Facebook To Reward Data Abuse Whistleblowers

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Even if individual users don't want to go so far as pulling the plug on Facebook altogether, by now they should be extremely wary about posting any of their personal information on its pages.

There will no doubt be additional legislation proposed in the wake of Zuckerberg's testimony, but based on statements made during the committee hearings this week and legislation that has been formally proposed in both the House and Senate, here's a quick overview of five ways members of Congress might regulate Facebook and other tech giants.

The uproar has only added to the pressure on Facebook and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg over how the company was used during the 2016 presidential campaign to spread Russian propaganda and phony headlines. After all, "Who will watch the watchmen" if the regulations rely on Facebook input?

Earlier this week, Zuckerberg emerged largely unscathed after facing hours of questioning from US lawmakers on how the personal information of several million Facebook users might have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Mr Grassley's panel is the third USA congressional committee to seek out Mr Zuckerberg's testimony in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the Associated Press reports.

Tufekci says the targeting specificity that Facebook user data allows is chilling, giving as an example the ability to determine if a person is bipolar: "You can predict people's likelihood of entering a depressive state or a manic state in the next few months ... you can imagine the kind of manipulation that it's open to".

Facebook said it has changed its rules on user consent to stop other third parties harvesting data in the same way. Blumenthal asked to flip that and force Facebook to explicitly ask permission for whatever pieces of personal information it wanted to harvest and use, and explain why.

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In a general sense, yes. Lawsuits by the Department of Justice to block future acquisitions of competitors on antitrust grounds will do little to prevent Facebook from developing its own competing products and stifling the competitors' growth, as it has done with Snapchat.

Then what's the issue here? It also launched the menu item "Privacy Shortcuts", where users can lock down who can view their profile or contact them. Apparently Facebook doesn't read the "terms for use" either.

Has the data been destroyed? Cambridge Analytica has maintained that it deleted all the data Kogan provided and, at Facebook's request, "carried out an internal audit to make sure that all the data, all derivatives, and all backups had been deleted". This data trove gives Facebook unparalleled commercial power and, as is becoming increasingly clear, the ability to influence significant events, including national elections.

Did Cambridge Analytica pay Kogan? These apps are likely to be selling our personal information to outside companies for their own benefit. And for some reason, people are surprised that their information is being used by advertising and political firms.

Did the Facebook data help Trump win the presidency?

And behind Zuckerberg's Ivy League earnestness and soft-touch Silicon Valley idealism, is a ruthless capitalist who knows full well that wringing as much data as possible from his customers, and then using it to attract advertisers, is the core of his business. Zuckerberg said everyone who uses Facebook consents to what they agree to share, and has complete control of it. The FTC is now investigating whether Facebook violated the terms of that 2011 consent decree. Lawmakers in the USA and United Kingdom are conducting their own inquiries.

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