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Facebook Labels Russian Users as ‘Interested in Treason’

In its 747-page response to questions raised by a US committee, Facebook said it had already ended partnerships with 38 of them with seven more due to expire in July and one more in October this year

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Facebook has over 2.2 billion users globally. IANS
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Facebook has apologised for labelling 65,000 Russians as “interested in treason,” putting them at potential probe risk by the Russian law enforcement officials and the government, the media reported.

According to a report in The Guardian on Thursday, the advertising tools algorithmically labelled 65,000 Russians as “interested in treason”.

Facebook later said the label was intended to only identify historical treason.

“Treason was included as a category, given its historical significance. Given it’s an illegal activity, we’ve removed it as an interest category,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying.

The social media giant generally tags users based on their behaviour on its platform for advertisers to select and target people interested in specific topics.

“Treason was included as a category, given its historical significance. Given it’s an illegal activity, we’ve removed it as an interest category,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Guardian.

The labelling raises new concerns over data-driven profiling.

Facebook later said the label was intended to only identify historical treason.
Facebook later said the label was intended to only identify historical treason. Pixabay

and targeting of users on the website, which has already faced criticism for the same tool algorithmically inferring information about users’ race, sexuality and political views despite data protection legislation requiring explicit consent to hold such information.

The Danish Broadcasting Corporation first raised this problem with Facebook.

The issue at hand has “raised a number of important questions about the way Facebook’s advertising systems work. Our goal is to ensure people see ads that are relevant and useful. It’s better for the people using our service, as well as for advertisers,” Facebook said in a statement.

“When we identify misuse of our ads products, we take action. Depending on the violation, we may remove the ad, suspend the ad account or even report the advertiser to law enforcement,” it added.

Also Read: Facebook Fined in U.K. Over Cambridge Analytica Leak

In a latest admission, Facebook said it entered into data-sharing partnership with 52 technology companies, including Chinese companies like Alibaba, Huawei, Lenovo and Oppo.

In its 747-page response to questions raised by a US committee, Facebook said it had already ended partnerships with 38 of them with seven more due to expire in July and one more in October this year.

The UK’s data protection watchdog also 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. (IANS)

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The European Union Warns Facebook Over Consumer’s Data Usage

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration. VOA

The European Union’s consumer protection chief said Thursday she’s growing impatient with Facebook’s efforts to improve transparency with users about their data, warning it could face sanctions for not complying.

EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova turned up the pressure on the social media giant, saying she wants the company to update its terms of service and expects to see its proposed changes by mid-October so they can take effect in December.

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European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova attends an interview with Reuters at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. VOA

“I will not hide that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years and I really want to see, not the progress — it’s not enough for me — but I want to see the results,” Jourova said.

The EU wants Facebook to give users more information about how their data is used and how it works with third party makers of apps, games and quizzes.

“If we do not see the progress the sanctions will have to come,” she said. She didn’t specify punishment, saying they would be applied by individual countries. “I was quite clear we cannot negotiate forever, we just want to see the result.”

The EU has been pressing the U.S. tech company to look at what changes it needs to make to better protect consumers and this year Facebook has had to adapt to new EU data protection rules. The concerns took on greater urgency after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal erupted, in which data on 87 million Facebook users was allegedly improperly harvested.

Jourova said she hopes Facebook will take more responsibility for its nearly 380 million European users.

“We want Facebook to be absolutely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money,” she said.

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An advertisement in The New York Times is displayed on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in New York. Facebook’s CEO apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal with ads in multiple U.S. and British newspapers. VOA

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

The company said it “will continue our close cooperation to understand any further concerns and make appropriate updates.”

Jourova also said U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers.

Airbnb has promised to be fully transparent by either including extra fees in the total price for a booking quoted on its website or notifying users that they might apply, she said.

 

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U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers. Flickr

The company is complying with EU demands spurred by concerns that consumers could be confused by its complicated pricing structure, which could add unexpected costs such as cleaning charges at the end of a holiday.

Airbnb is also changing its terms of service to make it clear that travelers can sue their host if they suffer personal harm or other damages. That’s in response to complaints that its booking system can leave tourists stranded if the rental is canceled when all other arrangements have been already made.

Also Read: EU Regulators Question Online Retailer Amazon’s Data Usage

Airbnb said “guests have always been aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, before booking listings,” and will work with authorities to make it even clearer. (VOA)