The government has approved the supply of equipment by Chinese telecoms firm Huawei for the UK’s new 5G data network despite warnings of a security risk.
There is no formal confirmation but the Daily Telegraph says Huawei will build “non-core” components such as antennas.
The US wants its allies in the “Five Eyes” intelligence grouping – the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – to exclude the company.
Huawei has denied that its work poses any risks of espionage or sabotage.
But Australia has already said it is siding with Washington – which has spoken of “serious concerns over Huawei’s obligations to the Chinese government and the danger that poses to the integrity of telecommunications networks in the US and elsewhere”.
A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said it is reviewing the supply of equipment for the 5G network and will report in due course.
Digital minister Margot James responded to the reports by tweeting: “In spite of Cabinet leaks to the contrary, final decision yet to be made on managing threats to telecoms infrastructure.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, Huawei would be allowed to help build the “non-core” infrastructure of the 5G network.
This would mean Huawei would not supply equipment for what is known as the “core” parts – where tasks such as checking device IDs and deciding how to route voice calls and data take place.
Huawei, a private company which already supplies equipment for the UK’s existing mobile networks, has always denied claims it is controlled by the Chinese government.
It said it was awaiting a formal announcement, but was “pleased that the UK is continuing to take an evidence-based approach to its work”, adding it would continue to work cooperatively with the government and the industry.
Ciaran Martin, the head of the National Cyber Security Centre – which oversees Huawei’s current UK work – told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme a framework would be put in place to ensure the 5G network was “sufficiently safe”.
Asked about the potential of a conflict in the position of Five Eyes members, he added: “In the past decade there have been different approaches across the Five Eyes and across the allied wider Western alliance towards Huawei and towards other issues as well.”
What is 5G?
5G is the next (fifth) generation of mobile internet connectivity, promising much faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage and more stable connections.
The world is going mobile and existing spectrum bands are becoming congested, leading to breakdowns, particularly when many people in one area are trying to access services at the same time.
5G is also much better at handling thousands of devices simultaneously, from phones to equipment sensors, video cameras to smart street lights.
Current 4G mobile networks can offer speeds of about 45Mbps (megabits per second) on average and experts say 5G – which is starting to be rolled out in the UK this year – could achieve browsing and downloads up to 20 times faster.
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera says it is believed the decision to involve Huawei was taken by ministers at a meeting of the government’s national security council on Tuesday, chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May.
The home, defence and foreign secretaries were reported to have raised concerns during the discussions.
In a tweet, shadow Cabinet Office minister Jo Platt said using Huawei equipment would raise “serious questions” about the “government’s interests and how they will secure networks”.
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera
The decision on Huawei is one of the most significant long-term national security decisions this government will make and was always going to be contentious.
5G will underpin our daily lives in ways that are hard to predict. So does allowing a Chinese company to build those networks put people at risk of being spied on or even switched off?
That is the concern from Washington and other critics who wanted the company excluded.
But deciding to ban Huawei entirely from the network would have risked slowing down the development of 5G and also upsetting China.
The UK believes it has experience in managing the risks posed by Huawei and can continue to do so going forward.
But one retired senior intelligence official recently told me his view on what to do about Huawei had changed.
In the past, he said, he had believed the policy of managing the risk had been sufficient. But now he was less sure.
The reason was not to do with any change in his view of what the company could do. Rather it was about the risks to relationships with close allies, namely those of the Five Eyes and US.
Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat tweeted that allowing Huawei to build some of the UK’s 5G infrastructure would “cause allies to doubt our ability to keep data secure and erode the trust essential to #FiveEyes cooperation”.
Speaking on the Today programme, Mr Tugendhat said the proposals still raised concerns, as 5G involved an “internet system that can genuinely connect everything, and therefore the distinction between non-core and core is much harder to make”.
Joyce Hakmeh, a research fellow at think tank Chatham House and co-editor of the Journal of Cyber Policy, said the UK’s current mobile network needs to be transformed to the “the next level… quicker, more stable 5G”.
But she added the government would be hoping its decision on Huawei did not upset either China or the US.
Limiting – but not barring – Huawei technology from the 5G networks would be a “diplomatic way of managing a difficult situation” for the UK, said Ms Hakmeh.
Excerpt: «Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef whose restaurant chain, Jamie’s Italian, filed for a CVA last year at the time described a “perfect storm” of “rents, rates, the high street declining, food costs, Brexit [and an] increase in the minimum wage”».
Having lived in London for almost 6 years, what strikes me is not the number of retail groups that are going under.
What strikes me is the lengh time it took them to go under.
Retail shoping in London is outrageously expensive and probably the worst price vs quality relation in the World.
Retail shops pay extremely high rents, are overstaffed, and usualy sell, or try to sell,some of the more uninteresting goods in the World.
Years ago in a New Bond Street shop, of an Italian shoe maker, i asked why the exact same shoes (that were perfect for me) that i had bought one week earlier in Paris, costed 3 times more.
And the answer was:
” Here in London we dont mark items according to what they costed us. We mark them according to the price we think we can sell for”
This really explains it all…
Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira
(FT) UK store closures set to top 1,000 as use of CVAs mounts Debenhams, Paperchase and Monsoon pursue insolvency
He was global chief marketing officer at AB InBev from 2012 until July 2018, when he was replaced and given other project duties. During that time he helped increase organic sales of global brands Corona, Budweiser and Stella Artois to high single digits, according to a Kraft Heinz statement, which represented more than one-third of AB Inbev’s organic growth and 20% of its year-end global revenue last year.
“We never expected this to be so successful,” he said. “It didn’t test that well. We did that ad, actually, because of the new season of Game of Thrones coming, but when we tested, it didn’t test that well. We said, consumers will get it.”
“And especially with repetition,” he added. “We have a chance here for this to become big. So, we went against the research and we gave a chance to ‘Dilly Dilly’ and we are so happy!”
He has international branding experience
Patricio was born in Portugal, and has worked in international markets throughout his career.
At AB Inbev, he served as president of Asia Pacific from 2008 to 2012. During that time he helped Budweiser become the leading brand in China, as well as expanding local Chinese brands such as Harbin. Revenue in the Asia Pacific market grew to $2.7 billion in 2012 from $1 billion in 2008.
Asia Pacific now represents approximately 15% of the company’s global revenue and 18% of global volume.
In the Kraft announcement, Patricio said he hopes to “capitalize on the growth opportunities that exist in the rapidly evolving food industry.” He told the Wall Street Journal that some of Kraft’s brands “are a little bit dusty and we have to rejuvenate them.”
