SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook said today it considered charging application makers to access data at the social network.
Such a move would have been a major shift away from the policy of not selling Facebook members’ information, which the social network has stressed in the face of criticism alleging it is more interested in making money than protecting privacy.
“To be clear, Facebook has never sold anyone’s data,” director of developer platforms and programs Konstantinos Papamiltiadis said in response to an AFP inquiry.
“Our APIs have always been free of charge and we have never required developers to pay for using them, either directly or by buying advertising.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that internal emails indicating that Facebook mulled charging companies for access to user data were referred to in a lawsuit filed against the social network in 2015 by Six4Three, creator of a failed app called “Pikinis.”
The application enabled users to find Facebook pictures of people in bathing suits, taking advantage of an API feature that let apps access the data of social network users as well as their friends.
The suit accuses Facebook of abusing its power over user data. Most of the documents filed in the case have been sealed by a California judge at Facebook’s request.
Some emails indicated Facebook employees discussed providing increased access of user information to advertisers in return for spending more money on the social network, according to the WSJ.
“The documents Six4Three gathered for this baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context,” Papamiltiadis said.
Facebook early on adopted a practice of letting developers use APIs (application programming interfaces) to plug into the social network for free and connect to user data to enhance the online gathering place with games, services and more.
Facebook went public on the stock market in early 2012, and subsequently considered ways it might be able to increase revenue, opting not to charge developers for access to the social network.
Facebook in August said it has suspended more than 400 out of thousands of applications it has investigated to determine whether people’s personal information was being improperly shared.
Applications were suspended “due to concerns around the developers who built them or how the information people chose to share with the app may have been used,” according to a blog post.
Facebook contended that the suit by Six4Three is aimed at compelling the social network to provide the kind of access to friends’ data that was taken advantage of in the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.
Facebook admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, which was working for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Facebook has modified app data sharing policies since the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
“We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers,” Papamiltiadis said.
Facebook says it stored ‘millions’ of unencrypted Instagram passwords
SAN FRANCISCO: “Millions” of Instagram users had their passwords stored in unencrypted form on internal servers, Facebook said Thursday, raising its original estimate of tens of thousands.
“We discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format. We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users,” Facebook said in a blog post.
“We will be notifying these users as we did the others. Our investigation has determined that these stored passwords were not internally abused or improperly accessed,” the social network said.
Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, revealed last month that the unencrypted passwords of hundreds of millions of users had been stored, putting the number of Instagram users affected in the tens of thousands.
The social network’s handling of user data has been a flashpoint for controversy since it admitted last year that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, used an app that may have hijacked the private details of 87 million users.
Facebook has announced a series of moves to tighten handling of data, including eliminating most of its data-sharing partnerships with outside companies.
The California firm reaches an estimated 2.7 billion people with its core social network, Instagram and messaging applications.
Samsung to inspect Galaxy Fold phones after reviewer complaints
SEOUL: Samsung announced Thursday it will inspect units of its highly anticipated folding smartphone after some reviewers reported screen damage.
A handful of US-based reporters were given the flagship Galaxy Fold phones, priced at $1,980, ahead of the model’s official release next week, and they reported screen issues within days of using the devices.
“The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in,” Bloomberg’s Mark Gunman tweeted.
And Dieter Bohn of The Verge said: “Something happened to my Galaxy Fold screen and caused a bulge… It’s broken.”
Samsung spent nearly eight years developing the Galaxy Fold, which is part of the South Korean tech giant’s strategy to propel growth with groundbreaking gadgets.
“We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter,” Samsung said in a statement after reports of the screen damage emerged.
The firm suggested some reviewers encountered screen failures because a section of the display was removed.
“The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches,” it said.
“Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”
Some of the reviewers, including Bloomberg’s Gunman, had removed this layer.
CNBC’s Steve Kovach said he had not, but still faced major problems with the device.
Samsung is the world’s biggest smartphone maker, and earlier this month launched the 5G version of its top-end Galaxy S10 device.
But despite the recent announcements about its new high-end devices, Samsung has warned of a more than 60 percent plunge in first-quarter operating profit in the face of weakening markets.
The firm is also no stranger to device issues.
Its reputation suffered a major blow after a damaging worldwide recall of its Galaxy Note 7 devices over exploding batteries in 2016, which cost the firm billions of dollars and shattered its global brand image.
Samsung has said it will release the Galaxy Fold as scheduled on April 26.
Ericsson, Swisscom launch Europe’s first large scale 5G network
STOCKHOLM: Telecom equipment manufacturer Ericsson said Wednesday it had launched the first European large scale commercial 5G network together with Swiss operator Swisscom, as Ericsson posted a first quarter profit boosted by sales in North America.
The Swedish supplier of network equipment said in a statement that the 5G network, launched in 54 cities in Switzerland, had been switched on just after midnight on April 17, after Swisscom secured a license to operate a 5G network in the country.
Ericsson made the announcement as it reported a first quarter net profit of 2.4 billion kronor ($260 million, 230 million euros), compared to a net loss of 725 million kronor in the corresponding quarter a year ago.
Net sales grew to 48.9 billion kronor, up from 43.4 billion in Q1 of 2018.
Chief executive Borje Ekholm said growth had primarily been driven by sales in North America.
“To date we have publicly announced commercial 5G deals with 18 named operator customers, which, at the moment, is more than any other vendor,” Ekholm said in a statement.
Ekholm also said that as 5G technology was being rolled out, the company would continue to incur costs for field trials and they were expecting large-scale deployments of 5G to begin in parts of Asia by the end of 2019.
“Combined, this will gradually impact short-term margins but strengthen our position in the long term,” he said.
Shares in Ericsson traded up more than three percent on the Stockholm stock exchange following the release of the earnings report, hitting a four-year high in early trading on Wednesday.
Ericsson, one of Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s main rivals in the 5G market, said earlier this year it hadn’t felt any effects from US pressure on countries to ban Huawei’s equipment amid fears that it could compromise the security of the mobile phone networks.