Facebook mistakenly leaked developer analytics reports to testers

Set the “days without a Facebook’s privacy problem” counter to zero. This week, an alarmed developer contacted TechCrunch, informing us that their Facebook App Analytics weekly summary email had been delivered to someone outside their company. It contains sensitive business information including weekly average users, page views, and new users.

After two days of Facebook investigating, the social network now confirms to TechCrunch that 3 percent of apps using Facebook Analytics had their weekly summary reports sent to their app’s testers, instead of only the app’s developers, admins, and analysts.

Testers are often people outside of a developer’s company. If the leaked info got to an app’s competitors, it could provide them an advantage. At least they weren’t allowed to click through to view more extensive historical analytics data on Facebook’s site.

Facebook tells us it plans to notify all impacted developers about the leak today. Below you can find the email the company will send:

Subject line: We recently resolved an error with your weekly summary email

We wanted to let you know about a recent error where a summary e-mail from Facebook Analytics about your app was sent to testers of your app ‘[APP NAME WILL BE DYNAMICALLY INSERTED HERE]’. As you know, we send weekly summary emails to keep you up to date with some of your top-level metrics — these emails go to people you’ve identified as Admins, Analysts and Developers. You can also add Testers to your account, people designated by you to help test your apps when they’re in development.

We mistakenly sent the last weekly email summary to your Testers, in addition to the usual group of Admins, Analysts and Developers who get updates. Testers were only able to see the high-level summary information in the email, and were not able to access any other account information; if they clicked “View Dashboard” they did not have access to any of your Facebook Analytics information.

We apologize for the error and have made updates to prevent this from happening again.

One affected developer told TechCrunch “Not sure why it would ever be appropriate to send business metrics to an app user. When I created my app (in beta) I added dozens of people as testers as it only meant they could login to the app…not access info!” They’re still waiting for the disclosure from Facebook.

The privacy mistake comes just weeks after a bug caused 14 million users’ Facebook status update composers to change their default privacy setting to public. And Facebook has had problems with misdelivering business information before. In 2014, Facebook accidentally sent advertisers receipts for other business’ ad campaigns, causing significant confusion. The company has also misreported metrics about Page reach and more on several occasions.

While Facebook has been working diligently to patch app platform privacy holes since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, removing access to many APIs and strengthening human reviews of apps, issues like today’s make it hard to believe Facebook has a proper handle on the data of its 2 billion users.

from Social – TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/facebook-analytics-leak/
via Superb Summers

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Facebook prototypes tool to show how many minutes you spend on it

Are you ready for some scary numbers? After months of Mark Zuckerberg talking about how “Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits”, Facebook is preparing to turn that commitment into a Time Well Spent product.

Buried in Facebook’s Android app is an unreleased “Your Time On Facebook” feature. It shows the tally of how much time you spent on the Facebook app on your phone on each of the last seven days, and your average time spent per day. It lets you set a daily reminder that alerts you when you’ve reached your self imposed limit, plus a shortcut to change your Facebook notification settings.

Facebook confirmed the feature development to TechCrunch, with a spokesperson telling us “We’re always working on new ways to help make sure people’s time on Facebook is time well spent.”

The feature could help Facebook users stay mindful of how long they’re staring at the social network. This self-policing could be important since both iOS and Android are launching their own screen time monitoring dashboards that reveal which apps are dominating your attention and can alert you or lock you out of apps when you hit your time limit. When Apple demoed the feature at WWDC, it used Facebook as an example of an app you might use too much.

Images of Facebook’s digital wellbeing tool come courtesy of our favorite tipster and app investigator Jane Manchun Wong. She previously helped TechCrunch scoop the development of features like Facebook Avatars, Twitter encrypted DMs, and Instagram Usage Insights — a Time Well Spent feature that looks very similar to this one on Facebook.

Our report on Instagram Usage Insights led the sub-company’s CEO Kevin Systrom to confirm the upcoming feature, saying ““It’s true . . . We’re building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram – any time should be positive and intentional . . . Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it’s the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this. We want to be part of the solution. I take that responsibility seriously.”

