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Facebook shuffle brings a new head of US policy and chief privacy officer

Trying times in Menlo Park, it seems: Amid assaults from all quarters largely focused on privacy, Facebook is shifting some upper management around to better defend itself. Its head of policy in the U.S., Erin Egan, is returning to her chief privacy officer role, and a VP (and former FCC chairman) is taking her spot. Kevin Martin, until very recently VP of mobile and global access policy, will be Facebook’s new head of policy. He was hired in 2015 for that job; he was at the FCC from 2001 to 2009, Chairman for the last four of those years. So whether you liked his policies or not, he clearly knows his way around a roll of red tape. Erin Egan was chief privacy officer when Martin was hired, and at that time also took on the role of U.S. head of policy. “For the last couple years, Erin wore both hats at the company,” said Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone in a statement to TechCrunch. “Kevin will become interim head of US Public Policy while Erin Egan focuses on her expanded duties as Chief Privacy Officer,” Stone said. No doubt both roles have grown in importance and complexity over the last few years; one person performing both jobs doesn’t sound sustainable, and apparently it wasn’t. Notably, Martin will now report to Joel Kaplan, with whom he worked previously during the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 and for years under the subsequent administration. Deep ties to Republican administrations and networks in Washington are probably more than a little valuable these days, especially to a company under fire from would-be regulators

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Facebook’s WhatsApp announces it will update privacy policy, raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 in Europe, and provide a data download tool ahead…

Paul Sandle / Reuters : Facebook's WhatsApp announces it will update privacy policy, raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 in Europe, and provide a data download tool ahead of GDPR   —  LONDON (Reuters) - WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook Inc (FB.O), is raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 …

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Kogan: ‘I don’t think Facebook has a developer policy that is valid’

A Cambridge University academic at the center of a data misuse scandal involving Facebook user data and political ad targeting faced questions from the UK parliament this morning. Although the two-hour evidence session in front of the DCMS committee’s fake news enquiry raised rather more questions than it answered — with professor Aleksandr Kogan citing an NDA he said he had signed with Facebook to decline to answer some of the committee’s questions (including why and when exactly the NDA was signed). TechCrunch understands the NDA relates to standard confidentiality provisions regarding deletion certifications and other commitments made by Kogan to Facebook not to misuse user data — after the company learned he had user passed data to SCL in contravention of its developer terms. Asked why he had a non disclosure agreement with Facebook Kogan told the committee it would have to ask Facebook. He also declined to say whether any of his company co-directors (one of whom now works for Facebook) had been asked to sign an NDA. Nor would he specify whether the NDA had been signed in the US. Asked whether he had deleted all the Facebook data and derivatives he had been able to acquire Kogan said yes “to the best of his knowledge”, though he also said he’s currently conducting a review to make sure nothing has been overlooked. A few times during the session Kogan made a point of arguing that data audits are essentially useless for catching bad actors — claiming that anyone who wants to misuse data can simply put a copy on a hard drive and “store it under the mattress”. (Incidentally, the UK’s data protection watchdog is conducting just such an audit of Cambridge Analytica right now, after obtaining a warrant to enter its London offices last month — as part of an ongoing, year-long investigation into social media data being used for political ad targeting.) Your company didn’t hide any data in that way did it, a committee member asked Kogan? “We didn’t,” he rejoined. “This has been a very painful experience because when I entered into all of this Facebook was a close ally. And I was thinking this would be helpful to my academic career

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Facebook shuts down custom feed sharing prompts and 12 other APIs

Facebook is making good on Mark Zuckerberg’s promise to prioritize user safety and data privacy over its developer platform. Today Facebook and Instagram announced a slew of API shut downs and changes designed to stop developers from being able to pull you or your friends data without express permission, drag in public content, or trick you into sharing. Some changes go into effect today, and others roll out on August 1st so developers have over 90 days to fix their apps. They follow the big changes announced two weeks ago Most notably, app developers will have to start using the standardized Facebook sharing dialog to request the ability to publish to the News Feed on a user’s behalf. They’ll no longer be  able to use the publish_actions API that let them design a custom sharing prompt. A Facebook spokesperson says this change was planned for the future because the consistency helps users feel in control, but the company moved the deadline up to August 1st as part of today’s updates because it didn’t want to have to make multiple separate announcements of app-breaking changes.   Facebook app developers will now have to use this standard Facebook sharing prompt since the publish_action API for creating custom prompts is shutting down One significant Instagram Graph API change is going into effect today, which removes the ability to pull the name and bio of users who leave comments on your content, though commenters’ usernames and comment text is still available. Facebook’s willingness to put user safety over platform utility indicates a maturation of the company’s “Hacker Way” that played fast-and-loose with people’s data in order to attract developers to its platform who would in turn create functionality that soaked up more attention. For more on Facebook’s API changes, check out our breakdown of the major updates: Facebook restricts APIs, axes old Instagram platform amidst scandals

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