According to a new report, nearly 1 in 10 Americans surveyed have deleted their Facebook account citing privacy fears as their motivation for leaving the platform.
Business Insider UK reports that according to a survey of 1000 Americans by Carolina Milanesi and technology research group Techpinions, nearly 1 in 10 Americans have deleted their Facebook account over privacy concerns. The figures discovered by Milanesi and Techpinions would seem to contradict Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who said recently that there was not a “meaningful” number of users deleting their Facebook pages.
Here are some of the most important figures from the Milanesi and Techpinions survey:
- 17% of Americans have deleted the Facebook app from their phone due to concern for their privacy.
- 35% of Americans are using Facebook less than they used to directly as a result of the privacy issue.
- 9% of Americans have deleted their Facebook account.
- 39% of Americans are “very aware” and 37% say they’re “somewhat aware” of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
While these numbers are quite shocking, they are also self-reported — meaning there may be a gap between what people say they’re doing and their actual actions. However, it would appear that public perception of Facebook at the moment is not the most forgiving. Milanesi stated that while users deleting Facebook is obviously a worry for the company, the real threat comes from the dropping engagement rate on the platform. The study also states that 2 out of 5 (40 percent) Americans surveyed that had been using the platform for the last seven years wanted it to “go back to how it was.”
The survey findings indicated:
Privacy matters to our panelists. Thirty-six percent said they are very concerned about it and another 41% saying they are somewhat concerned. Their behavior on Facebook has somewhat changed due to their privacy concerns. Seventeen percent deleted their Facebook app from their phone, 11% deleted from other devices, and 9% deleted their account altogether. These numbers might not worry Facebook too much, but there are less drastic steps users are taking that should be worrying as they directly impact Facebook’s business model.
Read the survey results in full here.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before a House committee on Wednesday will be “the first of many.” She joined SiriusXM host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host Sam Sorbo that evening on Breitbart News Tonight to discuss the impact of Facebook on free speech, expression, and privacy rights.
Blackburn described Zuckerberg as unprepared to discuss certain issues during his testimony. She said, “One of the things that struck me was that [Mark Zuckerberg] seemed really unprepared on issues of legislation, about the Federal Trade Commission consent decrees that [Facebook] had entered into in 2011 and the implications of that. He seemed uninformed about the lawsuits that they had settled and was questioned on. A couple of my Democrat colleagues and I were talking after the hearing, and we had expected him to come before us and be conversant in those issues. … We were surprised that he did not have information to respond to the questions he was asked.”
Blackburn added, “I do think it’s fair to say that we did a little bit of a deeper dive on the issues of privacy and censorship than our colleagues over in the Senate.”
Mansour highlighted Facebook’s deeming of Trump-supporting duo Diamond and Silk as “unsafe” as an example of the online platform’s censoriousness. She remarked, “He kept being asked repeatedly about the censorship of conservatives. Specifically, the case that was mentioned over and over again is the wonderful Trump supporters Diamond and Silk, which is just the most outrageous example, that their page was deemed unsafe.”
Mansour also noted that conservative news media outlets were targeted by Facebook’s new algorithm. She stated, “Conservative publishers have been absolutely targeted by the change in algorithm. Mark Zuckerberg likes us to think that his Facebook is a neutral public forum and that his content reviewers are not involved in picking and choosing winners and losers or deciding opinion, and yet the numbers don’t lie.”
She added, “Conservative sites have seen a massive decline in their Facebook traffic and reach, yet all of the establishment media have gotten a big boost from Mark Zuckerberg. With the way that Facebook is controlling so much of the traffic and the ad revenue — between Facebook and Google, it’s like 70 percent of online revenue for websites — [Mark Zuckerberg] is basically deciding content. So it seems like he has set himself up as the de facto publisher and editor of the world. Doesn’t this call for regulation?”
Blackburn replied, “At one point, [Zuckerberg] made a comment that Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company. So I took that quote from him as meaning that he sees himself as more than a normal company. So let’s start with that premise. I asked him if he was subjectively manipulating his algorithms in order to prioritize content or to censor free speech, and he wanted to push the question off: ‘Well, you know, we have to manipulate our algorithms for things like terrorism,’ and I cut him off, and I said, ‘I got to tell you. Diamond and Silk is not terrorism. That is not terrorism.’”
Blackburn added, “[Zuckerberg] made the point that I was wanting to make — that they are subjective in how they manipulate these algorithms. Then he referenced that they have 15 to 20 thousand content managers who look at content, and he admitted that Silicon Valley is a liberal place and people bring their bias to work with them even though he said he does not want them to exercise that bias in their jobs. We all know that they do.”
