Facebook has shut down InfoWars’ page saying the conservative news outlet used hate speech. An editor at the website says the social media giant failed to tell it what the offending posts were.
InfoWars Editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson said in a tweet that the account has been “permanently banned” for “unspecified” hate speech. Visitors to InfoWars page are now greeted with a message saying: “Sorry, this content isn’t available right now”.
Describing the development as a “chilling precedent for free speech,” Watson said that Facebook did not tell the media organization what the offending posts were.
“To all other conservative news outlets – you are next. The great censorship purge has truly begun,” he wrote.
Facebook has permanently BANNED Infowars.
For unspecified "hate speech". They didn't even tell us what the offending posts were.
This sets a chilling precedent for free speech.
To all other conservative news outlets – you are next.
Facebook said in a blog post on Monday that it was banning four of the pages belonging to Infowars founder Alex Jones for repeatedly uploading content in breach of the social network’s community standards.
The company said that when it deletes content, the removal counts as a strike against the person that uploaded it. It added that the reason for removing Jones’ pages was not related to concerns over false news.
“All four Pages have been unpublished for repeated violations of Community Standards and accumulating too many strikes,” Facebook explained.
“While much of the discussion around Infowars has been related to false news, which is a serious issue that we are working to address by demoting links marked wrong by fact checkers and suggesting additional content, none of the violations that spurred today’s removals were related to this.”
Jones is being sued by parents of the Sandy Hook school shooting for claiming that the attack was a hoax. Late last month the parents slammed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for failing to protect them from harassment by conspiracy theorists.
The development comes after Apple removed Jones’ daily podcasts from its podcast directory.
“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users,” an Apple spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
“Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”
Apple Podcasts is arguably the most important platform in the podcasting industry. It drives a substantial amount of traffic to the podcasts it features on its homepage or in its charts.
Darlington, MD — It is a travesty enough when the drug war lays waste to the rights and lives of entirely decent people who’ve harmed no one simply because they choose to ingest a substance deemed illegal by the state. However, because the drug war is such an immoral and barbaric practice, entirely innocent people are also swept up in the dragnet of tyranny and ignorance. Case in point: a couple in Maryland were raided by cops for posting photos of legal morel mushrooms they picked and ate.
On Friday, John Garrison and his girlfriend Hope went foraging the mountains for some morel mushrooms. Morels are known to those in the region as being the safest mushroom to hunt for as they are very easily identified due to their unique look. From mid April to mid May, lovers of nature and good food, like John and Hope will find them growing near trees or where there used to be trees.
Garrison was so excited that they had found a bunch of them, that he posted a photo on Facebook of he and Hope’s bounty along with his plans to “sautee them with brown sugar and cinnamon and see how that turns out.”
A great night of good food was set to follow an awesome day of hiking and foraging. That is, however, until the wheels of the police state drug war caught a whiff of the mushrooms.
Garrison made the post that they were about to saute the mushrooms at 9:09 pm. Only hours later as he and Hope sat back with full bellies, police showed up.
“We had just finished eating the Morels we found today and heard a knock on the door. A police officer and an RA were standing outside. We let them in and as soon as the police officer walked in he asked us why we were eating mushrooms and posting about it online. He thought he was on the biggest bust of his career thinking we were having a magic mushroom party before I explained to him that Morels are a native choice edible mushroom similar to truffles,” explained Garrison.
However, this cop—clearly unaware of the tasty morel and hell bent on busting kids for eating mushrooms—just knew he had caught himself a pair of hardened criminals who’d dare to expand their consciousness in the sanctity of their own home.
“He wasn’t convinced. So I rummaged through the trash to find a peice (sic) of a Morel so that he would have evidence that we weren’t taking psychedelic mushrooms. I showed him and he still wasn’t convinced that they weren’t magic mushrooms, Which was shocking to me because morels look nothing like a psychedelic psilocybin (sic) mushrooms and I figured a police officer would know what illegal drugs looked like. A second police officer showed up and I showed her the Morel and she immediately knew it was a Morel which was a relief. They processed our ID’s and eventually left. What an experience,” Garrison wrote on Facebook.
Indeed, it was a troublesome experience and, had anything made police fear for their lives during this interaction, things could have turned out a lot worse.
Equally as troubling as cops raiding your apartment over Facebook posts for legal mushrooms is how they found out about it in the first place. Were police simply trolling Facebook that night and saw Garrison’s post? Or, did some “good citizen” do their due diligence and “see something and say something”?
