Facebook Shakes Up Management After Data Scandal

Facebook on Tuesday confirmed an unprecedented management team shakeup in the aftermath of a major data privacy scandal that has rocked the social network.

Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg remained chief of Facebook, with chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg his second-in-command.

Chris Cox, a longtime member of Zuckerberg’s inner circle, was put in charge of Facebook’s core application as well as smartphone services Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, the California-based company confirmed.

The major shuffling of executives was first reported by technology news website Recode.

Facebook reshaped its product and engineering teams into three units, including an emerging technologies division focused on blockchain technology used for cryptocurrencies.

David Marcus said in a post on the social network that, after four years in charge of Messenger, he is “setting up a small group to explore how best to leverage blockchain across Facebook.”

He expressed confidence in his Messenger successor, whom he identified as Stan Chudnovsky.

Longtime Facebook executive Javier Olivan will be in charge of a “central product services” division handling features such as security and ads that are common to various services run by the social network, according to Recode.

While more than a dozen executives saw their jobs change, none appeared to be leaving the company, US media reports indicted.

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum last month announced his departure from Facebook, which bought the smartphone messaging service four years ago for $19 billion.

Koum said in a post on his Facebook page that he is taking time off to pursue interests such as collecting air-cooled Porsches, working on cars and playing ultimate Frisbee.

US media reports indicated that a disagreement with Facebook over the privacy of user data may have also been a factor in Koum’s decision to quit his position as a high-ranking executive and likely leave his seat on the board at the leading online social network.

WhatsApp boasts more than 1.2 billion users worldwide.

While not directly mentioned, the executive moves confirmed on Tuesday come as Facebook strives to move past the recent privacy scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

Zuckerberg spent most of the past month on the fallout from revelations on the hijacking of personal data by the political firm, seeking to assuage fears that the California-based internet colossus can safeguard privacy while making money by targeting ads based on what people share about themselves.

The social network is also among online platforms that came under fire for being used to spread misinformation and foment division ahead of the US presidential election in 2016.

AFP

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum Quits

The CEO/co-founder of WhatsApp, Jan Koum has quit his job.

According to reports his decision to quit is as a result of disagreements with Facebook about privacy and encryption.

Jan Koum will also step down from Facebook’s board of directors, a role he negotiated when WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $19bn in 2014, according to the Washington Post.

Koum and his co-founder Brian Acton developed WhatsApp with a focus on user privacy and a disdain for advertising. When it was bought by Facebook, he promised users that these values wouldn’t be compromised.

“You can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication. There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product,” he said at the time.

However, Facebook has been under pressure to make money out of WhatsApp, which now has 1.5 billion monthly users. Facebook has been taking steps that have chipped away at some of WhatsApp’s values. And Koum has a problem with this.

Koum announced his departure from the company via his Facebook account, writing: “It’s been almost a decade since Brian [Acton] and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people. But it is time for me to move on.

“I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee. And I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside.”

In 2016, After Facebook acquired the messaging app, WhatsApp announced it would start sharing some user data, including phone numbers, with Facebook – a move that goes against WhatsApp’s values and was deeply unpopular among European regulators, who ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users and fined the company.

Since then WhatsApp has started building and testing free tools to help businesses use WhatsApp to reach their customers, with the view to later start charging businesses – another move that goes against WhatsApp’s disdain for advertising.

According to the Washington Post, which spoke to “people familiar with internal discussions” over Koum’s departure, there were tensions with Facebook over WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, which ensures that messages can’t be intercepted and read by anyone outside of the conversation, including by WhatsApp or Facebook. WhatsApp executives believed that Facebook’s desire to make it easier for businesses to use its tools would require weakening some of the encryption.

After Koum announced his resignation, the first comment was from Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

It reads: “I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralised systems and put it back in people’s hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp.”

A spokeswoman for WhatsApp declined to comment but pointed to Koum and Zuckerberg’s posts on Facebook.