Mansour spoke of Facebook’s capacity to stifle conservatives’ voices and crush conservative news media outlets due to his control of their online traffic and ad revenue. She warned that Zuckerberg “can destroy a website because of all the online traffic,” asking, “Do we want to give that much power to Mark Zuckerberg? Doesn’t this scream for trust-busting or some sort of regulation?”
Blackburn called for new legislation related to online privacy. She stated, “This is why we need to have protections for users who are using this site — because it is a tremendous amount of power, and it is why there needs to be statutes that will guard the privacy and [enact] laws so that you retain the right to protect your virtual you, you and your presence online, because they make a boatload of money selling the information about you to people that you do not know.”
Blackburn reflected on Twitter’s censorship of one of her own campaign ads. She recalled, “What they’re trying to do is get a result or an outcome. When I announced my run for Senate, what did Twitter do? Twitter shut down my campaign announcement. They would not let us boost that post because they did not like my “inflammatory language,” which was pro-life language. They did not approve of that. Chairman Upton in the hearing today mentioned a friend of his in Michigan. He was running for office, and Facebook had taken down his campaign website because of — guess what — ‘inflammatory language.’ So if anything that they don’t agree with or they don’t like or they want to squelch, what do they do? They claim that this is something that is inflammatory or offensive, and then they put the kibosh on it. They don’t allow people to see it, and that is a censoring of free speech. They need to make up their mind as to what they are. Are they going to be an organic platform? Are they going to be a news company? Are they going to be an advertising company? Maybe that’s the growing pains of a very big business.”
Blackburn added, “I just found it interesting that he tried to always say, ‘We’re just here to connect people.’ Well, they do a lot more than connect people, but he got off into some of the other businesses that they do. The broadband expansion that they’re doing. They’re even trying to do a plane that will be used as a connector, if you will, for people. There are so many other areas they are working in, so it is simplistic to say they are simply a platform for people to connect because they are an enormous advertising company.”
In October 2017, Twitter blocked Blackburn’s senatorial campaign ad highlighting her work as chairwoman of the House Select Panel’s investigation of fetal tissue trafficking. Twitter deemed Blackburn’s ad as “an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.”
Aric Nesbitt, a Republican candidate for Michigan’s Senate, experienced Facebook blocking his campaign ad. A Facebook message advised him, “We don’t allow ads that contain shocking, disrespectful, or sensational content.”
Mansour cautioned, “This is a very dangerous situation where they’re trying to shut down our ability to organize and to have a voice and to get our news. If they succeed in doing this, it’s basically crippling the populist conservative movement in its cradle.”
Blackburn concluded by warning against implementation of regulations that may stultify Facebook’s nascent competitors while further entrenching Facebook’s online dominance. She remarked, “I will caution one thing. Sometimes, when a company becomes very large, they will say they would like to have federal regulation. They do that because federal regulation is expensive and costly, and new-start competitors can’t compete with that. So you eliminate competition. This is why we need a very simple privacy standard and one set of rules and one regulator, and that’s it.”
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Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.
While Facebook has been in the headlines over the past few weeks as a result of its practice of harvesting and misusing users’ data, it is far from the only tech company guilty of “surveillance as a feature.” Google, Microsoft, and others routinely vacuum up large amounts of personal data about those who use their services.
In the wake of revelations that at least 50 million (and possibly as many as 87 million) Facebook users had their personal data breached and used to manipulate the 2016 presidential election, the social-media giant began taking a beating. Users — both individuals and companies — began abandoning the platform. Stocks plummeted, costing the company 24 percent of its value and totaling $100 billion in losses. Though the market seems already to be forgiving the company, with stock prices rebounding slightly in the past day or so, Facebook still has a long way to go before it can bask in its previous glory.
While Facebook may be at least beginning to work its way out of the woods financially, it still has some music to face legally. Government agencies from the United States and all over the world are poised to regulate the company into accountability. As part of that, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christoper Wylie — who told The Guardian last month that he created what he calls “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindf*ck tool” that was used to accomplish the data breach that has led to Facebook’s recent woes — told a committee of British parliamentarians that Facebook has the ability to listen in on users via the Facebook mobile app.
Wylie’s testimony was connected to the British parliament’s investigation into what part Cambridge Analytica played in swaying the Brexit vote. Wylie left the company in 2014, but still has an insider’s view of what both his former employer and Facebook have the capability to do.
When asked by one member of parliament about the “speculation” that “Facebook can, through the Facebook app on your smartphone, listen in to what people are talking about and discussing and using that to prioritize the advertising as well,” Wylie said the audio apps can capture data from the microphone in mobile devices and are able to be used “for environmental context,” adding, “So if, for example, you have a television playing versus if you’re in a busy place with a lot of people talking versus a work environment.” He clarified, “It’s not to say they’re listening to what you’re saying. It’s not natural language processing. That would be hard to scale.” He went on to say that the ability for advertisers to “understand the environmental context of where you are” would help them “to improve the contextual value of the ad itself” since the ads companies would want to display would vary depending on where you are and what you are doing. “There’s audio that could be useful just in terms of ‘are you in an office environment, are you outside, are you watching TV?’”
