50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by hmscott, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. Fishon

    Fishon I Will Close You

    Reputations:
    7,809
    Messages:
    1,334
    Likes Received:
    6,143
    Trophy Points:
    531
    During his testimony on the Hill:

    Question: Was anyone fired over this?

    Answer: No
     
    hmscott likes this.
  2. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    5,074
    Messages:
    17,803
    Likes Received:
    21,831
    Trophy Points:
    931
    Mark Zuckerberg has been apologizing for reckless privacy violations since he was a freshman
    Enough is enough.

    By Matthew Yglesias@mattyglesiasmatt@vox.com Updated Apr 11, 2018, 1:53pm EDT
    https://www.vox.com/2018/4/10/17220290/mark-zuckerberg-facemash-testimony

    "Back in October 2003, then-college freshman Mark Zuckerberg exploited lax computer security at Harvard’s online dorm directories (they were called “facebooks” after physical books full of little pictures of people’s faces that used to be distributed to students in the pre-digital era) to assemble a vast collection of photos of students’ faces, which were used as raw material for a web project he called Facemash. Facemash was essentially a clone of the then-popular Hot or Not site; it would deliver to you the photos of two students and then the user would say which one was more attractive.

    The project, intended as more of an inside joke than a wide-release software product, spread virally through the student community, where it quickly prompted outrage and was taken down. On November 3, 2003, Zuckerberg got notice that he would have to appear before a disciplinary panel (“Ad Board,” short for administrative board in Harvard jargon), and on November 19, he was cleared to continue attending school after apologizing and promising essentially not to do it again.

    “Issues about violating people’s privacy don’t seem to be surmountable,” he wrote in an email statement to the student newspaper, the Crimson. “I’m not willing to risk insulting anyone.”

    Fifteen years and many billions of dollars later, Zuckerberg is one of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world. And he again finds himself hauled before a disciplinary body, this time the United States Congress, in order to once again apologize for reckless conduct and cavalier violations of privacy. And odds are that, once again, he will not face any concrete consequences beyond a solemn promise to do better.

    Zuckerberg isn’t responsible to anyone for anything
    In a full-page ad that ran in a number of national newspapers in the immediate wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal’s initial revelation, Zuckerberg wrote that “we have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.”

    The theme of responsibility is one he returned to several times during the interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein that he sat for as part of his crisis communications push:
    • “Our responsibility here is to make sure that the time that people spend on Facebook is time well spent,” he said, as opposed to simply being a lot of time.
    • “I do think a big responsibility that we have is to help support high-quality journalism,” he observed in answer to a question about Facebook ad targeting’s impact on the media industry.
    • “There’s no doubt that our responsibilities to amplify the good parts of what people can do when they connect,” he said when asked about Facebook’s role in amplifying anti-Rohingya propaganda in Myanmar, “and to mitigate and prevent the bad things that people might do to try to abuse each other.”
    The theme of responsibility recurred in his congressional testimony:

    We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here. So now we have to go through every part of our relationship with people and make sure we’re taking a broad enough view of our responsibility. It’s not enough to just connect people, we have to make sure those connections are positive. It’s not enough to give people a voice, we have to make sure people aren’t using it to hurt people or spread misinformation. It’s not enough to give people control of their information, we have to make sure they aren’t using it to hurt people or spread misinformation. It’s not enough to give people control of their information, we have to make sure developers they’ve given it to are protecting it too. Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good.

    It is in some ways genuinely refreshing to hear a CEO speak this way, in terms of responsibilities and moral obligations that transcend the narrow dogma of shareholder value and Milton Friedman’s shallow remark that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.”

    But on another level, no matter how many times Zuckerberg says he’s responsible for this or that, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s not actually responsible to anyone for anything. And that’s the problem.

