• Trump’s Executive Order Isn’t About Twitter - The Atlantic

    Par Zeynep Tufekci

    In reality, Trump’s salvo on social-media companies has primarily an audience of one: Mark Zuckerberg. And it is already working. After the executive order was issued, Facebook’s CEO quickly gave an interview to Fox News in which he said, “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.” He added, “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

    It’s important to pay attention to what the president is doing, but not because the legal details of this order matter at all. Trump is unlikely to repeal Section 230 or take any real action to curb the power of the major social-media companies. Instead, he wants to keep things just the way they are and make sure that the red-carpet treatment he has received so far, especially at Facebook, continues without impediment. He definitely does not want substantial changes going into the 2020 election. The secondary aim is to rile up his base against yet another alleged enemy: this time Silicon Valley, because there needs to be an endless list of targets in the midst of multiple failures.

    Trump does very well on Facebook, as my colleagues Ian Bogost and Alexis Madrigal have written, because “his campaign has been willing to cede control to Facebook’s ad-buying machinery”—both now, and in 2016. The relationship is so smooth that Trump said Zuckerberg congratulated the president for being “No. 1 on Facebook” at a private dinner with him. Bloomberg has reported that Facebook’s own data-science team agreed, publishing an internal report concluding how much better Trump was in leveraging “Facebook’s ability to optimize for outcomes.” This isn’t an unusual move for Facebook and its clients. Bloomberg has reported that Facebook also offered its “white glove” services to the Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte, to help him “maximize the platform’s potential and use best practices.” Duterte dominated political conversation on the site the month before the Philippines’ May 2016 presidential election. And once elected, Duterte banned independent press from attending his inauguration, instead live-streaming it on Facebook—a win-win for the company, which could then collect data from and serve ads to the millions who had little choice but to turn to the site if they wanted to see their president take office. (Duterte has since been accused of extrajudicial killings, jailing political opponents, and targeting independent media.)

    Playing the refs by browbeating them has long been a key move in the right-wing playbook against traditional media. The method is simple: It involves badgering them with accusations of unfairness and bias so that they bend over backwards to accommodate a “both sides” narrative even when the sides were behaving very differently, or when one side was not grounded in fact. Climate-change deniers funded by fossil-fuel companies effectively used this strategy for decades, relying on journalists’ training and instinct to equate objectivity with representing both sides of a story. This way of operating persisted even when one of the sides was mostly bankrolled by the fossil-fuel industry while the other was a near-unanimous consensus of independent experts and academics.

    For Facebook, that gatekeeper is a single person, Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s young CEO is an emperor of information who decides rules of amplification and access to speech for billions of people, simply due to the way ownership of Facebook shares are structured: Zuckerberg personally controls 60 percent of the voting power. And just like the way people try to get on or advertise on the president’s seemingly favorite TV show, Fox & Friends, merely to reach him, Trump is clearly aiming to send a message to his one-person target.

    As a consequence, Facebook became cautious of taking actions that would make it look like it was holding back right-wing information machinery. That was the environment in which the country headed into the 2016 election—five months during which all stripes of misinformation went easily viral on Facebook, including stories that falsely claimed that the pope had endorsed Donald Trump, or that Hillary Clinton had sold weapons to the Islamic State. These stories were viewed millions of times on the platform, many of them outperforming traditional news sources. The pressure to keep Facebook friendly to the Trump campaign continued unabated after the election. When Facebook appeared to be considering changes to its microtargeting rules in 2019—for example, not allowing political campaigns to use the same level of microtargeting tools that product advertisers can, a potential strike at “a major Trump ad strategy”—the Trump reelection campaign swiftly attacked the platform, and the rules were left unchanged.

    Silicon Valley engineers and employees may well be overwhelmingly liberal, but Facebook is run by the algorithms they program, which optimize for the way the site makes money, rather than sifting through posts one by one. This is probably why the trending-topics controversy seemed like such a big hit: It took the one tiny section where humans had some minor input and portrayed the whole platform as working the same way. The employees may be liberal, but the consequences of how social-media companies operate are anything but. In 2016, for example, Facebook, Twitter, and Google all “embedded” staffers with both campaigns, without charge, helping them use the sites better and get more out of the many millions of dollars they spent on the platforms. However, this was especially helpful to the Trump campaign, an upstart with a bare-bones staff. Unsurprisingly, the “bulk of Silicon Valley’s hands-on campaign support went to Trump rather than to Clinton.”

    Trump and his campaign understood the power of Facebook better than the Clinton campaign, and formed a mutually beneficial relationship. Trump spent $44 million on the site, compared with the Clinton campaign’s $28 million, but ad money is only part of the story. A key role of Facebook is promoting organic content: posts, not ads, written by people who may range from partisans to campaign operatives to opportunists who just want the clicks. Some of the authors of these viral pages are motivated by promoting their ideology. Others are just grifters, using Facebook to maximize their spread so that they can collect ad money from their own webpage—which probably uses Google’s industry-dominating ad infrastructure. It’s a complete circle of back-scratching that is rarely commented on or known outside of a small number of experts and industry practitioners.

