Meta Announces Removal Of Targeted Advertising Tools

Photo Via The New York Times

Facebook, now known as Meta, announced its plans to remove advertisers’ ability to create targeted ads and promotions based on data including race, religion, sexual orientation, geographical location, gender, and political affiliation. These changes will also be implemented in Meta’s apps including Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. 

The removal of data based advertising is planned to take effect on January 19th. Meta explained the changes to its targeting tools are to limit targeted advertisement abuse. In the past, there has been huge controversy surrounding abuse of data by advertisers. 

In one case, advertisers were using Facebook’s ad targeting tools to market body armor, gun accessories and rile enhancements to far-right militia groups on the platform. 

In another instance, Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Facebook in 2019 for permitting landlords and property sellers to restrict certain demographics from viewing their property postings based on users’ data like race, religion and ethnicity. 

Meta vowed to involve outside parties who took part in the legal settlement, including the American Civil Liberties Union, to test its ad systems to ensure the removal of ad based housing discrimination. They have also agreed to meet with groups and experts every six months over the next three years to continue testing. 

In response to complaints surrounding its ad targeting tools back in 2018, Facebook removed 5,000 ad targeting classifications to prevent advertisers from excluding certain demographics. 

Graham Mudd, a vice president of product marketing for Meta, announced, “We’ve heard concerns from experts that targeting options like these could be used in ways that lead to negative experiences for people in underrepresented groups.”

This is a drastic change to Meta’s business model as advertising accounts for $86 billion in annual revenue. This change is widely controversial as millions of businesses use the social network’s marketing and advertising tools to promote their businesses and expand their audience reach. Meta’s advertising technologies have proven more effective and affordable than traditional television commercials. 

Advertisement

Next Big Sound Will Be Shutting In November

Photo Via medium.com

Next Big Sound, a New York-based company which provides analytics for online music, will shutting down effective November 1st. Next Big Sound allowed users to track mentions of bands and musical artists across several music social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. NBS tracked music data across hundreds of thousands of artists and hundreds of billions of streams.

After being acquired by Pandora in 2015, its team will now work on Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform. In a blog post NBS stated, “This is just the final step of a multi-year transition, and our team is excited to focus on improving and expanding the awesome marketing tools and data-driven insights available in Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform. Pandora’s AMP tools have been the primary focus of our development and growth for two years already, and we’re really excited about the opportunities we can create for artists and creators across the industry on the AMP platform.”

Pandora’s AMP was launched in May of 2020 as a service for artists to find, engage, and market to their target listeners. Pandora’s AMP “allows creators to promote their music to more Pandora listeners and engage with fans more deeply through a free suite of powerful self-serve artist marketing tools.” Some of these tools include, artist audio messages, featured tracks, Pandora stories, and audience maps.

BuzzFeed Revenue rises by more than 50 percent

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, Image Via The Wall Street Journal

On Thursday, for the first time since announcing plans to go public, BuzzFeed reported quarterly earnings. They reported that its revenue rose by more than 50 percent in Q2 of 2021, reflecting improvements in advertising as the economy emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. In Q2, advertising revenue was up 79 percent to $47.8 million and Content revenue was up 5 percent to $24.2 million. As consumer spending improved, the company attributed some of the growth to its e-commerce business too, which generates revenue by recommending and selling products online. Ecommerce and other revenue rose by 82 percent to $17.1 million.

“Our data-informed approach to content creation and capital allocation allows us to capitalize on secular trends in advertising and commerce and helped fuel our significant topline growth in the first half of the year.”

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti

These reports are important, as BuzzFeed will be the first of digital media giants to go public. As the company announced in June, it reached a deal to merge with 890 Fifth Avenue Partners Inc. and is going to acquire Complex Networks. BuzzFeed CEO Peretti explains: “This impressive performance in the year to date lays the foundation for what we expect to be an exciting second half, with the anticipated closing of the acquisition of Complex Networks and our simultaneous emergence as a public company.” Their valuation of the combined company at $1.5 billion serves as a sticking point for other digital media firms looking to go public, for instance Vice Media, Group Nine Media, or Vox Media.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/digital/buzzfeed-q2-2021-earnings-1235010437/

New Social Media Restrictions for Children: Britain’s attempt to pave the way for a safer internet

(www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/2036128/apple-removes-parental-control-apps/.,
kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock.)