    King Zuckerberg’s corporate dictatorship
    When Facebook staged its initial public offering six years ago, it implemented a dual-class share structure that means Zuckerberg personally controls a majority of the votingstock even though other investors own the majority of the financial value of the company. In technical regulatory terms, this means Facebook is known as what’s called a “controlled company” that is exempt from certain standard Securities and Exchange Commission investor protections in exchange for making fulsome disclosures about the fact that if you buy Facebook stock, you are buying into a controlled enterprise.

    “One of the things that I feel really lucky we have is this company structure where, at the end of the day, it’s a controlled company,” Zuckerberg told Klein earlier this month. “We are not at the whims of short-term shareholders. We can really design these products and decisions with what is going to be in the best interest of the community over time.”

    This truly is a powerful privilege, and one that Zuckerberg has probably made some personal financial sacrifices in order to obtain, since the dual-class structure likely depresses the value of Facebook stock somewhat. But you can see that he wields this privilege in some ways as a rhetorical bludgeon.

    In a more conventionally structured company, he would be genuinely responsible to the board of directors and to the shareholders to make them money. And it would then be obvious that to the extent the interests of the shareholders clash with those of “the community” — a community that, for all intents and purposes, includes the entire population of the developed world — it’s the responsibility of the community’s elected representatives in Congress to make rules that align those incentives.

    Instead, Zuckerberg claims that precisely because he’s not responsible to shareholders, he is able instead to answer his higher responsibility to “the community.”

    And he’s very clear, as he says in interview after interview and hearing after hearing, that he takes this responsibility very seriously and is very sorry for having violated it. Just as he’s been sorry ever since he was a first-year college student. But he’s never actually been held responsible.

    Responsibility implies consequences
    Online social networks obviously pose some novel legal and regulatory issues. But broadly speaking, the question of how to ensure that companies discharge their responsibilities is not a brand new one.

    Companies involved in the provision of health care are responsible — not just morally but legally and financially — to abide by the terms of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. That law hasn’t eliminated all privacy violations in the health care space, by any means, but when violations occur, they are punished, and the punishment gives actors in that space real reason to avoid them. Financial institutions, similarly, must comply with the privacy rules set out in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. GLBA compliance has thus become its own somewhat tedious mini industry, with lawyers and specialized GLBA compliance firms you can hire.

    Similarly, Congress has traditionally recognized the role of journalism in American society. The US Postal Service delivers periodicals at a discount rate, and the Federal Communication Commission’s television station licensing requirements include a vague but meaningful “public interest” standard that is generally held to require both the production of local newscasts and the airing of major national news events. A station that too flagrantly violated these norms would be accountable, legally and financially, to a regulatory body.

    Enough is enough
    Once upon a time, the US government wisely believed that it would be a bad idea to subject promising young internet startups to the bureaucratic morass involved in things like HIPAA or GLBA compliance.

    But the young internet startups are all grown up now, and can easily afford to hire vast armies of lawyers and compliance experts who will help them avoid breaches that lead to massive fines. There is no longer a need to treat Facebook like a delicate flower whose agility will vaporize if it is held legally accountable for its actions.

    That means disclosure rules for advertising, it means financial consequences for privacy violations, it means firm antitrust action to restrain further acquisitions and try to uphold some semblance of competition in this marketplace, and it means taking a close look at whether the development of ever more sophisticated ad targeting algorithms is being done in a way that serves the public’s interest in creating a robust media infrastructure.

    Fifteen years ago, Harvard’s Ad Board faced a bright kid who seemed well-meaning despite a serious ****-up. Today, Congress faces a billionaire corporate titan whose recklessness has dire consequences for the lives of millions of people around the world. It’s time for real responsibility."
     
    6730b likes this.
  3. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    5,074
    Messages:
    17,803
    Likes Received:
    21,831
    Trophy Points:
    931
    The Zuckerberg hearings were a wasted opportunity
    We walked away with very little new information.
    Mallory Locklear, @mallorylocklear, April 11, 2018
    https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/11/zuckerberg-hearings-wasted-opportunity/

    "Over the past two days, members of Congress have peppered Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with questions about how the platform manages users' privacy, what went wrong with Cambridge Analytica and what it's doing to strengthen protections going forward. These two hearings lasted more than 10 hours combined, and dozens of senators and representatives had a chance to ask questions in five- and four-minute allotments, respectively. Until this week, Congress had tried for years to get Zuckerberg to personally appear on Capitol Hill, instead of, say, dispatching another company executive. It's a shame, then, that the lawmakers ultimately squandered the time they had with him this week.

