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The Guardian view on Google’s mammoth fine: tackling big tech | Editorial16h The Guardian view on Google’s mammoth fine: tackling big tech | Editorial
The European commission’s tough approach to Google shows a willingness to stand up to Silicon ValleyThe information commissioner gave Facebook a rap over the knuckles earlier this month, putting the company on notice of likely fines – the equivalent of a few minutes’ revenue – for breaches of privacy. Yesterday the European commission gave Google a rather more vigorous correction,
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A Family Reunion, Thanks to Facebook 18 Jul 6:24pm A Family Reunion, Thanks to Facebook
My cousin Kelly and I became Facebook friends, then became real friends.
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The Guardian view on controlling social media: the start of a long road | Editorial 11 Jul 1:18pm The Guardian view on controlling social media: the start of a long road | Editorial
The information commissioner’s fine against Facebook will hardly scratch its profits but nonetheless lays down an essential marker about the protection of our dataFacebook has been fined five and a half minutes’ revenue – the most the law allows – for breach of data protection regulations in connection with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a welcome recognition of the tireless work done by the Observer on the story. But it must only be the beginning of a wider examination of the ways in which big data shifts the balance of power in a democratic society. Even if it can never be proved that
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Why is the BBC downplaying the Facebook Brexit scandal? | Jonathan Freedland 11 Jul 7:50am Why is the BBC downplaying the Facebook Brexit scandal? | Jonathan Freedland
The broadcaster fears accusations of bias. But it must not overlook allegations of dishonesty linked to the leave campaign
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How to Beat the Zuckerberg Casino 8 Jul 2:36pm How to Beat the Zuckerberg Casino
The key to success in Facebook advertising is finding an affordable audience.
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Guardian readers are right to ask what we do with their data | Paul Chadwick 8 Jul 2:00pm Guardian readers are right to ask what we do with their data | Paul Chadwick
Following revelations about Facebook’s use of personal data, it’s right to take a closer look at our own terms and conditionsOver the past few months, as the Guardian and the Observer reported misuses of personal data that people share with Facebook, you may have imagined you heard a loud rustling of papers or a racket of clicks. That would have been the sound of executives in companies all over Europe checking the terms and conditions under which they handle their own customers’ data. “Do our policies align with our practices?” many would have asked themselves. The issue was front of mind for most managers anyway, because around that time EU member countries were preparing for the coming into force on 25 May of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), with its more stringent rules about collection, use and security of personal information.
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Southgate’s England team reflect the best of us. It feels good to embrace them | David Olusoga 7 Jul 12:21pm Southgate’s England team reflect the best of us. It feels good to embrace them | David Olusoga
England’s victory was delivered by a diverse, dynamic team. They and their manager can help reshape the country’s identityShould you want one, you could order an “Anyone but England” T-shirt right now on eBay or Amazon. If that doesn’t appeal, you could go for a shirt bearing the snazzy acronym “ABE”. Or you could just settle down with a laptop and browse one of the Anyone but England Facebook pages. There is (inevitably) an Anyone but England Twitter hashtag, and in the buildup to every England game pictures are posted of people wrapped in the flags of the opposing nations. These anti-England selfies appear alongside internet memes lampooning the England team and their supporters. Perhaps predictably the biggest market for Anyone but England “merch” lies north of the border. It was Scottish football fans who first adopted the phrase en masse in the run-up to the
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Are people becoming less reliant on Facebook for their news? | Paul Chadwick 17 Jun 2:00pm Are people becoming less reliant on Facebook for their news? | Paul Chadwick
Two new surveys suggest the public still value traditional news publishers When you try to imagine a media diet consisting only of retweets, random blogs or the Facebook posts of family and friends, you grasp the value of journalism created by professional media organisations. Traditional news organisations aren’t perfect, but they are not fake. Nor are they as readily manipulated as we know social media can be. Professional journalism’s longstanding skills of access to sources, verification, presentation and dependable distribution remain an essential element of what nourishes democratic societies. That insight, sharply conveyed in images accompanying this column, informs a new campaign to promote the well-regarded
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Could this be the end of Facebook controlling news? 17 Jun 9:00am Could this be the end of Facebook controlling news?
Two reports show signs of a shift in the wake of electoral and data misuse scandals Has social media – that ad-guzzling tyrant of a teenager – reached a turning point on the way to adulthood? Scandals over electoral fraud and misuse of data appear, for the first time, to be affecting the behaviour of Facebook and those who use it. Journalists love to announce a watershed moment and the relationship between those who produce most of the world’s news, and those who host it online, is still as fractious as that between parent and teenage child. But two hefty reports last week show signs of a shift. First, the
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No, Facebook, I won’t be back. I’ve seen the dangers of habitual sharing | Emma Brockes 15 Jun 3:00am No, Facebook, I won’t be back. I’ve seen the dangers of habitual sharing | Emma Brockes
Emerging from the grey brain-state felt like a restoration of the natural order, where memories are allowed to fadeThe best thing about quitting Facebook, I have discovered, has been the platform’s increasingly frantic efforts to win me back. It has been two months since I last checked my feed, during which time Facebook has sent me notifications I didn’t sign up for, informing me every time someone posts, and invited me to attend locally organised focus groups. Ignoring these overtures has given me at least as much pleasure as checking the site ever did. Of course, I am anthropomorphising a machine; no one is in charge of all this. But the small satisfaction of imagining the behemoth scratching its head and wondering how anyone can
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The tech giants’ empire must fall – but they won’t go without a fight | Rafael Behr 5 Jun 1:00am The tech giants’ empire must fall – but they won’t go without a fight | Rafael Behr
The power of corporate giants like Amazon and Facebook is unparalleled. A regulatory assault seems urgent, inevitable – and impossibleThe most memorable parts of last year’s Conservative election manifesto were the ones Theresa May would rather forget. History will immortalise her social care reform as a voter-repellent “
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Yes, drill music is violent. But banning it will achieve nothing | Iman Amrani 30 May 10:40am Yes, drill music is violent. But banning it will achieve nothing | Iman Amrani
No musical genre exists in a vacuum. Taking drill videos off YouTube won’t affect the deeper issues that lead to youth violenceYoung people aren’t radicalised by YouTube videos. Young would-be jihadists don’t decide to blow themselves up just because of online exchanges with recruiters, young white supremacists don’t just go out on mass shootings because of the Facebook groups they belong to, and young black men don’t just go out and stab each other because of drill music videos. And this might sound obvious, but it’s worth saying: in most cases it’s more complicated than that. There’s often a context where people feel angry, have few opportunities, feel their lives have little value or few believable promises for the future. I’ve
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In Sri Lanka, Facebook’s dominance has cost lives | John Harris 6 May 1:35pm In Sri Lanka, Facebook’s dominance has cost lives | John Harris
As the tech giant spreads to poor countries around the globe, a pattern of false information leading to violence is emergingFor the past six weeks or so, the snowballing story of Facebook’s crisis has been framed almost exclusively in terms of the
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Two centuries on, Karl Marx feels more revolutionary than ever | Stuart Jeffries 5 May 1:00am Two centuries on, Karl Marx feels more revolutionary than ever | Stuart Jeffries
From trainer fetishism to Facebook fever, it’s all there in The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital The other day I stood at the grave of
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Tech is turning love into a rightwing game | Alfie Bown 3 May 7:55am Tech is turning love into a rightwing game | Alfie Bown
From Facebook’s new dating app to ‘smart condoms’, new technologies are pushing ever deeper into narcissism
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Who should hold the keys to our data? | Nigel Shadbolt and Roger Hampson 29 Apr 1:00am Who should hold the keys to our data? | Nigel Shadbolt and Roger Hampson
The Observer’s Facebook revelations reignited debates about ownership of our details. But while we seek privacy in parts of our digital life, open data elsewhere could be a force for goodIn March 2007,
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What should be done with Facebook – break it up, or regulate it? | Damian Tambini 27 Apr 7:24am What should be done with Facebook – break it up, or regulate it? | Damian Tambini
A consensus says that something must be done with the all-powerful tech platforms. But how far do governments go?Facebook has finally been
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If incels’ violent misogyny had a role in Toronto, we mustn’t downplay it | Emer O’Toole 25 Apr 6:41am If incels’ violent misogyny had a role in Toronto, we mustn’t downplay it | Emer O’Toole
A Facebook post supposedly from the killer claimed support for ‘incels’. We ignore this online poison at our peril On 6 December 1989, a misogynist who claimed he was “fighting feminism”
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The Guardian view on ad tech: a tangled web | Editorial 23 Apr 1:01pm The Guardian view on ad tech: a tangled web | Editorial
Martin Lewis is suing Facebook. The question is whether companies can be held responsible for the behaviour of their softwareMartin Lewis, the consumer advice and money-saving expert,
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The tech titans must have their monopoly broken – and this is how we do it | Vince Cable 20 Apr 3:00am The tech titans must have their monopoly broken – and this is how we do it | Vince Cable
Facebook, Google and co pose a problem to society, not least because of data misuse and extreme content. Only some level of regulation will do Data is the new oil. Just as John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil swept up the spoils of the – initially competitive – oil rush, the future of the internet will be shaped by a handful of tech titans, including Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and their Chinese equivalents
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Democrats Have Neglected Online Privacy 18 Apr 6:42pm Democrats Have Neglected Online Privacy
Obama’s FCC cracked down on ISPs, but left Facebook & Co. alone.
