UK parliaments call for Zuckerberg to testify goes next level

The UK parliament has issued an impressive ultimatum to Facebook in a last-ditch attempt to get Mark Zuckerberg to take its questions: Come and give evidence voluntarily or next time you fly to the UK you’ll get a formal summons to appear.

” Following reports that he will be giving evidence to the European Parliament in May, we would like Mr Zuckerberg to come to London during the course of its European journey. We would like the session here to place by 24 May ,” the committee writes in its latest letter to the company, signed by its chair, Conservative MP Damian Collins.

” It is important to recognize that, while Mr Zuckerberg does not usually go under the jurisdiction of the UK Parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country ,” he adds.” We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the Committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK .”

Facebook has repeatedly ignored the DCMS committee‘s requests that its CEO and founder appear before it — preferring to send various minions to answer questions related to its enquiry into online disinformation and the role of social media in politics and democracy.

The most recent Zuckerberg alternative to appear before it was also the most senior: Facebook’s CTO, Mike Schroepfer, who claimed he had personally volunteered to make the trip-up to London to give evidence.

However for all Schroepfer’s sweating drudgery to try to stand in for the company’s chief exec, his answers failed to impress UK parliamentarians. And immediately following the hearing the committee issued a press release repeating their call for Zuckerberg to testify , noting that Schroepfer had failed to provide adequate answers to as many of 40 of its questions.

Schroepfer did sit through around five hours of grilling on a wide range of topics with the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal front and center — the tale having morphed into a major global scandal for the company after fresh revelations were published by the Guardian in March( although the newspaper actually published its first tale about Facebook data misuse by the company all the style back in December 2015) — though in last week’s hearing Schroepfer often fell back on claiming he didn’t know the answer and would have to “follow up”.

Yet the committee has been asking Facebook for straight answers for months. So you can see why it’s really mad now.

We reached out to Facebook to ask whether its CEO will now agree to personally testify in front of the committee by May 24, per its request, but the company declined to provide a public statement on the issue.

A company spokesperson did say it would be following up with the committee to answer any outstanding questions it had after Schroepfer’s session.

It’s fair to say Facebook has handled this issue exceptionally badly — leaving Collins to express public frustration about the lack of co-operation when, for example, he had asked it for help and information related to the UK’s Brexit referendum — turning what could have been a somewhat easy to manage process into a major media circus-cum-PR nightmare.

Last week Schroepfer was on the sharp objective of lots of awkward questions from visibly outraged committee members, with Collins pointing to what he dubbed a” pattern of behavior” by Facebook that he told suggested an” unwillingness to engage, and a desire to hold onto information and not disclose it “.

Committee members also interrogated Schroepfer about why another Facebook employee who appeared before it in February had not disclosed an existing agreement between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

” I remain to be convinced that your company has integrity ,” he was told bluntly at one point during the hearing.

If Zuckerberg does agree to testify he’ll be in for an even bumpier ride. And, well, if he doesn’t it looks pretty clear the Facebook CEO won’t be making any personal journeys to the UK for a while.

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Facebook faces fresh criticism over ad targeting of sensitive interests

Is Facebook trampling over laws that govern the processing of sensitive categories of personal data by failing to ask people for their explicit permission before it induces sensitive inferences about their sex life, religion or political notions? Or is the company merely treading uncomfortably and unethically close to the line of the law?

An investigation by the Guardian and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation has found that Facebook’s platform lets advertisers to target users based on interests related to political notions, sexuality and religion — all categories that are marked out as sensitive datum under current European data protection law.

And indeed under the incoming GDPR, which will apply across the bloc from May 25.

The joint investigation discovered Facebook’s platform had built sensitive inferences about users — letting advertisers to target people based on inferred interests including communism, social democrats, Hinduism and Christianity. All of which would be classed as sensitive personal data under EU rules.

And while the platform offers some constraints on how advertisers can target people against sensitive interests — not letting advertisers to exclude users based on a specific sensitive interest, for example( Facebook having previously run into trouble in the US for enabling discrimination via ethnic affinity-based targeting) — such controls are beside the point if you take the view that Facebook is legally required to ask for a user’s explicit consent to processing this kind of sensitive data up front, before making any inferences about a person.

