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ON MARCH 28th the American government sued Facebook for allowing advertisers to exclude whole categories of people from seeing ads for housing—couples with children, non-Americans, non-Christians, disabled people, Hispanics, and so on. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said this violated the Fair Housing Act, which bans discrimination against certain “protected” groups.

Facebook has tried to clean up its act, shutting down tools which allowed advertisers to aim at Facebook users based on age, gender, and zip code. HUD is seeking “appropriate relief” for Facebook’s past actions nonetheless. HUD’s lawsuit also accused Facebook itself of discrimination against minorities through the algorithms it uses to run its advertising business. These are the same ones that Facebook uses to maximise click-throughs and views, and therefore revenue.

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WhatsApp launches fact-check service to fight fake news during India polls

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MUMBAI (Reuters) – Websites like Reddit and Telegram are being blocked in India by internet service providers, throwing into question the enforcement of net neutrality rules, advocacy groups said on Wednesday.

Restrictions on “torrent sites” that offer free movie and music downloads are routine in India to prevent copyright infringement. Pornography websites are also blocked by court orders seeking to protect children.

But in recent months, websites such as the discussion board Reddit, messaging service Telegram and comedy site College Humor have been blocked for intermittent periods, often for days and only in some regions, baffling internet users.

“It’s not making any sense, what’s happening,” said Apar Gupta, executive director at the non-profit Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF). “A lot of these blocks are also happening in such a way that no notices are displayed.”

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Facebook challenges Belgian tracking ban

Facebook is challenging a Belgian court order preventing the company from tracking people without their consent.

A Brussels-based court ruled in 2018 that Facebook had broken privacy lawsand needed to delete illegally-gathered data on the country’s citizens.

The company is threatened with fines of 250,000 euros (£214,000) a day for non-compliance.

The social media giant is challenging the court order in a two-day hearing in a Brussels appeals court.

Broken privacy laws

In 2018, a Belgian court ordered Facebook to stop tracking the country’s citizens without their consent.

This included both Facebook users and those who did not use the company’s services.

The country’s privacy watchdog said that the social media platform had broken privacy laws by placing tracking code on third-party websites.

The court told Facebook that it must “stop following and recording internet use by people surfing in Belgium, until it complies with Belgian privacy laws”.

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Facebook has been charged for allegedly allowing housing advertisers to discriminate against users based on race, sex and disability.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has charged the site for violating the Fair Housing Act.

“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” HUD secretary Ben Carson said in a statement.

Facebook said it was “disappointed” by the charges.

“We’re surprised by HUD’s decision, as we’ve been working with them to address their concerns and have taken significant steps to prevent ads discrimination,” a Facebook spokesperson told the BBC in an email.

 

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Did you know that unlike searching on DuckDuckGo, when you search on Google, they keep your search history forever? That means they know every search you’ve ever done on Google. That alone is pretty scary, but it’s just the shallow end of the very deep pool of data that they try to collect on people.

What most people don’t realize is that even if you don’t use any Google products directly, they’re still trying to track as much as they can about you. Google trackers have been found on 75% of the top million websites. This means they’re also trying to track most everywhere you go on the internet, trying to slurp up your browsing history!

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Some 70 thousand Telegram users couldn’t sign in on Saturday as their accounts were marked ‘deleted’. The messenger app promises to fix the “server issue.”

Telegram users in Europe and North America started to report login problems beginning at 11:00 GMT on Saturday, according to Downdetector monitoring service.

The messaging app, which touts its exceptional security, reacted quickly by tweeting that “no data is lost? how is this possible if they don’t store your data?” during the outage and promised that “everything will be back to normal soon.” 

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Speaking at an undergraduate class at Stanford University

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton appeared as a speaker at a class at Stanford University earlier this week, where he spoke about the decision to sell the company to Facebook, and urged students to delete their Facebook accounts.

According to Buzzfeed News, Acton spoke during an undergraduate course called Computer Science 181 alongside another former Facebook employee, Ellora Israni, founder of She++. During the class, Acton spoke about why he sold Whatsapp to Facebook in the first place, and why he left, and criticized the drive to prioritize monetization over user privacy.

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Mark Zuckerberg is on a mission to rehabilitate Facebook’s image. The CEO announced his new “privacy-focused vision” for the social media platform this week – but it looks more like a PR stunt than anything else.

“Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks,” Zuckerberg wrote. Now, is there anyone who really believes Facebook was built to give people “the freedom to be themselves?”

Zuckerberg does understand, however, why people are questioning Facebook’s newfound commitment to privacy, “…because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services.” For a company plagued with privacy scandal after privacy scandal, that seems like a bit of an understatement.

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