Displaying items by tag: Facebook

On Saturday, the Australian government pledged to introduce new laws on social media executives in light of the latest terrorist attack in New Zealand.

The new law would be imposed on social media executives of big tech companies which could lead up to a three-year prison sentence if they fail to remove extremist material from their platforms.

This new legislation is to be discussed in parliament next week.

Facebook has said that it removed around 1.5 million videos which comprised of the livestreamed massacre which took play on March 15 in Christchurch mosque in New Zealand. It was a 17-minute video which was filmed by the terrorist himself going on a rampage and killing 50 innocent people. This video was almost immediately available online and Facebook quickly took the video down several hours after the attack.

“Big social media companies have a responsibility to take evry possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Morrison met with several tech companies on Tuesday some of which included Facebook, Twitter and Google. At the meeting, Australia stated that it would advise other G20 countries to do the same and hold social media firms accountable.

At the meeting, Facebook said that it was “committed to working with leaders and communities” in order to “help counter hate speech and the threat of terrorism.” However, the tech company refused to give any further comments.

Attorney General Christian Porter said that the new legislation would make it a criminal offence if social media platforms fail to discard “abhorrent violent material” such as murder, rape and terror attacks.

The fines for such an offence are expected to be worth billions of dollars.

Porter stated, “Mainstream media hat broadcast such material would be putting their licence at risk and there is no reason why social media platforms should be treated any differently.”

Nigel Phair, a cybersecurity expert, hinted that this new law could not possibly imprison social media executives. He stated that jail was reserved for “serious criminal matters” and that executives based in Australia were not company “decision makers”.

“Jails is for violent offenders, not marketing representatives in Australia of an American social media company.”
He said that the social media firms could have done more than what they pledged to do on Tuesday. He added, “They didn’t read the tea leaves back then, it’ll be different how they read the tea leaves now.”

Published in Apps

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

France to increase taxes on internet giants

Written on Thursday, 07 March 2019 08:35

French President Emmanuel Macron has planned to implement an increase in taxes on internet giants such as Google and Facebook.

After failing to convince his European counterparts to introduce it as an EU-wide tax, he decided to implement it in his own country. Many EU officials were against the idea such as Ireland which is well-known for its low-tax jurisdictions.

The matter will be discussed by cabinet ministers and then submitted to Parliament. The proposal put forward regarding the new tax mechanism suggests that lare companies operating within France are subject to a tax of three per cent on their digital sales made within the territory.

This weekend, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Parisien, “The amount obtained from this three per cent tax on digital gross sales in France from January1, 2019 should soon reach 500 million Euros.”

This new tax is called “GAFA tax” which stands for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

Indeed, the European Commission found that Apple paid just 0.005 per cent of corporate tax on its European profits in 2014 which equates to approximately 50 Euros per million. As a result, in 2016 Apple was ordered by the European Commission to make a payment of 13 billion Euros in taxes to Ireland.

Under EU law, internet giants are expected to report their income which has prompted them to opt for low-tax nations for business such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Under the legislation which will be presented by French politician Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday, digital companies with sales of more than 750 million euros per year globally and more than 25 million n France will be taxed.

Le Maire stated, “If these two critera are not met, the taxes will not be imposed.”

He also said that around 30 companies in China, Germany, the US, Spain and the UK will be affected by this tax.

According to Le Maire, taxing such companies “is a question of fiscal justice” because “digital giants pay 14 per cent less tax than small- and medium-sized European companies.”

Ireland, Sweden and Denmark have refused the EU’s efforts to implement a new tax due to fear of decreased investment. Germany had a somewhat neutral stance on the matter as it feared an adverse response from the S against its car industry.

While the prospect of enforcing this tax within Europe has failed, France is hoping for a global agreement by 2020.

France is trying to pursue “common ground” on the issue with members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which is comprised of representatives from the most advanced economies in the world.

 Britain, Italy and Spain have also been working on a new digital tax while Singapore, Japan and India are in the process of planning their own schemes.

Recently, aggressive legal action by tax authorities has been taken against these companies.

Just last month, Apple reached an agreement to pay 10 years’ worth of backtracked taxes which amounted to nearly 500 million Euros.

However in 2017, France tax collection drive experienced a setback when their court action against Google resulted in the internet giant not being liable to pay 101 billion Euros in taxes from revenues which were reportedly transferred from France to Ireland.

French tax is “symbolic and does not solve the problem of massive fiscal evastion,” said Raphael Pradeau from the anti-globalisation lobby group Attac. “It’s as if we accept that such firms can practice tax evasion in return for a few crumbs.”

Published in Government

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

Irish capital is Europe’s data hub

Written on Thursday, 24 January 2019 12:28

A new industrial revolution is underway in the heart of the Irish capital as clusters of warehouses housing vast quantities of data continue to emerge.

Dublin has really embraced technology in an effort to boost its flagging and shrinking economy following the global crash in 2008. Internet behemoths such as Facebook, Apple and Google all have their European HQ’s in Dublin and the city has become the continent’s No.1 data hub.

A familiar term within the ICT ecosystem is that ‘data is the new oil’ and will fuel the global economy. Those sentiments were echoed by Brian Roe, Commercial Director of Serve-Centric, which is a data center company.

Roe said, “Data is the new oil, definitely.  These powerhouse developments provide 24/7/365 access to the massive data, processing power and storage that digital services around Europe require. People are saying, ‘Well everything is going to come from the cloud’.  Well where's the cloud? The cloud is data centers."

