Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) moved to fine Facebook $5 billion for violating the terms of a consent decree. The settlement represents the largest fine the FTC has ever levied against a company.
In early 2018, reports that Cambridge Analytica had detailed information about millions of Facebook users began to spread. The company (through third parties) created an app called “This is Your Digital Life” that claimed to be a personality quiz. Everyone who took the quiz shared information about themselves to Cambridge Analytica. But, they also shared data about every one of their friends to the company as well.
Even if you never took the quiz, your data could have shared to Cambridge Analytica. Eventually, Facebook admitted that over 87 million users had their data shared, whether or not they took the quiz.
At the time, Facebook was under an FTC consent decree in which the company promised not to make deceptive promises concerning user’s data security, and to get explicit permission before overriding a user’s permission settings, among other commitments.
This latest settlement charges that Facebook violated the decree. While $5 billion is the largest fine the FTC has ever issued, Facebook will likely survive with relative ease. The company had already set aside $3 billion in anticipation of the fine and made three times that in revenue in its last fiscal quarter. [Ars Technica]
In Other News:
- Amazon Prime Day is underway: Amazon’s annual Prime Day started today and will go through the end of tomorrow. Remember, the only to really save money is not to spend it. And it’s only a discount if you were going to buy it anyway. We recommend checking sites like camelcamelcamel for pricing history too. [ReviewGeek]
- Google kills its Blog Compass app: Google released an app in India called Blog Compass about ten months ago. It was designed to make managing Word Press and Blogger on the go easier. It didn’t last long though, as the company is already shutting the app down. [9to5Google]
- Some Logitech USB receivers vulnerable to hack without update: Over three years ago Logitech confirmed its receivers were vulnerable to a particularly easy hack. A bad actor could detect the USB dongle, and take it over, allowing them to type on the connected PC. Logitech created firmware to patch the problem, but it still sells receivers without the firmware. Downloading patches from Logitech’s site is the best way to be safe. [The Verge]
- K12.com accidentally exposed 7 million student records: Another day, another data leak: this time it’s your kid’s data on the line. K12.com, an online school for (as its name suggests) kindergarten through 12th grade, accidentally exposed the records of 7 million students. The data resided on a misconfigured server, which is, unfortunately, a common occurrence. [Engadget]
- Hulu is bringing 4K streaming back: Hulu used to offer 4K streaming, but removed the feature “temporarily.” Now the company is once again offering high resolution streaming, but only to the Apple TV 5th generation and Chromecast Ultra to start. Hulu isn’t offering HDR yet either. [AppleInsider]
- Watch a deleted storyboard scene from Tim Burton’s Batman: Usually, a deleted scene in storyboard format wouldn’t be something worth watching. But in this deleted scene, not only did Tim Burton introduce the caped crusader’s sidekick, Robin, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hammill provide the voices of Batman and Joker. Those two arguably gave us the best animated versions of Batman and Joker to this date. [Gizmodo]
- Microsoft’s Word Android app has been installed over a billion times: Microsoft’s Windows Phone may be dead, but its mobile ambitions aren’t. You’ll find dozens of Microsoft apps on both Android and iOS. And now, its Word app has passed over a billion installs. That number likely included pre-packaged installs, but it’s still a pretty significant number in any case. [Android Police]
A new treatment may help some bats survive white noise syndrome.
If you have been on a cave tour with bats recently, you might have been surprised by the trip you took after the tour was over—a walk through a disinfectant mat. In some cases, you may have stepped through the Lysol solution before the trip as well.
Unfortunately, a fungal disease dubbed White Nose syndrome has been spreading rapidly to bats in the United States cave systems. As the name suggests, it shows up on the nose and looks like white foam. The disease is often fatal and has decimated bat populations, including wiping out 90% of the brown bat population.
The disinfectant mat you walked through became one of many steps to try and stop the spread of the disease. The fear is if you step into a cave where the fungal infection has already spread, it will stick to your footwear and lay dormant until your next cave trip elsewhere. When you step into that cave, you may be the unwitting carrier to a new population.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just our shoes the fungal spores stick to. Our coats, cameras, and other everyday camping items we take with us are also viable carriers. So the disease has continued to spread despite precautions.
Now scientists discovered that spraying affected bats on the nose with a “good” bacteria may fight off White Nose syndrome. In a few studies when tracking sprayed bats versus untreated bats, the former had a 50% survival rate over the winter after infection. The untreated bats did not fare nearly as well, often only having one survivor.
A 50% survivor rate still isn’t enough on its own, but it is an improvement. And hopefully combined with other treatments, we can prevent a total population die-out, at least long enough for bats to develop immunity on their own. [ScienceNews]