O gestor nasceu em Portugal, mas estava há vários anos no Brasil, onde adquiriu a sua formação académica e profissional. Há cerca de duas décadas na InBev, uma gigante das cervejas, Miguel Patrício era, desde 2012, o responsável máximo pelo marketing de todo o grupo, que junta marcas como a Budweiser, a Corona Extra ou a Beck’s. Agora, o executivo vai saltar para o grupo bem conhecido pelas suas embalagens de molhos.
Também na McDonald’s há um português a ocupar um lugar de topo. Jorge Ferraz assume a direção das operações da gigante cadeia de hambúrgueres, sendo responsável pelas operações de mais de 700 restaurantes dos estados de Nova Iorque, Nova Jersey e Pensilvânia.
Passando para o setor cervejeiro, outro português acumula mais de 14 anos de experiência, tendo mesmo sido considerado um dos 50 chief marketing officer mais influentes dos Estados Unidos. Nuno Teles começou na Scottish & Newcastle, seguiu para a Heineken — onde foi chief marketing officer — e é, atualmente, presidente da Diageo Beer Company, subsidiária norte-americana do grupo internacional de bebidas que detém marcas como a Guinness, Bacardi, J&B, Johnnie Walker ou Smirnoff.
Do Lloyds ao HSBC. Os portugueses espalhados pela banca
Do setor alimentar para o financeiro, é impossível não falar de António Horta Osório, que junta no seu currículo cargos em grandes empresas como Citibank, Goldman Sachs ou Grupo Santander. Por agora, o português ocupa o cargo de presidente executivo do Lloyds.
Ainda este mês, a revista Fortune (acesso livre, conteúdo em inglês) decidiu incluir na sua lista dos 50 grandes líderes mundiais, que “estão a transformar o mundo e a inspirar outros a fazerem o mesmo”, António Horta Osório. Uma das características que a revista norte-americana destacou para justificar a escolha do empresário português foi o facto de este ter assumido publicamente as dificuldades por que passou na luta contra um esgotamento.
Segundo a publicação, esta atitude “ajudou a pôr fim a um estigma numa área [a financeira] que é conhecida por levar as pessoas a atingirem o limite”. E, graças a ela, o Lloyds passou a possibilitar aos seus colaboradores seniores um conjunto de ferramentas de mindfulnesse análise psicológica. Tudo para que consigam equilibrar melhor os níveis de ansiedade.
Ainda no setor da banca, é preciso destacar, também, António Simões, que assumiu no início deste ano a liderança do negócio de banca privada global do britânico HSBC, substituindo Peter Boyles. Mas Simões já conhecia bem a casa nova. Anteriormente foi presidente executivo do banco HSBC, assumindo a liderança do grupo na Europa.
“Temos em António um indivíduo que consistentemente demonstra pensamento estratégico e a capacidade para fortalecer as relações com os clientes”, disse, na altura, o presidente executivo do grupo, John Flint, citado no comunicado do HSBC.
Temos em António [Simões] um indivíduo que consistentemente demonstra pensamento estratégico e a capacidade para fortalecer as relações com os clientes.John Flint, presidente executivo do grupo HSBC
Já Manuel Durão Barroso dá cartas como presidente não executivo do conselho de administração do Goldman Sachs International. Recorde-se que o ex-primeiro-ministro português ocupou o cargo de presidente da Comissão Europeia entre 2004 e 2014. Quanto ao seu percurso académico, Durão Barroso é licenciado em Direito pela Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de Lisboa e obteve o grau de mestre em Ciências Económicas e Sociais, pelo Instituto Europeu da Universidade de Genebra.
Nos automóveis, no combustível e nas telecomunicações
O grupo PSA tem um rosto e é de um português: Carlos Tavares, CEO do grupo automóvel francês. O seu nome é frequentemente apontado como sinónimo de sucesso, uma vez que, desde que chegou à PSA, o gestor português tornou a deficitária empresa gaulesa num construtor automóvel de sucesso, com as vendas a disparar.Miguel Patrício vai assumir a liderança da Kraft Heinz Ler Mais
Já na Repsol, é António Calçada de Sá quem dá cartas. O português ocupa o cargo de diretor executivo no grupo Repsol e administrador delegado da Repsol Comercial desde o início de 2014, conduzindo um negócio global de 25 mil milhões de euros, uma organização de 8.000 pessoas e 4.000 estações de serviço presentes em quatro países (Espanha, Portugal, Itália e Perú).
Seguindo para o mundo das telecomunicações, também o CEO da Vodafone Espanha é português. Chama-se António Coimbra e assumiu o cargo no dia 1 de janeiro deste ano, passando a acumular a função de presidente com a de administrador-delegado, cargo que já ocupava. O português entrou em cena como protagonista após a saída do ex-presidente da divisão espanhola do gigante de telecomunicações, Francisco Román.
Mas também na área académica há portugueses que dão nas vistas lá fora. É o caso do investigador Ricardo Reis, que é professor no departamento de economia da London School Economics. No seu currículo constam experiências como professor auxiliar na Universidade de Princeton, em Nova Jérsia, e professor catedrático na Universidade de Columbia, em Nova Iorque, sendo um dos mais novos a alcançar este grau na história da universidade, “saltando” mais de dez anos no que é o percurso normal de um professor universitário nos Estados Unidos.
About 24 hours ahead of Tesla’s coming “Investor Day” and just moments after we broke the news that Tesla had been granted a restraining order on a short seller who has been critical of the company on Twitter, stunning video has surfaced of a Tesla catching fire and exploding, while parked.
It did not appear that anyone was in the vehicle at the time of the explosion.
A self proclaimed Tesla owner in Shanghai that Tweets under the name @ShanghaiJayIn posted video on his Twitter moments ago of what appears to be a Tesla Model S, 1st generation, catching fire spontaneously in a Chinese parking garage.
The video shows what appears to be security footage of a white Tesla that starts with smoke pouring out of the bottom of it. As people can be heard in the background talking in Mandarin, the car simply appears to spontaneously combust.
Before the video is written off as big oil conspiracy FUD, we should note that the Twitter user also has his own YouTube channel, which appears to mostly be positive content toward the brand.
The same user went on to post video of what appears to be the aftermath of the fire:
Anyone who, like me, joined Facebook a decade or more ago, probably clicked “yes” when invited to upload all of their contacts.
It seemed a good way of making the network more useful and, after all, what could be the harm? But after the various data scandals shattered trust in Facebook, we’ve become far more cautious.
