Delay- Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis – The New York Times

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“Sheryl Sandberg was seething.

Inside Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, top executives gathered in the glass-walled conference room of its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. It was September 2017, more than a year after Facebook engineers discovered suspicious Russia-linked activity on its site, an early warning of the Kremlin campaign to disrupt the 2016 American election. Congressional and federal investigators were closing in on evidence that would implicate the company.

But it wasn’t the looming disaster at Facebook that angered Ms. Sandberg. It was the social network’s security chief, Alex Stamos, who had informed company board members the day before that Facebook had yet to contain the Russian infestation. Mr. Stamos’s briefing had prompted a humiliating boardroom interrogation of Ms. Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, and her billionaire boss. She appeared to regard the admission as a betrayal.

“You threw us under the bus!” she yelled at Mr. Stamos, according to people who were present.”

 

David Lindsay: These two have acted despicably.

Here are the top comments in the NYT I endorsed:

Matthew
New York, New York  Nov. 14
“Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros.” This is gross behavior that one would expect from far-right organizations, not the biggest social media platform in the world.

Every day brings more reasons to delete one’s Facebook.

12 Replies  831 Recommend
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CJ13
America Nov. 14
If you are not paying for the service, you are the product.

3 Replies  643 Recommended
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Robert Glinert
Los Angeles  Nov. 14
Times Pick
Everyone should watch last sunday’s 60 minutes segment on how europeans are fighting Google and Facebook on privacy and content issues. the difference there is that they created very specific rules and guidelines and have issued very expensive fines to these companies. These companies have zero interest in keeping your personal data private and have relished in allowing Fake websites to flourish without any oversight. The first lesson from the European sanctions is this: Facebook is too big to govern itself. This article shows how Facebook tossed one PR company and lobbying firm after another at Congress and the american public to create a smoke screen to cover their inproprieties. That costs a fortune, but Facebook is not going to let government create the guard rails. In Europe, strict rules and guidelines have been set, but here in America they still do as they please.

3 Replies 626 Recommended

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Opinion | The Assault Against Science Continues at the E.P.A. – By Christopher S. Zarba – The New York Times

By Christopher S. Zarba
Mr. Zarba was the staff director of the Scientific Advisory Board at the Environmental Protection Agency until February.
Nov. 14, 2018, 45 c
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Smog in Salt Lake City in 2017. Temperature inversions frequently trap dangerous levels of pollutants in the air over the city.CreditCreditGeorge Frey/Getty Images

“Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency effectively disbanded a scientific panel of experts on microscopic airborne pollutants that helped the agency figure out what level of pollutants are safe to breathe. The agency also dropped plans for a similar panel of experts to help assess another dangerous pollutant, ground-level ozone.

These decisions were the latest assaults on science at an agency that depends on science to protect Americans’ health, safety and quality of life.

The disbanded panel on particulate pollution reported to the E.P.A.’s seven-member Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which is responsible for advising the agency on overall air quality standards. Now, without the work of that panel, it is entirely likely that the advisory committee will lack the time and expertise to provide authoritative guidance on the regulation of this pollutant. The same can be said of ground-level ozone.

And that is no small matter. The E.P.A. itself says that numerous studies show that particulate pollution can lead to premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, aggravated asthma and decreased lung function. Ground-level ozone can affect the breathing of people with asthma, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors.”

Opinion | Last Exit Off the Road to Autocracy – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Whatever happens in the midterms, the aftermath will be ugly. But the elections are nonetheless a fork in the road. If we take one path, it will offer at least a chance for political redemption, for recovering America’s democratic values. If we take the other, we’ll be on the road to autocracy, with no obvious way to get off.

It’s a near-certainty that Democrats will receive more votes than Republicans, with polling suggesting a margin in votes cast for the House of Representatives of seven or more percentage points — which would make it the biggest landslide of modern times. However, gerrymandering and other factors have severely tilted the playing field, so that even this might not be enough to bring control of the chamber.

And even if Democrats do climb that tilted slope, anyone expecting Republicans to accept the result with good grace hasn’t been paying attention. Remember, Donald Trump claimed — falsely, of course — that millions of immigrants voted illegally in an election he won. Imagine what he’ll say if he loses, and what his supporters will do in response. And if and when a Democratic House tries to exercise its powers, you can be sure it will be met with defiance, never mind what the Constitution says.

