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A man holds a smart phone with the icons for social networking apps (Photo credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

“Social Media Roundup” is a weekly roundup of news pertaining to all of your favorite websites and applications used for social networking. As you start the new work week, “Social Media Roundup” will help you stay up-to-date on all the important social media news you need to know.

Facebook

87 Million Accounts May Have Exploited

Last week, Facebook acknowledged that the data of as many as 87 million people (mostly in the U.S.) may have been improperly received by Cambridge Analytica. Previous reports in the news estimated the number at about 50 million people.

The 87 million figure was estimated by adding up the unique people that were friends of the 270,000 users that downloaded the personality quiz app associated with the scandal — which had siphoned data that was shared with Cambridge Analytica. Facebook shared the updated figure in a blog post about how the company was planning to restrict access to its data going forward.

After making the announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did a question-and-answer session. During the Q&amp;A, Zuckerberg was asked whether he was the most appropriate person to continue leading Facebook. Zuckerberg said yes and then elaborated further.

“I think life is about learning from the mistakes and figuring out what you need to do to move forward,” said Zuckerberg via The Wrap. “I think the reality of a lot of this is that when you’re building something like Facebook that is unprecedented in the world, there are going to be things that you mess up. And if we’d gotten this right, we’d have messed something else up.”

Zuckerberg also said that nobody was fired over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But he said he was personally taking responsibility and did not want to “throw anyone else under the bus.”

Ability To Unsend Is Coming To Messenger

Facebook acknowledged last week that CEO Mark Zuckerberg had deleted some of the messages he sent and received through the Messenger app. Other Messenger users currently do not have as much control of their communications. For example, if a user deletes their chat sessions or Facebook account all of their chat history still remains in tact with the users they interacted with.

Via TechCrunch, A Facebook spokesperson said that Zuckerberg was given the ability to delete emails due to learnings from the Sony hack in 2014. “After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications. These included limiting the retention period for Mark’s messages in Messenger. We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

However, Messenger will soon add an “Unsend” feature for all of its users in the next few months. “We have discussed this feature several times,” said a Facebook spokesperson via The Verge. “We will now be making a broader delete message feature available. This may take some time. And until this feature is ready, we will no longer be deleting any executives’ messages. We should have done this sooner — and we’re sorry that we did not.”

Bulk App Removal

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal happened, Facebook started taking its privacy controls much more seriously. So Facebook is now starting to roll out a tool to bulk remove apps in which you have connected your account. This feature will be available on the desktop and mobile versions of Facebook.

And Facebook will also offer an option to delete posts that those apps added to your profile. Matt Navarra, the director of social media at The Next Web, noticed the bulk app removal feature being tested in his feed (via TechCrunch):

Custom Audiences Certification Tool

Facebook is launching a certification tool to ensure that advertisers are only sending content to email addresses that were properly obtained with user consent. This tool is known as the Custom Audiences certification tool.

“I can confirm there is a permissions tool that we’re building,” said Facebook spokesperson Elisabeth Diana in an interview with TechCrunch. The tool will require that advertisers and the agencies representing them certify that they have permission to use the data. “We’ve always had terms in place to ensure that advertisers have consent for data they use but we’re going to make that much more prominent and educate advertisers on the way they can use the data.”

Hospital Data Sharing Program Paused

Facebook has reportedly decided to pause its program where it would share data with hospitals following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The goal of the project was to enable the medical industry to develop specific treatment and intervention plans based on deeper anonymous research based on the health benefits of having a close-knit circle of family and friends.

The project was believed to be getting worked on by Facebook’s Building 8 team. And it has not gone beyond the planning phase.

Facebook told CNBC that the decision to put the project on hold was so that it could ensure data protection and help users better understand how their data is being used. Facebook was working with the American College of Cardiology and Stanford University School of Medicine.

“Last month we decided that we should pause these discussions so we can focus on other important work, including doing a better job of protecting people’s data and being clearer with them about how that data is used in our products and services,” said Facebook in a statement to CNBC.

