Items tagged with Facebook

Earlier this week, we brought you news that Facebook had yet another epic privacy fail after information pertaining to hundreds of millions of users was found on an external server. The server was fully exposed and publicly accessible, leaving roughly 420,000 million Facebook IDs and their associated phone numbers available for anyone to peruse and use for their own nefarious deeds. This revelation came after a string of privacy and security goofs by Facebook, so a new safeguard that the company is putting in place might put some of its regular users at peace. Facebook announced this week that it will allow its users to opt-out of some facial recognition features available on the site.... Read more...
Facebook must once again deal with the repercussions of a major security blunder. An exposed server recently published more than 419 million phone numbers and Facebook IDs. At least 133 million of those phone numbers were based in the United States. Anyone could have accessed the information before the server was finally taken down. Security researcher Sanyam Jain was the first to find the exposed server. The server was not owned by Facebook, but still contained users’ Facebook IDs and phone numbers. A Facebook ID is a public number that is associated with an account. The number often contains portions of a person’s Facebook name and it is not difficult to determine the owner of the... Read more...
When we think of Minecraft, we think of an addictive game that allows us to escape the rigors of everyday life to embark in a simplistic, virtualized world that is both fun and engaging. However, Facebook sees Minecraft as more than just mere child's play -- in fact, it's using the game as a training ground of sorts for its AI assistant. Team members from Facebook Research are using the 3D sandbox game because of its near limitless ability to create and rules that are "simple and predictable within certain limits" according to MIT Technology Review. This simplicity makes Minecraft a perfect fit for a generalist AI assistant. Facebook researcher Arthur Szlam and his team have crafted an AI... Read more...
Much like Apple, Google, and Amazon have admitted to paying contractors to listed to audio from their respective digital assistants, Facebook is now coming clean about its own similar practice. In a new report today, Facebook confirmed that it has been using paid contractors to listen to audio clips obtained from users of its highly popular Messenger chat app. It also claims that it has since ceased its program. Messenger offers an optional feature that has the ability to transcribe spoken audio to text. For those that opted-in to the feature, Facebook's contractors had the ability to listen in on those conversations in order to provide more accurate transcriptions. There are obvious... Read more...
It already seems like big tech companies can read our minds—it's a bit eerie to see an ad for something that we were thinking about. You can chalk those instances up to a combination of fancy predicative algorithms and coincidence. Nevertheless, Facebook is actually developing a brain-computer interface (BCI) that can actually transcribe your thoughts into written text. Sounds like the stuff of science fiction, right? Not that long ago, it would have been. But it is an actual project at Facebook Reality Labs, and it has been a point of focus since at least 2017. Facebook is also not alone in this kind of research—a start-up called CRTL-labs has been dabbling in BCI technologies for... Read more...
Facebook launched its chat service aimed at kids under 13-years-old in 2017, touting the app as having strict privacy controls that allowed parents to control who their kids talked to. However, the Messenger Kids app failed to deliver on the promise of strict parental and privacy controls. Facebook has reportedly sent messages to parents of users of the app to inform them that there was "a technical error" that allowed the friend of a child to create a group chat within the app that would invite one or more of the second child's friends to a group conversation. Essentially this allowed the child to talk to friends of their approved friends, without parental permission or vetting. Facebook has... Read more...
An Israeli company that managed to hack WhatsApp earlier this year is now claiming it has developed new software that can stealthily swipe cloud data from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. It can even bypass two-factor authentication and warning emails on target devices. Developed by NSO Group, the software is called Pegasus. Apparently it has been used for several years by various governments and spy agencies to gather data from smartphones, presumably from people of interest for one reason or another. The latest iteration, however, extends past smartphones and can pluck data from the cloud. People who are supposedly familiar with NSO Group's sales pitch told Financial Times that... Read more...
