Tag: facebook

Calls for Facebook to be split up increasing

By Diamon Naga Siu for Mashable

Facebook may have grown to a point where it’s too big for its own good. Or anybody’s, for that matter.

The largest U.S. media and communications labor union, Communications Workers of America, is adding fuel to that point of view. It’s just joined the Freedom from Facebook Coalition, which is petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to break up the growing “monopoly” power of Facebook.

Blazoned atop the coalition’s website reads: “Facebook has too much power over our lives and democracy. It’s time for us to take that power back.” The coalition, which includes social activist groups like Demand Progress and MoveOn Civic Action, wants the FTC to separate WhatsApp and Instagram as separate companies, away from Facebook’s control.

CWA Communications Director Beth Allen told Mashable that the group was concerned about the social media giant’s growing power. And the labor union is not the only one with such a concern.

Facebook is already under the microscope of a federal investigation from the FTC for its Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and there are dozens of privacy lawsuits against the social media giant right now. Before things get any better for Facebook, they’ll probably get worse, at least from a legal perspective.

The CWA also has a lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that the way the company targets job advertisements leads to age discrimination. Allen told Mashable that joining this coalition could offer the group a larger platform for the union’s legal battle against Facebook.

“We have been looking closely at Facebook, and the coalition that was forming was interesting to us because we wanted to be able to shed more light on this age-discrimination issue,” Allen said. “We just want to make sure regulators are doing what they can to limit Facebook’s power and ensure that Facebook is not engaging in any discriminatory behavior.”

We’ll see whether the FTC will actually splinter the monolith, but it’s far from the first time Facebook has been accused of being a monopoly. When questioned about the issue before Congress in April, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook “certainly doesn’t feel like [a monopoly] to me.”

The list of others who feel differently is growing, and it may eventually enlarge to the point where Zuckerberg can’t just casually dismiss them.

Facebook glitch unblocked your blocked list

By Emily Price for Fortune

If you’ve ever blocked anyone on Facebook, the social network may have accidentally “unblocked” that person on your behalf.

A bug that was live between May 29 and June 5 allowed blocked users to see the profile pages of people that blocked them and send them messages through Messenger, Facebook revealed Monday. The issue affected more than 800 000 users on the platform. About 83% of those Facebook users had one person they blocked essentially unblocked by the bug, while 17% had more than one blocked person unblocked during that time period, the social network said.

Facebook has contacted the users that were impacted by the issue.

It’s worth noting that the issue didn’t give previously blocked users full access to someone’s account. Instead, they would simply have been able to see things that were posted publicly on the platform. When you block someone on Facebook you also unfriend them (presuming you were friends in the first place). The bug did not reinstate any of those ended connections.

Facebook says that it has corrected the issue, and everyone who you previously blocked is now fully blocked again.

‘Big Four’ tech stocks slump

By Jasper Jolly for City A.M 

The US’s biggest technology stocks – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, collectively known as the Fangs – have fallen steeply as concerns over a trade war weighed on world indices.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq index fell by more than two per cent to its lowest close since the end of May.

Facebook and Amazon both lost over 2.5 per cent, while Netflix plummeted by more than six per cent. Apple and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, also fell heavily.

Equity indices around the world had earlier slumped, with France’s Cac 40 losing almost two per cent while Germany’s Dax gave up 2.46 per cent as investors feared further damaging trade moves.

American tech stocks have generally been immune to fears over protectionist trade tariffs, with no mention by either the US, China, or the EU of levies or other barriers to be imposed on them.

However, Russ Mould, investment director at trading platform AJ Bell, said the recent success of the Fang stocks – an acronym of the tech giants – in spite of market ructions may have made shares more vulnerable to bigger moves if sentiment shifts.

The Fangs may be “targets for some profit taking” if investors plump for cash amid fears of a broader market setback, he said.

The tech stocks are approaching similar levels of growth hit by the Nasdaq during the dotcom bubble at the turn of the century, which ended in a deep crash of more than 78 per cent, Mould said.

Over the course of 2018 a “Fangs+” index, which includes other large US-listed tech firms, has outpaced the gains of the bubble-era Nasdaq.

