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Facebook ‘knowingly’ violated data privacy laws- British lawmakers

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London, Feb. 18, 2019 (dpa/NNN) British lawmakers on Monday accused Facebook of “intentionally and knowingly” violating data privacy and anti-competition laws as they called for social media companies to assume clear legal liabilities for content shared on their platforms.

Facebook, Inc. is an American online social media and social networking service company.

“Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a platform.

“It cannot maintain that they have no responsibility themselves in regulating the content of their sites,’’ a major report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee released on Monday.

The committee, which reviewed a trove of internal Facebook emails, accused the tech giant of being “willing to override its users’ privacy settings in order to transfer data to some app developers.’’

The lawmakers also accused chief executive Mark Zuckerberg of showing “contempt” of the British parliament by choosing not to appear before the committee nor “respond personally to any of our invitations.”

The committee called for the establishment of a compulsory code of ethics overseen by an independent regulator to draw a rulebook of acceptable and unacceptable behaviours on social media.

“The process should establish clear, legal liability for tech companies to act against agreed harmful and illegal content on their platform,’’ the report said.

The regulator should have the ability to launch legal proceedings “with the prospect of large fines being administered” for non-complying companies.

The committee also called for electoral law to be changed “to reflect changes in campaigning techniques” and for “absolute transparency of online political campaigning.” (dpa/NNN)

ACO/SH

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edited by Abiodun Oluleye/Sadiya Hamza

Foreign

Facebook says it found no foreign interference in Floyd protests

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Facebook said on Friday that it has not seen any foreign interference using its platform to meddle in the demonstrations across the country related to the death of George Floyd.

“We have been actively looking and we haven’t yet seen foreign interference or domestic coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting these protests,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, told reporters.

“We want to caution people against jumping to conclusions without clear evidence of foreign interference,” Gleicher noted.

On Thursday, United States Attorney General William Barr said that the federal government has seen foreign actors interfering in the ongoing protests over Floyd’s death.

Floyd, an unarmed black man aged 46, died in police custody on May 25 in the United States city of Minneapolis, and his death at the hands of police officers enraged the public and led to protests that spread to multiple United States cities and towns.

Also on Friday, the social media giant said it has removed pages and accounts linked to two white supremacy groups, Proud Boys and American Guard, which planned to encourage people to attend Floyd protests.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

After Trump tweet debate, Facebook to review policies on posts

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Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to review the social network’s policies, amid heated debate over how social media should handle posts by United States President Donald Trump.

The company will review how it handles threats of state use of force and posts that could influence voter participation, the social network’s chief executive said in a post on Facebook.

It will also look into alternatives to simply removing a post or leaving it as it stands.

“I know many of you think we should have labeled the President’s posts in some way last week,” he wrote in a message to employees, but added that he worries such an approach risks leading Facebook to “editorialise on content we don’t like even if it doesn’t violate our policies.”

So I think we need to proceed very carefully,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg has come under pressure from the public and his own employees after Twitter placed a “public interest notice” on a Trump post for violating the platform’s rules “about glorifying violence,” a move not mirrored by Facebook.

In the tweet, which was also visible on his Facebook page, Trump slammed demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis as “THUGS” and appeared to promote a violent response by saying, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Zuckerberg said last week that the post did not violate Facebook’s guidelines, even if he personally disapproved.

His public position is that internet platforms, including Facebook, should not be “arbiters of truth.”

Facebook largely exempts politicians’ posts from fact checks.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Health

Red Cross, Facebook to launch digital campaign against COVID-19

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The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is partnering Facebook to launch a digital campaign- #AfricaTogether, calling for vigilance against COVID-19.

The movement made this known in a statement issued through the International Committee of the Red Cross on Wednesday in Abuja.

The statement said that the two-day campaign and festival slated to be inaugurated on Thursday and Friday, would feature artistes from across Africa to encourage continued vigilance against COVID-19.

