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Facebook Still Evasive Over Cambridge Analytica And Fake News: UK Lawmakers

Collins says the committee will continue to push Facebook 'until the public get the answers they deserve

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LinkedIn faced probe for Facebook ads targeting 18 mn non-members. Pixabay

Facebook’s response to questions about Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of its data continues to “display a pattern of evasive behaviour”, according to the chair of a British parliamentary committee.

“Facebook continues to display a pattern of evasive behaviour — a pattern which has emerged over the course of our inquiry. “In some cases, these answers even show inconsistencies in their evidence to us,” Damian Collins, chair of a British parliamentary committee was quoted as saying by CNET late Friday.

Collins has outlined a number of areas where Facebook’s answers have been lacking, including refusing accountability for fraudulent ads on the site, not sharing country-by-country revenues, digital political advertising and refusal to share how many resources are being devoted to security.

“Collins says the committee will continue to push Facebook ‘until the public get the answers they deserve’.

Facebook mobile app
Facebook mobile app. Pixabay

“The MP has been fighting to have Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg face his committee and is looking into issuing a formal summons that would legally compel him to do so,” the report added.

This comes a day after a security researcher revealed that a german personality quiz app was exposing the private data of about 120 million Facebook users it had amassed to third-parties online since 2016.

The company behind “NameTests”, a German app maker Social Sweethearts, created popular social quizzes like “Which Disney Princess Are You?” and distributed them on the social networking site.

Also Read: Google, Facebook Have Been Using “Dark Patterns”: Report

Facebook was hit by a major data scandal in March after Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting company, was accused of harvesting data of up to 87 million Facebook users without permission to help politicians, including US President Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign.

Appearing before the US Congress, the company CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the lawmakers that his own personal data was part of the users’ data that was “improperly shared” with the British political consultancy firm. (IANS)

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Social Networking Giant Facebook Allows Ads to Promote Anti-vaccine Content

“We’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon.”

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Facebook, photos
This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

Facebook has enabled advertisers to promote anti-vaccine content to nearly nine lakh people interested in “vaccine controversies”, the media reported.

The social networking giant is already facing pressure to stop promoting anti-vaccine propaganda to users amid global concern over vaccine hesitancy and a measles outbreak in the Pacific northwest.

Advertisers pay to reach groups of people on Facebook which include those interested in “Dr Tenpenny on Vaccines”, which refers to anti-vaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny, and “informed consent”, which is language that anti-vaccine propagandists have adopted to fight vaccination laws, The Guardian reported on Friday.

On Thursday, California congressman Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, in letters to Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, urged them to take more responsibility for health-related misinformation on their platforms.

“The algorithms which power these services are not designed to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information, and the consequences of that are particularly troubling for public health issues,” Schiff wrote.

“I am concerned by the report that Facebook accepts paid advertising that contains deliberate misinformation about vaccines,” he added.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

In 2017, ProPublica, a US-based non-profit organisation, revealed that the platform included targeting categories for people interested in a number of anti-Semitic phrases, such as “How to burn Jews” or “Jew hater”.

While the anti-Semitic categories found by ProPublica were automatically generated and were too small to run effective ad campaigns by themselves, the “vaccine controversies” category contains nearly nine lakh people, and “informed consent” from about 340,000. The Tenpenny category only includes 720 people, which is too few to run a campaign.

Facebook declined to comment on the ad targeting categories, but said it was looking into the issue, The Guardian reported.

Also Read- Samsung Competes Apple, Launches Stores and Expand Retail Footprints in US

“We’ve taken steps to reduce the distribution of health-related misinformation on Facebook, but we know we have more to do,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement responding to Schiff’s letter.

“We’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon.” (IANS)

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