Facebook ‘Unintentionally’ Uploaded Email Contacts of 1.5 Million Users

Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it may have “unintentionally uploaded” email contacts of 1.5 million new users since May 2016, in what seems to be the latest privacy-related issue faced by the social media company.

In March, Facebook had stopped offering email password verification as an option for people who signed up for the first time, the company said. There were cases in which email contacts of people were uploaded to Facebook when they created their account, the company said.

“We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded. These contacts were not shared with anyone and we are deleting them,” Facebook told Reuters, adding that users whose contacts were imported will be notified.

The underlying glitch has been fixed, according to the company statement. Business Insider had earlier reported that the social media company harvested email contacts of the users without their knowledge or consent when they opened their accounts.

When an email password was entered, a message popped up saying it was “importing” contacts without asking for permission first, the report said.

Facebook has been hit by a number of privacy-related issues recently, including a glitch that exposed passwords of millions of users stored in readable format within its internal systems to its employees.

Last year, the company came under fire following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, obtained personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent.

The company has also been facing criticism from lawmakers across the world for what has been seen by some as tricking people into giving personal data to Facebook and for the presence of hate speech and data portability on the platform.

Separately, Facebook was asked to ensure its social media platform is not abused for political purposes or to spread misinformation during elections.

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Facebook ‘Unintentionally’ Uploaded Email Contacts of 1.5 Million Users

Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it may have “unintentionally uploaded” email contacts of 1.5 million new users since May 2016, in what seems to be the latest privacy-related issue faced by the social media company.

In March, Facebook had stopped offering email password verification as an option for people who signed up for the first time, the company said. There were cases in which email contacts of people were uploaded to Facebook when they created their account, the company said.

“We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded. These contacts were not shared with anyone and we are deleting them,” Facebook told Reuters, adding that users whose contacts were imported will be notified.

The underlying glitch has been fixed, according to the company statement. Business Insider had earlier reported that the social media company harvested email contacts of the users without their knowledge or consent when they opened their accounts.

When an email password was entered, a message popped up saying it was “importing” contacts without asking for permission first, the report said.

Facebook has been hit by a number of privacy-related issues recently, including a glitch that exposed passwords of millions of users stored in readable format within its internal systems to its employees.

Last year, the company came under fire following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, obtained personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent.

The company has also been facing criticism from lawmakers across the world for what has been seen by some as tricking people into giving personal data to Facebook and for the presence of hate speech and data portability on the platform.

Separately, Facebook was asked to ensure its social media platform is not abused for political purposes or to spread misinformation during elections.

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ILO: Changing World of Work Poses New Safety, Health Risks

The U.N. labor agency says existing methods of protecting workers from accidents and disease are not good enough to deal with new occupational hazards arising from changes in the nature of work.  The International Labor Organization (ILO) is calling for revisions to address physical and psychological problems stemming from the changing job world.

In a new report, ILO estimates find 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases each year. It says more than 374 million people are injured or fall ill every year through work-related accidents.  The cost to the world economy from work days lost is nearly four percent of global Gross Domestic Product.

The ILO’s report warns the changes and dangers posed by an increase in technology could result in a worsening of that situation.  It says new measures must be implemented to deal with the psycho-social risks, work-related stress and non-communicable diseases resulting from new forms of work.

It says digitization, artificial intelligence, robotics and automatization require new monitoring methods to protect workers.  

Manal Azzi, an ILO Technical Specialist on Occupational Safety and Health, says that  on the one hand, new technology is freeing workers from many dirty, dangerous jobs.  On the other, she says, the jobs can raise ethical concerns.

She told VOA surveillance of workers has become more intrusive, leading them to work longer hours, a situation that may not be ethical.

“Also, different monitoring systems that workers wear.  Before, you would punch in, punch out.  Now, you could wear bands on your wrist that show how many hours you are actually working in a production line. And, there is even discussion of introducing implants, where workers can be continuously surveyed on their production processes,” she said.  

Azzi said a host of mental problems could be introduced by new work environments.  The report also focuses on changes in demographics.  It says employers have to adapt to the physical needs of older workers, who may need training to safely operate equipment.

Another area of concern is climate change.  The ILO is positive about the green jobs being introduced.  But it says care must be taken to protect people from warmer temperatures that increase risks, including air pollution, heat stress, and newly emerging diseases.

In the past, creating a safer working environment focused on the prevention of risks.  Authors of the report say the ILO today needs to anticipate the risks.  They say new skills and information about safety and health in the workplace have to be learned at an earlier age.  Before young people apply for a job, they say, they should know their rights.  The power of knowledge, they say, will help protect employees in the workplace.

