Tag Archives: Political

Facebook backs U.S. regulation of internet political ads
April 6, 2018 6:17 pm|Comments (0)

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Friday endorsed U.S. legislation to regulate political ads across the internet, a concession to lawmakers days before he is scheduled to testify in two U.S. congressional hearings.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

Zuckerberg also said Facebook would begin requiring people who want to run ads on the social network addressing political issues to verify their identity and location. That expands an earlier plan to require such verification for ads directly about elections.

“Election interference is a problem that’s bigger than any one platform, and that’s why we support the Honest Ads Act,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.

That legislation was introduced last October to counter concerns about foreign nationals using social media to influence American politics, an issue being looked at as part of an investigation into possible Russian meddling during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Facebook disclosed in September that Russians under fake names had used the social network to try to influence U.S. voters in the months before and after the 2016 election, writing about inflammatory subjects, setting up events and buying ads.

In February, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with interfering in the election by sowing discord on social media.

The legislation would expand existing election law covering television and radio outlets to apply to paid internet and digital advertisements on platforms like Facebook, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Facebook had previously stopped short of backing the legislation, saying it wanted to work with lawmakers further and announcing attempts at self-regulation.

Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear on Tuesday before a joint hearing of two U.S. Senate committees, and on Wednesday before a U.S. House committee.

Under the Honest Ads Act, digital platforms with at least 50 million monthly views would need to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by anyone spending more than $ 500.

Zuckerberg said on Friday that he also wanted to shed more light on “issue ads,” or ads that discuss a political subject but do not directly relate to an election or a candidacy.

Issue ads are frequently run by interest groups, lobbying organizations and wealthy individuals who want to influence legislation or have an indirect impact on an election.

Every advertiser who wants to run an issue ad will need to confirm their identity and location, Zuckerberg wrote.

Reporting by David Ingram in San Francisco and Dustin Volz in Washington; Editing by Bill Rigby

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Facebook and UK political consultancy sued in data storm
March 21, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – A U.S. resident has sued Facebook and a British-based political consultancy for obtaining data from millions of the social media site’s users without their permission, while an academic at the center of the storm accused both firms of scapegoating him.

The complaint filed at the U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, marked the first of what may be many lawsuits seeking damages over Facebook’s ability to protect user data, and exploitation of the information by the Cambridge Analytica consultancy to help President Donald Trump’s election campaign.

Facebook (FB.O) has been rocked this week by a whistleblower who said Cambridge Analytica, which Trump hired for the 2016 campaign, improperly accessed information on Facebook users to build detailed profiles on American voters.

This revelation has knocked nearly $ 50 billion off Facebook’s stock market value in two days and hit the shares of Twitter and Snap over fears that a failure by big tech firms to protect personal data could deter advertisers and users and invite tougher regulation.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, who has been quiet on the controversy, is to address the revelations later on Wednesday, a source at the company told Reuters.

The proposed class-action complaint was filed late on Tuesday by Lauren Price, a Maryland resident. “Every Facebook user has an interest in this lawsuit, and the enforcement of their privacy rights,” John Yanchunis, a lawyer for Price, told Reuters on Wednesday. The complaint seeks unspecified damages, including possible punitive damages.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment.

A former Facebook manager who was responsible for policing the network’s data handling procedures in 2011-2012 said he had warned senior executives about the issue.

The manager, Sandy Parakilas, said he had told them that Facebook’s failure to police how outside software developers used its data put the company at risk of major data breaches. “There was very little detection or enforcement,” he told a British parliamentary committee via videolink.

SWING VOTERS

The academic who provided the data, psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, told the BBC that Cambridge Analytica had greatly exaggerated its role in Trump’s victory.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have both blamed Kogan, who gathered the data by running a survey app on Facebook. Kogan combines the roles of an academic at Cambridge University and a web entrepreneur based in San Francisco.

U.S. political campaigns collect large amounts of data, hoping to target swing voters sympathetic to their message. Cambridge Analytica stood out for the scale of claims in its marketing materials to “collect up to 5,000 data points on over 220 million Americans” in all its activities.

