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Facebook Shadow Profiles: What You Need to Know

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fb shadowFacebook shadow profiles. Surely you’ve seen the term bouncing across tech news the past few days, and you’ve got a sense it’s probably some nefarious privacy violation—or just the first fun feature Facebook has introduced in years.
But seriously, are shadow profiles real? Do I have one? Are they bad?
If you use Facebook, then “yes” to all three.
Let’s take a trip into Facebook’s shadowy recesses.

Why are shadow profiles in the news?

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Last Friday, right when most journalists were ready to go home for the weekend, Facebook released some embarrassing news. A bug had exposedthe private email addresses and phone numbers of 6 million of its users.

Though Facebook tried to downplay the significance of the bug, journalists rudely forced to work on a weekend quickly realized there was more to the story than just another data leak: Many of the email addresses and phone numbers exposed were not necessarily ever intentionally given to Facebook.

Instead, they were collected on the sly, stored in Facebook’s secret behind the scenes scaffolding, where it collects troves of data on you you’ve never known about. That data on you that you didn’t know Facebook has? That’s a “shadow profile.”

Who has a shadow profile? Are they real?

Well, potentially everyone who has a Facebook account. They contain a certain amount of information you’re not surprised Facebook knows about you—your name, your interests, your relationship status, how many times you’ve liked your friends posts. But at the same time, Facebook’s been able to smartly collect other data about you. Even if you’ve never told Facebook your phone number, for instance, it might have it. As well as your second and third and fourth email addresses.

So where did Facebook get this data?
Your friends! Or maybe even friends of friends. You can thank anyone who allowed Facebook to scan their mobile phone contacts through the “find friends” feature.
When someone uses this feature, Facebook downloads all of a phone’s contact data to its own servers. This includes mostly emails and phone numbers. At the same time, Facebook is also collecting harder-to track data on how you and all your friends and friends of friends are connected to each other. That’s how it finds people to recommend for its “people you may know” feature.
The company’s mobile app even tells you it will do this:
“Find Friends uploads contacts from your device and stores them on Facebook’s servers where they may be used to help others search for people or to generate friend suggestions for you and others.” (Emphasis added)

Does Facebook have shadow profiles on non-Facebook users?
It makes sense that, with all the contact lists uploaded to its servers every day, Facebook would be able to learn a whole lot of information about people who don’t even have Facebook accounts. But while it has stayed mum on shadow accounts as a whole, the company has asserted it does not collect information on people who don’t actually use Facebook.

Is that legal?
In the United States, probably. Facebook mentioned collecting phone contacts in the Terms of Service that all users must agree to before using the site, so unless the company is collecting additional information it didn’tdisclose, users have already given their consent.
But Europe’s data protection laws are much stronger. Max Schrems, owner of Europe vs. Facebook and privacy rights advocate, launched a complaint against Facebook’s European offices, headquartered in Ireland, citing seven different instances where shadow profiles potentially violate the country’s Data Protection Act (read the PDF here). Schrems asserts that the profiles gathered “excessive amounts of information about data subjects without notice or consent by the data subject. In many cases these information might be embarrassing or intimidating for the data subject.”

How long has this been going on?
Facebook said that its user data has been leaking for over a year. Shadow Profiles have been catalogued at least since August 2011, when Schrems filed his complaint against the company. Facebook has had an iPhone app sinceAugust 2007, and the “Find Friends” feature launched on iPhone and Android in April 2011.

Should I be concerned?
Probably! Especially in light of the recent revelations regarding the National Security Agency’s intrusive spying campaign, PRISM. Facebook was one of nine companies the NSA made deals with to turn over information about users. Since Facebook won’t even confirm it hosts “shadow profiles,” its unclear if that information from shadow profiles could have also been passed along to the NSA. But it’s certainly possible.
In other words, you may have an email address that you’ve never listed anywhere for anyone else to see, but because one of your friends added it totheir contact list, a snooping government agency might just discover it.

Mashable

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Global Internet Organization calls for Africans to claim their voice on the internet

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Pierre Dandjinou, ICANN VP of GSE in Africa, stresses a point during the media roundtable.

Pierre Dandjinou, ICANN VP of GSE in Africa, stresses a point during the media roundtable.

By Our Reporter

A media roundtable brought together leaders of regional and global Internet organizations to share perspectives on African representation in the Internet ecosystem, and participation in shaping the Internet’s future.

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Led by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and attended by the Internet Society’s Uganda Chapter, and AfRegistrar, the media roundtable took place during the Africa Internet Summit (AIS) at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel.

ICANN has been actively seeking to help raise awareness and build capacities around the domain name system, and the Internet in general across Africa. As part of this, it has been supporting and holding several workshops in the region.

“Africa’s digital potential is rising, which makes it imperative for the continent to claim its voice in the global Internet governance and protect its interests” stressed Pierre Dandjinou, ICANN VP of GSE in Africa. “With this in mind, ICANN is committed to providing equal opportunities to inform the region’s different communities about the domain name industry, and working with them on how best to not only strengthen Africa’s online presence, but also improve their participation within ICANN. Uganda is no exception.”

