The European Union and the U.K. have launched antitrust investigations into Facebook’s use of advertising data in its classified ads business, probes which could force it to change its business model on top of hefty fines. The European Commission and Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority are investigating whether Facebook uses data from advertisers to compete with them.
Details of more than 500 million Facebook users – 11 million from the UK – have been found on a website for hackers. Although the information appears to be several years old, it includes data from 106 countries such as phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates and email addresses. In a statement, Facebook said: “This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019. “We found and fixed this issue in August 2019.”
Facebook Inc. has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users of its services, according to people with knowledge of the work. They’re hearing Facebook users’ conversations, sometimes with vulgar content, but do not know why Facebook needs them transcribed, the people said. Facebook confirmed that it had been transcribing users’ audio and said it will no longer do so, following scrutiny into other companies.
Mark Zuckerberg faced difficult questions from EU political leaders in a hearing on Tuesday for Facebook’s recent privacy mishaps. European lawmakers suggested a split from Facebook and complained that Zuckerberg repeated his previous statements, evading specific questions. Zuckerberg began the meeting by apologizing to the European Parliament for Facebook’s role in the spreading of misinformation.
Despite experiencing a major crisis and investigation into its privacy policies, Facebook’s net profit has reached an all-time high of $4.9 billion. The company’s first quarter saw a 63% increase in profit and 49% increase in revenue resulting from mobile advertising growth. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is ‘off to a strong start in 2018.’
Formal investigation into Facebook’s involvement in mishandling user information is being opened by the Federal Trade Commission, with American and European politicians calling on Mark Zuckerberg to testify. The FTC investigation comes from the fallout of Cambridge Analytica’s controversial Trump campaign data access tactics and has caused Facebook’s value to be cut by $50 billion.
Facebook is launching a long-promised tool that lets you limit what the social network can gather about you on outside websites and apps. The company said Tuesday that it is adding a section where you can see the activity that Facebook tracks outside its service via its “like” buttons and other means. You can choose to turn off the tracking; otherwise, tracking will continue the same way it has been.
Facebook is expecting to pay as much as $5bn to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it revealed in first quarter financial reports, which otherwise showed continued revenue growth to more than $15bn for the first three months of the year. Facebook recorded a $3bn legal expense “in connection with the inquiry of the FTC into our platform and user data practices”, the company said. The expenses result in a 51% year-over-year decline in net income, to just $2.4bn.
Facebook Inc. suffered its third major outage this year, with users across the world unable to access the social network or its suite of services such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook and Instagram were inaccessible on Sunday morning for several hours with both sites refusing to refresh, while messages were unable to be sent or received in WhatsApp or the Messenger app. The outages add to the woes of Facebook, already embattled by revelations it has failed to safeguard user data or stanch the spread of hate speech, fake news and other forms of disinformation.