Dispatches: What You Need to Know About Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

News and notes from Pacific Standard staff and contributors.
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Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg testifies during a U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, on April 11th, 2018.

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg testifies during a U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, on April 11th, 2018.

This week, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg faced members of Congress for two days of testimony in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal as Washington comes to grips with the company's massive influence on media and information dissemination across the globe—and its access to mountains of private data about users and non-users. We have been covering many of the issues people are discussing in earnest about Facebook for some time. Here's a round-up of what to read to get caught up:

  • After the first day of Zuckerberg's testimony, editorial intern Ashley Hackett spoke with a cybersecurity expert about whether Congress was letting him off the hook via their lines of questioning.
  • Contributing writer Jared Keller wrote about how the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal has little to do with either Facebook or Cambridge Analytica, but is, in fact, a reckoning of the modern self in the age of social media, as well as how the fake news gambit has become a tool for epistemic chaos, one which has been, at least partially, fueled by the proliferation of social media into national discourse.
  • We should be more careful with our data, and how much we give to Facebook for short-term gratification, writes associate editor Ben Rowen.
  • In the past, Facebook has faced issues with advertisers targeting groups propagating hate speech and has allowed them to exclude users from receiving ads based on their race.
  • A major point of the current discussion that we have covered in the past focuses on how long Facebook tracks your online activity, and how it opaquely categorizes the data it compiles on users without their knowledge.
  • Staff writer Tom Jacobs has discussed the social effects of the social media giant, including how we can be happier by using it less, how Facebook can symbolize emotional connection, whether or not social media makes us more narcissistic, and even the link its usage has to higher divorce rates.
  • Writer Barrett Swanson investigated how the utopian language of an open, fully connected society that permeates much of Silicon Valley, language that Zuckerberg turned to throughout his testimony, is reflected from the work of futurists like Jacque Fresco, who created a model of his perfect society in the swamps of Florida, one that Swanson visited. Facebook had a presence there too.

This dispatch originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

This week, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg faced members of Congress for two days of testimony in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal as Washington comes to grips with the company's massive influence on media and information dissemination across the globe—and its access to mountains of private data about users and non-users. We have been covering many of the issues people are discussing in earnest about Facebook for some time. Here's a round-up of what to read to get caught up:

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