Opinion | Why the Latest Layoffs Are Devastating to Democracy – By Farhad Manjoo – The New York Times

Fifteen percent of BuzzFeed’s employees, including dozens of journalists, are losing their jobs.
Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By Farhad Manjoo
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 30, 2019, 375

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Fifteen percent of BuzzFeed’s employees, including dozens of journalists, are losing their jobs.CreditCreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images
Working in digital media is like trying to build a fort out of marshmallows on a foundation made of marbles in a country ruled by capricious and tyrannical warring robots. I’ve toiled in this business for nearly 20 years, and even in the best of times it has been a squeamish and skittering ride, the sort of career you’d counsel your kids to avoid in favor of something less volatile and more enduring — bitcoin mining, perhaps.

It might be tempting, then, to dismiss the recent spate of media-biz layoffs as unfortunate but otherwise not concerning. Two hundred workers, including dozens of journalists, were given the slip last week at BuzzFeed. About 800 people are losing their jobs in the media division of Verizon, the telephone company that owns Yahoo, HuffPost, TechCrunch and many other “content brands.” And Gannett, the once-mighty newspaper empire that owns USA Today and hundreds of smaller outlets — from The Bergen County Record to The Zanesville Times Recorder — is letting go of 400.

But it would be a mistake to regard these cuts as the ordinary chop of a long-roiling digital media sea. Instead, they are a devastation.”

David Lindsay: This is so complicated. I agree with many commenters who do not accept Manjoo’s thesis as to how important Buzz Feed is. I am very concerned about local independent news organizations though, and Facebook and Google might be major reasons for their demise. Amazon is guilty of using its monopolistic power to force companies like Diapers.com to sell to them, when they didn’t want to. Amazon should be broken up. Facebook has been guilty of letting some of their advertizers hijack our democracy. Facebook should be forced to let go of Instagram and WhatsApp. Google is guilty of putting their interests at the top of their searchs. Perhaps that problem can be fixed with Federal and international regulations.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. His duo performs a folk music and readings concert and sing-a-long about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

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Facebook’s Data Sharing: 5 Takeaways From Our Investigation – The New York Times

By Nicholas Confessore, Michael LaForgia and Gabriel J.X. Dance
Dec. 18, 2018, 66c
“You are the product: That is the deal many Silicon Valley companies offer to consumers. The users get free search engines, social media accounts and smartphone apps, and the companies use the personal data they collect — your searches, “likes,” phone numbers and friends — to target and sell advertising.

But an investigation by The New York Times, based on hundreds of pages of internal Facebook documents and interviews with about 50 former employees of Facebook and its partners, reveals that the marketplace for that data is even bigger than many consumers suspected. And Facebook, which collects more information on more people than almost any other private corporation in history, is a central player.

Here are five takeaways from our investigation.”

Opinion | Can You Like the Person You Love to Hate? – By Bari Weiss and Eve Peyser – The New York Times

By Bari Weiss and Eve Peyser
Ms. Weiss is a writer and editor for the Opinion section. Ms. Peyser writes about politics and culture for Vice.

Dec. 3, 2018, 32
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CreditCreditJooHee Yoon

“BARI WEISS: Everything sucks. That’s the overwhelming feeling I get when I spend too much time on Twitter. It makes me feel anxious and angry and amped up. And that’s on a day when I’m not even trending as a Very Bad Person.

This fall I read Jaron Lanier’s book “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.” He helped me see that these feelings were the inevitable result of being manipulated by this behavioral modification machine.

I didn’t delete my account — yet! I know! I am full of shame! — but I did change the way I use it (no looking at my mentions; far less tweeting; aiming to highlight the work of people I like rather than criticize the work of those I don’t). It also made me think about how I saw other Twitter users, like Vice’s Eve Peyser. She was clever and often funny — and I disagreed with her about just about everything. Sometimes she jabbed at me. I watched her posts with a suspicious side-eye.

But I wondered: If we had met at a dinner party rather than on Twitter, would we have liked each other? Was social media, as Mr. Lanier’s book suggested, creating a sense of intense conflict where there might be intense conversation? Did we actually dislike each other, or was Twitter just making us think we did?

