Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

Facebook launches cryptocurrency with Visa, MasterCard, Uber, and others

June 18th, 2019
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2017.

Enlarge / Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2017. (credit: Mark Zuckerberg)

Facebook is leading a broad coalition of companies and organizations launching a new cryptocurrency, the company announced on Tuesday. The cryptocurrency, called Libra, will be backed by a basket of conventional currencies and other stable assets, preventing the wild price swings that have plagued bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies.

The new cryptocurrency will serve as the foundation for a new payment feature for Facebook Messenger and the Facebook-owned Whatsapp. Facebook says it is creating a new subsidiary called Calibra to oversee its payment initiatives. This is partly to reassure people who are concerned about Facebook's privacy record.

"Aside from limited cases, Calibra will not share account information or financial data with Facebook or any third party without customer consent," Facebook says. "This means Calibra customers’ account information and financial data will not be used to improve ad targeting on the Facebook family of products."

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Posted in Facebook, Libra, Policy | Comments (0)

Facebook bans health and conspiracy site Natural News

June 10th, 2019
Facebook bans health and conspiracy site Natural News

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Facebook on Sunday removed the prominent health and conspiracy site Natural News from its platform and banned its incendiary founder from posting content.

Though Facebook did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment on the suspension, Facebook’s move comes just a day after The Daily Beast published a report into the wild, far-right conspiracy theories that have become staples on Natural News.

The Beast’s article noted that Natural News began as an alternative health site that railed against evidence-based medicine and touted organic foods, unproven “natural” remedies, and pseudoscience such as homeopathy—all while hawking supplements. Over the years, it has morphed into a conspiracy-laden smorgasbord of far-right theories. Now, between pop-up advertisements for probioitics, guides on diets that supposedly prevent parasitic infections, and an article claiming that sprouts are a “superfood,” Natural News readers find articles with headlines, such as “This is what the Left has become: Targeting retarded children for transgender indoctrination,” “LGBT progressivism horrors: Parents to start physically maiming their own babies to slice off all ‘gender’ organs in the name of progressivism and ‘equality,’” and “All white people are being removed from history as revisionists rewrite science, medicine and technology to eliminate pioneers based on the color of their skin.”

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Posted in alternative medicine, Europe Vs Facebook, Facebook, health misinformation, natural news, Policy, Pseudoscience, science, supplements | Comments (0)

Congressional hearings signal growing antitrust problems for big tech

June 4th, 2019
The European Commission is investigating potentially false claims that Facebook cannot merge user information from the messaging network WhatsApp, which it acquired in 2014. Warsaw, Poland, on December 21, 2016. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Enlarge / The European Commission is investigating potentially false claims that Facebook cannot merge user information from the messaging network WhatsApp, which it acquired in 2014. Warsaw, Poland, on December 21, 2016. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (credit: NurPhoto | Getty Images)

The House Antitrust Subcommittee will conduct a series of hearings on the growing power of big technology companies, Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) announced on Monday. It's the latest sign of growing interest in antitrust action against the largest technology companies—especially Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.

"After four decades of weak antitrust enforcement and judicial hostility to antitrust cases, it is critical that Congress step in to determine whether existing laws are adequate to tackle abusive conduct by platform gatekeepers or whether we need new legislation to respond to this challenge," Cicilline said in a press release.

The announcement came shortly after news about a deal between the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, which share responsibility for antitrust enforcement. Under the deal, the Justice Department will focus on investigating Google and Apple, while the FTC will be responsible for Facebook and Amazon. The Justice Department has reportedly begun an investigation of Google; it's not known if the agencies have begun investigating the other firms.

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Posted in amazon, antitrust, apple, Facebook, google, Policy | Comments (0)

Facebook, Google stocks fall on imminent antitrust probes

June 3rd, 2019
Facebook, Google stocks fall on imminent antitrust probes

(credit: Sam Churchill / Flickr)

The stock market has reacted badly to reports in The Wall Street Journal that two of the nation's largest technology companies—Facebook and Google—are likely to face intensifying antitrust scrutiny from federal regulators in the United States.

As I write this on Monday afternoon, Facebook stock is down 7 percent, while Google stock is down 6.5 percent. The S&P 500 index of large stocks is down less than 1 percent.

An unusual legal arrangement gives the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission joint responsibility for antitrust enforcement. The two agencies negotiate to decide which one will represent the government in any particular inquiry.

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Posted in antitrust, Facebook, google, Policy | Comments (0)

White House refuses to sign international statement on online extremism

May 15th, 2019
White House refuses to sign international statement on online extremism

(credit: Matt Wade)

The Trump administration will not sign an international pledge by governments and online services to combat extremist content online. The Christchurch Call is named after the New Zealand city where a terrorist livestreamed the shooting deaths of 50 Muslims in March.