Either way, both of those scenarios are undesirable and facilitated by the state’s immoral and violent drug war. Until the dinosaurs in the prison industrial complex—who keep the drug war alive to reap massive profits off of persecuting people for victimless crimes—are exposed, this madness will continue and others will not be as luck as John and Hope.
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Typically, ad campaigns have the goal of getting people to do something. But the one launched today by the activist group Citizens Against Monopoly is instead intended to show how hard something is to do.
The campaign, I’m Not Your Product, gives Facebook users a step-by-step guide to opting out of as much ad targeting and surveillance as possible. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress that users have “complete control” over advertising data during two days of testimony related to the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which illicitly obtained information on 87 million of Zuckerberg’s users.
But Citizens Against Monopoly discovered that Facebook makes it difficult to exert that sort of control. The steps for opting out of ad targeting are almost endless: visiting eleven different areas of Facebook’s user preferences section, clearing out three different caches of personal interests, disallowing four different types of ads, and limiting seven different actions on the site to friends only. And even all this doesn’t completely turn off ads.
“We wanted to create a how-to guide to be helpful, and then as we were working through it we thought, this is so frustrating,” said Sarah Miller, director of advocacy for the Open Markets Institute, the umbrella organization for Citizens Against Monopoly. “We think people will have the same experience seeing how intentionally hard this is.”
“We want to show that these platforms are operating in bad faith.”
The likely reason for the friction around opting out is obvious: Facebook thrives off mass data collection, essentially renting people’s private information out to advertisers. The more users opt out, the less profitable Facebook becomes — a financial incentive at odds with the social network’s self-presentation as a safe, private, customizable space.
Facebook acknowledged after the Cambridge Analytica scandal that its privacy settings were too hard to locate on the site. A spokesperson referred The Intercept to several features which are being updated on a rolling basis. In March, Facebook redesigned privacy settings for mobile, consolidating 20 different pages into one screen, and built a shortcuts menu that is “clearer, more visual, and easy to find.” Last week, Facebook announced a “Clear History” initiative to let users remove activities performed on other websites and apps from their account. That initiative is in the concept stage and has yet to be rolled out.
But Citizens Against Monopoly believes that these steps were more half-measures. In addition to their how-to guide, which will be promoted through display ads across the Web, including on Facebook, the website ImNotYourProduct.com includes a petition to Zuckerberg asking him to distill Facebook’s various opt-out steps down to a single click. Since making it easy for users to opt out of ad targeting would be at odds with Facebook’s business model, there’s little expectation that Facebook will comply with this request. The real goal is to display the futility of self-regulation for Facebook’s surveillance machine.
“We want to show that these platforms are operating in bad faith, so we can reform and restructure them to make them safe for democracy,” said Matt Stoller, a fellow with the Open Markets Institute.
Images: Courtesy of Citizens Against Monopoly
Facebook has numerous targeting methods, not only within the site but across the Web, through mobile phones, and from outside data sets pulled from third parties. By building meticulous profiles of users, Facebook can deliver any subset of any group to an advertiser, whether the advertiser is a corporation, a drug pusher, a political movement, or a con artist. The ubiquity and precision of this surveillance operation creates vulnerabilities for anyone who uses Facebook, or even those that don’t but have their data captured elsewhere on the Web.
Non-users are out of luck for opting out of targeting. But even a Facebook user has trouble preventing the site from tracking their every move, because it makes the privacy controls deliberately burdensome to modify.
Citizens Against Monopoly’s how-to guide begins by recommending the installation of the FB Purity browser extension, which gives users additional options to filter and customize Facebook. Then it directs users to Facebook’s ad preferences page. FB Purity allows users to more easily prevent advertisers from targeting based on several types of data: interests, relationship status, employer, job title, and education level. Users can also remove advertisers they interact with, disallow ads based on data from partners and based on social actions (such as liking a page), and prevent ads from being shown elsewhere on the Web based on Facebook activity. Just changing these ad preferences requires nine separate steps, none of which are particularly obvious.
Next, users must navigate to Facebook’s privacy settings, manually restricting who can view past or future posts, who can send friend requests, who can see friends lists, who can see pages followed, and who can search under user-provided email addresses or phone numbers. At this page, users can also restrict outside search engines from linking to their Facebook profile. Finally, there’s a reminder to not use Facebook to log in to other websites, as data gleaned there will be scraped and made available to Facebook.
