Why Facebook’s pivot to privacy could backfire

Programming note: It's time for The Interface to make its annual spring break trip to Austin for South By Southwest! I will be interviewing Facebook's former security chief, Alex Stamos, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday local time; and Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. If you're in town, RSVP here and say hello. The Interface returns on March 13, and in the meantime, I will make a more original report that I can not wait to share with you.

On Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg published a 3,200 word blog post in which he promised to "outline our vision and principles around the construction of a platform for social networks and messages focused on privacy." I took it seriously and, hours after the publication of its publication, I contemplated a Facebook that gave priority to messaging and privacy.

But do I also take Zuckerberg seriously ? That's the charge made by Silicon Valley's favorite morning columnist, Ben Thompson, in his newsletter today. We had a friendly talk on Twitter on direct message, so there are no resentments here. But I do want to delve into the opposing views on the Zuckerberg memo, because I've noticed a fascinating division in today's views.

My opinion is that if you accept news from Facebook and other products based on sources, it will eventually fade away. From a distance, as they have already begun to do in North America, Facebook must transform its business completely. Gathering around privacy, encryption and ephemeral messages, while taking the time to develop new business related to trade and payments, seems to be as good an idea as any.

Zuckerberg weakly assents to a belief in the continued importance of News Feed in his post. But over the past year, he has also moved the best News Feed talent to parts of the company he needs to grow faster: Adam Mosseri to Instagram; the designer Geoff Teehan to the blockchain division, and so on. These movements, coupled with the decline of the original distribution in News Feed in North America, lead me to believe that Zuckerberg, once paranoid about the long-term survival of the company, feels pressured to start building lifeboats.

But after uploading its publication, Zuckerberg recoiled some of his enthusiasm for this vision of a "platform of social networks and messages focused on privacy". He told Nick Thompson in Wired :

It's not that Facebook and Instagram are going to be less important for what they're doing, it's just that people sometimes want to interact in a city square, and others want to interact in the living room, and I think that's the next big frontier. [19659011] As I said on Twitter Zuckerberg wants to have his cake and eat it too: prosperous public sources and fast growing private messaging applications. Thompson, in a piece entitled "Facebook privacy cake", takes the same metaphor and runs it:

Still have the main Facebook application, Instagram, buttons & # 39; Like it & # 39; distributed on the web, none of that will disappear With this announcement. They can afford a messaging offer focused on privacy in a way that any would-be challenger could not. It turns out that privacy is a competitive advantage for Facebook, not the club that critics of the company expected it to be.

Continue:

Stop waiting for companies to act against their interests. Facebook is not killing its main business more than Apple, to give a relevant example, is willing to go to the canvas to protect the data of users in China.

If nothing else, this view explains why Facebook's actions have been practically flat since the announcement. (Today fell by about 2 percent).

At the same time, I find that this vision is surprisingly cynical. It is taken for granted that the Facebook CEO, in announcing a bold new vision for social networks focused on privacy, actually described a high-level product roadmap for an adjacent business. It suggests that the publication was published mainly for public relations reasons: to indicate a commitment to the privacy of a company whose reputation on the subject is serious.

But assuming this is the case, Facebook has put itself in a press. On the one hand, its advertisers will demand more and more intrusive tracking and orientation options, as usual; On the other hand, there is a large and increasingly unsatisfied user base that has now been promised that the next generation of Facebook products will be private, ephemeral and that it will periodically refine its data. Facebook's full divisions will now work for cross purposes.

And with each new error related to the privacy of the data, there was one a few hours ago, by the way, the world will have the opportunity to mock: Remember the ¿A turn to privacy? If the company really wants to buy some goodwill in the short term at the expense of its long-term credibility, it seems a bad bargain.

Maybe, with the threat of a forced break in Instagram. and WhatsApp looming, Zuckerberg felt that his hand was bound, and that he had to justify the unification of the back-end technology of the applications with the most user-friendly argument he could find. But if he can not deliver on what he promised, and if the scandals related to the data continue at the pace of the last 12 months, the "pivot to privacy" will be remembered as epic madness.

One of the reasons for the confusion about Zuckerberg's publication may be that it uses "privacy" differently than most people do. As Konstantin Kakaes writes in MIT Tech Review :

By narrowly interpreting privacy it is almost exclusively about end-to-end encryption that would prevent a possible interceptor from intercepting, it manages to avoid have to think about the weaknesses and errors of Facebook. Privacy is not just keeping secrets. It is also about how information flows configure us as individuals and as a society. What we say to whom and why is a function of the context. Social networks change that context, and in doing so they change the nature of privacy, in ways that are good and bad.

Russian propagandists used Facebook to influence the 2016 US elections, perhaps decisively. Myanmar's military leaders used Facebook to incite an anti-Rohingya genocide. These are consequences of the ways in which Facebook has diminished privacy. They are not the result of encryption failures.