“With more than 100,000 confirmed cases on the continent, and containment measures easing in many countries, #AfricaTogether combines musical and comedy performances with information from COVID-19 first responders and fact-checkers from across Africa.

“#AfricaTogether will include a festival with performances by artistes such as Aramide, Ayo, Femi Kuti, Ferre Gola, Salatiel, Serge Beynaud, Patoranking, Youssou N’dour, among many others.

“It will also include a digital awareness campaign with prevention messages developed with Red Cross and Red Crescent health experts and targeting simultaneously Facebook users in 48 countries across sub-Saharan Africa.

“The event will be streamed on Facebook Live on Thursday in English and hosted by the Nigerian popular actor and comedian, Basketmouth and in French on Friday by the renowned media personality, Claudy Siar.

“To watch the live shows, viewers can tune in to the Facebook Africa page and Red Cross and Red Crescent Facebook pages.

“To register and learn more about the artiste line up and how to tune in, please visit the Facebook event pages in English and in French,’’ it stated.

The statement quoted Mamadou Sow, a long-serving member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as saying: “The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis.

“It is unprecedented crisis in that, it can affect us all, and ignores borders, ethnicities and religions.

“African communities, so far have responded quickly, but the risk remains very real. If we all do our part, we will beat COVID-19.

“Music is a powerful uniting force, and we hope that the #AfricaTogether festival will bring renewed hope and action against this dangerous disease,” it stated.

The statement also quoted, Jocelyne Muhutu-Rémy, Facebook’s Strategic Media Partnerships Manager for sub-Saharan Africa, as saying: “The Use of Online During the Pandemic Shows Its Usefulness.

“The spike in the use of online tools during the COVID-19 pandemic shows the social usefulness of digital platforms in difficult times.

“We are seeing many incredible initiatives from artistes, bringing their communities together on Facebook Live.

“The #AfricaTogether campaign will enable people to learn more about fighting COVID-19, while enjoying entertainment from their favourite African performers.

“We will be spreading joy in a way that doesn’t spread the disease,” it added.

According to the statement, the event is one of the many ways that Facebook and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are both contributing in the fight against COVID-19 across the continent.

“Facebook continues to work with governments across sub-Saharan Africa, including partnering with organisations like health agencies and NGOs who are actively using its platforms to share accurate information about the situation.

“It has launched COVID-19 Information Centres in more than 40 countries, which provides real-time updates from health authorities and helpful articles, videos and posts about social distancing and preventing the spread of the virus.

“With a network of more than 1.5 million volunteers and staff across the continent, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is on the frontlines of combating COVID-19 in communities.’’

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world’s largest humanitarian network.

It is neutral and impartial and dedicated to preventing and alleviating human suffering, protecting life and health, and upholding human dignity especially in armed conflicts and emergencies such as health crises and disasters.

The Movement is composed of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross.


Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Science & Technology

Facebook, Red Cross launch digital campaign against COVID-19

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Facebook says it has launched “AfricaTogether,” a digital campaign to encourage vigilance against COVID-19 in partnership with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Jocelyne Muhutu-Rémy, Facebook’s Strategic Media Partnerships Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, said on Monday that as part of the launch, there would be a digital campaign across Africa and a two-day festival on June 4 and June 5 featuring artists.

“With about 100,000 Covid-19 cases on the continent and containment measures easing in many countries, ‘AfricaTogether’ combines musical and comedy performances with information from COVID-19 first responders and fact-checkers from across Africa.

“It will include a festival with performances by artists such as  Femi Kuti, Ferre Gola, Salatiel, Serge Beynaud, Patoranking,  Aramide and Youssou N’dour.

“There will also be a digital awareness campaign with prevention messages developed with Red Cross and Red Crescent health experts targeting simultaneously Facebook users in 48 countries across sub-Saharan Africa.

“The event will be streamed on Facebook Live on  June 4 in English and hosted by the Nigerian popular actor and comedian Basketmouth and in French on June 5 by the renowned media personality Claudy Siar, ” Muhutu-Rémy said in a statement.

