Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: It’s Time to Break Up Facebook - Chris Hughes

  1. #1
    Senior Contributor Oracle's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jul 13
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    5,371

    It’s Time to Break Up Facebook - Chris Hughes

    The last time I saw Mark Zuckerberg was in the summer of 2017, several months before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. We met at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., office and drove to his house, in a quiet, leafy neighborhood. We spent an hour or two together while his toddler daughter cruised around. We talked politics mostly, a little about Facebook, a bit about our families. When the shadows grew long, I had to head out. I hugged his wife, Priscilla, and said goodbye to Mark.

    Since then, Mark’s personal reputation and the reputation of Facebook have taken a nose-dive. The company’s mistakes — the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention — dominate the headlines. It’s been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook at Harvard, and I haven’t worked at the company in a decade. But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility.

    Mark is still the same person I watched hug his parents as they left our dorm’s common room at the beginning of our sophomore year. He is the same person who procrastinated studying for tests, fell in love with his future wife while in line for the bathroom at a party and slept on a mattress on the floor in a small apartment years after he could have afforded much more. In other words, he’s human. But it’s his very humanity that makes his unchecked power so problematic.

    Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.

    Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders. And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.

    The government must hold Mark accountable. For too long, lawmakers have marveled at Facebook’s explosive growth and overlooked their responsibility to ensure that Americans are protected and markets are competitive. Any day now, the Federal Trade Commission is expected to impose a $5 billion fine on the company, but that is not enough; nor is Facebook’s offer to appoint some kind of privacy czar. After Mark’s congressional testimony last year, there should have been calls for him to truly reckon with his mistakes. Instead the legislators who questioned him were derided as too old and out of touch to understand how tech works. That’s the impression Mark wanted Americans to have, because it means little will change.

    We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be. Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American.

    It is time to break up Facebook.

    We already have the tools we need to check the domination of Facebook. We just seem to have forgotten about them.

    America was built on the idea that power should not be concentrated in any one person, because we are all fallible. That’s why the founders created a system of checks and balances. They didn’t need to foresee the rise of Facebook to understand the threat that gargantuan companies would pose to democracy. Jefferson and Madison were voracious readers of Adam Smith, who believed that monopolies prevent the competition that spurs innovation and leads to economic growth.

    A century later, in response to the rise of the oil, railroad and banking trusts of the Gilded Age, the Ohio Republican John Sherman said on the floor of Congress: “If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation and sale of any of the necessities of life. If we would not submit to an emperor, we should not submit to an autocrat of trade with power to prevent competition and to fix the price of any commodity.” The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 outlawed monopolies. More legislation followed in the 20th century, creating legal and regulatory structures to promote competition and hold the biggest companies accountable. The Department of Justice broke up monopolies like Standard Oil and AT&T.

    For many people today, it’s hard to imagine government doing much of anything right, let alone breaking up a company like Facebook. This isn’t by coincidence.

    Starting in the 1970s, a small but dedicated group of economists, lawyers and policymakers sowed the seeds of our cynicism. Over the next 40 years, they financed a network of think tanks, journals, social clubs, academic centers and media outlets to teach an emerging generation that private interests should take precedence over public ones. Their gospel was simple: “Free” markets are dynamic and productive, while government is bureaucratic and ineffective. By the mid-1980s, they had largely managed to relegate energetic antitrust enforcement to the history books.

    This shift, combined with business-friendly tax and regulatory policy, ushered in a period of mergers and acquisitions that created megacorporations. In the past 20 years, more than 75 percent of American industries, from airlines to pharmaceuticals, have experienced increased concentration, and the average size of public companies has tripled. The results are a decline in entrepreneurship, stalled productivity growth, and higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.

    The same thing is happening in social media and digital communications. Because Facebook so dominates social networking, it faces no market-based accountability. This means that every time Facebook messes up, we repeat an exhausting pattern: first outrage, then disappointment and, finally, resignation.

    In 2005, I was in Facebook’s first office, on Emerson Street in downtown Palo Alto, when I read the news that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation was acquiring the social networking site Myspace for $580 million. The overhead lights were off, and a group of us were pecking away on our keyboards, our 21-year-old faces half-illuminated by the glow of our screens. I heard a “whoa,” and the news then ricocheted silently through the room, delivered by AOL Instant Messenger. My eyes widened. Really, $580 million?

    Facebook was competing with Myspace, albeit obliquely. We were focused on college students at that point, but we had real identities while Myspace had fictions. Our users were more engaged, visiting daily, if not hourly. We believed Facebook surpassed Myspace in quality and would easily displace it given enough time and money. If Myspace was worth $580 million, Facebook could be worth at least double.

    From our earliest days, Mark used the word “domination” to describe our ambitions, with no hint of irony or humility. Back then, we competed with a whole host of social networks, not just Myspace, but also Friendster, Twitter, Tumblr, LiveJournal and others. The pressure to beat them spurred innovation and led to many of the features that distinguish Facebook: simple, beautiful interfaces, the News Feed, a tie to real-world identities and more.

    It was this drive to compete that led Mark to acquire, over the years, dozens of other companies, including Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014. There was nothing unethical or suspicious, in my view, in these moves.

    One night during the summer of the Myspace sale, I remember driving home from work with Mark, back to the house we shared with several engineers and designers. I was in the passenger seat of the Infiniti S.U.V. that our investor Peter Thiel had bought for Mark to replace the unreliable used Jeep that he had been driving.

    As we turned right off Valparaiso Avenue, Mark confessed the immense pressure he felt. “Now that we employ so many people …” he said, trailing off. “We just really can’t fail.”

    Facebook had gone from a project developed in our dorm room and chaotic summer houses to a serious company with lawyers and a human resources department. We had around 50 employees, and their families relied on Facebook to put food on the table. I gazed out the window and thought to myself, It’s never going to stop. The bigger we get, the harder we’ll have to work to keep growing.

    Over a decade later, Facebook has earned the prize of domination. It is worth half a trillion dollars and commands, by my estimate, more than 80 percent of the world’s social networking revenue. It is a powerful monopoly, eclipsing all of its rivals and erasing competition from the social networking category. This explains why, even during the annus horribilis of 2018, Facebook’s earnings per share increased by an astounding 40 percent compared with the year before. (I liquidated my Facebook shares in 2012, and I don’t invest directly in any social media companies.)

