By Juventud Rebelde
Wednesday 14 August 2019 | 09:51:48 pm.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Facebook, the company founded by Mark Zuckerberg, explains that the purpose of the practice of listening to and transcribing conversations from its users was to test the functioning of its artificial intelligence system.
“Hundreds” of external Facebook contractors have listened to and decrypted voice messages that users of the technology giant send in their chats on Facebook Messenger, Bloomberg revealed on Tuesday, quoting sources familiar with the project.
According to its statements, the company paid them to transcribe audio conversations, but did not explain where the recordings were from – several of them with vulgar content – were obtained and why they had to be deciphered.
Facebook has confirmed the information in this regard, specifying that the project ended only a few days ago. “Like Apple and Google, we stopped the human review of audios more than a week ago,” said the company. They also noted that affected users gave their consent to the practice by checking the option of transcription of their recordings in the “Settings” of Facebook Messenger.
Facebook clarified that the aim of the project was to test the functioning of its artificial intelligence system, said RT, which describes it as “a new scandal.”
This is not the first report on the violation of the privacy of users of technological giants. In early August, the corporations Google, Apple and Amazon modified their privacy policies, responding to a wave of criticism caused by reports that they listen to and transcribe audio recordings recorded by their virtual assistants – Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa, respectively – without the consent of the users.
Thus, on August 1, German regulators announced that Google had informed them that it had suspended the transcription of conversations for at least three months. In turn, Amazon allowed Alexa users to delete voice recordings from a database accessible to company employees and contractors on Aug. 2.
Liberty Guiding the People is one of the many posts that has suffered unbridled medieval voracity, typical of the old regime, on the part of the editors of the social network.
by Mauricio Escuela | email@example.com
July 7, 2019 20:07:27
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
At the beginning of 2018, Jocelyn Fiorina, a French theater director, used Eugène Delacroix’s famous painting, Liberty Guiding the People, to promote her work Shooting in the Rue Saint-Roch. It was not at all a political message per se, much less pornographic, however, the image of the woman with her breast in the air (representing the ideals of the French Revolution), was censored by the social network Facebook.
Much has rained down on the streets of Paris since that July 14, 1789, which so many point to as the beginning of a new era. So much has happened since then, that our historical culture sometimes fails to recognize its origins, especially from the generation of contents that reread that past. Tons of books were written about the French Revolution, especially about that afternoon when Governor Lunay of the Bastille opened the doors of the fortress and surrendered. It is said that the king, buried in the palace, asked if it was a revolt. “No sir, it’s a revolution,” a minister told him.
Until that date, the meaning of the word revolution was linked to the movement of the stars, not even the commotion experienced by England in 1640 was considered as such; however, as the historian Alexis de Tocqueville later noted, the revolutionary current was a force that preceded in centuries to the seizure of the Bastille and that would succeed it forever, accompanying the imaginary and the movement of history.
Hanna Arendt, in her essay Conditions and Meaning of Revolution, points out that revolutionary intellectuals from 1789 onwards, including Americans who participated in the 1776 Revolution against the British Empire, would begin to detach themselves from the notion of “the new” that despite themselves [having been] brought about by the revolution. None of them, obsessed with the purity of the Goddess Reason, wanted to be involved as the architect of a change that also brought with it generalized periods of social terror, as described by Victor Hugo in his classic Ninety-Three.
According to those intellectuals, the revolt actually wanted to take the times back to a foundational and idyllic era, which supposedly existed, in which “the lamb slept next to the lion”. In fact, for them, the revolution was nothing more than a restoration, and thus the hairy ear of counter-revolutionary capital began to be admired in the vision of these early bourgeois historians, who feared the powder keg unleashed by themselves, with the help of the dispossessed and desperate people.
From then on, the bourgeois will begin to validate the king whose head it cut off, will speak of his nobility, as well as the spirit of matron and mother of Marie Antoinette. It is a re-reading of history that goes back to our days, in the figure of the politicians of the system, who celebrate the 14th of July [Bastille Day], but fear the demonstrations of young people who display the “three cursed words”: Equality, Freedom, Fraternity.
It so happens that, quickly, the new bourgeois order took hold of the feudal imaginary, and a new “ancien regime” began to live in modern societies. Bourgeois obscurantism sanctified, above all, private property and from there it built its notion of State, Law and civil society and, therefore, morality.
Mark Zuckerberg must have been a very libertine student, during his time as a brilliant university student, taking the first tests of what was then the most extensive (and dangerous) social network in history. Judging by the number of insubstantial advertisements that fall under the censorship label of “pornography,” we read a certain obsession with the pleasures of the flesh, perhaps due to knowing them too much.
The truth is that Liberty Guiding the People is one of the many posts that suffer the unbridled medieval voracity, typical of the old regime, on the part of the editors of the social network. Facebook’s will to restore was evident during the exchange of messages between the editors and the director of the play. “When I appealed this absurd decision, the representatives of the social network assumed this censorship and said that, even in a 19th-century painting, any nudity is inadmissible…,” Fiorina told the press. The post was only unblocked, after the artist made a second version from the use of Photoshop, placing a poster of “censored by Facebook”.
It is no less alarming that those who monitor the use of the most used platform around the world not only do not know the painting, but also the historical fact and its meaning.
The upheavals of 1789 not only liberated the productive forces and brought a new rule of law, but also established a different morality, in which the body played an active role, as well as the nakedness of those parts that expressed the earthiness of man and woman. Most artists, starting with the French Revolution, would not only paint scenes of it, but would also mix eroticism with freedom, almost as synonyms.
