On Dec. 30, Andrew Bosworth, the head of Facebook’s virtual and augmented reality division, wrote on his internal Facebook page that, as a liberal, he found himself wanting to use the social network’s powerful platform against President Donald Trump. But citing the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and the philosopher John Rawls, Mr. Bosworth said that doing so would eventually backfire. “So what stays my hand?
Facebook has started to modify its behavior — in both pre-emptive and defensive ways — to deal with threats of regulation. Facebook has its eye particularly on the Federal Trade Commission, the agency that is now investigating it for anticompetitive practices.
The new reality for big tech companies: Scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers has become a constant. For the past few years, American regulators appeared to be lagging as authorities around the world have stepped up their actions to crimp the power of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. The contrast was starkest with European officials, who have passed laws and imposed a series of large penalties against big tech companies. But in recent months, American lawmakers and regulators have also ramped up their activity.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to integrate the social network’s messaging services — WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger — asserting his control over the company’s sprawling divisions at a time when its business has been battered by scandals. The move requires thousands of Facebook employees to reconfigure how WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger function at their most basic levels.
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, has focused the world’s attention on the kingdom’s intimidation campaign against influential voices raising questions about the darker side of the crown prince. The young royal has tightened his grip on the kingdom while presenting himself in Western capitals as the man to reform the hidebound Saudi state. Saudi operatives have mobilized to harass critics on Twitter, a wildly popular platform for news in the kingdom since the Arab Spring uprisings began in 2010.
Facebook said that an attack on its computer network had exposed the personal information of nearly 50 million users. The company said it discovered the breach this week, finding that attackers had exploited a feature in Facebook’s code that allowed them to take over user accounts. The company said it fixed the vulnerability and notified law enforcement officials. “We’re taking it really seriously,” said Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive. “We have a major security effort at the company that hardens all of our surfaces.” He added: “I’m glad we found this.
Although it is not much to look at now, as of the week of Sept 24 the "War Room" will be Facebook’s headquarters for safeguarding elections.
Facebook has introduced sweeping changes to the kinds of posts, videos and photos that its more than two billion members will see most often, saying that it would prioritize what their friends and family share and comment on while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands. The shift is the most significant overhaul in years to Facebook’s News Feed, the cascading screen of content that people see when they log into the social network. Over the next few weeks, users will begin seeing fewer viral videos and news articles shared by media companies.
Protests to preserve network neutrality, or rules that ensure equal access to the internet, migrated online on Dec 12, with numerous online companies posting calls on their sites for action to stop a vote later this week. Reddit, Etsy and Kickstarter were among the sites warning that the proposal at the Federal Communications Commission to roll back so-called net neutrality rules would fundamentally change the way the internet is experienced.
More than 1 billion people — mostly adults — use Facebook’s Messenger app to communicate every month. Now, the future of Messenger is set to become much younger.