Tori Spelling has my contact info. (And other revelations from my personal Facebook data.)

What does my world look like through the lens of Facebook?

I used the Facebook download tool to find out. The amount of data they’ve collected about me is impressive. It includes every status update I’ve ever made, every photo I’ve ever shared, every ad I’ve clicked on, every friend I’ve “friended” and “unfriended,” every device I’ve used to connect to Facebook, every word of every message. I’ve got to hand it to Facebook for thoroughness.

I am thankful that some of the photos and videos have been saved, somewhere.  Anywhere. I had forgotten about some of them and to see them all in one place was fun. It was like re-visiting those moments in my life. I guess that’s what makes Facebook so sticky for so many.

Surprisingly, most of the ad topics that are archived are a reasonable compilation of brands that that I might be interested in. Well done, Facebook!

One head-scratcher is the number of advertisers who are listed in the “Advertisers who have uploaded a contact list with your info” file. As Brien Chen wrote recently in The New York Times: “…there was a section titled ‘Advertisers with your contact info,’ followed by a list of roughly 500 brands, the overwhelming majority of which I had never interacted with.” 1

For me, the puzzling list of the over 500 brands that now have my contact info include everything from Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations to Americans for Prosperity – (Nebraska, Illinois & Tennessee chapters) to Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. Even Tori Spelling has my contact info!

How do I feel about the privacy of my data? One of the things that worries me was outlined in another New York Times article that explained: “(Facebook) not only harvests the data you share with the platform, but also collects information about you from the files of other Facebook users you know.”2

Digging deeper into Facebook’s data policy I found this: “…we don’t share information that personally identifies you (information such as your name or email address that by itself can be used to contact you or identifies who you are) unless you give us permission.”3

Does that mean when I agree to Facebook’s “Terms of use” I gave them permission? That’s worrisome.

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 11.40.57 PMAOL New Privacy and Terms.png

The entire media industry is feeling the heat from Facebook’s privacy debacle. Many social media sites are rushing to announce new data policies and privacy protections. They are saying they want to be more “transparent” about what they do with our personal data. If they don’t act swiftly and convincingly, they may find the government getting involved.

Truthfully, I’m afraid that without an act of Congress to force social media sites to change, the public will continue to happily publish personal information for all to see—unwittingly making ourselves the product. And Facebook and their advertisers will continue to exploit us.

In the meantime, I’m waiting for Tori to contact me.

——-

1Chen, B. (2018, April 11). I Downloaded the Information that Facebook Has on Me. Yikes. New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/technology/personaltech/i-downloaded-the-information-that-facebook-has-on-me-yikes.html

2Porter, E. (2018, April 17). Facebook is Creepy. And Valuable. Nytimes.com. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/business/economy/facebook-regulation-privacy.html

3 Facebook Data Policy. (2018, April 19). Retrieved April 28, 2018, from https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/

 

Click “Hell Yeah” to allow Facebook to sell all of your data.

Chances are, you’ll never see the prompt above in Facebook’s Privacy Policy. But now that Mark Zuckerberg is promising more transparency in Facebook’s data sharing practices, perhaps you might.

What we do know is that the public is now waking up to the fact that a massive amount of our collected personal data is sold to advertisers – without our knowledge. Basically, we are the product, and we have given these social media sites permission to sell…us.

Practically nobody who clicks on the Facebook data policy’s “Agree” button reads the full policy. But recent events, like the Cambridge Analytica debacle, have brought these policies to the public’s (and Congress’s) attention. Which begs the question, “What data do they have on me?”

I used the Facebook download tool to find out. The collection is impressive. It includes every status update I’ve ever made, every photo I’ve ever shared, every ad I’ve clicked on, everyone I’ve “friended” and “unfriended,” every device I’ve used to connect to Facebook, every word of every message. It is truly mind-boggling.

