More than 90 percent of U.S. users of the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system are taking advantage of a new feature to block an application’s ability to track their activity on their phones. This is bad news for advertisers. According to research updated Saturday by Flurry, an analytics company owned by the Verizon Media Group, 96 percent of U.S. users of iOS 14.5 blocked app tracking using the new App Tracking Transparency feature. Worldwide, advertisers fared slightly better with 88 percent of users shutting down application tracking on their phones. App Tracking Transparency requires an iOS application to inform a user, through the use of dialog boxes, that the app wants to track activity across the phone’s user interface and gives a user the power to deny such access. Over the roughly two and half weeks since the release of iOS 14.5, Flurry found that the “opt-in” rate for U.S. users rose slightly from two to five percent, while worldwide, rates climbed from 11 to 13 percent. Either way, the rate isn’t good news for advertisers who depend on app tracking to more precisely target their ads.
Media & Internet
Facebook can’t even keep a lid on its staff. Following the Facebook Oversight Board’s decision to uphold the platform-wide ban against former President Donald Trump, one high-ranking member of the board is blowing the whistle on Facebook’s hypocrisy. Michael McConnell, a former federal judge and current co-chairman of the Facebook Oversight Board, told Fox News‘ Chris Wallace on Sunday that the platform’s rules are in “shambles.” “Mr. Trump is subject to the same rules on Facebook as everyone else, and the oversight board held that this was, in fact, a violation, and thus Facebook was justified in taking them down,” McConnell said of Trump’s Jan. 6 posts to Twitter and Facebook. Two of Trump’s posts in particular were the cause for his ban, according to the Oversight Board. The case decision upholding the former president’s ban reads, “‘We love you. You’re very special’ in the first post and ‘great patriots’ and ‘remember this day forever’ in the second post violated Facebook’s rules prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence.” What the board criticized, however, was the ban’s indefinite nature.
The Department of Homeland Security will be utilizing its resources to pore over the social media accounts of American citizens to root out potential “threats” following the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion, according to a report. NBC News on Sunday reported DHS officials intend to use personnel, and not computer algorithms, to mine data from public social media accounts. The department will look at the online activity of those who haven’t yet been banned by Big Tech with the purpose of spotting potential “targets” based on how users, presumably conservatives, exercise their free speech in patterns. “We’re not looking at who are the individual posters,” an individual identified as a “senior DHS official” told the network. “We are looking at what narratives are resonating and spreading across platforms. From there you may be able to determine what are the potential targets you need to protect.” “Domestic violent extremism poses the most lethal, persistent terrorism-related threat to our homeland today,” said DHS spokeswoman Sarah Peck.
The White House Press Corps is frustrated with the Biden administration’s requirement that all quotes used in press pieces receive approval before publication. According to POLITICO, the White House communications team must have the “opportunity to edit” what administration officials say in quotes used in a story. It’s a term that’s been dubbed “background with quote approval,” something that at least five reporters from various outlets, outside of POLITICO, confirmed to be the case. “In practice, that means the information from an interview can be used in the story, but in order for the person’s name to be attached to a quote, the reporter must transcribe the quotes they want and then send them to the communications team to approve, veto or edit them,” the outlet explained. The practice reportedly took place under the Obama and Trump administrations, although “Trump’s team did so less frequently than Biden’s team.” It’s a practice that has left the White House Press Corps fuming. “The rule treats them like coddled Capitol Hill pages and that’s not who they are or the protections they deserve,” one reporter told POLITICO.
Conservative Shadow Minister of Finance Pierre Poilievre took aim at Trudeau’s top censor Steven Guilbeault, after the heritage minister admitted to using “unclear” language after suggesting that social media users with large followings would be subject to regulation under Bill-C-10. During an interview with CTV’s Evan Solomon, Guilbeault said that he “should have been more precise,” and clarified that people who use social media would “never be considered as broadcasters and will not be subject to the obligations or regulations within the Broadcasting Act.” In response to Guilbeault’s statements, Poilievre tweeted that the minister should “control what he says rather than what others say.” “So the minister who claims he needs to censor online misinformation now admits that he is spreading misinformation,” Poilievre added. Poilievre has been a vocal opponent of Bill C-10, calling the bill one that “regulates what people say and see online.”
It’s been a well-known truth for years: Big Tech loves to censor conservatives. In January, social media giants Facebook and Twitter proved that Former President Donald Trump was no exception to that intolerant trend after suspending his accounts from both platforms. Months later, after Facebook briefly considered reinstating Trump’s account, a tweet from NPR appears to highlight the dangerous blow these Big Tech platforms can deal to right-wing voices. “Whether or not Facebook decides to reinstate former President Trump’s account in the coming months will likely have major consequences for Trump’s political power and possible future campaign,” the Thursday tweet said. Conservative author and commentator Mollie Hemingway retweeted the post with her own commentary attached, writing “Interesting way of admitting how much election interference and election meddling against Republicans that our tech companies can do and have done!” Hemingway is right. Social media presence — and platform bias — are big factors in elections. It’s no secret that social media has become one of the most prominent aspects of our lives.