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The Guardian view on Facebook’s business: a danger to democracy | Editorial 17 Apr 1:33pm The Guardian view on Facebook’s business: a danger to democracy | Editorial
The conceit of data mining firms is that they could win elections by moulding electorates based on new identities and value systems – a process accelerated by the echo chamber of social mediaFacebook sees itself as a commercial firm, not a social institution, and behaves accordingly. It makes money based on the depth and scale of its users’ data. That is why no one should be surprised that a former executive from the controversial data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica claimed in parliament that it had used harvested data from a
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How many people had their data harvested by Cambridge Analytica? | Paul Chadwick 16 Apr 2:00am How many people had their data harvested by Cambridge Analytica? | Paul Chadwick
Estimates suggest that tens of millions were affected. But, given the potential for data harvesting under Facebook’s previous policies, this may be a small part of the picture Statistics are a staple of journalistic accuracy issues, but rarely is a number so big, consequential and hard to verify as the number of Facebook users directly affected by the still emerging Cambridge Analytica story. Is it no more than 30 million, as Cambridge Analytica says? Fifty million, as
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The Guardian view on Facebook: time to tame the surveillance economy | Editorial 13 Apr 12:12pm The Guardian view on Facebook: time to tame the surveillance economy | Editorial
Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress told us little new, but his evasions showed that he knows which questions go to the heart of his businessThe second day of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress answered some important questions: that is to say, it showed which questions the Facebook CEO was reluctant to answer honestly. Any inquest into the activities of Cambridge Analytica or the Russian “troll factories” are easily disposed of. Those horses have long bolted, but the stables they once occupied will now be fitted with wonderfully chromed locks. Third parties will no longer be able to make quite such free use of the unfathomable quantities of data that Facebook accumulates. The interesting question, however, is whether Facebook itself plans to make use of this, and here Mr Zuckerberg was less than entirely candid or open. He said the company “limits the amount of data” it collects and uses. Of course it does. There is no earthly use for much of the data it collects and there is probably some that it could collect but does not. The question he dodged is where these limits are set; once it is established where the company now sets them, the question for democratic politicians around the world is where they should be set and what legislation will put – and keep – them there.
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The Zuckerberg Collusion 11 Apr 7:27pm The Zuckerberg Collusion
Was it Facebook’s job to tell voters Russian bots were working for Trump’s election?
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Democrats Unfriend Facebook 11 Apr 6:56pm Democrats Unfriend Facebook
Zuckerberg takes a beating for sins that the Obama Administration overlooked.
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Facebook, the Company That Loves Misery 11 Apr 6:50pm Facebook, the Company That Loves Misery
The site can be charming, but it comes at the cost of privacy, dignity and peace of mind.
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Zuckerberg got off lightly. Why are politicians so bad at asking questions? | Jonathan Freedland 11 Apr 9:03am Zuckerberg got off lightly. Why are politicians so bad at asking questions? | Jonathan Freedland
Senators let Facebook’s founder off the hook – but that’s got nothing to with them being tech dinosaursWhen Mark Zuckerberg appears on Capitol Hill again for a second round of questioning, he will be hoping for nothing so much as a rerun of yesterday’s performance. That went so well, Facebook’s share price
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Zuckerberg got away because he wasn’t asked the right questions | Jonathan Freedland 11 Apr 8:55am Zuckerberg got away because he wasn’t asked the right questions | Jonathan Freedland
Senators let Facebook’s founder off the hook – but that’s got nothing to with politicians being tech dinosaurs When Mark Zuckerberg appears on Capitol Hill again for a second round of questioning, he will be hoping for nothing so much as a rerun of yesterday’s performance. That went so well, Facebook’s share price
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The GOP Needs a Free Facebook 9 Apr 8:08pm The GOP Needs a Free Facebook
Regulation would turn the social-media giant into just another media filter—with the usual bias.
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A Better Way to Make Facebook Pay 8 Apr 1:44pm A Better Way to Make Facebook Pay
A simple law—‘Users own their private data’—would make social media great.
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The vital questions Mark Zuckerberg must answer | Carole Cadwalladr 8 Apr 1:00am The vital questions Mark Zuckerberg must answer | Carole Cadwalladr
Facebook’s founder will finally answer questions in the Senate. What would we ask him here? As the Cambridge Analytica data scandal continues to unfold, Mark Zuckerberg has finally bowed to public pressure and
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We need to build a new social contract for the digital age | Kevin Keith 4 Apr 1:45am We need to build a new social contract for the digital age | Kevin Keith
We are conditioned to view data as a threat, but it can be the opposite, if all parties understand the deal into which they are entering “Raise your hands if you trust Facebook, if you trust Google, if you trust government.” It was spring 2017, and I was leading a debate with young people in Canberra. “Has anybody heard of Cambridge Analytica?” Heads shook. I explained behavioural communication. How Cambridge Analytica built “psychographics” from Facebook data to measure personality and motivation – what you choose and why you choose it – with the intention of influencing how people vote. The room fell silent, people looked alarmed.
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3 Apr 5:34pm Updated Start Worrying about Facebook
Zuckerberg is becoming a more aggressive media gatekeeper. His political critics will be pleased.
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Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you | Dylan Curran 30 Mar 3:17am Updated Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you | Dylan Curran
The harvesting of our personal details goes far beyond what many of us could imagine. So I braced myself and had a look
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Happy Easter to you. Now let’s nationalise our churches | Simon Jenkins 30 Mar 1:00am Happy Easter to you. Now let’s nationalise our churches | Simon Jenkins
Church buildings should revert to places of congregation, comfort and enterprise – through liberation from the churchLonely this Easter, depressed, in need of company or just escaping Facebook tyranny? Why not go to church? Or rather go not to church but to “a church”, one where no one preaches or expects you to pray? The number of beautiful but deserted churches in England is turning from an Anglican anguish into a national scandal. There are
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Facebook saga is reality check for post-Brexit Britain | Letters 29 Mar 1:02pm Facebook saga is reality check for post-Brexit Britain | Letters
Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to testify in the UK shows us what we can expect as a small nation adrift on its own, says
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Is Facebook a Frankenstein? 28 Mar 5:50pm Is Facebook a Frankenstein?
Mark Zuckerberg, the biggest web target, is about to get torched by the U.S. Congress.
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Big Tech Takes Us to the Unknown 28 Mar 9:09am Updated Big Tech Takes Us to the Unknown
Facebook and Uber are leading us where we haven’t been before, so let’s learn.
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The benefit of being 112 on Facebook | Brief letters 27 Mar 1:35pm The benefit of being 112 on Facebook | Brief letters
John Rothenstein | Green getaway | Jennie Lee and Aneurin Bevan | Facebook | Memorable sick noteIt is to be hoped that John Rothenstein’s diary (
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The Guardian view on surveillance: make your number unobtainable | Editorial 26 Mar 1:30pm The Guardian view on surveillance: make your number unobtainable | Editorial
Google and Facebook have collected private data without oversight on a scale that no democratic government would be allowed to do. They shouldn’t be allowed eitherOne of the strangest features of the current debates about privacy on the internet is the way in which private advertising companies are able to get away with practices that no democratic government could. The security services and police are restricted in their surveillance of private citizens on the web by the
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Think you’re immune to advertising? It’s the greatest trick Facebook ever pulled | Suzanne Moore 26 Mar 12:46pm Think you’re immune to advertising? It’s the greatest trick Facebook ever pulled | Suzanne Moore
Now that digital ads are fragmented and microtargeted, we have no idea how minds are being changed – and that’s scary Unlike the rest of you mere mortals, I am immune to advertising. The billions of dollars, all the creativity poured into making me want certain things, it just doesn’t work on me. It is the same with politics. Nothing anyone says could change my mind; I will not waver from my innate good sense. In any survey I undertake, I am never a “don’t know”; I always know for sure. I am unseducible. This is clearly nonsense, but this position is being taken by many over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Friends on Facebook boast of their impenetrability. They see themselves targeted and laugh. Plus, they are not losers who would buy any old thing online, so they will not be deleting this app. As I am 105 on Facebook and live in Kyrgyzstan – I was on to the robot detectives years ago – the ads I get are mostly for incontinence pads, funerals and jerk chicken. Is jerk chicken big in Kyrgyzstan?
