Saturday, 24 March 2018

Why is Facebook in trouble?

Facebook grilled by Singapore lawmakers on Cambridge Analytica during tense parliamentary session
Representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter at the the parliamentary session. Photo: Screengrab from CNA

Singapore’s Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods convened on Thursday to hear representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter give oral evidence during one of the parliamentary sessions on how they are combating fake news.

The tech giants, together with industry association Asia Internet Coalition, in their written representation to the committee before the session, had stated that they firmly do not believe that legislation by governments will help stop the spread of fake news.

Instead, according to Channel NewsAsia, they called for a stringent self-regulatory approach, executed in coordination and cooperation with the authorities to fight the bad actors who intend to spread misinformation.

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K Shanmugam presses Facebook on lack of transparency over Cambridge Analytica saga

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam questioned Facebook in Parliament on Thursday (22 March) on why the social media giant had not been open when it first found out about a massive breach of its user data arising from the Cambridge Analytica (CA) saga.

Shanmugam’s pointed questions directed at Simon Milner, Facebook’s vice-president of public policy for Asia-Pacific, during the hearing for the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods come after media reports in the past week revealed that personal data of 50 million Facebook users were obtained by CA, a UK analytics firm, in part to help Donald Trump in his 2016 US presidential election campaign.

In 2014, CA hired a researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, to gather basic profile information of Facebook users along with what they chose to “Like.” Some 270,000 Facebook users downloaded Kogan’s app and the researcher was able to collect data of 50 million people

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Cambridge Analytica responds to Facebook announcement

​Cambridge Analytica fully complies with Facebook’s terms of service and ​is currently ​in touch with Facebook ​following its ​recent statement​ that it had suspended the company from its platform, in order to resolve this matter as quickly as possible​.

Cambridge Analytica​'s Commercial and Political divisions ​use social media platforms ​for outward marketing, delivering data-led and creative content to targeted audiences. They do not use or hold data from Facebook profiles​.

In 2014, we contracted a company led by a seemingly reputable academic at an internationally-renowned institution to undertake a large scale research project in the United States.

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#DeleteFacebook grows in support
Facebook is at the centre of a scandal over hijacked personal data

As Facebook reels from the scandal over hijacked personal data, a movement to quit it has gathered momentum, getting a boost from a high-profile co-founder of the WhatsApp messaging service acquired by the huge social network in 2014.

“It is time. #deletefacebook,” Brian Acton said in a tweet, using the hashtag protesting the handling of the crisis by the world’s biggest social network.

The WhatsApp co-founder, who now works at rival messaging application Signal, posted the comment amid a growing uproar over revelations that Facebook data was harvested by a British political consulting firm linked to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

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Spotlight shines on Mark Zuckerberg in Cambridge Analytica scandal

Calls are mounting for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to personally take charge of one of the biggest crises to befall the social network as regulatory bodies on both sides of the Atlantic clamour for answers in a data scandal which threatens to engulf it.

Zuckerberg has thus far remained tight-lipped amidst reports that the user data of up to 50m individuals had been misused by Cambridge Analytica, which utilized this unauthorized information to help promote Donald Trump in the US election.

This data was harvested by University of Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan who created a personality app that harvested such data which he could then sell on to third parties.

related: Mark Zuckerberg: 'If we can’t protect you, we don’t deserve to serve you'

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New, 'prescriptive' laws not the ideal solution against online falsehoods: Social media, Internet giants in written submissions
Representatives of Google, Twitter, Facebook and industry association Asia Internet Coalition at the public hearing by the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods on Mar 22, 2018

In addressing the issue of fake news, new prescriptive laws are not an ideal solution, according to industry association Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), whose members include social media companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Instead, a “stringent self-regulatory approach”, executed in coordination and cooperation with the authorities, will have a better outcome.

The association made this point in its written representation to the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods. It gave oral evidence to the committee on Thursday (Mar 22), together with representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Explaining its rationale, AIC’s managing director Jeff Paine said in his written representation that prescriptive legislation will not adequately address the issue effectively, due to the highly subjective, nuanced and difficult task of discerning whether information is true or false.

