Proactiveinvestors Australia Facebook Proactiveinvestors Australia Facebook RSS feed en Mon, 17 Jun 2019 12:45:33 +1000 Genera CMS (Proactiveinvestors) (Proactiveinvestors) <![CDATA[News - US$100bn wiped from Facebook’s market value amid concerns over future growth ]]> A warning from Facebook Inc’s (NASDAQ:FB) top finance boss that revenue growth will “continue to decelerate in the second half of 2018” sent the social media giant’s stock tumbling by more than a fifth in after-hours trading in New York.

Shares had already slipped after Facebook just missed Wall Street estimates on second quarter revenue and user growth.

READ: Facebook misses on revenue and user growth

The Silicon Valley firm reported a 42% year-on-year rise in revenue to US$13.2bn, while the number of monthly active users rose 11% to 1.47bn.

Analysts had been looking for figures of US$13.3bn and 1.49bn, though. Flat growth in the US and Europe, Facebook’s two biggest markets, didn’t help sentiment either.

But the big decline in the stock price came during a conference call. Chief executive and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg warned investments in privacy and security would have a “significant impact on profitability” this year.

“We are starting to see that this quarter,” he added.

That investment is part of the billionaire’s promise to tackle election interference, fake news and hate speech – issues which were highlighted by the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year.

Nightmare conference call

Chief finance officer David Wehner was next up on the call. He said: “Our total revenue growth rates will continue to decelerate in the second half of 2018, and we expect our revenue growth rates to decline by high single-digit percentages from prior quarters sequentially in both Q3 and Q4.”

That spooked traders who have become used to seeing Facebook grow revenues, user numbers and profits almost exponentially in recent years.

Once the call was done, shares had plunged by more than 20%, wiping over US$100bn from the company’s market cap and cancelling all of the gains made so far in 2018.

The stock has recovered some of those initial losses, but it is still down 19.5% to US$174.80 in pre-market trading.

Thu, 26 Jul 2018 12:15:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook unfriended by Wall Street as US$100bn wiped from market value ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been unfriended by analysts as the stock fell 20% right after the opening bell, wiping a hefty US$100bn off its market value and sparking concern over the social network's future growth potential.

After missing estimates for second-quarter revenue and the fallout from a user-data breach scandal, the company provided a bleak outlook for user growth late Wednesday, prompting a sell-off that continued into the morning session.

Chief Executive and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg added fuel to the fire with a disastrous conference call in which he warned that an investment in security would impact profitability. He added that revenue growth would slow year over year in the second half of 2018.

READ: US$100bn wiped from Facebook’s market value amid concerns over future growth

Analysts reacted swiftly to the change in fortune for the social media behemoth, as many lowered their price targets.

Analysts at Oppenheimer decreased their target to $200 from $225 and maintained their Outperform rating citing a "self-inflicted revenue slowdown, combined with higher costs to protect platform." However, they said valuation "remains reasonable."

"As users upload more personal information, this increases Facebook’s competitive position. With the fragmentation of media and communication, we believe consumers will increasingly find media and information through their social graph, positioning FB in the middle of this information exchange," wrote Oppenheimer analysts Jason Helfstein, Alec Brondolo and Jed Kelly. 

"Valuation for high-quality tech asset appears compelling at 20x P/E; as such, we maintain our Outperform rating," they added.

Wells Fargo analyst Ken Sena lowered his price target to US$220 from US$250 after the company's Q2 results missed Street estimates for the first time in 12 quarters, according to

JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth removed Facebook from the firm's Analyst Focus List and cut his price target to US$205 from US$242, TheFly reported.

Piper Jaffray's Michael Olson joined the crowd and lowered his price target to US$200 from US$250.

Brian Nowak lowered Morgan Stanley's full-year 2019 and 2020 EBITDA estimates by 8% and 9%, respectively.

And Goldman Sachs dropped its price target to US$205 from US$225, according to TheFly.

Getting some 'Likes'

But Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter wrote in a note to clients: “Q2 results generally underwhelmed relative to our expectations, and updated FY:18 guidance was more pessimistic than the Street had expected. Revenue was US$13,231 million, versus our estimate of $13,588 million, and the consensus estimate of US$13,364 million.”

Pachter reiterated a Buy rating with a target of US$250 as the company is still growing users and its other products are still seeing dramatic growth.

Citi analyst Mark May wrote in a note that while Facebook's guidance is disappointing, the valuation at current share levels is too attractive to downgrade his Buy rating. He did lower his price target to US$210 from US$220 but kept a Buy rating, according to TheFly.

Jefferies analyst Brent Thill still has faith in Facebook. He said that the controversies could provide a great buying opportunity, TheFLy reported. He reiterated a Buy rating but with a lowered price target of US$220, down from US$240.

The stock recovered slightly in morning trading, but was down double-digits in midday trade by 19.09% to US$175.95.

-- (Updates with Oppenheimer lowering price target, fresh quotes) -- 

Written by Belinda Robinson for Proactive Investors

Thu, 26 Jul 2018 09:32:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook misses on revenue and daily active users as scandals take their toll ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) released its second-quarter earnings, with its pockets feeling some impact following scandals related to data leaks and fake news.

This quarter’s report includes the time period when the company was experiencing the height of the Cambridge Analytica scandal with its CEO testifying before US Congress and the European Union as well as the enactment of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

The social media giant reported earnings of US$1.74 per share on revenue of US$13.23bn compared with US$1.32 EPS on revenue of US$9.32bn in the previous year’s second quarter.

The California-based company beat Wall Street estimates of US$1.72 EPS but fell below revenue expectations of US$13.36bn.

READ: SEC investigates why Facebook didn’t warn investors sooner on privacy lapse

“We are committed to investing to keep people safe and secure, and to keep building meaningful new ways to help people connect," said CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a press release.

Its global daily active users totaled 1.47 billion, falling below the consensus estimates of 1.49 billion.

Its mobile advertising revenue made up 91% of its quarterly revenue compared with 87% in the previous year’s second quarter.

The company was also hoping to make its move into China, opening a subsidiary to foster Chinese developers and start-ups, but its hopes were dashed after its business license approval was reversed, according to a New York Times report.

Shares of Facebook fell more than 8% to US$200.50 in Wednesday after-hours trading.

Wed, 25 Jul 2018 16:17:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook mulls plan to switch to Google for cloud storage ]]> Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is considering a move to switch its cloud storage to Google parent Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) from San Francisco-based cloud storage company Dropbox, reported The Information Tuesday.

Shares in Dropbox Inc (NASDAQ:DBX) declined 1.9% to close at US$31.65.

Today Dropbox has more than 500 million registered users, of whom 11.5 million pay an annual subscription fee for more storage than is offered for free. This includes more than 300,000 paying business customers.

In business trivia, Dropbox caught the attention of the late Steve Jobs, who made an offer for the business in 2011.

READ: Facebook brings augmented reality ads to the news feed

Separately, Facebook is also exploring the idea of tossing out Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) and using Google for email and productivity applications, reported The Information.

“If it happens, the move would be more than a typical case of a company switching technology vendors. It would represent a significant reversal for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose aversion to the company's rival Google has been well known inside Facebook for many years,” reported the news website.

The switch is being considered to “soothe long-running frustrations” among Facebook employees over Microsoft’s applications and others — like Salesforce’s Quip, said the report.

Contact Uttara Choudhury at

Follow her on Twitter: @UttaraProactive

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 15:47:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - SEC investigates why Facebook didn’t warn investors sooner on privacy lapse ]]> The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating if Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) adequately warned investors that developers and other third parties may have obtained users’ data without their permission, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Facebook now faces tough questions from securities regulators on what it knew and when about Cambridge Analytica’s use of social-media data.

The Journal reported that the SEC has requested information from Facebook seeking to understand how much the company knew about Cambridge Analytica’s use of the data.

“The agency also wants to know how the company analyzed the risk it faced from developers sharing data with others in violation of Facebook’s policies,” reported the Journal.

Revelations about the illegitimate harvesting of personal data on tens of millions of Americans have focused on the social media giant’s failure to address privacy risks.

READ: Facebook brings augmented reality ads to the news feed

The SEC is probing whether Facebook should have disclosed to shareholders its knowledge of the Cambridge Analytica violation in 2015, when it learned that Aleksandr Kogan, a professor at the University of Cambridge, had improperly shared data in 2014 for as many as 87 million Facebook users with Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook said it told Kogan and Cambridge Analytica in 2015 to delete the data, and that it believed they had. The company said it learned in 2018 that it was possible not all of the data were destroyed.

Cambridge Analytica was hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 US presidential election campaign.

The Cambridge Analytica incident didn’t come to light until March, when the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers finally revealed Kogan’s role in harvesting data for Cambridge Analytica.

Heat from Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission 

The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are also probing the data leak. The FTC is probing whether Facebook violated terms of an earlier consent decree requiring the company to get user consent for collecting personal data and sharing it with others.

The FTC previously settled a complaint against Facebook in 2011 for falling short of privacy promises to its users. Among other issues, the FTC found Facebook allowed third-party applications to access more user data than they needed to operate.

As part of the settlement, Facebook was ordered to get the "express consent" of users "before sharing their information beyond their privacy settings." The FTC is now looking into whether Facebook violated the settlement.

The Wall Street Journal noted that the SEC could close the Facebook investigation, which is in its early stages, without taking enforcement action against the firm.

Thu, 12 Jul 2018 16:22:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook brings augmented reality ads to the news feed ]]> Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) announced Tuesday it is bringing augmented reality ads to the Facebook news feed and expanding shopping in Instagram Stories to all companies.

These augmented reality ads are in the testing phase, and users in the US will be the only ones who will see them for now.

Michael Kors was the first brand to test out AR ads in Facebook’s news feed, with Sephora, NYX Professional Makeup, Bobbi Brown, Pottery Barn, Wayfair and King planning their own tests for later this summer, reported TechCrunch.

The new AR ad feature allows users to try on the products that are advertised through a process similar to that of a Snapchat filter. The ads look like normal in-feed ads at first, but they include a "Tap to try it on" option, which opens up the AR capabilities.

READ: Facebook is acquiring Bloomsbury AI, says a TechCrunch report

It stands to reason that if users like the way a product looks in AR, they are more likely to go ahead and buy the product.

"People traditionally have to go into stores to do this," Ty Ahmad-Taylor, vice president of product marketing for Facebook's global marketing solutions told TechCrunch. "People still really love that experience, but they would like to try it at home — so this bridges the gap."

Facebook also announced a new Video Creation Kit, which will allow advertisers to incorporate existing images into templates for mobile video ads.

Separately, Facebook announced it will expand its support for shopping in Instagram Stories. It made shopping tags available to select brands in Stories last month and now plans to roll that out to all brands that have enabled shopping in Instagram.

UK privacy watchdog guns for Facebook  

Across the pond, the Information Commissioner’s Office intends to fine Facebook the maximum possible under U.K’s 1998 data protection regime for breaches related to the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal.

“It has been told it will likely face a fine of £500,000 (US$662,563) — a drop in the ocean for a company that turned over US$12.7bn in the fourth quarter of 2017,” noted The Telegraph with tongue firmly in cheek. 

This is the maximum fine officials can hand out because Facebook is being penalized under old data protection law. It’s a lucky escape for Facebook because if the breach had occurred after May 25, it would have fallen under the General Data Protection Regulation, which gives the regulator powers to fine a company up to 4% of its global revenue.

However, the fine may be the tip of the regulatory missiles now being directed at the social media giant and its ad-targeting methods.

ICO has published a comprehensive policy report in which it sets out a series of policy recommendations on how to secure personal information in the era of modern political campaigns.

