Facebook has big problems. It is an existential crisis and it has spin off tentacles that reach to the very core of the US culture and into the private life of millions around the planet.
The US Federal Trade Commission and some 6 congressional committees are investigating how 50 Million users had their personal data breached in an act connected to the king of deceit and hustle, president sleaze.
Since news of the trump minions stealing data Facebook has lost nearly $50 Billion in market cap. That is the largest two day drop ever.
The data harvesting was done by Cambridge Analytica and their CEO has been suspended.
While Facebook stumbles forward, Google is investing $300 Million in what it's calling the Google News Initiative, designed to support media by boosting real journalism and fighting misinformation. This is significant.
Facebook is full of fake news, was used by Russian efforts to affect the 2016 Presidential election and was used famously by Brad Parscale. He talked openly about swinging key and decisive Pennsylvania and Michigan voters for trump by feeding them tailor made information on Facebook. Now Parscale heads up the trump 2020 election. Are you picking up any cues here? Are you the least bit worried about the future-your future, and especially if you are a Facebook devotee?
Google's promise of $300 Million to combat news fraud
comes as real and serious US and foreign journalists begin to work on something called "Algorithmic Accountability."
Two quick notes-sadly most people get their information from social media---old time media with gate keepers and fact checkers is loosing ground to the digital generation that is fast and cute. And most people are lazy about their information intake-too often relying on limited sources-going only for headlines and not substance-and often getting it from sources that feed their own bias or mind set. It is true for online media, but Fox News and MSNBC are prime examples of "silo" information and viewers on cable. We note too, fewer people are paying attention to television and most of those who do are older.
But all generations are caught in this snare of algorithms.
It is computer intelligence and big data making decisions and doing so tenaciously and rapidly, beyond the control of you, or me or any human system. Algorithmic Accountability is a very important topic and story.
After you research a topic you start getting ads on your computer about that-algorithms at work. Cambridge Analytica steals your personal data for the trump gang and heaven only knows what kind of bilge dredge you will get from the Parscale team or who ever else the trump gang may sell the information to. You also worry about the fact once your data is breached almost anyone can get to it and use it, including those pictures of your children or grand children or your private communication about your diagnosis, or your comments about despised cousin Gertie and etc. Mark Zuckerberg made millions while you shared your life and all your personal data on his little platform and you've been screwed. First by him, but then by the Russians, and the trumps, and the swindlers and the hustlers who can manage slick computers and algorithms.
more than annoyanceBut algorithmic manipulation raises questions about our future freedoms. Reporters have learned that since 2012 the New Orleans police department has used "predictive policing" in a pro bono relationship with Palantir Technologies. Do you remember the film Minority Report, where Tom Cruse used that swipe technology to arrest people before they did something the computer predicted? That is predictive policing and it certainly raises important legal questions-not the least of which--Is the data any good-or right, and what happens to due process and rules of evidence?
Palantir tried to get into the Chicago PD, but they already had an algorithmic program of predictive policing developed by a university. Doesn't the concept of predictive policing sound as though it needs sober human oversight?There is no doubt that data analysis can help police determine high crime areas and likelihood of occurrence. Studying history does in fact help us decipher the future. However, as a free people who value liberties, we need to know what is going on when people begin to point artificial and machine intelligence in certain directions. And when machines function more rapidly and on a broader scale than our human minds, we need to make sure laws are firm and enforced. We've already experienced algorithmic abuse.
Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea of Facebook back in college and created a world changing company. A personal note. I've never joined Facebook for a number of reasons but among them is this. Everything that Facebook has to make it valuable belongs to you. It is your information, photographs, writing, comments, your life and unbeknownst to you all of the underpinning data of your life. You willingly give that up and get nothing back for it, while Zuckerberg and company have become billionaires by selling your information. I said in the beginning if Facebook wanted to be right about things they would be like REI or another cooperative. You as a user could get value for the activity you generate and share. The more you used it, the more value you got back, either as stock, cash or some kind of cash value like coupons.
Friends have told me, "well, we get a medium or a platform, a network and connectivity." There is no such thing as a free lunch.
We don't know what will happen to Facebook, or Zuckerberg and company. Nor do we know how the theft of of personal data for the trump gang will play into those investigations. We don't know what Google's efforts will bring in their attempt to make social media more responsible or what the journalistic efforts at algorithmic accountability will yield. But I offer up a time worn journalistic wisdom. It was true way back when and it will be true to tomorrow, "follow the money!" When you follow the money you always have a good story and more often than not, you find crime.
And so we have again, Facebook has been an accomplice, at least. The US Presidential election, the national culture and you have been victimized. The story is not over.
See you down the trail.