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Big Revolution - Making sense of Facebook's bad weekend

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Hi all, even though weekend editions will generally be shorter than weekday editions, I thought it wo
 
March 18 · Issue #21 · View online
Big Revolution
Hi all, even though weekend editions will generally be shorter than weekday editions, I thought it would be worth giving you a breakdown of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook story that’s blown up this weekend… 

Big things about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook
Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica. Credit: Web Summit
- Facebook’s suspension of Cambridge Analytica late on Friday was an attempt to get ahead of a slew of news from The Guardian/Observer and the New York Times, which came out just hours later.
- In a nutshell: In 2014, Cambridge Analytica needed lots of data about the public to power its political influencing technology that used hyper-targeted ads to attempt to changing people’s voting intentions. 
- So, it used data from a personality test app created by a Cambridge academic that (due to the way Facebook worked back then) gave them not only detailed information about everyone who had taken the test, but data about their friends, too. 
- This meant they had data on 50 million people who had never given permission to (and had likely never heard of) Cambridge Analytica. This was then used alongside other datasets to allow the company to use detailed ad targeting to very niche groups.
- Facebook is keen to point out their service was working as designed at the time and they did nothing wrong. You can argue that designed a system that allowed user data to be passed around unchecked was wrong, and doing nothing about this case for years, despite learning about it in 2015 was wrong.
- Facebook threatened to sue the Guardian’s Sunday newspaper, the Observer, on Friday.
- What next? The public isn’t likely to care that much about this once the initial headlines are out of the way. It does increase the drumbeat of calls for great regulation of big tech companies though – especially in the USA. EU countries have strict new data protection rules coming in May this year.
- If you have 15 minutes: watch this video interview with the whistleblower behind this weekend’s story.
Big things you need to know today
- Today in ‘algorithms gone wrong’, the 'safe for kids’ version of YouTube has been suggesting children watch conspiracy theory videos about the moon landings, UFOs, and the Earth being run by lizard-human hybrids.
- If you use Amazon’s Alexa to control external devices, you can now get her to confirm she’s doing what you asked with a beep, rather than her saying ‘okay’ each time. A minor update, but an improvement if you use it a lot.
One big read
Here’s How A “Poop Cult” With 58,000 Followers Set Off A Facebook War Here’s How A “Poop Cult” With 58,000 Followers Set Off A Facebook War
Here’s a long, grim read for your Sunday. Forget ‘fake news,’ fake science thrives in corners of Facebook and it could seriously harm people who take it seriously. 
One big tweet
When defending yourself becomes a self-own.
Cambridge Analytica
Advertising is not coercive; people are smarter than that 5/8
6:49 PM - 17 Mar 2018
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow for a normal weekday edition of Big Revolution.
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