Is Facebook really changing? Or just trimming its data haul? - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Is Facebook really changing? Or just trimming its data haul?

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File). In this March 26, 2018, file photo, a man poses for photos in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences pages in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File). In this March 26, 2018, file photo, a man poses for photos in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences pages in San Francisco.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan). Tabs on a Facebook app for, "Privacy Basics, More Settings, and Data Policy," are displayed on an iPhone, Monday, April 9, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan). Tabs on a Facebook app for, "Privacy Basics, More Settings, and Data Policy," are displayed on an iPhone, Monday, April 9, 2018, in New York.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan). A Facebook message, "People you share and communicate with," is displayed on an iPhone, Monday, April 9, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan). A Facebook message, "People you share and communicate with," is displayed on an iPhone, Monday, April 9, 2018, in New York.
  • Inside WLOX.comMore>>

  • The Latest: Reddit says it banned 944 suspicious accounts

    The Latest: Reddit says it banned 944 suspicious accounts

    Tuesday, April 10 2018 2:30 AM EDT2018-04-10 06:30:24 GMT
    Thursday, April 12 2018 5:49 PM EDT2018-04-12 21:49:42 GMT
    (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File). FILE - In this March 26, 2018, file photo, a man poses for photos in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences pages in San Francisco. Lost amid a flurry of Facebook announcements about privacy settings and data ac...(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File). FILE - In this March 26, 2018, file photo, a man poses for photos in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences pages in San Francisco. Lost amid a flurry of Facebook announcements about privacy settings and data ac...
    Is Facebook really changing? Or just making small adjustments to its data-collection practices?.More >>
    Is Facebook really changing? Or just making small adjustments to its data-collection practices?.More >>
  • Was your Facebook data compromised? Here's how to find out

    Was your Facebook data compromised? Here's how to find out

    Wednesday, April 11 2018 11:44 AM EDT2018-04-11 15:44:18 GMT
    Wednesday, April 11 2018 11:44 AM EDT2018-04-11 15:44:18 GMT
    (Source: Facebook)(Source: Facebook)
    (Source: Facebook)(Source: Facebook)

    In addition to notifications sent out to billions of Facebook users this week, the social website posted a topic in its Help Center titled, "How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica?"

    More >>

    In addition to notifications sent out to billions of Facebook users this week, the social website posted a topic in its Help Center titled, "How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica?"

    More >>
  • Hardly 'friends': Zuckerberg fends off senators on privacy

    Hardly 'friends': Zuckerberg fends off senators on privacy

    Tuesday, April 10 2018 12:21 AM EDT2018-04-10 04:21:00 GMT
    Wednesday, April 11 2018 12:58 AM EDT2018-04-11 04:58:02 GMT
    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite). Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 9, 2018, to meet with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Zuckerberg will testify Tuesd...(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite). Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 9, 2018, to meet with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Zuckerberg will testify Tuesd...

    After privately assuring senators that his company will do better, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is undergoing a two-day congressional inquisition that will be very public.

    More >>

    After privately assuring senators that his company will do better, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is undergoing a two-day congressional inquisition that will be very public.

    More >>
  • Yes, Mark Zuckerberg will wear a suit for Congress testimony

    Yes, Mark Zuckerberg will wear a suit for Congress testimony

    Tuesday, April 10 2018 1:40 AM EDT2018-04-10 05:40:20 GMT
    Tuesday, April 10 2018 10:51 AM EDT2018-04-10 14:51:03 GMT
    (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik). Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, center, leaves a meeting with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 9, 2018. Zuckerberg will testify Tuesday before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Com...(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik). Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, center, leaves a meeting with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 9, 2018. Zuckerberg will testify Tuesday before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Com...
    Yes, Mark Zuckerberg will wear a suit.More >>
    Yes, Mark Zuckerberg will wear a suit.More >>
  • Faceblock: A call to boycott Facebook on Wednesday

    Faceblock: A call to boycott Facebook on Wednesday

    Monday, April 9 2018 12:47 PM EDT2018-04-09 16:47:41 GMT
    Monday, April 9 2018 1:18 PM EDT2018-04-09 17:18:37 GMT

    The Faceblock folks are going full social media on the Facebook CEO. They’ve put together ready-made messages and graphics to litter all the platforms.

    More >>

    The Faceblock folks are going full social media on the Facebook CEO. They’ve put together ready-made messages and graphics to litter all the platforms.

    More >>

By MATT O'BRIEN and RYAN NAKASHIMA
AP Technology Writers

Lost amid a flurry of Facebook announcements about privacy settings and data access is a much more fundamental question: Is Facebook really changing its relationship with users, or just tinkering around the edges of a deeper problem - its insatiable appetite for the data it uses to sell ads?

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is scheduled to testify to Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday, long defined the company's mission as making the world more open and connected. He's now tweaking that high-minded goal to emphasize positive community-building, not just connectivity. But it's not at all clear how much Facebook can shift without undermining what makes it one of the world's most profitable companies.

"Why is connectivity a good thing? Once you begin to challenge that, you begin to question the business model, which is about mining our data," said Richard John, a Columbia University professor of business history. Facebook is "extraordinarily reliant on the goodwill of users" who allow it to harvest what they share about themselves, he said - much more so than other tech companies.

Wall Street analysts are already counting on Facebook to survive a user revolt. Based on recent polling, GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives expects roughly 15 percent of users to disengage somewhat from the social network following revelations that the political data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained personal information from 87 million users to try to influence elections. In a worst-case scenario, decreased engagement and what Ives terms a "negligible" number of deleted accounts could cost the company up to $2 billion in annual advertising, Ives said.

Facebook could likely survive a $2 billion cut in its bottom line. Its shares have rebounded after hitting their lowest price in nine months in late March. Since then, the stock has climbed about 4 percent to $158.61 at midday Monday.

