February 22, 2019

You don't have to have a Facebook account for Facebook to know all about you.

In its testing of more than 70 of the most popular apps in Apple's iOS store,The Wall Street Journal has found that at least 11 of them collected personal data and sent it to Facebook. Users didn't even have to be logged into the apps via Facebook, or even have a Facebook account, for their data to be shipped out, the Journal reports.

Most apps warn users that their data may be sent to third parties, but usually don't specify who. Reports have also shown that Facebook gets data regarding when users open other apps. But in the case of several top apps, personal and sensitive data was set to Facebook — some "immediately after it was collected," the Journal says. Those apps include Realtor.com, which told Facebook when users liked certain real estate properties, and Heart Rate:HR Monitor, which shared a user's heart rate.

One of the most disturbing findings came from Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, which says it has 25 million active users. It told "Facebook when a user was having her period or informed the app of an intention to get pregnant," the Journal reports via its testing. In a statement, Flo said it only sends Facebook "depersonalized" information, but the Journal found there was a "unique advertising identifier" linked to the data. A Flo spokesperson then said the app would "substantially limit" its external analytics tracking and run a privacy audit.

A Facebook spokeswoman said it tells apps not to send personal data, tells them to "be clear" about what information they collect from users, and will crack down further on violators. The Journal tested the apps using "software to monitor the internet communications triggered by using an app," it writes. Online privacy company Disconnect repeated the Journal's testing and confirmed its results. Read The Wall Street Journal's whole report here. Kathryn Krawczyk

February 7, 2019

Amid the fallout over Liam Neeson's shocking story about once wanting to murder a random black person, actress Michelle Rodriguez is supporting her co-star with one weird argument.

Rodriguez on Wednesday said that the controversy over the actor's comments is "f---ing bullsh--" and that he is "not a racist," Vanity Fair reports. As evidence, she pointed the opening scene of Widows, in which Neeson passionately kisses Viola Davis. "His tongue was so far down Viola Davis' throat," she said. "You can't call him a racist ever. Racists don't make out with the race that they hate, especially in the way he does with his tongue — so deep down her throat. I don't care how good of an actor you are." Rodriguez contended that the story is "all lies" and that Neeson is a "loving man."

Neeson had sparked controversy earlier this week when he revealed in an interview that decades ago, when a friend of his told him she was raped and identified the perpetrator as a black man, he was so angry he went out with a weapon hoping a random black person would pick a fight with him so he could murder them. Neeson said he was shocked by his own behavior and raised this story to connect with the themes of his new film Cold Pursuit, a revenge-thriller. He appeared the next day on Good Morning America and said he is "not racist" after telling the exact same story a second time. The red carpet premiere of Cold Pursuit was subsequently canceled, and he will reportedly no longer appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Friday as planned. Brendan Morrow

February 6, 2017

President Donald Trump on Monday delivered a speech to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, in which he falsely accused the media of declining to report terror attacks. "It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that," Trump said.

Trump's rhetoric at CENTCOM set off alarm bells among both the media and the Pentagon staff. "Super, super dangerous," said The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza. "Makes people believe the media has some sort of nefarious motives." Meanwhile, BuzzFeed's senior national security correspondent Nancy Youssef reported overhearing a Pentagon staffer ask, "What are we supposed to do with that?" after watching the speech.

The Trump administration has faced heat over similar allegations, with Kellyanne Conway recently referring to a "Bowling Green Massacre," which never occurred. Jeva Lange

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