Recode Daily: Another day, another Facebook privacy scandal
Plus: Verizon pushes ahead in the international race for 5G, Amazon downplays its own ads on the website, and Singapore pushes for fake news legislation.
Researchers say around 540 million Facebook user records were left exposed on Amazon cloud servers. Security firm UpGuard said they discovered two unprotected data sets that exposed the names, passwords, comments, interests, and “Likes” of hundreds of millions of users. The data was uploaded by third-party Facebook app developers: Mexican media company Cultura Colectiva and an app called At the Pool. Facebook worked with Amazon to remove the data after the social network was notified of the breach, Facebook said in a statement. The news is another bad headline for Facebook, which has been dealing with a series of privacy-related issues. As Wired’s Issie Lapowsky writes, it’s “just the latest evidence that when Facebook shares data with third parties, it really has no control over where that data ends up or how securely it’s stored.”
[Issue Lapowsky / Wired]
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Verizon says it has launched the world’s first-ever commercial 5G network with a 5G-enabled smartphone. In the past few years, carriers in China, South Korea, and the US have been competing in a race to develop a mobile 5G network — which is supposed to be faster than a typical home internet connection and has the obvious benefit of being wireless. For now, Verizon’s network is only available in select areas of Chicago and Minneapolis and on two models of phones. AT&T has been offering a mobile 5G network with a hotspot connection since December, but not on mobile, and South Korean carriers are expected to roll out a mobile 5G network in more than 80 cities later this week. The US government has raised security concerns in particular about China’s ownership of 5G networks and has sought to restrict its international use.
[Jeremy Horwitz / VentureBeat]
Amazon has reportedly been quietly removing promotional spots that prominently featured its own products on its website. In recent months, third-party sellers on Amazon have been complaining that the company gave ads for its own products more favorable real estate on its website. When you searched for a particular item, such as “baby food pouches,” a full banner ad of Amazon-branded items would show up. As CNBC’s Eugene Kim writes, in the past few weeks Amazon has “significantly scaled down or relocated” those promotions, according to multiple Amazon sellers and consultants. The changes come at a time when politicians like Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warner (D-MA) have been calling for antitrust legislation to break up tech giants like Amazon and Google. A representative from Amazon called the spots a “broader experiment” and said the company regularly tests now placements for its products.
[Eugene Kim / CNBC]
Singapore’s draft of a bill designed to fight fake news is raising concerns over free speech. Human rights advocates are concerned about a new bill in Singapore that would force websites to run corrections or even “cut off profits” for publishing what the government deems to be false information. The country’s Ministry of Law wrote in a statement that the legislation would “help ensure online falsehoods do not drown out authentic speech and ideas, and undermine democratic processes and society.” Meanwhile, organizations protecting free speech worry that the law could be interpreted broadly to muzzle the press. “You’re basically giving the autocrats another weapon to restrict speech, and speech is pretty restricted in the region already,” said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in an interview quoted in the New York Times.
[Mike Ives and Raymond Zhong / The New York Times]
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