Indeed, it’s very unlikely that any ad platform can put people into pails with sensitive labels like’ interested in social democrat issues’ or’ likes communist pages’ or’ attends gay events’ without asking them to let it do so first.

And Facebook is not asking first.

Facebook argues otherwise, of course — claiming that the information it meets about people’s affinities/ interests, even when they necessitate sensitive categories of information such as sexuality and religion, is not personal data.

In a reply statement to the media investigation, a Facebook spokesperson told us 😛 TAGEND

Like other Internet companies, Facebook depicts ads based on topics we suppose people might be interested in, but without utilizing sensitive personal data. This means that someone could have an ad interest listed as’ Gay Pride’ because they have liked a Pride associated Page or clicked a Pride ad, but it does not reflect any personal characteristics such as gender or sexuality. People are able to manage their Ad Preference tool, which clearly explains how advertising works on Facebook and provides a route to tell us if you want to see ads based on specific interests or not. When interests are removed, we show people the list of removed interests so that they have a record they can access, but these interests are no longer used for ads. Our advertising conducted in accordance with relevant EU law and, like other companies, we are preparing for the GDPR to ensure we are compliant when it comes into force.

Expect Facebook’s argument to be tested in the courts — likely in the very near future.

As we’ve said before, the GDPR suits are coming for the company, thanks to beefed up enforcement of EU privacy regulations, with the regulation providing for penalties as large as 4% of a company’s global turnover.

Facebook is not the only online people profiler, of course, but it’s a prime target for strategic litigation both because of its massive size and reaching( and the resulting power over web users flowing from a dominant position in an attention-dominating category ), but also on account of its nose-thumbing posture to compliance with EU regulations thus far.

The company has faced a number of challenges and sanctions under existing EU privacy law — though for its operations outside the US it typically refuses to recognize any legal jurisdiction except corporate-friendly Ireland, where its international HQ is based.

And, from what we’ve seen in so far, Facebook’s response to GDPR’ conformity’ is no new leaf. Rather it looks like privacy-hostile business as usual; a continued attempt to leveraging its size and power to force a self-serving interpretation of the law — bending rules to fit its existing business procedures, rather than reconfiguring those processes to comply with the law.

The GDPR is one of the reasons why Facebook’s ad microtargeting empire is facing greater scrutiny now, with only weeks to go before civil society organizations are able to take advantage of fresh a chance for strategic litigation allowed by the regulation.

” I’m a big fan of the GDPR. I genuinely believe that it gives us — as the court in Strasbourg would say — effective and practical redress ,” statute prof Mireille Hildebrandt tells us.” If we go and do it, of course. So we need a lot of public litigation, a lot of court cases to induce the GDPR work but … I think there are more people moving into this.

” The GDPR made a market for these sort of law firms — and I think that’s excellent .”

But it’s not the only reason. Another reason why Facebook’s handling of personal data is attracting attention is the result of tenacious press investigations into how one controversial political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, was able to gain such freewheeling access to Facebook users’ data — as a result of Facebook’s lax platform policies around data access — for, in that instance, political ad targeting purposes.

All of which eventually blew up into a major global privacy cyclone, this March, though criticism of Facebook’s privacy-hostile platform policies dates back more than a decade at this stage.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal at least brought Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg in front of US lawmakers, facing questions about the extent of the personal information it gatherings; what controls it offers users over their data; and how he thinks Internet companies should be regulated, to name a few.( Pro tip for politicians: You don’t need to ask companies how they’d like to be regulated .)

The Facebook founder has also ultimately agreed to meet EU lawmakers — though UK lawmakers’ calls have been dismissed.

Zuckerberg should expect to be questioned very closely in Brussels about how his platform is impacting European’s fundamental rights.

Sensitive personal data wants explicit consent

Facebook deduces affinities linked to individual users by collecting and processing interest signals their web activity generates, such as likes on Facebook Pages or what people look at when they’re browsing outside Facebook — off-site intel it meets via an extensive network of social plug-ins and tracking pixels embedded on third party websites.( According to datum released by Facebook to the UK parliament the coming week, during merely one week of April this year its Like button appeared on 8.4 M websites; the Share button appeared on 931,000 websites; and its tracking Pixels were running on 2.2 M websites .)