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Facebook told me it would act swiftly on data misuse – in 2015 | Harry Davies 26 Mar 6:00am Facebook told me it would act swiftly on data misuse – in 2015 | Harry Davies
While I was tracing Cambridge Analytica’s activities, Facebook was portraying the 2016 election as a big commercial opportunityShortly after the US midterm elections in 2014 – and back when Donald Trump was busy launching the seventh series of Celebrity Apprentice – I received a tip about a little-known British company known as Strategic Communication Laboratories, or SCL. At the time I was working on the Guardian’s investigations desk, and I heard the company’s “election management” consultancy was branching out into US voter targeting with a curious new product and corporate identity. This, I would later discover, was
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How Could Facebook Have Been So Careless? 25 Mar 3:12pm How Could Facebook Have Been So Careless?
If it sold user data for scholarly use only, it could have taken measures to enforce that restriction.
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Did Facebook read my private emails? | Letters 25 Mar 12:49pm Did Facebook read my private emails? | Letters
At a time of great emotional pain,
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Politicians can’t control the digital giants with rules drawn up for the analogue era | Andrew Rawnsley 25 Mar 2:06am Politicians can’t control the digital giants with rules drawn up for the analogue era | Andrew Rawnsley
Legislators need to be robust if we are to restore faith in the integrity of democratic politicsMatt Hancock, the ambitious minister with responsibility for digital, has won himself a few pixels of attention by saying that Facebook could be hit with a $1bn fine if it breaks the rules in future. That sounds like a big number to a British politician, but to a tech leviathan it is not even small change. Mark Zuckerberg will be more perturbed that $75bn has been wiped off the company’s market value since last Sunday. That was when the
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The people owned the web, tech giants stole it. This is how we take it back | Jonathan Freedland 23 Mar 1:46pm The people owned the web, tech giants stole it. This is how we take it back | Jonathan Freedland
Social media gave the powerless a weapon but it was wrenched away by firms such as Facebook and Cambridge AnalyticaI blame the T-shirts. The casual wear favoured by those founding wunderkinds of tech – Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and the rest – lulled us into a false sense of security. Even after they’d begun making serious money, too many of us took the aversion to a collar and tie to mean the likes of Facebook or Google were not really scary capitalist behemoths, but retained the spirit of the upstart startup: quirky, plucky and driven chiefly by a desire to do cool stuff with computers. They certainly saw themselves that way, Google charmingly distilling its mission statement into three words: “Don’t be evil.” It’s amazing how long an initial image of laidback informality can endure: for decades, Britons struggled to see Virgin as a corporate giant because Richard Branson had long hair and a goatee.
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The world still needs news. It’s time Facebook realised this | Jon Snow 23 Mar 1:43pm The world still needs news. It’s time Facebook realised this | Jon Snow
Journalists are grateful for the reach the internet gives us, but those who harvest data must take responsibility for the risks this bringsWe are at a crunch point between truth and lies, and Facebook is right at the centre. This week we – the Observer and Guardian, Channel 4 News and the New York Times – have thrown our all at
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The Guardian view on regulating Facebook: the time has come | Editorial 23 Mar 1:10pm The Guardian view on regulating Facebook: the time has come | Editorial
People have social reasons to be on Facebook. These explain both why users value it despite its privacy risks and why they underestimate those risks. It’s time government stepped in to safeguard public privacyIn 2004 Mark Zuckerberg began Facebook, or The Facebook, as an undergraduate at Harvard University. Its roots lie in a
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This could potentially drive readers crazy | Brief letters 23 Mar 12:33pm This could potentially drive readers crazy | Brief letters
Data harvesting | Facebook | Ed Balls | Redundant words | Dire spelling | Latin mnemonicI am in my 80th year, and have never revealed any personal details on social media nor bought anything online, yet for the last 20 years have been inundated with advertising for arthritis cures, aids for bathing, shopping trolleys, wheelchairs, funeral arrangements, stairlifts, etc. So it isn’t just social media platforms that have been harvesting data (
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Delete Facebook? That’s as hard as giving up sugar | Dean Burnett 23 Mar 8:36am Delete Facebook? That’s as hard as giving up sugar | Dean Burnett
Plenty of people say they’re going to do it, but in the end can’t. So why do social networks have such a hold?The recently exposed Cambridge Analytica scandal, where intrepid Observer journalists revealed that more than
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The Facebook scandal isn’t just about privacy. Your economic future is on the line | James Ball 23 Mar 4:00am The Facebook scandal isn’t just about privacy. Your economic future is on the line | James Ball
If data is the new oil, the wells are in the hands of a few billionaires, and we need to ask how to take back the wealthWhenever a technological revolution brings upheaval to the world, it initially benefits the small number of people at its forefront to the detriment of others. When the industrial revolution brought about the birth of mass production, it led to thousands of skilled, independent workers losing their trades and much of their livelihoods, facing either unemployment or less-skilled work in the new factories, with the loss of autonomy that entailed.
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Stop using Facebook? It’s not quite that simple | Letters 22 Mar 2:17pm Stop using Facebook? It’s not quite that simple | Letters
Readers respond to recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, and suggest ways our personal data might be better safeguardedPatrick Cosgrove (
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Steve Bell on the Facebook crisis and Donald Trump – cartoon 21 Mar 4:28pm Steve Bell on the Facebook crisis and Donald Trump – cartoon
a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2018/mar/21/steve-bell-on-the-facebook-crisis-and-donald-trump-cartoon">Continue reading...
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The Guardian view on big tech: a new era needs new rules | Editorial 21 Mar 1:24pm The Guardian view on big tech: a new era needs new rules | Editorial
Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are too big and too powerful. Regulation has to catch up with the changing character of the digital economyOne beneficiary of the scandal surrounding a massive data leak from Facebook has been its fellow technology giant Amazon. Tens of billions of dollars were wiped from Facebook’s value in just a few days. Other tech companies, including Google, also suffered. But Amazon was spared. Earlier this week the online retailer overtook Alphabet, the parent company of Google, to
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The Cambridge Analytica saga is a scandal of Facebook’s own making | John Harris 21 Mar 7:33am The Cambridge Analytica saga is a scandal of Facebook’s own making | John Harris
This mess was inevitable. Facebook has worked tirelessly to gather as much data on users as it could – and to profit from itBig corporate scandals tend not to come completely out of the blue. As with politicians, accident-prone companies rarely become that way by accident, and a spectacular crisis can often arrive at the end of a long spell of bad decisions and confidence curdling into hubris. So it is with the tale of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, and a saga that vividly highlights the awful mess that the biggest player in billions of online lives has turned into.
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Mark Zuckerberg Is No James Madison 20 Mar 6:31pm Mark Zuckerberg Is No James Madison
The Constitution was designed to constrain our worst impulses. Facebook encourages them.
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Facebook Joins the Club 19 Mar 6:58pm Facebook Joins the Club
Big Tech is learning what it’s like to deal with political risk.
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No one can pretend Facebook is just harmless fun anymore | Ellie Mae O’Hagan 18 Mar 12:21pm No one can pretend Facebook is just harmless fun anymore | Ellie Mae O’Hagan
From its stance on extremist content, to its vast caches of user data, Facebook is a corporation whose power must, finally, be reined inThe revelation that
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The Observer view on how Facebook’s destructive ethos imperils democracy | Observer editorial 17 Mar 1:59pm The Observer view on how Facebook’s destructive ethos imperils democracy | Observer editorial
Our revelations about the harvesting of users’ data show that Mark Zuckerberg’s all-powerful company has little sense of responsibilityFacebook likes to present itself as a tech company, but often appears more like an advertising corporation that happens to use digital technology in order to conduct its core business. The personal information and data trails left by its 2 billion users to construct detailed profiles allows advertisers to send precisely calibrated advertisements to people who are likely to be susceptible to, or persuaded by, them. Although the original intention was to build an automated machine for delivering commercial messages, it rapidly became clear that the technology could also be used for delivering targeted political messages to voters, and this appears to be what happened in both the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election. What this meant was that Facebook acquired both political power and serious responsibilities.
