A year ago this past Friday, Mark Zuckerberg published a lengthy post titled “Building a Global Community.” It offered a comprehensive statement from the Facebook CEO on how he planned to move the company away from its longtime mission of making the world “more open and connected” to instead create “the social infrastructure … to build a global community.” He identified a number of challenges to realizing his mission, and ranking high among them was the political polarization of his user base.
“Social media is a short-form medium where resonant messages get amplified many times,” Zuckerberg wrote. “This rewards simplicity and discourages nuance. At its best, this focuses messages and exposes people to different ideas. At its worst, it…
Today’s indictment doesn’t make any overt connection between the Russians who worked to support Trump and members of the Trump campaign itself. When the two groups did connect, Trump campaign workers thought they were talking to real people, not Russian imposters.
Mueller is still working on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and other government agencies and congressional committees are also looking into the issue. So this isn’t the final word, by any means. But it’s still an intriguing look into Russia’s efforts to turn some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful platforms into tools to sway an election.
Among the fascinating charges Mueller makes:
Russia initially started a social media campaign to disrupt “the lawful governmental functions of the United States” by sowing discord in 2014. But by 2016 it had focused on supporting Donald Trump — as well as Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s chief rival for the Democratic Party nomination in that election.
The Russian team had an annual budget that “totaled the equivalent of millions of U.S. dollars” and focused on “social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.”
Russian nationals reached out to local Trump campaign officials and other Trump supporters, but they did it without telling Trump’s people who they really were: “Posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, [they] communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate their political activities.”
The Russians created fake accounts and group pages that racked up “hundreds of thousands of online followers … particularly on the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.”
They were active on Twitter, as well. The fake @ten_GOP account attracted more than 100,000 followers.
The Russians used different methods to cover their tracks and bypass various security methods. For instance, they used virtual private networks, so various accounts would appear to be operating from within the United States instead of Russia. And they used stolen identities, using real social security numbers, to set up accounts at PayPal, which they used to pay some of their bills for ads and other expenses — including the construction of a “cage large enough to hold an actress depicting [Hilary Clinton] in a prison uniform” to be used at a Trump rally.
The Mueller indictment spends quite a bit of time showing how various Russian tactics — the use of fake users and groups to dupe real people, the purchase of pro-Trump online ads and on-the-ground activity funded by Russian money — came together to promote a particular set of pro-Trump rallies in Florida.
It’s hard to argue that the particular rallies swayed the election, but the stories make for fascinating reading: For instance, in August 2016, Russians operating a fake Facebook user account reached out, via private message, to a local Trump campaign official in Florida and proposed organizing “a YUGE pro-Trump flash mob in every town”:
Days later, the same agents were promoting the campaign with Facebook ads, which reached 59,000 Facebook users in Florida and generated 8,300 clicks from them; they also used fake Twitter and Facebook accounts to hire an actress to portray Clinton in prison garb outside of rallies, and to hire people to make signs and a prison costume.
And within a couple weeks, a real Trump activist in Florida had emailed the fake Trump campaign, suggesting possible locations for rallies.
I’ve asked reps for Twitter and Google for comment. Facebook provided the following statement:
“Today’s news confirms our announcement last year that foreign actors conducted a coordinated and sustained effort to attack our democracy. As we said publicly last year, this kind of foreign interference violates all of our values. These indictments now say it also violated the law.
“We proactively disclosed the IRA activity to the Special Counsel, Congress, and the public, and have worked with them to give the public a fuller understanding of what occurred. We’re grateful the US government is now taking this aggressive action against those who abused our service and exploited the openness of our democratic process.
“We know we have more to do to prevent against future attacks. We’re making significant investments, including increasing the number of people working on security from 10,000 to 20,000 this year. We’re also continuing to work closely with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other companies on better ways to protect our country and the people on our platform. We’re particularly encouraged by the FBI’s creation of a task force dedicated to addressing election interference, and we are actively working with them. We’re committed to staying ahead of this kind of deceptive and malevolent activity going forward.”
Facebook Spaces is no longer just a place for you to hang out with friends and family in your list: you can also use it to form bonds with people in the Groups you're in. You can now host or join a VR Space with up to four people from a Group, so you… Engadget RSS Feed
Goodway Group has just released its Second Annual Insider’s Guide to Programmatic Pricing.
The guide includes projections for programmatic pricing for the coming year, predicting a moderate price increase of 1-3% annually for desktop display media in 2018. Mobile advertising, however, will be the main driver of digital’s price hike, growing nearly 4% month-over-month with an expected overall price increase of over 45% by 2019. The mobile prediction includes display and video ads served on any mobile device, either in-app or in-browser.
“Mobile advertising has been historically undervalued because it has been siloed or considered secondary to desktop. However, with consumer behavior shifting to mobile and advertisers shifting to people-based marketing efforts, it’s no surprise that prices for mobile ads are going way up next year,” said Jay Friedman, COO, Goodway Group.
To inform the Guide’s predictions, Goodway Group’s data science team studied billions of bids placed and the average CPM price per week in the United States between January and September 2017. Using DSP raw impression files and classification to identify device types, the test included data from more than 10,000 campaigns, across every DMA in the country.
In addition to programmatic pricing, the report predicts several trends to dominate the marketplace, including a greater focus on optimizing campaign performance through audience, recency and site, a shift towards valuing impressions individually through machine learning, and the rise of combinatorial bidding.
“Machine learning has taken programmatic bidding to the next level, allowing marketers to determine the best value for each impression. Advanced algorithms can crack the infinite number of possibilities that exist in programmatic auctions today,” continued Friedman. “Looking ahead, the emergence of these trends and innovations will allow digital media to continue to evolve.”
Facebook is combining its Snapchat Stories clone with features Snapchat can’t match in a bid to boost usage. Starting today, users of Facebook Groups and Events will be able to contribute to a Facebook Story visible to the rest of the members and moderated by the admins. This could be fun for parties, weddings, meetups, and more. In essence, these collaborative Stories will work like… Read More Mobile – TechCrunch