One troubling point for me is the number of advertisers who are unknown to me that have received my contact information without my knowledge. As Brien Chen wrote recently in The New York Times: “…there was a section titled ‘Advertisers with your contact info,’ followed by a list of roughly 500 brands, the overwhelming majority of which I had never interacted with.” 1

It gets worse, as another New York Times article explains: “(Facebook) not only harvests the data you share with the platform, but also collects information about you from the files of other Facebook users you know.”2

This extensive sharing of my information is concerning. Digging deeper into Facebook’s data policy I found this: “…we don’t share information that personally identifies you (information such as your name or email address that by itself can be used to contact you or identifies who you are) unless you give us permission.”3

Of course, we give Facebook permission to share this information when we click “Agree.”

Now Facebook is running ads saying how sorry they are.4https://www.ispot.tv/ad/wUQP/facebook-a-little-closer

I think they are mainly sorry that they got caught. And that America is waking up.

The entire media industry is feeling the heat. Many social media sites are rushing to announce new data policies and privacy protections. They are saying they want to be more “transparent” about what they do with our information. If they don’t act swiftly and convincingly, they may find the government getting involved.

C/net is already predicting government oversight: “Privacy experts say it’s becoming more likely that lawmakers will enact regulations in the US that borrow from the EU law, commonly called the GDPR.”5

I’m afraid the truth is that without an act of Congress to force these sites to change, the public will continue to happily publish personal information for all to see—unwittingly making themselves the product. And Facebook and their advertisers will continue to exploit us.

—————

1Chen, B. (2018, April 11). I Downloaded the Information that Facebook Has on Me. Yikes. New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/technology/personaltech/i-downloaded-the-information-that-facebook-has-on-me-yikes.html

2Porter, E. (2018, April 17). Facebook is Creepy. And Valuable. Nytimes.com. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/business/economy/facebook-regulation-privacy.html

3 Facebook Data Policy. (2018, April 19). Retrieved April 28, 2018, from https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/ 

4 Here Together[Advertisement]. (2018, April 29). New York, New York: ESPN.       https://www.ispot.tv/ad/wUQP/facebook-a-little-closer

5Hautala, L. (2018, April 11). Privacy imported: US weights EU-style regulations to protect your data. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from https://www.cnet.com/news/privacy-imported-zuckerberg-hearings-get-congress-weighing-eu-style-regulations-to-protect-your-data/

 

 

A Word About WordPress

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 11.12.40 AM

I was introduced to WordPress.com as a blogging assignment from my graduate course at Syracuse. I found the site very easy to work with and intuitive from a user’s point of view. I was pretty much a blogging novice when I began, but I quickly got the hang of the WordPress navigation, and started publishing my weekly posts for the class. I must say that I enjoyed sharing my point of views on everything from the fake news explosion in the last presidential election, to the future of journalism and how technology and innovation will change the way we get our news. As someone who enjoys writing, I found the blogging experience therapeutic, and WordPress allowed me to express myself in a meaningful and easy way. As much fun as it was to post the blogs, it was equally enjoyable to read the reactions from other readers. I didn’t have much of a following, mostly classmates, and a few friends, but their comments were always welcome and interesting to me. So, those are the “pros” of my WordPress experience. I guess the “cons” for me would be how much of an impact blogging, in general, and WordPress, in particular, has in my life. If I were a dedicated blogger, perhaps I would be more fully engaged on a day-to-day basis. But as a part-timer, I don’t find the site that sticky, and other than reading a few blogs from people I know, I don’t find the site attracting me to come back to it in a meaningful way. Maybe if there were more interactive elements, or a tie to popular culture that would require me to return, it would be more appealing. I know several professionals in the ad world who create WordPress portfolio sites, and that would be a good use of this content management system. I originally set up my pro portfolio on another CMS, so I am not compelled to interact more regularly with WordPress, but probably would if I were coming back here more often on a professional level.