    Facebook’s monopoly is also visible in its usage statistics. About 70 percent of American adults use social media, and a vast majority are on Facebook products. Over two-thirds use the core site, a third use Instagram, and a fifth use WhatsApp. By contrast, fewer than a third report using Pinterest, LinkedIn or Snapchat. What started out as lighthearted entertainment has become the primary way that people of all ages communicate online.

    Even when people want to quit Facebook, they don’t have any meaningful alternative, as we saw in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Worried about their privacy and lacking confidence in Facebook’s good faith, users across the world started a “Delete Facebook” movement. According to the Pew Research Center, a quarter deleted their accounts from their phones, but many did so only temporarily. I heard more than one friend say, “I’m getting off Facebook altogether — thank God for Instagram,” not realizing that Instagram was a Facebook subsidiary. In the end people did not leave the company’s platforms en masse. After all, where would they go?

    Facebook’s dominance is not an accident of history. The company’s strategy was to beat every competitor in plain view, and regulators and the government tacitly — and at times explicitly — approved. In one of the government’s few attempts to rein in the company, the F.T.C. in 2011 issued a consent decree that Facebook not share any private information beyond what users already agreed to. Facebook largely ignored the decree. Last month, the day after the company predicted in an earnings call that it would need to pay up to $5 billion as a penalty for its negligence — a slap on the wrist — Facebook’s shares surged 7 percent, adding $30 billion to its value, six times the size of the fine.

    The F.T.C.’s biggest mistake was to allow Facebook to acquire Instagram and WhatsApp. In 2012, the newer platforms were nipping at Facebook’s heels because they had been built for the smartphone, where Facebook was still struggling to gain traction. Mark responded by buying them, and the F.T.C. approved.

    Neither Instagram nor WhatsApp had any meaningful revenue, but both were incredibly popular. The Instagram acquisition guaranteed Facebook would preserve its dominance in photo networking, and WhatsApp gave it a new entry into mobile real-time messaging. Now, the founders of Instagram and WhatsApp have left the company after clashing with Mark over his management of their platforms. But their former properties remain Facebook’s, driving much of its recent growth.

    When it hasn’t acquired its way to dominance, Facebook has used its monopoly position to shut out competing companies or has copied their technology.

    The News Feed algorithm reportedly prioritized videos created through Facebook over videos from competitors, like YouTube and Vimeo. In 2012, Twitter introduced a video network called Vine that featured six-second videos. That same day, Facebook blocked Vine from hosting a tool that let its users search for their Facebook friends while on the new network. The decision hobbled Vine, which shut down four years later.

    Snapchat posed a different threat. Snapchat’s Stories and impermanent messaging options made it an attractive alternative to Facebook and Instagram. And unlike Vine, Snapchat wasn’t interfacing with the Facebook ecosystem; there was no obvious way to handicap the company or shut it out. So Facebook simply copied it.

    Facebook’s version of Snapchat’s stories and disappearing messages proved wildly successful, at Snapchat’s expense. At an all-hands meeting in 2016, Mark told Facebook employees not to let their pride get in the way of giving users what they want. According to Wired magazine, “Zuckerberg’s message became an informal slogan at Facebook: ‘Don’t be too proud to copy.’”

    (There is little regulators can do about this tactic: Snapchat patented its “ephemeral message galleries,” but copyright law does not extend to the abstract concept itself.)

    As a result of all this, would-be competitors can’t raise the money to take on Facebook. Investors realize that if a company gets traction, Facebook will copy its innovations, shut it down or acquire it for a relatively modest sum. So despite an extended economic expansion, increasing interest in high-tech start-ups, an explosion of venture capital and growing public distaste for Facebook, no major social networking company has been founded since the fall of 2011.

    As markets become more concentrated, the number of new start-up businesses declines. This holds true in other high-tech areas dominated by single companies, like search (controlled by Google) and e-commerce (taken over by Amazon). Meanwhile, there has been plenty of innovation in areas where there is no monopolistic domination, such as in workplace productivity (Slack, Trello, Asana), urban transportation (Lyft, Uber, Lime, Bird) and cryptocurrency exchanges (Ripple, Coinbase, Circle).

    I don’t blame Mark for his quest for domination. He has demonstrated nothing more nefarious than the virtuous hustle of a talented entrepreneur. Yet he has created a leviathan that crowds out entrepreneurship and restricts consumer choice. It’s on our government to ensure that we never lose the magic of the invisible hand. How did we allow this to happen?

    Since the 1970s, courts have become increasingly hesitant to break up companies or block mergers unless consumers are paying inflated prices that would be lower in a competitive market. But a narrow reliance on whether or not consumers have experienced price gouging fails to take into account the full cost of market domination. It doesn’t recognize that we also want markets to be competitive to encourage innovation and to hold power in check. And it is out of step with the history of antitrust law. Two of the last major antitrust suits, against AT&T and IBM in the 1980s, were grounded in the argument that they had used their size to stifle innovation and crush competition.

    As the Columbia law professor Tim Wu writes, “It is a disservice to the laws and their intent to retain such a laserlike focus on price effects as the measure of all that antitrust was meant to do.”

    Facebook is the perfect case on which to reverse course, precisely because Facebook makes its money from targeted advertising, meaning users do not pay to use the service. But it is not actually free, and it certainly isn’t harmless.

    Facebook’s business model is built on capturing as much of our attention as possible to encourage people to create and share more information about who they are and who they want to be. We pay for Facebook with our data and our attention, and by either measure it doesn’t come cheap.

    I was on the original News Feed team (my name is on the patent), and that product now gets billions of hours of attention and pulls in unknowable amounts of data each year. The average Facebook user spends an hour a day on the platform; Instagram users spend 53 minutes a day scrolling through pictures and videos. They create immense amounts of data — not just likes and dislikes, but how many seconds they watch a particular video — that Facebook uses to refine its targeted advertising. Facebook also collects data from partner companies and apps, without most users knowing about it, according to testing by The Wall Street Journal.

