Archive for Facebook

Facebook Handed Over Friends Data To RBC & Others…. Even When They Said They Weren’t

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 10, 2018 by itnerd

A new report from The Wall Street Journal details how Facebook granted a number of companies special access to additional data about users’ friends. Specifically phone numbers and “friend links,” which measures the degree of closeness between a user and their friends.

One troubling aspect to this story is that Facebook was doing so even after the point in 2015 when the company claimed it stopped sharing such data. Which means that Facebook was lying about what it was doing with user data. Some companies were even granted extensions on accessing this data.

Another troubling aspect to this story if you are Canadian is the fact that Facebook apparently handed this data over to RBC which is one of the biggest banks in Canada. One wonders what RBC was doing with that data. Well, here’s what they said:

One granted an extension was Royal Bank of Canada, which created an app that allowed RBC users to send money to one another—similar to Venmo, a startup now owned by PayPal Inc. RBC was granted a six-month extension after the May 2015 deadline Facebook imposed on developers when it shut off data access, an RBC spokesman said.

“We take seriously our responsibility to protect customer privacy and we do not share individual client information with Facebook or other advertisers,” the spokesman said.

I think RBC customers deserve a better answer than that. I say that because we don’t know why RBC was accessing user data on Facebook in the first place. They truly need to answer that as right now, RBC’s actions look as shady as Facebook’s actions.


#Fail: Facebook Made 14 Million Private Posts Public

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 8, 2018 by itnerd

It’s clearly the worst of times for Facebook. The latest screw up for the social networking company has had to admit that a bug of some sort caused private posts to be made public for as many as 14 million users. These posts were public for as long as nine days. But don’t worry Facebook users, everything is fine now. At least that’s what they say.

Facebook’s trust level with the public isn’t exactly high at the moment. This isn’t going to help that situation. Perhaps it’s time for Facebook to bring in someone to clean up their privacy related issues? Just a thought.

Facebook Served Up User Data To Chinese Firms… One Of Whom Was Flagged By Feds

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 6, 2018 by itnerd

Facebook is back in the news for all the wrong reasons via this New York Times story where the firm has been accused of handing over user data to four Chinese firms. Including one flagged for being a national security threat:

Facebook has data-sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies, including a manufacturing giant that has a close relationship with China’s government, the social media company said on Tuesday.

The agreements, which date to at least 2010, gave private access to some user data to Huawei, a telecommunications equipment company that has been flagged by American intelligence officials as a national security threat, as well as to Lenovo, Oppo and TCL.

The four partnerships remain in effect, but Facebook officials said in an interview that the company would wind down the Huawei deal by the end of the week.

This is on top of data sharing agreements that the New York Times found out about earlier this week. But in any case, this seems troubling to me and I hope people in power ask questions about this.

Oh wait. They are:

Senator John Thune, the South Dakota Republican who leads the Commerce Committee, has demanded that Facebook provide Congress with details about its data partnerships. “Facebook is learning hard lessons that meaningful transparency is a high standard to meet,” Mr. Thune said.

His committee also oversees the Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating Facebook to determine whether the company’s data policies violate a 2011 consent decree with the commission.

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia pointed out that concerns about Huawei were not new, citing a 2012 congressional report on the “close relationships between the Chinese Communist Party and equipment makers like Huawei.”

“I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers,” said Mr. Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.

All of this really doesn’t pass the smell test and makes me think that Facebook has a lot more going on that the world needs to know about. And I suspect that given the scrutiny that the company is under, we might get those details sooner rather than later. And we may not like what we see.

Facebook Shared Data With Device Makers: New York Times

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 4, 2018 by itnerd

According to a report from The New York Times, Facebook formed data-sharing partnerships with Apple, Samsung, and dozens of other device makers, allowing them to access vast amounts of its users’ personal information (If you hit a paywall, here is an alternative source):

Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said. The deals allowed Facebook to expand its reach and let device makers offer customers popular features of the social network, such as messaging, “like” buttons and address books.

But the partnerships, whose scope has not previously been reported, raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing, The New York Times found. Most of the partnerships remain in effect, though Facebook began winding them down in April.

Facebook who is now very sensitive to this sort of thing has hit back via this blog post where they confirmed some parts of the Times’ report but disputed others. In short, they put some spin on this. But given what’s gone on over the last little while, I am not sure if that will be enough to calm the waters.


The Russians Want To Speak To Zuckerberg…. No. Really

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 1, 2018 by itnerd

I guess Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s statements about election meddling and the like in front of the EU Parliament and the US Congress got the Russians attention. Because they want him to show up and talk to them:

Russian senators want Zuckerberg to testify on topics such as information security, privacy, and the “dissemination of harmful content.”

When one senator objected to the visit on the grounds that Zuckerberg was a “Russophobe,” Speaker Mativyenko responded, “Why shouldn’t the Federation Council enter into dialogue and ask him about his Russophobic statements?”

Now Facebook hasn’t said if they’re going to make him available. But I’m pretty sure that it’s not going to happen and there’s likely no way they could force him to show up. So to me this seems more like a PR exercise for the domestic market where the Russians win regardless of how this ends up.


Teens Just Aren’t Into Facebook As Much: Pew Research

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 1, 2018 by itnerd

new study conducted by Pew Research found that just 51 percent of Americans from 13 to 17-years-old say they use Facebook, down from 71 percent in 2015. The study was only conducted among nearly 750 teens in a one month period earlier in the spring. Apparently Facebook has been replaced by YouTube as the cool place for teens to hang out online. Then comes Instagram (or “Insta” as a teen in my condo keeps saying), followed by Snapchat, Twitter, and Tumblr.

If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, you have to be a wee bit concerned as your ad revenues are going to take a wee bit of a hit. And your shareholders will be a wee bit ticked off at you. Oh wait. They already are for different reasons.

Zuckerberg’s Appearance In the EU Makes Many Want To #DeleteFacebook

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 23, 2018 by itnerd

If Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was hoping to get an easy ride yesterday in the EU Parliament, it didn’t happen. Many members of Parliament thought he dodged questions and left them high and dry. If that’s true, then his EU charm offensive fell flat. And Facebook has a bit of a problem. Because if the EU wants to make life miserable for Facebook, it can do so easily. Just ask Google or Microsoft.

Perhaps as a bit of free advice to “Zuck” would be to play nice with these people. Answer their questions fully. And make sure they go home happy. Oh by the way, he may want to take a trip to London and answer questions there too. Because right now he needs to make friends and influence people. And he’s not doing a great job of that at the moment.