Terms of Use

A member of the Victor crew just finished a thriller book obtained through Amazon Prime’s KindleFirst program. It is called Terms of Use by Scott Allan Morrison. The premise is there is a social network called Circles. They undergo a cyber attack. Soon one of the workers is murdered and the main character, Sergio Mansour, uncovers evidence of a conspiracy but he has somehow become the suspect.

On the run with his new girlfriend, Malina, they try to figure out what is going on. Not knowing it in the beginning, Sergio finds out Malina’s sister was murdered and blames it directly on Circles. Not knowing who he can trust he works it out with Malina and they continue to find the truth.

The crux of the mystery is that what was found was “socialbots,” bots that parade as people and interact with people and learn using AI algorithms. The bots were going to be used in a bigger plot to sway people to vote for a certain president whose agenda was to bring the US to own over a third of the earth’s rare earth metals. Once in, a Chinese diplomat was going to blackmail him into not doing this as China would lose out a lot of their economy over this.

The scary part was reading about what the socialbots did. How many times do we “friend” someone that is a friend of a friend that we don’t know. That is how the socialbots got onto so many contact lists. You figure, hey they know them so they must be ok. Then the ideas from their feeds find their way onto your feed and can sway the population that easily. When people signed up, it was said their profile could be used in experimentation and since they clicked the button it was ok. How many of us read the terms of use pages, really? Something to think about.

A Facebook Experiment

Jody‘s crew found an article that said that Facebook conducted an experiment in which it altered the News Feeds for hundreds of thousands of users. The experiment was outlined in a paper by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. There was no link to the paper but after finding their site and searching it for “Facebook” found there were several experiments conducted with Facebook.

In this particular experiment, the News Feeds of over 680,000 English-language Facebook users either had emotionally negative or emotionally positive posts removed from their feeds. The feeds were still available by clicking a friends timeline but not on their own News Feed unless they reloaded it.

According to the article, this type of “data manipulation is written into Facebook’s Terms of Use.”

Visit the article.

See the Facebook studies conducted by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jody Victor suggests if you use Facebook, do so carefully. Don’t expose too much private information to people outside your circles or the public.