“. . . EVE: The odd thing about social media is that it’s made me emotionally immune to the worst abuse — an anti-Semitic misogynist threat doesn’t get to me in the same way someone who agrees with me 90 percent of the time insulting me does. I always go back to what Freud called “the narcissism of minor differences,” a theory that asserts that closely related groups of people engage “in constant feuds and in ridiculing each other” to satisfy aggressive impulses and strengthen the bonds within the opposing factions.”

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

  • 781 comments

“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

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.” “

Apple- Facebook and YouTube Remove Content From Alex Jones and Infowars – The New York Times

“Facebook, Spotify and Google’s YouTube site, which removed some Infowars content last week, followed with stronger measures on Monday. Facebook removed four pages belonging to Mr. Jones, including one with nearly 1.7 million followers as of last month, for violating its policies by “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.” Facebook said the violations did not relate to “false news.”

YouTube terminated Mr. Jones’s channel, which had more than 2.4 million subscribers and billions of views on its videos, for repeatedly violating its policies, including its prohibition on hate speech. Spotify cited its own prohibition on hate speech as the reason for removing a podcast by Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones and Infowars are leaders in using the internet to spread right-wing conspiracy theories, an effort that was aided after Donald J. Trump appeared on Mr. Jones’s show during the 2016 presidential campaign and praised Mr. Jones’s reputation as “amazing.” Mr. Jones has repeatedly claimed that the government staged the Oklahoma City bombing, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and numerous other mass shootings and tragedies.”

Facebook Tried to Rein In Fake Ads. It Fell Short in a California Race. – The New York Times

“SAN FRANCISCO — Regina Bateson had just finished an Easter egg hunt with her children on April 1 when her phone started buzzing. Take a look at Facebook, messages from her friends and colleagues urged.

Ms. Bateson, a Democrat running for Congress in the California primaryon Tuesday, quickly opened up the social network. There, she saw what appeared to be a news article that painted her as underhandedly trying to torpedo the campaign of a rival Democratic candidate. When Ms. Bateson clicked through the article, she was directed to a Facebook page run by Sierra Nevada Revolution, a local progressive group she had clashed with in the past.

The article was not a news story, she found, but a political ad paid for by Sierra Nevada Revolution. And while Facebook rolled out new rules on April 6 mandating that campaign ads be clearly labeled and say who had purchased them, Sierra Nevada Revolution’s ad about Ms. Bateson continued to be targeted to local voters throughout that month without any of those disclosures.”

Is Facebook Just a Platform? A Lawyer to the Stars Says No – by David D. Kirkpatrick – NYT

By David D. KirkpatrickMay 21, 2018BELFAST, Northern Ireland —

“Paul Tweed made his name suing news organizations like CNN, Forbes and The National Enquirer on behalf of Hollywood movie stars, winning high-profile cases for celebrities like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake by hopscotching among Belfast, London and Dublin to take advantage of their favorable defamation or privacy laws.” . . .

“Social media companies have faced allegations about enabling Russia’s interference in elections in the United States and Europe, fueling outbursts of ethnic violence in countries like Sri Lanka and Myanmar, broadcasting a gang rape in Brazil and, most recently, allowing the transfer of user information to the voter-targeting company Cambridge Analytica.

Amid the public backlash, the British information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has told Facebook, “It’s not just a platform anymore; there are some legal and social responsibilities, too.”

President Trump recently signed the first American law to regulate social media companies as publishers, imposing new civil liability and criminal penalties for content that facilitates prostitution or sex trafficking.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Bravo to Germany and the EU. Excellent article.
“Germany is now requiring social media companies to remove any hate speech within 24 hours after their notification of its posting, forcing teams of Facebook employees to evaluate the content almost as editors do. A new European Union regulation to protect online privacy that goes into effect this Friday is providing new opportunities for lawyers to sue. Congress is weighing legislation to require internet companies to disclose the buyers of political advertising, just as traditional news media outlets have to do.”
We should do all of the above, asap. It is OK with me to call Facebook a platform, rather than a publisher, but it still needs strict , adult, government regulation, to require it not to be a rogue nuisance and force for evil. Germany has passed a 50 Million Euro fine for not removing fake news quickly. We should implement the German actions now, before the next election.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com