Why a multibillion-dollar FTC fine would barely faze Facebook

In February, Tony Romm of the Washington Post reported that Facebook is negotiating an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission. The company signed a consent decree with the FTC in 2011 in which it committed to improving its privacy practices. The agreement, he said, would include a fine of billions of dollars. At that time, Facebook had no comment. But in an unusual move today, the company essentially confirmed the report as part of its quarterly profit statement.

Nick Statt reports:

The company posted first quarter earnings today for 2019, highlighting its continuous monthly and daily increases of active users. and a 26 percent increase in sales year-over-year, to $ 15.1 billion and above Wall Street expectations. But Facebook also says it is reserving $ 3 billion, or about 6 percent of its cash and negotiable securities available, for the FTC fine that is to come at some point, probably later this year.

"In the first in the 2019 quarter, we reasonably estimated a probable loss and recorded an accumulation of $ 3.0 billion in relation to the FTC's consultation in our platform and user data practices, which is includes accumulated expenses and other current liabilities in our consolidated condensed balance sheet ", the company writes in its income statement. "We estimate that the range of loss in this matter is $ 3 billion to $ 5 billion. "The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome."

In a profit call, the company said that the $ 3 billion figure was at the low end of its expectations of a fine. Ashkan Soltani, who used to work at the FTC, suggested that Facebook might have taken the unusual step of announcing a fine as a negotiating tactic – anchoring the price to a level that the company considers acceptable, while

In The Information Ashley Gold compares a potential fine of $ 3 billion with some of the other large speeding tickets issued against technology companies. It would be exponentially greater than the largest fine issued by the FTC to date: $ 22.5 million, against Google in 2012. But it would be smaller than the European shares against Big Tech. The EU issued a fine of $ 15.3 billion against Apple in 2016, for tax evasion; and a $ 5 billion fine against Google last year, for antitrust issues. And it would pale after the fines imposed on banks, such as the fine of $ 16,700 million issued by the Department of Justice against Bank of America in 2014 for defrauding consumers during the financial crisis.

Some lawmakers expressed their dismay that the proposed fine against Facebook seemed quite low. "The forecast of $ 3 billion seems insignificant compared to $ 15 billion in last quarter earnings", Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) tweeted . Investors, on the other hand, were excited: Facebook shares rose after reporting a very good quarter and adding about $ 40 billion to their market capitalization.

All of which raises the question: what would be ? An appropriate enforcement action for the US government. UU Take action against Facebook for the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, which precipitated this latest investigation? "

The best I can say, the FTC rarely establishes a justification for how it gets to fines, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal was deeply weird, as I never tire of reminding people. they had been known for most of the two years when the story broke: Facebook has long since closed access to the API that Cambridge Analytica abused, and the resulting harm to consumers was not clear. the psychographic profiles of voters acquired by Cambridge Analytica influenced the election, although explosive, it does not seem to have influenced many political scientists.)

But the FTC's investigation is taking place at a time when a vocal minority of Americans are asking for technology platforms to face real consequences after years of data breaches and data breaches. n to act from Congress, which has buffeted the agency for its institutional bias towards inaction.

On the surface, a $ 3 billion fine looks like a victory for both the FTC and Facebook. For the agency, the change will inspire a series of headlines about its "largest fine" and allow it to reject the idea that it is an office full of empty suits. For Facebook, those same owners will convey a positive sense that the company is responsible for their past crimes, while at the same time costing a senseless amount of money.

It is also possible that the fine may come with new restrictions on how Facebook collects or uses data, but I would be surprised if any of them required the company to change the way of doing business. The consent decree of 2011 was, in essence, a small promise that the company would do better to protect our privacy. And then the predictive technology became so good that companies can now infer our behavior without knowing almost anything about us, which causes many of the privacy concerns of the 2011 era

In such a world, a trivial fine about what is essentially a moot point can & # 39; It does not help, but it looks a bit ridiculous. Someday, technology companies can face the responsibility of truth. Meanwhile, what they face is very similar to the theater.


Twitter is not America

Alexis Madrigal reports on a new Pew study that identifies the differences between the average Twitter user and the average American.

In the United States, Twitter users are statistically younger, richer and more politically liberal than the general population. They also have a substantially better education, according to Pew: 42 percent of sample users had a college degree, compared to 31 percent of US adults. UU In general. Forty-one percent reported an income of more than $ 75,000, also, another big difference from the country as a whole. They were much more likely (60 percent) to be Democrats or Lean Democrats than to be Republicans or meager Republicans (35 percent).

The Indian court takes measures to lift the ban on the application of Chinese video TikTok

TikTok can return to the application stores in India, Aditya Kalra and Sudarshan Varadhan report:

Earlier this month, the The southern state court of Tamil Nadu ordered the federal government to ban TikTok downloads, saying the application fostered pornography and could expose children to sexual predators. 19659021] Last week, following subsequent instructions from the federal IT Ministry, Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc, Google removed TikTok from its application stores in India.

Facebook says the first-person Christchurch video foiled the AI ​​system

Nate Lanxon attends an audience of British lawmakers who are conducting an investigation into hate speech. They also attended Google and Twitter.

Facebook said it was struggling to identify the video of the New Zealand mosque shooting by using a camera mounted on the head by the gunman, which made it more difficult for their systems to automatically detect the nature of the video. […]

Images of terror from a first-person perspective "was a kind of video that we had not seen before," he added. Due to the nature of the video, the artificial intelligence of Facebook, used to detect and prioritize videos that probably contain suicidal or harmful acts, did not work.

