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Why Facebook's turn into privacy

Programming Note: It's time for The Interface to take its annual Spring Break vacation to South By Southwest, Austin! I will be interviewing Alex Stamos, the former Chief Security Officer of Facebook, at 2:30 pm local time on Saturday. and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark on Sunday at 15:30. If you are in town, RSVP here and come and say hello. The interface will return on March 13th – and in the meantime, I will be creating some more original reports I can not wait to share with you. On Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg posted a 3,200-word blog post in which he promised "to outline our vision and principles of building a privacy-oriented messaging and social networking platform." I took him seriously, and in the Hours after the release of his post, I thought of a Facebook that puts messaging and privacy first.

I also take Zuckerberg seriously ? This is the allegation made by Ben Thompson, Silicon Valley's favorite columnist, in his newsletter today. We talked about direct messages on Twitter, so there are no hard feelings. However, I would like to take up the opposing views on the Zuckerberg memo, because I have found a fascinating gap in opinions today.

My view is that if you agree that Facebook's news feed and other feed-based products will decline over time, as in North America, Facebook will have to completely change its business. Getting used to privacy, encryption, and ephemeral messages ̵

1; while gaining time to build new businesses in commerce and payments – seems as good an idea as any other.

Zuckerberg nods weakly to the conviction that the news feed continues to be important in his post. But over the past year, he has also shifted top news feed talents to parts of the business he needs to grow faster: Adam Mosseri on Instagram; Designer Geoff Teehan for the blockchain department and so on. These moves, along with the decline in the original North American news feeds, make me believe that Zuckerberg – always paranoid about the company's long-term survival – is feeling the pressure to begin building lifeboats.

But following up his post, Zuckerberg returned some of his enthusiasm for this vision of a purely "privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform." He told Nick Thompson at Wired :

Instagram will be less important for what they do, it's just that people sometimes want to interact in a city square, and sometimes they want to be in the living room interact, and I think that's the next big frontier. [19659011] As I said on Twitter Zuckerberg wants to have his cake and eat as well: thriving public feeds and fast-growing private messaging apps. Thompson takes the same metaphor in a play titled "Facebook's Privacy Cakes" and goes along with it:

You still have the core app of Facebook, Instagram, "like buttons" scattered across the web – none of that go away with this announcement. You can afford a privacy-oriented messaging service in a way that every potential challenger could not. It turns out that privacy is a competitive advantage for Facebook, not the stick that the company's critics hoped for.

He continues:

Do not expect companies to act against their interests any longer. Facebook no longer kills its core business as Apple, to give an example that it is ready to protect users' data in China.

This view explains why the share of Facebook has remained largely unchanged since then the announcement. (Today it was about two percent less.)

At the same time I find this view surprisingly cynical. It goes without saying that when announcing a bold new social privacy vision, the CEO of Facebook has in fact described only a high-level product roadmap for a neighboring company. It is believed that the article was published primarily for publicity reasons: to signal a commitment to privacy by a company with a bad reputation on the subject.

If this is the case, Facebook has plunged into a vice. On the one hand, as always, advertisers will demand more intrusive tracking and targeting options. On the other hand, there is a large and increasingly dissatisfied user base that has now been promised that the next generation of Facebook products will be private, volatile, and regularly erase their data. Whole areas of Facebook will now work on different purposes.

And with every new privacy bug – there were, by the way, a few hours ago – the world will have a chance to moan: Remember Pivot to Privacy? If the company really hoped to buy short-term goodwill at the expense of its long-term credibility, it would seem to be a bad trade.

Perhaps at risk of forced breakup from Instagram and WhatsApp, Zuckerberg felt his hand was forced – and had to justify standardizing the apps' back-end technology with the most consumer-friendly argument he could find. However, if he can not keep what he promised – and if data-related scandals continue at the pace of the past 12 months – the "pivot to privacy" will be remembered as epic folly.

One reason for the confusion Zuckerberg's post may be that he uses "privacy" unlike most people. Konstantin Kakaes writes in MIT Tech Review :

By excluding privacy closely, almost exclusively via end-to-end encryption that would prevent a luncher from intercepting communication, he can avoid thinking about the weaknesses and missteps of Facebook. Data protection is not just about keeping secrets. It is also about how information flows shape us as individuals and as societies. What we say to whom and why is a function of context. Social networks change this context, altering the nature of privacy in ways that are both good and bad.

Russian propagandists used Facebook to influence the American elections of 2016, perhaps decisively. Myanmarese military used Facebook to provoke a genocide against Rohingya. This is the consequence of the way Facebook has reduced privacy. They are not the result of encryption errors.

