A Mexican American with a creative background and an untraditional career path, Ambar Januel (@ambarjanuel) is a marketing strategist and branding expert for non-profits and innovative tech companies. With a focus on social impact, her partners utilize future technologies to disrupt the system, while prioritizing diversity and inclusion, community engagement, and social justice. Tech startup project manager, turned creative director, turned agency co-founder, Ambar currently works independently as a strategist, bringing marketing, event production, and branding skills together through her work. She has spoken at a variety of conferences and has been featured in many publications, including 7in7, BBC Media, Vanity Fair, Forbes, Digital LA, Honeybook, WeRule, and more.
Call Them by Their True Names by Rebecca Solnit
The NAACP has launched a boycott of Facebook following reports that the Kremlin specifically used Facebook and other social media to recruit African Americans and other people of color to support Donald Trump. The NAACP is calling on Facebook users to log out of Facebook for one day—today, Tuesday.
Data analysts from the University of Oxford submitted a report to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday, yesterday, analyzing how Russians infiltrated social media to spread pro-Trump propaganda leading up to the 2016 presidential election. We’ve got a link to coverage in the show notes. But Russian operatives working for the Internet Research Agency—the propaganda arm of the Kremlin—sought to entice African Americans and other people of color to host events, start coalitions, and engage in other activities -- on American soil -- to gin up support for Donald Trump. These were leaflets, folks.
So even though the Kremlin used other social media platforms -- including Twitter , Google, and others -- to promote propaganda, and the report to the Senate Intelligence Committee says that these companies may have evaded Congress and provided incomplete datasets during testimony over the past year, this was the icing on the cake for the NAACP as far as Facebook’s concerned. The 110-year-old civil rights organization found a persistent pattern of anti-democratic tactics that have repeatedly implicated Facebook since the 2016 election cycle.
To add insult to injury, Facebook revealed yet another breach affecting private photos of some 6.8 million users. So this goes far beyond smart lawyering. Tech company’s testimony before Congress all year came with legal implications. And, as long as they didn’t commit perjury, disclosing as little as possible is frankly well within their Fifth Amendment rights. But there’s a particular quality to Facebook that’s fundamentally different from other platforms--because it’s so pervasive, and so personal.
YouTube reports that it removed some 58 million videos during the past quarter for violating community standards. The Google unit said that 72% of the videos promoted spam or were misleading. YouTube also removed 1.67 million channels during the same period.
The web giant Cloudflare apparently provides cybersecurity services to at least 7 foreign terrorist organizations and militant groups, according to the Huffington Post. All of the groups are listed on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. Jesselyn Cook has the report in the Huffington Post.
The AP reports that Iranian hackers hacked into the personal email accounts of U.S. officials last month to attempt to thwart the Trump administration’s new sanctions. The AP obtained the data from London-based security firm Certfa. Raphael Satter has more overage in the AP.
The FCC voted last week to allow internet service providers to block some text messages, supposedly to prevent spam. Opponents say it’s a threat to net neutrality and gives ISPs too much control over content, in this case texts.
West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin moved to block Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr’s nomination to the the FCC after the Republican-controlled agency voted to block the expansion of wireless internet service to rural areas. Carr’s term is actually already expired—it expired back on June 30th. And if the current Congress doesn’t vote to approve a new five-year term by January 3rd, which is when the current Congress concludes, and we move into the next session of Congress, Carr will need to step down. However, he could still be renominated and confirmed by the next Senate, which is what happened with Jessica Rosenworcel.
Alexandra Channer joined Joe Miller to discuss how automation is leading to labor abuses and slavery in Southeast Asia.
Dr. Alexandra Channer (@channer_alex) is a human rights advisor for business, helping to identify and mitigate impacts resulting from their commercial activities and relationships. She has a technical background in risk analysis and due diligence for labour standards, civil and political rights and community impacts.
In her previous role, Alex was principal analyst and head of human rights strategy at Verisk Maplecroft. In this role, Alex supported multinationals with global supply chains in the technology, extractives, food and beverage, and apparel sectors. Areas of focus included modern slavery, human rights defenders and automation.
Alex’s approach is enriched by her doctorate in politics - involving eight years of fieldwork on grievance-based mobilisation in Kosovo - as well as experience working in political communications. Alex learnt Albanian in Kosovo and translates plays and books in her spare time.
Slavery and labour abuses in SE Asia supply chains set to spiral over the next two decades as automation consumes job market by Alexandra Channer (Verisk Maplecroft, 2018)
Two-hundred fifty pages of confidential documents obtained by a UK Parliamentary committee from a company embroiled in litigation with Facebook in the U.S. seem to reveal that Facebook sold data to certain buyers as it sought to grow. Zuckerberg denies that allegations. But the trove of emails between Facebook and a company called Six4Three contain several communications with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that seem to discredit his assertion that Facebook never sold users’ data.
In other Facebook news, The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook’s board of directors backs Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s handling of the anti-Semitic campaign against George Soros. And Facebook plans to a buyback of $9 billion more of its shares to boost investor confidence after a stock slump of more than 40% since July.
Verizon’s Oath has agreed to pay $5 million to the New York State attorney general to settle charges that its AOL unit violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, also known as COPPA. It’s the largest settlement paid by a company in COPPA history. New York’s Attorney General had accused AOL of displaying ads on children’s sites even though AOL’s policies prohibited it. Sapna Maheshwari has more in The New York Times.
The FCC’s own, internal Inspector General has completed an investigation of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. It found that Pai didn’t violate ethics rules when he failed to disclose conversations he’d had with former White House counsel Don McGahn regarding the Sinclair merger because the FCC’s rules didn’t prohibit the conversation even though the FCC is not a cabinet-level agency and is supposed to be independent of the White House. Margaret Harding McGill has the story in Politico.