None of these changes definitively turn off targeted ads; Facebook can still make available to advertisers some data not covered here. And all of the settings rely on Facebook actually honoring the requests to opt out. But the fact that it’s such a time-consuming pain to set up Facebook for minimal surveillance is in many ways the point.
The burden is at odds with the TV advertising campaign Facebook rolled out recently, in reaction to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “That’s going to change. From now on, Facebook will do more to keep you safe and protect your privacy so we can all get back to what made Facebook good in the first place,” says the narrator in the ad. But the site creates intentional hurdles for users to take the initiative and protect their own data.
“Facebook claims to be really sorry about these bad actors manipulating their platform,” said Sarah Miller. “But Facebook isn’t going to want to make it easier to opt out. That would fundamentally affect their business model.”
The Open Markets Institute has a series of ideas for restructuring Facebook, including unwinding their mergers with Instagram and WhatsApp, spinning off the company’s ad network, and requiring interoperability standards that allow competing social media networks to access their friend networks. The I’m Not Your Product campaign essentially acts as a proof of concept for how Facebook cannot, by definition, reform itself.
Facebook is reportedly test-marketing an ad-free, $ 1/month subscription-based model. They’ve made no announcement on whether they’ll follow through with that option. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has previously said that fully opting out of targeted ads “would be a paid product.”
But government could also play the role of safeguarding user privacy and forcing Facebook to contemplate models other than mass surveillance. “Facebook is operating in the legal context we’ve given them,” said the Open Markets Institute’s Matt Stoller. “The only way to fix it is to regain democracy.”
Top photo: A display area is seen during Facebook’s annual F8 summit at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, Calif. on May 1, 2018.
The developer of the quiz app Cambridge Analytica used to collect the data of some 87 million Facebook users also had access to their private messages, according to a warning sent by the social media giant to affected users.
Through Aleksandr Kogan’s “This Is Your Digital Life” app, the Cambridge University researcher was able to collect the data, which was then shared with consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Data was collected not just from users who installed the app, but from their friends and contacts, too.
In the wake of the scandal, Facebook sent out automatic notifications to affected users. At the bottom of the notification, in fine print, read: “A small number of people who logged into This Is Your Digital Life also shared their own news feed, timeline, posts and messages, which may have included posts and messages from you.”
Kogan downplayed the extent of this snooping, and told the New York Times that private messages were only harvested from a small number of people, likely “a couple thousand.” He also said that the messages were for a separate research project, and were never provided to Cambridge Analytica.
Users granted Kogan permission to do this. Mailbox access was included in the list of permissions they accepted when they installed his app. Kogan insists that only the messages of app users were gathered, not those of their friends. He also told the Times that the data “was obviously sensitive so we tried to be careful about who could access it.”
However, in a 2014 lecture in a Russian university, Kogan told students that through his app, he could predict “basically anything” about a person “quick and cheap,” and that this project had major commercial benefits. Reading users’ messages was central to the project.
“It’s messaging… this is private information, which no one sees,” Kogan told the students. “You can also load all of that. We usually load 3,000 (messages) per person. And there they talk about everything.”
The revelation that third-party apps read users’ explicitly private data comes just days after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced a five-hour grilling in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He repeatedly told the committee that users have full control over who sees their information.
“Every time someone chooses to share, they choose who they want to share it with,” said Zuckerberg.
The Facebook chief also told the panel that his company had introduced new privacy controls, but stopped short of saying he would be willing to alter the company’s business model to better protect user privacy.
Facebook is conducting an internal audit to discover how many third-party apps scraped user data. Zuckerberg told Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) that such an audit could take “many months,” and that he expected to find “a handful” of breaches from other firms.
Following over a month of privacy scandals at the social media company, a majority of Americans believe their personal data is unsafe with Facebook. Six in 10 Americans also think the government should increase regulations on social media and technology companies in general to prevent their private user data from being shared without their consent.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg met U.S. lawmakers individually on Monday and told Congress in written testimony that the social media network should have done more to prevent itself and its members’ data being misused.
His conciliatory tone precedes two days of congressional hearings where Zuckerberg is set to answer questions about Facebook user data being improperly appropriated by a political consultancy and the role the network played in the U.S. 2016 election.
“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” he said in remarks released by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Monday. “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”
Zuckerberg, surrounded by tight security and wearing a dark suit and a purple tie rather than his trademark hoodie, traversed Capitol Hill on Monday ahead of his scheduled appearance before two congressional committees on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Zuckerberg did not respond to questions as he entered and left a meeting with Senator Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. He is expected to meet Senator John Thune, the Commerce Committee’s Republican chairman, later in the day, among others.
