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  1. Reportedly, Facebook has announced an update in its login feature. The new feature will now notify users while logging in to third-party apps via Facebook. Facebook believes this change will bring more control to the users on their information. The tech giant has detailed this new feature in a blog post. As revealed, the new feature, called ‘Login Notifications’, generates user alerts while signing-in to third party apps. This notification will give details to the user about the information shared with the app. It will also let the user make any changes to the shared data.Attribution link: https://latesthackingnews.com/2020/01/19/facebook-will-notify-users-when-logging-in-to-third-party-apps/
  2. Should I Quit Facebook Altogether?We've all had that one friend who deactivated his/her Facebook and was never seen again, because no one could establish contact. As if the telephone, email, and IM were never invented, many people are at a loss as to how to contact you if your Facebook isn't an easy click away. Even if the situation isn't quite that dire, Facebook is still how a lot of people keep connected, and severing that connection completely is a big deal. But now, privacy-minded folks have many legitimate reasons you should quit Facebook (or reasons you should but can't go through with it), the same thing is on everyone's mind: Is the grief of quitting worth avoiding future privacy breaches? Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit FacebookFacebook privacy policies keep going down the drain. That's enough reason for many to abandon it.… Read moreThe Less Extreme AlternativeLuckily, there is another, more middle-of-the-road option. That's not to say this isn't still extreme—this isn't for the faint of heart. It isn't a tutorial about how to change your privacy settings. This is a tutorial on how to create the most minimalist Facebook profile possible, with as little information on yourself as possible, to be used only for communication between you and your friends. You won't be able to do much on the site; you probably won't even visit the site that often. This is not for people who want to continue using Facebook; it is for the people who are ready to up and quit tomorrow, but don't want to miss out on the next party just because they care about their privacy. So if you're really ready to give up wall posts, comments, Farmville, and fan pages, here's how to proceed without falling off the face of the Earth. Create a Disposable Email Address for Your AccountWe've talked about disposable email addresses before, and most people probably already have one. (The idea being that if you create a second email address for free and sign up for the sketchy sites with it, you won't have to deal with spam in your main account later on.) With all the bugs and privacy gaffes surrounding Facebook, it has certainly become one of those sites you could call sketchy. With this email address, you can also set up notifications for messages and event invites and get all that by email (so you don't ever have to actually "check" Facebook), and even forward it to your main email account. That way, you won't have to check this separate one, but if something ever happens (like Facebook making your email public for 30 minutes), you can delete the disposable address, make a new one, link it with Facebook, and not have to deal with the spam forever. You can use any service to do this, but I'd personally just make a new Gmail address separate from my regular Google account, sign into it using Private Browsing mode (so you don't sign yourself out of your regular Gmail), set up the forwarding filters, and forget it. (To set up forwarding, just log into your disposable account, click Create Filter, and set the filter to forward any email From:facebook to your real account. If things get ugly, you can always turn the filter off.) Email Addresses Briefly Made Public on FacebookFrom the files of the Facebook's Tenuous Grasp on Privacy Dept.: Numerous users saw their email… Read moreCreate a New Account and Transfer Your FriendsTechnically, this part is optional, but I also think it has the biggest impact on how the rest of your experience will pan out. You could just edit all the information on your current account, but if you make a new one and delete the old one you'll have a completely clean slate. You won't have any posts lingering around anywhere, no personal information for the taking and no photos tagged of you. Plus, this is prime time to get rid of all your friends that you don't need. Do you really still need to be Facebook friends with that girl you met at that party that time? Didn't think so. This process is actually quite simple, especially because you have a new email address as created in step one. Log out of Facebook and create a new account using that email address. Don't enter any information, and for now, don't make any new friends except with yourself (you'll need to friend your old account for this to work smoothly). Bask in the glory of that clean, privacy-filled profile, and then log back into your old account and accept the friend request to your new one. Alternatively, open up a second browser and use one for your old account and one for your new account, just for this process—you'll be switching back and forth a lot. Conveniently, Facebook will then ask you to suggest friends for your new account (if not, you can do so by visiting your new account's profile page from your old account). This is the part of the