The Fashion Magpie Cream Duster Sweater

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 61: The One on Facebook, “Dark Advertising,” and the Parliamentary Inquisition.

My Latest Score: The Duster.

I saw the snap above on Pinterest and stopped in my tracks, knowing I needed to replicate her all-neutral-everything look, and STAT.  We’re finally steering towards warmer weather, and I like the idea of pairing white skinnies with an ivory/cream duster sweater — specifically, this one (on sale for $50!), with it’s lightly blousoned sleeves.

You’re Sooooo Popular: The Statement Blouse.

The most popular items on Le Blog this week:

+This stunning statement blouse.

+Classic summer sneakers.

+The chic-est melamine plates for the upcoming summer.

+This lovely white blouse — perfect for a bride-to-be, and on super-sale!

+The most sophisticated espadrille I ever did see — now on sale!!!

+My new favorite foundation.  I am legitimately OBSESSED with this stuff.  It blends so well and looks absolutely radiant!

+A children’s book with the most darling illustrations.

+Heavily discounted Caroline Constas — one of my absolute favorite designers.  I own three of her blouses and cannot get enough.

+Chic everyday slides.

#Turbothot: Facebook, Dark Advertising, + the Parliamentary Inquisition.

Have you been watching the British Parliament’s interrogation of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica executives with regards to Facebook’s possible role in affecting the outcome of the Brexit referendum?  We watch the news every morning and, several days this past week, CBS has interrupted its normal reporting to broadcast the examinations.  I’ve been sucked in, in large part owing to the eccentric and theatrical inquiries from members of Parliament.  There is showmanship and drama in their questioning: at one point, one member of the interrogation committee commented that in preparing his notes for the day, he kept returning to a quote from Rolling Stone‘s 2009 harangue of Goldman Sachs, which described the bank as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”  The Parliament member looked directly at the Facebook executive and asked whether it “bothered him” that Facebook seemed to be the 2018 version of such villainy.

WOW!

The tenor of the conversation, the charge and theatrics of it, shocked me, and while I share Parliament’s disgust and distress over the fact that political outcomes may have been tampered with owing to “dark advertising” and data manipulation made possible by Facebook — I can also see that there are some complicated nuances to the issues at hand.  How does one draw the line between freedom of speech and divisive political marketing?  How does a corporation enforce such lines operationally — how do they identify, isolate, and punish bad actors, especially in the context of a platform that sees millions and millions of ads circulated every day?  How does one define what’s ethical vs. non-ethical in the use of ad targeting, which can (plausibly) be used for good, too — Cambridge Analytica cited the fact that charitable causes were able to raise more money for disaster relief when they could more carefully target likely donors.  At one point in the examination, in response to a disturbing example of the impact “dark advertising” has had on recent political events, the Facebook executive commented that the social media platform has also enabled good, citing the example of a close friend who had been diagnosed with a rare disease and was able to connect with and find solace in other patients through a Facebook group centered around it.  The member of Parliament shrugged that off quickly, eager to return to his diatribe.

I suppose my feeling is this: there are clearly ethical problems at hand in the use of Facebook for political means, but the Parliament committee’s oversimplification and ad hominem attacks felt a bit blunt, a bit like trying to hammer a nail with a six by six foot piece of plywood: in the end, it probably gets the job done, but there’s a lot of awkward bludgeoning involved.  I’m certain that there is an intent here, though: the commission wants to make a statement, wants to position itself as completely, pristinely ethically opposed to what’s transpired, and they will resort to drama to underscore that position.

Have any of you tuned in?  What were your reactions?

#Shopaholic: The Versatile Shirtdress.

+Love this versatile shirt dress, especially in the khaki.  Wear to work with pointed toe flats and pearls; wear on the weekend with simple slides or Supergas; wear in transitional weather layered over a striped long-sleeved tee!

+Swoon: this would make such a lovely mother-of-the-bride dress, or drop-dead gorgeous wedding guest dress for a garden wedding.

+Dying over this flashy little pouch.

+I love the delicate pattern on this pitcher — I’d use this for bouquets of flowers!

+I’m drawn to this chunky knit cardigan — would look chic with white skinnies for a cooler evening at the beach.

+Fabulous statement top.

+Cannot get over this splashy jumpsuit!!!!  CHA CHA CHA!  I want to go dancing in it!

+Take your next picnic up a notch with this.

+Contemplating buying these and some non-toxic paint for mini — the big question being whether she’ll just try to eat it the whole time…

P.S.  I LOVED reading your comments on this post, which served as fodder for many conversations in our household this week.  Mr. Magpie texted me to say: “You have some really smart readers.”  Um, YAH.  (He reads every single comment on the blog, too.)

