If you’ve been following along with entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, you’ve probably heard about his $1.80 strategy when it comes to expanding your social reach. It’s a great way to expand your brand name, while at the same time, using the social media platform to well, actually be “social.” I recently discovered on another post a web app that can help expedite and make the process easier for you.
Should we really be surprised at this point?
The culture at Facebook is changing. So says the social media giant's chief technology officer. Mike Schroepfer now says Facebook has a much sharper and more pessimistic view of issues that could hurt the service. Yahoo Finance's Alexis Christoforous, ...
According to MacRumors:
Facebook today launched a new section of its Help Center focusing on user data breaches following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that's been ongoing for the past few weeks. The updated Help Center tool allows you to check to see if any of your Facebook data was shared with Cambridge Analytica (via Matt Navarra).
The tool specifically details whether or not you or any of your friends ever logged into "This Is Your Digital Life," a quiz app that Cambridge Analytica used to steal information and tailor political messages towards Facebook users. If you or someone you know was affected by the app, Facebook details what information was shared with Cambridge Analytica, including topics like public profile, page likes, birthday, current city, and more.
It's a lengthy read, but read more below for Zuckerberg's full testimony, via CNBC.
Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Pallone, and Members of the Committee,
We face a number of important issues around privacy, safety, and democracy, and you will rightfully have some hard questions for me to answer. Before I talk about the steps we're taking to address them, I want to talk about how we got here.
Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all the good that connecting people can bring. As Facebook has grown, people everywhere have gotten a powerful new tool to stay connected to the people they love, make their voices heard, and build communities and businesses. Just recently, we've seen the #metoo movement and the March for Our Lives, organized, at least in part, on Facebook. After Hurricane Harvey, people raised more than $20 million for relief. And more than 70 million small businesses now use Facebook to grow and create jobs.
But it's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy. We didn't take a 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'm responsible for what happens here.
So now we have to go through every part of our relationship with people and make sure we're taking a broad enough view of our responsibility.
It's not enough to just connect people, we have to make sure those connections are positive. It's not enough to just give people a voice, we have to make sure people aren't using it to hurt people or spread misinformation. It's not enough to give people control of their information, we have to make sure developers they've given it to are protecting it too. Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good.
It will take some time to work through all of the changes we need to make, but I'm committed to getting it right.
That includes improving the way we protect people's information and safeguard elections around the world. Here are a few key things we're doing:
II. CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA
Over the past few weeks, we've been working to understand exactly what happened with Cambridge Analytica and taking steps to make sure this doesn't happen again. We took important actions to prevent this from happening again today four years ago, but we also made mistakes, there's more to do, and we need to step up and do it.
A. What Happened
In 2007, we launched the Facebook Platform with the vision that more apps should be social. Your calendar should be able to show your friends' birthdays, your maps should show where your friends live, and your address book should show their pictures. To do this, we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them.
In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who agreed to share some of their Facebook information as well as some information from their friends whose privacy settings allowed it. Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access some information about tens of millions of their friends.
In 2014, to prevent abusive apps, we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the Facebook information apps could access. Most importantly, apps like Kogan's could no longer ask for information about a person's friends unless their friends had also authorized the app. We also required developers to get approval from Facebook before they could request any data beyond a user's public profile, friend list, and email address. These actions would prevent any app like Kogan's from being able to access as much Facebook data today.
In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica. It is against our policies for developers to share data without people's consent, so we immediately banned Kogan's app from our platform, and demanded that Kogan and other entities he gave the data to, including Cambridge Analytica, formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data — which they ultimately did.
Last month, we learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified. We immediately banned them from using any of our services. Cambridge Analytica claims they have already deleted the data and has agreed to a forensic audit by a firm we hired to investigate this. We're also working with the U.K. Information Commissioner's Office, which has jurisdiction over Cambridge Analytica, as it completes its investigation into what happened.
B. What We Are Doing
We have a responsibility to make sure what happened with Kogan and Cambridge Analytica doesn't happen again. Here are some of the steps we're taking:
Safeguarding our platform. We need to make sure that developers like Kogan who got access to a lot of information in the past can't get access to as much information going forward.
