Fun coupons

4 min read

Georgia Iacovou

26 Apr 2019

Bavaria: good beer, even better data privacy laws

So the Bavarian Data Protection Authority has just ruled that Facebook Custom Audience is actually illegal. This teaches us that breaking the law is really easy as long you do it secretly and you are also a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Anyway, people who want to sell you things (known as ‘shops’) use Facebook to target you with adverts. That is what Facebook Custom Audience is. It works roughly like this:

  1. An online shop selling fridge magnets or notebooks or other boring piffle uploads your email/other contact info into Facebook Custom Audience
  2. Facebook uses your contact information to see if you’d be a good match for this seller
  3. You receive a ‘targeted ad’. The status quo is maintained.
  4. No one at any point attempts to ask you if it is okay that your contact is shared with Facebook

Hopefully you can see where the potentially unlawful part is. Everything before step 4 is actually fine, really. It’s okay to advertise your business; it’s okay to want your ads to reach relevant audiences. But… can you not just ask first? Transparency can’t be that hard, surely.

The Black Forest, Bavaria

Cut them off at the source - or just cut everything off?

On Easter Sunday, three Christian churches and three luxury hotels across Sri Lanka were targeted with suicide bombings. Part of the Sri Lankan government’s emergency response was to block social media channels, including Facebook and Instagram.

✅ Okay, good:

❌ Actually, bad:

This action from the Sri Lankan government may have also been too safe (to the point of being silly and unsafe). They blocked off social media channels before any social media related violence even happened. Sort of like stuffing all taps full of cement because you’re scared of maybe getting wet one day…

“These are just fun coupons, have as many as you like”

So in 2011 the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) smacked Facebook right in the Zuckerberg with a bunch of fines. These were over - can you guess? Ding ding ding: the privacy of its users, which is something that Facebook are famously terrible at. Part of the agreement with the FTC was to do a privacy evaluation every two years and to pay $16k a day for each count of the settlement that they violate.

The two parties are currently negotiating this fine, but Facebook have estimated that it will be somewhere around the $3 billion mark. This is the largest fine that the FTC has ever done, but who cares because of these reasons:

This whole thing begs another question: how do you even decide what to fine? What magical large sum of money is ‘enough’ to deliver justice? Dunno, pretty sure the FTC spend all day pulling numbers out of thin air.

I love it when a robot tells me what to do

Amazon warehouses are taking surveillance and automation to the next level. The world has just found out that as well as measuring productivity at a disturbingly granular level, they also terminate warehouse staff using the same system. In other words, if you ‘take too long’ in the bathroom, or don’t sift through the piles of batteries and sex toys quick enough, you could receive an automated message telling you to go home. This is exactly what I was talking about when I said the (fake) Amazon blimp video was not ‘borderline dystopian’. You can’t be on the borderline if you’re already there.

the author

Georgia Iacovou

Content Writer, Metomic