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Facebook to take safety measures against Online Suicide Challenges

Facebook said that additional resources about suicide prevention and online well-being will also be added to its Safety Center

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Facebook to take safety measures against Online Suicide Challenges
Facebook to take safety measures against Online Suicide Challenges. Pixabay
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New Delhi, India, September 8, 2017:  At a time when reports of suicides linked to the Blue Whale challenge internet game are sending shock waves through the country, Facebook on Friday said it is working with suicide prevention partners to collect phrases, hashtags and group names associated with online challenges encouraging self-harm or suicide.

“We offer resources to people that search for these terms on Facebook,” the social media giant said.

The Blue Whale challenge is said to psychologically provoke players to indulge in daring, self-destructive tasks for 50 days before finally taking the “winning” step of killing themselves.

Facebook said it also removes content that violates our Community Standards, which do not allow the promotion of self-injury or suicide.

Starting on World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, Facebook said it would also connect people in India with information about support groups and suicide prevention tools in News Feed.

“Facebook is a place where people connect and share, and one of the things we have learnt from the mental health partners and academics we have worked with on this issue, is that being connected is a protective factor in suicide prevention,” said Ankhi Das, Director of Public Policy for Facebook in India, South and Central Asia.

Additional resources about suicide prevention and online well-being will also be added to its Safety Center, Facebook said.

With these resources, people can access tools to resolve conflict online, help a friend who is expressing suicidal thoughts or get resources if they are going through a difficult time.

“We care deeply about the safety and millions of people in India who use Facebook to connect with the people who matter to them, and recognize there’s an opportunity with these tools and resources to connect someone who is struggling with a person they already have a relationship with,” Das said.

Facebook’s Safety Center also offers guidance for parents, teenagers, educators, and law enforcement officials to start a conversation about online safety, with localized resources and videos available.

People can also reach out to Facebook when they see something that makes them concerned about a friend’s well-being.

“We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review reports that come in and prioritize the most serious reports of suicide. For those who reach out to us, we provide suggested text to make it easier for people to start a conversation with their friend in need,” Facebook said.

“We provide the friend who has expressed suicidal thoughts information about local help lines, along with other tips and resources,” it added. (IANS)

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Irish Watchdog Opens Inquiry into Latest Privacy Breach of Facebook

The private information of Facebook users was alleged to be used to influence the US 2016 general elections in favour of President Donald Trump's campaign

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Irish watchdog opens inquiry into latest Facebook privacy breach. Pixabay

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has announced a fresh investigation into Facebook, a day after the social networking giant admitted another security breach where nearly 6.8 million users risked their private photos being exposed to third-party apps.

Facebook, which is already facing a probe from the Irish watchdog for a previous privacy leak in September that affected 50 million people, may end up with fine of 4 per cent of its annual turnover – the highest fine under the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), The Independent reported on Saturday.

In Facebook’s case, the fine could amount to nearly 1.5 billion euros.

“The Irish DPC has received a number of breach notifications from Facebook since the introduction of the GDPR on May 25, 2018,” a spokesperson for the watchdog was quoted as saying.

The fresh move came after Facebook on Friday said more than 1,500 apps built by 876 developers may have also been affected by the bug that exposed users’ unshared photos during a 12-day-period from September 13 to 25.

Facebook, in a statement, said it has fixed the breach and will roll out next week “tools for app developers that will allow them to determine which people using their app might be impacted by this bug”.

“Currently, we believe this may have affected up to 6.8 million users and up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers. The only apps affected by this bug were ones that Facebook approved to access the photos API and that individuals had authorised to access their photos.

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

“We’re sorry this happened,” said Facebook, adding that it will also notify the people potentially impacted by this bug via an alert.

The disclosure is another example of Facebook’s failure to properly protect users’ privacy that may drew more criticism of its privacy policy.

Earlier this month, Italian regulators fined Facebook 10 million euros for selling users’ data without informing them.

The competition watchdog handed Facebook two fines totalling 10 million euros, “also for discouraging users from trying to limit how the company shares their data”.

The Irish watchdog, which is Facebook’s lead privacy regulator in Europe, in October opened a formal investigation into a data breach which affected 50 million users.

Also Read- Prime Minister Narendra Modi Extends Condolences to France Terror Attack Victims

“The investigation will examine Facebook’s compliance with its obligation under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure the security and safeguarding of the personal data it processes,” said the DPC.

The world’s largest social media network has been grilled over the past year for its mishandling of user data, including its involvement in a privacy scandal in March when Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy firm, was accused of illegally accessing the data of more than 87 million Facebook users without their consent.

The private information of Facebook users was alleged to be used to influence the US 2016 general elections in favour of President Donald Trump’s campaign. (IANS)