 

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Google: Android Users Get Browser, Search Options in EU Case

Google said Thursday it will start giving European Union smartphone users a choice of browsers and search apps on its Android operating system, in changes designed to comply with an EU antitrust ruling.

Following an Android update, users will be shown two new screens giving them the new options, Google product management director Paul Gennai said in a blog post.

The EU’s executive Commission slapped the Silicon Valley giant with a record 4.34 billion euro (then $5 billion) antitrust fine in July after finding that it abused the dominance of Android by forcing handset and tablet makers to install Google apps, reducing consumer choice.

The commission had ordered Google to come up with a remedy or face further fines. The company, which is appealing the ruling, said the changes are being rolled out over the next few weeks to both new and existing Android phones in Europe.

Android users who open the Google Play store after the update will be given the option to install up to five search apps and five browsers, Gennai said. Apps will be included based on their popularity and shown in random order. Users who choose a search app will also be asked if they want to change the default search engine in the phone’s Chrome browser.

Android is the most widely used mobile operating system, beating even Apple’s iOS.

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Key Trump Associates Indicted in Mueller Probe

Several key figures associated with President Donald Trump have pleaded guilty or were convicted of a range of offenses as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe:

Paul Manafort: Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman is in the early stages of a 7 1/2-year prison term after being convicted and pleading guilty in two cases linked to financial corruption from his years of lobbying for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.

Michael Flynn: Trump’s first national security adviser pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, just before Trump assumed power, and is awaiting sentencing.

George Papadopoulos: The  low-level foreign affairs adviser was jailed for 12 days after he pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his Russia contacts.

Rick Gates:  A business associate of Manafort’s and his deputy on the Trump campaign, Gates was a key witness against Manafort at his trial, after pleading guilty to conspiring with him in financial wrongdoing from their years as lobbyists for Ukraine. He is awaiting sentencing.

Michael Cohen: Trump’s one-time personal attorney pleaded guilty to helping Trump make $280,000 in hush money payments to two women, an adult film actress and a Playboy model, to keep them quiet before the 2016 election about alleged decade-old sexual encounters they claimed to have had with Trump. Cohen, headed soon to prison for a three-year term, also admitted lying to Congress about the extent of Trump’s efforts during the 2016 campaign to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow, a time when candidate Trump was telling voters he had ended his Russian business ventures.

Roger Stone: The long-time Trump adviser and friend is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress about his contacts with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks in conjunction with the release of emails hacked by Russian operatives from the computers of Democratic officials that were damaging to Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.

 

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Key Trump Associates Indicted in Mueller Probe

Several key figures associated with President Donald Trump have pleaded guilty or were convicted of a range of offenses as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe:

Paul Manafort: Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman is in the early stages of a 7 1/2-year prison term after being convicted and pleading guilty in two cases linked to financial corruption from his years of lobbying for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.

Michael Flynn: Trump’s first national security adviser pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, just before Trump assumed power, and is awaiting sentencing.

George Papadopoulos: The  low-level foreign affairs adviser was jailed for 12 days after he pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his Russia contacts.

Rick Gates:  A business associate of Manafort’s and his deputy on the Trump campaign, Gates was a key witness against Manafort at his trial, after pleading guilty to conspiring with him in financial wrongdoing from their years as lobbyists for Ukraine. He is awaiting sentencing.

Michael Cohen: Trump’s one-time personal attorney pleaded guilty to helping Trump make $280,000 in hush money payments to two women, an adult film actress and a Playboy model, to keep them quiet before the 2016 election about alleged decade-old sexual encounters they claimed to have had with Trump. Cohen, headed soon to prison for a three-year term, also admitted lying to Congress about the extent of Trump’s efforts during the 2016 campaign to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow, a time when candidate Trump was telling voters he had ended his Russian business ventures.

Roger Stone: The long-time Trump adviser and friend is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress about his contacts with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks in conjunction with the release of emails hacked by Russian operatives from the computers of Democratic officials that were damaging to Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.

 

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Pakistan’s Finance Minister Resigns Amid Economic Crisis

Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar has resigned days after returning home from crucial talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a financial bailout package to avert a national balance of payments crisis.

While formally announcing his decision to leave Thursday at a hurriedly arranged news conference in Islamabad, Umar explained that he was asked to take the energy minister position instead of finance as part of a Cabinet reorganization.

