By Kyle Perisic – The Daily Caller
Facebook is facing legal action in Germany over antitrust violations for the platform’s abusive market dominance by collecting data on its users without their consent or knowledge.
Germany’s antitrust watchdog, the Federal Cartel Office, is reportedly expected to begin its probe against Facebook sometime later in 2018, Reuters reported Monday.
The office objects to Facebook collecting information on its users from its third-party apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, and its online tracking of people who aren’t members of its services.
“We are conscious that this should, and must, go quickly,” Andreas Mundt, president of the Federal Cartel Office, told a news conference Monday, according to Reuters. The probe isn’t expected to result in a fine.
Several countries in Europe have been actively fighting big tech in court, fining some of the biggest companies for antitrust violations and ordering them to change their practices.
The U.K.’s antitrust watchdog issued Facebook the maximum fine of about $644,000 in July for its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
Other tech giants have faced legal action in Europe as well, including Google and Twitter.
The European Union issued Google a massive $5 billion fine on July 18, citing antitrust violations. The fine was the largest brought to any individual company. Google allegedly abused its operation system, Android, by forcing it to have several Google apps — Google Search and Chrome web browser — pre-installed on Android phones, giving Google an advantage over its competitors.
Additionally, a French judge ordered Twitter to change its “abusive” terms of service and fined the social media giant 30,000 euros (just over $34,700 U.S. dollars) on Aug. 9.
Big Brother: Facebook Is Implementing Chinese-Like Social Media Trustworthiness Rating
By Kyle Perisic – The Daily Caller
Facebook is rating its users on a scale from zero to one to predict if they’re “trustworthy” — a system similar to one China is using on its citizens.
The numbers are not meant to be absolute, however, the social media giant will not tell its users their score, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. The score aims to be one measurement among thousands of other unknown behavioral clues that tell Facebook how trustworthy users are when they interact with posts.
This credibility score is a response to users gaming Facebook’s system that allowed users to report whether something is credible or problematic. As Facebook rolled out these tools, users began abusing them.
“For example, if someone previously gave us feedback that an article was false and the article was confirmed false by a fact-checker, then we might weight that person’s future false news feedback more than someone who indiscriminately provides false news feedback on lots of articles, including ones that end up being rated as true,” Facebook’s Tessa Lyons, who is in charge of fighting misinformation on the platform, told The Washington Post.
Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post on Jan. 19 that the platform would implement the new rating system for the credibility of news articles, which users on Facebook rate themselves.
“We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective,” Zuckerberg posted on Facebook.
Lyons said this system was abused, adding that it’s “not uncommon for people to tell us something is false simply because they disagree with the premise of a story or they’re intentionally trying to target a particular publisher.”
China, run by the Communist Party, is set to implement a similar rating system for its citizens in 2020 — giving them a “social credit score” to identify who is trustworthy based off social media posts and purchase history, The Daily Caller reported in 2017.
The effects of the Chinese rating system have already been felt. One Chinese citizen and journalist, Liu Hu, was unable to book a flight because he was on the list of untrustworthy citizens, CBS New York reported in April.
A Chinese court order Hu to apologize for a series of tweets, but the government determined the apology was insincere.
“I can’t buy property. My child can’t go to a private school,” Hu said. “You feel you’re being controlled by the list all the time.”
GOOGLE-FACEBOOK ‘CAN SHIFT 12 MILLION VOTES THIS ELECTION’ Study by psychologist says democracy imperiled by tech-giant bias
How Major News Organizations, Universities And Businesses Surrender Their Privacy To Google
I first learned about Google’s aggressive surveillance of sensitive communications in early 2013 when I was emailing an editor at TIME. He was editing my article, “Google’s Dance,” which was about Google’s deceptive business model.
By now you probably know about the model: Google pretends to be the ultimate free public library, when it is actually the ultimate surveillance machine, using dozens of free services to gather personal information about us and then monetizing that information.
I had an odd hunch during my exchange with the TIME editor that Google might be monitoring our emails. So I expanded the header of one of his emails to see what computer servers it had traveled through to reach me, and there is was: mail-da0-f48.google.com. His emails were being routed through a Google computer because TIME, like many other companies, was using Google business services to handle its emails. As far as I can tell, it no longer does, but that’s not the end of the story.
