Thursday January 17, 2019
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Social Networking Giant Facebook Planned to Sell Users’ Data in 2012

In March, Facebook admitted it collected data from people's calls and texts but said it had prior consent

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Facebook
Facebook commits $300 mn to support local news. Pixabay

Facebook considered selling users’ data to companies some years ago but later decided to act against it, the media reported.

According to Arstechnica.com that viewed an unredacted court document, Facebook staff in 2012 considered charging companies at least $250,000 for “access to one of its primary troves of user data — the Graph API”.

“In April 2014, Facebook changed the way the previously permissive Graph API works.

“The social media giant restricted some data access and eliminated all access to the earlier version by June 2015,” the report said on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that “Facebook employees discussed pushing some advertisers to spend more in return for increased access to user information”.

A failure on Facebook’s part to adequately redact a public court document revealed this information.

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

According to Arstechnica.com, Facebook gave “extended access to the v1.0 of Graph API to numerous companies not only including Nissan and Royal Bank of Canada but now also to Chrysler/Fiat, Lyft, Airbnb, and Netflix, among others”.

A Facebook spokesperson, however, was quoted as saying that Chrysler/Fiat and the other companies, besides Nissan and Royal Bank of Canadaa, were listed erroneously in the court document.

The news comes on the heel of the British Parliament obtaining a set of internal Facebook documents from US software company Six4Three that has sued the social media giant over what it claims are fraudulent breaches of contract.

Facebook, however, defended itself, saying that Six4Three’s “claims have no merit, and we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously”.

Now defunct, Six4Three in a new filing to a California lawsuit in May 2018 alleged that Facebook collected information on users and their friends through its apps.

The filing was part of a suit brought against Facebook in 2015 by Six4Three.

To collect the information, Facebook used several methods including tracking users’ locations, reading their text messages and accessing their photos on phones, according to the allegations as reported by the Guardian.

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

In March, Facebook admitted it collected data from people’s calls and texts but said it had prior consent.

However the Guardian reported that it logged some messages without explicitly notifying users.

Also Read- Google Partners With LG Uplus on VR Content

Six4Three sued Facebook over its app Pikinis, which allowed users to zoom in on bikini photos.

It alleged that Facebook tracked users, sometimes without their express consent. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook To Invest $300Mn In Local News Partnerships, Programs

The idea behind the investments, Brown said, is to look “holistically at how a given publisher can define a business model."

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Facebook, dating
Facebook owned photo-messaging app Instagram already supports the "Unsend" capability VOA

Facebook says it is investing $300 million over the next three years in local news programs, partnerships and other initiatives.

The money will go toward reporting grants for local newsrooms, expanding Facebook’s program to help local newsrooms with subscription business models and investing in nonprofits aimed at supporting local news.

The move comes at a difficult time for the news industry, which is facing falling profits and print readership. Facebook, like Google, has also been partly blamed for the ongoing decline in newspapers’ share of advertising dollars as people and advertisers have moved online.

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A user gets ready to launch Facebook on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. Facebook has made changes to fight false information, including de-emphasizing proven false stories in people’s feeds so others are less likely to see them. VOA

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships, acknowledges the company “can’t uninvent the internet,” but says it wants to work with publishers to help them succeed on and off the social network.

“The industry is going through a massive transition that has been underway for a long time,” she said. “None of us have quite figured out ultimately what the future of journalism is going to look like but we want to be part of helping find a solution.”

Facebook has increased its focus on local news in the past year after starting off 2018 with the announcement that it was generally de-emphasizing news stories and videos in people’s feeds on the social network in favor of posts from their friends.

At the same time, though, the company has been cautiously testing out ways to boost local news stories users are interested in and initiatives to support the broader industry. It launched a feature called “Today In” that shows people local news and information , including missing-person alerts, road closures, crime reports and school announcements, expanding it to hundreds of cities around the U.S. and a few in Australia.

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

The push to support local news comes as Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, tries to shake off its reputation as a hotbed for misinformation and elections-meddling. The company says users have been asking to see more local content that is relevant to them, including news stories as well as community information such as road closings during a snowstorm.

The $300 million investment includes a $5 million grant to the nonprofit Pulitzer Center to launch “Bringing Stories Home,” a fund that will provide local U.S. newsrooms with reporting grants to support coverage of local issues. There’s also a $2 million investment in Report for America as part of a partnership aiming to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across the country over the next five years.

The idea behind the investments, Brown said, is to look “holistically at how a given publisher can define a business model. Facebook can’t be the only answer, the only solution — we don’t want the publisher to be dependent on Facebook.”

Also Read: Democratic Lawmakers Further Investigate Russia’s Involvement In U.S. Election

Fran Wills, CEO of the Local Media Consortium, which is receiving $1 million together with the Local Media Association to help their member newsrooms develop new revenue streams, said she is optimistic the investment will help.

“I think they are recognizing that trusted, credible content is of benefit not only to local publishers but to them,” she said. (VOA)