Summary of “Facebook’s new AI research is a real eye-opener – TechCrunch”

There are plenty of ways to manipulate photos to make you look better, remove red eye or lens flare, and so on.
That may change with research from Facebook that replaces closed eyes with open ones in a remarkably convincing manner.
Some features are beyond the tools’ capacity to replace, one of which is eyes.
They seem to paste in the eyes of the people without much consideration for consistency with the rest of the image.
Machines are naive that way: they have no intuitive understanding that opening one’s eyes does not also change the color of the skin around them.
What Facebook’s researchers did was to include “Exemplar” data showing the target person with their eyes open, from which the GAN learns not just what eyes should go on the person, but how the eyes of this particular person are shaped, colored, and so on.
It still fails in some situations, creating weird artifacts if a person’s eye is partially covered by a lock of hair, or sometimes failing to recreate the color correctly.
You can imagine the usefulness of an automatic eye-opening utility on Facebook that checks a person’s other photos and uses them as reference to replace a blink in the latest one.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Here Are 18 Things You Might Not Have Realized Facebook Tracks About You”

Information from “Computers, phones, connected TVs, and other web-connected devices,” as well as your “Internet service provider or mobile operator”.
Information about “Nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers” and “Signal strength” to triangulate your location6.
Contact information “Such as an address book” and, for Android users, “Call log or SMS log history” if synced, for finding “People they may know”13.
Information “About how users use features like our camera”14.
Information through your device’s settings, such as “GPS location, camera, or photos”.
Information about your “Online and offline actions” and purchases from third-party data providers.
Facebook is unique in how much it collects from the devices you use and the websites you visit when you’re not on Facebook, using a small piece of Javascript code called the Facebook Pixel and the “Like” and “Share” embed buttons on websites.
In its written responses to Congress, Facebook dispelled the theory that the app is listening to your conversations by tapping into your device’s microphone, stating that the app “Does not engage in these practices or capture data from a microphone or camera without consent.” But when asked, as a follow-up question, if it would commit to not doing so, it dodged the question, by referring to the previous statement.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Apple Isn’t Your Friend”

There’s likely no other company on Earth that has defined its brand more deftly than Apple.
Back in 2016, Apple took a stand against the FBI’s effort to break into the encrypted iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter and its insistence that it needed a backdoor for Apple’s encryption.
One reason Apple has been relatively good over the years is that it’s a smart company that has stayed in its lane.
In its own deliberate fashion, Apple appears to see a market opportunity in the privacy debate that goes beyond polishing its own image.
What’s troubling is that Apple holds a lot of power as the manufacturer of the devices millions of us use to see ads online, in its app store, and through its Safari browser.
The Wall Street Journal claims that Apple has been meeting with companies like Snap and Pinterest to discuss distributing its ads in their apps.
Given enough leverage, Apple could theoretically make its ads a prerequisite for inclusion in its app store.
If Apple is giving Facebook and Google headaches, we say that’s great.

The orginal article.

Summary of “WhatsApp’s founders reportedly hated working at Facebook’s campus”

WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton have reportedly had quite a contentious relationship with both Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg since Facebook acquired the messaging app in 2014 for $22 billion.
According to a new Wall Street Journal report, both Koum and Acton tried to stave off advertising on its platform.
The WhatsApp founders were reportedly not happy about the office they were given when Facebook moved the app’s operations to its campus in Menlo Park.
The WSJ writes that Facebook employees noticed that their new colleagues were given better amenities, including nicer bathrooms and bigger desks.
Mr. Koum chafed at the constraints of working at a big company, sometimes quibbling with Mr. Zuckerberg and other executives over small details such as the chairs Facebook wanted WhatsApp to purchase, a person familiar with the matter said.
“These little ticky-tacky things add up in a company that prides itself on egalitarianism,” one Facebook employee told the Journal.
With Facebook scrambling to make money on the insanely pricey acquisition, and Koum and Acton’s long-held aversion to advertising, clashes seemed inevitable.
In the end, the two founders decided to part ways with Facebook at different times last year, and left billions of dollars worth of unvested stock on the table in their pursuit to be free.

The orginal article.

