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UK Parliamentary Report Highlights Facebook Acting as ‘Digital Gangsters’

The report highlights Facebook documents obtained by the committee relating to a Californian court case brought by US-based app developer Six4Three.

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Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

Lashing out at Facebook for behaving like “digital gangsters” in the online world, a UK parliamentary committee concluded that the social networking giant intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws.

In its final report on Monday after an 18-month investigation into disinformation and “fake news”, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee of the UK Parliament called for stricter regulation to make Facebook end spread of disinformation on its platform.

“Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use everyday,” Damian Collins, Chair of the DCMS Committee, said in a statement.

The report highlights Facebook documents obtained by the committee relating to a Californian court case brought by US-based app developer Six4Three.

Facebook
The now-defunct start-up Six4Three alleged that Facebook collected information on users and their friends through its apps. Pixabay

Through scrutiny of internal Facebook emails between 2011 and 2015, the report found evidence to indicate that the company was willing to override its users’ privacy settings in order to transfer data to some app developers.

The investigation found that Facebook was willing to charge high prices in advertising to some developers, for the exchange of data, and starve some developers – such as Six4Three – of that data, contributing to them losing their business.

The now-defunct start-up Six4Three alleged that Facebook collected information on users and their friends through its apps.

The report also named Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who refused summons to appear before the committee three times.

“By choosing not to appear before the Committee and by choosing not to respond personally to any of our invitations, Mark Zuckerberg has shown contempt towards both the UK Parliament and the ‘International Grand Committee’, involving members from nine legislatures from around the world,” the report said.

 

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The report also named Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who refused summons to appear before the committee three times. Pixabay

“Mark Zuckerberg continually fails to show the levels of leadership and personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies,” Collins said.

Launched in 2017, the inquiry intensified after the Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting scandal became public.

 

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In the 108-page report, the UK lawmakers accused Facebook of continuing to prioritise shareholders’ profits over users’ privacy rights.

“We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee’s recommendation for electoral law reform,” Karim Palant, Facebook’s UK public policy manager, was quoted as saying by The Guardian. (IANS)

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India: CSC Partners with Facebook to Provide Digital Skill Training to Women Village Level Entrepreneurs

India has made dramatic strides in expanding access to affordable mobile broadband in the last few years

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Facebook, Digital Skills, Women
In the first year of this project, Facebook, in collaboration with CSC Academy, plans to provide tools and digital skills training to more than 250,000 people across over 3,000 villages in 10 states in India. Pixabay

Common Services Centre (CSC), which serves as access point for the delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, on Tuesday announced a partnership with social media giant Facebook to provide digital skill training to women village level entrepreneurs.

In the first year of this project, Facebook, in collaboration with CSC Academy, plans to provide tools and digital skills training to more than 250,000 people across over 3,000 villages in 10 states in India.

“India has made dramatic strides in expanding access to affordable mobile broadband in the last few years. We are excited to partner with CSC Academy to create a programme that will build on this success as well as the outstanding community networks that CSC has built over the years,” Ajit Mohan, Managing Director, Facebook India, said while speaking at the CSC Diwas celebration here.

As part of the project CSC will identify and nominate 5,000 women village level entrepreneurs across 10 states – Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telangana, Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Facebook, Digital Skills, Women
Common Services Centre (CSC), which serves as access point for the delivery of various electronic services to villages in India. Pixabay

These women entrepreneurs will be given training sessions on leveraging various Facebook tools to not just build and grow their business but also on how to train people on the ground.

These entrepreneurs will further help build awareness to ensure that the community is able to learn from each other.

CSC along with Facebook will co-create a curriculum (online and offline) around digital marketing skills and online safety in over 14 regional languages.

“CSC has unleashed entrepreneurs across villages in India, many of them women. With the #DigitalBeti programme, our objective is to arm these village level entrepreneurs with similar digital tool kits that large corporations have access to, and unleash their full potential and their ability to create economic opportunities for themselves and their communities,” Mohan said.

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From just 13,000 women village level entrepreneurs in 2014, today more than 73,000 women entrepreneurs are working across 3.66 lakh CSC centres, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. (IANS)