Posts Tagged FB

Facebook must delete faces: German official

BERLIN: A German data protection official called on Wednesday for social networking site Facebook to delete biometric profiles of people stored without their explicit consent, saying they breach European privacy rules.

In other words, he wants Facebook to delete users’ faces from its databases.

Johannes Caspar, head of the Hamburg office for data protection, said talks with Facebook to bring its business practices in line with German and European Union privacy rules had failed. Caspar said in a statement that he is now re-opening a stalled probe of the Menlo Park, California-based company “in order to find a legally sound solution with regard to the use of biometric data.”

Caspar is highly critical of Facebook’s photo tagging feature, which asks users to attach the names of people in pictures they have uploaded. Facebook then uses the unique facial characteristics in each picture to automatically identify the same person in other photographs on its site. Users can opt out of the service, but Caspar wants them to have to opt in.

“Facebook will be obliged to delete this data unless it obtains approval by all concerned users,” he said, adding that “due to the immense potential of misuses of biometric data the explicit consent is a legal requirement for the collecting and processing of biometric data.”

Facebook responded with a statement saying that it believes the photo tagging feature “is fully compliant with EU data protection laws.”

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Facebook to open engineering office in London

LONDON: Facebook has announced its plans to open an engineering office in London, its first engineering office outside the United States.

The new office, which will be based at Facebook’s new British headquarters in Covent Garden, will focus on the crucial and fiercely competitive field of mobile technology

It will focus on its services for third party app developers as well as its mobile products, which are seen as vital to its future success.

According to the Telegraph, Facebook sees London as a ‘hotbed’ of mobile development talent.

The new team will bring Britain closer to the heart of Facebook’s operations, the report said.

“London is a perfect fit for Facebook engineering – it’s a global hub, and it has a vibrant local start-up community with lots of great technical talent,” Philip Su, a Facebook engineer wrote in a post on the social networking site.

“Our team in London will start small, focusing on building a core of great engineers, and then grow over time and eventually focus on building products in key areas like mobile and platform,” he added.

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Facebook user base soars to 50 million in India

HYDERABAD: Facebook has said its user base in India has grown from 8 million in 2010 to 50 million now and most of the people access the site through mobile phones, prompting it to rethink its business model.

While for other countries it was the desktop which was first used to get in to the portal, in case of India it was the mobile phone, said Kirthiga Reddy, Facebook Director – online operations and head of office – India.

Most of the people in the US started on desktop and moved to mobile, she said, adding that India is causing the company to rethink its model.

“Because many people are going to Facebook first on mobile and they might never go to desktop again,” Reddy said.

The situation has prompted Facebook to come out with many innovations so that the site can be accessed through any mobile phone, she added.

“Facebook had a user-base of 8 million when it started its office in India in 2010. It has grown to 50 million users since then,” Reddy said, adding that currently translation in India is available in eight languages.

“Globally, we have many users that contributed for translation of local languages. Translate tool is open for a few other languages,” she said.

Replying to a query, she said as per studies children below 13 tend to access Facebook when their parents are using the site.

“Our policy is that children below 13 years of age are not allowed… we have taken that very seriously. Anytime someone is being reported being under 13 (of age), we immediately look into that and take action. There is a lot of education and initiatives we engage in,” she added.

According to the information available in Facebook official site, it had 901 million active users at the end of March 2012, and approximately 80 per cent of these monthly active users were outside the US and Canada.

Facebook is available in more than 70 languages.

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More Indians access Facebook via mobile

HYDERABAD: An increasing number of Indian users of Facebook access the social networking site through the mobile thanks to a higher penetration, a top official of the social networking site here today.

While for other countries it was the desktop which was first used to get in to the portal, in case of India it was the mobile phone, said Kirthiga Reddy, Director-Online Operations and Head of Office-India, Facebook.

“Because if you think about it in US, most of the people started on desktop and moved to mobile. It is India that is causing us to rethink our model. Because many people are going to Facebook first on mobile and they might never go to desktop again,” Reddy said on the sidelines of a seminar.

She said the situation prompted Facebook to come out with many innovations so that the site can be accessed through any mobile phone.

Reddy also said currently language translation is available in eight languages (for India users) in Facebook.

“Globally, we have 300,000 users that contributed for translation of local languages. Translate tool is open for a few other languages,” she said.

Replying to a query, she said as per studies children below 13 are accessing Facebook when their parents are using the site.

“Our policy is that children below 13 years of age are not allowed…we have taken that very seriously. Anytime someone is being reported being under 13 (of age), we immediately look into that and take action. There is a lot of education and initiatives we engage in,” she added.

Facebook had a user-base of 8 million when it started its office in India in 2010. It has grown to 15 million users since then, she added.

According to her, 50 per cent of the active users log into their account every single day.

