Odds and Ends 

Daily Crunch: Facebook will pay $5B fine

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here. 1. Facebook settles with FTC: $5 billion and new privacy guarantees Although in line with what was reported before the official announcement, the FTC notes this is the largest fine for any company violating consumer privacy. In addition to the payment, Facebook has agreed to new oversight, with a board committee on privacy covering WhatsApp and Instagram,…

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Europes top court sharpens guidance for sites using leaky social plug-ins

Europe’s top court has made a ruling that could affect scores of websites that embed the Facebook ‘Like’ button and receive visitors from the region. The ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU states such sites are jointly responsible for the initial data processing — and must either obtain informed consent from site visitors prior to data being transferred to Facebook, or be able to demonstrate a legitimate interest legal basis for processing this data. The ruling is significant because, as currently seems to be the case, Facebook’s…

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Facebook argues it can’t invade your privacy because you don’t have any

A lawyer for Facebook argued in court Wednesday that the social media site’s users “have no expectation of privacy.” According to Law360, Facebook attorney Orin Snyder made the comment while defending the company against a class-action lawsuit over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy, Snyder said. In an attempt to have the lawsuit thrown out, Snyder further claimed that Facebook was nothing more than adigital town square where users voluntarily give up their private information. You have to closely…

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Headlines 

Inside the Quietly Lucrative Business of Donating Human Eggs

It was a Facebook ad that propelled Ashleigh Griffin to act. She had heard about egg donation from her mother, a nurse, but never thought of it as anything more than an esoteric medical procedure. The ad in her Facebook feed in 2011 told a different story. It intrigued Griffin, promising her thousands of dollars for something her body produced on its own, with the bonus of helping another family. It even specified that the opportunity was tailor-made for young cash-strapped women in college, as she was. She clicked through,…

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The UK’s Tech Backlash Could Change the Internet

British officials took a swipe at global internet giants Monday, suggesting rules that would require the companies to proactively remove content the government views as illegal or “harmful,” and giving the government the right to shut down offending sites. The proposals, contained in a 102-page white paper, are aimed at combating the spread of disinformation, hate speech, online extremism, and child exploitation. If enacted as described, they would constitute some of the most stringent and far-reaching restrictions on internet speech by a major western democracy. But critics said the proposals…

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Report: Millions of Facebook user records left exposed online

Yawn.Image:  NurPhoto / getty Another day, another Facebook privacy scandal.  Hundreds of millions of Facebook user records — including some plain text passwords — were found exposed online free and open for the taking. So reports UpGuard, a cybersecurity risk assessment company, which notes in an April 3 press release that the two data sets in question were configured for public download. Yes, that means that anyone who knew where to look could have pulled it.  SEE ALSO: Facebook backs away from asking for some users’ email passwords At the…

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Facebook Suit Reveals Ukrainian Hackers Used Quizzes to Take Data from 60,000 Users

Two Ukrainian men used online quizzes to lure more than 60,000 Facebook users into installing malicious browser extensions that exfiltrated their profile data and friends lists to offshore servers, according a federal lawsuit the company filed late Friday. The men, Andrey Gorbachov and Gleb Sluchevsky, allegedly used the browser extensions to overlay their own advertisements onto Facebooks news feed when their victims visited through the compromised browsers. The company doesnt offer a motive for the data-scraping, but it may have been used to work friends names into the ad copy,…

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Apple ad focuses on iPhones most marketable feature privacy

Apple is airing a new ad spot in primetime today. Focused on privacy, the spot is visually cued, with no dialog and a simple tagline: Privacy. That’s iPhone. In a series of humorous vignettes, the message is driven home that sometimes you just want a little privacy. The spot has only one line of text otherwise, and it’s in keeping with Apple’s messaging on privacy over the long and short term. “If privacy matters in your life, it should matter to the phone your life is on.” The spot will…

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Headlines 

Your Facebook Password Isnt Safe. Neither Is Your Android Phone

Tech news you can use, in two minutes or less: Change your Facebook password Facebook acknowledged a bug that caused hundreds of millions of user passwords (dating back to 2012) for both Facebook and Instagram to be stored as readable text internally. This basically means that thousands of Facebook employees could have searched for and found them. Facebook says they weren't accessible outside of the company, and that there's no evidence employees did in fact abuse or improperly access them. We say, change it anyway. Airbnb may be beloved by…

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Facebook Stored Millions of Passwords in PlaintextChange Yours Now

By now, it’s difficult to summarize all of Facebook’s privacy, misuse, and security missteps in one neat description. It just got even harder: On Thursday, following a report by Krebs on Security, Facebook acknowledged a bug in its password management systems that caused hundreds of millions of user passwords for Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram to be stored as plaintext in an internal platform. This means that thousands of Facebook employees could have searched for and found them. Krebs reports that the passwords stretched back to those created in 2012.…

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Facebook Changes Its Ad Tech to Stop Discrimination

On Tuesday, Facebook reached a historic settlement with civil rights groups that had accused the company of allowing advertisers to unlawfully discriminate against minorities, women, and the elderly by using the platform’s ad-targeting technology to exclude them from seeing ads for housing, jobs, and credit—three areas with legal protections for groups that historically have been disenfranchised. After fighting back against the accusations for years, Facebook announced it will make significant changes to its platform so that advertisers can no longer target, or exclude based on characteristics like gender or race.…

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The People Trying to Make Internet Recommendations Less Toxic

The internet is an ocean of algorithms trying to tell you what to do. YouTube and Netflix proffer videos they calculate you’ll watch. Facebook and Twitter filter and reorganize posts from your connections, avowedly in your interest—but also in their own. New York entrepreneur Brian Whitman helped create such a system. He sold a music analytics startup called The Echo Nest to Spotify in 2014, bolstering the streaming music service’s ability to recommend new songs from a person’s past listening. Whitman says he saw clear evidence of algorithms’ value at…

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Headlines 

How Cambridge Analytica Sparked the Great Privacy Awakening

On October 27, 2012, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote an email to his then-director of product development. For years, Facebook had allowed third-party apps to access data on their users’ unwitting friends, and Zuckerberg was considering whether giving away all that information was risky. In his email, he suggested it was not: “I’m generally skeptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think,” he wrote at the time. “I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused…

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Facebook admits 18% of Research spyware users were teens, not <5%

Facebook has changed its story after initially trying to downplay how it targeted teens with its Research program that a TechCrunch investigation revealed was paying them gift cards to monitor all their mobile app usage and browser traffic. “Less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch and many other news outlets in a damage control effort 7 hours after we published our report on January 29th. At the time,  Facebook claimed that it had removed…

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Tech platforms called to support public interest research into mental health impacts

The tech industry has been called on to share data with public sector researchers so the mental health and psychosocial impacts of their service on vulnerable users can be better understood, and also to contribute to funding the necessary independent research over the next ten years. The UK’s chief medical officers have made the call in a document setting out advice and guidance for the government about children’s and young people’s screen use. They have also called for the industry to agree a code of conduct around the issue. Concerns…

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