Saturday March 23, 2019
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Social Networking Giant Facebook Apologises For ‘White Supremacy’ Ad

The Intercept report revealed that Facebook still has work to do to prevent extremists groups from spreading their hate-filled messages

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Facebook
Facebook testing 'LOL' app to woo kids, experts wary. Pixabay

Social networking giant Facebook has apologised after letting an ad campaign target its users interested in “White genocide conspiracy theory”.

News site The Intercept had no trouble in launching the campaign just a few days after conspiracy theory about external forces trying to exterminate the White race purportedly inspired the man who killed 11 Jewish worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue last week.

Earlier this week, The Intercept was able to select “white genocide conspiracy theory” as a pre-defined “detailed targeting” criterion on the social network to promote two articles to an interest group.

The interest group, according to Facebook, comprised 168,000 users “who have expressed an interest or like pages related to White genocide conspiracy theory”.

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Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

The ad which was labelled provocatively as “White Supremacy – Test” was approved manually by a member of Facebook’s advertising wing, the report said.

After the news site contacted Facebook for comment, company spokesperson Joe Osborne told The Intercept that the “White genocide conspiracy theory” category had been “generated through a mix of automated and human reviews, but any newly added interests are ultimately approved by people”.

“This targeting option has been removed, and we’ve taken down these ads. It’s against our advertising principles and never should have been in our system to begin with. We deeply apologize for this error,” the Facebook spokesperson said.

This is not the first time Facebook came under the scanner for its role in promoting hate speech through ad campaigns.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Last year, the investigative news outlet ProPublica reported that “the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of ‘Jew hater’, ‘How to burn jews’, or, ‘History of why jews ruin the world'”.

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At that time Facebook promised that it would explore ways to fix the problem and assured the public that it was building new guardrails in its product and review processes to filter out such ad campaigns.

The Intercept report revealed that Facebook still has work to do to prevent extremists groups from spreading their hate-filled messages. (IANS)

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Experts Urging Users to Change their Facebook Passwords and Turn on Two-Factor Authentication

Facebook in a blog post on Thursday said that it had fixed the issue and will be notifying everyone whose passwords it found stored this way

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Facebook
Facebook in a blog post on Thursday said that it had fixed the issue and will be notifying everyone whose passwords it found stored this way. Pixabay

After a report revealed around 200-600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by over 20,000 Facebook employees, cybersecurity experts are urging users to change their passwords and turn on the two-factor authentication (2FA).

So far the inquiry has uncovered archives with plain text user passwords dating back to 2012, according to the report published this week by KrebsOnSecurity, a blog run by journalist Brian Krebs.

Facebook in a blog post on Thursday said that it had fixed the issue and will be notifying everyone whose passwords it found stored this way.

“It’s perfectly possible that no passwords at all fell into the hands of any crooks as a result of this. But if any passwords did get into the wrong hands then you can expect them to be abused,” said Paul Ducklin, Senior Technologist at global cybersecurity firm Sophos.

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Facebook said it had found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed the passwords. Pixabay

“Hashed passwords still need to be cracked before they can be used; plaintext passwords are the real deal without any further hacking or cracking needed,” Ducklin added.

Facebook said it had found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed the passwords.

“While the details of the incident are still emerging, this is likely an accidental programming error that led to the logging of plain text credentials. That said, this should never have happened and Facebook needs to ensure that no user credentials or data were compromised as a result of this error,” said John Shier, Senior Security Advisor at Sophos.

“This is also another reminder for people who are still reusing passwords or using weak passwords to change their Facebook password to something strong and unique and to turn on two-factor authentication (2FA),” Shier said. Turning on 2FA would mean that a password alone is not enough for crooks to raid your account, Ducklin added.

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Turning on 2FA would mean that a password alone is not enough for crooks to raid your account, Ducklin added. Pixabay

Facebook also asked people to change their passwords “out of an abundance of caution”.

Earlier this month, Facebook came under scrutiny for using phone numbers provided for security reasons — like two-factor authentication (2FA) — for things like advertising and making users searchable by their phone numbers across its different platforms.

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“Another security measure users can implement to strengthen their digital security postures is to use different passwords for different online accounts. Don’t use your Facebook password for any other login, particularly for personal/professional email accounts or online banking,” said Sanjay Katkar, Joint Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer, Quick Heal Technologies Limited.

“It is also a good practice to log out whenever not using Facebook, even on mobile devices,” Katkar added. (IANS)