It uses techniques based on personality traits and then applies analytic tools to pinpoint supporters.

However, Kogan said the services provided by the consultancy had been greatly exaggerated.

“I think what Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic, and they’ve made claims that this is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But I think the reality is it’s not that,” he said.

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Arron Banks, who campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum, also questioned the value of psychologically-based data.

Banks told Reuters that Cambridge Analytica had unsuccessfully pitched for work with his Leave.eu campaign group. “I think they are nothing more than a company that places Facebook ads and shrouds in a sort of mystery,” he said.

Kogan’s application, “thisisyourdigitallife,” offered a personality prediction and billed itself on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists”.

Kogan said he had gathered the data in 2014. He was then approached by Cambridge Analytica who provided the legal advice around its use, he added.

Facebook says Kogan then violated its policies by passing the data to Cambridge Analytica for commercial use, saying on Friday he “lied to us”. Cambridge Analytica said it destroyed the data once it realized the information did not adhere to data protection rules.

“My view is that I’m being basically used as a scapegoat by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica,” said Kogan. “We were assured by Cambridge Analytica that everything was perfectly legal and within the limits of the terms of service.”

Cambridge Analytica has denied various allegations made about its business practices in recent media reports.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she backed an investigation into the consultancy, while the German government also expressed its concern.

In Europe the tax affairs of tech giants have become a hot political issue. On Wednesday the European Commission proposed rules to make digital companies pay their fair share of tax, with Facebook and its peers set to foot much of the bill.

PERSONALITY TEST

Alexander Nix, the head of Cambridge Analytica, said in a secretly recorded video broadcast on Tuesday that his company had played a decisive role in Trump’s election victory. He was suspended by the company shortly before the video was shown on Britain’s Channel 4 News.

Around 270,000 people downloaded the app, Facebook said. The app scored the results of each quiz and gathered up data from test-takers’ Facebook accounts. However, it also pulled down the data of their Facebook friends, vastly increasing the size of the sample.

Kogan put the number of app users as closer to 200,000.

The researcher said, in total, he passed the data of around 30 million American Facebook users to SCL, a government and military contractor that is the parent of Cambridge Analytica. Media reports have put the total number of Facebook profiles collected at around 50 million users.

U.S. and European lawmakers have demanded an explanation of how Cambridge Analytica gained access to user data in 2014 and why Facebook failed to inform its users.

Facebook said it had been told by the Federal Trade Commission, the leading U.S. consumer regulator, that it would receive a letter this week with questions about the data acquired by Cambridge Analytica. It said it had no indication of a formal investigation.

Additional reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, David Stamp and Janet Lawrence

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Facebook, in reversal, to publish cache of political ads
October 28, 2017 12:01 am|Comments (0)

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) announced a plan to increase transparency about its role in political advertising on Friday, ahead of congressional hearings next week on social media companies and Russia’s meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook logo is seen at a start-up companies gathering at Paris’ Station F in Paris, France on January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice president for ads, said in a blog post that the company would launch a publicly searchable archive next year containing details about the advertisements it runs related to U.S. federal elections.

Details will include the size of spending and the demographics of the audience the ads reached, Goldman said. The archive, beginning with ads carried in 2018, will cover a rolling four-year period, he said.

Internet political ads have boomed in recent years as U.S. politicians looked for different ways to reach potential supporters, and as companies including Facebook have created tools to allow targeted marketing.

Online ads, though, are generally viewable only to the intended audience, raising concerns among transparency advocates, researchers and lawmakers about how to hold politicians accountable for what they say.

The planned archive reflects a change in corporate policy for the world’s largest social network, which had previously resisted the idea.

In June, Facebook told Reuters that it would go on treating political ads like all others and that creating an online repository would violate the confidentiality of those advertisers.

Since then, Facebook, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google have all said that Russia-based operatives bought ads and used fake names on their services to spread politically divisive messages in the months before and after the 2016 U.S. election.

Moscow has denied interfering in the election.