In any case, I found that current and former employees seemed to understand the news differently. As Peter Kafka notes, current employees tend to endorse Thompson's view – that this is a situation in which one can hide. Former employees I've talked to accept Zuckerberg's word that he intends to move the company to a more news and group-oriented future – and that it will be very, very tough. ("Everyone thinks this is a bad idea," a person familiar with employee sentiment told me today, "but it's a top-down request to finish it.")

That's the thing if you have your cake and you eat too. Very few people come to it.


Facebook Plans to Bind Together When Regulatory Debates Rupture

Makena Kelly reports that some lawmakers are misjudging Facebook's efforts to consolidate its messaging apps: "Mark Zuckerberg ridiculed the antitrust authorities around the world, breaking past acquisition commitments and threatening to consolidate market control, "said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in a statement to The Verge. "The FTC and the Ministry of Justice should see through this facade. Big Tech will never change its invasive and anticompetitive methods until changes are enforced. "

" Yesterday, I suggested that our antitrust authorities should consider balancing anti-competitive mergers, including Facebook and Instagram, "Blumenthal explains.

Fake News network

Facebook has an information operation today It was not clear who was behind it:

Facebook removed more than 130 accounts, pages and groups that were claimed to be part of a UK-based misinformation network

The company said it was the first time it had destroyed a system based in the UK that targets British citizens.

Russian laws prohibit "disrespect" against the government and "false news

Here is another authoritarian leader who forbids dissent on the pretext of "falsc he messages.

Russian Parliament has passed two legislative proposals that spread "disrespect" of the authorities and the spread of "false news".

The first ban relates to "blatant disrespect" of the state, its officials and Russian society as well as the repetition of offenders face up to 15 days in jail.

YouTube launches a feature that shows fact checks when people search for sensitive topics

Pranav Dixit reports that YouTube displays information windows when people search for information on "misleading" topics, starting in India:

After asking for an example of the type of search that would display an information panel, the YouTube spokesman cited the recent conflict between India and Pakistan, which led to a barrage of disinformation on social media platforms.

The spokesman also provided BuzzFeed News with a screenshot of an information panel in Hindi, which included a debut for a Hindi search query for "CCTV footage of the Pulwama terrorist attack", which produced videos that attempted to play a video bomb blast in Syria as an attack on Indian paramilitary forces.


Car Bomb Anxiety and Stolen Prototypes: Inside Facebook's Efforts to Protect Its 80,000 Workers Around the World

Rob Price has a shining look at the very real security threats facing Facebook and its tens of thousands of workers across the globe World are exposed. There are many candidates for the wildest detail in the story, but the kicker is probably the wildest:

In August 2013, after Facebook's beloved chef was killed in a motorcycle accident, the company threw a blow-out party with free alcohol on a weekend commemorating him. The memorial fell into disarray, with several bouts breaking out among the kitchen staff, which the security staff believed were gangs. The event ended with a kitchen worker beaten so badly for Facebook reasons that he was hospitalized.

The attacker was later blacklisted – but later he sneaked onto campus to visit his mother, who was still working there.

Facebook Messenger had a security hole where hackers could see who you contact

Facebook has one day entered the privacy pivot before a security breach became known. Here's Shannon Liao:

A previously reported Facebook vulnerability was similarly found in the company's Messenger product, according to security research group Imperva. Nearly a year ago, Imperva researchers discovered that with the help of Messenger, a hacker could "use any website to whom you contacted." The error was forwarded to Facebook in May and then patched.

Hackers could target Facebook Use the user's web browser and use iframe elements to see which friends the user has spoken with and which are not in the user's contact list. Imperva confirmed that the hackers could not get any more data from the attack.

The chaotic details behind Facebook's messaging plans

Mark Zuckerberg says messaging apps should be "more interoperable". Russell Brandom takes up what this might mean in practice:

If you belong to a certain generation of techies, it sounds a bit stupid. There are many truly interoperable messaging standards, whether it's SMTP (aka e-mail) or XMPP (aka Jabber), and if you do not like their functionality, you can always start a new one. Facebook does not suggest anything like that. Facebook is proposing a new system that it controls to displace existing open standards and competing services from Google, Apple and all others. It's a very powerful game, and if it works, Facebook would be at the center of one of the most important things we do with our phones.

It would also have its own business opportunities, depending on how the system works is constructed. Robust encryption would mean that the company can not read the text of messages. But if Facebook kept the metadata, it would show who sent you text messages. This could be an effective tool for targeted advertising and help Facebook build the graph of advertisers. It was not mentioned in Zuckerberg's post, but Facebook also allegedly works on a blockchain payment system that allows users to send money through messaging apps, which would make the proposed system even more lucrative. And with regulators around the world thinking to split off WhatsApp and Instagram, it could be a critical political defense to integrate all three networks into a single messaging system.