    Throughout the hearings, congressional leaders repeated questions that had already been asked. We heard them ask again and again whether the company would work with Congress on legislation that would impose regulations on social networks like Facebook and others. We also heard many leaders ask when exactly Facebook learned that Cambridge Analytica had improperly obtained user data. This repetition continued with questions about changes to policy, Facebook's dense terms of service and whether users have been notified if their data were purchased by Cambridge Analytica. If time was so precious to these individuals -- and it should be, since four minutes flies by and this is an important topic -- wouldn't they try to avoid repeating the same questions ad nauseam?

    Similarly, many of these questions were addressed in reports and updates already released by Facebook. Rehashing them (often repeatedly) is a poor use of time.

    Even worse, some lawmakers spent their time soapboxing, not asking any questions at all. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) mostly used his few minutes to focus on a tool the Obama campaign employed to collect data on Facebook users. He made sure to say that Zuckerberg should be as outraged by that as he is with Cambridge Analytica's purchase of Facebook data, and he kept saying that Facebook needed to reexamine the chronology of the history of this sort of data acquisition. But he didn't ask a single question of Zuckerberg -- except a largely facetious one about how large the regulatory-affairs division was when Zuckerberg was launching the platform in his Harvard dorm room.

    There were also some questions asked that Zuckerberg should have been able to answer but couldn't. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's (D-RI) question about whether Aleksandr Kogan can have or does have another personal account on Facebook is one example. Zuckerberg should also have been able to answer Senator Maria Cantwell's (D-WA) question about whether any Facebook employees worked with Cambridge Analytica while CA worked with the Trump campaign. He couldn't answer Senator Dean Heller's (R-NV) and Senator Cory Gardner's (R-CO) questions about how long it takes Facebook to get rid of users' data after they delete their Facebook or Instagram accounts. And Zuckerberg should have been able to answer Senator Tammy Baldwin's (D-WI) question about what firms Kogan sold his data to other than Cambridge Analytica. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) actually called out Zuckerberg during her questioning today on everything he couldn't answer. "As CEO, you didn't know some key facts," she said.

    Then again, some of the questions were unreasonable. For example, Senator Heller asked how many Nevada residents were included in the 87 million individuals whose data were obtained by Cambridge Analytica. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) brought up specific Facebook Pages during his questioning and asked Zuckerberg if they were Russian-created groups. Additionally, a number of representatives asked Zuckerberg about specific instances when particular groups were shut down, their ads were rejected or they were in some way blocked from posting content on Facebook -- somehow expecting Zuckerberg to have knowledge of every time a reviewer determined that content was inappropriate. In these cases, Zuckerberg should be forgiven for having to say, "My team will get back to you."

    On top of all of this, some senators and representatives didn't seem to fully understand how social media and other ad-supported services work. Obviously, the lawmakers weighing regulation on platforms like Facebook need to understand how these platforms work. But is the CEO of Facebook really the person who should be explaining that? And do those conversations need to happen during a public hearing when officials have such a limited time to ask questions? Put their young staffers to work and have them brief their powerful bosses beforehand.

    These questions about how social networks work (and how they make money) bring to light a larger issue with Congress: Many of these individuals, who have the power to enact impactful legislation regarding citizens' privacy, don't have a basic understanding of what these companies are, what they do or how they do it. And that's a problem. These hearings aren't the only time we've seen questions like these -- they were frequent during last year's hearings on Russian use of social media to influence US elections -- and it's clear that some of these lawmakers haven't made enough of an attempt to understand these powerful companies outside of these occasional public hearings.

