HTC’s Tom Daley swimming pool selfie advert banned

An advert showing British Olympic diver Tom Daley using a smartphone at a swimming pool has been banned on the grounds that similar behaviour by consumers would damage the device.

HTC has promoted the ad on social media since mid-2017.

But an investigation by the UK’s advertising watchdog discovered that the device’s own instructions said the phone should not come into contact with pool water.

HTC apologised on Thursday.

The Taiwanese firm also removed the promotion from its YouTube channel.

In a statement, it said: “We are disappointed by the ASA ruling, but have removed the video from our sites.

“We apologise if anyone felt misled as to the handset’s water resistant capabilities.”

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    The advert was designed to highlight the HTC U11’s squeezable sides, which – when pressed – trigger a photo from its front “selfie” camera.

    It showed Mr Daley repeatedly jumping from the highest platform at a swimming pool, and taking images of himself as he fell.

    In addition, the athlete was shown using the phone as he climbed out of the water.

    HTC defended the campaign on the grounds that the device’s IP67 waterpoof rating meant it could be briefly submerged up to a depth of 1m (3.3ft).

    It said that because Mr Daley had entered the water with his feet and held the phone above his head, the phone had not gone any deeper.

    Furthermore, an on-screen warning had told viewers not to “try this stunt”.

    But the Advertising Standards Authority said that a normal member of the public attempting something similar would be unlikely to be able to prevent their phone sinking below 1m.

    The watchdog also noted that HTC had acknowledged that “there were too many variations of water temperature and chemical composition” to be able to say that the U11 could be used in most swimming pools.

    And it highlighted that the device’s own instructions said it should not be intentionally submerged in water, and were that to happen by accident its buttons should not be pressed immediately afterwards.

    As a result it judged the ad to have exaggerated the phone’s capabilities in a misleading manner.

    Still online

    Although the original complaint had been about the appearance of the ad on Facebook, the ASA said that other posts must now be dealt with.

    “Our ruling against HTC applies across media,” a spokesman told the BBC.

    “We expect HTC to ensure its ad is removed from all media and we’ll be contacting the company to remind them of that.”

    The BBC understands that the firm intends to remove the ad from all its global accounts by the end of the day.

    The ASA also issued other tech-related rulings among its latest decisions, including:

    • a ban of an ad for the OnePlus 5 smartphone, which had featured “excessive gore”
    • finding that four listings on Amazon’s UK website had misrepresented the size of the discounts offered on electronic goods
    • agreeing that a TV ad by Barclays Bank had misleadingly implied that if a website featured a green padlock symbol in its browser address bar then it could be trusted
    • judging that the charity Electrosensitivity-UK held inadequate evidence to back up claims in a poster that wi-fi and other types of electromagnetic radiation posed health risks

The week Facebook’s value plunged $58bn

Facebook ended the week $58bn lower in value after its handling of a historic data breach.

Its founder Mark Zuckerberg apologised for data breaches that affected 50 million users.

The apology did not stop investors from selling shares in Facebook, with many wondering just how bad the damage would be for the social network.

The breach was called a “light bulb” moment for users, spawning the social media trend #deletefacebook.

All the negative headlines led to some advertisers saying “enough is enough”.

Shares in the social media company fell from $176.80 on Monday to around $159.30 by Friday night.

Will the shares recover?

Facebook’s initial public offering in 2012 priced shares at $38 each, giving the company a market valuation of close to $104bn.

Following steady user growth and a dominant space in the digital advertising market ensuring revenues, Facebook’s share price climbed to $190 by February this year.

Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research, said he had one of the most negative outlooks for Facebook’s share price on Wall Street.

“I had a $152 price target on Facebook for 2018 – and that was before the events of this week”.

Mr Wieser said the share price slump showed investors were wary of increased regulation and users leaving the platform “but there’s little risk of advertisers leaving Facebook. Where else would they go?”

Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst Laith Khalaf said the week had been a “damaging episode” in Facebook’s history.

“One of the secrets of Facebook’s success has been that the more people who use Facebook, the more integral it becomes to its customers. Unfortunately for Facebook, the same dynamic cuts in the opposite direction if it loses a meaningful number of users as a result of this scandal. “

What has been the response from advertisers?