We’ve woken up to the harms that could come from handing over that precious information about our social connections – for journalists it could mean revealing their contacts, for whistleblowers their dealings with regulators, for just about anyone their contacts with people they might not want their partners to know about.
Now we know that Facebook somehow scraped up the email contacts of 1.5 million people over a three year period without their agreement. Now every time the social network suggests “people you may know”, we will wonder “How do you know that I may know them?”
To many, the idea that they should trust Facebook with their data seems more old-fashioned by the day.
The ongoing breaches and other criticisms of Facebook are also prompting some high-profile users to bow out. The latest is Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who said she had “quit” the social network.
In an interview with a Yahoo News podcast she said: “I personally gave up Facebook, which was kind of a big deal because I started my campaign on Facebook.”
She added that social media posed a “public health risk”.
(NBC) Facebook’s leaders seriously discussed selling access to user data — and privacy was an afterthought.
Leaked internal Facebook documents show that the plans to sell access to user data were discussed for years and received support from Facebook’s most senior executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Doug Chayka for NBC News / for NBC NewsApril 16, 2019, 9:30 AM GMT+1By Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data, according to about 4,000 pages of leaked company documents largely spanning 2011 to 2015 and obtained by NBC News.
The documents, which include emails, webchats, presentations, spreadsheets and meeting summaries, show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook’s trove of user data — including information about friends, relationships and photos — as leverage over companies it partnered with.
In some cases, Facebook would reward favored companies by giving them access to the data of its users. In other cases, it would deny user-data access to rival companies or apps.
For example, Facebook gave Amazon extended access to user data because it was spending money on Facebook advertising and partnering with the social network on the launch of its Fire smartphone. In another case, Facebook discussed cutting off access to user data for a messaging app that had grown too popular and was viewed as a competitor, according to the documents.
All the while, Facebook was formulating a strategy to publicly frame these moves as a way of protecting user privacy.
Private communication between users is “increasingly important,” Zuckerberg said in a 2014 New York Times interview. “Anything we can do that makes people feel more comfortable is really good.”
But the documents show that behind the scenes, in contrast with Facebook’s public statements, the company came up with several ways to require third-party applications to compensate Facebook for access to its users’ data, including direct payment, advertising spending and data-sharing arrangements. While it’s not unusual for businesses that are working together to share information about their customers, Facebook has access to sensitive data that many other companies don’t possess.
Facebook ultimately decided not to sell the data directly but rather to dole it out to app developers who were considered personal “friends” of Zuckerberg or who spent money on Facebook and shared their own valuable data, the documents show.
Facebook denied that it gave preferential treatment to developers or partners because of their ad spending or relationship with executives. The company has not been accused of breaking the law.
About 400 of the 4,000 pages of documents have previouslybeenreported by other media outlets, and also by a member of the British Parliament who has been investigating Facebook’s data privacy practices in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, this cache represents the clearest and most comprehensive picture of Facebook’s activities during a critical period as the company struggled to adapt to the rise of smartphones following its rocky debut as a public company.
The thousands of newly shared documents were anonymously leaked to the British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, who shared them with a handful of media organizations: NBC News, Computer Weekly and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Campbell, a founding member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, is a computer forensics expert who has worked on international investigations including on offshore banking and big tobacco. The documents appear to be the same ones obtained by Parliament in late 2018 as part of an investigation into Facebook. Facebook did not question the authenticity of the documents NBC News obtained.
The documents stem from a California court case between the social network and the little-known startup Six4Three, which sued Facebook in 2015 after the company announced plans to cut off access to some types of user data. Six4Three’s app, Pikinis, which soft-launched in 2013, relied on that data to allow users to easily find photos of their friends in bathing suits.
Facebook has acknowledged that it considered charging for access to user data. But Facebook has challenged the significance of those discussions, telling the Wall Street Journal last year and NBC News this month that the company was merely mulling various business models.
Facebook has also repeatedly said that the documents had been “cherry-picked” and were misleading. Facebook reiterated this stance when NBC News contacted the social media company for comment on the newly leaked documents.
“As we’ve said many times, Six4Three — creators of the Pikinis app — cherry picked these documents from years ago as part of a lawsuit to force Facebook to share information on friends of the app’s users,” Paul Grewal, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, said in a statement released by the company.
“The set of documents, by design, tells only one side of the story and omits important context. We still stand by the platform changes we made in 2014/2015 to prevent people from sharing their friends’ information with developers like the creators of Pikinis. The documents were selectively leaked as part of what the court found was evidence of a crime or fraud to publish some, but not all, of the internal discussions at Facebook at the time of our platform changes. But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.”
NBC News has not been able to determine whether the documents represent a complete picture. Facebook declined to provide additional evidence to support the claim of cherry-picking.
Still, these freshly leaked documents show that the plans to sell access to user data were discussed for years and received support from Facebook’s most senior executives, including Zuckerberg, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, chief product officer Chris Cox and VP of growth Javier Olivan. Facebook declined to make them available for comment.
After NBC News contacted Facebook for comment, Facebook’s lawyers wrote to the judge in the Six4Three case, claiming that Six4Three had leaked the documents to a “national broadcast network” and seeking to depose the company’s founders. NBC News received the documents from Campbell, who received them from an anonymous source. Six4Three denied leaking the documents.
When Facebook ultimately cut off broad access to user data in 2015, the move contributed to the decline of thousands of competitors and small businesses that relied on what Facebook had previously described as a “level-playing field” in terms of access to data. In addition to Pikinis, the casualties included Lulu, an app that let women rate the men they dated; an identity fraud-detecting app called Beehive ID; and Swedish breast cancer awareness app Rosa Bandet (Pink Ribbon).
The strategy orchestrated by Zuckerberg had some of his employees comparing the company to villains from Game of Thrones, while David Poll, a senior engineer, called the treatment of outside app developers “sort of unethical,” according to the documents. But Zuckerberg’s approach also earned admiration: Doug Purdy, Facebook’s director of product, described the CEO as a “master of leverage,” according to the documents.
Facebook declined to comment on these employee communications.
A PRIVACY MYTH
One of the most striking threads to emerge from the documents is the way that Facebook user data was horse-traded to squeeze money or shared data from app developers.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in early 2018 and rising awareness of the Six4Three case, Facebook has attempted to frame changes it made to its platform in 2014 and 2015 as being driven by concerns over user privacy. In statements to media organizations, Facebook has said it locked down its platform to protect users from companies that mishandled user data, such as Cambridge Analytica, as well as apps that spammed users’ news feeds or were creepy, such as Six4Three’s bikini-spotting app Pikinis.