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I downloaded all my Facebook data – here’s what I learned 13 Mar 8:29am I downloaded all my Facebook data – here’s what I learned
After 11 years my account was a mausoleum of old photos. But requesting my archive proved a wakeup call about what other intel the company had on meHi, my name is Arwa and my interests include homosexuality and dinner. In November 2015, I poked my friend Britta for the third time in a row. At 13.46 EST on 2 December 2017, I deactivated
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Protect the News From Google and Facebook 25 Feb 5:06pm Protect the News From Google and Facebook
A partial exemption from antitrust laws would help publishers and readers.
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Social media spying is turning us into a stalking society | Keza MacDonald 13 Feb 10:58am Social media spying is turning us into a stalking society | Keza MacDonald
The gap between harmless social media following and criminal behaviour isn’t as large as we like to believe: Facebook, Twitter and others must act on misuse and abuseHave you ever brought up an ex’s Instagram profile in a moment of weakness, and pawed sadly though photos of them looking happy with someone else? How about meeting someone promising and then browsing their recent Facebook postings to get to know them better? Or, in the first weeks of a new relationship, have you found yourself scouring publicly posted words and photos for hidden meaning when they haven’t texted back? I’ll admit it: I have, in my early 20s, after three pints. I think anyone who has ever been caught in the web of social media would be lying if they said they had never indulged in a bit of harmless “research”. Is Twitter responsible for the use of its platform to harass? Is Instagram when someone uses it to stalk an ex?
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Fascism is back in Italy and it’s paralysing the political system | Roberto Saviano 10 Feb 7:04pm Fascism is back in Italy and it’s paralysing the political system | Roberto Saviano
Parties on right and left are urging people not to talk about an incident in which six immigrants were shot. They are afraid of alienating an increasingly xenophobic electorate Late last Saturday morning, 3 February, news started to come in from Macerata, a small county town in central Italy – shots had been fired from a moving black Alfa Romeo 147. On Facebook, the mayor encouraged everyone to stay indoors because “an armed man has opened fire from a car”. A couple of days earlier in Macerata, the body, cut up in pieces, of a young woman, Pamela Mastropietro, had been found in a suitcase and a Nigerian drug-pusher, Innocent Oseghale, had been arrested for murder. Oseghale is still in prison, accused of contempt and concealing the corpse.
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Fake news has a long history. Beware the state being keeper of ‘the truth’ | Kenan Malik 10 Feb 7:00pm Fake news has a long history. Beware the state being keeper of ‘the truth’ | Kenan Malik
Tempting as it is to legislate against manipulated ‘facts’, it both misguided and dangerousBefore Facebook, there was the coffee house. In the 17th-century, panic gripped British royal circles that these newly established drinking salons had become forums for political dissent. In 1672, Charles II issued a proclamation “to restrain the spreading of false news” that was helping “to nourish an universal jealousie and dissatisfaction in the minds of all His Majesties good subjects”. Now, 350 years on, legislators across the world are seeking to do the same. Last week, the House of Commons digital culture, media and sport
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A lesson about polyamory for a mum moored to the past | Claire Armitstead 9 Feb 8:32am A lesson about polyamory for a mum moored to the past | Claire Armitstead
The trans insight that people need to be seen to be understood persuaded me to watch my son’s documentaryThere’s a joke in my family that I joined Facebook to spy on my children, and they befriended me because they knew I wouldn’t bother. I’ve never been one to snoop on my nearest and dearest, and have always avoided writing about them, but two events this week have prompted a temporary change of heart. In
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What About Social-Media Neutrality? 28 Jan 4:43pm What About Social-Media Neutrality?
Facebook’s algorithms have outsize power, both culturally and economically.
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How to Grieve in the Facebook Age 22 Jan 7:08pm How to Grieve in the Facebook Age
Be thoughtful when your online friends have lost a loved one.
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Facebook’s news feed change won’t help social media addiction | Eleni Stefanou 15 Jan 7:21am Facebook’s news feed change won’t help social media addiction | Eleni Stefanou
Mark Zuckerberg says he wants to ensure Facebook is good for people’s wellbeing – but its business model remains unaltered When Facebook announced it was
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Did You Get My Message? 8 Jan 7:28pm Did You Get My Message?
Check your email, text, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
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Take it from the insiders: Silicon Valley is eating your soul | John Harris 1 Jan 1:00am Take it from the insiders: Silicon Valley is eating your soul | John Harris
Former Google and Facebook executives are sounding the alarm about the pervasive power of tech. Will we listen? One source of angst came close to being 2017’s signature subject: how the internet and the tiny handful of companies that dominate it are affecting both individual minds and the present and future of the planet. The old idea of the online world as a burgeoning utopia looks to have peaked around the time of the Arab spring, and is in retreat. If you want a sense of how much has changed, picture the president of the US tweeting his latest provocation in the small hours, and consider an array of words and phrases now freighted with meaning:
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Bitcoin is a bubble, but the technology behind it could transform the world | Will Hutton 23 Dec 2017, 7:05pm Bitcoin is a bubble, but the technology behind it could transform the world | Will Hutton
Blockchain poses as big a threat to banks as Facebook and Amazon did to conventional media firmsHumanity’s earliest, truly transformative general purpose technologies were the ability to cross-fertilise plants and cross-breed animals. Suddenly, it made more sense to farm than to hunt and gather. The surge in agricultural output meant humans could do other things than worry about survival; they could live in cities. Human civilisation began. The story of the subsequent millennia has been how some 30 general-purpose technologies of equal power, ranging from the printing press to the steam engine, have driven similar leaps in transforming our economy, our lives and our civilisation. Today, we are living through another.
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The Google-Facebook Duopoly Threatens Diversity of Thought 18 Dec 2017, 7:15pm The Google-Facebook Duopoly Threatens Diversity of Thought
A political website pulled an article after Google’s AdSense team threatened to withdraw advertising.
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9 Dec 2017, 7:05pm As corporate goliaths grow ever larger, Britain looks increasingly exposed | Will Hutton
A handful of companies now wields massive global power. Outside the EU, we will be their preyWe live in a world of corporate goliaths and the trend to gigantism is accelerating. The new era of hi-tech data capitalism has an embedded proclivity to monopoly. The bigger the network, whether Facebook or Google, the more valuable it is to be connected. Big is good in the digital universe, while even bigger is better. Meanwhile, analogue capitalism, confronted by the challenge of the new, is reacting by consolidating and merging into ever larger entities. Unless they do, comes the reply to any challenge from national competition authorities, they won’t have the heft and scale to meet the new competition. Increasingly, we are surrounded by the most awesome concentration of corporate power in the history of capitalism. In every industry, reported the Obama administration last year, the
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Jeremy Hunt is right. Please, Facebook, leave our kids alone | Gaby Hinsliff 8 Dec 2017, 1:00am Jeremy Hunt is right. Please, Facebook, leave our kids alone | Gaby Hinsliff
The company has just launched Messenger Kids in the US. We may be smartphone addicts, but that doesn’t mean we want our kids to get hooked tooRemember candy cigarettes? They were a
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Do we really want Mark Zuckerberg to run the world? | John Harris 27 Nov 2017, 1:00am Do we really want Mark Zuckerberg to run the world? | John Harris
The Facebook chief executive doesn’t need to become US president. He is already way too powerful for thatThe question is almost a year old, and not currently being asked in quite the feverish way it was over the summer. But let’s try it again: could Mark Zuckerberg run for US president? The founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook began 2017 by announcing
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No trolling, no threats, no swearing: the Manhattan mothers’ very civil war | Emma Brockes 23 Nov 2017, 12:25pm No trolling, no threats, no swearing: the Manhattan mothers’ very civil war | Emma Brockes
The Mommas Facebook group was shut down after endless online fights, but their impeccable debating standards are a lesson to us allSomething exciting happened in the world of online mothers’ forums this week, and it wasn’t a list of 10 new ways to spy on your nanny. In Britain there is
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WhatsApp: inside the secret world of group chat 12 Nov 2017, 3:00am WhatsApp: inside the secret world of group chat
When WhatsApp launched it quickly became the main messaging service for groups of friends and family. More recently it’s become a useful platform for activists and politicians, fuelling a ‘whisper network’ of alliances and playing a crucial role in the recent revelation of the sexual abuse scandal If Jan Koum and Brian Acton hadn’t been turned down for jobs at Facebook, the lives of a billion or so people around the world might look somewhat different today. Their failure to get hired, however, left the two former Yahoo! employees with enough time on their hands to play around with an idea. And eight years ago, that idea became
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How Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy | Roger McNamee 11 Nov 2017, 4:00am How Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy | Roger McNamee
The sad truth is that Facebook and Google have behaved irresponsibly in the pursuit of massive profits. And this has come at a cost to our health In an interview this week with Axios, Facebook’s original president, Sean Parker, admitted that the company intentionally sought to addict users and expressed regret at the damage being inflicted on children. This admission, by one of the architects of Facebook, comes on the heels of last week’s hearings by Congressional committees about Russian interference in the 2016 election, where the general counsels of Facebook, Alphabet (parent of Google and YouTube), and Twitter attempted to deflect responsibility for manipulation of their platforms.
