Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook says Indonesian user data not misused
July 13, 2018 6:47 am|Comments (0)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Social media giant Facebook has assured the Indonesian government that personal data of about one million of its citizens had not been improperly accessed by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in this illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 13, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Facebook has faced intense scrutiny, including multiple official investigations in the United States, Europe and Australia, over allegations of improper use of data for 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica.

Indonesia, where more than 115 million people use Facebook, has also been pressing the firm to explain how its citizens’ personal data was harvested by Cambridge Analytica via a personality quiz. 

“Facebook has reported to the Communications Ministry that no data from any Indonesian users was collected,” Deputy Communications Minister Semuel Pangerapan said on Friday.

A Facebook official had told members of parliament in April that 1,096,666 people in Indonesia may have had their data shared, or 1.26 percent of the global total.

This led Communications Minister Rudiantara, who goes by one name, to briefly threaten to shut down Facebook in Indonesia if personal data was found to have been breached.

But Facebook told Reuters on Thursday it had only indicated the number of Indonesian users “who could potentially have had their data accessed, not necessarily misused”.

“Both public records and existing evidence strongly indicate Aleksandr Kogan did not provide Cambridge Analytica or (its parent) SCL with data on people who use Facebook in Indonesia,” it added, referring to the researcher linked to the scandal.

Facebook says Kogan harvested data by creating an app on the platform that was downloaded by 270,000 people, providing access not only to their own but also their friends’ personal data.

Pangerapan said he believed Facebook had improved options for users to limit access to data, but did not say whether authorities would continue their inquiry.

The Indonesian communications ministry had sent a letter to the company in April seeking confirmation on technical measures to limit access to data in Facebook and more information on an audit the social media company was doing.

Britain’s information regulator on Wednesday slapped a small but symbolic fine of 500,000 pounds on Facebook for breaches of data protection law, in the first move by a regulator to punish the social media giant for the controversy.

Reporting by Fanny Potkin & Cindy Silviana; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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Australia's IMF Bentham to fund complaint against Facebook over alleged privacy breach
July 10, 2018 6:43 am|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Litigation funding provider IMF Bentham Ltd (IMF.AX) said on Tuesday it was funding a representative complaint against social networking website Facebook Inc (FB.O) over alleged breaches of the Australian Privacy Principles.

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

The company said it would fund the complaint made to the Australian Information Commissioner against Facebook Australia, Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland. The complaint is being handled by Sydney-based law firm Johnson Winter & Slattery.

The Australian Information Commissioner has also commenced a separate investigation into the matter, IMF Bentham said, adding a class action may follow depending on the Commissioner’s findings.

Facebook has come under intense scrutiny after it admitted in March to making mistakes in letting 50 million users’ data get into the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The company lost more than $ 50 billion in market value in the week after the allegations emerged that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data to build profiles on American voters and influence the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook had said in April that a little more than 311,000 Australian users may have had their information improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. (bit.ly/2Ejpktb)

Facebook’s Australian arm was not immediately available for a comment.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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Twitter, Facebook launch tools to track advertising
June 28, 2018 6:22 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) on Thursday made it easier for users to identify political campaign ads and know who paid for them, as social media platforms faced the threat of U.S. regulation over the lack of disclosure on such spending.

FILE PHOTO: People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

The microblogging site launched ‘Ads Transparency Center’ to allow anyone to view ads that have been put on Twitter, with greater transparency about U.S. federal election campaign ads.

The tool follows Twitter’s recently launched political campaign ads policy and a similar move by Facebook Inc (FB.O), which started a searchable archive of U.S. political ads last month.

Facebook said on Thursday it would go even further by enabling users to see listings of all active ad campaigns, whether the advertiser is political in nature or not. Users can also view a log of name changes to a Facebook page.

The features should help people spot misuse of Facebook, it added.

Twitter’s ads center gives users access to details such as demographic targeting data for the ads from U.S. political advertisers, along with billing information, ad spending, and impression data per Tweet.

