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Facebook Tightens Rules For Paid Ads, Creates Oversight Board

Facebook has no plans to swap its ads-only business model for a fee-paying service

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A photo shows the Facebook app icon on an iPhone in New York, Feb. 19, 2014. VOA

Facebook on Monday laid out plans for an independent content oversight board with the power to overturn company decisions on user posts, aimed at addressing concerns over misinformation and abusive behavior on the platform.

The board’s 40 members would select cases to review as the world’s largest social media network tries to crack down on harassment, incitement of violence and the spread of false information without infringing freedom of speech.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said that Facebook should not make such decisions, but defer to an independent body of technology and human rights experts free of commercial influences.

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Facebook ‘tricked’ kids, parents to spend money on ‘free’ games: Report. VOA

Facebook will select inaugural members for three-year terms, but they will independently decide on future membership, Facebook proposed in a draft charter.

Details about the board’s makeup and appeals process will be finalized after a series of workshops over the next six months, wrote Nick Clegg, Facebook recently appointed head of global affairs, in a blog post introducing the charter.

At a news conference in Brussels, Clegg also said the company will strengthen rules and safeguards around political advertisements to prevent foreign interference in elections, including those in Europe this year.

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Conference workers speak in front of a demo booth at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, in San Jose, California, April 18, 2017. VOA

Facebook has faced pressure from regulators and the public after last year’s revelation that British consultancy Cambridge Analytical had improperly acquired data on millions of U.S. users to target election advertising.

Fears about misinformation and interference have intensified with elections due this year for the European Parliament and several EU countries including Belgium and Finland.

“We will require those wanting to run political and issue ads to be authorized, and we will display a ‘paid for by’ disclaimer on those ads,” Clegg said.

Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister hired by Facebook in October last year, said the new tools to be launched in late March aim to help protect the integrity of European Union elections due to be held this spring.

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Facebook staring at bigger problems this year, warns analyst. VOA

Facebook said the transparency tools for electoral ads would be expanded globally before the end of June, while the tools would be in launched in India in February before its elections and in Ukraine and Israel before polls in both.

“We now have more than 30,000 people working on safety and security across the company, three times as many as we had in 2017,” the company said in a statement.

The new tools are similar to those adopted for the U.S. mid-term elections, Clegg said, with all political ads stored in a publicly searchable library for up to seven years.

This will contain information such as the amount of money spent and the number of impressions displayed, who paid for them and the demographics of those who saw them, including age, gender and location.

The new tools will also cover ‘issue ads’ which do not explicitly back one candidate or political party but which focus on highly politicized topics like immigration.

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A smartphone user displays a Facebook newsfeed .VOA

Defense Centers

Facebook said it would also set up two new regional operations centers focused on monitoring election-related content in its Dublin and Singapore offices.

“These teams will add a layer of defenses against fake news, hate speech and voter suppression,” it said Clegg also addressed allegations that Facebook sells user data, saying this was not the case.

“Selling people’s information to advertisers would not only be the wrong thing to do, it would undermine the way we do business, because it would reduce the unique value of our service to advertisers,” he said.

Also Read: Revenue Growth Of Ads Slowing Down in The U.S: Report

Facebook has no plans to swap its ads-only business model for a fee-paying service, Clegg said, responding to calls by some as a way to stave off privacy issues.

“We want Facebook to be a universal service. We believe that anyone should be able to connect to anyone else. The best way to do this is to offer the service for free — and that’s what the advertising model allows us to do,” he said. (VOA)

Next Story

Experts Urging Users to Change their Facebook Passwords and Turn on Two-Factor Authentication

Facebook in a blog post on Thursday said that it had fixed the issue and will be notifying everyone whose passwords it found stored this way

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Facebook in a blog post on Thursday said that it had fixed the issue and will be notifying everyone whose passwords it found stored this way. Pixabay

After a report revealed around 200-600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by over 20,000 Facebook employees, cybersecurity experts are urging users to change their passwords and turn on the two-factor authentication (2FA).

So far the inquiry has uncovered archives with plain text user passwords dating back to 2012, according to the report published this week by KrebsOnSecurity, a blog run by journalist Brian Krebs.

Facebook in a blog post on Thursday said that it had fixed the issue and will be notifying everyone whose passwords it found stored this way.

“It’s perfectly possible that no passwords at all fell into the hands of any crooks as a result of this. But if any passwords did get into the wrong hands then you can expect them to be abused,” said Paul Ducklin, Senior Technologist at global cybersecurity firm Sophos.

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Facebook said it had found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed the passwords. Pixabay

“Hashed passwords still need to be cracked before they can be used; plaintext passwords are the real deal without any further hacking or cracking needed,” Ducklin added.

Facebook said it had found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed the passwords.

“While the details of the incident are still emerging, this is likely an accidental programming error that led to the logging of plain text credentials. That said, this should never have happened and Facebook needs to ensure that no user credentials or data were compromised as a result of this error,” said John Shier, Senior Security Advisor at Sophos.

“This is also another reminder for people who are still reusing passwords or using weak passwords to change their Facebook password to something strong and unique and to turn on two-factor authentication (2FA),” Shier said. Turning on 2FA would mean that a password alone is not enough for crooks to raid your account, Ducklin added.

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Turning on 2FA would mean that a password alone is not enough for crooks to raid your account, Ducklin added. Pixabay

Facebook also asked people to change their passwords “out of an abundance of caution”.

Earlier this month, Facebook came under scrutiny for using phone numbers provided for security reasons — like two-factor authentication (2FA) — for things like advertising and making users searchable by their phone numbers across its different platforms.

ALSO READ: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Receives Death Threats on Social Media

“Another security measure users can implement to strengthen their digital security postures is to use different passwords for different online accounts. Don’t use your Facebook password for any other login, particularly for personal/professional email accounts or online banking,” said Sanjay Katkar, Joint Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer, Quick Heal Technologies Limited.

“It is also a good practice to log out whenever not using Facebook, even on mobile devices,” Katkar added. (IANS)