Facebook Contemplating Transparency on Platform

In an article for CNBC, Julia Boorstin covers the most recent development in FaceBook’s ongoing transparaceny debacle that this time involves Presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg.  Facebook is apparently concerned about the lack of transparency regarding Bloomberg’s campaign in regards to campaign staffers and activists using the platform to garner support for the former New York Mayor’s Presidential campaign.  Currently, posts advocating for Bloomberg’s campaign don’t specifically indicate that these endorsements are in fact created by paid campaign staffers and supporters. According to the article, Facebook is in the process of considering necessary steps to increase transparency and make these campaign posts more obvious in their partiality.  In recent months, the social media juggernaut has been progressively taking steps to gain users trust through increased transparency regarding campaign advertisements as a result of the Cambridge Analytical debacle the company faced in early 2018. That particular scandal arose after it was reported that the company had unethically gathered user data to target political ads supporting Donald Trump for President in 2016.  Since then Facebook has instituted new policies such as flagging political ads and launching a database that reports ad purchases in relation to politics and special interests. 

I find it interesting that Facebook is now reactively making transparency regarding advertisements on its platform a priority after years of ignoring the issue altogether.  The mounting distrust and negative press the site has received in recent years has obviously had some kind of effect on the company’s standards in relation to transparency on the platform.  It remains to be seen however if the company can rebound from the awful public relations issues the site has been facing in recent times and potentially gain consumer trust. 



The U.S. Wants the World to be Wary of Huawei

The race to 5g is already being won by Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company. The capabilities of 5g range from instant downloads of movies, to automating surgery and highway transportation, but the risk is that with more devices using the internet, the more room there is for security breaches. 

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In 2019 the National Security Council discussed building the new internet/5g framework from scratch with cyber-security as a primary objective, but the Trump administration repealed those requirements for 5g.

The accusations of Huawei being a means through which the Chinese government can keep tabs on the world, and the efforts of the Trump admin to slow the implementation of Huawei’s tech have basically failed as countries in Europe and Asia are showing interest in Huawei’s 5g.

The article ends with a quote by former Senior Director of the N.S.C. Richard Spalding; “What is existential to democracy is allowing totalitarian regimes—or any government—full knowledge of everything you do at all times because the tendency is always going to be to want to regulate how you think, how you act, what you do. The problem is that most people don’t think very hard about what that world would look like.”

I found that quote very interesting because sometimes I think that’s how I think about media in the US. With the patriot act and our phones seemingly always listening and maybe even seeing what we’re doing, does the idea of 5g still scare people? Maybe the US in some sense regulates how we think/act and what we do- do people feel differently if it’s the Chinese gov’t controlling our media messages?



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Spotify’s metadata allows the platform to draw conclusions about the music of the year, and the decade as 2020 approaches. Called the “Wrapped List”, the data driven summary reveals the artists and music that has defined 2019, and from there, the most streamed music from 2010 to now.

Post Malone has taken the cake for the most-streamed artist of the year, upon the release of his latest album and contribution to the song “Sunflower,” which was released for the Into the Spiderverse movie. Billie Eilish is the second-most-streamed artist of the year, upon her release of her Grammy-nominated album titled “When We Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?”, which was streamed over 6 billion times.

Other noteworthy artists include Drake, who was the top-streamed artist of the decade, and Ariana Grande is the top-streamed female artist of the decade. Camila Cabello and Sean Mendes’s “Senorita” was the top streamed song of the year, and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” was the most streamed song of the decade.

This derived data shows media companies and the music industry trends over time, as well as the artists that are up and coming. It is also thanks to the data algorithm you are able to review your personal statistics of your own profile, allowing you to learn about your own listening patterns as the decade went on, and what you enjoyed most this year.