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Social Media Is the Trump of Industries 3 Nov 2017, 6:14pm Social Media Is the Trump of Industries
Don’t like Twitter, Google and Facebook? Tar them with the Russia brush.
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How to stop Google and Facebook from becoming even more powerful | Barry Lynn and Matt Stoller 2 Nov 2017, 6:00am How to stop Google and Facebook from becoming even more powerful | Barry Lynn and Matt Stoller
Banning these tech giants from buying any more companies would prevent them from entrenching their monopoly position – and help protect our freedom
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We are all angry on social media – at least try to listen to the rage of others | Zoe Williams 9 Oct 2017, 1:00am We are all angry on social media – at least try to listen to the rage of others | Zoe Williams
Far from expanding democracy, Facebook and Twitter polarise it. But conflict in our public discourse predates Silicon Valley, and has always inspired changeSeveral years ago I was on Facebook, looking for a thing – way outside my own networks, wandering around strangers’ pages like unfamiliar streets on the other side of my city. I was looking for the kind of person who would poison a dog at a dog show, which had apparently happened in Belgium. Two years later,
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My son deleted Instagram – but why is it so hard for so many teenagers? | Stephanie Merritt 6 Oct 2017, 7:57am My son deleted Instagram – but why is it so hard for so many teenagers? | Stephanie Merritt
Schools and parents need a greater awareness that our children want to be less dependent on social media and their online life Last November, after the US presidential election, I stopped using Facebook in a fit of moral high dudgeon over the by now familiar claims that it had spread and profited from inflammatory
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If journalists take sides, who will speak truth to power? | John Harris 6 Oct 2017, 1:00am If journalists take sides, who will speak truth to power? | John Harris
The idea that those who seek to hold the mighty to account should be activists is a very dangerous oneSince the Labour party conference roared to its triumphant close just over a week ago, a 90-second video has been punted around Twitter and Facebook featuring the indomitable MP-cum-national treasure Dennis Skinner. On YouTube,
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How smearing a student’s reputation was irresistible for the media | Nick Cohen 25 Sep 2017, 6:28am How smearing a student’s reputation was irresistible for the media | Nick Cohen
Many news organisations published Robbie Travers’ claims to have been victim of a PC stitch-up. If only they had dug a little deeper into the murky racial politics behind the story On 12 May, Robbie Travers sent Esme Allman, a fellow student at Edinburgh University, a Facebook message. “Hey Esme, just to let you know multiple news agencies have been delivered [sic] your comments on calling black men trash. You might want to think about saying that in future, some have been linked it [sic] to neo-Nazism.”
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The Australian government responds to Rohingya crisis – with emojis and cash! | First Dog on the Moon 20 Sep 2017, 3:35am The Australian government responds to Rohingya crisis – with emojis and cash! | First Dog on the Moon
What? Genocide? Really? How awful, is there a GoFundMe or a Facebook page?
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If Mark Zuckerberg runs for president, will Facebook help him win? | Katherine Haenschen 9 Sep 2017, 6:00am If Mark Zuckerberg runs for president, will Facebook help him win? | Katherine Haenschen
Facebook can shift elections. That’s why, with rumors swirling that the social media CEO might run, transparency is needed now more than ever Despite his protestations to the contrary, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been acting like someone planning to
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We need to nationalise Google, Facebook and Amazon. Here’s why | Nick Srnicek 30 Aug 2017, 1:00am We need to nationalise Google, Facebook and Amazon. Here’s why | Nick Srnicek
A crisis is looming. These monopoly platforms hoovering up our data have no competition: they’re too big to serve the public interest For the briefest moment in March 2014, Facebook’s dominance looked under threat.
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Thank you, Sinéad O’Connor, for showing the messy reality of mental illness | Paris Lees 9 Aug 2017, 7:50am Thank you, Sinéad O’Connor, for showing the messy reality of mental illness | Paris Lees
People tend to only talk about their mental health struggles after the event. The Irish singer’s Facebook video is difficult to watch, but vitally importantThree cheers for
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The right to be forgotten is the right to have an imperfect past | Suzanne Moore 7 Aug 2017, 8:04am The right to be forgotten is the right to have an imperfect past | Suzanne Moore
The data protection bill is about refusing to give ownership of our identity to the likes of Facebook and Google – because we all make mistakes when youngRecently, on a crowded bus, I saw a woman struggling with a toddler in full tantrum mode. The little child was sobbing and screaming “What is my password? What is my password” over and over again. The child’s mother could do nothing but shush her. Did this child have a password? Did the mother know it? We all hoped so. Anything to stop the meltdown.
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Going back to Facebook after four years is a sad and scary experience | Hannah Jane Parkinson 30 Jul 2017, 2:00am Going back to Facebook after four years is a sad and scary experience | Hannah Jane Parkinson
You can’t beat the site’s global reach, but the dullness of the news feed is something that’s easy to leave behind Four years ago this month, I made a decision that has altered my life considerably. I left Facebook. I peeled away from
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The Guardian view on the future of crime: it will be online | Editorial 19 Jul 2017, 12:19pm The Guardian view on the future of crime: it will be online | Editorial
The dangers of machine intelligence will grow as it spreads. We need to prepare nowWhen software gets smarter, the first effect is to empower the already powerful. The fantastic powers available now to Google and Facebook, which are now in practice the publishers of most of what appears on the public internet, is one example. More sinister is the power of nation states to spy on us, to manipulate their own citizens, and to disrupt the workings of their enemies. But these advantages cannot last. Soon they have to be reinforced by law, and ultimately force, as the techniques behind them spread and hardware grows cheaper and more plentiful. The speed of technological progress, and the ease with which ideas can now spread, mean that few techniques can long remain the preserve of large firms or entities. Every advance in power and convenience available to the ordinary consumer will soon be available to criminals too. Illegal commerce, whether in drugs, forged documents, stolen credit cards or emails, is nearly as slick and well organised as the legal sort. So are the criminal world’s labour exchanges: hiring someone to hack a website, or to boost your Twitter account with fake followers, is easily done. So is renting a botnet of suborned devices to knock an enemy’s website off the net. Last year large chunks of the consumer internet in the US were knocked out for hours, apparently by an assault
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Hate-filled abuse is poisoning Britain. I fought it, and ask you to do the same | Gina Miller 12 Jul 2017, 12:48pm Hate-filled abuse is poisoning Britain. I fought it, and ask you to do the same | Gina Miller
The 4th Viscount St Davids made vile threats to my life on Facebook and will pay the price. But this is part of a wider problem that needs an urgent solution
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Mark Zuckerberg’s got some cheek, advocating a universal basic income | Sonia Sodha 10 Jul 2017, 5:00am Mark Zuckerberg’s got some cheek, advocating a universal basic income | Sonia Sodha
It is a bit rich for Facebook’s CEO to back the idea of people living on a meagre state handout while his company does everything it can to minimise its tax bill
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How Antitrust Undermines Press Freedom 9 Jul 2017, 7:28pm How Antitrust Undermines Press Freedom
Facebook and Google dominate online ads, and news companies can’t join forces to compete.
