Facebook’s Faults: Improper Data Sharing, Private Messages Scanned, And Much More

Where to begin? Facebook has had a rough go of it lately, and the last 24 hours have been especially tough, as numerous stories have been published involving private data on the social network — and none of them have been good.

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Facebook itself posted “An Update on Our Plans to Restrict Data Access on Facebook” on its corporate blog — the post was designed to keep users abreast of the company’s evolving plans in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But the end of the post revealed some more troublesome information.

“In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people — mostly in the US — may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica,” Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer wrote. Prior estimates claimed that 50 million people had their data shared improperly, but Facebook’s own estimates have seen that number skyrocket.

A Messaging Mess

Facebook’s messages — now sent through its Facebook Messenger app — have also come under fire. The company confirmed that automated tools are used to scan Messenger chats for questionable content, as CNN reports. While the company claims it scans for malware links and child pornography, the article notes that “many users had assumed their chats on Messenger were private.”

We can definitely understand why a social network would want to scan for malware and child pornography, but considering all that we’ve learned in recent weeks, it might be tough for some users to believe those are the only things Facebook is trying to find in these private messages.

And that’s not the only messaging issue that’s cropped up in the past day. While users aren’t able to remove Facebook messages from the inboxes of other people, this doesn’t appear to be the case for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. TechCrunch reports that some old messages from Zuckerberg have suddenly disappeared from inboxes.

Facebook told TechCrunch this was done for “corporate security.” But the publication points out that the removal of these messages was never disclosed or addressed.

[Facebook collected call and message data from Android users for years.]

No Opting Out

In the midst of it all — this short period of time when Facebook could really use some good PR — company COO Sheryl Sandberg told NBC News that if users ever wanted to completely opt out of their data being used for targeted ads, they’d have to pay up.

“We don’t have an opt-out at the highest level. That would be a paid product,” Sandberg told NBC. The answer itself isn’t entirely surprising, but the timing and tact couldn’t seem to be much worse.

Euro Steps

Facebook’s new batch of troubles don’t seem like they’ll be going away any time soon. The company has been reported to authorities in seven European countries for breaking European privacy law, Norwegian outlet NRKbeta reports.

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