She said to watch the live shows, viewers could tune in to the Facebook Africa page, Red Cross and Red Crescent Facebook pages.

“The spike in the use of online tools during the COVID-19 pandemic shows the social usefulness of digital platforms in difficult times.

“We are seeing many incredible initiatives from artists bringing their communities together on Facebook Live.

The ‘AfricaTogether’ campaign will enable people to learn more about fighting COVID-19, while enjoying entertainment from their favourite African performers.

“This event is one of the many ways that Facebook,  the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are  contributing in the fight against COVID-19 across the continent.

”Facebook continues to work with governments across Sub-Saharan Africa, including partnering with organisations such as health agencies and NGOs  to share accurate information about the situation of COVID-19,” she added.

Mamadou Sow, a long-serving member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, said the COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented crisis, noting that it was affecting everyone regardless of ethnicities and religions.

“African communities so far have responded quickly, but the risk remains very real.

“If we all do our part, we will beat COVID-19. Music is a powerful uniting force and we hope that the ‘AfricaTogether’ festival will bring renewed hope and action against this dangerous disease,” Sow said.

He further said with a network of more than 1.5 million volunteers and staff across the continent, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was on the frontlines of combating COVID-19 in communities through information campaigns.


Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

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Foreign

Facebook German privacy case referred to European Court

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The German Federal Court, on Thursday, referred a lawsuit filed by a consumer protection watchdog, alleging privacy violations by Facebook, to the Court of Justice of the European Union to seek clarification on the applicable law.

The long-running case, brought by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv), alleged that the social network had allowed operators of online games to improperly collect the personal data of people who played them.

Facebook declined to comment on the court statement pending the release of a full written judgment.

A lower court ruled in favour of the vzbv and Facebook appealed the decision.

In its written ruling, the Federal Court said it was suspending the case to seek advice from the European Court as interpretations of the applicable law varied.

“This question is disputed both in court judgments and in the literature,’’ the court, based in Karlsruhe, said in a statement.

At issue were online games offered on Facebook’s App Centre back in 2012 in which, by playing them, a user automatically agreed to share personal data including their email address.

At the end of the game, users would see a message saying that the app could post their status, photos and other information.

Such games – including quizzes – were widely used at the time to harvest data on users of Facebook.

The company subsequently overhauled its privacy settings, although they have continued to be a source of controversy.

The European Union’s two-year-old privacy rulebook, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), stipulates that any requests to collect personal data should be subject to clear, informed consent.

However, it is not clear, according to the Karlsruhe court, whether organisations that can bring litigation under national law have the necessary standing to press their case under the GDPR.

It is seeking clarification on this matter of principle.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

Half of Facebook employees to work remotely in 10 years – Zuckerberg

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Facebook’s founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, says he expects the coronavirus pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on working practices.

Zuckerberg expects that in ten years, about half of the social network company’s employees will be working remotely, he said in an interview with technology news site The Verge.

He emphasised that the 50 per cent figure was his estimate and not an official announcement.

According to a survey of Facebook employees, one in five expressed strong support for working from home permanently, while a further 20 per cent expressed “some interest”.

However, 40 per cent said this would not be practical due to the nature of their jobs.

Zuckerberg expects that in the future, more employees will hired to work from home from the beginning of their contracts.

Other major tech firms, including Twitter, had previously announced their employees could continue to work from home even after social distancing restrictions brought in during the pandemic eased.

Prior to the pandemic, the focus of big U.S. tech companies had been to have all employees working together at huge headquarters, some including Facebook, offering employees bonuses to live nearby.

Facebook had expanded its Menlo Park headquarters with a huge hangar-style campus built by star architect Frank Gehry.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

 
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Judiciary

Police arraign man for allegedly beating wife, boasting about it on Facebook

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The Police in Lagos on Friday docked one Sulaiman Maiyegun, a.k.a Afobaje, before an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court for allegedly beating his wife and boasting about it on his Facebook page.

Maiyegun pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge of assault occasioning harm and offensive publication.

