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We don’t save Android users’ data without permission: Facebook

On Facebook Lite, the options are to turn it on or ‘skip'. If you chose to turn this feature on, we will begin to continuously log this information

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Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
Facebook needs to fix itself. Pixabay
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  • Facebook says it doesn’t save data of Android users
  • In recent times, allegations have been put on Facebook
  • The allegations were about leaking data of its users

Facebook has said that it does not save call and text data of Android users without their permission, adding the practice is “widely used” with users having an option to opt-out from it.

Facebook was replying to several media reports which claimed that the social media giant was saving the call and text data of Android users for years. A report in technology website Ars Technica said that Android cellphone users have noticed that Facebook has saved a virtual trove of their personal call data.

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Facebook denies saving data of its Android users. VOA

“This past week, a New Zealand man was looking through the data Facebook had collected from him in an archive he had pulled down from the social networking site,” the report said. “While scanning the information Facebook had stored about his contacts, Dylan McKay discovered that Facebook also had about two years’ worth of phone call metadata from his Android phone, including names, phone numbers, and the length of each call made or received,” the report added.

However, a Facebook spokesperson pointed out that the call log was “a widely used practice to begin by uploading your phone contacts”. The spokesperson added that users give their consent by uploading their contacts, a function that’s optional. People can also delete contact data from their profiles by using a tool available on Web browsers, Facebook stated.

Also Read: ‘Delete’ Facebook, says WhatsApp co-founder amid Cambridge Analytica scandal

Later, Facebook issued a statement saying, “You may have seen some recent reports that Facebook has been logging people’s call and SMS (text) history without their permission. This is not the case.” Facebook even explained how users could opt out from giving the social media giant permission to log the contacts.

Facebook invests big in Community Leaders Program. AFP
Facebook spokesperson clears the air about leaking allegations. AFP

“When you sign up for Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android, or log into Messenger on an Android device, you are given the option to continuously upload your contacts as well as your call and text history,” the company said.

“For Messenger, you can either turn it on, choose ‘learn more’ or ‘not now’. On Facebook Lite, the options are to turn it on or ‘skip’. If you chose to turn this feature on, we will begin to continuously log this information,” Facebook added. The tech giant also said that its users’ information is securely stored and is not sold to third parties. “You are always in control of the information you share with Facebook,” it said. IANS

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How To Deal With Online Hate Speech: A Detailed Guide By Facebook

Critics of the company, however, said Zuckerberg hasn't gone far enough to address the inherent problems of Facebook, which has 2 billion users.

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Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech
A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Facebook says it is getting better at proactively removing hate speech and changing the incentives that result in the most sensational and provocative content becoming the most popular on the site.

The company has done so, it says, by ramping up its operations so that computers can review and make quick decisions on large amounts of content with thousands of reviewers making more nuanced decisions.

In the future, if a person disagrees with Facebook’s decision, he or she will be able to appeal to an independent review board.

Facebook “shouldn’t be making so many important decisions about free expression and safety on our own,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a call with reporters Thursday.

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at a Facebook developers conference in San Jose, California. VOA

But as Zuckerberg detailed what the company has accomplished in recent months to crack down on spam, hate speech and violent content, he also acknowledged that Facebook has far to go.

“There are issues you never fix,” he said. “There’s going to be ongoing content issues.”

Company’s actions

In the call, Zuckerberg addressed a recent story in The New York Times that detailed how the company fought back during some of its biggest controversies over the past two years, such as the revelation of how the network was used by Russian operatives in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Times story suggested that company executives first dismissed early concerns about foreign operatives, then tried to deflect public attention away from Facebook once the news came out.

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech
A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France. VOA

Zuckerberg said the firm made mistakes and was slow to understand the enormity of the issues it faced. “But to suggest that we didn’t want to know is simply untrue,” he said.

Zuckerberg also said he didn’t know the firm had hired Definers Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm that spread negative information about Facebook competitors as the social networking firm was in the midst of one scandal after another. Facebook severed its relationship with the firm.

“It may be normal in Washington, but it’s not the kind of thing I want Facebook associated with, which is why we won’t be doing it,” Zuckerberg said.

The firm posted a rebuttal to the Times story.

Content removed

Facebook said it is getting better at proactively finding and removing contentsuch as spam, violent posts and hate speech. The company said it removed or took other action on 15.4 million pieces of violent content between June and September of this year, about double what it removed in the prior three months.

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

But Zuckerberg and other executives said Facebook still has more work to do in places such as Myanmar. In the third quarter, the firm said it proactively identified 63 percent of the hate speech it removed, up from 13 percent in the last quarter of 2017. At least 100 Burmese language experts are reviewing content, the firm said.

One issue that continues to dog Facebook is that some of the most popular content is also the most sensational and provocative. Facebook said it now penalizes what it calls “borderline content” so it gets less distribution and engagement.

“By fixing this incentive problem in our services, we believe it’ll create a virtuous cycle: by reducing sensationalism of all forms, we’ll create a healthier, less-polarized discourse where more people feel safe participating,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post.

Also Read: Facebook to Establish an Independent Body to Moderate Content

Critics of the company, however, said Zuckerberg hasn’t gone far enough to address the inherent problems of Facebook, which has 2 billion users.

“We have a man-made, for-profit, simultaneous communication space, marketplace and battle space and that it is, as a result, designed not to reward veracity or morality but virality,” said Peter W. Singer, strategist and senior fellow at New America, a nonpartisan think tank, at an event Thursday in Washington, D.C. (VOA)