“We are making it clearer than ever who is advertising U.S. federal political campaign content on Twitter,” Twitter said in a blog post.

The transparency center will include all advertisers on Twitter globally, but at this stage only U.S. federal election campaign ads that fall under its new policy will be shown.

Google has vowed to launch a similar transparency center for political ads on its services this summer. It declined to share additional details this week.

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Bernard Orr and Richard Chang

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Cyber Saturday—Apple iPhone Phishing Trick, Zscaler as Best Tech IPO, Facebook Fails
June 9, 2018 6:14 pm|Comments (0)

Good morning, Cyber Saturday readers.

A month ago I was milling about a hotel room in New Orleans, procrastinating my prep for on-stage sessions at a tech conference, when I received a startling iMessage. “It’s Alan Murray,” the note said, referring to my boss’ boss’ boss.

Not in the habit of having Mr. Murray text my phone, I sat up straighter. “Please post your latest story here,” he wrote, including a link to a site purporting to be related to Microsoft 365, replete with Microsoft’s official corporate logo and everything. In the header of the iMessage thread, Apple’s virtual assistant Siri offered a suggestion: “Maybe: Alan Murray.”

The sight made me stagger, if momentarily. Then I remembered: A week or so earlier I had granted a cybersecurity startup, Wandera, permission to demonstrate a phishing attack on me. They called it, “Call Me Maybe.”

Alan Murray had not messaged me. The culprit was James Mack, a wily sales engineer at Wandera. When Mack rang me from a phone number that Siri presented as “Maybe: Bob Marley,” all doubt subsided. Jig, up.

There are two ways to pull off this social engineering trick, Mack told me. The first involves an attacker sending someone a spoofed email from a fake or impersonated account, like “Acme Financial.” This note must include a phone number; say, in the signature of the email. If the target responds—even with an automatic, out-of-office reply—then that contact should appear as “Maybe: Acme Financial” whenever the fraudster texts or calls.

The subterfuge is even simpler via text messaging. If an unknown entity identifies itself as Some Proper Noun in an iMessage, then the iPhone’s suggested contacts feature should show the entity as “Maybe: [Whoever].” Attackers can use this disguise to their advantage when phishing for sensitive information. The next step: either call a target to supposedly “confirm account details,” or send along a phishing link. If a victim takes the bait, the swindler is in.

The tactic apparently does not work with certain phrases, like “bank” or “credit union.” However, other terms, like “Wells Fargo,” “Acme Financial,” the names of various dead celebrities—or my topmost boss—have worked in Wandera’s tests, Mack said. Wandera reported the problem as a security issue to Apple on April 25th. Apple sent a preliminary response a week later, and a few days after that said it did not consider the issue to be a “security vulnerability,” and that it had reclassified the bug as a software issue “to help get it resolved.”

What’s alarming about the ploy is how little effort it takes to pull off. “We didn’t do anything crazy here like jailbreak a phone or a Hollywood style attack—we’re not hacking into cell towers,” said Dan Cuddeford, Wandera’s director of engineering. “But it’s something that your layman hacker or social engineer might be able to do.”

To Cuddeford, the research exposes two bigger issues. The first is that Apple doesn’t reveal enough about how its software works. “This is a huge black box system,” he said. “Unless you work for Apple, no one knows how or why Siri does what it does.”

The second concern is more philosophical. “We’re not Elon Musk saying AI is about to take over the world, but it’s one example of how AI itself is not being evil, but can be abused by someone with malicious intent,” Cuddeford said. As we continue to let machines guide our lives, we should be sure we’re aware how they’re making decisions.

Have a great weekend—and watch out for imposters.

Maybe: Robert Hackett

@rhhackett

robert.hackett@fortune.com

Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’sdaily tech newsletter. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my about.me), PGP encrypted email (see public key on my Keybase.io), Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.

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How to Create ROI-Positive Facebook Ads
June 8, 2018 6:04 pm|Comments (0)

By Chad Keller, COO/Co-Founder of Growth Stackers.

