Digitally Literate #220


Digitally Lit #220 – 11/2/2019

Hi all, welcome to issue #220 of Digitally Literate. My name is Ian O’Byrne.

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AOC Inspires Man To Run False Facebook Ads Testing Mark Zuckerberg (4:41)

A California man is challenging Facebook to remove his lying political ads. If you saw the Facebook Libra hearing, you know that AOC asked if she could run a Facebook ad claiming Republicans supported the Green New Deal.

After the Zuckerberg hearing her question is being put to the test. This new Facebook political ad claims Lindsey Graham supports the Green New Deal.

Facebook removed the ad from the social network, indicating that it came from a political action committee. Adriel Hampton then declared that he was running for Governor of California, to run the false ad again and test Facebook’s policies.


Don’t abolish political ads on social media. Stop microtargeting.

Twitter made news this week when it announced that it was banning all ads about political candidates, elections, and hot-button policy issues in the upcoming 2020 elections in the U.S.

After this announcement, the focus went to other digital, social companies to see if they would follow suit. Facebook indicated that they would not block ads, citing his earlier stance on free expression.

Ellen Weintraub, Chair of the U.S. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) indicates in this piece that the focus should not be on wholesale banning of political ads, but ending the process of microtargeting in the sales of these ads.

The fight against financial advertisers using Facebook for digital redlining

Microtargeting is also a problem as this information is used to digitally redline individuals and groups. Read more about issues of access and privacy in this post from Chris Gilliard and Hugh Culik.

Facebook is one of the internet’s main streets. Together with parameters set out by marketers, its targeting tools and algorithms determine which job and financial ads millions of people see. Earlier this year, the social network settled lawsuits with civil rights advocates alleging ad discrimination, and it has been overhauling a system called Lookalike Audiences as it applies to job, housing, and credit advertising. Yesterday, Facebook was hit with a class action lawsuit alleging age and gender discrimination in the financial ads it serves.

Less than you think: Prevalence and predictors of fake news dissemination on Facebook

Research from Andrew Guess, Jonathan Nagler, & Joshua Tucker looking at the prevalence and effects of misinformation in political campaigns.

Findings suggest that sharing content labeled as misinformation was a relatively rare activity. Much of this sharing behavior is linked to political ideology and age.

Google Needs Fitbit for Its Own Bigger Ambitions

Google purchased Fitbit this week for $2.1 billion. This move drastically expands the reach of the ad giant as they strive to connect with you everywhere.

The key thing to understand about Google (and their parent company Alphabet) is that they’re all in on ambient computing. This means that Google’s services should be everywhere, and always available to help you. The idea that you should have to go to a computer…or even your mobile device to access their services seems antiquated to the company. They dream of a world where you can just call out and a device nearby will respond. Having a device on your wrist is one step closer to this goal.

Of course…there are also serious questions about the data from your Fitbit devices and where, or how this is used.

The Crumbling of the OpenEd Coalition

As I write this week’s newsletter, the 16th Annual Open Education Conference is wrapping up in Phoenix, Arizona. Open education refers to the resources, tools, and practices that are free of the legal, financial and technical barriers and can be used, shared and adapted in digital spaces.

A lot of news has been rippling out from the community as David Wiley announced that the conference would be adjourned indefinitely.

In the link for the lead story in this section, Michael Feldstein suggests that this is a very significant announcement, and that this is a sign that the OpenEd coalition has fallen apart.

This will be an important story to watch over the coming year(s). To make your voice heard, or learn from others…Nicole Allen sent out a form to collect input from the field. Responses are available here.


“Make it Real” Design Slam

This is the elementary school (Grades k – 5) part of the Make it Real competition from Autodesk. The elementary challenge is titled “Make for Everyone.” The middle grades challenge is “Make it Green.” The high school challenge is “Make Justice.”

To enter the competition (and possibly win a makerspace) you need to be from a New England School. But, the pedagogical materials and resources are an incredible opportunity to bring this learning into your classroom.


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A simple click can cause a great harm.

Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

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Digitally Literate is a synthesis of the cool stuff I find as I surf, skim, & scan the Internet each week. I take notes of everything that piques my interest, and then pull together the important stuff here in a weekly digest.

This week, I really enjoyed listening to the start of a new podcast series from the good folks at the Lawfare Blog. The new series is called Arbiters of Truth, and it focuses on misinformation and disinformation in the runup to the 2020 elections in the U.S.

Feel free to say hello at or on the social network of your choice.

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