This blog posting represents the views of the author, David Fosberry. Those opinions may change over time. They do not constitute an expert legal or financial opinion.

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Facebook Is Not A Service!

Posted on 3rd April 2022

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This report on the BBC is primarily about Facebook users who are angry that their accounts have been locked for no apparent reason. It does, however, highlight a common misunderstanding about Facebook, that it is a service for the likes of you and me.

Facebook is a service for advertisers and for customers who are willing to pay for personal data about their users. Individual users are not valued by Facebook, and the company does not consider them to have any rights other than those enforced by regulators. Users are a source of revenue, pure and simple. Everything else follows from these basic facts:

  • No effort will be expended to protect any rights that users might feel they have. Individual posts and whole accounts will therefore be blocked by the decisions of automated algorithms (because vetting the decisions using people is simply too costly).
  • Everything is a numbers game - the impact of losing a few users as a result of unfair blocking is outweighed by the constant inflow of new users.
  • Facebook is not a secure place to store your photos, contacts, resumé or other vital data (the company has never made any guarantees in this regard).

I do use Facebook, in a limited way. I post little, do not expect anything that I post to be securely stored, and will not post my photos (because their terms and conditions state that I grant them ownership of the copyright of anything that I upload). The main reason that I use it is as a source of humour. I have better sources for news, opinions, music and video trailers (as do we all!).

Have no illusions: other Social Media resources are no better.

Facebook's appalling translation service.

Posted on 27th June 2021

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I see many posts on Facebook which are written in various languages (German, French, Arabic, Afrikaans, etc), for which Facebook offers automatic translation. I am constantly appalled at how bad these translations are. On many occasions I have used the option to "rate this translation", but there is no option to explain what is wrong with it; only to say things like "I can't understand it at all".

I am quite happy to invest a little time and effort to explain to Facebook what error(s) their translation software has made, but I don't have this option. I can only assume that the company simply doesn't care about the quality of this service; I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised.

Twitter’s Reason For Allowing Trump’s Tweet Is Nonsense!

Posted on 23rd August 2015

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The statement by Twitter, as reported in this piece by the BBC makes no sense whatsoever.

Donald Trump tweeted a threat to destroy North Korea, which is in direct violation of Twitter's terms of use, which forbid violent threats. Many people argued that the tweet should be removed, but the company argues that items which are newsworthy are exempt.

Leaving aside the rather suspect statement by Twitter that "This [allowing tweets which breach their terms of use, if they are newsworthy] has long been internal policy and we'll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it", which seems to me as if they only just thought of this exemption, are they seriously saying that a terrorist threat which is explicit (e.g. against a specific target) is not newsworthy? I beg to differ: if my home, place of work, or the public transport service that I use are threatened, then I consider that information to be newsworthy. I really don't see the distinction between Donald Trump's tweet and a tweet by IS threatening me or my surroundings. The real issue here is that The Donald is someone famous and a member of the establishment, whereas IS, although famous (infamous), is not part of the establishment, which calls into question Twitter’s statement that "We hold all accounts to the same rules ...".

Well, I suppose that if Twitter really wants to be seen as biased, and a Trump supporter, that is their choice, but could we maybe cut the bullshit?

Union Social-Media Activity Causes "Disruption For The Public"?

Posted on 23rd August 2015

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I was really rather shocked when reading this report from the BBC.

Apparently, a new piece of proposed legislation in the UK, the Trade Union Bill, currently in the consultation phase, is seeking to limit trade-unions' use of social media by requiring two weeks notice if they plan to campaign via social media during a strike. The proposed measures do not limit individual trade-union members use of social media, only use by the unions themselves.

The UK government's rationale for this piece of censorship is to reduce disruption for the public. So, let me get this straight:

  • striking is OK, even though it is much more disruptive to the public than any social media actvity;
  • advertising on social media is OK, even though it is disruptive (time wasting);
  • political campaigning on social media is OK, even though it is disruptive (time wasting);
  • cat videos, and messages saying "share if you love your mother too!" are OK, despite being disruptive;
  • social media postings by retards whose IQ and language skills mean they are unqualified to publish anything on the Internet are OK, despite being disruptive;
  • postings on social media about strikes, made by individuals are OK;
  • but postings on social media about strikes, made by trade-unions are not OK, despite probably being no more disruptive than those by private individuals.

No wonder no-one trusts politicians. They don't even respect the voting public enough to put together a plausible lie when "justifying" undemocratic and unjust behaviour.

E-life After Death!

Posted on 23rd August 2015

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This BBC report describes something that I find quite disturbing, and could eventually mess up the Internet. Apparently this is not the first attampt at this kind of AI avatar system.

There is a new web-site, Eter9, which will learn about your social media activity by scanning your posts, can post on your behalf, and then continue posting online for you after your death. Not only is this rather creepy, but it means that you won't know if the posts that you are reading are even written by real people.

If services like this take-off, as more people die, an ever increasing proportion of social media Internet traffic will be generated by avatars of dead people. I already consider that a large part of social media content is time-wasting junk, and it seems that this will be getting worse; I seriously doubt that an AI avatar will have anything to say which will interest me.

Facebook manipulated you

Posted on 3rd July 2014

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Are you upset about what is described in this story on the BBC? You should be.

Facebook conducted a study on around 700,000 of their users, in which they manipulated the feeds they received (news and postings from friends) to make them happy or sad, without their permission.

Facebook said there was "no unnecessary collection of people's data", but that is not the point. They were censoring people's access to information.

So, you cannot trust Facebook. Perhaps not so surprising, but in this case totally unacceptable. As British Labour MP Jim Sheridan, a member of the Commons media select committee, said, "if there is not already legislation on this, then there should be".