A brief history of Facebook’s privacy hostility ahead of Zuckerberg’s testimony

    The Facebook founder will likely be questioned by the Senate Judiciary and Senate Commerce Committees later at this time — in a session entitled “Fb, Social Media Privateness, and the Use and Abuse of Knowledge.”

    Mark Zuckerberg can be on account of testify earlier than Congress on Wednesday — to be requested concerning the firm’s use and safety of person knowledge.

    As we’ve pointed out already, his written testimony is fairly selective and self-serving when it comes to what he does and doesn’t embrace in his model of occasions.

    Certainly, within the face of the snowballing Cambridge Analytica knowledge misuse scandal, the corporate’s management (see additionally: Sheryl Sandberg) has been fast to attempt to spin an concept that it was just too “idealistic and optimistic” — and that ‘unhealthy actors’ exploited its surfeit of goodwill.

    This in fact is pure fiction.

    Fb’s lengthy historical past of privacy hostility ought to make that plain to any considering particular person. As former FTC director David Vladeck wrote earlier this month: “Fb can’t declare to be clueless about how this occurred. The FTC consent decree put Fb on discover.”

    To be clear, that’s the 2011 FTC consent decree — ergo, a significant regulatory privateness sanction that Fb incurred properly over six years in the past.

    Each Fb privateness screw up since is both carelessness or intention.

    Vladeck’s view is that Fb’s actions had been certainly calculated. “All of Fb’s actions had been calculated and deliberate, integral to the corporate’s enterprise mannequin, and at odds with the corporate’s claims about privateness and its company values,” he argues.

    So we thought it could be useful to compile another timeline forward of Zuckerberg’s verbal testimony, highlighting some curious particulars associated to the Cambridge Analytica knowledge misuse scandal — corresponding to why Fb employed (and apparently nonetheless employs) the co-director of the corporate that constructed the character quiz app that “improperly shared” a lot Fb knowledge with the controversial firm — in addition to detailing a few of its different main privateness missteps through the years.

    There are A LOT of those so forgive us if we’ve missed something — and be at liberty to place any additions within the feedback.


    Fb: An alternate timeline

    February 2004 — Fb is launched by Harvard School scholar Mark Zuckerberg

    September 2006 — Fb launches Information Feed, broadcasting the private particulars of Fb customers — together with relationship adjustments — with out their information or consent. Scores of users protest at the sudden privacy intrusion. Fb goes on to concede: “We actually messed this one up… we did a foul job of explaining what the brand new options had been and an excellent worse job of supplying you with management of them.”

    November 2007 — Fb launches a program known as Beacon, injecting private info corresponding to customers’ on-line purchases and video leases on third occasion websites into the Information Feed with out their information or consent. There’s one other large outcry — and a category motion lawsuit is filed. Fb ultimately pays $9.5M to settle the lawsuit. It lastly shutters the controversial program in 2009

    Might 2008 — a criticism is filed with the Privateness Commissioner of Canada regarding the “pointless and non-consensual assortment and use of private info by Fb”. The next 12 months the corporate is found to be “in contravention” of the nation’s Private Info Safety and Digital Paperwork Act. Fb is informed to make adjustments to its privateness coverage and instruments — however the Commissioner continues to be expressing considerations on the end of 2009

    February 2009 — Fb revises its phrases of service to state that users can’t delete their data after they depart the service and there’s one other outcry. Backpeddling furiously in a subsequent convention name, Zuckerberg says: “We don’t personal person knowledge, they personal their knowledge. We by no means supposed to provide that impression and we really feel unhealthy that we did”

    November & December 2009 — Fb once more revises its privateness coverage and the privateness settings for customers and now, in a fell swoop, it makes a variety of private info public by default — obtainable for indexing on the general public net. We describe this as a privacy fiasco. Running a blog critically concerning the firm’s actions, the EFF additionally warns: “Main privateness settings are actually set to share with everybody by default, in some instances with none person alternative”

    December 2009 — a complaint (and supplementary complaint) is filed by EPIC with the FTC about Fb’s privateness settings and privateness coverage, with the coalition of privateness teams asserting these are inconsistent with the positioning’s info sharing practices, and that Fb is deceptive customers into believing they’ll nonetheless keep management over their private info. The FTC later writes a letter saying the criticism “raises problems with specific curiosity for us at the moment”