Making The Data Policy Easier To Understand

Facebook announced last week that it is making updates to the terms of service in order to make things easier to understand. Facebook will provide information about new features and tools, personalized experiences, what is shared, control over ads, device information and how abuse is combated.

“These updates are about making things clearer. We’re not asking for new rights to collect, use or share your data on Facebook. We’re also not changing any of the privacy choices you’ve made in the past,” Facebook explained in a blog post.

Messenger Now Supports 360-Degree Photos And HD Videos

Messenger 360-degree photos and videos

Messenger now offers the ability to send 360-degree photos and HD videos to your family and friends. Users that receive 360-degree photos will notice a compass icon. And when they receive videos, there will be an HD and SD icon that indicates the quality.

“For 360 degree photos in Messenger, simply set your phone camera to panorama and snap a photo or capture a 360 degree photo using a 360 photo app or camera. Then share it in Messenger as you would a normal photo. From there, we’ll convert it to an immersive, envy-inducing photo that your friends and loved ones can experience on mobile by tapping and dragging the photo or by moving their phone, and on Messenger.com by clicking and dragging,” Facebook pointed out in a blog post. “To share HD videos, you can either share a video saved on your phone, from your newsfeed, or even share a video from one message thread to another.”

New Avatar System For VR

Facebook Spaces screenshot

Facebook has made some updates to its virtual reality app called Spaces. In Spaces, users can browse 360-degree content and chat with users through virtual reality platforms, according to The Verge. You will also be able to make body type adjustments through the use of an editor for head shapes, hairstyles and other facial features. Facebook’s new avatar system has more of a three-dimensional feel to it and better represents the emotions expressed by users. The new avatar designs started rolling out last week.

“Our goal is that everyone can represent themselves in VR in a way that feels natural, so we knew we could do better,” stated Facebook via The Verge. “In order to have a meaningful social experience in VR, you need an engaging avatar that represents you and helps you relate to other people in the virtual space. It’s a huge part of feeling like you’re ‘really there’ together. That’s why we’ve been continuously working to learn what helps people represent and express themselves while spending time with friends in VR.”

New Tools For Battling Fake News

New Facebook tools for combating fake news

Facebook has been testing ways to prevent fake news from spreading on the social network for a while now. For example, Facebook started testing a tool in the U.S. that gives more background information about the publishers in October 2017 for US-based users. And this feature is now rolling out to everyone in the US.

And Facebook is also going to roll out a couple more options that give users more context about posts that appear in the news feed. The first option is known as “More From This Publisher,” which shows users a quick overview of other recent stories posted by the publisher. And the “Shared By Friends” feature shows people any of their friends who shared the article.

“We’re also starting a test to see whether people find it easier to evaluate the credibility of an article when we provide more information about the article’s author. People in this test will be able to tap an author’s name in Instant Articles to see additional information, including a description from the author’s Wikipedia entry, a button to follow their Page or Profile, and other recent articles they’ve published,” said Facebook in a blog post. “This information will only display if the publisher has implemented author tags on their website to associate the author’s Page or Profile to the article byline, and the publisher has validated their association to the publisher. This will start as a small test in the US, and we look forward to learning from the results.”

Over 200 Internet Research Agency Accounts Removed

Facebook has deleted a large number of Russian accounts that are suspected of being “trolls” seeking to influence elections. Specifically, those accounts were associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA). The IRA has been known for repeatedly creating inauthentic Facebook accounts to “deceive and manipulate who use Facebook.”

“We removed 70 Facebook and 65 Instagram accounts — as well as 138 Facebook Pages — that were controlled by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA). Many of the Pages also ran ads, all of which have been removed,” said Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos in a blog post. “Of the Pages that had content, the vast majority of them (95%) were in Russian — targeted either at people living in Russia or Russian-speakers around the world including from neighboring countries like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.”

Private Message Scanning To Prevent Violations

Facebook has confirmed to Bloomberg that the company scans private messages sent over the Facebook Messenger service. The reasons why Facebook does this is to prevent bad actors from using the platform to incite violence in places like Myanmar.

