Belgian scholars have accused Facebook of illegally tracking non-Facebook users and Facebook users who have opted out of being tracked last week. According to Belgian researchers, Facebook was releasing a cookie each time somebody visited one of its domains, now being called the Facebook tracking bug. This Facebook tracking bug would track a user’s activity and extract personal information from their device, even if they were not a Facebook user, or had the done opt-out. This Facebook tracking bug only affects European users, as the Belgian team found that US and Canadian users did not have the cookie injected on their gadgets.
Facebook has admitted to the Facebook tracking bug in a blog post yesterday, but says that the EU’s accusations of the social network being in violation of EU privacy laws is unwarranted. Actually, the term Facebook tracking bug is now in effect because Zuckerberg and co. say that the activation of the cookie was not intentional, but a bug in their systems. Nice save, Facebook! Even though the cookie would be activated the moment when an EU citizen accessed any Facebook page or website that uses Facebook share handles or integration, even if they weren’t members of the Facebook community, the social network is confident that it was just a bug.
The EU were angry at these alleged privacy violations after they were uncovered, and Facebook would have probably faced a lawsuit if it turned out that the social network was willingly tracking these individuals. Now, it seems that the Facebook tracking bug is just “standard web impressions” and that the tracking is in compliance with the law, at least according to Facebook. Although people are not quite getting to a consensual conclusion about this problem, the EU does not seem to be convinced that the Facebook tracking bug should be there for those who don’t want it. This fiasco will eventually be settled between the authors of the report from Belgium and Facebook. That is, until the EU passes new privacy laws which will send hefty fines towards companies that don’t comply with them.
The conclusions we can draw at this moment are as follows: Facebook thinks the tracking bug in its present state is a bug; Facebook doesn’t think that it is in violation of EU privacy laws, even though people who have opted out of tracking are still being tracked; the EU has not come to a conclusion as of yet, as there is an ongoing investigation into the matter; Facebook might be sued, once again.
Mobile apps from Threads make profile switching easy
Twitter rival, Threads, owned by Meta, now allows account switching without logging out.
This Thursday, the social networking app announced that users can swap accounts on its mobile apps by long pressing the bottom right profile icon. Tap “Add profile” after the long press to add a profile.
Users can easily switch between work and personal profiles. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri did not say if the profile-switching feature allowed you to add a limit of accounts.
On the same day as Facebook allowed multiple personal profiles on Blue, the text-based social networking app announced its profile feature.
Threads keeps adding features three months after its launch. It began testing full-text search in New Zealand and Australia late last month. The company launched global search this month.
Threads’ competitors ship features in a competitive social media landscape. Mastodon released version 4.2 this week with improved profile and post search, automatic quick action suggestions in the search box, a new web interface with thread indicators and article previews, and a Privacy and Reach settings tab.
Elon Musk said X will collect ‘a tiny monthly payment’ for its service
X owner Elon Musk suggested today that Twitter may no longer be free. Musk said the business was “moving to a small monthly payment” for the X system in a live-streamed meeting with Netanyahu on Monday. He suggested such a tweak to address platform bots.
Musk said, “It’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots.” According to him, bots have a high effective cost due to their low cost (a tenth of a penny), even though they require a few dollars. Each bot creator needed a new payment method to make another bot.
Musk said the new subscription price would be a “small amount of money.”
Musk also announced that X now has 550 million monthly users and 100 to 200 million daily postings. Musk’s stats may include automated accounts, either good bots like news feeds or malicious bots like spammers.
This figure couldn’t be compared to Twitter’s pre-Musk user base, which was computed using mDAU, Twitter’s own metric. This earlier statistic identified Twitter users who may be monetized by adverts. Twitter reported 229 million mDAUs in Q1 2022.
Musk did not specify when he would charge for X. Since Musk took over the network last year, it has been pushing users to subscribe to X Premium (formerly Twitter Blue). This $8 per month or $84 per year subscription service lets you modify posts, reduce the ad load, prioritize search and conversation rankings, make lengthier posts, and more.
X doesn’t divulge its paying subscribers, but independent research shows X Premium doesn’t attract most customers. X Premium has 827,615 subscribers, according to one estimate.
Musk has considered charging everyone for X. In fact, Platformer claimed last year that Musk was considering a Twitter paywall.
Though hate speech on X came up, Musk and Netanyahu discussed AI technologies and regulation today. Musk called himself “against antisemitism” and “anything that promotes hate and conflict.” Musk threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League, which has accused Musk and X of antisemitism, in his latest fight.
X launches government ID account verification
For paid users, X, formerly Twitter, has implemented government ID-based account verification to prevent impersonation and provide “prioritized support.”
Social media partner Au10tix provides identity verification solutions from Israel. The ID verification pop-up says the Au10tix can store this data for 30 days.
X’s verification support page says ID verification is available in “numerous countries,” but not in the EU, EEA, or UK. The region’s strict data protection laws likely explain this.
ID-based verification seems unnecessary and rarely beneficial. The company may age-gate content based on ID age.
“X currently focuses on account authentication to prevent impersonation and may explore additional measures, such as ensuring users have access to age-appropriate content and protecting against spam and malicious accounts, to maintain platform integrity and healthy conversations,” it said.
Users who pass the verification badge will receive a government ID verification note. Only clicking the blue checkmark on the profile page shows it. The company said ID-verified users will get “prioritized support from X Services,” but this is unclear.
The company allowed paid users to hide checkmarks from their profiles last month.
X plans to speed up checkmark reviews if users verify their IDs. Plus, they can frequently change their names, usernames, and profile photos without losing the checkmark.
Only paid users can use ID-based verification. Ironically, X promotes impersonation and spam reduction but doesn’t offer verification tools to all users.
Twitter discontinued legacy verification and removed account checkmarks in April. However, the company reinstated the top account checkmark after much chaos.
“This will additionally help us tie, for those that choose, an account to a real person by processing their government-issued ID,” X told Bloomberg. “This will also help X fight impersonation attempts and secure the platform.”
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