Information about Facebook Ads

November 15, 2019

Advertisements are one way companies keep tabs on their competition. Unless they resort to corporate espionage, the only way companies learn about ad campaigns is when they are shared with the public. Companies spend millions of dollars to advertise on the Facebook, which is how the social media platform generates most of its income. In fact, mobile ads bring in the most advertising profit for Facebook, accounting for 84% of their entire revenue.

Unlike other social media platforms, television, radio, and print mediums, there is tool companies can use to spy on their competition’s Facebook ad campaigns. Admin PowerAdSpy posted a YouTube video entitled, “How To Spy On Your Competitor’s Facebook Ads With The Best Ad Spy Tools In The World Power AdSpy.”

According to the video, Facebook has 2.38 billion monthly users, which is almost 1/3 of the world’s population. Since Facebook has such a large user base, it is a gold mine for companies wanting to advertise their goods and services. The video also reports there are 3 million companies with advertising campaigns on Facebook. Facebook ads have seen a 66% return on ad spend (ROAS, money spent on an ad campaign) in 2019’s first quarter.

It is becoming cheaper to advertise on Facebook and Power AdSpy claims its set of advertising spy tools will help companies improve their Facebook advertising strategy. The biggest problem is the video does not say how.

The video is obviously made by someone with a less than fluent grasp on the English language and they relied on free graphics to make a professional, albeit cheap looking video. It would be impressive for a school project, but not to sell a set of marketing tools to a company. What is even worse is that Power AdSpy claims to return heaps of cash, at least the clipart graphics promise that ROI.

Software companies at least explain how their products work in theory on advertising campaigns with the promise of more tailored solutions. Power AdPlay’s own ad campaign is less than grammatically correct. If they cannot get that part right, the product itself might be sketchy.

Whitney Grace, November 15, 2019

Facebook: Following the Credge of Innovation

November 5, 2019

Cue the music. There’s nothing like a logo. Nothing in this world. DarkCyber noted the Credge logo innovation. Not to be outdone, Facebook, a very popular and profitable company, has added a logo. It looks like this.




See the innovation. The logo changes colors depending upon what a happy and possibly insecure Facebook user is doing at a particular time. A context aware logo! And DarkCyber thought Einstein was insightful and semi-creative. Al, you are not in Facebook’s league.

Why? Well that answer appears in a Facebook post called “Introducing Our New Company Brand.” DarkCyber learned:

The new branding was designed for clarity, and uses custom typography and capitalization to create visual distinction between the company and app.

Facebook is quite expert at clarity.

Is DarkCyber Confused?

No, DarkCyber understands. A new logo takes companies to the credge of innovation.

Stephen E Arnold, November 4, 2019

Zuck Under Fire

November 5, 2019

Mark Zuckerberg might be the lead smart dude at Facebook, but that is only one facet of his career. The Sydney Morning Herald published an editorial about Zuckerberg called, “Mr. Zuckerberg, Have You Considered Retirement?” and it opened with the following description of him:

“If I were Mark Zuckerberg — newfound defender-to-the-death of liberal free expression even if it includes outright lying except if there are female nipples, a would-be curer of all the world’s disease, side-gig education reformer, immigration crusader, quirky dad, fifth wealthiest person in the world, hobnobber to pundits and politicians and all-around do-gooder digital hegemony who is also now vying to run the world’s money supply, I mean my God, Mark, where does all this end?”

Whoa! Zuckerberg has his hands full! Farhad Manjoo, the editorial’s author, suggested that Zuckerberg should vanish from the spotlight and retire to a nice, quiet Pacific island. He draws a similarity between Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who stepped down from the company and transformed himself into a philanthropic billionaire. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin pulled back too and are basically ghosting society.

Manjoo did state that Zuckerberg’s commitment to addressing hot topics might be seen as admirable, but his responses to his opponents are confusing and have mixed up what is good for Facebook vs. what is good for the US. Democrats have turned him into one of the party’s villains and the republicans are not to fond of him either.

Zuckerberg has a lot of power due to his wealth, most of which he earned by applying his intelligence to a product that became part of everyday life. He bows, however, to making money and “supporting” anyone that will put more dollars in his pocket.

Do not forget that Zuckerberg has high functioning autism spectrum disorder, which explains his awkward behavior in public. That does not excuse his behavior towards politics and amassing more and more wealth without a conscious. He is socially awkward, not ignorant of the world.

Whitney Grace, November 4, 2019

Facebook Kills Accounts of NSO Group

October 31, 2019

Yeah, Facebook is putting its ethical flag down. The problem is that the pointy end of the flag staff may go through Facebook’s foot. “Facebook Permanently Deletes the Accounts of NSO Workers” reports:

A day after Facebook-owned WhatsApp sued NSO Group, the social media platform has permanently deleted the accounts of employees who work at the Israel-based spyware maker…

Facebook can do what it wants.

However, DarkCyber wants to make a few observations:

  1. Some firms offer services and systems designed to create false personas (sock puppets) so that these identities can be used in various ways; for example, obtain and use Facebook services.
  2. Irritating a company with specialized services may have unanticipated consequences; for example, friction when Facebook attempts to do business with an NSO partner or an NSO friendly government.
  3. Facebook’s grandstanding may be one way for the company to mute the fact that it paid a fine for its Cambridge Analytica adventure.

