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Twitter Gets Investigated By Ireland Over Data Collection

Both Facebook and Twitter have faced lawsuits for collecting data on links shared in private messages

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Twitter CEO
This April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. According to a study released Jan. 24, 2019, a tiny fraction of Twitter users spread the vast majority of fake news in 2016, with conservatives and older people sharing misinformation more. VOA

 Twitter is reportedly facing an investigation by privacy regulators in Ireland over data collection in its link-shortening system, the media reported.

Privacy regulators in Ireland have launched an investigation into exactly how much data Twitter collects from t.co, its URL-shortening system, The Verge reported late on Saturday.

The investigation stems from a request made by UK professor Michael Veale under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a comprehensive European privacy law under which EU citizens have a right to request any data collected on them from a given company.

Facebook, Twitter
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

But when Veale made that request to Twitter, the company claimed it had no data from its link-shortening service. The professor was sceptical, and wrote to the relevant privacy regulator to see if Twitter was holding back some of his data.

Now, that investigation seems to be underway. The investigation, first reported by Fortune, is confirmed in a letter obtained by The Verge, sent to Veale by the office of the Irish Data Privacy Commissioner, the report said.

Initially designed as a way to save characters in the limited space of a tweet, link-shortening has also proved to be an effective tool at fighting malware and gathering rudimentary analytics.

Twitter
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

Those analytics services can also present a significant privacy risk when used in private messages.

Also Read: Facebook Tackles Fake News, Deletes Almost 800 Accounts

Both Facebook and Twitter have faced lawsuits for collecting data on links shared in private messages, although no wrong-doing was conclusively established in either case. (IANS)

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Social Networking Giant Facebook Allows Ads to Promote Anti-vaccine Content

“We’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon.”

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Facebook, photos
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

Facebook has enabled advertisers to promote anti-vaccine content to nearly nine lakh people interested in “vaccine controversies”, the media reported.

The social networking giant is already facing pressure to stop promoting anti-vaccine propaganda to users amid global concern over vaccine hesitancy and a measles outbreak in the Pacific northwest.

Advertisers pay to reach groups of people on Facebook which include those interested in “Dr Tenpenny on Vaccines”, which refers to anti-vaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny, and “informed consent”, which is language that anti-vaccine propagandists have adopted to fight vaccination laws, The Guardian reported on Friday.

On Thursday, California congressman Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, in letters to Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, urged them to take more responsibility for health-related misinformation on their platforms.

“The algorithms which power these services are not designed to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information, and the consequences of that are particularly troubling for public health issues,” Schiff wrote.

“I am concerned by the report that Facebook accepts paid advertising that contains deliberate misinformation about vaccines,” he added.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

In 2017, ProPublica, a US-based non-profit organisation, revealed that the platform included targeting categories for people interested in a number of anti-Semitic phrases, such as “How to burn Jews” or “Jew hater”.

While the anti-Semitic categories found by ProPublica were automatically generated and were too small to run effective ad campaigns by themselves, the “vaccine controversies” category contains nearly nine lakh people, and “informed consent” from about 340,000. The Tenpenny category only includes 720 people, which is too few to run a campaign.

Facebook declined to comment on the ad targeting categories, but said it was looking into the issue, The Guardian reported.

Also Read- Samsung Competes Apple, Launches Stores and Expand Retail Footprints in US

“We’ve taken steps to reduce the distribution of health-related misinformation on Facebook, but we know we have more to do,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement responding to Schiff’s letter.

“We’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon.” (IANS)