Yet the Fangs still face regulatory issues which could severely impact their business models, following the scandal over data misuse by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, competition concerns, and ongoing tax issues.

“The danger for bulls is that these valuations leave little margin for error should something – anything – go wrong,” Mould added.

By Scott Duke Kominers for Bloomberg 

How much is your privacy on Facebook worth?

This question has seen renewed attention following the revelation that political analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, hired by the Trump election campaign, gained access to the private information of more than 50 million users. One of the possible responses that’s generated some discussion is the creation of a paid tier that’s free of ads and data sharing. 1 Such an option would likely be socially beneficial and have considerable public appeal. But my guess is that it would be pretty expensive, too.

Let’s start with some rough calculations. Facebook’s annual ad revenue was about $40 billion in 2017, with 2.13 billion monthly active users. That means the average user is worth roughly $20 in ads to Facebook a year. That’s probably already a lot more than many users would pay for privacy on the social network.

But the price also depends on who would choose to pay for greater privacy. And it’s likely that many of the users who would opt for more protection could be worth more than $20 each to the company.

Why’s that? First, the value of keeping your data private increases with the amount of data you provide on the platform; by the same token, the more data you give Facebook, the better it can advertise to you. Similarly, you might find privacy especially valuable if there’s something unusual or unique about you that makes you especially easy to target.

The people who can afford a paid tier are on average wealthier; that too makes them more valuable to advertisers. And some of them already have browser ad blockers, so it’s hard to reach them via other channels.

To make up for those sorts of customers opting out of data sharing, Facebook would have to charge a lot more than the average of $20 just to break even. A back-of-the-envelope estimate based on the Pareto principle — 80 percent of the ad revenue coming from 20 percent of users — suggests that if mostly high-value users purchase privacy, then Facebook would need to charge closer to $80 a year.

That’s much more than even high estimates of the value most people attach to having access to Facebook. And it’s still a substantial underestimate of the likely price. According to Facebook’s annual report, the company’s 239 million North American users are responsible for a bit less than half of ad revenue; applying the Pareto principle to them would suggest annual privacy prices in the range of $325 a person.

If price alone were the question, Facebook might indeed want to charge huge amounts for enhanced privacy. The users who buy out won’t all be the most valuable users, and it would be pretty lucrative if the company could sustainably charge some customers much more for privacy than the annual ad revenue they generate. But that’s unlikely to work out in the long run.

Putting a high price on privacy would make it clear just how much Facebook’s user data is worth. We’d probably see increased calls to share that value by giving users a portion of revenues. The consumer-led drive for increased privacy would likely accelerate, too, prompting a growing number of users to leave the platform (assuming they can’t afford or are unwilling to pay for greater privacy).

A user exodus plus enhanced scrutiny of data practices would quickly eat away at the profits from offering the paid tier, making the whole thing a losing proposition.

Facebook must have run the numbers on this already, using much better information than we have here. The idea of a paid tier isn’t new; if Facebook hasn’t offered such an option, the company probably thinks it would be a money-loser. So if we want Facebook users to have control over how their data is shared, we may need outside pressure. The company isn’t likely to provide the option on its own.

It’s also worth noting that advertising and data sharing don’t have to be completely coupled. Facebook could enhance privacy directly by adopting data protection strategies based on privacy science, as Apple, Google, and the Census have in some of their applications.

Source: EWN 

Nearly 60 000 South African users have allegedly been impacted by the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data breach.

The breach which affects more than 87-million Facebook users came after some 270,000-people allowed use of their data by a researcher.

In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. Through the app, Kogan scraped the data of all their friends as well, a move allowed by Facebook until 2015.

The researcher then sold the data to Cambridge Analytica, which was against Facebook rules.

A Facebook spokesperson says 33 users in South Africa downloaded the quiz app and the 59,777 were friends of those who would have installed the app elsewhere in the world.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says there was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

“But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that.”

Zuckerberg says Facebook has a number of plans to prevent something like this happening again.

“First, we will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps. That includes people whose data Kogan misused here as well.”

By Katie Canales for Business Insider US 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a new privacy control called “Clear History”.