Although Facebook is a powerful platform for building awareness of your product or service, it can be a huge waste of ad dollars if you use it haphazardly in pursuit of conversions. I’ve found that the trick to achieving great return on investment (ROI) on Facebook ad conversion campaigns is to run them through a digital marketing funnel and to use multiple, well-tested ad variants. This strategy allows me to separate the winners from the losers ahead of time.

I like using digital sales funnels because I see them as an organized approach to capturing attention, showcasing credibility, garnering trust and establishing a bond with the consumer before ultimately pressing for the sale.

Successful Facebook ads marketing funnels consist of four stacked stages: At the top is awareness, followed by education, engagement and conversion.

Invariably, some Facebook users who enter this funnel convert after seeing the ad for the first time. However, a larger number convert after again seeing the ad (or, more accurately, a variation of it), this time during the education stage. This phenomenon demonstrates that, while first impressions are lasting impressions, they aren’t necessarily sales-generating impressions.

The majority of conversions usually occur during the engagement stage, consumers having by then seen the ad and its variants a number of times.

Those who remain in the funnel beyond that point will see additional ad variants and either convert or disappear.

Conversion takes multiple impressions.

In my experience with Facebook ads conversion campaigns, it typically takes four-to-eight impressions before a purchase decision occurs. The number is higher or lower depending on the product, price point and demographics. For example, if I’m selling something for $ 5, fewer impressions will be needed to reach conversion than if I’m selling something for $ 500.

The fact that multiple impressions are needed is why I produce multiple variations of my ads.

Testing each variation before deployment allows me to see which one is likely to generate the best response in each of the four stages of the funnel.

In a nutshell, the more variations created, the more testing that must be performed; and the more testing is done, the clearer the picture that develops as to which variations qualify as hero content (and merit further optimization) and which variations should be discarded.

Effectively, this approach allows the audience — not me — to determine my highest-impact hero content.

A successful strategy needs a multitiered approach.

This strategy of running heavily tested ad variants through a digital marketing funnel is now a staple of mine. Additionally, I don’t treat Facebook, Google Adwords, Instagram and other social-platform campaigns as independent silos. I make sure campaigns that cross platforms are integrated so that they can feed and build upon one another. And just as individual ad variants are tested within each stacked campaign, the campaigns themselves are tested against one another to identify the best use for each.

Business owners who are creating a new campaign should not expect good results for at least the first two or three months after a campaign launches. During that time much work must be performed developing ad variants and testing them.

Complacency is the enemy.

It is vital not to grow complacent once this process identifies winner ads and ad-variants. It’s tempting to rest on one’s laurels and just keep recycling ads that worked well in order to save time, effort and money. But that’s a serious mistake.

It’s a mistake because the ad that worked wonderfully this week might be less effective next week — or it might not be effective at all. That’s how fast things change in this particular digital space. Facebook ads have a very short life cycle — the correct response is to constantly produce more content. Unfortunately, constant production of ad variants and their testing costs money, so there has to be a budget for it.

Still, the benefits of this strategy are undeniably worth the investment. Done correctly, this approach fosters a substantial drop in the cost per conversion. It helps ensure that your war chest has plenty of investment dollars in it to pay for more Facebook ads conversion campaigning than you might otherwise think you can afford.

Chad Keller is a Serial Entrepreneur – COO/Co-Founder of Growth Stackers .

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Facebook to pull plug on 'Trending' topics feature
June 1, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc said on Friday it will remove the ‘Trending’ topics feature that compiles popular news from its social network, as it seeks to ensure users see news from trustworthy and quality sources.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook like button is seen in front of the Facebook logo, in this illustration taken October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The move, effective next week, comes at a time when the world’s largest social network is combating the spread of fake news on its platform, which has in some places become central to the distribution of news.