The Prosecutor, SP. Shinaolu Adeoye, had told the court that the defendant committed the offences on May 5, at 12:13p.m, at Maiyegun town, Jakande Estate, Eti-Osa Local Government.

According to the prosecutor, the defendant unlawfully assaulted his wife, the complainant, one Mariam Gabriel, by beating her with his fist on her forehead.

“The defendant injured the victim on her forehead and posted an inciting and provoking publication about the incident on his facebook page,” Adeoye said.

The prosecutor said the offences contravened Sections 57 and 173 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Section 57 provides as punishment a six months jail term or a fine of N90, 000 while Section 173 provides three years imprisonment on conviction.

Adeoye, however, urged the court to remand the defendant to the correctional centre and asked for an adjournment date for the commencement of trial.

In a swift reaction, the defendant’s counsel, Mr Mustapha Danesi, urged the court to grant his client bail on the most liberal terms, adding that the matter was as a result of family crisis.

In her ruling, Magistrate Mrs Folake Oshin granted the defendant bail in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties who must be a cleric and a family member to the defendant.

She directed the court registrar to verify the addresses of the sureties who must be tax payers in the state.

The case was adjourned until June 22, for mention.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Judiciary

Man who allegedly beat wife, bragged on Facebook to be charged to court

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A Lagos-based man, Mr Afobaje Maiyegun, who allegedly battered his spouse and bragged about it on Facebook will be charged to court on Friday.

The Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) made the disclosure in a statement on Thursday in Lagos. 

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Maiyegun had on May 5 posted on his Facebook page, “I beat my wife and I am waiting for her police.”

He added  photographs of the allegedly battered spouse to the post.

In the statement issued by its  Coordinator,  Mrs Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, DSVRT said that immediately the viral Facebook post was brought to its attention, its team reached out to ACP Gbolahan  Odugbemi, Commander, Area J Police Command, Lagos.

ACP Odugbemi ensured that Mr Maiyegun was arrested, and preliminary investigation revealed  that this is not the first time the said Mr  Maiyegun would perpetrate such a dastardly act.

“A partner non-governmental organisation,  HerFessions Initiative, was also on ground to assist with the investigation.

“The case is set to be charged to court on Friday, 15th May, 2020,” Vivour-Adeniyi said.

The coordinator hoped that Maiyegun’s arrest would be a warning to Lagos residents  that Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had zero tolerance for sexual and gender-based violence.

“Perpetrators will face the full weight of the law,” she said.

Edited By: Abdullahi Mohammed/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)

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Foreign

Facebook to notify users who have engaged with harmful COVID-19 posts

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Facebook said on Thursday that it would start notifying users who had engaged with false posts about COVID-19 which could cause physical harm, such as drinking bleach to cure the virus, and connect them to accurate information.

The social media giant said it had been battling to control large volumes of misinformation such as posts that say physical distancing will not curb the disease.

The pandemic has killed more than 136,000 people globally and infected more than 2 million, while many countries are enforcing strict lockdowns to try and prevent further spread.

Facebook said it has taken down hundreds of thousands of false posts that could be harmful, and last month displayed warnings on another 40 million dubious posts related to the virus.

“We will also soon begin showing messages in News Feed to people who previously engaged with harmful misinformation related to COVID-19 that we’ve since removed, connecting them with accurate information,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post.

This includes people who had liked, reacted or commented on the posts, Facebook said.

The messages, which it said will start appearing in the coming weeks, will direct people to myths about the virus debunked by the World Health Organisation.

The European Commissioner for values and transparency Vera Jourova welcomed the latest measures but said more still needed to be done.

“We will need more transparency and better access to data for researchers to fully verify the scope and impact of false content.

“And also to be able to assess Facebook’s actions from the perspectives of both public health and fundamental rights,” she said in a statement, adding that others also needed to play a more active role.

“We must focus not only on platforms, but on all fronts, including better monitoring and detection, engaging civil society and improving the cooperation between member states,” Jourova said.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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