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Mark Zuckerberg, the Church of Facebook can never be. Here’s why | Peter Ormerod 29 Jun 2017, 8:31am Mark Zuckerberg, the Church of Facebook can never be. Here’s why | Peter Ormerod
A good church is so much more than just a social network. And, crucially, it tells us that we are not at the centre of the worldYou can see why Mark Zuckerberg might be getting a God complex. Facebook now has
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The Guardian view on online politics: bring the ads into the light | Editorial 12 Jun 2017, 1:58pm The Guardian view on online politics: bring the ads into the light | Editorial
Facebook makes it easy to target very small sections of the electorate. The rest of us should be able to see these messagesElection campaigns should be fought in the open. Voters should freely make up their minds on the basis of arguments openly presented. This is a principle fundamental to the workings of democracy; but some forms of online advertising threaten to subvert it. In particular, micro-targeted advertising where the message is only seen by a carefully selected audience makes it too easy for politicians to make incompatible promises to different audiences, without anyone being able to check and correlate all of their messages. More worrying still is the claim that it aids the production of carefully targeted voter suppression ads, designed not to persuade people to vote for one party, but not to vote at all. By their nature these claims are hard to check. Despite the excellent work being done by groups such as
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Facebook needs to be more open about its effect on democracy | John Gallacher and Monica Kaminska 12 Jun 2017, 9:46am Facebook needs to be more open about its effect on democracy | John Gallacher and Monica Kaminska
Social media plays a huge role in elections. But while Twitter allows access to its data, Facebook’s secrecy means the extent of its influence may never be knownFacebook and Twitter fast became major electoral battlegrounds in the 2017 general election. It is here that campaigns had the potential to be won or lost. Young voters in particular
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On Facebook, even Harvard students can’t be too paranoid | Tim Dowling 6 Jun 2017, 3:37pm On Facebook, even Harvard students can’t be too paranoid | Tim Dowling
Now computers spy on us and typing speeds betray emotions, it’s touching that the smartest students in the land still think they can offend in privateThe other day I noticed that the little green light next to the camera built into my computer screen was on. It’s perfectly possible that I had recently used some app that required the camera, and forgotten about it; but I couldn’t find a way to turn it off. It’s unlikely anyone was really watching me pretend to work, but my computer definitely was.
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‘Blame the internet’ is just not a good enough response, Theresa May | Charles Arthur 4 Jun 2017, 11:03am ‘Blame the internet’ is just not a good enough response, Theresa May | Charles Arthur
After London Bridge the prime minister has wheeled out the usual scapegoat, and demanded controls on cyberspace – but that would open a Pandora’s boxWe can feel pretty certain that the London Bridge attackers did the following things: owned smartphones; and used Google, YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp. That isn’t because owning those things and using those services marks you out as a terrorist: it’s because it marks you out as someone living in the west in the 21st century. The problem, as those companies (actually only two: Google owns YouTube, and Facebook owns WhatsApp) are discovering, is that politicians aren’t too picky about the distinction. Speaking outside 10 Downing St this morning, Theresa May was much more aggressive in her tone than previously. The London Bridge attack had its roots in Islamic extremism, she observed: “We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services, provide.” She continued: “We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorism planning.”
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Theresa May wants to tackle online extremism. Here’s how to do it | Charles Arthur 26 May 2017, 9:08am Theresa May wants to tackle online extremism. Here’s how to do it | Charles Arthur
After the Manchester attack, there are fresh calls for regulation of Facebook and Google. But what’s needed, specifically, is a rethink of profit-seeking algorithmsSomething must be done. Particularly, something must be done about Facebook and YouTube (and to a lesser extent Twitter). That has become the reflexive rallying cry of UK ministers whenever there is a terrorist attack, or when one is thwarted.
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Are journalists prying too far into grief? | Jane Martinson 25 May 2017, 12:02pm Are journalists prying too far into grief? | Jane Martinson
Media treatment of tragedies such as the Manchester attack is in the spotlight. The industry must remember its reponsibility to the people whose stories it tells Emma’s mother heard that her daughter had been caught up in a terrorist attack from the Sun newspaper while Emma (not her real name) was still in shock, a long way away, with a disconnected phone and her Facebook account hacked.
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Facebook is too lenient on those peddling hate speech | Jessica Valenti 24 May 2017, 7:38am Facebook is too lenient on those peddling hate speech | Jessica Valenti
The social media giant too often gives the benefit of the doubt to disseminators of misogyny and white supremacism. That’s a dangerous – and unnecessary – policy There’s a quote from Maya Angelou that I’m fond of: “When people show you who they are, believe them.” It’s a sentiment I think about quite a lot when I’m
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The Guardian view on moderating Facebook: we need to talk | Editorial 22 May 2017, 2:55pm The Guardian view on moderating Facebook: we need to talk | Editorial
Should Facebook be policed as a public space or a private one? We need a wide-ranging debate on this giant company’s responsibilitiesFacebook became one of the largest media companies in the world by positioning itself as not a media company at all. That way it could not be held to the same kind of legal responsibilities as its competitors were. Instead it was, and remains, largely free to set its own editorial standards. As our
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Facebook generates massive profits – it can afford to protect the public | Suzanne Moore 22 May 2017, 9:40am Facebook generates massive profits – it can afford to protect the public | Suzanne Moore
The Guardian’s Facebook Files series has exposed the confused set of guidelines that underpin its moderation of images of suicide and non-sexual child abuseWhen Mark Zuckerberg
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Wake up! Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook are running our lives | Hannah Jane Parkinson 12 May 2017, 6:33am Wake up! Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook are running our lives | Hannah Jane Parkinson
We need to take these tech giants to task. They must acknowledge their influence and become truly accountable for their actions Let’s say you woke up this morning and after stopping your alarm clock, asked it to play some get-up-and-go music. You go to make breakfast and see that you’re out of butter, but it doesn’t matter,
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With its bedrock smashed to pieces, Labour cannot win | Aditya Chakrabortty 9 May 2017, 12:45am With its bedrock smashed to pieces, Labour cannot win | Aditya Chakrabortty
Despite Welsh industry’s tragic decline, the party took the region for granted. If the Tories win here, that’s whyTwo elections are being fought this month. Let’s call the first the official election. It’s the one you watch on the television, read about in the papers, see as a meme on Facebook. It’s the kind that leaps on the weekend’s local polling and proclaims it a disaster for Jeremy Corbyn. That serves up a hot take on any policy, no matter how trivial (four more bank holidays) or unachievable (
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2 May 2017, 8:18pm Updated Facebook and Diversity
How far is Sheryl Sandberg’s company leaning in?
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Who Watches a Murder Streamed Live on Facebook? 26 Apr 2017, 7:08am Updated Who Watches a Murder Streamed Live on Facebook?
Robert Godwin’s killing was replayed 1.6 million times. AI can help, but not with human nature.
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How Facebook became a home to psychopaths | John Naughton 23 Apr 2017, 2:00am How Facebook became a home to psychopaths | John Naughton
The man who shot dead an innocent 74-year-old, then posted his confession on Facebook Live, points up a worrying trend on social media The old adage “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind. A while back, Facebook launched
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Fake News and the Digital Duopoly 4 Apr 2017, 7:11pm Updated Fake News and the Digital Duopoly
Google and Facebook have created a dysfunctional and socially destructive information ecosystem.
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1 Apr 2017, 7:05pm Society will be defined by how we deal with tech giants | Martin Moore
Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are taking more control of our lives. Will post-Brexit Britain let it continue?As Brexit begins and the government starts the laborious process of cutting and pasting the repeal bill, what should Britain do about the tech giants? There is a fissure growing between European and US attitudes towards these global super-platforms – “the Gafa” as Brussels calls them (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) – and the UK will soon need to decide on which side it sits. Will we continue to let these corporations and their services grow unchecked? Will we try to challenge their dominance and impose obligations on them? Or will we “take back control” and find a third way? The approach we take to Google, Facebook and their Silicon Valley peers will affect us all. Who can honestly say that they go through a day without using one of these companies’ services? We wake to their alarms on our phones; we check our emails on their platforms; we do our shopping on their browsers; we navigate by their maps; they host our virtual identities.
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30 Mar 2017, 9:26am No, wealth isn’t created at the top. It is merely devoured there | Rutger Bregman
Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook ... a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they’re sucking the rest of us dryThis piece is about one of the biggest taboos of our times. About a truth that is seldom acknowledged, and yet – on reflection – cannot be denied. The truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state.
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Are we finally reacting to the disruptive supremacy of Facebook and Google? | Will Hutton 25 Mar 2017, 8:05pm Are we finally reacting to the disruptive supremacy of Facebook and Google? | Will Hutton
Germany challenges Facebook on personal data, Google agrees to police its ads: are these landmark events?
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Facebook needs news. So why shouldn’t it pay for it? 19 Mar 2017, 3:00am Facebook needs news. So why shouldn’t it pay for it?
