Tuesday September 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 testing 'LOL' app to woo kids, experts wary. 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 Offers Help To India On Fake News Traceability On WhatsApp

With India pressing for traceability of WhatsApp messages to check the spread of fake news, Nick Clegg, Facebook Vice President, Global Affairs and Communications, has offered alternative ways to help the country

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Over 300 million of the 550 million smartphone and broadband users in the country are low on literacy and digital literacy. Pixabay

With India pressing for traceability of WhatsApp messages to check the spread of fake news, Nick Clegg, Facebook Vice President, Global Affairs and Communications, has offered alternative ways to help the country, without any reference towards tracing the origin of the WhatsApp messages.

WhatsApp had categorically said in the past that the government’s demand to trace the origin of messages on its platform is not possible as it “undermines the privacy of the people”.

Clegg who was the UK’s former Deputy Prime Minister before joining Facebook, visited India last week and met several senior government officials, including IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and offered to assist law enforcement agencies in all possible ways like Artificial Intelligence-driven data analytics and access to “meta-data”.

“Facebook cares deeply about the safety of people in India and Nick’s meetings this week provided opportunities to discuss our commitment to supporting privacy and security in every app we provide and how we can continue to work productively with the government of India towards these shared goals,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

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When a message is sent from WhatsApp, the identity of the originator can also be revealed along with the message. Pixabay

Last December, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed changes to Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000.

The proposed regulations require a company to “enable tracing out of originators of information on its platform as required by legally authorised government agencies”.

The end-to-end encryption feature in WhatsApp makes it difficult for law enforcement authorities to find out the culprit behind a misinformation campaign.

The mobile messaging platform with over 400 million users has already called the proposed changes “overbroad”.

“Attributing messages on WhatsApp would undermine the end-to-end encryption, and its private nature, leading to possibilities of being misused,” a company spokesperson had earlier said.

WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook has over 300 million users in India.

WhatsApp in February stressed that some of the proposed government regulations for social media companies operating in India are threatening the very existence of the app in its current form.

“Of the proposed regulations, the one which concerns us the most is the emphasis on traceability of messages,” Carl Woog, WhatsApp’s Head of Communications, had told IANS.

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The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, Facebook has filed a petition to transfer the case looking at enforcing traceability on WhatsApp to the Supreme Court. It is currently sub judice in the Madras High Court.

Tamil Nadu, however, is aiming to get Facebook’s transfer petition dismissed by the Supreme Court.

A professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras recently stressed that the issue can be easily resolved without diluting end-to-end encryption and affecting the privacy of users.

“If WhatsApp says it is not technically possible to show the originator of the message, I can show that it is possible,” said V. Kamakoti.

ALSO READ: Youtube Changes Counts Views To Reduce Inflating Growth Hacks

When a message is sent from WhatsApp, the identity of the originator can also be revealed along with the message.

So the message and the identity of the creator can be seen only by the recipient.

“When that recipient forwards the message, his/her identity can be revealed to the next recipient,” he said, adding that as per the court ruling, those who forward a harmful message can also be held responsible in certain cases. (IANS)