IRS Sues Facebook for $9 Billion Over Offshore Profits

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The IRS is suing Facebook for US$9 billion, saying the company kept profits in subsidiaries based in Ireland.

The IRS argues that Facebook understated the value of the intellectual property it sold to an Irish subsidiary in 2010 while building out global operations, a move common among U.S. multinationals…Under the arrangement, Facebook’s subsidiaries pay royalties to the U.S.-based parent for access to its trademark, users and platform technologies. From 2010 to 2016, Facebook Ireland paid Facebook U.S. more than $14 billion in royalties and cost-sharing payments, according to the court filing.

If the IRS succeeds this would be one of Facebook’s biggest fines.

Instagram Seems to Think it’s a Startup When it Comes to an iPad App

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When asked why there isn’t an Instagram iPad app yet, CEO Adam Mosseri said the company would like to create one, “But we only have so many people, and lots to do, and it hasn’t bubbled up as the next best thing to do yet.”

Instagram users have been asking for an official ‌iPad‌ app nearly since the social network launched in 2010, the same year that the first ‌iPad‌ was released. Some alternatives include third-party Instagram apps for ‌iPad‌, browsing Instagram on the web on ‌iPad‌, or using the upscaled iPhone app on ‌iPad‌.

The obvious answer is, “Hire more people because you’re owned by one of the richest corporations in the world: Facebook.” But I wonder what the actual answer is. Invasive tracking isn’t as lucrative on iPadOS?

Not Wanting Surveillance Competition, Facebook Tells Clearview AI to Back Off

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Last month, we got word that a company called Clearview AI helped law enforcement with its facial recognition technology. Now, Facebook and Google, which also use facial recognition, told Clearview AI to stop scraping images from each one’s website.

Ton-That argued that his firm’s work is protected by the First Amendment and also that Clearview doesn’t do anything Google doesn’t.

“The way we have built our system is to only take publicly available information and index it that way,” he said.

Ton-That added, “Google can pull in information from all different websites… So if it’s public and it’s out there and could be inside Google search engine, it can be inside ours as well.”

Was Facebook’s Libra Planning to Make Money in Dirty Ways?

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I know that’s kind of a clickbait headline but it’s from a quote by Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, who dropped out of Facebook’s Libra organization after “multiple red flags.” Emphasis mine:

One reason was Libra’s leaders wouldn’t commit to abiding by laws around knowing their clients, money laundering, and data management, he told the newspaper.

“Every time you talked to the main proponents of Libra, I said ‘Would you put that in writing?’ They wouldn’t.”

It was also unclear to Banga how Libra would generate revenue, stoking his fears that it would make money in unscrupulous ways. “When you don’t understand how money gets made, it gets made in ways you don’t like,”

Facebook profiting off of money laundering?

Kids Need End-to-End Encryption for Protection Against Corporations

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In a report from the Financial Times (paywall), a letter signed by 129 non-profits, think tanks, and academics urge Facebook to reconsider encrypting its apps. They use the “think of the children” argument because encryption could enable more child sexual abuse. But Justin Myles Holmes says we should think of the children and enable end-to-end encryption for them, so their data isn’t used and abused by corporations precisely like Facebook.

If we fail to take action now, we risk a world in which unsavory actors – domestic and foreign – have built rich, comprehensive profiles for every one of our children, following the trajectories of their education, home life, consumer habits, health, and on and on.  These profiles will then be used to manipulate their behavior not only as consumers, but as voters and participants in all those corners of society which, in order for freedom and justice to prevail, require instead that these kids mature into functional, free-thinking adults.

CERN Replaces Facebook Workplace With Open Source

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CERN is ending its trial of Facebook Workplace and replacing it with open source alternatives, like Mattermost and Discourse.

Facebook Workplace is Facebook’s corporate-focused product for internal real-time communication and related communication needs within organizations. CERN had been making use of Facebook Workplace and in addition to data privacy concerns, they were recently confronted with either paying Facebook or losing administrative rights, no more single sign-on access, and Facebook having access to their internal data. But now they have assembled their own set of software packages to fill the void by abandoning Facebook Workplace.