Trending accounted for less than 1.5 percent of clicks to news publishers on average, Facebook said here in a blog post, adding the company was testing ways to display news including a ‘breaking news label’ and ‘today in’, a dedicated section for local news.

The quality of news on Facebook has been called into question after alleged Russian operatives, for-profit spammers and others spread false reports on the site, including during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

Facebook had in the past few years made changes to the Trending topics feature to avoid ideological or political bias.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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Facebook users unite! 'Data Labour Union' launches in Netherlands
May 23, 2018 6:07 pm|Comments (0)

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Activists in Amsterdam on Wednesday launched the ‘Datavakbond’ or “data labor union”, which hopes to elect leaders to negotiate directly with Facebook and Google over what they do with users’ data.

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Possible demands could include payment for the data users supply to the companies, more information about how the data is used, and a direct channel for communicating grievances.

“Right now, we work for Google and Facebook producing data, and we’re getting feathers and beads in exchange,” said Paul Tang, a member of European Parliament from the Dutch Labour party, at the union’s establishment in Amsterdam.

“What we want…is to get across the table from Google and Facebook to talk about reasonable compensation, or at least better working conditions.”

Tang said that although governments have a role in regulating the internet giants, users should also organize themselves and seek to influence the companies directly.

The Union’s founding chairman Bas van der Gaag, a high school maths teacher, said that although it is based in the Netherlands, it hopes to win members internationally.

Membership is free, and those that join will be encouraged to help craft the organization. Later they may vote on specific demands, for instance for the company to provide a paid, but advertising-free, version of Facebook. Within the first hour of its launch, 250 people joined.

Van der Gaag said volunteers are working on tools to make it possible for the union to organize a ‘strike’, which would involve temporarily depriving the companies of some of the most valuable information they sell to advertisers, such as location data.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in European Parliament on Tuesday to answer questions about how political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly got hold of the personal data of 87 million Facebook users, including up to 2.7 million in the EU.

Facebook did not immediately respond on Wednesday to a request for comment on the establishment of the union.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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Facebook director to start after annual meeting, avoid shareholder vote
May 22, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

BOSTON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc named a new director this month and timed his appointment to avoid a shareholder vote, raising concern among some investors who want to see more accountability from the social media company.

FILE PHOTO: Jan Koum, co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The decision by Facebook’s board comes as the company is under scrutiny from regulators and shareholders about its internal controls and oversight after it failed to protect the data of some 87 million users that was shared with now-defunct political data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Jeffrey Zients’ appointment does not take effect until “immediately following the conclusion” of the company’s May 31 shareholder meeting, according to a securities filing on May 8, meaning he could be able to serve a year without facing shareholder approval.

“The optics of this are questionable,” said John Wilson, head of governance at Cornerstone Capital Group, whose clients have about 30,000 Facebook shares.

For one thing, Wilson said, some shareholders could be looking for the largest social media network to add a board member with more of a background on privacy issues and will not have the chance to register objections to Zients, president of holding company Cranemere Group.

Zients and Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chairman and chief executive, declined to comment via a Facebook spokeswoman. The spokeswoman, Nora Chan, said the board has authority to appoint directors between annual meetings.

“Since this appointment is effective after this year’s annual meeting, it is not on the ballot this year. It would be on the ballot at future annual meetings,” Chan said via e-mail.

Exactly when Zients should be voted in is something of an academic question since Facebook’s structure gives Zuckerberg a majority of its voting power.

Still Facebook has been at pains to address its issues in order to reassure investors. Its share price fell during the first three months of the year as details of its data-protection problems emerged. The shares have since recovered, but a number of funds that call themselves socially responsible are selling the stock, concerned Facebook has not fully addressed its issues.

Proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services on May 16 recommended investors withhold support from five of eight directors on the company’s ballot including Zuckerberg, and vote in favor of shareholder proposals aimed at improving its response to problems like election interference and harassment.

In recommending that investors withhold support from Zuckerberg, ISS cited the lack of a formal board-nominating committee, a concern it has raised in past years.