And while Wylie seems confident that it “would be hard to scale” the ability for Facebook to be “listening to what you’re saying,” he is mistaken. In fact, the evidence — both anecdotal and empirical — says the company not only can listen to your conversations, but is listening. To be clear, the anecdotal evidence suggests that Facebook is listening and the empirical evidence shows the company can. So, Wylie is wrong on this point.
An article from Digg from October 30, 2017 lists several examples of the anecdotal evidence, including a video of a couple tricking the Facebook app into displaying ads for catfood by discussing — in the presence of their phones — their need to buy cat food. The couple has never owned a cat and did not do any Internet searches for cat food. And yet, though the ads they see are tailored by searches and other data collected about them, within a two-day period, they started seeing Facebook ads for cat food. Coincidence? Possibly. But the empirical evidence is not so easily dismissed.
As tech website, MakeUseOf reported in March 2016, it is not difficult to create an app that gathers real-time conversations. In fact, a couple of cybersecurity techies built one just to prove it could be done:
To prove that other apps could be stealing data captured through your smartphone’s microphone, cybersecurity expert Ken Munro developed — with the help of David Lodge from Pen Test Partners — an app that would record what was being said in the vicinity of a phone, and display it on a PC monitor.
That app was first reported by BBC. In that report, Munro explained, “All we did was use the existing functionality of Google Android — we chose it because it was a little easier for us to develop in.” He went on to say, “We gave ourselves permission to use the microphone on the phone, set up a listening server on the internet, and everything that microphone heard on that phone, wherever it was in the world, came to us and we could then have sent back customized ads.”
Scaling that capability to millions (or even hundreds of millions) would pose no problem for mega-tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and others.
One important thing Wylie added is that it’s “not just Facebook, but generally other apps that pull audio” that have this capability. “Other apps that pull audio” would certainly include nearly the full suite of Google apps (Gapps) that come preinstalled on Android devices. Just consider this: For the Google voice feature to work on an Android device when a user says, “OK Google,” the microphone would have to be always listening for that phrase. That means that Google would have access to that audio, and that audio includes everything that is within range of the microphone.
This writer uses an Android device. That device — the Oneplus 3 — has been flashed with an aftermarket version of Android called LineageOS with MicroG. That version of Android allows granular control over app permissions and does not run any Google apps — not even the “required” Google Play Services. However, this writer’s wife uses an older Android device manufactured by Samsung for which MicroG is not available. On multiple occasions, she has had conversations on that phone where one or the other party says something such as, “I’ll be there at 2pm” only to have Google calendar set an event with that person for that time. We have disabled all voice settings, only to have them turned back on automatically. Then the automatic calendar events start all over again.
In fact, while Google sort of denies this, the company also sort of admits it. You can even see (and hear) everything Google has on you by clicking here, if you are signed into your Google account. The tab for Voice and Audio Activity should make for some interesting listening. Seeing (and hearing) is believing; in light of this, Google’s sort of denials don’t hold much water. The company is certainly capturing audio from your microphone.
Of course, Google Home does the same thing, just without the mobile convenience.
Apple’s iPhone voice search feature, Siri, works similarly. The main difference is that whereas Google makes the recorded audio available for users to hear and even delete, Apple does not. That should concern iPhone users; that even Google is more transparent than Apple is a stern indictment of the latter.
That Microsoft could be doing this is a foregone conclusion. As this writer reported in August 2015, Windows 10 is essentially spyware masquerading as an operating system. The underlying software is designed to spy on users and report back to Microsoft. Cortana’s voice feature behaves suspiciously like “OK Google.” Listening for a key phrase is the same as always listening. The Microsoft Privacy Agreement (which, ironically, begins by saying, “Your privacy is important to us.”) says:
To help Cortana better understand the way you speak and your voice commands, speech data is sent to Microsoft to build speech models and improve speech recognition and user intent understanding. If you choose to sign in, the speech models will become more personalized.
It’s understandable if you don’t remember agreeing to that: It’s buried in the middle of the Microsoft Services Agreement and its accompanying documents. Those documents span some 40,000 words and would run 110 pages if printed.
Besides Facebook, Google, and Microsoft having the capability (and vested interest in the form of advertising revenues) to listen in on your private conversations, there is the whole panoply of devices known as the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Amazon’s Echo with “Alexa” is always listening for commands. So it is no different. SmartTV’s are not only always listening, but with integrated cameras, they are also always watching.
