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Facebook Restricts External Campaigners From Accessing Political Ads

"Anyone who wants to run an ad in India related to politics will need to first confirm their identity and location, and give more details about who placed the ad," said the social networking giant

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

At a time when over a third of the world’s population is set to vote in coming months including in India, Facebook has restricted external transparency campaigners from accessing and scrutinising political ads on its platform.

According to a Guardian report late Sunday, the social media giant has changed its codes that restrict external groups’ ability to collect data on why users are being targeted by political campaigners.

The third-party monitoring tools have helped expose several advertising tactics used by politicians in the past, the report added.

Two such external agencies are the British group WhoTargetsMe and the US investigative journalism website ProPublica.

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Zuckerberg gears up for debates on public forums. VOA

“Ten days ago, our software stopped working, and efforts to fix it have proved much harder than before,” WhoTargetsMe Co-founder Sam Jeffers was quoted as saying.

According to Facebook, the changes were part of a crackdown on third party plug-ins.

“We regularly improve the ways we prevent unauthorised access by third parties like web browser plug-ins to keep people’s information safe,” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Data collected by WhoTargetsMe has helped show how the Conservatives were focusing on personal criticism of shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott during the end of the 2017 campaign.

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

Facebook’s move comes in a year “when over a third of the world’s population has the opportunity to vote, with elections across the EU, India, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Israel and Ukraine to name a few,” said Jeffers.

A similar ad monitoring tool by ProPublica in the past highlighted “negative stories for the social network such as exposing how oil companies are sidestepping Facebook’s new ad transparency tools among other issues”.

Also Read- Here’s How You Can Give Your Airport Look a Fashionable Twist

Facing intense scrutiny over the misuse of its platform globally during elections, Facebook in December announced fresh steps to increase ad transparency and defend against foreign interference ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in India.

“Anyone who wants to run an ad in India related to politics will need to first confirm their identity and location, and give more details about who placed the ad,” said the social networking giant. (IANS)

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Vodafone Quits Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency Project: Report

The Libra project, which is still in development, aims for the launch of its first version this year

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Vodafone logo. Pixabay

Vodafone has become the latest big player who have decided to quit Facebook’s controversial Libra cryptocurrency project.

Vodafone joins PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Mercado Pago, eBay, Stripe and Booking Holdings in withdrawing from the controversial project — and is the first company to exit after the Libra Association was formed in October last year, coindesk reported on Tuesday.

The companies left owing to concerns about heightened regulatory scrutiny.

“We can confirm that Vodafone is no longer a member of the Libra Association. Although the makeup of the Association members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient,” the Libra Association said in a statement.

“The Association is continuing the work to achieve a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of the Libra payment system.”

Despite top-notch firms pulling out, Facebook and 20 partner organisations formally joined the digital currency Libra project in Geneva in October.

The Libra Association said that more than 1,500 entities have expressed an interest in joining the digital currency project.

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Representations of virtual currency are displayed in front of the Libra logo in this illustration picture. VOA

Several US senators have opposed Facebook’s digital coin, arguing that the social networking giant has been irresponsible with user data privacy. They have even called the digital cryptocurrency Libra “delusional” and “dangerous”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in October about Libra, defending the idea, but acknowledging the struggles left to overcome.

Libra has failed in its current form, according to the President of Switzerland.

Also Read: Digital Transactions in Delhi-NCR Grew by 235% Last Year: Razorpay

In a media interview, Swiss President and Finance Minister Ueli Maurer stated that Libra does not have a chance of being successful “because the basket of currencies that is deposited in this currency is not accepted by the national (central) banks”.

“The project in this form has actually failed,” Maurer was quoted as saying.

The Libra project, which is still in development, aims for the launch of its first version this year. (IANS)