Social media analyst Jonathan Albright got a call from Facebook the day after he published research last week showing that the reach of the Russian disinformation campaign was almost certainly larger than the company had disclosed. While the company had said 10 million people read Russian-bought ads, Albright had data suggesting that the audience was at least double that — and maybe much more — if ordinary free Facebook posts were measured as well.
Albright welcomed the chat with three company officials. But he was not pleased to discover that they had done more than talk about their concerns regarding his research. They also had scrubbed from the Internet nearly everything — thousands of Facebook posts and the related data — that had made the work possible.
Never again would he or any other researcher be able to run the kind of analysis he had done just days earlier.
Well, that’s convenient.
Meanwhile over @ Twitter:
Twitter pledged to do better in such situations, noting “we will be clearer about these policies 1
For close observers of Twitter’s opaque harassment rules and its inconsistent enforcement of them this is a familiar dance. That’s because Twitter wants everyone to know it is committed to transparency. It is also committed to committing to being committed to transparency.
Twitter was committed to transparency last month when it refused to clarify its stance toward president Donald Trump’s tweets about North Korea, which the country said it viewed as an “act of war.”
Twitter affirmed its commitment to transparency 4 times last month in a blog post summarizing its Russian election interference testimony before congress. Sen. Mark Warner described Twitter’s presentation as “inadequate” in almost every way.
In January of this year, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey pledged to be more open and transparent about addressing the company’s decade long battle with systemic harassment on its platform.
This summer — despite reports that repeat harassment victims were still finding their abuse reports wrongly dismissed — Twitter affirmed its commitment to greater transparency.
That same month, when BuzzFeed News presented the company with 27 explicit examples of harassment, Twitter replied with its boilerplate statement. And company co-founder Biz Stone promised the company would be more transparent.
This is likely because Twitter has a history of committing to being more transparent.
Like in 2015, when Dorsey apologized to developers for Twitter’s past restrictions of third-party apps and pledged to be more transparent.
Similar to the kind of transparency the company promised in 2015 when Twitter began making federal campaign contributions.
Transparency, you see, is part of Twitter’s 10-year plan.
But Twitter is committed to openness and clarity. Pledging a commitment to transparency is one of the things Twitter does best.
Perhaps that’s because the company has been doing it since 2008.
Hmmmm… Was Twitter committed to “transparency” when it refused to clarify its stance toward president Donald Trump’s tweets about North Korea, which the DNK said it viewed as an “act of war?”
Jeez, people – the new Tupperware corporations don’t respect us enough to even pretend we’re not being played.
Kansas City (WNBTv) – In a little noted action Thursday the city Council voted 12-1 to approve a Kansas City homeowner’s request for a 30-year property tax abatement.
Mayor “Sly” James cast the lone ‘nay’ vote.
“This is ridiculous, we don’t give abatements to homeowners. Think of the money the city will lose if we do this for everyone in Kansas City. I just don’t understand the city council.”
The item had come to the council with a 4-0 committee recommendation for denial two weeks previous but had been set aside so council members could consider a property tax abatement extension for the Kansas City Star’s downtown printing plant. That abatement was also approved at Thursday’s meeting.
In the case of the homeowner’s request Advisory Board Chairman Michael Duffy made the motion to recommend denial, giving two primary reasons.
For one, Duffy said, Chapter 353 abatements were intended to be used as redevelopment incentives, “not as a bailout provision for troubled homeowners.”
In addition, Duffy said, “In fact, both this and the Star’s request appear to be an end run around an adverse county determination of fair market valuation. There is simply no compelling reason to consider either.”
The homeowner’s property assessment would have required annual payments of $4,000, including the PILOTs, to the taxing jurisdictions. In addition any future assessment (for [possibly] being located in the transportation development district helping to finance the city’s new downtown streetcar line) would also be waived.
With their approval the Kansas City Star now stands to save an estimated $2,600,000 per year in tax relief.
One council member, speaking off the record, commented on the decisions.
“We (council members) talked about it and felt that we could easily afford abatements for about another 600 similarly priced homes before we come even close to equaling the Star’s abatement. Think about it; for the average family of 4 that’s 2400 people whose lives could improve each year. Then think on exactly what all Kansas Citians will get with the Star’s abatement… Nothing, that’s what. Not a damned thing. Hell, they’re not even rightly a newspaper any more.”
The council member continued. “Isn’t that what government is supposed do? Make life easier for the average citizen instead of doling out major cash to businesses and corporations that don’t even need it?”
When asked why the city council approved the Star’s request the council member shrugged and rolled their eyes.
“What you askin’ about that for? That’s just business as usual, you know? Ever since Sly come in, that’s how it rolls.”
While the Kansas City Star reported their abatement approval in today’s online edition, calls to publisher Mi-Ai Parrish for comment were not returned.
A phone request for comment from the homeowner, Nick Charalambides, was met at first with silence, then an extended chortle before the connection was cut.