New Study Fails Facebook's Handling of User Information


Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. Over two days of testimony before Congress earlier this month, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg dodged a litany of questions from lawmakers about how the data of 87 million Americans ended up in the hands of voter profiling firm Cambridge Analytica. The spectacle put a spotlight on the company's murky data-collection and sharing practices, and sparked a much-needed discussion about if and how to hold companies accountable for their handling of user data. However much deserved, Facebook has, so far, born the brunt of public scrutiny for what has unfortunately become standard practice for web platforms and services. As the Ranking Digital Rights 2018 Corporate Accountability Index--an annual ranking of the some of the world's most powerful internet, mobile, and telecommunications companies that was released this week--shows, companies across the board lack transparency about what user data they collect and share, and tell us alarmingly little about their data-sharing agreements with advertisers or other third parties.

AbuSniff: Automatic Detection and Defenses Against Abusive Facebook Friends

AAAI Conferences

Adversaries leverage social network friend relationships to collect sensitive data from users and target them with abuse that includes fake news, cyberbullying, malware, and propaganda. Case in point, 71 out of 80 user study participants had at least 1 Facebook friend with whom they never interact, either in Facebook or in real life, or whom they believe is likely to abuse their posted photos or status updates, or post offensive, false or malicious content. We introduce AbuSniff, a system that identifies Facebook friends perceived as strangers or abusive, and protects the user by unfriending, unfollowing, or restricting the access to information for such friends. We develop a questionnaire to detect perceived strangers and friend abuse. We introduce mutual Facebook activity features and show that they can train supervised learning algorithms to predict questionnaire responses. We have evaluated AbuSniff through several user studies with a total of 263 participants from 25 countries. After answering the questionnaire, participants agreed to unfollow and restrict abusers in 91.6% and 90.9% of the cases respectively, and sandbox or unfriend non-abusive strangers in 92.45% of the cases. Without answering the questionnaire, participants agreed to take the AbuSniff suggested action against friends predicted to be strangers or abusive, in 78.2% of the cases. AbuSniff increased the participant self-reported willingness to reject invitations from strangers and abusers, their awareness of friend abuse implications and their perceived protection from friend abuse.

Thousands of Android apps improperly tracking kids' activities

FOX News

File photo: A 3D printed Android logo is seen in front of a displayed cyber code in this illustration taken March 22, 2016. While everyone's in an uproar about Facebook accounts getting skimmed for data, a new study claims that thousands of Android apps are in breach of standards for monitoring kids' behavior online. The study, which comes from researchers at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, CA, analyzed 5,855 of the most popular free Android apps targeted at kids and families. The team found its results with an automatic test that detects how data is handled in Android apps. Shockingly, a total of 57 percent of the apps studied appeared to be in potential violation of COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a 1998 law that looks to safeguard the privacy of users under the age of 13.

Net Benefits: Digital Inequities in Social Capital, Privacy Preservation, and Digital Parenting Practices of U.S. Social Media Users

AAAI Conferences

Social media adoption has been shown to exhibit digital inequality: sociodemographic background has been highly correlated with usage rates. As social media use has also been shown to correlate with important benefits, chiefly social capital, low adoption rates can mean a portion of the population is not receiving these benefits. In this work, we examine the equity of social media benefits among users, introducing and validating the existence of two new social media benefits: learning of privacy-preserving behaviors and parental engagement in children's social media use; and explore the equity of their distribution among social media users. To draw generalizable conclusions, we use a probabilistic telephone survey (n=3,000), weighted to represent the responses of the U.S. population within 2.7%. We encouragingly find no difference in adoption of social media based on education and find that lower-income users are more likely to use social media. Yet, we find an inequality in benefits: older and less educated social media users report lower degrees of nearly all examined benefits. Further, we find preliminary suggestion of an inherited digital inequality: parents who use social media, especially those who are more educated and higher paid, are more likely both to help their children set up privacy settings and teach them safe posting behaviors.

In race for 5G, China leads South Korea and U.S.: study

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – China is slightly ahead of South Korea and the United States in the race to develop fifth generation wireless networks, or 5G, a U.S. study showed Monday. The study released by the CTIA, a U.S.-based industry association of wireless carriers, suggested that the United States is lagging in the effort to deploy the superfast wireless systems that will be needed for self-driving cars, telemedicine and other technologies. The report prepared by the research firm Analysys Mason found that all major Chinese providers have committed to specific launch dates and the government has committed to allocate spectrum for the carriers. The 10-nation study said the U.S. is in the "first tier" of countries in preparing deployment of 5G, along with China, South Korea and Japan. In the second tier are key European markets, including France, Germany and Britain, with Singapore, Russia and Canada in the third tier.