Displaying items by tag: Social Media

Facebook faces historic $5bn fine over privacy violations

Written on Thursday, 25 July 2019 06:11

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to fine Facebook $5 billion over privacy violations from the Cambridge Analytica scandal as well as a $100 million penalty by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for releasing misleading information about user data.

Notwithstanding the highest ever fine imposed on the tech giant, the FTC said that Facebook will also have to submit new sweeping restrictions and a newly modified corporate structure which aims to hold the company accountable for their decision regarding the privacy of its users.

The FTC issued a new 20-year settlement in an effort to avoid another potential situation where Facebook deceives its users about their privacy. The settlement order will reform the way the company makes its decisions about privacy through encouraging greater transparency and holding the tech behemoth responsible through several levels and channels of compliance.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, stated, “The next focus for our company is to build privacy protections as strong as the best services we provide. I’m committed to doing this well and delivering the best private social platform for our community.”

The $5 billion fine accounts for around 9% of the tech company’s 2018 revenue.

In fact, the decisions came amidst Facebook’s announcement of its second quarter earnings. The company’s stock experienced a 2% decrease during this quarter in the pre-market trading.

After the fines were made official, Zuckerberg said, “Just as we have an audit committee of our board to oversee our financial controls, we’ll set up a new privacy committee of our board that will oversee our privacy program. We’ve also asked one of our most experienced product leaders to take on the role of Chief Privacy Officer for Products.”

Published in Government

Facebook stores millions of user passwords

Written on Tuesday, 26 March 2019 09:17

Facebook revealed that it has kept a record of hundreds of millions of user passwords in plain text.

The social media giant’s Vice President of Engineering, Security and Privacy, Pedro Canahuati, wrote in  a blog post that hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users will be notified about this and so will the millions of Facebook and Instagram users.

Facebook Lite is a version of Facebook which is used in areas with weak connectivity.

According to Canahuati the mistake they made was noticed in January but did failed to comment on why an announcement wasn’t made about the issue at the time. Instead, the announcement came over two months later.

“As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems,” said Canahuati.

He also stated that the passwords which were stored were never visible to anyone outside Facebook and that they were not abused or improperly used by any of the staff.

“This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable.

We have fixed these issues and as a precaution we will be notifying everyone whose passwords we have found were stored in this way.”

Published in Apps

Social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are facing scrutiny following the horrific terrorist attack in New Zealand. 

Published in Apps

New York regulators are investigating Facebook’s gathering of intimate data about consumers’ menstrual cycles and body weight through smartphone applications.

Facebook has confirmed that New York’s Department of Financial Services set them a letter about the data sharing issue.

The New York based regulator asked the social media giant to provide a list of all the companies that were involved in sending them the data over the past three years.

According to the source, requests to provide information on agreements with Facebook were sent to a number of application developers.

A Wall Street Journal report from February 22 showed that after testing over 70 smartphone apps, approximately 11 were disclosing ‘highly sensitive’ information to Facebook to use for target ads. These ads would be able to reach users who are not Facebook members.

The intimate data that was collected by the apps showed personal information with regards to body weight, height, ovulation cycles, heart rate, pregnancy status and home shopping.

It was found that around 6 of the 15 most popular health and fitness apps shared personal information with Facebook.

A Facebook spokesperson stated:  

"It's common for developers to share information with a wide range of platforms for advertising and analytics.

"We require the other app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us, and we prohibit app developers from sending us sensitive data. We also take steps to detect and remove data that should not be shared with us."

The investigation comes at the peak of the debate over online privacy and at a time when Facebook is still attempting to regain the trust of the masses following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

According to the Journal, the ‘highly sensitive information’ is sent to Facebook immediately after it is entered into the app.

Facebook is able to collect data through the Software Development Kit (SDK), which is a set of programs used to create apps and it often includes a set of open software tools.

These apps have used Facebook’s SDK to build their software in exchange for data which Facebook uses for advertising purposes.

