The Times agrees on privacy and kind of on fake news business

May 11, 2017

(This article was originally published at Big Data, Plainly Spoken (aka Numbers Rule Your World), and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

The New York Times Magazine has been publishing some pieces that directly relate to a couple of my blog posts.

In this article, Amanda Hess noticed that "privacy became a commodity for the rich and powerful." This echoes my blog post on "Data is the next frontier of equal rights." Hess discussed the asymmetry and hypocrisy of the situation whereby the same businesses and business executives that are wantonly stripping us of our privacy are super-protective of their own "private" information. In my blog post, I pointed out that the selling out of customers' private information started long before the Internet came of age.

In another article, basically a profile of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Farhad Manjoo tackled the problem of social media and fake news. I encourage you to read this article alongside my post on "This Fake News Business." The article contains insights into Facebook's reaction to many of the points I raised in my blog post, plus Manjoo's reaction to Facebook's reaction.

LIke Manjoo, I find that Facebook, Google and many tech companies live inside their own bubbles. They are earnestly justifying their decisions, even when such actions prove unpopular. At one point, Manjoo was told that Facebook thinks its algorithms have solved the "clickbait" problem. It takes a lot of effort to transcend the bubbles. Is it possible that the fake news challenge may do the trick?


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