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In Dozens of Lawsuits Parents Blame Meta, TikTok for Hooking Kids
More than 70 lawsuits have been filed this year against Meta, Snap, ByteDance’s TikTok and Google centering on claims from adolescents and young adults who say they’ve suffered anxiety, depression, eating disorders and sleeplessness as a result of their addiction to social media.
In at least seven cases, the plaintiffs are the parents of children who’ve died by suicide. The suits make claims of product liability that are new to social media but have echoes of past campaigns against tobacco companies and automobile manufacturers.
The idea that social media companies shoulder responsibility for the potential damage their products cause to young people came to the fore late in 2021 when former Meta Platforms Inc. employee Frances Haugen came forward with documents about its internal operations.
Among Haugen’s allegations was a claim that the company was knowingly preying on vulnerable young people to boost profits. Haugen revealed an internal study at Meta-owned Instagram that found evidence that many adolescent girls using the photo-sharing app were suffering from depression and anxiety around body-image issues.
Health Apps Share Your Concerns With Advertisers. HIPAA Can’t Stop It.
Digital healthcare has its advantages. Privacy isn’t one of them.
In a nation with millions of uninsured families and a shortage of health professionals, many of us turn to healthcare apps and websites for accessible information or even potential treatment. But when you fire up a symptom-checker or digital therapy app, you might be unknowingly sharing your concerns with more than just the app maker.
Facebook has been caught receiving patient information from hospital websites through its tracker tool. Google stores our health-related internet searches. Mental health apps leave room in their privacy policies to share data with unlisted third parties.
Users have few protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) when it comes to digital data, and popular health apps share information with a broad collection of advertisers, according to our investigation.
Apple Is Using Its Reputation for Protecting Privacy to Invade Your Privacy
Apple has built its brand on privacy, and there are many good reasons for this perception. Years ago it built end-to-end encryption into iMessage, for example, which ensures only the sender and receiver can see a message. It famously touted its security focus when it refused to help the FBI open the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone (although it maintains an FBI relationship). And unlike Google, Facebook and some other tech giants, it doesn’t make most of its revenue from online advertising.
But having a pro-privacy brand doesn’t eradicate real privacy questions. If the company is collecting deeply invasive data in the first place, then corporate goodwill is the only thing preventing abuse — and corporate goodwill, whether Apple’s or that of any other company, can only go so far.
Apple’s recent decision to embed fertility tracking in the Watch Series 8 has a similar flavor of leaning on a pro-privacy brand to sideline real privacy concerns. The watches, according to the company, will track people’s body temperatures through two sensors to predict ovulation. Users who already track their cycle through the iPhone’s Health app or the Apple Watch’s Cycle Tracking App can also get menstrual cycle deviation alerts.
Meta’s Nick Clegg Warns Against ‘Industrial-Scale’ Censorship
Nick Clegg, Meta Platforms Inc.’s president for global affairs, on Thursday, said Facebook’s parent company would become “the greatest industrial-scale censor ever in human history” if it removes too much content from its platforms.
Clegg, speaking at an event hosted by news outlet Semafor in Washington, said the company focuses most of its content moderation efforts on posts that can lead to real-world harm. His remarks came in response to a question about when the company chooses to remove abusive content aimed at women and the LGBTQ community.
Meta’s reputation has taken a severe hit in Washington as lawmakers blast the company over its handling of election misinformation, user data, harmful content and children’s privacy.
The Menlo Park, California-based company’s business has been struggling recently as well — Meta’s stock is down more than 50% this year. Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg warned last month that the company is facing one of the “worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history.”
Rutgers Defeats Challenge to Mandatory COVID Vaccine Policy
Rutgers students, unless exempted, must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return to campus, after a federal court in New Jersey dismissed a suit over a mandatory vaccination policy.
It dismissed claims alleging that a policy that took effect for the fall 2021 semester violated multiple constitutional provisions.
