Tag: facebook

Facebook accused of job ad gender discrimination

Source: BBC 

Van driving, roofing, police work – all jobs for men. At least, that’s what a cluster of job ads placed on Facebook seemed to suggest.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday submitted a complaint to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that Facebook’s advertising system allows employers to target job ads based on gender – a practice the ACLU says is illegal.

Specifically, the complaint refers to three women in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois who were not shown advertisements for what have traditionally been considered male-dominated professions.

The complaint highlights 10 different employers who posted job adverts on Facebook – for roles such as mechanic, roofer and security engineer – but used the social network’s targeting system to control who saw the ad. In one example, that targeting meant one job was promoted to “men” who were “ages 25 to 35”, and lived “or were recently near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”.

A separate investigation by ProPublica discovered what it said were more examples showing a similar pattern.

Earlier this year the investigative journalism site released a tool which readers could use to collect data on the Facebook ads they had seen, and send that information directly to ProPublica for analysis.

Using that method, the site said it discovered men were targeted specifically in dozens of cities around the US for driving jobs with Uber. This conclusion was based on 91 ads placed by Uber’s recruitment arm, only one of which was targeted specifically at women, with three not targeting any particular gender. The rest were designed to be seen by men only.

In a statement, Uber said: “We use a variety of channels to reach prospective drivers – both offline and online – with the goal of enabling more people, not fewer, to earn on their own schedule.”

Missing information
However, this data should be treated with caution. It is not clear that any broad conclusions can be made about perceived discrimination on Facebook.

While one advertisement in isolation may be targeting men specifically, there may have been an equivalent advertisement targeting women running in the same time frame – ads that may not have been picked up by ProPublica’s tool. Furthermore, if a user clicks on an ad to see why it has been targeted – as in the ACLU complaint – they will be told why they specifically saw the ad, but not details on the entire audience for the ad.

The BBC understands Facebook is in the process of putting together data to dispute the findings and respond to the ACLU’s complaint.

While targeting users based on gender may seem relatively harmless when it comes to, for instance, clothing brands, doing so for job advertisements may be against US law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically prohibits discriminating against a person because of “race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin”. The law applies to every stage of employment, including recruitment.

Facebook said it was looking into the complaint
“When employers in male-dominated fields advertise their jobs only to men, it prevents women from breaking into those fields,” said Galen Sherwin, from the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, arguing that “non-binary” people, those who choose not to identify with a specific gender, are also excluded.

“What’s more, clicking on the Facebook ads brought viewers to a page listing numerous other job opportunities at these companies for which job seekers might be qualified.

“Because no women saw these ads, they were shut out of learning not only about the jobs highlighted in the ads, but also about any of these other opportunities.”

Facebook said it was reviewing the ACLU’s complaint and looked forward to “defending our practices”.

“There is no place for discrimination on Facebook,” said spokesman Joe Osborne.

“It’s strictly prohibited in our policies, and over the past year, we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse.”

The company has recently removed over 5,000 targeting options for advertisers. The move was prompted by a lawsuit accusing the firm of unlawfully targeting users based on race or sexual orientation.

By Emily Glazer, Deepa Seetharaman and AnnaMaria Andriotis for Wall Street Journal 

The social-media giant has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking-account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users.

Facebook increasingly wants to be a platform where people buy and sell goods and services, besides connecting with friends. The company over the past year asked JPMorgan Chase JPM 0.37% & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. C 0.01% and U.S. Bancorp USB 0.70% to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger, people familiar with the matter said.

Facebook has talked about a feature that would show its users their checking-account balances, the people said. It has also pitched fraud alerts, some of the people said.

Data privacy is a sticking point in the banks’ conversations with Facebook, said people familiar with the matter. The talks are taking place as Facebook faces several investigations over its ties to political analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which accessed data on as many 87 million Facebook users without their consent.

One large U.S. bank pulled away from the talks due to privacy concerns, some of the people said.

Facebook has told banks that the additional customer information could be used to offer services that might entice users to spend more time on Messenger, a person familiar with the discussions said. The company is trying to deepen user engagement: Investors shaved more than $120 billion from its market value in one day last month after it said its growth is starting to slow.

Facebook said it wouldn’t use the bank data for ad-targeting purposes or share it with third parties.

“We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit-card companies for ads,” spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana said. “We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships or contracts with banks or credit-card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.”

Facebook shares climbed sharply Monday on the news, rising 4.45%, marking the biggest one-day gain since last month’s historic drop.

Banks face pressure to build relationships with big online platforms, which reach billions of users and drive a growing share of commerce. They also are trying to reach more users digitally. Many struggle to gain traction in mobile payments.

Yet banks are hesitant to hand too much control to third-party platforms such as Facebook. They prefer to keep customers on their own websites and apps.

As part of the proposed deals, Facebook asked banks for information about where their users are shopping with their debit and credit cards outside of purchases they make using Facebook Messenger, the people said. Messenger has some 1.3 billion monthly active users, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on the company’s second-quarter earnings call last month.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc. also have asked banks to share data if they join with them, in order to provide basic banking services on applications such as Google Assistant and Alexa, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Facebook has taken a harder public line on privacy since the Cambridge Analytica uproar. A product privacy team has announced new features such as “clear history,” which would allow users to prevent the service from collecting their off-Facebook browsing details. It also is making efforts to alert users to its privacy settings.

That hasn’t assuaged concerns over Facebook’s privacy practices. Bank executives are worried about the breadth of information being sought, even if it means their bank might not being available on certain platforms their customers use. Bank customers would need to opt-in to the proposed Facebook services, the company said in a statement Monday.

JPMorgan isn’t “sharing our customers’ off-platform transaction data with these platforms, and have had to say no to some things as a result,” spokeswoman Trish Wexler said.

Banks view mobile commerce as one of their biggest opportunities but are still running behind technology firms such as PayPal Holdings Inc. PYPL 0.62% and Square Inc. Customers have moved slowly, too; many Americans still prefer using credit or debit cards, along with cash and checks.

In an effort to compete with PayPal’s Venmo, a group of large banks last year connected their smartphone apps to money-transfer network Zelle. Results are mixed so far: While usage has risen, many banks still aren’t on the platform.

In recent years, Facebook has tried to transform Messenger into a hub for customer service and commerce, in keeping with a broader trend among mobile messaging services.

A partnership with American Express Co. AXP 1.04% allows Facebook users to contact the card company’s representatives. Last year, Facebook struck a deal with PayPal that allows users of that payment service to send money through Messenger. And Mastercard Inc. MA 0.54% cardholders can place online orders with certain merchants through Messenger using the card company’s Masterpass digital wallet. (A Mastercard spokesman said Facebook doesn’t see the card users’ information.)

By Annie Palmer for DailyMail 

Facebook will soon be able to notify you if Russian trolls are sliding into your DMs.

The social media giant is testing a new feature that will include additional information from unfamiliar contacts who have direct messaged you on Facebook Messenger, showing things like when the account was created and the country where their phone number is registered.

It marks Facebook’s latest effort to stave off the spread of fake news on its platform.

Should the feature become available to the public, it would help prevent users from receiving potentially malicious or spammy messages from unknown users.

“We are testing a way to provide people with more context on folks they may not have connected with previously,” Facebook Messenger spokesperson Dalya Browne told Motherboard.

“This is just a small test,” she adds.

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.

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