    Some days, lying on the floor next to my 1-year-old son as he plays with his dinosaurs, I catch myself scrolling through Instagram, waiting to see if the next image will be more beautiful than the last. What am I doing? I know it’s not good for me, or for my son, and yet I do it anyway.

    The choice is mine, but it doesn’t feel like a choice. Facebook seeps into every corner of our lives to capture as much of our attention and data as possible and, without any alternative, we make the trade.

    The vibrant marketplace that once drove Facebook and other social media companies to compete to come up with better products has virtually disappeared. This means there’s less chance of start-ups developing healthier, less exploitative social media platforms. It also means less accountability on issues like privacy.

    Just last month, Facebook seemingly tried to bury news that it had stored tens of millions of user passwords in plain text format, which thousands of Facebook employees could see. Competition alone wouldn’t necessarily spur privacy protection — regulation is required to ensure accountability — but Facebook’s lock on the market guarantees that users can’t protest by moving to alternative platforms.

    The most problematic aspect of Facebook’s power is Mark’s unilateral control over speech. There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people.

    Facebook engineers write algorithms that select which users’ comments or experiences end up displayed in the News Feeds of friends and family. These rules are proprietary and so complex that many Facebook employees themselves don’t understand them.

    In 2014, the rules favored curiosity-inducing “clickbait” headlines. In 2016, they enabled the spread of fringe political views and fake news, which made it easier for Russian actors to manipulate the American electorate. In January 2018, Mark announced that the algorithms would favor non-news content shared by friends and news from “trustworthy” sources, which his engineers interpreted — to the confusion of many — as a boost for anything in the category of “politics, crime, tragedy.”

    Facebook has responded to many of the criticisms of how it manages speech by hiring thousands of contractors to enforce the rules that Mark and senior executives develop. After a few weeks of training, these contractors decide which videos count as hate speech or free speech, which images are erotic and which are simply artistic, and which live streams are too violent to be broadcast. (The Verge reported that some of these moderators, working through a vendor in Arizona, were paid $28,800 a year, got limited breaks and faced significant mental health risks.)

    As if Facebook’s opaque algorithms weren’t enough, last year we learned that Facebook executives had permanently deleted their own messages from the platform, erasing them from the inboxes of recipients; the justification was corporate security concerns. When I look at my years of Facebook messages with Mark now, it’s just a long stream of my own light-blue comments, clearly written in response to words he had once sent me. (Facebook now offers a limited version of this feature to all users.)

    The most extreme example of Facebook manipulating speech happened in Myanmar in late 2017. Mark said in a Vox interview that he personally made the decision to delete the private messages of Facebook users who were encouraging genocide there. “I remember, one Saturday morning, I got a phone call,” he said, “and we detected that people were trying to spread sensational messages through — it was Facebook Messenger in this case — to each side of the conflict, basically telling the Muslims, ‘Hey, there’s about to be an uprising of the Buddhists, so make sure that you are armed and go to this place.’ And then the same thing on the other side.”

    Mark made a call: “We stop those messages from going through.” Most people would agree with his decision, but it’s deeply troubling that he made it with no accountability to any independent authority or government. Facebook could, in theory, delete en masse the messages of Americans, too, if its leadership decided it didn’t like them.

    Mark used to insist that Facebook was just a “social utility,” a neutral platform for people to communicate what they wished. Now he recognizes that Facebook is both a platform and a publisher and that it is inevitably making decisions about values. The company’s own lawyers have argued in court that Facebook is a publisher and thus entitled to First Amendment protection.

    No one at Facebook headquarters is choosing what single news story everyone in America wakes up to, of course. But they do decide whether it will be an article from a reputable outlet or a clip from “The Daily Show,” a photo from a friend’s wedding or an incendiary call to kill others.

    Mark knows that this is too much power and is pursuing a twofold strategy to mitigate it. He is pivoting Facebook’s focus toward encouraging more private, encrypted messaging that Facebook’s employees can’t see, let alone control. Second, he is hoping for friendly oversight from regulators and other industry executives.

    Late last year, he proposed an independent commission to handle difficult content moderation decisions by social media platforms. It would afford an independent check, Mark argued, on Facebook’s decisions, and users could appeal to it if they disagreed. But its decisions would not have the force of law, since companies would voluntarily participate.

    In an op-ed essay in The Washington Post in March, he wrote, “Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and I agree.” And he went even further than before, calling for more government regulation — not just on speech, but also on privacy and interoperability, the ability of consumers to seamlessly leave one network and transfer their profiles, friend connections, photos and other data to another.

    I don’t think these proposals were made in bad faith. But I do think they’re an attempt to head off the argument that regulators need to go further and break up the company. Facebook isn’t afraid of a few more rules. It’s afraid of an antitrust case and of the kind of accountability that real government oversight would bring.

    We don’t expect calcified rules or voluntary commissions to work to regulate drug companies, health care companies, car manufacturers or credit card providers. Agencies oversee these industries to ensure that the private market works for the public good. In these cases, we all understand that government isn’t an external force meddling in an organic market; it’s what makes a dynamic and fair market possible in the first place. This should be just as true for social networking as it is for air travel or pharmaceuticals.

    In the summer of 2006, Yahoo offered us $1 billion for Facebook. I desperately wanted Mark to say yes. Even my small slice of the company would have made me a millionaire several times over. For a 22-year-old scholarship kid from small-town North Carolina, that kind of money was unimaginable. I wasn’t alone — just about every other person at the company wanted the same.

    It was taboo to talk about it openly, but I finally asked Mark when we had a moment alone, “How are you feeling about Yahoo?” I got a shrug and a one-line answer: “I just don’t know if I want to work for Terry Semel,” Yahoo’s chief executive.

    Outside of a couple of gigs in college, Mark had never had a real boss and seemed entirely uninterested in the prospect. I didn’t like the idea much myself, but I would have traded having a boss for several million dollars any day of the week. Mark’s drive was infinitely stronger. Domination meant domination, and the hustle was just too delicious.

    Mark may never have a boss, but he needs to have some check on his power. The American government needs to do two things: break up Facebook’s monopoly and regulate the company to make it more accountable to the American people.