1. We made some big changes to the Facebook platform in 2014 to dramatically restrict the amount of data that developers can access and to proactively review the apps on our platform. This makes it so a developer today can't do what Kogan did years ago.
2. But there's more we can do here to limit the information developers can access and put more safeguards in place to prevent abuse.
— We're removing developers' access to your data if you haven't used their app in three months.
— We're reducing the data you give an app when you approve it to only your name, profile photo, and email address. That's a lot less than apps can get on any other major app platform.
— We're requiring developers to not only get approval but also to sign a contract that imposes strict requirements in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data.
— We're restricting more APIs like groups and events. You should be able to sign into apps and share your public information easily, but anything that might also share other people's information — like other posts in groups you're in or other people going to events you're going to — will be much more restricted.
— Two weeks ago, we found out that a feature that lets you look someone up by their phone number and email was abused. This feature is useful in cases where people have the same name, but it was abused to link people's public Facebook information to a phone number they already had. When we found out about the abuse, we shut this feature down.
3. Investigating other apps. We're in the process of investigating every app that had access to a large amount of information before we locked down our platform in 2014. If we detect suspicious activity, we'll do a full forensic audit. And if we find that someone is improperly using data, we'll ban them and tell everyone affected.
4. Building better controls. Finally, we're making it easier to understand which apps you've allowed to access your data. This week we started showing everyone a list of the apps you've used and an easy way to revoke their permissions to your data. You can already do this in your privacy settings, but we're going to put it at the top of News Feed to make sure everyone sees it. And we also told everyone whose Facebook information may have been shared with Cambridge Analytica.
Beyond the steps we had already taken in 2014, I believe these are the next steps we must take to continue to secure our platform.
III. RUSSIAN ELECTION INTERFERENCE
Facebook's mission is about giving people a voice and bringing people closer together. Those are deeply democratic values and we're proud of them. I don't want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy. That's not what we stand for.
We were too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference, and we're working hard to get better. Our sophistication in handling these threats is growing and improving quickly. We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference, and we will do our part not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, but also to give everyone a voice and to be a force for good in democracy everywhere.
A. What Happened
Elections have always been especially sensitive times for our security team, and the 2016 U.S. presidential election was no exception.
Our security team has been aware of traditional Russian cyber threats — like hacking and malware — for years. Leading up to Election Day in November 2016, we detected and dealt with several threats with ties to Russia. This included activity by a group called APT28, that the U.S. government has publicly linked to Russian military intelligence services.
But while our primary focus was on traditional threats, we also saw some new behavior in the summer of 2016 when APT28-related accounts, under the banner of DC Leaks, created fake personas that were used to seed stolen information to journalists. We shut these accounts down for violating our policies.
After the election, we continued to investigate and learn more about these new threats. What we found was that bad actors had used coordinated networks of fake accounts to interfere in the election: promoting or attacking specific candidates and causes, creating distrust in political institutions, or simply spreading confusion. Some of these bad actors also used our ads tools.
We also learned about a disinformation campaign run by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) — a Russian agency that has repeatedly acted deceptively and tried to manipulate people in the US, Europe, and Russia. We found about 470 accounts and pages linked to the IRA, which generated around 80,000 Facebook posts over about a two-year period.
Our best estimate is that approximately 126 million people may have been served content from a Facebook Page associated with the IRA at some point during that period. On Instagram, where our data on reach is not as complete, we found about 120,000 pieces of content, and estimate that an additional 20 million people were likely served it.
Over the same period, the IRA also spent approximately $100,000 on more than 3,000 ads on Facebook and Instagram, which were seen by an estimated 11 million people in the United States. We shut down these IRA accounts in August 2017.
B. What We Are Doing
There's no question that we should have spotted Russian interference earlier, and we're working hard to make sure it doesn't happen again. Our actions include:
Building new technology to prevent abuse. Since 2016, we have improved our techniques to prevent nation states from interfering in foreign elections, and we've built more advanced AI tools to remove fake accounts more generally. There have been a number of important elections since then where these new tools have been successfully deployed. For example:
1. In France, leading up to the presidential election in 2017, we found and took down 30,000 fake accounts.
2. In Germany, before the 2017 elections, we worked directly with the election commission to learn from them about the threats they saw and to share information.
