This week, The Social Network has outlined some of its evolving digital shopping tools, which are designed to make product recommendations more personalized, and address limitations in virtual product assessment.
First off, Facebook’s testing out a new 3D-like option which enables Marketplace sellers to provide a full view of their items within their listings.
“We’re introducing Rotating View, a state-of-the-art 3D-like photo capability that allows anyone with a camera on their phone to capture multi-dimensional panoramic views of their listings on Marketplace. This feature allows any seller with a camera phone to turn regular 2D video into a 3D-like interactive view. We’ve started testing this feature on Marketplace for iOS Sellers to start.”
One of the key challenges in not being able to physically view and hold an item is that you don’t know what you’re getting, and while questionable online shopping experiences have left many regular buyers helpfully skeptical, there are still challenges in ensuring that you’re getting what you’re agreeing to pay for. 3D visuals can help with this, showing any potential flaws or issues that you might not get with a selectively angled image.
Also on Marketplace, Facebook’s using a new, machine-learning based system to help sellers better tag their items.
“This new system, called GrokNet, automatically suggests attributes such as colors and materials when sellers upload a photo of an item for sale on Marketplace, which makes posting a listing much easier. And on the buyer’s side, predicted detailed descriptions provided by [the] system allow you to search Marketplace not just for black chairs, for example, but specifically for a black leather sectional sofa – even if the seller didn’t explicitly add those details to the description.”
GrokNet can also automatically provide product tag suggestions for Facebook Pages, which could help businesses using the new Shop option to maximize discovery of their items.
“When Page admins upload a photo, GrokNet can suggest potential products to tag by visually matching between items in the photo and the Page’s product catalog.”
That’s somewhat similar to Pinterest’s object identification tools, which can pinpoint specific items in an image to use for search and discovery across the platform – though Facebook’s system is more specifically aligned to the products uploaded by that Page.
That could make it easier to generate interest in your offerings – simply upload a photo with your products in it, as you normally would, and Facebook’s system will tag the products you have listed, and facilitate direct connection to those listings in your shop.
Looking even further ahead, Facebook is also testing new, AI-based tools that will be able to learn what style of clothing you prefer based on your existing wardrobe, then make product recommendations based on this.
“[We’re] prototyping an intelligent digital closet, which lets you take photos of your outfits and digitize each item within seconds. The digital closet can provide not only outfit suggestions based on planned activities or weather but also fashion inspiration based on products and styles that you like, so you can shop in the context of what you already own.”
That, also, sounds similar to Pinterest’s ‘Shop the Look’ Pins, which identify items to buy based on a photo – but again, Facebook’s system is a little different. In this instance, Facebook’s process is looking to utilize advanced matching systems to improve relevant discovery based on your existing wardrobe preferences, as opposed to what might look good on a model in an image.
Facebook also says that it’s working on developing new AR try-on type tools for products, which enable users to see how they look in, for example, branded sunglasses based on an ad or Page visit.
Instagram started testing these AR ads with selected partner brands late last year, and Facebook says that it’s looking to expand on this “to support more businesses and products in the future”.
The key to all of this, of course, is simplicity. Facebook shopping won’t work if it’s difficult for merchants to upload their product catalogs, on-platform buying won’t work if the experience isn’t great, and convenient, for consumers. Facebook knows this, which is why it’s taken so long to make the next leap into broader eCommerce offerings.
Enabling on-platform buying makes sense, but if it’s not easy, on all sides, it will clutter Facebook and Instagram, and potentially turn users away due to over-commercialization.
But if Facebook can get it right, it could be huge – and these new tools in testing point to the next phase of that shift, when eCommerce becomes a more integrated, intelligent way to shop.
NHS trusts are sharing intimate details about patients’ medical conditions, appointments and treatments with Facebook without consent and despite promising never to do so.
En Observer investigation has uncovered a covert tracking tool in the websites of 20 NHS trusts which has for years collected browsing information and shared it with the tech giant in a major breach of privacy.
The data includes granular details of pages viewed, buttons clicked and keywords searched. It is matched to the user’s IP address – an identifier linked to an individual or household – and in many cases details of their Facebook account.
Information extracted by Meta Pixel can be used by Facebook’s parent company, Meta, for its own business purposes – including improving its targeted advertising services.
Records of information sent to the firm by NHS websites reveal it includes data which – when linked to an individual – could reveal personal medical details.
It was collected from patients who visited hundreds of NHS webpages about HIV, self-harm, gender identity services, sexual health, cancer, children’s treatment and more.
It also includes details of when web users clicked buttons to book an appointment, order a repeat prescription, request a referral or to complete an online counselling course. Millions of patients are potentially affected.
