Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category
Facebook is facing a new round of intense scrutiny worldwide after 7,000 pages of confidential files stemming from a lawsuit were made public yesterday. Those documents are not the ones California's attorney general needs, though, so separately, the company is also facing a court challenge demanding it produce more documentation for an investigation amid allegations of stonewalling.
The piles of leaked documents, which directly reference the company's questionable position on competition, are likely to be extremely helpful to the dozens of entities currently investigating Facebook on antitrust grounds. California, however, is conducting a privacy investigation.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra yesterday took to court seeking to have a subpoena against Facebook enforced. The petition (PDF) alleges Facebook failed to respond to repeated subpoenas and other legal requests for information related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
More than a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light, Facebook is once again admitting that some developers have accessed user data that they should not have.
Facebook said in a developer post yesterday that it would be changing developers' access to a number of APIs, including Groups, after "roughly 100 partners" were found to have extra access. "We recently found that some apps retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API, for longer than we intended," the company said.
At least 11 developers accessed group members' information in the last two months, Facebook added. "Although we’ve seen no evidence of abuse, we will ask them to delete any member data they may have retained and we will conduct audits to confirm that it has been deleted."
Once upon a time, there was a phone company—or rather, the phone company. AT&T Corp., the venerable "Ma Bell," provided nearly all telephone service to nearly all Americans for decades... until it didn't. The company infamously broke up on New Year's Day in 1984, splitting into the seven "Baby Bells," regional carriers that could compete with other long-distance providers for consumer dollars.
The split wasn't just for funsies. The baby Bells were the ultimate result of a settlement between AT&T and the Justice Department, the culmination of an antitrust case that began nearly a decade earlier. It was the first time the feds broke up a communications company for antitrust reasons—and 35 years later, it retains the dubious distinction of being the last.
The decades of deregulation since the Reagan administration have brought us to a whole new era of massive corporate consolidation and the rise of a new wave of conglomerates in sectors that didn't even exist 40 years ago. The growth at the top in tech has been particularly stratospheric: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and a handful of others that have risen since the turn of the century now dominate our economy and our communications in a powerful way.
Facebook about a month ago confirmed that politicians are exempt from its speech policies and ad standards. That policy frees up holders of political jobs, and candidates seeking those jobs, to, basically, lie their entire faces off in Facebook ads if they choose to do so.
The Internet and the 21st century being what they are, of course, many people greeted this news with responses along the lines of: "Does that mean I can just sign up for any local race and then put any ads I want on Facebook?" One man decided to find out. And so far, at least, the answer seems to be: No.
Adriel Hampton lives in California and runs a digital marketing firm that promotes progressive causes. On Monday, he formally registered as a candidate for the state's gubernatorial race, and his stated platform explicitly challenges both President Donald Trump and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
A day after Facebook-owned WhatsApp sued NSO Group, the social media platform has permanently deleted the accounts of employees who work at the Israel-based spyware maker, according to message boards and a security researcher who spoke to one worker.
"Your account has been deleted for not following our terms," said a message sent to one employee by Facebook-owned Instagram. "You won't be able to log into this account, and no one else will be able to see it. We're unable to restore accounts that are deleted for these types of violations."
The action comes after WhatsApp sued NSO Group on Tuesday for allegedly mass exploiting a critical vulnerability that targeted 1,400 devices with spyware. WhatsApp presented evidence that about 100 of the targets were lawyers, dissidents, human-rights advocates, and other members of civil society. The exploits allowed the attackers to install spyware on iOS and Android phones simply by making a video call to the device.
Facebook and its WhatsApp messenger division on Tuesday sued Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group. This is an unprecedented legal action that takes aim at the unregulated industry that sells sophisticated malware services to governments around the world. NSO vigorously denied the allegations.
Over an 11-day span in late April and early May, the suit alleges, NSO targeted about 1,400 mobile phones that belonged to attorneys, journalists, human-rights activists, political dissidents, diplomats, and senior foreign government officials. To infect the targets with NSO's advanced and full-featured spyware, the company exploited a critical WhatsApp vulnerability that worked against both iOS and Android devices. The clickless exploit was delivered when attackers made a video call. Targets need not have answered the call or taken any other action to be infected.
Routing malware through WhatsApp servers
According to the complaint, NSO created WhatsApp accounts starting in January 2018 that initiated calls through WhatsApp servers and injected malicious code into the memory of targeted devices. The targeted phones would then use WhatsApp servers to connect to malicious servers allegedly maintained by NSO. The complaint, filed in federal court for the Northern District of California, stated:
If you create a system, someone will try to game it—that's true of everything from Candyland to the tax code. And so we should be terribly surprised that Facebook—which is desperately trying to create some kind of coherent system for political advertising and speech as the United States careens headlong into the 2020 election season—already has players pushing to exploit loopholes in its policy.
Facebook confirmed earlier this month that—while it attempts to fact-check certain kinds of posts and articles—posts by politicians are exempt from review on that basis, as are ads posted by campaigns. But while the social media giant doesn't care if politicians lie outright in their ads, the company does have some standards: nobody, including politicians, is allowed to post ads that intentionally try to suppress voter turnout.
So when The Washington Post found a targeted ad campaign on Facebook seemingly designed to mislead voters, the paper had questions.