Facebook

Facebook asks for nude photos. Days later clarifies what it will do


Facebook promises to be responsible.
Facebook promises to be responsible.

Image: studio east/getty images

Facebook wants your nude photos. 

We’re not kidding. It’s part of an effort by the social network to prevent revenge porn from spreading via its network. But the idea of sending nude photos to one of the world’s most profitable companies frightened people. 

On Thursday, Facebook further clarified how the program works via a blog post titled “The Facts: Non-Consensual Intimate Image Pilot” and published by Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis. 

It’s an important move for Facebook as it battles a reputation for helping destroy America’s democracy and profiting off the personal information of at least 2 billion people. Recently, the myth of Facebook listening to conversations has regained the spotlight.  

“We recently announced a test that’s a little different from things we’ve tried in the past. Even though this is a small pilot, we want to be clear about how it works,” Davis wrote. 

Davis emphasized in the blog post that the program is completely voluntarily and that user privacy is protected. For example, the eSafety Commission in Australia receives users’ submissions and then notifies and sends them to Facebook. Individuals at the third-party partner “do not have access to the actual image.”

Rather, a “specifically trained representative” from Facebook’s Community Operations team reviews and then hashes the image. In other words, yes, a Facebook employee will be looking at the submitted pictures.

That begs the question: What if the “specifically trained representative” went rogue? We saw what happened when someone with great power and responsibility left Twitter.   

The blog post also included lengthy quotes from three experts on security who have been working with Facebook on the test. 

“This is a complex challenge and they have taken a very thoughtful, secure, privacy sensitive approach at a small scale with victim advocates on the frontline,” wrote Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law.

Currently, Facebook is testing it in Australia and that doesn’t mean it will roll out globally.

“It’s a protective measure that can help prevent a much worse scenario where an image is shared more widely. We look forward to getting feedback and learning,” Davis wrote. 

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Facebook Community Boost launches as 30-city tour for small businesses


Mark Zuckerberg will no longer be the only Facebook employee touring America. 

Facebook is launching a 30-stop U.S. tour in 2018 to educate small business owners on how to use the product, Zuckerberg announced Thursday while visiting St. Louis. Called Facebook Community Boost, the program will include IRL training on how to get started or further take advantage of digital tools like Facebook.

For Facebook, the return is obvious. More business owners using Facebook inspires more activity on the site, and business owners can easily become Facebook advertisers. The effort also aligns with Facebook’s new Community mission. 

“Business owners tell you time is money. Our case studies are really popular. There’s something very human of seeing another business’s story,” Facebook VP of Small Business Dan Levy told Mashable. “What we would like to get to is an even more personalized session.”

Facebook has offered training through the site Facebook For Business and an online program called Blueprint for years. But this will be its first big tour to educate business owners and potential advertisers in person. 

Facebook said small business owners suggested the idea. The cities include Houston, St. Louis, Albuquerque, Des Moines and Greenville, South Carolina. 

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement Thursday he was grateful for Facebook choosing Houston as one of the 30 stops. 

“We’re happy to welcome Facebook to Houston to boost our residents’ digital skills and make sure our vibrant community of entrepreneurs and small businesses gets more out of the internet. I’m glad that Facebook recognized that one of the first five cities to benefit from this program should be Houston,” Turner said in a statement. 

One in three U.S. small and medium-sized businesses on Facebook reported they “built their business” on the site.

For many business owners, the importance of using Facebook to grow their business isn’t a new realization. One in three U.S. small and medium-sized businesses on Facebook reported they “built their business” on the site, and 42 percent said they hired more people due to growth via Facebook, according to a survey by Morning Consult and co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Facebook

“Facebook is proud that 40 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are growing their business and hiring more people because they’ve used the platform. Our teams want to invest more to help the other 60 percent of businesses add more jobs,” Levy said. 

The idea that Facebook helped swing the U.S. presidential election via Russian-bought ads is actually a useful case study of how great Facebook and its ads are. Of course, Facebook doesn’t want to be known for that. 