Advertising firm M&C Saatchi’s founding director David Kershaw said the revelations that a 2014 Facebook quiz essentially harvested data from users and their connected friends without consent have led to a backlash from advertisers.

“Clients have come to the point, quite rightly, where enough is enough, ” Mr Kershaw said.

Advertisers Mozilla and Commerzbank on Wednesday suspended ads on the social media platform.

On Friday tech entrepreneur Elon Musk had the official Facebook pages for his companies Telsa and Space X deleted.

“Make no mistake Facebook is an amazing medium from the advertiser’s point of view because of the accuracy of its targeting – which comes from data. But I think those large companies are very nervous to be associated with a medium where the data is being abused, particularly in a political context,” Mr Kershaw said.

Mr Kershaw told the BBC any change in Facebook’s data protection policy was more likely to come from the threat of a withdrawal of “hard money from advertisers rather than consumers running hashtag [campaigns] on Twitter,” referring to the #DeleteFacebook and #BoycottFacebook hashtags that have become popular.

UK advertising group ISBA met Facebook on Friday and said its “constructive and challenging” summit had convinced the group that the social media company was taking steps to “rapidly address public and advertiser concerns”, including app audits and face-to-face meetings with individual UK advertising clients.

It will take some time before it becomes clear if the advertising industry’s dissatisfaction with Facebook leads to them actually pulling their money out of the social network, or whether the howls of condemnation amount to mere posturing from a group of concerned clients.

Has Zuckerberg done enough to reassure people?

The Facebook founder tried to reassure users “the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago.”

However, Passion Capital tech investor Eileen Burbidge, who is also on the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group, said Facebook’s reassurance to users and clients took too long.

“The fact that it took them five days to come out with a statement, which happened to be a fair, sensible and comprehensive statement, was just far too long,” Mrs Burbidge said.

“I think they were just really tone deaf for too many days.”

The technology venture capitalist said Facebook underestimated the consumer backlash that occurred once their data was used for political purposes.

Cambridge Analytica is at the centre of a row over whether it used the personal data of millions of Facebook users to sway the outcome of the US 2016 presidential election and the UK Brexit referendum.

“Some people are using the term ‘political manipulation’.

“They [Facebook] assumed they had already taken care of this… as they had already changed their terms of service, for example,” Mrs Burbidge said.

In Mr Zuckerberg’s online statement he offered a timeline of how Facebook’s data permission agreements with users and other companies had changed since the 2014 personality quiz app was able to scrape data from quiz takers and their contacts without their expressed permission.

Mrs Burbidge said there may need to be new regulation over political campaigning “which really hasn’t kept up with social media”.

What will Facebook users do?

Technology writer Kate Bevan said the week’s events have woken Facebook’s users up to the fact that the platform’s games, quizzes and apps could harvest their data for more serious intents.

“This week feels to me like a real light bulb moment where people are understanding that it’s not just clicking ‘like’ on Facebook, it’s giving your data away”.

The sentiment was echoed by the European Union’s commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality Vera Jourova who said the Cambridge Analytica allegations had been “a huge wake-up call” for Facebook users about the demand for their data.

“The tiger has gotten out of the cage”.

The week Facebook’s value plunged $58bn

Facebook ended the week $58bn lower in value after its handling of a historic data breach.

Its founder Mark Zuckerberg apologised for data breaches that affected 50 million users.

The apology did not stop investors from selling shares in Facebook, with many wondering just how bad the damage would be for the social network.

The breach was called a “light bulb” moment for users, spawning the social media trend #deletefacebook.

All the negative headlines led to some advertisers saying “enough is enough”.

Shares in the social media company fell from $176.80 on Monday to around $159.30 by Friday night.

Will the shares recover?

Facebook’s initial public offering in 2012 priced shares at $38 each, giving the company a market valuation of close to $104bn.

Following steady user growth and a dominant space in the digital advertising market ensuring revenues, Facebook’s share price climbed to $190 by February this year.

Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research, said he had one of the most negative outlooks for Facebook’s share price on Wall Street.

“I had a $152 price target on Facebook for 2018 – and that was before the events of this week”.

Mr Wieser said the share price slump showed investors were wary of increased regulation and users leaving the platform “but there’s little risk of advertisers leaving Facebook. Where else would they go?”

Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst Laith Khalaf said the week had been a “damaging episode” in Facebook’s history.

“One of the secrets of Facebook’s success has been that the more people who use Facebook, the more integral it becomes to its customers. Unfortunately for Facebook, the same dynamic cuts in the opposite direction if it loses a meaningful number of users as a result of this scandal. “

What has been the response from advertisers?

Advertising firm M&C Saatchi’s founding director David Kershaw said the revelations that a 2014 Facebook quiz essentially harvested data from users and their connected friends without consent have led to a backlash from advertisers.

“Clients have come to the point, quite rightly, where enough is enough, ” Mr Kershaw said.

Advertisers Mozilla and Commerzbank on Wednesday suspended ads on the social media platform.

On Friday tech entrepreneur Elon Musk had the official Facebook pages for his companies Telsa and Space X deleted.

“Make no mistake Facebook is an amazing medium from the advertiser’s point of view because of the accuracy of its targeting – which comes from data. But I think those large companies are very nervous to be associated with a medium where the data is being abused, particularly in a political context,” Mr Kershaw said.

Mr Kershaw told the BBC any change in Facebook’s data protection policy was more likely to come from the threat of a withdrawal of “hard money from advertisers rather than consumers running hashtag [campaigns] on Twitter,” referring to the #DeleteFacebook and #BoycottFacebook hashtags that have become popular.

UK advertising group ISBA met Facebook on Friday and said its “constructive and challenging” summit had convinced the group that the social media company was taking steps to “rapidly address public and advertiser concerns”, including app audits and face-to-face meetings with individual UK advertising clients.

It will take some time before it becomes clear if the advertising industry’s dissatisfaction with Facebook leads to them actually pulling their money out of the social network, or whether the howls of condemnation amount to mere posturing from a group of concerned clients.

Has Zuckerberg done enough to reassure people?

The Facebook founder tried to reassure users “the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago.”

However, Passion Capital tech investor Eileen Burbidge, who is also on the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group, said Facebook’s reassurance to users and clients took too long.

“The fact that it took them five days to come out with a statement, which happened to be a fair, sensible and comprehensive statement, was just far too long,” Mrs Burbidge said.

“I think they were just really tone deaf for too many days.”

The technology venture capitalist said Facebook underestimated the consumer backlash that occurred once their data was used for political purposes.

Cambridge Analytica is at the centre of a row over whether it used the personal data of millions of Facebook users to sway the outcome of the US 2016 presidential election and the UK Brexit referendum.

“Some people are using the term ‘political manipulation’.

“They [Facebook] assumed they had already taken care of this… as they had already changed their terms of service, for example,” Mrs Burbidge said.

In Mr Zuckerberg’s online statement he offered a timeline of how Facebook’s data permission agreements with users and other companies had changed since the 2014 personality quiz app was able to scrape data from quiz takers and their contacts without their express permission.

Mrs Burbidge said there may need to be new regulation over political campaigning “which really hasn’t kept up with social media”.

What will Facebook users do?

Technology writer Kate Bevan said the week’s events have woken Facebook’s users up to the fact that the platform’s games, quizzes and apps could harvest their data for more serious intents.

“This week feels to me like a real light bulb moment where people are understanding that it’s not just clicking ‘like’ on Facebook, it’s giving your data away”.

The sentiment was echoed by the European Union’s commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality Vera Jourova who said the Cambridge Analytica allegations had been “a huge wake-up call” for Facebook users about the demand for their data.

“The tiger has gotten out of the cage”.

Craigslist drops dating ads after new law

Classified advertising website Craigslist has closed its dating ads section in the US, in response to a new bill against sex trafficking.

The bill states that websites can now be punished for “facilitating” prostitution and sex trafficking.

Ads promoting prostitution and child sexual abuse have previously been posted in the “personals” section of Craigslist.

The company said keeping the section open in the US was too much of a risk.

In a statement, Craigslist said the new law would “subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully”.

“Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardising all our other services, so we are regretfully taking Craigslist personals offline,” it said.

In March, US congress passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (Fosta). It will apply to all states in the US.

