EU: Up to 2.7 million Europeans affected by Facebook data scandal

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, appears on stage during a town hall at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Reuters)
Updated 06 April 2018

EU: Up to 2.7 million Europeans affected by Facebook data scandal

  • Facebook has admitted it may have “improperly shared” the personal data of up to 2.7 million people in the European Union
  • Facebook also slammed by Myanmar civil society groups who took issue with Mark Zuckerberg’s defense of the platform’s record on curbing hate speech roiling the country

BRUSSELS: Facebook has admitted it may have “improperly shared” the personal data of up to 2.7 million people in the European Union, the bloc announced Friday, saying it would demand further answers from the social media giant.
The EU wrote to Facebook last week to ask how many Europeans were affected by the growing scandal over the harvesting of personal data which was then shared with British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
“Facebook confirmed to us that the data of overall up to 2.7 million people in the EU may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica,” spokesman Christian Wigand told reporters.
The EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova will speak to Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg early next week to discuss what steps the company is taking to address the breach.
“We will study the letter (from Facebook) in more detail but it is already clear that this will need further follow-up discussions with Facebook,” Wigand said.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that around the world as many as 87 million people could be affected by the breach, which has sent the company into turmoil and raised questions about data protection for the entire tech sector.
The EU is preparing to launch tough new data protection rules next month, under which companies could be fined up to four percent of their global turnover for breaches.

Facebook apologises after Myanmar groups blast Zuckerberg

Facebook apologized on Friday to Myanmar civil society groups who took issue with Mark Zuckerberg’s defense of the platform’s record on curbing hate speech roiling the country.
Facebook has been battered by allegations that its platform has helped fuel communal bloodshed in Myanmar, a mainly Buddhist country accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims.
On Thursday six Myanmar organizations published an open letter criticizing an interview Zuckerberg gave with news site Vox this week. In it he cited examples of both Myanmar Buddhists and Muslims spreading “sensational” messages on Facebook Messenger that warned of imminent violence from the other community.
“That’s the kind of thing where I think it is clear that people were trying to use our tools in order to incite real harm. Now, in that case, our systems detect that that’s going on. We stop those messages from going through,” Zuckerberg was quoted as saying.
In their letter the six local tech and human rights organizations said they were “surprised” to hear Zuckerberg “praise the effectiveness” of Facebook’s systems in Myanmar.
“It took over four days from when the messages started circulating for the escalation to reach you,” said the groups, who had flagged the content to Facebook.
“Far from being stopped, they spread in an unprecedented way, reaching country-wide and causing widespread fear and at least three violent incidents in the process.”
When reached for a comment on Friday, a Facebook spokesperson conceded the company was too slow in responding to reports about the incendiary messages.
“We should have been faster and are working hard to improve our technology and tools to detect and prevent abusive, hateful or false content,” the spokesperson told AFP by email.
“We are sorry that Mark did not make clearer that it was the civil society groups in Myanmar who first reported these messages.”
Facebook has also added more Myanmar-language reviewers and is rolling out the ability to report content in the Messenger service, the spokesperson added.
In late January Facebook removed the page of popular anti-Rohingya monk Wirathu. Last year it regulated the use of the word “kalar” which is considered derogatory against Muslims.
In their joint letter the local groups said Facebook’s response to hate speech and vicious rumors in Myanmar has been “inadequate” for years, adding that their offers to help craft broader solutions have gone unanswered.
They urged the social media giant to add reporting mechanisms to the Messenger app, increase transparency, engage more with local stakeholders and draw on data and engineering teams to identify repeat offenders.
Facebook dwarfs all other social media platforms in Myanmar, where it has become the chief channel for communication among both the public and government ministries.
But it has come under fire for allegedly helping broadcast ethnic hatred in a fledgling democracy still emerging from decades of repressive junta rule.
Scrutiny has intensified in the wake of a bloody military campaign against the Rohingya that erupted last August, expelling some 700,000 of the minority to Bangladesh.
In March the UN’s special rapporteur to Myanmar Yanghee Lee said Facebook had morphed into a “beast” and had incited “a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities.”


Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf becomes first female editor of Financial Times

Updated 12 November 2019

Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf becomes first female editor of Financial Times

  • Khalaf has served as deputy editor, foreign editor and Middle East editor during her more than two decades at FT
  • Khalaf will join Katharine Viner at the Guardian as one of the few women to edit major newspapers in Britain

LONDON: Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf will become the first woman to edit the Financial Times in its 131-year history after Lionel Barber, Britain’s most senior financial journalist, said he would step down.
Barber said on Tuesday he would leave in January after 14 years as editor and 34 years at the Nikkei-owned newspaper, which had one million paying readers in 2019, with digital subscribers accounting for more than 75% of total circulation.
Khalaf has served as deputy editor, foreign editor and Middle East editor during her more than two decades at the salmon-pink FT and in recent years has sought to increase diversity in the newsroom and attract more female readers, while also becoming the publication’s first Arab editor.
“It’s a great honor to be appointed editor of the FT, the greatest news organization in the world.
“I look forward to building on Lionel Barber’s extraordinary achievements,” said Khalaf, whose earlier writing for Forbes magazine had earned her a small role in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Her article described the leading character Jordan Belfort as sounding like a twisted version of Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives to himself and his merry band of brokers.
Khalaf will join Katharine Viner at the Guardian as one of the few women to edit major newspapers in Britain and one of few leading female editors in the world after Jill Abramson left the New York Times.
Before joining the FT in 1995, Khalaf worked at Forbes in New York and earned a master’s at Columbia University and graduated from Syracuse University.
Tsuneo Kita, chairman of Japan’s Nikkei which bought the FT from Pearson in 2015, said in a statement Khalaf was chosen for her sound judgment and integrity.
“We look forward to working closely with her to deepen our global media alliance.”
Nikkei’s Kita described Barber as a strategic thinker and true internationalist, adding he was very sad to see him leave.
“However, both of us agree it is time to open a new chapter,” he said.
During his time as editor, Barber engineered a successful push into online subscription that protected the title as others battled an unprecedented collapse in advertising revenue, as well as managing the move to a new owner.