Weekly output: world leaders on Facebook, Facebook phone-number privacy

This week is ending with a dubious first: I’ve had a tweet taken down in response to a groundless Digital Millennium Copyright Act request. After a couple of decades of covering digital-intellectual-property foolishness, it’s interesting to have the shoe on my own foot.

4/10/2019: Trump is 2nd most liked current world leader on Facebook, Yahoo Finance

I wrote up a study that found that America’s authoritarian president ranked behind Brazil’s authoritarian president in terms of their effectiveness at coaxing interactions out of Facebook.

USAT Facebook phone-number privacy post4/14/2019: Facebook, lose my digits: Here’s how to unlist your phone number, USA Today

I spent more than a month researching this post–by which I meant, I kept asking Facebook to answer what I thought reasonably simple questions about how it lets advertisers and other users try to look you up by a phone number you first provided as a two-step verification method. Said research finally ended with Facebook saying it would stop letting advertisers target numbers newly added for that purpose.

In case you’re wondering why it’s been a month since my last appearance at USAT, this long wait to get a straight answer out of the social network is one reason. Another is that people above my editor’s pay grade have cut back on the freelance budget–have I mentioned that this is a tough time in my industry?–and one way to deal with that for now is to run half as many pieces from me.

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