Now, Facebook (probably) hasn't been using these semi-Jedi mind trick powers to, say, influence their users to vote for specific candidates ... but they have been taking money from other people doing just that. You might have heard about how they sold $100,000 worth of ads to Russian troll farms during the 2016 election, or how their algorithms consistently pushed fake news stories over real ones. And fake news, it's been well established, can have very real consequences, from mass panic to pizza-inspired terrorism.
Sure, there are other ways to deliver misleading or divisive news to people, but what sets Facebook apart is the fact that they know everything about you. All your "likes," quizzes, and comments are used to create "personality profile" which Facebook's advertising clients can access, which is how you end up seeing ridiculously specific ads like these:
Do underestimate someone who sees this and isn't immediately creeped the fuck out.
And the same way Facebook can narrow down your favorite ice cream flavor or Ninja Turtle, it can also determine your political inclination. Last year, Donald Trump's campaign used a company called Cambridge Analytica (which had also worked on the Brexit campaign) to target potential Clinton voters and show them information that might make them go "Eh, I'll sit this one out" on Election Day. At the same time, Facebook's advertising tools also allowed anyone to target people whose interests included things like "Jew Hater" or "Killing Muslims." A well-placed fake news article about Clinton hugging a rabbi while wearing a hijab could have easily translated into a whole bunch of extra votes against her.
As information like this comes to light, Facebook keeps saying they'll take steps to make sure these tools aren't abused (again). Hopefully they get their shit together before the 2020 election, because one of the guys who might run then is named Mark Zuckerberg, and he looks like a real piece of work.
Take a break from shitty corporations and social media with an outdoor furniture set that is bomb as hell, fire up your futuristic new outdoor grill and maybe setup a cat little cat house out there too. Got dogs? Well, I don't know. I think they're ok just laying on the ground, right?
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