Tag Archive for ‘Facebook’
Facebook has long let users see all sorts of things the site knows about them, like whether they enjoy soccer, have recently moved, or like Melania Trump. But the tech giant gives users little indication that it buys far more sensitive data about them – detailed dossiers obtained from commercial data brokers – regarding their income, the types of restaurants they frequent and even how many credit cards are in their wallets.
Facing a wave of criticism for allowing advertisers to exclude anyone with an “affinity” for African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic people from seeing ads, Facebook said it would build an automated system that would let it better spot ads that discriminate illegally.
The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.
Long criticized for its lack of commitment to sustainability—from supporting the dangerous mining of precious resources and exploiting factory workers to powering its data centers with energy derived from coal and not taking back products for recycling—Apple has really worked on turning things around over the past couple of years.
The division between what’s permissible and what’s merely outrageous online grows fuzzier day by day, with legislators, regulators, police officers and businesses scrambling to harness the wild wild west of social media law. “The Internet,” says a New York district attorney, “is our 21st century crime scene.” James Hyatt reports.
Responding to a congressional query, nine data companies provided answers to a detailed set of questions about what kinds of information they collect about individual Americans, and where they get that data. Their responses show that some companies record – and then resell – your screen names, web site addresses, interests, hometown and professional history, and how many friends or followers you have.
The emerging trend of “cloud computing” means that these providers have had to scale up their power consumption considerably, as they are increasingly responsible for providing more and more of the computing horsepower required by the world’s two billion Internet users.
With Facebook now claiming more than 840 million active users around the globe – and other social networks surging as well – it’s increasingly clear that boards of major companies need to factor the social media phenomenon into the governance equation. Digital “dashboards” are one way of staying abreast of what’s going on. Another is for the board to recruit a “digital director” – but they’re in short supply.
The National Labor Relations Board continues to probe the pitfalls of social media in the workplace. The agency’s new year-end survey of 14 recent unfair labor practice cases cited several instances where employers adopted “overly broad” policies in attempting to police use of social media at work or online, even though, in some cases the discipline or discharge of an employee was legal.
Individual responsibility aside, the creation and management of more efficient data centers by the major online hubs is what can have the biggest impact. Google, Facebook, and Amazon.com are already deeply committed to the cloud computing model, with Microsoft, Yahoo and others following suit accordingly.