Facebook is no stranger to privacy and security issues; it seems at every turn, a new report is surfacing that claims that some new mishandling of user data has taken place. The most significant privacy outcry Facebook has taken on, happened last year with the Cambridge Analytica fiasco that landed CEO Mark Zuckerberg in front of Congress to talk about how the company handles user data. Facebook admitted that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data of 87 million Facebook users and now the FTC has approved a settlement with Facebook on its Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. The FTC has approved a settlement with Facebook that amounts to about a $5 billion in fine, according to a person... Read more...
Do you think Facebook is listening to your conversations, through your smartphone or any other gadget? There is an easy solution—stop using Facebook. That is the advice Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says is appropriate for "most people," himself included (he actually did quit Facebook last year, due to the amount of data collection). There is a growing concern over privacy and how big tech firms, Facebook included, handle our collective data. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is one of the more prominent examples of how things can go sideways. However, it is by far not the only one. Wozniak made his latest comments about Facebook to TMZ while strolling through Reagan National Airport in... Read more...
Facebook is definitely tracking us in ways that allow it to deliver targeted advertising, and in some instances, it feels like the social network is granting itself a frighteningly large amount of access to our daily lives. Be that as it may, Facebook is not listening to our conversations and then hitting us with related ads. Instead, there are alternate explanations as to why it seems as thought Facebook listens to our verbal communications. Don't believe it? Just ask Facebook, which swears it is not listening to you (scout's honor and all that jazz). "Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested... Read more...
The cryptocurrency market is full of peaks and valleys but at the moment, it appears that Bitcoin has hit a peak. Bitcoin surged past $11,000 USD for the first time in a year. The value of Bitcoin has jumped by 13% in the last 24 hours. Although the cyrptocurrency’s value dropped slightly once the heat of the excitement wore off, it is currently sitting pretty at roughly $10,600. Other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum have also hit a ten-month high. Bitcoin reached an all-time high in December 2017 at nearly $20,000. Its value dipped by 74% at the beginning of 2018, thanks to a slew of cryptocurrency regulations. A Bitcoin was only worth roughly $3,100 at the end of December 2018, but... Read more...
The era of cryptocurrency is not behind us, apparently. One look at Bitcoin's value—it sits at around $9,143 currently—indicates that there is room for at least one type of digital coin, even after the crypto-bubble burst last year in general. It is not just Bitcoin, though. Facebook is making a major move into the cryptocurrency space and has the backing of some major payment firms. Facebook's new and open-source digital currency is called Libra. It will be managed by Calibra, a newly formed Facebook subsidiary, with the goal of providing financial services all around the globe while leveraging blockchain technology. The first product that Calibra will introduce is a digital wallet... Read more...
No one likes to have their property stolen, and many people have turned to Amazon's Ring cameras to keep a watchful eye over their homes and hopefully catch criminals in the act. Last month Amazon was looking for a "Managing Editor" to work within Ring to manage a team of news editors who would deliver breaking crime alerts to neighbors using Ring footage and devices. That crime reporting service appears to have been implemented as Ring has started to share videos of people suspected of a crime. Ring has recently used video captured by its doorbell cameras in Facebook advertisements asking users to identify and call the police on a woman suspected of a crime in Mountain View, California.... Read more...
In yet another blow to Huawei as it struggles to deal with a US ban, Facebook is distancing itself from the ostracized smartphone maker by no longer allowing its apps to be preinstalled on the company's handsets. That includes not just Facebook, but also WhatsApp and Instagram, both of which the social media giant owns. US intelligence agencies have long warned that Huawei could be linked to spying on behalf of China. More recently, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) made the claim that Huawei is directly funded by the Chinese government, and the National Defense Authorization Act subsequently banned US government agencies from using products from Huawei (and also ZTE). Things have only gone... Read more...
This might be a 'be careful what you wish for' moment for Mark Zuckberg, the wonderkid who built the most popular social network on the planet. Weeks removed in calling for "a more active role for governments and regulators" as it pertains to the internet, Facebook may find itself dealing with two decades of oversight by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Facebook and the US government are currently hammering out a consent agreement that would put to rest a probe into whether the company ran afoul of a separate but similar agreement it reached in 2011. The 20 years of oversight that is being considered for the new pact would be in addition to a penalty in the range of $3 billion to $5 billion.... Read more...