In any case, I found that current and former employees seemed to take the news differently. Current employees, as Peter Kafka points out here, tend to endorse Thompson's opinion that this is a pie and food situation. But former employees, I have spoken to believe Zuckerberg that he plans to change the company to a future more oriented to messages and groups, and that it will be very, very difficult. ("Everyone thinks it's a bad idea," a person familiar with employee sentiment told me today. "But it's a top-down request to do it.")

That's what matters have your cake and eat it too. Very few people come to.

Democracy

Facebook plans to join as regulators debate the issue

Makena Kelly reports that some lawmakers are not considering Facebook's effort to consolidate their messaging applications: [19659028] "Mark Zuckerberg is mocking the antitrust authorities around the world, breaking past procurement commitments and threatening to consolidate market control, "said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) at The Verge. "The FTC and the Department of Justice must see through this facade." Big Tech will never change its invasive and anti-competitive ways until changes are imposed. "

" Yesterday, I suggested that our antitrust enforcers should consider the possibility of undoing anti-competitive mergers, such as Facebook and Instagram, "Blumenthal continued.

Facebook discovers that the" fake news "network in the United Kingdom

Facebook eliminated an information operation that was followed by 175,000 people and directed to the United Kingdom. It is not clear who was behind this:

Facebook has removed more than 130 accounts, pages and groups that say they were part of a wrong information network based in the UK.

The company said that

Russia's laws prohibit "disrespect" from the government and "false news"

Here is another authoritarian leader who proh be dissent under the pretext of restricting the "false news".

The Russian Parliament has approved two bills that prohibit the "lack of respect" of the authorities and the dissemination of what the government considers to be "false news".

The first prohibition refers to the "flagrant disrespect" of the state, its officials and Russian society, and the repeat offenders. in front of you up to 15 days in jail.

YouTube presents a feature that shows fact checks when people search for sensitive topics

Pranav Dixit reports that YouTube will start displaying information panels when people search for topics that are "prone to misinformation," starting at India:

When asked for an example of the type of search that an information panel would show, the YouTube spokesperson cited the recent India-Pakistan conflict that led to a flood of

The spokesperson also provided BuzzFeed News with a catch from a panel of information in Hindi containing a debriefing for a search query in Hindi for "CCTV images of the Pulwama terrorist attack" that throws videos that attempt to pass a bomb explosion in Syria as that of an attack on the Indian paramilitary forces.

Elsewhere

Fears of car bombs and stolen prototypes: Within Facebook's efforts to protect its 80,000 workers worldwide

Rob Price has an enlightening look at the very real security threats they face Facebook and its tens of thousands of workers around the world. There are many candidates for the wildest detail in this story, but the kicker is probably the wildest:

In August 2013, after the beloved Facebook chief chef died in a motorcycle accident, the company organized a party Explosive with free alcohol. A weekend to commemorate it. The monument descended into chaos, with multiple fights among the kitchen staff, which security personnel believed were related to gangs. The event culminated when a kitchen worker was beaten so badly for Facebook reasons that they were hospitalized.

Later, the aggressor was included in the blacklist, but then continued to enter the campus to visit his mother who still worked there.

Facebook Messenger had a vulnerability that could allow hackers to see who it communicates with

Facebook became the pivot of privacy one day before a privacy vulnerability was announced. Here's Shannon Liao:

A previously reported Facebook vulnerability was also found in the company's Messenger product, according to the Imperva security research group. Nearly a year ago, Imperva researchers discovered that, through Messenger, a hacker could use "any website to expose who you've been sending messages with." The error was revealed to Facebook in May and subsequently corrected.

Hackers could point to a Facebook user's web browser and exploit iframe elements to see which friends the user has spoken to and which friends are not in the user's contact list. Imperva confirmed that the hackers could not obtain any other data of the attack.

The messy details behind Facebook's messaging plans

Mark Zuckerberg says that messaging applications should be more "interoperable". Russell Brandom delves into what that might mean in practice:

If you're from a certain generation of technologists, this may all sound a bit silly. There are many really interoperable messaging standards, either SMTP (also known as email) or XMPP (also known as Jabber), and if you do not like how they work, you can always start a new one. Facebook is not proposing any of that. Facebook is proposing a new system that controls, whose goal would be to move existing open standards, as well as competing services from Google, Apple and all others. It's a powerful game, and if it works, it would put Facebook at the center of one of the most important things we do with our phones.

It would also come with its own business opportunities, depending on how the system works. It is built. Robust encryption would mean that the company can not read the text of the messages, but if Facebook maintains the metadata, it will reveal who is sending text messages, which could be a powerful tool for targeted advertising and help Facebook develop its graph Who knows? who. It was not mentioned in the Zuckerberg publication, but it is said that Facebook is also working on a blockchain payment system that would allow users to send money through messaging applications, which would make the proposed system even more lucrative. And as regulators around the world begin to think about separating WhatsApp and Instagram, putting the three networks in a single messaging system could be a crucial political protection.

YouTube's family vloggers worry about their future in the middle of the repression comment section

Julia Alexander reports.

