing to alienation.
In 2015, Zuckerberg and Chan pledged to spend ninety-nine per cent of their Facebook fortune “To advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation.” They created the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a limited-liability company that gives to charity, invests in for-profit companies, and engages in political advocacy.
The United Nations investigator in charge of examining the crisis, which the U.N. has deemed a genocide, said, “I’m afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it was originally intended.” Afterward, when pressed, Zuckerberg repeated the claim that Facebook was “Hiring dozens” of additional Burmese-language content reviewers.
Facebook polled reactions to the company’s new stated mission to “Bring the world closer together,” as well as to items on Zuckerberg’s social-media feed, including his writings, photographs, and even his casual banter during a back-yard barbecue broadcast on Facebook Live.
The question is not whether Zuckerberg has the power to fix Facebook but whether he has the will; whether he will kick people out of his office-with the gusto that he once mustered for the pivot to mobile-if they don’t bring him ideas for preventing violence in Myanmar, or protecting privacy, or mitigating the toxicity of social media.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The monopoly-busting case against Google, Amazon, Uber, and Facebook”

We need a new standard for monopolies, they argue, one that focuses less on consumer harm and more on the skewed incentives produced by a company the size of Facebook or Google.
On a good day, Google is the most valuable company in the world by market cap, with dozens of different products supported by an all-encompassing ad network.
“If you’re looking for a silver bullet, probably the best thing to do would be to block Google from being able to buy any companies,” says Stoller.
The company’s modular structure is arguably a direct result of that buying spree, and it’s hard to imagine what Google would look like without it.
Of course, Klobuchar’s bill doesn’t focus on Google or even tech giants, but Stoller says that kind of blockade would have a unique effect on how big companies shape the startup world.
“All of these companies, from Amazon to Facebook to Google, they proactively find their competitors and buy them out,” says Stoller.
Amazon makes life hard for its competitors – and by now, the company is competing against nearly everyone.
Anti-monopoly lawyer Lina Khan laid out the case against the retail giant in a 2017 article called “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” in which she argued that the Amazon store had become a utility infrastructure that the company was subverting for its own benefit.

The orginal article.

Summary of “It’s time to break up Facebook”

“We live in America, which has a strong and proud tradition of breaking up companies that are too big for inefficient reasons,” Wu told me on this week’s Vergecast.
“We need to reverse this idea that it’s not an American tradition. We’ve broken up dozens of companies.”
“I think if you took a hard look at the acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram, the argument that the effects of those acquisitions have been anticompetitive would be easy to prove for a number of reasons,” says Wu. And breaking up the company wouldn’t be hard, he says.
Breaking up Facebook could be simple under the current law, suggests Wu. But it could also lead to a major rethinking of how antitrust law should work in a world where the giant platform companies give their products away for free, and the ability for the government to restrict corporate power seems to be diminishing by the day.
Making a case for breaking up these companies will rely on showing a different type of harm than high consumer prices – something like anticompetitive practices, or that innovative businesses get suffocated when they’re absorbed by their gigantic acquirers.
Won’t getting bigger and bigger lead companies like Facebook and Google to make mistakes, become slower, and create opportunities for new challengers? That has largely been the belief of the tech industry, which has seen the fortunes of companies like AOL, Myspace, and Yahoo dramatically rise and fall.
“A whole generation of companies – Google, Facebook, some of these early companies – they don’t owe everything to antitrust, but they owe a sizable debt to the antitrust law,” he says.
“If you wait long enough, maybe 100 years, they’ll go away. But we could very well have Facebook – an inefficient, ineffective, obsolete company – hanging around for another 20 years,” says Wu. “I’m just not really sure that’s what we need.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Duterte Used Facebook To Fuel the Philippine Drug War”

