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Israel opens probe into Facebook after data scandal

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Cambridge Analytica data scandal

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities said Thursday (Mar 22) they had launched an investigation into Facebook’s activities following a scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of the social network’s users.

Israel’s privacy protection agency “informed Facebook” of the probe after revelations over data transfers from the tech giant to consultant Cambridge Analytica, the agency said.

It said it was also looking into “the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis”, it said in a statement released by the justice ministry.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper has reported that Israeli hackers offered material to Cambridge Analytica.

But an Israeli justice ministry spokeswoman said the probe did not involve hackers, focusing rather on whether Israeli users’ rights were violated.

Under Israel’s privacy law, personal data may only be used with consent and for the purpose for which it was handed over, the privacy protection agency said.

 

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India

Rajya Sabha now Wi-Fi enabled

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New Delhi, Jul 19 : The Rajya Sabha is now Wi-Fi enabled, offering law makers of the Upper House access to Internet for browsing government and Parliament websites, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said today.

Present rules allows MPs to carry mobile phones, laptops and tabs inside the Rajya Sabha chamber but the devices were not connected to the Parliament Wi-Di.

Parliament Wi-Fi was available to members in lobbies and other parts of the Parliament House complex.

When the House met for the day, Naidu said there have been demands from members to allow Wi-Fi connectivity inside the chamber.

“The Rajya Sabha chamber has now become Wi-Fi enabled,” he said.

The Wi-Fi, he said, can be used to browse only government websites including those of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on any mobile, laptop or tab inside the House.

The user name and password provided to members for accessing Parliament Wi-Fi in lobbies in other parts of the complex would run in the Rajya Sabha chamber as well, he said.

Parliament Wi-Fi can be used to access any website in the lobby or Parliament House complex as before, he said.

Earlier, the House congratulated Hima Das for winning a gold medal in the 400 meter race in the Athletic Under-20 World Championship in Tampere, Finland.

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Facebook to remove posts that spur violence

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San Francisco, July 19: Accused of helping to spur violence in countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India, Facebook has said it will begin removing misinformation that leads to violence and physical harm.

Currently, Facebook bans content that directly calls for violence but the new policy will cover fake news that has the potential to stir up physical harm, CNET reported late on Wednesday.

“There are certain forms of misinformation that have contributed to physical harm, and we are making a policy change which will enable us to take that type of content down,” Facebook said in a statement.

“We will begin implementing the policy during the coming months,” it added.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is facing the flak in India for allowing the circulation of large number of irresponsible messages filled with rumours and provocation that has led to growing instances of lynching of innocent people.

In June, Facebook removed content that alleged Muslims in Sri Lanka were poisoning food given and sold to Buddhists.

A coalition of activists from eight countries, including India and Myanmar, in May called on Facebook to put in place a transparent and consistent approach to moderation.

In a statement, the coalition demanded civil rights and political bias audits into Facebook’s role in abetting human rights abuses, spreading misinformation and manipulation of democratic processes in their respective countries.

Besides India and Myanmar, the other countries that the activists represented were Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines, Syria and Ethiopia.

The demands raised by the group bore significance as Facebook came under fire for its failure to stop the deluge of hate-filled posts against the disenfranchised Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.

Sri Lanka temporarily shut down Facebook earlier in 2018 after hate speech spread on the company’s apps resulted in mob violence.

According to The Verge, Facebook will review posts that are inaccurate or misleading, and are created or shared with the intent of causing violence or physical harm.

The posts will be reviewed in partnership with firms in the particular country including threat intelligence agencies.

“Partners are asked to verify that the posts in question are false and could contribute to imminent violence or harm,” Facebook said.

IANS

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Facebook shielding far-right activists, under-age accounts: Report

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London, July 17: Moderators at Facebook are protecting far-right activists, preventing their Pages from being deleted even after they violate the rules set up by the social media giant, the media reported.

The process called “shielded review” was uncovered by Channel 4 Dispatches – a documentary series that sent an undercover reporter to work as a content moderator in a Dublin-based Facebook contractor.

“In the documentary, a moderator tells the ‘Dispatches’ reporter that Britain First’s pages were left up, even though they repeatedly broke Facebook’s rules, because ‘they have a lot of followers so they’re generating a lot of revenue for Facebook’,” the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Similarly, popular pages, including those of activists like Tommy Robinson, are protected from Facebook rules.

Robinson is currently in jail, serving a 13-month sentence for contempt of court.

Richard Allan, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, was quoted as saying in the documentary that the company’s rules are based on revenue.

“If the content is indeed violating it will go,” Allan said.

Facebook, however, said it will remove Robinson’s page if he repeatedly violated the site’s community standards.ABritain First’s Facebook page was eventually banned in March 2018.

“It’s clear that some of what is shown in the programme does not reflect Facebooka¿s policies or values, and falls short of the high standards we expect.

“We take these mistakes in some of our training processes and enforcement incredibly seriously and are grateful to the journalists who brought them to our attention,” Allan said.

The documentary also showed that Facebook moderators have turned blind eye to under-age accounts.

“Moderators are told they can only take action to close down the account of a child who clearly looks 10-years-old if the child actually admits in posts they are under-aged,” The Telegraph reported, citing the documentary.

“We have to have an admission that the person is under-age. If not, we just pretend that we are blind and we don’t know what underage looks like,” a trainer told the undercover reporter.

Facebook is also facing the flak for launching Messenger Kids that encourages children under age 13 to join social media.

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in December warned the social media giant to stay away from his children.

Early this year, more than 100 child health experts have urged Facebook to withdraw the app.

Despite call for withdrawal by experts, Facebook has decided to expand the reach of Messenger Kids by introducing the video calling and messaging app designed for children under 13 to families in Canada and Peru.

Facebook said it will also introduce Spanish and French versions of the app.

IANS

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