Most people might think that the comments section of YouTube is nothing more than a haven for trolls, but for YouTubers the comments are: A way to communicate with viewers, said Jon and Danielle The Verge . People watch YouTube to interact with creators and other fans. But YouTube has removed comments from most videos with minors, in an attempt to combat predatory behavior. The most affected videos belong to family vloggers like the Murray, a popular genre of videos about how to live with children.

"We built this relationship with our subscribers, you know," said Danielle The Verge on a phone. call. "We just picked up a bunch of mail from our P.O. box, gifts that people send us, cards and all kinds of things … it really feels like the people you know."

Can a judge order Elon Musk to delete his Twitter account?

Elizabeth Lopatto speaks with legal experts in an effort to answer the question. The answer seems to be: probably not.

"I doubt the court can, or wants, to order Mr. Musk to stop tweeting and / or delete his Twitter account," says former SEC Commissioner Harvey Pitt, now CEO of Kalorama Partners, in an email "I suspect that that kind of order would be the infraction of the First Amendment." Pitt says the court could order Musk to stop tweeting on behalf of Tesla but because Musk is so closely associated with Tesla in the public's mind, I'm not sure how that would work. This is the guy who immediately launched conspiracy theories by simply changing his name to show Twitter to "Elon Tusk" as an error.

Releases

Facebook describes plans to curb anti-VAX conspiracy theories

In the wake of Pinterest By eliminating the content of search vaccines, Facebook is following suit. It's a welcome move: promote freedom of expression and deny these fans the right to hijack Facebook's viral machinery. Rachel Becker reports:

The news comes three weeks after Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a stern letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, criticizing Facebook and Instagram for "publishing and recommending messages that discourage parents to vaccinate their children. "When children are not vaccinated due to completely discredited myths that vaccines cause diseases such as autism, dangerous diseases such as measles can spread." Schiff called this "a direct threat to public health."

One area of the biggest problem are Facebook groups where misinformation about vaccines can bounce off a pseudoscientific echo chamber, The Guardian reported last month.Today, Facebook vowed to stop promoting anti-virus groups and pages. -vax in recommendations and predictions in the search box.The company also promised to make it more difficult to find them through the search or in the News Feed.

Twitter will allow users to be much more specific when they report tweets with information

Twitter is adding new options to its tweet reporting process that abusively shares personal information al, adding much more specific fields that users can highlight when they send reports, reports Chaim Gartenberg.

Takes

A Facebook & # 39; focused on privacy & # 39; would kill Zuckerberg's business model

Alex Hern is not taking Zuckerberg seriously:

So, whether Zuckerberg believes what he says or not, the fact that Facebook's stock price barely changes in the news of Zuckerberg's note suggests that people who really own Facebook do not. They read that letter and decided that their money was perfectly safe where it was. From its conclusion, it should not be difficult to draw yours.

It's time, it's time, to take seriously the destructive role of Fox News in the United States

Margaret Sullivan says it's a plague for Fox News:

Everyone should see it for what it is: no It is a normal news organization with inevitable confusions, failures and commercial interests, which sometimes do not serve the public interest.

But it's a blatant propaganda set, which generates billions of dollars a year. We allude to the central democratic values ​​that we should value: truth, responsibility and the rule of law.

The India-Pakistan conflict was a parade of lies

Farhad Manjoo worries about erroneous information flying between two nuclear weapons. neighbors:

What I found was alarming; It should terrorize the world, not just the Indians and the Pakistanis. Whether he received his news from outlets in India or Pakistan during the conflict, he would have struggled to find his way through a miasma of lies. The lies fluttered in all media: there were lies on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp; I had thrown in the television; there were lies of the politicians; There were lies of citizens.

In addition to outright lies, almost everyone, including many journalists, played quickly and bluntly. Many discussions were tinged with rumors and assumptions. The images were manipulated, the adulterated images were shared and aired, and the actual images were discarded as they were treated. Many of the lies were directed and were not innocent slips in the fog of war, but efforts to discredit the enemy, to increase nationalist pride, to embarrass anyone who has not followed a Jingoist line. The lies fit into a pattern, crying out for war, and on both sides they suggested a society that had slipped the bonds of rationality and had fallen completely in the post-event order.

And finally …

Tim Cook is now Tim Apple on Twitter

On Wednesday, President Trump referred to the CEO of Apple on "Tim Apple", which generated widespread joy on Twitter. Today, the CEO, Tim Cook, changed his surname to the official Apple emoji. Makena Kelly reports:

The Apple character is not a Unicode symbol and, unfortunately, is only visible in Apple's operating systems. Then, if you are using an Android or Windows device, you will only see a blocked square or other "could not be displayed" symbol.

I would change my Twitter name to Casey Interface, but I have not. pretty determined about the proper emoji.

Talk to me

Send me suggestions, comments, questions and a note that explains exactly how you take Mark Zuckerberg seriously: [email protected]

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