Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, March 25, 2018 5:07 pm

About face

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 5:07 pm
Tags: , ,

OK, I’m not getting off Facebook after all, at least not for now. A quick summary of why:

  • The horse is out of the barn. I haven’t indulged in those data-sucking quizzes, games and apps nearly as much a lot of users, but I’ve done it some. And even some was too much. (More on that in a bit.)
  • For some things, Facebook is far and away the most efficient tool. If it were just MY stuff I needed to worry about, that would be one thing. But from political involvement to organizing family events to commenting on any number of news sites, there often is no acceptable substitute.
  • Facebook has 2 billion users. It won’t miss me.
  • Related to that, Facebook friend Steve Harrison told me, “Your presence here actually improves Facebook. Maybe by only .00017%, but it helps.” And a number of others asked me to reconsider.

That’s not to say the problem with Facebook isn’t real. It’s real and it’s awful. Zuckerberg once promised in a televised interview not to share user data with third parties except pursuant to the fact that his business is basically an advertising agency. Well, we now know he did far more and far worse than that; just Google Facebook and Cambridge Analytica for details on that. The UK’s Information Commissioner is investigating CA on a number of related issues (indeed, Facebook’s own auditors, attempting to audit CA on whether it had deleted user data as claimed, were ordered by the British government to “stand down”).

In nearly 30 years of Internet usage, I’ve never advocated government regulation of the Internet, not even to protect user information privacy. But I’m damned well doing it now. Whether there’s any kind of forensic clawback that’s possible, I have no idea (I doubt it). But we can at least prevent more of this damage going forward, and perhaps limit the damage to a couple of generations of users, rather than all users for all time.



  1. Comment by Fred Gregory — Sunday, March 25, 2018 6:03 pm @ 6:03 pm

    • Not watching anything with Tucker Carlson. Life’s too short.

      Comment by Lex — Sunday, March 25, 2018 6:20 pm @ 6:20 pm

  2. Actually you would agree with Epstein but you are too invincibly and inflexibly obstinate to listen to a well respected scholar.

    Sad. A pity.

    Life is short but , hey, I read your stuff.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Sunday, March 25, 2018 9:06 pm @ 9:06 pm

    • Of course you read my stuff. I’m not a lying douchebag like Carlson.

      Comment by Lex — Monday, March 26, 2018 7:25 am @ 7:25 am

  3. Yes and about 90% of the stuff you post I disagree with, find arrogant, smug and sometimes just plain ole left wing group think but still I try and keep you honest by commenting.

    Name calling has no place in intellectual discussions but you often dismiss folks and resort to it when the object of you epithet is in fact smart and well prepared with strong rebuttals. ( Carlson is not a lying scumbag but take your cheap shot. I doubt you have ever watched 10 seconds of his show or read a word he has written )

    The point of posting a 3 minute segment of his show which had as a guest Robert Epstein, an eminently respected psychologist whose thoughts on Facebook and Google you should accept and appreciate.

    So don’t be a butt-head and watch the video .

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Monday, March 26, 2018 6:17 pm @ 6:17 pm

    • My blog, my rules. You don’t like it? Effing leave. Jesus, the level of privilege it takes to dictate that I should waste a second of my life watching Tucker Effing Carlson.

      Comment by Lex — Monday, March 26, 2018 7:21 pm @ 7:21 pm

  4. Did Facebook’s ‘favors’ for the Obama campaign constitute a violation of federal law?

    Controversy continues to swirl around how the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained personal data from over 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge and used it to target ads to individuals in an effort to help Donald Trump be elected president in 2016.

    But a more serious case of apparent misconduct involves Facebook data going to a different presidential campaign – this time in 2012. In this case, which is getting far less attention, Facebook reportedly voluntarily provided data on millions of its users to the re-election campaign of President Obama.

    If true, such action by Facebook may constitute a major violation of federal campaign finance law as an illegal corporate campaign contribution. The matter should be investigated by the Federal Election Commission – an agency I am quite familiar with, because I served as one of its commissioners from 2006 to 2007. The commission enforces campaign finance laws for congressional and presidential elections.