“There’s no part of Facebook that wants to take money or help any of these fake accounts or people who are interfering with the U.S. presidential election. There’s no place for that on Facebook. We have zero tolerance whatsoever for that,” Levy said. 

Levy noted that the public perception ads has often swung in different directions for Facebook. When Levy joined in 2012, a big concern from small business clients was that General Motors was pulling out of advertising and therefore should they as well. 

“I think the place we’re at today is we have improved the measurement so much for business owners that they have a really good understanding that when they put a dollar or a euro or a pound in they understand the return they’re going to get for their business, and that’s what we’re here to do,” Levy said. 

“They have a choice everyday of where they can spend their time and they can spend their money. I always tell them, ‘We sign no long-term contracts with you,'” Levy continued. “Because we want to be able to earn your time, your money, and your trust every day.” 

While some lawmakers have scrutinized Facebook for its unchecked power, business owners have reported favorable views of the company. According to the Morning Consult survey, 8 in 10 businesses said they had a favorable view of Facebook, and two-thirds said it had a positive impact on the local community.

Levy’s job is to make sure Facebook does more to support communities via local businesses. In addition to the 30-city tour, Facebook is working to build more products to help business owners. For example, Facebook noticed that business owners are a part of Facebook Groups, and Levy said they want to look for ways to better support those.

“Everything that’s happening there is completely organic … What can we do to help enhance that. Are there features in the Group we can add?” Levy said. “At the end of the day Facebook, from my perspective, for our small business clients, needs to be the best minute and the best dollar that they spend to grow their business.”

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facebook – Android: FacebookAuthorizationException appears sometimes


Since couple of weeks this exception appears sometimes on my App:

Non-fatal Exception: com.facebook.FacebookAuthorizationException: CONNECTION_FAILURE: TigonError(2): TigonLigerErrorDomain(2) AsyncSocketException: connect failed (immediately), type = Socket not open, errno = 101 (Network is unreachable)
       at com.facebook.login.LoginManager.onActivityResult(LoginManager.java:218)
       at com.facebook.login.LoginManager$1.onActivityResult(LoginManager.java:173)
       at com.facebook.internal.CallbackManagerImpl.onActivityResult(CallbackManagerImpl.java:95)
       at com.myapp.util.connect.FacebookConnect.onActivityResult(FacebookConnect.java:338)

Facebook SDK: 4.27.0
Android version’s impacted: 4.4.2 and 7 (Crashlytics informations)

Have you got some ideas guys about this exception?

Thank you very much



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Facebook admits to nearly as many fake or clone accounts as the U.S. population


Image: Shutterstock / Phonlamai Photo

Amid the distraction of Facebook’s blockbuster earnings this week, the company quietly admitted to hosting more phony accounts than previously revealed.  

The social network upped its estimate of the portion of fake accounts from 2 to 3 percent and the number of duplicates from 6 to 10 percent, Business Insider first reported.

That means that as many as 270 million of the platform’s 2.1-billion-strong user base could be fraudulent — a population verging on the size of the United States. 

Facebook said the change was due to better tools for tracking illegitimate activity rather than a sudden spike in fishy sign-ups.  

Unlike Twitter’s anything-goes attitude, Facebook is famously strict about verifying the real-life identity of each of its users. In some cases, it even goes so far as to demand official documentation. 

Yet fake accounts have still managed to proliferate on the platform — some because of innocent user mistakes and others created to spread spam or operate as part of shady networks of bots.

The revelation comes after Congress grilled Facebook and other tech companies this week on their role in spreading Russian-affiliated propaganda during the presidential election. The proceedings focused on the work of a Kremlin-linked “troll farm” called the Internet Research Agency, which used Facebook pages to disseminate tens of thousands of posts to as many as 126 million Americans. 

Facebook has previously said that the actors behind pages that spread fake news or misinformation have used fake accounts to juice their interaction numbers and thus game the company’s algorithm.

The social network’s made a show of purging tens of thousands of fake accounts at a time before various global elections. 

Each of these efforts were part of a larger campaign Facebook embarked on after the U.S. presidential election to rid the platform of fake news, misinformation, and hoaxes of any kind.

