Tuesday July 23, 2019
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British Parliament Access Internal Facebook Data Scandal Papers: Report

The internal documents are "subject to an order of a Californian superior court, so cannot be shared or made public, at risk of being found in contempt of court"

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Fake News, Facebook, dating
Intel, Facebook working on cheaper AI chip. VOA

Days ahead of a seven-nation panel hearing on Facebook, the British Parliament has reportedly seized internal company documents that contain revelations on data and privacy controls that led to Cambridge Analytica scandal.

According to a report in The Guardian on Sunday, the internal documents “include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with (Mark) Zuckerberg”.

“Damian Collins, the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism to compel the founder of a US software company, Six4Three, to hand over the documents during a business trip to London,” said the report.

“We are in uncharted territory. This is an unprecedented move but it’s an unprecedented situation.

“We’ve failed to get answers from Facebook and we believe the documents contain information of very high public interest,” Collins was quoted as saying.

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech, Russia, Sheryl Sandberg, digital
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

Facebook, however, defended itself, saying that Six4Three’s “claims have no merit, and we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously”.

Facebook is set to face an international committee consisting 22 members from seven countries in London this week.

Richard Allan, Vice President of Policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), will face in London elected members from the Parliaments of Britain, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Latvia and Singapore.

“An unprecedented international grand committee comprising 22 representatives from seven parliaments will meet in London next week to put questions to Facebook about the online fake news crisis and the social network’s own string of data misuse scandals,” TechCrunch reported on Friday.

According to The Guardian report, the struggle to hold Facebook to account has raised concerns about limits of British authority over international companies that now play a key role in the democratic process.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“We have very serious questions for Facebook,” Collins said.

The internal documents seized were obtained during a legal discovery process by Six4Three.

Also Read- Rahul Gandhi Accuses Modi Government of Ignoring Plight of Youth, Farmers

The internal documents are “subject to an order of a Californian superior court, so cannot be shared or made public, at risk of being found in contempt of court”.

The report comes at a time when Facebook investors have increased pressure on Zuckerberg — who faced intense scrutiny in US Congress earlier in 2018 — to step down as Chairman, which he had refused. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook has no Choice But to Topple TikTok in India

Unless TikTok is permanently banned in the country over a series of complaints, there seems to be no stopping this Chinese app

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tiktok
TikTok has over 54 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. Pixabay

By Nishant Arora

Chasing 15 seconds of fame, millions of Indians are hooked to TikTok and the success of the Chinese short video-sharing app — despite controversies and calls for regulation — has forced major digital giants to incorporate short videos on their own platforms.

TikTok is available in 150 markets, in 75 languages and has more than 700 million monthly active users globally (including over 200 million in India) in just a year compared to 300 million existing Indian users on Facebook.

Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are facing strong competition from TikTok in the country. TikTok owner now plans to invest $1 billion in India despite the calls to ban the app.

According to Meenakshi Tiwari, Forecast Analyst at global market research firm Forrester, while TikTok managed to monetise its offering within one year of its launch through a variety of revenue models like in-app purchase of coins and virtual gifts, advertising accounts for most of its revenue.

Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, TikTok invests heavily in influencer marketing.

“TikTok has launched new advertising formats such as brand takeovers that allow full-screen vertical display, in-feed native video, and hashtag challenge ads, which provide a more immersive and interactive platform to the marketers,” Tiwari told IANS.

One can imagine what Facebook must be thinking: To quickly put a spanner in TikTok’s growth else the India market will slowly ditch its main platform as well as the photo-sharing Instagram.

In November last year, Facebook quietly released a stand-alone app called “Lasso” to compete with TikTok.

On Lasso, which is currently available in the US, users can record themselves dancing and lip-syncing to music, similar to what they can do on TikTok.

“Lasso is a new stand-alone app for short-form, entertaining videos — from comedy to beauty to fitness and more. We’re excited about the potential here, and we’ll be gathering feedback from the people and the creators,” a Facebook spokesperson had told The Verge.

Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE – In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Facebook last week roped in former Google employee Jason Toff for a key portfolio and the speculation is rife about the social networking giant preparing the global launch of its short video-sharing app.

Toff, who earlier worked for Twitter’s short-video sharing service Vine which has been shut down, has joined as Facebook’s Product Management Director to lead the company’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team aimed at developing experimental apps for consumers who are still away from the core Facebook brand.

According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR), the rise of apps like Bytedance’s TikTok demonstrates an underlying consumer fatigue and their urge and need for expressing themselves by experimenting with new apps and platforms.

“By focusing on vernacular languages, TikTok has enabled Indians everywhere to share their talent with the world. With its first-mover advantage, coupled with organically and rapidly growing user base, Bytedance is not shy of battling Facebook’s global dominance,” Ram told IANS.

TikTok is swiftly scaling its ecosystem to ringfence its users with ‘mini programmes’ and, perhaps, a smartphone with pre-installed apps in China.

“For Facebook, it is imperative to thwart TikTok’s rising competition. Unfortunately, its previous attempts at making a TikTok clone have failed. More significantly, Facebook’s reach in India does not extend beyond the tier II and III urban India,” emphasised Ram.

Also Read: Students of IIT Kharagpur Develop AI App to Lend Support for Elderly Care

As pointed out by Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg in the Q1 2019 earnings call, the meaning of social media is changing in today’s world and there is a move toward more private social media like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram.

Zuckerberg must not delay further in launching a TikTok rival, “else time may run out for Facebook to have a product that will get India excited,” said Ram.

Unless TikTok is permanently banned in the country over a series of complaints, there seems to be no stopping this Chinese app. (IANS)