process in which you'll transfer over the friends you actually want with one fell swoop—no spending hours searching each and every one of them out. Go through the entire list of your friends and check off the ones you want to keep. It won't take nearly as long as you think it will, I promise. Click Send and then move over to your new account. All those suggestions will be pending friend requests that you can run through quickly and add each as a friend (again, it looks like a tedious process, but shouldn't take too long) and you'll have all the friends you need. If you want to hold on to your old account during the transition, that's fine, but the point of making a new one is to delete all the old stuff, so when you're ready, go ahead and delete (not just deactivate) that old account. It'll try to tempt you into staying by showing you pictures of your friends, but you can press continue without guilt knowing you're still going to (mostly) be around. Turn Off the Wall on Your ProfileThere are a few privacy settings we need to tweak on the new account, so hit "Account" in the upper left hand corner of your window and click Privacy Settings. The first area we'll venture into is "Personal Information and Posts" to turn off the wall. This way, you won't have your profile covered with the stupid things your friends say; it'll just be your very barren news feed. Everything else here can stay the same; you don't need to make anything else private. You aren't going to be making any posts, you aren't going to be filling out information, and you aren't going to be uploading photos, so no need to cover them up. Again, keep in mind—this isn't about changing privacy, this is about quitting unnecessary Facebook activity, so it doesn't matter what these privacy settings are. They're just going to go public again after the next redesign, so why mess with them now? Hide Your Email AddressNext, head back to your Privacy settings and go to "Contact Information". You could add more info here, like your phone number, if you want your friends to have easy access, but we've already seen how Facebook can make information public, even unintentionally. That's why we created the junk email address back at the beginning of this process. I'd just leave it all blank. Down next to your registered email address is the privacy setting for who can see it. Click on it and hit customize. In the dropdown at the top of the popup window, choose "only me" and click save. Your email address is now hidden from everyone, including your friends. If you want to make it visible to them, you can—sometimes people get in a bind and may want to contact you via email with something that physically can't be sent via Facebook message—but again, it's just a junk email address. You don't want your friends actually thinking that's your address, because then you have a lot more work to do if you ever have to trash it and get a new one as mentioned above. Just keep it a secret. Hide Media Tagged With Your NameAs of right now, you can only keep tagged photos and videos out of search results and off your profile. There is currently no way to actually prevent people from tagging photos of you. With this setting, people won't be able to see photos of you from your profile page, but if they get to the picture by other means (by, say, looking at the actual album or linking to it from the profile of someone else tagged in it) they will still see your name on the photo. Yes, it's a glaring omission from the privacy features in Facebook, but it also doesn't matter much. Unfortunately, the responsibility does and will always have to lie with your friends that are uploading pictures. Facebook will never be able to stop them from uploading a picture of you, and they'll never be able to stop that person from tagging that photo with a name, any name (including yours), whether or not it is linked to a profile. But even if it does, your profile is completely empty. What's the difference between it linking to your empty profile and being unclickable text? The only fool-proof solution to the photo tagging problem is to kick your friends in the shin if they post embarrassing pictures of you. Or, you know, get some more mature friends. To stop tagged photos from showing up on your profile, though, go back to Privacy Settings and hit "Friends, Tags, & Connections". Edit the "Photos and Videos of Me" setting just like you did in the last step so only you can see the tags, and save the settings. This will delete the link to "photos of you" under your profile picture. Hide Yourself from Facebook and Google SearchesYou can tweak this next step to your liking. You probably don't want your profile showing up in Google, but if you want people to find you on Facebook you might want to stay in those search results (since people won't be able to find you through activity on your friends' walls, because there won't be any). At the same time, you may wish to have complete control over who you become Facebook friends with, and that's fine too. In Privacy Settings, hit up the "Search" section and uncheck Public Search Results. Set your Facebook Search Results to whatever you want the same way you did for photos. Lock Down Applications (Just In Case)This is the one area where I would just make everything as private as possible. You never know what those darned applications are going to do, and while you're not going to be running around Facebook installing anything, you can never be too careful. I wouldn't even recommend you stay logged into Facebook while you browse