New York, Feb 15 (AP/UNB) — A report says Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission are negotiating a "multibillion dollar" fine for the social network's privacy lapses.
The Washington Post said Thursday that the fine would be the largest ever imposed on a tech company. Citing unnamed sources, it also said the two sides have not yet agreed on an exact amount.
Facebook has had several high-profile privacy lapses in the past couple of years. The FTC has been looking into the Cambridge Analytica scandal since last March. The data mining firm accessed the data of some 87 million Facebook users without their consent.
At issue is whether Facebook is in violation of a 2011 agreement with the FTC promising to protect user privacy. Facebook and the FTC declined to comment.
London, Feb 9 (AP/UNB) — Instagram has agreed to ban graphic images of self-harm after objections were raised in Britain following the suicide of a teen whose father said the photo-sharing platform had contributed to her decision to take her own life.
Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said Thursday evening the platform is making a series of changes to its content rules.
He said: "We are not where we need to be on self-harm and suicide, and we need to do more to protect the most vulnerable in our community."
Mosseri said further changes will be made.
"I have a responsibility to get this right," he said. "We will get better and we are committed to finding and removing this content at scale, and working with experts and the wider industry to find ways to support people when they're most in need."
The call for changes was backed by the British government after the family of 14-year-old Molly Russell found material related to depression and suicide on her Instagram account after her death in 2017.
Her father, Ian Russell, said he believes the content Molly viewed on Instagram played a contributing role in her death, a charge that received wide attention in the British press.
The changes were announced after Instagram and other tech firms, including Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, met with British Health Secretary Matt Hancock and representatives from the Samaritans, a mental health charity that works to prevent suicide.
Instagram is also removing non-graphic images of self-harm from searches.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement that independent experts advise that Facebook should "allow people to share admissions of self-harm and suicidal thoughts but should not allow people to share content promoting it."
New York, Feb 01 (AP/UNB) — Facebook says Apple is restoring its access to a key development tool that the iPhone maker disabled Wednesday.
Late Tuesday, TechCrunch reported that Facebook paid teens and other users who agreed to download an app called Facebook Research. That app could extensively track their phone and web use. Apple said Facebook was abusing the tool , known as a developer enterprise certificate, to distribute the app on iPhones in a way that allowed the social network to sidestep Apple restrictions on data collection.
By revoking the certificate for the iOS software that powers the iPhone and iPad, Apple closed off Facebook's efforts to sidestep Apple's app store and its tighter rules on privacy.
Apple did not immediately respond to a message for comment Thursday afternoon. Facebook did not say whether it agreed to any conditions for the certificate restoration.
In an internal memo sent on Wednesday, Facebook told employees it is "working closely" with Apple to reinstate access. It also told workers to install the public versions of apps from the app store. Apps that it said "may not work" included internal versions of Facebook, Workplace, Instagram and the Ride app, which helps workers with transportation. WhatsApp was not affected.
While Facebook engineers could still write code and work on iPhone apps during the shutoff, their ability to test them in the field was limited.
In a statement, Facebook said it is "in the process of getting our internal apps up and running." The company noted that the issue had no impact on its consumer services.
During the shutoff, Facebook also lost the ability to create and push out iPhone apps such as internal tools and apps to its own employees. That's a big deal since Facebook publishes tools and future products to its own team to test before providing them to the public, said Marty Puranik, CEO and founder of cloud hosting company Atlantic.Net.
Puranik, who regularly works with developers, said the certificate revocation also meant developers lost the ability to publish their iPhone apps without vetting by Apple. Those in the program can skip Apple's compliance and user safety checks, which leads to faster updates.
Still, the shutoff didn't seem to debilitate Facebook's ability to work. Its developers work on code on Facebook's internal systems. And version 206.0 of the Facebook app for iPhones was sent out on Thursday morning, while the shutoff was still in effect.