It was the historical change that art needed to get rid of medieval censorship, the artist creates from what he [or she] feels and what he [or she] thinks, in a revolutionary dynamic that was not seen with good eyes either by the current critics. In fact, throughout the nineteenth-century, schools and authors were pondered that today nobody mentions. It was an attempt to restore medieval censorship, to take back that narrative, that of the arts, to the old regime that the bourgeoisie evoked to appease the genius summoned by itself.
No wonder, then, that Facebook, a private company that supports conservatism and still aspires to restoration, censured Delacroix. So far does the desire to restore the social network go that a Venus de Willendorf, a Paleolithic sculpture, was even blocked. Without a doubt, Facebook and Zuckerberg would have been excellent platforms not for restoration, but for the medieval witch-hunt, the Inquisition index or that modern version of totalitarian dystopia, the novel 1984. And there are still those who describe the social network and its publishers as revolutionaries.
Cuban journalist. First Vice-President of UPEC and Vice-President of FELAP. She is a Doctor in Communication Sciences and author or co-author of the books “Antes de que se me olvide“, “Jineteros en La Habana”, “Clic Internet” and “Chávez Nuestro”, among others. He has been awarded the “Juan Gualberto Gómez” National Journalism Prize on several occasions. Founder of Cubadebate and its Editor-in-Chief until January 2017. On twitter: @elizalderosa
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The new digital platforms favor the emergence of groups of individuals organized like a claque, ready to unconditionally applaud the one who pays. Anyone who isn’t in a blockaded country like Cuba can create content, invest in it for specific groups to see and even rent or buy virtual applause to generate “likes” on Facebook or “followers” on Twitter.
This is the business model of these technology platforms, thanks to which, for example, in the first quarter of 2018 Facebook had a turnover of $11.79 billion, almost four billion more (49 percent) than a year ago. Of that total, about 98.5 percent comes from advertising.
Such a thing happens every day and it is difficult to generate a perception of popularity on networks without hundreds of thousands of followers. These are usually achieved by registering artificial identities that promote messages of support, and the favor is not free. There are hundreds of companies that offer this service without any complexes. Simply enter “buy followers” in any search engine to find them. And it is not expensive: the price of a thousand followers is between 15 and 20 dollars. Getting ten thousand more people to follow us costs less than $120.
“Troll farms” – editors responsible for spreading false information on the Internet – have been used by politicians, entertainment stars, American spies, Donald Trump’s campaign team, Macri’s campaign team, the British military, Israeli propaganda organizations and many others who have made these huge profits from the platform founded by Mark Zuckerberg possible and placed it among the ten largest companies in the world, according to its value on the stock exchange.
The numbers are impressive and not just for the profits: a study published in March 2017 by the universities of South Carolina and Indiana estimated that, within Twitter, the proportion of “troll farms” that use automated applications to replicate messages (known as bots) was between 9 percent and 15 percent of their total users. The number of automatically-controlled fake profiles is between 30 million and 48 million.
Not out of moral compulsion, but to tune in to Washington’s anti-Russian and anti-Iranian discourse, Facebook has been willing to shut down some “troll farms” and escape, even momentarily, from the wave of criticism that has fallen on it for buying and selling data without the consent of its more than 2.4 billion users. This is how hits decided to eliminate hundreds of accounts with “inauthentic behavior” on Tuesday, according to a press release
We eliminated 652 pages, groups and accounts for coordinated “non-authentic behavior” that originated in Iran and were targeted to people across multiple Internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, the United Kingdom and the United States.
But while Facebook eliminates foreign-generated fake accounts, allegedly of Russian or Iranian origin, it tolerates the U.S. government’s “troll farms” without any crisis of conscience. Before any of us had heard of this machinery of fake accounts, fake news and Cambridge Analytica – the London-based company that intervened in more than 200 elections by manipulating the users of Facebook – the Pentagon was already publicly boasting that it was using the blue thumb network as propaganda bait for its operations.
Defense One magazine reported in November 2016 that Michael Lumpkin, former director of the Global Engagement Center (GEC, Pentagon propaganda department), described how the Center used Facebook data to maximize the effectiveness of its operations:
“Using Facebook ads I can get an audience, choose Country X, a specific age group between 13 and 34, filter people who like Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi or any other group… and I can shoot and hit them directly with messages,” Lumpkin said. He stressed that with the right data, effective message targeting can be done with only pennies per click.
Yesterday, the Miami New Times, a weekly newspaper in Florida, released a document proving that a US government-funded broadcasting organization is creating fake Facebook accounts in disinformation operations. These are directed against a country, Cuba, that has not done the slightest damage to the United States and that cannot access the Facebook ad manager because of the US blockade laws.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will spend more than $23 million in fiscal year 2019 on its Office of Broadcasting to Cuba (OCB), which controls Radio and TV Martí, and its projects include no less than a troll farm.
According to the budget requested of Congress for 2019, OCB will use the money in fake Facebook accounts of the kind that it perfectly classifies as “non-authentic behavior” to promote regime change on the island.
Considering the disaster of inefficiency, waste and corruption that has accompanied Radio Martí and TV Martí in 33 years of existence at a cost of more than $800 million at the expense of the US taxpayer, the former head of the US Interests Office in Havana, Vicki Huddleston, echoed on Twitter the news of the digital propaganda project against the island, to which she added a phrase of contempt: “Same-old-same-old!!”.).
Will Facebook close the US government’s “non-authentic behavior” accounts, starting with those of Radio and TV Martí? To be or not to be, that’s the question, right, Zuckerberg?
(Taken from Cubaperiodistas)