But here’s the thing: Both the current and the incoming EU legal framework for data protection situates the bar for consent to processing so-called special category data equally high — at “explicit” consent.

What that entails in practice is Facebook needs to seek and protected separate permissions from users( such as via a dedicated pop-up) for collecting and processing this type of sensitive data.

The alternative is for it to rely on another special condition for processing this type of sensitive data. However the other conditions are pretty tightly drawn — relating to things like the public interest; or the vital interests of a data subject; or for purposes of” preventive or occupational medication “.

None of which would appear to apply if, as Facebook is, you’re processing people’s sensitive personal information merely to target them with ads.

Ahead of GDPR, Facebook has started asking users who have chosen to display political opinions and/ or sexuality information on their profiles to explicitly consent to that data being public.

Though even there its any measures were problematic, as it offers users a take it or leave it style’ option’ — saying they either remove the info solely or leave it and therefore agree that Facebook can use it to target them with ads.

Yet EU law also requires that permission be freely given. It cannot be conditional on the provision of a service.

So Facebook’s bundling of service provisions and permission will also likely face legal challenges, as we’ve written before.

” They’ve tangled the use of their network for socialising with the profiling of users for advertising. Those are separate purposes. You can’t tangle them like they are doing in the GDPR ,” says Michael Veale, a technology policy researcher at University College London, emphasizing that GDPR allows for a third option that Facebook isn’t offering users: Letting them to keep sensitive data on their profile but that data not be used for targeted advertising.

” Facebook, I believe, is quite afraid of this third alternative ,” he continues.” It goes back to the Congressional hearing: Zuckerberg said a lot that you can choose which of your friends every post can be shared with, through a little in-line button. But there’s no option there that tells’ do not share this with Facebook for the purposes of analysis ‘.”

Returning to how the company synthesizes sensitive personal affinities from Facebook users’ Likes and wider webs browsing activity, Veale highlights the fact that EU law also does not recognise the kind of distinction Facebook is seeking to draw — i.e. between inferred affinities and personal data — and thus to try to redraw the law in its favor.

” Facebook say that the data is not correct, or self-declared, and therefore these provisions do not apply. Data does not have to be correct or accurate to be personal data under European law, and trigger increased protection. Indeed, that’s why there is a’ right to rectification’ — because incorrect data is not the exception but the norm ,” he tells us.

” At the crux of Facebook’s challenge is that they are inferring what is arguably “special category” data( Article 9, GDPR) from non-special category data. In European statute, this data includes race, sexuality, data related to health, biometric the necessary data for the purposes of identification, and political opinions. One of the first things to note is that European law does not govern collect and use as distinct activities: Both are considered processing.

” The pan-European group of data protection regulators have recently confirmed in guidance that when you deduce special category data, it is as if you collected it. For this to be lawful, this is necessary a special reason, which for most companies is restricted to separate, explicit permission. This will be often different than the lawful basis for processing the personal data you used for inference, which might well be’ legitimate interests ‘, which didn’t necessitate permission. That’s ruled out if you’re processing one of these special categories .”

” The regulators even specifically dedicate Facebook like inference as an example of extrapolating special category data, so there is little wiggle room here ,” he adds, pointing to an example used by regulators of a study that combined Facebook Like data with” restriction survey information” — and from which it was found that researchers could accurately predict a male user’s sexual orientation 88% of the time; a user’s ethnic origin 95% of the time; and whether a user was Christian or Muslim 82% of the time.

Which underlines why these rules exist — given the clear risk of violates to human rights if big data platforms can merely suck up sensitive personal data automatically, as a background process.

The overarching aim of GDPR is to give consumers greater control over their personal data not only to help people defend their rights but to promote greater trust in online services — and for that trust to be a mechanism for greasing the wheels of digital business. Which is pretty much the opposite approach to sucking up everything in the background and hoping your users don’t realize what you’re doing.

Veale also points out that under current EU law even an opinion on someone is their personal data …( per this Article 29 Working Party guidance, emphasis ours ):

From the point of view of the nature of the information, the concept of personal data includes any sort of statements about a person. It covers “objective” datum, such as the presence of a certain substance in one’s blood. It also includes “subjective” datum, sentiments or appraisals . This latter sort of statements make up a significant share of personal data processing in sectors such as banking, for the assessment of the reliability of borrowers (” Titius is a dependable borrower “), in insurance (” Titius is not expected to die soon “) or in employment (” Titius is a good worker and merits promotion “).