In the report it calls directly for an "ethical pause" around the use of microtargeting ad tools for political campaigning to "allow the key players —  government, parliament, regulators, political parties, online platforms and citizens — to reflect on their responsibilities in respect of the use of personal information in the era of big data before there is a greater expansion in the use of new technologies."

Facebook traded slightly lower to US$202.80 midday Wednesday.

Contact Uttara Choudhury at

Follow her on Twitter: @UttaraProactive


Wed, 11 Jul 2018 11:15:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook is acquiring Bloomsbury AI, says a TechCrunch report ]]> The social media giant Facebook is acquiring Bloomsbury AI, a fledgling London-based startup that specializes in natural language processing technology, per a report by the financial news site TechCrunch.

Facebook is reportedly interested in using Bloomsbury in its work to tackle fake news.

The report, which cites multiple unnamed sources, says Facebook will pay between US$23mln to US$30mln in a mixture of cash and stock to acquire Bloomsbury AI.

Bloomsbury AI creates natural language processing tools to allow machines to respond to questions. Its flagship product is Cape, which relies on artificial intelligence to read text documents and answer questions about its contents.

Facebook shares were flat at US$194.01 in morning trade today.

Mon, 02 Jul 2018 09:39:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook lifts its ban on select cryptocurrency advertisements ]]> Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is lifting its ban and giving the go-ahead for select cryptocurrency advertisements to appear on its site.

The social network moved to purge all of its crypto ads and bitcoin promotions last January when bitcoin prices were on a tear. At the time, they described their anti-crypto campaign as a bid to prevent people from advertising “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices”.

Advertisers who take part in an application process with Facebook can now push crypto products, though bans are still in place to bar advertisements for initial coin offerings and binary options.

"Advertisers wanting to run ads for cryptocurrency products and services must submit an application to help us assess their eligibility — including any licenses they have obtained, whether they are traded on a public stock exchange, and other relevant public background on their business," said Rob Leathern, a Facebook product management director, in a blog post.

Read: Facebook sparks joy in the crypto sector with talk of its own virtual token

While still exuberant, the bitcoin craze is not nearly as frenetic as it was, with the price of bitcoin having fallen to US$6,176 today, down from its high of over US$19,000 back in December of 2017.

Facebook also appears to have some respect for the bitcoin and crypto drama. This year, the social media giant set up a blockchain team on its own and it is also seriously flirting with the idea of launching its own virtual token, according to press reports. 

Facebook shares jumped 1.2% in afternoon trade to US$198.68.

Tue, 26 Jun 2018 15:46:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook Inc's prominent PR exec Elliot Schrage to leave ]]> Elliot Schrage, a prominent Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)executive who leads its public policy and communications team, is parting ways with the social media company after a decade, per an article in Recode.

Schrage orchestrated the controversial efforts to put out the publicity fire when it emerged that Cambridge Analytica took advantage of lax data protection procedures to reportedly harvest personal data of around 87mln Facebook users.

Schrage is reportedly staying on at Facebook for a while to help find his successor.  After that, he will work as an advisor to CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

“After more than a decade at Facebook, I’ve decided it’s time to start a new chapter in my life,” Schrage told Recode. “Leading policy and communications for hyper growth technology companies is a joy – but it’s also intense and leaves little room for much else. Mark, Sheryl and I have been discussing this for a while.”

Facebook shares are up 2.5% in afternoon trade at US$197.12.

Thu, 14 Jun 2018 15:53:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - WhatsApp chips away at Facebook as young people turn to the messaging app to discuss news events, says Reuters Institute ]]> Researchers at the Reuters Institute said Wednesday that the use of social media networks such as Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) to consume news has started to fall in the US as many young people turn toward messaging apps such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp to discuss events.

A Reuters Institute survey of people in 37 markets had some grim findings for the world’s largest social network platform pointing out that Facebook usage for news is down 9 percentage points from 2017 in the United States and down 20 points for younger audiences.

“The use of social media for news has started to fall in a number of key markets after years of continuous growth,” Nic Newman, research associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said in the Digital News Report.

“We continue to see a rise in the use of messaging apps for news as consumers look for more private (and less confrontational) spaces to communicate,” Newman said.

Social media has changed how news is consumed

People used to subscribe to the local paper, but now nearly 50% of people hear about a breaking news story on social media.

The research lays bare the volatility of consumer tastes pointing out that Facebook and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) are still used by “many users to discover news but the discussion then takes place on messaging apps such as WhatsApp,” often because people “feel less vulnerable” discussing events on such apps.

READ: Facebook scraps 'Trending Topics' section as fake news debate rolls on

Wall Street had balked at Facebook founder CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s free-spending ways when he has bought WhatsApp in 2014 for US$19bn in cash and stock, but it has turned out to be a prescient decision. The report points out that WhatsApp is more popular than Twitter in importance for news in many countries.

“Some respondents still found news on Facebook but then posted items on a WhatsApp group for discussion with a closer set of friends,” said the report.

The survey pointed out regional news sharing differences noting WhatsApp and Instagram, also a unit of Facebook, have “taken off in Latin America and Asia,” while Snapchat Snap Inc. (NYSE:SNAP) has made progress in Europe and the United States.

Thu, 14 Jun 2018 09:09:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook to police bad businesses by banning their ads if they lie to customers ]]> Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has come up with a new way to keep businesses on their toes.

The social network will allow unhappy customers to post a complaint about businesses they’ve had a problem with if they buy something after clicking on one of their ads. If the complaints snowball, it could lead to Facebook banning the company from running ads.

The new ad policy rolled out globally Tuesday to combat bad shopping experiences.

READ: Facebook exposed millions of private posts to public view, say multiple reports

Facebook will send notifications to users to ask about their shopping experience if it detects that they’ve purchased something after clicking on an ad. They will be able to find those companies and leave feedback on the Ads Activity page, Facebook announced in a blog post.

"Most businesses who receive this feedback do want to improve and do take steps to improve the customer experience and setting better customer expectations up front," Sarah Epps, product marketing director at Facebook, told Business Insider.

Some, however, are just looking to intentionally mislead potential customers.

"We have no tolerance," Epps said. "We put people first, and we do what we need to do to enforce against bad actors."

READ: Facebook admits user data was shared with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei

The social media giant’s goal is to make a place where people can trust the online-shopping ads and the businesses that are advertising.

"When people have these bad experiences, it is bad for trust with all businesses on the platform, and it's bad for Facebook," Epps said. "The goal is to provide more relevant and trustworthy experiences for people interacting with businesses on Facebook."

Facebook is laser-focused on a few problem areas related to shipping times, product quality, and customer service. If a business rectifies the issues once it receives complaints, it can stay in good standing. If not, the ads will suffer until, at a certain point, Facebook will refuse to show them to users at all.

Facebook shares rose slightly to US$192.55 Tuesday afternoon.

Tue, 12 Jun 2018 11:44:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook exposed millions of private posts to public view, say multiple reports ]]> Already bloodied by a series of privacy and security scandals, a report by CNBC says Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) now says a software bug may have exposed the private posts of up to 14 million people to the general public.

The bug reportedly changed users’ privacy settings to public without their knowledge for 10 days in May.

READ: Facebook admits user data was shared with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei

Facebook in a statement said it has fixed the bug and apologized for the mistake, according to Recode.

Shares of the social network fell 1.7% to US188.06 in afternoon trade.

Thu, 07 Jun 2018 15:39:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook admits user data was shared with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is in the hot seat again, embroiled in its latest privacy scandal.

The social media giant confirmed that four Chinese device-makers had access to customer data, including smartphone maker Huawei.

A New York Times article revealed earlier this week that the platform had shared a broad range of information with device-makers. Before the rise of the app store, device-integrated APIs, or application programming interface, allowed device makers to offer Facebook features to its customers.

Around 60 device-makers were involved in data-sharing partnerships including Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Blackberry Limited (NYSE:BB), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN).

READ: Facebook scandal enquiry to continue despite the collapse of Cambridge Analytica

Device companies were able to retrieve personal information from users’ friends, according to the Times article.

The U.S. government has expressed concerns that the Chinese government can gather intelligence via Huawei's smartphones. The company has denied those allegations.

READ: Facebook responds after getting tangled up in another data-sharing scandal

Facebook responded to the Times report in a blog post, saying that information was only made accessible when users made the decision to share it. The company stated it was unaware of any abuse by companies in the data-sharing partnerships and had begun to end the collaborations in April now that the Facebook app is available on most smartphones.

The initial report, as well as new findings, raise concerns about the platform’s privacy practices and its compliance with the 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC alleged that Facebook had deceived its users, telling them that their information was kept private but then sharing it with third-party applications and advertisers.

U.S. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) recently sent a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking for more details about Facebook's data privacy policy and security practices. Zuckerberg was given a June 18 deadline to respond to the senators' questions.

Shares of social network fell slightly to US$191.30 in Wednesday after-hours trading.


Wed, 06 Jun 2018 16:37:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook responds after getting tangled up in another data-sharing scandal ]]> In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica situation that led to millions of users’ personal information being disclosed, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is under scrutiny again.

A New York Times article revealed that the platform shared more information with device makers than originally thought. Device-integrated APIs, or application programming interface, allowed device makers like Apple and Blackberry to offer Facebook features to users. The partnerships were arranged about a decade ago before the rise of the app store.

READ: Facebook scraps 'Trending Topics' section as fake news debate rolls on

Around 60 device makers were involved in data-sharing partnerships including Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Blackberry Limited (NYSE:BB), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN).

Device companies were able to retrieve personal information from users’ friends, according to the Times article.

READ: Cambridge Analytica files for bankruptcy in the US in wake of Facebook data scandal

The report raises concerns about the platform’s privacy practices and its compliance with the 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC alleged that Facebook had deceived its users, telling them that their information was kept private but then sharing it with third-party applications and advertisers.

“Contrary to claims by the New York Times, friends’ information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends. We are not aware of any abuse by these companies,” responded Facebook in a blog post entitled “Why We Disagree with The New York Times”.

The social media giant announced back in April that it would slowly wind down access to APIs  as fewer people were using them since a Facebook app has been made available on iOS and Android devices.

So far, the company said it has ended 22 of these data-sharing partnerships.

Shares of Facebook were down more than 1% to US$190.90 in Monday pre-market trading.

Mon, 04 Jun 2018 08:49:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook scraps 'Trending Topics' section as fake news debate rolls on ]]> The debate on the social media giant Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and its convoluted relationship with news took another twist Friday as it revealed it was pulling its 'trending topics' section for users.

The section is said by the tech behemoth to help users "discover interesting and relevant topics being discussed on Facebook ..".

But now the company apparently sees the feature, which has courted much controversy over the years, as more of a thorn in its side than an asset and is scrapping it next week.

It was rolled out to users' pages four years ago, but accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks back to the original publishers and never made a return on investment, says Facebook.

And since then, the section has run into much criticism and issues, as so-called 'fake news' was said to often surface under the banner "Trending Topics".

READ: Facebook fights wave of bad publicity with a new 'Clear History' button

Controversies concerning the section for Facebook include a hoax about 9/11, and a false article about then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

According to one research center, 44% of U.S. adults get some or all their news via Facebook.

Underlining the strength of feeling on the issue of news and Facebook, it emerged this week that Papua New Guinea wants to shut down the website while it researches how the platform is actually used.

The country's communications minister reportedly said the downtime will allow the identification of the country’s fake users, as well as those who upload “false or misleading” information or pornographic content.

Blanket bans

China, Iran and North Korea all have blanket bans on Facebook, and other countries have blocked it temporarily, during protests or in the run-up to elections.

Facebook now says it will test new approaches to disseminating news from publishers, to include a "breaking news" test where publishers can apply that label to some of their posts in News Feed.

