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Facebook Fined in U.K. Over Cambridge Analytica Leak

Over the period, it emerged that Facebook had failed to ensure that Cambridge Analytica had deleted personal data harvested about millions of its members in breach of the platform's rules

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LinkedIn faced probe for Facebook ads targeting 18 mn non-members. Pixabay
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UK’s data protection watchdog plans to slap a fine of 500,000 pounds ($662,501) on Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal. This is the highest permitted fine under Britain’s data protection law.

In its investigation, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that Facebook broke British law by failing to safeguard people’s information, and by not revealing how people’s data was harvested by others.

Along with Cambridge Analytica, Facebook has been the focus of the investigation since February when evidence emerged that an app had been used to harvest the data of an estimated 87 million Facebook users across the world.

In its latest progress report, the regulator also said it intended to take criminal action against Cambridge Analytica’s defunct parent company SCL Elections, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

The regulator also said Aggregate IQ — which worked with the Vote Leave campaign — must stop processing UK citizens’ data. It has also written to UK’s 11 main political parties compelling them to have their data protection practices audited.

This, the Information Commissioner’s Office explained, was in part because it was concerned they could have bought lifestyle information about members of the public from data brokers, who might have not obtained the necessary consent.

In particular, ICO raised concern about one data broker: Emma’s Diary. The firm offers medical advice to pregnant women and gift packs after babies are born.

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Facebook mobile app. Pixabay

ICO said it was concerned about how transparent the firm had been about its political activities. The Labour Party had confirmed using the firm, but did not provide other details at this point beyond saying it intended to take some form of regulatory action.

The service’s owner Lifecycle Marketing could not be reached for comment. But it has told the Guardian that it does not agree with the ICO’s findings.

The ICO’s action comes 16 months after it began the ongoing probe into political campaigns’ use of personal data during the Brexit referendum campaign.

Over the period, it emerged that Facebook had failed to ensure that Cambridge Analytica had deleted personal data harvested about millions of its members in breach of the platform’s rules.

Also Read: Facebook’s Helicopter Drone Project Got Grounded: Report

Before its collapse, Cambridge Analytica insisted it had indeed wiped the data after Facebook’s erasure request in December 2015.

But ICO said it had seen evidence that copies of the data had been shared with others.

“This potentially brings into question the accuracy of the deletion certificates provided to Facebook,” it said. (IANS)

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Facebook Dismisses Report of Journalists’ Frustration With Fact-Checking

The report quoted another factchecker as saying that he was demoralised

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A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Facebook has dismissed a media report that claimed journalists working as factcheckers for the social media giant are frustrated and are ending partnerships as the company failed to use their expertise to combat misinformation.

A report in The Guardian on Thursday said outside reporters have lost trust in Facebook, “which has repeatedly refused to release meaningful data about the impacts of their work”.

Reacting to the report, Meredith Carden, Head of News Integrity Partnerships at Facebook, said the Guardian story presents several inaccuracies.

“Contrary to a claim in the story, we absolutely do not ask fact-checkers to prioritise debunking content about our advertisers,” Carden said in statement.

The report, she added, is based primarily on the account of a single fact-checker who has not been involved with the Facebook fact-checking program for six months.

“We have been committed to fighting misinformation for years now and have strong relationships with our third-party fact-checking partners — we now have 35 partners in 24 countries around the world,” said Facebook.

The report quoted Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of Snopes, a factchecking site that has partnered with Facebook for two years, as saying that the social network is using journalists for handling crisis PR.

“They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… They clearly don’t care,” said Binkowski, who now runs her own fact-checking site which does not partner with Facebook.

According to Facebook, it values the ongoing partnerships and the work that these journalists do.

The third-party fact checking programme was launched in 2016 after the US Presidential election.

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

“We’re planning to expand the programme to even more countries in 2019,” said Carden.

According to Facebook, three separate researches have found that the overall volume of false news on Facebook is decreasing since it put up third-party fact-checking programme and other anti-misinformation measures in place.

However, The Guardian report said the company has ignored journalists’ concerns.

Some newsroom leaders said “they had grown increasingly resentful of Facebook, especially following revelations that the company had paid a consulting firm to go after opponents by publicising their association with billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros”.

A New York Times investigation in November suggested that the social network hired a Republican-owned political consulting and PR firm that “dug up dirt on its competitors” including Soros.

Also Read- Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt Won Favourite Actors at Kids Choice Awards

Reacting to the report, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg denied they had any prior knowledge about this firm.

“It was later revealed that Sheryl Sandberg had directed her staff to research Soros’s financial interests after he publicly criticised the company,” the Guardian report said.

The report quoted another factchecker as saying that he was demoralised.

“They are a terrible company and, on a personal level, I don’t want to have anything to do with them,” said the anonymous factchecker. (IANS)