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Many Americans Left Facebook After Personal Data Scandal |The Republican News

 mark-zuckerberg-Facebook1
A large number of Americans are stepping back from Facebook in the wake of recent scandals over the social network’s handling of private user data, a study showed Wednesday.The Pew Research Center report found 42 percent of US Facebook users said they had “taken a break” from the platform in the past 12 months, and 26 percent said they had deleted the Facebook app from their phone.

Among those in the 18-29 age group, the break with Facebook appeared more pronounced, with 44 percent claiming to have deleted the Facebook mobile app.

Although the survey did not indicate how many users were quitting Facebook entirely, the findings suggest a clouded outlook for the company which has been roiled by news of the hijacking of private data by political firm Cambridge Analytica and concerns of foreign influence campaigns on the platform.

“Significant shares of Facebook users have taken steps in the past year to reframe their relationship with the social media platform,” researcher Andrew Perrin said in a blog post.

According to Pew’s survey, three-fourths of US Facebook users have taken some steps to change how they interact with Facebook, including more than half who have changed their privacy settings.

Perrin said the concerns about Facebook appeared to transcend political affiliation.

“The poll found that nearly identical shares of Democrats and Republicans (including political independents who lean toward either party) use Facebook,” he said.

“Republicans are no more likely than Democrats to have taken a break from Facebook or deleted the app from their phone in the past year.”

The report was based on a survey between May 29 and June 11 including 3,413 Facebook users aged 18 and older, with an estimated margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

The survey comes ahead of a congressional hearing on foreign influence campaigns on social media, at which Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg was to testify.

And it comes with President Donald Trump stepping up his attacks on internet platforms with his unverified contention that they are suppressing conservatives and Republicans.

Facebook has already lost ground in the United States among teens and young adult users, losing ground notably to Snapchat, but with some switching to Facebook-owned Instagram.

But Facebook remains the world’s largest social network with well over two billion users worldwide.
(AFP)

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Facebook, Google, Twitter Have To Be Careful, Trump Warns |RN

President Donald Trump stepped up his criticism of internet firms Tuesday, hours after attacking Google over what he called “bias” against him and his supporters.

“Google and Twitter and Facebook — they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

The comments come after the president last week slammed social media firms for what he claimed was suppression of conservative voices, and Tuesday’s tirade against Google that claimed news search results were “rigged” to favour “left-wing media.”

(AFP)

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Cambridge Analytica Closing Down Following Facebook Data Misuse Scandal

Abrar Al-Heeti
Cambridge Analytica is shutting down effective Wendesday. © Provided by CNET Cambridge Analytica is shutting down effective Wednesday.

 

Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, is shutting down following alleged misuse of Facebook data.

In a statement, the company said its UK and US arms would enter into insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings. The shutdown, effective Wednesday, was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Cambridge Analytica is at the centre of a scandal that’s stirred up two national governments and Facebook, the world’s largest social network. Facebook banned the consultancy last month, saying it had improperly received data from as many as 87 million user profiles. The controversy prompted Congress to summon Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Washington for testimony last month, an appearance that made headlines around the world.

Cambridge Analytica has denied wrongdoing but said the controversy weighed on its business and forced it to close its doors.

“The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers,” the company said in its statement. “As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the company into administration.”

In the wake of the data-mining scandal, Zuckerberg faced more than 10 hours of hearings with three committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The hearings stretched over two days, during which he was grilled on everything from data privacy concerns, censorship and even how the Russian government manipulated Facebook to spread propaganda during the 2016 election.

In a statement, Facebook said it’s continuing its investigation with “relevant authorities.”

“This doesn’t change our commitment and determination to understand exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” a company representative said. Last week, Facebook reported a nearly 50 percent jump in sales, suggesting the biggest crisis in the company’s 14-year history has yet to take a toll.

The sudden decision to close shop marks a departure from Cambridge Analytica’s strong defence of itself. Just Monday, the company tweeted that followers should “Get the Facts Behind the Facebook Story,” adding a link to cambridgefacts.com. That site attempts to refute much of the coverage the firm has received in light of the scandal.

In March, Cambridge Analytica suspended Chief Executive Alexander Nix after he and other senior executives at the firm were caught on video saying they’d go beyond using data to hurt a client’s rival political candidate. Those tactics, Nix said in a report broadcast by the UK’s Channel 4, included entrapping politicians to influence an election’s outcome. Cambridge Analytica has ties to the Donald Trump campaign.