    First, Facebook should be separated into multiple companies. The F.T.C., in conjunction with the Justice Department, should enforce antitrust laws by undoing the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions and banning future acquisitions for several years. The F.T.C. should have blocked these mergers, but it’s not too late to act. There is precedent for correcting bad decisions — as recently as 2009, Whole Foods settled antitrust complaints by selling off the Wild Oats brand and stores that it had bought a few years earlier.

    There is some evidence that we may be headed in this direction. Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for reversing the Facebook mergers, and in February, the F.T.C. announced the creation of a task force to monitor competition among tech companies and review previous mergers.

    How would a breakup work? Facebook would have a brief period to spin off the Instagram and WhatsApp businesses, and the three would become distinct companies, most likely publicly traded. Facebook shareholders would initially hold stock in the new companies, although Mark and other executives would probably be required to divest their management shares.

    Until recently, WhatsApp and Instagram were administered as independent platforms inside the parent company, so that should make the process easier. But time is of the essence: Facebook is working quickly to integrate the three, which would make it harder for the F.T.C. to split them up.

    Some economists are skeptical that breaking up Facebook would spur that much competition, because Facebook, they say, is a “natural” monopoly. Natural monopolies have emerged in areas like water systems and the electrical grid, where the price of entering the business is very high — because you have to lay pipes or electrical lines — but it gets cheaper and cheaper to add each additional customer. In other words, the monopoly arises naturally from the circumstances of the business, rather than a company’s illegal maneuvering. In addition, defenders of natural monopolies often make the case that they benefit consumers because they are able to provide services more cheaply than anyone else.

    Facebook is indeed more valuable when there are more people on it: There are more connections for a user to make and more content to be shared. But the cost of entering the social network business is not that high. And unlike with pipes and electricity, there is no good argument that the country benefits from having only one dominant social networking company.

    Still others worry that the breakup of Facebook or other American tech companies could be a national security problem. Because advancements in artificial intelligence require immense amounts of data and computing power, only large companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon can afford these investments, they say. If American companies become smaller, the Chinese will outpace us.

    While serious, these concerns do not justify inaction. Even after a breakup, Facebook would be a hugely profitable business with billions to invest in new technologies — and a more competitive market would only encourage those investments. If the Chinese did pull ahead, our government could invest in research and development and pursue tactical trade policy, just as it is doing today to hold China’s 5G technology at bay.

    The cost of breaking up Facebook would be next to zero for the government, and lots of people stand to gain economically. A ban on short-term acquisitions would ensure that competitors, and the investors who take a bet on them, would have the space to flourish. Digital advertisers would suddenly have multiple companies vying for their dollars.

    Even Facebook shareholders would probably benefit, as shareholders often do in the years after a company’s split. The value of the companies that made up Standard Oil doubled within a year of its being dismantled and had increased by fivefold a few years later. Ten years after the 1984 breakup of AT&T, the value of its successor companies had tripled.

    But the biggest winners would be the American people. Imagine a competitive market in which they could choose among one network that offered higher privacy standards, another that cost a fee to join but had little advertising and another that would allow users to customize and tweak their feeds as they saw fit. No one knows exactly what Facebook’s competitors would offer to differentiate themselves. That’s exactly the point.

    The Justice Department faced similar questions of social costs and benefits with AT&T in the 1950s. AT&T had a monopoly on phone services and telecommunications equipment. The government filed suit under antitrust laws, and the case ended with a consent decree that required AT&T to release its patents and refrain from expanding into the nascent computer industry. This resulted in an explosion of innovation, greatly increasing follow-on patents and leading to the development of the semiconductor and modern computing. We would most likely not have iPhones or laptops without the competitive markets that antitrust action ushered in.

    Adam Smith was right: Competition spurs growth and innovation.

    Just breaking up Facebook is not enough. We need a new agency, empowered by Congress to regulate tech companies. Its first mandate should be to protect privacy.

    The Europeans have made headway on privacy with the General Data Protection Regulation, a law that guarantees users a minimal level of protection. A landmark privacy bill in the United States should specify exactly what control Americans have over their digital information, require clearer disclosure to users and provide enough flexibility to the agency to exercise effective oversight over time. The agency should also be charged with guaranteeing basic interoperability across platforms.

    Finally, the agency should create guidelines for acceptable speech on social media. This idea may seem un-American — we would never stand for a government agency censoring speech. But we already have limits on yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, child pornography, speech intended to provoke violence and false statements to manipulate stock prices. We will have to create similar standards that tech companies can use. These standards should of course be subject to the review of the courts, just as any other limits on speech are. But there is no constitutional right to harass others or live-stream violence.

    These are difficult challenges. I worry that government regulators will not be able to keep up with the pace of digital innovation. I worry that more competition in social networking might lead to a conservative Facebook and a liberal one, or that newer social networks might be less secure if government regulation is weak. But sticking with the status quo would be worse: If we don’t have public servants shaping these policies, corporations will.

    Some people doubt that an effort to break up Facebook would win in the courts, given the hostility on the federal bench to antitrust action, or that this divided Congress would ever be able to muster enough consensus to create a regulatory agency for social media.

    But even if breakup and regulation aren’t immediately successful, simply pushing for them will bring more oversight. The government’s case against Microsoft — that it illegally used its market power in operating systems to force its customers to use its web browser, Internet Explorer — ended in 2001 when George W. Bush’s administration abandoned its effort to break up the company. Yet that prosecution helped rein in Microsoft’s ambitions to dominate the early web.

    Similarly, the Justice Department’s 1970s suit accusing IBM of illegally maintaining its monopoly on computer sales ended in a stalemate. But along the way, IBM changed many of its behaviors. It stopped bundling its hardware and software, chose an extremely open design for the operating system in its personal computers and did not exercise undue control over its suppliers. Professor Wu has written that this “policeman at the elbow” led IBM to steer clear “of anything close to anticompetitive conduct, for fear of adding to the case against it.”

    We can expect the same from even an unsuccessful suit against Facebook.

    Finally, an aggressive case against Facebook would persuade other behemoths like Google and Amazon to think twice about stifling competition in their own sectors, out of fear that they could be next. If the government were to use this moment to resurrect an effective competition standard that takes a broader view of the full cost of “free” products, it could affect a whole host of industries.