A Facebook spokesperson has said that the data transmission does violate the company’s business agreement and that Facebook has taken measures to stop the apps from disclosing such personal information.

Published in Apps

Facebook under fire from former colleague

Written on Thursday, 29 November 2018 12:10

A former strategic partner manager at Facebook has shared a public memo about Facebook’s failings in regards to their black workforce and users. In a post to his personal profile during his last week at the company, Mark Luckie openly criticised the Californian social network, claiming they have a ‘black people problem’.

 Luckie, who is black, felt he had to resign from his position as he had ‘lost the will and the desire’ to advocate on behalf of Facebook, and felt his authenticity whilst at the company was compromised. He believes the multi-billion dollar service does not hire enough workers from ethnic minorities and carelessly removes positive content from the black community despite adhering to its terms and conditions.   

Luckie states he was one of only a small number of black people at Facebook and is cynical about his inclusion in that he was only hired as a bid for the company to appear diverse. "Facebook's disenfranchisement of black people on the platform mirrors the marginalization of its black employees," He states, “We need black employees, women, and people of colour to feel good about working at this company.”

He shared a personal account, in which a fellow colleague he would pass in the corridor would clutch at his wallet, suggesting that he felt Luckie would steal from him.  He noted that whilst the number of black and Hispanic workforce had increased from 2% to 4% from 2016, he alleges that colleagues would often remark, ‘I didn’t know black people worked at Facebook.’

Luckie also asks that Facebook must do more to provide a ‘safe haven’ for the black community, who - as one of the most engaged demographic - rely on the social media platform heavily to be heard.  He reports that positive material posted is being wrongly interpreted as ‘hate speech’ and reported; despite it not violating any of Facebook policies.  He claims Facebook is removing content and suspending accounts without properly investigating, and that underrepresented voices will be deterred from sharing content on its platform.

Published in Apps

Facebook boosts presence in Middle East and North Africa

Written on Tuesday, 31 October 2017 11:10

Completing five years in the Middle East and North Africa, Facebook opened the doors to its brand new regional headquarters in Dubai on Oct. 27. The 20,000-square-foot space features an open office concept, and showcases regional cultural inspirations through the various designs and artistic cues.

Since launching a local presence in the region in 2012, Facebook has been embraced by users, growing to 164 million monthly active people. With over 60 employees, mostly from the Arab region, Facebook’s office in Dubai acts as a hub.

Over the past five years, Facebook has grown its MENA user base by 264 percent, and now looks to galvanize the digital transformation in the Arab World, collaborating with users and partners to create products and solutions relevant to the region.

The new office houses a strong, purpose-built team, with strong regional experience, that reflects the brand’s mission to give people the power to build communities and bring the world closer together.

Working with companies across a multitude of industries including travel and tourism, finance, media, automotive, FMCG, retail, telecom and start-ups, Facebook has driven both awareness and consideration for global and local brands in the region. Complementing this is the company’s mobile-first strategy as over 156 million users access Facebook on mobile devices every month in MENA.

“This region has embarked on a path of growth and transformation and we aim to be part of it. Our new headquarters is a truly inspiring space, and brings to life the dynamism, creativity and innovative culture of Facebook while reflecting the communities around us,” said Jonathan Labin, Managing Director, Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan at Facebook.

“With its strong business ecosystems, regional connectivity, and access to the best global talent, Dubai and the UAE remain the right place for us to call home in the region,” Labin added. “We are only 1 percent finished in our journey here, and we are excited about what lies ahead in this young, connected, and mobile-first region.”

Facebook’s strong connection to the region is reflected in the Arabic themes used in the new office design, not just limited to quirky meeting room names such as ‘Hommous’, but also with commissioned pieces that blend modern and traditional styles from Emirati artist Eman Al Hashemi, making her the first artist from the Arab world to join Facebook’s Global Artist in Residence program.

