Reset the "days since the last Facebook scandal" counter!
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
A fresh report from the New York Times on Tuesday night suggests that Facebook gave its partners even wider access to more user data (including private messages) for a longer time than previously known.
Why it matters: Silicon Valley insiders have a pretty thick skin when it comes to how much tech companies know about their users and how much they share with partners. Even still, Tuesday's revelations were a shock.
The Times report found that, among other things:
The other side: Facebook classified most of these partnerships as "service providers," and maintained the relationships were therefore exempt from rules designed to prevent unauthorized data sharing that Facebook accepted as part of a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011. The FTC isn't commenting.
Facebook responded in a blog post last night.
The takeaway: It's not clear that any of the partners misused the data. In many cases it's not even clear they wanted the broad access they received. Rather, Facebook appears so focused on growth that it didn't make the effort to create tools that limited access to specifically what the partners needed.
The big picture: Users have spent much of 2018 trying to weigh whether the benefits of social media — chiefly, maintaining connections with friends — outweigh the privacy cost. But each day fresh evidence piles up in the cost column even as the benefits have held steady.
Yes, but: The saving grace for Facebook remains that there's really no credible alternative with the same scale. The choice is to use Facebook and accept the risks, or miss out on the benefits entirely.
Our thought bubble: Facebook's FTC settlement was in 2011. That's seven years during which the company was on legal and public notice to watch its step when it comes to protecting user data.
Photo: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
Facebook clearly has its problems, but Twitter is no oasis, especially for women. That's the finding of a new report from Amnesty International, which determined that women were more likely to be the target of abuse than men — and women of color even more so.
The big picture: Amnesty International had been calling on Twitter to release more data on harassment reports. In the meantime, the agency decided to collect its own data via crowdsourcing.
Details: Millions of tweets received by 778 journalists and politicians in 2017 were surveyed to label any abuse targeted at gender, race and sexuality.
Why it matters: This isn't a new problem. Twitter has faced criticism for not doing enough to curb harassment on its platform before, and has promised to do better. However, the company has yet to show consistent progress.
What they're saying:
"We have the data to back up what women have long been telling us — that Twitter is a place where racism, misogyny and homophobia are allowed to flourish basically unchecked."— Milena Marin, senior adviser for tactical research, Amnesty International
"Abuse, malicious automation, and manipulation detract from the health of Twitter. We are committed to holding ourselves publicly accountable toward progress in this regard."— Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's legal, policy, and trust and safety lead
Photo: Yvonne Hemsey via Getty Images
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced a record $174.2 million consumer fraud settlement Tuesday with Charter Communications and Spectrum Management Holding Company for defrauding internet subscribers.
Details: As Marisa Fernandez reports, 700,000 consumers will receive direct refunds totaling $62.5 million, believed to be the largest single payout by an internet service provider in U.S. history. Approximately 2.2 million subscribers will also receive free streaming services and premium channels at a retail value of more than $100 million.
Background: In 2017, the New York attorney general's office filed a complaint alleging Charter was not giving customers the internet speed or reliability it promised. Its alleged failures include leasing out equipment that was deficient and charging more for download speeds while failing to maintain the appropriate network capacity.
The big picture: Left-leaning states are cracking down on telecom companies as federal regulators loosen the rules that govern internet providers like Charter, Comcast and AT&T.
Angry Birds creator Rovio is bringing its flagship characters to a wide range of virtual reality headsets next year.
What's new: Rovio is working with Resolution Games on "Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs," which is due to arrive early next year for "all major VR platforms." Earlier this year, Rovio and Resolution teamed up on an app for Magic Leap's augmented reality glasses.
Why it matters: It won't be everything that VR needs to go mainstream, but the arrival of Angry Birds could pave the way for other mobile game makers to enter the space. For Rovio, it's a chance to bring its signature disgruntled avians to another arena.
Pixar's adorable short film Bao is available free on YouTube, but only for a week.