P.P.S.  ICYMI: an epic dupe for a high-end must-have.

4 Comments

  1. Yeah, I wonder a lot if I am troubled by the lack of privacy because I am an old fuddy duddy, or if it is genuinely a problem. My students and I have been talking a lot about Facebook and they are often less bothered than I am, and they want to insist that it’s not Facebook’s fault that people use it for bad purposes. And I certainly agree that individuals need to do better about verifying their sources, but we have only just started teaching people about information literacy. Older folks see something that looks like news (because it is made to look like news) and they think it’s news. Younger generations hear they can’t trust news, and then they don’t trust the news they don’t like, even when it is real, which leads to a degradation of institutions that protect our citizens.
    I think the bigger issue for me is when Facebook says they are just a platform, and can’t help it when people from foreign countries buy political ads, because they don’t have the staff to police that in real time. That’s illegal and if you can’t figure out how to make sure it isn’t happening on your platform, maybe your motto shouldn’t be “Move fast and break things.”
    And while Facebook does good things, as you and they point out, they also exert a lot of control over what you see via their algorithms in ways that we, the customer, don’t really understand. It feels like we are participating in public discourse with all of our chosen peers, and yet we aren’t, because in real public discourse you a) don’t get to choose who you interact with, and b) you actually get to hear all of what those people say, not the 75% Facebook thinks you will like the best from having studied your interactions across the web.
    I haven’t quit, because I don’t want to give up instagram! So I wonder if there is any point to leaving Facebook. I’ll just be over here complaining about the sky falling…

    1. So many excellent points here, Aileen — I especially agree with your comment that Facebook has a problematic orientation when stating that “they’re just a platform” and your noting that they exert a lot of control over what we see via their algorithms in ways that are invisible and inscrutable to us. The ethics around the entire offering are worrisome and complex — and, it must be added, first-of-their-kind? Right? There’s bound to be an awkward maneuvering, and public discourse and especially these interrogations are serving their own purpose in terms of holding the company accountable and pushing them to rise to a certain level of conduct. At the same time, I feel often in these conversations that I forget that companies are not charities: they exist to make money and solve customer problems and they gainfully employ millions of people in pursuit of those goals. In that light, there is a sort of moral imperialism at play that perhaps is undue or out of place. That’s of course not to say that we shouldn’t aspire to have companies that are run ethically and thoughtfully and with an eye toward the greater good, and that we shouldn’t push companies to meet those standards — but also to say that these are, at the end of the day, companies that build products that we willfully use/buy/etc.

      xoxo

  2. Your turbothot is so interesting. I hadn’t been closely following Parliament’s inquisition of Facebook — though I did watch Zuckerberg’s testimony in front of Congress earlier this month and found it fascinating, if a bit repetitive. I subscribe to the newsletters of a few different papers — including The Guardian — and hadn’t seen much coverage of Facebook at all in recent days! Hmmmph.

    You bring up some really interesting points here, especially when it comes to the nuances at play. I agree that it’s hard to draw the line between freedom of speech and political marketing. That said, I tend to be more on the side of Parliament here — completely disgusted with the role Facebook has played in recent elections, so much so that I deleted the account I’ve had since winter 2004, a month after Zuckerberg set it up! It feels freeing. But it’s also distressing to see how tied to Facebook many people are — especially of my parents’ generation. Neither of my parents are on Facebook, but I’m close to someone else in their generation who is completely addicted to it, and when I realized the level & rate of their engagement, I realized how easy it would be to influence millions of people through political advertising. It’s terrifying to me.

    I did howl with laughter at this viral Tweet I saw after the Congress inquiry: https://twitter.com/ZackBornstein/status/983786300196048900

    It’s not lost on me, either, that Instagram is owned by Facebook — haven’t deleted that one, but its ads are also problematic (and, quite often, creepy in their precision!)

    Anyway, this rambly comment (without a solid point) is mostly just trying to say: thanks for bringing this up and making my Saturday morning blog-reading feel much smarter. I appreciate you for that, as always!

    P.S. I love a duster cardigan — I have a very lightweight, fine-knit one in navy that I wear often in this type of weather, but would love a lighter-colored version! The one you picked is really cute.

    1. MK! Really interesting points here — I found myself nodding especially re: your observation about the generational divide when it comes to FB use (Aileen made a similar point, too), and also the troubling fact that while many of us find FB’s role in recent democratic processes troubling and wrong, we still cleave to our Instagram accounts, which…what does that say about us and our moral resolve? Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful comments!! xo

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