Facebook retracted Zuckerberg’s messages from recipients’ inboxes

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You can’t remove Facebook messages from the inboxes of people you sent them to, but Facebook did that for Mark Zuckerberg and other executives. Three sources confirm to TechCrunch that old Facebook messages they received from Zuckerberg have disappeared from their Facebook inboxes, while their own replies to him conspiculously remain. An email receipt of a Facebook message from 2010 reviewed by TechCrunch proves Zuckerberg sent people messages that no longer appear in their Facebook chat logs or in the files available from Facebook’s Download Your Information tool.

When asked by TechCrunch about the situation, Facebook claimed it was done for corporate security in this statement:

“After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications. These included limiting the retention period for Mark’s messages in Messenger. We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages.”

However, Facebook never publicly disclosed the removal of messages from users’ inboxes, nor privately informed the recipients. That raises the question of whether this was a breach of user trust. When asked that question directly over Messenger, Zuckerberg declined to provide a statement.

Tampering With Users’ Inboxes

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that users can only delete messages their own inboxes, and that they would still show up in the recipient’s thread. There appears to be no “retention period” for normal users’ messages, as my inbox shows messages from as early as 2005. That indicates Zuckerberg and other executives received special treatment in being able to pull back previously sent messages.

Facebook chats sent by Zuckerberg from several years ago or older were missing from the inboxes of both former employees and non-employees. What’s left makes it look the recipients were talking to themselves, as only their side of back-and-forth conversations with Zuckerberg still appear. Three sources asked to remain anonymous out of fear of angering Zuckerberg or burning bridges with the company.

[Update: Recent messages from Zuckerberg remain in users’ inboxes. Old messages from before 2014 still appear to some users, indicating the retraction did not apply to all chats the CEO sent. But more sources have come forward since publication, saying theirs disappeared as well.]

None of Facebook’s terms of service appear to give it the right to remove content from users’ accounts unless it violates the company’s community standards. While it’s somewhat standard for corporations to have data retention policies that see them delete emails or other messages from their own accounts that were sent by employees, they typically can’t remove the messages from the accounts of recipients outside the company. It’s rare that these companies own the communication channel itself and therefore host both sides of messages as Facebook does in this case, which potentially warrants a different course of action with more transparency than quietly retracting the messages.

Facebook’s power to tamper with users’ private message threads could alarm some. The issue is amplified by the fact that Facebook Messenger now has 1.3 billion users, making it one of the most popular communication utilities in the world.

Zuckerberg is known to have a team that helps him run his Facebook profile, with some special abilities for managing his 105 million followers and constant requests for his attention. For example, Zuckerberg’s profile doesn’t show a button to add him as a friend on desktop, and the button is grayed out and disabled on mobile. But the ability to change the messaging inboxes of other users is far more concerning.

Facebook may have sought to prevent leaks of sensitive corporate communications. Following the Sony hack, emails of Sony’s president Michael Lynton who sat on Snap Inc’s board were exposed, revealing secret acquisitions and strategy.

Mark Zuckerberg during the early days of Facebook

However, Facebook may have also looked to thwart the publication of potentially embarrassing personal messages sent by Zuckerberg or other executives. In 2010, Silicon Valley Insider published now-infamous instant messages from a 19-year-old Zuckerberg to a friend shortly after starting The Facebook in 2004. “yea so if you ever need info about anyone at harvard . . . just ask . . . i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns” Zuckerberg wrote to a friend. “what!? how’d you manage that one?” they asked. “people just submitted it . .  i don’t know why . . . they “trust me” . . . dumb fucks” Zuckerberg explained.

The New Yorker later confirmed the messages with Zuckerberg, who told the publication he “absolutely” regretted them. “If you’re going to go on to build a service that is influential and that a lot of people rely on, then you need to be mature, right? I think I’ve grown and learned a lot” said Zuckerberg.

If the goal of Facebook’s security team was to keep a hacker from accessing the accounts of executives and therefore all of their messages, they could have merely been deleted on their side the way any Facebook user is free to do, without them disappearing from the various recipients’ inboxes. If Facebook believed it needed to remove the messages entirely from its servers in case the company’s backend systems we breached, a disclosure of some kind seems reasonable.

Now as Facebook encounters increased scrutiny regarding how it treats users’ data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the retractions could become a bigger issue. Zuckerberg is slated to speak in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on April 10 as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11. They could request more information about Facebook removing messages or other data from users’ accounts without their consent. While Facebook is trying to convey that it understands its responsibilities, the black mark left on public opinion by past behavior may prove permanent.

If you have more info on this situation, including evidence of messages from other Facebook executives disappearing, please contact this article’s author Josh Constine via open Twitter DMs, josh@techcrunch.com, or encrypted Signal chat at (585)750-5674.

For more on Facebook’s recent troubles, read our feature pieces:

 

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Amazon is taking aim at Walmart by offering a 54 percent discount on Prime memberships for Medicaid recipients

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It’s the company’s latest move to court lower-income shoppers.

Amazon is making another move in its courtship of lower-income shoppers, announcing a discount on its Amazon Prime monthly membership fee for recipients of Medicaid. The discount works out to 54 percent.

Under the offer, customers on Medicaid can get Amazon Prime for $ 5.99 a month, or $ 7 less than the new regular monthly fee of $ 12.99. In June, Amazon first introduced this discounted price for shoppers who receive government assistance in the form of an Electronic Benefits Transfer card.

The goal of these discounts, according to Amazon executive Aaron Perrine, is to give more people access to “aspects of the digital economy — some conveniences and benefits — that I think a lot of us take for granted.”

An Amazon Prime membership includes perks such as two-day shipping on more than 100 million products, unlimited photo storage and free online streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows. Amazon Prime customers typically spend more and buy more frequently on Amazon than non-members do.

With the moves, Amazon is increasingly battling Walmart and other low-priced retailers for the wallets of those with less disposable income. But it’s not altruism; Amazon Prime has been widely adopted by middle-class and well-off Americans, so if the membership program is going to continue to grow in the U.S., the company has to figure out how to attract other demographics.

At the same time, Walmart has made moves to court bigger spenders with the acquisition of brands like Bonobos and a new service aimed at serving busy, well-off moms in New York City.

Medicaid is the government program that helps provide health coverage for many low-income families and disabled individuals. Medicare, which isn’t part of this discount program, guarantees health coverage for those 65 or older.

The discounted membership price works out to about $ 72 for 12 months. The cheapest Prime membership for those Amazon customers who do not receive government assistance is $ 99 for a full year.

Those who want to qualify for the discount will be asked to apply and upload a photo of their Medicaid card. Eligible shoppers need to reapply once a year and are eligible for up to four years.


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Florida phishing attack exposes data for 30,000 Medicaid recipients

Large-scale medical hacks are horrible in themselves, but sometimes it's the ease of the hacks that's scary — and Florida knows this first-hand. The state's Agency for Health Care Administration has warned that a phishing attack compromised data fo…
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Deleting messages on WhatsApp for all recipients starts rolling out

Message recalls have been rumored on WhatsApp for months now and every couple of weeks, we got a glimpse of the functionality in a beta version but it was always a false alert and never properly worked. Now the option appears to be going live, with a slow rollout to more and more users.

Message deletion for all, i.e. message recalls, lets you remove a message you sent from a conversation and it won’t just disappear from your end, it’ll also go away on the recipient(s)’s phone.

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Deleting messages on WhatsApp for all recipients starts rolling out was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Finland’s Universal Basic Income Program Is Already Reducing Stress for Recipients

Start With the Finnish

Earlier this year, Finland launched a pilot program to test a universal basic income (UBI) policy by giving 2,000 of its citizens €560 ($ 624) every month for two years.

Universal Basic Income: The Answer to Automation?
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This program is dramatically different from traditional safety net systems. The payments are completely unconditional, and recipients can spend the money however they want. They are not required to prove they are actively looking for work, and even if they find employment, they will not lose their income from the UBI program.

Five months into the program, organizers are starting to see some promising results. One participant in the program told The Economist that he is now actively seeking work and feels less stressed. Of course, this one anecdotal example cannot speak for the whole of the program, which is still in its infancy, but it is encouraging.

Global Incubators

In anticipation of the rise of automation, other UBI programs are being tested all around the world.

Some programs, such as GiveDirectly’s trial in Kenya, are being spearheaded by nonprofits. Others are being undertaken by corporations, such as Y Combinator’s plan to give a basic income of between $ 1,000 and $ 2,000 a month to participants in Oakland, California.

As is the case in Finland, governments are also testing the waters of UBI. At the end of last year, the government of Prince Edward Island unanimously voted to work with the Canadian government to establish a pilot UBI program, and India is currently exploring the possibility of such a system as well.

Not only could UBI replace the income lost as automated systems continue to replace human workers, experts also believe that having such a safety net would spur more innovation as the fear of failure would be reduced. People equipped with the knowledge that they will be able to provide for themselves should they fail will be more willing to take bigger risks, which could result in a spike in innovation that would help us all.

The post Finland’s Universal Basic Income Program Is Already Reducing Stress for Recipients appeared first on Futurism.

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Apple announces WWDC17 Apple Design Award recipients, and we talked to them about their apps

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This years’ Apple Design Awards recipients spanned the globe, ranging from novel games designed by a single developer to larger productions developed across a staff of full time coders and artists.
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