ICANN helps people connect to each other online. This happens through its coordination of parts of the Domain Name System (DNS), which is at the very root of the Internet functions. It translates computer host names into IP addresses, as well as the Internet Protocol addressing system used to route Internet traffic. Thus, ICANN plays a specific, technical role, acting in the global public interest as the trusted steward of these unique identifier systems of the Internet. With every email, video chat, or online purchase, ICANN is touched in one way or another. Also, ICANN helps protect the resiliency and security of the DNS and of Internet at large.

“We need to have this dialogue about the Internet now, and not later; as Africa is not outside the realms of the Internet. Every policy made about the future of the Internet concerns us, too. So, we need to join the decision-makers, and not stay as bystanders” said Lillian Nalwoga, the President of ISOC Uganda Chapter.

The Internet penetration in Africa is around 37%, still lagging behind with respect to the global penetration rate which is at 57%.  Internet access is among the many other obstacles Africa has to overcome with respect to its integration into the global digital economy, including the domain name business.

“AfRegistrar will work closely with African Regulators, African Union and Private Sector to enable the emergency of a vibrant Internet Environment for the African Economy, with a good and active Internet Governance, in an active and harmonized Broadband Policy and Regulation for African countries” reiterated Mouhamet Diop, Chair of AfRegistrar.

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Reach A Hand launches app to ease access to sexual and reproductive health information

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Humphrey Nabimanya the Founder and Team Leader at Reach A Hand Uganda during the SautiPlus launch.

Humphrey Nabimanya, the Founder and Team Leader at Reach A Hand Uganda at the SautiPlus launch.

By Our Reporter

Reach A Hand, Uganda (RAHU) has launched a mobile application which is specially designed to allow easy and convenient access to information about sexual and reproductive health & rights.

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Dubbed “SAUTI plus”, the app which is available for download on the Google Play store seeks to help young people understand and safely exercise their Reproductive Health Rights. It provides a safe space where young people can ask and have questions about their sexual reproductive health answered.

Speaking at the launch of the app, Humphrey Nabimanya the RAHU Founder and Team Leader, said the application is an innovative milestone in the organization’s continuous effort to find effective ways of communicating with young people.

“We are always innovating and finding new ways to reach young people. The SAUTIplus application will go a long way in helping us achieve this. It is an innovative one stop mobile app for young people to receive information on Sexual Reproductive Health, livelihood, entrepreneurship and other opportunities in a language that they understand.” said Mr Nabimanya.

“The information on it is in various forms such as 60 second educative videos, street casts, blogs and podcasts. There is also a tab for a counsellor to offer solutions to the challenges of the young people.” He further explained.

The application also provides referrals to youth friendly health service centres reducing the stigma associated with young people and sexual reproductive focused health visits. 

At the same event, RAHU also launched the new season of MTV Shuga Down South which is a series that uses sexual-health messaging with gripping storylines exploring the issues of sexual relationships between young people against a backdrop of continuing HIV infections.

The youth-focused series fosters discussions around the issues of unplanned pregnancy and HIV/AIDS on the continent and other youth centered issues such as abusive relationships, sexual assault and so much more.

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Upgraded TECNO SPARK 3 Series with AI Bright Camera launched.

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Upgraded TECNO SPARK 3 Series with AI Bright Camera launched.

By Staff Writer

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It’s that time of the year when phone manufacturing companies come up with different handset models. TECNO Uganda has today officially launched its newest Series smartphones, the TECNO Spark and the Spark 3 Pro at Sheraton Hotel.

According to Tecno, the two new handset Models are said to be the latest of the Spark Series with improved Camera features among other awesome things. The Camera comes with Artificial intelligence technology (AI Tech) as opposed to their predecessors that is the Spark 2 and 2 Pro.

Both phones run a 9.0 pie Android operating system with a 6.2-inch display LCD capacitive touchscreen with a Trendy and classy appearance. The phones come with improved storage capacity and run 4G LTE.

Definitely the new Series tick the boxes its predecessors failed to.

Some of the Specifications of the spark 3 include:

  • 6.2-inch capacitive display touch screen with an aspect ratio of 19:9
  • Runs Android 9.0 pie operating system (pre-installed on the phone)
  • 4G LTE
  • Face ID
  • 32GB internal storage
  • Quad-core 2.5GHz Media Tek Helio A22 with up to 2GB RAM minimises lagging of applications and renders multi-tasking possible respectively.
  • Finger print Sensor
  • 3,500 mAh Li-ion battery
  • 8MP selfie camera and 13MP + 2MP rear cameras with a LED flash for Bright and better Crisp pictures in poorly lit areas.

Other specifications include Bluetooth V5.0, 3.5mm earphone jack, Wi-Fi, sensors i.e. fingerprint sensor, proximity sensor, G-sensor and Ambient Light sensor, powerVR GE8320 GPU stationed on the phone chip provides quality graphics.

“The success of these latest series Spark 3 and 3 Pro respectively is deemed to surpass its predecessors” narrated the Tecno mobile Uganda Marketing Manager, Gladys Liu speaking at the launch at Sheraton Hotel.

These comments come in review with a positive shift in the sales performance of the Spark 2 and 2pro

The Tecno Spark 3 Series are available in 4 colors; Midnight Black, Bordeaux Red, Aqua blue and champagne Gold.

The smartphones are now up for sale in various smartphone online stores and shops with price tag of UGX429,000 and UGX 489,000 respectively effective of today Monday 6th 2019.

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