Apple busts Google, Facebook enterprise apps for flouting privacy rules

Apple blocked Facebook and Google from running their internal iOS applications after the two technology giants were found to be flouting privacy norms. Facebook was reportedly tracking iPhone usage data of teenagers through its Facebook Research app, while Google was misusing iOS certificates and inviting its users to download an app called Screenwise Meter, which is not on the Apple store.

The companies have taken advantage of Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program, which helps certain partners of the company to test and distribute apps – but only to test new features before releasing the final version to the public. Apple had revoked the certificates given to Facebook when it was revealed that Mark Zuckerberg-owned Facebook allegedly paid people, who were not its employees, to test out its research app.

Enterprise certificates were restored for both tech firms later, but Apple has sent a strong message to them about respecting user privacy.

In a statement, Facebook said: “People participating in the Research app were asked for their permission, less than 5 percent of whom were teens  – in which cases, they were allowed to participate with parental consent forms.”

Reportedly, Facebook paid people about $20 a month to install and use the research app. While Facebook says this was done with permission, the company has a history of defining ‘permission’ loosely and obscuring what data it collects.

“I don’t think they make it very clear to users precisely what level of access they were granting when they gave permission,” mobile app security researcher Will Strafach said. “There is simply no way the users understood this.”

He said Facebook’s claim that users understood the scope of data collection was ‘muddying the waters’. This revelation is yet another blemish on Facebook’s track record on privacy and could invite further regulatory scrutiny.

For now, the app appears to be available for Android phones, though not through Google’s main app store.

When asked about its issues with Apple, Google said it had disabled the app on Apple devices and apologised for its ‘mistake’.

The company said Google had always been ‘upfront with users’ about how it used data collected by the app, which offered users points that could be accrued for gift cards. In contrast to the Facebook Research app, Google said its Screenwise Meter app never asked users to let the company circumvent network encryption, meaning it is far less intrusive.

[“source=moneycontrol”]

Facebook: Backlash Threatens World’s Biggest Platform

Facebook: Backlash Threatens World's Biggest Platform

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, faces a growing backlash over privacy and data protection, with revelations this week about sharing data with business partners adding to pressure.

Here is a summary of the main issues in the Facebook controversy:

What are the latest revelations?
A New York Times report said some 150 business partners had access to personal data from Facebook users and in some cases, their friends, including private messages. Facebook said these were well-known and previously disclosed partnerships allowing “integration” of Facebook with other services, but some analysts said people were not fully aware of the arrangements.

“It wasn’t clear to the public that these relationships were embedded within Facebook,” said Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University professor specialising in social media.

What are the other issues for Facebook?
Facebook has been hammered for failing to stop information manipulation and misinformation, including from Russian organisations in the 2016 US election. The company has acknowledged that Cambridge Analytica – working on the Donald Trump campaign – obtained profile data on tens of millions of Facebook users, but claimed that the political consultancy violated Facebook’s terms of service.

Facebook and other social media networks have struggled to deal with hate speech, bullying and foreign influence campaigns. These issues have sparked investigations in Washington and worldwide.

“It has become problematic to society and democratic institutions,” Grygiel said. “We need to look at these platforms in a very broad sense to make sure all of their business practices are not a harm to society.”

What is Facebook doing?
Facebook leaders have promised more transparency in hearings in the US Congress and elsewhere, and has stepped up efforts to find and root out fake accounts and foreign influence campaigns. But critics complain the wave of revelations suggest a disturbing pattern of disregard for data protection and privacy.

“It seems every few months there is a different revelation about how Facebook mismanaged something that deals with our data and privacy,” said Adam Chiara, a professor of communication at the University of Hartford.

“We’re all just waiting to find out which straw it is that will eventually break the camel’s back.”

What are the consequences for Facebook?
Facebook’s shares skidded more than seven percent Wednesday following the Times report and a lawsuit by the District of Columbia alleging violations of user privacy. The stock has lost more than 35 percent from its 2018 highs, wiping out tens of billion in market value.

So far, however its user base and revenues have seen little impact despite a number of high-profile calls to quit or delete Facebook. The number of active users rose to more than 2.2 billion in the third quarter and revenues rose 33 percent year-over-year for the company, which also operates Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and sells Oculus virtual reality hardware.