Websites are not usually held responsible for the content that members post – as long as illegal material is removed as soon as the service provider is made aware.

However, the bill states that “websites that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts” should not be protected.

It imposes fines and prison terms for those who own or operate a website that facilitates prostitution.

On Thursday, social network Reddit also banned its escorts message board.

It said “paid services involving physical sexual contact” were against its latest policies.

Facebook data – do we get what we deserve?

Facebook has been hard to miss this week as it struggles to cope with an unfolding scandal over the way data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica got hold of information about 50 million users.

In the wake of the furore, Facebook has promised to take a tougher line with apps and others who want to mine the mountain of data the social network has stockpiled about its two billion active users.

For some, however, this latest data gathering debacle is the final straw and the hashtag #DeleteFacebook has been trending on Twitter.

Does that mean lots of people have deleted Facebook?

It’s hard to tell. The tag was used more than 50,000 times on Tuesday and Wednesday in tweets, reported the New York Times, which suggests it was a popular topic of discussion. But even if every one of those who used the tag, including singer Cher, deleted their account it would not make much difference to the social network’s total population.

In an interview, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he had not seen a “meaningful number” of people leaving the site.

And, as others have pointed out, even if you delete your Facebook data, it will still keep track of you via those friends and acquaintances who keep using the social network.

What would stop people using Facebook?

Not mistakes with user data, it seems. In a widely shared story, Josh Constine at news site Tech Crunch detailed the many different ways over the last 10 years that the site had gathered too much data and shared it too widely. Throughout that decade of mis-steps, Facebook grew almost without a hiccup.

Just as in the early days of the web when a lot of people thought that Google was the internet, now many look at it only through a window that Facebook provides.

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    Despite this, some changes to the age range of Facebook’s active users are becoming apparent. The average age of its population is rising because young people are less interested in using it.

    They prefer other messaging and social media apps. However, that might not mean they escape it entirely as Facebook owns a couple of services, Instagram and WhatsApp, that are popular with the younger crowd.

    So are people getting what they deserve?

    It has often been said that “if you are not paying for it, you are not the customer, you are the product” and it is a maxim that could be applied to a lot of websites. Most are free to use, signing up is easy and their terms and conditions can be agreed to with a single click.

    All it takes to get the extras is surrendering personal information.

    But those websites regularly betray the trust we place in them to safeguard that information, said Frederike Kaltheuner from digital rights group Privacy International.

    And, she said, many sites take the basic data and extrapolate from it to learn more about us.

    “Any company with enough data about their users behaviour can gain exceptionally sensitive insights into users’ lives,” she said.

    Few people realised that’s what they were surrendering every time they used a service and few appreciated that apps and other add-ons for popular sites were trawling for deep personal details, she added.

    Doesn’t our data help sell ads and keep sites free to use?

    They do, said Chris Combemale, head of the Direct Marketing Association, and there was no doubt that businesses had prospered by making intelligent use of this information.

    But he said firms had to be more transparent about the way they used that data.

    “In no way, shape or form, should companies be collecting data on the public without their knowledge, It is not acceptable,” he said.

    Customer confidence had been “shaken” by this week’s revelations and would be only restored if companies showed more clearly what was being done with data they held, he told the BBC.

    Steps to restore this trust would include ring-fencing data and stopping the third-party trade in data, said Ofri ben Porat, head of tech firm Pixoneye.

    “Privacy is everything,” he said. “Without privacy, there is no trust, and without trust there is no respect.”

    Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group said there were other problems with an online world powered by targeted adverts.

    The conviction that more data meant more productive ads had a downside, in that it drove sites to attract traffic at all costs. It meant they encouraged people to over-share, had given rise to “clickbait” and all those annoying adverts that promise far more than they deliver.

    In many cases there were better ways to get the right adverts to the right people at the right time, he said

    “Targeted ads are a pretty poor model,” he said. “They give limited returns and create a race to the bottom.”

Mark Zuckerberg spins himself some time

There are two ways to look at Mark Zuckerberg’s comments on Wednesday, his first since the Cambridge Analytica crisis unfolded.

They showed either a chief executive getting on top of the situation, and making what sounded like significant concessions in areas we wouldn’t expect.

Or, it was a skilled, composed display of PR spin – a media appearance for which he had almost six days to prepare.