the web, since we've all seen they're always watching you. Under Privacy Settings, head to Applications and Websites and go nuts. Edit what your friends can share about you and what you can share about your friends down to nothing, and set your activity visible only to you. Again, keep in mind that even if applications were to share your information—you don't really have any information to share, so you're probably safe. The darned things are just so annoying that I'd like to lock them down as much as possible. I'd also go into notification settings (under Account > Account Settings > Notifications) and turn off any notifications having to do with applications. In fact, while you're there, you might as well turn everything else off except for messages, event invitations, and (if you want) photo tagging, because you won't be doing much else on Facebook, so there's no reason to clutter up your inbox. Every once in a while, it's probably a good idea to log in and clear all your unnecessary notifications, but other than that, you should be able to get the few necessary features to notify you via email. While I'd like to say you won't have to pay attention to Facebook's privacy gaffes ever again, that just isn't the case. With each redesign, you'll want to do a quick scan of either the privacy settings, policy, or just the blogosphere to see what fresh new hell Facebook unleashes, but in general, no matter how much of your information they try to share, there isn't much on this minimal profile that can get out there. There are a few things Facebook will always have on you, such as your email address and list of friends, so these are the important things to check up on. But if you don't have anything else on your profile, it's hard to see how applications taking information from your profile is going to be a big disadvantage if there isn't anything on it to take. Your life won't be completely free of Facebook drama, but it will be significantly easier since you won't have to pour through how-tos (like this one) trying to figure out how to get everything set straight again. It should be a pretty easy process from now on. And, best of all, your friends can't complain about you being "hard to get a hold of", and you won't miss out on the next gathering just because the invitation went out on Facebook. To be perfectly clear, though: I'm not saying this is what everybody should do. If you're not violently furious with Facebook (I'm personally not), let it go. But, if you are seriously thinking about quitting, I think this is a set-up to consider, if you haven't already. If you have, be sure to share your tips for a minimalist Facebook in the comments READ More Here https://lifehacker.com/how-to-quit-facebook-without-actually-quitting-facebook-5538697 Share
  3. Facebook on Monday rejected a request from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia for a "backdoor" in its end-to-end encrypted messenger apps to help law enforcement agencies combat crime and terrorism. "Cybersecurity experts have repeatedly proven that when you weaken any part of an encrypted system, you weaken it for everyone, everywhere," WhatsApp head Will Cathcart and Facebook Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky wrote in a letter to U.S. Atty. Gen. William Barr, Acting U.S. Homeland Security Sec. Chad Wolf, UK Home Office Sec. Priti Patel, and Australian Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton. "The 'backdoor' access you are demanding for law enforcement would be a gift to criminals, hackers and repressive regimes, creating a way for them to enter our systems and leaving every person on our platforms more vulnerable to real-life harm," the Facebook executives maintained. "It is simply impossible to create such a backdoor for one purpose and not expect others to try and open it," they noted. "People's private messages would be less secure and the real winners would be anyone seeking to take advantage of that weakened security. That is not something we are prepared to do." Facebook's staunch stand against weakening the encryption of its messenger apps should polish its public image. "It's really good publicity for them," said Karen North, director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. "This is a good thing for Facebook because it's an announcement that Facebook values our privacy, that it's willing to go to the mat to protect the privacy of each and every one of us," she told TechNewsWorld. "It's also an announcement that the government can't infiltrate Facebook's encryption," North added, "because if they could, why would they ask for a backdoor?" Pandora's DoorIn theory, a backdoor accessible only to a specific authorized party, like a law enforcement agency, is possible, said Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C. "As a practical matter, though, Facebook is right," he told TechNewsWorld. "Implementing secure communications is a hard problem under the best of circumstances, and deliberately designing in functionality for surreptitious interception inherently creates an additional vulnerability that makes an attractive attack surface," Sanchez explained. "It increases both the risk of technical exploits that malicious hackers might take advantage of," he continued, "and of what we might call 'legal exploits' -- because once such a capability is designed, it will be virtually impossible to make it available to nice democratic governments that respect human rights, while denying it to repressive regimes that criminalize political