A reading list of articles and other links I use to inform my work at Small Technology Foundation, posted every weekday. Continued from the Ind.ie Radar, and Ind.ie’s Weekly Roundups. Subscribe to the Laura’s Lens RSS feed.
The quest to design an ethical social media platform
“Ads are the traditional funding source for social platforms; they take users’ personal data and serve it to advertisers who want their ads to reach a specific audience. This virtually ensures a fundamentally exploitative business model based on surveillance, says Laura Kalbag, a designer and the co-founder of digital justice not-for-profit Ind.ie.”
We posed as 100 senators to run ads on Facebook. Facebook approved all of them.
“these tests show that compliance with the feature is entirely voluntary, meaning a tool that Facebook introduced to increase trust in advertising can also be used as a vector for misinformation, and another way bad actors can game Facebook’s platform.”
Facebook and Google are run by today’s robber barons. Break them up
“Today, we have a new set of robber barons, running digital monopolies and again receiving disproportionate benefits from the disruption brought about by new technology. History tells us we will need to regulate their monopolies just as we regulated previous monopolies.”
It’s another one of those very-quotable articles.
This Thermometer Tells Your Temperature, Then Tells Firms Where to Advertise
“Kinsa sells its data to other companies under the name Kinsa Insights. While Mr. Singh declined to share the names of other customers, citing confidentiality agreements, he said other companies had used the data to target advertising.”
“I can just think of how cigarette and alcohol companies could use strategies like this, or other industries that could really have more harmful effects on people,” [Christine Bannan, the consumer protection counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center] said.
Surveillance capitalism has led us into a dystopia
“In this opinion piece, activist Aral Balkan says we’re living in a world where data companies have become factory farms for human beings.”
Aral recorded this video with BBC Ideas back in July. It gives a brief introduction to surveillance capitalism, complete with animation.
Facebook Isn’t Sorry — It Just Wants Your Data
“To observers, these might seem like easily avoidable errors, but to Facebook, whose very identity and foundational mandate is the instinctual drive to amass personal data, they make perfect sense.”
Just Don’t Call It Privacy
“What is at stake here isn’t privacy, the right not to be observed. It’s how companies can use our data to invisibly shunt us in directions that may benefit them more than us.”
Facebook Is Giving Advertisers Access to Your Shadow Contact Information
“Facebook is not content to use the contact information you willingly put into your Facebook profile for advertising. It is also using contact information you handed over for security purposes and contact information you didn’t hand over at all, but that was collected from other people’s contact books, a hidden layer of details Facebook has about you that I’ve come to call “shadow contact information.”
Google Says It Continues to Allow Apps to Scan Data From Gmail Accounts
“Google Inc. told lawmakers it continues to allow other companies to scan and share data from Gmail accounts… The company also disclosed that app developers generally are free to share the data with others”
WhatsApp Cofounder Brian Acton Gives The Inside Story On #DeleteFacebook
“At the end of the day, I sold my company,” Acton says. “I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.”
A fascinating read that doesn’t exactly paint Acton as a hero (he’s a billionaire—he’s got more money than he could ever possibly need, he never really criticises Facebook) but does show Facebook’s ruthless greed.