Google said Thursday that Apple has also revoked its enterprise certificate, blocking Google employees from testing new app features on iPhones.
But the company seemed confident it would quickly regain its access. "We're working with Apple to fix a temporary disruption to some of our corporate iOS apps, which we expect will be resolved soon," the company said in a statement.
Google declined to say why it lost the certificate, but came a day after the company voluntarily withdrew market-research app called "Screenwise Meter" that had been distributed to consumers, although not to teens.
Google and Apple have a lucrative business relationship worth billions of dollars a year, since Googles pays a commission for the ads that it sells as the built-in search engine on iPhones.
New York, Feb 01 (AP/UNB) — Facebook says it has removed 783 Iran-linked pages, accounts and groups from its service for what it calls "coordinated inauthentic behavior." That's the social network's term for fake accounts run with the intent of disrupting politics and elections.
Facebook has been disclosing such purges more regularly in recent months, including ones linked to groups in Myanmar , Bangladesh and Russia .
The accounts on Facebook and Instagram typically misrepresented themselves as locals in more than two dozen countries ranging from Afghanistan, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
Facebook said Thursday the accounts spent about $30,000 on advertisements, paid for in U.S. dollars, British pounds, Canadian dollars and euros.
The company said Twitter helped its investigation by sharing information about suspicious activity it found on its own service. The companies, along with others in the tech industry, have been cooperating more when it comes to such account takedowns by sharing information.
Such cooperation can help the companies avoid regulatory scrutiny by showing critics and lawmakers that they can set aside differences when it comes to battling outside threats that affect their users.
The latest removed accounts, Facebook said, typically represented themselves as locals in various countries, often using fake accounts and posting news stories on current events. This included using stories from Iranian state media about conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Dhaka, Jan 26 (UNB) - Facebook plans to integrate its messaging services on Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, reports BBC.
While all three will remain stand-alone apps, at a much deeper level they will be linked so messages can travel between the different services.
Facebook told the BBC it was at the start of a "long process".
The plan was first reported in the New York Times and is believed to be a personal project of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Once complete, the merger would mean that a Facebook user could communicate directly with someone who only has a WhatsApp account. This is currently impossible as the applications have no common core.
The work to merge the three elements has already begun, reported the NYT, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019 or early next year.
Facebook probably didn't want to talk about this in the middle of a privacy scandal, but its hand was forced by insiders talking to the New York Times.
Until now, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger have been run as separate and competing products.
Integrating the messaging parts might simplify Facebook's work. It wouldn't need to develop competing versions of new features, such as Stories, which all three apps have added with inconsistent results.
Cross-platform messaging may also lead the way for businesses on one platform to message potential customers on another.
And it might make it easier for Facebook to share data across the three platforms, to help its targeted advertising efforts.
But bigger still: it makes Facebook's suite of apps a much tighter, interwoven collection of services. That could make the key parts of Facebook's empire more difficult to break up and spin off, if governments and regulators decide that is necessary.
Mr Zuckerberg is reportedly pushing the integration plan to make its trinity of services more useful and increase the amount of time people spend on them.
By effectively joining all its users into one massive group Facebook could compete more effectively with Google's messaging services and Apple's iMessage, suggested Makena Kelly on tech news site The Verge.
"We want to build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private," said Facebook in a statement.
"We're working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks," it added.
The statement said there was a lot of "discussion and debate" about how the system would eventually work.
Linking the three systems marks a significant change at Facebook as before now it has let Instagram and WhatsApp operate as largely independent companies.
The NYT claimed that Mr Zuckerberg's championing of the plan to connect the messaging system had caused "internal strife". It was part of the reason that the founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp left last year.
The decision comes as Facebook faces repeated investigations and criticisms over the way it has handled and safeguarded user data.
Comprehensively linking user data at a fundamental level may prompt regulators to take another look at its data handling practices.
The UK's Information Commissioner has already conducted investigations into how much data is shared between WhatsApp and Facebook.