How Secrecy Fuels Facebook Paranoia – Article Summary

»As it was reported in New York Times Magazine article (Jan. 16, 2019) by John Herrman: »How Secrecy Fuels Facebook Paranoia«, the social platform (Facebook, Instagram etc.) knows everything that happens within its walls, but it is oddly reticent when it comes to misinformation campaigns. They know far more about their advertising, labor and commerce marketplaces than do any of the parties participating in them. Everything that takes place within the platform kingdoms is enabled by systems we’re told must be kept private in order to function. We’re living in worlds governed by trade secrets. No wonder they’re making us all paranoid.

So, for instance, did Facebook trigger the gilets jaunes rebellion in France? Did Facebook swing the 2016 election? In December 2018, the Senate Intelligence Committee released two reports it had commissioned concerning Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election. On the subject of Facebook, for example, the reports analyzed new internal data on the campaign efforts of the Internet Research Agency, Russia’s »troll farm«. But since Facebook did not provide data about any sock-puppet accounts involved in the distribution of the content or the existence of »fake Likes« from these accounts, researchers were not sure whether these engagements were carried out by humans or bots or a mixture of the two. They were left to assume that this engagement was from real people and that this content was pushed into the News Feeds of their Friends as well.

It seems to be the tendency of the press, and of our imaginations on the whole, to increase  theories in a selected path. We can guess, but can’t know, why we were shown a friend’s Facebook post about a divorce, instead of another’s about a child’s birth. We can theorize, but won’t be told, why YouTube thinks we want to see a right-wing polemic about Islam in Europe after watching a video about travel destinations in France.«

John Herrman: How Secrecy Fuels Facebook Paranoia (16/01/2019)

The information is prepared by the team of the COMPACT project.

COMPACT is a Coordination and Support Action funded European Commission under framework Horizon 2020.

The objective of the COMPACT project is to increase awareness (including scientific, political, cultural, legal, economic and technical areas) of the latest technological discoveries among key stakeholders in the context of social media and convergence. The project will offer analyses and road maps of related initiatives. In addition, extensive research on policies and regulatory frameworks in media and content will be developed.

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