Facebook Bounces Back With Dating App And Other New Features

2018 has indeed been a hectic year for giant media network Facebook but the company has bounced back irrespective of the Cambridge Analytical Scandal.

During its 2018 Facebook F8 developers conference it was announced that a whole lot of new features would be added to the site.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressing concerns from app developers after Facebook paused 3rd-party app review in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Here are some big takeaways from Zuckerberg’s keynote on Day 1 of Facebook F8, held for two days, May 1 and 2, at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California:

FaceDate—Facebook’s New Tinder-Like ‘Dating’ Feature

Still Single? Don’t worry because Facebook doesn’t want you to remain single for long.

The social network giant is introducing a new dating feature that will allow you to build your profile that will only be visible to other Facebook users (non-friends) who have also opted into looking for love.

Dubbed FaceDate, the new feature will match your profile based on all its data with others to find potential suitors and messaging will happen in a dedicated inbox rather than its default Messenger application. And worry not. Neither FaceDate will match your profile with your friends, nor your friends will not be able to see your dating profile.

FaceDate is “not just for hookups,” said Zuckerberg said. Rather, the feature has been designed for “real long-term relationships.”

Shortly after the announcement of FaceDate, the share price of Match Group, the parent company of Match.com, fell 22%, and IAC, the parent of both popular hookup app Tinder and Match Group, fell more than 16%.

Facebook Adds ‘Clear History’ Tool

Facebook had been embroiled in controversies over its data sharing practices after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, forcing people to think about how the social media handles user privacy, collects data and uses it. Now to help users protect their privacy, Facebook introduced a new feature, dubbed “Clear History,” that will let users clear their browsing history on Facebook.

Clear History will enable users to see the websites and apps that send Facebook information when users use them, delete this information from users’ account, and turn off Facebook’s ability to store the data “associated with your account” going forward.

Once you clear your history, Facebook will remove identifying information so a history of the sites and apps you have used will not be associated with your account.

It is unclear how Facebook defines ‘associated with your account.’ However, Facebook will take a few months to build the Clear History feature, and work with “privacy advocates, academics, policymakers, and regulators to get their input on our approach,” Facebook VP and chief privacy officer Erin Egan said in a blog post.
“After going through our systems, this is an example of the kind of control we think you should have,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s something privacy advocates have been asking for.”

Facebook also warned users that by using the Clear History tool, they might be required to sign back in everytime they want to log into their account. Facebook is also committed to preventing “fake news” and fake accounts from spreading on its platform, though Zuckerberg did not tell much about how Facebook plans to do it.

Facebook Re-Opens App Reviews On Its Platform

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook paused third-party app review, but now Zuckerberg announced that the company is re-opening app reviews for developers starting Tuesday.

The relationship between Facebook and app developers has gotten complicated since it was revealed how digital consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained and misused data on potentially 87 million Facebook users to reportedly help Donald Trump win the US presidency in 2016.

Facebook paused review of new apps after it was revealed that a third-party app developer named Aleksandr Kogan, who created personality quiz app and collected personal data on millions of users who took the quiz, handed over the data to Cambridge Analytica.
“I know it hasn’t been easy being a developer these past couple months, and that’s probably an understatement,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook has re-opened app review, but the process has changed a bit. The company will now “require business verification for apps that need access to specialized APIs or extended Login permissions.”

“Apps that ask for basic public profile or additional permissions, such as a birthday or user friends, are not subject to business verification,” a blog post published Tuesday reads.

Real Time Language Translations In Facebook Messenger

Facebook has introduced chat translation within Messenger through its M Suggestions assistant, which will translate conversations in real time, just like web browsers do.

However, the feature will be rolled out to users in the United States throughout this year and will only translate English-Spanish conversions.

In the coming weeks, all American Messenger users will get access to this feature, and over time the social media says it will “launch this functionality in additional languages and countries.

Launching in closed beta, businesses will now be able to integrate augmented reality (AR) camera effects for its customers to experience directly into Messenger.