The statement is being formally released today as part of an international summit in Paris. It will bear the signatures of more than a dozen nations, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Leading technology companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, have also signed on. But not the US government.

"The United States stands with the international community in condemning terrorist and violent extremist content online in the strongest terms," the White House said in an emailed statement Wednesday. The US government says it will "continue to support the overall goals reflected in the Call," however, it is "not currently in a position to join the endorsement."

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Posted in Christchurch shooting, Donald Trump, Facebook, new zealand, Policy, trump administration | Comments (0)

Facebook sues app maker, says it made millions misusing Facebook user data

May 13th, 2019
The Facebook login screen on a Web browser.

Enlarge / The Facebook login screen. (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

Facebook has sued a data analytics company that operated apps on the Facebook platform for nearly a decade, saying the company misused Facebook data to sell advertising and marketing services. Facebook filed the lawsuit on Friday against Rankwave, a South Korean company, in California Superior Court for the County of San Mateo.

Facebook also suspended Rankwave and its apps from its platform, but Rankwave apparently still has a trove of Facebook user data. Facebook's lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the company to delete Facebook user data and suggests that Rankwave may have sold the user data to other unidentified entities. Rankwave refused to tell Facebook which entities it sold data to and refused to "[p]rovide a full accounting of Facebook user data in its possession," Facebook says.

"Rankwave is an application developer that breached its contract with Facebook by violating Facebook's policies and California law," Facebook's lawsuit alleged. Rankwave has developed and operated apps on the Facebook platform since 2010 and "used the Facebook data associated with Rankwave's apps to create and sell advertising and marketing analytics and models—which violated Facebook's policies and terms," the lawsuit said.

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Posted in Facebook, Policy, rankwave | Comments (0)

Facebook co-founder calls for breakup of Facebook

May 9th, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes on Harvard's campus in 2004.

Enlarge / Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes on Harvard's campus in 2004. (credit: Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images)

When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in his Harvard dorm room, Chris Hughes was one of his roommates and became a Facebook cofounder. Hughes left Facebook more than 10 years ago, but his time at Facebook earned him a fortune in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now Hughes says that Facebook has grown too big and powerful. In a lengthy opinion piece for the New York Times, he argues that the company gives too much power to founder Mark Zuckerberg.

"Mark is a good, kind person," Hughes writes. "But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks.

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Posted in Chris Hughes, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Policy | Comments (0)

Why a Republican senator wants the FTC to throw the book at Facebook

May 7th, 2019
Facebook co-founder, chairman, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg departs after testifying before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2018, in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / Facebook co-founder, chairman, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg departs after testifying before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2018, in Washington, DC. (credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Two senators—one Republican and one Democrat—are urging the Federal Trade Commission to take a hard line against Facebook in its ongoing negotiations over a privacy settlement.

"The FTC must set a resounding precedent that is heard by Facebook and any other tech company that disregards the law in a rapacious quest for growth," write Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). "The commission should pursue deterrent monetary penalties and impose forceful accountability measures on Facebook."

Facebook stands accused of violating the terms of a 2012 privacy settlement. Prior to that settlement, the FTC had charged Facebook with deceiving customers by telling them their data would be private, then making it public without consent. In settling the charges, Facebook promised to give users "clear and prominent notice" of how their data would be used and to seek user consent before using the data in undisclosed ways.

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Posted in Facebook, FTC, Josh Hawley, Policy, Privacy | Comments (0)

Facebook’s cryptocurrency might work like loyalty points

May 5th, 2019
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg checks his phone during the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 13, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Enlarge / Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg checks his phone during the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 13, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho. (credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If Facebook's pivot from town square to private living room wasn’t laden with enough irony, here’s a new twist: Big business, it appears, has been invited to join us by the fireplace.

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported new potential details about Facebook’s long-awaited cryptocurrency plans. The company is reportedly seeking dozens of business partners, including online merchants and financial firms, in an effort to extend the reach of its blockchain-based marketplace. Facebook’s would-be partners are being asked to pitch into an investment fund, valued at $1 billion or more, that would serve as backing for Facebook’s coin and mitigate the wild speculative swings that make cryptocurrencies like bitcoin hard to spend. The pitch, according to the Journal, involves offering merchants lower fees than credit cards.

Some were quick to note that this would reduce Facebook’s ability to make money from payments in the short term. But that may not matter much—if, in the end, Facebook’s crypto effort is really all about getting you to spend more time glued to Facebook.

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Posted in cryptocurrency, Facebook, Gaming & Culture | Comments (0)