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Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach
Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' – video

The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

Christopher Wylie, who worked with a Cambridge University academic to obtain the data, told the Observer: “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”

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Facebook gave data about 57bn friendships to academic
Aleksandr Kogan has accused Facebook of using him as a scapegoat. Composite: Guardian Design Team

Before Facebook suspended Aleksandr Kogan from its platform for the data harvesting “scam” at the centre of the unfolding Cambridge Analytica scandal, the social media company enjoyed a close enough relationship with the researcher that it provided him with an anonymised, aggregate dataset of 57bn Facebook friendships.

Facebook provided the dataset of “every friendship formed in 2011 in every country in the world at the national aggregate level” to Kogan’s University of Cambridge laboratory for a study on international friendships published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2015. Two Facebook employees were named as co-authors of the study, alongside researchers from Cambridge, Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. Kogan was publishing under the name Aleksandr Spectre at the time.

A University of Cambridge press release on the study’s publication noted that the paper was “the first output of ongoing research collaborations between Spectre’s lab in Cambridge and Facebook”. Facebook did not respond to queries about whether any other collaborations occurred.

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If you're ready to quit Facebook, here's how to replace everything you might miss.
BY NOW, YOU'RE probably aware of the hurricane tearing its way through Facebook. Over the weekend, both The Guardian and The New York Times published explosive reports about the improper use of data belonging to 50 million Facebook users by Trump campaign-affiliated data firm Cambridge Analytica.

The incident is the most high-profile misuse of Facebook's systems to become public, but it's far from the only one. Russian propagandists slipped through Facebook's advertising safeguards to try to influence the 2016 presidential election. In 2014, the social network allowed academics to use the News Feed to tinker with users' emotions. The United Nations even said earlier this month that Facebook played a role in exacerbating the genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. Facebook itself has admitted that mindlessly scrolling on its platform isn't good for you.

If all that has you thinking about deleting Facebook entirely, you're far from alone. (Quitting the social network is also somewhat of a first-world privilege, since for many people Facebook functions as the entire internet itself.) But going cold turkey can be hard; Facebook actually provides useful services sometimes, and there's no one-for-one replacement.

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Boycotting digital monopolies like Facebook is harder than it seems

You may have heard of the #DeleteFacebook campaign, but you, like me, are probably among the vast majority of Facebook’s nearly 2 billion users who probably won’t actually follow through. CEO Mark Zuckerberg even has the data to prove it, telling The New York Times yesterday that he hasn’t seen a “meaningful number of people” deleting their accounts.

Amid the ongoing data privacy scandal surrounding the Trump-connected firm Cambridge Analytica, tech critics and users alike are revisiting the concept of leaving Facebook and extracting ourselves from one of the world’s most pervasive advertising empires. The decision to delete Facebook boils down to two questions: 1. Has Facebook lost the necessary trust to be a steward of our personal information? And 2. Is the company’s grip on online and offline life too great to ever reasonably walk away from?

The answer to the first question is probably yes, while the answer to the second is even more grim: for most of us in 2018, Facebook feels too big to leave. No other company in history, besides perhaps Google, has claimed so many users across this vast a digital footprint. And unlike Google, Facebook, has no legitimate competition when it comes to the primary services it provides. In effect, Facebook is a monopoly: it owns huge swaths of online life, to the point that even Zuckerberg now agrees that maybe it’s time it should be regulated by the federal government.

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Should you delete Facebook?

Following the certifiable shitshow at Facebook around revelations that data firm Cambridge Analytica harvested and exploited users’ data without their permission, many users declared they were through with the platform. The hashtag #deletefacebook spread rapidly on Twitter (another social network that uses targeted advertising and was exploited by Russians), with people from all sides of the political spectrum raising concerns about security, privacy, the company’s influence on democracy, and its lack of transparency. Others talked about how deleting Facebook made them happier humans.