Summary of “From Facebook to Amazon, these are the default privacy settings you should change”

You probably haven’t even looked for your privacy settings.
They tout we’re “In control” of our personal data, but know most of us won’t change the settings that let them grab it like cash in a game show wind machine.
On your phone’s Facebook app, tap the button with three lines, then scroll to Settings & Privacy, then tap Settings, and then Privacy Settings.
In the Facebook app under Settings & Privacy, then Settings, then Timeline and Tagging switch On the option Review posts you’re tagged in before the post appears on your timeline.
While you’re in Ad Preferences, head down to Ad settings and switch to Not allowed for Ads based on data from partners and Ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere.
On your phone under Settings & Privacy, then Settings, then Ad Preferences tap open Ads Settings and switch to No One the setting for Ads that include your social actions.
You can delete whole bunch of recordings at once by logging in to your Amazon account on the Web, then looking under Account and Lists settings and finding at finding manage your content and devices.
Amazon’s settings don’t offer as much as you might want: there’s no setting to stop Alexa from saving recordings in the future.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Here’s how to see the data that tech giants have about you”

It’s also left average everyday internet users with new questions about what data the tech giants hold about us-and what they’re doing with it.
We’ll show you how to to find and download the data that Facebook, its subsidiary Instagram, Apple, Google, and Twitter have on you.
A word of warning: Depending on how long you’ve used Facebook, you might be shocked at how much data it has on you.
Facebook’s data on you often include things like your political views, who you’ve unfriended, and even facial recognition data.
Under the New File menu at the top of the page, choose your data range, the format you want the data in and the media quality.
Downloading your Facebook data doesn’t include any data the company has on you via its Instagram app.
Select all the data you want to include in your download. Again, we recommend you “Select all” just so you can be sufficiently frightened by the scope of the data.
Twitter probably has a fraction of the data on you that other tech giants possess.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Facebook, Google face first GDPR complaints over “forced consent” – TechCrunch”

After two years coming down the pipe at tech giants, Europe’s new privacy framework, the General Data Protection Regulation, is now being applied – and long time Facebook privacy critic, Max Schrems, has wasted no time in filing four complaints relating to companies’ ‘take it or leave it’ stance when it comes to consent.
As we pointed out in our GDPR explainer, the provision in the regulation allowing for collective enforcement of individuals’ data rights in an important one, with the potential to strengthen the implementation of the law by enabling non-profit organizations such as noyb to file complaints on behalf of individuals – thereby helping to redress the imbalance between corporate giants and consumer rights.
Under the penalty structure of GDPR, major violations of the law can attract fines as large as 4% of a company’s global revenue which, in the case of Facebook or Google, implies they could be on the hook for more than a billion euros apiece – if they are deemed to have violated the law, as the complaints argue.
Only yesterday, for example, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – speaking in an on stage interview at the VivaTech conference in Paris – claimed his company hasn’t had to make any radical changes to comply with GDPR, and further claimed that a “Vast majority” of Facebook users are willingly opting in to targeted advertising via its new consent flow.
The new consent flow Facebook revealed ahead of GDPR only offers the ‘choice’ of quitting Facebook entirely if a person does not want to accept targeting advertising.
“The GDPR adds some new controls and then there’s some areas that we need to comply with but overall it isn’t such a massive departure from how we’ve approached this in the past,” he claimed.
Schrems also makes the point that small startups and local companies are less likely to be able to use the kind of strong-arm ‘take it or leave it’ tactics on users that big tech is able to use to extract consent on account of the reach and power of their platforms – arguing there’s a competition concern that GDPR should also help to redress.
“The fight against forced consent ensures that the corporations cannot force users to consent,” he writes.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Bill Gates Line – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

