Tag: facebook

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 

Facebook has made its data crisis worse

Facebook Inc tried to get ahead of its latest media firestorm. Instead, it helped create one.

The company knew ahead of time that on Saturday, the New York Times and The Guardian’s Observer would issue bombshell reports that the data firm that helped Donald Trump win the presidency had accessed and retained information on 50-million Facebook users without their permission.

Facebook did two things to protect itself: it sent letters to the media firms laying out its legal case for why this data leak didn’t constitute a “breach.” And then it scooped the reports using their information, with a Friday blog post on why it was suspending the ad firm, Cambridge Analytica, from its site.

Both moves backfired.

On March 16, Facebook said it “received reports” that Cambridge Analytica hadn’t deleted the user data, and that it needed to suspend the firm. The statement gave the impression that Facebook had looked into the matter. In fact, the company’s decisions were stemming from information in the news reports set to publish the next day, and it had not independently verified those reports, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. By trying to look proactive, Facebook ended up adding weight to the news.

On March 17, any goodwill the company earned by talking about the problem first was quickly undone when reporters revealed Facebook’s behind-the-scenes legal manoeuvring. “Yesterday Facebook threatened to sue us. Today we publish this,” Carole Cadwalladr, the Observer reporter, wrote as she linked her story to Twitter, in a post shared almost 15,000 times. The Guardian said it had nothing to add to her statement. The Times confirmed that it too received a letter, but said it didn’t consider the correspondence a legal threat.

Front-running the stories along with the letters to newsrooms are but two of several ways Facebook failed to contain fallout from the Cambridge Analytica revelations. Silence on the part of chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg didn’t help. Nor did a report late March 19 in the New York Times that chief security officer Alex Stamos is leaving after clashing with other executives, including Sandberg, over how Facebook handled Russian disinformation campaigns. Facebook said Stamos is still at the company, but didn’t outright deny that he plans to leave.

“Most of its executives haven’t done a real interview in ages, let alone answer deep questions,” Zeynep Tufecki, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina who specialises in social networks and democracy, wrote in a post on Twitter.

In a sign of investor dismay, Facebook shares tumbled 6.8% on March 19, the biggest decline since March 2014. As the stock fell and criticism from lawmakers poured in from the US and Britain, the company worked to make it clear that it didn’t actually have enough information, on its own, to react to Saturday’s news reports in a stronger way.

Facebook put out another blog post, saying that Cambridge Analytica and the researcher who provided them the data, Aleksandr Kogan, had agreed to a digital forensics audit to prove they deleted it. Facebook said the one person who didn’t agree to the audit was Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica contractor who spoke to the newspapers about the data leak. With the post, Facebook aimed to stir more scepticism around Wylie’s information, according to a person familiar with the matter.

That didn’t resolve things quickly either. The auditors were already on site at Cambridge Analytica’s London office March 19 when they had to pause their work. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is pursuing a warrant to conduct its own on-site investigation.

The Cambridge Analytica saga is the latest in a series of bungled Facebook responses, often reactionary and sometimes unintentionally stirring public outrage instead of resolving concerns. The company’s interaction with the public tends to start with a carefully crafted blog post, and then evolve into a much more improvised Twitter-based conversation with lower-level executives who defend the social network and explain its decisions. It doesn’t always go well.

Earlier this year, when the US government indicted 13 Russians who used Facebook to manipulate voters, a Facebook advertising executive took to Twitter to clarify that overall, the Russian ads were primarily used to divide Americans, not influence the election. His comments went viral after President Donald Trump used them to back up attacks on the “fake news media.”

In 2017, Facebook made its disclosures on Russia’s activities in a slow drip, each time illustrating a bigger problem. An April white paper on “information operations,” for example, didn’t name the country. The company that October said 10 million users saw Russia’s ads. Later that month, Facebook said 126 million people saw Russia’s posts in general. The company upped the number to 150 million during Congressional interrogation, when a senator asked if Facebook could include Instagram, the photo-sharing app it owns, in the count.

Stamos, who has favoured more forthright disclosure, was frequently outvoted, according to the New York Times. He’s planning to leave the company in August, the newspaper reported. On Twitter, he later said he’s still fully engaged with his work at Facebook, without answering questions about his plans. But that would make him the most high-profile exit since Facebook’s election-related troubles began.

Meanwhile, higher ranking executives remain quiet. Zuckerberg and Sandberg, who in past years would post frequently about the issues of the day, have shied away from reacting to the most controversial news. Lawmakers have now called out Zuckerberg by name in both the US and the UK.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg plan to remain quiet on the Cambridge Analytica situation until the company completes its internal review of what happened, according to a person familiar with the matter. Until they do, questions about Facebook’s ability to cope with the Cambridge Analytica crisis will undoubtedly persist. — Bloomberg

By Sarah Frier for The Star
Image: 123rf

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has launched a new stand-alone app, called WhatsApp Business, designed to help small businesses easily connect with their customers, the company announced on Thursday.

WhatsApp Business can be downloaded on the Google Play Store in select markets including the US, UK, Indonesia, Italy, and Mexico, and will roll out worldwide in the coming weeks. Facebook has not yet stated when the app will be available on iOS.