All of these reasons are legitimate and understandable. But, for many, quitting Facebook might be a tall order—and that is perfectly understandable as well. The platform has been in many people’s lives for over a decade, becoming the one place on the internet where they can find and connect with everyone they’ve ever known. It’s a massive trove of memories, and a digital passport of sorts (not to mention its uses for work and business).

If you’re fed up with the company’s antics, but feel either tethered to its services, or genuinely enjoy some of its aspects, here we weigh the pros and cons of bidding adieu to Mark Zuckerberg’s dormroom creation:

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Facebook, Google warn Singapore against 'fake news' law

Internet giants Facebook and Google on Thursday warned Singapore against introducing new laws to combat "fake news", saying that existing legislation is adequate to address the problem.

Their warnings were made to a parliamentary committee which is examining possible measures, including legislation, to tackle false online information which the government says could threaten national security.

Executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared before the committee Thursday, and are among scores of experts, academics and activists called to testify over eight days.

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WhatsApp co-founder tells everyone to delete Facebook

In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion, making its co-founders — Jan Koum and Brian Acton — very wealthy men. Koum continues to lead the company, but Acton quit earlier this year to start his own foundation. And he isn’t done merely with WhatsApp — in a post on Twitter today, Acton told his followers to delete Facebook.

“It is time,” Acton wrote, adding the hashtag #deletefacebook. Acton, who is worth $6.5 billion, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. WhatsApp declined to comment.

It was unclear whether Acton’s feelings about Facebook extend to his own app. But last month, Acton invested $50 million into Signal, an independent alternative to WhatsApp.

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Channel NewsAsia 17 hrs

“This should not have happened on our watch”: Facebook's representative at the Select Committee hearing on the misuse of data by Cambridge Analytica.

But he and Minister K Shanmugam Sc crossed swords over whether it was a data breach, and why users were not told.

