Category: Social Media

Facebook Secret Emails

The UK parliament has been trying to hold Facebook to account following its lack of control on data sharing and the massive data breach in 2017 which affected 87 million people.

Cambridge Analytica

The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica scandal in early 2018 revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent and used it for political purposes. This was a shock to many people and showed Facebook had no regard for its user’s privacy or confidential information.

Six4Three

Six4Three are the makers of the app Pinkini and Pinkini was one of many businesses that shared data with Facebook until 2015, when Facebook changed its policies on how information was shared and this meant developers of the app were restricted in accessing data and culminated in the loss of business for Six4Three.

Six4Three then began a year long battle with Facebook.

The company claims Facebook misled developers by encouraging them to build applications based around promised access to data controls and privacy settings and then restricted access to that data.

Emails written by Facebook’s chief and his deputies show the firm struck secret deals to give some developers special access to user data while refusing others.

It is also clear that Facebook deliberately made it difficult for users to be aware of privacy changes to its Android app.

Damian Collins (UK Government chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee)

There was believed to be a secret cache of emails between Mark Zuckerberg and other executives that shows that Facebook knew about flaws in its privacy policy and allowed them to be actively exploited before the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

MPs discovered the documents were in the possession of an American software executive visiting London on a business trip and sent an official from the House of Commons to his hotel to retrieve them.

Parliament

It appears from documents that Facebook had been aware that an update to its Android app that let it collect records of users’ calls and texts would be controversial. To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features.

Facebook is also known to have used data provided by the Israeli analytics firm Onavo to determine which other mobile apps were being downloaded and used by the public. It then used this knowledge to decide which apps to acquire or otherwise treat as a threat

Conclusion

Another example of how Facebook ignore their user’s right to privacy in the belief that the information provided by the users belongs to Facebook and that Facebook can do anything it wants with that data and can treat other businesses as badly as it wishes to.

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Facebook Safety Advice for Parents

Facebook has created a portal for parents at https://www.facebook.com/safety/parents to help them navigate the complex issues of privacy and safety for their children.

It’s a set of basic information with access to more detailed information if wanted.

Facebook say their community standards aim to find the right balance between giving people a place on Facebook to express themselves and promoting a welcoming and safe environment for everyone. They help you understand what is and isn’t OK to share on Facebook. We remove reported content that goes against our Community Standards.

Policies for keeping teens safe

These tools empower individuals to protect themselves against unwanted content, unwanted contact, and bullying and harassment online. When it comes to teens, Facebook take some extra precautions.

There is various information under subjects including:-

  • Underage accounts
  • Blocking
  • Reporting bullying, harassment and other issues
  • Safe friending
  • Safe sharing

The final piece of advice from Facebook to parents is to trust yourself. They suggest that you can adopt the same parenting style for your child’s online activities as you use for their offline activities. If you find that your child responds best to a negotiated agreement, create a contract that you can both sign. Or maybe your child just needs to know the basic rules.

If you have children using Facebook, make sure you know what they are doing and protect them against criminals on Facebook.

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Data Sharing by APPS Out of Control

Oxford researchers looked at nearly one million APPS on Google Play Store and found that almost 90% of free APPS collect data and send it to Google, plus almost 40% collect data and send it to companies owned by Facebook.

Some of this is legitimate and necessary e.g. collecting and sending data on APP failures which helps the software maker to improve their product and Google Analytics data enables website owners to track their online usage via Google and so on.

But it does seem that a lot is to do with advertising.

The concept of free APPS is of course a tricky one as the APP makers have to make money somehow and passing data to potential advertisers is one way that many users won’t mind. But some of us do mind that our data is shared without our permission and this should not be allowed.

The sort of data collected can include age, gender, location, list of other installed APPS etc.

The research also found that 33% of the APPS send data to Twitter, 26% to Verizon (Yahoo, Tumblr etc.), 22% to Microsoft, 18% to Amazon etc.

These third-party trackers were mostly prevalent in news apps and apps aimed at children and young adults. By tracking user data – which includes information like age, location, gender, buying habits, and other miscellaneous information- companies can form a profile of users. This can then be used to send target specific ads, influence a user’s buying habits or even send political campaign messages.

Used in this manner, profiling of children without attempting to obtain parental consent, is illegal.

Do review the privacy settings on your APPS and delete any APPS you believe are sharing your data without your consent.

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Facebook Logins for Sale

Hackers are selling Facebook logins for as little as £2 on the Dark Web according to recent investigation.

The “Dark Web” is that part of the internet that isn’t visible to search engines and requires the use of an anonymous browser called “Tor” to be accessed.

Research on multiple dark web marketplaces shows that criminals can buy such details easily from numerous suppliers on the dark web.  It appears that Facebook logins can be bought from £2.30 and email logins for as little as £2.10, while credit cards details can be bought from £10.40 and debit card details from £14.90.