Advertising is falling. Paywalls push readers away. But a big endowment from the tech moguls, to be shared among all papers, could work in everyone’s interestsOne basic truth is stark enough as newsrooms around Britain – and around the world – contract or close. The advertising money that used to underpin journalism isn’t there any longer. It is going, going, gone … into the maw of the internet in general, but Facebook and Google in particular. And without that revenue, journalism itself is at risk. Two expert writers in the current
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Whether trans or cis, let women be what they want to be | Gaby Hinsliff 9 Mar 2017, 3:09pm Whether trans or cis, let women be what they want to be | Gaby Hinsliff
Jenni Murray has fallen into a familiar trap. As a gender, we restrict ourselves with artificial definitions – there are many ways to be feminineWhen you’re on the phone, do you talk most of the time or listen? If you have a technical problem, do you ask advice, or try and fix it yourself? According to a quiz doing the rounds on Facebook, the answers to these and eight more questions predict age and gender with astonishing accuracy. So obviously I took the quiz, and back came the astonishingly accurate verdict: I am a 15-year-old boy. Rumbled, obviously. But then again, perhaps it’s just a clever parody designed to make a point about the crumbling of old certainties. So much for all that
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Instagram is my haven from rage-filled social media | Rebecca Nicholson 7 Mar 2017, 11:24am Instagram is my haven from rage-filled social media | Rebecca Nicholson
The photo-sharing site still offers moments of kindness – and we all need a slice of rainbow cake once in a while Like many people, I have had the moment where I have turned my back on Facebook. I’ve given up on being so connected, frustrated at how difficult it is to sit through anything without the unthinking reflex of a diversionary scroll through what people I have met at parties or old jobs are up to. But in the past, my freedom from Facebook has only ever lasted for a few weeks. I’ve always been back, digital tail between my legs, tentatively liking a status update about something funny my nephew has done. This time, however, I’ve cracked it. It was almost inadvertent. Tired of my phone constantly running out of space for very important photos of my dog, I read a memory-saving recommendation that suggested deleting the hefty Facebook app. It was the clean break that I needed. Now, I check it, on my laptop, once or twice a day. I no longer get notifications. I don’t spend hours scrolling all the way down, because on the browser, it’s too easy to accidentally like a holiday snap from a schoolfriend you haven’t spoken to since 2001, and that is as creepy as it is mortifying.
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Trump’s Sweden tweets expose the essential problem with social media | Suzanne Moore 20 Feb 2017, 8:03am Trump’s Sweden tweets expose the essential problem with social media | Suzanne Moore
The fantasy of a democratised communication has given way to all kinds of abuse, including misogyny and death threats – and trolling by Donald TrumpI like to go on Facebook and moan to friends about how awful Twitter is these days. There is neither rhyme nor reason on Twitter; just a lot of shouting by folk in a semi-aroused state of permanent outrage. Then there are the trolls – some of them “journalists” – roaming the Twitter plains for a reaction, and usually getting get it. Many of these are people with posh names, liberal-baiting sayers of the unsayable – the “unsayable” generally just being routine racism, sexism and idiocy. Attention is their choice of lubricant, and we really should not provide it. Then of course there is Donald Trump, who while tweeting on the toilet gives us direct access to his … brain? Policies? Night terrors? Or maybe he’s just devoted to giving us the pure stuff that the media would inevitably lie about.
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The Observer view on Mark Zuckerberg | Observer editorial 18 Feb 2017, 7:05pm The Observer view on Mark Zuckerberg | Observer editorial
His Facebook vision is anything but benign‘Are we building the world we want?” Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire CEO of Facebook, asked last week in a 5,700-word post that was quickly dubbed a “manifesto”. He used it to launch a strident defence of globalisation, striking a discordant note with the populism of contemporary political debate, and to set out his vision for the role he believes Facebook should play in creating a better world. While Zuckerberg appears to acknowledge some of the criticism that has been levelled at an increasingly powerful Facebook in recent years, it would be wrong to be lulled into a false sense of security by his reassuringly benign tones. In his post, he signals a shift in Facebook’s mission, historically focused on giving people the power to share and connect. On Friday, Zuckerberg wrote “the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us”.
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Mark Zuckerberg rules his empire but politics is another country | Anne McElvoy 17 Feb 2017, 2:22pm Mark Zuckerberg rules his empire but politics is another country | Anne McElvoy
The Facebook founder could yet lead other tech titans into the arena of public life. But they would need a whole new set of skillsAbraham Lincoln took under 300 words to deliver the
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What Facebook and Instagram’s censorship of my Tillmans post says about our fear of offending | Emma Blau 17 Feb 2017, 7:28am What Facebook and Instagram’s censorship of my Tillmans post says about our fear of offending | Emma Blau
My picture of an intimate piece was removed. But I’m uncomfortable with the idea that we have an intrinsic right to be comfortable at all timesI was delighted to attend the private view of Wolfgang Tillmans’ mid-career show
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Is technology smart enough to fix the fake news frenzy? | John Naughton 4 Feb 2017, 1:00pm Is technology smart enough to fix the fake news frenzy? | John Naughton
As we drown in misinformation, we’re looking to the tech giants to hit the truth button. If only it were that easyThe debate about “fake news” and the “post-truth” society we now supposedly inhabit has become the epistemological version of a feeding frenzy: so much heat, so little light. Two things about it are particularly infuriating. The first is the implicit assumption that “truth” is somehow a straightforward thing and our problem is that we just can’t be bothered any more to find it. The second is the failure to appreciate that the profitability, if not the entire business model, of both Google and Facebook depends critically on them not taking responsibility for what passes through their servers. So hoping that these companies will somehow fix the problem is like persuading turkeys to look forward to Christmas. What we learned in 2016 was the depth of the hole that digital technology has enabled us to dig for ourselves. We’re now in so deep that we can barely see out of it. Liberal democracy could be facing an existential threat, for it’s not clear that it can endure if its public sphere becomes completely polluted by falsehoods, misapprehensions, ignorance, prejudice, conspiracy theories and hatred.
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Nigel Farage on Loose Women showed the problem of our political bubbles | Iman Amrani 3 Feb 2017, 10:38am Nigel Farage on Loose Women showed the problem of our political bubbles | Iman Amrani
Watching the former Ukip leader on TV was a wake-up call to me. With divisions between groups widening, it’s essential we move out of our comfort zonesI don’t fit into the Loose Women demographic. I’m at work when it is on and when I’m not I select what I want to catch up with online, which is usually EastEnders or whatever I can find on Netflix. It’s one of the many shows which usually sits outside of my bubble. So if I hadn’t seen a link shared by a friend on Facebook to
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The fightback against Trump starts with Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech | Suzanne Moore 9 Jan 2017, 7:58am The fightback against Trump starts with Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech | Suzanne Moore
The thin-skinned president-elect craves approval. Now’s the time for some star power to challenge his egoThere is a Facebook group called
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Can Mark Zuckerberg Find Enlightenment? 5 Jan 2017, 7:04pm Can Mark Zuckerberg Find Enlightenment?
Facebook shareholders could benefit if the company’s CEO takes up Buddhism.
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Smartphones are stealing our time. This new year, I want to claim it back | Marcus Gilroy-Ware 29 Dec 2016, 7:30am Smartphones are stealing our time. This new year, I want to claim it back | Marcus Gilroy-Ware
Apps offer an enticing temporary escape, but my resolution for 2017 is to swap Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram for facing real life head onI sit with a friend having some seasonal drinks. The second she gets up to go to the toilet, I catch myself reaching for my smartphone. But instead of taking it out and idly filling the two minutes she’s gone, I flip the switch on the side to silent and look around the room instead. I’m practising for 2017. On the face of it, smartphones might seem like hard things to hate. On average, smartphone owners use them for over
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Never mind Russia – it’s the internet’s culture of lies we should be tackling | Simon Jenkins 16 Dec 2016, 6:35am Never mind Russia – it’s the internet’s culture of lies we should be tackling | Simon Jenkins
With the digital air thick with mendacity, and cyber-conflict on the rise, it’s clear that the Google/Facebook duopoly badly needs some kind of external controlEveryone can lie. That is the agony and the ecstasy of the internet. It is guilt-free, open-season, licensed mendacity. You can forget the glory days when it was the empire of the weak, the kingdom of the free. It is like capitalism in the 19th century. It is raw, unfettered, unreliable power. We are right to fear it.
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With Trump and Uber, the driverless future could turn into a nightmare | John Harris 16 Dec 2016, 1:00am With Trump and Uber, the driverless future could turn into a nightmare | John Harris
The automation revolution is no longer a sci-fi dream – but millions of jobs may go, fuelling yet more alienation and dismayThe future is here – not in the shape of Facebook, Twitter and all the rest, but in a drastic change to one of civilisation’s basic requirements: getting humans from place to place. On Wednesday, Uber added a second American city to an experiment that will soon expand: having already
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Facebook an antidote to mainstream media | Letters 12 Dec 2016, 2:47pm Facebook an antidote to mainstream media | Letters
I read John Harris’s article (
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How to Beat the Scourge of Fake News 11 Dec 2016, 4:21pm How to Beat the Scourge of Fake News
Facebook and Google can’t do it alone. Better educating consumers is crucial.