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FB, Twitter make girls ‘appear more aggressive’

LONDON: Are social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter changing the way girls speak and making them appear more aggressive?

Experts believe the language used by young women is becoming shorter, sharper and more “to the point”, with less time to deliberate carefully over their words, The Telegraph reported Saturday.

The change, it is claimed, has resulted in teenage girls seeming curt, straightforward and even aggressive when speaking to one another and adults.

The adapted language is believed to be the result of quicker communication on Facebook, Twitter and in emails. It is more noticeable in girls than boys because they communicate more frequently, it is claimed.

Marie Clair, from the Plain English Campaign, told the Daily Mail newspaper the appearance of curtness is “not intentional”, but pointed out the use of the internet meant youngsters had less time to choose their words carefully.

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FB to warn if mob-apps pull users’ information

LONDON: Social networking giant Facebook has become the seventh company to agree to give people advance warning if its mobile applications pulls users’ personal information from tablet computers and cell phones.

The agreement requires mobile apps seeking to collect personal information to display their privacy policies before their app is installed on a device.

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said that the agreement includes Facebook’s own applications, as well as those made by third parties in its recently launched App Center.

According to CBS News, Facebook said it incorporated the principles of the privacy agreement when it was designing its App Center.

The other six companies that have signed the agreement are Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Research in Motion and Hewlett-Packard.

“We are delighted that Facebook has joined Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Research in Motion to provide consumers with greater control and information about how their personal data is used,” Harris said.

“We need to protect privacy while we foster innovation,” he added.

Meanwhile, Facebook will now also allow its users to edit their comments on the website.

Users would be allowed to edit their comments by clicking on the edit option, which appears in the form of a small pencil icon on the right side of the comment, following which a drop-down menu will appear, with the option to edit the comment as well as the option to delete it entirely.

According to ABC News, the Facebook site will also be “showing the editing history for a comment so that subsequent commenters or likers have the full context of the conversation” which would allow commenters to see the history of the conversation.

The editing ability on the social site went live on Thursday, and will be gradually rolling out to all users over the next few days.

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FB to tweak payment model to boost revenues

SAN FRANCISCO: It knows who you are. It knows what you like. Now it wants to make it easier for you to buy things, in your own currency.

Facebook on Tuesday signaled its ambitions to grow as a payment platform, with changes to how its users can buy goods and services without leaving its site. It was also a clear indication to Wall Street that the company was pushing to make more money. Concerns about the company’s revenue prospects have held its shares back since its disappointing public offering last month.

Until now, Facebook has had its own virtual currency, called Facebook Credits, which is used mainly to buy virtual goods in games like FarmVille. Facebook took a 30 per cent cut from those sales, bringing in a hefty 15 per cent of total revenue last year.

The changes announced on Tuesday are meant to encourage companies beyond game developers to sell their wares on the Facebook platform itself. They could also keep Facebook users on the site longer and harness more data about what they buy.

The changes announced are twofold. First, Facebook users will be able to subscribe to services that require monthly payments. In the past, the service allowed one-time payments only. Second, users will be able to pay for things on Facebook in their own currency, rather than credits, which is vital for Facebook because it is a global network.

“By supporting pricing in local currency, we hope to simplify the purchase experience, give you more flexibility and make it easier to reach a global audience of Facebook users who want a way to pay for your apps and games in their local currency,” Facebook said in a blog post for app developers.

The new system will allow users to plug in their credit card information once and store it on Facebook, just as they could to buy Facebook Credits. But now, with one click, they will be able to buy whatever is on offer, priced in their own currency: a magazine subscription in euros, say, or games in Indian rupees.

Currently, there isn’t much to buy on Facebook, though companies such as Spotify will be able to take immediate advantage of the monthly subscriptions and seamless payments.

The changes will begin next month, the company said, and are meant to work on mobile devices as well. They are a nod to the Apple iTunes model, where users pay in dollars and cents, not a whimsical currency. And they show how Facebook is seeking more revenue from sources other than advertising.

“They are showing us we care about driving revenue, and I think that’s great,” said Michael Pachter, an equities analyst with Wedbush Securities. “That’s what investors want to see.”

New York Times News Service

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Regulator seen conflicted in Nasdaq’s FB mess

NEW YORK: It is not every day that a company bungles something so badly that it has to turn to a regulator for help to clean up its mess. But that is what the Nasdaq stock market has done with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority following its blunders in Facebook’s $16 billion initial public offering.

The move is causing raised eyebrows because of the long and intertwined relationship between the exchange and Wall Street’s industry-funded regulator.

Market makers say Nasdaq OMX Group Inc owes them at least $115 million and probably much more because of costly delays in processing orders when Facebook Inc made its debut on the exchange on May 18. Nasdaq has only offered $40 million in compensation for the losses, and most of that is in rebates on trading rather than in cash.

