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HomeArticlesFacebook in trouble While Zuckerberg testifies, countries launch their own FB type apps
Tuesday, 08 May 2018 06:12

Facebook in trouble While Zuckerberg testifies, countries launch their own FB type apps

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The massive data leak has brought down share prices of Facebook to half.  While the reputation of the biggest social media house is at stake, and many old timers with Facebook called up users to delete their accounts to safeguard their data, Mark Zuckerberg has already apologized to the US Congress and taken personal responsibility over the Cambridge Analytica scandal for “not doing enough” to protect his social media platform’s 87 million users’ private data from being misused, sold, looted or leaked for nefarious purposes such as affecting the results of an election. 

Mark said: “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here. It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech.”

The FB founder admitted he was too idealistic and failed to grasp how the platform, used by two billion people, could be abused and manipulated. 

The 33-year old Mark admitted making a “huge mistake” as personal data of up to 87 million users may have been improperly shared with British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, a figure higher than the previous estimate of 50 million.

He admitted the lapses and asked for another chance to lead the company. Now after grilling Mark and bring back his conscience, the White House may haul Cambridge Analytica in to answer questions at a separate hearing.

Zuckerberg said: “Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good. It will take some time to work through all of the changes we need to make, but I’m committed to getting it right.”

The White House lawmakers blatantly told Zuckerberg they weren't confident that Facebook could adequately regulate itself and said privacy rules and other regulations could be on the horizon. They said the social media giant has broken its privacy promises multiple times.

He was grilled for five hours, which was later followed by another grilling at the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The members asked Zuckerberg on how Facebook handles and protects its users' personal information. They also asked him about how Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm affiliated with the 2016 Trump campaign that harvested information of up to 87 million people to build psychological profiles of voters.


Germany too grills FB Executive: 

Angry over data leak, Germany too called up Joel Kaplan, vice president for global public policy at Facebook to face its lawmakers. Kaplan, like a parrot, mimicked his boss Zuckerberg, and repeated apologies over the Cambridge Analytica leak.

Kaplan said: "What happened with Cambridge Analytica represents a huge violation of trust, and we are deeply sorry."

But Facebook's attempt to limit fallout from a massive data breach hit trouble in Germany as a privacy watchdog opened a case against the social network and politicians accused its bosses of evasion.

As per a German data privacy regulator, it was opening a non-compliance procedure against Facebook in relation to the data leak to the consultancy, Cambridge Analytica. The city-state of Hamburg's Data Protection Commissioner, Johannes Caspar, notified Facebook in writing that he had opened a probe into suspected data abuse. The case could lead to a fine of up to 300,000 euros.

Jow Kaplan said Facebook would roll out a new 'view ads' feature, designed to make political advertising more transparent, in time for a regional election being held in the German state of Bavaria in October.

Germany’s lawmakers too were dissatisfied from the closed-door hearing, saying Facebook executives had failed to give clarity on how widespread the illicit harvesting of data using Facebook apps had been.


France developing its own Whatsapp: 

To battle the fears of data leak, the government of France is currently developing its own instant messaging app just like Whatsapp (which is owned by Facebook) for government officials. The French government feels that apps like WhatsApp and Telegram are based out of France. Hence, it would be tough to control them. These apps can also spy on private conversations between top officials, according to the country's digital ministry.

The new messaging app will have end-to-end encryption. Currently, though Whatsapp and Telegram are end-to-end encrypted, a high-profile security tool by French security firm Thales does not allow either app to function on government officials' work phones.

As per the digital ministry, all French government staff should start using the app by summer. A state-employed developer has designed the new messaging app and around 20 officials and top civil servants are currently testing it. The encrypted app has been built atop a free-to-use code from the internet.


India too worried over the FB data leak

Amid the chaos over Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data theft scandal, billionaire businessman Anand Mahindra has come up with an idea to build an alternative social media platform.

Facebook's privacy practices have come under fire after Cambridge Analytica got data pertaining to about 50 million of its users through inappropriate means. The scandal has raised an alarm in India bringing to fore concerns over privacy and safety of personal data.


Mahindra to fund startups to make our own Facebook: 

Back home in India, Anand Mahindra too has pitched the idea of having a social networking company which is “professionally managed and willingly regulated”. The business tycoon has invited Indian startups to present related ideas and expressed eagerness to assist them with seed fund.

He posted a tweet: “Beginning to wonder if it’s time to consider having our own social networking company that is very widely owned & professionally managed & willingly regulated. Any relevant Indian start-ups out there? If any young teams have such plans I’d like to see if I can assist with seed capital.”


Google develops its own Chat: 

While Apple Messages is giving competition to troubled Facebook, Google has also launched a new chatting tool Rich Communication Services (RCS), or “Chat.” But as it does not have end-to-end encryption, only time will tell whether it impresses Whatsapp users, enjoying the encryption. 


Way forward: 

As per civil societies, Facebook and Google must be forced to safeguard users’ piracy and stop invasive data collection. And if they fail, they should be liable to prosecution in countries where the acts happen. 

Countries where these tech giants operate or offer services should have powers to grill them. Many blame that Google and Facebook are too secretive in the way they operate and there is no independent third party to check their claims about the size of their audience and reach for advertisers. 

Cambridge Analytica revelations have just exposed how little safeguards measures are available with these tech giants. 

According to a media analyst: “Google and Facebook are not merely platforms, they are also media companies, or we can call them Free TV. They monetize content. However, unlike commercial television broadcasters which invest in the creation of content, Google and Facebook monetize content created by others, without meaningfully investing in its creation or licensing its use. They earn massive revenue without being answerable to any watchdogs.”

If Facebook has to survive, it has to put users first before all earnings. If it fails again, millions of users who made it king may also bring it down sooner than Mark Zuckerberg or Kaplan can think. Privacy is key thing, and cannot be compromised by anyone. Consumers’ interest has to prevail.

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