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Social Media Giant Facebook Under Lens for ‘Covering up’ Data Scandal

In the UK, the company was fined 500,000 pounds - the maximum fine the British data regulator can impose - over the Cambridge Analytica scandal

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Facebook, data,photos
A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Federal prosecutors in the US are now probing whether top executives of Facebook, mired in data breaches, were aware of data harvesting by the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

According to a report in The Guardian on Sunday, federal prosecutors’ investigation claims that the social media giant has “covered up” the extent of its relationship with Cambridge Analytica.

“The Observer has also learned of claims that a meeting was hosted at the office of Facebook board member and confidant of its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, in the summer of 2016 just as the data firm started working for the Trump campaign,” said the report.

Facebook has been denying for long that it was aware of data harvesting of nearly 87 million users by the British political consultancy firm, who were targeted with political bias via Facebook posts in the 2016 US Presidential election.

A Facebook spokesperson told The New York Times: “We are co-operating with investigators and take these probes seriously.”

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FILE – The Facebook app icon is shown on an iPhone in New York. VOA

In December 2018, Washington DC’s top prosecutor sued Facebook in a first significant move to punish the firm for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine filed the lawsuit that accused Facebook of allowing wholesale scraping of personal data on tens of millions of users.

Also Read- Apple Launches iPad Air, Mini with Keyboard Support for the First Time

Facebook is also being probed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.

In the UK, the company was fined 500,000 pounds – the maximum fine the British data regulator can impose – over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. (IANS)

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Fake Ads on Facebook Spreading Rumours About anti-HIV Drugs

"Facebook and Instagram immediately remove the advertisements outlined above that are harming public health," it added

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Fake ads on Facebook are spreading rumours about the ill-effect of anti-HIV drugs, targeting LGBTQ Facebook and Instagram users and are causing significant harm to public health, a non-profit organization GLAAD has written in a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“We are urgently reaching out to Facebook and Instagram regarding factually inaccurate advertisements which suggest negative health effects of Truvada PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).

“We request that Facebook and Instagram remove the advertisements and also publicly address the misinformation that the platforms allowed to spread,” the non-profit organization said in the letter.

Using Facebook’s and Instagram’s targeted advertising programs, various law firms are attempting to recruit gay and bisexual men who use Truvada PrEP as an HIV preventative to join a lawsuit, claiming that the drug has caused harmful side effects in this patient population, specifically bone density and kidney issues.

“This is despite numerous studies underscoring the safety of TDF in HIV-negative PrEP users,” said GLAAD.

Leading public health officials, medical professionals, and dedicated PrEP navigators and outreach coordinators have shared that these advertisements on Facebook and Instagram are being directly cited by at-risk community members expressing heightened fears about taking PrEP.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that when taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use.

“Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99 per cent when taken daily.”

HIV test price in Delhi, HIV in Delhi, STD test in Delhi
HIV is a virus that impairs the body’s immune system badly and eventually takes the patient closer. Pixabay

By allowing these advertisements to persist on their platforms, said the letter, Facebook and Instagram are convincing at-risk individuals to avoid PrEP, invariably leading to avoidable HIV infections.

“You are harming public health.”

Facebook was yet to comment on the letter.

Facebook’s Advertising Policy regarding misinformation in ads states that “Facebook prohibits ads that include claims debunked by third-party fact checkers or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise.”

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We are the organizations with “particular expertise,” said GLAAD.

They demanded immediate action to ameliorate the harm which has already been caused to those who may be seeking preventative treatment against HIV.

“Facebook and Instagram immediately remove the advertisements outlined above that are harming public health,” it added. (IANS)