Logins for AirBnb cost from £7.70 and eBay logins are being sold from £4.40.

The investigation conducted by the price compare site found that you could purchase the majority of someone’s online life details for £744.30.

This includes usernames, passwords, email addresses and any personal details associated with your account, such as name, address and phone numbers.

Social media accounts are often stolen to sell to companies with no respect for privacy when it comes to targeted advertising.

Approximate Costs on the Dark Web:-

  • Finance (credit cards, debit cards, online marketing, PayPal) = £619.40
  • Online shopping (Amazon prime, Groupon, eBay, Tesco) = £30.30
  • Travel (Airbnb, British Airways, Uber, Expedia) = £26.40
  • Entertainment (Apple ID, Netflix, Spotify, Tidal, Steam) = £27.90
  • Social media (Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter) = £18.40
  • Email and Communication (AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, T-Mobile) = £21.90

It really is important to protect your data where possible to avoid facing costly consequences.

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Google and Google+

Google has said that it found a software glitch in its Google+ social network in March 2018 that could have exposed the personal data of as many as half a million users, but decided not to tell the public until months later.

Google found the flaw in March during an extensive privacy and security review according to Ben Smith, Google vice president of engineering. An internal committee decided not to disclose the potential breach of Google+ because there wasn’t evidence of any misuse of the exposed data, which included names, email addresses, ages and occupations. The bug was immediately fixed at the time, he said.

The Federal Trade Commission, as the nation’s chief privacy watchdog, has the authority to investigate data breaches. The FTC can fine companies when they violate terms of a consent decree.

Google has said it plans to shut down Google+ for consumers (but leave it running for businesses) and introduce new privacy tools restricting how developers can use information on products ranging from email to file storage.

Google+ was never anywhere near as successful as Facebook and social media networks. Even so, many users still have a profile that has personal information on it. Google will shut it down over the coming months for consumers, but keep the version built for businesses open and operating.

The other changes Google is making include requiring apps to ask separately for each type of information they want from a user, such as access to calendars or address books. On Gmail, Google’s ubiquitous email service, only apps that improve email functionality will be allowed to request access.

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A Little Truth from Facebook

Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos resigned from Facebook in March 2018 and implored his colleagues to take responsibility for the social network’s failings.

He sent a note to employees attributing the social network’s problems to “tens of thousands of small decisions made over the last decade.”

His comments included:-

  • We need to build a user experience that conveys honesty and respect, not one optimised to get people to click yes to giving us more access.
  • We need to intentionally not collect data where possible, and to keep it only as long as we are using it to serve people.
  • We need to listen to people (including internally) when they tell us a feature is creepy or point out a negative impact we are having in the world.
  • We need to deprioritize short-term growth and revenue.
  • We need to be open, honest and transparent about challenges and what we are doing to fix them.

These are all issues that many people outside of Facebook have known about the company for a long time – the company is nasty, self-serving, greedy and obnoxious but it’s good to hear a senior insider trying to get the message through to his colleagues at Facebook.

Let’s hope someone listens.

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Facebook Improves Privacy

 

 

Facebook has woken up to the fact that people will no longer put up with Facebook’s disregard for people’s privacy and they are starting to make changes designed to help Facebook users rather than just Facebook’s bank account.

Privacy Alerts

You may have seen an alert, upon visiting your News Feed, asking you to review your privacy settings. Facebook will show you a series of these which cover various topics:

– How Facebook use data from partners to show more relevant advertising

– Political, religious and relationship information you’ve chosen to include in your profile

– How Facebook use facial recognition

– Updates to the terms of service and data policy

You’ll see a summary of the choices you’ve already made and be given the chance to make changes.

Privacy Controls

They’ve redesigned the settings menu on mobile devices to make privacy controls easier to find and use and it’s all accessible from one screen. They’ve also made it clearer to see what information can and can’t be shared with apps.

In addition, there’s a new Privacy Shortcuts feature. From here you can have quick access to the most widely used privacy settings and tools.

Access Your Information

They’ve created a tool called ‘Access Your Information’ – a secure way to access and manage your information, such as posts, reactions, comments, and things you’ve searched for. You can find, download and delete any or all of your Facebook data.

Reward for reporting data misuse

A Data Abuse Bounty was launched recently to reward people who report any misuse of data by app developers.

It’s part of the efforts to more quickly uncover potential abuse of people’s information.

Facebook say they quickly review and respond to reports that identify a credible threat to people’s information, be it a case where a Facebook platform app is trying to collect people’s data to sell it, or pass it onto another party to be sold, or used for scams or political influence. If confirmed data abuse, they’ll shut down the offending app and take legal action against the company selling or buying the data if necessary. Facebook will reward the person who reported the issue and also alert those believed to be affected.

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