Google’s contract employees are pushing for better working conditions. In a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Googler’s are calling for inclusion in corporate-wide communications as well as equal pay and better treatment. The contract workers, known internally as TVCs, are also referred to as Google’s “shadow workforce”. And they were excluded from Google’s new policies regarding sexual harassment which the company began implementing following the walkout of thousands of employees world-wide protesting the company’s handling of Andy Rubin’s departure, after he’d been accused of sexual misconduct—an accusation Mr. Rubin has denied. The contract employees say that Google’s $30 billion in profit this year alone is more than enough for the company to compensate them fairly.
Google has found a new bug exposing user data to some 52 million users. The company had already planned to shut down Google+ by the end of next year, but it has accelerated the closure to August. Google CEO Sundar Pichai is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on today, Tuesday, December 11th and the new data breach is sure to be an issue.
Brookings' Joseph Kane joined Joe Miller to talk about how automated vehicles could impact your white collar job--not just those of drivers.
Joseph Kane (@jwkane) is a senior research associate and associate fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.
Kane’s work focuses on a wide array of built environment issues, including transportation and water infrastructure. Within these areas of research, he has explored infrastructure’s central economic role across different regions as well as its relationship to opportunity and resilience. Across several projects, he has concentrated on the use of innovative datasets, combining them with other qualitative measures to better assess current and future infrastructure needs. From the exploration of metropolitan freight trends to the first-ever analysis of infrastructure jobs at a metropolitan level, he has coordinated the production of new metrics and developed other interactive content to better inform decisions by policymakers and practitioners across the country.
Prior to Brookings, Kane was an Economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. He holds a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in economics and history from the College of William and Mary.
Why the Garden Club Couldn't Save Youngstown by Sean Stafford
The consequences of Facebook’s poor engagement over the years with people of color began to take hold last week. On Tuesday, USA Today’s Jessica Guynn reported on a former black Facebook employee – Mark Luckie – who says the company has a deep seated race problem both internally and on the platform. Luckie wrote an internal blog post on Facebook earlier this month—to management and employees—that later went public—saying the platform itself actively works against black people. He says that Facebook works against attempts by black users to create safe spaces on Facebook, amplifies some users over others using class-based criteria, which effectively dilutes black voices, and fails to hire a workforce that reflects the demographics of its user base.
Color of Change CEO Rashad Robinson met with Sheryl Sandberg on Thursday. Politico reported that it was a victory, but then went on to talk about all of the ways in which it really wasn’t. For example, Facebook hasn’t committed to release records on its work with Definers Public Affairs to engage in promoting far right, anti-Semitic attacks against George Soros. It was a campaign that also targeted Color of Change. Robinson also told Politico that Sandberg defended Joel Kaplan. Apparently Sandberg, according to Politico’s account of the meeting, offered a sincere apology and Mark Zuckerberg popped his head in. But really, who cares. Sandberg did agree to a civil rights audit that Color of Change would conduct and agreed to have a public debate on the results of the audit. But that’s really non-negotiable since they have to do something to prevent a boycott.
Also, a New York Times report out the same day Robinson met with Sandberg suggested that Sandberg directed the communications team in their research of George Soros’s financial interests and actually sent an email asking if Soros had shorted Facebook’s stock.
A lot of people are just sort of wondering why Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg and Joel Kaplan should keep their jobs. But would that solve Facebook’s race issues?
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said over the weekend during an interview at the Ronald Reagan Public library that Russian operatives attempted to interfere with the U.S. election. He said the Trump administration’s relationship with Russia has deteriorated. Mattis’ remarks came a couple of days after Trump canceled his scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit amidst Michael Cohen’s guilty plea for making misstatements to Congress in the investigation into the Trump administration’s business dealings with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Marriott reported a hack that apparently affected some 500 million of its Starwood guests, exposing personal information including home addresses, passport numbers, drivers’ license numbers, names, and other personal details. New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood is investigating the breach. The company has known about the breach since early September.
Nextstar has announced plans to acquire Tribune Media for $4.1 billion, making it the largest tv station owner in the U.S. The merger would add 42 stations to Nexstar’s portfolio bringing its total number of stations to 216 in 118 markets, just under the FCC’s 39% ownership threshold. The deal comes after Sinclair failed in its bid for Tribune earlier this year.
CNN reports that President Trump may be considering Makan Delrahim to replace Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General. Currently, Delrahim is the Assistant Attorney General who sued AT&T to stop its acquisition of Time Warner—he lost. That deal went through. Some are still debating whether the president directed Delrahim to stop the merger. Delrahim denies this. But if he did act at Trump’s behest, the Attorney General job would be a big reward—ya think?
The FBI charged eight individuals last week in an ad fraud scheme. The men face 13 charges for allegedly scheming to infect 1.7 million computers and drive traffic to counterfeit websites serving up ads. Craig Silverman has a detailed report in BuzzFeed News.
The Department of justice indicted 2 men in connection with an alleged Iranian ransomware plot since 2015 that has caused some $30 million in financial damage to city universities, governments and hospitals, including the City of Atlanta. Officials say the scheme, known as SamSam, affected more than 200 victims and led to some $6 million in ransom payments. Brian Fung has the story in the Washington Post.
Some Google employees have banded together to create a $200k fund to help striking engineers who are opposing Google’s work on a censored search engine in China. The project is known as Project Dragonfly and hundreds of engineers oppose the effort and signed a letter to that effect last week.