Facebook Loses $35 Billion Lawsuit Over User Data Privacy and Transparency


Article and image: https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/18/facebook-35-billion-lawsuit/

Facebook has been a company that everyone is talking about for the past two years. Each report comes out with an action against the company and how much control and data they have mined and sold from their users. This week’s report follows a lawsuit against Facebook for $35 billion in a class action lawsuit that addressed misuse of facial recognition. Josh Constine of Tech Crunch reported on this lawsuit as it is one of the largest FTC class action lawsuits, “breaking the previous largest lawsuit at $5 billion” (Constine, 2019). Facebook makes about $55 billion a year in revenue, so this lawsuit put a dent in their earnings and forced the company’s stock to drop 2.25%. The lawsuit focused on Facebook suggesting people to tag in photos. For instance, if I uploaded a new profile picture with myself and a friend and didn’t tag my friend, Facebook would suggest if I wanted to tag the person and addressed them by their profile name. Meaning, the company can recognize user’s faces and use them for things beyond tagging on social media. Facebook claimed that they were very transparent with their use of this technology, but this lawsuit proves otherwise.

I chose this article this week because this is a major lawsuit that actually asked for a large amount of money from this major website. I have been curious about Facebook because they are trying desperately to make sure they are still relevant, throwing new services out and hoping that one of them catches on. These services being streaming with Netflix, a new dating app, and even a cryptocurrency. The public is finally understanding that huge sites like Google and Facebook are collecting a lot of data on people and aren’t using the data for app improvements or to let users know about themselves. No, they are collecting data, creating in-depth profiles and selling that data to advertisers and third parties for revenue. These profiles would probably tell you more about you than you even know. They predict shopping trends and political trends. The profiles even know where you were three years ago on your trip to Europe down to the time you spent at a café and how much you traveled. Facebook started face mapping in 2011, so this has been eight years of facial recognition that has been saved since 2011. Learning that Facebook is being held accountable for their data misuse makes me feel better about the future since people are getting outraged at how much data websites and apps keep on us without our knowledge and with little transparency.

How Pinterest Built One of Silicon Valley’s Most Successful Algorithms

Image and text: https://onezero.medium.com/how-pinterest-built-one-of-silicon-valleys-most-successful-algorithms-9101afdfd0dd

This Medium article talks about a modification Pinterest’s algorithm for its feed. It is interesting to see how tech companies are molding themselves based on true human reactions that come from their users, with the popular and necessary purpose of generating more tailored content. Pinterest has been facing some problems regarding bias and how they channel content towards their users based on two simple questions at the time they create their profiles: their age and gender. Pinterest, like other tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter, want interactions to be more humane and substantial.

The company’s main goal in its first year as a public company is to diversify its algorithm enough and grow beyond its user base of white suburban women. The most complex part of this process is to achieve this goal without alienating their loyal crowd and, at the same time, not stereotyping newcomers. The way Pinterest has been filtering content towards users in the past seems to not be satisfying users who see themselves as exceptions to the norm. “Internal data might tell you that welcoming male users with a bunch of macho images boosts activation rates. What it might not tell you is that some subset of male users is turned off, or even offended, by the implicit assumption that they’re into “man caves” or pictures of “beautiful celebrities” who are all women.”

What Pinterest is finally trying to do is placing users into finer subgroups using an algorithm that lets you modify its understanding of your browser data. A woman who just broke off her engagement might, for example, never come back to Pinterest after joining it for the first time and seeing an overflow of wedding dresses. The new algorithm, then, allows users to manually increase personalization by “turning off” subjects they are not interested in despite it being part of their online behavior. 

This update, however, goes against the general tech rule of not giving people too much power to personalize their own feeds, as that might actually decrease engagement. The idea is to provide users with a news feed that knows better than the users themselves what they want to see. Pinterest, on the other hand, admits that tech’s assumptions and bias might not always put out the best content for their users, and hopes that this new algorithm will reduce complaints and make the app work better for everyone. It is important to point out that this new feature is completely optional, but it will definitely filter out trash content for specific tribes.