Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook Uses Questionable Claims to Attack Apple



Starting early next year, Apple will enable a change in an upcoming iOS 14 update that Facebook is really angry about. MacRumors reported that the change will require users to grant permission for their activity to be tracked for personalized advertising purposes. Facebook clearly does not want people to be able to opt-out of targeted advertising.

Bloomberg reported that Facebook Inc. purchased a series of full-page newspaper ads in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post titled: “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere”.

In the full-page ad, Facebook claimed: “While limiting how personalized ads can be used does impact larger companies like us, these changes will be devastating to small businesses, adding to the many challenges they face right now.” To me, this is a very tiny acknowledgement that Apple’s iOS 14 update will harm Facebook’s ability to make money.

First off, it is questionable that Facebook calls targeted advertising “personalized ads”. Colorful language is often used to convince people that the thing that they do not want is somehow beneficial to them. This is especially true when a large company tries to persuade you to let them access your data.

Secondly, Facebook is hoping that you will believe that small businesses will become unsustainable if Apple users choose to opt-out of targeted advertising and tracking. That claim is questionable because the update hasn’t launched yet. Right now, there is absolutely no data that Apple’s privacy protection will kill off small businesses.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook is also upset about Apple’s newly launched “nutrition-label” style feature in its App Store. That feature outlines what data third-party apps collect. Bloomberg noted that Facebook may have seen this as an attack on Facebook’s app “given the amount of information it gathers.”


Germany Investigates Linkage Between Oculus and Facebook Network



Germany’s Bundeskartellmt (which TechCrunch translates as Germany’s Federal Cartel Office), has initiated abuse proceedings against Facebook to examine the linkage between Oculus virtual reality products and the social network and Facebook platform.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartllmt wrote:

“In the future, the use of the new Oculus glasses requires the user to also have a Facebook account. Linking virtual reality products and the group’s social network in this way could constitute a prohibited abuse of dominance by Facebook. With its social network Facebook holds a dominant position in Germany and is also already an important player in the emerging but growing VR (virtual reality) market. We intend to examine whether and to what extent this tying arrangement will affect competition in both areas of activity.”

In August, Facebook announced that it was changing the name of the VR business it acquired back in 2014 for around $2 billion – and had allowed to operate separately – to “Facebook Reality Labs,” signaling the assimilation of Oculus into its wider social empire, TechCrunch reported.

Also in August, Oculus announced that users would be required to log into Oculus with their Facebook accounts – beginning in October of 2020. Oculus users who did not have a Facebook account, and who did not want to make one, would eventually be unable to use Oculus.

TechCrunch reported that a Facebook spokesperson sent a statement. “While Oculus devices are not currently available for sale in Germany, we will cooperate fully with the Bundeskartellamt and are confident we can demonstrate that there is no basis to the investigation.”

We will have to wait and see what happens with Germany’s investigation into Facebook requiring Oculus users to have a Facebook account. Meanwhile, Oculus users in the United States, who want to continue using Oculus, are required to have a Facebook account. To me, it seems like if you want to use Oculus, you have to be tied to Facebook forever – or lose access.


FTC Sues Facebook for Illegal Monopolization



The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has sued Facebook. The FTC alleges that Facebook is illegally maintaining its personal social network monopoly through a years-long course of anticompetitive conduct. The lawsuit comes after a lengthy investigation in cooperation with a coalition of attorneys general of 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.

The FTC is seeking a permanent injunction in federal court that could, among other things: require divestitures of assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp; prohibit Facebook from imposing anticompetitive conditions on software developers; and require Facebook to seek prior notice and approval for future mergers and acquisitions.

A separate lawsuit is led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who stated that: “The lawsuit alleges that, over the last decade, the social networking giant illegally acquired competitors in a predatory manner and cut services to smaller threats – depriving users from the benefits of competition and reducing privacy protections and services along the way – all in an effort to boost its bottom line through increased advertising revenue.”

The Verge reported that this lawsuit centers on Facebook’s acquisitions, particularly its $1 billion purchase of Instagram in 2011. In addition to its acquisition strategy, the attorneys general allege that Facebook used the power and reach of its platform to stifle user growth for competing services. The Verge also reported that the FTC case cites Facebook’s decision to block Vine’s friend-finding feature after the Twitter acquisition as a particularly flagrant instance of this behavior.

To me, it seems like Facebook could potentially face some legal consequences as a result of one – or both – of these lawsuits. It will be interesting to see what would happen if Facebook is required to seperate itself from Instagram and WhatsApp. If Facebook is required to improve user privacy, I think many people would want to know the specific details about how it will do that.


How Twitter and Facebook Will Handle Trump’s Account After January 20



The New York Times reported some details about how Facebook and Twitter will handle President Trump’s accounts after he is no longer a world leader. Once again, it appears that the two social media companies have very different plans about how to respond to whatever Trump posts after his presidential term is over.

In a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senators asked Facebook’s Chief Executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and Twitter’s Chief Executive, Jack Dorsey, questions about their platforms. It appears that the Republicans, and the Democrats, had differing ideas about the topics that were most important to ask questions about.

The New York Times Reported the following:

Jack Dorsey said, “If an account suddenly is not a world leader anymore, that particular policy goes away.” He was referring to Twitter’s current policy of adding a label to Trump’s tweets to indicate that the content of the tweet was disputed or glorified violence. Labeled Tweets cannot be liked or retweeted.