We set that specific point to Facebook — but at the time of writing we’re still waiting for a answer.( Nor would Facebook offer a public response to several other questions we asked around what it’s doing here, preferring to limit its comment to the statement at the top of this post .)

Veale adds that the WP29 guidance has been upheld in recent CJEU suits such as Nowak — which he tells emphasized that, for example, annotations on the side of an exam script are personal data.

He’s clear about what Facebook should be doing to comply with the law:” They should be asking for individuals’ explicit, separate consent for them to extrapolate data including race, sexuality, health or political sentiments. If people say no, they should be able to continue using Facebook as normal without these inferences being built on the back-end .”

” They need to tell individuals about what they are doing clearly and in plain language ,” he adds.” Political opinions are just as protected here, and this is perhaps more interesting than race or sexuality .”

” They certainly should face legal challenges for the purposes of the GDPR ,” concurs Paul Bernal, senior lecturer in law at the University of East Anglia, who is also critical of how Facebook is processing sensitive personal information.” The affinity notion seems to be a fairly transparent attempt to avoid legal challenges, and one that ought to fail. The topic is whether the regulators have the intestines to build the point: It undermines a quite significant part of Facebook’s approach .”

” I suppose the reason they’re pushing this is that they think they’ll get away with it, partly because they think they’ve persuaded people that the problem is Cambridge Analytica, as rogues, rather than Facebook, as enablers and advocates. We need to be very clear about this: Cambridge Analytica are the symptom, Facebook is the disease ,” he adds.

” I should also say, I guess the differences between’ targeting’ being OK and’ excluding’ not being OK is also mostly Facebook playing games, and trying to have their cake and eat it. It simply invites gaming of the systems really .”

Facebook claims its core product is social media, rather than data-mining people to operate a highly lucrative microtargeted ad platform.

But if that’s true why then is it tangling its core social functions with its ad-targeting apparatus — and telling people they can’t have a social service unless they agree to interest-based advertising?

It could support a service with other types of advertising, which don’t depend on background surveillance that erodes users’ fundamental rights. But it’s opting not to offer that. All you can’ select’ is all or nothing. Not much of a choice.

Facebook telling people that if they want to opt out of its ad targeting they must delete their account is neither a road to obtain meaningful( and therefore lawful) permission — nor a very compelling approach to counter criticism that its real business is farming people.

The issues at stake here for Facebook, and for the shadowy background data-mining and brokering of the online ad targeting industry as a whole, are clearly much greater than any one data misuse scandal or any one category of sensitive data. But Facebook’s decision to retain people’s sensitive personal data for ad targeting without asking for consent up-front is a telling sign of something gone very wrong indeed.

If Facebook doesn’t feel confident asking its users whether what it’s doing with their personal data is okay or not, maybe it shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

At very least it’s a failing of ethics. Even if the final judgement on Facebook’s self-serving interpretation of EU privacy rules will have to wait for the courts to decide.

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Bannon and Cambridge Analytica planned suppression of black voters, whistleblower tells Senate

Appearing before the Senate Judiciary committee today as part of the ongoing investigation of Cambridge Analytica and various forms of meddling in the 2016 elections, former employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie used to say the company and its then-VP Steve Bannon were seeking voter suppression tactics aimed at black Americans.

Although Wylie insisted that he himself did not take part in these programs, he testified to their existence.

” One of the things that elicited me to leave was debates about’ voter disengagement’ and the idea of targeting African Americans ,” he said.” I didn’t participate on any voter suppression programs, so I can’t comment on the specifics of those programs .”

” I can comment on their existence, and I can comment more generally on my understanding of what they were doing ,” he explained under questioning from Sen. Kamala Harris( D-CA ).

” If it suited the client’s objective, the firm[ SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company] was eager to capitalize on discontent and to stoke ethnic tensions ,” read Wylie’s written testimony.

” Steve Bannon believes that politics is downstream from culture. They were seeking out companies to build an arsenal of weapons to opposed a culture war ,” he explained at another point in the session. He indicated questions on the nature of those weapons, and the particularities of any possible race-based voter suppression tactics, to be directed to Bannon.

