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“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone

Facebook Buys Sensitive Data about its Users to Offer Marketers Increasingly Specific Targeted Advertising

Julia Angwin, Terry Parris, Jr., and Surya Mattu report that, since 2012, Facebook has been buying sensitive data about users’ offline lives from data brokers and using this information in combination with the data it collects about users. In turn this allows Facebook to sell the information to advertisers who seek to target specific types of Facebook users for their products and services. As they described in an earlier, September 2016 report for ProPublica, “We found Facebook offers advertisers more than 1,300 categories for ad targeting—everything from people whose property size is less than .26 acres to households with exactly seven credit cards.”

Their December report quoted Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, “They are not being honest… Facebook is bundling a dozen different data companies to target an individual customer, and an individual should have access to that bundle as well.”

Facebook collects information on users through many clever ways, not just on the likes one provides. Many sites have a Facebook like button option on their page, even if this button is not clicked on, Facebook is able to track that the page was visited—linking back to the user. The data brokers that Facebook works with can also track information through loyalty cards, mailing lists, public records information (including home or car ownership).

Facebook seeks to puts users at ease by providing an opt-out option. However, this requires personally opting out from the six data brokers that sell to Facebook, such as Datalogix or Axciom. As Angwin, Parris, Mattu reported, when they set out to explore Facebook’s opt-out option, they found that some of the data brokers required the last four numbers of a social security pin or another form of identification to disconnect from these tracking capabilities. As they reported, in 2013, reporter Julia Angwin tried to opt out from as many data brokers as she could. 65 of the 92 brokers she found required her to submit some form of identification. “In the end, she could not remove her data from the majority of providers,” despite the fact that she had not signed up for any of these tracking services herself.

ProPublica gathered data for its report on Facebook’s data collection processes by asking Facebook users to share with ProPublica the categories of interest that the site assigned to them. ProPublica collected more than 52,000 unique attributes that Facebook has used to classify users.

The ProPublica report on Facebook’s ad categories is the first of ProPublica’s four-part Black Box series, which explores the power of algorithms in our lives.

Although Facebook’s methods of collecting data about the platform’s users have received corporate coverage, this reporting has not explained the specific tactics used or the information obtained by the companies. For instance, a 2010 Wall Street Journal article described how Facebook reported “it had placed some developers on a six-month suspension from its site” because “a data broker” had “been paying application developers for identifying user information.” By contrast, ProPublica’s 2016 reports suggest that this practice is now systemic and, apparently, acceptable to Facebook.

Sources:

Julia Angwin, Terry Parris, Jr., and Surya Mattu, “What Facebook Knows about You,” ProPublica, September 28, 2016, https://www.propublica.org/article/breaking-the-black-box-what-facebook-knows-about-you.

Julia Angwin, Terry Parris, Jr., and Surya Mattu, “Facebook Doesn’t Tell Users Everything It Really Knows About Them,” ProPublica, December 27, 2016, https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-doesnt-tell-users-everything-it-really-knows-about-them.

Student Researcher: Jonnie Zambrano (Citrus College)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Citrus College)

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