Tag Archives: Facebook

96% of iOS Users in the U.S. Opted-Out of App Tracking

Apple’s release of iOS 14.5 included the ability for users to opt-out of allowing apps to track them. Ars Technica reported that 96% of iOS users in the United States chose to opt-out of tracking. This news should surprise no one, because it is well known that people use ad blockers and VPNs to avoid being tracked.

The information about the percentage of users in the United States who chose to opt-out of app tracking comes from a company called Flurry Analytics. It is owned by Verizon Media. Flurry is updating that data daily.

Until now, apps have been able to rely on Apple’s Identifier for Advertiser (IDFA) to track users for targeting and advertising purposes. With the launch of iOS 14.5 this week, mobile apps now have to ask users who have upgraded to iOS 14.5 for permission to gather tracking data. With opt-in rates expected to be low, this change is expected to create challenges for personalized advertising and attribution, impacting the $189 billion mobile advertising industry worldwide.

Ars Technica reported that Flurry Analytics says U.S. users agree to be tracked only four percent of the time. The global number of users deciding to opt-in to tracking is at twelve percent. That number is below some advertising companies’ estimates.

Predictably, the news appears to be alarming to companies like Facebook who heavily rely on tracking and data collection from users for the purpose of showing ads to users. Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature does allow Facebook (and other companies that track people) to provide a brief explanation about why they absolutely need to keep grabbing your data. Clearly, those explanations are falling flat as most users opt out of tracking.

Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Trump’s Suspension

Facebook created an Oversight Board to make the decision on whether or not overturn Trump’s indefinite suspension. Later on, the Oversight Board chose to delay its decision and extended the public comments deadline for this case.

Today, Facebook posted information in their Newsroom titled: “Oversight Board Upholds Facebook’s Decision to Suspend Donald Trump’s Accounts”. It was written by Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communications.

Today, the Oversight Board upheld Facebook’s suspension of former US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. As we stated in January, we believe our decision was necessary and right, and we’re pleased the board has recognized that the unprecedented circumstances justified the exceptional measure we took.

In the post, Nick Clegg stated that the Oversight Board has not required Facebook to immediately restore Mr. Trump’s accounts. It also has not specified the appropriate duration of the penalty. The Oversight Board called the open-ended nature of the suspension an “indeterminate and standardless penalty”. As a result, Facebook will now consider the Oversight Board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate.

In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts remain suspended.

It is worth pointing out that the Oversight Board’s determination is not binding, which leaves room for Facebook to either chose to follow it – or to ignore it completely. The Oversight Board included a list of recommendations for Facebook to consider, but the company doesn’t have to adhere to any of them.

One of the recommendations stated that Facebook should “provide users with accessible information on how many violations, strikes, and penalties have been assessed against them, and the consequences that will follow future violations.” Personally, I think that would be a good thing for Facebook to implement. It could make people think twice before posting something that breaks Facebook’s terms of service.

Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms is a Clubhouse Competitor

It was bound to happen. Facebook has announced something called Live Audio Rooms, which they expect to make available to everyone on the Facebook app by the summer of 2021. It is obviously Facebook’s way of competing with Clubhouse.

We believe that audio is a perfect way for communities to engage around topics they care about. We’ll test Live Audio Rooms in Groups, making it available to the 1.8 billion people using Groups every month and the tens of millions of active communities on Facebook.

In addition, Facebook also plans to release Live Audio Rooms on Messenger this summer. It appears Facebook wants to allow people who create a Live Audio Room the ability to record what is said and put that audio into a podcast. Naturally, this is because Facebook has teamed up with Spotify to bring podcasts to Facebook.

The one good thing that Facebook is doing is making the audio from Live Audio Rooms and Soundbites include captions. Giving people who are hearing impaired or deaf the ability to know what is being said in a Live Audio Room makes the experience more accessible.

However, I’m not a fan of Facebook’s plan to enable people to take their Live Audio Rooms chat and upload it to their podcast. Right now, we don’t know for certain if Facebook will require creators of Live Audio Rooms to specifically gain permission to record those who attend. It is possible Facebook might put something in the “fine print” stating that entering a Live Audio Room means you consent to being recorded. In short, if you join a Live Audio Room, you should be mindful of what you say.

I believe that Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms will be a strong competitor to Clubhouse. There have been plenty examples where Clubhouse has failed to protect the privacy of users. People cannot join Clubhouse without receiving an invite from someone who is already on it. Clubhouse requires users to upload their contact list – which feels to me like an invasion of privacy.

Facebook very likely has more users than Clubhouse. If you use Facebook (or its other products) you might be aware that Facebook has been grabbing your data. The biggest advantage Facebook has over Clubhouse is that Facebook will make it as easy as possible for people to host and join Live Audio Rooms.

In my opinion, if you want to start a podcast, you shouldn’t do it on Clubhouse or Facebook. Get a WordPress blog and find a credible podcast host provider. Doing so gives you control over where your podcast “lives”, and does not require you to feed your data to voracious companies (such as Facebook and Clubhouse).

Facebook’s Oversight Board Delays Decision on Trump Suspension

Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account in January 2021, days after the riot at the U.S. Capitol. At the time, Twitter stated that the reason for the permanent suspension was “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”.

Facebook suspended Trump’s account for the same reasons. The difference between Facebook and Twitter is that Facebook’s ban was not permanent. At the time, CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, said that the platform would extend the block on Trump indefinitely, and for at least two weeks, until “the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

The transition from the Trump-Pence administration to the Biden-Harris administration happened in January of 2021. This puts Facebook into the difficult decision of deciding whether or not to allow Trump to return to the platform. No matter what decision is made, one thing is certain – it will make a lot of people angry.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook has a self-styled and handpicked “Oversight Board” who has the task of deciding whether or not to overturn Trump’s indefinite suspension.

