facebook
‘People You May Know:’ A Controversial Facebook Feature’s 10-Year History

In May 2008, Facebook announced what initially seemed like a fun, whimsical addition to its platform: People You May Know. Read More >>

internet
When a Stranger Decides to Destroy Your Life

Monika Glennon has lived in Huntsville, Alabama for the last 12 years. Other than a strong Polish accent, she fits a certain stereotype of the All-American life. She’s blonde. Her husband is a veteran Marine. Her two children, a boy and a girl, joined the military as adults. She sells houses—she’s an estate agent at Re/Max—helping others realise their own American dream. Read More >>

privacy
These Academics Spent The Last Year Testing Whether Your Phone Is Secretly Listening To You

It’s the smartphone conspiracy theory that just won’t go away: Many, many people are convinced that their phones are listening to their conversations to target them with ads. Vice recently fuelled the paranoia with an article that declared “Your phone is listening and it’s not paranoia,” a conclusion the author reached based on a 5-day experiment where he talked about “going back to uni” and “needing cheap shirts” in front of his phone and then saw ads for shirts and university classes on Facebook. Read More >>

internet
Pray for the Souls of the People Sucked Into This Dating Site Hell

Earlier this year, the media got very excited about Trump.dating, a site for the pro-Donald set that promised to “make dating great again.” Much of the media coverage was critical: The site only allowed users to conduct heterosexual searches; the male-half of the couple originally featured on the homepage had a child sex conviction; and its creator didn’t seem to actually exist. Read More >>

facebook
The Other Cambridge Personality Test Has Its Own Database With Millions of Facebook Profiles

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock on Mars, you’ve likely heard about a little scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. Cambridge Analytica got its hands on millions of people’s Facebook likes in 2014 by getting an academic, Aleksander Kogan, to design an app with a personality test that hoovered up data from the 250,000 or so Facebook users that took it, as well as from their millions of friends. Cambridge Analytica supposedly used all those likes combined with the magic of big data to put Donald Trump in the White House. Read More >>

facebook
Keep Track Of Who Facebook Thinks You Know With This Nifty Tool

Facebook is constantly watching you. Now, you can watch Facebook back. Gizmodo Media Group’s Special Projects Desk is releasing a tool for people who want to study the friend recommendations Facebook chooses to give them. It’s called the “People You May Know Inspector.” To use the tool: Read More >>

facebook
Facebook Swears It Won’t Use Its New Powerful Face Recognition to Suggest ‘People You May Know’

On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it’s going to start scanning all the photos uploaded to the social network looking for your face, unless you opt out—or unless you are an EU or Canadian resident, where privacy law actually limits what Facebook can do with people’s faces. The purpose of the scanning, according to Facebook, is to alert you if someone has publicly uploaded a photo of you that you don’t know about, especially if they are trying to impersonate you. Read More >>

facebook
How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met

In real life, in the natural course of conversation, it is not uncommon to talk about a person you may know. You meet someone and say, “I’m from Manchester,” and they say, “Oh, I have a grandparent in Manchester,” and they tell you where they live and their name, and you may or may not recognise them. Read More >>

facebook
People at Facebook Don’t Know How Facebook Works

Facebook is a vast and bewildering operation, working with visible and invisible data streams via opaque algorithms on a scale larger than humans can readily comprehend. Many of us have been baffled, for example, by the social network’s ability to figure out who we know in real life, as reflected by the suggestions that pop up in its “People You May Know” box. Read More >>

facebook
How Facebook Outs Sex Workers

Leila has two identities, but Facebook is only supposed to know about one of them. Read More >>

google
Yes, Google Uses Its Power to Quash Ideas It Doesn’t Like—I Know Because It Happened to Me

The story in the New York Times this week was unsettling: The New America Foundation, a major think tank, was getting rid of one of its teams of scholars, the Open Markets group. New America had warned its leader Barry Lynn that he was “imperilling the institution,” the Times reported, after he and his group had repeatedly criticised Google, a major funder of the think tank, for its market dominance. Read More >>

facebook
Facebook Figured Out My Family Secrets, And It Won’t Tell Me How

Rebecca Porter and I were strangers, as far as I knew. Facebook, however, thought we might be connected. Her name popped up this summer on my list of “People You May Know,” the social network’s roster of potential new online friends for me. Read More >>

facebook
Do You Know How PYMK or Other Friend-Recommendation Systems Work? Tell Us

“People You May Know.” “Suggested Friends.” “Suggestions for you.” No matter what it’s called, most of the social networks have it: a feature that recommends other users for you to connect with. Read More >>

amazon
Surprise Echo Owners, You’re Now Part of Amazon’s Random Social Network

Since the Echo’s release in 2014, millions of people have given in to Amazon’s nonstop advertising and welcomed Alexa into their homes. Amazon’s original sell for the always-on, voice-activated device was that users could “ask Echo for information, music, news, sports scores, and weather from across the room and get results or answers instantly.” But in the last couple of months, it has evolved into something else: the hub for Amazon’s new social network. Read More >>

spam
I Gave Mattel My Email Address to Keep My Child Safe. They Used It to Send Me Spam.

Once I became a parent, I noticed for the first time that the products I was buying came with pre-addressed postcards. These postcards ask you to send in your contact information, so you can be informed if the product you bought is later deemed unsafe and recalled, so you don’t, for example, get killed by a whipped cream canister. Read More >>