New Zealand and France seek to end the use of social networks for acts of terrorism [19659027] New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron will meet in Paris next month to talk about the use of social networks to promote terrorism.

"The terrorist attacks of March 15 caused social networks to be used in an unprecedented way as a tool, to promote an act of terrorism and hatred, and we are asking for a show of leadership to ensure that social networks can not be used. again as it was in the terrorist attack of March 15, "said Jacinda Ardern.

"We are calling the leaders of technology companies to join us and help achieve our goal of eliminating violent extremism online at the Christchurch Summit in Paris.

In the Election campaign for 2020, the main official was warned: Do not tell Trump

"As secretary of national security, Kirstjen Nielsen became increasingly concerned about the Russian attempts to influence the 2020 elections", reports New York Times "But he could not discuss it at high-level meetings of the White House."

At a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump He even compared any public discussion about the malignity of Russian electoral activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory.According to a senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said that "it was not a big issue and that it should be kept below your level. "

Citizens of Sri Lanka adapt to the closure of social networks as government maintains the line

Newley Purnell and Eric Bellman explores how the prohibition of social networks in Sri Lanka is being developed in the field:

One of the most affected churches: St. Sebastian's church, which lost more than 100 worshipers in the attack, decided to use a VPN to post photos of the destruction on its Facebook page for help and prayers.

"I just got a VPN because all social media is blocked," said Reverend Edmond Tillekeratne, director of social communications for the Archdiocese of Colombo, "The truth has to come out."

Misinformation does not have to be modified to go viral

Daniel Funke examines how deception re-publish old but true information with new subtitles or contexts to turn them into viral disinformation:

Verifiers of facts across Europe denied several articles of news out of context after the fire, which produced a torrent of deceit in social networks The Spanish site of data verification Maldito Bulo wrote about how people shared a story of El Mundo about four people arrested near Notre Dame.

That story is objective, but it happened in 2016. And the users of the social networks shared it as It happened after the Notre Dame fire.


The Dirty Dozen 2019 (PDF)

Facebook made the National Occupational Safety and Health Council a list of 12 employers who put workers and communities at risk. the first time. The report cites "The Trauma Floor," my recent research on working conditions at a content moderation site in Phoenix, and a subsequent interview I did with NPR.

You may hate it, but Facebook Stories now have 500 million users

Here's a surprise of Facebook's earnings call. I would love to know who these users are. Today, seven of my 1,474 Facebook friends had a published story, or less than half of 1 percent.

Facebook is black: users say it's 'Zucked', they say talk of racism is censored as hate speech

Jessica Guynn reports that black Facebook users sometimes stay out of their accounts when talking about racism on the platform. (Publications that denigrate "white people" are not allowed).

Many of these users now think twice before posting updates on Facebook or limit how their posts are shared. However, few can afford to leave the largest and most powerful social media platform to share information and create a community.

Therefore, to avoid being tagged, use a digital jargon such as "wypipo", emojis or hashtags to bypass Facebook's computer algorithms. and content moderators. They operate under aliases and maintain backup accounts to avoid losing content and access to their community. And they have developed a system of friends to alert friends and followers when a fellow black activist has been sent to the Facebook jail, sharing the news of the suspension and the messages that placed them there.

The Gentle Side of Twitch

Nicole Carpenter explores people who use Amazon's Twitch to see more than just videogames:

Most broadcasts focus mainly on video games, but there are also transmissions of musicians , weavers, storytellers, makeup artists, scientists and photographers. There are streamers that sew costumes, put together LEGO bricks and create digital paintings of their favorite characters. Transmitters like these have been on Twitch since the beginning, but the platform officially recognized these transmissions under the "Creative" banner when it launched the new vertical in October 2015. It started with a week-long marathon by Bob Ross The Joy of Painting that sets a standard for what Creative channels could be.


The & private detector & # 39; Bumble AI will automatically detect and blur lascivious images

OK, how do I disable it? this?

Bumble is launching a "private detector" feature that can automatically detect lewd images with AI and warn users about the photo before they open it. Users can decide if they want to see, block or report the image to the moderators. The feature is part of a security initiative by Bumble's co-founders, and will also come to the Badoo, Chappy and Lumen applications, which are part of the same parent company of the dating group, starting in June.


I used to work for Google. I am a conscientious objector.

Jack Poulson, who left Google for the Maven Project, says that the technology industry needs more collective action from workers:

The direct action of technology workers has been undeniably effective. Therefore, human rights organizations should continue to advocate for the legal protection of whistleblowers and conscientious objectors, including the protection of the organization required for effective collective action. In addition, civil society in general could increase the frequency of complaints by creating a dedicated legal defense fund.

Technology companies are spending record amounts in lobbying and quietly fighting to limit the legal protections of employees for the organization. US lawmakers should respond to the call of human rights organizations and research institutions by ensuring explicit protection of complainants similar to those recently approved by the European Union. Ideally, they would vocally support an instrument that legally binds companies, through international human rights law, to defend human rights.

And finally …

Mark Zuckerberg has a podcast now

Technically it's just audio Recordings of the two interviews he's done this year as part of his personal challenge. However, I have hope for the announcements read by the host.

Tell me

Send me suggestions, comments, questions and fines from the FTC: [email protected]

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