Other things to look out for in the office include a maternity room for mothers who choose to bring their children to work, a treadmill desk, and an interfaith room. The office also features an in-house library with a cross-section of publications from global authors. 

Designed by INC Group and JLL MENA, the office includes a bright open floor area to encourage collaboration, a mother’s room, an interfaith room, a majlis, with recreational and quiet rooms. The office also features a private terrace with views of the iconic Palm Jumeirah.

Employees have access to a gaming section or can take selfies in a custom-built Instagram anti-gravity room. For those looking for quiet time, the space features ‘acoustic sofas’ as a quieter location for work as well as meeting rooms that reflect the regional culture and sense of humor, including ‘Three Men and a Habibi’, ‘Shawarma’, and ‘Gone with the Sandstorm’.

Expanding their presence in the region, Facebook aims to build on its work with local and regional Arab content creators like The Saudi Reporters, as well as further create opportunities for entrepreneurs by working directly with businesses to develop bespoke strategies that supports their growth.

The next few years will also see Facebook sustaining the momentum of its global #SheMeansBusiness program, launched earlier this year, in partnership with Emirates Foundation, Sheraa Sharjah and Ahead of the Curve in Egypt which aims to train and inspire women entrepreneurs in the region, and use Facebook and Instagram as platforms to reach and grow their audiences.

Published in Apps

Vodafone UK launches first youth dedicated mobile offering

Written on Sunday, 10 September 2017 10:14

Vodafone UK has launched VOXI, a new mobile offering for people aged 25 and under, that enables them to “use their phones the way they want to,” the company said. The VOXI brand, products, customer experience and marketing have all be co-created with Vodafone’s audience. The VOXI offering is powered by Vodafone’s network.

The VOXI SIM, available from 8 September, lets users indulge in selected social and chat apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and Viber) as much as they like, without affecting their data allowance.

The offering is seen as “flexible and affordable” giving users the freedom to use their phone in Europe with no extra cost, and no contract or credit check required.

VOXI users get unlimited data on social and chat apps while roaming in the Europe Zone, but outside the zone, standard roaming charges apply. The company said it will also soon introduce the ability for users to access video and music apps as much as they like without using their data allowance.

“Why should young people make do with the same mobile plans as everyone else, when they use their phones differently and often can’t access the best deals?” said Dan Lambrou, Head of VOXI.

“We’ve worked with hundreds of people aged 25 and under, and have really listened to them. They are a generation that’s tired of being stereotyped and talked at. We created VOXI, a transparent new mobile service that gives our audience a platform to connect to the things that matter to them, whatever they’re into,” Lambrou added.

To ensure VOXI is relevant to its youth audience, Vodafone said the content on its marketing channels will be created by a community of young artists, filmmakers and designers from across the UK.  

“They will showcase their diverse passions, talents and experiences across the entire VOXI marketing campaign – from social posts through to live events – reflecting the things our audience really cares about,” the company said in a release.  

“Vodafone has been working hard to understand the specific needs of our customers. We know today’s young generation use their phones in a completely different way, with social media at the very centre of their lives,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffrey. “They want services that put their needs first.

“VOXI gives young people just that: access to the content and channels they love, simple and cost-effective price plans, and a mobile network they can count on,” Jeffrey added.

The company said VOXI may intervene in extreme situations if usage adversely impacts the service for other customers, or if someone is using the service fraudulently, or for commercial purposes.

The cost of providing unlimited use of the social media and chat apps is included in all VOXI plans, the company said, and users are free to opt-in or opt-out of their plan at any time.

Published in Telecom Operators

Facebook announced that it’s taking an additional step to reduce false news and hoaxes on its platform, by disallowing companies to advertize if they repeatedly share stories marked as false. This ads to Facebook’s current policy of disallowing advertisers to run ads that link to stories that have been marked as false by third-party fact-checking organizations.

The update, according to a blog post by the social media giant, will help to reduce the distribution of false news which will keep pages that spread false news from making money. Facebook said it found instances where sites were using Facebook ads to build their audiences in order to distribute false news more broadly.

