Technology Desk : Facebook has been secretly deleting some messages CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent through its Messenger application, an option that hasn’t been available to most of the social network’s 2.2 billion users.
The company says it has been removing Zuckerberg’s messages from the inboxes of various people for several years. The recipients of Zuckerberg’s messages weren’t informed before that happened. Facebook is making the acknowledgement Friday after TechCrunch first reported the tactic.
Facebook says it began erasing the messages of Zuckerberg and a few other top executives in 2014 after computer hackers obtained and released emails from Sony Pictures executives. The Sony messages included disparaging remarks about movie stars and other people in the entertainment industry.
Although the ability to automatically delete sent texts hadn’t been previously available, Facebook says it now plans to make it available to all users. The company apologized for not doing so sooner.
The development comes as Facebook faces questions about trust in light of one of its worst privacy scandals in its 14-year history.
Facebook says it will require advertisers who want to run either political ads or so-called “issue ads” —which may not endorse a specific candidate or party but which discuss political topics— to verify themselves.
Facebook is working to strengthen its system ahead of this year’s U.S. midterm elections and other elections around the world. The company has already required political ads to verify who is paying for them and where the advertiser is located. The requirement for issue ads is new.
In addition, Facebook says it will also require the administrators of pages with a “large number” of followers to verify their identities and addresses. The company did not specify what number of followers would trigger the requirement.
The moves are intended to clamp down on fake pages and accounts such as those used to disrupt the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Facebook will begin alerting users whose private data may have been compromised in the Cambridge Analytica scandal starting Monday.
All 2.2 billion Facebook users will receive a notice on their feeds titled “Protecting Your Information.” It will have a link to information on which Facebook apps they use and what information they have shared with those apps.
In addition, 87 million users whose data might have been shared with Cambridge Analytica will get a more detailed message informing them of that fact.
The political data-mining firm allegedly used ill-gotten Facebook user data in its efforts to sway elections. Cambridge Analytica says it only ever received data on 30 million users.
Sheryl Sandberg says Facebook should have conducted an audit after learning that a political consultancy improperly accessed user data nearly three years ago.
The company’s chief operating officer told NBC’s “Today” show that Facebook is now undertaking that audit. Sandberg said that at the time, Facebook received legal assurances that Cambridge Analytica had deleted the improperly obtained information.
She says, “What we didn’t do is the next step of an audit and we’re trying to that now.”
The company is facing a global backlash over the improper data-sharing scandal. Hearings over the issue are scheduled in the U.S., and the European Union is considering what actions to take against the company.
The European Union says that Facebook has told it that up to 2.7 million people in the 28-nation bloc may have been victim of improper data sharing involving political data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica.
EU spokesman Christian Wigand said Friday that EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova will have a telephone call with Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, early next week to address the massive data leaks.
The EU and Facebook will be looking at what changes the social media giant needs to make to better protect users and how the U.S. company must adapt to new EU data protection rules.
Wigand said that EU data protection authorities will discuss over the coming days “a strong coordinated approach” on how to deal with the Facebook investigation.
Civil society and rights groups in Myanmar say Facebook has failed to adequately act against online hate speech that incites violence against the country’s Muslim minority.
Phandeeyar, a digital innovation lab, and five other groups wrote an open letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, challenging his contention in a recent interview that the social media platform had effectively combated hate speech targeting the Rohingya community that’s being persecuted in western Myanmar.
Htaike Htaike Aung, executive director of one of the groups, Myanmar ICT for Development Organization, says Facebook has been a useful tool for people in Myanmar to exercise freedom of expression, but it had failed to effectively enforce rules to make it a safe community for all.
Indonesia says Facebook is being investigated over the privacy breach of its Indonesian users.
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology says in a statement Friday it has asked the National Police to investigate possible violations of Indonesia’s privacy law a day after Facebook announced that personal data of more than 1 million Indonesians might have been exposed by political consultant Cambridge Analytica.
It says Facebook representatives in Indonesia could face up to 12 years in prison and a fine of $871,000, if convicted.
The ministry has summoned the representatives late Thursday and asked Facebook to stop its applications that could allow third parties to get users’ personal information.
Facebook Indonesia Head of Public Policy Ruben Hattari says they will keep cooperating with the Indonesian government.