Speaking to CNN’s Laurie Segall, Mr Zuckerberg made it look like he was giving up a lot, while simultaneously dodging the big issues.

Yes, he said he welcomed more regulation – but in a way that wouldn’t have that much impact on Facebook’s business at all.

Yes, he said he would be “happy” to testify before Congress and other committees around the world – but immediately gave himself the get-out clause he has used to avoid all of the other hearings so far.

Yes, he did say sorry – but only for the situation, not specifically for the actions of his company.

Simply – Mr Zuckerberg did enough to buy some time as he tries to get his company in order, but not much more than that.

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    His comment – “I actually am not sure we shouldn’t be regulated” – seemed like a major admission that the time may have come for stricter rules on his business.

    In reality, he was advocating for a bill that would arguably have more impact on the people who advertise on Facebook than Facebook itself.

    “I think there are things like ads transparency regulation that I would love to see,” he told CNN.

    He was referring to the Honest Ads Act that’s being debated by US politicians right now, a proposed law that would force buyers of any online advertising relating to candidates in an election campaign to be more transparent about funding. In other words, the internet equivalent of messages like “I’m Donald Trump and I support this message” being tacked to TV spots.

    The Honest Ads Act would also require companies like Facebook to take “reasonable” steps to determine that no foreign power was buying ads.

    Here’s what’s worth knowing: following the fall-out over Russian-bought ads in the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook said it created the tools needed to handle political ad spending better.

    So if the Honest Ads Act was passed today, chances are Facebook would already be in compliance.

    Dodged hearings

    In the days following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, several investigatory committees in the US and Europe said they would be calling on Mr Zuckerberg to testify in person.

    “The short answer is I’m happy to,” he told CNN. “If it’s the right thing to do.”

    This has been Mr Zuckerberg’s position all along.

    In the past, he’s sent people like lawyer Colin Stretch, who took the lion’s share of questions when the social media companies were summoned to Washington late last year.

    When it wasn’t lawyers, the company opted to send specific department heads, such as policy boss Monika Bickert.

    But to be fair to Facebook, this is a valid approach. If Mr Zuckerberg is a good boss capable of delegating effectively, his department heads would certainly know more about their respective areas than he would.

    It’s worth remembering that when it comes to political theatre, those calling Mr Zuckerberg to Washington would enjoy very much the chance to look tough and impressive when dealing with a powerful tech leader.

    “That’s not a media opportunity – or at least it’s not supposed to be,” Mr Zuckerberg told CNN.

    “We just want to make sure we send whoever is best informed to do that.”

    The investigations looking at Facebook are focused on areas advertising, manipulation, consent and safety. Facebook has a top expert for each of those areas. But Mark Zuckerberg, it’s entirely reasonable to say, isn’t one of them.

    Sorry?

    When his initial statement was posted, those who read it noticed something immediately: he didn’t say sorry.

    Later, in follow up interviews – he appeared to offer something of an apology.

    “So this was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry that this happened,” he told CNN, and repeated in similar words to Wired magazine, tech publication Recode and the New York Times, all of which were given interviews on Wednesday.

    And he is “sorry” – sorry that the company’s missteps and naivety (his word) led to $50bn being wiped off the company’s value and reputational damage from which it may never fully recover.

    His words today expressed an apology for the result, not the cause. Remember, it’s possible to feel sorry for one’s self.

    Analytica comeback

    For me, the most surprising remark Mr Zuckerberg made today was his answer to a question from the New York Times.

    “Are you giving any thought to allowing Cambridge Analytica back in?” asked the newspaper’s reporter, Sheera Frenkel.

    “We’re certainly not going to consider letting them back onto the platform until we have full confirmation that there’s no wrongdoing here,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

    So, it’s possible.

    Mr Zuckerberg’s recent struggles as chief executive have been because of his inability to understand the root of the public’s anger. First on fake news, and now this.

    Some people think that the public is less concerned about the specific nuances of whether or not a policy was breached, and more about the broad ethical stance of Facebook on the use of its data to achieve the aims that Cambridge Analytica promises its clients.

    Mr Zuckerberg had the chance to say such activity was no longer welcome on his network, but chose not to take it.

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