Facebook’s privacy lockdown broke Tinder

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In case you haven’t heard, Facebook’s been having a rough time. Misuse of user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal may have affected as many as 87 million users, so Facebook decided to seriously clamp down on the amount of data developers could use. That little move happened to break Tinder. As spotted by New York Magazine, Facebook’s privacy changes seem to have caused something to go wrong with the way Tinder uses Facebook information. Users were logged out of their accounts, asked to log back in, and the caught in a loop. That’s going to screw up a lot…

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Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook hasn’t felt ‘any meaningful impact’ in its usage or business in the wake of its privacy scandal

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Translation: Facebook will be fine.

People are really unhappy with Facebook and revelations that the company hasn’t been protecting user data the way it should. People just are’t unhappy enough to actually leave Facebook. At least that’s what CEO Mark Zuckerberg says.

During a conference call with reporters today, when Recode asked Zuckerberg if the backlash from the Cambridge Analytica fallout — including a #DeleteFacebook hashtag that has circulated online over the last few weeks — had hurt Facebook’s business or usage at all, he seemed to downplay concerns of a material shift.

“I don’t think there’s been any meaningful impact that we’ve observed,” he said. “But, look, it’s not good … It still speaks to people feeling like this was a massive breach of trust and that we have a lot of work to do to repair that.”

The idea that Facebook can go through this kind of backlash without a notable dent to its business is a testament to how big the service has become, and how consumers may not actually be as angry with the company around its privacy policies as it appears on the surface.

Still, investors have been concerned. Facebook stock is down more than 15 percent since the Cambridge Analytica drama came to light almost three weeks ago. The company is scheduled to report its first-quarter financial results on April 25.

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Facebook Details Several Privacy Changes Coming in the Wake of Cambridge Analytica Scandal

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Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Shroepfer today wrote a blog post outlining several changes that are being made to Facebook APIs to limit the amount of data apps can collect from Facebook users.

Changes are being made to the Events, Groups, and Pages API to cut down on what apps can see. With the Events API, for example, apps will no longer be able to access attendees or posts on the event wall, and the Groups API will no longer provide member lists or names associated with posts or comments.


Facebook will also now need to approve third-party access to both Groups and Pages APIs, and, as mentioned previously, all apps that access information like check-ins, photos, posts, and videos. Apps will no longer be able to see religious or political views, relationship status, education, work history, and tons more, all of which was previously readily available.

It is also no longer possible to search for a person’s phone number or email address to locate them on Facebook. Facebook says “malicious actors” have used this feature to “scrape public profile information” using data pulled from search and account recovery options.

For Android users, Facebook had been collecting call and message logs to enable Messenger features. Facebook says it will delete all logs older than a year and will upload less data to its servers going forward.

Starting next Monday, Facebook will also introduce a link at the top of the News Feed to let all users see what apps are installed and what information has been shared with those apps to make it easy for less technically savvy users to remove apps.

The Facebook privacy changes come in the wake of the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal, where Cambridge Analytica used personal data acquired from Facebook in an illicit manner by a third-party app to create targeted political advertisements during the 2016 election.


Originally, Facebook said Cambridge Analytica was able to collect data on 50 million Facebook users, but today, Facebook clarified that it actually had access to the Facebook data from up to 87 million people, with 70 million of those in the United States.

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Facebook says it will not extend GDPR privacy protections beyond EU

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Facebook has no plans to extend the user privacy protections put in place by the far-reaching General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, law to users of its social network around the globe, according to Reuters. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the news agency in an interview that Facebook would like to make such privacy guarantees “in spirit,” but would make exceptions. Zuckerberg declined to explain those exceptions, according to Reuters.

“We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing,” Zuckerberg said of which GDPR protections Facebook would not apply worldwide. He added that many of the protections provided by the GDPR are already part of his company’s privacy settings, including the…

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Facebook launches bulk app removal tool to clean up your privacy settings

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Facebook now lets you bulk remove third-party apps, and any and all posts those apps may have published on your behalf, a welcome privacy change that should make it easier to strip access to your profile from services you no longer use. The change, precipitated by the ongoing Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, is part of a series of sudden changes Facebook is making to mitigate fallout from the revelation that third-party developers have had generous access to users’ data and could use it in ways Facebook had little to no control over. Facebook confirmed the bulk removal option to TechCrunch today, after The Next Web’s Matt Navarra publicly commented on the policy change on Twitter.

Now, when you go to the Apps portion of your…

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Facebook launches bulk app removal tool amidst privacy scandal

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Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, users have flocked to their Facebook privacy settings to sever their connection to third-party apps that they no longer wanted to have access to their data. But deleting them all took forever because you had to remove them one by one. Now Facebook has released a new way to select as many apps as you want, then remove them in bulk. The feature has rolled out on mobile and desktop, and Facebook also offers the option to delete any posts those apps have made to your profile.

Facebook confirmed the launch to TechCrunch, pointing to its Newsroom and Developer News blog posts from the last few weeks that explained that “We already show people what apps their accounts are connected to and control what data they’ve permitted those apps to use. In the coming month, we’re going to make these choices more prominent and easier to manage.” Now we know what “easier” looks like. A Facebook spokesperson told us “we have more to do and will be sharing more when we can.” The updated interface was first spotted by Matt Navarra, who had previously called on Facebook to build a bulk removal option.

Facebook stopped short of offering a “select all” button so you have to tap each individually. That could prevent more innocent, respectful developers from getting caught up in the dragnet as users panic to prune their app connections. One developer told me they’d been inundated with requests from users to delete their data acquired through Facebook and add other login options, saying that the Cambridge Analytica scandal “really hurt consumer trust for all apps…even the good guys.” The developer chose to change its Terms of Service to make users more comfortable.

The bulk removal tool could make it much easier for users to take control of their data and protect their identity, though the damage to Facebook’s reputation is largely done. It’s staggering how many apps piggyback off of Facebook, and that we gave our data without much thought. But at least now it won’t take an hour to remove them all.

 

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Instagram suddenly chokes off developers as Facebook chases privacy

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Without warning, Instagram has broken many of the unofficial apps built on its platform. This weekend it surprised developers with a massive reduction in how much data they can pull from the Instagram API, shrinking the API limit from 5,000 to 200 calls per user per hour. Apps that help people figure out if their followers follow them back or interact with them, analyze their audiences or find relevant hashtags are now quickly running into their API limits, leading to broken functionality and pissed off users.

Two sources confirmed the new limits to TechCrunch, and developers are complaining about the situation on StackOverflow.

In a puzzling move, Instagram is refusing to comment on what’s happening while its developer rate limits documentation site 404s. All it would confirm is that Instagram has stopped accepting submissions of new apps, just as Facebook announced it would last week following backlash over Cambridge Analytica. Developers tell me they feel left in the dark and angry that the change wasn’t scheduled or even officially announced, preventing them from rebuilding their apps to require fewer API calls.

Third-party Instagram platform apps like Reports+ provide users analytics on their audiences, but are breaking due to the new API limits

Some developers suspect the change is part of Instagram parent company Facebook’s scramble to improve data privacy in the wake of its non-stop string of data scandals. In the past week, Facebook announced it was shutting down Partner Categories ad targeting based on third-party data brokers. TechCrunch reported that Facebook also plans to require businesses to pledge that they have consumers’ consent to attain their email addresses, which they use for ad targeting through Custom Audiences.

Most public backlash has focused on #DeleteFacebook and ignored its subsidiaries like Instagram and WhatsApp. But Instagram may hope to prevent the virus of distrust from infecting its app too by cutting the API call limit to 1/25th of its previous volume.

Causing this kind of platform whiplash could push developers away from the Instagram ecosystem, not that the company was too keen on some of these apps. For example, Reports+ charges $ 3.99 per month to give people analytics about their Instagram followers. Sensor Tower tells TechCrunch that Reports+ has grossed more than $ 18 million worldwide since October 2016 on the App Store and Google Play, and made more than $ 1.2 million last month alone.

Instagram might have understandably seen these apps as parasitic, charging users for unofficial functionality or encouraging audience growth hacking that can lead to spam. In January, Instagram announced it would shut down the old API over the next two years, starting with removing the ability to pull a user’s follower list and follow/unfollow people on their behalf on July 31st. Instagram has been slowly trying to clean up its platform for years, having previously threatened legal actions against derivative apps with “Insta” or “Gram” in their names in 2013, and shut down its feed API in 2015 that allowed for unofficial Instagram feed-reading apps.

Instagram is now pushing developers on a much more restrictive platform that only lets approved partners post at users’ behest, and that can only pull mentions of and analytics about business accounts. These changes were slated to kill many of the apps broken by this weekend’s API limit reductions.

But at least developers were given fair warning about the July 31st deadline. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Facebook put a pause on reviewing any new applications last Monday as it tries to shore up data privacy safeguards in the wake of Cambridge Analytica . Instagram confirms to TechCrunch that the moratorium on app submissions extends to Instagram’s new Graph API, but wouldn’t explain anything about the API limits. So Instagram is breaking old apps while not allowing developers to submit new, compliant ones.

“Instagram’s lack of communication is frustrating to me because now I’m scrambling to update my apps and dealing with loads of unhappy customers,” a developer told me on the condition of anonymity. “If I had had a month to prep for this, I could’ve tweaked things so that limit was harder to reach. I’d be more frugal with my requests. What happened is all of a sudden, I’m getting dozens of emails, DMs on Instagram, with people saying the app’s not working.”

While Facebook is wise to scrutinize apps pulling in lots of user data, doing so without warning or even an announcement is how Facebook hurt its relationships with developers circa 2009 as it tried to rapidly reign in spammy virality. Facebook is enduring a crisis of conscience regarding whether its apps can be misused as weapons by those trying to interfere with elections or just exploit our data for profit.

But as the owner of some of the world’s most popular developer platforms, it’s worrying to see it flail and thrash this way. If Facebook and Instagram can’t even communicate changes to its policies with proper procedure and transparency, it’s hard to imagine it’s composed enough to firmly and fairly enforce them.

For more on Facebook and Instagram’s troubles, check out our feature pieces:

 

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Mark Zuckerberg Slams Comments Made By Tim Cook over Data Privacy

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A war of words has erupted between Apple chief executive Tim Cook and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg over data privacy and regulation. Two weeks ago, news broke that Facebook had somehow let London-based marketing firm Cambridge Analytica gain unauthorised access to the personal information of 50 million user accounts. As a result, the social media […]
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This 2011 visual novel predicted how privacy would change in 2018

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It can be difficult to find time to finish a video game, especially if you only have a few hours a week to play. In our biweekly column Short Play we suggest video games that can be started and finished in a weekend.

I played Don’t Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain’t Your Story for the first time shortlyafter it was released about seven years ago. It’s a game that’s stuck with me ever since. That’s partly because of the metafictional way the story of the game is told, which sort of circumvents the visual novel presentation of the game. But it’s also because of what it says about privacy on the internet and in social networks. In 2011, it felt like an interesting extrapolation of what the next generation’s attitudes could be having…

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