I may be in the Minority, but this report looks frightening.

imgres.jpg

The Future of Communications:

When the movie, The Minority Report first hit the cinemas in 2002, it seemed like complete science fiction. There’s no way these technological advancements – like eye tracking, intuitive billboards, crime prevention and an all-knowing government apparatus – would ever happen in my lifetime. Now, as scary as it seems, much of it has come to pass, or will in the foreseeable future.

With web 3.0 and the semantic web tracking every digital move we make, cookies collecting data on our habits, our desires, our frailties, our finances, our sexual orientation, et al and storing it all in Big Data’s data banks, this future is now a sobering reality. Could we be far from the scene of Tom Cruise walking through a mall with billboards and kiosks recognizing him by tracking his eyes, and asking him about the jeans he bought last week, and whether or not he needs a new shirt to go with them? All that data was instantaneously available and matched to his eyeballs, in the film.

We already have facial recognition technology on Facebook that is startlingly accurate!

This technology that learns about you and knows you perhaps better than you know yourself, promises to make our lives easier. It provides convenience, organizes information that we seek and even forecasts things we may want. The more we are lulled into the sense of security that this self-serving technology provides, the more the web and big data will know about us.

But all of this knowledge can have profound ramifications on privacy. How can an individual be a full participatory citizen when he or she may fear what’s in the data banks? How will the government react to knowing everything about you?

Among the themes of the movie are”the role of preventive government in protecting its citizenry, & the role of media in a future state where technological advancements make its presence nearly boundless,” according to a Wikipedia post.

Which begs the question, is this utopia worth the cost? Surrendering your privacy for the greater good?

In “The Minority Report, the government sought to stop crimes before they were committed. How would that capability affect the freedom of the individual? Time will tell, but the prospects of all this knowledge can be frightful.

Artificial intelligence is another area of either great promise or great concern. Robots are already in development that can think and react like humans. If they know everything the web knows about us, how will they react when encountering real human beings? This seems the stuff of science fiction, but they soon may be a grim reality. Let’s hope global warming melts the icecaps and sends us to Waterworld before this all happens.

 

 

 

 

My, how TV tune-in advertising has changed.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 11.57.22 PM.png

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 10.55.27 PM.png

In the pre-digital age, you would learn about upcoming television programs from mainly two places, commercial clips running on TV itself, or TV guide. Ads on television networks would promote their own programming as interstitials between shows, telling you to tune in to watch the next episode of “I Love Lucy,” or “Dallas,” or “Seinfeld.” Then two things happened. One, cable television came on the scene, and suddenly there were 500-1000 channels to watch. Then, the internet came of age, and suddenly viewers weren’t just watching TV, they were interacting with TV.

Shows like “The Voice” and “American Idol” introduced fan voting, first over the phone and then online. Suddenly consumers had a new voice. Tweets started appearing and running during some shows, where your voice could be seen as well as heard.

Recently, we’ve been seeing some pretty inventive programming promotion going on that was inspired by fans, and powered by user interactivity. The “Fire & Ice” promotion of “Game of Thrones” season 7 was live-streamed on Facebook Live and over 162,000 GOT fans stuck around for over an hour to find out when the new season would premiere. The show’s cast members popped up and encouraged fans to type the word FIRE on their keyboards to speed up the process, and many did.

Then there was the “House of Cards” promotion during last fall’s presidential debates featuring candidate Frank Underwood making promises worthy of real presidential candidates, and the hashtag #FU2016 became a top trending topic on Twitter. Viewers could even type FU in response to any issue facing America today on Frank Underwood’s fictional campaign website.

Finally, there’s the brilliant promotion of the Netflix program “Narcos,” that was actually inspired by fans tweeting about the bilingual show. Tweets like…”#Narcos is pretty much free Spanish lessons,” “They should show Narcos in school to teach Spanish,” and “It’s a proven fact that you can learn Spanish if you watch enough episodes of “Narcos,” birthed the second season’s advertising campaign. “Learn Spanish with Narcos” featured characters from the show giving Spanish lessons to fans.