3. In the U.S. Senate Alabama special election last year, we deployed new AI tools that proactively detected and removed fake accounts from Macedonia trying to spread misinformation.
4. We have disabled thousands of accounts tied to organized, financially motivated fake news spammers. These investigations have been used to improve our automated systems that find fake accounts.
5. Last week, we took down more than 270 additional pages and accounts operated by the IRA and used to target people in Russia and Russian speakers in countries like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. Some of the pages we removed belong to Russian news organizations that we determined were controlled by the IRA.
Significantly increasing our investment in security. We now have about 15,000 people working on security and content review. We'll have more than 20,000 by the end of this year.
1. I've directed our teams to invest so much in security — on top of the other investments we're making — that it will significantly impact our profitability going forward. But I want to be clear about what our priority is: protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.
Strengthening our advertising policies. We know some Members of Congress are exploring ways to increase transparency around political or issue advertising, and we're happy to keep working with Congress on that. But we aren't waiting for legislation to act.
1. From now on, every advertiser who wants to run political or issue ads will need to be authorized. To get authorized, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location. Any advertiser who doesn't pass will be prohibited from running political or issue ads. We will also label them and advertisers will have to show you who paid for them. We're starting this in the U.S. and expanding to the rest of the world in the coming months.
2. For even greater political ads transparency, we have also built a tool that lets anyone see all of the ads a page is running. We're testing this in Canada now and we'll launch it globally this summer. We're also creating a searchable archive of past political ads.
3. We will also require people who manage large pages to be verified as well. This will make it much harder for people to run pages using fake accounts, or to grow virally and spread misinformation or divisive content that way.
4. In order to require verification for all of these pages and advertisers, we will hire thousands of more people. We're committed to getting this done in time for the critical months before the 2018 elections in the U.S. as well as elections in Mexico, Brazil, India, Pakistan and elsewhere in the next year.
5. These steps by themselves won't stop all people trying to game the system. But they will make it a lot harder for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election and use fake accounts and pages to run ads. Election interference is a problem that's bigger than any one platform, and that's why we support the Honest Ads Act. This will help raise the bar for all political advertising online.
Sharing information. We've been working with other technology companies to share information about threats, and we're also cooperating with the U.S. and foreign governments on election integrity.
At the same time, it's also important not to lose sight of the more straightforward and larger ways Facebook plays a role in elections.
In 2016, people had billions of interactions and open discussions on Facebook that may never have happened offline. Candidates had direct channels to communicate with tens of millions of citizens. Campaigns spent tens of millions of dollars organizing and advertising online to get their messages out further. And we organized "get out the vote" efforts that helped more than 2 million people register to vote who might not have voted otherwise.
Security — including around elections — isn't a problem you ever fully solve. Organizations like the IRA are sophisticated adversaries who are constantly evolving, but we'll keep improving our techniques to stay ahead. And we'll also keep building tools to help more people make their voices heard in the democratic process.
My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together. Advertisers and developers will never take priority over that as long as I'm running Facebook.
I started Facebook when I was in college. We've come a long way since then. We now serve more than 2 billion people around the world, and every day, people use our services to stay connected with the people that matter to them most. I believe deeply in what we're doing. And when we address these challenges, I know we'll look back and view helping people connect and giving more people a voice as a positive force in the world.
I realize the issues we're talking about today aren't just issues for Facebook and our community — they're challenges for all of us as Americans. Thank you for having me here today, and I'm ready to take your questions.
It's well known by now the controversy revolving around Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. While it's great that the social media giant has undertaken steps to make improvements, it still makes one wonder what may or may not have happened, had this not come to light.
