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Facebook emails showing knowledge about flaws in its privacy policy are seized by Parliament’s Serjeant-at-Arms

25th November 2018

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Note: This post has been moved from Latest Picks due to length of extended updates.

Secret Facebook emails by Mark Zuckerberg over data-sharing scandal are seized by Parliament’s Serjeant-at-Arms and could now be released by [UK] MPs despite US court ordering them to remain private (dailymail.co.uk).

The House of Common’s serjeant-at-arms Kamal El-Hajji, image: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor via Daily Mail article
The House of Common’s serjeant-at-arms Kamal El-Hajji, image: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor via Daily Mail article
The secret cache is believed to include emails between Mark Zuckerberg and other executives that shows the firm knew about flaws in its privacy policy and allowed them to be actively exploited.

With a US judge in California having ordered that the files obtained from Facebook via a legal discovery process could not be revealed to the public earlier this year and following on from accusations of a “delay, deny and deflect” campaign for negative news stories (theguardian.com) which is seeing nawty boy Zuck continuously looking even paler than usual despite the hot water he is in both with different parliaments across the world and F’book investors who are seemingly holding the door open for his and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s exit (cnet.com) in hope of still avoiding government regulation violating their ad revenue cash cow.

MPs discovered the documents were in the possession of an American software executive visiting London on a business trip and sent an official from the House of Commons to his hotel to retrieve them.

With it made to sound as if part of the plot of a crime or spy thriller with parliament heavies being send around after presumably some wing clipped little bird had told, perhaps while being held out of a tenth story window:

Outlaw biker SGT. AT ARMS patch
He was given two hours to hand them over to an appointee of Kamal El-Hajji, the House of Common’s serjeant-at-arms, who is responsible for the security of the parliamentary estate.

Said software exec Ted Kramer, founder of the US company Six4Three refusing despite said “serjeant-at-arms”, parliament’s “enforcer”, likely still wielding the heavy ceremonial mace he carries around parliament but now in his patched MC leathers after dismounting his chopper, resulting in Mr Kramer being “hauled to Parliament and warned he could face imprisonment if he did not comply” rather than just being given a good punishment kicking.

Pikinis app
Six4Three’s Pikinis app

It’s perhaps relevant to point out that Six4Three currently has its own lawsuit against F’book, presumably being the reason why California judge ordered that the files should not be made public, alleging F’book were aware of the loopholes in its privacy policy and exploited them, while seemingly being more angry about F’book restricting its access to user data with changes in rules in 2014 for apps such as Six4Three’s dubious Pikinis app which let users find photos of their “friends” in bikinis (bloomberg.com, Mar. 2018).

But as to what then happens is seemingly dependent upon whether Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, who drew up the “‘unprecedented’ order after discovering that Mr Kramer was due to visit the UK” has puffed himself—and British Parliament—up without much hope of winning any fight not involving reenactment:

Damian Collins: “3 more countries join ‘international grand committee’ targeting Facebook…”
Mr Collins said he had read over the documents and his committee would decide this week what it intends to do with them.

Some perhaps curious as to whether, when the fight kicks off, without his “international grand committee” to lead but not necessarily from the front or at least serjeant-at-arms by his side, would there be more opportune chairman trembling leg and colour-drained facial flesh than exhibited by Zuck.

Updated 27th November 2018

And so, with that “international grand committee” lined up today to give nawty Zuck and his frat boy gang a thumping over their knowledge of Russian involvement in convincing Brits drive off Brext cliff and Americans to elect the maddest man in the room in a dodgy syrup to represent them:

MPs’ fury over Mark Zuckerberg ‘no-show’ (bbc.co.uk).

Politicians from nine countries reacted angrily to the absence of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at a hearing today.

Seemingly again thumbing his nose and sending a poor glorified pen pusher in the form of Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice-president of “policy solutions” instead to face parliamentarians from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Latvia, and Singapore as well as Damian Collins’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee eager to publicly show his stern indignation, with a seat left empty next to Allen with a card reading Zuckerberg’s name on it.

9 countries. 24 official representatives. 447 million people represented. One question: where is Mark Zuckerberg?

Collective indignation summed up by Canadian politician Charlie Angus:

“We’ve never seen anything quite like Facebook, where, while we were playing on our phones and apps, our democratic institutions… seem to have been upended by frat-boy billionaires from California”

Indeed, but keen to through the “we” some might ask what “he” was doing on his phone and with which app allowing him and other politicians to have “never seen anything quite like Facebook” and not quite get to grips with it like the populists and the Russkies bankrolling them.

And as for those documents sealed by a US court allegedly showing F’book were aware of unusual Russian activity not involving attempting to “friend” people they know but do not particularly like just to bump up the numbers as early as 2014, the seizing of which ensured at some did not check out a rat grilling at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers (whatstrending.com) trending instead:

It had been thought that a cache of Facebook documents, seized by MPs from a US businessman on the grounds that they were relevant to the inquiry, might be shared—but Mr Collins said that they would not be published today.

And perhaps not tomorrow either, or the day after that….

Updated 5th December 2018

But perhaps today:

Facebook used people’s data to favor certain partners and punish rivals, documents show (nytimes.com).

LONDON—Facebook used the mountains of data it collected on users to favor certain partners and punish rivals, giving companies such as Airbnb and Netflix special access to its platform while cutting off others that it perceived as threats.

Entering into agreement with those “select companies” to continue to allow the access whilst making policy changes restricting access for others. Indeed, it seems most are aware those seemingly monthly policy updates due have a purpose that is not necessarily in the interests of transparency and for the protection of users nor just protecting their own monitising rump and not really anything but virtual paper to wipe virtual arse.

The documents spotlight Facebook’s behavior from roughly 2012 to 2015, a period of explosive growth as the company navigated how to manage the information it was gathering on users and debated how best to profit from what it was building.

And Zuck himself stating the real value of users sharing on his network, with his much vaunted aspiration of a company built to accomplish a social mission—to make the world more open and connected (forbes.com, Jun. 2017):

In one exchange from 2012 when Mr. Zuckerberg discussed charging developers for access to user data and persuading them to share their data with the social network, he wrote: “It’s not good for us unless people also share back to Facebook and that content increases the value of our network. So ultimately, I think the purpose of platform—even the read side—is to increase sharing back into Facebook.”

The emails laying out how it was debated whether to restrict app developers’ access unless they bought advertising on Facebook, a policy which it no says it never enacted.

The documents can only of course remind of Zuck’s early and still most notorious statement regards Facebook users in an exchange in which he called his first few thousand Facebook users “dumb fucks” for trusting him with their data (theregister.co.uk, May 2010).

Comment of the moment: “If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product.”

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