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Facebook’s Ad Archive API is Inadequate

ma, 29/04/2019 - 14:49
Facebook’s tool meets only two of experts’ five minimum standards. That’s a failing grade.

 

Facebook pledged in February to release an ad archive API, in order to make political advertising on the platform more transparent. The company finally released this API in late March — and we’ve been doing a review to determine if it is up to snuff.

While we appreciate Facebook following through on its commitment to make the ad archive API public, its execution on the API leaves something to be desired. The European Commission also hinted at this last week in its analysis when it said that “further technical improvements” are necessary.

The fact is, the API doesn’t provide necessary data. And it is designed in ways that hinders the important work of researchers, who inform the public and policymakers about the nature and consequences of misinformation.

Last month, Mozilla and more than sixty researchers published five guidelines we hoped Facebook’s API would meet. Facebook’s API fails to meet three of these five guidelines. It’s too early to determine if it meets the two other guidelines. Below is our analysis:

[1]

Researchers’ guideline: A functional, open API should have comprehensive political advertising content.

Facebook’s API: It’s impossible to determine if Facebook’s API is comprehensive, because it requires you to use keywords to search the database. It does not provide you with all ad data and allow you to filter it down using specific criteria or filters, the way nearly all other online databases do. And since you cannot download data in bulk and ads in the API are not given a unique identifier, Facebook makes it impossible to get a complete picture of all of the ads running on their platform (which is exactly the opposite of what they claim to be doing).

[2] ❌

Researchers’ guideline: A functional, open API should provide the content of the advertisement and information about targeting criteria.

Facebook’s API: The API provides no information on targeting criteria, so researchers have no way to tell the audience that advertisers are paying to reach. The API also doesn’t provide any engagement data (e.g., clicks, likes, and shares), which means researchers cannot see how users interacted with an ad. Targeting and engagement data is important because it lets researchers see what types of users an advertiser is trying to influence, and whether or not their attempts were successful.

[3]

Researchers’ guideline: A functional, open API should have up-to-date and historical data access.

Facebook’s API: Ad data will be available in the archive for seven years, which is actually pretty good. Because the API is new and still hasn’t been properly populated, we cannot yet assess whether it is up-to-date, whether bugs will be fixed, or whether Facebook will support long-term studies.

[4]

Researchers’ guideline: A functional, open API should be accessible to and shareable with the general public.

Facebook’s API: This data is now available as part of Facebook’s standard GraphAPI and governed by Facebook Developers Terms of Service. It is too early to determine what exact constraints this will create for public availability and disclosure of data.

[5] ❌

Researchers’ guideline: A functional, open API should empower, not limit, research and analysis.

Facebook’s API: The current API design puts huge constraints on researchers, rather than allowing them to discover what is really happening on the platform. The limitations in each of these categories, coupled with search rate limits, means it could take researchers months to evaluate ads in a certain region or on a certain topic.

 

It’s not too late for Facebook to fix its API. We hope they take action soon. And, we hope bodies like the European Commission carefully scrutinize the tool’s shortcomings.

Mozilla will also be conducting an analysis of Google’s ad API when it is released in the coming weeks. Since Facebook’s ad archive API fails to let researchers do their jobs ahead of the upcoming European Parliamentary elections, we hope that Google will step up and deliver an API that enables this important research.

The post Facebook’s Ad Archive API is Inadequate appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Firefox and Emerging Markets Leadership

do, 25/04/2019 - 22:05

Building on the success of Firefox Quantum, we have a renewed focus on better enabling people to take control of their internet-connected lives as their trusted personal agent — through continued evolution of the browser and web platform — and with new products and services that provide enhanced security, privacy and user agency across connected life.

To accelerate this work, we’re announcing some changes to our senior leadership team:

Dave Camp has been appointed SVP Firefox. In this new role, Dave will be responsible for overall Firefox product and web platform development.

As a long time Mozillian, Dave joined Mozilla in 2006 to work on Gecko, building networking and security features and was a contributor to the release of Firefox 3. After a short stint at a startup he rejoined Mozilla in 2011 as part of the Firefox Developer Tools team. Dave has since served in a variety of senior leadership roles within the Firefox product organization, most recently leading the Firefox engineering team through the launch of Firefox Quantum.

Under Dave’s leadership the new Firefox organization will pull together all product management, engineering, technology and operations in support of our Firefox products, services and web platform. As part of this change, we are also announcing the promotion of Marissa (Reese) Wood to VP Firefox Product Management, and Joe Hildebrand to VP Firefox Engineering. Both Joe and Reese have been key drivers of the continued development of our core browser across platforms, and the expansion of the Firefox portfolio of products and services globally.

