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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Admits, Cannot Guarantee Interference-free European Parliament Elections

Under pressure from EU regulators to do more to guard against foreign meddling in the bloc's upcoming legislative election, Facebook toughened its rules on political advertising in Europe last week.

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Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 24, 2018. VOA

Facebook is much better than it was in 2016 at tackling election interference but cannot guarantee the site will not be used to undermine European Parliament elections in May, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday.

Chastened since suspected Russian operatives used Facebook and other social media to influence an election that surprisingly brought Donald Trump to power in the United States, Facebook has said it has plowed resources and staff into safeguarding the May 26 EU vote.

Zuckerberg said there had been a lot of important elections since 2016 that have been relatively clean and demonstrated the defenses it has built up to protect their integrity.

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Facebook is much better than it was in 2016 at tackling election interference but cannot guarantee the site will not be used to undermine European Parliament elections in May, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday. VOA

“We’ve certainly made a lot of progress … But no, I don’t think anyone can guarantee in a world where you have nation states that are trying to interfere in elections, there’s no single thing we can do and say okay we’ve now solved the issue,” Zuckerberg told Irish national broadcaster RTE in an interview.

“This is an ongoing arms race where we’re constantly building up our defenses and these sophisticated governments are also evolving their tactics.”

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia ran a disinformation and hacking operation to undermine the American democratic process and help Republican Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Moscow denies interfering in the election.

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“This is an ongoing arms race where we’re constantly building up our defenses and these sophisticated governments are also evolving their tactics.” Pixabay

Under pressure from EU regulators to do more to guard against foreign meddling in the bloc’s upcoming legislative election, Facebook toughened its rules on political advertising in Europe last week.

It also announced plans to ramp up efforts to fight misinformation ahead of the vote and will partner with German news agency DPA to boost its fact checking.

 

Also Read: The New Setting Notification! Now You Can Decide Who Can Add You To WhatsApp Group

“Here in the EU for the upcoming elections we are bringing the full battery of all of the strategies and tools that worked very well in a lot of important elections so far so I’ve a lot of confidence,” Zuckerberg said during a trip to Dublin, home to Facebook’s international headquarters.

“But I think that we should expect that for some of these countries that are out there that are trying to interfere, they are just going to keep trying, so we need to stay ahead of that and keep on doing this work in order to stay ahead.” (VOA)

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Google, Facebook Secretly Tracking Your Porn-viewing Habits

“While the findings of this study are far from encouraging, we do believe regulatory intervention may have positive outcomes,” said the researchers

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

If you think watching pornographic material in the “incognito” mode will not let anyone know, you are mistaken. Google, Facebook and even Oracle cloud are secretly tracking the porn you watch even when you switch on the “incognito” mode on your laptop or smartphone.

A new joint study from Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pennsylvania that investigated 22,484 sex websites using a tool called “webXray” revealed that 93 per cent of pages track and leak users’ data to third-party organisations.

“Tracking on these sites is highly concentrated by a handful of major companies,” said the researchers who identified 230 different companies and services tracking users in their sample.

Of non-pornography-specific services, Google tracks 74 per cent of sites, Oracle 24 per cent and Facebook 10 per cent.

Porn-specific trackers in the top 10 are exoClick (40 per cent), JuicyAds (11 per cent), and EroAdvertising (9 per cent).

“The majority of non-pornography companies in the top 10 are based in the US, while the majority of pornography-specific companies are based in Europe,” said the study.

The researchers – Elena Maris, Microsoft Research; Timothy Libert, Carnegie Mellon University; and Jennifer Henrichsen, University of Pennsylvania – said they successfully extracted privacy policies for 3,856 sites, 17 per cent of the total.

“The policies were written such that one might need a two-year college education to understand them. The content analysis indicated 44.97 per cent of them expose or suggest a specific gender/sexual identity or interest likely to be linked to the user,” said the study to be published in the journal New Media & Society.

The team created a hypothetical profile named “Jack” who decides to view porn on his laptop.

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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

Jack enables “incognito” mode in his browser, assuming his actions are now private. He pulls up a site and scrolls past a small link to a privacy policy. Assuming a site with a privacy policy will protect his personal information, Jack clicks on a video.

“What Jack does not know is that incognito mode only ensures his browsing history is not stored on his computer. The sites he visits, as well as any third-party trackers, may observe and record his online actions,” the researchers noted.

These third-parties may even infer Jack’s sexual interests from the URLs of the sites he accesses. They might also use what they have decided about these interests for marketing or building a consumer profile. They may even sell the data.

Jack has no idea these third-party data transfers are occurring as he browses videos.

“His assumption that porn websites will protect his information, along with the reassurance of the ‘incognito’ mode icon on his screen, provide Jack a fundamentally misleading sense of privacy as he consumes porn online,” wrote the researchers.

The above hypothetical scenario occurs frequently in reality and is indicative of the widespread data leakage and tracking that can occur on porn sites, they added.

Also Read: Instagram to Now Alert Violators Before Deleting Accounts

In 2017, Pornhub, one of the largest porn websites, received 28.5 billion visits, with users performing 50,000 searches per second on the site.

Statistics vary as to the amount of overall porn activity on the internet, but a 2017 report indicated porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined, and that “30 per cent of all the data transferred across the Internet is porn”, with site YouPorn using six times more bandwidth than Hulu.

“While the findings of this study are far from encouraging, we do believe regulatory intervention may have positive outcomes,” said the researchers. (IANS)