dissent." Backdoors affect more than individual privacy. "When it comes to backdoors, you're talking about a privacy issue, but you're also talking about an infrastructure issue that has really far-reaching implications," said Liz Miller, principal analyst at Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm in Cupertino, California. "We live in a world where people are looking for exploits and ways into the infrastructure of systems every day," she told TechNewsWorld. "If we start to weaken that infrastructure, it's not just the privacy of an individual message that's at risk, it's the privacy of the entire network." Legislation NeededGovernment and law enforcement officials maintain the tech sector is overstating the danger of weakening encryption. "The single most important criminal justice challenge in the last 10 years is, in my opinion, the use of mobile devices by bad actors to plan, execute, and communicate about crimes," said New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in written testimony submitted to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing on encryption and lawful access held Tuesday. "Just as ordinary citizens rely on digital communication, so do people involved in terrorism, cyber fraud, murder, rape, robbery, and child sexual assault," he continued. His office is not anti-encryption, Vance maintained. "That does not mean encrypted material should be beyond the law when a judge signs a search warrant -- especially when we're talking about evidence tied to a child sex abuse case or a potential terrorist attack," he argued. It is "unconscionable that smartphone manufacturers, rather than working with government to address public safety concerns, have dug in their heels and mounted a campaign to convince their customers that government is wrong and that privacy is at risk," Vance said. "Because Apple and Google refuse to reconsider their approach, I believe the only answer is federal legislation ensuring lawful access," he added. "Tech goliaths have shown time and again they have no business policing themselves." Downside of Lawful AccessThere can be hangups, however, with the "lawful access" Vance and others seek. "The U.S. government can require an American company to install backdoors, but they can't require people to use those backdoored services," the Cato Institute's Sanchez pointed out. "There are already widely available open source encryption tools with no backdoors, which sophisticated users can switch to if they no longer trust compromised encryption," he continued, "and competing tech companies outside U.S. jurisdiction are sure to eagerly promote their products as an uncompromised, more secure alternative." In either case, the big loser would be Facebook. "People utilize WhatsApp because of the encryption," Constellation's Miller observed. "If you take that away, a lot of people will leave the platform, and they'll begin to question whether they want to do business with Facebook." Support of encryption backdoors by global governments has the security community concerned, observed Kevin Bocek, vice president for security strategy and threat intelligence at Salt Lake City-based Venafi, maker of a platform to protect digital keys and certificates. "This is not rocket science. Backdoors inevitably create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cyberattackers. It's understandable that so many security and privacy professionals are concerned. Backdoors are especially appealing to hostile and abusive attackers," he told TechNewsWorld. "This is a tense moment for technology professionals because they know backdoors make our critical infrastructure and devices more vulnerable. We know that attackers don't abide by restrictions. They don't follow the rules or buy products in controlled markets," Bocek continued. "Countries that enact these restrictions harm law-abiding businesses and court economic damage," he warned, "as well as intrusions focused on sovereign government processes." 
  4. Facebook has revealed a raft of measures it is taking in order to help protect the upcoming Indian General Election. While the social media giant is rolling out its political ad transparency tools such as its Ad Library which it has been deployed in other regions, it is also taking new steps. In addition to the measures we’ve seen before, Facebook is launching new operation centers in Singapore and Dublin that will work with staff at Menlo Park (Facebook’s HQ) and experts in Delhi. This will strengthen the firm’s global coordination and speed up response times when it comes to combating fake news, misinformation, hate speech, and voter suppression. Facebook’s AI systems have been improved too, with support added for 24 new languages, including 16 that are spoken in India. The AI can find offending content and take it down in bulk in a short space of time. Another measure taken to stem fake news is notifications for people and Page Admins who share news articles that have been marked as false by fact checkers. This feedback will allow individuals to remove content that they shared which they believed to be real. Facebook is going to help election candidates bolster their account security too. In a blog post, Ajit Mohan, Managing Director and Vice President for India, said: Lastly, Facebook has signed up to a voluntary code of ethics for the general elections with the Election Commission of India (ECI). This gives the two bodies a dedicated means of communication in order to more quickly take down content and to run voter education efforts.
