Facebook ‘Not Aware Of Any Abuse’ Of Data

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg                                                                                  JOSH EDELSON / AFP

 

Facebook said Monday that it does not know of any privacy abuse by cellphone makers who years ago were able to gain access to personal data on users and their friends.

The social media leader said it “disagreed” with the conclusions of a New York Times report that found that the device makers could access information on Facebook users’ friends without their explicit consent.

Facebook enabled device makers to interface with it at a time when it was building its service and they were developing new smartphone and social media technology.

But the Times said the access continued even after Facebook agreed with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011 to better protect data and only share it after obtaining consumers’ express consent.

Facebook, which came under attack early this year over British political consultant Cambridge Analytica’s harvesting of personal data on 87 million Facebook users and their friends, did not deny the Times story but said it “disagreed” with the issues raised.

Before now-ubiquitous apps standardized the social media experience on smartphones, some 60 device makers like Amazon, Apple, Blackberry, HTC, Microsoft and Samsung worked with Facebook to adapt interfaces for the Facebook website to their own phones, the company said.

“We controlled them tightly from the get-go,” said Ime Archibong, VP of Product Partnerships, in a statement.

“Partners could not integrate the user’s Facebook features with their devices without the user’s permission,” he said.

“Friends’ information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends,” he said.

Moreover, he added, “We are not aware of any abuse by these companies.”

But the Times said that the user permissions were not always explicit as required by the 2011 consent decree with the FTC.

In addition, it said, its research showed that some device makers “could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing.”

Facebook said it is winding up the interface arrangements with device makers as the company’s smartphone apps dominate the service.

But the report raised concerns that massive databases on users and their friends — including personal data and photographs — could be in the hands of device makers as it did with Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica obtained the data it had without Facebook’s permission and used it to help the election campaign of US President Donald Trump.

AFP

Facebook To Offer ‘Bounty’ For Reporting Data Abuse

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks in a hallway prior to a meeting with U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), committee chairman of Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, April 9, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

Facebook said Tuesday it would begin offering rewards to people who report misuse of private information from the social network, as part of an effort to step up data protection in the wake of a firestorm.

The new program “will reward people with first-hand knowledge and proof of cases where a Facebook platform app collects and transfers people’s data to another party to be sold, stolen or used for scams or political influence,” product security chief Collin Greene said in a statement.

Greene said the new offer was inspired by the “bug bounty” offered by Facebook and other online services to reward people who find security flaws.

The reward will be “based on the impact of each report,” Greene said, with a minimum of $500 for verified cases of abuse affecting 10,000 people or more.

“While there is no maximum, high impact bug reports have garnered as much as $40,000 for people who bring them to our attention,” he added.

The announcement comes with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg set to begin testimony at congressional hearings Tuesday and Wednesday on abuse of private data collected by the social network.

Facebook is under fire in the United States and around the world following disclosures of private data hijacked by the consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which was working for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“We’ll review all legitimate reports and respond as quickly as possible when we identify a credible threat to people’s information,” Greene said of the new program.

“If we confirm data abuse, we will shut down the offending app and take legal action against the company selling or buying the data, if necessary. We’ll pay the person who reported the issue, and we’ll also alert those we believe to be affected.”

AFP