SAN FRANCISCO, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - The US Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Facebook of breaking the law by letting landlords and home sellers use its ad-targeting system to discriminate against potential buyers or tenants.
A formal complaint filed by HUD said that Facebook advertisers were able to target offers of homes available for rent or sale based on factors such as race, religion, gender, nationality, or disabilities.
That precision allowed landlords or home sellers to discriminate against certain groups of people in violation of the US Fair Housing Act, according to the claim.
"When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it's the same as slamming the door in someone's face," Anna Maria Farias, HUD's assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said in a release.
The formal complaint came after a HUD investigation confirmed that advertisers on Facebook could exclude categories such as people who expressed interest in assistance dogs, parenting, China, or the Bible, according to the agency.
Facebook prohibits discrimination and has strengthened its systems during the past year to protect against targeting being misused by advertisers, a spokesman told AFP.
"There is no place for discrimination on Facebook," the spokesman said.
"We're aware of the statement of interest filed and will respond in court; and we´ll continue working directly with HUD to address their concerns."
LOMBOK, August 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Facebook apologised after users posting about a deadly earthquake in Indonesia on the social media platform saw their messages decorated with images of balloons and confetti.
A 6.9 magnitude quake struck the tourist island of Lombok on Sunday, killing at least 347 people and leaving thousands homeless, according to the government-run Antara news agency.
Many Indonesian speakers wrote messages on Facebook using the word ‘selamat’ — which can mean ‘safe’ but also ‘congratulations’ — triggering celebratory animations.
“The feature (automatic animations for ‘congratulations’ in posts) is widely available on Facebook globally,” a spokeswoman for the world’s largest social network said in a statement.
“However we regret that it appeared in this unfortunate context and have since turned off the feature locally.”
A humanitarian crisis looms in Lombok, which was rocked by another deadly quake last month that killed 17 people, with thousands of victims of Sunday’s disaster in desperate need of clean water, food, medicine and shelter, aid agencies say.
Many people on the island have been using Facebook’s Safety Check feature — launched in 2014 — which allows users to notify their friends and relatives that they are safe after disasters.
“Scrap me getting rid of Facebook, the safety check-in is too important,” travel blogger Charlie Burness said on Twitter.
“Waiting for friends of mine in Lombok to check in (again)”.
Yet social media companies must take better precautions when designing features to be used during disasters such as the Lombok earthquake, according to Siane Monreal, social media manager for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
NEW DELHI, August 7, 2018 (News Wires) - The telecom department has sought views of the industry on technical measures that can be adopted for blocking mobile apps like instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc in situations where national security and public order are under threat.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) on July 18, 2018, had written to all telecom operators, the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and others and asked for their inputs to block the applications under Section 69A of the IT Act.
"DoT in the letter had said that the Ministry of Electronics and IT and law enforcement agencies have raised issue around blocking of certain mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telecom, etc to meet requirement under Section 69A of IT Act," an official source told PTI.
The Section 69A of IT Act talks about power to issue directions for blocking for public access to any information through any computer resource.
The law authorises the central government or any officer authorised by it to issue direction to block the information on Internet in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to them.
Recently, there have been widespread incidents of mob lynching in the country based on rumours spread through social media apps. The popular messaging app, WhatsApp, has been in the eye of storm over abuse of its platform for circulation of fake news that resulted in incitement of mob fury.
An IT ministry official, who did not wish to be named, said, WhatsApp has not committed itself on "traceability" and attribution of messages, which had been one of the key demands of the government.
Hence, the ministry's concerns have not been addressed and the potential for misuse still remains, the source said.
Last month, the government had expressed dissatisfaction over measures previously listed by WhatsApp for checking fake news that have, in several cases, triggered mob violence.
The IT ministry, in its missive, had said that WhatsApp cannot escape from its responsibility for such rampant abuse of its platform and needed to find originators of provocative messages.