That such a system might work, however, he did address.

” How specifically, then, did they target African American voters ,” Sen. Harris had asked,” appreciation as you do that the African American population is not a monolith? How did they then decipher and ascertain who was African American so they would target them in their intent to suppress the vote ?”

” Racial characteristics can be modeled and I’m not sure about the studies that my colleague here was referencing but we were able to get an AUC score, which is a way of measuring accuracy for race that was. 89 I believe ,” Wylie answered.

AUC, he then explained, stands for” Area under the receive operations characteristic. It’s a style of measuring precision, which[ the. 89 figure] entails it’s very high .”

In other terms, black voters could be identified on the basis of their social media presence and other factors, despite the fact that the black community is, patently, far away from homogeneous.

It’s not especially surprising that Bannon, who has aligned himself repeatedly with alt-right and white nationalist figures and motions, would be contemplating ways to decrease the number of people of color voting. But it is new that it was being pursued relatively openly for the purposes of the Cambridge Analytica banner.

Sen. Harris and others requested any” evidence of the conduct you’ve described” Wylie may have.

Wylie also testified that Facebook, when it asked Cambridge Analytica to certify that it had deleted the data it was using in violation of the company’s rules,” did not require a notary or any kind of legal procedure. So I signed the certification and sent it back and they accepted it .”

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Cambridge Analytica shuts down in light of unfairly negative press coverage

Cambridge Analytica is done. In sunlight of the sprawling dispute around its role in improperly obtaining data regarding Facebook users through a third party, the company will end its U.S. and U.K. operations.

In a press release corroborating the decision, the company used to say” unfairly negative media coverage” around the Facebook incident has ” driven away nearly all of the Company’s customers and suppliers ,” stimulating its business no longer financially sustainable. The same goes for the SCL Elections, a C-Aaffiliated company 😛 TAGEND

Earlier today, SCL Elections Ltd ., as well as certain of its and Cambridge Analytica LLC’s U.K. affiliates( collectively, the “Company” or “Cambridge Analytica”) filed applications to commence insolvency proceedings in the U.K. The Company is instantly discontinuing all operations…

Additionally, parallel bankruptcy proceedings will shortly be commenced on behalf of the members of Cambridge Analytica LLC and certain of the Company’s U.S. affiliates in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

On Wednesday, just before the company ran public with its news, Gizmodo reported that employees of Cambridge Analytica’s U.S. offices became aware that their jobs were being discontinued when they were was necessary to hand over their company keycards.

Given its already somewhat shadowy business practices, it remains to be seen if this is really the end for Cambridge Analytica or just a strategic rebrand while it waits for the “siege” of negative media coverage to cool off.

Probably the latter, since the U.K.-based SCL Group, the mothership in the constellation of associated companies, is not going out of business. Nor are its many other ventures, including a new one, Emerdata, which several former CA leaders have recently moved to.

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Twitter also sold data access to Cambridge Analytica-linked researcher

Since it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed the personal data of millions of Facebook users, one question has persisted in the minds of the public: What other data did Dr. Aleksandr Kogan gain access to?

Twitter confirmed to The Telegraph on Saturday that GSR, Kogan’s own commercial enterprise, had purchased one-time API access to a random sample of public tweets from a five-month period between December 2014 and April 2015. Twitter told Bloomberg that, following an internal review, the company did not find any access to private data about people who use Twitter.

Twitter sells API access to big organizations or enterprises for the purposes of surveying sentiment or sentiment during various events, or around certain topics or ideas.

Here’s what a Twitter spokesperson said to The Telegraph 😛 TAGEND

Twitter has also made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned and operated by Cambridge Analytica. This decision is based on our determination that Cambridge Analytica operates utilizing a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices. Cambridge Analytica may remain an organic user on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules.

Obviously, this doesn’t have the same scope as the data harvested about users on Facebook. Twitter’s data on users is far less personal. Place on the platform is opt-in and generic at that, and users are not forced to use their real name on the platform.

Cambridge Analytica tweeted out this morning that the data obtained by Kogan/ GSR from Twitter was never purchased or used by Cambridge Analytica.

We reached out to Twitter and will update when we hear back.

