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CubeYou Cambridge-like app collected data on millions from Facebook

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Facebook is suspending a data analytics firm called CubeYou from the platform after CNBC notified the company that CubeYou was collecting information about users through quizzes.

CubeYou misleadingly labeled its quizzes “for non-profit academic research,” then shared user information with marketers. The scenario is eerily similar to how Cambridge Analytica received unauthorized access to data from as many as 87 million Facebook user accounts to target political marketing.

The CubeYou discovery suggests that collecting data from quizzes and using it for marketing purposes was far from an isolated incident. Moreover, the fact that CubeYou was able to mislabel the purpose of the quizzes — and that Facebook did nothing to stop it until CNBC pointed out the problem — suggests the platform has little control over this activity.

Facebook, however, disputed the implication that it can’t exercise proper oversight over these types of apps, telling CNBC that it can’t control information that companies mislabel. Upon being notified of CubeYou’s alleged violations, Facebook said it would suspend all CubeYou’s apps until a further audit could be completed.

“These are serious claims and we have suspended CubeYou from Facebook while we investigate them,” Ime Archibong, Facebook vice president of product partnerships, said in a statement.

“If they refuse or fail our audit, their apps will be banned from Facebook. In addition, we will work with the UK ICO [Information Commissioner’s Office] to ask the University of Cambridge about the development of apps in general by its Psychometrics Centre given this case and the misuse by Kogan,” he said. Aleksander Kogan was the researcher who built the quiz used by Cambridge Analytica.

“We want to thank CNBC for bringing this case to our attention,” Archibong added.

The revelation comes as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to answer questions before Congress this week stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are expected to quiz him on what the site is doing to enhance user privacy, and prevent foreign actors from using Facebook to meddle in future elections.

Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has claimed personal responsibility for the data privacy leaks, and the company has launched several initiatives to increase user control over their data.

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Ant Group to raise $34.5 billion in the biggest IPO of all time

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The Ant Group logo and the Alibaba Group logo are displayed at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ant Group will raise $34.5 billion in its dual initial public offering (IPO) after setting the price for its shares on Monday, making it the biggest listing of all time.

The Chinese financial technology giant previously said it would split its stock issuance equally across Shanghai and Hong Kong, issuing 1.67 billion new shares in each location.

Ant Group’s Shanghai-listed shares will be priced at 68.8 yuan each. The issuing of 1.67 billion shares will raise 114.94 billion yuan or $17.23 billion, according to the exchange rate listed in the official filings.

The Hong Kong-listed shares have been priced at 80 Hong Kong dollars each, raising 133.65 billion Hong Kong dollars or $17.24 billion.

The listing will raise a total of just under $34.5 billion, with the possibility for that figure to go higher if the so-called over-allotment option is exercised, depending on demand. It makes it the largest IPO of all time, putting it ahead of previous record holder Saudi Aramco, which raised just over $29 billion.

Ant’s valuation based on the pricing will be $313.37 billion, larger than some of the biggest banks in the U.S., including Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo.

The Chinese company previously said that strategic investors have agreed to subscribe to 80% of the company’s Shanghai-issued shares. Alibaba, via its subsidiary Zhejiang Tmall Technology, has agreed to buy 730 million A-shares, which are yuan-denominated shares of Chinese companies listed in mainland exchanges. This will allow Alibaba to maintain its roughly 33% stake in Ant Group.

Ant’s pricing comes after regulators in mainland China and Hong Kong gave the green light for the listing last week.

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SAP market cap plunges by $30 billion as coronavirus takes its toll

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A company logo is attached to the headquarters of the SAP software group.

Uwe Anspach | picture alliance | Getty Images

LONDON — German enterprise software group SAP saw its market valuation fall by 25 billion euros ($30 billion) on Monday as shares collapsed by over 17% following disappointing third-quarter results.

The company, which slashed its revenue forecast for 2020, saw its market cap fall from 125 billion euros to 100 billion euros and it is on track for its worst trading day in 12 years.

SAP said coronavirus lockdowns would affect demand for its business relations and customer management software well into 2021 as it announced that it plans to go all-in on cloud computing.

The firm is abandoning medium-term profitability targets and it warned that it will take longer than expected to recover from the pandemic.

“As the CEO of SAP, I have to be focused on the long-term value creation of this company,” SAP Chief Executive Christian Klein told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Monday.

“So I cannot trade the success of our customers and the significant revenue potential of SAP against short-term margin optimization.”

JPMorgan cut its price target for SAP to 120 from 160 euros, and downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “overweight.”

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Thai protests could turn violent and lead to a military coup: Analyst

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Thailand could potentially return to rule under the military junta again — if violence should flare up between pro-democracy student protesters and “counter-protesters” loyal to the establishment, one analyst told CNBC on Monday.   

The pro-democracy protests, which have lasted for months, have been largely peaceful so far. Among the protesters’ list of demands are the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and reforms to the monarchy. Prayuth has ignored protesters’ deadline for him to step down.

Royalists — commonly known as the “yellow shirts” — have in recent weeks started to hold counter protests. Last Wednesday, a small counter protest in Bangkok turned violent when a few attendees attacked student demonstrators on the anti-government camp, reported the Associated Press.

“I think that there’s going to be growing tensions which could actually develop into some conflict, perhaps some violent conflict and that’s very dangerous,” Paul Chambers, lecturer and advisor at Naresuan University’s Center of ASEAN Community Studies, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“These peaceful protests are going to continue, try to continue on. However, there’s going to be some right-wing counter-protesters who I expect are going to try to create some violence, which could lead to some injuries and deaths and eventually, even potentially a military coup,” he said.

Chambers explained that if clashes between pro-democracy protesters and royalists grow, the military would have the “perfect rationale” to intervene. That could put an end to the current “facade democracy” — which is indirectly dominated by the military — and mark the beginning of a new junta, he said.

Such a development will not bring much peace for the country, he added.

Thailand is no stranger to military coups, having last experienced one in 2014 engineered by the current prime minister. Last year, the country held its first general election since that coup, which saw the military-backed Palang Pracharath Party lead the coalition government.

Prayuth — now retired from the army — was selected as prime minister by a parliament consisting of many appointed senators from the Thai military and police.

The economic outlook for the Southeast Asian country has dimmed substantially this year even though the country’s coronavirus outbreak is now largely under control. The International Monetary Fund projected the Thai economy could contract by 7.1% this year.

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