The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey narrowed the suit to claims brought against the state university of New Jersey by a nonexempt student and the nonprofit Children’s Health Defense Inc., after finding that the other plaintiffs lacked standing because they’d been granted exemptions.
Canada to Drop Vaccine Mandate at Border Sept. 30
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signed off on Canada dropping the vaccine requirement for people entering the country at the end of September, an official familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Canada, like the United States, requires foreign nationals to be vaccinated when entering the country. No change in the mandate is expected in the U.S. in the near term.
Unvaccinated foreign travelers who are allowed to enter Canada are currently subject to mandatory arrival tests and a 14-day quarantine.
Trudeau’s Liberal government is still deciding whether to maintain the requirement for passengers to wear face masks on trains and airplanes.
Hong Kong Will Scrap COVID Hotel Quarantine From Sept. 26
Hong Kong will scrap its controversial COVID-19 hotel quarantine policy for all arrivals from Sept. 26, more than 2.5 years after it was first implemented, in a long-awaited move for many residents and businesses in the financial hub.
All international arrivals will be able to return home or to the accommodation of their choice but will have to self-monitor for three days after entering the Chinese special administrative hub, the government said on Friday.
People will be allowed to go to work or school but will not be allowed to enter bars or restaurants for three days. A pre-flight PCR test which was required for travelers to Hong Kong 48 hours before flying will be replaced by a Rapid Antigen Test.
Hong Kong still bans public groups of more than four people and masks are mandatory for all, including children as young as two, who must also wear them during school.
Sen. Johnson Demands YouTube Answer for ‘Repeated Censorship’ on COVID, Conservative Viewpoints
GOP Sen. Ron Johnson demanded YouTube give account to the Senate for the company’s moderation policies surrounding COVID-19 that allegedly enabled a “troubling track record” of repeated censorship of a sitting U.S. senator.
In a letter first reviewed by Fox News Digital, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Johnson, of Wisconsin, told YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Johnson that the company’s policies “appear to have led to repeated censorship.”
Johnson is requesting YouTube provide the committee with documentation “concerning the development and implementation” of the company’s content moderation policies surrounding COVID-19 ‘misinformation,’ which YouTube says were created with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food & Drug Administration and other “third party health authorities.”
The letter documents in detail multiple instances, starting in October 2021, in which Johnson alleges YouTube censored and suspended him for his expressed views of early treatment of COVID-19, opposition to vaccine mandates for children and workers, and advocacy for individuals injured by vaccines — including the removal of interviews with Sen. Johnson conducted by journalists discussing these topics.
Meta Sued for Skirting Apple Privacy Rules to Snoop on Users
Meta Platforms Inc. was sued for allegedly building a secret workaround to safeguards that Apple Inc. launched last year to protect iPhone users from having their internet activity tracked.
In a proposed class-action complaint filed Wednesday in San Francisco federal court, two Facebook users accused the company of skirting Apple’s 2021 privacy rules and violating state and federal laws limiting the unauthorized collection of personal data. A similar complaint was filed in the same court last week.
According to the suits, Meta’s collection of user data from the Facebook app helps it circumvent rules instituted by Apple in 2021 requiring all third-party apps to obtain consent from users before tracking their activities, online or off.
Microsoft CEO Doesn’t Want Employees Spied on When Working From Home
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has urged companies not to spy on their staff who are working from home, despite a recent report that claims bosses are less trusting of their employees who do so.
The company’s report indicates that 85% of leaders find it “challenging to have confidence that employees are being productive”, despite a huge 153% increase in Microsoft Teams meetings since before the pandemic.
Microsoft VP Jared Spataro added to Bloomberg, “there’s a growing debate about employee surveillance, and [the company has] a really strong stance — we just think that’s wrong.”
“We don’t think that employers should be surveilling and taking note of the activity of keystrokes and mouse clicks and those types of things because, in so many ways, we feel like that’s measuring heat rather than the outcome.”