It's a bit of a lengthy read, but below are the changes being proposed, according to Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's Chief Tech officer:
Events API: Until today, people could grant an app permission to get information about events they host or attend, including private events. This made it easy to add Facebook Events to calendar, ticketing or other apps. But Facebook Events have information about other people’s attendance as well as posts on the event wall, so it’s important that we ensure apps use their access appropriately. Starting today, apps using the API will no longer be able to access the guest list or posts on the event wall. And in the future, only apps we approve that agree to strict requirements will be allowed to use the Events API.
Groups API: Currently apps need the permission of a group admin or member to access group content for closed groups, and the permission of an admin for secret groups. These apps help admins do things like easily post and respond to content in their groups. However, there is information about people and conversations in groups that we want to make sure is better protected. Going forward, all third-party apps using the Groups API will need approval from Facebook and an admin to ensure they benefit the group. Apps will no longer be able to access the member list of a group. And we’re also removing personal information, such as names and profile photos, attached to posts or comments that approved apps can access.
Pages API: Until today, any app could use the Pages API to read posts or comments from any Page. This let developers create tools for Page owners to help them do things like schedule posts and reply to comments or messages. But it also let apps access more data than necessary. We want to make sure Page information is only available to apps providing useful services to our community. So starting today, all future access to the Pages API will need to be approved by Facebook.
Facebook Login: Two weeks ago we announced important changes to Facebook Login. Starting today, Facebook will need to approve all apps that request access to information such as check-ins, likes, photos, posts, videos, events and groups. We started approving these permissions in 2014, but now we’re tightening our review process — requiring these apps to agree to strict requirements before they can access this data. We will also no longer allow apps to ask for access to personal information such as religious or political views, relationship status and details, custom friends lists, education and work history, fitness activity, book reading activity, music listening activity, news reading, video watch activity, and games activity. In the next week, we will remove a developer’s ability to request data people shared with them if it appears they have not used the app in the last 3 months.
Instagram Platform API: We’re making the recently announced deprecation of the Instagram Platform API effective today. You can find more information here.
Search and Account Recovery: Until today, people could enter another person’s phone number or email address into Facebook search to help find them. This has been especially useful for finding your friends in languages which take more effort to type out a full name, or where many people have the same name. In Bangladesh, for example, this feature makes up 7% of all searches. However, malicious actors have also abused these features to scrape public profile information by submitting phone numbers or email addresses they already have through search and account recovery. Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way. So we have now disabled this feature. We’re also making changes to account recovery to reduce the risk of scraping as well.
Call and Text History: Call and text history is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. This means we can surface the people you most frequently connect with at the top of your contact list. We’ve reviewed this feature to confirm that Facebook does not collect the content of messages — and will delete all logs older than one year. In the future, the client will only upload to our servers the information needed to offer this feature — not broader data such as the time of calls.
Data Providers and Partner Categories: Last week we announced our plans to shut down Partner Categories, a product that lets third-party data providers offer their targeting directly on Facebook.
App Controls: Finally, starting on Monday, April 9, we’ll show people a link at the top of their News Feed so they can see what apps they use — and the information they have shared with those apps. People will also be able to remove apps that they no longer want. As part of this process we will also tell people if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook advises staying tuned to their Developer Blog for further updates.
Earlier this month we wrote about how search engine giant Google was stepping up its efforts to help users discern fake news. According to Recode, Facebook is wanting join in the effort by hiring for a position to head up its news products, with the goal of helping to defeat fake news on its service.
While Facebook is said to be speaking with experienced individuals in both the tech and media industries, multiple sources are reporting that the company is said to be having trouble finding someone with both the necessary applicable skills in news and technology.
Fidji Simo, who is Facebook’s VP in charge of news and video, would oversee the role. However, the position is not currently listed on the company's website. Nonetheless, those sources are reporting that whomever is in the new position would assist Facebook in creating news products for media partners, such as Instant Articles, in addition to looking for ways to help prevent "fake" news from being spread.
As many know, since the US Presidential election, the sharing of misinformation has grown significantly, with some critics having blamed Facebook for the outcome of the election.
Facebook's recent efforts for combating misinformation have included flagging inaccurate news stories as well as working with third-party fact checkers.