The app adds several new features including verified business profiles, smart messaging tools like quick replies, greeting messages and away messages, and messaging metrics. As of now, WhatsApp Business is aimed at smaller companies, but it plans to add an enterprise solution geared toward larger businesses, like airlines and banks, with a global customer base. The move to launch an app dedicated to businesses represents the fruition of several months of work by Facebook to monetize WhatsApp.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) communication via messaging apps is a budding trend, and Facebook wants to be at the center of it.Having a presence on chat apps is more important than ever for businesses.

Already, more than half of consumers would rather message a business than call customer service, according to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielson. Here’s why WhatsApp is poised to lead the evolution of B2C interactions:

WhatsApp has a massive global reach. WhatsApp’s global user base of 1.3 billion monthly active users makes the chat app an ideal ground for Facebook to establish a footprint in the B2C space.

WhatsApp is also the second most used messaging app globally, and the leading messaging app in a majority of emerging markets like India, Indonesia, and Russia as well as in developed markets like the UK, Spain, and Germany. In India, for instance, consumers spent over 36 billion hours on WhatsApp in 2017.

Already, consumers worldwide use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses.Over 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil have said WhatsApp helps to facilitate B2C communication and, as a result, grow their businesses’ reach.

WhatsApp is entering an increasingly competitive space. Facebook Messenger, Apple, WeChat, and Skype are all striving to be the go-to interface for B2C interaction.

For instance, Apple is introducing an update to iMessage that includes iOS Business Chat, a “powerful new way for businesses to connect with customers directly from within Messages,” according to Apple. Meanwhile, WhatsApp will go up against WeChat, which already hosts 10 million official business accounts for WeChat’s 980 million monthly active users to interact with.

To receive stories like this one directly to your inbox every morning, sign up for the Apps and Platforms Briefing newsletter. Click here to learn more about how you can gain risk-free access today.

By Rayna Hollander for Business Insider

Facebook kills off its own creation

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg announced a major revamp of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm to prioritise content shared by friends and family, and demote branded posts from publishers and businesses.

It seems that after pushing Facebook as a source of trending news, Dr. Zuckenstein is horrified by his own creation. And, after a year of trying unsuccessfully to police false and click-baity news, he’s given up on trying to control his monster — now, he’s killing it off.

Here’s how it affects the the major parties involved: publishers, Facebook, and its 2B+ users.

FB-based publishers are screwed
Publishers like Elite Daily, LAD Bible, and the approximately one jillion meme pages that rely on promoted Facebook posts to drive site traffic, will likely see a huge decrease in audience reach.

That said, most established, “premium” publishers are more balanced in their sources of Web traffic, and have been quick to highlight that Facebook doesn’t owe anything to publishers who chose to hinge their entire business on a third party platform.

In the words of Axios CEO Jim VandeHei, “Facebook is a public company that controls its own decisions… Publishers should do the same d*mn thing.”

Facebook’s market cap took a $25bn hit
In their decision to commit to “bringing people closer together,” Facebook is effectively choosing to slow their own growth for the sake of society (and their brand reputation).

Theoretically, the change means they’ll make less money off publishers and advertisers (their stock dropped 5% following the news).

In Zuck’s own words, it could also mean that people may spend less time on Facebook.

You’re gonna see a lot more of Aunt Sally’s DIY craft posts
Remember the simpler days of Facebook? You know, back when people posted innocent statuses about things they were doing like, “going to see How To Train Your Dragon! I love movie popcorn!”

Well, we can’t turn back the clock, but we will start seeing more posts from friends in our feed. With a caveat: highly shared and liked articles will still rise to the top. So the “tag a friend who needs this!” articles could still prosper.

Source: The Hustle

Social-media giants such as Facebook and will have to reveal the scale of cyber bullying in the UK and face being made to pay the cost of dealing with it.

Under the latest guidance by the UK government, technology companies will be required to publish an annual report on how complaints are handled, the reported abuse that is pulled down and the extent of their efforts to moderate bullying or offensive content about children, women, gay people or religions.

One of the proposals is for “an industry-wide levy so social-media companies and communication service providers contribute to raise awareness and counter internet harms,”​ according to a statement published Wednesday that didn’t give further details.

“Behavior that is unacceptable in real life is unacceptable on a computer screen,” Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said in an email released by her office.

“We need an approach to the internet that protects everyone.”

The campaign is part of the government’s wider strategy to force technology companies to accept greater responsibility for their content.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has also called on companies to “step up” and assume moral responsibility for ridding their platforms of terrorist content, refusing to rule out the prospect of compulsion by fines or legislation.

The UK has been pushing the envelope in terms of how willing it is to go after Silicon Valley.

Efforts to end hate speech and trolling on social media have intensified in the wake of five terror attacks this year, yet the desire to regulate tech firms – in ways that are unprecedented – risks driving them offshore.

On Tuesday, Sharon White, the chief executive of UK media regulator Ofcom, said she viewed companies like Facebook as news publishers.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, later told reporters that the government was “looking at the role Google and Facebook play in the news environment” as well as “the roles, responsibility and legal status of the major internet platforms.”

In May 2016, a number of social-media companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube voluntarily committed to trying to take down illegal content within 24 hours.

But last month the European Commission called upon the tech firms to do more to block illegal content.

Germany has passed a law requiring hate speech to be removed within 24 hours of it being flagged, with penalties of up to 50 million euros ($60 million) for repeated failures to comply.

In September, May went further. At a meeting at the United Nations, she propose new rules requiring internet companies to take down extremist content within two hours.

Source: BusinessTech/Bloomberg

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