    April 2010 — 4 senators call on Facebook to change its policies after it pronounces a product known as Instantaneous Personalization — which routinely arms over some person knowledge to sure third-party websites as quickly as an individual visits them. The function has an opt-out however Fb customers are default opted in. “[T]his class of knowledge now consists of important and private knowledge factors that needs to be saved personal except the person chooses to share them,” the senators warn

    Might 2010 — following one other person backlash towards settings adjustments Fb makes changes to its privacy controls yet again. “We’re actually going to strive to not have one other backlash,” says Fb’s VP of product Chris Cox. “If individuals say they need their stuff to be seen to associates solely, it would apply to that stuff going ahead”

    Might 2010 — EPIC complains again to the FTC, requesting an investigation. The watchdog quietly begins an investigation the next 12 months

    Might 2010 — Fb together with video games developer Zynga is reported to the Norwegian data protection company. The complaint focuses on app permissions, with the Client Council warning about “unreasonable and unbalanced phrases and circumstances”, and the way Fb customers are unwittingly granting permission for private knowledge and content material to be bought on

    June 2011 — EPIC information one other complaint to the FTC, centered on Fb’s use of facial recognition know-how to routinely tag customers in images uploaded to its platform

    August 2011 — lawyer and privateness campaigner Max Schrems information a complaint towards Fb Eire flagging its app permissions knowledge sinkhole. “Fb Eire couldn’t reply me which functions have accessed my private knowledge and which of my associates have allowed them to take action,” he writes. “Due to this fact there may be virtually no method how I may ever discover out if a developer of an software has misused knowledge it obtained from Fb Eire indirectly”

    November 2011 — Fb settles an eight-count FTC complaint over misleading privateness practices, agreeing to make changes opt-in going ahead and to realize specific consent from customers to any future adjustments. It should additionally undergo privateness audits each two years for the subsequent 20 years; bar entry to content material on deactivated accounts; and keep away from misrepresenting the privateness or safety of person knowledge. The settlement with the FTC is finalized the following year. Fb will not be fined

    December 2011 — Fb agrees to make some changes to the way it operates internationally following Schrems’ criticism resulting in an audit of its operations by the Irish Knowledge Safety Fee

    September 2012 — Fb turns off an automatic facial recognition feature in Europe following one other audit by Eire’s Knowledge Safety Fee. The privateness watchdog additionally recommends Facebook tightens app permissions on its platform, together with to shut down builders’ entry to associates knowledge

    Might 2014 — Fb lastly pronounces at its developer conference that it will likely be shutting down an API that allow builders harvest customers’ associates knowledge with out their information or consent, initially for brand spanking new developer customers — giving current builders a year-long window to proceed sucking this knowledge

    Might 2014 — Fb solely now switches off the public default for customers’ images and standing updates, setting default visibility to ‘associates’

    Might 2014 — Cambridge College professor Aleksandr Kogan runs a pilot of a character take a look at app (known as thisisyourdigitallife) on Fb’s platform with round 10,00zero customers. His firm, GSR, then indicators a data-licensing contract with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, in June 2014, to provide it with psychological profiles linked to US voters. Over the summer season of 2014 the app is downloaded by round 270,00zero Fb customers and finally ends up harvesting private info on as many as 87 million people — the overwhelming majority of whom would haven’t identified or consented to knowledge being handed

    February 2015 — a extremely important report by Belgium’s knowledge watchdog inspecting one other up to date Fb privateness coverage asserts the corporate is breaching EU privacy law together with by failing to acquire legitimate consent from customers for processing their knowledge

    Might 2015 — Fb lastly shutters its friends API for current builders corresponding to Kogan — however he has already been in a position to make use of this to suck out and move on an enormous cache of Fb knowledge to Cambridge Analytica

    June 2015 — the Belgian privateness watchdog files a lawsuit against Facebook over the monitoring of non-users by way of social plugins. Months later the court agrees. Fb says it would attraction

    November 2015Facebook hires Joseph Chancellor, the opposite founding director of GSR, to work as a quantitative social psychologist. Chancellor continues to be listed as a UX researcher at Facebook Research

    December 2015 — the Guardian publishes a narrative detailing how the Ted Cruz marketing campaign had paid UK lecturers to gather psychological profiles about the US electorate utilizing “an enormous pool of primarily unwitting US Fb customers constructed with a web-based survey”. After the story is revealed Fb tells the newspaper it’s “fastidiously investigating this case” concerning the Cruz marketing campaign