I hope to see more of this. Facebook is the Fox News of social media. Like The Mac Observer’s editor-in-chief Bryan Chaffin says: “Death by a thousand paper cuts.”

Facebook Hilariously Reminds its Users About ‘Data Privacy Day’

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In the next few weeks you might see a reminder in the Facebook to review your privacy settings. That is, what little privacy the company gives you.

The updates represent Facebook burnishing its image to some extent. It spent much of the last decade embroiled in privacy problems that ranged from the Cambridge Analytica scandal through to data exposure on a third-party system. At the same time, it’s safe to say many people want to know their data is being used properly — the prompt and expanded tools could provide a degree of reassurance.

I don’t think it’s possible for Facebook to burnish its image.

Facebook Deeply Committed to Keep Lying Political Ads

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Facebook remains committed to keep lying political ads on its platform, saying that private companies shouldn’t make decisions about them.

Instead of banning such ads across the platform, Facebook has opted to introduce new tools for users to limit the way they interact with political ads. The company has expanded its Ad Library tool, an archive which shows all the political ads running on Facebook or Instagram, by adding information on approximately how many people ads reach.

Why would Facebook ban its source of income?

Fresh Cambridge Analytica Leaks Reveal Scope of Manipulation

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A fresh wave of Cambridge Analytica leaks is being disseminated by the press, and it reveals that its misinformation and manipulation reached at least 65 countries.

Platforms whose profiteering purpose is to track and target people at global scale — which function by leveraging an asymmetrical ‘attention economy’ — have zero incentive to change or have change imposed upon them. Not when the propaganda-as-a-service business remains in such high demand…

This campaign is still going, because Cambridge Analytica shut down and renamed itself as Emerdata.

267 Million Facebook IDs, Phone Numbers Exposed

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A database that contained over 267 million Facebook user IDs, phone numbers, and IDs was discovered on the web. It wasn’t password-protected.

Comparitech partnered with security researcher Bob Diachenko to uncover the Elasticsearch cluster. Diachenko believes the trove of data is most likely the result of an illegal scraping operation or Facebook API abuse by criminals in Vietnam, according to the evidence.

Diachenko immediately notified the internet service provider managing the IP address of the server so that access could be removed. However, Diachenko says the data was also posted to a hacker forum as a download.

Facebook Thinks California Privacy Law Doesn’t Apply To It

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The California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) goes into effect January 1. Despite it being state-created it’s expected to affect all Americans. Some companies have been following Microsoft’s example and plan to voluntarily apply it to all states. Facebook however, disagrees (to no one’s surprise).

Facebook is taking a different tack for its web tracker, Pixel. Pixel’s name comes from its physical appearance on a website that installs it: literally, one square pixel. But behind that pixel is a code that that installs cookies on your browser, allowing it to track your activity across the internet.

Facebook provides this code to businesses free of charge, and those businesses can then purchase ads based off the information that Pixel collects…According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook will claim that it doesn’t sell the data that its web trackers collect; it simply provides a service to businesses and websites that install Pixel on their sites. Because of this, it believes its web trackers are exempt from CCPA’s regulations…

Facebook’s Algorithms Flagged a Power Mac G4 as Sexually Explicit

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Not much to the story but I think it’s funny. Someone posted in the Macrumors forums saying that Facebook’s algorithms flagged their G4 workstation with the message, “This listing may go against our rules on overtly sexual content.”

I am trying to sell an old G4 tower on Facebook but their AI is loosing its cool on my G4 MDD’s sexy curves.

That sure wouldn’t happen with a modern, square piece if metal!

Makes me want to keep it…

Facebook is Fine With Political Lies But Bans Pro-Vaccination Ads

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Facebook is happy to let politicians lie in advertisements on the platform, but it bans pro-vaccination ads that are rooted in science.

The study, published today in the journal Vaccine…found that a small group of “well-connected, powerful people” promoting broad anti-vaccination messages had successfully leveraged the platform’s targeted advertising service to reach select audiences…Meanwhile, those behind pro-vaccine messages well far less well funded and centralised, with their advertising often focusing on inoculating against specific conditions.