And Facebook uses automated tools to scan for links sent through Messenger to prevent malware and child exploitation photos from spreading as well. Facebook pointed out that this is similar to what other technology companies do as well.

Unpublished Videos To Be Deleted

Last week, NYMag reported that Facebook was inadvertently preserving videos that were recorded but never published. So Facebook promised that those videos would be deleted.

“We investigated a report that some people were seeing their old draft videos when they accessed their information from our Download Your Information tool,” responded Facebook. “We discovered a bug that prevented draft videos from being deleted. We are deleting them and apologize for the inconvenience. We appreciate New York Magazine for bringing the issue to our attention.”

Zuckerberg Suggests Appeals Process And Responds To Apple CEO Tim Cook

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was recently interviewed by Vox’s Ezra Klein when he suggested an idea about how to curb dangerous content. Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s first step could be to build an appeals process that works just like the federal government.

“But over the long term, what I’d really like to get to is an independent appeal. So maybe folks at Facebook make the first decision based on the community standards that are outlined, and then people can get a second opinion,” said Zuckerberg. “You can imagine some sort of structure, almost like a Supreme Court, that is made up of independent folks who don’t work for Facebook, who ultimately make the final judgment call on what should be acceptable speech in a community that reflects the social norms and values of people all around the world.”

Currently, Facebook relies on a combination of artificial intelligence, a flagging system where users report disturbing content and manual reviews to remove content that violates the terms of service.

In the same interview, Zuckerberg responded to Apple CEO Tim Cook about whether the business model of monetizing user attention is causing problems. Cook told Recode that Apple would not get in a similar situation because Apple sells products to users and does not sell users to advertisers.

“You know, I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth. The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay. And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people,” sai Zuckerberg. “That doesn’t mean that we’re not primarily focused on serving people. I think probably to the dissatisfaction of our sales team here, I make all of our decisions based on what’s going to matter to our community and focus much less on the advertising side of the business.”

“>

A man holds a smart phone with the icons for social networking apps (Photo credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

“Social Media Roundup” is a weekly roundup of news pertaining to all of your favorite websites and applications used for social networking. As you start the new work week, “Social Media Roundup” will help you stay up-to-date on all the important social media news you need to know.

Facebook

87 Million Accounts May Have Exploited

Last week, Facebook acknowledged that the data of as many as 87 million people (mostly in the U.S.) may have been improperly received by Cambridge Analytica. Previous reports in the news estimated the number at about 50 million people.

The 87 million figure was estimated by adding up the unique people that were friends of the 270,000 users that downloaded the personality quiz app associated with the scandal — which had siphoned data that was shared with Cambridge Analytica. Facebook shared the updated figure in a blog post about how the company was planning to restrict access to its data going forward.

After making the announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did a question-and-answer session. During the Q&A, Zuckerberg was asked whether he was the most appropriate person to continue leading Facebook. Zuckerberg said yes and then elaborated further.

“I think life is about learning from the mistakes and figuring out what you need to do to move forward,” said Zuckerberg via The Wrap. “I think the reality of a lot of this is that when you’re building something like Facebook that is unprecedented in the world, there are going to be things that you mess up. And if we’d gotten this right, we’d have messed something else up.”

Zuckerberg also said that nobody was fired over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But he said he was personally taking responsibility and did not want to “throw anyone else under the bus.”

Ability To Unsend Is Coming To Messenger

Facebook acknowledged last week that CEO Mark Zuckerberg had deleted some of the messages he sent and received through the Messenger app. Other Messenger users currently do not have as much control of their communications. For example, if a user deletes their chat sessions or Facebook account all of their chat history still remains in tact with the users they interacted with.

