New York, Feb 01 (AP/UNB) — Facebook says it has removed 783 Iran-linked pages, accounts and groups from its service for what it calls "coordinated inauthentic behavior." That's the social network's term for fake accounts run with the intent of disrupting politics and elections.
Facebook has been disclosing such purges more regularly in recent months, including ones linked to groups in Myanmar , Bangladesh and Russia .
The accounts on Facebook and Instagram typically misrepresented themselves as locals in more than two dozen countries ranging from Afghanistan, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
Facebook said Thursday the accounts spent about $30,000 on advertisements, paid for in U.S. dollars, British pounds, Canadian dollars and euros.
The company said Twitter helped its investigation by sharing information about suspicious activity it found on its own service. The companies, along with others in the tech industry, have been cooperating more when it comes to such account takedowns by sharing information.
Such cooperation can help the companies avoid regulatory scrutiny by showing critics and lawmakers that they can set aside differences when it comes to battling outside threats that affect their users.
The latest removed accounts, Facebook said, typically represented themselves as locals in various countries, often using fake accounts and posting news stories on current events. This included using stories from Iranian state media about conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Dhaka, Jan 26 (UNB) - Facebook plans to integrate its messaging services on Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, reports BBC.
While all three will remain stand-alone apps, at a much deeper level they will be linked so messages can travel between the different services.
Facebook told the BBC it was at the start of a "long process".
The plan was first reported in the New York Times and is believed to be a personal project of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Once complete, the merger would mean that a Facebook user could communicate directly with someone who only has a WhatsApp account. This is currently impossible as the applications have no common core.
The work to merge the three elements has already begun, reported the NYT, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019 or early next year.
Facebook probably didn't want to talk about this in the middle of a privacy scandal, but its hand was forced by insiders talking to the New York Times.
Until now, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger have been run as separate and competing products.
Integrating the messaging parts might simplify Facebook's work. It wouldn't need to develop competing versions of new features, such as Stories, which all three apps have added with inconsistent results.
Cross-platform messaging may also lead the way for businesses on one platform to message potential customers on another.
And it might make it easier for Facebook to share data across the three platforms, to help its targeted advertising efforts.
But bigger still: it makes Facebook's suite of apps a much tighter, interwoven collection of services. That could make the key parts of Facebook's empire more difficult to break up and spin off, if governments and regulators decide that is necessary.
Mr Zuckerberg is reportedly pushing the integration plan to make its trinity of services more useful and increase the amount of time people spend on them.
By effectively joining all its users into one massive group Facebook could compete more effectively with Google's messaging services and Apple's iMessage, suggested Makena Kelly on tech news site The Verge.
"We want to build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private," said Facebook in a statement.
"We're working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks," it added.
The statement said there was a lot of "discussion and debate" about how the system would eventually work.
Linking the three systems marks a significant change at Facebook as before now it has let Instagram and WhatsApp operate as largely independent companies.
The NYT claimed that Mr Zuckerberg's championing of the plan to connect the messaging system had caused "internal strife". It was part of the reason that the founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp left last year.
The decision comes as Facebook faces repeated investigations and criticisms over the way it has handled and safeguarded user data.
Comprehensively linking user data at a fundamental level may prompt regulators to take another look at its data handling practices.
The UK's Information Commissioner has already conducted investigations into how much data is shared between WhatsApp and Facebook.
San Francisco, Jan 26 (AP/UNB) — Facebook allowed children to rack up huge bills on digital games while the company rejected recommendations for addressing what it dubbed "friendly fraud," according to newly released court documents.
The internal Facebook memos and other records were unsealed late Thursday to comply with a judge's order in a federal court case settled in 2016.
The lawsuit, filed in San Jose, California, centered on allegations that Facebook knowingly milked teenagers by permitting them to spend hundreds of dollars buying additional features on games such as "Angry Birds" and "Barn Buddy" without their parents' consent.
The documents show Facebook considered measures to reduce the chances of kids running up charges on parents' credit cards without their knowledge. But the company didn't adopt them for fear of undercutting the revenue growth that helps boost the company's stock price — and its employees' compensation.
The internal debate about how to address the recurring problem of kids spending big bucks behind their parents' backs occurred from 2010 and 2014 — a period that included Facebook's stock market debut in 2012. After going public at $38 per share, Facebook's stock plummeted by 50 percent, intensifying the pressure on CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his management team to bring in more revenue.