This weekend, 17 of the 20 NHS trusts that were using Meta Pixel confirmed they had pulled the tracking tool from their websites.
Eight issued apologies to patients. Multiple trusts said they had originally installed the tracking pixels to monitor recruitment or charity campaigns and were not aware that they were sending patient data to Facebook. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is investigating.
De Observer can reveal:
In one case, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS trust shared when a user viewed a patient handbook for HIV medication. The name of the drug and the NHS trust were sent to the company along with the user’s IP address and details of their Facebook user ID.
Alder Hey Children’s trust in Liverpool, sent Facebook details when users visited webpages for sexual development problems, crisis mental health services and eating disorders. It also shared data when users clicked to order repeat prescriptions.
The Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust in London shared data with Facebook when users clicked the information page for its gender identity service, which specialises in working with children who have gender dysphoria. Data was also shared when users viewed the webpage for the Portman Clinic, which “offers specialist help with disturbing sexual behaviours”, and clicked for details on how to be referred to the service.
Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS trust shared data with Facebook when a patient clicked buttons indicating they were under 18, lived in Brighton and wanted to access mental health services.
Other NHS trusts sent detailed receipts to Facebook when users accessed pages for appointment bookings or completed online self-help courses. Barts Health NHS trust, which serves a population of 2.5 million in London, shared data with Facebook when a user clicked to “cancel or change an appointment” or added a visit to a particular hospital to their itinerary.
The Royal Marsden, a specialist cancer centre, sent data on patients requesting referrals, viewing information about private care and browsing pages for particular cancer types.
Information sent to the company is likely to include special category health data, which has extra protection in law and is defined as information “about an individual’s past, current or future health status”, including medical conditions, tests and treatment and “any related data which reveals anything about the state of someone’s health”. Using or sharing it without explicit consent or another lawful basis is illegal.
Once the data reaches Facebook’s servers, it is not possible to track exactly how it is used. The company says it prohibits organisations from sending it sensitive health information and has filters to weed such data out when it is received by mistake.
Professor David Leslie, director of ethics at the Alan Turing Institute, said the transfer of data to third parties by the NHS risked damaging the “delicate relationship of trust” with patients. “Our reasonable expectation when we’re accessing an NHS website is that our data won’t be extracted and shared with third-party commercial entities that could [use it] for targeting ads or linking our personal identities to health conditions,” he said.
He accused Meta of doing too little to monitor what information it was being sent. “Meta says we don’t permit certain types of data being sent to us but they haven’t spent enough on resources to audit this,” Christl said.
In most cases, the information sent to Facebook during a test by the Observer was transferred automatically upon loading a website – before the user had selected to “accept” or “decline” cookies – and without explicit consent. Only three of the 20 trusts mentioned Facebook or Meta in their privacy policies at all. Several of the trusts had previously promised patients that their information would not be shared or used for marketing.
Collectively, the 20 NHS trusts found using the tracking tool serve a population of more than 22 million people in England, stretching from Devon to the Pennines. Some had been using it for several years.
In a statement, the trust apologised to patients and said the Meta Pixel had been active on its website in error. “It was installed in relation to a recruitment campaign, and we were not aware that Meta was using this information for marketing purposes,” a spokesperson said. “Immediate action has been taken to remove it.”
The Royal Marsden said it regularly reviewed its privacy policies but did not say whether it planned to remove the pixel. Barts said it was removing trackers from its website “following the disclosure that they were being used to extract personal information beyond the purpose for which they were originally installed, which was to measure responses to recruitment advertising campaigns.”
Several said they were unaware of how data would be used and apologised to patients for failing to get consent. Aside from the 17 who pulled or are pulling the tool, Hertfordshire Partnership trust and Royal Marsden said they were investigating the issues internally and only the Tavistock and Portman did not respond to requests for comment.
The ICO said it had “noted the findings” and was considering the matter. “People have the right to expect that organisations will handle their information securely and that it will only be used for the purpose they are told,” a spokesperson said.
Several leading US hospitals are currently being sued by their patients over their use of the pixels, which are tiny pieces of code that are invisible during normal browsing.
Meta is also facing legal action over accusations of knowingly receiving sensitive health information – including from pages within patient portals – and not taking steps to stop it. The plaintiffs claim Meta violated their medical privacy by intercepting “individually identifiable health information” from its partner websites and “monetising” it.
Jeffrey Koncius, a partner at Kiesel Law in California and one of the attorneys leading the action, said the data transfer by the NHS websites appeared similar to what was happening in the US. “Imagine if a hospital sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg and said, ‘We want you to know that Jeff Koncius is our patient,’” he said. “That’s exactly what’s happening here. It’s just happening electronically.”
The Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Daisy Cooper described the findings as a “shocking discovery” that raised serious questions about the protection of patient information. “The NHS must investigate how this happened and how widespread this alleged data breach is,” she said.
NHS England said individual trusts were responsible for ensuring they followed data protection laws. “The NHS is looking into this issue and will take further action if necessary,” a spokesperson said.
Meta said it had contacted the trusts to remind them of its policies, which prohibited organisations from sending it health data. “We educate advertisers on properly setting up business tools to prevent this from occurring,” the spokesperson said. They added it was website owner’s responsibility to ensure it complied with data protection laws and had obtained consent before sending data.
The company did not answer questions about the effectiveness of its filters designed to weed out “potentially sensitive data”, or which types of information they would block from hospital websites – or say why it permitted NHS trusts to send it data at all, given the high risk it could reveal details about the web user’s health.
“Like any technology, our filters won’t be able to catch everything all of the time. However, we are constantly improving our mechanisms to make sure we catch as much as we can,” a spokesperson said.
The company offers its business tools to advertisers, saying they can help them use health-based advertising to “grow your business”. In one guide, it says data collected through its business tools can improve users’ Facebook experience by showing them ads they “might be interested in”. “You may see ads for hotel deals if you visit travel websites,” it explains.
Sam Smith, at medConfidential, a data privacy campaign group, said it was never appropriate for the tools to be used to collect health information. “There’s no benefit to NHS trusts in giving this information away. It’s like asking a tobacco company to sponsor a cancer ward,” he said. “NHS England is tacitly approving this by not enforcing anything better.”
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Buy 1, Get 1 Offer: Delhi Woman Falls Prey To ‘Free Thali’ Bait on Facebook, Loses Rs 90,000 In cyber Fraud
When the woman clicked on the link and the app was downloaded after which she entered the user ID and password given by the cyber crook. Few seconds later she received messages that her money was debited.
New Delhi: A 40-year-old woman from southwest Delhi lost Rs. 90,000 after downloading an App on Facebook which lured her with “buy one thali (food plate), get another free” offer. The victim, Savita Sharma, who works as a senior executive at a bank, told the police that one of her relatives informed her about the offer on Facebook.
According to Savita, she visited the site on November 27, 2022 and made a call on the given number to make an enquiry about the deal. She did not get any response but received a call back and “the caller asked her to get the offer of Sagar Ratna (a popular restaurant chain)”, Sharma said in her FIR lodged on May 2 this year.
The caller then shared a link and asked her to download an application to avail the offer. The cyber crook also sent the user ID and password to access the app. “He told me that if I want to get the offer, I will have to register on this app first,” Sharma told PTI.
When the woman clicked on the link and the app was downloaded after which she entered the user ID and password given by the man. “The moment I did it, I lost control of my phone. It was hacked and then I received a message that Rs 40,000 was debited from my account,” she added.
Sharma said that a few seconds later she received another message that Rs 50,000 was withdrawn from her account.
“It was very surprising for me that the money went from my credit card to my Paytm account and then moved out to the fraudster’s account. I never shared any of these details with the caller,” Sharma claimed, adding that she immediately blocked her credit card.
Though the cyber police are probing the matter, similar cases of frauds have been reported from other cities where people lost thousands of rupees.
Sagar Ratna’s statement
When contacted, a representative of Sagar Ratna admitted that they received many such complaints from customers.
“We have received many calls where people complained that they were defrauded by someone who advertised lucrative offers in the name of our restaurant. We warned people to remain alert of any such lucrative deal as we never make offers to people through Facebook,” the representative said, adding the cyber police in other cities are also probing the similar matter.
Police officers said they are educating commoners not to download any application or click on any link which comes from unknown sources.
“Cyber criminals are devising new ways to defraud people. People should not click on any link or app which comes from unknown or unidentified sources,” a cybercrime investigator said.
A resident of Sector 43 in Gurgaon, has lost over Rs 70 lakh to scamsters who promised him hefty commissions under the pretext of a part-time job. The man in his complaint said that he eventually landed in a mountain of debt as he had borrowed loans under his house, father’s property and his business.
On February 27, the victim received a message about a part-time job of rating hotels and ‘liking’ videos. “I was promised a commission of Rs 2,000-3,000. They opened a new bank account for me, wherein they deposited Rs 10,000 as a trial bonus. I was given 30 tasks and upon completion of the first level, I got Rs 2,200 credited. After withdrawing the commission, they asked me if I wanted to continue, and when I replied in the affirmative, they wiped the account clean and asked me to deposit Rs 10,000 again,” the complainant said.
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