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Facebook Expands Tool to Connect Users to Local News

"The local alert label appears in News Feed and Today In, and we are also testing notifications, which participating Pages can target to people who live in the affected areas," Strong added

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Irish watchdog opens inquiry into latest Facebook privacy breach. Pixabay
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Facebook has started expanding its “Today In” section for local news and community information to make it easier for people to find news and information from their local towns and cities.

“It is now available in over 400 cities in the US, and we have launched our first international test in Australia,” Anthea Watson Strong, Product Manager for Local News and Community Information at Facebook said in a statement on Wednesday.

Facebook said it wants to expand the “Today In” section more broadly soon.

“In addition, we have started testing Today In in communities located in news deserts, places that have low supply of local news and community information, by supplementing with relevant content from surrounding areas,” Strong said.

Today In aggregates local news and community information in a separate section within the Facebook app.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

People who live in a city where Today In is currently available can visit this section directly, and they can choose to turn on local updates to start seeing a collection of local news more regularly in their News Feed.

Facebook started testing Today In earlier this year after doing a research in which it found that over 50 per cent of people said they wanted to see more local news and community information on Facebook — more than any other type of content they were asked about.

The research showed that people wanted both what might be traditionally understood as local news — breaking news or information about past events like city council meetings, crime reports and weather updates — as well as community information that could help them make plans, like bus schedules, road closures and restaurant openings.

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“In addition to expanding the availability of Today In, we’re running a test with over 100 local government and first responder Pages to help them communicate time-sensitive and need-to-know information to people on Facebook,” Strong said.

“The local alert label appears in News Feed and Today In, and we are also testing notifications, which participating Pages can target to people who live in the affected areas,” Strong added. (IANS)

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Irish Watchdog Opens Inquiry into Latest Privacy Breach of Facebook

The private information of Facebook users was alleged to be used to influence the US 2016 general elections in favour of President Donald Trump's campaign

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Irish watchdog opens inquiry into latest Facebook privacy breach. Pixabay

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has announced a fresh investigation into Facebook, a day after the social networking giant admitted another security breach where nearly 6.8 million users risked their private photos being exposed to third-party apps.

Facebook, which is already facing a probe from the Irish watchdog for a previous privacy leak in September that affected 50 million people, may end up with fine of 4 per cent of its annual turnover – the highest fine under the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), The Independent reported on Saturday.

In Facebook’s case, the fine could amount to nearly 1.5 billion euros.

“The Irish DPC has received a number of breach notifications from Facebook since the introduction of the GDPR on May 25, 2018,” a spokesperson for the watchdog was quoted as saying.

The fresh move came after Facebook on Friday said more than 1,500 apps built by 876 developers may have also been affected by the bug that exposed users’ unshared photos during a 12-day-period from September 13 to 25.

Facebook, in a statement, said it has fixed the breach and will roll out next week “tools for app developers that will allow them to determine which people using their app might be impacted by this bug”.

“Currently, we believe this may have affected up to 6.8 million users and up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers. The only apps affected by this bug were ones that Facebook approved to access the photos API and that individuals had authorised to access their photos.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

“We’re sorry this happened,” said Facebook, adding that it will also notify the people potentially impacted by this bug via an alert.

The disclosure is another example of Facebook’s failure to properly protect users’ privacy that may drew more criticism of its privacy policy.

Earlier this month, Italian regulators fined Facebook 10 million euros for selling users’ data without informing them.

The competition watchdog handed Facebook two fines totalling 10 million euros, “also for discouraging users from trying to limit how the company shares their data”.

The Irish watchdog, which is Facebook’s lead privacy regulator in Europe, in October opened a formal investigation into a data breach which affected 50 million users.

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“The investigation will examine Facebook’s compliance with its obligation under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure the security and safeguarding of the personal data it processes,” said the DPC.

The world’s largest social media network has been grilled over the past year for its mishandling of user data, including its involvement in a privacy scandal in March when Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy firm, was accused of illegally accessing the data of more than 87 million Facebook users without their consent.

The private information of Facebook users was alleged to be used to influence the US 2016 general elections in favour of President Donald Trump’s campaign. (IANS)