    There were also questions that these leaders should have asked Zuckerberg and didn't. The CEO wasn't pressed about Joseph Chancellor, Kogan's business partner who helped start Global Science Research and now works for Facebook. And though many asked if Zuckerberg was open to regulation, none followed up his answers to the affirmative with questions about his thoughts on state efforts to enact stricter privacy laws. Additionally, while Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) perused an interesting line of questioning about whether Facebook is a monopoly (and therefore not to be trusted with regulating itself), no one floated the idea of breaking it up, even if it were determined to be.

    Further, the unwillingness of lawmakers to focus on a single topic meant they had little time for follow-up questions. Because of that, Zuckerberg wasn't aggressively pushed to answer questions about Facebook's response to Cambridge Analytica in 2015. He also mostly skirted questions about how Facebook tracks its users' data.

    While this questioning went on for more than 10 hours over two days, it still wasn't as exhaustive as other public hearings. Zuckerberg wasn't subjected to a double round of questioning at each hearing, which is a typical practice, and he probably got off relatively easy only having to testify before one House committee and two Senate committees. That makes the past two days especially bad. These lawmakers had limited time to grill Zuckerberg, and they wasted it.

    To be clear, Mark Zuckerberg deserved to be in front of those committees. And they should have pressed him for more information about how his company protects its users' data. But Congress should have done a better job. Too many lawmakers could have made more of their short time with Zuckerberg. Yes, there are exceptions: Zuckerberg clarified how Facebook will implement Europe's new GDPR privacy standards worldwide. Many lawmakers pressed Zuckerberg on whether Facebook has removed groups using tactics similar to Cambridge Analytica's -- as they should have. Zuckerberg also said he was open to working with Congress on potential legislation. (What kind of legislation, exactly? That, too, would have been a good follow-up question.)

    But when you subtract the repetitions, the grandstanding, the basic info that everyone should have known and the pedantic "gotcha" queries that Zuckerberg couldn't possibly be expected to answer on the spot, we emerged from those 10 hours of questioning with little new information. If anything, we learned more about how ill-equipped Congress is to weigh nuanced questions surrounding technology, data and privacy."
     
    Fishon likes this.
  4. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    5,074
    Messages:
    17,803
    Likes Received:
    21,831
    Trophy Points:
    931
    Internet roasts Zuckerberg for 'booster seat'
    Published on Apr 11, 2018
    CNN's Jeanne Moos reports on the best oddball moments from Mark Zuckerberg's House testimony.
     
  5. 6730b

    6730b Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    347
    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    620
    Trophy Points:
    106
    hmscott and killkenny1 like this.
  6. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    5,074
    Messages:
    17,803
    Likes Received:
    21,831
    Trophy Points:
    931
    I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes.
    By BRIAN X. CHEN APRIL 11, 2018
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/...nformation-that-facebook-has-on-me-yikes.html

    "When I downloaded a copy of my Facebook data last week, I didn’t expect to see much. My profile is sparse, I rarely post anything on the site, and I seldom click on ads. (I’m what some call a Facebook “lurker.”)

    But when I opened my file, it was like opening Pandora’s box.
    With a few clicks, I learned that about 500 advertisers — many that I had never heard of, like Bad Dad, a motorcycle parts store, and Space Jesus, an electronica band — had my contact information, which could include my email address, phone number and full name. Facebook also had my entire phone book, including the number to ring my apartment buzzer. The social network had even kept a permanent record of the roughly 100 people I had deleted from my friends list over the last 14 years, including my exes.

    There was so much that Facebook knew about me — more than I wanted to know. But after looking at the totality of what the Silicon Valley company had obtained about yours truly, I decided to try to better understand how and why my data was collected and stored. I also sought to find out how much of my data could be removed.

    How Facebook collects and treats personal information was central this week when Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, answered questions in Congress about data privacy and his responsibilities to users. During his testimony, Mr. Zuckerberg repeatedly said Facebook has a tool for downloading your data that “allows people to see and take out all the information they’ve put into Facebook.”