Umar acknowledged his successor would have to make “some difficult decisions” to deal with economic challenges facing Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s eight-month-old administration has faced sustained criticism from political opponents, independent commentators and the business community over the government’s handling of the economic crisis facing the country. Much of that criticism was leveled against Umar.

Umar returned this week from Washington, where his delegation fleshed out details of Pakistan’s next IMF bailout package that he said could be up to $8 billion.

Critics blamed the outgoing minister for taking months to finalize the IMF deal, saying the delay shattered investor confidence in Pakistan’s economy. But speaking Thursday, Umar defended his performance.

“We have finalized the IMF agreement on much better terms than before.I have made these decisions.I refused to take the decisions that would have crushed the nation,” Umar said without elaborating.

He said that an IMF mission is expected to visit Islamabad later this month to work out more details “since all major issues had been settled and documented,” he said.

13th bailout

The long-delayed package would be Pakistan’s 13th IMF bailout since the late 1980s and comes with a worsening economic outlook for the South Asian nation of more than 200 million people.

Former finance minister Salman Shah, while commenting on Umar’s resignation, noted a lack of effective financial strategy was slowing down the economy, deterring all sorts of investments, fueling inflation and unemployment in Pakistan.

Late Thursday, the government made the formal announcement about the Cabinet reorginization, re-allocating certain portfolios and appointing new ministers as well as several special advisors to the prime minister. They included Abdul Hafeez Sheikh as advisor on finance to Khan. Sheikh served as finance minister of Pakistan under a previous government. Khan has also appointed Ijaz Ahmed Shah as his full time interior minister.

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Large US Democratic Presidential Field Ready for Long Battle

A large group of Democratic presidential contenders is off to an early and intensive start in 2019, even though the first caucus and primary votes will not come until next February.

But some experts are already predicting that the race for the party nomination could be one of the longest and nastiest in years. Nearly 20 Democrats have jumped into the 2020 election battle so far, and many face the daunting task of trying to boost their name recognition and raise money.

Among the latest Democrats to officially announce a presidential bid was South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“The forces changing our country today are tectonic, forces that helped to explain what made this current presidency even possible,” Buttigieg told supporters at his kickoff event this week in South Bend. “That is why this time it is not just about winning an election. It is about winning an era.”

Buttigieg has risen from relative obscurity to being a contender in recent polls in the early contest states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Biden leads the pack

The latest Morning Consult survey has former Vice President Joe Biden leading the Democratic pack at 31 percent support, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 23 percent, California Sen. Kamala Harris at 9 percent and Buttigieg tied at 7 percent with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Biden has yet to officially announce and is expected to do so in the coming weeks.

Like many of the Democratic contenders already in the race, Harris has focused much of her attention on President Donald Trump.

“We cannot afford to have a president of the United States who stokes the hate and the division. We can’t,” Harris told supporters this month at a rally in Iowa.

​Struggling to get noticed

Among those working to gain visibility in the crowded Democratic field are New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Rep. Eric Swalwell and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, who officially launched his campaign with a rally in his home state in early April.

“I am running for president to first and foremost try to bring this country back together!” Ryan told supporters.

In addition to Biden, others who may enter the race soon include Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton. Eventually, the number of Democratic contenders could go to 20 or beyond.

Even though Democratic voters have lots of choices, they seem most eager to find someone who can beat Trump, according to pollster John Zogby.

“Whom do they do it with? Do they do it with a progressive candidate or a mainstream candidate? That is one question. Do they do it with an older traditional candidate or a young face?” he asked.

One dynamic expected to play out in the race ahead is the ideological divide within the Democratic Party. A Gallup survey in January found that most Democrats see themselves as liberal. Fifty-one percent in that Gallup Poll chose the liberal label, while 34 percent called themselves moderate and 13 percent said they were conservative.

 

WATCH: Long, Ugly Battle Likely Ahead for Democratic Candidates

​It could get rough

Some experts predict that a large field lacking a clear front-runner is a recipe for a long and potentially nasty campaign.

“I think it will be one of the most negative campaigns we have ever seen in a Democratic primary. We are already seeing this,” said Jim Kessler of Third Way, a center-left public policy group. “Because you have got 15 or 16 candidates out there who feel like, ‘Unless two or three of them [other contenders] are really dragged down, I have absolutely no chance.’ ”

In order to set themselves apart, some of the Democratic contenders are less focused on Trump and more interested in bringing lasting change to the country. It’s a theme often sounded by Booker, Warren and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, among others.