So, Facebook — though clearly guilty — is far from alone in this. Those concerned about privacy should certainly consider joining the growing #DeleteFacebook crowd, but they should also take a good, hard look at the other services and devices they use.
Someday a non-political frog, one who looks like President Donald Trump and who is totally unrelated to government, will set all Facebook frogs free
Don’t Wait for Congress or Zuckerberg To Set You Free From Facebook
April 12, 2018 By Judi McLeod
Millennial pipsqueak Mark Zuckerberg may have done us all an unintended favor at Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s Congress performance.
Anyone who watched it knows exactly where the masses stand in this perilous moment in time: millions of frogs in social media’s boiling cauldron of water getting uncomfortably hot, but not quite yet knowing it’s time to jump out.
Here many of us were placidly thinking of Facebook as a convenient way to keep in touch with family and friends; the trusted digital place to share photos of kids and Grammy’s secret recipes.
Zuck also did us the favor of showing how useless Congressional Hearings are. These hearings provide a prime opportunity for congress grandstanding, which we mostly see Congress critters doing on cable television most nights anyway; leaving behind a reminder that when these Congressional hearings are (mercifully) over, nothing ever changes.
Here’s the thing all frogs in the Facebook boiling cauldron need to know:
Facebook won’t help us. The government won’t help us. Blowhards and screams of outrage won’t cut it. Only WE can help us.
Only when conservatives stop griping and come together to form a new platform will we get the change so sorely needed.
Unlike the banks of Obama’s era, Facebook is not too big to fail.
As this corner has lamented before Facebook is the government and the government is Facebook.
Congress members, who even provided this Silicon Valley narcissist a chair cushion booster making him both look and feel taller, was not there to drag the truth out of wily Mark Zuckerberg.
They were there to con the public into thinking they were worried and really care about the major intrusion of privacy known as Facebook.
MSM stories that lawmakers were ramping up talk of regulation and suggested the interviewing of Zuck involved “tough questions and criticism” are downright laughable.
That’s all that Congress and Facebook brass do: “Talk, talk, talk”.
“During his testimony Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the company’s recent data-breach scandals.” (Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2018)
How can any self-respecting MSM call it “testimony” when Zuckerberg wasn’t even sworn in?
“Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days on Capitol Hill seeking to placate angry lawmakers by saying he would be open to some sort of regulation to protect the privacy of users on his global social-media platform.” (WSJ)
Zuckerberg already knows that his company won’t be open to “some sort of regulation to protect the privacy of his users” because the same lawmakers questioning him, are the ones who invest heavily in his company.
Talk is cheap especially for elected officials!
“The question now is whether Washington will create regulations that address increasingly widespread concerns about digital privacy, and how any new constraints would squeeze the business models of companies like Facebook that rely on the free flow of data.” (WSJ)
“Free flow of data” for whom? Facebook and social media, steadfastly morphing themselves from platforms to desk top publishing, already stem the free flow of information that comes from conservative news sites.
“That tension was at the heart of Mr. Zuckerberg’s two days of testimony. He signaled repeatedly that he had learned the lesson of the recent data-breach scandals that have been dogging the company. And yet, when the discussion turned to details about how industrywide rules might help protect user data, he often couched his willingness to embrace new rules with warnings about poor regulation leading to unintended consequences.” (WSJ)
Tigers never change their stripes, nor leopards their spots, nor skunks their tell-tale stench.
Just one year before founding Facebook, Zuckerberg ran Facemash, which once posted pictures of female Harvard University students asking the public to judge the “hottest”. (Wired: Why Zuckerberg’s 14-Year Apology Tour Hasn’t Fixed Facebook, April, 6, 2018)
Zuckerberg was sorry then too, but that never stopped him from founding the world’s largest social media now under attack for selling the personal information of their own clientele for advertising revenues.
During his Congress questioning, the Facebook CEO sounded just like your typical bleeding heart liberal:
“In response to a question from Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.), Mr. Zuckerberg said he thought it was “inevitable that there will need to be some regulation.” Then he immediately warned against going too far. “You have to be careful about what regulations you put in place,” he said. (WSJ)
The entire Facebook scandal leans heavily on Cambridge Analytica being “Trump-affiliated”.
Proving that there are no Sherlock Holmes types in all of Congress, it went right over their heads that Trump campaign phased out use of Cambridge Analytica data before election (CBS News, March 18, 2018)
Meanwhile, Congress and Zuck proved nothing but their partisan palsmanship to an observing John and Josephine Q. Public because untold numbers of water-logged frogs wanted out of the Facebook boiling cauldron long before this week’s Congressional Hearings.
Someday a non-political frog, one who looks like President Donald Trump and who is totally unrelated to government, will set all Facebook frogs free.
Mark Zuckerberg admits to creating sexist website FaceMash