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Zuckerberg's Crisis Response Fails to Quiet Critics
'Facebook made mistakes': Mark Zuckerberg says sorry after data breach storm
Zuckerberg: Facebook must 'step up' after data scandal
Mark Zuckerberg admits Facebook 'made mistakes' that led to data fiasco
Advertisers threaten to quit Facebook over Cambridge Analytica scandal
Zuckerberg breaks silence, but this is the most confusing apology if ever there
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Cambridge Analytica data leaks
Cambridge Analytica and us - Ranier Fsadni
Mark Zuckerberg breaks silence after sparking outrage in India and more
Facebook took years to clamp down on developers' data harvesting
Facebook's Zuckerberg admits mistakes - but no apology
Zuckerberg 'Really Sorry' Over Cambridge Analytica Fallout, Vows to Check
Facebook committed to ensure integrity of elections in India
Zuckerberg admits errors over Cambridge Analytica data mining scandal
Mark Zuckerberg: I'm really sorry for Facebook data leak
Facebook's Zuckerberg admits mistakes over Cambridge Analytica
After Days of Silence, Zuckerberg Admits to 'Mistakes' With User Data
Facebook Data Breach: Mark Zuckerberg Admits Mistake
Facebook devoted to stop interference in Indian polls: Mark Zuckerberg
Chris Wylie says he'll testify in US, UK about Cambridge Analytica
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg admits 'mistakes' in Cambridge Analytica scandal
Zuckerberg is 'uncomfortable' making content decisions for all users
Zuckerberg admits mistakes, offers to testify before Congress over Cambridge
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admits to making mistake over Cambridge
Zuckerberg finally apologizes and says he's 'happy' to testify before Congress
Mark Zuckerberg In Damage Control Mode After Data Breach Revelations
Zuckerberg says he hasn't seen a 'meaningful number of people' deleting Face
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica Sued in US by Users Over Data Harvesting
Facebook Is Killing Democracy With Its Personality Profiling Data
Mark Zuckerberg's response doesn't cut it, say Facebook's critics
Zuckerberg breaks silence admitting Facebook 'made mistakes' and vows
Zuckerberg says he's 'happy' to testify before Congress
Zuckerberg admits 'mistakes' over Facebook data scandal and vows fix
Facebook committed to stop interference in Indian polls: Zuckerberg
How Facebook can grab your data, and what to do to stop it
Whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveals Cambridge Analytica's dark arts
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apologises for 'major breach of trust'
Academic behind Facebook breach says he is a 'scapegoat' - BBC
Mark Zuckerberg addresses Facebook user data scandal, vows to fix issues
The Latest: Zuckerberg Admits Mistakes, Outlines Steps
What You Need To Know About Zuckerberg's Media Blitz
I Can Barely Handle This CNN Interview, What Makes You Think I Can Handle
Facebook is making changes to your News Feed after the Cambridge 'breach'
'We made a mistake' admits Mark Zuckerberg after breaking his silence
Zuckerberg on #deletefacebook: 'You know, it's not good'
Mark Zuckerberg has regrets: 'I'm really sorry that this happened'
Facebook has a problem that not even Mark Zuckerberg can solve
Zuckerberg Vows to Alert All Whose Data May've Been Exposed
Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook committed to check “interference”
What Would Regulating Facebook Look Like?
Zuckerberg admits mistakes, says Facebook will protect user data
Liberals paid $100000 in 2016 to Cambridge Analytica whistleblower
Mark Zuckerberg Speaks, But Is He Listening?
Zuckerberg Speaks Out About Cambridge Here's What He Said
#DeleteFacebook: How to delete your Facebook account
Mark Zuckerberg Talks to WIRED About Facebook's Privacy Problem
Zuckerberg says he's 'open' to testifying to Congress, fixes will cost 'many millions'
Analytica saga: illegal data gathering, campaign manipulation and more
Facebook Flinches: The Most Surprising Thing Zuckerberg Said On CNN
What you can do to protect your personal data on Facebook
On the web, privacy in peril
Mark Zuckerberg tells CNN he is 'happy to' testify before Congress
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admits "mistakes" in Cambridge scandal
Zuckerberg Says He's Open To Testifying, Regulations In TV Interview
Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Apologizes For Data Privacy Scandal
Mark Zuckerberg Addresses 'Breach Of Trust' In Facebook User Data Crisis
Regulating Facebook won't prevent data breaches
Mark Zuckerberg went missing when he was needed most
Facebook users are still skeptical after Mark Zuckerberg finally addresses
Mark Zuckerberg apologises for Facebook's 'mistakes' over Cambridge
Analytica scandal is the textbook case for why we need new privacy protections
7 much scarier questions for Zuckerberg
Facebook App Developer Kogan Defends His Actions With User Data
Facebook's Board Said It Supports Zuckerberg And Sandberg In The Cambridge
After 'breach of trust,' Facebook will audit thousands of apps, Zuckerberg says