Most Twitter users have to abide by rules that forbid threats, harassment, impersonation, and copyright violations. If someone breaks one (or more) of these rules, they may be required to delete that tweet. Or, their account may be temporarily banned.

According to The New York Times, Mark Zuckerberg said at the hearing that Facebook would not change the way it moderates Trump’s posts after he leaves office. Facebook has labeled some of Trump’s posts in which he made claims that Facebook deemed to be false information. Facebook users could still like and share those posts.

This information is useful for people who currently use Facebook and/or Twitter, as it allows people to decide for themselves which policy they would prefer to see. Those who want to read Trump’s posts after he is no longer President might choose Facebook – who will label misleading posts and leave them up. Those who would prefer their Twitter feed not to be cluttered with reactions to Trump’s misleading Tweets, may stick with Twitter.


Facebook Labels on Trump’s False Claims Didn’t Stop their Spread



Facebook has placed labels on content that includes misinformation about elections. The labels have been added to some of President Trump’s posts in which he made claims about the election that Facebook deemed to be false information. Unfortunately for Facebook (and its users), the labels did almost nothing to stop the spread of false information posted by President Trump.

BuzzFeed News reported that a Facebook employee asked last week whether Facebook had any data about the effectiveness of the labels. A data scientists revealed that the labels do very little to reduce the spread of false content.

The data scientist noted that adding the labels was not expected to reduce the spread of false content. Instead, they are used “to provide factual information in context to the post.” BuzzFeed News reported that the labels on President Trump’s posts (that contained false information) decreased reshares by about 8% and are among some of the posts that got the most engagement on the platform.

Why did that happen? The answer seems obvious, based on what BuzzFeed News reported. Facebook applied some labels to some of President Trump’s posts that contained misinformation about the election. It didn’t actually do anything to prevent users from liking or sharing those posts.

Twitter also applied labels to some of President Trump’s tweets that contained misinformation about elections. The addition of a label disables a user’s attempt to Retweet or Like those tweets. Users can Quote-Tweet them if they want to add their own commentary in regards to a specific labeled tweet.

On November 12, 2020, Twitter posted an update about their work regarding the 2020 U.S. Elections. In it, Twitter stated that they saw an estimated 29% decrease in Quote Tweets of the labeled tweets due in part to a prompt that warned people prior to sharing. In the same post, Twitter stated that they don’t believe that the Like button provides sufficient, thoughtful consideration prior to amplifying tweets.

I find it interesting that Twitter and Facebook appear to have entirely different ideas about what to do about election related content that is misinformation. Both applied labels, but Twitter took things a step further and disabled user’s ability to Like or Retweet those kinds of posts. Neither platform was 100% successful at stopping the spread of misinformation – but Twitter did a better job of it than Facebook.


Some Conservatives are Leaving Twitter and Facebook for Parler



Are you unhappy with Twitter and/or Facebook? Do you consider yourself to be conservative? It might be time for you to stop using the big social media companies and switch over to one that appears to be very popular with people who are conservative. The New York Times reported that Parler was at the top of Apple’s App Store in downloads last weekend. It is a Twitter-like social media app that doesn’t seem to have as many rules as Twitter (or Facebook) do.

Despite the conservative ire, Facebook and Twitter have long taken a mostly hands-off approach to digital speech. In recent months, however, the companies ramped up their efforts to prevent election misinformation. Facebook and Twitter said they would label false posts and slow down how quickly they could be shared, among other moves. They said many of the changes would be temporary.

The main idea I got from reading The New York Times article is there are people who are angry with Twitter and Facebook. That, by itself, is not unusual.

This group, however, considers themselves to be conservative. A number of them seem to think that Twitter’s labeling of tweets that contain misinformation is equal to censorship. One could assume that this group is also displeased when Facebook removes groups that have broken their rules. Parler offers conservatives a social media app where nothing will be labeled or fact-checked.

Slate reported that there already are some well known conservatives who are on Parler (but have not entirely left Twitter or Facebook). This includes Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Eric Trump. Houston Chronicle reported that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator Devin Nunes, and Tucker Carlson are on Parler.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Parler says that all are welcome. That could mean that it is not specifically intending to be a “bubble” for conservative-minded people. Personally, I don’t think it will interest very many people who do not happen to be conservative.


Facebook Rejected 2.2 Million Political Ads Seeking to Obstruct Voting



In September, Facebook announced that it won’t accept political ads in the week before the US Election. Their ban on political ads would only affect the ones submitted after October 27, 2020.

Recently, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communication, told French Weekly Journal du Dimanche that a total of 2.2 million ads on Facebook and Instagram have been rejected, and 120,000 posts were withdrawn for attempting to “obstruct voting” in the upcoming US election. In addition, Facebook has been posting warnings on 150 million examples of false information that were on Facebook and Instagram

Facebook has been increasing its efforts to avoid a repeat of events leading up to the 2016 US presidential election, won by Donald Trump, when its network was used for attempts at voter manipulation carried out from Russia.

There were similar problems ahead of Britain’s 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union.

According to Nick Clegg, Facebook has thirty-five thousand employees taking care of the security of Facebook’s platforms and contribute for elections. The company also has partnerships with 70 specialized media, including five in France, on the verification of information. Facebook also uses artificial intelligence that Nick Clegg says has “made it possible to delete billions of posts and fake accounts, even before they are reported by users.”

It appears that Facebook is putting in some effort to remove political misinformation, and also to reject unacceptable political ads. To me, this is a starting point that should have begun before the US primary elections and caucuses. Waiting until right before Election Day to clean up its platforms is too late.