Posts Tagged ‘data’

Facebook business model collect and abuse personal data

March 22, 2018

Facebook let a firm called GSR scrape 50 million user profiles and sell the data to another firm, Cambridge Analytica, whose express purpose was to manipulate electoral behaviour in favour of Donald Trump. That’s the one-paragraph summary of a story that will unfold with increasing complexity this week. — Paul Mason

There are several evil corporations. Monsanto aka MonSatan destroys the environment. Nestle human rights abuse. Facebook collection and abuse of personal data.

Channel 4 News has done the world a service in its expose of Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica had access to a facebook app that harvested the personal data of 50 million Facebook users, then is believed to have used that data to influence the US Presidential Election and elect Donald Trump, or at least they have bragged so.

Cambridge Analytica is a side show, and the focus has now quite rightly shifted to Facebook.

Facebook collects and abuses personal data. That is the Facebook business model, that is how Facebook makes money, a lot of money.  Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg has contempt for your personal privacy.

Contrary to what Facebook claim this to be a breach of trust, Facebook makes its money, its businesses model, is built on breach of trust. Every day Facebook breaches the trust of its users.

Cambridge Analytica used a Facebook app to harvest Facebook personal data. It did what every Facebook app does.

A Facebook app, every game, quiz, survey, has access to not only all your personal data, but also that of your friends. And this is continuous access.

  • e-mail
  • photos and videos
  • phone number
  • date of birth
  • hometown
  • current city
  • religious and political views
  • friends list —> access to all your friends
  • relationship status
  • education history
  • work history
  • status updates
  • likes
  • website
  • groups you’ve liked and manage

Who or what is behind that app that is harvesting your data?

In summary, an app gains access to:

  • your basic information
  • your e-mail address
  • your profile info: birthday, likes and location
  • your events

What is basic information?

Well it is actually quite a long list: name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other information you made public.

All handed over with a single click.

Now you may be happy to see all this information handed over to who knows where, to who knows who, to do as they please, but what of your friends? If you have no concern for your own privacy, do you not have an obligation to respect that of your friends, did you ask each and everyone if it was OK that their name be passed to this app?

Would you hand all your personal information to a stranger who stops you in the street, name, where you live, where you work, school, university, name of partner, name of dog?

Would you hand over a key to your house and say ok to rummage through all your personal effects?

Would you grant access to all the clubs and societies you belong to?

Would you hand over your work pass?

If not then why do you do this on Facebook?

Also be aware when commenting external to Facebook, if linked to Facebook, Facebook now has access to what you are doing outside of Facebook.

Facebook is not a social network.

With Cambridge Analytica there was no data breach at Facebook. This is how Facebook works. You are the product on sale.

Facebook users mistakenly think the only people they are sharing information with are their friends. This is simply not true.

And who are these friends? Often they are people never met, have not a clue who they are.

Many users are now deleting their Facebook accounts. The problem is, Facebook will still have all your personal information.

Overwrite all your personal information with fake information, then a few days later delete.

Never make a live link of the places you visit.

Never tag friends.

Never post videos on Facebook. Post videos on vimeo or youtube and post a link on Facebook. Always drive traffic out of not into Facebook.

Do not use Instagram. Instagram belongs to Facebook, claims rights to your pictures, the pictures are not visible on twitter.

Post pictures direct to twitter, not via Instagram. Encourage your followers to follow you on twitter not on Instagram.

Coffee shops provide a good example. If pictures posted on Instagram act as bait to draw customers into the facebook walled garden, thus complicit in the abuse of their personal data. The pictures can be sold. Pictures not visible on twitter, even though one assumes the whole point of posting pictures is for them to be seen. The coffee shop would get far better traction by posting direct to twitter and posting pictures on Google Maps.

Do not use WhatsApp, it too belongs to Facebook. Use Skype instead.

Check your Facebook settings. You will be horrified at the number of apps you find. Most you will have no knowledge of. Get rid of every single one.

Lobby the government. We need much stricter data protection.

We have had the farce of the Information Commissioner announcing to the media, maybe raid Data Analytica the next day, maybe the day after, maybe by the end of the week. As I write, Data Analytica has not been raided. Any incriminating evidence will have long gone. There are boxes going out the door.

The maximum fine in the UK is £500,000. This is peanuts to Facebook. There should be unlimited fines, punitive fines.

Facebook dodges tax. There should be a social media tax, based on the number of users, exemption for any social media network held in common trust, owned by the members, a social media commons.  There should be a tax on advertising revenue.

We need to create a social media commons, or failing that, Facebook handed to its users.


In addition to collecting and abusing personal data, then enabling it to be harvested by Data Analytica and other data harvesters, Facebook has then provided a platform to enable Data Analytica and others to abuse and manipulate users through acquisition of their own personal data.

