Tuesday March 26, 2019
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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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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.

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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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AI Couldn’t Catch NZ Attack Video Streaming: Facebook

Facebook said it was exploring how AI could help it react faster to this kind of content on a live streamed video

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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

Facing flak for failure to block the live broadcast of the New Zealand terrorist attack last week, Facebook on Thursday said that its Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools were not “perfect” to detect the horrific video.

Vowing to improve its technology, the social networking giant, however, ruled out adding a time delay to Facebook Live, similar to the broadcast delay sometimes used by TV stations.

“There are millions of Live broadcasts daily, which means a delay would not help address the problem due to the sheer number of videos,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s Vice President of Integrity, said in a statement.

“More importantly, given the importance of user reports, adding a delay would only further slow down videos getting reported, reviewed and first responders being alerted to provide help on the ground,” Rosen added.

Strapped with a GoPro camera to his head, the gunman broadcast graphic footage of the New Zealand shooting via Facebook Live for 17 minutes, which was later shared in millions on other social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube.

Fifty people were killed and dozens injured in the shootings at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Avenue Masjid in Christchurch on March 15 after 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant opened indiscriminate firings.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

The circulation of the video on social media platforms attracted widespread criticism from different quarters.

In a letter to CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson asked the technology companies to brief the US Congress on March 27 regarding their response to dissemination of the video on their platforms.

Thompson also warned the technology companies that unless they do better in removing violent content, the Congress could consider policies to bar such content on social media.

Also Read- Finland Probing Nokia Phones Sending Data to China

Facebook on Thursday said it was exploring how AI could help it react faster to this kind of content on a live streamed video.

“AI has made massive progress over the years and in many areas, which has enabled us to proactively detect the vast majority of the content we remove. But it’s not perfect.

“However, this particular video did not trigger our automatic detection systems,” Rosen said, referring to the New Zealand attack video. (IANS)