Facebook shares added 0.94% to US$193.59.

Fri, 01 Jun 2018 12:17:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Cambridge Analytica files for bankruptcy in the US in wake of Facebook data scandal ]]> Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm at the centre of the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) data scandal, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the US.

Earlier this year, the company, hired by Donald Trump during his presidential election campaign, was accused of misusing the data of 87mln Facebook users.

READ: Facebook shrugs of Cambridge Analytica scandal to post 1Q earnings beat

The allegations took its toll on Cambridge Analytica’s business, as well as that of its British parent, with both announcing plans to shut down operations earlier this month.

In its bankruptcy filings, signed on behalf of the board by Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, daughters of billionaire Trump supporter Robert Mercer, Cambridge listed assets in the range of US$100,001 to US$500,000, and liabilities of between US$1-10mln.

Facebook has come under severe scrutiny for its role in the scandal. CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has already appeared before US congressional committees and is due to meet European leaders later this month.

Fri, 18 May 2018 13:31:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook sparks joy in the crypto sector with talk of its own virtual token ]]> It might just be the case that Facebook’s adoption of cryptocurrencies could turn virtual tokens into a wildly popular thing.

The news today from the US news site Cheddar that the social media network is looking into creating its own cryptocurrency and putting digital wallets into the hands of its two billion users is both radical and brilliant, say crypto-industry watchers, who are already attempting to sketch out how Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) would go about incorporating a cryptocurrency into its business

“It’s a radical idea that crypto wallets could be in the hands of 2 billion people. That would be a massive sea change for the industry. This could be the catalyst by which normal people have a use for cryptocurrency,” says Alex Harrington, chief executive of PeerStream (OTCQB:PEER), a blockchain software development company. “Facebook has a bigger reach than almost anyone else.”

Jeff Koyen, the founder of 360 Blockchain (CNSX:CODE, OTCMKTS:BKLLF), a blockchain investment company, is just as bullish as PeerStream’s Harrington, and says that any adoption of a cryptocurrency by Facebook would revolutionize the fledgling crypto-industry.

It’s great. It’s brilliant,” says Koyen. “This could be the first killer app in cryptocurrency. We’re looking for those killer apps. Those apps that are going to use crypto and blockchain and make them mainstream."

Reasons for Zuckerberg's attraction to cryptocurrency 

Koyen thinks Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, is attracted to the crypto-space for several reasons. Chief among them is that by introducing virtual tokens, Zuckerberg could persuade users to stay on Facebook for lengthier periods of time and conduct some business on it as well.

“Look at Baidu, the Chinese equivalent of Facebook. People do everything on that. They even do their banking on it,” says Koyen.

A cryptocurrency would introduce a way for Facebook to embrace the exchange of money on its site. “Facebook is obviously looking for a way to smooth the exchange of payments. They must be tired of what they’re doing on the back-end,” says Koyen.

Depending on whether they want to monetize their tokens and face additional financial regulations, cryptocurrency could be an alternative revenue stream to advertising as Facebook could receive transactional fees of some sort when a Facebook token crosses its network. Looking even further ahead, the coins might also one day be accepted at Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) or Overstock Inc (NASDAQ:OSTK).

Regulatory overhang?

But any plans Facebook has for a cryptocurrency remain vague at best, and the closer the token gets to serving like a real currency, the tougher the regulations that will be faced.

Harrington of PeerStream warns that if you transact in cryptocurrency, you might “find yourself facing a taxable gain.” He also predicts that Facebook isn’t likely to engage in an initial coin offering, or ICO, an unregulated auction by which funds are raised for new crypto ventures, as such activities would draw considerable scrutiny from the U.S. government and the public.

Instead, Facebook coins could simply serve as internal currencies and not proxy currencies, so that the social media giant avoids confronting regulatory hurdles.

Dismissing ICOs as unregulated crowd sales, David Vincent, chief executive at Canamex Gold (CSE:CSQ, OTC:CNMXF), argues that Facebook will have to go down the regulated route even if they do introduce utility tokens which share characteristics with bitcoin. “They can’t cut corners,” he says.

Vincent has experience in the token arena as his company Canamex is the first publicly listed company to launch gold security tokens which offer a 40% discount to the spot gold price. He goes so far as to say that Nasdaq-listed shares in Facebook – which closed at US$186.99 Friday – could be used to back asset-backed tokens one day.

“They might stick to a traditional utility token, but shares in Facebook could be tokenized and put on the blockchain,” Vincent concludes. “A lot of people are watching to see what they’re going to do.

Facebook token may take years to be introduced

Debating how and why Facebook is investigating the introduction of a cryptocurrency remains a parlor game for crypto-currency watchers. “It still remains to be seen exactly what application they would put the currency towards,” says Harrington.

READ: Facebook realigns management structure, creates blockchain team

For now, industry watchers must hold their collective breaths and wait for additional smoke signals coming from the social media giant as Facebook's work on blockchain technology and cryptocurrency will likely take years to bring to fruition and it may involve an acquisition or two to bring its tokens to the market.

--Updates share price --

Fri, 11 May 2018 15:39:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook realigns management structure, creates blockchain team ]]> Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is shaking up its management structure and is putting more power in the hands of Chief Product Officer Chris Cox while also creating a team dedicated to blockchain technology.

The moves were first reported by technology news website Recode, which described the shakeup as the biggest in Facebook's 15-year history. Recode said the moves were announced internally to employees on Tuesday and are intended to improve executive communication and user privacy. However, they also come amid black eyes Facebook has received over the last year from revelations of fake news posts by Russian operatives during the U.S. presidential election and the massive collection of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica.

According to Recode, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reorganized the social media giant’s product and engineering organizations into three main divisions, including a new "Family of apps" group. That group will be run by Cox, who was in charge of the core Facebook app but now will oversee Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. Reuters noted that WhatsApp's two co-founders announced their resignations in recent months, opening the door to closer integration of that operation.

David Marcus, the head of Messenger for the last four years, acknowledged in a post on Facebook that he is leaving that role to head up Facebook's news blockchain initiative.

"I'm setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch," Marcus said in the post. He did not go into details on what that will entail.

Reuters said Stan Chudnovsky, who has been Messenger's product chief, will succeed Marcus as head of the service.

Reuters also reported that two other executives, Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer and Vice President of Growth Javier Olivan, will oversee the other consolidated divisions. Recode said Schroepfer will head the "new platforms and infrastructure" division and Olivan will oversee the "central product services" division, which includes shared features that run across multiple products or apps.

The shakeup did not appear to include any firings and did not change the roles of either Zuckerberg or Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Wed, 09 May 2018 08:16:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook scandal enquiry to continue despite the collapse of Cambridge Analytica ]]> Cambridge Analytica, the data harvesting firm at the centre of the recent Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) privacy scandal, has gone belly-up.

The investigation into the company will continue, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) revealed after the collapse of the company was made public.

READ: Facebook users find out today if details were shared with Cambridge Analytica

"We will be examining closely the details of the announcements of the winding down of Cambridge Analytica and the status of its parent company,” a spokeswoman for the ICO said.

Big caveat with today's Cambridge Analytica news: Parent company SLC Group has already set up a mysterious new company called Emerdata, according to The Guardian.

Alexander Nix and Rebekah Mercer are reportedly listed as a directors.

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 2, 2018

"The ICO will continue its civil and criminal investigations and will seek to pursue individuals and directors as appropriate and necessary even where companies may no longer be operating.

"We will also monitor closely any successor companies using our powers to audit and inspect, to ensure the public is safeguarded," she added.

Cambridge Analytica shut up shop on Wednesday after customers deserted it following the Facebook privacy scandal in which it emerged that Cambridge Analytica had taken advantage of lax data protection procedures at the social media giant to reportedly harvest personal data of around 87mln Facebook users.

It is believed that Cambridge Analytica used the data to psychologically profile voters in the run-up to the US presidential election. Donald Trump’s team has denied using the data.

Damian Collins, the chair of the House of Commons select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said via a tweet that Cambridge Analytica, and its parent company, SCL Group, “cannot be allowed to delete their data history by closing”.

Cambridge Analytica and SCL group cannot be allowed to delete their data history by closing. The investigations into their work are vital

— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) May 2, 2018

"We've got to make sure this isn't an attempt to run and hide, that these companies are not closing down to try to avoid them being rigorously investigated over the allegations that are being made against them,” he told the BBC.

Thu, 03 May 2018 09:18:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook fights wave of bad publicity with a new 'Clear History' button ]]> At Facebook Inc’s (NASDAQ:FB) yearly F8 developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed escalating concerns over lack of privacy on the social media platform he founded by rolling out a new “Clear History” button.

The chief executive described the new tool – which is still in a conceptual phase – as a “simple way to clear your cookies and history” which enables users to flush their Facebook history, including clicks on websites visited.

“Once we roll out this update, you’ll be able to see information about the apps and websites you’ve interacted with, and you’ll be able to clear this information from your account,” wrote Zuckerberg in a Facebook post. “You’ll even be able to turn off having this information stored with your account.”

The move comes as Facebook is fighting an avalanche of negative publicity following reports that a data firm Cambridge Analytica harvested data from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million people and used it to conduct targeted political campaigns, which are thought to have contributed to the election of Trump and the Brexit vote.

Facebook jumps into the dating market

Privacy was not the only concern Zuckerberg addressed at his company’s annual F8 developer conference. Facebook is also throwing itself into the online dating arena and adding a matchmaking layer to its chief mobile application. The news poses a competitive threat to Match Group (NASDAQ:MTCH), the operator of dating apps Tinder and Okcupid, and pushed down shares 22% to US$36.71.

Some analysts, however, thought the Match sell-off was overplayed, with Sam Kemp of Piper Jaffray telling investors that it’s unlikely that Facebook dating will morph into a “meaningful competitive threat” for Match, reiterating his Overweight rating with a US$48 price target.

Exploration of virtual reality and looking to sell smart speakers internationally

In other news, Facebook revealed that its new-fangled Oculus Go virtual-reality headset - its first standalone headset - will be put into play as it partners with Hasbro on virtual gaming. The Go headset, which costs US$199, is Facebook’s latest attempt to transport virtual reality into the mainstream.

Elsewhere, the outrage over the social media giant’s privacy violations and the resulting scrutiny are also pushing Facebook to look to sell its new smart speakers – which would compete against’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Echo and Google’s line of Home products – internationally before hitting the U.S. market.

Shares in Facebook closed 1.1% higher to US$173.86 Tuesday.

Tue, 01 May 2018 15:51:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Billionaire Whatsapp co-founder and CEO to step down after clashing with Facebook bosses ]]> Jan Koum, the billionaire co-founder and chief executive of Whatsapp, is leaving the popular instant messaging service after clashing with its parent company, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).

The 42-year-old is said to have fallen out with Facebook bosses because of their attempts to use personal data and weaken its encryption, reports The Washington Post.

Koum, who sold Whatsapp to Facebook for around US$19bn in 2014, is also stepping down from the social media giant’s board of directors, although the exact date of his departure is yet to be confirmed.

In a Facebook post, he said he will now use his time to collect rare Porsches and play ultimate frisbee.

Mark Zuckerberg replied to the post saying he was “grateful” to Jan for teaching him about encryption, adding that privacy ”will always be at the heart of Whatsapp”.

Tue, 01 May 2018 09:37:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Midday Movers: Facebook, Chipotle, Boston Beer, Aspen Technology ]]> The U.S. benchmarks were all on the rise Thursday morning, with Facebook pulling up the Dow nearly 200 points after reporting strong first-quarter earnings.

