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WhatsApp co-founder urges people to delete Facebook

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SAN FRANCISCO — WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton on Tuesday has urged people to delete their Facebook accounts on the giant social network, USA Today reported.

WhatsApp, which Facebook bought in 2014, declined to comment.

Acton , who quit Facebook earlier this year to start a foundation, twitted : “It’s time,” with #DeleteFacebook.

His remark comes amid growing public outrage over the misuse of the private information of tens of millions Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, the firm that claimed it helped Donald Trump win the White House.

Acton is not the first former Facebook executive to express unease about the company after leaving it. Last year, former head of growth Chamath Palihapitiya caused a firestorm after saying “we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”, The Verge reported.

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According to The Verge, it was unclear whether Acton’s feelings about Facebook extend to his own app. But last month, Acton invested US$50 million (S$66 million) into Signal, an independent alternative to WhatsApp.

Shares of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat owner Snap fell further on Tuesday as Wall Street fretted over potential regulatory scrutiny that could hobble the business of the social networks.

Facebook lost 2.6 per cent after it said it faced questions from the US Federal Trade Commission about how its users’ personal data was mined by a political consultancy hired by Trump’s campaign. Facebook shares had already tumbled 6.8 per cent on Monday.

Since revelations on Saturday that a political consulting firm had improperly obtained personal data on 50 million Facebook users, the world’s largest social media company has lost US$60 billion of its stock market value.

In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for US$16 billion from its co-founders Jan Koum and Acton. Koum continues to lead the company.

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Android apps may be illegally tracking children, study finds

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Over 3300 free and popular children’s Android apps available on the Google Play Store could be violating child privacy laws, according to a new, large-scale study, highlighting growing criticism of Silicon Valley’s data collection efforts.

Researchers using an automated testing process have discovered that 3,337 family and child oriented Android apps on Google Play were improperly collecting kids’ data, potentially putting them in violation of the US’ Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA law (which limits data collection for kids under 13).

Only a small number were particularly glaring violations, but many apps exhibited behavior that could easily be seen as questionable.

Researchers analyzed nearly 6,000 apps for children and found that 3,337 of them may be in violation of the COPPA, according to the study report. The tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without their parent’s permission, the study found.

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“This is a market failure,” said Serge Egelman, a co-author of the study and the director of usable security and privacy research at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

“The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done.”

The researchers are adamant that they’re not showing ‘definitive legal liability.’ These apps may be running afoul of the law, but it’s up to regulators at the FTC to decide if they are. Without iOS data, it’s also unclear how common this problem is across platforms.

The potential violations were abundant and came in several forms, according to the study. More than 1,000 children’s apps collected identifying information from kids using tracking software whose terms explicitly forbid their use for children’s apps, the study found.

The researchers also said that nearly half the apps fail to always use standard security measures to transmit sensitive data over the Web, suggesting a breach of reasonable data security measures mandated by COPPA. Each of the 5,855 apps under review was installed more than 750,000 times, on average, according to the study.

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Unfortunately for parents, there’s little consumers can do to protect themselves since the policies and business practices of app developers and ad tracking companies are often opaque, Egelman said.

The study also points to a breakdown of so-called self-regulation by app developers who claim to abide by child privacy laws, as well as by Google, which runs the Android platform, he said.

Agencies

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