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Facebook quarterly earnings were amazing. Zuckerberg isn’t cheering


What matters?
What matters?

Image: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

Facebook just had an incredible past three months for making money, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s tone isn’t that celebratory. 

“Our community continues to grow and our business is doing well,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “But none of that matters if our services are used in ways that don’t bring people closer together.”

“We’re serious about preventing abuse on our platforms. We’re investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits,” the statement continued. 

It’s quite a heavy statement from the CEO and cofounder of one of the world’s most profitable companies that just achieved another profitable quarter—and saw its stock price reach a new record high.

Facebook brought in $10.3 billion over the last three months, a 47 percent increase from the year prior. It also now has more than 2.07 billion monthly active users. Facebook employs 23,165 people, a 47 percent increase from the year prior. 

But Zuckerberg’s solemn tone comes as no surprise. For the last two days, U.S. lawmakers have scrutinized Facebook over the Russian propagandists that used its platform to spread politically divisive content during the 2016 election. 

“I think you do enormous good, but your power sometimes scares me,” Sen. John Kennedy said Tuesday. 

Facebook along with Twitter and Google have avoided regulation for the most part from the U.S. government. Now, lawmakers have a bill called the “Honest Ads Act” that would require internet companies to keep a public database of who is paying for political ads. But they’re still debating what to require. 

“We are not going to go away, gentleman. And this is a very big deal,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein during the hearing with Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. “You have a huge problem on your hands.”

Zuckerberg, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, and Chief Financial Officer David Wehner will speak on a conference call with investors and analysts at 5 p.m. 

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Facebook, Twitter, and Google fake news problem explained via NFL protests


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Facebook, Google, Twitter are currently being scrutinized by U.S. lawmakers for their influence and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But the hearings in Washington aren’t just about politics. Several senators used the National Football League protests to explain the scale of the misinformation problem on tech platforms.

During a hearing with the Senate Intelligence committee on Wednesday, Sen. Angus King shared top hashtags from Sept. 23 and 24 and used by ۶۰۰ Russian websites. The hashtags included Syria, NFL, boycotted, standforouranthem, MAGA, and takeaknee.

“We have Make America Great Again, Russia, Take A Knee. In other words, they were tweeting on both sides of the NFL dispute in order to exacerbate the divisions,” Sen. King said. 

The “Take A Knee” protests, started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have ignited a dispute in the NFL and among football fans. Players have chosen whether to stand or to kneel. Fans have cheered or boycotted. 

On Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube, Russian propagandists — or anyone really — can participate in these conversations. The concern from senators is that Russians are leveraging these open networks to manipulate these conversations.

“One witness to this committee had said that their strategy is to take a crack in our society and turn it into a chasm. That’s exactly what we’ve seen. We saw in 2016, and my point here is it hasn’t stopped, and it won’t stop,” Sen. King said. 

“My point here is it hasn’t stopped, and it won’t stop.”

The spread of misinformation is quite prolific on Twitter for several reasons. Twitter is real-time and 140 characters (for the majority of users), which lends itself to spreading quick, not fact-checked information. Twitter users also do not have to use their real names, so there’s less ramifications for sharing something inaccurate. 

Asked “why on earth” Twitter would not require real names by Sen. Martin Heinrich, Twitter’s General Counsel Sean Edgett shared the company’s mission of free speech and providing a secure channel for activists.

But that also means that Russian trolls can amplify negativity around any topic. Twitter, for example, revealed that only 9 percent of the tweets from Russia-linked accounts were election-related. Edgett said Wednesday the company had seen activity related to the NFL boycott on the platform. 

That may never stop on Twitter, and it’s a concern from these senators. Sen. James Lankford echoed Sen. King’s sentiments. 

“This is not an opposition to free speech though. This is actually a battle to try to protect free speech. We want to have good American dialogue, and the fear is that your platforms are being abused by foreign actors who want to abuse free speech,” Sen. Lankford said. 

