The Latest: Facebook curbs outsiders’ access to user data

The Latest: Facebook curbs outsiders' access to user data
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on Facebook’s privacy scandal (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

Facebook is restricting the user data it allows outsiders to access as part of steps it’s taking to address the fallout from its worst privacy crisis in years.

The company is reeling from news that a Trump-affiliated data-mining firm used ill-gotten data from millions of users to try to influence elections. Facebook says as many as 87 million people may have had their data accessed — an increase from the 50 million disclosed in published reports.

Among the latest changes: Facebook is restricting access that apps can get about users’ events, as well as information about groups such as member lists and content.

In addition, the company is also removing the option to search for users by entering a phone number or an email address. While this helped individuals find friends who may have a common name, Facebook says businesses that had phone or email information on customers were able to collect profile information this way.

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2:30 p.m.

Facebook says as many as 87 million people may have had their data accessed in the Cambridge Analytica scandal — an increase from the 50 million disclosed in published reports.

Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm affiliated with President Donald Trump’s campaign, has been accused of using ill-gotten data from Facebook users to try to influence elections.

This coming Monday, all Facebook users will receive a notice on their Facebook feeds with a link to see what apps they use and what information they have shared with those apps. They’ll have a chance to delete apps they no longer want.

Users who had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica will be told of that within that notice. Facebook says most of the affected users are in the U.S.

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12:30 p.m.

Now that Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before Congress, he’ll need advice not just from lawyers but from communications specialists, too, on addressing Facebook’s privacy scandal.

Public-relations experts who have prepped CEOs before say that congressional hearings are more political theater than public policy. The so-called “optics” — how things look — are as important as what you say.

Other advice for the Facebook CEO? Appear sympathetic and be ready for a beating. Take responsibility. Don’t feign ignorance.

The stakes are high for Zuckerberg’s April 11 appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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Noon

Facebook’s new privacy policy aims to explain the data it gathers on users more clearly — but doesn’t actually change what it collects and shares.

The company unveiled the revisions Wednesday as it faces one of its worst privacy scandals in history. Although Facebook says the changes aren’t prompted by recent events, it’s an opportune time. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is also set to testify before Congress next week for the first time.

Among Wednesday’s changes: Facebook has added a section explaining that it collects people’s contact information, which may include call logs and text histories. The previous policy did not mention call logs or text histories. Several users were surprised to learn recently that Facebook had been collecting such data.

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8:30 a.m.

The leaders of a House oversight committee say Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the panel on April 11.

In an announcement Wednesday, Reps. Greg Walden and Frank Pallone say the hearing will focus on the Facebook’s “use and protection of user data.” Facebook is facing scrutiny over its data collection following allegations that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users to try to influence elections.

Walden, R-Ore., is the House Energy and Commerce committee’s chairman. Pallone of New Jersey is the panel’s top ranking Democrat. They say the hearing will be “an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online.”

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