Mark Zuckerberg outlines Facebook's response to Cambridge Analytica controversy
Mark Zuckerberg Fails to Apologize
The case for Facebook: Is Wall Street overreacting to data scandal?
Zuckerberg breaks silence over Cambridge Analytica scandal: 'We made mistakes'
Facebook data row: Cambridge Analytica academic a 'scapegoat'
Zuckerberg breaks silence on Cambridge Analytica crisis
Zuckerberg says there was a 'breach of trust' between Facebook and its users
Mark Zuckerberg Has No Way Out of Facebook's Quagmire
If Zuck wants us to take Facebook's scandal seriously, he should try saying 'sorry'
Read Mark Zuckerberg's Full Statement on Facebook's Data Scandal
I ditched Facebook in 2013, and it's been fine
Mark Zuckerberg says he'll do more to stop 'bad actors' from accessing your data
Facebook's Zukerberg Admits Mistakes In Cambridge Analytica Data Breach
Mark Zuckerberg has finally spoken out about the Cambridge Analytica scandal
Zuckerberg breaks his silence, outlines path forward: 'We made mistakes'
Facebook's Zuckerberg responds to Cambridge Analytica data scandal
Facebook Algorithm Mortified It Has To Deliver Up So Much Embarrassing News
Why have we given up our privacy to Facebook and other sites so willingly?
“It's pretty much the Wild West”: why we can't trust Facebook to police itself
What Zuck Could Learn From Special Forces Leadership
Doubts whether social media firms can help to fight fake news: K. Shanmugam
Tech giants express concern over Singapore plan to fight fake news
Loh Wai Poon on Being A “Facebook Uncle”, Fake News, and Entering Politics
Google warn Singapore against 'fake news' law
Journalism Schools Are Getting a 'Trump Bump' Thanks to Fake News
Facebook and Google executives clash over 'fake news'
Tech giants concerned about new fake news law in S'pore as many already exist
Singapore's laws are enough to combat 'fake news', say Facebook and Google
Facebook, Google warn Singapore against new laws to combat fake news
New report highlights what's missing from the research on fake news
Facebook, Twitter, Google express concern over Singapore plan to fight fake news
Tech giants express concern over Singapore plan to fight fake news
The man who predicted the fake news crisis says something much worse coming
Tech giants Facebook, Google warn Singapore against 'fake news' law
American Public Square tackles fake news
In 2016, Facebook Was Not In Control Of Russian Interference Or Fake News
Facebook's Southeast Asia boss doesn't want regulation to fight fake news
Malaysia and Singapore's fake news law proposals spark concern
A history of Facebook's biggest screw-ups – from fake news to spam overloads
Fill in the blanks: What's still missing from the study of fake news? (A whole lot.)
Can we agree to ban the term “Fake News”?
Fake news. Real research.
Kenya: US Launches Online Campaign to Fight Fake News
Journalism Schools See Jump In Applications In Wake Of 'Fake News' Refrain
10 tips to spot fake news online
Kenya: US Fights Fake News in Kenya
Facebook Is Running Ads in Mexican Newspapers Warning About Fake News
Facebook moves to curb fake news in Mexican presidential campaign
Journalism Professor Warns North Huron Residents About 'Fake News'
It's Not Clicking
Facebook warns Mexicans about fake news in presidential campaign
UK committee wants to hear Zuckerberg on fake news, data supplied to Trump
Zuckerberg asked to testify in UK; Cambridge Analytica CEO suspended
Facebook Warns on Fake News in Mexican Presidential Campaign
'Fake News' and the farm
'Final draft of proposed fake news law not with cabinet yet'
Alex Stamos is 'leaving the company due to row over how to handle fake news'
Facebook's head of security Alex Stamos 'leaving company due to row over
Facebook data whistleblower: 'Fake news to the next level'
US Launches War against Fake News in Kenya
After 2016 election, US poised to fight fake news - in Kenya
Dupuis: Indian not an issue, 'fake news'
Stay TOONED: #DeleteFacebook
Need to Know: Facebook founder Zuckerberg summoned to fake news inquiry
Facebook founder summoned to fake news inquiry in Cambridge scandal

Parliamentary committee on Fake News
Law to combat fake news to be introduced next year
Combating fake news in Singapore

Fakes and Frauds
Singapore public servants' computers no Internet from May 2017
Bye Bye File-sharing
MDA tells The Online Citizen to register under Broadcasting Act To Register Under Broadcasting Act
Cyber Security Vs ThreatsBank Data Theft & Security Breach
False info online a "threat to Total Defence"
Websites of Singapore President & PM hacked
PM: We will track you down even if you think you're anonymous
Singapore vows to hunt down Anonymous hackers
Singapore on alert for cyber attacks after websites hacked
"Anonymous" hacker group threatens to attack Singapore
The Messiah Saga
The Messiah, the Crowd, and the State
"Anonymous" Hackers arrested & charged in Court
Seditious TendencyCrackdown against Harassments
PM: Facing new media's challenges
Singapore 'not alone' in tweaking media laws
"Free My Internet"
Internet Code of Conduct
Licensing Regime Chills News Climate
#FreeMyInternet Protest @ Hong Lim Park, 8 Jun 13
Bloggers stage 24-hour "blackout"
Our nation-building Press