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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
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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

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Facebook Introduces New Tools to Protect Elections Globally

In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Senate, saying they were too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference

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Facebook
Facebook expands security tools to protect elections globally. Pixabay

In order to further secure candidates and campaign staff vulnerable to hackers and nation-state actors during the elections, Facebook has introduced additional tools to protect political campaigns in the US and around the world.

The social media giant has launched a pilot programme to expand its existing protections for users associated with US political campaigns ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections.

“Candidates for federal or statewide office, as well as staff members and representatives from federal and state political party committees, can add additional security protections to their Pages and accounts,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, wrote in a blog post late on Monday.

“We’ll help officials adopt our strongest account security protections, like two-factor authentication, and monitor for potential hacking threats,” Gleicher added.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

Over the past year, the company has invested in new technology and more people to stay ahead of bad actors who are determined to use Facebook to disrupt elections.

“This pilot programme is an addition to our existing security tools and procedures, and we will apply what we learn to other elections in the US and around the world,” said Facebook.

“As we detect abuse, we will continue to share relevant information with law enforcement and other companies so we can maximise our effectiveness,” it added.

According to a report in Download, a working paper released last week revealed a significant drop-off in the engagements 570 fake news sites received on Facebook since the 2016 US presidential elections.

“At its peak, there were 200 million monthly engagements with the sites. As of July 2018, that’s dropped to 70 million,” the report added.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Senate, saying they were too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference.

“Our sophistication in handling these threats is growing and improving quickly. We now have about 15,000 people working on security and content review. We’ll have more than 20,000 by the end of this year,” he told the lawmakers.

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The Facebook CEO apologised for what happened and took responsibility for everything. He also said that there is an online propaganda “arms race” with Russia and it was important to make sure no one interferes in any more elections, including in India.

“The most important thing I care about right now is making sure no one interferes in the various 2018 elections around the world,” he testified before a 44-Senator panel. (IANS)