    But that’s an overstatement. Most basic information, like my birthday, could not be deleted. More important, the pieces of data that I found objectionable, like the record of people I had unfriended, could not be removed from Facebook, either.

    “They don’t delete anything, and that’s a general policy,” said Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of DuckDuckGo, which offers internet privacy tools. He added that data was kept around to eventually help brands serve targeted ads.

    Beth Gautier, a Facebook spokeswoman, put it this way: “When you delete something, we remove it so it’s not visible or accessible on Facebook.” She added: “You can also delete your account whenever you want. It may take up to 90 days to delete all backups of data on our servers.”
    Digging through your Facebook files is an exercise I highly recommend if you care about how your personal information is stored and used. Here’s what I learned."

    https://static01.nyt.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000005838987
    What makes you tick, whom you know, where you go, even where you might end up. The information you share in your profile is a mere snippet of what Facebook and its partners really know about you. Kevin Roose, a technology columnist for The Times, explains.

    By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER, ROBIN STEIN and KEVIN ROOSE on Publish DateApril 9, 2018. .Watch in Times Video »

    How to Download Your Facebook Data (and 6 Surprising Things I Found)
    Do you have any idea what the social networking giant knows about you? Here's how to find out.
    By Neil J. Rubenking, April 5, 2018 10:26AM EST
    https://www.pcmag.com/article/360173/how-to-download-your-facebook-data-and-6-surprising-things
    Download Your Archive

    These days, it's easy to download an archive of all the data Facebook has on you. (At least, they say it's everything…) Well, it's fairly easy. You do have to go through several steps, which are in place to prevent someone else from stealing your archive. Here's how I did it, and how you can get your own archive.
    [​IMG]
    1. Log into Facebook, click the down-triangle icon at top right, and choose Settings.
    2. On the General Settings page, click the last item, the link to download a copy of your data.
    3. Facebook warns that collecting data may take a while. Click Start My Archive.
    4. On the next page, click Start My Archive again, and wait for a notification that it's done.
    5. Download your Facebook archive.
    Note that you'll have to supply your Facebook password twice during this process, because this is sensitive information. Facebook also warns that you should protect the downloaded data, as it contains sensitive material. Your best bet would be to encrypt the data when you're not actively studying it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  7. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    5,074
    Messages:
    17,803
    Likes Received:
    21,831
    Trophy Points:
    931
    Instagram (owned by Facebook) will soon let users download a copy of their data
    By Shannon Liao@Shannon_Liao Apr 11, 2018, 3:00pm EDT
    https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/11/17226186/instagram-download-data-facebook

    "Instagram is building its own data portability tool which will allow users to download a copy of everything they’ve ever shared on the platform, similar to how Facebook’s download your information tool works. The platform confirmed the news to TechCrunch.

    The tool could help Instagram users monitor how much of their data is on the platform. It will also help Facebook, which owns Instagram, comply with the forthcoming European data privacy rule, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will require all data to be portable. The rule will also require companies to delete data upon user request. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed in testimony today to the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Congress that the company would comply with GDPR in Europe and in the US, where it’s not yet required.

    Instagram said in a comment to The Verge: “We are building a new data portability tool. You’ll soon be able to download a copy of what you’ve shared on Instagram, including your photos, videos and messages.”"
     
  8. 6730b

    6730b Notebook Evangelist

    Reputations:
    347
    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    620
    Trophy Points:
    106
  9. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

    Reputations:
    5,074
    Messages:
    17,803
    Likes Received:
    21,831
    Trophy Points:
    931
    Mark Zuckerberg's dreaded homework assignments
    Dave Lee, North America technology reporter, 12 April 2018
    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43735385

    "Over two days, almost 10 hours.

    If you watched every moment of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony in front of Congress this week, you’ll know he rolled out one phrase an awful lot: “I’ll have my team get back to you.”

    Now some of these were bits of data Mr Zuckerberg simply didn’t have to hand - such as why a specific advertisement for a political candidate in Michigan didn’t get approved.