In addition, we are increasing our investment and focus in emerging markets, building on the early success of products like Firefox Lite which we launched in India earlier this year, we are also formally establishing an emerging markets team based in Taipei:

Stan Leong appointed as VP and General Manager, Emerging Markets. In this new role, Stan will be responsible for our product development and go-to-market strategy for the region. Stan joins us from DCX Technology where he was Global Head of Emerging Product Engineering. He has a great combination of start-up and large company experience having spent years at Hewlett Packard, and he has worked extensively in the Asian markets.

As part of this, Mark Mayo, who has served as our Chief Product Officer (CPO), will move into a new role focused on strategic product development initiatives with an initial emphasis on accelerating our emerging markets strategy. We will be conducting an executive search for a CPO to lead the ongoing development and evolution of our global product portfolio.

I’m confident that with these changes, we are well positioned to continue the evolution of the browser and web platform and introduce new products and services that provide enhanced security, privacy and user agency across connected life.

The post Firefox and Emerging Markets Leadership appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

It’s Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report

wo, 24/04/2019 - 05:00
Our annual open-source report examines how humanity and the internet intersect. Here’s what we found

 

Today, Mozilla is publishing the 2019 Internet Health Report — our third annual examination of the internet, its impact on society and how it influences our everyday lives.

http://internethealthreport.org/2019/

The Report paints a mixed picture of what life online looks like today. We’re more connected than ever, with humanity passing the ‘50% of us are now online’ mark earlier this year. And, while almost all of us enjoy the upsides of being connected, we also worry about how the internet and social media are impacting our children, our jobs and our democracies.

When we published last year’s Report, the world was watching the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal unfold — and these worries were starting to grow. Millions of people were realizing that widespread, laissez-faire sharing of our personal data, the massive growth and centralization of the tech industry, and the misuse of online ads and social media was adding up to a big mess.

Over the past year, more and more people started asking: what are we going to do about this mess? How do we push the digital world in a better direction?

As people asked these questions, our ability to see the underlying problems with the system — and to imagine solutions — has evolved tremendously. Recently, we’ve seen governments across Europe step up efforts to monitor and thwart disinformation ahead of the upcoming EU elections. We’ve seen the big tech companies try everything from making ads more transparent to improving content recommendation algorithms to setting up ethics boards (albeit with limited effect and with critics saying ‘you need to do much more!’). And, we’ve seen CEOs and policymakers and activists wrestling with each other over where to go next. We have not ‘fixed’ the problems, but it does feel like we’ve entered a new, sustained era of debate about what a healthy digital society should look like.

The 2019 Internet Health Report examines the story behind these stories, using interviews with experts, data analysis and visualization, and original reporting. It was also built with input from you, the reader: In 2018, we asked readers what issues they wanted to see in the next Report.

In the Report’s three spotlight articles, we unpack three big issues: One examines the need for better machine decision making — that is, asking questions like Who designs the algorithms? and What data do they feed on? and Who is being discriminated against? Another examines ways to rethink the ad economy, so surveillance and addiction are no longer design necessities.  The third spotlight article examines the rise of smart cities, and how local governments can integrate tech in a way that serves the public good, not commercial interests.

Of course, the Report isn’t limited to just three topics. Other highlights include articles on the threat of deepfakes, the potential of user-owned social media platforms, pornography literacy initiatives, investment in undersea cables, and the dangers of sharing DNA results online.

So, what’s our conclusion? How healthy is the internet right now? It’s complicated — the digital environment is a complex ecosystem, just like the planet we live on. There have been a number of positive trends in the past year that show that the internet — and our relationship with it — is getting healthier:

Calls for privacy are becoming mainstream. The last year brought a tectonic shift in public awareness about privacy and security in the digital world, in great part due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. That awareness is continuing to grow — and also translate into action. European regulators, with help from civil society watchdogs and individual internet users, are enforcing the GDPR: In recent months, Google has been fined €50 million for GDPR violations in France, and tens of thousands of violation complaints have been filed across the continent.

There’s a movement to build more responsible AI. As the flaws with today’s AI become more apparent, technologists and activists are speaking up and building solutions. Initiatives like the Safe Face Pledge seek facial analysis technology that serves the common good. And experts like Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, are lending their insight to influential bodies like the Federal Trade Commission and the EU’S Global Tech Panel.

Questions about the impact of ‘big tech’ are growing. Over the past year, more and more people focused their attention on the fact that eight companies control much of the internet. As a result, cities are emerging as a counterweight, ensuring municipal technology prioritizes human rights over profit — the Cities for Digital Rights Coalition now has more than two dozen participants. Employees at Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are demanding that their employers don’t use or sell their tech for nefarious purposes. And ideas like platform cooperativism and collaborative ownership are beginning to be discussed as alternatives.

