Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Another day, another Facebook data scandal but the latest one could bring criminal charges. According to The New York Times, federal prosecutors are investigating the social network’s deals that shared user data with smartphone manufacturers. Facebook said they are cooperating with the investigation in a statement.

A grand jury in the Eastern District of New York subpoenaed records from at least two smartphone companies concerning deals the companies made with Facebook for data sharing. The investigation comes after reports last year of the social network sharing personal data with smartphone and tablet companies and developers.

In some cases, Facebook shared the data without straightforward consent from the users, the Times reports. While the two or more companies that are part of the investigation are not named, earlier reports showed that Facebook sent user data to Microsoft Bing, Amazon, Apple, and others.

The data sharing could be a violation of Facebook’s agreement with the Federal Trade Commission from 2011. Facebook, however, says that a clause in the agreement permitted sharing data with service providers, which the company says allowed the partnerships. Many of those partnerships have already been discontinued. Facebook is already facing investigation from the FTC after last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

While Facebook confirmed the investigation, The New York Times says the focus of the investigation isn’t clear, while details like how long the investigation has been going on are also unknown.

Facebook’s data policies have come under intense scrutiny after users realized data firm Cambridge Analytica bought data from quizzes. Since then, users have downloaded their Facebook data only to find the network saved a surprising amount of information about them. Hackers have pointed out the amount of data third-party quizzes could access as the network began limiting access and auditing apps accessing user data. Recently, the network was criticized for a research app that paid users $20 a month for their data, including private messages.

In response to the latest privacy scandals, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently shared plans for the network moving toward “a privacy-focused platform.” The shift could see the network prioritize private messaging, like on WhatsApp, and ephemeral posts like Stories. The company’s business model could also change to allow the company to earn more from services like ecommerce instead of data collection.

Social Media

A Facebook, Instagram bug exposed millions of passwords to its employees

Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram passwords weren't properly encrypted and could be viewed by employees, the company said Thursday. The network estimates millions of users were affected.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.

Waymo boosts robo-taxi plans with new service center in Arizona

Waymo has announced plans for a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that will help to service, maintain, and grow its fleet of autonomous Waymo One cars. The vehicles operate as part of the company's robo-taxi ridesharing service.

After fourth attack, hacker puts personal records of 26M people up for sale

A serial hacker going by the name of Gnosticplayers is selling the personal data of 26 million people who have been using the services of six different companies from across the world.
Social Media

Yep, it’s not just you. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are down for many

Facebook's family of apps has been suffering issues for much of the day. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook itself have been out of action for users around the world, with the company scrambling to sort it out.
Social Media

Facebook may soon let you watch live TV with friends in Watch Party

Facebook Watch Party is designed to allow friends to watch together, even when they can't be in the same physical space. Now, that feature could be expanding to include live TV. Facebook announced a test of the feature, starting with live…
Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.

Snapchat could soon let you play games in between your selfies

If a new report is accurate, Snapchat will be getting an integrated gaming platform in April. The platform will feature mobile games form third-party developers, and one publisher is already signed on.
Social Media

Twitter is testing a handy subscription feature for following threads

Twitter has recently started testing a feature that lets you subscribe to a thread so that you’ll no longer need to like a comment or post to it yourself in order to receive notifications of new contributions.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.

There’s more space on MySpace after ‘accidental’ wipe of 50 million songs

MySpace is no longer a safe refuge for music and media produced in the 2000s. It said that almost any artistic content uploaded to the site between 2003 and 2015 may have been lost as part of a server migration last year.

Intel and Facebook team up to give Cooper Lake an artificial intelligence boost

Intel's upcoming Cooper Lake microarchitecture will be getting a boost when it comes to artificial intelligence processes, thanks to a partnership with Facebook. The results are CPUs that are able to work faster.
Social Media

New Zealand attack shows that as A.I. filters get smarter, so do violators

The shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand were livestreamed to social media, and while stats show networks are improving at removing offending videos, as the system improves, so do the violators' workarounds.

Insta-checkout? New Instagram service lets you shop without leaving the platform

Shopping on Instagram no longer means leaving the platform to checkout in a web browser. Instagram checkout launched in beta today with a handful of retailers, allowing users to checkout without leaving the app.