It would be similar to clearing your Web browser’s history — what you’ve clicked on, the websites you frequent, and the like would be wiped from your Facebook account.

Zuckerberg says that if you choose to clear that information, your Facebook experience “won’t be as good while it relearns your preferences”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday that users would for the first time be able to clear the data from their account that keeps track of their activities on the social network.

The new feature, called “Clear History,” would be similar to a web browser’s option for users to clear their history and cookies from the cache, Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.

“Once we roll out this update, you’ll be able to see information about the apps and websites you’ve interacted with, and you’ll be able to clear this information from your account,” Zuckerberg added.

He said he would provide more details during Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, which kicks off on Tuesday.

Facebook has been under pressure to improve privacy controls for its users since news reports in March revealed that the data firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users.

Zuckerberg said in the post that users who choose to clear the data from their Facebook profiles might have a less smooth experience on the social network.

“Your Facebook won’t be as good while it relearns your preferences,” Zuckerberg said.

A Facebook representative told Recode that a user’s wiped browsing data wouldn’t be tied to them or used for targeting but could still be kept anonymously for companies that use Facebook for analytics.

By Alex Hern for The Guardian 

Facebook has started the process of notifying the approximately 87 million users whose data was harvested by the election consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The social network eventually hopes to inform every user who was affected with a warning at the top of their Facebook news feed. For now, however, individuals can check by going to a new help page on the site or searching for “How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica?” in Facebook’s help centre.

Most users will see a message saying that “neither you nor your friends logged into ‘This Is Your Digital Life’”, the personality quiz that Cambridge Analytica used to gather its data.

Around 87 million individuals, including more than 1 million people in the UK, will receive a different response saying “a friend of yours did log in”.

That means that their public profile, page likes, birthday and current city were likely shared with the company, as well as potentially the contents of their news feed at the time.

Around 300,000 people – including 53 people in Australia, 10 people in New Zealand, and an unknown number of users in the UK – will receive a message informing them that they installed the This Is Your Digital Life app.

This means they almost certainly handed over the personal information of all their Facebook friends at the time, as well as formed part of the core group for the psychometric profiling that Cambridge Analytica carried out during the US election campaign.

Facebook has promised widespread changes to its platform to prevent further “abuse” of the sort it attributes to Cambridge Analytica. “These actions would prevent any app like [This Is Your Digital Life] from being able to access so much data today,” the company said in March.

By Eric Johnson for Recode 

Starting with its very first episode, the HBO TV series “Silicon Valley” satirized the idea that tech entrepreneurs were “making the world a better place.” But Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said people in his industry really believe that – or, at least, they used to.

“That’s something that I would say most people in Silicon Valley would like to believe,” Stoppelman said on the latest episode of Recode Decode.

“I think we’re waking up to realize a lot of big companies, presumably under pressure to grow and satisfy Wall Street, are focusing more on growth and making money than sticking to some core set of values that are aspirational.”

Stoppelman said the ongoing crisis of techlash is a reflection of some leaders’ inability or unwillingness to commit to corporate values early in their businesses’ existence, although he agreed with Apple CEO Tim Cook that “not all companies are created equal” in that regard.

“In some ways, Silicon Valley as a whole has lost its purpose,” Stoppelman said. “If its purpose really was, ‘Hey, we’re really trying to have a positive impact,’ just focusing on technology and growth might not be enough. You might actually have to make decisions that hurt growth.”

On the new podcast, Stoppelman also talked about Yelp’s years-long feud with Google. Yelp contends that Google has unfairly favored its own local listings in search results, something Stoppelman said the Google of the past would have criticized.

“The 2004 Google — the Larry Page-Sergey [Brin] Google — would make absolute fun of the search results you see today,” he said. “They pointed at Yahoo and said, ‘Look at Yahoo! They’re trying to trap you in their ecosystem. They don’t want you to get to the best of the web.’”

Scrutiny of big tech, he noted, is one of the few political issues that seems to have bipartisan support in the U.S. right now. But ultimately, despite some welcome regulations in the EU, Stoppelman said Yelp is carrying on with the assumption that the status quo is not about to be upended stateside.