Nasdaq, which says software glitches caused the delays, has asked FINRA to review the client transactions and claims. But some industry lawyers and compliance experts on Wall Street disapprove.

Conflicts of interest are inevitable and could lead to questions of fairness, say observers and people familiar with both entities.

For its part, FINRA sees the review and subsequent report as a “natural extension of the services we provide to Nasdaq under our regulatory agreement,” spokeswoman Nancy Condon said in response to Reuters’ questions about possible conflicts. “We make decisions every day that could have an impact on Nasdaq.”

A Nasdaq spokesman declined to comment. FINRA’s involvement in the process is “a mistake,” said a person familiar with the regulator’s operations.

Despite a longstanding reputation for integrity, Richard Ketchum, the Wall Street watchdog’s chairman and chief executive officer, “should have said no” to Nasdaq’s request for FINRA’s services, the source said, because the relationship is “heavily conflicted.”

Among those conflicts that experts cited: The exchange pays FINRA fees to be regulated. FINRA’s role as a regulator includes monitoring the exchange’s trading activity and providing surveillance for insider trading – services that are remnants from when Nasdaq was owned by FINRA’s predecessor, the National Association of Securities Dealers, or NASD.

In 2000, Nasdaq members voted to spin off the exchange after a widespread and historic price-fixing scandal that led to industry reforms. FINRA continued to have an ownership interest in Nasdaq until 2006, according to regulatory filings.

FINRA is also a Nasdaq customer, relying on the exchange’s technology to operate a unit that provides various trade and quote data to brokerages so they can comply with reporting rules. And Nasdaq’s annual report says the company subleases roughly 115,000 square feet of its downtown New York headquarters space from FINRA.

Ketchum spent a total of 12 years with NASD and Nasdaq. He left his post as Nasdaq’s president a month after current CEO Robert Greifeld arrived in 2003.

Ketchum is not the only top financial regulator who has longstanding ties with Nasdaq. U.S Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro is a previous head of NASD and FINRA.

Neither FINRA nor Nasdaq would disclose how much money changes hands between them. But Nasdaq’s bill for regulatory services could be in the tens of millions of dollars, based on a review of recent FINRA annual reports.

WHAT FINRA WILL DO FINRA’s role in the Facebook IPO will include determining the total value of all valid claims against Nasdaq. The exchange’s compensation program is subject to approval by the SEC, which is also taking a broad look at Nasdaq’s handling of the IPO. It is unclear how long the SEC will take to decide if Nasdaq’s compensation proposal is adequate.

Recent Nasdaq notices to traders say FINRA has agreed to review the Facebook claims and “related data,” using criteria the exchange has already laid out. FINRA will base its evaluation on information from Nasdaq and other details the regulator may request from claimants, according to the alerts.

NEW YORK: It is not every day that a company bungles something so badly that it has to turn to a regulator for help to clean up its mess. But that is what the Nasdaq stock market has done with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority following its blunders in Facebook’s $16 billion initial public offering.

The move is causing raised eyebrows because of the long and intertwined relationship between the exchange and Wall Street’s industry-funded regulator.

Market makers say Nasdaq OMX Group Inc owes them at least $115 million and probably much more because of costly delays in processing orders when Facebook Inc made its debut on the exchange on May 18. Nasdaq has only offered $40 million in compensation for the losses, and most of that is in rebates on trading rather than in cash.

Nasdaq, which says software glitches caused the delays, has asked FINRA to review the client transactions and claims. But some industry lawyers and compliance experts on Wall Street disapprove.

Conflicts of interest are inevitable and could lead to questions of fairness, say observers and people familiar with both entities.

For its part, FINRA sees the review and subsequent report as a “natural extension of the services we provide to Nasdaq under our regulatory agreement,” spokeswoman Nancy Condon said in response to Reuters’ questions about possible conflicts. “We make decisions every day that could have an impact on Nasdaq.”

A Nasdaq spokesman declined to comment. FINRA’s involvement in the process is “a mistake,” said a person familiar with the regulator’s operations.

Despite a longstanding reputation for integrity, Richard Ketchum, the Wall Street watchdog’s chairman and chief executive officer, “should have said no” to Nasdaq’s request for FINRA’s services, the source said, because the relationship is “heavily conflicted.”

Among those conflicts that experts cited: The exchange pays FINRA fees to be regulated. FINRA’s role as a regulator includes monitoring the exchange’s trading activity and providing surveillance for insider trading – services that are remnants from when Nasdaq was owned by FINRA’s predecessor, the National Association of Securities Dealers, or NASD.

In 2000, Nasdaq members voted to spin off the exchange after a widespread and historic price-fixing scandal that led to industry reforms. FINRA continued to have an ownership interest in Nasdaq until 2006, according to regulatory filings.