This past Thursday Britain introduced a set of regulations designed to protect children online. Overnight platforms the likes of TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube have responded by doing just that threatened by the possibility of having to pay multimillion-dollar fines. Rather than applying the new mandatory “age-appropriate design code” specifically to the UK, the aforementioned social media platforms have opted to change internationally to meet this new standard. This meaningful change to the online landscape as brought on by the mid-sized country of Britain potentially signals a positive change for the global internet. This, in the way that it implies that the tech industry is no longer all but exempt from broader regulation. oddly enough this major online regulatory step was met with little attention despite the UK’s stated goal of becoming the “safest place in the world to be online”. The code in question was introduced as an amendment to the data protection act 2018, a technical piece of legislation intended mostly to implement GDPR into UK law. The code in question applies to all online services that are used by children and require that said services at least identify younger users and treat them with care. The code prohibits several predatory practices including. One, “nudge” techniques that encourage children to divulge more of their private information than is necessary. Two, anything considered to be more than the minimization of data harvesting from children. And Three, giving anything less than the maximum amount of security for children’s accounts. Where adamant lobbying opposing these regulations was expected the world’s largest companies have instead made substantial changes and, what’s more, insisted that they wanted to make this manner of change to their platforms all along. Whatever the next step is is controlled by the Information Commissioner’s Office or “ICO” as this party controls when and whether to enforce fines for breaches of this regulation. A major factor that is still up in the air is whether or not children will accept their being treated differently online or if they’ll just use their tech-savvy to skirt around regulation. Regardless of what it is children decide to do it is pivotal that the internet is acknowledged as curating the experience of childhood as we move further into the digital age.

This article interests me for the reason that it pertains to what I perceive to be positive broader internet regulation. This is because such change is rarely if ever properly enforced or implemented at all despite its growing importance. This article also interests me because of the broader implications of the implementation of software that is restrictive to children in an age where children are increasingly tech-savvy. This is to say that I think it’ll be interesting to see how children react to being given the power to restrict their own activity on the internet with the context that it’s “for their own good”.

Hern, Alex. “Social Media Giants Increase Global Child Safety after UK Regulations Introduced.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 5 Sept. 2021, http://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/sep/05/social-media-giants-increase-global-child-safety-after-uk-regulations-introduced.

Facebook Just Invested 5.3 Billion Into An Indian Company–It’s Largest Investment To Date

Yesterday, Facebook made its largest single investment into Jio Platforms of India which was a huge bet on the developing company.

Because Facebook wants to appeal more to the Indian audience, they felt the investment was essential, especially since over the past four years, more than 388 million people in India have been connected to the internet.

Mark Zuckerberg spoke on this in a Facebook post saying,

The country is in the middle of a major digital transformation, and organizations like Jio have played a big part in getting hundreds of millions of Indian people and small businesses online…With communities around the world in lockdown, many of these entrepreneurs need digital tools they can rely on to find and communicate with customers and grow their businesses.

Jio Platforms itself is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries (which is one of India’s biggest multinational companies and a major provider of cellular and internet services in the country,) therefore, the investment proves to be something that will propel the company forward and will ultimately help the Indian people to stay connected through the internet.

Although the Coronavirus pandemic has created a very fragile time for large tech companies when it comes to moving forward with investments, Facebook felt that taking a risk with Jio Platforms was necessary during this time and wants to display perseverance during this difficult period.

With this deal, Facebook will incur a 9.9 percent stake in Jio Platforms, and the respective money from Facebook will help Reliance to reduce some of their debt and invest further into its network (which it needs to do after regulators delayed approval of a high-profile $15 billion deal to sell 25 percent of its energy business to the Saudis.)

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/21/technology/facebook-jio-india.html

 

Zoom Sued for Sharing Personal Data with Facebook

Zoom Video Communications is under serious scrutiny as they have been caught giving personal data of users to outside companies such as Facebook. The popular web-camming company that has gained popularity due to the Coronavirus outbreak is under serious legal troubles.

A lawsuit filed Monday stated that Zoom’s software would give information about the user such as the device the person is using, device’s model and the device’s advertising identifier.

“The unique advertising identifier allows companies to target the user with advertisements,” the lawsuit states. “This information is sent to Facebook by Zoom regardless of whether the user has an account with Facebook.”