    February 2016 — the French knowledge watchdog files a formal order against Facebook, together with for monitoring net searching habits and amassing delicate person knowledge corresponding to political opinions with out express consent

    August 2016 — Fb-owned WhatsApp pronounces a major privacy U-turn, saying it would begin sharing person knowledge with its guardian firm — together with for advertising and advert concentrating on functions. It presents a time-bound opt-out for the data-sharing however pushes a pre-ticked opt-in consent display screen to customers

    November 2016 — dealing with the ire of regulators in Europe Fb agrees to suspend some of the data-sharing between WhatsApp and Fb (this regional ‘pause’ continues to this day). The next 12 months the French knowledge watchdog additionally places the corporate on formal warning that knowledge transfers it’s nonetheless finishing up — for ‘enterprise intelligence’ functions — nonetheless lack a authorized foundation

    November 2016 — Zuckerberg describes the concept faux information on Fb’s platform may have influenced the end result of the US election as “a pretty crazy idea” — a remark he later describes as flippant and a mistake

    Might 2017 –– Fb is fined $122M in Europe for offering “incorrect or deceptive” info to competitors regulators who cleared its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp. It had informed them it couldn’t routinely match person accounts between the 2 platforms, however two years later introduced it could certainly be linking accounts

    September 2017Facebook is fined $1.4M by Spain’s knowledge watchdog, together with for amassing knowledge on customers ideology and monitoring net searching habits with out acquiring enough consent. Fb says it would attraction

    October 2017 — Fb says Russian disinformation distributed by way of its platform might have reached as many as 126 million Facebook users — upping earlier estimates of the attain of ‘faux information’. It additionally agrees to release the Russian ads to Congress, however refuses to make them public

    February 2018 — Belgian courts once more rule Facebook’s tracking of non-users is illegal. The corporate retains interesting

    March 2018the Guardian and New York Occasions publish fresh revelations, based mostly on interviews with former Cambridge Analytica worker Chris Wylie, suggesting as many as 50M Fb customers might need had their info handed to Cambridge Analytica with out their information or consent. Fb confirms 270,00zero individuals downloaded Kogan’s app. It additionally finally suspends the account of Cambridge Analytica and its affiliate, SCL, in addition to the accounts of Kogan and Wylie

    March 21, 2018 — Zuckerberg provides his first response to the revelations about how a lot Fb person knowledge was handed to Cambridge Analytica — however omits to elucidate why the corporate delayed investigating

    March 2018 — the FTC confirms it’s (re)investigating Fb’s privateness practices in mild of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the corporate’s prior settlement. Fb additionally faces a growing number of lawsuits

    March 2018 — Fb outs new privacy controls, as part of its compliance with the EU’s incoming GDPR framework, consolidating settings from 20 screens to only one. Nonetheless it won’t verify whether or not all privateness adjustments will apply for all Fb customers — resulting in a coalition of client teams to call for a firm commitment from the corporate to make the brand new normal its baseline for all providers

    April 2018 — Fb additionally reveals that someplace between 1BN and 2BN customers have had their public Fb info scraped by way of a now disabled function which allowed individuals to search for customers by inputting a cellphone quantity or e mail. The corporate says it found the function was abused by “malicious actors”, writing: “Given the size and class of the exercise we’ve seen, we imagine most individuals on Fb may have had their public profile scraped on this method”

    April 2018 — the UK’s knowledge watchdog confirms Fb is considered one of 30 firms it’s investigating as a part of an nearly year-long probe into the usage of private knowledge and analytics for political concentrating on

    April 2018 — Fb pronounces it has shut down a swathe of Russian troll farm accounts

    April 2018 — Zuckerberg agrees to provide testimony in entrance of US politicians — however continues to ignore calls to appear before UK politicians to reply questions concerning the function of pretend information on its platform and the potential use of Fb knowledge within the UK’s Brexit referendum

    April 2018 — the Canadian and British Columbian privateness watchdogs announce they’re combining current investigations into Fb and an area knowledge agency, AggregateIQ, which has been linked to Cambridge Analytica. The subsequent day Fb reportedly suspends AggregateIQ‘s account on its platform

    April 2018 — Fb says it has started telling affected users whether or not their info was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica

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