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Parliamentary Panel Doubts Facebook’s Ability to Prevent Misuse of its Platform

Members of the panel were not convinced that Facebook and its employees are behaving neutrally

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

A parliamentary panel on Wednesday raised grave concerns regarding Facebook’s ability to prevent misuse of its platform during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and to proactively help the security agencies.

Sources said Facebook informed the parliamentary committee that it is a “hybrid company” and failed to clearly answer which regulatory framework applies to their content, advertising and marketing operations in India.

The social media company admitted it doesn’t “always get it right” regarding content moderation on its platform, they said.

Facebook Vice President (Global Public Policy) Joel Kaplan appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology to explain what the social media giant and its subsidiaries — WhatsApp and Instagram — were doing to safeguard citizens’ rights across platforms.

“We are grateful to the honorable Parliamentary Committee for giving us the opportunity to show how we are preparing for the Indian elections and helping keep people safe,” he said in a statement.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

The sources here also said that the committee members felt that despite all the apologies for past mistakes that Facebook has made, the social media platform still seems unwilling to be properly scrutinised and transparent.

Questions regarding insensitive tweets and public comments by Facebook employees were asked by the Parliamentary Standing Committee Chairman Anurag Thakur.

According to the sources, Kaplan apologised to the committee for remarks made by Facebook employees on terrorism and the Pulwama attacks.

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“This is the right question for policy makers and companies to be grappling with right now. We are eager to engage on the right regulatory framework, we don’t have all the answers,” he told the panel.

Members of the panel were not convinced that Facebook and its employees are behaving neutrally, the sources added. (IANS)

Next Story

US Judge Orders Facebook to Disclose Malicious Apps’ Data: Report

The social networking giant found that the apps -- primarily social media management and video streaming apps -- retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface)

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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

As part of a probe ordered in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving 87 million users, a US judge has ordered Facebook to hand over data of thousands of apps that violated its user privacy.

Facebook admitted last year that it suspended “tens of thousands” of apps for possible privacy violations.

A Massachusetts judge rejected the social networking giant’s attempts to withhold the key details from state investigators, The Washington Post said in a report on Friday.

“We are disappointed that the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Court didn’t fully consider our arguments on well-established law. We are reviewing our options, including appeal,” a Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone was quoted as saying in the report.

Maura Healey, the Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts, said: “We are pleased that the Court ordered Facebook to tell our office which other app developers may have engaged in conduct like Cambridge Analytica.”

facebook, instant games
FILE – Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

The state of Massachusetts launched the probe last September after Facebook admitted that it had suspended “tens of thousands” of apps on its platform as a result of its review on privacy practices launched following the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

The review, launched in 2018, followed revelations that the political consultancy hijacked personal data on millions of Facebook users and included attorneys, external investigators, data scientists, engineers, policy specialists and others, according to a Facebook statement.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in a record-breaking, $5 billion fine for Facebook from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Also Read: I Fall in Love with India Every Time I Return Here: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

In November 2019, Facebook revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed Facebook users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days”.

The social networking giant found that the apps — primarily social media management and video streaming apps — retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface). (IANS)