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

Facebook Given ‘Two Weeks’ To Answer Data Scandal Questions

The European Union has given Facebook two weeks to answer questions raised by the scandal over personal data harvested from the social network, according to a copy of a letter obtained by AFP on Tuesday.

“Have any data of EU citizens been affected by the recent scandal?” the EU’s justice commissioner Vera Jourova wrote Facebook, listing one of the questions. “I would appreciate a reply in the next two weeks.”

AFP

Zuckerberg Breaks Five Day Silence To Apologize For Breach

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for a “major breach of trust,” while admitting mistakes and outlined steps to protect user data in light of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm.

“I am really sorry that happened,” Zuckerberg said of the scandal involving data mining firm Cambridge Analytica. Facebook has a “responsibility” to protect its users’ data, If it fails, “we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people.” he said in a Wednesday interview on CNN.

His mea culpa on cable television came a few hours after he acknowledged his company’s mistakes in a Facebook post , but without saying he was sorry.

Recall that news broke Friday that Cambridge may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections. Cambridge’s clients included Donald Trump’s general-election campaign.

Facebook shares have dropped some 8 percent, lopping about $46 billion off the company’s market value, since the revelations were first published.

In the CNN interview, Zuckerberg offered equivocal and carefully hedged answers to two other questions. He said, for instance, that he would be “happy” to testify before Congress, but only if it was “the right thing to do.” He went on to note that many other Facebook officials might be more appropriate witnesses depending on what Congress wanted to know.

Similarly, the Facebook chief seemed at one point to favor regulation for Facebook and other internet giants — at least the “right” kind of rules, he said, such as ones that require online political ads to disclose who paid for them. In almost the next breath, however, Zuckerberg steered clear of endorsing a bill that would write such rules into federal law, and instead talked up Facebook’s own voluntary efforts on that front.

Even before the scandal broke, Facebook has already taken the most important steps to prevent a recurrence, Zuckerberg said. For example, in 2014, it reduced access outside apps had to user data. However, some of the measures didn’t take effect until a year later, allowing Cambridge to access the data in the intervening months.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that there is more to do.

In his Facebook post, Zuckerberg said it will ban developers who don’t agree to an audit. An app’s developer will no longer have access to data from people who haven’t used that app in three months. Data will also be generally limited to user names, profile photos and email, unless the developer signs a contract with Facebook and gets user approval.

In a separate post, Facebook said it will inform people whose data was misused by apps. Facebook first learned of this breach of privacy more than two years ago, but hadn’t mentioned it publicly until Friday.

The company said it was “building a way” for people to know if their data was accessed by “This Is Your Digital Life,” the psychological-profiling quiz app that researcher Aleksandr Kogan created and paid about 270,000 people to take part in. Cambridge Analytica later obtained information from the app for about 50 million Facebook users, as the app also vacuumed up data on people’s friends — including those who never downloaded the app or gave explicit consent.

Chris Wylie, a Cambridge co-founder who left in 2014, has said one of the firm’s goals was to influence people’s perceptions by injecting content, some misleading or false, all around them. It’s not clear whether Facebook would be able to tell users whether they had seen such content.

Cambridge has shifted the blame to Kogan, which the firm described as a contractor. Kogan described himself as a scapegoat.

Kogan, a psychology researcher at Cambridge University, told the BBC that both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have tried to place the blame on him, even though the firm ensured him that everything he did was legal.

“One of the great mistakes I did here was I just didn’t ask enough questions,” he said. “I had never done a commercial project. I didn’t really have any reason to doubt their sincerity. That’s certainly something I strongly regret now.”

He said the firm paid some $800,000 for the work, but it went to participants in the survey.

“My motivation was to get a dataset I could do research on,” he said. “I have never profited from this in any way personally.”

Authorities in Britain and the United States are investigating.

David Carroll, a professor at Parsons School of Design in New York who sued Cambridge Analytica in the U.K., said he was not satisfied with Zuckerberg’s response, but acknowledged that “this is just the beginning.”

He said it was “insane” that Facebook had yet to take legal action against Cambridge parent SCL Group over the inappropriate data use. Carroll himself sued Cambridge Friday to recover data on him that the firm had obtained.

Sandy Parakilas, who worked in data protection for Facebook in 2011 and 2012, told a U.K. parliamentary committee Wednesday that the company was vigilant about its network security but lax when it came to protecting users’ data.

He said personal data including email addresses and in some cases private messages was allowed to leave Facebook servers with no real controls on how the data was used after that.

“The real challenge here is that Facebook was allowing developers to access the data of people who hadn’t explicitly authorized that,” he said, adding that the company had “lost sight” of what developers did with the data.

 

Digital Training Centres To Be Opened In Europe…Facebook

Facebook on Monday said it would train people by opening three new centres in Europe

 

The social media giant said it was determined to training one million people as part of its drive to show its contribution to the bloc over the next two years.

 

The U.S. company said it would open three “community skills hubs” in Spain, Poland and Italy. It has faced Regulatory pressure in Europe over challenges ranging from privacy to antitrust

 

It said it would also invest 10 million euros (12.2 million dollars) in France through its artificial intelligence research facility.

 

“People are worried that the digital revolution is leaving people behind and we want to make sure that we’re investing in digital skills to get people the skills they need to fully participate in the digital economy,” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, told Reuters.