Via TechCrunch, A Facebook spokesperson said that Zuckerberg was given the ability to delete emails due to learnings from the Sony hack in 2014. “After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications. These included limiting the retention period for Mark’s messages in Messenger. We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

However, Messenger will soon add an “Unsend” feature for all of its users in the next few months. “We have discussed this feature several times,” said a Facebook spokesperson via The Verge. “We will now be making a broader delete message feature available. This may take some time. And until this feature is ready, we will no longer be deleting any executives’ messages. We should have done this sooner — and we’re sorry that we did not.”

Bulk App Removal

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal happened, Facebook started taking its privacy controls much more seriously. So Facebook is now starting to roll out a tool to bulk remove apps in which you have connected your account. This feature will be available on the desktop and mobile versions of Facebook.

And Facebook will also offer an option to delete posts that those apps added to your profile. Matt Navarra, the director of social media at The Next Web, noticed the bulk app removal feature being tested in his feed (via TechCrunch):

Custom Audiences Certification Tool

Facebook is launching a certification tool to ensure that advertisers are only sending content to email addresses that were properly obtained with user consent. This tool is known as the Custom Audiences certification tool.

“I can confirm there is a permissions tool that we’re building,” said Facebook spokesperson Elisabeth Diana in an interview with TechCrunch. The tool will require that advertisers and the agencies representing them certify that they have permission to use the data. “We’ve always had terms in place to ensure that advertisers have consent for data they use but we’re going to make that much more prominent and educate advertisers on the way they can use the data.”

Hospital Data Sharing Program Paused

Facebook has reportedly decided to pause its program where it would share data with hospitals following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The goal of the project was to enable the medical industry to develop specific treatment and intervention plans based on deeper anonymous research based on the health benefits of having a close-knit circle of family and friends.

The project was believed to be getting worked on by Facebook’s Building 8 team. And it has not gone beyond the planning phase.

Facebook told CNBC that the decision to put the project on hold was so that it could ensure data protection and help users better understand how their data is being used. Facebook was working with the American College of Cardiology and Stanford University School of Medicine.

“Last month we decided that we should pause these discussions so we can focus on other important work, including doing a better job of protecting people’s data and being clearer with them about how that data is used in our products and services,” said Facebook in a statement to CNBC.

Making The Data Policy Easier To Understand

Facebook announced last week that it is making updates to the terms of service in order to make things easier to understand. Facebook will provide information about new features and tools, personalized experiences, what is shared, control over ads, device information and how abuse is combated.

“These updates are about making things clearer. We’re not asking for new rights to collect, use or share your data on Facebook. We’re also not changing any of the privacy choices you’ve made in the past,” Facebook explained in a blog post.

Messenger Now Supports 360-Degree Photos And HD Videos

Messenger 360-degree photos and videos

Messenger now offers the ability to send 360-degree photos and HD videos to your family and friends. Users that receive 360-degree photos will notice a compass icon. And when they receive videos, there will be an HD and SD icon that indicates the quality.

“For 360 degree photos in Messenger, simply set your phone camera to panorama and snap a photo or capture a 360 degree photo using a 360 photo app or camera. Then share it in Messenger as you would a normal photo. From there, we’ll convert it to an immersive, envy-inducing photo that your friends and loved ones can experience on mobile by tapping and dragging the photo or by moving their phone, and on Messenger.com by clicking and dragging,” Facebook pointed out in a blog post. “To share HD videos, you can either share a video saved on your phone, from your newsfeed, or even share a video from one message thread to another.”

New Avatar System For VR

Facebook Spaces screenshot

Facebook has made some updates to its virtual reality app called Spaces. In Spaces, users can browse 360-degree content and chat with users through virtual reality platforms, according to The Verge. You will also be able to make body type adjustments through the use of an editor for head shapes, hairstyles and other facial features. Facebook’s new avatar system has more of a three-dimensional feel to it and better represents the emotions expressed by users. The new avatar designs started rolling out last week.

“Our goal is that everyone can represent themselves in VR in a way that feels natural, so we knew we could do better,” stated Facebook via The Verge. “In order to have a meaningful social experience in VR, you need an engaging avatar that represents you and helps you relate to other people in the virtual space. It’s a huge part of feeling like you’re ‘really there’ together. That’s why we’ve been continuously working to learn what helps people represent and express themselves while spending time with friends in VR.”

