Monday January 21, 2019
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US Lawmakers Demand To Change The CEO Of Facebook

On Tuesday, US Lawmakers demanded to change the Facebook's CEO

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Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday demanded better personal data protection at Facebook, whose CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, weathered heated questions from two Senate panels over data breaches affecting tens of millions of users of the mammoth social media platform.

“There was clearly a breach of consumer trust and a likely improper transfer of data,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican.

“If you and other social media companies do not get your act in order, none of us are going to have any privacy,” the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee, Bill Nelson of Florida, said. “If Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot stop the privacy invasions, then we are going to have to — we, the Congress.”

A banner of "Fix Facebook" being raised by the Avaaz group.
Avaaz campaigners hold a banner in front of 100 cardboard cutouts of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington. VOA

Zuckerberg was called to testify after news emerged that the personal data of millions of Facebook users had been harvested without their knowledge by Cambridge Analytica, a British voter-profiling company that President Donald Trump’s campaign hired to target likely supporters in 2016.

Zuckerberg repeatedly has apologized and promised to make amends, and did so again on Capitol Hill. The social media mogul spoke with pride about Facebook’s ability to connect people for the common good, but he admitted the company had not been proactive in safeguarding its users from misuse of data or those sowing malign messages.

“It was my mistake, and I’m sorry,” Zuckerberg said. “I started Facebook, I run it. And I’m responsible for what happens here.”

Also Read: Jack Ma asks Zuckerberg to ‘fix’ Facebook

Earlier this week, Facebook began notifying 87 million users, most of them in the United States, whose personal data might have been mined by Cambridge Analytica.

Zuckerberg pledged that Facebook would scrutinize and, when necessary, block other firms from gaining access to the platform and empower its 2.2 billion users to wall off their apps from third parties.

Senators also sought assurances that Facebook and other social media platforms are blocking fake profiles originating in Russia that spread divisive messages to sow discord during and after the 2016 U.S. election.

People protesting against Facebook data breaches.
Members of the audience hold up signs and wear sunglasses that read “Stop Spying” before CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of two Senate committees on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

“We will be verifying the identity of any advertiser who’s running a political ad,” Zuckerberg said. “And we’re also going to do that for [Facebook user] pages … that will make it significantly harder for Russian interference efforts or other inauthentic efforts to spread misinformation through the network.”

Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy noted that misuse of Facebook extends far beyond the United States, saying that Facebook has been used to spread hate speech against Burma’s Rohingya minority.

“Recently U.N. investigators blamed Facebook for playing a role in inciting possible genocide in Myanmar, and there has been genocide there,” Leahy said.

“We’re working on this,” Zuckerberg responded. “We’re hiring dozens of more Burmese language content reviewers. Because hate speech is very language-specific, it’s hard to [detect] it without people who speak the local language, and we need to ramp up our effort there dramatically.”

Until now, social media companies have been largely self-regulating. Several senators said Congress must consider steps to protect users of the platforms.

“What do we tell our constituents, given what’s happened here, why we should let you self-regulate?” South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham asked.

Zuckerberg needed to be present at the court for the hearing of data breach matter of Facebook.
Zuckerberg at a court proceeding.

“My position is not that there should be no regulation,” Zuckerberg said. “I think the real question, as the internet becomes more important in people’s lives, is: What is the right regulation?”

The Facebook CEO promised to submit proposals for regulating social media companies and work with lawmakers to craft legislation.

Facebook faces a backlash from some consumer groups. Members of #DeleteFacebook gathered outside Tuesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill.

“We knew that they had your data, but the extent of what is being breached is a concern for me. What do they know about my children and my grandchildren?” said a woman who identified herself as Alison.

Zuckerberg is to testify before a House panel Wednesday.

Lawmakers pledged to hold separate hearings focusing on Cambridge Analytica in the near future.  VOA

Next Story

Facebook Set to Launch a Petitions Feature For its Users

"There are some limits already: users can't tag President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence," said another report in The Verge

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Facebook, data,photos
A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Facebook is set to launch a petitions feature called “Community Actions” that will let users request change from their local and national elected officials and government agencies.

According to a report in TechCrunch late Sunday, “Community Actions” will be a petition feature in Facebook’s News Feed and reach users in the US on Tuesday and other markets later.

“Users can add a title, description, and image to their ‘Community Action’, and tag relevant government agencies and officials who’ll be notified,” the report added.

Supporters for any given petition will be able to discuss the topic with fellow supporters, creating events and fundraisers.

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

However, the “Community Actions” feature could also provide “vocal interest groups a bully pulpit from which to pressure politicians and bureaucrats with their fringe agendas”.

According to a Facebook spokesperson, “Community Action” is another way for people to advocate for changes in their communities and partner with elected officials and government agencies on solutions.

Also Read- Nepal’s Central Bank Announces Ban of Indian Notes Above Rs 100

Since bad actors can misuse such features, Facebook will use “a combination of user flagging, proactive algorithmic detection, and human enforcers,” to safeguard the “Community Action” feature from falling into wrong hands.

“There are some limits already: users can’t tag President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence,” said another report in The Verge. (IANS)