    The alternative is bleak. If we do not take action, Facebook’s monopoly will become even more entrenched. With much of the world’s personal communications in hand, it can mine that data for patterns and trends, giving it an advantage over competitors for decades to come.

    I take responsibility for not sounding the alarm earlier. Don Graham, a former Facebook board member, has accused those who criticize the company now as having “all the courage of the last man leaping on the pile at a football game.” The financial rewards I reaped from working at Facebook radically changed the trajectory of my life, and even after I cashed out, I watched in awe as the company grew. It took the 2016 election fallout and Cambridge Analytica to awaken me to the dangers of Facebook’s monopoly. But anyone suggesting that Facebook is akin to a pinned football player misrepresents its resilience and power.

    An era of accountability for Facebook and other monopolies may be beginning. Collective anger is growing, and a new cohort of leaders has begun to emerge. On Capitol Hill, Representative David Cicilline has taken a special interest in checking the power of monopolies, and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ted Cruz have joined Senator Warren in calling for more oversight. Economists like Jason Furman, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, are speaking out about monopolies, and a host of legal scholars like Lina Khan, Barry Lynn and Ganesh Sitaraman are plotting a way forward.

    This movement of public servants, scholars and activists deserves our support. Mark Zuckerberg cannot fix Facebook, but our government can.
    Source
    Last edited by Oracle; 23 Jun 19, at 06:06.
    Politicians are elected to serve...far too many don't see it that way - Albany Rifles!

    Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it - Mark Twain!

  2. #2
    Senior Contributor Oracle's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jul 13
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    5,371
    Facebook Co-Founder Calls Its Cryptocurrency Plans ‘Frightening’

    Facebook’s big digital currency play could sow instability in the developing countries it struggles to understand.

    News that Facebook will launch its own global cryptocurrency next year is stirring up fresh controversy, even as the company looks to turn a new leaf on the recent privacy lapses and security failings that have some users—particularly those in the West–skittish.

    There’s a lot of time between now and the launch of Facebook’s new digital currency project, but the company met some resistance right out of the gate from U.S. lawmakers still skeptical about its ability to responsibly handle user data. So far, the fact that Facebook is moving aggressively into banking tech isn't exactly assuaging fears.

    On Friday, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes weighed in with his concerns about his former company's digital banking aspirations, spread across the Libra cryptocurrency and Calibra, Facebook's new subsidiary for building Libra-specific software and services.

    “If even modestly successful, Libra would hand over much of the control of monetary policy from central banks to these private companies, which also include Visa, Uber, and Vodafone,” Hughes wrote in the Financial Times, calling on regulators worldwide to approach the endeavor with “exhaustive” scrutiny. He elaborated on those ideas on Twitter. Hughes notes that while Facebook was clever to project the appearance of limited power in the project, at the end of the day Libra is Facebook—and its corporate partners—through and through.

    Concerningly, Hughes argues it's possible that Libra could actively destabilize struggling economies as their citizens seek to move into euros or dollars and away from local currencies, in turn disempowering central banks in those countries and “making it harder to stimulate the local economy” during an economic crisis. “This currency would insert a powerful new corporate layer of monetary control between central banks and individuals,” Hughes wrote. “Inevitably, these companies will put their private interests— profits and influence —ahead of public ones.”

    If recent history in countries like Myanmar is any indication, Facebook is often at its most dangerous outside the West. And those non-Western, developing markets are exactly where Facebook thinks Libra can have the biggest impact. It's not wrong.

    “Despite [economic] progress, large swaths of the world's population are still left behind,” Libra's creators write in its white paper (the document outlining the goals and plans of a cryptocurrency project). “1.7 billion adults globally remain outside of the financial system with no access to a traditional bank, even though one billion have a mobile phone and nearly half a billion have internet access.”

    Most of the world's unbanked population lives in China or India, with Pakistan and Indonesia also containing large swaths of people without access to banking. In India, the legality of cryptocurrency is currently up in the air and it's not clear that Facebook has yet applied for approval with India's central bank. Regulations in China prohibit most digital currency-related activity, like trading and mining.

    “Libra will launch globally,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “However, it’s important to note that Libra will be distributed by exchanges, wallet services, and other trading platforms that will not be able to do business in the few countries where cryptocurrencies are illegal.” The company added that it has “no plans to offer Calibra in India at this time.”

    And there are other, not unrelated concerns. As The Verge rightfully points out, Libra is considerably more centralized than many cryptocurrency projects out there. The project will launch with a consortium of powerful partners and a Switzerland-based nonprofit called the Libra Association to help manage it, but at the end of the day it's an attempt for Facebook to reimagine itself as a payments service—not a global humanitarian gesture. Those partners include Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Uber, Lyft, a handful of venture capital firms, and a sprinkling of nonprofits.

    Unlike volatile cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Facebook's Libra is what's known as a “stable coin.” Unlike Bitcoin, a truly decentralized project, Libra won't soar or tank when the speculative winds blow. According to its white paper, Libra will be “backed by a collection of low-volatility assets, such as bank deposits and short-term government securities in currencies from stable and reputable central banks.”

    Beyond Hughes, lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe are rushing to prepare for the advent of Facebook's global banking moonshot, with U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters even calling for a “moratorium” until Congress can examine the plan in depth. “Facebook is already too big and too powerful,” Sen. Sherrod Brown said, cautioning fellow lawmakers on the “risky” cryptocurrency. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire declared that regulators should double down on regulating Facebook and German member of the European Parliament Markus Ferber cautioned that Facebook could create a “shadow bank” undermining the world's established financial order.

    The whole plan is ambitious, even audacious. Chastened by recent failures in running the world's biggest social network, Facebook appears instead to be attempting to build the world's biggest digital banking system. It's difficult to say if the bold move and the speed with which Facebook plans to move forward will overwhelm lawmakers or inspire a new drive in them to regulate the massive company.
    Politicians are elected to serve...far too many don't see it that way - Albany Rifles!

    Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it - Mark Twain!