Despite back-to-back reports of user privacy issues, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings. Shares were up 9.5% to US$174.94 after the social media giant crushed Wall Street estimates, reporting US$1.69 earnings per share versus estimates of US$1.35.

READ: Facebook surges on 1Q earnings win; analysts bullish on social media giant's results

Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (NYSE:CMG) jumped more than 24% to US$422.22 after the fast-casual chain’s profit and revenue beat analyst expectations. Newly appointed CEO Brian Niccol called this quarter a “recovery story” after the chain’s slew of food safety issues.

READ: Chipotle 1Q earnings beat the Street handily on surging sales

Small-cap stocks were also climbing higher with the Russell 2000 Index picking up slight gains.

The Boston Beer Company (NYSE:SAM) saw shares jump 6% to US$229.50 after its first-quarter report beat on earnings and sales. The brewery behind Sam Adams and Angry Orchard brands reported revenue of US$190.5mln versus Wall Street estimates of US$172mln.

Aspen Technology Inc (NASDAQ:AZPN) shares were up more than 8% to US$92.42 after the software provider’s third-quarter earnings and revenue exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. The Massachusetts-based company reported revenue of US$125.9mln versus the forecast of US$121.5mln.

Thu, 26 Apr 2018 12:42:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook surges on 1Q earnings win; analysts bullish on social media giant's results ]]> A clutch of Wall Street analysts has published their views on the future of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) the morning after the social media giant brushed off the Cambridge Analytica scandal to trounce expectations with its first-quarter earnings.

What they are saying is overwhelmingly positive and comes as Facebook shares surge 8.5% to US$173.25 in early trade:

Stephen Ju of Credit Suisse raised his price target to US$240 from US$230 as ad revenue growth was much better than expectations and daily active users for North America remained stable despite the recent data controversy. The analyst reiterates an Outperform rating on the shares.

Eric Sheridan of UBS reiterated his Buy rating and lowering his price target to US$212 from US$214 on Facebook’s shares. He sees the stock’s valuation as compelling when measured against the company’s growth potential.

Brian Nowak of Morgan Stanley thinks Facebook’s 1Q advertising results stem from the strength of its advertising offering as well as the way it has been able to monetize its platform. He believes the company is investing from a position of strength to drive faster growth and he has raised his price target on Facebook shares to US$210 from US$200 while maintaining an Overweight rating on the stock.

Youssef Squali of Sun Trust has increased his price target on Facebook to US$230 and kept his Buy rating after “exceptional” 1Q results that showed no impact on user growth or engagement despite the recent data privacy controversy. The analyst adds that the revised guidance around the capital expenditures for 2018 to fund more security and content monitoring was “better than feared”. He does, however, still expect some slowdown in engagement growth and lower margins in the second and third quarter as the General Data Protection regulation – aimed at addressing privacy concerns - takes effect in Europe next month and US regulators implement tighter restrictions regarding data.

Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital Markets, who is keeping a US$250 price target on the stock, described Facebook’s 1Q results as “very strong” and said its growth trends remain “very impressive.” Indeed, Facebook reported a very strong quarter, with results coming in well ahead of expectations and growth trends remaining very impressive. “All in, Q1 fundamentals were very impressive and very consistent and showed premium growth with very high operating margins,” he wrote. Facebook’s cash and liquid securities position of US$44bn at the end of the quarter is “unusually strong” and should continue to improve.

Thu, 26 Apr 2018 09:26:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook shrugs off Cambridge Analytica scandal to post 1Q earnings beat ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shares popped in pre-market trade on Wednesday after the social media giant brushed off the Cambridge Analytica scandal to smash expectations with its first-quarter earnings.

The Silicon Valley firm reported diluted earnings of US$1.69 per share, ahead of consensus estimates of US$1.35 and almost two-thirds better than the US$1.04 it posted in the year-ago period. 

READ: Facebook shares dip amid Cambridge Analytica investigation

“Despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and Chief Executive.

“We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good. But we also need to keep building new tools to help people connect, strengthen our communities, and bring the world closer together.”

The stock, which has taken a knock over the past month or so in the wake of data privacy concerns, jumped 4.6% after the bell to US$167.10.

User numbers up

Facebook has repeatedly said that the business hasn’t been affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and that certainly seemed to be the case with user numbers jumping in the opening three months of 2018.

The number of daily active users rose 13% year-over-year to 1.45bn, while monthly active users rose by a similar percentage to 2.2bn.

If users weren’t deterred by data privacy concerns, neither were advertisers. Ad revenue jumped by 50% year-on-year to US$11.8bn (Q1 17: US$7.9bn) and it now accounts for 91% of total sales.

US$9bn share buyback announced

To deal with the rapid growth, Facebook has been hiring more and more people. Its headcount stood at just under 28,000 at the end of March – 48% higher than this time last year.

There was also some more good news for investors, with Facebook confirming plans to increase its share buyback scheme up to US$9bn. The board had previously agreed to repurchase up to US$6bn worth of shares.

--Updates for additional info, share price--

Wed, 25 Apr 2018 16:20:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook slides again as reports claim cybercriminals used the site to sell hacked personal data ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has come under more fire today after reports emerged that cyber criminals have been using the social media site as a platform to sell sensitive personal information such as  credit card and social security numbers.

A report on Vice found that some posts advertising entire databases of private information had been left up on Facebook for years, with the company only acting once they were told about them.

READ: Facebook sued by UK consumer champion READ: Facebook insists users aren’t core product

New: we found several years old posts on Facebook that contained people's names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers and credit card numbers.

These were just a Google search away. Facebook deleted some of them only after we contacted them.

— LoЯenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai (@lorenzoFB) April 24, 2018

Vice claimed the information could be found with just “a simple Google search”, with most of the posts seemingly being crated by criminals who were looking to sell the information.

Perhaps most worryingly was that the data appeared to be real. Vice said it was able to verify the first social security numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth for seven people.

Facebook has yet to respond to the allegations, although Vice said some of the offending posts have now been removed.

The news will be another blow to the social media giant, which has come in for heavy criticism in recent weeks following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook shares were down 3.5% to US$159.89 in early afternoon trading on Wall Street.

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:33:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook slammed after insisting users aren’t its core product ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been called “incredibly disingenuous” after it insisted that users are not its “core product” and that it doesn’t sell their information to advertisers.

In a blog post Monday, the embattled social media giant’s vice president of ads, Rob Goldman, said it uses things such as age, interests and location to feed users more relevant ads.

READ: Facebook sued for defamation

“But here’s what’s key: these businesses don’t know who you are,” wrote Goldman. “We provide advertisers with reports about the kinds of people seeing their ads and how their ads are performing, but we don’t share information that personally identifies you.”

This isn’t too controversial; most users will have found that after searching for, say, sneakers on the internet, then there is a good chance that an ad for a sportswear retailer may appear when they next log on to Facebook.

What didn’t sit well with some though was Goldman’s insistence that the user, and their data, is not Facebook’s main product.

“Our product is social media – the ability to connect with the people that matter to you, wherever they are in the world. It’s the same with a free search engine, website or newspaper.

“The core product is reading the news or finding information – and the ads exist to fund that experience.”

Goldman added that, like newspapers or TV stations do, Facebook sells space to advertisers but he repeated: “We don’t sell your information.”

Muddy Waters, the well-known short-seller, slammed Facebook for this response, tweeting: “This statement by $FB is incredibly disingenuous. Users ARE the product. They are sold to advertisers, which is how FB generates revenue. If the company publicly denies users are the product, it has not yet come to Jesus.”

This statement by $FB is incredibly disingenuous. Users ARE the product. They are sold to advertisers, which is how FB generates revenue. If the company publicly denies users are the product, it has not yet come to Jesus.

— MuddyWatersResearch (@muddywatersre) April 23, 2018

Facebook shares were down 0.2% to US$165.90 in late-afternoon trading on Monday.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:41:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook sued by UK consumer champion Martin Lewis, seeking "exemplary damages" ]]> Martin Lewis, the founder of the web site MoneySavingExpert, is to sue Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) for defamation of character.

Lewis claims that the social media site has displayed at least 50 adverts purporting to be endorsed by him but which, in fact, did not have his seal of approval.

Worse still, many of the ads reportedly link to articles that carry misleading information, thus causing Lewis reputational damage, he claims.

“Today (Monday 23 April), I will issue High Court proceedings against Facebook, to try and stop all the disgusting repeated fake adverts from scammers it refuses to stop publishing with my picture, name and reputation,” Lewis said in a blog post.

Lewis will be seeking exemplary damages from Facebook but said that any money he receives from the case will go to charities serving those who have been scammed by “get rich quick” con artists.

The Advertising Standards Authority has previously upheld Lewis’s assertion that the adverts in question made it appear as if he had endorsed the advertised services.

“The most prevalent are get-rich-quick schemes currently titled ‘Bitcoin code’ or ‘Cloud Trader’, which are fronts for binary trading firms based outside the EU. Binary trading is a financially dangerous, near-certain money-loser, which the regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) strongly warns against,” Lewis’s blog post revealed.

"It's affecting my reputation but more importantly it is affecting real people who are handing over money in good faith while the scammers are raking in the cash," said Lewis.

“Other companies such as Outbrain who have run these adverts have taken them down. What is particularly pernicious about Facebook is that it says the onus is on me, so I have spent time and effort and stress repeatedly to have them taken down,” Lewis was quoted by The Guardian newspaper as saying.

Mark Lewis of Seddons, the legal firm that is handling the case for Lewis, said: “Facebook is not above the law – it cannot hide outside the UK and think that it is untouchable. Exemplary damages are being sought. This means we will ask the court to ensure they are substantial enough that Facebook can’t simply see paying out damages as just the ‘cost of business’ and carry on regardless. It needs to be shown that the price of causing misery is very high.”

A spokesperson for Facebook told technology website TechCrunch that it does not allow adverts that are misleading or false and, as indicated by Lewis in his blog post, the spokesperson said the onus was on Lewis to report any adverts that infringe his rights so they can be removed.

Lewis’s view is that Facebook has been told he does not “do adverts” and that, therefore, any ad with his picture or name in it is without his permission.

“I’ve asked it not to publish them, or at least to check their legitimacy with me before publishing. This shouldn’t be difficult – after all, it’s a leader in face and text recognition. Yet it simply continues to repeatedly publish these adverts and then relies on me to report them, once the damage has been done.

“Even when they are reported, many have been left up for days or weeks, and finally, when they are taken down the scammers just launch a new, nearly identical campaign very soon afterwards and the whole rigmarole starts again,” Lewis claimed.

Natasha Lomas, a senior report for TechCrunch, confirmed that Facebook’s ad guidelines do prohibit advertisements that contain “deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers, or business practices” and they also specifically prohibit cryptocurrency-related ads.

“As is increasingly evident where big tech platforms are concerned, meaningful enforcement of existing policies is what’s sorely lacking,” she wrote.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 12:30:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - U.S. senator pushes for stronger FTC oversight of Facebook ]]> Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to consider evidence that Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) may have violated “a binding agreement,” which should result in millions in penalties.

The senator wrote a letter to the FTC on Thursday saying Facebook has failed to abide by the terms of a 2011 consent decree and called for “monetary penalties that provide redress” for consumers and “stricter oversight.”

“Revelations about the illegitimate harvesting of personal data on tens of millions of Americans have shed new light on the systemic failure of Facebook to address privacy risks and suggests that Facebook may have ran afoul of its consent decree,” wrote Blumenthal.

“Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s recent apology tour, Facebook’s history of negligence demonstrates that the company can no longer be trusted to self-regulate,” Blumenthal wrote.

Reuters reported on Friday that Facebook’ privacy practices were cleared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in an audit in 2017 for the period in which Cambridge Analytica actually illegally harvested the personal data of 87 million Facebook users.