Remember life before digital assistants? Even if you are not using one, it is a safe bet that you know someone who is, because they are all over the place. The market is flush with them—Alexa (Amazon), Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), Google Assistant (Google), and Bixby (Samsung), those being the main ones. There may be another on the horizon as well, from Facebook. These AI controlled assistants are in all kinds of devices these days, which mostly consists of smartphones and smart speakers. You can use them to fire up playlists, look up the news, get a weather forecast, fetch movie times, and even to order a pizza. Citing "several people familiar with the matter," CNBC reports that... Read more...
Another day, another Facebook privacy row. Of all the major technology companies out there, the social networking giant seems utterly incapable of keeping its users' information private. Last month reports indicated that Facebook was under criminal investigation over sharing user data without permission. Facebook also announced in March that up to 600 million user passwords were stored in plain text and that 20,000 of its employees had access to the searchable database. Earlier this month word surfaced that Facebook was forcing some new users to give their email passwords to register for an account. Facebook is now admitting that it unintentionally grabbed the email contacts of 1.5 million new... Read more...
There is evidence to suggest that Facebook might be reintegrating its standalone Messenger app into the social network, rather than having the two exist as separate entities. The feature is currently being tested, and presumably if all goes well, Facebook and Messenger will get back together, allowing users to send messages from within Facebook. Messenger's roots trace back to 2008 when it debuted as Facebook Chat. Two years later, Facebook overhauled the messaging platform, and in 2014 it split from Facebook as a standalone Messenger app for mobile devices. A year after that, Facebook ported Messenger to the web, and also released a version for Tizen. Throughout the years, Facebook has fleshed... Read more...
Facebook has one of the worst reputations for privacy and security of personal information in the entire tech industry. It admitted last month that the passwords of up to 600 million users had been stored in plain text and were accessible to 20,000 employees. The company is facing a criminal investigation over sharing user details without the consent of the user and the social network is also facing an FTC fine in the billions of dollars range. With all the problems that Facebook has encountered with sharing user data without permission, it would make sense that it wouldn't want access to information that it didn't need. However, reports indicate that Facebook is now asking some new users to... Read more...
Some parts of Facebook are not really a mystery. For example, I was researching compact SUVs over the weekend, and predictably, I began to see related ads scattered in my Facebook News feed. We all understand how targeted advertising works (outside of Congress, apparently). Less clear, however, is why we see particular posts (non-ads) in our News feeds prioritized over others. Facebook is finally offering some clarity. There is a new option on News feed items called "Why am I seeing this post?" This is an effort on Facebook's part to provide a bit of transparency into how it selects posts for viewing, and to give users more control over what they see. "This is the first time that we’ve... Read more...
Several weeks ago, a terrorist killed fifty people at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. The horrific attack was streamed through Facebook Live and shared thousands of times through additional Facebook posts. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently shared a letter with the New Zealand Herald that outlines the actions Facebook plans to take to police hate groups and hate speech. Sandberg noted that immediately after the attack, Facebook removed the video of the attack, shut down the terrorist’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, and used AI to delete related videos. Their efforts were not enough to prevent the terrifying footage from... Read more...
Facebook just can’t seem to keep its nose clean with respect to security and user privacy. The latest blunder was first reported on by KrebsonSecurity, which discovered that the social networking giant was storing user account passwords in plain text instead of hashing them. What’s more troubling about this discovery is that the passwords were readably accessible by Facebook employees, affecting accounts dating back to 2012. In total, over 20,000 Facebook employees had searchable access to the passwords, and the plain text folly affected between 200 million to 600 million users in total. Brian Krebs also dropped this interesting nugget in his blog post on the latest... Read more...
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