However, among the documents leaked, there’s very little evidence that privacy was a major concern of Facebook’s, and the issue was rarely discussed in the thousands of pages of emails and meeting summaries. Where privacy is mentioned, it is often in the context of how Facebook can use it as a public relations strategy to soften the blow of the sweeping changes to developers’ access to user data. The documents include several examples suggesting that these changes were designed to cement Facebook’s power in the marketplace, not to protect users.
In Six4Three’s case, for example, Facebook’s head of policy Allison Hendrix acknowledged in a June 2017 deposition obtained by NBC News that the social network never received any complaints about the Pikinis app, nor did Facebook send Six4Three any policy or privacy violation notices. Six4Three, Hendrix confirmed, was playing within the rules Facebook had set for developers.
Despite this, Six4Three’s access to data, specifically access to a user’s friends’ photos, was cut off in April 2015 as part of sweeping changes to Facebook’s platform announced a year earlier, which affected as many as 40,000 apps. Six4Three shut down the app soon afterward.
“Our case is about Zuckerberg’s decision to weaponize the reliance of companies on his purportedly neutral platform and to weaponize the private and sensitive data of billions of people,” said Six4Three founder Ted Kramer.
A TURNING POINT FOR FACEBOOK
Facebook recognized early on that working with third-party app developers could help make the social network more interesting and drive the platform’s expansion. Beginning in early 2010, Facebook created tools that allowed the makers of games (remember Farmville?) and other apps to connect with its audience in return for ensuring those users spent more time on Facebook.
Facebook achieved this through its “Graph API” (Application Programming Interface), a common means to allow software programs to interact with each other. In Facebook’s case, this meant that third-party apps such as games could post updates on people’s profiles, which would be seen by players’ friends and potentially encourage them to play, too. Beyond that, it allowed the makers of those games to access a slew of data from Facebook users, including their connections to friends, likes, locations, updates, photos and more.
The Graph API — and particularly the way it let third parties promote their products to and extract data from a user’s social connections — was a key feature of Facebook that Six4Three and thousands of other companies relied upon for viral marketing and user growth.
However, after a few years, Facebook decided the app developers were getting more value from the user data they extracted from Facebook than Facebook was getting out of the app developers, the documents show.
After Facebook went public in May 2012, its stock price plummeted, which Zuckerberg later characterized as “disappointing.” The company was in a desperate position, documents show, with users sharing fewer photos and posts on the platform as they spent more time on their cellphones. An internal Facebook presentation looking back at this period used the phrase “terminal decline” to describe the fall in engagement.
Facebook executives, including Zuckerberg and Sandberg, spent months brainstorming ways to turn the company around. An idea that they kept returning to: make money from the app partners, by charging them for access to Facebook’s users and their data.
‘SELL DATA FOR $”
Several proposals for charging developers for access to Facebook’s platform and data were put forward in a presentation to the company’s board of directors, according to emails and draft slides from late August 2012.
Among the suggestions: a fixed annual fee for developers for reviewing their apps; an access fee for apps that requested user data; and a charge for “premium” access to data, such as a user trust score or a ranking of the strongest relationships between users and their friends.
“Today the fundamental trade is ‘data for distribution’ whereas we want to change it to either ‘data for $’ and/or ‘$ for distribution,’” Chris Daniels, a Facebook business development director, wrote in an August 2012 email to other top leaders in the company discussing the upcoming presentation.
Discussions continued through October, when Zuckerberg explained to close friend Sam Lessin the importance of controlling third-party apps’ ability to access Facebook’s data and reach people’s friends on the platform. Without that leverage, “I don’t think we have any way to get developers to pay us at all,” Zuckerberg wrote in an email to Lessin.
In the same week, Zuckerberg floated the idea of pursuing 100 deals with developers “as a path to figuring out the real market value” of Facebook user data and then “setting a public rate” for developers.
“The goal here wouldn’t be the deals themselves, but that through the process of negotiating with them we’d learn what developers would actually pay (which might be different from what they’d say if we just asked them about the value), and then we’d be better informed on our path to set a public rate,” Zuckerberg wrote in a chat.
Facebook told NBC News that it was exploring ways to build a sustainable business, but ultimately decided not to go forward with these plans.
“I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.”
Zuckerberg was unfazed by the potential privacy risks associated with Facebook’s data-sharing arrangements.
“I’m generally skeptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think,” he wrote in the email to Lessin. “I think we leak info to developers but I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.”
Facebook told NBC News that this was an example of a cherry-picked email designed to bolster Six4Three’s case.
Zuckerberg didn’t know it at the time, but a privacy bug affecting an unnamed third-party app would create precisely this kind of strategic risk the following year, according to a panicked chatlog between Michael Vernal, who was director of engineering, and other senior employees.
It’s not clear exactly what happened or which app was involved, but it appears that Zuckerberg’s private communications could have leaked from Facebook to the external app in an unexpected way.
Vernal said that it “could have been near-fatal for Facebook platform” if “Mark had accidentally disclosed earnings ahead of time because a platform app violated his privacy.”
“Holy crap,” replied Avichal Garg, then director of product management.
“DO NOT REPEAT THIS STORY OFF OF THIS THREAD,” added Vernal. “I can’t tell you how terrible this would have been for all of us had this not been caught quickly.”
Vernal and Garg did not respond to requests for comment.
‘GOOD FOR THE WORLD’ BUT NOT ‘GOOD FOR US’
In late November 2012, Zuckerberg sent a long email to Facebook’s senior leadership team saying that Facebook shouldn’t charge developers for access to basic data feeds. However, he said that access to Facebook data should be contingent on the developers sharing all of the “social content” generated by their apps back to Facebook, something Zuckerberg calls “full reciprocity.”
The existing arrangement, where developers weren’t required to share their data back with Facebook, might be “good for the world” but it’s not “good for us,” Zuckerberg wrote in the email.
He noted that though Facebook could charge developers to access user data, the company stood to benefit more from requiring developers to compensate Facebook in kind — with their own data — and by pushing those developers to pay for advertising on Facebook’s platform.
The endgame: to ensure Facebook maintained its dominant position in the market.
“The purpose of the platform is to tie the universe of all the social apps together so we can enable a lot more sharing and still remain the central social hub,” Zuckerberg said in the email.
Facebook told NBC News that the focus of “full reciprocity” was to enable users to share their experiences within external apps with their friends on Facebook, not about providing Facebook with user data.
With Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook set, the company began making deals with some of its most valued partners, including dozens of app developer friends of Zuckerberg and Sandberg. Facebook whitelisted their access to feeds of user data while restricting that same access to apps that Facebook viewed as competitors.
These data access deals prepared key partners, including Tinder, Sony and Microsoft, for sweeping changes to the Facebook platform that the company planned to announce at its annual developer conference in April 2014 and enforce within a year.
In one instance, described in June 2013 documents, Amazon received special treatment for the launch of a group gifting product, despite the fact that it competed with one of Facebook’s own products.
“Remind me, why did we allow them to do this? Do we receive any cut of purchases?” Chris Daniels, then Facebook’s director of business development, asked in an email.
“No, but Amazon is an advertiser and supporting this with advertisement … and working with us on deeper integrations for the Fire,” Amazon’s smartphone, replied Jackie Chang, who worked with Facebook’s “strategic partners.”
Apps that were not considered “strategic partners” got different treatment. In a March 2013 discussion, Justin Osofsky, then director of platform partnerships, described restricting the MessageMe app from accessing Facebook data because it had grown too popular and could compete with Facebook messages. He asked colleagues to see if any other messenger apps have “hit the growth team’s radar recently.”
“If so, we’d like to restrict them at the same time to group this into one press cycle,” he wrote in an email.
‘IT’S SORT OF UNETHICAL’
Deal negotiations created confusion among partners who had grown accustomed to unfettered access to Facebook user data.
“We gave a bunch of stuff ‘for free’ historically (data, distribution) and now we’re making you ‘pay’ for it via reciprocal value,” Vernal, director of engineering, wrote in an email in June 2013. He added, “The confusing thing here is that we haven’t really announced these changes publicly/broadly yet.”
Some Facebook employees were unhappy about this direction, particularly the way the company appeared to be blocking competitors from accessing data.
Here’s an extract from a December 2013 chatlog between several senior engineers talking about the changes:
Bryan Klimt: “So we are literally going to group apps into buckets based on how scared we are of them and give them different APIs? … So the message is, ‘if you’re going to compete with us at all, make sure you don’t integrate with us at all’? I’m just dumbfounded.”
Kevin Lacker: “Yeah this is complicated.”
David Poll: “More than complicated, it’s sort of unethical.”
Lacker and Poll declined to comment. Vernal and Klimt did not respond to requests for comment.
Facebook declined to comment on the employee exchanges.
THE PR SPIN
When it came to publicly announcing the sweeping changes at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in April 2014, members of the communications team worked with Zuckerberg to craft a narrative around user trust, not competition or profitability.
In a March 2014 email discussing Zuckerberg’s keynote speech at the event, where he was due to announce the removal of developers’ access to friends’ data, Jonny Thaw, a director of communications, wrote that it “may be a tough message for some developers as it may inhibit their growth.”
“So one idea that came up today was potentially talking in the keynote about some of the trust changes we’re making on Facebook itself. So the message would be: ‘trust is really important to us — on Facebook, we’re doing A, B and C to help people control and understand what they’re sharing — and with platform apps we’re doing D, E and F.’”
If that doesn’t work, he added, “we could announce some of Facebook’s trust initiatives in the run up to F8” to make the changes for developers “seem more natural.”
Facebook told NBC News that it was “completely reasonable” for someone on the communications team to discuss the best way to get the message out on changes to the platform.
User trust was crucial when Zuckerberg delivered his speech at the event on April 30, 2014.
“Over the years, one of the things we’ve heard over and over again is that people want more control over how they share their information, especially with apps, and they want more say and control over how apps use their data,” he told the audience of journalists and developers. “And we take this really seriously because if people don’t have the tools they need to feel comfortable using your apps, that’s bad for them and that’s bad for you.”
But despite Facebook’s public focus on privacy, staff member emails described confusion over the way third-party apps could override users’ privacy settings.
Even if users locked down their account so that their photos and other data were visible to “only me,” those photos could still be transferred to third parties, according to the documents.
In April 2015, Connie Yang, a product designer, told her colleagues that she’d discovered apps collecting profile data she had marked as “only me” and displaying it to “both you and *other people* using that app.”
“While ‘whoa how did you start working at Casterly Rock’ is a fun opener,” she wrote, referring to the ancestral stronghold of the most fearsome family in “Game of Thrones,” “isn’t this directly violating what we tell users is ‘only me’?”
Yang did not respond to requests for comment.
Facebook said this was another example of cherry-picked emails.
THE DOCUMENTS’ LEGACY
Even though Facebook eventually decided not to charge developers directly for access to user data, the extensive discussions around its monetary value, shown in the leaked documents, could create lasting problems for the company, privacy and policy experts say.
The biggest threat Facebook faces now is not competition but antitrust regulation, which is designed to promote fair competition among companies for the benefit of consumers, using fines or restrictions on mergers and acquisitions.
Regulators have typically struggled to build robust antitrust cases against technology companies that offer services to users for free. If the product is free, then it’s harder to argue that the consumer is being harmed by a monopoly.
But if regulators can show that users were paying for access to Facebook with their personal data, and that Facebook valued that data as leverage against competitors, that could expose Facebook to an antitrust complaint, said Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, a trade association representing digital publishers.
“These emails clearly establish the value of consumer data to Facebook,” Kint said. “It shows that it is not free.”
Facebook said that the service has always been free for users and developers.
In February, the Federal Trade Commission announced a task force to monitor anti-competitive behavior in the tech industry to, in the words of FTC chair Joseph Simons, “ensure consumers benefit from free and fair competition.”
Policymakers have called for the FTC to investigate Facebook specifically for violating antitrust laws.
The company “appears to have used its dominance to cripple other competitive threats by cutting them off from its massive network,” Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, wrote in a New York Times op-ed last month.
Facebook appears to be preparing for the inevitable, with Zuckerberg writing his own op-ed in The Washington Post in March calling for regulation in areas including harmful content and election integrity, but not antitrust. Facebook watchers saw this show of willingness as an attempt by Zuckerberg to curry favor with policymakers at a time when many are baying for the company’s blood.
Ashkan Soltani, a privacy expert and former FTC chief technologist, said that Zuckerberg is approaching the looming threat of regulation with “bravado” and trying to “leverage things for his benefit.”
Meanwhile, David Carroll, a professor at the New School, who pursued legal claims in the U.K. in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, says Zuckerberg is “bracing for impact.”
“When the penalty hits they can be like, ‘Yeah, we agree, we deserve this fine.’ It positions them to be conciliatory,” Carroll said.