Zoom officials have said they have changed the practices after they were caught.

After a news report by Vice Media, CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan, said the data sharing began after a user signed up for Zoom through facebook. He says, “Our customer’s privacy is incredibly important to us, and therefore we decided to remove Facebook SDK (Software Development Kit) in our client and have reconfigured the feature so that users will still be able to login with Facebook via their browser.”

The lawsuit goes further, claiming Zoom was being paid to share data. Court documents won’t disclose how much money Zoom allegedly received.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is asking Zoom to provide details on how they will change their practices to ensure user privacy. Zoom may have a hard time transitioning privacy practices because of the already intact data sharing system.

As Zoom is becoming more popular due to the work from home lifestyle everyone is adapting to, more hackers are using it as a medium to spread hate messages. Also as stocks have been hit hard, Zoom’s stock has soared 46%.

Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/zoom-app-personal-data-selling-facebook-lawsuit-alleges/

Why Food Giant ‘Unilever’ Has Vowed To Stop Marketing Its Ice Cream Products To Children

Food giant, Unilever announced recently that they were going to change the way they market their products to children due to the rising childhood obesity rates in America.  According to their company,

“By the end of 2020, we will stop marketing and advertising foods and beverages to children under the age of 12 in traditional media, and below 13 via social media channels…We’re implementing strict controls concerning the placement and content of our ads, and we won’t use any influencers, celebrities or social media stars who primarily appeal to children under the age of 12.”

The company plans to implement a “Responsibly Made For Kids Promise” specifically for their ice cream business that ensures all ice creams will be responsibly communicated, responsibly sold, and responsibly developed. What this means is that they are shifting their advertising to speak to parents and caregivers – the people they feel should be the decision-makers when it comes to their children having a treat. In addition to that, they are going to sell their products with a “Responsibly Made For Kids” logo to further communicate their promise, and by the end of 2020 they are going to make sure that every ice cream in the kids’ range will have no more than 110 calories and a maximum of 12g of sugar per portion.

By making these positive changes, Unilever strives to promote a company that is not only transparent with their consumers but who also puts children at the forefront.

 

Source:

https://www.unilever.com/news/news-and-features/Feature-article/2020/why-we-are-changing-the-way-we-market-products-to-children.html

Facial recognition start up has it’s full client list stolen

Clearview AI says a recent vulnerability has allowed someone to gain “unauthorized access” to a list of all its customers. Unfortunately, data breaches are apart of life in the 21st century. The vulnerability kept hackers at bay from accessing Clearview’s accounts of 3 billion. This vulnerability has since be patched and servers were checked but no breach was reported.

https://flip.it/J0pcsd

Clearview of Your Personal Life

Hoan Ton-That an Australian techie and onetime model is inventing technology that would end the ability to walk down the street anonymously.  Providing this technology to local cops in Florida, F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security

In this article by Kashmir Hill, a company called Clearview by Hoan Ton-That can disclose any personal information of you. His company has created an app where anyone can take a picture of a person and upload it.  The app will then retrieve all the online data of that person using facial recognition. The database for this facial recognition can be anything a person has ever posted online, including Facebook, YouTube, and even Venmo.  This technology goes beyond anything any of the Silicon Valley giants or United States government has ever created.

Federal and state law enforcement officers have used this app to help solve cases of shoplifting, identity theft, credit card fraud, murder, and child sexual exploitation cases.

This technology is often frowned upon though, because of its invasion of privacy.  Google’s chairman in 2011 said this piece of technology was the only thing they refrained from because it could end up harming society more than it is helping.  San Francisco has barred police from using this technology.

This company has made ways through law enforcement.  More than 600 law enforcement companies have used this technology without publicly announcing that they have been using it.  Clearview is also refraining from disclosing this list of companies who are using it.

This technology goes beyond identifying criminals.  The computer code has been analyzed by The New York Times and it has been discovered that this technology is being linked with augmented-reality glasses.  Users could identify anyone through wearing these pair of glasses.  This would be including an activist in a protest, an attractive classmate, anyone.  This would not only reveal their name, but also where they live!  It can reveal a lot of information about that person, even what they did and who they know. 

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. 

Image result for is huawei safe

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?

https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-communications/the-terrifying-potential-of-the-5g-network