Facebook was in the news again last week. To start with, on September 28, Facebook reported a security breach that affected 50 Mn accounts. The hack reportedly occurred on September 25, when Facebook’s engineering team discovered a security breach that allowed unknown attackers to take over 50 Mn user accounts; it added that another 40 Mn were vulnerable to the attack.
Attackers reportedly stole Facebook access tokens through its “view as” feature, which they used to take over users’ accounts. The “view as” feature enables users to see how their own profile looks like to someone else. Facebook shares fell 3% to $163.78 on the news.
On Friday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters said that the company didn’t know who was behind the attack and whether any of the accounts that were hacked were misused. Facebook claimed that it has fixed the vulnerability and informed the authorities.
Also last week, Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp, spoke publicly for the first time about his #DeleteFacebook tweet and why he left Facebook in August last year to focus on a nonprofit.
Acton and his co-founder, Jan Koum, sold the messaging app to social media giant Facebook in 2014 for $22 Bn in one of the most talked-about acquisitions ever. However, Acton is still unhappy with the decision, even though the deal made him a multi-billionaire.
In an exclusive interview with Forbes, Acton was cited as saying: “I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.” The interview provides a window into the soul of an entrepreneur who realised he had sold his company to another that had very different plans for it. Acton left Facebook in 2017, before his Facebook stock had fully vested, leaving behind $850 million, the Forbes report said.
Acton disclosed that the major point of contention between him and Koum and Facebook was the latter’s plans to monetise the messaging app, which has 1.5 Bn users. Both Koum and Acton were resistant to Facebook’s targeted advertising model, which uses personal data to let marketers show ads to specific types of users on the social network.
Acton suggested that Facebook had also prepared him to meet representatives of the European Competition Commission in order to get the acquisition past the EU regulators. He added that he never could develop a rapport with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg.
Following in Acton’s and Koum’s footsteps, now, the founders of photo and video sharing platform Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, are reportedly quitting the company.
Instagram was founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010 and sold to Facebook in 2012. Notably, the founders did not cite any particular reason for their exit. However, speculations are that there is tension between both the companies regarding Instagram’s autonomy.
Facebook also confessed last week that it uses phone numbers provided by users for two factor authentication to target them with ads.
Meanwhile, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was present at Washington to attend a private meeting with top Republican lawmakers last week to answers their questions regarding the company’s controversial plans to relaunch a search product in China.
We’ve kept you updated on the happenings in the Indian startup ecosystem. With the week coming to a close, it’s time to catch up on important updates from the week gone by.
In Inc42’s weekly rundown of international stories from the tech and startup ecosystem around the world, we bring to you the important developments from the week gone by. Here are some more:
WikiLeaks Founder Steps Down
Founder of WikiLeaks, a non-profit organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media Julian Assange, will step down from his position as editor-in-chief. Former WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson will take up the position due to “extraordinary circumstances” that have seen Assange “held incommunicado,” according to the company.
Earlier, Hrafnsson had “overseen certain legal projects for WikiLeaks.” Assange launched the organisation in 2006 and has served as the editor-in-chief since then. Assange will continue to be involved as the organisation’s publisher.
SEC Charges Elon Musk With Fraud
US independent agency the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Tesla CEO Elon Musk with fraud for tweeting almost two months that he had “funding secured” for a private takeover of the company at $420 per share.
The Southern District of New York identified the tweets as “false and misleading”. In response, Musk reportedly responded by describing the fraud charges as an “unjustified action”.
Walmart To Use Blockchain To Digitise Food Supply Chain
US-based retail giant Walmart has been working with technology and consulting company IBM for over a year on a food safety blockchain solution. Walmart recently announced that it requires all suppliers of green vegetables from Sam’s and Walmart to upload their data on the blockchain by September 2019.
Each node on the blockchain may represent an entity that has handled the food on the way to the store, making it easier and faster to see if one of the affected farms sold infected supply to a particular location with much greater precision. The retail giant is looking to use the blockchain to digitise its food supply chain and make it more traceable and transparent.
Airbnb Wants To Give Equity To Its Hosts
US-based online community marketplace Airbnb wants to give its hosts the opportunity to own a piece of its business. The company has reportedly written to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, requesting it to revise the rules around equity ownership.
Airbnb is seeking a change in SEC’s Rule 701 that governs ownership of equity in companies. It wants the rule to allow a new kind of shareholder class for workers who participate in gig economy companies and their services.
Uber Agrees To Pay $148 Mn To Settle 2016 Data Breach
Ridesharing company Uber has reportedly agreed to pay $148 Mn to settle a data breach that took place in 2016 and had affected approximately 50 Mn riders and 7 Mn drivers. According to Uber’s chief legal officer Tony West, the agreement was made with the attorney generals of all 50 states and the District of Columbia to resolve their legal inquiries on this matter.
Around 600K driver license numbers belonging to the drivers from the US were also affected in the breach. According to reports, the company had also fired its chief security officer Joe Sullivan and one of his deputies for their roles in hiding the breach, who had reportedly paid $100K payment to the attackers to keep the matter hidden.
Uber, Grab Fined For Violating Singapore Laws
Cab-hailing services Uber (based in the US) and Grab (based in Singapore) have reportedly been charged a combined fine of $9.5 Mn as a merger deal between the two companies was found to violate anti-competition laws in Singapore. Grab acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia business in March.
After months of investigations, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) said that it had found that Grab had raised prices by 10-15% after the deal evem as its market share grew to 80% in the country. The CCCS declared that the deal was “anti-competitive”.
Digital Payments Co Stripe Reaches $20 Bn Valuation
US-based digital payment company Stripe was valued at $20 Bn after a fundraise of $245 Mn in a funding round led by US-based investment firm Tiger Global Management, along with other new investors Sequoia and Hong-Kong based DST Global. Existing investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst and Thrive Capital also participated in the round.
The company plans to use the fresh funding to hire more people for what it describes as its “distributed global engineering team.” Currently, Stripe has hubs in San Francisco, Seattle and Dublin is also going to launch a new hub in Singapore.
Stay tuned for the next week’s edition of Around The Tech And Startup World!