Eight Years Later

How to find out what Facebook and Google know about you; in defense of political microtargeting; and more.


  • Life in Facebookistan: Dylan Curran sought out all the data that Facebook and Google had on him, and shows you how to do the same in this recent Guardian article.

  • “Software code is not law,” Civic Hall’s Micah Sifry writes in The Nation. “It bends to fit local laws. So if we want to stop companies like Facebook from amassing huge profiles on us and selling them to advertisers, the solution is not to delete your account. It is to demand real action from government.”

  • The New York Times’ Kevin Roose puts forward three concrete ideas for saving social media.

  • Not everybody loves Facebook’s newly redesigned privacy settings menu, which media design professor David Carroll argues on Twitter is even more confusing and difficult to find than before.

  • Zeynep Tufekci calls bullshit on whatever promises Mark Zuckerberg is making to return easier control over privacy settings to Facebook users, pointing out that he made those promises eight years ago. “The solution isn’t shifting the burden to the user because the problem is the negative externalities of the business model,” she tweeted.

  • “Political microtargeting is not inherently bad,” writes Michael Simon, who led data analytics for Obama for America and now runs a digital advertising startup, in Crooked Media. “When the roiling debate of the last week returns to a simmer, I hope thoughtful policymakers, ethicists, and technologists will engage it in earnest. Because as much as folks want to #deletefacebook and end microtargeting as we know it, neither Facebook nor microtargeting are going anywhere soon, and the stakes, for the 2018 election and beyond, are too high to let these questions linger unanswered.”

  • What sharing economy? The Trump Administration is trying to bust the right for Uber drivers to unionize in Seattle by arguing on behalf of Uber that it’s an antitrust violation, Avi Asher Schapiro reports for The Intercept.

  • Ecuador has cut off Julian Assange from the internet citing a broken promise made in 2017 to not meddle in other states’ affairs, Jon Henley reports for The Guardian.

  • A cryptocurrency startup called Ripple has completely funded all of the projects on the crowdfunding website for teachers, DonorsChoose.org, Jill Tucker reports for the San Francisco Chronicle, the largest single virtual currency gift to a charity to date.