FINRA is also a Nasdaq customer, relying on the exchange’s technology to operate a unit that provides various trade and quote data to brokerages so they can comply with reporting rules. And Nasdaq’s annual report says the company subleases roughly 115,000 square feet of its downtown New York headquarters space from FINRA.

Ketchum spent a total of 12 years with NASD and Nasdaq. He left his post as Nasdaq’s president a month after current CEO Robert Greifeld arrived in 2003.

Ketchum is not the only top financial regulator who has longstanding ties with Nasdaq. U.S Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro is a previous head of NASD and FINRA.

Neither FINRA nor Nasdaq would disclose how much money changes hands between them. But Nasdaq’s bill for regulatory services could be in the tens of millions of dollars, based on a review of recent FINRA annual reports.

WHAT FINRA WILL DO FINRA’s role in the Facebook IPO will include determining the total value of all valid claims against Nasdaq. The exchange’s compensation program is subject to approval by the SEC, which is also taking a broad look at Nasdaq’s handling of the IPO. It is unclear how long the SEC will take to decide if Nasdaq’s compensation proposal is adequate.

Recent Nasdaq notices to traders say FINRA has agreed to review the Facebook claims and “related data,” using criteria the exchange has already laid out. FINRA will base its evaluation on information from Nasdaq and other details the regulator may request from claimants, according to the alerts.

FINRA could take some precautions that could make its conclusions more palatable, said former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt. It could, for example, set up a virtual firewall to prevent people sorting through the Facebook claims from interacting with other officials who may be looking at where Nasdaq’s processes or systems may have gone wrong, said Pitt, who now heads Washington-based consultancy Kalorama Partners.

The SEC’s involvement “ought to allay concerns,” Pitt added. Still, appointing a special master, such as an accountant or academic, to adjudicate the claims may be better, said Lawrence Harris, a finance and business economics professor at the University of Southern California.

The SEC uses a similar process when distributing funds to harmed investors, Harris said.

“It would potentially give at least the perception of more objectivity,” said a financial services company’s lawyer who requested anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.

 

 

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Weekly changes in Facebook stock prices

On its first day of trading, Facebook Inc.’s stock closed barely above its public offering price. It gained 23 cents, or 0.6 percent, to close at $38.23. Since then, the stock price has fallen each week — until now.

Here’s are the closing prices each week since the first day of trading on May 18:

— May 25: Closed at $31.91, down 17 percent for the week.

— June 1: Closed at $27.72, down 13 percent for the week.

— June 8: Closed at $27.10, down 2 percent for the week.

— June 15: Closed at $30.01, up 11 percent for the week.

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FB faces extended US review of Instagram deal

WASHINGTON: Facebook has received notice that US antitrust regulators will give its proposed purchase of the popular photo-sharing app maker Instagram a lengthy investigation, an industry source told Reuters on Tuesday.

Facebook has received a “second request” from the Federal Trade Commission, essentially a request for relatively large amounts of data that the regulators will sift through to ensure that the deal complies with antitrust law.

A prolonged review adds another headache to the No. 1 social network, whose shares on Tuesday slid below $29 to a new low as nervous investors continued to show their concerns about Facebook’s long-term business prospects and rich initial public offering price of $38.

Ahead of its rocky May 18 market debut, Facebook announced in April that it would purchase Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock, its largest-ever acquisition.

The purchase of the photo-sharing service on the Internet is a crucial part of Facebook’s strategy to bolster its mobile offerings at a time when consumers are increasingly accessing the Internet through smartphones.

Google and Twitter are among companies that have also been asked about the deal, a second source had previously told Reuters.

The FTC’s questions about the deal to tech companies had indicated that it was in a very early stage in its investigation, according to a Reuters story on May 10. The agency was asking in Silicon Valley what concerns tech companies might have about the Facebook purchase of Instagram.

The “second request” letter from the FTC is dated May 16, Tuesday’s source said.

Facebook declined to comment, as did the FTC. The FTC or Justice Department automatically review any acquisition worth $68.2 million or larger.

Facebook earlier this month extended its estimate of how long the review of the deal would take, saying in a regulatory filing that the deal would likely close this year instead of the second quarter as it previously indicated.

Antitrust experts said that the FTC’s interest could well have been piqued by the high price that Facebook offered for 2-year-old Instagram. Instagram closed a funding round days before the Facebook deal was announced that valued it at $500 million.

Experts have speculated that Facebook might be trying to absorb a potential rival or at least prevent it from falling into the hands of a major competitor like Twitter or Google.

“When the dominant firm is paying clearly an excessive price to take out a rival, it gets the closest scrutiny of all,” said David Balto, a former FTC policy director now in private practice.

A second antitrust expert said the deal would likely be approved in the end.

“I think the hype over the antitrust review is greater than reality,” said this expert, who asked to speak privately to protect business relationships. “Everything Facebook is electric right now with the agencies.”

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