Facebook Apologizes for Providing Researchers Flawed Data

Facebook apologized to researchers this week for data released years ago but only recently outed as inaccurately representing how U.S. users interact with posts and links. Reaching out via email and on a conference call with 47 people, the social media giant attempted to mitigate the harm caused by academics and analysts who have already spent about two years studying what they now say, and Facebook seems to agree, is flawed data about how misinformation spreads on its platform. The problem was identified as Facebook having underreported by about half the number of U.S. users and their data. Continue reading Facebook Apologizes for Providing Researchers Flawed Data

Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

Sources said that state and federal investigators plan to bring antitrust charges against Facebook, with a focus on whether its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp created an anticompetitive environment. Investigators examined how Instagram and WhatsApp changed after they were acquired and whether customers had fewer privacy protections. When Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014, it vowed to customers and regulators to preserve its strong privacy protections, but later tried to integrate user data into its other services. Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Likely Following Antitrust Probes

Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

In its first quarter earnings report yesterday, Facebook revealed that it is putting aside $3 billion (about 6 percent of its cash and marketable securities) in anticipation of an upcoming fine from the Federal Trade Commission regarding privacy violations. The penalty, which could become the highest of its kind against a tech company by U.S. regulators and the biggest privacy-related fine in the FTC’s history, is expected to run from $3 billion to $5 billion. The social media giant posted more than $15 billion in revenue, a 26 percent increase over the year-earlier period. Continue reading Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

In a meeting of nine state officials and representatives of five other states led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the market dominance and privacy practices of large tech companies were discussed, as well as the possibility of a joint investigation of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and others. Attorney General Doug Peterson (R-Nebraska) said his state is examining just such a multi-state inquiry into antitrust and consumer protection issues. Potential political bias, a previously raised topic, was barely touched. Continue reading State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress Next Week

In light of Facebook’s latest revelation that data from as many as 87 million users — not the 50 million figure originally reported — was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted he made a “huge mistake” by not paying more attention to the potential for abuse. Facebook further revealed that marketers, using a now-disabled feature that distributed profile data connected to email addresses and phone numbers, could have harvested data from “most people on Facebook.” Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear before federal committees next week. Continue reading Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress Next Week

Facebook News Feed Algorithm Tweak Favors Family, Friends

Facebook has again tweaked its News Feed, this time in a major way. The social media giant will now prioritize what a member’s friends and family share and comment on, rather than content from publishers and brands. The change, meant to maximize what chief executive Mark Zuckerberg calls “meaningful interaction,” will take place over the next few weeks. Likewise, Facebook wants to diminish “passive content,” which is defined as that which requires nothing of the viewer than to sit back and watch or read. Continue reading Facebook News Feed Algorithm Tweak Favors Family, Friends

Industry Responds to Upswing in Online Privacy Concerns

As Internet users become more aware of online privacy issues, Internet companies are working to prove that consumer data is safe and under control. Some companies are even trying to gain advantage in the market by promoting themselves as more privacy-friendly than their rivals. Mozilla recently took this approach when it announced it would allow users to disable third-party tracking software. Others have taken similar tacts. Continue reading Industry Responds to Upswing in Online Privacy Concerns