“The message I wanted to convey to him is that if we don’t rein in the use of social media, none of us are going to have any privacy anymore,” Nelson told reporters after the meeting.
If Zuckerberg does not provide satisfactory answers this week, Congress is more likely to push new legislation to strictly regulate Facebook.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow declined to comment on Monday on whether he thought the administration should impose new regulations on Facebook.
Top of the agenda in the forthcoming hearings will be Facebook’s admission that the personal information of up to 87 million users, mostly in the United States, may have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
Lawmakers are also expected to press him on a range of issues, including the 2016 election.
“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm…” his testimony continued. “That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks to a meeting with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Facebook, which has 2.1 billion monthly active users worldwide, said on Sunday it plans to begin on Monday telling users whose data may have been shared with Cambridge Analytica. The company’s data practices are under investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
London-based Cambridge Analytica, which counts U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign among its past clients, has disputed Facebook’s estimate of the number of affected users.
Zuckerberg also said that Facebook’s major investments in security “will significantly impact our profitability going forward.” Facebook shares were up 1.7 percent in afternoon trading.
Facebook has about 15,000 people working on security and content review, rising to more than 20,000 by the end of 2018, Zuckerberg’s testimony said. “Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits,” he said.
As with other Silicon Valley companies, Facebook has been resistant to new laws governing its business, but on Friday it backed proposed legislation requiring social media sites to disclose the identities of buyers of online political campaign ads and introduced a new verification process for people buying “issue” ads, which do not endorse any candidate but have been used to exploit divisive subjects such as gun laws or police shootings.
The steps are designed to deter online information warfare and election meddling that U.S. authorities have accused Russia of pursuing, Zuckerberg said on Friday. Moscow has denied the allegations.
Zuckerberg’s testimony said the company was “too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference, and we’re working hard to get better.”
He vowed to make improvements, adding it would take time, but said he was “committed to getting it right.”
Slideshow (5 Images)
Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said he wanted candor from Facebook. “I’m hoping that Mr. Zuckerberg won’t just pull things out of his orifices, that he’ll talk frankly about what Facebook can and cannot do,” he told CNBC.
A Facebook official confirmed that the company had hired a team from the law firm WilmerHale and outside consultants to help prepare Zuckerberg for his testimony and how lawmakers may question him.
Reporting by David Shepardson and Dustin Volz; Editing by Bill Rigby
As the firestorm surrounding Facebook’s handling of user data continues to rage, it’s now emerging that the social media site giant reached into people’s accounts and deleted messages from CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives.
Citing multiple sources, Techcrunch is reporting that people’s interactions with Zuckerberg have mysteriously disappeared from their inboxes, although their responses to the media mogul remain. If a user deletes chats on Facebook messenger, they disappear only from their own account, meaning that the company accessed people’s accounts to delete messages from its top brass.
Facebook told the tech news site that the messages were deleted for security reasons. “After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications. These included limiting the retention period for Mark’s messages in Messenger. We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages,” the company said.
Regardless of the claim of legal compliance, Facebook never informed the users that the messages were being deleted and it never publicly disclosed that it would be removing messages from users’ inboxes. The site’s Terms of Service also don’t appear to allow it to remove messages unless they violate Facebook’s community standards.
Zuckerberg’s messages have a somewhat infamous history. In 2010 Silicon Valley Insider published messages sent by Zuckerberg to a friend shortly after he started the social media site. “If you ever need info about anyone at harvard . . . just ask . . . i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns,” 19-year-old Zuckerberg wrote. “what!? how’d you manage that one?” the friend asked. “people just submitted it . . i don’t know why . . . they “trust me” . . . dumb fucks,” Zuckerberg explained. The CEO later said he “absolutely” regretted the messages.
The news is just the latest in a continuing stream of alarming revelations about Facebook’s handling of users’ personal information which has been top of the news agenda since it emerged that Cambridge Analytica accessed detailed information about millions of Facebook users’ without the users’ permission.
User data accessed
The British political consulting firm specializes in ‘psychographic’ profiling, meaning it creates personality profiles for voters based on information harvested from Facebook and designs targeted ads on the back of that research.“If you know the personality of the people you’re targeting, you can nuance your messaging to resonate more effectively with those key groups,” the company’s CEO Alexander Nix explained in a speech in 2016.
The firm was hired by Trump’s election campaign and also worked on the Leave.EU campaign for the UK’s Brexit referendum. It’s not clear what impact – if any – the targeted ads actually made.