None of the unsealed records, however, directly tie Facebook's tolerance of "friendly fraud" to concerns about its slumping stock price during parts of 2012 and 2013.
A Facebook statement didn't address its rejection of the recommendations. Instead, it said the company has offered refunds and changed its practices.
"We routinely examine our own practices, and in 2016 agreed to update our terms and provide dedicated resources for refund requests related to purchases made by minors on Facebook," the Menlo Park, California, company said in a statement Friday.
Facebook isn't the only prominent technology company that has been skewered for profiting from game-loving children who don't always understand how much of their parents' money they are spending while playing games in apps or websites.
Apple agreed to issue $32.5 million in refunds for allowing kids to make in-app purchases without parental consent as part of a 2014 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. That same year, Google settled a similar case for $19 million with the same agency. In 2017, Amazon resolved another case involving up to $70 million in potential refunds owed for kids' unauthorized spending on games.
But none of those companies had their dirty laundry aired quite like Facebook is now in a case that it thought it had closed a few years ago. The unflattering documents are emerging after the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting sought their release and U.S. District Judge Beth Freeman granted it.
To make matters worse for Facebook, the documents are coming out at a time when it is trying to repair the damage done to its reputation over the past 10 months from a scandal involving the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica, and other debacles.
Facebook released the "friendly fraud" documents just as the Wall Street Journal was publishing an op-ed piece by Zuckerberg defending the company's integrity and business principles.
But some of the information unsealed in the court case painted a picture of a predatory company.
In a 2013 discussion between two of the company's employees, a 15-year-old Facebook user who had spent about $6,500 playing games is described as a "whale" — a term that gambling casinos use to describe people who make them a lot of money. The company decided to refuse a refund request from the teenager's parents.
The documents also disclosed that some Facebook employees had proposed requiring minors and people over 90 years old to provide the first six digits of the credit card accounts before allowing purchase as a way to reduce unauthorized spending. But Facebook management decided against requiring that additional information because it might also discourage users outside those age ranges from spending, too.
San Bruno, Jan 26 (AP/UNB) — If you believe the world is flat, don't count on YouTube recommending videos supporting your theory.
That's because YouTube is promising to stop promoting so many sensationalistic clips that revolve around scientifically proven falsehoods and other suspect information, such as conspiracy theories revolving around the U.S. government's involvement in the 9/11 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York.
YouTube, part of Google, announced its de-emphasis on misleading videos Friday. It's the latest example of a widely used digital service trying to stop the spread of misinformation as lawmakers scrutinize the role that technology companies play in distributing potentially toxic propaganda. Both Facebook and Twitter are trying to take similar steps.
The misleading videos will remain on YouTube, even after they are phased out from its recommendation list.
Dhaka, Jan 25 (UNB)- Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg once killed a goat with a stun gun and served it to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for dinner. Dorsey revealed the incident during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, reports NDTV.
The Twitter CEO was asked about his 'most memorable experience' with Facebook's founder. He also mentioned that Zuckerberg only ate what we killed for about a year.
On being asked how Zuckerberg arranged the whole thing, Dorsey elaborated that he killed the goat before dinner, and he probably uses a laser gun and a knife. It was then sent to the butcher. Dorsey later said it could be a stun gun, clarifying that they stun the animal and then kill it with a knife.
However, Twitter's CEO said he didn't actually eat the goat, adding that it was cold, even after it was cooked in an oven. He said when Zuckerberg put down the meat, it was cold, and that was memorable. Dorsey said he just ate his salad. It's still unclear when this incident actually took place. Mashable reports it was in 2011 that Zuckerberg said he would only eat animals that he kills himself.
Rolling Stone magazine also asked Dorsey about how he thought of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Dorsey said, "I don't know of another person on the planet who's leading us off the planet because of the damage that we're inflicting to this planet."
The magazine also asked Dorsey if he was the CEO of Facebook how he'd like to do things differently. Dorsey replied to it with, "No, I've got enough on my plate."
Dorsey co-founded Twitter back in 2006 and went on to co-found Square, a mobile payments company later on. He joined Twitter again as the company's CEO in 2015.