Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Questions for Facebook at Canadian Ethics Committee

On Thursday, Kevin Chan, Global Directeur and Head of Public Policy at Facebook Canada, and  Robert Sherman, Facebook's Deputy Chief Privacy Officer, will appear before Canada's House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Here are some questions I would ask them, if I had the chance:
  • Political parties’ use of Facebook
    • What data have Canadian political parties’ had access to through parties' past and current Facebook apps?
      • Basic Facebook data (names, photos, and email addresses)?
      • Phone numbers, location?
      • Call and text history?
      • Events and check-ins?
      • Likes?
      • Interests?
      • Political affiliation?
    • Do Canadian political parties, or other third-parties, use any ad targeting techniques that might cause concern?
  • Privacy
    • What third-party personal information (such as data Facebook purchased from data brokers or other outside companies) has Facebook acquired about Facebook users? 
      • Consumer data?
      • Purchase histories?
      • Credit records?
    • What are shadow profiles, and how does Facebook create profiles about people who are not users of Facebook?  
      • How can people who are not Facebook users opt out of being profiled, or give their consent to being profiled?
    • How can Canadian Facebook users access, correct, and delete that third-party personal information and users' surfing data (obtained through Facebook social plugins, analytics, the Facebook Pixel, or the Facebook Audience Network)? How can Canadians who are not Facebook users access, correct, and delete that third-party personal information and surfing data?
    • How long is third-party-obtained data and users' surfing data retained?  When is it deleted? 
    • Who is the designated person at Facebook who Canadians can contact to obtain their personal information or to correct it, and what is the contact information for that person?
  • Election Integrity
    • Facebook has announced that it supports the US' Honest Ads ActIt has also promised a public archive of ads (similar to what I suggested in a recent op-ed), to be ready in June.  A crowdsourced archive has also been announced by the CBC.  To confirm, will the Facebook ad archive be made available in Canada?  When?  Will  it expand the current election integrity initiative so that: 
      • the archive is publicly available to those not logged in to Facebook?
      • the archive is searchable: 
        • by party and/or candidate;
        • by issue?
      • the archive contains not only currently-running ads, but also all past ads?
      • Will it contain: 
        • a description of the targeted audience;
        • the amount spent on the ad;
        • impressions delivered; and
        • demographics of audience reached?
  • Facebook's relationship with Canadian political parties
    • What sort of services, sales, training, or advice have Facebook employees or contractors provided to Canadian political parties?
      • Have Facebook employees or contractors provided training on how to use your service to target users, or to create apps? Please describe.
      • Have Facebook employees or contractors provided advice on how to use your service to target users, or how to create apps? Please describe.
      • Where were Facebook employees or contractors who offered services, sales, advice, or training located? Were they in Canada? 
      • Have Facebook employees or contractors ever been embedded in Canadian political parties' campaigns? Has any Facebook employee dedicated more than 25% of their time to any one Canadian election or leadership campaign?
      • What was the billing structure for these services?
    • How are Facebook's relationships with political parties' campaigns kept separate from Facebook's policy efforts, such as Facebook's position on network neutrality or on  Canadian privacy legislation?  

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Platforms should make all ads public

In my most recent opinion piece, I argue that platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other platforms that publish ads targeted at custom audiences, should publish a full, live public archive of all targeted online advertisements, displaying:
  • the ad, 
  • its source, 
  • a description of the targeted audience, 
  • the amount spent, 
  • impressions delivered and 
  • the demographics of the audience reached.
In the case of election advertisements, the archive should also identify:

  • the candidate that is the subject of the ad, and 
  • issue that is the subject of the ad. 
I argue that the archive should be live, enabling the immediate identification of problems - before the election is over.

You can read the full piece here.