You are the product

“What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads. I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does—‘connect’, ‘build communities’—and the commercial reality. Note that the company’s knowledge about its users isn’t used merely to target ads but to shape the flow of news to them. Since there is so much content posted on the site, the algorithms used to filter and direct that content are the thing that determines what you see: people think their news feed is largely to do with their friends and interests, and it sort of is, with the crucial proviso that it is their friends and interests as mediated by the commercial interests of Facebook. Your eyes are directed towards the place where they are most valuable for Facebook.” John Lanchester does not know what will happen should this $450 billion penny ever drop.
www.lrb.co.uk

Want people to behave better? Give them more privacy

“Team members had a kind of collective privacy—they were hidden from the constant scrutiny by management and other workers, even though within their shared workspace they were still visible to each other. The effect was to shrink the size of the surveillance audience and confine it to people the workers had a personal connection with. This kind of ‘privacy within team boundaries’ has been associated with better results in many workplaces, from Google to hospital emergency rooms.” David Berreby quotes research suggesting that workers often are more productive in an environment that does not monitor their every move.
www.psychologytoday.com

Der Anruf des Bundespräsidenten

“Für alle, die keine Fans der ‘Bild’ sind, ist es schon schwer erträglich zu lernen, daß der Bundespräsident das Blatt als eine Art Verfassungsorgan behandelt. Besonders deprimierend aber ist der Umstand, daß er auch in dieser einseitigen und insgesamt übersichtlichen Kommunikation zu keinem klaren Wort fähig ist.” Nils Minkmar explores Christian Wulff‘s attitudes towards the editorial independence of the press.
www.faz.net

“German President Wulff reportedly sought to prevent tabloid Bild from publishing a damaging article about his private loan arrangements.”