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Facebook, Twitter, Google face another public grilling on the Russia investigation


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Facebook, Twitter, and Google lawyers are going through their second public grilling of the week by U.S. lawmakers. The moral of the story is: The scrutiny is not ending anytime soon. 

“We are not going to go away, gentleman. And this is a very big deal,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein during the hearing with Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. “You have a huge problem on your hands. And the US is going to be the first of the countries to bring it to your attention …. you have to be the ones who do something about it, or we will.”

Feinstein was referencing the platforms’ roles in the 2016 election and how Russia promoted politically divisive content. Facebook revealed last month that 126 million Americans may have seen Russia-linked content. That number was revised on Wednesday to 150 million by counting ads on Instagram  

This release was after Facebook shared in September 10 million Americans saw Facebook ads. Google and Twitter also came forward with their own numbers.

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So far, Facebook, Twitter, and Google have operated without regulation from the U.S. government on the advertising businesses that generate the majority of their revenues. These lawmakers could soon limit that freedom. 

“What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of a cyber warfare.”

As Sen. Feinstein put it, she’s had enough. 

“I don’t think you get it. I think the fact that you’re general counsel, you defend your companies. What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of a cyber warfare,” Sen. Feinstein said. 

For years, the Democratic senator of California has talked about the need for the government to better work with the tech industry and has called for new laws. But little has gotten through. Sen. Feinstein was also present in a hearing with the Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee on Tuesday.

“I went home last night with profound disappointment. I asked questions and got vague answers,” Sen. Feinstein said. 

Facebook, Twitter, and Google have each introduced new tools and guidelines to better control political advertising, but the senators said they have been disappointed with their work so far. 

Sen. Angus King said that he was “disappointed” the CEOs did not appear at the hearing and instead the companies sent their general counsels. 

That included frustration from previous conversations with the companies and an apparent lack of proactive engagement, according to the senators. 

“Does it trouble you that it took this committee to get you to look at the authentic nature of the users and of the content?” asked Sen. Richard Burr. 

“We are certainly troubled. I’d say more than troubled,” said Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch. “We’re certainly grateful for the committees attention. … We do believe there are opportunities for us to do better.”

One way some senators of the committee want the companies to do better is by sharing the Russia-linked Facebook ads with the public. Facebook has chosen not to do so. The senators used some as pieces of evidence during the hearing:

Other senators want Facebook and the platform to simply admit their wrongdoings. One of the most heated exchanges came between Sen. Mark Warner and Facebook’s Stretch about the company’s lack of action.

Sen. Warner asked if Facebook reviewed the Russia-linked accounts they took down during the French election to see if they played a role in the U.S. election. 

“Just please answer my question,” Sen. Warner said later. 

“Senator, I apologize. I’m trying to answer the question,” Stretch asked. 

“Answer is yes or no,” Sen. Warner interrupted. 

Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos later tweeted during the hearing to share more information. That was after Stretch said he would have to get back to the committee. 

Sen. Warner expressed his frustration with the companies. 

“Our claims were frankly blown off by the leadership of your companies,” Sen Warner said. “Candidly your first presentations showed a lack of effort. … Candidly, your companies know more about Americans than the United States government does.”

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These are the Facebook posts Russia promoted during the 2016 election


Congress just gave the world its best look yet at the ads purchased on Facebook by Russia-connected accounts during the contentious 2016 election season.

Sen. Richard Burr provided the first images from Wednesday’s hearing, the second in as many days to center on Russia’s use of social media to manipulate the 2016 election. They included a “Heart of Texas” post pushing for the state to secede from the U.S., as well as posts from a page called “United Muslims of America.”

The images below come from Burr’s office. Other senators are expected to release more throughout Wednesday’s hearing. 

Image: Senator Richard Burr’s Office

Image: SENATOR RICHARD BURR’S OFFICE

Burr also included an image from two Facebook events that had been organized for the same date, time, and location in an apparent effort to fuel tension between Muslim people and anti-Muslim activists.

The new images follow a session on Tuesday that provided our first look yet at the ads that Facebook identified as being promoted by Russia, which have been handed over to Congress. More are expected to come as the hearings continue today. 

