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How Facebook is trying to stop its own algorithms from doing their job

Doing good, could mean earning less. Is Facebook ready for a change on its business model?

For example, the company will update its scrolling news feed algorithm by reviewing little-known websites whose articles get sudden surges of traffic on Facebook — a pattern that Facebook says internal tests showed were a red flag for misinformation and clickbait. The new metric does not mean the problematic articles will be taken down, but their traffic will be reduced in news feed, the primary screen Facebook users seen when they open the app.

The question is whether these changes are tweaks on the margins or more fundamental fixes to a service that–while massively profitable–has experienced a precipitous loss of public trust. The newsfeed algorithm alone takes in hundreds of thousands of behavioral signals when it evaluates which posts get promotion — and it’s tough to assess the impact any single fix might have on such a complex system.

★ Elizabeth Dwoskin , The Washington Post

# (July 25, 2019)

Scotland Yard's Twitter account breached in series of bizarre posts

How important is to secure all public official accounts. My kudos to the human who fixed it on Saturday morning.

In the early hours of Saturday, after apparently regaining control of its output, Scotland Yard said it believed the “security issue” related solely to the external service the Met’s press bureau uses to issue news releases. It said the MyNewsDesk service automatically spreads content to the Met’s website and Twitter account once it is published, as well as sending corresponding emails to subscribers.

“While we are still working to establish exactly what happened, we have begun making changes to our access arrangements to MyNewsDesk. We apologise to our subscribers and followers for the messages they have received.

★ Kevin Rawlinson, The Guardian

# (July 22, 2019)

Stop Surveillance Humanitarianism

Help people without selling their privacy

If an individual or group’s data is compromised or leaked to a warring faction, it could result in violent retribution for those perceived to be on the wrong side of the conflict. When I spoke with officials providing medical aid to Syrian refugees in Greece, they were so concerned that the Syrian military might hack into their database that they simply treated patients without collecting any personal data. The fact that the Houthis are vying for access to civilian data only elevates the risk of collecting and storing biometrics in the first place.

★ Mark Latonero, The New York Times

# (July 17, 2019)