    The Trump campaign also made better use of Facebook’s own artificial-intelligence tools, like “lookalike audiences”—a crucial functionality that lets advertisers find many new people that Facebook predicts will act similarly to a small “custom” audience uploaded to the site. In other words, if you upload a list of a few thousand people who are open to your message, whether it is interest in a harmless hobby or incendiary claims against a political opponent, Facebook’s vast surveillance machinery, giant databases, and top-of-the line artificial-intelligence tools can help you find many, many more similar targets—which you can reach as long as you’re willing to pay Facebook. These are the kinds of advanced functions that Facebook makes easy to use, and staffers embedded with the Trump campaign would be able to explain and help with.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Facebook #Publicité_politique #Trump #Intelligence_artificielle

  • Michael Bloomberg running for president, launches 2020 campaign with multimillion-dollar ad blitz - CBS News

    A minute-long advertisement began airing Sunday in certain markets across the country, part of a campaign set to top $34 million and run through at least December 3, according to federal disclosure reports.

    “He could have just been the middle class kid who made good but Mike Bloomberg became the guy who did good,” the ad’s announcer says. “After building a business that created thousands of jobs, he took charge of a city still reeling from 9/11. A three-term mayor who helped bring it back from the ashes, bringing jobs and thousands of affordable housing units with it. After witnessing the terrible toll of gun violence, he helped create a movement to protect families across America and stood up to the coal lobby and this administration to protect this planet from climate change.”

    The ad says he will seek to “restore faith in the dream that defines us where the wealthy will pay more in taxes and the middle class get their fair share. Everyone without health insurance can get it, and everyone who likes theirs, keep it.” It ends with a tagline: “Jobs creator. Leader. Problem solver.”

    Une vidéo qui ne dit rien sur le fond, mais qui signale qu’avec des poches pleines, il va pouvoir mener campagne sans se prononcer sur rien.

    #Politique_USA #Démocrates #Michael_Bloomberg #Publicité_politique

  • Facebook isn’t taking political ads ’for the money,’ COO Sandberg says - CNET

    If all Facebook cared about was the money it makes from political advertising, the company wouldn’t be doing it, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said Tuesday. The social networking giant continues to answer questions about its decision to run political ads, including those with misleading information, without fact checking them. Instead, Facebook believes political ads are an important part of discourse.

    “It’s not for the money, let’s start there,” said Sandberg, speaking at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles. “This is a very small part of our revenue ... It’s very small, very small. And it is very controversial. We’re not doing this for the money.”

    “We take political ads because we really believe they are part of political discourse,” she added. “If you look at this over time, the people who have the most benefited from being able to run ads are people who are not covered by the media so they can’t get their message out.”

    Et une partie de l’interview plutôt problématique :

    Sandberg pushed back on the perception that Facebook was designed as an echo chamber to reinforce an individual user’s worldview. She said that 26% of the news that a user sees on the platform “will be from another point of view” on average. “It is unequivocally true that Facebook usage and uses of social media show you broader points of view, not narrower points of view,” she said.

    Comment connaissent-il ce pourcentage ? Est-ce volontaire (grave, isn’t it ?) ou par traçage ? Est-ce que chacun aurait ses préférences politiques stockées chez Facebook ? Etrange que cela passe inaperçu dans l’article.

    #Facebook #Publicité #Publicité_politique #Traçage_politique

  • Opinion | Democrats Appealing to the Heart? Yes, Please - The New York Times

    It is a longstanding stereotype that, when it comes to political combat, Democrats aim for the electorate’s head while Republicans aim for its gut. The emotional route tends to be discussed in largely negative terms, with Republicans accused of fearmongering on issues ranging from gay marriage to crime to immigration. There is maybe no more glaring case study of this than the 2016 matchup between Hillary Clinton, with her reputation as an overachieving wonk incapable of connecting with voters, and Donald Trump, with his know-nothing, visceral demagogy. Candidate Trump had few policy ideas and may have known less about how government works than any nominee in the history of the Republic. But he was, and is, a master at connecting — albeit on a dark, primordial level.

    But this trend goes beyond any specific contest. Reams have been written about how Democrats more often operate with an eye toward wooing voters with more rational, data-driven appeals. As Drew Westen, a professor of psychology at Emory University and the author of the 2005 book “The Political Brain,” has noted, “Democrats typically bombard voters with laundry lists of issues, facts, figures and policy positions, while Republicans offer them emotionally compelling appeals, whether to their values, principles or prejudices.” In that sense, there’s truth to the Republican attack line that Democrats are a bunch of know-it-all elitists who think they are so much smarter than “regular” Americans: Democratic politicians all too often convey the impression that, if only they could make the electorate understand the superiority of their policies, victory would follow.

    Except that most voters don’t vote on policy specifics. Despite fancying themselves rational creatures, people are often more influenced by tribal identification or the personal appeal of a candidate.

    Of course, this political stereotype, like all stereotypes, is an oversimplification — and one with notable exceptions. (Two words: Bill Clinton.) But it does suggest that Democrats could work a bit harder on their emotional savvy.

    #Politique_USA #Communication #Publicité_politique

  • Google Prepares to Brief Congress on Its Role in Election - The New York Times

    Google has become the latest Silicon Valley giant to become entangled in a widening investigation into how online social networks and technology products may have played a role in Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Google’s search engine, with about a 90 percent market share, is an inescapable part of the internet, so it was no surprise that congressional investigators turned toward the company. Google is the only company that sells more digital advertising than Facebook, and its YouTube service is the go-to place for videos on the internet.

    Google is much larger than Facebook or Twitter, and it has a wide range of services that played a role in the dissemination of so-called fake news during the campaign.

    But it is not a social network like Facebook or Twitter, making it harder for blatantly untrue stories to catch on, or for public sentiment to be stirred up through carefully targeted posts.

    Google has, however, long dealt with people trying to game its search engine to highlight misleading information or use its AdSense advertising network to finance eye-catching but false news stories. YouTube is also fertile ground for offensive videos and misleading news stories.

    #Google #Publicité_politique