On April 16, 2021, Facebook’s Oversight Board posted a short thread on Twitter. The first tweet said: “(1/2): The Board will announce its decision on the case concerning US President Trump’s indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks. We extended the public comments deadline for this case, receiving 9,000+ responses.”

That second tweet in the thread said: “(2/2): The Board’s commitment to carefully reviewing all comments has extended the case timeline, in line with the Board’s bylaws. We will share more information soon.”

The Hill reported: Facebook requested the board’s recommendation on suspensions when the user is a political leader, meaning the board’s decision on Trump could influence how Facebook handles bans on future leaders in the U.S. and around the world.

Personally, I think that if a public leader has been suspended from a social media platform, there is likely a good reason for it. Trump no longer holds any political office. I think Facebook’s Oversight Board should use the rules that regular people would be held to if they had their Facebook account suspended and asked for the ban to be lifted.

Facebook Allows Users to Call for the Death of Public Figures

Facebook’s bullying and harassment policy explicitly allows for “public figures” to be targeted in ways otherwise banned on the site, including “calls for [their] death”, The Guardian reported. The information comes from internal moderator guidelines that were leaked to The Guardian.

In short, it appears that Facebook thinks it is acceptable to allow public figures to be abused on their platform, including with death threats, simply because the company considers the person to be a public figure. I’m not sure why anyone who fits that definition would stay on Facebook. It seems dangerous.

The company’s definition of public figures is broad. All politicians count, whatever the level of government and whether they have been elected or are standing for office, as does any journalist who is employed “to write/speak publicly”.

Online fame is enough to qualify provided the user has more than 100,000 fans or followers on one of their social media accounts. Being in the news is enough to strip users of protections.

In addition, people who are mentioned in the title, subtitle, or preview of 5 or more news articles or media pieces within the last 2 years are counted as public figures.

Children who are under the age of 13 are never counted as public figures. That description is troubling, as it implies that teenagers 13 or older – who Facebook considers to be a public figure – can be targeted for death threats. That’s definitely not acceptable!

The internal moderator documents state that private individuals cannot be targeted with “calls for death” on Facebook. This is not so for those Facebook considers to be public figures.

According to The Guardian, public figures cannot be “purposefully exposed” to “calls for death”. What does that mean? The documents indicate that calling for the death of a local minor celebrity is acceptable to Facebook so long as the user who is making the threat does not tag the person whom they are threatening.

There are problems with that practice. Obviously, the public person who is the target of a death threat is unlikely to see it unless they have been tagged in the post. That leaves them at risk if the private person who wants them dead decides to act on it offline.

Once Facebook considers a person to be a “public figure” – it sticks. There does not appear to be a way to discover if you are considered one, which makes it impossible to have that designation removed by Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg Shares Ideas About what Smart Glasses Could Do

Mark Zuckerberg was interviewed by The Information in a 45 minute special edition bonus episode. In it, Alex Heath and Mathew Olsen spoke with Mark Zuckerberg about the promise of augmented virtual reality.

According to CNBC, Mark Zuckerberg said that by 2030, people could use smart glasses to “teleport” to other people’s homes, and speak to them as if they’re physically present. This could allow in-person meetings to be replaced by a headset-based digital experience. Zuckerberg thinks that “teleporting” could cause a reduction in travel for business or pleasure, which could help ameliorate the effects of climate change.

“Obviously, there are still going to be cars and planes and all that. But the more we can teleport around, not only are we personally eliminating commutes and stuff that’s kind of a drag for all of us, but I think that’s better for society and for the planet overall too,” Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg stated that years down the road, a pair of normal-looking computer-powered glasses that can display content alongside the real world through transparent displays would be how people could “teleport”.CNBC reported that Zuckrberg’s interview comes “as the social media company plans to release a pair of smart glasses in partnership with Ray-Ban later this year.” (Those glasses would not be “full AR”).

My biggest concern is that the smart glasses would require people to log into their Facebook account in order to use them. In October of 2020, Facebook required first time Oculus users to have a Facebook account.

Facebook to Reverse News Ban on Australian News

ABC News reported Facebook will walk back its block on Australian users sharing news on its site after the government agreed to make amendments to the proposed media bargaining laws that would force major tech giants to pay news outlets for their content.

This decision is a result of negotiations between the Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. ABC News quoted Treasurer Josh Frydenberg as saying, “Mark Zuckerberg said to me today [restoring pages] will occur in coming days.”

Facebook updated its post on its Facebook Journalism Project (that was originally about the company’s decision to restrict the availability of Australian news on Facebook) with this:

“After further discussions with the Australian government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers. We’re restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days. Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation. It’s always been our intention to support journalism in Australia and around the world, and we’ll continue to invest in news globally and resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms like Facebook.”

Personally, I am skeptical of Facebook’s claim that it has always been their intention to support journalism in Australia. If it cared about supporting news publishers it would not have banned Australian News. That decision caused collateral damage as it also resulted in blocking Australian and local news to Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Facebook’s decision also enabled anti-vaccine misinformation to spread widely since real Australian news organizations were unable to respond to and correct the misinformation in those posts. This happened at the very beginning of Australia’s vaccine rollout. In short, Facebook’s attempt to avoid paying for news may have resulted in vaccine hesitancy among some Australians.