Data Analytica have bragged they won the election for Trump by manipulation. They have bragged of being willing to bribe corrupt politicians, to set them up with girls from Ukraine.

Facebook should disable their news feed. It serves no useful purpose other than to disseminate fake news and propaganda.

I and others have been warning of Facebook and Instagram for years.  Will the current scandal finally force users to wake up and take notice, not only take notice, but act?

Facebook is a toxic virus that has invaded every aspect of our digital lives.

Mozilla has pulled the plug on Facebook. We must pressurise other corporations to do the same.

We show our support for Mozilla by downloading and using Firefox.

Facebook has to be broken up. It has to be stripped of Instagram and WhatsApp, but what is left has to be broken up.  No one uses Facebook because they like Facebook, they use it because their friends are there. We therefore have to have open standards where there are many social networks, with communicate both within and across networks. An example would be telephone networks, anyone on one network can communicate with anyone on any other network.

Facebook is not the only tech giant that has to be broken up. Google has to be stripped of Android, YouTube and self-driving cars, leaving Google as a search engine.

The Internet in Real Time

June 1, 2014

Click the image to open the interactive version.

Data flow in seconds.

Facebook apps

April 24, 2012

Why it is bad to use a facebook app, is best illustrated by an example.

At the weekend on Earth Day, Imogen Heap streamed a live event from the garden of the Round House. You could watch it from her website or on facebook, that I chose her website will soon become apparent.

“Me The Machine” Live Event

You can still watch the video, but for some perverse reason, only through a facebook app.

Re-watch ‘Me, The Machine’ + Earth Day Broadcast

This app requires the following:

  • your basic information
  • your e-mail address
  • your profile info: birthday, likes and location
  • your events

What is basic information?

Well its is actually quite a long list: name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other information you made public.

All handed over with a single click.

Now you may be happy to see all this information handed over to who knows where, to do as they please, but what of your friends? If you have no concern for your own privacy, do you not have an obligation to respect that of your friends, did you ask each and everyone if it was OK that their name be passed to this app?

But just when you think it can get no worse, what else can the app do or gain access to?

Any posts the app may make to your timeline, the default is public, ie anyone can see. An example of this is The Guardian app, everyone can see what you are looking at at The Guardian. The Guardian came in for a lot of criticism, which thy duly ignored.

But it should be noted that this privacy setting, default public, only controls what the app does on your timeline, it does not control what happens within the app, who has access to the information. It does not control or set who can see your activity within the app itself or when you are tagged within the app by someone else.

Pause and reflect for a moment. If you were filling out a form on a website, I think you would baulk at providing all this information, and at the very least you know where it is going, who is collecting it, or you think you know.

But do you know with an app, who is behind the app, what are they collecting this information for?

Sharing of data between facebook and third parties

On a website, there is often an assurance that this information will not be shared with anyone else.

Those whose personal data has just been bought by facebook for a $1 billion probably thought that. Now please do not tell me you thought facebook were paying a billion dollars for something a couple of competent software engineers could knock out in a few weeks, something that a handful of software designers did knock out in a few weeks.

Facebook, Instagram, Google, and the Monopoly Fallacy
A billion reasons to beware of the latest dotcom bubble
Don’t want Facebook to have more of your data? Here’s how to download and delete your Instagram account

Pause and reflect again. Would you hand this information over to a stranger who stops you in the street? You probably would not hand over even your e-mail address or telephone number.

Going back to my original example, this is a lot of information to hand over merely to watch what was streamed on Earth Day.

And who is collecting this information, what do they want it for, what are they going to do with it?

If it is Imogen Heap, then why not a form to fill out on her website?

If you wish to be kept informed of what she is doing, then fine, you hand over your e-mail address and she sends you a newsletter.

I have raised this with Imogen Heap, asked that she makes this film footage available without having to go through facebook. I can see no reason why not, it was possible to watch live on the night on her website without going through facebook.

I await her response.

Facebook is a walled garden. To gain access to the delights within your are forced to pay with your digital soul at the gate.

Web freedom faces greatest threat ever
Tim Berners-Lee: Don’t let record labels upset web openness

Web freedom faces greatest threat ever

April 16, 2012

The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

In an interview with The Guardian, Brin warned there were “very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world”. “I am more worried than I have been in the past,” he said. “It’s scary.”

The threat to the freedom of the internet comes, he claims, from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry’s attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of “restrictive” walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms.

The 38-year-old billionaire, whose family fled antisemitism in the Soviet Union, was widely regarded as having been the driving force behind Google’s partial pullout from China in 2010 over concerns about censorship and cyber-attacks. He said five years ago he did not believe China or any country could effectively restrict the internet for long, but now says he has been proven wrong. “I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle,” he said.