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Cambridge Analytica denies accessing data on 87M Facebook usersclaims 30M

Cambridge Analytica is refuting a report by Facebook today that said Cambridge Analytica improperly reached data on up to 87 million users. Instead, it claims it only” licensed data for no more than 30 million people” from Dr. Aleksandr Kogan’s research company Global Science Research. It also claims none of this data was used in work on the 2016 U.S. general elections when it was hired by the Trump campaign, and that upon notification from Facebook immediately deleted all raw data and began removing derivative data.

The whole statement from Cambridge Analytica can be found below. We requested a comment from Facebook about the incongruencies in the two companies’ postures, but the social network declined to comment.

The he-said-she-said of the scandal seems to be amplifying as Facebook continues to endure criticism about weak data privacy policies and enforcement that led to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco that’s seen Facebook’s market cap drop virtually $100 billion.

NEW DELHI, INDIA- OCTOBER 9: Co-founder and chief executive of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg gestures as he announces the Innovation Challenge in India on October 9, 2014 in New Delhi, India. Zuckerberg is on a two-day visit to India aimed at promoting the app, which allows people in underdeveloped areas to access basic online services.( Photo by Arun Sharma/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Today Facebook announced the 87 million figure as a maximum number of people potentially impacted and said it would notify those users with an alerting atop the News Feed. It also rewrote its Words of Service today to clarify how it collects and working in cooperation with outside developers, and announced sweeping platform API limiteds that will break many apps built on Facebook but prevent privacy abuses. Zuckerberg then held a conference call with reporters to give insight on all the news.

Cambridge Analytica has repeatedly denied affirms about interactions with Facebook data, but Facebook hasn’t backed down. Instead, Facebook has use Cambridge Analytica as two examples of abuse it’s trying to combat, and as a justification for cracking down on developers both malicious and benign around the world.

Cambridge Analytica responds to announcement that GSR dataset potentially contained 87 million records
Today Facebook reported that info for up to 87 million people may have been improperly obtained by research company GSR. Cambridge Analytica licensed data for from GSR, as is clearly stated in our contract with the research company. We did not receive more data than this.

We did not use any GSR data in the run we did in the 2016 US presidential election.

Our contract with GSR stated that all data must be obtained legally, and this contract is now a matter of public record. We took legal action against GSR when we found out they had breached this contract.When Facebook contacted us to let us know the data had been improperly procured, we immediately deleted the raw data from our file server, and began the process of searching for and removing any of its derivatives in our system.

When Facebook sought further assurances a year ago, we carried out an internal audit to make sure that all the data, all derivatives, and all backups had been deleted, and gave Facebook a certificate to this effect.

We are now undertaking an independent third-party audit has been proved that no GSR data remains in our systems.

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Facebook will tell you today if Cambridge Analytica had access to your data

Last week, Facebook revealed that 87 million or so users potentially had their data improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica — and you’ve no doubt been wondering if yours is among them. Today the site will share that information with users.

The disclosure arrives by way of a new “protecting your information” link set to appear at the top users’ feeds. The landing page lets users manage the third-party apps employing the site to log-in and lets them know whether that information has been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica

” We have banned the website’ This Is Your Digital Life ,’ which one of your friends use Facebook to log into, ” the note is set to read. “We did this because the website may have misused some of your Facebook information by sharing it with a company called Cambridge Analytica.”

The news was announced last week, as part of a larger data privacy push for the site, which has scrambled to rehabilitate its image following the completion of political upheaval tied to information sharing. The slate of proclamations also included new regulations to Events, Groups and Pages APIs, along withFacebook log in, among others.

Earlier today, the site announced that it is working with nonprofits to improve the study of the ways in which its data is being used to impact elections.

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Facebook launches bulk app removal tool amidst privacy scandal

Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, users have flocked to their Facebook privacy situates to sever their connection to third-party apps that they no longer wanted to have access to their data. But deleting them all took forever because you had to remove them one by one. Now Facebook has released a new route to select as many apps as you want, then remove them in bulk. The feature has rolled out on mobile and desktop, and Facebook also offers the option to delete any posts those apps have made to your profile.