Next week, general counsels for Facebook, Google and Twitter will testify before public hearings of three U.S. congressional committees about the alleged interference and proposed legislation to require them to disclose election-related ads.

Goldman wrote in his post: “Transparency helps everyone, especially political watchdog groups and reporters, keep advertisers accountable for who they say they are and what they say to different groups.”

Facebook said its archive will eventually expand beyond the United States and show ads from elections in other countries and jurisdictions.

In the future, advertisers on Facebook will also be required to include a disclosure in election-related ads, to read: “Paid for by,” the company said.

The announcement fleshes out ideas that Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg outlined in September, as criticism of California-based Facebook built inside the United States over the Russian ads.

The changes will test in Canada before being brought to the United States ahead of November 2018 elections, Facebook said.

Twitter took similar steps this week, saying it would add labels to election-related ads and say who is behind them, and it barred two Russian media outlets from running ads.

Reporting by David Ingram in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Laharee Chatterjee and Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Tom Brown

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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AT&T Wireless Workers Try To Bring Political Pressure To End Contract Stalemate
October 7, 2017 12:00 am|Comments (0)

Negotiations have dragged on since February.

As a contract standoff between AT&T and 21,000 unionized workers in its mobile business drags into a eighth month, the employees are trying to increase political pressure on the carrier.

So far, 255 state and local politicians have sent letters to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson backing the workers, the Communications Workers of America union says. Among the senders are six Democratic senators and numerous members of California’s delegation in the House of Representatives.

“While we are aware of the changes that have taken place in the telecommunications industry, we know that AT&T wireless workers are the driving force behind your most profitable division,” 12 members of the Arizona House of Representatives wrote to Stephenson in one recent letter. “They deserve to share in the company’s success and growth.”

Still, AT&T does not appear moved by the campaign or earlier moves by the mobile workers in 36 states and Washington, D.C., including a protest outside Apple headquarters for the debut of new iPhones last month and a short strike in May that forced many wireless stores to close for a weekend.

Although the workers have concerns about wages, health benefits, and other issues, job security and sales commission rates appear to be at the center of the dispute. To highlight the issue of call center jobs being outsourced to foreign countries, some AT&T workers traveled to the Dominican Republic in early May to meet with their counterparts there who now handle AT&T customer service calls.

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AT&T said on Friday that it has been in touch with the letter writers and plans to continue to bargain with the workers, whose contract expired in February, to reach a “fair” agreement . “We regularly communicate with our stakeholders regarding labor issues and bargaining, and we’ve done so where we’ve received any letters from legislators,” an AT&T spokesman said.

The CWA says AT&T won’t negotiate over job security at call centers and retail stores where many of the employees work. “AT&T has increased its profits by cutting workers’ commissions, refused to bargain over job security even as it cut hundreds of call center jobs this year alone, and increasingly moved to low-wage contractors for its retail and call center operations,” Dennis Trainor, vice president for CWA district 1, said in a statement. “That’s not how America’s largest telecom should be acting.”

AT&T t has a long history of labor peace, though the May strike interrupted a run of more than four years without a walkout. The company says it has reached 32 agreements covering some 145,000 workers since the beginning of 2015. The strike in May, which also included 17,000 workers in AT&T’s telecom business, followed last year’s bitter, seven week strike at Verizon vz .

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Report: Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey Is Funding A Pro-Trump Political Group
December 22, 2016 9:43 am|Comments (0)

Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey has reportedly admitted to financially backing the pro-Trump political organization Nimble America.


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Facebook doubles down on political ambitions with sponsorship of both major conventions
May 6, 2016 8:40 am|Comments (0)

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Those thinly veiled shots that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took at Donald Trump last month apparently had no bearing on how his company spends its money.

The social network said Thursday that it will sponsor both the Republican and the Democratic conventions this summer — providing both events with financial backing, a “Facebook Lounge” on the premises and other forms of support.

Facebook said in a statement that its involvement in the events does not mean the company is vouching for any particular candidate or party. Rather, it considers the sponsorship to be a chance to encourage its users to participate in the election. Read more…

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