READ: US judge tells Facebook it must face class action lawsuit over facial recognition

Britain-based Cambridge Analytica was hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.

PwC declined to comment when contacted by Reuters and other media.

The PwC audit is part of a 2011 consent decree between Facebook and the FTC, which mandates that audits are carried out every two years.

The FTC previously settled a complaint against Facebook in 2011 for falling short of privacy promises to its users. Among other issues, the FTC found Facebook allowed third-party applications to access more user data than they needed to operate.

As part of the settlement, Facebook was ordered to get the "express consent" of users "before sharing their information beyond their privacy settings."

The FTC is now looking into whether Facebook violated the settlement.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 10:53:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook plans to build its own semiconductors, Bloomberg says ]]> Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is building a team that will design the social-media company’s own semiconductors, Bloomberg News reported, citing job listings and people familiar with the matter.

Facebook may use the chips to power hardware devices, artificial Intelligence software and servers in its data centers, the report said. 

The firm would join other technology companies in the move to cut their dependence on chipmakers such as Intel Corp. Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google already build their own chips.

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:08:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook users cannot decline targeted ads despite impending EU privacy law ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is rolling out changes to comply with the European Union’s new privacy law that will go into effect on May 25.

Known as the General Data Protection Regulation, the law aims to give people control of their data. The law applies not only to companies in the EU, but also companies who operate there.

READ:Top EU data chief summons Zuckerberg to testify in front of EU lawmakers

The social network will begin asking users, both in and out of the EU, to review how their data is being used. Users can opt out of sharing their political and religious beliefs and will be given the option to turn on facial recognition in the EU and Canada.

While users will be able to make choices about their data, they won’t be able to avoid targeted ads entirely.

“Facebook is an advertising-supported service,” said Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman in a briefing, as per Reuters report. Sherman said it would not be possible for users to avoid targeted ads altogether.

Users in the EU will be asked starting this week, and users worldwide in the coming months, by “permission screens”. There will be no option to decline, only to “accept and continue” or “manage data setting”, according to copies showed to Reuters.

READ: Analysts remain bullish on Facebook, give thumbs-up to Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress

“People can choose to not be on Facebook if they want,” said Sherman.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica situation that led to 87 million users’ personal information disclosed, how Facebook navigates the new privacy law will likely be subject to scrutiny.

Companies that violate the law will be subject to fines of either US$24.6mln or 4% of its total global turnover, whichever is the greater amount.

Shares of Facebook were up 2.3% to US$168.66 in pre-market trading on Wednesday.


Wed, 18 Apr 2018 08:07:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - US judge tells Facebook it must face class action lawsuit over facial recognition ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been told by a US federal court judge that it must face a class action lawsuit over the use of facial recognition technology.

The social media network has been accused of unlawfully using a facial recognition process on photos without users’ permission.

The technology uses ‘tag suggestions’ by identifying users’ friends in uploaded photos. The lawsuit alleges the technology violated Illinois law about the privacy of biometric information. The people involved in the class action lawsuit are Facebook users in Illinois for whom the social network created facial recognition algorithms after June 7, 2011, when the ‘tag suggestions’ feature was launched.

READ: Top EU data chief summons Zuckerberg to testify in front of EU lawmakers

US District Judge James Donato ruled in San Francisco that a class action lawsuit was the best way to resolve the dispute. Judge Donato wrote in his order: "Facebook seems to believe... statutory damages could amount to billions of dollars."

The ruling is another blow to Facebook

Facebook said it believes the case has no merit and will “defend ourselves vigorously”.

The ruling serves as another blow to Facebook after chief executive Mark Zuckerberg faced a grilling by US lawmakers last week over a data breach scandal.

Cambridge Analytics, a political consultancy that worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign, has been accused of harvesting personal information of millions of Facebook users without consent.

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 10:28:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Wedbush makes a bullish case for Facebook, assigns US$260 price target ]]> With Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) reporting earnings on April 25, analysts are rushing to revise their price targets following the severe dent to the company’s stock from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

BMO Capital analyst Daniel Salmon lowered his price target on Facebook on Monday to US$170 from US$175. He reiterated a Hold rating on the stock.

Facebook’s revenue would not take a hit, Salmon wrote, although there may be "minor" user decline in the short-run, according to a report in the Week Herald. Salmon added that advertisers may experience return on investment (ROI) degradation as data use platforms like Facebook undergo "proactive and regulated changes.”

CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s control over Facebook and the company’s lack of an independent chairman have drawn fresh criticism from investors.

Vicki Bakhshi, director of governance and sustainable investment at BMO Global Asset Management, which holds Facebook shares, said that some company boards are behind the curve in understanding data privacy risks.

“The data privacy breaches have placed a question mark over the effectiveness of the current (Facebook) board in fulfilling its duty,” Bakshi told the Financial Times.

Read: Analysts remain bullish on Facebook, give thumbs-up to Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress

Wedbush bullish on Facebook

Wedbush analysts Michael Pachter, Matthew Breda and Nick McKay wrote in a note to clients that despite “heightened scrutiny and elevated legislative and regulatory risk,” they expected Facebook to “weather the controversy” and beat Wall Street expectations. 

“We expect 1Q results above consensus estimates driven by continued audience and engagement growth, with an overall minimal impact from heightened scrutiny over privacy concerns,” wrote the analysts.

Wedbush maintained an Outperform rating on the social network behemoth.

“Our estimates are for revenue of US$11.56 bln and EPS of US$1.41 versus consensus of US$11.41 bln and $1.36,” wrote the analysts. “The company’s unmatched scale and ease of use when it comes to its advertising platform suggest that Facebook will continue to represent a core part of digital advertiser budgets.”

Wedbush set a price target of US$260.

Hastings breaks silence  

Facebook board member Reed Hastings offered his first public comments on the privacy scandal that has rocked Facebook over the last month.

“Social, with these platforms — whether that’s YouTube or Facebook — are clearly trying to grow up quickly. And you see that with all new technologies,” Hastings, the CEO of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), said on stage at the TED conference on Saturday in Vancouver when asked what people should know about Mark Zuckerberg amid the recent controversies.

“I mean, yesterday we were talking about printed DNA. And it’s like, that could be fantastic or it could be horrific,” he continued. “When television was first popular in the 1960s in the U.S., it was called a vast wasteland. And television was going to rock the minds of everybody. And it turns out everybody’s minds were fine. There were some adjustments.”

“So I think of it as all new technologies have pros and cons. And in social we’re just figuring that out.”

Technology news website Recode reported that Hastings also said he did not feel that the company was being “completely unfairly” criticized and that Facebook leadership is taking the privacy breach seriously.

-- Story updated with fresh Wedbush analyst comments


Mon, 16 Apr 2018 09:47:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Top EU data chief summons Zuckerberg to testify in front of EU lawmakers ]]> European Union Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova called on Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer to European lawmakers, CNBC reported on Friday.

"I expect that Mr Zuckerberg will take this invitation because I believe that face-to-face communication and being available for such communication will be a good sign that Mr Zuckerberg understands the European market ... is serving to people who are very, very sensitive to their privacy," Jourova told CNBC in a TV interview. "I think it would be a good thing to do to come to Europe."

Zuckerberg has already been asked to travel to Europe to testify by Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament. He has declined an invitation to appear before U.K. lawmakers, but Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfner is set to give evidence later this month.

READ: Analysts remain bullish on Facebook, give thumbs-up to Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress

The scandal engulfing Facebook has struck a nerve in Europe, which has some of the world’s most stringent data protection laws.

The EU's GDPR is a new law that aims to protect the data of consumers. The new rules will mean companies will have to remove data they have on EU citizens if requested. Violations of that law could result in a fine of up to 4% of annual turnover.

Facebook admitted that data of up to 2.7 million users in the EU could have been accessed improperly.

No Revenue Impact

The uproar over the Cambridge Analytica privacy fiasco is unlikely to affect sales significantly, according to a top Facebook advertising executive.

“We have not seen wild changes in behavior with people saying I’m not going to share any data with Facebook anymore,” Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing solutions, told the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in London on Thursday.

Facebook reports earnings on April 25.

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 10:31:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Analysts remain bullish on Facebook, give thumbs-up to Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress ]]> A flurry of analysts reiterated a buy rating on Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) on Wednesday, weighing in positively on CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress and the solidity of the social media giant’s business model.

Investors were satisfied with Zuckerberg’s performance; shares closed up 1.5% to US$167.49 on Wednesday.      

Most analysts expect any short-term pain to blow over and not materially impact the social media giant’s bottom line.

"A survey with our partners in the data world suggests that there's really been no major deterioration to users," Brent Thill, managing director of the internet research team at Jefferies, told CNBC’s "Power Lunch."

"We surveyed users last week, and they still say the dominant platform they use is Facebook with Instagram. Sixty percent use the platform more than they did a year ago. This is fresh data," Thill said. "Right now, if the users aren't leaving en masse, the advertisers won't leave."

Facebook currently boasts more than 2 billion monthly active users.

Bullish Case  

Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein reiterated an Outperform rating and US$225 target on Facebook, noting that Zuckerberg appeared "well prepared" during his testimony.

Oppenheimer’s bullish view was echoed by Wells Fargo and Sun Trust Robinson, which reiterated a Buy rating and a US$225 price target.

“Facebook’s P/E was already trading at a discount to the group and its growth profile,” Wells Fargo analyst Ken Sena wrote in a note to clients while maintaining an Overweight rating on Facebook with a US$230 price target

“This is coupled with the fact that we believe our estimates for the quarter and year to be already risk-adjusted on both the top and bottom lines. Therefore, while yesterday’s testimony and the buildup to it seem to make clear that some regulatory oversight may be inevitable, at least where FB’s efforts to stem abuse are concerned, we nevertheless take heart in the repeated mention by Zuckerberg that AI tools will play an increasing role in the effective detection and oversight of such attempted abuses.”

Regulatory overhang

Citi maintained a Buy rating but said it’s still a long road ahead for the company dogged by privacy concerns in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

“While new regulations in the U.S. may not materially impact Facebook's business, other factors, including proactive changes Facebook itself makes, pending regulatory changes in Europe, and possible fines by the Federal Trade Commission, still could,” Citi analyst Mark May cautioned.

May said that channel checks with two social marketing platforms suggest that growth in spend at Facebook remains "strong" and that the company's first-quarter revenue could meet consensus forecasts despite the "significant noise.”

For the quarter, analysts are looking for year-over-year earnings growth of 30% to US$1.36 per share. Revenue is expected to rise 42% on the same basis to US$11.41bln.

The real driver following the April 25 earnings report will be user growth (or lack thereof), daily active users and revenue guidance.

Bear case  

Argus Research analyst Joseph Bonner lowered his price target for Facebook to US$214 from US$237 citing headline risk for the company on the back the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Bonner contended that Facebook may be faced with "material" regulatory action and also may experience a decline in user engagement from the privacy-related backlash. The analyst still has a Buy rating on the stock.

The brokerage firm Stifel Nicolaus cut its price target on Facebook in March to $168 from $195 and felt a Hold rating was more appropriate. 

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 16:15:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Citi flags uncertainty for Facebook despite Zuckerberg’s competent testimony ]]> Citi analysts kept a 'Buy; rating on Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) Wednesday but analysts said that vestiges of uncertainty continue to dog the social media giant, despite CEO Mark Zuckerberg's skillful testimony before Congress Tuesday.

Facebook traded marginally lower Wednesday, down 0.4% at US$164.31, as Zuckerberg appeared before a House Energy and Commerce panel for a second day of questioning.

