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January 23, 2013

Facebook is lying to your friends about what you like in order to sell them things they don't need

Facebook Is Recycling Your Likes To Promote Stories You've Never Seen To All Your Friends - Forbes
This was brought to my attention through a story by Minneapolis developer Craig Condon in which he accuses Facebook of “impersonating people without their consent.” See video above for his lucid documentation of the phenomenon, including the use of a fabricated account as a demonstration tool. In his own case, he had liked the irreverent media empire, VICE, and as a result, a rude post showed up on his mother’s timeline below a heading “Craig Condon likes VICE” and a divider with a slug that said “ RELATED POST.” His mother, of course, urged him to take the post down—but he couldn’t because he had never posted it! Condon continues, “most individuals have no idea this is happening. Any post made by Facebook on your behalf is completely invisible to you, and only shows up in your friends’ & family’s news feed.” In many cases, these are innocuous. In some cases, your Like implies an interest in everything posted by the brand liked, but, obviously, not always. Sometimes your mom thinks you’re promoting rudeness! “This goes beyond just advertising on a user’s behalf,” Condon writes. “My friends & family might think I like inappropriate content, or information I don’t agree with—it can damage relationships. In fact, I’m only familiar with this issue because a friend asked if I liked “[rude thing goes here!].” What else has Facebook posted on my behalf that I don’t agree with? What has Facebook posted on your behalf that you don’t agree with?” You can say that Facebook is clearly labeling the content as “related,” but to the untrained eye of the average Facebook user, these posts look like any other. And unlike Facebook Ads that you can opt out of sharing the liking of with friends, or the sponsored stories that you can’t opt out of but at least are mentioned in Facebook’s Help Center, Related Posts are a completely undocumented feature. It’s hard not to see this as intentionally manipulative and misleading on Facebook’s part. It has already made a preliminary $20 million settlement over its use of Sponsored Stories, but that’s not the worst of it. A story from ReadWrite by Bernard Meisler documents a boatload of cases where friends had supposedly liked brands that the writer couldn’t imagine them ever liking. Some of these friends were no longer even alive!

Facebook's new "graph" search is potentially very, very dangerous

Facebook Graph is their new search engine that lets users search across all of Facebook with a very fine granularity. Combine this with the extremely poor way FB implements privacy and you have a powderkeg waiting to blow. Like this search below of Muslims in Tehran who are gay. Which is punishable by death in Tehran. Or the search for Chinese people who like Falun Gong, which is also basically a death sentence in China. Actual Facebook Graph Searches

January 15, 2013

This guy helped six kids from the Sandy Hook massacre, and now he's getting harrassed for it

The gun lobby is pushing this myth that the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown was staged. Fake. That no kids died. That no adults died. Nobody was shot by Adam Lanza. It's all a nefarious conspiracy to take away our guns. It's bonkers and inhuman and evil, this myth. And the folks that believe it are now targeting the actual survivors of the attack and berating them for their part in the nonexistent conspiracy. This man helped save six children, is now getting harassed for it - Salon.com
What did Rosen do to deserve this? One month ago, he found six little children and a bus driver at the end of the driveway of his home in Newtown, Conn. “We can’t go back to school,” one little boy told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.” He brought them inside and gave them food and juice and toys. He called their parents. He sat with them and listened to their shocked accounts of what had happened just down the street inside Sandy Hook Elementary, close enough that Rosen heard the gunshots. In the hours and days that followed, Rosen did a lot of media interviews. “I wanted to speak about the bravery of the children, and it kind of helped me work through this,” he told Salon in an interview. “I guess I kind of opened myself up to this.” The “this” in question is becoming a prime target of the burgeoning Sandy Hook truther movement, which — like its precursor that denied the veracity of the 9/11 terror attacks — alleges that the entire shooting was a hoax of some kind. There were conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting from Day One, but the movement has exploded into public view the past two weeks, and a Google Trends search suggests it’s just now picking up steam. It’s also beginning to earn the backing of presumably credible sources like a professor and a reporter.