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Microsoft faces flak over changes in service agreement

Privacy experts have criticized Microsoft over the changes it made in its service

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Privacy experts have criticized Microsoft over the changes it made in its service through which the company has the right to review user’s content without their consent. The new rules prohibit users from using Microsoft’s services to “publicly display or share inappropriate content or material” including “offensive language” and nudity, Fortune reported.

According to civil rights activist Jonathan Corbett, the term “offensive language” is ambiguous as its definition varies from person to person.

Microsoft’s new privacy policy allows it to see users’ content without their permission.

Trash-talking is a regular occurrence among Xbox Live players. “If I call someone a mean name in Xbox Live, not only will they cancel my account, but also confiscate any funds I’ve deposited in my account?” he asked.

The activist noted that couples who engage in sexy video chats when they’re separated could not only be banned but also monitored. “In 2018, when anyone can be offended by anything, these terms allow Microsoft staff to play unrestrained censor if and when they choose,” Corbett was quoted as saying.

Also Read: Three users sue Facebook over call, text data scraping

“What’s also clear is that they reserve the right to go through your private data and these terms seem to pretty clearly allow them to watch and listen to your Skype calls, so long as they are ‘investigating’ something. The terms don’t appear to require any complaint to be filed against you-just that an employee deciding that they want to investigate,” he added.

The criticism comes at a time when several tech giants, especially Facebook, are facing the heat over users’ privacy and data sharing. On Tuesday, the US Federal Trade Commission confirmed that it was investigating Facebook after the leak of personal and other data on some 50 million users to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

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Users’ data is in great risk with this step. Wikimedia Commons

The German government on Monday said the social media giant would get stricter regulations in the country. Meanwhile, Apple chief Tim Cook and IBM chair Ginni Rometty have also called for more measures to ensure user data protection. IANS

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Facebook Birthday Feature Raises Money For Charity

Stan Jensen, retired from working in sales at a Silicon Valley firm, received a message from Facebook asking if he wanted to mark the occasion of his birthday by dedicating the day to a cause. He did.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration. VOA

When Behnoush Babzani turned 35, she threw a party. She also used her birthday to ask friends to donate to a cause she cares about deeply: helping people who need bone marrow transplants.

She herself received a bone marrow transplant from her brother.

“It’s not that my body was making cancerous cells, it was that my body was making no cells,” she said. “So think about the boy in the bubble. I had to be isolated. I didn’t have an immune system to protect me.”

Using a new feature on Facebook, Babzani in a few clicks posted a photo of herself in a hospital gown when she was receiving treatment and she asked her friends to help raise $350.

New way to raise money for causes

Facebook has always been a convenient way to send birthday wishes to friends. Now users have started taking advantage of a new feature introduced a year ago by the popular social networking site to turn birthday wishes into donations to help a favorite cause.

It’s turned into a huge success for charities. In its first year, Facebook’s birthday fundraiser feature raised more than $300 million for charities around the world. With a new revenue source, some charities are rethinking some of their standard fundraising activities.

The success of the Facebook birthday feature comes as social media users have begun to question how internet services connecting friends and family around the world have also become a mechanism for some to spread hate or influence foreign elections.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, left, accompanied by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are sworn in before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill. VOA

Networks used to spread hate

Along with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, testified in the U.S. Senate recently about steps the company has taken to identify and remove posts that violate the company’s terms of service.

“We were too slow to spot this, and too slow to act. That is on us,” Sandberg told the Senate committee.

Yet, the birthday fundraiser feature shows the power of using social media for good, says Facebook spokeswoman, Roya Winner.

“It gives people who are celebrating a birthday, a chance to turn that day into something that’s bigger than themselves,” she said.

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The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is one of the biggest receivers

Some of the biggest recipients have been St. Jude, the children’s hospital, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society, No Kid Hungry, which focuses on child hunger in the U.S., and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In the days that followed, Behnoush surpassed her goal, raising more than $1,700. Her social network became an army pulling together to do good.

Rescuing sea lions

Two weeks before his 65th birthday, Stan Jensen, retired from working in sales at a Silicon Valley firm, received a message from Facebook asking if he wanted to mark the occasion of his birthday by dedicating the day to a cause. He did.

He turned to 1,400 Facebook friends to help raise money for the Marine Mammal Center in Northern California, where he volunteers once a week helping injured sea lions.

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He turned to 1,400 Facebook friends to help raise money for the Marine Mammal Center in Northern California. Flickr

He raised $2,300.

“It surpassed my wildest dreams,” he said, and he let his friends know they made a difference.

“You’ve bought a ton of fish,” he told them. “You are feeding all the animals we have on site for several days.”

Also Read: At St. Teresa Charity Home, Out of 450 Births only 170 are in Record

His birthday is coming up again, and the sea lions are always hungry. He’s perfecting his pitch: “I know I’m special to you, but I’d like just the cost of a Starbucks coffee. Just $5. Please.” (VOA)