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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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Facebook faces lawsuit for hiding job ads from women. 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.

Facebook mobile app
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.

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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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Job Seeking Women Sue Facebook For Posting Job Ads Just For Men

It's important to note that online platforms like Facebook are generally not liable for content published by others

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Facebook faces lawsuit for hiding job ads from women. Pixabay

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing Facebook on behalf of three women job seekers who accused the social media giant of posting ads that are shown only to men.

The ACLU, along with the Communications Workers of America and the employment law firm Outten & Golden LLP, on Tuesday filed charges with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Facebook.

The women job seekers accused Facebook for targeting ads for jobs in male-dominated fields to younger male Facebook users only — excluding all women and non-binary individuals, as well as older male users.

“The case is brought on behalf of three job seekers and the Communications Workers of America, on behalf of a proposed class of millions of job applicants. It alleges that these job advertising practices violate federal civil rights laws prohibiting sex and age discrimination in employment,” Galen Sherwin from ACLU Women’s Rights Project wrote in a blog post.

Facebook requires users to identify their sex in the binary categories of male or female in order to even open an account.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“While users can later change their sex designation and select from among a few dozen options to describe their gender identity, Facebook still requires users to choose gendered pronouns (male, female, or neutral), which it then offers to advertisers for purposes of gender-based ad targeting.

“Facebook delivers the ad accordingly, including a notice that the user is seeing the ad because of their sex,” the ACLU said.

The lawsuit claimed that Facebook let 10 employers, including a police department, to run advertisements excluding women and nonbinary users.

Facebook responded to the allegations, saying there is no place for discrimination on Facebook.

“It’s strictly prohibited in our policies, and over the past year, we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse,” Download reported, quoting a Facebook spokesperson.

Facebook is “reviewing the complaint and look forward to defending our practices,” the spokesperson added.

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Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

According to the ACLU, Facebook also offers advertisers the ability to use what it calls “Lookalike Targeting,” which allows advertisers to target customers with traits similar to those of their customer base.

It’s important to note that online platforms like Facebook are generally not liable for content published by others.

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“But in this case, Facebook is doing much more than merely publishing content created by others. It has built the architecture for this discriminatory marketing framework, enabled and encouraged advertisers to use it, and delivered the gender-based ads according to employers’ sex-based preferences,” the ACLU emphasised.

Facebook must change its platform to prevent advertisers from exploiting user data for discriminatory purposes, and ensure once and for all that all users, regardless of gender, race, age, or other protected status, are given a fair shake, said the ACLU. (IANS)