Facebook will remove advertisements that are visually misleading, but not advertisements containing false statements

Facebook has announced that it will not remove political advertisements on the grounds that the ads contain false statements:

“we do not submit speech by politicians to our independent fact-checkers, and we generally allow it on the platform even when it would otherwise breach our normal content rules.”

However, Buzzfeed discovered that Facebook absolutely will remove political ads that are misleading to the eye, or violate other technical rules. For example, a pro-Trump advertisement was removed for profanity–it included a soundbite of Biden saying “son of a bitch.” Facebook also removed dozens of pro-Biden ads that featured non-interactive graphics resembling buttons like the advertisements seen above. And Facebook is likely to remove any advertisement that mentions the state of Washington:

Last year, the state of Washington sued Facebook and Google for allegedly violating its campaign finance laws by failing to maintain data on the purchasers of election ads and later adopted new laws on ad disclosures. In response, Facebook implemented a blanket ban on “ads that relate to Washington’s state or local elected officials, candidates, elections or ballot initiatives.”

Accordingly, pro-Warren ads were removed for mentioning Washington governor Jay Inslee.

You can see the banned advertisements uncovered by Buzzfeed here.

Forest Service, Pitkin County To Hire Enforcement Officers

A Colorado county has announced plans to collaborate with a federal forest agency to create and fill two wildlife enforcer positions. Aspen Daily News reports that Pitkin County commissioners agreed Tuesday to form a $100,000 contract with the U.S. Forest Service to create two full-time positions.

Weather Officials Confirm New Colorado High Temperature

Weather officials have verified a new high temperature for Colorado that surpasses the previous record by a single degree. KCNC-TV reports the Colorado Climate Center confirmed the Lamar area reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit July 20.

Not only is Google’s auto-delete good for privacy, it’s also good news for competition

Earlier this month, Google announced a new collection of auto-delete settings for your personal information that allows you balance some of the conveniences of data-collection (for example, remembering recent locations in Maps so that they can be intelligently autocompleted when you type on a tiny, crappy mobile device keyboard) with the risks of long-term retention, like a future revelation that you visited an HIV clinic, or a political meeting, or were present at the same time and place as someone the police have decided to investigate by means of a sweeping “reverse warrant.”

Writing in Fast Company, Jared Newman suggests that the new features are just window-dressing,, “practically worthless for privacy.” Newman’s argument is that after three months — the minimum duration for the self-deleting feature — “Google has already extracted nearly all the potential value from users’ data, and from an advertising standpoint, data becomes practically worthless when it’s more than a few months old.”

This is true! But that doesn’t make it useless.

First, the privacy threat model isn’t that you’ll be targeted for ads. This can be obnoxious or even distressing, but despite all Big Tech’s self-serving boasts to the contrary, there’s not much evidence that ad-targeting is a form of mind-control (instead, it’s that ad-targeting allows disinformation pushers to find people whose trauma makes them vulnerable to conspiracy theories).

The privacy threat is that the data that Big Tech collects on you could be used to harm you: weaponized by identity thieves or stalkers, or by repressive states or petty martinets who fancy themselves the president’s Praetorian Guard, or by insurers or other price-gougers who use that data to gouge you, or by elite colleges’ corrupt admissions committees.

Windowing data-retention assuredly does offer partial defense against these threats. Your youthful indiscretions, fatfingered clicks on toxic links, and other long-ago missteps are some of the most useful materiel for would-be privacy violators.

Equally important in Newman’s correct assertion that data is useless to advertisers after a mere 90 days is that it implies that Google — and other Big Tech surveillers — have a much smaller commercial advantage against new market entrants than they ahve in the popular imagination.

Whenever anyone moots breaking up Big Tech or putting other strictures on them — say, allowing new market entrants to compete with them by creating interoperable products and services — the inevitable rejoinder is that Big Tech has “natural monopolies” because once they collect all this data, no one can hope to compete with them. The implication is that Google’s competitive advantage is in its decades’ worth of nonconsensually compiled electronic dossiers on billions of users. But if that advantage is really just in some data on a couple months’ worth of data, well, that’s a lot easier to imagine a competitor matching and improving upon.

Still, it’s unusual for advertisers to target users based on their activity from months earlier, Dweck says. There are exceptions—for example, he cites a TV network targeting baseball fans for playoff ads if they were active on Twitter in past seasons—but they’re rare.

“I feel like them auto-scrubbing data every three months is really lip service,” Dweck says. “It’s not some massive change, because the reality is that no one was really buying that data.”

Besides, Dweck says, deleting data from Google doesn’t stop advertisers from tracking you on their own. If you search for shoes on Google, and in the process click through to a shoe brand’s website, you’re now being tracked by that brand regardless of whether Google purges its own data. That tracking would likely be associated with whatever device you use, so it’ll stick until you buy a new phone or computer.

“Once you’ve taken an action on an advertiser’s website, for us that 90-day window doesn’t matter,” Dweck says.

Google’s auto-delete tools are practically worthless for privacy [Jared Newman/Fast Company]

(via /.)

(Image: Wlodi, CC BY-SA, modified)

Transformers toys given custom cel-shaded paintjobs

Transformers toys given custom cel-shaded paintjobs

LEK Custom Toys paints Transformers figures, making them look like they jumped right out of the original cartoon series. Before and after Ironhide:

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Before and after Cyclonus:

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Custom Cel Shaded Transformers MP Fans Toys Cyclonus 60%

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And for more 80’s goodness, here’s a painted Valkyrie:

(Via Robin Sloan.)

In Democratic Debate, A Fiery Clash Over U.S. Role In Syria

Democrats onstage during their party’s presidential debate were quick to condemn President Trump’s abrupt and unilateral decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. But their responses as to what role the U.S. should play in the region were generally cloudier. Trump’s decision last week appeared to set in motion a Turkish incursion into northern Syria and the advancement of Turkish-backed militias against Kurdish forces that had helped the United States battle ISIS. The most fiery clash in the Democratic debate over Syria came between the two military veterans on the stage. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who served in Iraq, said Trump has blood on his hands for abandoning Syrian Kurds, but she went on to accuse members of both parties of fueling “regime change wars” across the Middle East. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan, shot back at the congresswoman, saying she was “dead wrong,” and argued that the “slaughter going on in Syria” is Trump’s fault, not a

6 Takeaways From The 4th Democratic Presidential Primary Debate

The fourth Democratic debate was a long one, about three hours, and ended after 11 p.m. ET. You might not have made it through the whole thing, but there were some potentially consequential moments. Here are six takeaways: 1. The scrutiny came for Warren, and her vulnerabilities were exposed some Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was under fire Tuesday night from several opponents, and when that happens to a candidate, you know they’re a front-runner. Last week, Warren caught up to former Vice President Joe Biden in an average of the national polls , and on Tuesday night she found herself hemmed in, particularly by South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Buttigieg attacked Warren for promoting “Medicare for All,” while not having a detailed plan or saying how she would pay for it. “Look, this is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general and Capitol Hill in particular,” Buttigieg told Warren. “Your signature,

Mountain West States Green-Light Wildlife Crossings

This time of year the number of vehicle collisions with deer and other wildlife are at their highest, a problem that’s especially acute in parts of the Mountain West. On Tuesday, officials in Nevada held a summit to discuss how the state can address an issue that each year results in more than 500 reported crashes, costs taxpayers more than $19 million, and kills an estimated 5,000 wild animals, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation .