Tuesday January 21, 2020
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US Lawmakers Accuse Facebook of Exposing Sensitive Health Data

A Facebook spokesperson, however, denied the social network giant was misleading users about closed groups

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Facebook , FTC
FILE- In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. A report says Facebook and the FTC are negotiating a "multibillion dollar" fine for the social network's privacy lapses. VOA

A day after Facebook was accused of exposing sensitive health data of its users in “closed” groups, US lawmakers have written a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking him to brief them about the latest privacy concerns.

A complaint filed by a security researcher and others with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday alleged that “Facebook lures users into sharing their personal health information in closed groups”.

“Facebook marketed this product as a Personal Health Record and it then leaked the health data that those patients uploaded to the public,” said the complaint.

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to Zuckerberg on this, saying “the consumer complaint raises a number of concerns about Facebook’s privacy policies and practices”.

“Facebook’s systems lack transparency as to how they are able to gather personal information and synthesize that information into suggestions of relevant medical condition support groups.

“Labelling these groups as closed or anonymous potentially misled Facebook users into joining these groups and revealing more personal information that they otherwise would have,” wrote the lawmakers.

Facebook
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. VOA

The lawmakers said they want a staff briefing from Facebook on this issue no later than March 1.

A Facebook spokesperson, however, denied the social network giant was misleading users about closed groups.

“Facebook is not an anonymous platform; real-name identity is at the center of the experience and always has been.

Also Read- US Hate Groups Increases by 7% in 2 years, Hit Record

“It’s intentionally clear to people that when they join any group on Facebook, other members of that group can see that they are a part of that community, and can see the posts they choose to share with that community,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The issue was first noticed last July, when members of a women’s group with a gene mutation discovered how easily the names and email addresses of members could have been downloaded in bulk, either manually or through a Chrome extension, The Verge reported. (IANS)

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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)