• FB Part 2

    From Roger Nelson@1:3828/7 to All on Thursday, April 11, 2019 12:14:22
    * Copied (from: COFFEE_KLATSCH) by Roger Nelson using timEd/386 1.10.y2k+.

    They rolled out end-to-end encryption and made it happen for a billion people in WhatsApp," Pfefferkorn said. "It's not necessarily impossible."
    WhatsApp's past is now Facebook's future

    In looking to the future, Zuckerberg first looks back.

    To lend some authenticity to this new-and-improved private Facebook, Zuckerberg
    repeatedly invokes a previously-acquired company's reputation to bolster Facebook's own.

    WhatsApp, Zuckerberg said, should be the model for the all new Facebook.

    "We plan to build this [privacy-focused platform] the way we've developed WhatsApp: focus on the most fundamental and private use case-messaging-make it as secure as possible, and then build more ways for people to interact on top of that," Zuckerberg said.

    The secure messenger, which Facebook purchased in 2014 for $19 billion, is a privacy exemplar. It developed default end-to-end encryption for users in 2016 (under Facebook's stead), refuses to store keys to grant access to users' messages, and tries to limit user data collection as much as possible.

    Still, several users believed that WhatsApp joining Facebook represented a death knell for user privacy. One month after the sale, WhatsApp's co-founder Jan Kaum tried to dispel any misinformation about WhatsApp's compromised vision.

    "If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn't have done it," Kaum wrote.

    Four years after the sale, something changed.

    Kaum left Facebook in March 2018, reportedly troubled by Facebook's approach to
    privacy and data collection. Kaum's departure followed that of his co-founder Brian Acton the year before.

    In an exclusive interview with Forbes, Acton explained his decision to leave Facebook. It was, he said, very much about privacy.

    "I sold my users' privacy to a larger benefit," Acton said. "I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day."

    Strangely, in defending Facebook's privacy record, Zuckerberg avoids a recent pro-encryption episode. Last year, Facebook fought-and prevailed-against a US government request to reportedly "break the encryption" in its Facebook Messenger app. Zuckerberg also neglects to mention Facebook's successful roll-out of optional end-to-end encryption in its Messenger app.

    Further, relying so heavily on WhatsApp as a symbol of privacy is tricky. After
    all, Facebook didn't purchase the company because of its philosophy. Facebook purchased WhatsApp because it was a threat.
    Facebook's history of missed promises

    Zuckerberg's statement promises users an entirely new Facebook, complete with end-to-end encryption, ephemeral messages and posts, less intrusive, permanent data collection, and no data storage in countries that have abused human rights.

    These are strong ideas. End-to-end encryption is a crucial security measure for
    protecting people's private lives, and Facebook's promise to refuse to store encryption keys only further buttresses that security. Ephemeral messages, posts, photos, and videos give users the opportunity to share their lives on their own terms. Refusing to put data in known human-rights-abusing regimes could represent a potentially significant market share sacrifice, giving Facebook a chance to prove its commitment to user privacy.

    But Facebook's promise-keeping record is far lighter than its promise-making record. In the past, whether Facebook promised a new product feature or better responsibility to its users, the company has repeatedly missed its own mark.

    In April 2018, TechCrunch revealed that, as far back as 2010, Facebook deleted some of Zuckerberg's private conversations and any record of his participation-retracting his sent messages from both his inbox and from the inboxes of his friends. The company also performed this deletion, which is unavailable to users, for other executives.

    Following the news, Facebook announced a plan to give its users an "unsend" feature.

    But nearly six months later, the company had failed to deliver its promise. It wasn't until February of this year that Facebook produced a half-measure: instead of giving users the ability to actually delete sent messages, like Facebook did for Zuckerberg, users could "unsend" an accidental message on the Messenger app within 10 minutes of the initial sending time.

    Gizmodo labeled it a "bait-and-switch."

    In October 2016, ProPublica purchased an advertisement in Facebook's "housing categories" that excluded groups of users who were potentially African-American, Asian American, or Hispanic. One civil rights lawyer called this exclusionary function "horrifying."

    Facebook quickly promised to improve its advertising platform by removing exclusionary options for housing, credit, and employment ads, and by rolling out better auto-detection technology to stop potentially discriminatory ads before they published.