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The worst of Brexit: cheese after dessert | Brief letters 9 Dec 2016, 2:09pm The worst of Brexit: cheese after dessert | Brief letters
Boris Johnson | Momentum | Cheap EU labour | Four-course confusion | Christmas presents | Pioneering Letchworth | Peter VaughanI am nearly 92, half-blind and not on Facebook, nor do I tweet or twitter and am not a member of the ruling class. But I want somehow to express my astonishment and delight that a senior politician (and a Tory at that!) should at last have spoken the truth about our relations with Saudi Arabia and other “puppeteers” of that region (
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A challenge to Facebook’s reach and power is long overdue | John Harris 8 Dec 2016, 2:44pm A challenge to Facebook’s reach and power is long overdue | John Harris
Mark Zuckerberg’s company feeds utopian delusions, but in reality it is just a billionaire’s media outlet grinding out a fortune“As I look around and I travel around the world, I’m starting to see people and nations turning inward, against this idea of a connected world and a global community. I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others.”
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The pedlars of fake news are corroding democracy | Andrew Smith 25 Nov 2016, 2:34pm The pedlars of fake news are corroding democracy | Andrew Smith
If most adults get their news from Facebook we need laws to make the social networks accountableThe most interesting question about 2016 is not why the Brexit result and Trump happened, but whether historians will regard both as incidental; whether this will go down as the year democracy revealed itself unworkable in the age of the internet – in which
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23 Nov 2016, 2:57pm Condemning ‘Fake News,’ but Running Fake-News Ads
Facebook and Google are under fire for spreading fake news, but given some of the ads it runs, The Times should take a good look at its own house.
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Don’t fall for the new hopelessness. We still have the power to bring change 23 Nov 2016, 1:49pm Don’t fall for the new hopelessness. We still have the power to bring change
The left’s response to Trump and Brexit feels like a surrender to the cycle of history. But nothing is a foregone conclusion A friend posts a picture of a baby. A beautiful baby. A child is brought into the world, this world, and I like it on Facebook because I like it in real life. If anything can be an unreservedly good thing it is a baby. But no ... someone else says to me, while airily discussing how terrible everything is: “I don’t know why anyone would have a child now.” As though any child was ever born of reason. I wonder at their mental state, but soon
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A moment of truth for Mark Zuckerberg | John Naughton 20 Nov 2016, 8:34am A moment of truth for Mark Zuckerberg | John Naughton
Fake news might be bad for democratic elections, but it’s big business for Facebook Well, the election is over; now we’re knee-deep in postmortems. Every mainstream publication and every corner of the blogosphere is full of autopsies. Many of these investigations have an anguished “How could this have happened?” tone. American students in a university department adjacent to mine have decorated the trees outside with hundreds of distraught but determinedly forward-looking messages. “Love WILL Conquer!” says one. “Knowledge not Ignorance,” says another. I don’t propose to add to this genre. If you want an informed, dispassionate analysis of the campaign that has given Trump the keys to the kingdom, look no further than
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19 Nov 2016, 2:30pm Facebook and the Digital Virus Called Fake News
Hoaxes are not just bouncing around among conspiracy theorists; candidates and elected officials are sharing them, too.
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11 Nov 2016, 2:08pm Protect newspapers via a levy on digital giants like Google and Facebook | Letters
Digital intermediaries such as Google and Facebook are not only amassing eye-watering profits and paying minimal tax in the UK, they are also bleeding the newspaper industry dry by sucking up advertising revenue. As national and local newspapers try to cut their way out of trouble by slashing editorial budgets and shedding staff, journalistic quality is becoming a casualty. Public interest journalism in particular has been hit the hardest as newspapers are lured into a clickbait culture which favours the sensational and the trivial. In the light of this, we propose a 1% levy on the operations of the largest digital intermediaries with the resulting funds redistributed to non-profit ventures with a mandate to produce original local or investigative news reporting. This kind of cross-subsidy is what sustained Channel 4 in its formative years. We believe that it is now time for policymakers to address the emergent gaps in the supply of diverse media and to secure the trusted and independent news system that our democracy so desperately needs. We are backing an amendment to the digital economy bill currently going through parliament and will continue to press for a news media that places the public interest above those of shareholder and vested interests.
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2 Nov 2016, 6:50am Social media has us under surveillance – and your phone is a Stasi agent | Jonathan Freedland
Big business is Big Brother: Admiral is the latest company to offer some customers discounts based on their behaviour – judged by their Facebook postsThink of it, to use the ingenious phrase coined by my colleague John Harris, as “
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1 Nov 2016, 5:00am What could Facebook target next? Our mental health data | Emily Reynolds
The idea of being categorised as mentally ill or mentally well simply because of the things we share online is unethical and potentially dangerousIt used to be that the eyes were considered the window to the soul. In 2016, you might have better luck checking someone’s social media. The tiny details we share about our lives have
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24 Oct 2016, 2:07pm Updated Facebook and Free Speech
They won’t censor Trump but might censor you.
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23 Oct 2016, 1:59am Victory over Isis will stream live on Facebook. But defeat won’t
The war in Iraq is being broadcast 24/7. But don’t think for a moment that the authorities have surrendered their control over the mediaSome 34 years ago, almost by accident, Britain’s ministry of defence solved the pesky problem that had laid the Pentagon low in Vietnam. What do you do about journalists running wild in your warzone? You put them on a long, slow boat to the other side of the world. You – ahem! – take control. And so, from Grenada to Panama to Iraq War One, journalists were locked in little boxes as far from the action as possible before (Iraq Two) being cautiously “embedded” with units they depended on to keep them safe. No freelance trips here. No unwanted questions asked. Control was still the theme of each and every fighting day.
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16 Oct 2016, 2:55pm The Guardian view on data sharing: the privacy of citizens is being eroded | Editorial
We are heading towards a form of Facebook government where the default settings on public privacy controls are tweaked with little debateLast week ministers began to take their first steps towards suspending the privacy rights of the nation’s citizens. With little fanfare the
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10 Oct 2016, 7:32am Internet trolls beware – these rules will separate the haters from the hapless | Archie Bland
There’s a fine balance between allowing free speech and having an unregulated web. The CPS’s prosecution guidelines seem a sensible step forwardThe usual anxiety about freedom of speech and social media runs like this: someone naive to the permenance and potential cruelty of a tweet or Facebook update posts an offensive message intended for a narrow audience of their friends or acquaintances. That message, maybe racist or misogynist or otherwise abusive, is shared more widely than its author imagined, and takes on a weight that was never intended. An overzealous police officer sees it and decides that they are obliged to do something, and the ill-advised action of a moment becomes inescapable. Even if no one has really been hurt, a life is left in ruins, and all of us become a little less free.
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23 Sep 2016, 6:33am Cure all diseases? The Chan Zuckerberg plan is brilliantly bold | Ian Sample
It’s easy to dismiss the initiative of the Facebook founder and his wife as hubris. But audacious, aspirational goals are precisely what are needed There is ambition and there is Silicon Valley ambition. For where else on a map could a pin be placed when asked to guess where billionaire philanthropists had declared their intention to
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19 Sep 2016, 3:09pm The Guardian view on technology’s ethical egotism: about profits not people | Editorial
Silicon Valley has created companies that ruthlessly exploit consumers and workers. It should not be emulatedSilicon Valley, with its roots in a counter-culture of dreamy cyber-gurus and anti-establishment hackers, has always thought itself different. As Steve Jobs put it, they are “the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in square holes”. Unlike Wall St, so the press releases said, they did no evil. For nations looking to replicate the success of the Valley, the question has long been asked: why don’t we have a Google, an Apple or a Facebook. It was asked again on BBC’s flagship Today programme this morning. The question is a good one. To
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18 Sep 2016, 2:28pm Don’t let WhatsApp nudge you into sharing your data with Facebook | John Naughton
The popular messaging app built its reputation on putting users first. Now its corporate owners are looking for payback at our expense When WhatsApp, the messaging app, launched in 2009, it struck me as one of the most interesting innovations I’d seen in ages – for two reasons. The first was that it seemed beautifully designed from the outset: it was clean, minimalist and efficient; and, secondly, it had a business model that did not depend on advertising. Instead, users got a year free, after which they paid a modest annual subscription.
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