Facebook has already made changes to its News Feed algorithm designed to reduce the presence of low-quality but eye-catching viral videos. That led to Facebook’s first ever usage decline in North America in Q4 2017, with a loss of 700,000 daily active users in the region. Zuckerberg said on the earnings call that this change “reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day.”

Zuckerberg has been adamant that all time spent on Facebook isn’t bad. Instead as we argued in our piece “The Difference Between Good And Bad Facebooking”, its asocial, zombie-like passive browsing and video watching that’s harmful to people’s wellbeing, while active sharing, commenting, and chatting can make users feel more connected and supported.

But that distinction isn’t visible in this prototype of the “Your Time On Facebook Tool” which appears to treat all time spent the same. If Facebook was able to measure our active vs passive time on its app and impress the health difference, it could start to encourage us to either put down the app, or use it to communicate directly with friends when we find ourselves mindlessly scrolling the feed or enviously viewing people’s photos.

from Social – TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/your-time-on-facebook/
via Superb Summers

Messenger Kids expands outside the U.S., rolls out ‘kindness’ features

Facebook’s kid-friendly messaging app, Messenger Kids, is expanding to its first countries outside the U.S. today, with launches in Canada and Peru. It’s also introducing French and Spanish versions of its app, and rolling out a handful of new features focused on promoting respect and empathy, including a “Messenger Kids Pledge” and something called “Kindness Stickers,” which are meant to inspire more positive emotions when communicating online.

The stickers say things like “MY BFF” or “Well Done!” or “Best Artist,” and are designed to be placed on shared photos.

Also helpful is the new “Messenger Kids Pledge,” which is designed for both parents and children to read together, and includes some basic guidelines about how to be behave online. For example, it reminds everyone to “be kind when you communicate,” and to “be respectful,” explaining also that when someone doesn’t respond right away, they may just be too busy. “Be safe” and “have fun” are also a part of the guidelines.

This seems like a small addition, but it’s the kind of thing parents should already be doing with their kids when they introduce new technology – and many do not. Some parents don’t even know what apps kids are using, which has allowed those less secure apps to become hunting grounds for predators.

Messenger Kids works differently, as it requires parental involvement. Kids can’t add any friends without parental approval, and the app can be managed directly from parents’ Facebook.

While it’s understandable that people have a hard time trusting Facebook these days, there isn’t any viable alternative that allows kids to “practice” communicating or socializing online in a more controlled environment. Kids instead beg for apps aimed at adults and older teens, like Snapchat, Instagram, and Musical.ly – apps I personally won’t install for a “tween.”

Messenger Kids at least gives kids a way to privately socialize with approved people – kids whose parents you know and trust, and family members on Facebook. They’re at an age where you can still look over their shoulder, and correct bad behavior as it arises.

The alternative to using Messenger Kids is what a lot parents do – they refuse all social apps until kids reach a certain age, then throw them to the wolves on the internet. Is that really better?

Despite its sandboxed nature, kids like Messenger Kids because it has the features they actually want from the adult-oriented apps – like photo filters and stickers. (If the app would please add Facebook’s new lip-sync feature so I could stop hearing the begs for Musical.ly on a daily basis, I’d be much appreciative.)

Related to its push for kindness and respect, Messenger Kids will also soon roll out an interactive guide within its app called the “Appreciation Mission” which will encourage kids to discover and express appreciation for their friends and family. This will live in the “Mission” section of the app, where kids learn how to use features, like starting a video call or sending a photo.

Facebook says it consults with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a global group of advisors on the development of the features focused on these principles of social and emotional learning. (The Yale Center is a paid advisor.)

Come to think of it, a lot of adults could benefit from these sorts of features, too. Maybe Facebook and Twitter should add their own in-app kindness reminders, as well?

Messenger Kids also added support for two parents to manage kids’ accounts, based on customer feedback.

The app is a free download on iOS and Android.

 

from Social – TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/messenger-kids-expands-outside-the-u-s-rolls-out-kindness-features/
via Superb Summers