Facebook sent 'selected' users Rosh Hashanah greetings

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jserraglio
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Facebook sent 'selected' users Rosh Hashanah greetings

Post by jserraglio » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:20 pm

CNN Money
September 21, 2017

New York

How Facebook knows you're Jewish

http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/21/technol ... index.html

Facebook is wishing some of its "Jewish" users a Happy New Year.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began Wednesday evening — and some Facebook users received a celebratory message when they logged in.
"Happy New Year! All of us at Facebook wish you a sweet and happy new year."
While the note was well received by some, others questioned how exactly the social network was aware of their religious affiliation. In some cases, Facebook users who aren't Jewish were also served the message.
"Dear Facebook, I appreciate the well wishes. But I'm not Jewish," tweeted one user.
Mauricio Sadicoff, a Jewish software engineer living in Illinois, also received the message, despite the fact that his profile doesn't list a religion.
"I have posted about Chanukah in past years, so maybe that?" he asked.
So what gives?
Not surprisingly, the social media giant collects troves of data on its users. If you've ever clicked on ads — for a retailer or a fashion designer — or posted updates about political topics, the shows you're watching or holidays, the company pulls that data into your ad preferences page. (Want to see what Facebook thinks it knows about you? Take a peek here).
That information is categorized to "help advertisers reach people who are most likely to be interested in their products, services, and causes," Facebook states on the ad page.
In addition to using the information people have provided on Facebook, the company also says it tracks "other activity."
The categories listed on user accounts can get very specific, such as "close friends of expats," "away from family," and "returned from travels 1 week ago," as well as more generic ones like "millennial." (The company also appears to be testing a tool that lets users hide ads for alcohol and parenting, either temporarily or permanently.)
"We send messages about religious moments to people in countries where a large proportion of the population observes the religion, or where the religious date is a public holiday," a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement. "We may also show the message to people who've expressed interest in the holiday. We celebrate the most widely-observed moments across the major religions represented in our global community."
Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia, said the Rosh Hashanah messaging is another example of the extent to which Facebook is tracking us.
The timing of the message is particularly notable. Last week, a ProPublica report revealed that Facebook let advertisers target users using terms like "jew hater."
Hours before Facebook pushed out the Rosh Hashanah message, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said she was "disgusted and disappointed" that Facebook was helping advertisers target anti-Semitic users.
"Many of my friends expressed the understandable concern about Facebook compiling a list of Jews," Vaidhyanathan told CNN Tech. "It seems like a really odd moment to be doing that and declaring one's ability to do that. This seems so politically tone deaf at this moment."
Bernard E. Harcourt, professor at Columbia University and author of_ Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age, _calledit an "aggressively intrusive move."
It's unclear whether this is the first time Facebook has sent a Rosh Hashanah message to Jewish users. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Facebook may be well-meaning, but it's important to consider the other reasons that Facebook is targeting users with Rosh Hashanah messaging.
"I'm not saying it is, but it would be a kind of brilliant and perfect way to test your algorithms," Harcourt said.
In other words, as Facebook users respond with comments like "I'm not Jewish but thanks anyways," or "How did Facebook know I'm Jewish?" — the social network can further validate what it knows.
"If you do want to target Jews for advertising, now you've got a much sharper and better algorithm as a result of the corrections that were made," Harcourt said.
© 2017 Cable News Network

lennygoran
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Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: Facebook sent 'selected' users Rosh Hashanah greetings

Post by lennygoran » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:10 pm

Thanks but they didn't send me any such greeting! As an aside I sure hope today's news about FB will help out on Mueller's investigation-maybe it will convince Trump that Russian interference is more than just fake news! Regards, Len

jserraglio
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Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: Facebook sent 'selected' users Rosh Hashanah greetings

Post by jserraglio » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:09 pm

I fear, and mean that literally, that the two types of ad targeting (holiday greetings aimed at Jewish users and targeted Russian election ad buys) are related, with Facebook as a personal info vendor exploitable by hackers and/or bad actors in and out of government. For that reason, I intend to cancel my FB account. Why? Facebook clearly is perfecting algorithms that would allow them, their customers, an employer or a government entity to identify individuals by religious affiliation without their having explicitly revealed it. Dangerous.

lennygoran
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Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: Facebook sent 'selected' users Rosh Hashanah greetings

Post by lennygoran » Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:30 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:09 pm
For that reason, I intend to cancel my FB account.
I'm not ready to that at this point--I'll lose all touch with my nieces and nephews-even some friends and their children. Regards, Len

Ricordanza
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Re: Facebook sent 'selected' users Rosh Hashanah greetings

Post by Ricordanza » Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:21 am

jserraglio wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:20 pm

"Happy New Year! All of us at Facebook wish you a sweet and happy new year."
While the note was well received by some, others questioned how exactly the social network was aware of their religious affiliation.
Facebook didn't send me such a greeting, even though my "likes" include several Jewish organizations. Oh well. I'm happy to have received Rosh Hashanah greetings from plenty of real people--friends and family who know I celebrate the holiday.

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