Officials from the European Union’s central competition authority, the European Commission, sent detailed questionnaires to rival online messaging companies as part of the EC’s pending investigation of Facebook’s $19 billion deal to acquire WhatsApp, which was initially announced in February.
On April 15, HasOffers and Kontagent had to deal with more than just paying taxes: They were forced to drop support for Facebook mobile ad tracking due to violations of policy for retaining too much user data. This was a surprise to many in the industry when it was first announced, because Facebook depends on its mobile measurement partners to help measure the effectiveness of its mobile ads. Advertisers rely on these mobile tracking solutions because they offer cross-platform products that support Google, Apple iAds, and Millennial Media, as well as Facebook.
Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of cross-platform mobile messaging company WhatsApp, announced last month, became the target of privacy groups, as the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that the privacy of current WhatsApp users will be affected by Facebook’s use of their information.
How serious is Facebook about privacy? Attribution analytics provider HasOffers and mobile analytics provider Kontagent found out the hard way, as AdExchanger reported that the two companies were booted out of the social network’s mobile measurement partner program for violating its policies.
There were fewer than 1,000 requests for information about Facebook users via National Security Letters from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, involving fewer than 1,000 users and accounts, Vice President and General Counsel Colin Stretch announced in a Newsroom post, adding a reminder that the company is “limited to reporting data in bands of 1,000.”
Are Facebook’s private messages really private? Not so much, according to a lawsuit that accuses the social network of scanning the content of private messages and sharing information about users’ Web activities with advertisers and marketers, Bloomberg reported.
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has often stressed the social network’s goal to measure the effectiveness of ads throughout the conversion process, and not just focus on clicks, and the company took another step forward on that front with Friday’s announcement that users of its custom audiences feature for ad targeting can now measure offline sales driven by their campaigns.
Facebook announced that it is open-sourcing its RocksDB embeddable, persistent key-value store, which enables fast storage and global, real-time data fetching of the social network’s massive cache of user data.
Facebook received about 8,500 requests for user data from governments of countries in the European Union during the first six months of 2013, involving some 10,000 accounts, Richard Allan, the social network’s director for public policy in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, said at a hearing organized by the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, offering more details on the data released by the company in August.