Thanks to a social media-hungry populace and heavy subsidies that keep Facebook free to use on mobile phones, Facebook has completely saturated the country.
Last November, Facebook partnered with the Duterte government to build an undersea cable system that would connect Philippine internet systems to the rest of Asia and the US. “What about the other 3%?”. In 2012, 29 million Filipinos used Facebook.
Ellen Tordesillas, president of Vera Files, a Facebook fact-checking partner in the Philippines, said the “Majority” of false posts that her organization checks “Definitely” come from pro-administration Facebook pages or were inspired by the president’s remarks.
“It became obvious,” La Viña said, after Facebook started to emerge as the best tool of the Duterte campaign, that “The content and community management would be crowd-initiated and crowdsourced.” That was the way the campaign could work with millions of volunteers across several Facebook pages.
“Same stuff we do in the US – hand-holding, basically. Obviously we were unprepared for what happened. I don’t think anyone had the foresight to ask, ‘What happens to a place when a lot of people only get their news and information from Facebook?'” Facebook said it offered the Philippine campaigns training on how to keep their accounts secure and to outline its policies, and added that the company does not offer preferential treatment to any administration or political party over another.
Another example: When pictures of a drug war victim wrapped in brown packaging tape began circulating on Facebook, Sasot and Nieto suggested that Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel must be responsible – even though the corpse was accompanied by a handwritten note naming Duterte.
Predictably, the Sinaloa narrative became one of the many popular excuses for the drug war among Duterte supporters, racking up thousands of comments from Filipinos on Facebook who praised the theory.
When the Philippine presidential election rolled around in 2016, the readership Facebook sent Rappler was unparalleled – so much so that Rappler did everything Facebook recommended: Instant Articles, videos, Facebook Live.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google and Facebook Didn’t End Data Privacy”

Many people still think their smartphones are listening to them in secret-recording their conversations in the background, then uploading them to Facebook or Google surreptitiously.
Facebook and Google might not literally be listening in on our conversations, but they are eavesdropping on our lives.
Traveling out of town and searching for restaurants? It’s not just that Facebook or Google knows where you are and what you’re searching for, but also if you’re a foodie or a cheapskate, if you’ve “Liked” Korean hot pot or Polish pierogi, and what your demographics say about your income, and therefore your budget.
Tech companies do collect data in unexpected, and sometimes duplicitous, ways.
Location data was particularly voluminous, with Android smartphones conveying a user’s position in space more than 300 times in a 24-hour period-even if the user has turned off location history in the device’s Google settings.
Revelations like these have spawned a class-action lawsuit against the company, and it’s tempting to imagine that oversight, regulation, or legal repercussions might eventually discourage or even change the way tech companies collect and manage data.
It also ignores the fact that Google and Facebook’s data hunger takes place within the context of a widespread, decades-old practice of data intelligence.
For years, companies slurped up, bought, and sold that data to hone their marketing and sales efforts.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Impossible Job: Inside Facebook’s Struggle to Moderate Two Billion People”

We’ve spoken to the current and past architects of these policies, combed through hundreds of pages of leaked content moderation training documents and internal emails, spoken to experienced Facebook moderators, and visited Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters to interview more than half a dozen high-level employees and get an inside look at how Facebook makes and enforces the rules of a platform that is, to many people, the internet itself.
While the left and the right disagree about what should be allowed on Facebook, lots of people believe that Facebook isn’t doing a good job.
In recent months, for example, many women have begun sharing stories of sexual abuse, harassment, and assault on Facebook that technically violate Facebook’s rules, but that the policy team believes are important for people to be able to share.
In an open letter to Facebook users last year, Zuckerberg wrote that he sees Facebook as a model for human interaction on a global scale, and envisions Facebook moving toward a “Democratic” content moderation policy that can serve as a model for how “Collective decision-making may work in other aspects of the global community.”
According to several other former early Facebook employees, the discussions inside the company at the time centered on determining and protecting Facebook’s broader ideology, mission, and ethos rather than taking specific stands on, say, hate speech, harassment, or violence.
A Facebook spokesperson later explained that the current policies are written to protect other separatist movements: “Think about, and you may still not agree with the policy, but think about the groups, like, Black separatist groups, and the Zionist movement, and the Basque movement,” a Facebook spokesperson told us.
INSIDE THE GLASS BOX. Marcus likened moderating content at Facebook to sitting inside a glass box, separated from the context and events that are happening outside it.
The people inside Facebook’s everything machine will never be able to predict the “Everything” that their fellow humans will put inside it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What the Facebook Crypto team could build – TechCrunch”

