Facebook Inc said on Tuesday it was tightening rules around its livestreaming feature ahead of a meeting of world leaders aimed at curbing online violence in the aftermath of a massacre in New Zealand. A lone gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch on March 15 while livestreaming the attacks on Facebook. Facebook said in a statement it was introducing a “one-strike” policy for use of Facebook Live, temporarily restricting access for people who have faced disciplinary action for breaking the company’s most serious rules anywhere on its site.
Facebook Inc. unveiled a redesign that focuses on the Groups feature of its main social network, doubling down on a successful but controversial part of its namesake app — and another sign that Facebook is moving toward more private, intimate communication. The changes, announced Tuesday at the annual F8 conference in San Jose, California, make Groups a bigger part of the Facebook user experience. The company has been pushing more aggressively into groups for the past two years as people shy away from posting things publicly and look for more intimate ways to connect with friends and family.
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.
Facebook employees had access to hundreds of millions of user passwords over the past few years, the social media giant said on Thursday, a disclosure that will add even more scrutiny on a company that has battled a flood of negative headlines over the past year. The passwords were stored in a readable format on internal systems, Vice President Pedro Canahuati wrote in a blog post, who added that the firm’s login systems are “designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable.”
Facebook “intentionally and knowingly” violated U.K. data privacy and anti-competition laws and urgently needs to be regulated and investigated, a scathing new report by British lawmakers said. The final report issued Monday by the U.K.’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee concluded an 18-month investigation into Facebook and other social media companies for their role in spreading “fake news” and disinformation. “Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like ‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law,” the report said.
Germany is moving to break up Facebook’s dominant position in gathering data about social media users. The country’s antitrust office ruled Thursday that Facebook is abusing its virtual monopoly in social media by combining data from Instagram, WhatsApp and third party websites. The office said Facebook (FB) used the data to build a unique profile about each user to gain more market power. In future, Facebook will have to seek German users’ explicit consent to collect and combine such data. The Bundeskartellamt ordered Facebook to come up with proposals for how to do this.
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine sued Facebook on Wednesday for the company’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook is accused of allowing the collection of personal data of millions of users by a third party. Facebook is also under investigation by the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission.
A collection of internal emails released by the UK parliament revealed that Facebook staff considered selling user data to major advertisers. The documents show that Facebook used data for strategic advantage from 2012 to 2015 to favor partners and punish rivals. CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed using data to ‘increase the value’ of the network.
The president of George Soros’s philanthropy called for oversight of Facebook by U.S. lawmakers after the social media company confirmed it hired a controversial public relations outfit to research the billionaire financier. Facebook’s departing policy and communications chief, Elliot Schrage, this week took responsibility for the hiring of Definers Public Affairs, a consulting firm and opposition-research firm that Facebook tasked with scrutinizing detractors.