“I think Democrats are going to run on inequality and economic growth, and that is what they should be running on because those are the issues really facing the country that have not been dealt with,” said Brookings Institution expert Elaine Kamarck.

The familiar and the new

For the moment, the Democratic primary battle seems to be between some familiar and experienced contenders like Biden and Sanders and a group of younger, dynamic candidates that includes Harris, Buttigieg, O’Rourke and Booker.

Sanders appears to be having some success building on his failed White House bid in 2016, when he lost out to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after a long and difficult campaign.

Sanders led the Democratic pack in fundraising for the first quarter of 2019, drawing $18 million. Harris was in second place, raising $12 million, followed by O’Rourke, $9.3 million; Buttigieg, $7 million; and Warren, $6 million.

Fundraising numbers are often seen by strategists and analysts as an important indication of a candidate’s strength, especially in a crowded field like the one shaping up for Democrats in 2020.

View from Trump world

Trump’s re-election campaign has also been busy collecting donations, raising $30 million in the first quarter, a notably large sum for an incumbent president this early in an election cycle.

Trump and his Republican allies have already signaled they will try to brand the Democrats as “socialists” and will focus on sweeping plans to expand government health care and tackle climate change that some Democratic candidates have endorsed. 

Trump does face a Republican primary challenge from former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.

Weld told CNN on Wednesday that he has a strategy “to win, not just to weaken anybody.” Weld, who has a long record as a moderate in a party that now leans solidly to the right, said his focus will be to defeat Trump in New Hampshire, the state that will hold the first primary next February. Trump won the New Hampshire primary in 2016, a significant moment in his march to the nomination.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump predicted that he would likely face either Biden or Sanders as the Democratic nominee in 2020:

“It will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country (and MANY other great things)!”

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Large Democratic Presidential Field Readies for a Long Battle

A large group of Democratic presidential contenders is off to an early and intensive start in 2019, and some experts are predicting that the race for the party’s nomination could be one of the longest and nastiest in years. Nearly 20 Democrats have jumped into the 2020 election battle so far, and many face the daunting task of trying to boost their name recognition and raise money. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

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Samsung to Investigate Reports of Galaxy Fold Screen Problems

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. said it has received a few reports of damage to the main display of samples of its upcoming foldable smartphone and that it will investigate.

Some tech reviewers of the Galaxy Fold, a splashy $1,980 phone that opens into a tablet and that goes on sale in the United States April 26, said the phone malfunctioned after only a day or two of use.

“We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter,” Samsung said in a statement, noting that a limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review.

Screen cracking, flickering

The problem seems to be related to the unit’s screen either cracking or flickering, according to Twitter posts by technology journalists from Bloomberg, The Verge and CNBC who received the phone this week for review purposes.

Samsung, which has advertised the phone as “the future,” said removing a protective layer of its main display might cause damage, and that it will clearly inform customers such.

The company said it has closed pre-orders for the Galaxy Fold because of “high demand.” It told Reuters there is no change to its release schedule following the malfunction reports.

From phone to tablet

The South Korean company’s Galaxy Fold resembles a conventional smartphone but opens like a book to reveal a second display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm).

Although Galaxy Fold and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.’s Mate X foldable phones are not expected to be big sellers, the new designs were hailed as framing the future of smartphones this year in a field that has seen few surprises since Apple Inc. introduced the screen slab iPhone in 2007.

The problems with the new phone drew comparisons to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phone in 2016. Battery and design flaws in the Note 7 led to some units catching fire or exploding, forcing Samsung to recall and cancel sales of the phone. The recall wiped out nearly all of the profit in Samsung’s mobile division in the third quarter of 2016.

Samsung has said it plans to churn out at least 1 million foldable Galaxy Fold handsets globally, compared with its total estimated 300 million mobile phones it produces annually.

Reviewers puzzled

Reviewers of the new Galaxy Fold said they did not know what the problem was and Samsung did not provide answers.

Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman tweeted: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”

According to Gurman’s tweets, he removed a plastic layer on the screen that was not meant to be removed and the phone malfunctioned afterward.

Dieter Bohn, executive editor of The Verge, said that a “small bulge” appeared on the crease of the phone screen, which appeared to be something pressing from underneath the screen.

Bohn said Samsung replaced his test phone but did not offer a reason for the problem.

“It is very troubling,” Bohn told Reuters, adding that he did not remove the plastic screen cover.

Steve Kovach, tech editor at CNBC.com tweeted a video of half of his phone’s screen flickering after using it for just a day.

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