    Other follow ups, though, will require some hard graft from his team. What they produce could provide even more negative headlines for the company, as it is forced to divulge more of its inner workings than it has ever felt comfortable with.

    Looking through the transcripts, I’ve counted more than 20 instances where Mr Zuckerberg promised to get back to representatives with more information. But these are the assignments I think could cause the company the most headaches - and provide some revealing answers.

    1) Data on non-users
    Set by: Congressman Ben Lujan (Democrat, New Mexico)


    "You’ve said everyone controls their data, but you’re collecting data on people who are not even Facebook users who have never signed a consent, a privacy agreement.”

    Dubbed “shadow” profiles, details of exactly what Facebook gathers on people who haven’t even signed up to the service has been always been a bit of mystery.

    Even, apparently, to Mr Zuckerberg himself. He testified that he didn’t know the term, but acknowledged the firm did monitor non-users for “security” purposes.

    Mr Zuckerberg promised to share more details on what data is gathered on people who don’t sign up for Facebook, as well as a full breakdown of how many data points it has on those who do.

    In a related request, Mr Zuckerberg will provide details on how users are tracked (on all their devices) when they are logged out of Facebook.

    2) Moving to opt-in, not opt-out
    Set by: Congressman Frank Pallone (Democrat, New Jersey)


    "I think you should make that commitment.”

    Creating new regulation will be an arduous, flawed process. But one thing Facebook could do right now? Move to an opt-in model, one which requires users to decide to make something public, as is the default (and most popular) option for posting content now.

    In a similar vein, Mr Zuckerberg was asked to get back to Congressman Frank Pallone on how the company might consider collecting less information on its users.

    3) Repercussions for censorship mistakes
    Set by: Congressman Steve Scalise (Republican, Louisiana)


    "Was there a directive to put a bias in [the algorithms]? And, first, are you aware of this bias that many people have looked at and analysed and seen?”

    One surprising admission made by Mr Zuckerberg before these hearings was that despite acknowledging the company made big mistakes, nobody has been fired over the Cambridge Analytica affair.

    Representative Steve Scalise wants to take questions on accountability a step further.

    In cases where Facebook reverses a decision to remove content - i.e. admitting it over-moderated - what kind of repercussions did those responsible face? If someone created an algorithm that unfairly filtered certain political views, was there any kind of punishment?

    4) Specific rules for minors
    Set by: Senator Ed Markey (Democrat, Massachusetts)


    "We're leaving these children to the most rapacious commercial predators in the country who will exploit these children unless we absolutely have a law on the books.”

    On Facebook the minimum age of users is 13, not counting the company’s Messenger for Kids app (which doesn’t collect the type of data Facebook’s main app does).

    But for those aged 13-18, or maybe 21, what happens in those oh-so-delicate years should be protected by tighter rules, Senator Ed Markey suggested.

    Mr Zuckerberg said the idea “deserved a lot of discussion”, but maybe not a new law. He promised to get his team to “flesh out the details”.

    5) How many ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons are out there?
    Set by: Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (Democrat, Michigan)


    “It doesn't matter whether you have a Facebook account. Through those tools, Facebook is able to collect information from all of us."

    It seems like everywhere you look there is a button prompting you to “like” or share things on Facebook - indeed, there’s one on the page you’re reading right now.

    A request to at least estimate how many of Facebook’s buttons are out there might at first seem like an abstract demand - but the response could be quite something.

    The “like" buttons enable Facebook to track users on pages that are not part of Facebook itself, providing more data for advertisers.

    If it’s even possible to tot up how many buttons are out there on the web, expect a number in the hundreds of millions - that’s hundreds of millions of pages with which Facebook is tracking your activity beyond its own borders."

    Comments
     
  10. Fishon

    Fishon I Will Close You

    Reputations:
    7,809
    Messages:
    1,334
    Likes Received:
    6,143
    Trophy Points:
    531
Loading...

Share This Page