But ugly as the scene will be if Democrats win, it will be far worse if they lose. In fact, it’s not hyperbole to say that if the G.O.P. holds the line on Tuesday, it may be the last even halfway fair elections we’ll ever have.

Opinion | Russians Meddling in the Midterms? Here’s the Data – The New York Times

By Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox
Mr. Morgan and Mr. Fox run a cybersecurity company.

Nov. 6, 2018

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CreditCreditIllustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales, photographs by Matt Anderson Photography/Moment and Blend Images-Hill Street Studios/Brand X Pictures, via Getty Images

“Since the 2016 United States presidential election, which Russian operatives influenced through a coordinated campaign of disinformation on social media, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to address the problem. Thousands of “sock puppet” personas with hundreds of thousands of followers have been taken down on Facebook, for example, and cannot easily be rebuilt. Twitter has reduced the risk that propaganda is spread through automated accounts, or bots.

Such efforts may be helping. The consensus among researchers monitoring the 2018 midterm elections is that there has been less of the specific sort of interference the Russians engaged in two years ago, when they attempted to aggravate social tensions in the United States and foster distrust of our democratic institutions.

But an analysis by Kris Shaffer, a senior analyst for our cybersecurity company, suggests that while these measures may have rendered some of the Russian tactics of 2016 less effective, they haven’t fully stopped Russian influence operations. In many instances, they seem to have merely caused Russia to shift or develop new tactics.

Indeed, our company is currently detecting more overall activity in real time from continuing Russian online influence operations targeting the midterm elections than has been disclosed by social media platforms or detected by researchers during the same period before the election in 2016.”

Opinion | Is Steve King’s Bigoted Act Wearing Thin? – By Art Cullen – NYT

By Art Cullen
Mr. Cullen is the editor and a co-owner of The Storm Lake Times in Iowa and the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

Nov. 5, 2018

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J.D. Scholten, Democratic candidate for Congress from Iowa’s Fourth District.CreditCreditThomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call

“Representative Steve King was warning about the immigrant “invasion” long before Donald Trump shouted “Build that wall.”

Mr. King, a Republican from Iowa, has famously described Mexican teenage migrants as having “calves the size of cantaloupes” from hauling drugs across the border, proposed ending birthright citizenship 12 years ago and called for the construction of an electric border fence to shock illegal crossers because “we do that with livestock all the time.”

He has been one of the most race-baiting members of Congress, flying a Confederate flag on his desk. He promotes white nationalists like Geert Wilders of Holland, warning that America is losing its culture to foreign babies. And none of it has seemed to matter. He has been elected eight times in Northwest Iowa’s Fourth District — by 23 points in 2016.

Steve King

@SteveKingIA

US House candidate, IA-4
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies. https://twitter.com/v_of_europe/status/840724494113206272

9:40 AM – Mar 12, 2017 · Iowa, USA
10.8K
23K people are talking about this

But this year, such talk might actually be undermining Mr. King. A surprisingly strong Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten of Sioux City, is drawing big crowds. Many Fourth District voters are upset that corn and soybean prices have tanked because of President Trump’s trade war with China. Mr. King, 69, stands solidly with the president. And while he traveled recently to Vienna to cavort with the far-right Austrian Freedom Party, many Iowans are wondering if he’s getting anything done for the people back home, like passing a long-overdue farm bill.”

We Asked for Examples of Election Misinformation. You Delivered. – The New York Times

“But the ad transparency push has not always gone smoothly. Investigations by The Times and other news organizations have found numerous problems with social networks’ ad transparency policies. These include a loophole in Facebook’s ad policy that allows advertisers, once they have verified their identities and are approved to run political ads, to fill the “paid for by” field in their ads with whatever text they want, essentially letting them disguise their identity.