Sen. Mark Warner also revealed some ads, including one of Hillary Clinton as the devil boxing Jesus.

This post will be updated with new developments.

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‘Your power scares me’ senator tells Facebook during first hearing on 2016 election


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The two biggest moments of Tuesday’s hearing about Russian propaganda on social media put Facebook in the crosshairs.

“You put billions of data points together all the time. You can’t put together rubles with a political ad?” asked Sen. Al Franken of Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch during one of the hearing’s most heated exchanges on Tuesday. 

The hearing also featured the general counsels of Google and Twitter, but they were mostly a sideshow to the haymakers thrown at Facebook. The social network was on the receiving end of the most pointed questions and the most heated exchanges.

Two moments stood out. The first came from Sen. John Kennedy, who pressed Stretch in the first hour of the hearing on Facebook’s ability to determine the identities of the people and companies that bought ads on its platform, as well as the company’s ability to track people and use that data to target ads and content.

“You got 5 million advertisers, and you’re going to tell me you’re able to trace the origin of all those?” Sen. John Kennedy had asked earlier.

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Tuesday’s hearing is the first of three to be held this week and starred senators in the Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee. They questioned the general counsels a.k.a. the top lawyers of Facebook, Twitter, and Google. All of those companies are battling impending regulation of their advertising businesses in wake of the revelation that Russia-linked accounts purchased ads during the 2016 election. 

Facebook profited from Russian bought ads during the 2016 election. So did Twitter and Google. But viewers of the hearing may have forgotten about the latter two. Facebook, far more than its peers, was the brunt of lawmakers’ questioning of the three representatives on Tuesday: 

“Your power scares me,” Sen. Kennedy said as he started his questioning the general counsel representatives, where the majority of his questions were directed to Stretch. He listed several foreign nations and asked one by one if Stretch knew if his platform took money from them during previous elections. 

It’s not surprising Facebook took the heat.  On Monday night, the social network admitted that Russian propaganda reached 126 million Americans. Facebook had the most pieces of content purchased by Russia-linked accounts, according to the data provided to senators from the tech companies. Facebook had 80,000 posts from 470 accounts while Twitter uncovered 2,752 accounts and Google found only two accounts and 1,108 YouTube videos.

Facebook’s acceptance of Russian rubles for political ads fueled the second-most heated exchange, with Franken pushing Facebook to explain how that didn’t tip them off to Russia’s efforts.

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Also at the hearing, Sen. Christopher Coons made public one of the Facebook ads bought by Russian accounts. The ad, reportedly paid for in rubles, called for the army to be taken away from Hillary Clinton if she were to win the presidency. The senator also revealed a Facebook event started by a Russia-linked account for a “Miners for Trump” event in Pennsylvania.

The hearings are of particular importance due to impending legislation that could put Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other tech companies under tighter regulation over political ads. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who co-sponsored the bill called the “Honest Ads Act,” asked Facebook’s Stretch, “Will you support our bill?”

“Our commitment,” he began to reply until Sen. Klobuchar cut him off.

“That’s not what I asked,” she said. 

Facebook, Twitter, and Google have each publicly shared changes they will make to be more transparent on political ads and prevent foreign interference in the future elections. Yet, lawmakers like Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Kennedy are not confident in the companies’ abilities to regulate themselves. 

Google stayed quite mum during the majority of the hearing. As the third seat on the table, Google’s General Counsel Richard Salgado was able to reply to many of the lawmakers’ questions with “I agree.” Same with Twitter’s Sean Edgett. 

In his prepared testimony, Google’s general counsel emphasized that the company’s lack of ad targeting actually makes it less valuable to propagandists compared to Facebook and Twitter. 

“Google’s products also don’t lend themselves to the kind of targeting or viral dissemination tools that these actors seem to prefer,” he said. 

Lawmakers were seemingly less interested in what he had to add. Even one question directed at Google seemed like a softball: 

But lawmakers will have another chance to grill whoever they choose. On Wednesday, the general counsel will meet with the Select Intelligence Committees of the Senate and the House.

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