Now, if a site repeatedly shares stories marked as false, they won’t be able to buy ads on Facebook. However, if those pages stop sharing false news, Facebook said they “may be eligible to start running ads again.”

Facebook said: “False news is harmful to our community. It makes the world less informed and erodes trust.” The Californian company said it’s working to fight the spread of false news in three key areas: disrupting the economic incentives to create false news; building new products to curb the spread of false news; and helping people make more informed decisions when they encounter false news.

The company announced a new tool in December 2016 which would enable users to report false news stories that appear on the social media site. Facebook has been criticized in the past for its failure to prevent the volume of fake stories going viral on its platform.

“Today’s update helps to disrupt the economic incentives and curb the spread of false news, which is another step towards building a more informed community on Facebook,” the company said of its latest initiative.

Published in Apps

Citizens of the United Kingdom will soon be able to force social media platforms to delete information about them, including content published during their childhood, due to government proposals that will bring data laws into line with new European regulations, Reuters reported.

Digital Minister Matt Hancock said Britons will be given more control over their data by having “the right to be forgotten” online and ask for their personal data to be erased. The new measures will force companies to seek permission to obtain personal data rather than rely on pre-selected tick boxes, which are often ignored, Hancock said.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to become enforceable from May 2018, tightens and extends the scope of data protection law in Europe, and the UK’s new rules will fall in line with this.

Despite the UK planning to leave the European Union, it will have to comply with GDPR, according to lawyers and tech experts, to avoid disruption to the data traffic that is essential to international business. The new rules would give the UK one of the most robust, yet dynamic, set of data laws globally, Hancock claims.

"It will give people more control over their data, require more consent for its use and prepare Britain for Brexit," he said, adding that the data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), will be given scope to issue higher fines (up to 17 million pounds), in cases of serious data braches.

Published in Government

Social networking colossus Facebook is challenging a gag order from a US court that is currently preventing the organization from talking about three government search warrants. However, Facebook is claiming that the preventative measures implemented by the US court pose a threat to freedom of speech.

According to reports and court documents, Facebook wants to notify three of its users about the search warrants that are seeking their communications and information, and to provide those users with the opportunity to object to the warrants.

Facebook released a statement on the gag order and expressed its concern over a breach of the First Amendment concerns with this particular case. Facebook said: "We believe there are important First Amendment concerns with this case, including the government's refusal to let us notify three people of broad requests for their account information in connection with public events.”

The First Amendment to the US constitution guarantees certain rights including freedom of speech; however, William Miller, a spokesman for US prosecutors declined to comment on Facebook’s decision to challenge the gag order. In an undated court document it said that Facebook decided to challenge the gag order around the three warrants on the basis that free speech was at stake – and that the events underlying the government’s investigation were generally known to the public.

It has not yet been disclosed what the precise nature of the government’s investigation is; however, there have been suggestions that the timing of the proceedings coincide with charges against people who protested at Donald Trump’s inauguration in January. On the day, Donald Trump was sworn in as president - over 200 people were arrested in Washington as masked activists threw rocks at police, whilst multiple vehicles were set on fire.

Technology firms have consistently complied with thousands of requests for user data made on an annual basis by the government around the world, but in extraordinary circumstances, leading tech entities such as Microsoft and Twitter have defied and challenged government secrecy orders. Facebook fought a secrecy order in April, in relation to a disability fraud investigation, but it lost the case in New York highest state court.

Facebook says about half of U.S. requests are accompanied by a non-disclosure order prohibiting it from notifying affected users. In April, a local judge in Washington denied Facebook's request to remove the gag order there, according to the document. Facebook is appealing and has preserved the relevant records pending the outcome, the document said.

"The government can only insulate its actions from public scrutiny in this way in the rarest circumstances, which likely do not apply here," said Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for digital rights.

Published in Apps
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