 

“The community hubs will offer training in digital skills, media literacy and online safety to groups with limited access to technology, including old people, the young and refugees,’’ she said.

 

Facebook said this in view of its commitment to train one million people and business owners by 2020.

Facebook Gives Users A Feature To Help Deal With Stubborn Friends

One of the biggest problems Facebook users had has been the issue of the numerous contacts that a person could have. The problem expanded to users having problem managing their friends, thereby making social media addicts move to other social media networks where they could keep a small circle of friends, and could decide if their visibility.

Facebook has recently launched a ‘snooze’ feature that will allow users to mute a person’s posts for up to 30 days. This feature is a less extreme version of the ‘unfollow’ feature and is a welcome development especially for people that have to deal with multiple unwanted posts clogging their timelines.

To use the feature, simply select snooze in the top-right drop-down menu of a post, and the posts you want to avoid will temporarily disappear from your feed. The accounts you’ve snoozed won’t know about it and you’ll get a notification when the snooze period ends.  You can also end the snooze prematurely by manually turning it off.

 

Facebook Bans Women For Speaking Against Men

Facebook has surprised users by placing a ban on women who speak against men. This is coming after chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg warning of a potential backlash against women as scandals rock companies and political institutions.

Following the multiple sexual harassment and abuse scandals across the globe, Facebook has been suspending women for “hate speech” against men after posting variations of the phrase “men are scum”.

New York-based standup comic Marcia Belsky was banned in October for 30 days from Facebook for posting “men are scum” as a comment on her friend Nicole Silverberg’s photo album detailing the abuse Silverberg had received after writing a list of ways men can treat women better on Twitter.

Facebook says that threats and hate speech directed towards a protected group violate its community standards and therefore are removed. The social network told the Daily Beast that “men are scum” was a threat and therefore should be removed.

Facebook said that it is working hard to remedy harassment issues, and has repeatedly stated that it wants the social network to be a safe and respectful space for all. After footage of shootings, murders, rapes and assaults were streamed live on the site, Facebook said it was adding 3,000 extra moderators to its staff and that it would refine its moderation policies.

Facebook has still not created a ban on men who spoke against women

Facebook Launches Chat App For Children

Facebook on Monday unveiled a version of its Messenger application for children, aimed at enabling kids under 12 to connect with others under parental supervision.

Messenger Kids is being rolled out for Apple iOS mobile devices in the United States on a test basis as a standalone video chat and messaging app.

Product manager Loren Cheng said the social network leader is offering Messenger Kids because “there’s a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want.”

Facebook said that the new app, with no ads or in-app purchases, is aimed at 6- to 12-year-olds. It enables parents to control the contact list and does not allow children to connect with anyone their parent does not approve.

The social media giant added it designed the app because many children are going online without safeguards.

“Many of us at Facebook are parents ourselves, and it seems we weren’t alone when we realized that our kids were getting online earlier and earlier,” a Facebook statement said.

It cited a study showing that 93 percent of 6- to 12-year-olds in the US have access to tablets or smartphones, and two-thirds have a smartphone or tablet of their own.

“We want to help ensure the experiences our kids have when using technology are positive, safer, and age-appropriate, and we believe teaching kids how to use technology in positive ways will bring better experiences later as they grow,” the company said.

Facebook’s rules require that children be at least 13 to create an account, but many are believed to get around the restrictions.

Cheng said Facebook conducted its own research and worked with “over a dozen expert advisors” in building the app.

She added that data from children would not be used for ad profiles and that the application would be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).

“We’ve worked extensively with parents and families to shape Messenger Kids and we’re looking forward to learning and listening as more children and families start to use the iOS preview,” Cheng said.

AFP

Facebook Denies Secretly Recording Users’ Conversations

Stories have emerged about Facebook allegedly listening in on a conversation via a mobile’s microphone and using the info for targeted advertising purposes.

 

Rumors that the social network has been surreptitiously engaging in this practice have been around for years, but one of its executives has just been forced to deny them once again.

 

PJ Vogt—the presenter of tech podcast Reply All—spoke about the claims on a recent show, which involved people calling in with their own tales of possible Facebook spying. This led to the company’s president of ads, Rob Goldman, responding with a tweet that read:

“I run ads product at Facebook. We don’t – and have never – used your microphone for ads. Just not true.”

 

There are thousands of people who believe that after discussing a certain topic in the real world, a related ad later appeared on their Facebook feeds. While the site is filled with adverts, conspiracists say these particular ads feature the same obscure or specific products they were talking about, proving the company is up to no good.

 

 

Facebook is open about its audio recording capabilities, but these only allow users who have opted-in to identify and tag music or television programs playing in the near vicinity. If the feature is enabled, it uses a microphone for 15 seconds when a person is writing a status update; it isn’t used for advertising purposes, according to the company.

 

 

It’s incredible just how many people claim to have experienced this ‘listening’ phenomenon—often more than once. I know a few people myself who swear it has happened to them. But in reality, it’s hard to imagine that one of the largest, richest firms in the world would risk throwing everything away–and probable jail time—just to improve targeted advertising. Moreover, it’s likely that Facebook doesn’t yet possess the technology to make it possible.

 

 

Remember: Facebook does know a lot about you and your friends, and its ad algorithms use this data all the time. Perhaps some people forgot about a search they performed that was related to the conversation in question. But most of all, a lot of this comes down to pure coincidence.

 

 

Or maybe that’s what they want you to believe.