See it here: https://almaad.com/work/spanish-lessons/

Although the Spanish words the fans were learning were mostly off-color and obscene, the lessons were edgy, and attracted even more fans. The campaign grew organically on social networking sites with results that were off the charts. More than 12 million views, a 40% increase in followers, and more than 50 million people reached, according to the show’s press releases. Not bad numbers for a foreign language course!

The ad agency that created the campaign, Alma DDB was founded to “bridge the gap between the Hispanic and General Market.” And with the “Spanish Lessons” campaign for “Narcos” they fulfilled their mission.

What kind of programming promotion will we see in the future? It’s anyone’s guess. But “Narcos” sure ain’t “I Love Lucy,” and the next generation of tune in ads will most likely be breaking new ground in advertising.

 

“Not Just the Facts Ma’am” A Report Card. Journalism and the 2016 Election.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 11.03.12 PM.png

The news industry has a black eye after the brawling, bruising election of 2016. There really were no winners in this bloodbath. Among politicians the codes of decency, civility and honor were decimated. But the real losers were basic journalistic values, which took a severe beating throughout the months of endless barrages of insults, false reports, fake news and bruising accusations.

What follows is a report card reflecting the grades I would hand out to the media after the election.

Value:                                                                         Grade:

Neutral observers                                                    D-  

Comments:

I’ve talked with people from both red and blue states and not once did I hear of anyone who found a truly credible source working without an agenda. This is truly sad, given that one of the foundations of journalism is to provide an objective voice and 3rd person point of view. Republicans complain of the slanted coverage on CNN, the New York Times, Huffington Post, etc. Democrats point to the conservative agenda of Fox News, Briebart, the Drudge Report etc. In my opinion, just about every news source is guilty of putting their POV across in the selection of hosts, guests, analysis and content.

Truth & Accuracy                                                     F   

Comments:

When you have both sides of the aisle complaining of “Fake News” from the other you know that something is amiss. With the new president’s press corps proclaiming a new era of “alternate facts” and the complaints from conservatives of the “enemy media” and fake news claims from both sides, really, it seems truth is in short supply. Also fact checkers had a field day looking to substantiate some of the claims carelessly flung around by the candidates. Accuracy is a casualty of the rush to get an edge, to get the story out first, without consideration of the facts.

Present Facts Without Passing Judgment             C-  

Comments:

This one is a little tricky. Some of the newspapers and networks seem like they are being objective, and upholding objectivity and journalistic integrity. But, it’s easy to see the bias implicit in their reporting. Editors select what stories to follow and what to pass on. When the New York Times runs five or six stories critical of the new Trump administration in their lead, and Fox News leads with their stories in support, the partisan press disguised as an objective press comes into focus.

Crediting Sources                                                      D

Comments:

In the “Society of Professional journalists’ code of Ethics” journalists are urged to “Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.’ In this new era of “partisan news” however, stories begin in the strangest and murkiest of places. The participatory culture has given us bloggers who have no journalistic training, and partisan viewpoints that need nurturing. So a “source” could be a fabricated fake news story started on a political blogger’s site, which is picked up by more seemingly reputable news organizations and reported as “news.” One glaring example of this was Buzzfeed’s decision to run the “Trump Russian Dossier” story without fully vetting its sources and verifying its authenticity. Next thing you know the dossier is the talk of all of the news shows.

Public Interest                                                           D

Comments:

“Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.” Again this statement from the journalistic “Code of Ethics” is debatable. A journalist with partisan views may feel he is serving the public’s interest by writing stories that support his or her political positions. Even though personal bias is frowned upon, it is clear from some of the partisan coverage mentioned above, that a not-so-hidden agenda is being served by most of the reputable journalistic institutions like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, right down to the news aggregators with partisan views like Briebart and the Huffington Post.

In Summary:

Whereas we the people depend on a free and independent press to tell us the truth (or in Walter Cronkite’s famous sign off – “That’s the Way it is…”), today’s journalistic climate of political bias deserves a near failing grade. It leaves more citizens wondering, “Who can I trust?”