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Friday, 13 July 2018

Facebook was tagging some users as 'interested in treason' – guess who media said would misuse data?


It has emerged that Facebook used a "treason" tag to mark some of its users. When Danish media reported that FB had since discontinued the label, it also decided to single out only ‘evil Russians’ as possible abusers of the data.

The US social media giant effectively labeled tens of thousands of people all over the world as "interested in treason" for the sake of … advertising, Danish public-service broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR) reported on Wednesday, explaining that "treason" was one of the tags used by Facebook's automatic algorithm to identify, for advertisers, its users' interests.

It is unclear how long the social network had been using the controversial tag as well as how many users were affected by it. However, when the Danish media contacted Facebook to draw its attention to the disturbing discovery, the US company promptly admitted that the tag was "troubling" and proudly said as it already deleted it a week ago.

"'Treason' was included as a category given its historical significance," Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne told the media, in an apparent attempt to explain why the bizarre tag was used in the first place. He went on to say that Facebook "removed it as an interest category," given that "it is an illegal activity."

These arguments still apparently seemed unconvincing to DR as it rhetorically asked, in its report on the issue, what purpose this tag could possibly have in advertising. However, the Danish media was in fact much more preoccupied by an entirely different matter – namely by the alleged misuse of this tag by the West's almost traditional boogeyman – Russia.

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