  3. #3
    Senior Contributor Oracle's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jul 13
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    5,371
    Name:  1.png
Views: 214
Size:  113.5 KB

    I like this guy.
    Politicians are elected to serve...far too many don't see it that way - Albany Rifles!

    Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it - Mark Twain!

  4. #4
    Senior Contributor Oracle's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jul 13
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    5,371
    Politicians are elected to serve...far too many don't see it that way - Albany Rifles!

    Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it - Mark Twain!

  5. #5
    Senior Contributor Oracle's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jul 13
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    5,371
    It’s not that we’ve failed to rein in Facebook and Google. We’ve not even tried

    In a BBC interview last week, Facebook’s vice-president, Nick Clegg, surprised viewers by calling for new “rules of the road” on privacy, data collection and other company practices that have attracted heavy criticism during the past year. “It’s not for private companies … to come up with those rules,” he insisted. “It is for democratic politicians in the democratic world to do so.”

    Facebook’s response would be to adopt a “mature role”, not “shunning” but “advocating” the new rules. For a company that has fiercely resisted new laws, Clegg’s message aimed to persuade us that the page had turned. Yet his remarks sounded like Newspeak, as if to obscure ugly facts.

    A few weeks earlier Facebook’s chiefs, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, snubbed a subpoena from the Canadian parliament to appear for questioning. Clegg then showcased Silicon Valley’s standard defence against the rule of law – warning that any restrictions resulting from “tech-lash” risked making it “almost impossible for tech to innovate properly”, and summoning the spectre of Chinese ascendance. “I can predict that … we will have tech domination from a country with wholly different sets of values.”

    Both Facebook and Google have long relied on this misguided formula to shield them from law. In 2011, the former Google CEO Eric Schmidt warned that government overreach would foolishly constrain innovation, “We’ll move much faster than any government.”Then, in 2013, Google co-founder Larry Page complained that “old institutions like the law” impede the company’s freedom to “build really great things”. This rhetoric is a hand-me-down from another era when “Gilded Age” barons in the late-19th century United States insisted that there was no need for law when one had the “law of evolution”, the “laws of capital” and the “laws of industrial society”. As the historian David Nasaw put it, the millionaires preached that “democracy had its limits, beyond which voters and their elected representatives dared not trespass lest economic calamity befall the nation”.

    The tech companies’ innovation rhetoric effectively blinded users and lawmakers for many years. Facebook and Google were regarded as innovative companies that sometimes made dreadful mistakes at the expense of our privacy. Since then the picture has sharpened. It’s easier to see that what we thought of as mistakes actually were the innovations – Google Glass, Facebook giving private information to developers, and more. Each of these was an expression of a larger breakthrough: the invention of what I call surveillance capitalism.

    Surveillance capitalism is not the same as digital technology. It is an economic logic that has hijacked the digital for its own purposes. The logic of surveillance capitalism begins with unilaterally claiming private human experience as free raw material for production and sales. It wants your walk in the park, online browsing and communications, hunt for a parking space, voice at the breakfast table …

    These experiences are translated into behavioural data. Some of this data may be applied to product or service improvements, and the rest is valued for its predictive power. These flows of predictive data are fed into computational products that predict human behaviour. A leaked Facebook document in 2018 describes its machine-learning system that “ingests trillions of data points every day” and produces “more than 6m predictions per second”. Finally, these prediction products are sold to business customers in markets that trade in human futures.

    This economic logic was first invented at Google in the context of online targeted ads where the “clickthrough rate” was the first globally successful prediction product, and targeted ad markets were the first markets to specialise in human futures. During the first years of discovery and invention from 2000 to 2004, Google’s revenues increased by 3,590%. Right from the start it was understood that the only way to protect these revenues was to hide the operations that produce them, keeping “users” in the dark with practices designed to be undetectable and indecipherable.

    Surveillance capitalism migrated to Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon – and became the default option in most of the tech sector. It now advances across the economy from insurance, to retail, finance, health, education and more, including every “smart” product and “personalised” service.

    Markets in human futures compete on the quality of predictions. This competition to sell certainty produces the economic imperatives that drive business practices. Ultimately, it has become clear that the most predictive data comes from intervening in our lives to tune and herd our behaviour towards the most profitable outcomes. Data scientists describe this as a shift from monitoring to actuation. The idea is not only to know our behaviour but also to shape it in ways that can turn predictions into guarantees. It is no longer enough to automate information flows about us; the goal now is to automate us. As one data scientist explained to me: “We can engineer the context around a particular behaviour and force change that way … We are learning how to write the music, and then we let the music make them dance.”

    These economic imperatives erode democracy from below and from above. At the grassroots, systems are designed to evade individual awareness, undermining human agency, eliminating decision rights, diminishing autonomy and depriving us of the right to combat. The big picture reveals extreme concentrations of knowledge and power. Surveillance capitalists know everything about us, but we know little about them. Their knowledge is used for others’ interests, not our own. Surveillance capitalism thrives in the absence of law. In a way, this is good news. We have not failed to rein in this rogue capitalism; we’ve not yet tried. More good news: our societies successfully confronted destructive forms of capitalism in the past, asserting new laws that tethered capitalism to the real needs of people. Democracy ended the Gilded Age. We have every reason to believe that we can be successful again.

    The next great regulatory vision is likely to be framed by warriors for a democracy under threat: lawmakers, citizens and specialists, allied in the knowledge that only democracy can impose the people’s interests through law and regulation. The question is, what kind of regulation? Are existing approaches to privacy and antitrust law the answer? Both are critical but neither is adequate.

    One example is privacy law’s call for “data ownership”. It’s a misleading notion because it legitimates the unilateral taking of human experience – your face, your phone, your refrigerator, your emotions – for translation into data in the first place. Even if we achieve “ownership” of the data we have provided to a company like Facebook, we will not achieve “ownership” of the predictions gleaned from it, or the fate of those products in its prediction markets. Data ownership is an individual solution when collective solutions are required. We will never own those 6m predictions produced each second. Surveillance capitalists know this. Clegg knows this. That is why they can tolerate discussions of “data ownership” and publicly invite privacy regulation.