Too little, too late, and too childish may be one way to describe Facebook’s Silicon Valley tactical play.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2019

Facebook: What Is a Threat to the Company?

October 29, 2019

I spotted a headline on Techmeme. Rewriting headlines is part of the Techmeme approach to communication. The link to which the headline points is this New York Times article. Here is the NYT headline:

Dissent Erupts at Facebook Over Hands-Off Stance on Political Ads

This is the Techmeme headline:

Sources: over 250 Facebook employees have signed a letter visible on an internal forum that says letting politicians lie in ads is “a threat” to the company

The messages are almost the same: Staff push back is a problem. But isn’t it part of the current high-tech company ethos.

The threat is management’s inability to maintain control. Companies typically work toward a goal; for example, manufacturing video doorbells or selling asbestos free baby powder. (Okay, those a bad examples.)

Perhaps something larger is afoot?

The corrosion of a ethical fabric allows certain aspects of human behavior to move through a weakened judgmental membrane may be more significant. The problem is not Facebook’s alone.

Are there similarities between a company shipping baby powder with questionable ingredients and Facebook?

Interesting question.

Stephen E Arnold, October 29, 2019

What Is Facebook Doing With User Data?

October 21, 2019

We have a message to Facebook, what the heck is going on with how you treat user data?

ITV shares in “Facebook Introduces ‘Clear History’ Tool But Your Data Won’t Be Deleted” that Facebook is rolling out a new feature that will disconnect, but not delete, user browsing history from its servers. The new feature is called the Of-Facebook Activity and provides a summary about third party apps and Web sites that report your activities to Facebook. This allows Facebook to send users targeted ads from desired products to political campaigns. Users can now opt out so Facebook will not access their browsing history.

When users turn on the Off-Facebook Activity, Facebook will still receive data, but personal information will be removed from it. Browsing history will not be used to send users targeted ads. Facebook wants to continue harvesting data, so they carefully selected the term “clear history” to communicate that data will not be deleted, just cleared of personal information. Facebook claims they need the information to share with businesses about their ad campaigns effectiveness. What does this mean for Facebook?

“With this tool, Facebook will no longer be able to target specific ads to their users, and the social media platform admitted in a blog post, the feature “could have some impact” on Facebook’s business. But it added “giving people control over their data is more important.””

Even though Facebook used the term “clear history” it is misleading and most people will not read the fine print about it. It is great that Facebook is giving users a report about how their information is shared with third parties, but why not give it a different name like “anonymous mode” or “privacy mode.”

Whitney Grace, October 21, 2019

Have You Stopped Beating Your Puppy?

October 5, 2019

What’s your answer? If you stop, you were beating your puppy. If you say, “Yes,” you are a puppy beater. Simple.

I read “Mark Zuckerberg Promises Facebook Won’t Be Biased Against Elizabeth Warren.” Does this mean that Facebook has been biased in the past? Does this mean that Facebook will not fiddle with search and auto generated info feeds going forward? Either way, there is a bit of puppy beater in the headline.

I also like the notion of “promises.” For example, a bully tells a teacher, “I promise I won’t hit anyone and threaten their life again.” What’s missing is the word “honest.”

Okay, that’s a life moment.

The write up asserts:

Zuckerberg said the company had been surprised by the leak, as it has been the first time in company history that an all-hands meeting had been recorded and shared with the media. (“A blog,” as Zuckerberg called The Verge!) “I think a lot of us internally were pretty shocked by that,” he said. “We want to be able to continue doing these, and have them be open. But then we had the second reaction which is, hey, you know, all the content that’s in there — we stand behind. And maybe I said that in a little bit more unfiltered of a way than I would say it externally, but fundamentally we believe everything we said that was in there.”


DarkCyber noted this scintillating bit of reporting:

To the employee who worried about this weekend’s New York Times report about the use of social platforms to spread child exploitation imagery, he explained the steps that the company has taken to address the problem so far and committed to doing much more before Facebook attempts to encrypt Messenger messages by default. Then someone asked him about Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who had gone after Zuckerberg after reading the remarks he made in our earlier report. How would Zuckerberg remain “impartial” given the dust-up? “God,” he said, laughing to himself. “Try not to antagonize her further.”


No, honestly. A blog. The Verge is a blog?

Stephen E Arnold, October 5, 2019

A Reason Why Governments Tip Toe around Facebook?

September 6, 2019

Is Facebook a criminal evidence preservation resource?

How important is Facebook to law enforcement, and how important should it be? How broad should efforts be to preserve potential evidence on the platform? These are some questions we pondered when we read the Daily Caller’s article, “Facebook’s New ‘Clear History’ Tool Hits a Legal Roadblock Over Criminal Evidence Concerns.” The tool in question, Off-Facebook Activity, addresses privacy concerns by giving users control over what data other apps and websites share with Facebook. (It does not, however, completely “clear” user’s browsing history, as some had hoped.)

