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Facebook CEO Confident of Stopping People from Manipulating the 2020 US Presidential Elections

"We've learned a lot since 2016, where, obviously, we were behind where we needed to be on defenses for nation states trying to interfere," Mark Zuckerberg said in a "Good Morning America" interview

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2020, Facebook
FILE - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at a Facebook developer conference in San Jose, California, May 1, 2018. VOA

Facebook Inc’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is confident the world’s biggest social network will do better in 2020 at stopping “bad actors” from manipulating the U.S. presidential election.

“We’ve learned a lot since 2016, where, obviously, we were behind where we needed to be on defenses for nation states trying to interfere,” he said in a “Good Morning America” interview released on Thursday. “These aren’t things that you ever fully solve, right?

They’re ongoing arms races, where we need to make sure that our systems stay ahead of the sophisticated bad actors, who are just always going to try to game them.” U.S. intelligence agencies say there was an extensive Russian cyber-influence operation during the 2016 campaign aimed at helping Donald Trump, a Republican, defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Zuckerberg said the social media giant had implemented a lot of different measures since 2016 to verify any advertiser who is running a political ad and create an archive so anyone could see what advertisers are running, who they are targeting and how much they are paying.

facebook, 2020
Zuckerberg said the social media giant had implemented a lot of different measures since 2016 to verify any advertiser who is running a political ad. VOA

Advertising practices at Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 2.7 billion users and $56 billion in annual revenue, have been in the spotlight for two years amid growing discontent over its approach to privacy and user data.

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

The company said in a congressional testimony last year that Russian agents created 129 events on the network during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, shedding more light on Russia’s purported disinformation drive aimed at voters.

“At this point, (we) have probably some of the most-advanced systems of any company or government in the world for preventing the kind of tactics that Russia and now other countries, as well, have tried,” Zuckerberg said.

Asked if he could guarantee that there would not be interference in the election, Zuckerberg said, “What I can guarantee is that they’re definitely going to try.” (VOA)

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Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Facebook has blamed Apple’s operating system for the hacking of Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone, saying WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is unhackable.

Investigators believe that Bezos’s iPhone was compromised after he received a 4.4MB video file containing malware via WhatsApp – in the same way when phones of 1,400 select journalists and human rights activists were broken into by Pegasus software from Israel-based NSO Group last year.

In an interview to the BBC last week, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, Nick Clegg, said it wasn’t WhatsApp’s fault because end-to-end encryption is unhackable and blamed Apple’s operating system for Bezos’ episode.

“It sounds like something on the, you know, what they call the operate, operated on the phone itself. It can’t have been anything on the, when the message was sent, in transit, because that’s end-to-end encrypted on WhatsApp,” Clegg told the show host.

Clegg compared the hack to opening a malicious email, saying that “it only comes to life when you open it”.

According to a report from FTI Consulting, a firm that has investigated Bezos’ phone, after that the video file was received, Bezos’ phone started sending unusually large amounts of outbound data, including his intimate messages with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

According to Clegg, “something” must have affected the phone’s operating system.

“As sure as you can be that the technology of end-to-end encryption cannot, other than unless you have handset, or you have the message at either end, cannot be hacked into,” he was quoted as saying.

Apple was yet to comment on Facebook’s statement.

The NSO Group has denied it was part of Bezos’ hacking.

Also Read: Here Are Some Life Lessons That We Can Learn From Freedom Fighters this Republic Day

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages. But the piece of NSO Group software exploited WhatsApp’s video calling system by installing the spyware via missed calls to snoop on the selected users.

According to leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy, end-to-end encrypted apps (E2EE) do provide security, and messages or calls cannot be intercepted and decrypted en route without enormous computing resources.

“But once anyone can get to your handset, whether a human or a piece of software, the encryption doesn’t matter anymore. Because on your handset, it’s all decrypted,” Roy told IANS recently. (IANS)