ISS Special Counsel Patrick McGurn said the lack of a vote on Zients is “suboptimal.”

“Best governance practice generally dictates that a board should provide shareholders with a timely opportunity, typically at the next scheduled meeting, to elect a director who is appointed by the existing board members to fill a vacancy,” he said.

However, McGurn said the timing may not have been entirely in Facebook’s control, given that departing director Jan Koum did not immediately leave the company’s board at the same time he quit as a company executive.

James McRitchie, a private investor who filed one of two pending shareholder resolutions calling on Facebook to revamp its voting rules, said the lack of a vote on Zients will not look good at a time when the company needs to seem responsive and not be seen as “cutting out shareholders.”

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Frances Kerry

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Facebook to allow users to clear browsing history with new feature
May 1, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday the social network is building a new privacy control called “clear history” to allow users to delete browsing history.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Zuckerberg, in a post on his Facebook account, said he will discuss the feature at Facebook’s annual F8 conference which begins today.

“This feature will enable you to see the websites and apps that send us information when you use them, delete this information from your account, and turn off our ability to store it associated with your account going forward,” the company said in a separate blog post.( here )

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Zuckerberg compared the new tool to the option of clearing cookies in a browser, which he said can make parts of the user experience worse as users may have to reconfigure things.

Facebook said it will take a few months to build the update, adding the company will work with privacy advocates, academics, policymakers and regulators to get their input on the new approach.

Tech companies are under intense scrutiny about how they protect customer data after Facebook was embroiled in a huge scandal where millions of users’ data were improperly accessed by a political consultancy.

“One thing I learned from my experience testifying in Congress is that I didn’t have clear enough answers to some of the questions about data,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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Facebook to use augmented reality to draw ads to Messenger app
May 1, 2018 6:02 pm|Comments (0)

MENLO PARK, Calif. (Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) Messenger app launched an augmented reality feature on Tuesday to allow people to see products they are shopping for as if they already have them, such as a car parked in a driveway, in a move aimed at drawing in potential advertisers.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Although smartphone messaging apps are not known for displaying ads, Facebook has said that targeting the 1.3 billion people who use its Messenger service with ads will be an important part of the company’s long-term revenue growth.

Silicon Valley tech firms are pouring money into augmented reality, a mix of the real and digital worlds best known from the game Pokemon Go.

Facebook, at a tech conference that begins on Tuesday, is launching a new toolkit for software developers to make augmented reality features.

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg arrives to watch CEO Mark Zuckerberg speak at Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

David Marcus, head of Facebook’s Messenger app, said in an interview that shoppers will be able to visualize and potentially test out products that advertisers have made available. Sephora, one of the first businesses that will use the feature, will let people virtually try on cosmetics.

Similar augmented-reality features have proliferated on the apps of retailers such Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Ikea, which allow people to see how a toaster or couch would look in a room.

Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, has been encouraging businesses to use Messenger to talk with consumers, sometimes for customer service.

Having businesses using Messenger helps Facebook’s advertising business, Marcus said. Marketers can place ads directly in the service, and Facebook sells ads in its News Feed that connect to Messenger conversations.

Messenger and the News Feed create a feedback loop like a “flywheel” for ad sales, Marcus said.

Four businesses are participating in the launch: electronics company Asustek Computer Inc (2357.TW), automaker Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS), clothing company Nike Inc (NKE.N) and Sephora, a unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (LVMH.PA).

WhatsApp, another Facebook-owned messaging service with more than 1 billion users, has sworn off advertising. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum said on Monday he was leaving. The Washington Post reported he was doing so in part after conflicts about advertising, which he opposes.

Marcus said he was not worried about ads turning off Messenger users. People must opt in to talk with a business on the service. “People actually find it helpful,” he said.

Messenger is trying to attract businesses in other ways, such as automated chat “bots” that can reply to customer inquiries. There are 300,000 bots on Messenger, three times more than a year ago, Marcus said.

Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Frances Kerry

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