    What should lawmakers do? First, interrupt and outlaw surveillance capitalism’s data supplies and revenue flows. This means, at the front end, outlawing the secret theft of private experience. At the back end, we can disrupt revenues by outlawing markets that trade in human futures knowing that their imperatives are fundamentally anti-democratic. We already outlaw markets that traffic in slavery or human organs.

    Second, research over the past decade suggests that when “users” are informed of surveillance capitalism’s backstage operations, they want protection, and they want alternatives. We need laws and regulation designed to advantage companies that want to break with surveillance capitalism. Competitors that align themselves with the actual needs of people and the norms of a market democracy are likely to attract just about every person on Earth as their customer.

    Third, lawmakers will need to support new forms of collective action, just as nearly a century ago workers won legal protection for their rights to organise, to bargain collectively and to strike. Lawmakers need citizen support, and citizens need the leadership of their elected officials.

    Surveillance capitalists are rich and powerful, but they are not invulnerable. They fear law. They fear lawmakers. They fear citizens who insist on a different path. Both groups are bound together in the work of rescuing the digital future for democracy. Mr Clegg, be careful what you wish for.

    • Shoshana Zuboff is an academic and the author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
    Politicians are elected to serve...far too many don't see it that way - Albany Rifles!

    Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it - Mark Twain!

  6. #6
    Senior Contributor Oracle's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jul 13
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    5,371
    Libra: US Congress asks Facebook to pause development

    The US Congress has asked Facebook to pause development on its Libra cryptocurrency until lawmakers have had more time to investigate the ramifications of the company’s actions.

    In a letter from the Democratic heads of the house committee on financial services and its subcommittees, the legislators ask the company to “immediately cease implementation plans”.

    “Because Facebook is already in the hands of over a quarter of the world’s population, it is imperative that Facebook and its partners immediately cease implementation plans until regulators and Congress have an opportunity to examine these issues and take action,” the letter says.

    “During this moratorium, we intend to hold public hearings on the risks and benefits of cryptocurrency-based activities and explore legislative solutions. Failure to cease implementation before we can do so risks a new Swiss-based financial system that is too big to fail.”

    Although Facebook has spearheaded the development of Libra, and will be creating the first consumer “wallet” for the currency through its Calibra subsidiary, the actual development of the service will be handed over to the Libra Association, an arms-length organisation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

    The association is run nominally by a consortium of Libra’s initial backers, including Visa, Lyft, Vodafone and Coinbase, of which Facebook is just one partner among many. But in practice, the social network retains a significant amount of control, even paying the salaries of the body’s “roughly half-dozen employees”, according to the industry news site the Information.

    The duration of the moratorium on development need not be that long: the congressional committee is convening a full hearing examining Libra on 17 July.

    But the letter, which was delivered to Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Libra’s chief executive, David Marcus, suggests the company is in for a bumpy ride when the hearing takes place.

    “The scant information provided about the intent, roles, potential use, and security of the Libra and Calibra exposes the massive scale of the risks and the lack of clear regulatory protections,” it says. “If products and services like these are left improperly regulated and without sufficient oversight, they could pose systemic risks that endanger US and global financial stability.

    “These risks are even more glaring in light of Facebook’s troubled past, where it did not always keep its users’ information safe. For example, Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm hired by the 2016 Trump campaign, had access to more than 50 million Facebook users’ private data which it used to influence voting behaviour.”

    Maxine Waters, the chair of the house committee on financial services, has been one of the leading congressional Democrats calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump. “Ninety per cent of the calls and mail I’m receiving in my office support impeachment of Trump and so do I,” she wrote in April.
    What is Libra?
    Facebook says Libra is a 'global currency and financial infrastructure' - a digital asset built by Facebook and powered by a new Facebook-created version of blockchain, the encrypted technology used by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The name Libra comes from the basic Roman measurement of weight. The abbreviation lb for pound is derived from Libra, and the £ symbol originally comes from an ornate L in Libra.

    Why is Facebook launching a cryptocurrency?
    Facebook claims it wants to reach the 1.7 billion people around the world who do not have access to a bank account.

    Who is in charge of Libra?
    Facebook is likely to run into regulatory hurdles and antitrust concerns. The currency will be serviced by a collective of companies called the 'Libra Association'. It functions as what is known as a 'stablecoin', pegged to existing assets like the dollar or euro, in the aim of making it less subject to the volatility that many cryptocurrencies experience.

    The Libra Association is described by Facebook as an independent, not-for-profit organisation based in Switzerland. Within the Libra Association will be a governing body called the Libra Association Council, comprised of a representative of each member of the association, which will vote on policy and operating decisions.

    Facebook claims that although it created the Libra Association and the Libra Blockchain, once the currency is launched in 2020 the company will withdraw from a leadership role and all members of the association will have equal votes in governance of Libra. The companies who contributed a minimum of $10m(£8m) to be listed as founding members of the Libra Association include tech companies such as PayPal, Ebay, Spotify, Uber and Lyft, as well as financial and venture capital firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive Capital, Visa and Mastercard.

    How and when can I use it?
    When the cryptocurrency launches, users can download Calibra, a digital wallet, that will allow them to send it to anyone with a smartphone. It will be available in Messenger, WhatsApp, and as a standalone app.

    It is not clear which countries the coin will launch in first, though Facebook said 'almost anybody' in the world with a smartphone will be able to download the app.
    Politicians are elected to serve...far too many don't see it that way - Albany Rifles!

    Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it - Mark Twain!

  7. #7
    Senior Contributor Oracle's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jul 13
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    5,371

    Facebook ads funded by 'dark money' are the right's weapon for 2020

    In the weeks leading up to a tightly contested 2018 midterm election in Virginia, a Facebook page called “Wacky Wexton Not” ran an ad that pictured Democratic congressional candidate Jennifer Wexton next to Nazi troops. Another labeled her an “evil socialist”. Yet another referenced Nazi uniforms, stating, “Wexton and her modern day brown shirts. They Are Evil. They Hate America. They Hate You.”

    Who spent $211 launching 24 anti-Wexton ads? It’s unclear. The ads state they were “Paid for by a freedom loving American Citizen exercising my natural law right, protected by the 1st Amendment and protected by the 2nd Amendment.” But there’s nothing in them – or in Facebook’s new ad library that’s designed to shine light on who’s funding political adss – that provides personal information about the person or group behind the attack on Wexton (who won her race).

