Data scientist drops Facebook defamation suit

July 2, 2019

By FRANK BAJAK

Aleksandr Kogan, the data scientist at the center of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, said he is dropping a defamation lawsuit against the social network rather than engage in an expensive, drawn-out legal battle.

Kogan, 33, sued the social giant in March, claiming it scapegoated him to deflect attention from its own misdeeds, thwarting his academic career in the process. The suit sought unspecified monetary damages and a retraction and correction of what Kogan said were “false and defamatory statements.”

“We thought there was a one percent chance they would do the right thing,” Kogan told The Associated Press. Facebook is “brilliant and ruthless,” he added. “And if you get in their way they will destroy you.”

A Facebook spokesperson said the company had “no comment to share concerning this development.”

The former Cambridge University psychology professor created an online personality test app in 2014 that vacuumed up the personal data of as many as 87 million Facebook users . The vast majority of those were unwitting online friends of the roughly 200,000 people Kogan says were paid about $4 to participate in his “ThisIsYourDigital Life” quiz.

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How Facebook stands to profit from its ‘privacy’ push

March 8, 2019

By FRANK BAJAK

At first glance, Mark Zuckerberg’s new ”privacy-focused vision ” for Facebook looks like a transformative mission statement from a CEO under pressure to reverse years of battering over its surveillance practices and privacy failures.

But critics say the announcement obscures Facebook’s deeper motivations: To expand lucrative new commercial services, continue monopolizing the attention of users, develop new data sources to track people and frustrate regulators who might be eyeing a breakup of the social-media behemoth.

Facebook “wants to be the operating system of our lives,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, director of media studies at the University of Virginia.

zuck hearing

Zuckerberg’s plan, outlined Wednesday, expands Facebook’s commitment to private messaging, in sharp contrast with his traditional focus on public sharing. Facebook would combine its instant-messaging services WhatsApp and Instagram Direct with its core Messenger app so that users of one could message people on the others, and would expand the use of encrypted messaging to keep outsiders — including Facebook — from reading the messages.

The plan also calls for using those messaging services to expand Facebook’s role in e-commerce and payments. A Facebook spokesperson later said it was too early to answer detailed questions about the company’s messaging plans.

Vaidhyanathan said Zuckerberg wants people to abandon competing, person-to-person forms of communication such as email, texting and Apple’s iMessage in order to “do everything through a Facebook product.” The end goal could be transform Facebook into a service like the Chinese app WeChat , which has 1.1 billion users and includes the world’s most popular person-to-person online payment system.

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