Neither Cambridge Analytica nor parent SCL Group immediately responded to a request for comment.

Last month, The New York Times reported that Emerdata, a new UK firm, had been created to house Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group. That, however, might not be enough to keep public scrutiny at bay, says Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies.

“If the principals who made these bad decisions at Cambridge Analytica just donned a new hat, I’m not sure they’ll be successful,” he said. “The fact that they made bad mistakes while they were at Cambridge Analytica — what’s going to keep them from doing that now under a new moniker?”

Also on Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica released the results of an independent investigation commissioned into whether it was involved in any wrongdoing. The investigation concluded that the allegations against Cambridge Analytica weren’t “borne out by the facts.”   (CNET)

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Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg’s Compensation Jumps To $8.9m As Security Costs Soar

By Munsif Vengattil and David Ingram
Mark Zuckerberg wearing a suit and tie: Facebook CEO Zuckerberg testifies before House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington© REUTERS/Leah Millis Facebook CEO Zuckerberg testifies before House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington

 

Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s compensation rose 53.5 percent to $8.9 million in 2017, a regulatory filing showed on Friday, largely due to higher costs related to the 33-year old billionaire’s personal security.

About 83 percent of the compensation represented security-related expenses, while most of the rest were tied to Zuckerberg’s personal use of private aircraft.

Zuckerberg spent much of last year travelling after he pledged to visit all the U.S. states that he had not previously been to.

His security expenses climbed to $7.3 million in 2017 from $4.9 million a year earlier.

Menlo Park, California-based Facebook paid to buy, install and maintain security measures for Zuckerberg’s personal residences, which include properties in San Francisco and Palo Alto, the filing showed.

The Facebook board’s compensation committee authorised Zuckerberg’s security programme, the filing said, “to address safety concerns due to specific threats to his safety arising directly as a result of his position as our founder, Chairman, and CEO.”

Zuckerberg’s base salary was unchanged at $1, while his total voting power at Facebook rose marginally to 59.9 percent.

Facebook, which has consistently reported stronger-than-expected earnings over the past two years, has faced public outcry over its role in Russia’s alleged influence over the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Earlier this week, Zuckerberg emerged largely unscathed after facing hours of questioning from U.S. lawmakers on how the personal information of several million Facebook users might have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.   (Reuters)

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Facebook: I’m Sorry For Data Misuse, Zuckerberg Tells US Lawmakers |RN

Facebook Privacy Scandal Congress, Washington, USA - 10 Apr 2018
Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Photo: AFP

Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg offered apologies to US lawmakers Tuesday as he made a long-awaited appearance in a congressional hearing on the hijacking of personal data on millions of users.

Reading from his written testimony, Zuckerberg repeated a statement he had previously made, saying the misuse of data “was my mistake, and I’m sorry.”

“It will take some time to work through all of the changes we need to make, but I’m committed to getting it right,” Zuckerberg told a Senate hearing.

Zuckerberg was making his first formal appearance at a Congressional hearing, seeking to allay widespread fears ignited by the leaking of private data on tens of millions of users to a British firm working on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The scandal has sparked fresh calls for regulation of social media platforms, and Facebook in the past week has sought to stem criticism by endorsing at least one legislative proposal, which would require better labelling and disclosure on political advertising.

Senator Charles Grassley, chair of one of the committees holding the hearing, said the scandal involving the British firm Cambridge Analytica “was clearly a breach of consumer trust and a likely improper transfer of data.”

The revelation on data mishandling “has exposed that consumers may not fully understand or appreciate the extent to which their data is collected, protected, transferred, used and misused,” Grassley said.

He added that the Judiciary Committee “will hold a separate hearing exploring Cambridge and other data privacy issues.”

AFP

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Facebook Confirms 1.1m Britons Affected By Cambridge Analytica Data Misuse |RN

By James Titcomb and Harriet Alexander

Video provided by Bloomberg 

More than a million British Facebook users could have had their personal data accessed by Cambridge Analytica, the company revealed on Wednesday, as it increased its estimates of the total number of users affected from 50 to 87 million.

Mark Zuckerberg, the embattled chief executive of Facebook, refused to rule out legal action against the British company and insisted that he remained the best man to lead the tech firm, flatly denying that he had been asked to resign.