    A federal law bans corporations from making “direct or indirect” contributions to federal candidates. That ban extends beyond cash contributions to “any services, or anything of value.” In other words, corporations cannot provide federal candidates with free services of any kind. Under the Federal Election Commission’s regulations, “anything of value” includes any “in-kind contribution.”

    For example, if a corporation decided to offer a presidential candidate free office space, that would violate federal law. Corporations can certainly offer their services, including office space, to federal campaigns. But the campaigns are required to pay the fair market value for such services or rental properties.

    According to Carol Davidsen, the former media director for Obama for America, Facebook gave the 2012 Obama campaign direct access to the personal data of Facebook users in violation of its internal rules, making a special exception for the campaign. The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, reported that Davidsen said on Twitter March 18 that Facebook employees came to the campaign office and “were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”

    The type of data that the Obama campaign was mining from Facebook is a more sophisticated version of the type of data that has long been provided by professional direct mail marketers – something pioneered by Richard Viguerie. Viguerie, for example, has detailed personal data on “12 million conservative donors and activists” to whom his company sends letters and emails on behalf of his clients. He provides information to campaigns looking for votes and money, and to nonprofit and advocacy organizations raising funds.

    Political campaigns must pay for these services. Under a Federal Election Commission regulation, giving a mailing list or something similar to a campaign is considered an “in-kind contribution.”

    So if Facebook gave the Obama campaign free access to this type of data when it normally does not do so for other entities – or usually charges for such access – then Facebook would appear to have violated the federal ban on in-kind contributions by a corporation. And the Obama campaign may have violated the law by accepting such a corporate contribution.

    What about the story currently in the news about Cambridge Analytica using Facebook data for the Trump campaign? The important legal distinction may be in the way the data were obtained. Fox News reported that the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica to do political research on voters and reportedly to “help the campaign target specific voters with ads and stories.”

    The real controversy now involving the Trump campaign deals with exactly how Cambridge Analytica obtained the data it used for the campaign. A CNBC report says that Cambridge Analytica bought the data from Aleksandr Kogan and his company, Global Science Research, which obtained the data through an app and a psychological test taken by Facebook users.

    The amounts paid by the Trump campaign to Cambridge Analytica for its services – and the use of the Facebook data – are listed in its spending reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. This proves that the Trump campaign paid for services in the same way that campaigns routinely hire and pay direct mail marketers. So the Trump campaign did not get an illegal corporate contribution from Cambridge Analytica or Facebook when it received free access to very valuable data.

    Whether or not Global Science Research and Cambridge Analytica violated any Facebook rules regarding this data is not the responsibility of the Trump campaign. From the standpoint of federal campaign finance law, the Trump campaign met its obligation to pay for and report this spending and did not violate the ban on corporate contributions.

    However, whether or not the Obama campaign and Facebook violated this ban is an open question. It should be investigated by the Federal Election Commission and potentially the U.S. Department of Justice. The commission handles most routine violations of the law, which are civil matters. The Justice Department is responsible for investigating knowing and intentional violations of the law, which are criminal matters.

    Although the statute of limitations may have already run out on this conduct by the Obama campaign, one thing seems certain: Carol Davidsen’s admissions should provide a sufficient basis for opening a federal investigation of what may have been a serious violation of the law by the Obama campaign.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, March 29, 2018 12:56 am @ 12:56 am

    • Why did I know one graf in that this was from von Spakovsky, who really, really needs to go to prison for serial violations of 18 USC 241?

      Comment by Lex — Thursday, March 29, 2018 7:07 pm @ 7:07 pm

      • Lex, is everybody that disagrees with your dogma a criminal ?

        Comment by Fred Gregory — Monday, April 2, 2018 6:14 pm @ 6:14 pm

        • von Spakovsky is a serial violator of 18 USC 241. You can look it up.

          Comment by Lex — Monday, April 2, 2018 6:20 pm @ 6:20 pm

  5. I think facebook should not be used for political purposes. Take away the political aspect of facebook and it can become a much more pleasant place.

    Comment by Alessandro Machi — Thursday, March 29, 2018 2:18 pm @ 2:18 pm

    • OK. How are you going to make that work?

      Comment by Lex — Thursday, March 29, 2018 7:08 pm @ 7:08 pm

  6. Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you

    This is scary but…. please RTWT

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, March 30, 2018 6:43 pm @ 6:43 pm

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