O Brasil foi responsável pela maioria da produção (102,1 mil barris), com Angola a produzir 8,7 mil barris.
A Galp produziu mais 8% de petróleo e gás natural no primeiro trimestre de 2019 face a período homólogo para um total de 110,8 mil barris.
O Brasil foi responsável pela maioria da produção (102,1 mil barris), com Angola a produzir 8,7 mil barris. A grande maioria da produção da Galp corresponde a petróleo (99,5 mil barris), pesando 88,3% da produção total.
Já no segmento “gas and power”, as vendas totais de gás natural/gás natural liquefeito mantiveram-se estáveis nos 1.971 mil milhões de metros cúbicos, com as vendas a clientes diretos a recuar 6% para os 1.157 mil milhões de metros cúblicos.
No segmento refinação e distribuição, a Galp produziu menos 10% de matérias primas processadas, com a venda de produtos refinados a cair 11%. A margem de refinação recuou 30% para os 2,3 dólares por barril.
A Galp vai divulgar os seus resultados financeiros do primeiro trimestre de 2019 no dia 29 de abril, antes da abertura do mercado.
Germany has no plans to stop Chinese telecom giant Huawei from participating in the build up of ultra-high speed internet, known as 5G, in the country if it complies with security requirements.
Jochen Homann, president of the country’s telecommunications regulator, told the FT newspaper that no equipment suppliers, including Huawei, “should, or may, be specifically excluded.”
Homann told the FT that his agency has yet to see evidence that Huawei poses a security risk.
One of Huawei’s booths at MWC Barcelona 2019.Elizabeth Schulze | CNBC
Germany has no plans to stop Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from participating in build up of ultra-high speed internet, known as 5G, in the country if it complies with all the security requirements, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
The president of the Bundesnetzagentur, the country’s telecommunications regulator, told the FT that no equipment suppliers, including Huawei, “should, or may, be specifically excluded.”
Jochen Homann told the newspaper that his agency has yet to see evidence that Huawei poses a security risk. He added that if Huawei meets the security requirements imposed by the regulator, it can take part in the 5G network roll-out.
Huawei is up against mounting worries that its technology will enable Chinese espionage through those high-speed mobile networks. The United States banned Huawei from selling 5G networking equipment to U.S. firms. Other countries have followed suit, including Australia, Japan and New Zealand. Huawei claims the security concerns are unfounded.
In an interview with CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal on Saturday, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei said his company will comply with European cybersecurity standards and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws that govern the European Union.
“Germany proposed the establishment of a unified global convention that would bar all equipment vendors from installing backdoors, and require them to sign a no-spy agreement,” he said, referring to a potential “no spy” deal between Berlin and Beijing.WATCH NOWVIDEO01:13Huawei CEO: We support Germany’s proposed ‘no-spy agreement’
In 5G networks, the emphasis is more on software instead of hardware. That means an equipment maker may be able to install lines of code, called “backdoors,” that let it access what’s going on inside the network — such as monitoring data transfers, tracking locations of cell phone users, or eavesdropping on conversations.
“We endorse unified global standards that make installing backdoors a crime … we want to sign such an agreement because we think it’s the right thing to do,” Ren said.
Ren added that Huawei will invest more than $100 billion in research and development over the next five years: “We will build the simplest networks, ensure cyber security, and protect user privacy.”
Boeing Co‘s legal troubles grew on Tuesday as a new lawsuit accused the company of defrauding shareholders by concealing safety deficiencies in its 737 MAX planes before two fatal crashes led to their worldwide grounding.
The proposed class action filed in Chicago federal court seeks damages for alleged securities fraud violations, after Boeing’s market value tumbled by $34 billion within two weeks of the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX.
Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg and Chief Financial Officer Gregory Smith were also named as defendants.
Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers had no immediate comment.
According to the complaint, Boeing “effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty” by rushing the 737 MAX to market to compete with Airbus SE , while leaving out “extra” or “optional” features designed to prevent the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.
It also said Boeing’s statements about its growth prospects and the 737 MAX were undermined by its alleged conflict of interest from retaining broad authority from federal regulators to assess the plane’s safety.
WATCH: Boeing faces inquiries, lawsuits amid probes into deadly crashes
Richard Seeks, the lead plaintiff, said Boeing’s compromises began to emerge after the Ethiopian Airlines crash killed all 157 onboard, five months after the Lion Air crash killed 189.
Seeks said he bought 300 Boeing shares in early March, and sold them at a loss within the last two weeks. The lawsuit seeks damages for Boeing stock investors from Jan. 8 to March 21.
Shareholders often file lawsuits accusing companies of securities fraud for concealing material negative information that causes the stock price to decline upon becoming public.
O CEO da Amazon mostra-se confortável com as experiências de negócio que possam correr mal – e levar a grandes perdas. Ao mesmo tempo, desafia os concorrentes a aumentarem o salário mínimo dos trabalhadores.
O CEO da Amazon, Jeff Bezos alertou os acionistas, na carta anual que lhes dirige: a Amazon vai ter “falhanços ocasionais de vários milhares de milhões”, decorrentes de ideias de negócio mal-sucedidas.
Na mesma missiva, citada pela CNBC, o CEO da retalhista online defende este tipo de perdas como aceitáveis tendo em conta a dimensão da empresa. “A Amazon irá experimentar à escala certa para uma companhia do nosso tamanho, no caso de termos falhanços de vários milhares de milhões de dólares”, escreveu Bezos.
O CEO da empresa norte-americana garante que vai “trabalhar arduamente para fazer boas apostas”, embora “nem todas as boas apostas acabem por resultar”.
Passando aos exemplos práticos, Bezos relembrou o Amazon Fire, um smartphone que foi descontinuado em 2015 e que custou à empresa 170 milhões de dólares. “Fomos capazes de tirar lições e acelerar os nossos esforços na construção do Echo e da Alexa”, argumentou o CEO, apontando dois daqueles que são atualmente produtos bandeira da Amazon.
A concorrência chega aos salários
O CEO da Amazon aproveita a carta para deixar um outro recado, dirigido aos concorrentes. Desafia-os a pagarem 15 euros à hora aos respetivos trabalhadores, igualando o nível da Amazon, para logo a seguir levantar a fasquia: “Melhor ainda, vão até aos 16 dólares e devolvam-nos o desafio. É o tipo de competição que vai beneficiar-nos a todos”, disse.
