All Turtles Podcast Episode 24: ZuckTales

Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony left many people scratching their heads. Was it an earnest effort to explain Facebook’s plans to prevent another Cambridge Analytica data scandal? Or was it part of a well-orchestrated apology tour? Riffing off Phil Libin’s 7-step analysis of the Facebook hearings, your hosts reveal a fundamental problem with the social network’s dependence on advertising and raise important questions about creating the kind of world we want to live in.

Show Notes

Welcome (0:41)

Submit book club suggestion to (1:50)

Discussion: Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony (2:41)

Phil Libin’s 7-point plan for making sense of Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony (LinkedIn post) (4:01)

Day 1 Senate testimony: video link and transcript

House testimony: video link and transcript

1. The Big Picture (4:21)

Hearing clip: “Yes or no, will you commit…?” (6:45)

2. A review of Mark Zuckerberg’s performance (8:05)

Mark Zuckerberg couldn’t stop mentioning his Harvard dorm room during Facebook testimony (Boston Globe) (10:48)

Hearing clip: One of Mark Zuckerberg’s “dorm room” mentions (10:51)

3. Facebook’s misaligned business model (12:01)

Hearing clip: “My top priority has always been our social mission…” (13:25)

Advertising comprises 97% of Facebook’s revenue (Business Insider) (15:50)

4. Fixes already underway (20:28)

Was your data shared with Cambridge Analytica? (21:48)

Hearing clip: “What is Facebook doing to prevent foreign actors from interfering in U.S. elections?” (24:48)

Russians promoted about 130 rallies through 13-Russian linked pages (New York Times) (26:44)

5. Should Facebook be regulated? (30:21)

Hearing clip: “What do we tell our constituents, given what’s happened here, why we should let you self-regulate?” (30:34)

Facebook’s most popular Black Lives Matter page was a scam run by a white Australian, report says (Washington Post) (36:11)

6. Fake news and fake accounts (36:56)

“Facebook had previously announced that $100,000 was spent on Facebook ads from June 2015 to May 2017 by Russian-linked disinformation sources, while an additional $50,000 was spent by Russians that signals indicate weren’t or were only weakly connected to an organized disinformation campaign.” (37:44)

Trump and Clinton spent $81M on US election Facebook ads, Russian agency $46K (TechCrunch) (37:50)

7. The problem of the attention economy (41:59)

Hearing clip: “Let me outline the way that we approach fighting fake news.” (42:05)

Listener question (53:04)

Submitted via the All Turtles subreddit:

As AI gets better and better at analyzing data, and predicting patterns in humans, what happens to our sense of individuality? Is there a future in which AI and data mining will be predicting most of my decisions and outcomes? My generation has been told that we are all unique, and big data and AI seems to be learning and proving that we are all much less unique than maybe we’ve grown up believing. Do advancements in this field make us feel less like individuals?

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