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Big Revolution - The spy in an app

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Welcome to Friday's Big Revolution. Let's dive straight in... – Martin from Big Revolution
 
February 15 · Issue #348 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s Big Revolution. Let’s dive straight in…
– Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Facebook is negotiating a multi-billion-dollar fine with the US Federal Trade Commission. The idea that corporations can negotiate their fines seems… wrong. If you or I broke data protection law, you can bet we wouldn’t have the same luxury.
The big thought
Facebook's security team. Probably. Credit: Teddy Kelley on Unsplash
The spy in an app
CNBC published a shocking-sounding story yesterday:
“Facebook maintains a list of individuals that its security guards must "be on lookout” for that is comprised of users who’ve made threatening statements against the company on its social network as well as numerous former employees.
“The company’s information security team is capable of tracking these individuals’ whereabouts using the location data they provide through Facebook’s apps and websites.”
There’s nothing wrong with Facebook maintaining a list of people who pose a potential security threat, but using data from its consumer apps to keep track of them is a gross abuse of trust.
Facebook should be going to the police with any security concerns, rather than turning to the tools it tells us are for ad targeting and using them for covert surveillance.
And here’s the thing – I’ve never once threatened a Facebook employee, and I’m not an ex-employee with a grudge. But I have criticised the company from time to time, and now I’m left wondering if I’m on a list somewhere within Facebook, or if I have had my location tracked by Facebook for reasons other than using their products or ad targeting.
I’d say that’s unlikely, but the very fact I’m wondering about it shows just how much power companies like Facebook have on our lives, and underlines how aspects of their work need to be reined in. Not letting them negotiate their fines would be a good start.
Remember the storm of protest when it emerged Uber employees could track individual users at will? How many other big tech companies have secret surveillance operations for reasons they don’t disclose to users?
One big read
New AI fake text generator may be too dangerous to release, say creators
Research behind a new A.I. system that can create convincing news reports is being withheld from the public for fear it will unleash a new wave of automated false news. That’s honourable, but I’m sure the genie won’t stay in the bottle for long.
One big video
Tech Chats: Decoding the Digital Home
A bit of a self-plug here, but last week I chatted to EY’s global lead telecoms analyst about a new report they’ve published into the digital home. This kind of corporate report often says nothing of any interest that’s new, but in this case it has some really worthwhile findings about how the public is adapting to the increasingly digital world.
Watch the video to find out more. And if you need someone to present your video project or host your event, hit ‘reply’ to this newsletter and drop me a line.
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow with your weekend big reads. See you then!
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