Mark Zuckerberg standing in front of a sign           © Provided by The Telegraph

In a rare teleconference with reporters, Mr Zuckerberg, 33, sidestepped questions as to why he had declined to appear before a committee of British MPs, pointing out that earlier in the day it was confirmed that he will testify before US politicians.

He said he would from now send his executives, including Mike Schroepfer, the chief technology officer, to answer internationally on his behalf.

“We announced today that I am going to be testifying in the US Congress, and I am going to be sending Schroepfer or another of our top folks to answer additional questions from countries in other places,” he said.

The entrepreneur struck an upbeat tone at times, saying he was proud of Facebook’s work in “bringing billions of people together” and defending the company from accusations of selling data to advertisers.

At other moments he was apologetic, admitting that Facebook had not done enough to protect its users and admitting that, with hindsight, he would have acted to prevent the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“I think life is about learning from the mistakes and figuring what are the best things to do, moving forward,” he said. “I think the reality of a lot of this is that when you are building something like Facebook, that is unprecedented in the world, there are going to be things you will mess up. I think what people should hold us accountable for is learning from our mistakes.”

Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica   © press association Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica

The people affected had their data incorrectly passed to the British election consultants several years ago after fewer than 200,000 Facebook users downloaded a quiz app in 2013 that harvested data about their friends.

Facebook told The Telegraph that 81.2 percent of total affected people were in the US, while 1.2 percent – or 1,079,000 people – were in the UK.

Facebook is now accused of failing to ensure that Cambridge Analytica deleted the data after ordering it to do so in 2015. The British company allegedly used the information to boost Donald Trump’s election campaign.

The offices of Cambridge Analytica (CA) in central London, after it was announced that Britain's information commissioner Elizabeth Denham is pursuing a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica's computer servers, Tuesday March 20, 2018. Denham said Tuesday that she is using all her legal powers to investigate Facebook and political campaign consultants Cambridge Analytica over the alleged misuse of millions of people's data. Cambridge Analytica said it is committed to helping the U.K. investigation. (Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP)© The Associated Press The offices of Cambridge Analytica (CA) in central London, after it was announced that Britain’s information commissioner Elizabeth Denham is pursuing a warrant to search Cambridge…

Technology bosses rarely appear in front of Washington hearings in person and have been criticised by US politicians for sending their top lawyers instead. Mr Zuckerberg has often left Washington manoeuvring to his chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who has represented Facebook at previous political summits, and his appearance next week will be a first in front of US politicians.

Mr Zuckerberg may also face US senators in a separate hearing next week, although this is yet to be confirmed.

The committee’s Republican chairman Greg Walden and its ranking Democrat member Frank Pallone Jr said the hearing “will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online”.

They added: “We appreciate Mr Zuckerberg’s willingness to testify before the committee, and we look forward to him answering our questions.”

Mark Zuckerberg wearing a suit and tie            © Provided by The Telegraph 

Mr Zuckerberg’s willingness to appear in Washington jars with his current reluctance to face British MPs, who have twice demanded he appear in front of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee.

Last week, the committee chairman Damian Collins said it was “absolutely astonishing” that Mr Zuckerberg was not prepared to appear in person.

This week, Facebook said it had deleted hundreds of pages and accounts linked to a Russian “troll factory” accused of posting fake news and political posts during the 2016 US presidential election, in a further attempt to regain its reputation.

Mr Zuckerberg said the agency “has repeatedly acted to deceive people and manipulate people around the world, and we don’t want them on Facebook”.

Chris Wylie, from Canada, who once worked for the UK-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, gives a talk entitled "The Most Important Whistleblower Since Snowden: The Mind Behind Cambridge Analytica" at the Frontline Club in London, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Cambridge Analytica has been accused of improperly using information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts. It denies wrongdoing. Wylie has been quoted as saying the company used the data to build psychological profiles so voters could be targeted with ads and stories. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)© The Associated Press Chris Wylie, from Canada, who once worked for the UK-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, gives a talk entitled “The Most Important Whistleblower Since Snowden: The…

He concluded: “Given how complex our systems are, I think this is a multi-year project. Part of the good news is that we have really ramped up on this. We are probably a year in on a three-year push.

“We’re going to keep on looking for things, and keep on doing more.”   (The Telegraph)

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Mark Zuckerberg Attacks Tim Cook Over Allegation That Facebook Trades Peoples’ Privacy For Money

Jeremy B White
Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook are posing for a picture          © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited 

Mark Zuckerberg has hit back at Apple CEO Tim Cook for disparaging Facebook’s business model.

A critique from Mr Cook suggesting the social media platform was trading privacy for profit was “extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth”, Mr Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, said in an interview with Vox.

Days earlier, excerpts emerged of an interview in which Mr Cook faulted Facebook’s reliance on attracting advertisers who can use the site’s data to precisely target customers. He praised Apple’s model of selling thoroughly vetted products as superior and suggested Mr Zuckerberg had blundered into the scandal now engulfing the company.

Mr Zuckerberg pushed back on those comments, saying he rejected the premise that “that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you”.

             © Getty 

“The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay”, Mr Zuckerberg said. “And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people”.

He also drew a contrast between his company’s free service and Apple’s line of high-priced products.

“If you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford”, Mr Zuckerberg said, adding that “at Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use”.

The barbs flew between the two tech executives as Mr Zuckerberg seeks to steer his company through a data privacy crisis.

After it was revealed that a third party researcher obtained some 50 million Facebook users’ personal information and passed it along to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which went on to work for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the social media giant has faced a torrent of criticism from both elected officials and tech titans like Mr Cook.

                © Reuters 

In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Recode’s Kara Swisher, Mr Cook called it “creepy” to find targeted advertisements are “chasing me around the web” and said Facebook’s revenue model compromised personal privacy.

“We’ve never believed that these detailed profiles of people, that have incredibly deep personal information that is patched together from several sources, should exist”, Mr Cook said, going on to say Facebook needed to be better regulated.

Facebook has sought to tamp down a public outcry by vowing to institute tougher privacy safeguards that limit how many personal data outside apps can harvest. The company has said that, in the years since researcher Aleksandr Kogan gleaned reams of user data and shared them with Cambridge Analytica, it has tightened its rules to bar that scale of a collection.  (The Independent)

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Facebook May Face $625bn Suit And British Citizens Could Get £21,500 Each |RN

Jeff Parsons

Mark Zuckerberg standing in front of a building: Credits: CNN               © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: CNN

 

Brits who had their data harvested through Facebook could be entitled to as much as £12,500 EACH in compensation, an expert has argued.

Law professor Maureen Mapp said the tech giant could get hit with a bill of up to £625 billion.

Dr Mapp told the Sun that the 50 million users who had their data harvested by Cambridge Analytica could be entitled to damages.

“There are about 50 million users whose data was harvested,” Dr Mapp told the site.

“Assuming each one of them brought a claim for compensation for distress caused by the data breach…each individual may be awarded £12,500 as damages.”

a close up of a computer: Credits: PA          © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA

Of course, if such a claim was brought against Facebook it could have dire consequences – the company’s total value sits at £317 billion.

David Barda, a data protection lawyer for Slater and Gordon said the amount would be less.

“I think a much more realistic figure is £500 per claimant,” he commented.

“The amount of compensation will depend on the level of distress suffered, but Facebook could be facing claims of up to £500 per Facebook user if those users were able to demonstrate their distress.”

a close up of a logo: Credits: Bloomberg            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Bloomberg

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is already investigating the Cambridge Analytica scandal – which saw data harvested through an app circulated on Facebook.

Anyone who wanted to sue the company would have to do so under the UK’s Data Protection Act and prove that the breach had caused them distress.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made a grovelling public apology over the data scandal that’s hit the firm in an advert posted in the backs of several newspapers, including the Sunday Mirror.

It says the harvesting of millions of profiles’ data in 2014 “was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time.”

It adds: “Thank you for believing in this community. I promise to do better for you.” (Mirror)

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‘A Grand Illusion’: Seven Days That Shattered Facebook’s Facade About Privacy

Olivia Solon in San Francisco
Mark Zuckerberg                          Mark Zuckerberg  

“Dumb f***s.” That’s how Mark Zuckerberg described users of Facebook for trusting him with their personal data back in 2004. If the last week is anything to go by, he was right.

Since the Observer reported that the personal data of about 50 million Americans had been harvested from Facebook and improperly shared with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, it has become increasingly apparent that the social network has been far more lax with its data sharing practices than many users realised.

As the scandal unfurled over the last seven days, Facebook’s lacklustre response has highlighted a fundamental challenge for the company: how can it condemn the practice on which its business model depends?

Facebook CEO and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at Harvard University© AP Facebook CEO and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at Harvard University

“This is the story we have been waiting for so people will pay attention not just to Facebook but the entire surveillance economy,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia.

Since Zuckerberg’s “dumb f*cks” comment, Facebook has gone to great lengths to convince members of the public that it’s all about “connecting people” and “building a global community”. This pseudo-uplifting marketing speak is much easier for employees and users to stomach than the mission of “guzzling personal data so we can micro-target you with advertising”.

Related: Billionaire Elon Musk Deletes SpaceX and Tesla Facebook Pages (Wochit Tech)

In the wake of the revelations that Cambridge Analytica misappropriated data collected by Dr Aleksandr Kogan under the guise of academic research, Facebook has scrambled to blame these rogue third parties for “platform abuse”. “The entire company is outraged we were deceived,” said the company in a statement on Tuesday.However, in highlighting the apparent deceit, the company has been forced to shine a light on its underlying business model and years of careless data sharing practices.

Sure, the data changed hands between the researcher and Cambridge Analytica in apparent violation of Kogan’s agreement with Facebook, but everything else was above board. The amount of data Cambridge Analytica got hold of and used to deliver targeted advertising based on personality types – including activities, interests, check-ins, location, photos, religion, politics, relationship details – was not unusual in the slightest. This was a feature, not a bug.

‘Extremely friendly to app developers’

There are thousands of other developers, including the makers of dating app Tinder, games such as FarmVille as well as consultants to Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, who slurped huge quantities of data about users and their friends – all thanks to Facebook’s overly permissive “Graph API”, the interface through which third parties could interact with Facebook’s platform.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Internet.org summit in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014.© Bloomberg Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Internet.org summit in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014.

Facebook opened up in order to attract app developers to join Facebook’s ecosystem at a time when the company was playing catch-up in shifting its business from desktops to people’s smartphones. It was a symbiotic relationship that was critical to Facebook’s growth.

“They wanted to push as much of the conversation, ad revenue and digital activity as possible and made it extremely friendly to app developers,” said Jeff Hauser, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “Now they are complaining that the developers abused them. They wanted that. They were encouraging it. They may now regret it but they knowingly unleashed the forces that have led to this lack of trust and loss of privacy.”

The terms were updated in April 2014 to restrict the data new developers could get hold of, including to people’s friends’ data, but only after four years of access to the Facebook firehose. Companies that plugged in before April 2015 had another year before access was restricted.

“There are all sorts of companies that are in possession of terabytes of information from before 2015,” said Jeff Hauser of the Center for Economic Policy and Research. “Facebook’s practices don’t bear up to close, informed scrutiny nearly as well as they look from the 30,000ft view, which is how people had been viewing Facebook previously.”

President Donald Trump speaks before he signs a presidential memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Thursday, March 22, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)© The Associated Press President Donald Trump speaks before he signs a presidential memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White…

For too long consumers have thought about privacy on Facebook in terms of whether their ex-boyfriends or bosses could see their photos. However, as we fiddle around with our profile privacy settings, the real intrusions have been taking place elsewhere.

“In this sense, Facebook’s ‘privacy settings’ are a grand illusion. Control over post-sharing – people we share – should really be called ‘publicity settings’,” explains Jonathan Albright, the research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “Likewise, control over passive sharing – the information people [including third-party apps] can take info from us – should be called ‘privacy settings’.”

Essentially Facebook gives us privacy “busywork” to make us think we have control while making it very difficult to truly lock down our accounts.

‘The biggest issue I’ve ever seen’

Facebook is dealing with a PR minefield. The more it talks about its advertising practices, the more people join the #DeleteFacebook movement. Even the co-founder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton, who profited from Facebook’s $19bn acquisition of his app, this week said he was deleting his account.

“This is the biggest issue I’ve ever seen any technology company face in my time,” said Roger McNamee, Zuckerberg’s former mentor.

“It’s not like tech hasn’t had a lot of scandals,” he said, mentioning the Theranos fraud and MiniScribe packing actual bricks into boxes instead of hard drives. “But no one else has played a role in undermining democracy or the persecution of monitories before. This is a whole new ball game in the tech world and it’s really, really horrible.”

Facebook first discovered that Kogan had shared data with Cambridge Analytica when a Guardian journalist contacted the company about it at the end of 2015. It asked Cambridge Analytica to delete the data and revoked the Kogan’s apps’ API access. However, Facebook relied on Cambridge Analytica’s word that they had done so.

                         © Bloomberg

When the Observer contacted Facebook last week with testimony from a whistleblower stating that Cambridge Analytica had not deleted the data, Facebook’s reaction was to try to get ahead of the story by publishing its own disclosure late on Friday and threatening to sue to prevent publication of its bombshell discoveries.

Then followed five days of virtual silence from the company, as the chorus of calls from critics grew louder, and further details of Facebook’s business dealings emerged.

A second whistleblower, the former Facebook manager Sandy Parakilas, revealed that he found Facebook’s lack of control over the data given to outside developers “utterly horrifying”. He told the Guardian that he had warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach but was discouraged from investigating further.

At around the same time, it emerged that the co-director of the company that harvested the Facebook data before passing it to Cambridge Analytic is a current employee at Facebook. Joseph Chancellor worked alongside Aleksandr Kogan at Global Science Research, which exfiltrated the data using a personality app under the guise of academic research.

Demand for answers

Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic called for answers. In the US, the Democratic senator Mark Warner called for regulation, describing the online political advertising market as the “wild west”.

“Whether it’s allowing Russians to purchase political ads or extensive micro-targeting based on ill-gotten user data, it’s clear that, left unregulated, this market will continue to be prone to deception and lacking in transparency,” he said.

The Federal Trade Commission plans to examine whether the social networking site violated a 2011 agreement with the agency over data privacy over its data-sharing practices.

Facebook            © Associated Press Facebook

In the UK, MPs summoned Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to give evidence to a select committee investigating fake news.

“I think they are in a very bad situation because they have long benefitted from the tech illiteracy of the political community,” said Hauser.

The backlash spooked investors, wiping almost $50bn off the valuation of the company in two days, although the stock has since rallied slightly.

On Wednesday, Zuckerberg finally broke his silence in a Facebook post acknowledging that the policies that allowed the misuse of data were a “breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it”.

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, added her own comment: “We know that this was a major violation of people’s trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it.”

The company will investigate apps that had access to “large amounts of information” before the 2014 changes and audit thousands of apps that show “suspicious activity”. The company will also inform those whose data was “misused”, including people who were directly affected by the Kogan data operation.

These actions don’t go far enough, said Vaidhyanathan.

“Facebook has a history of putting on that innocent little boy voice: ‘Oh I didn’t know that I shouldn’t hold the cat by its tail’,” he said. “I think we’re tired of it at this point.”

These problems were pointed out by scholars years ago, said Robyn Caplan, a researcher at Data & Society, but Facebook’s response was slow and insufficient.

“They have been trying to put out a lot of little fires but we need them to build a fire department,” she said.     (The Guardian)

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Facebook Gave Cambridge Analytica 57bn Data Of Friendships Formed In 2011 Around The World

Julia Carrie Wong and Paul Lewis
                     © Getty  

Before Facebook suspended Aleksandr Kogan from its platform for the data harvesting “scam” at the centre of the unfolding Cambridge Analytica scandal, the social media company enjoyed a close enough relationship with the researcher that it provided him with an anonymised, aggregate dataset of 57bn Facebook friendships.

Facebook provided the dataset of “every friendship formed in 2011 in every country in the world at the national aggregate level” to Kogan’s University of Cambridge laboratory for a study on international friendships published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2015. Two Facebook employees were named as co-authors of the study, alongside researchers from Cambridge, Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. Kogan was publishing under the name Aleksandr Spectre at the time.

A University of Cambridge press release on the study’s publication noted that the paper was “the first output of ongoing research collaborations between Spectre’s lab in Cambridge and Facebook”. Facebook did not respond to queries about whether any other collaborations occurred.

“The sheer volume of the 57bn friend pairs implies a pre-existing relationship,” said Jonathan Albright, research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “It’s not common for Facebook to share that kind of data. It suggests a trusted partnership between Aleksandr Kogan/Spectre and Facebook.”

Facebook downplayed the significance of the dataset, which it said was shared with Kogan in 2013. “The data that was shared was literally numbers – numbers of how many friendships were made between pairs of countries – ie x number of friendships made between the US and UK,” Facebook spokeswoman Christine Chen said by email. “There was no personally identifiable information included in this data.”

Facebook’s relationship with Kogan has since soured.

“We ended our working relationship with Kogan altogether after we learned that he violated Facebook’s terms of service for his unrelated work as a Facebook app developer,” Chen said. Facebook has said that it learned of Kogan’s misuse of the data in December 2015, when the Guardian first reported that the data had been obtained by Cambridge Analytica.

“We started to take steps to end the relationship right after the Guardian report, and after investigation, we ended the relationship soon after, in 2016,” Chen said.

On Friday 16 March, in anticipation of the Observer’s reporting that Kogan had improperly harvested and shared the data of more than 50 million Americans, Facebook suspended Kogan from the platform, issued a statement saying that he “lied” to the company, and characterised his activities as “a scam – and a fraud”.

On Tuesday, Facebook went further, saying in a statement: “The entire company is outraged we were deceived.” And on Wednesday, in his first public statement on the scandal, its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, called Kogan’s actions a “breach of trust”.

But Facebook has not explained how it came to have such a close relationship with Kogan that it was co-authoring research papers with him, nor why it took until this week – more than two years after the Guardian initially reported on Kogan’s data harvesting activities – for it to inform the users whose personal information was improperly shared.

And Kogan has offered a defence of his actions in an interview with the BBC and an email to his Cambridge colleagues obtained by the Guardian. “My view is that I’m being basically used as a scapegoat by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica,” Kogan said on Radio 4 on Wednesday.

The data collection that resulted in Kogan’s suspension by Facebook was undertaken by Global Science Research (GSR), a company he founded in May 2014 with another Cambridge researcher, Joseph Chancellor. Chancellor is currently employed by Facebook.

Between June and August of that year, GSR paid approximately 270,000 individuals to use a Facebook questionnaire app that harvested data from their own Facebook profiles, as well as from their friends, resulting in a dataset of more than 50 million users. The data was subsequently given to Cambridge Analytica, in what Facebook has said was a violation of Kogan’s agreement to use the data solely for academic purposes.

In his email to colleagues at Cambridge, Kogan said that he had created the Facebook app in 2013 for academic purposes, and used it for “a number of studies”. After he founded GSR, Kogan wrote, he transferred the app to the company and changed its name, logo, description, and terms and conditions. CNN first reported on the Cambridge email. Kogan did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment on this article.

“We made clear the app was for commercial use – we never mentioned academic research nor the University of Cambridge,” Kogan wrote. “We clearly stated that the users were granting us the right to use the data in broad scope, including selling and licensing the data. These changes were all made on the Facebook app platform and thus they had full ability to review the nature of the app and raise issues. Facebook at no point raised any concerns at all about any of these changes.”

Kogan is not alone in criticising Facebook’s apparent efforts to place the blame on him.

“In my view, it’s Facebook that did most of the sharing,” said Albright, who questioned why Facebook created a system for third parties to access so much personal information in the first place. That system “was designed to share their users’ data in meaningful ways in exchange for stock value”, he added.

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie told the Observer that Facebook was aware of the volume of data being pulled by Kogan’s app. “Their security protocols were triggered because Kogan’s apps were pulling this enormous amount of data, but apparently Kogan told them it was for academic use,” Wylie said. “So they were like: ‘Fine.’”

In the Cambridge email, Kogan characterised this claim as a “fabrication”, writing: “There was no exchange with Facebook about it, and … we never claimed during the project that it was for academic research. In fact, we did our absolute best not to have the project have any entanglements with the university.”

The collaboration between Kogan and Facebook researchers which resulted in the report published in 2015 also used data harvested by a Facebook app. The study analysed two datasets, the anonymous macro-level national set of 57bn friend pairs provided by Facebook and a smaller dataset collected by the Cambridge academics.

For the smaller dataset, the research team used the same method of paying people to use a Facebook app that harvested data about the individuals and their friends. Facebook was not involved in this part of the study. The study notes that the users signed a consent form about the research and that “no deception was used”.

The paper was published in late August 2015. In September 2015, Chancellor left GSR, according to company records. In November 2015, Chancellor was hired to work at Facebook as a user experience researcher.

Neither Facebook nor Chancellor has responded to numerous queries about his knowledge of Kogan’s and GSR’s activities.  (The Guardian)

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