Now when you interact with certain businesses on Messenger, you will be able to virtually try or customize merchandise by opening the app’s camera and use a pre-populated brand-specific AR effect.

Facebook is also making simplifications to Messenger’s interface. Since the app’s quest to embrace businesses, bots, Stories and visual sharing have made it bloated, the company has re-designed Messenger by cutting out the games and camera tabs from the navigation bar.

Besides these features, Facebook has also introduced a new way for people to share from their favorite apps, like Spotify and GoPro, to both Facebook and Instagram Stories. The company has also made its first standalone VR headset Oculus Go available globally for anyone to purchase, starting at $199.

Facebook Makes $3Billion Profit In 3-Months

Despite the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, Facebook has made a profit of $3 billion in three months.

The social network giants’ quarterly sales rose by over $3 billion despite influential tech companies closing down their accounts. The company said that revenues rose to $11.9bn in the first three months of the year, compared to $8bn previously.

Founder, Mark Zuckerberg said: “despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018. We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good. But we also need to keep building new tools to help people connect, strengthen our communities, and bring the world closer together.”

Facebook said that its advertising revenue rose to $11.7bn in the three months to the end of March, compared to $7.8bn in the same period a year ago. First quarter profits also grew, reaching $4.9bn compared to $3bn last year. Facebook said the average number of daily active users over March had risen to 1.45 billion, a 13% increase year-on-year.

The average number of monthly active users for March also rose by 13%, to 2.2 billion, and the number of staff saw a steep 48% increase to 27,742. Facebook had in March faced a controversy over yielding millions of users’ data to Cambridge Analytica which reportedly manipulated it during U.S President Donald Trump’s electioneering in 2016.

Facebook Releases Rule Book For Users

Facebook Inc on Tuesday released the most detailed rule book in its history for the types of posts it allows on its social network on subjects ranging from drug use and sex work to bullying, hate speech and inciting violence.

Facebook for years has had “community standards” for what people can post.

But only a relatively brief and general version was publicly available, while it had a far more detailed internal document to decide when individual posts or accounts should be removed.

Now, the company is providing the longer document on its website to clear up confusion.

The company wants to be more open about its operations, said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of product policy and counter-terrorism.

“You should, when you come to Facebook, understand where we draw these lines and what’s OK and what’s not OK,” Bickert told reporters in a briefing at Facebook’s headquarters.

Facebook has faced fierce criticism from governments and rights groups in many countries for failing to do enough to stem hate speech.

It is said to have not prevent the service from being used to promote terrorism, stir sectarian violence and broadcast acts including murder and suicide.

At the same time, the company has also been accused of doing the bidding of repressive regimes by aggressively removing content that crosses governments.

It is said to have proved too little information on why certain posts and accounts are removed.

New policies will, for the first time, allow people to appeal a decision to take down an individual piece of content.

Previously, only the removal of accounts, Groups and Pages could be appealed.

Facebook is also beginning to provide the specific reason why content is being taken down for a wider variety of situations.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has become a dominant source of information in many countries around the world.

It uses both automated software and an army of moderators that now numbers 7,500 to take down text, pictures and videos that violate its rules.

Under pressure from several governments, it has been beefing up its moderator ranks since last year.

Facebook To Offer ‘Bounty’ For Reporting Data Abuse

Facebook said Tuesday it would begin offering rewards to people who report misuse of private information from the social network, as part of an effort to step up data protection in the wake of a firestorm.

The new program “will reward people with first-hand knowledge and proof of cases where a Facebook platform app collects and transfers people’s data to another party to be sold, stolen or used for scams or political influence,” product security chief Collin Greene said in a statement.

Greene said the new offer was inspired by the “bug bounty” offered by Facebook and other online services to reward people who find security flaws.

The reward will be “based on the impact of each report,” Greene said, with a minimum of $500 for verified cases of abuse affecting 10,000 people or more.

“While there is no maximum, high impact bug reports have garnered as much as $40,000 for people who bring them to our attention,” he added.