The extent of this loophole was explored by news organizations reporting on the policy, such as Vice News, which bought ads “paid for by” all 100 United States senators, as well as fictitious groups like “Ninja Turtles PAC.” “

Opinion | Voters- You’re Being Manipulated – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“. . . . . HIAS, the Jewish agency whose assistance for refugees infuriated the synagogue attacker (he blamed Jews for bringing in brown people in the caravan from Central America), has been flooded with donations, many from non-Jews. As my own feeble way to challenge hatred, I donated to HIAS on Saturday and suggested to my newsletter readers that they might as well. If we all find our own ways to light a candle, we can drive out the enveloping darkness.

These expressions of our shared humanity are important in and of themselves, but also as a way of fighting back at the fear and loathing that are being weaponized in this election cycle. One example: the breathless fear-mongering about the caravan still almost 1,000 miles away in Mexico.

Let’s be blunt: Voters, you are being manipulated.

President Trump has described the caravan as an “invasion of our country,” and Fox News referred to it as an invasion more than 60 times in October, along with 75 times on Fox Business Network, according to CNN.

This should be a nonstory. As I’ve written, most in the shrinking caravan will never enter the United States and they would amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of immigrants this year. In just the period of the caravan’s journey, another 16,800 Americans may die from drugs — a real threat!”

Opinion | Trump- Terror- and the ‘No Guardrails’ Presidency – By Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist, Nov. 1, 2018 264

Visitors at a a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Monday.CreditCreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

“Maybe we should refer to Saturday’s massacre of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, along with the campaign of mail bombs that preceded it, as “man-caused disasters.”

That was the euphemism then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano used in lieu of the word “terrorism” during congressional testimony in 2009. Conservatives like me never let her live it down. How can you address a problem if you won’t even call it by its proper name?

Conservatives objected again when President Obama went to great lengths to use the acronym ISIL or ISIS instead of Islamic State, lest there be any association between a religion and the barbaric deeds carried out in its name. And we objected a third time when liberals tried to suggest that personal derangement, not Islamist sympathies, explained acts like Omar Mateen’s 2016 rampage at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

So conservatives should be just as clear about what we saw last week. There is no reason to think that Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers and alleged Florida mail bomber Cesar Sayoc are “deranged.” There is every reason to believe their acts are politically motivated. They are not “crazies” in the category of Gabrielle Giffords shooter Jared Lee Loughner. They are terrorists in the class of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, or Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter.”

Opinion | The Republican Strategy? Fear and Lies – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“If I listened only to Donald Trump and those Republican candidates who follow his example, I would be petrified. I would be living in a bunker. I would have cyanide capsules at hand.

I would be convinced that the scattered protesters disrupting some Republicans’ meals were the advance guard of a violent liberal mob about to wrest control of the country. I would worry that the Democratic Party was secretly trying to elect terrorists and traitors to the House and the Senate.

And that caravan of migrants — I would see that, too, as some nefarious Democratic plot, or as a Trojan horse with jihadists in its belly. Either way, I would recognize it as the end of the world: Armageddon in the hunched form of a pregnant Honduran woman limping toward the only hope that she has.

To prevent a blue wave on Nov. 6, the president and his puppets are traveling audaciously far from the truth and shockingly deep into the gutter. I’ve seen bad before, but not this. The midterms aren’t just a referendum on which direction the country will go. They’re also a test of where the limits of decency and shamelessness are drawn.”

Opinion | Trump’s Ignoring Our Real ‘National Emergies’ – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“It’s not about immigration. It’s about bigotry.

That’s the real story — to the extent there is a story at all — about the caravan of 5,000 impoverished Central Americans rampaging toward the United States border at, er, two miles an hour.

President Trump, ever the champion speller, declares this to be a “National Emergy”! He may call out the Army! He’s talking about sealing the border!

So, here’s some perspective, by my back-of-envelope calculations:

More than 1.4 million foreigners immigrate to the United States each year. If, say, half the caravan reaches the border, and half of those people actually enter the U.S., they would represent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of this year’s immigrants.

If the caravan proceeds by foot, during the period of its journey 16,800 Americans will die from drugs.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 690,000 Americans will become homeless, including 267,000 children.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, 8,850 Americans will die from guns, including suicides and murders.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 9,000 Americans will die from lack of health insurance (people die at higher rates when they’re uninsured, although there’s disagreement about how much higher).

Maybe the real “National Emergy” is drugs, homelessness, gun deaths and lack of health insurance?