It recently emerged that Cambridge Analytica used Facebook users’ personal information without permission. As a result of the furore over the revelation, Zuckerberg has twice been called before the UK parliament’s probe into fake news and has also been called to testify before the US Congress commerce committee and the Senate’s commerce and judiciary committees. He will appear before both the Senate and the House next week.
On Thursday the Silicon Valley behemoth admitted that it believes that most of its 2 billion users have had their data misused at some point.
Searching users via phone and email
Also on Thursday the tech giant removed the feature which allowed people to enter another person’s phone number or email address into Facebook search to help find them. Chief Technology Officer, Mike Schroepfer, admitted in a blog post that the feature was being “abused” by “malicious actors.”
“Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way,” he said.
Hospital project suspended
The company also backed off an arrangement to share users’ data with doctors and hospitals after plans to start the practice was reported by CNBC. As recently as last month the company was in talks with several major US hospitals to share patients’ data, such as illnesses and prescription info, for a research project. “This work has not progressed past the planning phase, and we have not received, shared, or analyzed anyone’s data,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
Washington: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the US House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, the panel said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Facebook has come under fire in recent weeks after it was revealed that the personal data of 50 million users of the website fell into the hands of a political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica that worked for US President Donald Trump`s campaign.
The firm’s former employee Christopher Wylie has accused Cambridge Analytica of gathering the details of Facebook through a personality quiz in 2014. He has alleged that because 270,000 people took the quiz, the data of some 50 million users, mainly in the US, was harvested without their explicit consent via their friend networks.
He has further claimed the data was sold to Cambridge Analytica, which then used it to psychologically profile people and deliver material in favour of Trump during the 2016 US presidential elections. He has also criticised the firm of running campaigns in “struggling democracies”, which he called “an example of what modern-day colonialism looks like,” as per PTI.
However, Cambridge Analytica has denied any of the data acquired was used as part of the services it provided to the Trump campaign.
Meanwhile, amid data breach backlash, Facebook recently said it will overhaul its privacy settings tools to put users “more in control” of their information. The updates will include improved access to Facebook’s user settings and tools to easily search for, download and delete personal data stored by them.
A new privacy shortcuts menu will allow users to quickly increase account security, manage who can see their information and activity on the site and control advertisements they see, they had also said. “We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed,” chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer had said in a post.
The post had already been reported to the police and the social media giant, but was not removed. When one user commented that the post had been reported to authorities, one administrator dismissively said: “It was just a joke, chill.”
He then added: “Why do you hate freedom of speech?” – to which the original commentator said: “Free speech is great as long as it is not advocating violence. When it does advocate violence it breaks the law. Anyway must be nearly your bedtime. Nite nite.”
Is this not a hate crime inciting violence by threats to kill? Is this not illegal? Why are these people not prosecuted. Given the fevered verbal attacks on Mr Corbyn by government, press & the MSM if he sneezes, why is a threat to kill not prime time TV? https://t.co/ZCRdleoRNm
Is it just me or is Twitter and Facebook turning into a cesspit of humanity? When people resort to threats and insults against people you don’t agree with. I would never vote Corbyn and think it would be the worst thing for this country and I wouldn’t tweet bile abuse to him!
One of the administrators then told the news outlet that he had mental health issues, and that the page had helped him through. He added he would be taking the page down due to “threats” directed at him, his family and fellow Tories.
“Hay yeah I would like to say that this fb page as it lasted really helped with my depression, I have been struggling with it for a while and this page really helped me, I was a big fan of politics and enjoyed taking part, unfortunately due to threats to myself, my family and Torys [sic] in general I am taking down my meme page, idk what I’ll do now, maybe I’ll find happiness maybe I won’t and do something stupid, but that doesn’t matter does it? As long as you got a kick out of it that all that matters, especially from a page run by 1 person posting crappy memes with no where near 1000 followers but I’m glad u think it’s a big deal.“
Facebook is still to reply to Evolve Politics request for comment over whether it is an accepted policy to keep posts which carry a menace to politicians.
The Facebook scandal involving Cambridge Analytica has revealed some questionable tactics and methods developed by the military and the CIA. Representatives for CA have boasted that their list of past and current clients includes the British Ministry of Defense, the US Department of Defense, the US Department of State, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and NATO. Plus, the hottest stories of the week. Newsbud does not take money from advertisers, foundations or NGO’s. We are 100% funded by you, the people. Support Newsbud for a stronger independent grassroots media by subscribing or making a donation today.