Yelp did participate in the piece because Google is doing the opposite of “Delivering the best results possible,” and instead is giving its own content an unlawful advantage.
Yelp’s position, at least in this video, appears to be that Google’s answer box is anticompetitive because it only includes reviews and ratings from Google; presumably the situation could be resolved were Google to use sources like Yelp.
First, the answer box originally included content scraped from sources like Yelp and other vertical search sites; under pressure from the FTC, driven in part by complaints from Yelp and other vertical search engines, Google agreed to stop doing so in 2013.
At least in the case of Facebook and Google, the point of integration in their respective value chains is the network effect.
It’s worth noting, by the way, why it was Facebook could come to be a rival to Google in the first place; specifically, Facebook had exclusive data – those relationships and all of the behavior on Facebook’s site that resulted – that Google couldn’t get to.
What I do find compelling is a new video that Yelp put out yesterday; while it makes many of the same points as the one above, instead of being focused on regulators it is targeting Google itself, arguing that Google isn’t living up to its own standards by not featuring the best results, and not driving traffic back to sites that make the content Google needs.
Facebook is even further from the Bill Gates Line than Google is: the latter at least needs commoditized suppliers; the former can take or leave them on a whim, and does.
Remember the conditions that led to Facebook’s rise in the first place: the company was able to circumvent Google, go directly to users, and build a walled garden of data that the search company couldn’t touch.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How the Math Men Overthrew the Mad Men”

They’ve now been eclipsed by Math Men-the engineers and data scientists whose province is machines, algorithms, pureed data, and artificial intelligence.
To appreciate how alike their aims are, sit in an agency or client marketing meeting and you will hear wails about Facebook and Google’s “Walled garden,” their unwillingness to share data on their users.
This preoccupation with Big Data is also revealed by the trend in the advertising-agency business to have the media agency, not the creative Mad Men team, occupy the prime seat in pitches to clients, because it’s the media agency that harvests the data to help advertising clients better aim at potential consumers.
Prowling his London office in jeans, Keith Weed, who oversees marketing and communications for Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, described how mobile phones have elevated data as a marketing tool.
Suddenly, governments in the U.S. are almost as alive to privacy dangers as those in Western Europe, confronting Facebook by asking how the political-data company Cambridge Analytica, employed by Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, was able to snatch personal data from eighty-seven million individual Facebook profiles.
Advertiser confidence in Facebook was further jolted later in 2016, when it was revealed that the Math Men at Facebook overestimated the average time viewers spent watching video by up to eighty per cent.
In 2017, Math Men took another beating when news broke that Google’s YouTube and Facebook’s machines were inserting friendly ads on unfriendly platforms, including racist sites and porn sites.
The magazine editorialized, in May, 2017, that governments must better police the five digital giants-Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft-because data were “The oil of the digital era”: “Old ways of thinking about competition, devised in the era of oil, look outdated in what has come to be called the ‘data economy.'” Inevitably, an abundance of data alters the nature of competition, allowing companies to benefit from network effects, with users multiplying and companies amassing wealth to swallow potential competitors.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘I felt exposed online’: how to disappear from the internet”

As Bucard drove to the local airport, he checked his rear-view mirror every few moments to see that he was still being followed by Frank Ahearn, a 54-year-old American with a peppery beard and wraparound sunglasses.
Bucard had met Ahearn for the first time only the day before, in the lobby of a Monaco hotel close to Bucard’s office.
A former New York skip tracer – a private investigator who finds people who have “Skipped” town – turned professional “Disappearer”, Ahearn offers a range of freelance services, everything from helping to restore your privacy on the internet to driving your family across Europe and into a new life.
After a few days, Ahearn left the Bucards in their temporary accommodation and returned to his home in Madrid, where he lives with his girlfriend.
“There are two types of skip tracer: passive ones, who use databases and directories to find people; and aggressive ones, who carry out social engineering to find their prey.” Ahearn would listen as his colleague extracted information about someone by calling utility companies and posing as the target in order to gain access to their phone records and bank details until, finally, he zoned in on a likely hideout address.
When the website’s owner pointed out that Ahearn’s work finding people might concern its users, who, in many cases, prized anonymity, Ahearn suggested that he write a blogpost on how to disappear instead. “It was a really cheesy article, but it just blew up,” Ahearn recalls.
Ahearn founded a few offshore companies for Bucard, helping him buy a new house, cars and other essentials.
Bucard has kept Ahearn on retainer; whenever a new client comes his way, Ahearn runs checks on the person, to make sure they are who they say they are, and not connected in some way to his previous life.

The orginal article.