The blockchain, but how? Back in May Facebook formed a cryptocurrency team to explore the possibilities, and today it removed a roadblock to revealing its secret plans.
Former head of Messenger David Marcus who leads the Facebook Crypto team today announced he was stepping down from the board of Coinbase, the biggest crypto startup.
Marcus provided a statement to TechCrunch explaining he was stepping down “Because of the new group I’m setting up at Facebook around blockchain” noting that “Getting to know Brian , who’s become a friend, and the whole Coinbase leadership team and board has been an immense privilege. I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the talent and execution the team has demonstrated during my tenure, and I wish the team all the success it deserves going forward.”
Facebook could build a cryptocurrency wallet with its own token that people could use to pay for things with partnered businesses or that they discover through Facebook ads.
The social network could eat the costs of running the program, passing the transaction fee savings on to the users, while touting partnerships with Facebook Crypto as ways to boost sales for businesses.
Facebook could offer cryptocurrency-based payments between friends to let a wider range of users settle debts for shared dinners or taxis through Messenger.
Users might fund their Facebook Crypto wallet once with a payment, possibly with a one-time transaction fee, and then they could send and receive the tokens for free from then on.
Facebook recently debuted its own virtual currency called Facebook Stars that users can buy and send to creators, who can then cash them out for one cent each.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Internal Facebook Note: Here Is A “Psychological Trick” To Target Teens”

An internal document from Facebook, obtained by BuzzFeed News, shows TBH’s leadership explaining a well-tested method the startup used to attract teens at individual high schools to download its app.
The note provides a window into Facebook’s growth-at-any-costs mentality and the company’s efforts to keep a key demographic engaged as its popularity among teens declines and it simultaneously runs out of people in the connected world to bring to its platform.
A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the note or on questions about whether the company employed the growth tactics learned from TBH. Though Facebook shut down TBH last month “Due to low usage,” the app, which the company bought for less than $30 million according to a source, provided plenty of learning opportunities at a crucial time.
In addition to helping Facebook launch and fine-tune its own polling tools, the document shows that it also provided growth tactics explicitly designed to target young users.
“The purpose of sharing these tactics is to provide guidance for developing products at Facebook – specifically ones that have not reached product-market fit yet,” TBH’s founders wrote.
TBH made sure its private account featured a mysterious call to action – something like “You’ve been invited to the new RHS app – stay tuned!” The startup would make one private account for each high school it wanted to target.
TBH’s founding team told their Facebook colleagues they would typically wait 24 hours to collect all inbound follow requests from the high schoolers before moving on to the next, key phase of the strategy.
While TBH did nothing to violate Instagram’s terms of service – Instagram allows for users to create multiple accounts and does not require them to disclose their real identity – it recognized that Facebook might not approve of using the exact methods.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What It’s Like to Download Your Facebook Data”

Reading through Facebook Messenger transcripts from 2011 was not especially compelling, but I was glad, in a vague way, to see them.
The data download was a time capsule of sorts, a rare record of time spent digitally.
In the 13 years that I have had a Facebook account, I have deactivated it 31 times.
I am put off by the company’s coyness around its role in the media ecosystem, and by the way some Facebook employees talk about their employer, as if one of the most valuable companies in the world is just a misunderstood do-gooder.
For all the bittersweet charm they offer, Facebook’s downloadable user-data packets are artifacts of corporate cowardice.
My data download contained no traces of this sophistication.
In the past, the company has had neither a legal imperative nor a business incentive to tell users where data are stored-or who at Facebook has permission to access it, and to what ends.
As for the company’s third-party partners, Facebook policy states that there are “Strict restrictions” on how they can use information.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Problem With the Facebook Cafeteria and Free Food”

A post shared by Alivia on Jul 28, 2018 at 9:47pm PDT. Unfortunately for Facebook workers at the new Mountain View location, there will be no access to the company’s culinary offerings.
In 2014, the city of Mountain View added a provision to its approval for Facebook’s development stipulating that the company could not offer unlimited free food.
There are a handful of reasons why Google, Facebook, and other companies provide free food to employees: It keeps workers on campus, and it also ostensibly keeps them happy and satisfied, which theoretically inspires innovative thinking and constructive conversations.
The lure of free food, as the city of Mountain View found out, also creates an insular work environment where workers fail to engage with the city surrounding their campus.
Some employees at tech companies have spoken out against free food, saying it encourages them to work longer hours, and that while campus cafeterias provide free and excellent meals, they foster a college-like environment that blurs the line between work and home.
To foster better relationships, some Bay Area tech companies voluntarily refuse to provide free food so as to prod employees to engage with their environment.
“Companies like Facebook and Google, those are mostly closed off spaces surrounded by parking lots that are a separate reality from the rest of the world,” Goodman said.
Goodman, who worked at Facebook’s office in Seattle as well as in Menlo Park and fondly remembers the company’s food, agrees with Mountain View’s provision against totally free meals, but points out that it’s something of a Band-Aid over a gaping wound.

The orginal article.