  5. In February, Facebook began adding more details to why you are seeing certain ads on your News Feed including when and why your data was used to target those ads to you. The details also include which agency uploaded your data and whether they provided your information to another advertiser. Now, the social networking giant has announced that it is adding a similar capability for posts from friends, pages, and groups, plus the option to control what posts you would like to see in the future on your News Feed. The new option dubbed "Why you're seeing this post?" can be accessed from the drop-down menu at the top right of a certain post. The feature will explain why certain ads appear on your News Feed based on historical data of your interactions with specific businesses. In particular, there are three signal categories which will determine what you see on News Feed including the frequency of your interactions with posts from friends, pages or groups; the amount of time you've engaged with a certain type of content; and the popularity of posts. In addition, the feature will provide shortcuts to buttons including "See First", "Unfollow", "News Feed Preferences", and "Privacy Shortcuts" which will let you customize the posts you like to appear on your News Feed. The new feature is part of Facebook's efforts to increase transparency on the platform and give users more control over what content they receive from individuals and groups.
  6. Facebook revealed to have stored the passwords of hundreds of millions of users in plain text, including passwords of Facebook Lite, Facebook, and Instagram users. “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.” reads the announcement published by Facebook. “This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable.” The disconcerting discovery was made in January by Facebook IT staff as part of a routine security review. The passwords were stored in plain text on internal data storage systems, this means that they were accessible only by employees. Facebook quickly fixed the issue and plans to notify the affected users. Facebook estimated that hundreds of millions of people using Facebook Lite, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users are impacted. “To be clear, these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them,” continues Facebook. “In the course of our review, we have been looking at the ways we store certain other categories of information — like access tokens — and have fixed problems as we’ve discovered them,” According to the popular investigator Brian Krebs that is investigating the incident, hundreds of millions of Facebook users had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by thousands of Facebook employees. Krebs date some cases back to 2012, anyway he did not find an indication that employees have abused access to this data. Krebs believes that the passwords of between 200 million and 600 million Facebook users may have been stored in plain text, and that over 20,000 Facebook employees may have been able to search those passwords. Krebs cited a senior Facebook employee, who is familiar with the investigation and who spoke on condition of anonymity, that revealed the company is currently investigating a series of incidents regarding employees who built applications that logged unencrypted password data for Facebook users and stored it in plain text on internal company servers. https://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/82728/social-networks/facebook-passwords-plain-text.html
  7. Users tried to upload 1.5 million copies afterwards, but most were blocked. Facebook says a total of 4,000 people viewed the New Zealand mosque shooter's livestream before it was taken down. Less than 200 people were watching during the assailant's live broadcast, according to the social network, none of who reported it. Facebook says the first user report came in 29 minutes after the 17-minute live video started, which was 12 minutes after the livestream ended. The stats form part of Facebook's latest updatedetailing its ongoing response to the sharing of NZ shooting posts. They reveal the small scale reach of the original broadcast but, as we now, that ultimately didn't stop it from being widely circulated around the web. In the wake of the livestream, a version of the video surfaced on YouTubeevery second over the weekend. It was also shared to Reddit forums such as "r/watchpeopledie" and "r/Gore," both of which have since been banned. And Facebook itself scrambled to pull down 1.5 million videos of the incident in the first 24 hours. Meanwhile, New Zealand ISPs including Vodafone, Spark and Vocus were forced to block access at the DNS level to websites that didn't respond to takedown requests. Together they cut off controversial messageboards such as 4chan and 8chan (where the shooter was a member and, according to Facebook he shared a link to a copy of the video hosted on a file-sharing site). Worse still, mainstream media like The Daily Mail and Sky News Australia ran excerpts from the shooter's Facebook livestream, forcing Sky New Zealand to pull the latter off air. As usual, Facebook has been transparent in its response. But it's facing a chorus of condemnation from lawmakers worldwide, who've grown tired of its meek attempts at self-regulation. Germany has already set penalties for social media sites that fail to swiftly remove harmful content and the UK is following suit. Though Facebook is pumping more money and manpower into its moderation systems, this latest failure will only result in more scrutiny of its reviews process.