The Texas civil case at hand is one of human trafficking facilitated, alleges the plaintiff, through Facebook’s platform. The victim’s attorney, Annie McAdams, filed a temporary restraining order to block Off-Facebook Activity altogether, reasoning the tool would obscure data relevant to her case. In doing so, she cited the federal Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop enabling Sex Traffickers Act, both enacted in 2018. This would seem reasonable but for a couple of factors, reporter Audrey Conklin argues. For one thing, U.S. Code Section 230 protects social media companies from being held responsible for content published by others on their platforms. Furthermore, Facebook has other mechanisms for preserving data relevant to legal cases. Citing tech lawyer Brad Shear, Conklin writes:

“Shear explained that law enforcement can still access information behind Off-Facebook Activity under proper legal procedures because ‘Facebook still has that information on the back end because they don’t delete any information on their platform.’”

Interesting. The article continues:

“Facebook is used regularly as a resource to catch both active and potential criminals, including mass shooters and drug traffickers, so long as law enforcement subpoenas the information needed to identify them. …

We note:

“Facebook also works with Polaris and the National Human Trafficking Hotline ‘to provide resources and assist victims of human trafficking,’ according to a page on its site dedicated to human trafficking information, which also includes a list of human trafficking hotlines in various countries. The social media giant complied with 88% of 41,336 U.S. government requests for information in 2018, according to Facebook Transparency. There were 23,801 search warrant requests made for 36,652 accounts, 90% of which were produced. Of 8,360 subpoena requests for 13,728 accounts, data was produced for 83%. Hundreds of requests related to national security threats were also requested.”

So, according to Conklin, McAdams is approaching the issue all wrong. Instead of filing a broad restraining order against the Off-Facebook Activity tool, she could have asked Facebook nicely. However, the Transparency page states it will preserve information upon request from government law-enforcement, not private attorneys. Perhaps the issue is more complicated than the write-up suggests, and McAdams is not simply tech-ignorant, as Conklin charges.

Whatever the case here, there is no denying Facebook data has been playing an increasingly important role in law-enforcement efforts. Is that why punishments are mostly hand waving?

Cynthia Murrell, September 06, 2019

Facebook: One Must Respect Different Views of Reality

August 28, 2019

I wonder if the works of the Argentinean writer Borges are required reading at Facebook.

DarkCyber noted this article in Gizmodo: Alex Stamos, Ex-Facebook Security Chief, Blames Journalists for Cambridge Analytica Fallout. This passage warranted a tick mark:

According to Facebook’s former chief security officer, reporters who covered the company’s Cambridge Analytica scandal are at least partly to blame.

Alex Stamos, who oversaw security at Facebook when news first broke about the scandal last year, criticized BuzzFeed and “other outlets” over what he called “unbalanced reporting on privacy,” saying the media coverage of Facebook’s numerous privacy violations has been geared all along toward hampering its ability to share data for legitimate research.

DarkCyber spotted this write up as well: “Facebook Staff Had Concerns About ‘Sketchy’ Cambridge Analytica Year Before 2016 Election.” We circled this statement:

Facebook employees discussed for months how they would look into Cambridge Analytica’s practices. A document published by the company containing the emails appears to show the company only learned that Aleksandr Kogan, a developer working for the political data firm, had improperly gathered information on tens of millions of Americans in December of 2015, after the Guardian published a report.

Yep, interesting company. Too bad Borges is not around to explain the two views using Facebook’s duality.

Stephen E Arnold, August 28, 2019

What Does Facebook Know?

August 19, 2019

We noted “Why I Printed My Facebook.” The hook for the story was a single person’s interest in what Facebook knew. The write up has a number of useful factoids. Here is one:

All told, my Facebook archive was 10,057 pages long. I decided to discard the 4,612-page document of disembodied “likes,” which brought the total down to a more manageable 5,445 pages.

What a discovery DarkCyber found interesting from this individual’s research:

“A document called “Friend Peer Group,” for example, listed, in one laughably short line, the “Life stage description” that Facebook had assigned to me and my friend network, presumably based on our ages and other data points. According to Facebook, my millennial peers and I are well into “Established Adult Life,” a designation that many of us would find hilarious.”

Another one:

Other files were less amusing. “Advertisers Who Uploaded a Contact List With Your Information” was a 116-page roster of companies, most of which I had never heard of, that have used my data to try to sell me things. The document called “Facial Recognition Code” was disturbingly brief and indecipherable, translating my face into a solid block of jumbled text—a code that only Facebook’s proprietary technology can unlock—about 15 rows deep. Some documents held secrets, too. “Search History” revealed an embarrassingly detailed record of my personal obsessions and preoccupations over the years. Crushes, phobias, people I have argued with and envied?this was the information I never wanted to post on Facebook, but instead had asked Facebook to help me find. This information, along with the facial recognition codes of my children (which were not included in the .zip file, but which I assume Facebook owns), is the data I most wish I could scrub from the servers of the world.

DarkCyber is not into Facebook. We are confident that Facebook knows about BeyondSearch and maybe Tess Arnold. But other members of the team? Not much. We live in a fantasy world, right?

Stephen E Arnold, August 19, 2019

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