A carta, que é dirigida aos acionistas desde 1997, contém geralmente pistas acerca da estratégia da empresa. Este ano, o foco da missiva esteve no crescimento nas vendas através de terceiros. A Amazon planeia ainda aumentar a abrangência das suas atividades a outros setores como a robótica, os seguros ou a saúde – nos quais se poderão verificar os tais falhanços para os quais Jeff Bezos alertou.
PARIS (Reuters) – Shares of Boeing Co fell 5 percent on Monday after the company said it would cut production of its 737 MAX aircraft, as it struggles with worldwide grounding of the narrowbody jet following two fatal crashes in less than five months.
The production cut also weighed on shares of Boeing’s suppliers across the globe. Spirit AeroSystems was 7 percent lower, while Triumph Group dropped 6 percent. European suppliers such as Meggitt, Melrose and Safran fell between 0.4 percent and 2 percent.
The crash in Ethiopia last month and the crash of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia in October that killed all on board have left the world’s largest planemaker facing the worst crisis in its history, with several airlines deciding to hold off taking deliveries.
On Friday, the company cut its monthly 737 production by nearly 20 percent, signaling it did not expect aviation authorities to allow the plane back in the air anytime soon.
“The 737 rate cut to 42/month should help resolve the MAX crisis but with a large 2019 cash hit,” brokerage Cowen wrote in a note on Monday.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts cut Boeing’s rating to “neutral” from “buy” on Monday, saying the 737 delay could last longer than previously expected and estimated 6 to 9 months of disruption versus 3 to 6 months forecast previously.
“We now assume the MAX grounding will last at least until July 2019 in a best-case scenario … the move to 42/month on the 737 indicates to us greater uncertainty on the near- and longer-term outlook for the program and the stock,” Canaccord Genuity analyst Ken Herbert said in a note.
Including Monday’s losses, the grounding has so far wiped off about $26 billion from Boeing’s market value, making it one of the worst performers on the Dow this year.
By pooling their vehicles, the Italian carmaker will be able to report a lower average emission figure.
Tesla has not confirmed the deal. It is not clear how much it is worth.
However the Financial Times reported the deal was worth hundreds of millions of euros.
New, tougher rules come into force next year in the European Union, imposing an average emissions limit of 95g per kilometre.
To meet that target, carmakers can pool the models within their own companies to come up with an average emissions figure, for example between Peugeot, Citroen and Opel vehicles, which are all made by PSA Group. But firms are also permitted to form so-called open pools, with other carmakers.
FCA applied to form an emissions pool with electric vehicle maker Tesla in February, the first carmaker to take up the option of an open pool.
According to the Financial Times, FCA said it was committed to reducing the emissions from its cars but said the pooling arrangement “provides flexibility to deliver products our customers are willing to buy while managing compliance with the lowest cost approach.”
Last year FCA, which has been lagging behind rivals in the manufacture of electric vehicles, said it planned to spend €9bn (£7.75bn; $10.1bn) over four years to develop electric cars which complied with global emissions standards.
Tesla, which makes electric vehicles, made over $1bn over the last three years selling emissions credits to other manufacturers in the United States.
Ms Bezos is a successful novelist who has written two books, The Testing of Luther Albright and Traps. She was taught by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison at Princeton University, who once said of her pupil that she was “one of the best students I’ve ever had in my creative-writing classes… really one of the best”.
Mr Bezos is reportedly in a relationship with former Fox TV host Lauren Sánchez.
After Mr Bezos and his wife announced in January that they would part, a US tabloid magazine published details, including private messages, of an extramarital affair with Ms Sánchez.
Mr Bezos has accused the publisher of the magazine, American Media Incorporated, of blackmail. The publisher denies the claim.
The divorce deal dwarfs a previous $3.8bn record set in 1999 by art dealer Alec Wildenstein and his wife Jocelyn, who became well-known for her cosmetic surgery.
O Relatório perliminar do acidente com o Boeing das linhas aéreas Etíopes arrasa a Boeing. Sem apelo nem agravo. Os pilotos fizeram tudo conforme os manuais, e inclusivé fizeram os procedimentos introdhzidos pela Boeing depois do acidente com o mesmo avião de uma companhia aérea da Indonésia. E mesmo assim perderam irremedialvelmente o controlo do avião. Como fenho uma licença de Piloto Particular de Aviões ( monomotores, sujeito a provas reduzidas) sei bem o que é se perder o contrôle de um acião, num monomotor, quanto mais num avião a jacto enorme Sempre me pareceu que estavamos perante um defeito de fabrico que punha em causa a credibilidade da Boeing depois do caso dos incêndios nos chamados “aviões de plastico”. Há dezenas de biliões de dolares de encomendas canceladas. E não há mais porque a Airbus não tem capacidade de resposta perante um eventual aumento brutal da procura. Se não tivesse produção de aviões militares eu diria que a sobrevivência da Boeing poderia estar em causa. Mas como tem entendo que não. Mas nunca se sabe. Diz o Povo na sua infindável sabedoria que uma desgraça nunca vem só. Ou seja, mais um caso como este e na minha opinião a Boeing não sobrevive como constructor de aviões para a Aviação Civil.
Durante o tempo em que estiveram no ar, os pilotos do Boeing 737 MAX 8 tentaram recuperar o controlo e puxar o nariz do avião para cima. Mas o sistema automático continuou a forçar a descida.Partilhe
70 segundos. Foi este o tempo após a descolagem que um dos sensores do Boeing 737 MAX 8 utilizado pela Ethiopian Airlines demorou a enviar informações erradas ao sistema do avião que, minutos depois, acabou por se despenhar na Etiópia, matando 157 pessoas. Esta foi uma das conclusões do relatório preliminar apresentado esta quinta-feira, que revelou que o acidente terá sido causado pelo sistema automático de compensação do avião, o MCAS.
Durante os seis minutos em que estiveram no ar, os dois pilotos lutaram contra este sistema automático e aplicaram todos os procedimentos recomendados pela Boeing para voltar a ter o controlo do sistema. Juntos, tentaram “puxar” o nariz do avião para cima, uma vez que os valores enviados pelos sensores estavam a fazer com que o nariz do avião fosse baixando gradualmente. Os pilotos tentaram recuperar o controlo quatro vezes, mas nas quatro tentativas a aeronave voltou a baixar. “Puxa para cima”, gritou um dos pilotos três vezes. Mas, a força descendente do avião era tal, que não conseguiram recuperar o controlo, conta a CNN, que teve acesso ao relatório preliminar.