YouTube Family Vloggers Worry About Their Future While Members of the Commentary Keep Off Julia Alexander, whose business shows her kids on YouTube, is worried about the ban on video for minors.

Most people think of YouTube's comment section as just a haven for trolls, but for YouTubers comments One way to communicate with viewers was by Jon and Danielle The 1945 . People look at YouTube to engage with developers and other fans. However, YouTube has removed comments from the majority of the minors' videos to combat predatory behavior. Most of the videos in question are family vloggers like the Murrays – a popular genre of videos about living with children.

"We've built this relationship with our subscribers, you know," Danielle told The Verge in a telephone call. "We just got some mail from our P.O. Box, gifts that people send to us, cards and everything … it really feels like you know what you know.

Can a judge order Elon Musk to erase his Twitter account?

Elizabeth Lopatto makes an effort with attorneys to answer the question, the answer seems to be: probably not.

"Me doubt that the court can order – or would – tell Mr Musk to stop tweeting and / or delete his Twitter account, "said former SEC CEO Harvey Pitt of Kalorama Partners in an e-mail "The court could order Musk to end the tweeting for Tesla but Musk is so closely associated with Tesla in public I'm not sure." This is the guy who immediately started conspiracy theories just by changing his Twitter display name to "Elon Tusk."


Facebook sketches the plans to egg Establishment of anti-Vax conspiracy theories

In the wake of Pinterest When the content of vaccines is removed from the search, Facebook follows the example. It is a welcome move – to promote freedom of expression and to deny these zealots the right to kidnap the viral machinery of Facebook. Rachel Becker reports:

The news comes three weeks after MP Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a stern letter to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook and Instagram have been criticized for "appearing and recommending messages that prevent parents from vaccinating their children." "If children are not vaccinated by thoroughly debunked myths that vaccines cause diseases like autism, dangerous diseases like measles can spread." Schiff called this is "a direct threat to public health."

A major area of ​​concern is Facebook groups, in which fearful misinformation about vaccines can jump around in a pseudo-scientific echo chamber. The Guardian reported last month, today Facebook has pledged The company also promised to make it harder to find them through the search or the newsfeed.

Twitter will help users to target, distribute and distribute anti-Vax groups and pages in recommendations and predictions. when they tweet with personal information

Twitter adds new options to its tweeting reporting process Chaim Gartenberg reports that personal information is being misappropriated and adds much more specific fields that can highlight users when submitting reports.


A Facebook focusing on privacy would kill Zuckerberg's business model

which does not accept Alex Hern Zuckerberg in earnest:

Zuckerberg believes or not what he says the fact that himself Facebook's share price in the news of Zuckerberg's note has hardly changed, suggests that the people who actually own Facebook do not. They read this letter and decided that their money there is absolutely safe. After all, it should not be hard to make your own.

It's Time – High Time – to Take the Deterring Role of Fox News in America Seriously

Margaret Sullivan Names Fox News Plague:

Everyone Should Do It See What It's All About: No Normal News Organization with inevitable clashes, weaknesses and commercial interests that sometimes do not serve the public interest.

But shameless propaganda that makes billions of dollars a year The basic democratic values ​​are important to us: truth, accountability and the rule of law.

The conflict between India and Pakistan was a parade of lies

Farhad Manjoo worries about the misinformation that flies between two nuclear weapons Neighbors:

What I found was alarming; it should scare the world, not just Indians and Pakistanis. Whether you got your news from India or Pakistan during the conflict, you would have had to struggle hard to find yourself through a miasma of lies. The lies fluttered across all media: There were lies on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. it was on TV; There were lies of politicians; there were lies of citizens.

Aside from lies, virtually all, including many journalists, played with facts quickly and easily. Many discussions were associated with rumors and assumptions. Pictures were treated, pictures were shared and broadcast, and real pictures were dismissed as discarded. Many of the lies were judged and were not innocent slip-ups in the fog of war, but the efforts to discredit the enemy, to promote nationalist pride and to shame anyone who does not pursue a jingoistic line. The lies fit a pattern that calls for war, and on both sides they propose a society that has lost the bonds of reason and completely fallen into the post-fact order.

And finally …

Tim Cook is now Tim Apple on Twitter

On Wednesday, President Trump referred to Apple's CEO "Tim Apple", which led to a widespread sentiment on Twitter. Today, the CEO – Tim Cook – has changed his surname to the official Apple emoji. Makena Kelly reports:

The Apple character is not a Unicode symbol and is unfortunately only visible on Apple operating systems. So, if you're using an Android or Windows device, you'll only see a hidden square or other icon that could not be displayed.

I would change my Twitter name to Casey Interface, but I did not do it Quite decidedly for the right emoji.

Talk to me

Send me tips, comments, questions and a note explaining exactly how seriously you are taking Mark Zuckerberg: casey@theverge.com.

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