Citi noted that investors had reacted favourably to Zuckerberg's "poise and solutions-based answers” during a nearly five-hour grilling in the Senate on Tuesday, but it’s still a long road ahead for the company after a series of events that exposed privacy concerns for its more than 2 billion active users.

“While new regulations in the U.S. may not materially impact Facebook's business, other factors, including proactive changes Facebook itself makes, pending regulatory changes in Europe, and possible fines by the Federal Trade Commission, still could,” Citi analyst Mark May cautioned.

READ: LIVE BLOG: Facebook CEO Zuckerberg answers questions in front of Congress: Day 2

May said that channel checks with two social marketing platforms suggest that growth in spend at Facebook remains "strong" and that the company's first-quarter revenue could meet consensus forecasts despite the "significant noise.”

For the quarter, analysts are looking for year-over-year earnings growth of 30% to US$1.36 per share. Revenue is expected to rise 42% on the same basis to US$11.41bln.

The real driver following the April 25 earnings report will be user growth (or lack thereof), daily active users and revenue guidance.

Recode poll shows trust problem

Adding insult to injury, Facebook is the least-trusted major tech company, according to a joint SurveyMonkey/Recode poll.

“Some 56 percent of Americans said they trusted Facebook least with their personal information out of all major tech companies,” according to the poll.  

Respondents were asked to choose among Facebook, (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), Uber and other technology heavy hitters.

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 10:33:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - LIVE BLOG: Facebook CEO Zuckerberg faces tough questioning in Day 2 of Congress hearing ]]> Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg answered questions before the House's Energy and Commerce Committee on whether the social media platform is doing enough to protect the privacy of its users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Data from around 87 million Facebook profiles were acquired by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm that was hired by President Trump's 2016 election campaign. While the hearing was in progress, Alexander Taylor, the acting CEO of the consulting company, stepped down.

Zuckerberg began by apologising to the House, as he had done with the Senate the previous day. 

"It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here,” he said.

In his second day of questioning on Capitol Hill, which lasted around 5 hours, Zuckerberg faced a few recurring lines of questioning, including not only questions about the company's data collection practices, but also enquiries about an alleged anti-conservative stance and Facebook's role in the opioid crisis.

Lawmakers also asked the CEO questions regarding recruitment by terrorist organisations via the platform and how the ivory trade benefits from Facebook ads.

Members of the House suggested that perhaps financial penalties would be the only way to prevent an event like this in the future.

As the hearing ended, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) wondered aloud if other tech CEOs could help the Committee better understand the issue of data protection.

10:05 a.m. EST

"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake."

10:28 a.m. EST

"The reality that we see is that teens often do want to share their opinions publicly."

10:32 a.m. EST

“There is a control right there, not buried in the settings, when they’re posting about who they want to share it with.”

“We removed the option for advertisers to exclude ethnic groups from targeting.”

10:50 a.m. EST

"We do not allow hate groups on Facebook overall."

"This has become a top priority for our company to prevent that from happening ever again," said Zuckerberg in reference to foreign entitities buying political ads on Facebook.

10:55 a.m. EST

"I see an app, I want it, I download it," said Rep. Michael Burgess. (R-TX)

"A lot of people probably just accept terms of service without going through it."

10:59 a.m. EST

"We're going to put at the top of the app a tool to walk people through the settings."

"We've had the ability to download your information for years now."

11:01 a.m. EST

"Who owns the virtual you? Who owns an individual's presence online?,"asks Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

"I can't let you fillibuster right now," said Blackburn when Zuckerberg started to give an example.

"We don't think about what we're doing as censoring speech," said Zuckerberg, noting that Facebook filters out terrorism-related content.

"Diamond and Silk is not terrorism," responded Blackburn, referencing the Republican YouTube duo who has had videos flagged as "unsafe" by the social media platform's algorithm.

11:16 a.m. EST

Zuckerberg was asked if he is notified of violatations through the press. "Sometimes, we do."

11:20 a.m. EST

"You cared more about getting developers on your platform than about your users," said Rep. Michael Doyle. (D-PA)

11:35 a.m. EST

"We know that having diverse viewpoints will help us serve our community better."

"This does not reflect America," said Rep. G.K. Butterfield, holding up a picture of the top 5 leaders at Facebook.

11:40 a.m. EST

"We now know that we should have a more restrictive platform."

"I think that everyone here would agree that trust is in short supply here," said Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA)

"To me, if you own something, you ought to have some say about how it's used," she added in regards to consumers owning their personal data.

"One core tenant of our advertising system is that we don't sell data to advertisers. There is a core misunderstanding about how that system works."

12:00 a.m. EST

Rep. Leonard Lance (D-NJ) asked if Cambridge Analytica issue has violated a Federal Trade Commission agreement. "We do not believe it did," answered Zuckerberg. Rep. Lance disagreed with that position.

12:06 p.m. EST

"Facebook gathers data about where we travel, is that correct?" asked Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL). Zuckerberg said he "disagreed with that characterization."

Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) pointed to the convenience of having ads targeted to your preferences, asking if other tech companies used data for advertising as well.

While users can opt out of targeted ads, "most people don't do that". 

Zuckerberg argued that the reason is that users want the targeted ads.

12:13 p.m. EST

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) asked if the CEO could say for sure that Facebook and its employees did not grant special approval rights to the Trump campaign and its advertising in 2016.

"We apply the same standards to all campaigns."

12:18 p.m. EST

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) asked how this could happen with so much of Facebook's workforce dedicated to data security.

"No amount of people we hire will be enough" to monitor all the content on Facebook, answered Zuckerberg.

12:24 p.m. EST

Zuckerberg does not have an exact date for when US users can expect to receive protections.

"My position isn't that there should be no regulation."

"We have a strong incentive to protect people's information."

"I hear you saying this but the history isn't there," said Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA).

12:28 p.m. EST

"Your platform is being used to circumvent the law," said Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), referencing the opioid crisis and how he believes Facebook is aiding illegal online pharmacies.

Zuckerberg reiterated that there are not enough people to monitor everything, citing the need for more AI tools.

12:35 p.m. EST

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) asked what information Facebook makes available to Russian agencies.

"In general, we are not in the business of providing a lot of information to the Russian government."

12:41 p.m. EST

"You're collecting data about people who are not even Facebook users," said Rep. Ben Lujan.

While non-users can opt out, Rep. Lujan said that process was complicated and some may not think to do that since they do not have an account.

12:54 p.m. EST

"We have an epidemic here. We're owed a clear, definitive answer as to when these ads are offline," said Rep. Gus Bilrakis (R-FL), referring back to the digital pharmacy ads.

If the ads are flagged, Facebook will review and take down if they violate Facebook policies, Zuckerberg answered.

12:58 p.m. EST

Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY) asked what can be done immediately to identify propaganda.

Zuckerberg said that Facebook would verify the identity and location of every advertiser running political ads going forward.

1:04 p.m. EST

Rep. Bill Johnson asked about the process of flagging content, including religious and conservative posts taken down in his district.

A post from Franciscan University was taken down and only restored once it received press coverage, said Rep. Johnson.

1:10 p.m. EST

"Is it possible for Facebook to exist without selling our data?," asked Rep. David Loesback (D-IA), reading a question from one his constituents.

Zuckerberg reiterates that Facebook does not sell data.

1:14 p.m. EST

Rep. Billy Long (D-MO) had a large photo of Youtubers Diamond and Silk held up during his time, saying he believes conservative posts are flagged more often than liberal posts and would like to know why.

"You need to save your ship," warned Rep. Long, noting that he believes Congress either does nothing or overreacts and is preparing to overreact.

1:24 p.m. EST

Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) asks whether Facebook or any other company is listening to users through their phone, citing targeted ads and content about topics only spoken about verbally.

"Facebook doesn't do this and I'm not familiar with other companies that do either." Zuckerberg said he believes that it's a coincidence or users have looked up the topic elsewhere.

1:37 p.m. EST

"The underlying issue is that your platform has become a mix of news, entertainment, and social media that is up for manipulation," said Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA).

1:58 p.m. EST

Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) asked what Facebook is doing about terrorist organisations like ISIS recruiting members through the platform.

Facebook has a counterterrorism team of 200 people and AI tools can flag that content, answered Zuckerberg.

2:06 p.m. EST

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) suggested that there should be a Consumer Digital Protection Agency.

2:38 p.m. EST

Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) asked Zuckerberg what elements of the General Data Protection Regulation, an EU regulation about data protection, can be brought into US law.

"People should have the ability to know what a company knows about them." Zuckerberg said the privacy tools should be easily accessible.

2:51 p.m. EST

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) brought the line of questioning back to the opioid crisis. The Georgia representative also mentioned that he believes the ivory trade and movie piracy is being aided by Facebook.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) held up a copy of the Constitution and offered to give it to Zuckerberg, alleging that Facebook is anti-conservative in terms of the content that is flagged.

2:55 pm EST

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said Zuckerberg's answers were not reassuring and perhaps financial penalties would spur action.

3:00 pm EST

The hearing ended with Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) asking Zuckerberg to let him know which other tech CEOs the Committee would benefit from speaking with on the issue of data protection.

-- This story has been updated throughout the day with the latest developments.

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 10:04:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Live blog: Facebook CEO Zuckerberg tells Congress he accepts responsibility on privacy breaches ]]> Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg commented and answered questions at a meeting before the U.S. Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on whether the social-media platform is doing enough to protect privacy of its users.

Facebook has come under fire after it emerged data from about 87 million profiles were harvested and passed onto Cambridge Analytica -- which was hired for Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016 -- without permission from users.


2:56 p.m. EST

“We didn't take a broad enough view on our responsibility."

"I am responsible for what happened here. We didn't tak ea 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 am responsible for what happens here."

"It will take time to make the changes necessary."

2:59 p.m. EST

"We're now conducting a full investigation of every single app that had access to this information."

"If we find they are doing anything improper, we will ban them from Facebook."

3:03 p.m. EST

"People would rather us to show relative content than not."

"In order to not run ads at all, we would still need some type of business model."

"We don't offer today an option for people to not see ads."

3:10 p.m. EST

"It was clearly a mistake to believe Cambridge Analytica."

"We've updated our policies to make sure we don't make that mistake again."

3:11 pm. EST

"I am committed to getting this right."

"We are developing AI tools that can flag content proactively."

"One of my top priorities in 2018 is to get this right."

3:17 p.m EST

"There will always be a version of Facebook that is free."

"Every piece of content you share on Facebook, you own. You can remove it at any time. That control is important."

"We provided support to the Trump campaign, just like any advertiser that asks for it."

"I don't know that our employees were involved with Cambridge Analytica."

3:30 p.m. EST

"I think everyone in the world deserves good privacy protection."

"The real queston is 'what is the right regulation?'"

"The average person probably doesn't read" the privacy policy.

3:48 p.m. EST

"One of the steps we need to do now is a full audit of Cambridge Analytica."

"I agree that we are responsible for the content."

"I think we have a broader responsibility than what the law requires."

4:09 p.m. EST

"We do not sell data to advertisers."

"I think we need to take a broader view about our responsibility around privacy."

"We consider ourselves to be a platform for all ideas."

"Our goal is not to engage in political speech."

4:35 p.m. EST

"We are going to verify locations, so that someone in Russia can't claim to be in the U.S. and run a political ad."

"We need to a better job at content control."

"We want our products to be valuable, and if they are valuable people tend to use them."

5:45 p.m. EST

"We do require permission to use the system and put information in it. Let me be clear, we do not sell information."

"Protecting minors and their privacy is extremely important."

"I'm not sure if we need a law" to protect children's privacy rights.

"Building AI tools is going to be the most scalable way to remove harmful content."

"We assume that a number of countries are trying to abuse our systems."

"We support the Honest Ads Act."

"The biggest thing I think we can do is implement it."