The government, in its second notice to the Facebook-owned messaging service, had warned that in the absence of adequate checks, it will treat the messaging platform as 'abettor' of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow.
WhatsApp told the government it is building a local team, including India head, as part of steps to check fake news circulation.
The mobile messaging platform also said that attributing messages on WhatsApp would undermine the private nature of WhatsApp and create the potential for serious misuse. It added that the focus of the firm is on improving its platform and working closely with others in society to help keep people safe.
SAN FRANCISCO, August 7, 2018 (News Wires) - Facebook has asked major US banks to share customer data to allow it to develop new services on the social network’s Messenger texting platform, a banking source told AFP recently.
Facebook had discussions with Chase, JPMorgan, Citibank, and Wells Fargo several months ago, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.
The Silicon Valley-based social network also contacted US Bancorp, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.
Facebook, which has come under intense criticism for sharing user data with many app developers, was interested in information including bank card transactions, checking account balances, and where purchases were made, according to the source.
A Facebook spokesperson denied the social network had asked financial institutions for transaction data, according to a statement given to CNBC.
Facebook and Citigroup did not immediately respond to AFP’s requests for comment, while Wells Fargo declined to address the news.
The goal was to create new ways for Messenger to be woven into, and facilitate, interactions between banks and customers, according to the reports. The smartphone texting service boasts 1.3 billion users.
JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman Patricia Wexler directed AFP to a statement given to the Wall Street Journal saying, “We don’t share our customers’ off-platform transaction data with these platforms and have had to say ‘No’ to some things as a result.”
Facebook has been maneuvering to make money from Messenger by making it a preferred way for businesses and customers to tend to purchases, delivery confirmation, complaints and more.
But word Facebook is fishing for financial information comes amid concerns it has not vigilantly guarded private information.
Facebook acknowledged last month that it was facing multiple inquiries from US and British regulators about a scandal involving the British consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
In Facebook’s worst ever public relations disaster, it admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, which was working for US President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in May he was rolling out privacy controls demanded by European regulators to Facebook users worldwide because “everyone cares about privacy.”
The social network is now looking at cooler growth following a years-long breakneck pace. Shares in Facebook plummeted last week, wiping out some $100 billion, after the firm missed quarterly revenue forecasts and warned growth would be far weaker than previously estimated.
LONDON, August 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Facebook has confirmed it has started testing its new dating feature internally.
The social network, which announced plans to enter the dating business during its F8 conference in May, regularly tests new features internally ahead of launch to iron out any bugs.
The development comes after an independent app researcher claimed to have gained access to the sign-up screen of Facebook Dating.
Back in May, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the dating service would be an opt-in feature that allows users to create a separate dating profile to their existing Facebook account and would not match them up with anyone they are already friends with.
Dating is a good opportunity for Facebook, given that around 200 million users on the social network list themselves as single.
Facebook’s offering will put it in competition with existing dating apps and services, ranging from Match.com to Tinder, in an increasingly popular sector estimated to contribute £11.7 billion to the UK economy each year.
Mr Zuckerberg said his aim for the tool is to create “real, long-term relationships” and “not just hook-ups”.
SAN FRANCISCO, August 3, 2018 (News Wires) - In testing at Facebook since April, Playable Ads are now ready for general consumption.
Now appearing in general Facebook users' news feeds, Playable Ads comprise a video and then an interactive section demonstrating an iOS or Android app.
The demo section itself is coded in the HTML5 web standard, meaning it can work inside the Facebook app or from a compatible web browser.
In this way, viewers can see what it would be like to play or use the app in question before they download the real thing from the relevant app store.
Rovio, which owns the "Angry Birds" franchise, and Glu, which trialed Facebook's Playable Ads through "Design Home," both said the system was better at attracting new players.
The announcement was made at ChinaJoy, the Shanghai gaming expo that runs until August 6.
Playable advertisements, whether as interactive video sequences or videos leading to short game demos, have been around for several years, especially frequent within the mobile gaming space.