Ireland’s industry lobby group Host has said the new phenomenon has become the unlikely engine room for everything from video streaming to phone apps and social media.    

In addition to this, progressive government incentives, a highly-skilled workforce and high connectivity to Europe and America are helping attract data center construction investment which is expected to reach nine billion euros ($10 billion) by 2021.

The sector employs 5,700 people in full-time equivalent roles including 1,800 as data center operators, according to a report produced for Ireland's investment agency. Many of Ireland’s brightest young talent were forced to emigrate after the recession, but many are no returning to avail of the exciting new opportunities presented by Dublin’s transformation into a tech hub.    

Data has become a hot topic in Europe following the introduction of GDPR. Enterprises have been forced to examine their data harvesting and storage practices in a more forensic manner. Consumers have also now been awakened to the dangers of providing their data online following the high-profile Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal which emerged last year. 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) -- which provides cloud services for hire -- is a particular concern for Paul O' Neill, a researcher based at Dublin City University. "The ethical implications of hosting AWS data centers in Ireland are potentially vast," he said.

AWS, which has announced plans to expand its Dublin operations, sells controversial facial recognition technology to US police.

"These corporations are or have been involved in many of the dominant controversies and debates of our contemporary networked era including privacy, data breaches and surveillance.”

Published in Infrastructure

Facebook accused of breaking law in Vietnam

Written on Thursday, 10 January 2019 13:08

Vietnam has accused Facebook of breaching a new cybersecurity law by failing to take down anti-government content from its pages and advertising illegal products such as weapons and counterfeit goods.

The law – which came into place on January 1st - requires internet companies to remove "toxic content" and hand over user data when requested by authorities.

A report broadcast on Vietnam Television said that the Ministry of Information and Communications had sent several letters and emails to the company requesting the removals of pages calling for anti-government activities, but that the social media giant had delayed and failed to remove the pages from its site 

Vietnam also accused the company of hosting advertisements for illegal products such as counterfeit money, fake goods, weapons and fireworks.

Facebook claim that the information did not violate community standards, and remains transparent about the content restrictions they make pursuant with local law.

"We have a clear process for governments to report illegal content to us, and we review all these requests against our terms of service and local law," a spokeswoman from Facebook said.

The consequences for violating the law are expected to be laid out in a decree which has yet to be made public and Facebook are the first reprimand since the controversial bill came into place days ago.

Vietnam has said the bill is designed to improve cybersecurity in the country, but has drawn widespread criticism from the US, the EU and web freedom groups. Critics have said the new legislation is a means to control online expression – similar to China’s strict censorship laws.  

As all independent press and public protests are banned, social media is a crucial platform for activists in communist Vietnam, with over 53 million Facebook user profiles. However, reports in recent months suggest that Facebook posts have disappeared and accounts been blocked.

Published in Apps

Facebook faces lawsuit over data leak scandal

Written on Thursday, 20 December 2018 10:15

A DC attorney general has announced that he will file a lawsuit against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Attorney General Karl Racine said the social media giant had “failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them,” after the data of tens of millions of its users were leaked to third-parties.

The suit alleges the company violated the Consumer Protection Procedures Act through its lax privacy standards, and that it misrepresented third-party developers’ ability to obtain data. The office intends to seek civil penalties if proven in court.

After the scandal emerged in March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress and answered questions from the Senate commerce and judiciary committees on privacy, data mining, regulations and Cambridge Analytica. The political consultancy had gathered names, “likes” and other data from more than 87 million Facebook users without their permission or knowledge.

Facebook was fined £500,000 by the UK's data protection watchdog for its role in the scandal.

“Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them” about who had access to their data and how it was used,” Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. “Facebook put users at risk of manipulation by allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica and other third-party applications to collect personal data without users’ permission. Today’s lawsuit is about making Facebook live up to its promise to protect its users’ privacy.”

The lawsuit is the latest blow for the social media giant in recent weeks. A report in the New York Times revealed that Facebook had allowed ‘partner’ companies such as Netflix, Spotify and the Royal Bank of Canada the ability to read, write and delete users’ private messages.

On the stock exchange, Facebook had fallen by 7.3%, with Loup Venture founder Gene Munster advising against the buying of its stocks, quoting that the social media behemoth’s ‘best days are behind it’.

Published in Apps

Facebook’s new app will cover news across 400 US cities

Written on Thursday, 29 November 2018 12:27

Facebook has announced it is expanding its local news alert to 400 US cities, and is testing the feature in Australia. “Today In” includes previews that link to news websites and relevant government pages about top headlines, current discussions, weather and more. A separate section within the app will allow users to receive local updates.

A decline in the number of local news organizations is said to have inspired Facebook’s “Today In” section. It is understood the social network will monitor the app in a bid to remove fake news and biased sensationalism.

"Earlier this year, we started testing Today In after we did research in which over 50 percent of people told us they wanted to see more local news and community information on Facebook -- more than any other type of content we asked about," said product manager Andrea Watson Strong in a blog post.

"The research showed that people wanted both what might be traditionally understood as local news -- breaking news or information about past events like city council meetings, crime reports and weather updates -- as well as community information that could help them make plans, like bus schedules, road closures and restaurant openings.

The app will also feature a First Responder page which could be used to inform citizens in emergencies such as floods or hurricanes. 

"People tell us it is important to receive timely, local updates in situations that directly affect them or that require them to take action, such as major road closures, blackouts or natural disasters," Strong said.

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
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