Over the years, as my research on internet influence has put me in touch with many prominent reporters and editors, I have continued to look at email routings, and I have been shocked to learn that emails to and from The New York Times, The Times (London), CBS, Salon, The Boston Globe, Slate, The Economist, CBC (Canada), The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Hill, The Atlantic, The Verge, The Daily Caller, WIRED, The New Yorker, The Outline, Gizmodo, U.S. News & World Report, Quartz, VICE, The Washington Times, Vox, The New York Post, The Financial Times, and other investigative news organizations are shared with Google, not to mention the emails of hundreds of major universities (including Columbia University, New York University and UCLA), publishing houses (St. Martin’s), and even law offices.
Relatively few news organizations I’ve dealt with in recent years shield themselves from Google: The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Politico,NPR, NBC News, Bloomberg News, Al Jazeera, the BBC, Reuters, Fox News, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today andBreitbart. Sometimes, though, such organizations still facilitate Google’s surveillance. ProPublica, for example, which does not share its emails with Google, embeds Google services on its web pages – Google Analytics, AdSense, and Google Maps. As ProPublicaacknowledges, this allows Google to track visitors to its site, but the innocent-sounding disclosure fails to note, unfortunately, that the tracking occurs without anyone’s knowledge or consent. Why does ProPublica, which prides itself on having “no hidden agendas,” allow its website to be used for clandestine surveillance?
Then there are those mindless media professionals, such as the producers who contacted me from Frontline and PBS NewsHour or the editor who wrote to me from Fast Company, who don’t even bother using their corporate email systems; they just use gmail, apparently not giving the matter a second thought.
Worse still is how easy Google makes it for people to link their personal gmail accounts to their business accounts in a way that allows them to “send mail as that address.” When this happens, as I learned when I received an email from a Cornell University address, you see an institutional email address on the sender’s email (cornell.edu), but the emails are routing through Google servers – even though the institution itself has not authorized the linking. It’s not inconceivable that millions of people have linked their Google accounts to their business accounts in this way, feeding Google’s insatiable appetite for data under the imprimaturs of thousands of unsuspecting organizations.
A portion of an expanded header from an email sent to the author on May 8, 2018, from a reporter at The New York Times, with names blacked out. The code shows the email routing through a Google server.
Sometimes the information sharing is ironic – even disturbing. The Boston Globe recently published a powerful editorial calling for the breakup of Google, opening with the startling line, “Never in the history of the world has a single company had so much control over what people know and think.” But The Globe’s emails route through Google, and their website search is handled by Google. When I asked Jason Tuohey, Senior Deputy Manager for Digital Platforms to comment, he declined. He said I would hear from someone in their PR department, but I never did.
Pat Buchanan’s nonprofit organization, The American Cause, which has openly called for Google’s regulation, mindlessly uses gmail. Even Tristan Harris’ cutting-edge Center for Humane Technology, devoted to fighting internet addiction, runs everything through Google, the main company it’s fighting.
Recently, an editor at a major publishing house expressed interest in a book I’m writing about Big Tech, but I said I wouldn’t be comfortable sharing work materials with him when all of it was in turn being shared with Google, the main company I was exposing. He understood the problem, but said, “Hey, I’m just an editor here. I have no control over the decisions the business people make.”
That’s pretty much what Carole Cadwalladr, an investigative reporter at The Guardian and an ardent critic of Google, said when I pointed out that all of The Guardian’s emails were being shared with Google. Because Google Docs and Google Calendar are part of Google’s business package, when Guardianreporters draft articles or schedule meetings with whistleblowers, is Google capturing that information too?
Without whistleblowers or warrants, it’s hard to know exactly how Google uses this massive amount of sensitive information, but two former Google software engineers I’ve spoken to assure me that all such information is added to personal profiles and that the information in such profiles is used to build increasingly accurate predictive models. My own research quantifies the enormous power Google has to use such models to manipulate opinions and votes, and the company has also used the data it collects to penalize both individuals and organizations.
Like Facebook and other Big Tech companies, Google also shares the material it collects with unnamed business partnersand government agencies, with many of its own employees, and, as The Wall Street Journal reported recently, with hundreds of outside software developers.
Setting the data issue aside for a moment, think of the value of simply being able to monitor reporters– to look deeply into ongoing investigations by the EU or the FTC, to collect sensitive information about competitors and possible acquisitions, to anticipate potential threats to the company. If I were running Google, I’d set up a team devoted to doing nothing but monitoring the communications of reporters and editors at major news organizations 24/7. Wouldn’t you?
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