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Facebook Pays Teens for Complete Access to Personal Data

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The social media company pays users aged 13 to 35 around $20 per month for full access to their phone activity — including encrypted browsing, private messages and location data — through an app called Facebook Research.

The program, in place since 2016, requires minors to ask parental permission.

Facebook said it doesn’t share the data and users can stop participating at any time.
What about privacy?

Facebook Research is similar to an app Apple banned last summer for exactly those concerns.

While Facebook says the current incarnation doesn’t violate Apple’s terms, one expert calls the scale of its data collection “appalling.”


Learn More:    TechCrunch        Engadget

Teen Who Found FaceTime Bug Will Get a Reward

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Apple has fixed a FaceTime privacy glitch uncovered by a 14-year-old—and the teen is getting a reward for his effort. The glitch could let someone hear live audio on another person’s phone, even though that person hadn’t answered the FaceTime group call, reports CNN. It was also possible in some instances to see live video of the call recipient. Apple rolled out the software updates, iOS 12.1.4 and macOS Mojave 10.14.3, on Thursday. The company was told of the problem last month after Grant Thompson, a 14-year-old in Tucson, discovered it. He reported it to his mother, Michele, who reported it to Apple. Eventually, video demonstrations of the problem went viral.

Apple didn’t publicly address the issue at first but now says it will reward the Thompsons for reporting the bug, per the Verge. The company didn’t say how big the reward will be, though some of the money will be dedicated to Grant’s education. He made the discovery while trying to start a FaceTime group with friends. His mother called, e-mailed, faxed, and tweeted at Apple before the company acknowledged the flaw. (That happened after this 9to5Mac article came out.) Grant told CNBC on Monday that it was “pretty surprising to me that like Apple didn’t get this and a 14-year-old kid found it by accident.“

Study: Staring at Screens Stunts Child Development

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Try face time.

Children aged 2 to 5 who spent more than an hour a day in front of televisions and computers scored worse in developmental tests, according to a new study.

The University of Calgary researchers say that’s largely because kids practice fewer basic skills, such as talking, walking and playing, while parked in front of a screen.

Some 98 percent of American children aged 8 and younger spend at least two hours per day on various devices.
What should parents do?

For now, experts suggest no more than one hour per day of screen time, while future research may identify a more precise “tipping point” when screens become harmful.


Learn More:    TechCrunch      Newsweek

FACT CHECK: Facebook’s murky data-sharing practices

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Mark Zuckerberg’s latest attempt to explain Facebook’s data-sharing practices is notable for its omissions as well as what it plays up and plays down.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday titled “The Facts About Facebook,” the CEO doubles down on previous talking points while leaving out, for example, a potential Federal Trade Commission investigation over its privacy practices.

Here’s look at Zuckerberg’s claims in the op-ed:

ZUCKERBERG: “We don’t sell people’s data.” — Jan. 24, 2019.

THE FACTS: Sure, Facebook doesn’t technically “sell” your information. Instead, it rents it out, gives it away and sometimes just doesn’t know how to protect it, as we’ve seen with Cambridge Analytica and other mishaps .

And while Facebook doesn’t sell user data directly to third parties, it makes money from the information. Advertisers choose the types of users they want to reach, based on their location, age and even their political leanings and presumed ethnicity. Facebook identifies which users fit the criteria and shows those people the ads. So technically the information stays with Facebook, but it’s used to do the advertiser’s bidding.

And as the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed, Facebook has been sharing data with third parties. In that case, a political data-mining firm, Cambridge Analytica, managed to get data on as many as 87 million Facebook users through a personality-quiz app that was purportedly a research tool. With apps, Facebook isn’t selling data — it’s giving the data to makers of apps for free.

ZUCKERBERG: “People consistently tell us that if they’re going to see ads, they want them to be relevant.”

THE FACTS: Zuckerberg doesn’t say how people were posed this question or how the user surveys were conducted.

He does say that to comply with new European data rules, Facebook had asked users for permission to use data to improve ads. In such cases, he says, “the vast majority agreed because they prefer more relevant ads.”

But framing the issue as one of relevance to users glosses over Facebook’s business model of allowing companies to target advertisements based on people’s information.

In a recent survey of U.S. Facebook users, the Pew Research Center found that more than half of users are “not comfortable” with Facebook compiling information about their interests for ad targeting. In a 2012 survey , Pew found that about two-thirds of internet users “disapprove of search engines and websites tracking their online behavior in order to aim targeted ads at them.”

ZUCKERBERG: “Another question is whether we leave harmful or divisive content up because it drives engagement. We don’t…The only reason bad content remains is because the people and artificial-intelligence systems we use to review it are not perfect.”

THE FACTS: Facebook does have policies against clearly defined harmful content such as hate speech, abuse, inciting violence and other things. It’s true that Facebook’s human and AI systems are not catching all the bad stuff.

But there are also gray areas — posts that are divisive but don’t run afoul of anti-harassment policies, as well as news stories that aren’t outright fakes but misleading. Such posts typically remain available on Facebook.

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