What can Facebook do to restore trust?
Facebook critics say the company’s problems have been exacerbated by a governance structure that gives co-founder Mark Zuckerberg virtual control through super-voting shares.

“Facebook is becoming a classic example of how poor corporate governance ensures that when things go wrong, they go wrong for longer and things get much worse than if shareholders could oust the management,” Richard Windsor, a technology analyst who authors the Radio Free Mobile blog, wrote earlier this month.

Carolina Milanesi, analyst at the Creative Strategies consultancy, said “A normal company would have got rid of somebody, they would have sacrificed somebody to try and show a change.”

Grygiel said Facebook needs to do more than public relations, with more substantive changes.

“Mark Zuckerberg needs to relinquish some power,” Grygiel said. “Facebook  needs oversight from its own board.”

What about regulation?
Lawmakers have stepped up calls for tighter regulation of privacy and data use, and the calls became louder this week.

US Senator Ron Wyden said he is calling for “a tough new consumer privacy bill to punish companies — and even put CEOs in jail — if they lie about protecting your privacy.”

Some US activists want to follow the European model for data protection that requires better notice and consent for how personal data is used.

“Americans deserve a clear law that protects their personal data and privacy. We don’t have that right now, and until we do, we’ll continue to see examples of companies using personal data in ways that surprise users,” said Michelle Richardson of the Center for Democracy & Technology, a digital rights group which has drafted a template legislation.

But Grygiel said she sees little “political will” in Congress tighten data protection rules.

“I was quite shocked nothing moved forward in the wake of the tech hearings (earlier this year),” she said.

“Maybe it’s because these are American companies and they don’t want to push them out of the country.”

[“source=ndtv”]

Facebook Lite makes its way to iOS

Facebook Lite has been available for Android since 2015, though for a long time it was only accessible from developing markets. This year it finally reached the US, the UK, and other developed markets, and now it’s ready to make the jump to iOS as well.

The app is currently only installable if you have an iOS device and are located in Turkey. So the slow rollout seems to be mirroring what happened on Android – developing markets first (and even those being added one by one), developed markets possibly at some later point.

Thus, if you are in the US and are tired of the big bloated mess that Facebook’s normal app for iOS has become, you’re out of luck for now. But perhaps in the future the Lite alternative will be readily available across the globe.

Facebook Lite is much smaller in size than its non-Lite counterpart (just 5MB on iOS), and it also uses less power and significantly less data. That last aspect is generally much more important in developing markets where unlimited (or even cheap) data plans aren’t as prevalent, hence the rollout starting in such countries does make a bit of sense.

[“source=gsmarena”]

Facebook Stories Set to Get Ads as User Base Touches 300 Million

Facebook Stories Set to Get Ads as User Base Touches 300 Million

Facebook Stories and Messenger Stories now have more than 300 million users, the social networking company announced in post. More importantly, Facebook announced ads are coming to Stories on both its main app and Messenger. This comes about a year after ads were rolled out for Instagram Stories. The company has announced WhatsApp Status, the app’s version of Stories, will be getting ads next year. The Facebook, Messenger and Instagram Stories – along with WhatsApp Status – are clones of Snapchat Stories but have far more users than the pioneer of the feature.

In a post on the Facebook Business page, the company said “To help businesses reach more people, we’re now making Facebook Stories ads available to all advertisers around the world. Soon, you’ll be able to extend the reach [of ads] and improve the performance of your stories ad campaigns in Messenger.”

Facebook Stories ads will support tracking metrics such as reach, brand awareness, video views, app install, conversion, traffic, and lead generation. Brands such as iHeartRadio, Kettle Chips and KFC are among the advertisers who were part of the testing phase for Facebook Stories. The social media company claimed these brands have seen a “lift from their Facebook Stories ad campaigns.”

Citing an Ipsos survey, Facebook said, “More than half of people surveyed said they’re making more online purchases as a result of seeing Stories. In addition, 38 percent of people said that after seeing a product or service in a story they talked to someone about it, and 34% said they went to a store to look for it.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]