Weekly output: Trump’s Twitter blocking, Facebook ad transparency, Facebook’s $5 billion fine

If you’ve been meaning to ask me “say, when are you ever going to update the Wirecutter guide to smartphone wireless service?”–that is what took up a good share of this week. So if you want to spring an intensely involved question about wireless rate plans, I’m now much better positioned than usual to answer it.

7/9/2019: Court rules Trump can’t block Twitter followers, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news channel had me on to explain a federal appeals court ruling that President Trump can’t block people from following his Twitter account. I think the court was right to rule that by using this Twitter account to announce government decisions, Trump turned it into a government outlet… but my bigger issue with Trump’s Twitter presence remains its ignorant, hateful and bigoted content.

7/13/2019: How you can see which companies found you on Facebook, USA Today

I wrote this post in about an hour Thursday at a privacy conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That event fortuitously featured an executive from one of the data brokers revealed to me by Facebook’s new ad-transparency feature (as seen in the screengrab at right), and this LiveRamp executive’s talk gave me a couple of good quotes with which to end the column.

7/13/2019: Facebook faces $5 billion fine, Al Jazeera

I returned to AJ to provide some context on the widely-reported move by the Federal Trade Commission to fine Facebook $5 billion for its failings in the Cambridge Analytica data heist. My main points: That’s a huge amount of money compared to past FTC actions, but it’s nothing to Facebook, so we’ll have to see what conditions and restrictions the FTC imposes with that penalty.