Apesar de o relatório não abordar especificamente o sistema MCAS, que é ativado de forma automática e aplica um estabilizador horizontal quando a aeronave entra em situação de queda ou perda de sustentação, a desconfiança levantada por todos os resultados obtidos indicam um problema com este sistema. Caso se venha a confirmar este motivo, terá sido o mesmo problema do Boeing 737 MAX 8 da Lion Air que em outubro do ano passado se despenhou na Indonésia, provocando 189 vítimas mortais.
No mês passado, o diretor executivo da Ethiopian Airlines revelou ao Wall Street Journal que um dos pilotos reportou à torre de controlo minutos antes do avião cair que estava a ter problemas no sistema de controlo. O piloto “reportou aos controladores de tráfego aéreo que estava ter problemas no controlo do voo”, explicou Tewolde GebreMariam. Depois de reportar esses problemas, os dois pilotos tiveram autorização para regressar ao aeroporto.
Este foi o segundo acidente com um Boeing 737 MAX 8 num espaço de cinco meses. O facto de ter acontecido com o mesmo modelo de avião da Beoing fez com que várias companhias aéreas de todo o mundo temessem a segurança destes aparelhos e, por isso, suspendessem os voos com este aparelho.
New research shows that Facebook’s ad-distribution software is disturbingly biased
Business and finance
Apr 4th 2019
ON MARCH 28th the American government sued Facebook for allowing advertisers to exclude whole categories of people from seeing ads for housing—couples with children, non-Americans, non-Christians, disabled people, Hispanics, and so on. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said this violated the Fair Housing Act, which bans discrimination against certain “protected” groups.Get our daily newsletter
Upgrade your inbox and get our Daily Dispatch and Editor’s Picks.
Facebook has tried to clean up its act, shutting down tools which allowed advertisers to aim at Facebook users based on age, gender, and zip code. HUD is seeking “appropriate relief” for Facebook’s past actions nonetheless. HUD’s lawsuit also accused Facebook itself of discrimination against minorities through the algorithms it uses to run its advertising business. These are the same ones that Facebook uses to maximise click-throughs and views, and therefore revenue.
A paper published on April 3rd by researchers from Northeastern University in Boston, the University of Southern California and Upturn, a Washington-based advocacy group, appears to add weight to HUD’s claim.The research team, which is led by two computer scientists, Muhammad Ali and Piotr Sapiezynski of Northeastern, concludes that Facebook’s own systems are influenced by the race and gender of its users when it presents them with ads. The research has not yet been through a peer-review process, but The Economist asked six experts in the field to comment on the paper’s results. All six said that it appeared sound.
Mssrs Sapiezynski and Ali tested Facebook’s systems by paying for advertisements and observing to whom they were delivered. They provided hundreds of pairs of ads, each of which was identical in all but one characteristic. They found that, for instance, an ad with the same image was delivered to fewer black people if it claimed to refer to a property for sale rather than one for rent.
They also show that the race of people depicted in images affected which groups were more likely to see the ads. An ad for cheap houses for sale, which depicted white families, was delivered to an audience that was 85% white. An identical ad that contained pictures of black families was served to an audience comprising around 73% white users. This suggests that fewer black people saw ads for cheap or affordable housing when those ads used pictures of white people.
The researchers also found a disparity based on gender: jobs for supermarket attendants and janitors tended to be delivered to women, whereas ads for lumberjacks were more likely to be delivered to men.
“Even a well-meaning advertiser might end up reaching a mostly white and/or mostly male audience,” said Mr Sapiezynski, summing up his research. “That’s because Facebook’s opaque algorithms, trained on historically biased data, predict that those people will be most interested.”
The research offers compelling evidence that Facebook is using “machine vision”, whereby powerful computers scan images and recognise what they depict. This is something that has long been assumed but never proven. The researchers established the use of machine vision by changing the transparency of the images they used in their ads, so that they were visible to machines but not to humans. Otherwise identical ads with different pictures of black and white families were still routed to different groups of people.
Advertising relies to a large extent on trying to reach particular groups of people. Sellers of luxury watches want to sell to rich people, for instance, who are more likely to be white than black. But the ability of algorithms to reach the intended audience by sifting vast amounts of personal data is causing growing dismay. This is especially true of Facebook because of its scale relative to traditional media. Moreover, its advertising systems are too complex to be understood at a glance. This makes it harder to draw a clear line between ads that are clearly discriminatory and those than are merely discomfiting.
Christian Sandvig, Director of the Centre for Ethics, Society and Computing at the University of Michigan, said the research showed that Facebook is making “drastic, important, and potentially illegal editorial decisions all the time by using algorithmic systems to identify audiences”. Mr Sandvig was not involved in the work.
Facebook appears to accept the findings. In a statement, Elisabeth Diana, a Facebook spokeswoman, said: “We stand against discrimination in any form. We’ve made important changes to our ad-targeting tools and know that this is only a first step. We’ve been looking at our ad-delivery system and have engaged industry leaders, academics, and civil-rights experts on this very topic—and we’re exploring more changes.”
The researchers take pains to point out that they are not making sweeping claims about Facebook’s entire ad-delivery system, given that they monitored its behaviour in only a few situations. There is no suggestion that Facebook designed its systems to discriminate intentionally. But its machine-learning software, in the process of training itself on the data of Facebook’s users in order to tailor ads to their interests, appears to have absorbed some of their prejudices.
The worry extends beyond Facebook to all systems that rely on machine learning, including the majority of digital-content providers. “This paper is telling us that if your parents never went to college, it is quite likely that an algorithm will look at your pattern of clicks and associations and conclude that you are not interested in college. If you’re black, it will decide that you are less interested in buying a house,” says Mr Sandvig.
Technology companies tend to claim that they are shielded from liability for these kinds of harmful effects. The Communications Decency Act states that digital platforms are not responsible for the unlawful behavior of their users. But the research appears to show that Facebook’s own systems are contributing to discrimination.
The results throw doubt on Facebook’s claims to be blind to race, says David Garcia, a researcher at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna, Austria. “Perhaps there is no table in the Facebook databases called ‘race’, but these results suggest that some race-related discrimination in advertisement is taking place,” he says.
After two years of abysmal public relations, the research is another blow to Facebook. Last month Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, tried to take back the initiative by calling for extensive regulation of digital-technology firms. He argued, for instance, that tech firms “shouldn’t make so many important decisions about speech on our own”. But he was noticeably quiet on the matter of Facebook’s advertising model. There, regulation may come sooner than he expects—and probably not in the form he is hoping for.