    One year later, in November 2017, ProPublica ran its experiment again. Discrimination, again, proved possible. The anti-discriminatory tools Facebook announced the year earlier caught nothing.

    "Every single ad was approved within minutes," the article said.

    This time, Facebook shut the entire functionality down, according to a letter from Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to the Congressional Black Caucus.
    (Facebook also announced the changes on its website.)

    More recently, Facebook failed to deliver on a promise that users' phone numbers would be protected from search. Today, through a strange workaround, users can still be "found" through the phone number that Facebook asked them to
    provide specifically for two-factor authentication.

    Away from product changes, Facebook has repeatedly told users that it would commit itself to user safety, security, and privacy. The actual track record following those statements tells a different story, though.

    In 2013, an Australian documentary filmmaker met with Facebook's public policy and communications lead and warned him of the rising hate speech problem on Facebook's platform in Myanmar. The country's ultranationalist Buddhists were making false, inflammatory posts about the local Rohingya Muslim population, sometimes demanding violence against them. Riots had taken 80 people's lives the year before, and thousands of Rohingya were forced into internment camps.

    Facebook's public policy and communications lead, Elliot Schrage, sent the Australian filmmaker, Aela Callan, down a dead end.

    "He didn't connect me to anyone inside Facebook who could deal with the actual problem," Callan told Reuters.

    By November 2017, the problem had exploded, with Myanmar torn and its government engaging in what the United States called "ethnic cleansing" against
    the Rohingya. In 2018, investigators from the United Nations placed blame on Facebook.

    "I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast," said one investigator.

    During the years before, Facebook made no visible effort to fix the problem. By
    2015, the company employed just two content moderators who spoke Burmese-the primary language in Myanmar. By mid-2018, the company's content reporting tools
    were still not translated into Burmese, handicapping the population's ability to protect itself online. Facebook had also not hired a single employee in Myanmar at that time.

    In April 2018, Zuckerberg promised to do better. Four months later, Reuters discovered that hate speech still ran rampant on the platform and that hateful posts as far back as six years had not been removed.

    The international crises continued.

    In March 2018, The Guardian revealed that a European data analytics company had
    harvested the Facebook profiles of tens of millions of users. This was the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and, for the first time, it directly implicated Facebook in an international campaign to sway the US presidential election.

    Buffeted on all sides, Facebook released . an ad campaign. Drenched in sentimentality and barren of culpability, a campaign commercial vaguely said that "something happened" on Facebook: "spam, clickbait, fake news, and data misuse."

    "That's going to change," the commercial promised. "From now on, Facebook will do more to keep you safe and protect your privacy."

    Here's what happened since that ad aired in April 2018.

    The New York Times revealed that, throughout the past 10 years, Facebook shared
    data with at least 60 device makers, including Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft, and Blackberry. The New York Times also published an investigatory bombshell into Facebook's corporate culture, showing that, time and again, Zuckerberg and Sandberg responded to corporate crises with obfuscation, deflection, and, in the case of one transparency-focused project, outright anger.

    A British parliamentary committee released documents that showed how Facebook gave some companies, including Airbnb and Netflix, access to its platform in exchange for favors. (More documents released this year showed prior attempts by Facebook to sell user data.) Facebook's Onava app got kicked off the Apple app store for gathering user data. Facebook also reportedly paid users as young
    as 13-years-old to install the "Facebook Research" app on their own devices, an app intended strictly for Facebook employee use.

    Oh, and Facebook suffered a data breach that potentially affected up to 50 million users.

    While the substance of Zuckerberg's promises could protect user privacy, the execution of those promises is still up in the air. It's not that users don't want what Zuckerberg is describing-it's that they're burnt out on him. How many
    times will they be forced to hear about another change of heart before Facebook actually changes for good?

    Tomorrow's Facebook

    Changing the direction of a multibillion-dollar, international company is tough
    work, though several experts sound optimistic about Zuckerberg's privacy roadmap. But just as many experts have depleted their faith in the company. If anything, Facebook's public pressures might be at their lowest-detractors have removed themselves from the platform entirely, and supporters will continue to dig deep into their own good will.

    What Facebook does with this opportunity is entirely under its own control. Users around the world will be better off if the company decides that, this time, it's serious about change. User privacy is worth the effort.



    --- D'Bridge (SR41)
    * Origin: NCS BBS - Houma, LoUiSiAna (1:3828/7)