New Tools For Battling Fake News

New Facebook tools for combating fake news

Facebook has been testing ways to prevent fake news from spreading on the social network for a while now. For example, Facebook started testing a tool in the U.S. that gives more background information about the publishers in October 2017 for US-based users. And this feature is now rolling out to everyone in the US.

And Facebook is also going to roll out a couple more options that give users more context about posts that appear in the news feed. The first option is known as “More From This Publisher,” which shows users a quick overview of other recent stories posted by the publisher. And the “Shared By Friends” feature shows people any of their friends who shared the article.

“We’re also starting a test to see whether people find it easier to evaluate the credibility of an article when we provide more information about the article’s author. People in this test will be able to tap an author’s name in Instant Articles to see additional information, including a description from the author’s Wikipedia entry, a button to follow their Page or Profile, and other recent articles they’ve published,” said Facebook in a blog post. “This information will only display if the publisher has implemented author tags on their website to associate the author’s Page or Profile to the article byline, and the publisher has validated their association to the publisher. This will start as a small test in the US, and we look forward to learning from the results.”

Over 200 Internet Research Agency Accounts Removed

Facebook has deleted a large number of Russian accounts that are suspected of being “trolls” seeking to influence elections. Specifically, those accounts were associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA). The IRA has been known for repeatedly creating inauthentic Facebook accounts to “deceive and manipulate who use Facebook.”

“We removed 70 Facebook and 65 Instagram accounts — as well as 138 Facebook Pages — that were controlled by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA). Many of the Pages also ran ads, all of which have been removed,” said Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos in a blog post. “Of the Pages that had content, the vast majority of them (95%) were in Russian — targeted either at people living in Russia or Russian-speakers around the world including from neighboring countries like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.”

Private Message Scanning To Prevent Violations

Facebook has confirmed to Bloomberg that the company scans private messages sent over the Facebook Messenger service. The reasons why Facebook does this is to prevent bad actors from using the platform to incite violence in places like Myanmar.

And Facebook uses automated tools to scan for links sent through Messenger to prevent malware and child exploitation photos from spreading as well. Facebook pointed out that this is similar to what other technology companies do as well.

Unpublished Videos To Be Deleted

Last week, NYMag reported that Facebook was inadvertently preserving videos that were recorded but never published. So Facebook promised that those videos would be deleted.

“We investigated a report that some people were seeing their old draft videos when they accessed their information from our Download Your Information tool,” responded Facebook. “We discovered a bug that prevented draft videos from being deleted. We are deleting them and apologize for the inconvenience. We appreciate New York Magazine for bringing the issue to our attention.”

Zuckerberg Suggests Appeals Process And Responds To Apple CEO Tim Cook

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was recently interviewed by Vox’s Ezra Klein when he suggested an idea about how to curb dangerous content. Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s first step could be to build an appeals process that works just like the federal government.

“But over the long term, what I’d really like to get to is an independent appeal. So maybe folks at Facebook make the first decision based on the community standards that are outlined, and then people can get a second opinion,” said Zuckerberg. “You can imagine some sort of structure, almost like a Supreme Court, that is made up of independent folks who don’t work for Facebook, who ultimately make the final judgment call on what should be acceptable speech in a community that reflects the social norms and values of people all around the world.”

Currently, Facebook relies on a combination of artificial intelligence, a flagging system where users report disturbing content and manual reviews to remove content that violates the terms of service.

In the same interview, Zuckerberg responded to Apple CEO Tim Cook about whether the business model of monetizing user attention is causing problems. Cook told Recode that Apple would not get in a similar situation because Apple sells products to users and does not sell users to advertisers.

“You know, I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth. The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay. And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people,” sai Zuckerberg. “That doesn’t mean that we’re not primarily focused on serving people. I think probably to the dissatisfaction of our sales team here, I make all of our decisions based on what’s going to matter to our community and focus much less on the advertising side of the business.”

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