Facebook corroborated the launch to TechCrunch, pointing to its Newsroom and Developer News blog posts from the last few weeks that explained that” We already show people what apps their accounts are connected to and control what data they’ve permitted those apps to employ. In the coming month, we’re going to make these selections more prominent and easier to manage .” Now we know what “easier” looks like. A Facebook spokesperson told us” we have more to do and will be sharing more when we can .” The updated interface was first spotted by Matt Navarra, who had previously called on Facebook to build a bulk removal option.

Facebook stopped short of offering a “select all” button so you have to tap each individually. That could prevent more innocent, respectful developers from getting caught up in the dragnet as users panic to prune their app connects. One developer told me they’d been inundated with requests from users to delete their data acquired through Facebook and add other login alternatives, saying that the Cambridge Analytica scandal” really hurt consumer trust for all apps…even the good guys .” The developer chose to change its Words of Service to make users more comfortable.

The bulk removal tool could make it much easier for users to take control of their data and protect their identity, though the damage to Facebook’s reputation is largely done. It’s staggering how many apps piggyback off of Facebook, and that we dedicated our data without much thought. But at the least now it won’t take an hour to remove them all.

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Senator warns Facebook better shape up or get broken up

In the run-up to Mark Zuckerberg’s first appearance before Congress, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden issued a warning to the company about what it can expect from lawmakers if it doesn’t radically alter course.

” Mr. Zuckerberg is going to have a couple of very unpleasant days before Congress next week and that’s the place to start ,” Wyden said at the TechFestNW meeting in his home nation of Oregon on Friday.

” There are going to be people who are going to say Facebook ought to be broken up. There have been a number of proposals and ideas for doing it and I guess unless[ Zuckerberg] observes a style to honor the promise he made several years ago, he’s gonna have a law on his hands .”

The Senator added that he would support such a law.

For Wyden, concealing the truth about data sharing in the fine print is a deceptive practice that’s gone on too long.

” I think we got to establish a principle once and for all that you own your data, period ,” Wyden said.

” What does that entail in the real world? It’s not enough for a company to bury some technical lingo in their[ words of service ]… It’s not enough to have some convoluted process for opting out .”

While that might have been wishful thinking two weeks ago, the Oregon lawmaker believes that Facebook’s most recent scandal has generating the perfect opportunity for privacy reform.

” If there is a grassroots uprising about the issue of who owns user data, we can get it passed ,” Wyden said, quoting other pieces of bipartisan legislation that once seemed like a long-shot.

Wyden, one of the loudest digital privacy champions in Congress, wants the public to use Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle to demand that social networks obtain” explicit permission” from users before sharing their personal data with anyone — including advertisers.

” It’s real basic. You have to give the okay for them to do anything with your data ,” Wyden said.

Zuckerberg is slated to appear before the Senate’s commerce and judiciary committees on Tuesday and the House energy and commerce committee the following day.

To date, Facebook has always successfully writhed out of watching its chief executive with his right hand raised. This time, as pressure mounted from legislators, investors, advertisers and the public alike, the company confessed. The situate of hearings is widely expected to be a milestone event in big tech’s reluctant shuffle toward get its wings clipped in Congress.

Unfortunately for Facebook, its corporate willful ignorance around protecting user data echoes other recent privacy tragedies — a context that won’t do it any favors.

” The reason that Facebook is in hot water is essentially the same reason that Equifax is in hot water ,” Wyden said.” These companies have not gotten their heads around the idea that the data they collect is more than merely their property .”

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Go find out now if Cambridge Analytica had access to your data

Facebook promised it would alert users yesterday who were impacted by the whole Cambridge Analytica mess. No doubt you’ve been waiting on that information since the whole thing traversed your radar. Well, you can either sit around and wait for a notification, or you can go find out yourself, by visiting this Facebook Help Center page.

The link will let you know if you were among the 87 million or so Facebook users who had their information compromised when you or one your friends logged into the “This is Your Digital Life” app. If so, there’s a good chance your profile, city, birthday and the pages you like is likewise shared.

If you were impacted, the page also notes that “a small number of people who logged in” may have given the service access to their “news need, timeline, posts and messages which may have included positions and messages from you.”

Of course, there’s a lot more information still to come from all off this — some of which will hopefully come to illumination when Mark Zuckerberg testifies to the Senate today.

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