    This small incident highlights a bigger problem as the 2020 election looms. How so-called untraceable “dark money” Facebook ads persist via easily exploitable loopholes in the ad archive, a database created in response to foreign interference and disinformation campaigns during the 2016 election. Now heading into the 2020 election, dark money ads remain a potent political weapon that the Republican party and conservative media in particular are using to push a rightwing agenda and get Donald Trump re-elected.

    “You can still have a huge impact by spending very little,” said Anna Massoglia, a researcher with the Center For Responsive Politics (CPR) who tracks dark money spending on Facebook ads. Over $600m has been spent on political Facebook ads since the platform made data public in May 2018. It’s unclear how much was spent on dark money ads, though CPR and other groups are in the process of tallying it up.

    The most common dark money ads can be placed into two categories. One includes more traditional political ads from household names of dark money nonprofits like Judicial Watch, America First Policies or even Planned Parenthood on the left. Those are typically linked to the political establishment, and though the nonprofit names are attached to the ads, the groups don’t reveal their donors.

    But those like the “Wacky Wexton” ads can be launched by anyone, domestic or foreign, group or person. Facebook rules require those who run political pages to provide government identification so they can be “verified”, but there’s nothing to stop foreign interests from hiring an ad buyer with a US ID, or using an affiliate company in the US. Facebook then protects its ad buyers by not divulging any personal information.

    “Even though you are required to put something in the disclaimers, it’s not meaningful. You don’t get the name of who’s writing the text,” Massoglia said.

    The right and left also use dark money ads to push their agendas and content. Most such pages on the right are small operations that run multiple Facebook pages pushing a conservative agenda, praising Trump and attacking liberal politicians.

    The anonymous individual or groups behind the pages also sometimes misrepresent their purpose. They are what Laura Edelson, a New York University researcher with the Online Political Ads Transparency Project, calls “inauthentic communities”.

    Such pages are usually centered around an identity. “On the right, the identity is ‘conservative’,” Edelson said, and “what they’re really trying to do is get your email address – they’re building lists.”

    Among those is I Love My Freedom, which sends out ads attacking Democratic politicians like Nancy Pelosi and ultimately attempts to solicit users’ names and email addresses. Its pages – with names like “President Trump’s Patriot Army” and “President Donald Trump Fan Club” – also hawk “limited edition” Trump coins and other gear, which sources say is a common practice in the right’s dark money advertising.

    Another group of Facebook pages that are less clearly linked include Patriot News Alerts, Breaking Patriot News, The Daily Conservative and The Conservative Institute.

    Anatomy of a dark money Facebook ad network
    On 4 April, the Patriot News Alert Facebook page sent out fewer than 100 ads that largely targeted women over 55, many of whom were in Florida, Texas and California. The ads showed a picture of congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with text that called her Green New Deal plan not just “crazy”, but “scary”. The text continues with false claims that the Green New Deal would “ban air travel, get rid of gasoline cars, eliminate meat, remodel all existing homes, and guarantee income to all Americans too lazy to work”.

    Around the same time, Breaking Patriot News and The Daily Conservative sent out about 85 nearly identical ads largely micro-targeting carefully selected demographics of Facebook users throughout the country.

    The pages spent between about $1,660 and $15,000 to buy the ads, reaping between 112,000 and 418,000 impressions.

    The three pages didn’t reveal their relation to those that they targeted, and there’s nothing in the ads that provides an idea of who paid for them. In her research, Edelson found that the three pages used the same ad, and Facebook’s archive shows that they share other ads that attack Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

    Clicking on an ad reveals some clues about the network of pages’ goals, which is to funnel Facebook users to rightwing blogs running largely pro-Trump stories and pushing conservative ideas.

    The ad that women over 55 in Florida may have clicked on takes one to PatriotNewsAlerts.com where the reader is encouraged to sign a petition “To say ‘No’ to the Green New Deal,” but the “signature” it requires is a name and email address.

    A Guardian reporter who submitted a name and email address later received an email from Patriot News Alerts with a link to a story on the Patriot News Alert blog. There’s no information about who runs the blog, but the Guardian searched the name and found it appears to be linked to conservative blogger Shaun Connell.

    Connell signs several blogposts as the pages’ founder, and Patriot News Alerts shares the same Connecticut address as several other blogs. Connell is also behind Breaking Patriot News and The Daily Conservative, and the blogs are presented in a similar layout to and include some of the same writers as other right wing blogs that can be linked to Connell, like Daily Christian News.

    While one end goal seems to be to push Connell’s rightwing viewpoint, another seems to be to drive traffic to his pages. It’s unclear if Connell funds the Facebook ads himself, if there are other funders involved, or whether there’s a more commercial purpose at play – some pages sell the Facebook data they collect.

    Connell didn’t return an email from the Guardian seeking comment.

    The four Connell-linked Facebook pages have spent about $300,000 since being created between July 2017 and September 2018.

    Edlelson said she tracks dozens of similar pages on the left and right, and there are probably many more.

    “The tactic started and was perfected on the right, but once you have a political tactic like this, everyone will use it, especially when it’s this easy,” Edelson said.
    Source
    Politicians are elected to serve...far too many don't see it that way - Albany Rifles!

    Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it - Mark Twain!

  8. #8
    Senior Contributor Oracle's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jul 13
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    5,371
    Politicians are elected to serve...far too many don't see it that way - Albany Rifles!

    Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it - Mark Twain!

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Australian Cricketer Phillip Hughes killed playing cricket
    By Bigfella in forum World Affairs Board Pub
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 14 Dec 14,, 11:11
  2. Chris Lane murder
    By tbm3fan in forum American Politics & Economy
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 23 Aug 13,, 16:24
  3. Happy Birthday Chris
    By Julie in forum World Affairs Board Pub
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 22 Nov 04,, 08:24
  4. Zell Miller vs. Chris Matthews
    By Praxus in forum American Politics & Economy
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 09 Sep 04,, 00:45

Share this thread with friends:

Share this thread with friends:

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •