Facebook is far from being out of the spotlight. On Wednesday, media outlets reported a handful of developments related to the recent data scandal. The Scandal Gets Worse Up until today, Facebook maintained that in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, the political analysis firm harvested data on about 50 million Facebook profiles. That number has […] Read More… iDrop News
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.
OK, I’ll go ahead and say it: Mark Zuckerberg’s reputation is in the toilet right now. As the company suffers scandal after scandal and the price of its shares continue to drop like they’re hot, Zuck has fumbled to make amends. And now, presented with a great opportunity to win back customers and investors alike, he’s like “Mm, no thanks.”
That opportunity: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union’s new law on data privacy. It ensures that every individual on the internet has a right to know which company has what data about them, plus the right to have it destroyed. To be active in the EU, websites, including social media, must comply with the new regulations that take effect on May 25.
So Facebook is making the necessary changes, as you may expect, because there were some 252 million Facebook users in the EU alone in June 2017. But according to a report from Reuters, those privacy protections won’t extend to people in other countries.
Let’s be clear: the site already has the technological capabilities to do this for users in whatever country it damn well pleases. But it’s simply choosing not to.
It’s almost as if Mark forgot what got his company into this big stinking Cambridge Analytica mess in the first place. What makes Americans (and the rest of the world) inherently unworthy of having the same privacy rights as their European counterparts?
Predictably, Zuckerberg deflected any suggestions that the choice was malicious, telling Reuters about his plans for the rest of the world, “we’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing.” In spirit? Really?
Zuck didn’t do any more explain his choice, but he didn’t really have to. Keeping things the way they are for users outside the EU means Facebook can keep making money (and a lot of it) from the data the company harvests. And it has no legal requirement to change. So why should it?
“If user privacy is going to be properly protected, the law has to require it,” Nicole Ozer, the director of technology and civil liberties at the American Civil Liberties Union in California, told Reuters.
Regardless of what Zuckerberg’s vision of the future of data privacy in the U.S. looks like, the decision not to extending the same privacy rights to all users worldwide looks shady as hell.
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.
The tech industry really wants to unfriend Facebook.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal,tech industry insiders have been quick to criticize Facebook for inadequately protecting users’ private information. The latest to join their ranks is Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook is not just critical of Zuckerberg’s enterprise — he asserts Apple would never make the same missteps.
On March 28, Cook sat down with Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes to film a live interview for an upcoming MSNBC special: “Revolution: Apple Changing the World.” The program won’t air until April 6, but it’s already generating buzz, and blowback from Zuckerberg.
When Swisher asked Cook what he would do if he were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the Cambridge Analytica, he responded, “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”
That sounds somewhat dismissive, but Cook may have a point. During the interview, he touched on two fundamental differences between Apple and Facebook that could prevent the former from ever finding itself in the same situation as the latter.
Firstly, Apple makes its money from products, not people.
You’ve probably heard some version of the saying, “If you’re not paying for something, you’re the product,” and that’s essentially how Facebook earns a profit. You don’t pay for Facebook. Advertisers pay Facebook for you. Well, access to you and your information anyways.
Apple sells smartphones, watches, computers, software programs, cloud storage, entertainment downloads, and more. With so many products, it doesn’t need to sell user data to turn a profit. So it doesn’t.
“The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer — if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that,” said Cook during the interview.
Apple uses end-to-end encryption on iMessage and FaceTime, ensuring as much as it can that those communications stay between the parties involved. When possible, Apple also stores users’ information directly on their devices rather than some centralized Apple server that could be more easily hacked.
The company also attempts to protect the privacy of users from third-parties. As Cook noted during the interview, Apple carefully reviews every third-party app sold in its store to ensure it meets the company’s expectation of privacy. In 2016, Cook even refused a request from the FBI to create a software program that could bypass an iPhone’s security system as the agency worked to investigate a terrorist attack.
On Friday, Zuckerberg defended himself against Cook’s criticisms during an interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein. According to Zuckerberg, a company can have an advertising-supported business model and still “care about” its users.
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.
It’s the VC firm’s most meaningful governance change since its CEO resigned from the role last year.
The accelerator program 500 Startups was roiled by drama last year after the ouster of its CEO, Dave McClure, under allegations of sexual harassment.
Now 500 Startups is making its most meaningful governance change since McClure resigned from the role last year. In an unusual deal, the firm said it would sell some equity in its parent company, called Mothership, to the Abu Dhabi Financial Group, which will now help manage 500 Startups operations alongside McClure’s successor, Christine Tsai.
Deal terms weren’t disclosed beyond the investment being “significant.” Another sign that it’s not small: ADFG is taking one of the two seats on the board — this is the first time 500 Startups is accepting outside capital into its parent company, it said.
500 Startups does, of course, have investors — or limited partners — in the individual funds that it runs. Those limited partners essentially “buy” an ownership stake in a fund. This is a rare instance in which a limited partner is “buying” a stake in the fund’s parent company, which in this case includes not just the individual funds but also non-deal programming like strategic partnerships and investor education courses.
500 is not a typical venture capital firm. It has a staff of about 100, far bigger than most VC firms, in part to oversee its expansive network of “micro-funds” that invest in specific regions.
ADFG is the latest big-money foreign investor to try and increase its footprint in Silicon Valley startups. Sovereign wealth funds like Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala and Singapore’s Temasek have recently opened offices in San Francisco to help their countries gain better access to young private companies. ADFG hasn’t done as many U.S. tech deals, but has more than $ 6 billion under management.
ADFG is now expected to serve as a large investor in future 500 Startups funds — which should make the eight-year-old accelerator more durable. The accelerator has long thought about taking on cash from an outside investor into its parent company, Tsai told Recode, in order to more aggressively scale its programming.
Tsai said the decision to take on ADFG’s investment was unrelated to the fallout from McClure’s ouster. She said she had been speaking with strategic investors like ADFG about a deal since before the sexual harassment scandal hit the headlines. And she claimed that limited partners remained excited about 500 Startups, and that the deal was not motivated by a need for replacement cash.
“It’s not something that’s a reaction to Dave per se or anything like that,” Tsai said. “We’ve had a lot of support from our LPs.”
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