The announcement comes with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg set to begin testimony at congressional hearings Tuesday and Wednesday on abuse of private data collected by the social network.

Facebook is under fire in the United States and around the world following disclosures of private data hijacked by the consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which was working for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“We’ll review all legitimate reports and respond as quickly as possible when we identify a credible threat to people’s information,” Greene said of the new program.

“If we confirm data abuse, we will shut down the offending app and take legal action against the company selling or buying the data, if necessary. We’ll pay the person who reported the issue, and we’ll also alert those we believe to be affected.”

AFP

Facebook Data Scandal: Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Closes Facebook Account

Facebook keeps loosing users as their shares price also continues to drop after it was alleged that the social media giant had allegedly revealed the data of about 50 million Facebook users by a London-based data analysis company Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica was accused of illegally accessing Facebook user data in violation of Facebook terms of
service after the data was allegedly misused for U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign efforts in 2016.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak closed his Facebook account as one of the latest tech leaders who started to distance themselves from the world’s largest social media firm following its scandal involving alleged misuse of user data.

Recall that in March, Tesla CEO Elon Musk deleted Facebook accounts for his two major companies, Tesla and SpaceX, in response to a call from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton in a #deletefacebook campaign on Twitter.

Wozniak told the USA Today daily that he was taken aback by the extent of Facebook’s data collection when he
changed and deleted some of his information before deactivating his account.

“I was surprised to see how many categories for ads and how many advertisers I had to get rid of, one at a
time.

“I did not feel that this is what people want done to them,” he said in an email to the American newspaper.

“Users provide every detail of their life to Facebook and … Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off
this,” he said.

“The profits are all based on the user’s info, but the users get none of the profits back,” he added.

He compared Apple with Facebook in their relations with users, saying “Apple makes its money off of good products, not off of you.”

“With Facebook, you are the product,” said the Apple senior executive, who is one of the latest prominent users
who have called for quitting Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will appear Tuesday and Wednesday before a joint hearing of the U.S. Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees, as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on the data-privacy scandal and Facebook’s failure to properly protect its users’ data.

 

Personal Information Of 87 Million Users May Have Been Improperly Shared- Facebook

In the series of events that has occurred with Facebook, it has become vividly clear that the idea of privacy might soon become a fantasy in the digital age.

The social media giant revealed that the personal information of up to 87 million users may have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

This number is up from a previous news media estimate of more than 50 million. Most of the 87 million people whose data was shared with Cambridge Analytica, were in the United States, Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer wrote in a blog post.

Cambridge Analytica worked on U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Facebook said it was taking steps to restrict the personal data available to third-party app developers.

The world’s largest-social-media company has been hammered by investors and faces anger from users, advertisers and lawmakers after a series of scandals about fake-news stories, election-meddling and privacy.

Last month, Facebook acknowledged that personal information about millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg will testify about the matter next week before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, the panel said on Wednesday.

Also recall that shares in Facebook were down 1.4 per cent on Wednesday to 153.90 dollars. They are down more than 16 percent since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke.

The previous estimate of more than 50 million Facebook users affected by the data leak came from two newspapers, the New York Times and London’s Observer, based on their investigations of Cambridge Analytica.

Schroepfer did not provide details of how Facebook came to determine its higher estimate.

However, he said Facebook would tell people if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

A representative from Cambridge Analytica could not immediately be reached for comment.

The British-based consultancy has denied wrongdoing.

It says it engaged a university professor “in good faith” to collect Facebook data in a manner similar to how other third-party app developers have harvested personal information.

The scandal has kicked off investigations by Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and by some 37 U.S. state attorneys general.

Private User Data Problems Might Take Few Years To Solve – Facebook CEO

The Chief Executive of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday that it may take a few years for the social media platform to solve the problems associated with third-parties using data from its users in unauthorised ways.

“I think we will dig through this hole, but it will take a few years.

“I wish I could solve all these issues in three months or six months, but I just think the reality is that solving some of these questions is just going to take a longer period of time,’’ Mr Zuckerberg told journalists.