Less clear is how Facebook will handle the threat of increased regulation if Zuckerberg does not adequately resolve lawmakers' concerns this week.

"Could Facebook still exist even though you have greater privacy protections? That's the billion-dollar question," said University of Tennessee law professor Maurice Stucke, who has argued against allowing a handful of tech companies to monopolize everyone's personal data.

In the days leading up to Zuckerberg's testimony, Facebook has implemented a series of changes. It took yet another stab at explaining what happens to user data on its service and rejiggered its confusing privacy controls for the seventh time in a decade.

The company also planned to alert users affected by the Cambridge Analytica breach on Monday, although those efforts were delayed, and announced an independent commission that will have access to Facebook data to study the effects of social media on elections and democracy. Last week, it announced new transparency and verification rules for advertisers and page administrators.

Facebook is also restricting the access that outside parties have to data from Facebook users and groups, and it removed an option to search for users by entering a phone number or an email address that it said "malicious actors" had abused to scrape information from nearly all Facebook users.

Researchers generally consider such steps positive, if insufficient. Stucke, for instance, said a much stronger move would be for Facebook to fold U.S. users into the more stringent data protections the European Union will impose on internet companies starting May 25.

Zuckerberg has been unclear about whether Facebook would extend the European protections to the U.S. and elsewhere. He said recently the company will make its "controls and settings the same everywhere, not just in Europe," although it wasn't clear exactly what he meant, nor how that would affect data collection and privacy.

Privacy advocates are calling for Facebook to embrace the European rules globally. In an open letter sent Monday to Zuckerberg and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic, a group called the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue said the law will offer "protections that all users should be entitled to no matter where they are located."

Researchers such as Stucke worry that Facebook might be able to wait out the pressure. "There's a big commotion," he said. "You hire a lot of lobbyists. You pressure the agencies not to do anything and just ride it out until the next scandal."

But Jeffrey Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy, said it would be a mistake to view Facebook's current turmoil as a "one-time event." Thanks to the European rules, he said, "there's a noose that's tightening around the necks of the Googles and the Facebooks" that will eventually force changes in their business models."

Some who favor stricter regulations want Facebook users to be treated like the advertising products that they are and to be paid for what they contribute to the social network. A few scholars say Facebook has so much influence over media and society that the U.S. government should consider taming its dominance by forcing it to spin off Instagram, WhatsApp or other businesses.

"We're in totally unprecedented waters," said Lina Khan, a Yale law professor and director of legal policy with the Open Markets Institute. "I wouldn't be too conservative about what's realistic."

Others who find the European model too onerous say most U.S. consumers don't care if Facebook analyzes them and their friends in a way that keeps what they share anonymous.

Such data collection "doesn't create a lot of harm and can create some significant benefits," said Joe Kennedy, a fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which is backed by the technology industry.

He cited targeted ads as a boon to consumers and said the data behind them can boost artificial intelligence systems, which use vast quantities of data to "learn" human-like behavior.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Social media newsMore>>

  • Audit clears Facebook despite Cambridge Analytica leaks

    Audit clears Facebook despite Cambridge Analytica leaks

    Friday, April 20 2018 10:24 AM EDT2018-04-20 14:24:11 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 8:14 PM EDT2018-04-21 00:14:18 GMT
    (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File). FILE- In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square.  An audit of Facebook’s privacy practices for the Federal Trade Commission found no p...(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File). FILE- In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. An audit of Facebook’s privacy practices for the Federal Trade Commission found no p...
    Audit of Facebook's privacy practices found no problems, though company knew a data-mining firm improperly obtained private data from millions of users.More >>
    Audit of Facebook's privacy practices found no problems, though company knew a data-mining firm improperly obtained private data from millions of users.More >>
  • Social media helps fuel teacher activism across the country

    Social media helps fuel teacher activism across the country

    Thursday, April 19 2018 2:21 AM EDT2018-04-19 06:21:56 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 8:14 PM EDT2018-04-21 00:14:15 GMT
    (AP Photo/Matt York). Teacher Jennifer Galluzzo casts her ballot outside Paseo Verde Elementary Wednesday, April 18, 2018 in Peoria, Ariz. Arizona teachers are weighing whether to walk out of their classrooms to demand more school funding after weeks o...(AP Photo/Matt York). Teacher Jennifer Galluzzo casts her ballot outside Paseo Verde Elementary Wednesday, April 18, 2018 in Peoria, Ariz. Arizona teachers are weighing whether to walk out of their classrooms to demand more school funding after weeks o...

    The public education uprisings that began in West Virginia and spread to Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky share similar origin stories: teachers, tired of low wages and a dearth of state funding, begin talking to each other online.

    More >>

    The public education uprisings that began in West Virginia and spread to Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky share similar origin stories: teachers, tired of low wages and a dearth of state funding, begin talking to each other online.

    More >>
  • Facebook adds privacy settings to comply with European rules

    Facebook adds privacy settings to comply with European rules

    Wednesday, April 18 2018 5:33 AM EDT2018-04-18 09:33:47 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 8:08 PM EDT2018-04-21 00:08:04 GMT
    (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File). FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. A propaganda expert who has studied Cambridge Analytica says the company helped Donald Trump’s presidential campaign use f...(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File). FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. A propaganda expert who has studied Cambridge Analytica says the company helped Donald Trump’s presidential campaign use f...
    Facebook is introducing more privacy safeguards to users in Europe to comply with new rules meant to make it easier for consumers to give and withdraw consent for the use of their data.More >>
    Facebook is introducing more privacy safeguards to users in Europe to comply with new rules meant to make it easier for consumers to give and withdraw consent for the use of their data.More >>
Powered by Frankly