Netizen 24 IRL: Facebook executives to face Oireachtas committee

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Facebook executives to face Oireachtas committee

A senior Facebook executive has apologised at an Oireachtas Committee for the company's role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Joel Kaplan is appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment over the use of social media and its potential influence on previous and future elections and referendums.

Addressing the committee, Mr Kaplan said what had happened represented a huge violation of trust and the company is deeply sorry.

He said the company knows it has a responsibility to the Facebook community and that people will only feel comfortable using its service if their data is safe.

He said it was clear that Facebook did not do enough to prevent its tools from being used for harm and that it did not take a broad enough view of its responsibility, which was a mistake.

Mr Kaplan also outlined developments that Facebook ha d already and is currently implementing to ensure user data is secure.

He revealed that Facebook is to expand a pilot of a tool that will increase transparency around ads on the platform to Ireland ahead of the forthcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

The View Ads feature is already being trialed in Canada following its launch there earlier this year, and the company intends to roll it out globally from the summer.

Read: What is Cambridge Analytica?

The tool, which will be available in Ireland from 25 April, will let users here see all ads that an advertiser is running on the platform at the same time, even if they are not appearing in that users News Feed.

They will be able to do this by clicking on an advertiser's page, selecting the "About" section and then choosing "View Active Ads".

However, the tool will not provide detailed information, like for example who is paying for the ads, or who the ads are bein g targeted at.and the reach they are achieving.

It also will not be searchable.

Further tools are being developed by Facebook that will enable this type of functionality but they will not be ready until mid-summer.

Facebook has been criticised for not making advertisers divulge information about who is behind ads, particularly during political campaigns.

Commissioner discusses Facebook data revelations

Earlier, the Data Protection Commissioner has said recent revelations around the use of Facebook data have shone a spotlight on "the undoubted asymmetries" arising from the inequality of resources available to big corporations versus ordinary users, where these organisations collate, control and utilise big data consisting of personal data.

Addressing the communications Helen Dixon said public consciousness of the risks to individual rights to autonomy and self-determination resulting from these asymmetries and these types of process ing of personal data is growing.

The demand for greater control and transparency will be provided for under the incoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May, she added.

Helen Dixon said public consciousness of the risks to autonomy from the processing of personal data is growing

Answering TDs and senators questions, Ms Dixon confirmed that, once a user had left the Facebook environment, they continue to be tracked by the social network.

She said there are means by which users can switch off tracking, but the default is that it is on.

She added that these issues are under active examination by her office in consultation with Facebook.

Speaking about the use of social media in elections, Ms Dixon said it is important users who engage in online platforms and consume news online do engage with control setting s.

She said that, if they choose to receive interest based internet ads, they should be aware that they could be the subject of ads pushing them one specific direction.

She also suggested that they be sure to consume other types of news from different publishers rather than relying solely on online news sources.

The commissioner also expressed the view that data protection laws and GDPR are strong enough to prohibit what should be prohibited in terms of personal data processing around elections.

Ms Dixon said there are a number of ways users can use controls and granular settings in order to ultimately switch off internet based ads.

She agreed that to date they have not been as accessible and easy to use as necessary.

However, she said her office has high hopes that the GDPR might help to change that.

Source: Google News

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