Redemption Time

Zuckerberg asks for forgiveness; probing Cambridge Analytica's "strange and unsettling" work; and more.


  • It’s another horrible morning in America. Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, North Korea, CHIP.

  • “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Read the whole thing. (h/t Vu Le)

  • MoveOn members working with Lin-Manuel Miranda have donated $1.7m in the last 24 hours for relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

  • Life in Facebookistan: Mark Zuckerberg, observing the Jewish tradition that comes with Yom Kippur, asks for forgiveness “for the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring them together.”

  • Technosociologist Zeynep Tufekci does not forgive Zuckerberg in the slightest in her latest New York Times oped, especially for his latest assertion that Facebook must be doing something right if it is being attacked from left and right.

  • Facebook has blocked the account of Guo Wengui, the dissident Chinese billionaire, Alexandra Stevenson reports for The New York Times. The account, which he has used to share tales of corruption at the top of the Chinese leadership, was taken down because he had included someone’s personal identifiable information, a violation of the company’s rules. When Facebook wants to act to protect someone, it can.

  • David Carroll, a professor at the Parsons School of Design in NY, is pursuing what privacy experts call a “watershed” case against Cambridge Analytica under British law to find out how the company used the data it may have collected on him during the 2016 election, Carole Cadwalladr reports for The Guardian. Carroll initiated the suit after the company sent him a profile that it created on him without the data it was created from. ““It was very strange and unsettling because they had given me ‘scores’ for different issues but I had no idea what they’d based this on.” The company scored him 3/10 on “Gun Rights Importance”, 7/10 on “National Security Importance” and “unlikely” to vote Republican. “I was perplexed by it. I started thinking, ‘Have I had conversations about gun rights on Facebook? Where are they getting this from? And what are they doing with it?’”

  • Here is Carroll’s CrowdJustice fundraising page where you can make a contribution to his legal defense fund.

  • The debate over speech on Twitter is heating up, with Yonatan Zunger, a former privacy engineer at Google and YouTube, accusing the company of being too “enamored of the idea that they had helped catalyze the Arab Spring that ‘free speech’ became an unexamined article of faith” and they failed to see that asking users to block bad speech “imposed unscalable burdens on users.” He adds, “Twitter chose to optimize for traffic at the expense of user experience. That’s why GamerGate, that’s why Trump, that’s why Nazis.” Biz Stone, one Twitter’s founders, replied, “Y’all pile on us. You really think the issue doesn’t weigh on us? And you’re so dismissive of the Trust and Safety team. We’re all people.”

  • Proof that Twitter markets itself off of its most famous user, who many believe has violated the company’s terms of service and should have his account deleted.

  • Sara Wachter-Boettcher writes for Nautilus about the problems that arise when companies like Google and Facebook use proxies to determine a person’s identity. Her new book, which is this piece is excerpted from, explains all in its title: “Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms and Other Threats of Toxic Tech.

  • Longtime right-wing blogger Erick Erickson writes in the Times of losing support of neighbors in his community after he declared his opposition to Trump’s election, and argues that the internet has segmented us into “social-media tribes.” He calls for more building of friendship “despite our differences” and efforts to “disagree agreeably.” Erickson has been seeking redemption for some of the more offensive things he’s said over the years; not everyone is welcoming his change of heart. Hate the sin, not the sinner.

  • hurin

    “Twitter chose to optimize for traffic at the expense of user experience. That’s why GamerGate, that’s why Trump, that’s why Nazis.”

    How did the word Nazi go from referring to a member of the German National Socialist Workers Party, to just mean ‘anyone with a different opinion than mine’? The people seeking to censor Twitter are not going to stop at Trump supporters or imaginary Nazis, they will eventually be coming for you as well.