“Obviously, we live in reality, and the government is not the speediest at dealing with these situations,” he said. “So we just find our way.”

By Nikki Schwab for DailyMail

President Trump is to have dinner with his biggest Silicon Valley backer, Peter Thiel, DailyMail.com has confirmed.

The dinner, a source close to Thiel said, will be a strategy session on how the president might be able to regulate Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google.

Trump has been fixated on Amazon as of late, blasting the online retailer again from the White House on Tuesday.

President Trump is expected to get advice from billionaire Peter Thiel on how to regulate the top tech companies that include Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple.

“Amazon’s gonna have to pay much more money to the Post Office. There’s no doubt about that.”

Trump charged the U.S. Post Office is “losing billions of dollars” all because it delivers packages for Amazon at below cost “and that’s not fair”.

Behind-the-scenes, a source told Axios that Trump is “obsessed with Amazon”.

“He’s wondered aloud if there may be any way to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law,” a source told the publication.

Axios pointed out that the president ‘would love to clip CEO Jeff Bezos’ wings,’ but he doesn’t have a plan to do so. With billionaire Thiel’s advice, that could change.

What does Facebook know about you?

Source: By Andrew Griffin for The Independent 

As attention turns to Facebook’s use of data, many of its users are wondering how they can avoid being manipulated by the site.

Some are urging users to boycott the site entirely. Those voices include the co-creator of WhatsApp, who sold the app to Facebook for billions but has since called for people to delete it.

Others, however, say that they can’t leave Facebook, since they need it for talking to people or keeping up with their communities. It might not even be possible to really leave, anyway – the internet expects you to keep using Facebook, and the site is able to learn about people’s data even if they’ve never actually used it.

The site does, however, give people relatively easy ways to find out what data is being collected and how. And if they object to that, they can either delete their account or deactivate it, both of which do go some way towards stopping the site learning more about you.

Everything you do on Facebook generates data of some kind. That might be the obvious, explicit ways, like the information people add to their profile about themselves – but it could be much more subtle things, like how long you spend watching a certain video.

Sometimes, the site and developers using it will use quizzes or mini games to make the experience of giving up data more fun. When they’re opened, they don’t only get access to the answers you give, but also request access to people’s data.

In the case of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook says data collected via a quiz app called ThisIsYourDigitalLife, billed as a personality predictor, was passed to the data firm in violation of its terms.

Where can I find details about what apps I’ve given access to?

Visit Facebook’s settings page or, on the desktop site, settings is located on the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the blue header bar.

Click on the apps tab on the left-hand side of the screen to see all the apps you’ve okayed.

Users can see what info is shared with any app, and there are options to delete, limit the information each app can access and remove info collected by the app.

Deleting an app may still allow the developer to retain some of a user’s personal information.

How do my friends impact on apps?

In “Apps Others Use”, Facebook sets out how apps which other people use can read your data. This feature revolves around the social part of Facebook – it’s the tech which means you might be flagged as a fellow reader of a certain book, a brand devotee, or someone who also plays a game.

Click edit and 13 categories are listed, including bio, timeline posts and online status. Any combination can be toggled on and off.

What is Facebook Platform?

If you want to go a step further you can turn off Platform – this is the system which among other things allows you to comment on or log into other websites using your Facebook details.

By turning it off, you lose some functionality but it means your information is not automatically shared as you surf the web.

How to see your Facebook data
In the general section of the settings is an option “download a copy of your Facebook data”. Click on it and Facebook will email you when it’s ready to download.

Facebook says most of this data is already available in your account and activity log, but it also includes information on ads you have clicked on and the IP addresses you’ve used.

It will also reveal email addresses previously associated with your account, topics of ads which may be targeted to you and the metadata contained in photos uploaded to Facebook.

How do I deactivate or delete my account?

Facebook talks people through both deactivating and deleting their account in Settings General Manage Your Account.

Deactivating allows you to log back in in the future and have your Facebook profile completely restored. While deactive, people won’t be able to search for you or see your page, but the info is retained.

To permanently delete your Facebook account, visit the account deletion page to start the process. It may take up to 90 days to delete all the things you’ve posted, says Facebook.

Source: By Andrew Griffin for The Independent 

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