He said he was most concerned by the efforts of countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to censor and restrict use of the internet, but warned that the rise of Facebook and Apple, which have their own proprietary platforms and control access to their users, risked stifling innovation and balkanising the web.

“There’s a lot to be lost,” he said. “For example, all the information in apps – that data is not crawlable by web crawlers. You can’t search it.”

Brin’s criticism of Facebook is likely to be controversial, with the social network approaching an estimated $100bn (£64bn) flotation. Google’s upstart rival has seen explosive growth: it has signed up half of Americans with computer access and more than 800 million members worldwide.

Brin said he and co-founder Larry Page would not have been able to create Google if the internet was dominated by Facebook. “You have to play by their rules, which are really restrictive,” he said. “The kind of environment that we developed Google in, the reason that we were able to develop a search engine, is the web was so open. Once you get too many rules, that will stifle innovation.”

He criticised Facebook for not making it easy for users to switch their data to other services. “Facebook has been sucking down Gmail contacts for many years,” he said.

Brin’s comments come on the first day of a week-long Guardian investigation of the intensifying battle for control of the internet being fought across the globe between governments, companies, military strategists, activists and hackers.

From the attempts made by Hollywood to push through legislation allowing pirate websites to be shut down, to the British government’s plans to monitor social media and web use, the ethos of openness championed by the pioneers of the internet and worldwide web is being challenged on a number of fronts.

In China, which now has more internet users than any other country, the government recently introduced new “real identity” rules in a bid to tame the boisterous microblogging scene. In Russia, there are powerful calls to rein in a blogosphere blamed for fomenting a wave of anti-Vladimir Putin protests. It has been reported that Iran is planning to introduce a sealed “national internet” from this summer.

Ricken Patel, co-founder of Avaaz, the 14 million-strong online activist network which has been providing communication equipment and training to Syrian activists, echoed Brin’s warning: “We’ve seen a massive attack on the freedom of the web. Governments are realising the power of this medium to organise people and they are trying to clamp down across the world, not just in places like China and North Korea; we’re seeing bills in the United States, in Italy, all across the world.”

Writing in the Guardian on Monday, outspoken Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei says the Chinese government’s attempts to control the internet will ultimately be doomed to failure. “In the long run,” he says, “they must understand it’s not possible for them to control the internet unless they shut it off – and they can’t live with the consequences of that.”

Amid mounting concern over the militarisation of the internet and claims – denied by Beijing – that China has mounted numerous cyber-attacks on US military and corporate targets, he said it would be hugely difficult for any government to defend its online “territory”.

“If you compare the internet to the physical world, there really aren’t any walls between countries,” he said. “If Canada wanted to send tanks into the US there is nothing stopping them and it’s the same on the internet. It’s hopeless to try to control the internet.”

He reserved his harshest words for the entertainment industry, which he said was “shooting itself in the foot, or maybe worse than in the foot” by lobbying for legislation to block sites offering pirate material.

He said the Sopa and Pipa bills championed by the film and music industries would have led to the US using the same technology and approach it criticised China and Iran for using. The entertainment industry failed to appreciate people would continue to download pirated content as long as it was easier to acquire and use than legitimately obtained material, he said.

“I haven’t tried it for many years but when you go on a pirate website, you choose what you like; it downloads to the device of your choice and it will just work – and then when you have to jump through all these hoops [to buy legitimate content], the walls created are disincentives for people to buy,” he said.

Brin acknowledged that some people were anxious about the amount of their data that was now in the reach of US authorities because it sits on Google’s servers. He said the company was periodically forced to hand over data and sometimes prevented by legal restrictions from even notifying users that it had done so.

He said: “We push back a lot; we are able to turn down a lot of these requests. We do everything possible to protect the data. If we could wave a magic wand and not be subject to US law, that would be great. If we could be in some magical jurisdiction that everyone in the world trusted, that would be great … We’re doing it as well as can be done.”

Originally published in The Guardian.

I could not agree more with what Sergey Brin is saying, this creation by facebook of a net within the net, a walled garden, the only way to sample the delights within is to sell your digital soul at the gate.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. If it is free, it is because you are the product on sale.

Watch carefully the next time you click a link from within facebook. You are diverted elsewhere, before going to the site you wish to visit.

Facebook deposits software on your computer which track what you do.

Activity within facebook is walled off from the outside world, forcing others to sell their digital soul at the gate. It is you who creates the content, not facebook. Facebook is merely the platform, but it is not a neutral platform.

There is a partial way around, little tunnels under the wall and into the garden.

If you use facebook for sharing photo albums, set those albums to public, and post the links outside facebook where they can be found and followed.

Sharing of data between facebook and third parties

Sharing of data between facebook and third parties

April 15, 2012

Not worried about data transfer between facebook and third parties? Well maybe you should be.

When you click on a facebook app, have you not noticed it requires access to your personal information? Is this necessary to play a time-wasting game? Why does it need this information?