"This is an ongoing arms race."




Tue, 10 Apr 2018 15:09:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook offers handsome rewards for reports of data abuse ]]> Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) disclosed on Tuesday that it is launching a data bounty program to people who report any misuse of data by app developers.

“We committed to launching this program a few weeks ago as part of our efforts to more quickly uncover potential abuse of people’s information,” said Collin Greene, head of product security at Facebook Inc. “The data abuse bounty, inspired by the existing bug bounty program that we use to uncover and address security issues, will help us identify violations of our policies.”

The social media giant, which has been roiled by criticism after the Cambridge Analytica privacy fiasco, said the data abuse bounty program will reward people with first-hand knowledge and proof of cases where a Facebook platform app collects and transfers people’s data to another party to be sold, stolen or used for scams or political influence.

“Just like the bug bounty program, we will reward based on the impact of each report. While there is no maximum, high impact bug reports have garnered as much as $40,000 for people who bring them to our attention,” noted Greene.

Facebook said that if it saw data abuse, it would shut down the offending app and take legal action against the company selling or buying the data.

“We’ll pay the person who reported the issue, and we’ll also alert those we believe to be affected,” added Greene.

Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to kick off his week of Congressional testimony Tuesday at 2.15 pm. ET.

Tue, 10 Apr 2018 11:02:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - To win trust Facebook must put users in charge of their own digital identity ]]> Harangued by negative headlines and passionate criticism, is this the end of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB)?

The hashtag #DeleteFacebook has been trending on Twitter, but Facebook didn’t draw two billion active users by not providing anything of value. 

True, the brand has been tarnished in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica privacy fiasco, but the company isn’t in a death spiral.

“We sense investors are increasingly comfortable with the equation for longer-term risk-reward at current levels in Facebook,” said research analysts at Goldman Sachs in a note last week.

Users are drawing comfort from the fact that Facebook, which also runs Instagram and WhatsApp, is working on a three-year security blueprint to protect personal information.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the social media giant is ramping up hiring “massively” in security operations. By year's end Facebook jobs in the sensitive area will have jumped to 20,000 from 10,000.

Facebook has a trust problem

Still, Facebook must slowly build back trust among its users by putting people in charge of their own digital identities.  

“Identity is the key to securing physical and digital transactions in a globally connected and mobile world,” Philip Beck, CEO of Ipsidy Inc. (OTCMKTS:IDTY), told Proactive Investors in a phone interview.

“It wouldn’t be a terribly bad idea if Facebook brought out a new authentication feature and embedded it in the app. It would enable people to authenticate their identity when using the Facebook platform and services,” added Beck, a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur who has spent the last 20 years building and operating scalable international transaction platforms.

Beck’s new company, Ipsidy, provides a platform for biometric identification and creates a trusted transaction, embedding authenticated identity and event details with a digital signature and uses a participant’s own mobile device.

WhatsApp’s money service

With Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp beta testing its new payments service in South Asia, security is even more fundamental. Armed with stolen personal data, cybercriminals can easily bypass conventional identity authentication methods.

“Companies have to have platforms that allow people to verify, and authorize everyday transactions using their mobile phones and identity,” said Beck, a proponent of biometrics authentication.

Ipsidy's transaction network provides corporate and government customers and their users with control over everyday transactions using biometrics.

Read: Facebook unveils new privacy tools in wake of Cambridge Analytica data scandal

Investors so far have cheered Zuckerberg’s decision not to resign from Facebook and go to work instead on a ‘multiyear security’ effort.

Shockingly, Facebook said it believes most of its users who had a specific search function enabled have had their profile data scraped by third parties. Facebook said it has now disabled that feature.

"We've seen some scraping," Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters. "I would assume if you had that setting turned on that someone at some point has access to your public information in some way."

The setting Zuckerberg referred to is one where users let other users search for them by email address or phone number instead of by name.

U.K. data protection

The scandal engulfing Facebook has struck a nerve in Europe, which has some of the world’s most stringent data-protection laws.

“The larger problem is the ongoing regulatory overhang,” said Beck.

Vera Jourova, the European Union’s justice commissioner, has indicated that she will speak this week with Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

“It’s clear that data of Europeans have been exposed to a huge risk and I am not sure if Facebook took all the necessary steps to implement change,” Jourova told the Financial Times.

WATCH: Ipsidy to roll out new identity authentication products to create trusted transactions

Facebook said this week that data of up to 2.7 million users in the EU could have been accessed improperly.

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg will testify before the U.S. Senate on April 10, one day before his hearing in the House, according to CBS News.

The Federal Trade Commission has started investigating Facebook’s data-handling policies, while some lawmakers are calling for tougher privacy laws.

Despite the public outcry, Facebook still boasts more than 2 billion monthly active users. But change can happen quickly in the social media world. Just ask any MySpace user -- if you can find one.

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 12:09:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook users find out today if details were shared with Cambridge Analytica ]]> Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) users will find out on Monday if their details were shared with political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, in a detailed message on their news feeds.

Cambridge Analytica, which worked with Donald Trump’s election team, is accused of harvesting data from millions of Facebook profiles to build a software programme to predict and influence voters.

About 70 million people in the US were affected by the data breach. In the UK, Philippines and Indonesia there may have been more than 1 million people who had their personal information gathered. In Australia there were about 310,000 people possibly affected.

READ: Facebook raises estimate of people with data improperly used to 87 million

All Facebook users will receive a notice titled ‘Protecting Your Information’ with a link to see what information has been shared with the apps they use and an option to shut off those apps individually or turn off third-party access.

Facebook, which has about 2.2 billion users worldwide, has come under fire for failing to protect its users from the data breach. The social media network's founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, is expected to testify before Congress this week.

Aleksandr Kogan, a University of Cambridge psychologist and data scientist, gathered Facebook data from millions of Americans through a personality quiz he developed. Users were asked to consent to have their details collected.

The Russian researcher then passed on the information to Cambridge Analytica, which assured him it was legal, Kogan said.

Data could be stored in Russia, says whistleblower

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie said the data was collected from more than 87 million users and could be stored in Russia.

"It could be stored in various parts of the world, including Russia, given the fact that the professor who was managing the data harvesting process was going back and forth between the UK and to Russia," Wylie told NBC’s Chuck Todd during a ‘Meet the Press’ segment on Sunday.

Facebook suspends data firm Cubeyou

Facebook has suspended another data firm called Cubeyou after claims it may have improperly handled users’ information.

Cubeyou is being investigated over allegations it misled Facebook users by saying information it gathered through quizzes was for academic research, even though it was being passed on to marketers, CNBC reported. 

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 08:25:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Apple co-founder Wozniak says he's quitting Facebook as app users are a 'product' ]]> Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) co-founder Steve Wozniak is quitting Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) because of concerns over how the company collects and shares data on its users, USA Today reported.

“Users provide every detail of their life to Facebook … Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off this,” Wozniak told the newspaper in an e-mail. “The profits are all based on the user’s info, but the users get none of the profits back.”

READ: Facebook users find out today if details were shared with Cambridge Analytica

Wozniak said he would prefer to pay for the use of the social-media app rather than have Facebook make money from selling advertising based on users’ profile information. He added he believes Apple should serve as a business model for Facebook.

“Apple makes its money off of good products,” he said. “With Facebook, you are the product.”

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 08:18:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook, Monsanto, Conn's and more - PRE-MARKET ]]> US stocks are poised to continue in positive territory on Thursday and not for the first time in recent days, tech behemoth Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is in the frame.

Shares are up 3.34% to US$160.28 in pre-market in New York as chief Mark Zuckerberg refuses to step down over the data scandal and says he ls the best man to lead the company.

Yesterday, it emerged that it was thought that far more people's data was improperly shared with UK-based Cambridge Analytica - up to 87mln rather than the 50mln previously thought.


JUST IN: Facebook says it now believes the Facebook information of up to 87,000,000 people, mostly in US, "may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica" - @NBCNewsBusiness

— NBC News (@NBCNews) 4 April 2018


It’s been revealed that Facebook is indeed scanning and reading your private messages. When confronted about this embarrassing revelation CEO Mark Zuckerberg wished that everyone would respect his privacy during this trying time.

— Chad Prather (@WatchChad) 5 April 2018

Elsewhere, Monsanto Co (NYSE:MON) saw shares drop 1.61% to US$114.87 in before the bell deals ahead of the agricultural and agrochemical giant reporting quarterly earnings.

Analysts expect it to post earnings of US$3.31 per share on revenues of  US$5.34bn before the opening bell.

Conn's Inc (NASDAQ:CONN), the furniture and electronics chain shed over 15% after hours to US$30.30.

Total retail revenues were US$334.5mln for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018 compared to US$356.2mln for the same time last year -  a decrease of US$21.7 mln.

Analysts had expected revenue of US$428.69mln.

Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:OLLI)  saw shares shed nearly 5% before the bell to US$57.45.

The retail group posted stronger-than-expected results for its fourth quarter, but issued weak sales forecast for the full year.

On Wall Street, Dow futures are up 64 points at 24,329, the S&P 500 futures are ahead by almost 12 and Nasdaq futures are up 48 points at 6,630.

Top gaining stocks are Sonoma Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:SNOA),  up almost 27% in pre-market at US$3.63, after the company said the US FDA has approved its antimicrobial post-therapy gel.

Meanwhile, Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:CNAT)  shed over 29% to US$6.01 after liver drug  study data.

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 07:53:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook raises estimate of people with data improperly used to 87 million ]]> Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) today increased its estimate of the number of people whose data may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a political targeting company, to 87 million.

The social network had originally estimated the number at 50 million. The update came in the next to last paragraph of a blog post from Mike Schroepfer, the company’s chief technology officer. Along with other privacy changes, he said in the post that call and text history logs older than one year will be deleted from Facebook.


Wed, 04 Apr 2018 16:33:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Zuckerberg vs Cook: Fur flies over Facebook’s privacy scandal ]]> Beleaguered Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg shot back at Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook, who slammed the social network in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Last week, Cook claimed he would never find himself in Zuckerberg’s predicament because Apple had chosen not to monetize its customers' data.

In an interview with Vox, Zuckerberg who is under fire from a chorus of investors, called Cook’s comments “extremely glib” and “not aligned with the truth.” He also defended Facebook as a free service that helps the world stay connected, as opposed to Apple’s steep premium pricing.

Zuckerberg under pressure to resign

“There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less,” Zuckerberg said in the podcast on Monday, channelling Inc.(NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos’ affordability mantra.  

“It’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you,” he said taking a dig at Apple.

Facebook shares have been hammered since the mid-March revelation that its user information was harvested by Cambridge Analytics, a data analytics firm whose clients include Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic have sought an audience with the social media king to air their misgivings.

Zuckerberg is under fire as a crisis of confidence at multiple levels threatens Facebook. There have been gathering calls for his resignation from investors and some media commentators believe now is the time for Zuckerberg to spare himself the infamy and resign -- for Facebook’s sake and his own.

Scott Stringer, New York City’s comptroller, who supervises funds with an almost US$1bn stake in Facebook, said changes at the board were needed following the data leak from the social network to Cambridge Analytica.

“It is the eighth largest company in the world. They have two billion users. They are in uncharted waters and they have not comported themselves in a way that makes people feel good about Facebook and secure about their own data,” Stringer told CNBC.

Facebook shares have fallen by roughly 12% over the past month, into correction territory. Shares opened trading down slightly to US$154.80.

Tue, 03 Apr 2018 09:37:00 +1000
<![CDATA[News - Facebook unveils new privacy tools in wake of Cambridge Analytica data scandal ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is overhauling its privacy tools in response to the fallout over allegations that a political consultancy gathered data from profiles on the social media app to influence elections.

