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Facebook roundup: UK Parliament, location tracking, content takedown and more

Facebook tracks location data of users as potential threats

Facebook is able to track the user data of individuals who may pose a threat to the company or its executives, reports CNBC, citing several former Facebook employees. The company maintains a log of who Facebook’s security team must be “on the look out for”, a “BOLO” list. The list includes everyone who makes threatening remarks against Facebook’s services or employees. Facebook tracks such people by using their IP addresses or looking through their usage of other services to ascertain a location, which they may later hand over to the police. BOLO contains “hundreds” of names, and enlists situations under which a name can be added to the list.

Facebook & YouTube take down animal bloodsports videos from the UK

Facebook and YouTube have taken down content promoting illegal bloodsports after the BBC conducted an investigation into the spread of graphic videos and photos showing banned cockfighting and hare coursing in the UK. Facebook removed one user, and said that the content must “respect local laws”. YouTube said that it had removed all material highlighted by the BBC that broke its guidelines. However, the material largely remains online on private and public groups, the BBC said.

The BCC investigated YouTube and Facebook users/accounts over several months, including 2 private groups which had 31,000 members altogether. The content included:

  • Images and videos of hare being caught and mauled by dogs, cock-fighting, and people mocking the ban on such activities
  • Underage kids are featured in some of the content
  • Police forces across the UK said that the organisers used social media apps to share and livestream material

UK lawmakers say Facebook violated privacy and competition law

UK lawmakers have said that Facebook was violating privacy and competition laws, and singled out CEO Mark Zuckerberg, stating that he showed “contempt” towards the UK Parliament by not appearing before it. The statements came in a report published by the UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. The report reviews internal emails and documents obtained as a result of a lawsuit filed by ‘Six4Three’ against Facebook. (see more here)

  • According to the committee, Facebook was “willing to override users’ privacy settings to transfer data” to app developers.
  • “Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like ‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law.”

Facebook said that the documents has been selectively leaked” to tell “only one side of the story.”

Facebook suspends video channels connected to the Russian government

Facebook has suspended three video channels – which have raked up 30 million views – over the lack of disclosures that the pages were backed by the Russian government, reports Gizmodo. The pages are run by Maffick Media, whose majority stakeholder is Ruptly, an RT subsidiary, which is funded by the Russian government. Disclosures were not made even on Maffick Media’s politically leaning pages like Soapbox and Backthen.

Facebook suspended the company account saying that it would require the company to disclose where the pages are run from – Germany – and their affiliation with their parent company for their pages to become active again.

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