No, Elon Musk didn’t offer to buy and delete Facebook
Tesla CEO Elon Musk doesn’t like Facebook at all.
In late March, the week that the Cambridge Analytica scandal blew up in a cloud of revelations (from many quarters) and apologies (from Mark Zuckerberg), he did something about it:
As a meme, it surfed cleverly on some things that were already known: Musk is a very wealthy entrepreneur (though even for the richest mogul, Facebook’s US$479 billion value might be a stretch — it’s 23 times Musk’s US$20 billion fortune), he’s known to be impulsive and dramatic, and, as we saw, he has no love for the platform.
Despite all that, it resonated with alternative-science.com’s readers, with over 250,000 views driven from — oh, irony — Facebook.
- Bloomberg profiles Palantir, ” … an intelligence platform designed for the global War on Terror (which) was weaponized against ordinary Americans at home.” The company’s data about real and imagined gang members in U.S. cities shows the temptations — and dangers — of policing by algorithm: “When whole communities are algorithmically scraped for pre-crime suspects, data is destiny.” Long read, worth your time.
- HuffPo traces how a marginal British blogger — who believes, among other things, that al-Qaida wasn’t behind the 9/11 attacks — has become key to Russia’s disinformation campaign about Syria.
- In Wired, a useful reminder of what doesn’t get downloaded when you download your data from Facebook. Most important: the inferences the platform draws from what it knows about you.
- Monday’s tragic van attack in Toronto drew a predictable online crowd of cranks and opportunists. Buzzfeed breaks them down. One strong trend is a desperate effort to define the suspect as Middle Eastern. Another: a conspiracy theory based on the fact that a blurry photo of the arrest and a later courtroom sketch looked only more or less like the same person.
- Leafly, a marijuana-related vertical, talks about YouTube’s purge of cannabis-related channels, some of which have tens of thousands of subscribers. It’s not clear why it’s happening (YouTube wouldn’t comment) though it might have to do with the platform having trouble monetizing pot channels, since many advertisers don’t want to be connected with them.
- On the other hand, BuzzFeed reports, it isn’t hard to find bestiality videos on YouTube. One video, Charlie Warzel reports, had 2.3 million views as of this week. The problem seems to be, once again, that algorithms aren’t great at moderation tasks that would be better done by human beings. In this case, Warzel explains, technology ” … didn’t catch bestiality thumbnails as they don’t necessarily have the same characteristics as typical pornography (often those in the videos are mostly clothed and the videos lack certain signifiers like skin).”
- In the New York Times, a long read on Facebook’s role in fanning bloody sectarian tensions in Sri Lanka and other troubled countries. “Time and again,” the Times writes, “communal hatreds overrun the newsfeed — the primary portal for news and information for many users — unchecked as local media are displaced by Facebook and governments find themselves with little leverage over the company. Some users, energized by hate speech and misinformation, plot real-world attacks.” Long read, worth your time.
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