Log in to many sites and it gives you an option of facebook login rather than typing in your ID and password.

Sounds easy, one click too easy.

What data transfer takes place? Even if none, and that is doubtful, do you reallly want facebook to know all your affairs?

Privacy to facebook is an alien concept. Your personal data is a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder.

‘We didn’t mean to track you’ says Facebook as social network giant admits to ‘bugs’ in new privacy row
Facebook Is Not Your Friend
Facebook Offers More Disclosure to Users

Always log in with your ID and password, do not be tempted by the one click option.

I clicked on spotify, it came up in a search, I was actually trying to find an article in The Guardian that was referred to in an excellent podcast on spotify and why it is best avoided.

I have no wish to use spotify, no wish to join.

It came up with an on-line registration form already completed that included:

  • name (incl number of friends on facebook)
  • e-mail address
  • sex
  • date of birth
  • list of facebook friends who use spotify

All neatly completed with a single click to facebook to save me the time and trouble of filling out their registration form.

But I had never asked to register, I had simply clicked on spotify. Some of the information I had deleted from facebook, and yet it was still there to be transferred to a third party.

When you are logged into facebook, it logs everything you are doing. When you log out of facebook it continues to log what you are doing via software it installs on your computer!

I have no interest being on or using spotify. Why use spotify when there is a far far better alternative, where money is gong direct to the musicians, not to global corporations, even when the artists are not on their labels?

Why I’ve Taken My Music Off Spotify…
Why Spotify can never be profitable: The secret demands of record labels

I will make that last point more explicit, as it is important that it is understood: In the highly unlikely event that were I to download and pay for music from spotify where the artist is on an independent label or not even on a label, the major labels get a cut, even though they have not signed the artist!

Steve Lawson is on bandcamp (he was on spotify). I can listen to either of his albums 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything or Believe In Peace for free, I can share these albums with my friends, I can download for free, should I choose to pay for a download (and I set the price not Steve), bandcamp gets a cut of 15%.

The Sixteen have their own independent record label Coro. The Sixteen are on spotify but as yet not on bandcamp. Should I choose to download and pay for The Earth Resounds, the music of their Choral Pilgrimage 2012 which started last week with its premier performance in Winchester Cathedral, the major record labels take a cut, even though The Sixteen are not on a major label, have their own independent label Coro.

Why use spotify when there is bandcamp? With bandcamp at least you know the money is going to the pocket of an artist, not to a faceless coroportation.

Slow music
Community supported music
A Little “Buy Music With Bandcamp” Primer…
Tweet-Rant #2 : 23 Tweets About Bandcamp

The business model for spotify is to generate business for spotify. The business for spotify is to generate business for spotify.

Bandcamp lets you share the music you like, makes it easy to download, easy to buy. If you buy, the artist gets paid and bandcamp gets a cut.

The business model for bandcamp is to generate revenue for their artists, as it is only through generating revenue for the artists that bandcamp gets paid. Thus the interest of the artist and bandcamp coincide.

The spotify model is generate contacts off the back of the artists, which benefits spotify, not the artist.

Call this the facebook business model. The more friends you collect, the more links you make, the greater the data pool for facebook to mine.

There are four major threats to internet:

  • government – censorship of what you may see, spying on what you do
  • facebook – enter our walled garden and enjoy the delights within, sell your soul at the gate to gain access
  • apple – enter our walled garden and enjoy the delights within, sell your soul at the gate to gain access
  • corporate control of music – criminalisation of those who love and wish to share music

The UK is trying to bring in legislation to enable spying on what every citizen does on the net, every web page viewed, every phone conversation, every sms text message, every e-mail of every citizen.

UK Police State

The music industry tried and failed to control the internet with Sopa, they are now trying again with Acta.

Say NO to ACTA

I checked out hotels on TripAdvisor. The same hotels popped up on hotmail and twitpic.

I used google to translate Japanese. Adverts in Japanese popped up on twitpic.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. If it appears free, then you are the product on sale.

Facebook paid $1 billion for an application that turns good pictures into grotty pictures, an application that any competent software designer could knock out in a couple of weeks. Facebook paid $1 billion for the users. $1 billion is a crude measure of what your personal data is worth to facebook. One billion reasons why users of the application are deleting their accounts.

Facebook, Instagram, Google, and the Monopoly Fallacy
A billion reasons to beware of the latest dotcom bubble
Don’t want Facebook to have more of your data? Here’s how to download and delete your Instagram account

Bandcamp is not free. It is free to listen to the music in the same way it is free to browse in a shop, you do not pay an entry fee at the door, do not have to fill out a registration form, show an ID. When you buy music through bandcamp, 15% of what you pay goes to bandcamp.

Top Story in Privacy Daily (Monday 16 April 2012).

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