Monday September 16, 2019
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Facebook Sues New Zealand Firm For Instagram Fraud

In March, Facebook sued many Chinese companies that were found to have been selling likes and followers on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and other social platforms

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FILE - A 3D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of a displayed Russian flag in this photo illustration, Aug. 3, 2018. VOA

In order to “protect the integrity” of its platform, social networking giant Facebook has sued a New Zealand based fraud company that sold inauthentic likes, views and followers for Instagram posts and accounts for an undisclosed amount.

Facebook estimates that the company, Social Media Series Limited, run by Arend Nollen, Leon Hedges and David Pasanen earned around $9.4 million through such social media bot operations that allowed users to buy between 50 and 2,000 fake Instagram likes for between $10 and $99 per week, The Verge reported on Friday.

The social networking giant filed a lawsuit in the US Federal Court against Social Media Series Limited, accusing the company of engaging and profiting in the sale of fake likes, views and followers on Instagram, violating Facebook’s Terms of Use and Community Guidelines and violating the Californian “Computer Fraud” and “Abuse Act” for indulging into fake social engagement activities.

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FILE – The Instagram icon is displayed on a mobile screen in Los Angeles. VOA

“By filing the lawsuit, we are sending a message that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated on our services, and we will act to protect the integrity of our platform,” Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation at Facebook wrote in a blog-post.

Facebook says, previously it has not only warned the New Zealand-based company about their violations in writing, but also suspended accounts associated with the firm, despite which the company continued their illegal practices using a fake company name.

“Inauthentic activity has no place on our platform. That’s why we devote significant resources to detecting and stopping this behaviour, including blocking the creation and use of fake accounts, and using machine learning technology to proactively find and remove inauthentic activity from Instagram,” Romero added.

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In March, Facebook sued many Chinese companies that were found to have been selling likes and followers on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and other social platforms, The Verge added. (IANS)

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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.

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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)