  8. Facebook’s gaming efforts and challenge to Twitch are taking another big leap today, as the social network begins the initial rollout of a dedicated Facebook Gaming tab in the main navigation of Facebook’s app. The goal with the new addition is to help people more easily find games, streamers and gaming groups they follow, as well as discover new content, based on their interests. After clicking the new Gaming tab, there will be a feed of content that points to instant games you can play with friends; videos to watch from top streamers, esports organizations and game publishers; and updates from your various gaming groups, the company says. The new Facebook Gaming tab builds on the gaming video destination the site launched last year as Fb.gg. That hub had offered a collection of all the video games streaming on Facebook, and a way for gamers and fans to interact. As a top-level navigation item, Facebook’s new Gaming tab will now further extend the gaming hub’s reach. While Twitch and YouTube are today dominating the gaming space, Facebook’s advantage — beyond its scale — is its promise of a reduced cut of transactions. On Fb.gg, gamers were able to attract new fans with the aid of Facebook’s personalized recommendations based on users’ activity, and then monetize those viewers through a virtual tipping mechanism. https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/14/in-a-challenge-to-twitch-and-youtube-facebook-adds-gaming-to-its-main-navigation/
  9. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram users will now be able to send messages to each other, Mark Zuckerberg has announced. The Facebook boss said it will introduce the vast overhaul of the way all of its messaging apps work as part of a move towards being a “privacy-focused platform”. That will include upgrading its encryption and refusing to store data in countries with poor human rights records, he said, as well as rewriting how the various chat apps can talk to each other. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/zuckerberg-facebook-messenger-whatsapp-instagram-news-a8811126.html
  10. Programming note: It’s time for The Interface to take its annual spring break trip to Austin for South By Southwest! I’ll be interviewing Facebook’s former chief security officer, Alex Stamos, at 2:30 PM local time on Saturday; and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark on 3:30 PM Sunday. If you’re in town, RSVP here and come say hello. The Interface returns March 13th — and in the meantime, I’ll be doing some more original reporting that I can’t wait to share with you. https://www.theverge.com/interface/2019/3/8/18255480/facebook-pivot-privacy-mark-zuckerberg-pr-stunt
  11. Facebook has been overhauling its Messenger app recently, slimming it down to focus more on chat, and promised that it would eventually roll out a dark mode for users. That mode is now rolling out, but there’s a tongue-in-cheek trick you need to do in order to activate it: you have to moon someone. The trick, spotted by Android Police, 9to5Mac, and others, is simple: send someone (or yourself) a crescent moon emoji ( ). Once you do so, a shower of moons appears in the chat window, and you’ll get a prompt to activate the mode in settings. Go to your profile page in the app, and it’ll present you with an option to turn the mode on. https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/3/18248614/facebook-messenger-dark-mode-trick-to-activate-emoji
  12. Facebook will end its unpaid market research programs and proactively take its Onavo VPN app off the Google Play store in the wake of backlash following TechCrunch’s investigation about Onavo code being used in a Facebook Research app the sucked up data about teens. The Onavo Protect app will eventually shut down, and will immediately cease pulling in data from users for market research though it will continue operating as a Virtual Private Network in the short-term to allow users to find a replacement. Facebook has also ceased to recruit new users for the Facebook Research appthat still runs on Android but was forced off of iOS by Apple after we reported on how it violated Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program for employee-only apps. Existing Facebook Research app studies will continue to run, though. With the suspicions about tech giants and looming regulation leading to more intense scrutiny of privacy practices, Facebook has decided that giving users a utility like a VPN in exchange for quietly examining their app usage and mobile browsing data isn’t a wise strategy. Instead, it will focus on paid programs where users explicitly understand what privacy they’re giving up for direct financial compensation. https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/21/facebook-removes-onavo/
  13. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will finally meet with a representative of the UK government after a UK parliamentary report this week excoriated the social media site for behaving like “digital gangsters.” According to The Guardian, the UK’s culture secretary Jeremy Wright has flown out this Thursday to Facebook’s headquarters in California to talk with Zuckerberg in person. The Facebook CEO has refused repeated requests by the UK Parliament to answer questions in person over issues including misinformation and data privacy. https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/21/18234439/zuckerberg-meet-uk-minister-jeremy-wright-regulations-platforms
  14. Tech titans like Facebook, itself described as a "digital gangster", continually fail to address the risks their platforms pose to democracy – so the British government should regulate, MPs have said. The House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has been conducting an inquiry into "fake news" – which it acknowledged is now an inappropriate moniker – for the best part of two years. The inquiry has involved 23 oral evidence sessions, received more than 170 pieces of written evidence and heard from 73 witnesses – none of whom, to the great frustration of the committee, was Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg. UK Parliament roars: Oi! Zuck! Get in here for a grilling – or you'll get a Tower of London tourREAD MOREThe committee today published its final report, which includes 110 pages of damning criticism of Facebook's attitude to user data privacy and security, the UK's electoral laws and the current state of regulation. In the report, the MPs call for reforms to electoral laws which they say are "hopelessly out of date for the internet age", as well as an independent regulator with statutory powers over social media giants. The document repeated many of the recommendations made in the July interim report, but the main theme is that the government needs to put a stop to tech giants' self-regulation, and rebalance the power between the platforms and the public. A central tenet of this is a compulsory Code of Ethics that requires companies to deal with harmful and illegal content that has been referred to them by users, and content "that should have been easy for tech companies themselves to identify". The MPs also call for greater transparency into online political campaigning – such as a searchable, public repository saying who paid for, sponsored and is targeted by each ad – and investment into digital and data literacy for the public. 'Facebook intentionally broke data privacy laws'Beyond such recommendations are detailed discussions of the Cambridge Analytica saga, covering the many companies brought under that umbrella, including the firm of Leave campaign mega-funder Arron Banks, which have been fined by the UK's data protection watchdog, and – of course – Facebook. Because, while the inquiry started as a probe into the spread of misinformation on the internet, the group was in the right place at the right time to consider the trendy topics of political micro-manipulation and data harvesting. Soon after the scandal broke, Facebook became a prime target for the committee, and Zuckerberg's repeated refusal to give evidence to the group only stoked the MPs' anger, and there are multiple references to this in the report. At one point, efforts to bring him in seemed to reach vendetta levels, with an international committee of parliaments forming just to be rebuffed by the man at the top of the social network and an unprecedented use of archaic Parliamentary powers to seize and later release damaging emails about the Zuckerborg. Summing up his committee's view of Facebook, DCMS Committee chairman Damian Collins said the firm had "deliberately sought to frustrate our work, by giving incomplete, disingenuous and at times misleading answers to our questions". He said firms like Facebook "exercise massive market power" and make money by "bullying the smaller technology companies and developers who rely on this platform to reach their customers" – statements based on the emails the committee released. The MPs also complained that Facebook was "unwilling to be accountable to regulators around the world" – and that the government needed to consider the impact of such monopolies on democracy. However, the report went on to warn that if companies become monopolies, "they can be broken up, in whatever sector" – and noted that its handling of personal data is "prime and legitimate areas" for regulators' scrutiny. And, although the committee is not a legal or regulatory body, it opined that Facebook had "intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws". It also claimed that Facebook had violated the 2011 consent decree established with the US's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to curtail developers' previously unfettered access to users' information; Facebook was required to obtain consent from users in order to share their data. "The Cambridge Analytica scandal was facilitated by Facebook's policies. If it had fully complied with the FTC settlement, it would not have happened," the report said. The committee called on the Competition and Markets Authority to assess the email cache it released, "to decide whether Facebook is unfairly using its dominant market position in social media to decide which businesses should succeed or fail". Similarly, the Information Commissioner's Office should carry out a "detailed investigation" into the way Facebook offers up access to users' data to other companies, and the committee said it hoped its evidence is beneficial to an investigation underway by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. The group also reiterated previous calls for the National Crime Agency to investigate connections between Cambridge Analytica sister firm SCL Elections and the newly set-up Emerdata, and for a broader probe into the work of strategic comms firms. "The transformation of Cambridge Analytica into Emerdata illustrates how easy it is for discredited companies to reinvent themselves and potentially use the same data and the same tactics to undermine governments, including in the UK," the report said. "The industry needs cleaning up." Regulator should get access to algorithms, wield hefty finesDelving into the committee's proposals, it wants to tighten liabilities and make tech firms responsible for harmful content posted by users. The Code of Ethics for tech companies – outlined in its interim report – intends to take aim at social media firms' ability to hide behind the fact they claim to be platforms not publishers. The code should set out what constitutes harmful content, and this should include harmful and illegal content that has been referred to the companies for removal by their users and – upping the ante – content "that should have been easy for tech companies themselves to identify". It should be overseen by an independent regulator that has powers to launch legal actions against those that break the code – and to demand access to information relevant to its inquiries. This should include company’s security mechanisms and algorithms to ensure they are operating responsibly. "If tech companies (including technical engineers involved in creating the software for the companies) are found to have failed to meet their obligations under such a Code, and not acted against the distribution of harmful and illegal content, the independent regulator should have the ability to launch legal proceedings against them, with the prospect of large fines being administered as the penalty for non-compliance with the Code." The funding for such regulation and the extra work for the regulator should come from a levy on tech firms, the MPs said. Such proposals fell on deaf ears last time, but the MPs now note that proposals for a digital sales tax "shows that the government is open to the idea of a levy on tech companies". Political campaigningA central part of the work was on political campaigning online, which has received no end of scrutiny amid allegations and evidence of interference from outside entities in various elections. The MPs want to tackle this with "absolute transparency" over political ads online, including "clear, persistent banners" on all paid-for ads and videos that say who the source and advertisers are. There should also be a category introduced for digital spending on campaigns and explicit rules surrounding designated campaigners’ role and responsibilities, the report said. Beyond this, the report stated, the government needs to assess how UK law defines digital campaigning, and acknowledge the role that unpaid campaigns – such as Facebook groups – play in influencing elections and referenda. The committee also said it wants to see new powers for the Electoral Commission, including powers to compel organisations they don’t currently regulate – namely, social media firms – to provide information, and bigger fines, based on turnover, than the existing limit of £20,000. The government should also "put pressure" on social media companies to publicise disinformation and share information about "foreign interference on their sites", which might be who paid for political adverts, who has seen them and who has clicked on them. That pressure is – unsurprisingly – proposed as "the threat of financial liability if such information is not forthcoming". 'Big tech must not expand exponentially'The committee is not naive in thinking that it can change the internet: it acknowledged that the situation in which platforms coarsen discourse, distort views and polarise debate will not change – and that nations have always faced propaganda masquerading as news. However, its argument is that the companies that operate in this field can, and should, be better regulated. Crucially, the committee is seeking greater transparency – for instance on the sources of information – and accountability. Facebook makes money by selling access to users' data through ad tools, and increases that value by offering up reciprocal data-sharing deals with app developers and by seeking to extend its grip on the public - MPs want these practices to be subject to more policing. "The big tech companies must not be allowed to expand exponentially, without constraint or proper regulatory oversight," they said. "But only governments and the law are powerful enough to contain them. The legislative tools already exist. They must now be applied to digital activity, using tools such as privacy laws, data protection legislation, antitrust and competition law." ® by: https://www.theregister.co.uk
  15. Facebook is reportedly working on a digital currency to enable money transfers on its messaging service WhatsApp. The social network has plans to launch its cryptocurrency in India first to benefit from the countries growing mobile payments market, according to a new report. The news comes just months after Facebook revealed plans to launch a blockchain group to study how it could use the technology for a secure online database of transactions. Blockchain, also known as distributed ledger technology, is a shared database that provides a public record of changes in the ownership of an asset, such as a cryptocurrency. Facebook's blockchain team, led by former PayPal executive David Marcus, is believed to be working on plans for a WhatsApp "stablecoin" - a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin that would be pegged to the US dollar to reduce volatility.  The plans for a cryptocurrency are in the early stages, according to people familiar with the matter speaking to Bloomberg. A Facebook spokesman said: "Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share." So-called stablecoins are online tokens designed to match the value of real-world current, meaning they can be used to send payments.

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