Cambridge Analytica became embroiled in an international scandal after it emerged that the company had received the data of around 50 million Facebook users without their permission and through improper channels.

The company harvested the information to develop a mechanism that would predict and influence the behaviour of voters to boost U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

Facebook announced recently it would shut down the Partner Categories, which allows third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook.

It also plans to introduce new privacy tools in the coming weeks to allow users to more easily manage and access their personal data.

In March 29, Mr Zuckerberg apologised for the situation with the Cambridge Analytica and admitted that he should not have trusted the firm.

He has said there were several mistakes that led to the situation, adding that most of the actions needed to prevent this from happening again were already taken years ago. (Sputnik/NAN)

Facebook Shares Drop After Data Scandal

Following news that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to testify in front of Congress about the company’s data scandal, stock prize of the tech company has dropped by 5%.

Recall that this crisis began on March 16 after Facebook said it was suspending data analysis company Cambridge Analytica for allegedly harvesting data from more than 50 million Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Since then, Facebook’s stock has plunged 18%, wiping out nearly $80 billion from the social networking giant’s market value in the process. Zuckerberg’s net worth has fallen by about $14 billion (he is still worth $61 billion, though).

Tech stocks in general have taken a hit since the Facebook allegations first came to light. The Nasdaq is down 6%.  And other social media companies, most notably YouTube owner Google and Twitter, have both nosedived as well.

Shares of Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) fell 7% since March 16 while Twitter has plunged 20%. Twitter (TWTR) was down 12% alone on Tuesday after noted short seller Citron Research has changed its tune on the company’s stock.

Investors worry that Facebook, Google and Twitter could all face tougher regulations in the United States and around the world because of the Cambridge Analytica controversy.  If that happens, it could stymie growth for all three companies but Facebook in particular. Investors also worry that users may flee these companies because of privacy concerns. And if users flee, advertisers may eventually jump ship too

 

Facebook Revamps Privacy Settings Amid Data Breach Outcry

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled new privacy settings aiming to give its users more control over how their data is shared, following an outcry over the hijacking of personal information at the giant social network.

The updates include easier access to Facebook’s user settings and tools to easily search for, download and delete personal data stored by Facebook.

Facebook said a new privacy shortcuts menu will allow users to quickly increase account security, manage who can see their information and activity on the site and control advertisements they see.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed,” chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer said in a blog post.

“We’re taking additional steps in the coming weeks to put people more in control of their privacy.”

The new features follow fierce criticism after it was revealed millions of Facebook users’ personal data was harvested by a British firm linked to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign — although Facebook said the changes have been “in the works for some time.”

Earlier this month, whistleblower Christopher Wylie revealed political consulting company Cambridge Analytica obtained profiles on 50 million Facebook users via an academic researcher’s personality prediction app.

The app was downloaded by 270,000 people, but also scooped up their friends’ data without consent — as was possible under Facebook’s rules at the time.

Egan and Beringer also announced updates to Facebook’s terms of service and data policy to improve transparency about how the site collects and uses data.

Deepening tech crisis
Facebook’s move comes as authorities around the globe investigate how Facebook handles and shares private data, and with its shares have tumbled more than 15 percent, wiping out tens of billions in market value.

The crisis also threatens the Silicon Valley tech industry whose business model revolves around data collected on internet users.

On Tuesday, tech shares led a broad slump on Wall Street, with an index of key tech stocks losing nearly six percent.

The US Federal Trade Commission this week said it had launched a probe into whether the social network violated consumer protection laws or a 2011 court-approved agreement on protecting private user data.

US lawmakers were seeking to haul Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Washington to testify on the matter.

Authorities in Britain have seized data from Cambridge Analytica in their investigation, and EU officials have warned of consequences for Facebook.

Facebook has apologized for the misappropriation of data and vowed to fix the problem.

Facebook took out full-page ads in nine major British and US newspapers on Sunday to apologize to users.

“We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t we don’t deserve it,” Zuckerberg said in the ads.

AFP