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informed consent

Thursday News: Facebook’s many experiments, Canada’s new anti-spam law, World Book Night US says goodnight, and two writers debate book categories

Thursday News: Facebook’s many experiments, Canada’s new anti-spam law, World Book...

In fact, Facebook knew most of the users were legitimate. The message was a test designed to help improve Facebook’s antifraud measures. In the end, no users lost access permanently.

The experiment was the work of Facebook’s Data Science team, a group of about three dozen researchers with unique access to one of the world’s richest data troves: the movements, musings and emotions of Facebook’s 1.3 billion users. –Wall Street Journal

Good point. The government says the law applies to anyone who sends spam to someone in Canada, but enforcing that is another matter. The agency will have its hands full just trying to apply the law in the first place, let alone tangling with complicated cross-border issues.

What Canada will do is try and work with other governments to go after the worst of the worst, which is what it does when it comes to telemarketers. In Canada’s own words: “[We will ] share information with the government of a foreign state if the information is relevant to an investigation or proceeding in respect of a contravention of the laws of a foreign state that is substantially similar to the conduct prohibited by this Canadian law.” –Gigaom

The problem in the U.S. was the cost of, production, organization and distribution. “The expenses of running World Book Night U.S., even given the significant financial and time commitment from publishers, writers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors, and shippers, are too high to sustain without additional outside funding,” executive director Carl Lennertz wrote in a statement. –Los Angeles Times

This is an experience very familiar to genre readers. However, categories can also ghettoize, as Mishra cautions:

Writers like Gary Shteyngart (Russia), Aleksandar Hemon (Bosnia), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria), Yiyun Li (China), Junot Díaz (the Dominican Republic) and Dinaw Mengestu (Ethiopia) have bypassed the old lines of connection between Europe and America. The ethnic and linguistic communities they belong to are spread across the United States rather than concentrated in the East and the Midwest. They may have grown up speaking Mandarin, Igboand Spanish at home; some of them fled disorderly societies and despotic regimes. But their advantages of class or education — and renewable intimacy with the mother country in the age of the Internet and cheap air travel — clearly mark them out from the huddled immigrant masses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. –New York Times

Monday News: Facebook screws with its users, the Netherlands tests the resale of digital books, a new documentary on Amazon, and The Princess Bride gets Legoed

Monday News: Facebook screws with its users, the Netherlands tests the...

Facebook Doesn’t Understand The Fuss About Its Emotion Manipulation Study – So Facebook, which appears to have zero respect for its users privacy, has also been intentionally manipulating content by way of “experimentation,” relying on the Terms of Service to compensate for actual informed consent. Worse, two academic researchers from UCSF and Cornell analyzed the data and wrote up the paper for a publication called the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), an un-refereed journal that is nonetheless associated with the prestigious NAS. So many things wrong with this that it’s almost impossible to count, but there’s now a real concern that this experiment will serve as precedent for others like it – minus the public disclosure after the fact. A.V. Club initially broke the story, but I’ve used the Forbes piece because of all the updated information.

This weekend, the Internet discovered a study published earlier this month in an academic journal that recounted how a Facebook data scientist, along with two university researchers, turned 689,003 users’ New Feeds positive or negative to see if it would elate or depress them. The purpose was to find out if emotions are “contagious” on social networks. (They are, apparently.) The justification for subjecting unsuspecting users to the psychological mind game was that everyone who signs up for Facebook agrees to the site’s “Data Use Policy,” which has a little line about how your information could be used for “research.” –Forbes

The right to resell ebooks — major case looms in the Netherlands – Oh, this is interesting. Tom Kabinet, a retailer selling used digital books, is using a EU Court of Justice ruling from 2012 to justify its actions, while the Dutch Publishers Association (NUV), through its secretary general, Martijn David, is claiming threatening legal action and claiming that the retailer is “aiding piracy.” Although no court ruling on this issue is internationally binding, any legal consideration of this issue will likely affect how other countries approach the issue of reselling digital content.

On Tuesday this week, a local startup called Tom Kabinet opened the virtual doors on its secondhand ebook bookstore. At the moment, it is generally accepted that ebooks cannot be resold, as is the case with music, movies and other digital media.

However, Tom Kabinet is pointing to a 2012 ruling by Europe’s top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, in the case of UsedSoft v Oracle. That case was about reselling licenses for downloadable software, and the court ruled that – even when the software license explicitly forbids resale – the buyer should have the right to resell that licence, just as they would be allowed to resell a boxed software copy. –Gigaom

‘AMAZON RISING’ PREMIERES JUNE 29 – Advertised as an “insider’s look” at Amazon and Jeff Bezos, the documentary premiered last night. David Faber produced this 60-minute program, and there’s a summary and a link to different national schedules here.

With more than 240 million customers, Faber reports on this powerhouse that has upended publishing, retail, and cloud computing, is poised to disrupt the supermarket industry, and faces increasing scrutiny as it extends its reach ever further into the fabric of American life. –CNBC

Celebrate romance with detailed Lego versions of famous Princess Bride scenes – While I was reading the Facebook story on the A.V. Club website, I came across this gem. While not a complete antidote to the Facebook mess, it’s a happy combination of Legos and Princess Bride. Although not very romantic, the Fire Swamp re-creation might be my favorite. –A.V. Club