The company announced it would launch new tools that will make it easier for users to find and edit their personal information on Facebook.

Facebook has come under fire after it emerged data from about 50 million profiles were harvested and passed onto Cambridge Analytica -- which was hired for Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016 -- without permission from users.

READ: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg declines request to appear before MPs over data scandal

One of the new features includes a privacy shortcuts menu that brings together some of the most critical controls into a single place.

Another feature is a more simplified settings menu for mobiles that allows users to find all their settings in one place, rather than spread across various different screens as they were before.

An "Access Your Information" page provides users with the option to review information about their past interactions with the site and give them the option to delete them. Such interactions include posts they have "liked" and the comments they have posted.

“The last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies, and to help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data,” two Facebook executives wrote in a blogpost announcing the changes.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find, and that we must do more to keep people informed.”

The announcement comes ahead of the new the European Union general data protection regulation, which comes into effect on May 25. 

Wed, 28 Mar 2018 15:59:00 +1100
<![CDATA[News - Walgreens Boots Alliance, Facebook, Blackberry and more - PRE-MARKET ]]> US stocks are seen starting moving higher again at the open, and pre-market, and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (NYSE:WBA) is one of the most notable gainers before the bell, with shares up over 4% to US$68.88.

It comes after the company's quarterly profit and sales beat analysts' estimates before the bell as the drugstore chain filled more prescriptions but also kept a lid on costs.

The firm also lifted its full-year adjusted earnings forecast to between US$5.85 and US$6.05 per share from US$5.45 to IS$5.70 per share previously due to Trump's tax changes.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is likely to be in the frame again today, and shares are up 1.83% in  pre-market after recent very heavy falls.

It was reported yesterday that chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress within a matter of weeks about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Today, the firm also announced  a new privacy tool.

Facebook shares rise in pre-market trading after announcing a new privacy tool to allow users to delete data

— Bloomberg (@business) 28 March 2018 Meanwhile, turnaround kid and Canadian tech giant Blackberry Ltd (NYSE:BB) is seeing shares up 4.84% to US$13 before the bell. 

It bettered adjusted profit estimates for the fourteenth quarter in a row, helped by higher margins on software and services sales.

A big loser before the bell was global investment firm Franklin Resources Inc (NYSE:BEN), whose shares tanked 7.6% to US$34.75.

Wed, 28 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +1100
<![CDATA[News - Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg declines request to appear before MPs over data scandal ]]> Facebook Inc boss Mark Zuckerberg has declined a request to give evidence to a British parliamentary inquiry over a data breach scandal involving political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Zuckerberg was called to answer questions by MPs about Facebook’s links to Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of harvesting personal data from millions of users on the social media network to influence election campaigns.

But Zuckerberg is instead sending his chief product officer, Chris Cox, to give evidence in the first week after the Easter break.

Chairman of the Department for Culture Media and Sport select committee Damian Collins said it was "absolutely astonishing" that Zuckerberg was not prepared to submit himself for questioning.

Whistleblower says Cambridge Analytica 'don't care whether what they do is legal'

The select committee is currently hearing from Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who alleges his former employer Cambridge Analytica used the Facebook data to swing the US 2016 presidential election campaign in Donald Trump’s favour.

Wylie claims the data was gathered through a personality quiz in 2014 and sold to Cambridge Analytica, which then used it to psychologically profile people and push forward Trump’s agenda in his election campaign.

READ: Facebook slapped with lawsuits from users after data breach scandal

In providing evidence to lawmakers, Wylie said Cambridge Analytica or its parent company SCL "don't care whether what they do is legal" as long as they "get the job done".

He also criticised the data firm for running campaigns in less-developed nations.  

"You have a wealthy company from a developed nation going into an economy or democracy that's still struggling to get its feet on the ground - and taking advantage of that to profit from that," he told MPs.

Cambridge Analytica employee allegedly poisoned 

Wylie said his predecessor, Dan Muresan, was poisoned in a Kenyan hotel room and that police were bribed not to investigate after "a deal went sour”.

But he said the claims were speculation he had heard from others inside the company and had no proof.

"What I heard was that he was working on some kind of deal of some sort, I'm not sure what kind of deal it is,” he said.

"But when you work for senior politicians in a lot of these countries you don't actually make money in the electoral work, you make money in the influence brokering after the fact - and that a deal went sour."

Cambridge Analytica hits back in tweet

Cambridge Analytica said in a tweet that Wylie was a part-time contractor with "no direct knowledge of our work practices" since leaving in 2014.

CA was sad to see Christopher Wylie leave in July 2014 after 11 months with the company; he was very gifted. We took legal action purely to stop him from pitching identical services to our own clients.

— Cambridge Analytica (@CamAnalytica) 27 March 2018

The company added that it was "sad" to see the "very gifted" Wylie leave after 11 months with the company.

Tue, 27 Mar 2018 15:22:00 +1100
<![CDATA[News - Facebook in the frame as it faces FTC probe ]]> There's no stopping the headlines for social network giant Facebook (NASDAQ:FB.) as it emerged the US Federal Trade Commission will investigate the group over how private data on users was given to UK based firm Cambridge Analytica.

It is believed the data was used to help Trump's 2016 Presidential campaign.

Shares in Facebook tumbled this afternoon before recovering to close the day up 0.42% to US$160.06.

It comes after days of negative media coverage for the group and threw wide open the broader debate about how firms use personal data.

The FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook,” said Tom Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection.

The probe is said to include whether the company engaged in “unfair acts that cause substantial injury to consumers".

At the weekend, founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, placed full page adverts in a number of UK and US Sunday newspapers to apologise for the social media network’s data breach scandal.

The company has come under fire from lawmakers and users after it emerged that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested data from millions of Facebook profiles without consent to influence election campaigns.

In the newspaper ads, Zuckerberg said he could have done more to prevent Cambridge Analytica from abusing Facebook’s privacy permissions.

“We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it,” the back-page ads state, repeating the same apology Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page.

"This was a breach of trust, and I am sorry.”

READ: Facebook slapped with lawsuits from users after data breach scandal

The ad appeared on the back page of UK newspapers the Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Observer, Sunday Express and Sunday Mirror.

In the US, the apology was placed in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

The ad said a questionnaire developed by a university researcher had leaked Facebook data from millions of people in 2014.

University of Cambridge lecturer Aleksandr Kogan gained access to the data legally by asking for permission from users via his personality quiz, which was billed "a research app used by psychologists”. However, Kogan is accused of breaking the social media company’s rules for app developers by passing on that data.

Cambridge Analytica allegedly used the data to swing the 2016 US presidential election in favour of Donald Trump and is thought to have used tactics to sway the Brexit vote.

#Deletefacebook movement has Elon Musk on board

The scandal has prompted the #deletefacebook movement with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk among the swarms of people getting rid of their accounts.

Users deleting their Facebook accounts have complained that the network holds more data than they realised, including logs of phone calls and text messages.

One user, Dylan McKay, said his logs between October 2016 and July 2017 contained “the metadata of every cellular call I’ve ever made, including time and duration” and “metadata about every text message I’ve ever received or sent”.

Downloaded my facebook data as a ZIP file

Somehow it has my entire call history with my partner's mum

— Dylan McKay (@dylanmckaynz) 21 March 2018

Just removed @facebook from my iPhone. Not that iOS was affected but the fact that Mark thinks he can track texts/phone calls after installing his app is not right. Next step: delete the account. Probably happening with @instagram too. That’s next. #ByeFacebook #DeleteFacebook

— James P. Fencil (@mistahjamez) 26 March 2018

If an account is deactivated rather than permanently deleted, Facebook will keep all personal data on its servers.

Facebook defends privacy policy 

Facebook explained in a statement that it uses such information to make it easier to find new friends and work out algorithms to prioritise content on the app's news feed.

The company also said people are Expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts from their phone when they join Facebook.

“People can delete previously uploaded information at any time and can find all the information available to them in their account and activity log from our Download Your Information tool,” Facebook said.

Mon, 26 Mar 2018 13:34:00 +1100
<![CDATA[News - Facebook slapped with lawsuits from users after data breach scandal ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has reportedly been slapped with four lawsuits in US courts this week after a political consultancy abused the social media network’s permissions to gather user data.

Cambridge Analytica is accused of harvesting data from Facebook profiles to influence elections. The data firm is thought to have used the data to swing the 2016 US Presidential election in favour of Donald Trump. It is also believed to play a role in the Brexit vote.

READ: Facebook fined by South Korea's telecoms regulator as Zuckerberg addresses data breach

Now users are suing Facebook with four lawsuits filed in federal courts in the past week, according to news website SF Gate.

One of the lawsuits, filed on Tuesday by Lauren Price of Maryland in San Jose, claims Facebook acted with "absolute disregard" for her personal information despite stating that it would not disclose her data without permission.

Price alleges that she was "frequently targeted with political ads while using Facebook” and is seeking financial restitution for claims of unfair business practices and negligence.

The lawsuit names Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg; chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg; and board members Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Reed Hastings, Erskine Bowles, Susan Desmond-Hellman and Jan Koum as defendants.

FTC investigating Facebook

The complaint flags reports that Facebook is being investigated by the US Federal Trade Commission into whether it violated the terms of a 2011 decree regarding its privacy protections.

Facebook has lost nearly US$50mln in market capitalisation since the data leak was disclosed, the complaint noted.

READ: Facebook's handling of data scandal will determine its future, says Goldman Sachs

The claims were first reported by the New York Times and the Observer last week after former Cambridge Analytica employee Chris Wylie blew the whistle on the company.

Wylie said the firm got the data from University of Cambridge lecturer Aleksandr Kogan, who created a personality quiz that was billed as "a research app used by psychologists”. Kogan is accused of breaking the social network's rules for app developers by passing on the data he gained by accessing information on 270,000 accounts through Facebook's Login feature.

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 13:30:00 +1100
<![CDATA[News - Facebook fined by South Korea's telecoms regulator as Zuckerberg addresses data breach ]]> Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been fined 396mln won (US$369,705) by South Korea’s telecoms regulator for illegally limiting user access.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) said Facebook failed to ask permission to reroute some users’ access to its services to networks in Hong Kong or the US, instead of using domestic networks, the ABC reported.

READ: UK investigates Cambridge Analytica and Facebook after alleged data breach

The move slowed down connections by as much as 4.5 times for some local Facebook users, the regulator said.

Facebook was fined for violating a law against hurting the interests of users. The KCC also recommended the social media network change its terms of use that state it is unable to guarantee the quality of its services.

The regulator began investigating the issue in May after internet providers received complaints.

Zuckerberg 'really sorry' about Cambridge Analytica scandal

The news serves as another blow to Facebook after chief executive Mark Zuckerberg admitted the company “made mistakes” that led to millions of users having their data improperly used by a political consultancy.

READ: Facebook's handling of data scandal will determine its future, says Goldman Sachs

Cambridge Analytica, which was employed by President Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016, is accused of exploiting the data on behalf of its clients.

In a statement on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Zuckerberg addressed the allegations for the first time.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you," he said.

"I've been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn't happen again.”

In a later interview with CNN, Zuckerberg said he was “really sorry” about the incident.

Zuckerberg open to regulation and willing to testify before Congress

He also said he would be open to regulation following calls for a clampdown on tech companies.

"I actually am not sure we shouldn't be regulated. I think in general, technology is an increasingly important trend in the world and I actually think the question is more, what is the right regulation, rather than 'yes or no, should it be regulated?'" Zuckerberg told CNN.

Zuckerberg said he would be willing to testify before Congress about the data scandal, although he believes other executives whose jobs are focused on certain areas might be better qualified to answer questions. 

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:35:00 +1100