Platforms

Our working definition of a digital platform (with a hat tip to Harold Feld of Public Knowledge) is an online service that operates as a two-sided or multi-sided market with at least one side that is “open” to the mass market

We now know Russia isn't the only foe that's learned to exploit U.S. social media

Silicon Valley’s biggest social media companies provide some of the best tools for spreading propaganda. Social media poses an ongoing risk that will only grow without a coordinated effort to prevent manipulation. “The main takeaway from Facebook's announcement is not just that Russia-style meddling is exportable, but that it's inevitable,” said Chris Meserole, a fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. “If Moscow authored the playbook, Tehran read it word for word, and they won't be the only country to do so.

Facebook Removes Data-Security App From Apple Store

Apple ruled that Facebook's data-security app violated Apple's data-collection policies designed to limit data collection by app developers. Apple informed Facebook that Onavo also violated a part of its developer agreement that prevents apps from using data in ways that go beyond what is directly relevant to the app or to provide advertising. The app, called Onavo Protect, has been available as a free download through Apple’s app store for years, with updates regularly approved by Apple’s app-review board.

Facebook reinstates data firm it suspended for alleged misuse, but surveillance questions linger

Crimson Hexagon, a Boston (MA) data analytics company, raised some eyebrows recently when it announced that its access to the firehose of user data from Facebook and Instagram had been reinstated—after being suspended and investigated by the social media giant for alleged misuse of data for surveillance purposes. The reinstatement, which began earlier in Aug, followed “several weeks of constructive discussion and information exchange,” said Dan Shore, Crimson’s chief financial officer.

There should be ‘consequences’ for platforms that don’t remove people like Alex Jones, Senator Ron Wyden says

Since 2016, everything that social media companies have done has been “either a bizarre idea or not really doing much of anything that’s actually gonna help people,” said Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR). As one of the more tech-savvy members of Congress, he’s a proponent of new legislation that will regulate voting machine companies and data firms such as Cambridge Analytica, but also believes existing laws have given platforms like Twitter more power than they have deigned to use. “I think what the Alex Jones case shows, we’re gonna really be looking at what the consequences are for just leaving comm

Google Tried to Change China. China May End Up Changing Google.

Ever since its founding 20 years ago in a Silicon Valley garage, Google has proudly and often ostentatiously held itself up as the architect of a new model for corporate virtue. Google, they said, would always put long-term values over short-term financial gain. “Making the world a better place” would be a primary business goal, and Google’s ethical compass could be summed up in a simple and celebrated motto: “Don’t be evil.” Now, Google appears to be changing its mind.

Facebook Pulls 652 Fake Accounts Engaged in Coordinated Influence Campaign Ahead of Midterms

Facebook dismantled 652 pages, groups and accounts engaged in an coordinated influence campaign ahead of the 2018 US midterm elections, part of the company’s broader purge of bad actors on its site. Facebook said the 652 pages and accounts originated in Iran, and that they had been flagged for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Facebook said the offenders had targeted internet services in the US, Middle East, UK and Latin America. The company separately found evidence of inauthentic Russian activity. Facebook said it found no evidence the campaigns by Russia and Iran were connected.

President Trump: 'I would rather have fake news' than censorship

During a rally in Charleston (WV), President Donald Trump railed against social media censorship, declaring he would "rather have fake news than have anybody... stopped and censored." He told a crowd that his administration is "standing up to social media censorship." While the issue has been championed by conservatives, President Trump pushed back against potential censorship of any accounts, regardless of political affiliation.

Twitter CEO talks to Reps McCarthy, Walden about allegations of bias

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey spoke with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) about the growing firestorm over alleged anti-conservative bias by tech companies. Dorsey thanked the high-ranking GOP Reps for a “productive conversation today about the importance of transparency including how algorithms work,” in a tweet. "It's an important issue in the tech industry and I look forward to continuing the conversation," he added. Dorsey spoke to the lawmakers over the phone.

Facebook is rating the trustworthiness of its users on a scale from zero to 1

Facebook has begun to assign its users a reputation score, predicting their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to 1. The previously unreported ratings system, which Facebook has developed over the past year, shows that the fight against the gaming of tech systems has evolved to include measuring the credibility of users to help identify malicious actors. Facebook developed its reputation assessments as part of its effort against fake news, Tessa Lyons, the product manager who is in charge of fighting misinformation, said in an interview.

Our politicians have no idea how the Internet works

Here’s the bad news: We can’t trust Silicon Valley to police itself. Here’s the other bad news: We can’t trust Washington politicians to police it, either. Our policymakers are ill prepared to protect the public from those who wish us harm — or even from companies willing to profit off that harm. Case in point ...