On the flipside, there are many areas where things have gotten worse over the past year — or where there are new developments that worry us:

Internet censorship is flourishing. Governments worldwide continue to restrict internet access in a multitude of ways, ranging from outright censorship to requiring people to pay additional taxes to use social media. In 2018, there were 188 documented internet shutdowns around the world. And a new form of repression is emerging: internet slowdowns. Governments and law enforcement restrict access to the point where a single tweet takes hours to load. These slowdowns diffuse blame, making it easier for oppressive regimes to deny responsibility.

Biometrics are being abused. When large swaths of a population don’t have access to physical IDs, digital ID systems have the potential to make a positive difference. But in practice, digital ID schemes often benefit heavy-handed governments and private actors, not individuals. In India, over 1 billion citizens were put at risk by a vulnerability in Aadhaar, the government’s biometric ID system. And in Kenya, human rights groups took the government to court over its soon-to-be-mandatory National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), which is designed to capture people’s DNA information, the GPS location of their home, and more.

AI is amplifying injustice. Tech giants in the U.S. and China are training and deploying AI at a breakneck pace that doesn’t account for potential harms and externalities. As a result, technology used in law enforcement, banking, job recruitment, and advertising often discriminates against women and people of color due to flawed data, false assumptions, and lack of technical audits. Some companies are creating ‘ethics boards’ to allay concerns — but critics say these boards have little or no impact.

When you look at trends like these — and many others across the Report — the upshot is: the internet has the potential both to uplift and connect us. But it also has the potential to harm and tear us apart. This has become clearer to more and more people in the last few years. It has also become clear that we need to step up and do something if we want the digital world to net out as a positive for humanity rather than a negative.

The good news is that more and more people are dedicating their lives to creating a healthier, more humane digital world. In this year’s Report, you’ll hear from technologists in Ethiopia, digital rights lawyers in Poland, human rights researchers from Iran and China, and dozens of others. We’re indebted to these individuals for the work they do every day. And also to the countless people in the Mozilla community — 200+ staff, fellows, volunteers, like-minded organizations — who helped make this Report possible and who are committed to making the internet a better place for all of us.

This Report is designed to be both a reflection and resource for this kind of work. It is meant to offer technologists and designers inspiration about what they might build; to give policymakers context and ideas for the laws they need to write; and, most of all, to provide citizens and activists with a picture of where others are pushing for a better internet, in the hope that more and more people around the world will push for change themselves. Ultimately, it is by more and more of us doing something in our work and our lives that we will create an internet that is open, human and humane.

I urge you to read the Report, leave comments and share widely.

PS. This year, you can explore all these topics through reading “playlists,” curated by influential people in the internet health space like Esra’a Al Shafei, Luis Diaz Carlos, Joi Ito and others.

The post It’s Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Android Browser Choice Screen in Europe

vr, 19/04/2019 - 08:14

Today, Google announced a new browser choice screen in Europe. We love an opportunity to show more people our products, like Firefox for Android. Independent browsers that put privacy and security first (like Firefox) are great for consumers and an important part of the Android ecosystem.

There are open questions, though, about how well this implementation of a choice screen will enable people to easily adopt options other than Chrome as their default browser. The details matter, and the true measure will be the impact on competition and ultimately consumers. As we assess the results of this launch on Mozilla’s Firefox for Android, we’ll share our impressions and the impact we see.

The post Android Browser Choice Screen in Europe appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Latest Firefox for iOS Now Available

di, 16/04/2019 - 22:55

Today’s Firefox for iPhone and iPad users offers enhancements that will make it easier to get you to what you want faster, from new links within your library and managing your logins and passwords, plus deleting your history as recent as the last hour.

Leave no trace with your web history

With today’s release, we made it easier to clear your web history with one tap on the history page. In the menu or on the Firefox Home page, tap ‘Your Library’, then ‘History’, and ‘Clear Recent History’.

Because we all make wrong turns on the web from time to time, you can now choose to delete your history from the last hour, that specific day, and the one before or, as it has always been, your full browsing history.

Clear your web history with one tap

Shortcuts in your library

Everyone likes a shortcut that gets you quickly to the place you need to go. We created links in your library to get you to your bookmarks, history, reading list and downloads all from the Firefox Home screen.

Get you to your bookmarks, history, reading list and downloads all from the Firefox Home screen

Get to your logins and passwords faster

We simplified the place where you can find your logins and passwords in the menu. Go to the menu and tap ‘Logins & Passwords’. Also, from there you can enable Face ID or password authentication in Settings to keep your passwords even more secure. It’s located in the Face ID & Passcode option.

Find your logins and passwords easily

To get the latest version of Firefox for iOS, visit the App Store.

 

The post Latest Firefox for iOS Now Available appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet