Showing posts with label Facebook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Facebook. Show all posts

Monday, 23 April 2018

Away from the spotlight of congressional hearings Zuckerberg and Facebook Inc. show their true colours – implementing weaker privacy protection for 1.5 billion users


The Guardian, 19 April 2018:

Facebook has moved more than 1.5 billion users out of reach of European privacy law, despite a promise from Mark Zuckerberg to apply the “spirit” of the legislation globally.

In a tweak to its terms and conditions, Facebook is shifting the responsibility for all users outside the US, Canada and the EU from its international HQ in Ireland to its main offices in California. It means that those users will now be on a site governed by US law rather than Irish law.

The move is due to come into effect shortly before General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in Europe on 25 May. Facebook is liable under GDPR for fines of up to 4% of its global turnover – around $1.6bn – if it breaks the new data protection rules.

The shift highlights the cautious phrasing Facebook has applied to its promises around GDPR. Earlier this month, when asked whether his company would promise GDPR protections to its users worldwide, Zuckerberg demurred. “We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing,” he said.
A week later, during his hearings in front of the US Congress, Zuckerberg was again asked if he would promise that GDPR’s protections would apply to all Facebook users. His answer was affirmative – but only referred to GDPR “controls”, rather than “protections”. Worldwide, Facebook has rolled out a suite of tools to let users exercise their rights under GDPR, such as downloading and deleting data, and the company’s new consent-gathering controls are similarly universal.

Facebook told Reuters “we apply the same privacy protections everywhere, regardless of whether your agreement is with Facebook Inc or Facebook Ireland”. It said the change was only carried out “because EU law requires specific language” in mandated privacy notices, which US law does not.

In a statement to the Guardian, it added: “We have been clear that we are offering everyone who uses Facebook the same privacy protections, controls and settings, no matter where they live. These updates do not change that.”

Privacy researcher Lukasz Olejnik disagreed, noting that the change carried large ramifications for the affected users. “Moving around one and a half billion users into other jurisdictions is not a simple copy-and-paste exercise,” he said.

“This is a major and unprecedented change in the data privacy landscape. The change will amount to the reduction of privacy guarantees and the rights of users, with a number of ramifications, notably for consent requirements. Users will clearly lose some existing rights, as US standards are lower than those in Europe.

“Data protection authorities from the countries of the affected users, such as New Zealand and Australia, may want to reassess this situation and analyse the situation. 

Even if their data privacy regulators are less rapid than those in Europe, this event is giving them a chance to act. Although it is unclear how active they will choose to be, the global privacy regulation landscape is changing, with countries in the world refining their approach. Europe is clearly on the forefront of this competition, but we should expect other countries to eventually catch up.” [my yellow highlighting]

NOTE:

The Australian Dept. of Human Services still continues to invite those who use its welfare services to visit its five Facebook pages on which it will:


* post about payments and services 

* answer questions 
* give useful tips 
* share news, and 
* give updates on relevant issue

All associated data (including questions and answers) will of course be captured by Facebook, then collated, transferred, stored overseas, monetised and possibly 'weaponised' during the next election campaign cycle which occurs in the area visitors to these pages live.


Sunday, 15 April 2018

It is getting harder and harder to believe Facebook Inc's denials of intentional harm


The fact that Facebook Inc. re-named the street in which it is headquartered "1 Hacker Way" should have been a clue to this social media giant's business ethos but it obviously didn't register with national governments and everyday Internet users. 

By the time All tech reported this on 11 November 2016 we were all a little more informed, but Facebook was still trying to pull the wool over our eyes:

Mark Zuckerberg says the notion that fake news influenced the U.S. presidential election is "a pretty crazy idea."

The Facebook CEO is finding himself in a unique position in this election cycle. Many news organizations have come under fire for their coverage of the campaign. Now Facebook is getting it too, as a modern media company that does not vet fake news from its News Feed and that, critics argue, allows users to stay in information bubbles that reinforce existing prejudices.

Zuckerberg took both these criticisms head-on yesterday, at a conference called Techonomy. (You can find the full interview on his Facebook feed.)

He says hoaxes existed before his platform was created. They aren't new, and people who say misinformation is why Donald Trump won simply do not get it. "There's a profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason why someone could have voted the way that they did is because they saw some fake news," Zuckerberg says.

He also says his company has studied fake news and found it's a "very small volume" of the content on Facebook. He did not specify if that content is more or less viral or impactful than other information.

Denials of a dangerously lax attitude to risk in Facebook Inc.'s business model continued to be made as more information surfaced......


BuzzFeed, 30 March 2018

The Age, 31 March 2018:

In a 2016 employee memo that was leaked this week, a Facebook executive defended the company's questionable data mining practices and championed the growth of social media at any cost - apparently even death.

Users in the US sue Facebook for not protecting personal data of the 50 million social network account owners whose data ended up at the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

"Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies," company vice president Andrew Bosworth wrote in the memo, according to BuzzFeed News, which published it Thursday. "Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And still we connect people. The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good."….

Bosworth, who oversaw Facebook's advertising and business platform at the time and is now in charge of the company's virtual reality department, has acknowledged writing the message but said he intended only to start a debate. "I didn't agree with it even when I wrote it," he wrote on Twitter after BuzzFeed published its report.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who is already facing a public relations crisis over accusations that the company mishandled millions of users' private data, disavowed the memo.

"Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things," Zuckerberg said in a statement, using Bosworth's nickname. "This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We've never believed the ends justify the means."…….

The 418-word memo is framed around Zuckerberg's often-stated mission to connect the entire world through Facebook, which Bosworth cites as the company's ultimate and unchangeable goal - whether those connections let users fall in love, attack each other or, in the memo's most extreme example, coordinate a terrorist attack.

"That's why all the work we do in growth is justified," Bosworth wrote. "All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more communication in. The work we will likely have to do in China some day. All of it."

BuzzFeed noted that the memo was written almost immediately after a man was shot to death while streaming live video of himself with Facebook Live, and a few days before a Palestinian teenager was accused of killing an Israeli girl after praising terrorists on Facebook.

These deaths were a prelude to a string of other gruesome and violent incidents that appeared in videos and live streams on the social network. A man posted a Facebook video of himself killing someone last April. A month later, a man soaked himself in kerosene, lit himself on fire and used Facebook Live to stream video of his self-immolation.

Then we saw Zuckerberg donning a suit as he did the rounds in Washington DC. Appearing before a Joint Senate Committees on the Judiciary & Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s  Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data hearing and a House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee's Facebook: Transparency and Use of Consumer Data hearing.

There was an expectation that during these hearings Zuckerberg would reveal the full extent of Facebook's data collection and retention, as well as explain why he allowed third party apps to collect data without the knowledge and/or fully informed consent of up to est, 2 billion Facebook users.

His disingenuous witness statement published ahead of his appearances contains this gem:

Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all the good that connecting people can bring.....
But it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy. We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here. So now we have to go through every part of our relationship with people and make sure we’re taking a broad enough view of our responsibility.

However, if one reads through the full witness statement it is clear that Facebook Inc. is not responding out of a genuine realisation of its ethical failures or wrongdoing, but is essentially responding to the sharp fall in its stock value which began last month.

It clearly intends to still allow third party apps access to Facebook user accounts and there is no guarantee that the amount of personal data that can be extracted by these apps will be limited to a digital version of 'name, rank and serial number' or that Facebook users will have given fully-informed consent for this data extraction.

This reading of Facebook Inc.'s intentions was reinforced by Mark Zuckerberg testimony before both the Senate and House committees.

He came obviously rehearsed by lawyers and tightly scripted......

Time Magazine, Facebook aide closing notes during hearing recess,11 April 2018
Brief summary of Mark Zuckerber notes here.

Although in his spoken testimony Zuckerberg commenced with yet another apology, in my opinion he frequently dissembled, mislead, misdirected, contradicted a number of his own and Facebook management's public previous statements, lied by omission and sometimes almost defiantly told what appeared to be bald-faced lies.

NOTEReaders can form their own opinion of Zuckerberg's testimony courtesy of The Washington Post at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/10/transcript-of-mark-zuckerbergs-senate-hearing/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.032d3cf2a0e8 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/11/transcript-of-zuckerbergs-appearance-before-house-committee/?utm_term=.cd5f1228fec4.

However Facebook Inc. is not just relying on its founder and CEO's recent testimony to ward of further regulation of its businss practices.

Since 2011 Facebook Inc. has had a registered Political Action Commttee (PAC) which has donated to the 2012, 2014, and 2016 US election campaigns. 

As well as in-house and paid lobbyists who spent in total US$11.5 million in 2017 alone fighting against further Internet regulations including any proposed strengthening of privacy protections. Add that to the company's US$8.6M lobbying spend in 2016, $9.8M in 2015, $9.3M in 2014, $6.4M in 2013, $3.8M in 2012, $1.3M in 2011, $351,390 in 2010 and $207,878 in 2009 and one can see that Facebook Inc. is increasingly determined to have the ear of US lawmakers.

Although how successful the social media giant's lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill will be in 2018, it is clear that in has been partially successful in protecting the market value of its shares.

To date this year Facebook Inc.'s ordinary share price has gone from a closing high of US$193.09 (01.02.18) to a low of $152.22 (27.03.18) in the wake of revelations about the company's business practices and, then gradually climbed over the course of 17 days by $12.3 to close at $164.52 (13.03.18), according to Yahoo! Finance.

As for the number of active Facebook users - only time will tell if current figures hold over time. With trust in Facebook Inc. at a new low it will not be surprising to find the number of accounts showing daily activity falling over time as users become more wary of this platform.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Tweets of the Week




Quotes of the Week



“We have the right to store a copy of your  [personal e-health] record and we are the only ones in the market to have this level 4 certification.”  [Romain Bonjean, co-founder Tyde, app developer registered portal operator with Australian Government Digital Health Agency & My Health Record, quoted in the Australian Financial Review on 6 April 2018]

“Life is short and shorter for smokers. Just legalise vaping.”  [Andrew Laming MP, Dissenting Report, submitted to Australian HoR Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport, March 2018]

“When we kick their ass they all like to claim we’re drunk. I’ve been hanging out getting ready to ram a hot poker up David Hogg’s ass. Busy working; preparing.”  [St. Louis radio host Jamie Allman threatening anti-gun activist & highschool student David Hogg, as reported by Snopes, 9 April 2018]


“They promised us a grilling. We got PR.”  [UK journalist Carole Cadwalladr tweeting about US Senate hearing at which Facebook founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared on 10 March 2018]

“I start to wonder if, in fact, how the developers mine money for Facebook has become a bit of a mystery to Zuck.”  [IT journalist Richard Chirgwin opining on Facebook founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter, 12 April 2018]

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Almost right from its very beginning Facebook Inc was not the benign Internet presence it pretended to be


Facebook Inc. - incorporated in July 2004 and headquartered at 1 Hacker Way (so named by Facebook management), Menlo Park, California 94025 - has at least twelve data centres around the world which collect, transmit, collate, store and monetise data drawn from an est. 2 billion active Facebook accounts. 

In May 2017 this social media company was worth est. US$407.3 billion according to Forbes.com.

Now that the social media giant finds itself being officially investigated to varying degrees by the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States on matters of user data collection, data retention, privacy and safety - as well as being the object of a number of lawsuits - here is a timeline indicating how Mark Zuckerberg brought Facebook to this low point......


FACEBOOK INC
2005

Facebook Privacy Policy states that Thefacebook takes appropriate precautions to protect our users' information. Your account information is located on a secured server behind a firewall. However it also states When you visit the Web Site you may provide us with two types of information: personal information you knowingly choose to disclose that is collected by us and Web Site use information collected by us on an aggregate basis as you and others browse our Web Site.
When you register on the Web Site, you provide us with certain personal information, such as your name, your email address, your telephone number, your address, your gender, schools attended and any other personal or preference information that you provide to us.
When you enter our Web Site, we collect the user's browser type and IP address. This information is gathered for all users to the Web Site. In addition, we store certain information from your browser using "cookies." A cookie is a piece of data stored on the user's computer tied to information about the user. We use session ID cookies to confirm that users are logged in. These cookies terminate once the users close the browser. We do not use cookies to collect private information from any user.
Thefacebook also collects information about you from other sources, such as newspapers and instant messaging services. This information is gathered regardless of your use of the Web Site. 

2006

Facebook’s privacy policy is now expressing this sentiment; We understand you may not want everyone in the world to have the information you share on Facebook; that is why we give you control of your information. Our default privacy settings limit the information displayed in your profile to your school, your specified local area, and other reasonable community limitations that we tell you about….

However the company is still collecting as much information about Facebook users that it can, as well as informing account holders that; Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (e.g., photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalized experience. By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States.

2007

Facebook Platform  - app developers can now access the “’social graph’ ie., tracked connections between users and their friends.

Beacon - shares what users are doing on other websites with their Facebook friends without specific consent.

2008

Facebook Connect - corrects Beacon’s mistakes by requiring users to take deliberate action before they share activity from other websites when logged in using Facebook.

2009


Beacon officially shut down after at least one lawsuit commenced over privacy issue.

Facebook hosts the Farmville game which was later revealed as a data miner.

2010

Facebook’s privacy policy states; When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you. The term General Information includes your and your friends’ names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting. ... The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to “everyone.” ... Because it takes two to connect, your privacy settings only control who can see the connection on your profile page. If you are uncomfortable with the connection being publicly available, you should consider removing (or not making) the connection.

On 28 April 2010 Electronic Frontiers Foundation reported that: Facebook announced a plan to transform most of the bits in your profile (including your hometown, education, work, activities, interests, and more) into connections, which are public information. If you refuse to make these items into a Connection, Facebook will remove all unlinked information.

2011

Social reporting tool – allows Facebook users to directly contact other users to request a post or image takedown if either relates directly to them. Any takedown is voluntary if content doesn't breach Facebook rules.

Facebook Inc initially refuses to take down a defamatory site invading the privacy of Clarence Valley highschool students. It only does so after direct pressure is applied by a community member.

2012

In February the Parliament of Australia invites the Australian public to connect with it via Facebook.

Facebook begins roll out Facebook Camera for iOS to English-speaking countries - a standalone photos app where users can shoot, filter, and share single or sets of photos and scroll through a feed of photos uploaded to Facebook by friends.


2013

Facebook begins collaboration with Dr. Alexandr Kogan eventually supplying him with data on 57 million Facebook friendships by 2015. User data supplied to Kogan for his research was later sent to Cambridge Analytica without Facebook users knowledge or consent.

Facebook hosts Hangouts - live video.

2014

Facebook Groups - app for iOS and Android introduced and then deleted some months later.

Facebook buys WhatsAppMessaging.

Facebook conducts a number of psychological experiments on users without their knowledge or consent. It is reported that 689,000 users had their home pages manipulated.


2015

Security Checkup - new tool to simplifying privacy controls.

Head of Research at Facebook Inc, Peter Fleming, and one of the company’s  contract researchers are listed as co-authors of Alexander Kogan’s published research on the relationship of social class and international friendships. 


2016


2017

Privacy Basics - new tool to simplify privacy controls.

Becomes public knowledge that Facebook revealed to one Australian advertiser that it had a database of young users – 1.9 million high schoolers, 1.5 million tertiary students and 3 million young workers – and that it could tell advertisers when young workers were particularly vulnerable.

Facebook reported to be planning $750 million data center in New Albany, Ohio employing only 50 permanent staff.

Facebook admits to US Securities and Exchange Commission that 1.5% of its 2.01 billion accounts worldwide are “undesirable” - that is likely to be fake accounts. Yahoo Finance calculates that to be upwards of 30 million accounts.

In December Germany’s Federal Cartel Office released preliminary investigation findings and stated: The Bundeskartellamt has informed the company Facebook in writing of its preliminary legal assessment in the abuse of dominance proceeding which the authority is conducting against Facebook. Based on the current stage of the proceedings, the authority assumes that Facebook is dominant on the German market for social networks. The authority holds the view that Facebook is abusing this dominant position by making the use of its social network conditional on its being allowed to limitlessly amass every kind of data generated by using third-party websites and merge it with the user's Facebook account. These third-party sites include firstly services owned by Facebook such as WhatsApp or Instagram, and secondly websites and apps of other operators with embedded Facebook APIs.

Google search engines now host multiple Facebook apps.

By 2017 numerous government departments and agencies in Australia have Facebook accounts, from which the company can harvest visitor data whether or not the visitor has a Facebook account.

Included on the long list of government departments/agencies is the federal Dept. of Human Services (DHS)DHS states that it posts on its Facebook page about payments and services, answers questions, gives useful tips, shares news, and give updates on relevant issues. This means that anyone who visits or interacts with the five DHS Facebook pages will have their Internet usage data scraped, information contained in any questions asked retained and collated with any other information Facebook holds on that visitor. DHS appears to be aware of privacy vulnerabilities in its use of Facebook as it is at pains to point out that The department is not responsible for the privacy practices or content of Facebook.......

Australian federal and state electoral commissions also have active Facebook pages.

In December 2017 Facebook rolled out Messenger Kids app which is installed via an adult's Facebook account. This app offers video and text chats for children using their own digital devices. Although Messenger Kids displays no ads it does not appear to be exempt from Facebook's user data collection.

Facebook Inc initially refuses to remove a scam account attempting to raise money and only does so after media pressure

2018

On 16 March Facebook Inc. announces it has suspended the accounts of Aleksandr Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Strategic Communication Laboratries Group on the basis they had misused Facebook user data,  

In late March it was revealed that Facebook's Android app is capable of hoovering up extensive call data without users knowledge or consent.

Facebook-created VR app like Spaces obtain information about what users doing there, much in the same way that any third-party app developer would. Facebook also records a “heatmap” of viewer data for 360-degree videos, for instance, flagging which parts of a video people find most interesting.

Facebook admits that it archived unpublished and deleted user videos created using a now redundant video streaming function. 

Facebook Inc. admits that up to 87 million account holders may have had their personal information accessed by the Trump presidential campaign-linked data miner Cambridge Analytica. Either because  Facebook users accessed the thisisyourdigitallife app or because they had friended a person had done so.

Only 53 Australian Facebook users took the thisisyourdigitallife personality quiz but the app hoovered up the data on est 311,127 other users included in friendship lists once it accessed those 53 accounts. Just 10 New Zealanders used the app but data from another est. 67,000 users was collected via their friendship groups.

Facebook also admits that its software allowed reverse searching of its user pages employing only ‘phone numbers and email addresses and that “malicious actors” may have used this feature to scrap public profile data from most of its 2 billion users.

The company admits that its account recovery process can also allow these malicious actors to access user data.


In April Facebook announces a tightening of its privacy controls and states it intends to police all third party requests for access to user data. Given the company stated it had in total 215,000 staff worldwide as of December 2017 and, not all those staff would be available to personally monitor third party requests relating to Facebook’s est. 2 billion active monthly users, one wonders just how reliable this latest ‘promise’ from Facebook Inc. will be.

On 4 April 2018 USA Today reported that: Members of the House and Senate committees that will question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about user privacy protection next week are also some of the biggest recipients of campaign contributions from company employees and the Facebook Inc. PAC.
The committee that got the most Facebook contributions is the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which announced Wednesday morning it would question Zuckerberg on April 11.

Open Secrets lists Facebook Inc PAC contributions to 2016 U.S. federal election campaigns:
Contributions from this PAC to federal candidates (list recipients)
(44% to Democrats, 55% to Republicans)
$519,500
Contributions to this PAC from individual donors of $200 or more (list donors)
 $619,240

In April Facebook admits that it has entered an unspecified number of the 1.3 billion 
Messenger accounts and, without users knowledge or consent, selectively removed messages sent to those users by Mark Zuckerberg and other unnamed Facebook Inc executives/employees

Australian Privacy Commissioner launches investigation into Facebook Inc.

Five U.S. state attorneys-general reported to have begun investigations into how Facebook Inc. collects, shares and does or doesn't protect user information.

According to the Insurance Journal on 5 April 2018: Users and investors have filed at least 18 lawsuits since last month’s revelations about Cambridge Analytica. Beyond privacy violations, they are accusing Facebook of user agreement breaches, negligence, consumer fraud, unfair competition, securities fraud and racketeering.

On 6 April Facebook Inc annouces that it has suspended the account of Canadian tech company AggregateIQ because of its involvenment in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and three days later suspends CubeYou on similar grounds while it investigates.

On 9 April TNW reports that Facebook's cryptocurrency ad filter failed.

The Washington Post  reported on 9 April:
As for Facebook itself, former FBI special agent Clinton Watts told me that, in one sense, the numbers should not be surprising since “everyone has a message to get out, and Facebook is the best place to do it. Russia, Cambridge Analytica or any campaign for that matter has to go to social media to be effective.” The problem arose in Facebook’s mode of operating. “Their motto was move fast and break things, and they did, they moved fast and in the end broke the trust of their users with the platform,” Watts said. “They didn’t do solid assessments of who was accessing data on their platforms, and they didn’t effectively scrutinize advertisements and accounts surfacing on their platforms.”

By 10 April it was being reported that a number of Facebook IT engineers were quitting or asking to change departments over ethical concerns.

On 11 April 2018 Facebook Inc. founder, CEO and controlling shareholder, 33 year-old Mark Elliot Zuckerberg appears before the US House of Representatives House Energy and Commerce Committee's Facebook: Transparency and Use of Consumer Data hearing.

The day before Zuckerberg fronted the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s  Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data hearing.

Despite all of the above, as of 11 April 2018 the Australian Government Dept of Human Services retains its "Humans Services", "Student Update", "Families Update" and "Seniors Update" Facebook pages and, the departmental website still links to "How to 'Like' " instructions and shows visitors how to set up their own Facebook account with a link to its very own 'how to' YouTube video. Cenrelink's General Manager also still has an official Facebook account.

Note:
Given the federal Department of Human Services admitted that it had employed third parties to monitor social media including Facebook for information about welfare recipients that it could match with internal departmental data, one has to wonder what range of methods were used to undertake this surveillance and exactly who the contractors were.