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Want To Know What Facebook, Google Know About You?

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Reflection of Facebook's logo in a person's eye.
FILE - A picture illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person's eye. VOA
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As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies in front of Congress about the company’s practices this week, Americans are waking up to just how much personal information tech companies have collected about them.

Facebook said it will begin notifying 87 million people this week whose information was handed to political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica without their knowledge. Facebook has also instigated several changes to make it easier for users to control their data.

While these and other changes may reassure customers, they also keep the spotlight on the question that has made many Americans anxious: What personal information do tech companies like Google and Facebook have, and what do they do with it?

A Google picture.
FILE – Security personnel answer a call at the reception counter of the Google office in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. VOA

To find out, both companies offer multiple ways of checking on personal data and deleting it.

In addition, Facebook has begun letting individual users know whether their data ended up with Cambridge Analytica.

The company has provided a link for people to check for themselves whether their data – and what data specifically – was shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Google

What Google knows might surprise some. If its “Location History” feature is turned on, the company knows the route of your bike ride from the day before and where you had dinner with the kids.

It keeps your search history and YouTube history, both searched and watched.

If you want to know all the apps that have access to your Google data, there’s a quick way to check.

Also Read: US Lawmakers Demand To Change The CEO Of Facebook

To find out everything Google knows, go to takeout.google.com or myaccount.google.com and click on “download all data.” Under “control your content,” you will be asked to create an archive. Depending on when you started to use Google, this process can take hours.

Google promises that “only you can see this data” and offers ways to zap individual chunks of data or whole categories, such as the search history. But the company also reminds users that deleting data may affect the ability of Google products and services to offer personalized help in the future.

The icon of Facebook.
Facebook icon. Pixabay

Facebook

With a new category under settings called “Accessing Your Information,” the social media giant recently made it easier for a user to download his or her data.

Among the items that will be downloaded are posts, photos and videos, as well as all messages and chat conversations. The downloaded file also includes interests and other topics that advertisers may use to send targeted ads. In addition, it includes all advertisers with the user’s contact information. Users can look at what third-party apps they log in by using their Facebook account.

If a user begins the process of deleting his or her account, Facebook takes a moment to show photos of people the person knows with a reminder that the person will “miss you” if the user leaves Facebook.

As consumers see their digital profiles, they may ask why this information is being collected and whether there should be new limits.

A recent U.S. poll found that 41 percent of Americans trusted Facebook to obey U.S. privacy laws. Users put more trust in Facebook’s rivals — 66 percent trusted Amazon, and 62 percent trusted Alphabet, Google’s parent company.  VOA

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Facebook Takes Action on The Terror-Related Content

Facebook took action on 1.9mn terror-related content

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Facebook page.
Facebook. Pixabay

Facebook took action on 1.9 million pieces of content related to the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda in the first quarter of 2018, twice as much as the last quarter of 2017.

The key part is that Facebook found the vast majority of this content on its own.

“In Q1 2018, 99 per cent of the IS and Al Qaeda content we took action on was not user reported,” Monika Bickert, Vice President of Global Policy Management at Facebook, said in a blog post late on Monday.

“Taking action” means that Facebook removed the vast majority of this content and added a warning to a small portion that was shared for informational or counter speech purposes.

The Facebook's image.
Facebook. Pixabay

“This number likely understates the total volume, because when we remove a profile, Page or Group for violating our policies, all of the corresponding content becomes inaccessible.

But we don’t go back through to classify and label every individual piece of content that supported terrorism,” explained Brian Fishman, Global Head of Counterterrorism Policy at Facebook.

Facebook now has a counter-terrorism team of 200 people, up from 150 in June 2017.

Also Read: British Campaigner Sues Facebook Over Fake Ads

“We have built specialised techniques to surface and remove older content. Of the terrorism-related content we removed in Q1 2018, more than 600,000 pieces were identified through these mechanisms,” the blog post said.

“We’re under no illusion that the job is done or that the progress we have made is enough,” said Facebook.

“Terrorist groups are always trying to circumvent our systems, so we must constantly improve,” the company added.  IANS