Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has launched two inquiries into Facebook Inc FB.O after concerns were raised about the social network giant’s handling of children’s personal data on Instagram.
The DPC, the main data privacy regulator in the European Union, received complaints from individuals and had identified “potential concerns” in relation to the processing of children’s personal data on Instagram, Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Both inquiries were launched last month, Doyle said in the statement.
Facebook did not immediately respond when contacted by Reuters on Sunday.
The Telegraph, which first reported the inquiry, said Instagram made the email addresses and phone numbers of users under 18 public.
The Irish regulator launched its probe following a complaint by David Stier, a U.S. data scientist, the Telegraph added.
The first inquiry looks to establish if Facebook has the legal basis to process the data and whether it employs adequate protections and/or restrictions on Instagram.
“This inquiry will also consider whether Facebook meets its obligations as a data controller with regard to transparency requirements in its provision of Instagram to children,” Doyle said.
Instagram’s profile and account settings will be the focus of the second inquiry, examining whether the social media company is adhering to the regulator’s data protection requirements.
Ireland hosts the European headquarters of a number of U.S. technology firms, making the DPC the EU’s lead regulator under the bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation’s “One Stop Shop” regime introduced in 2018.
The new rules give regulators the power to impose fines for violations of up to 4% of a company’s global revenue or 20 million euros ($22 million), whichever is higher.
Google’s latest Chrome update delivers ‘largest performance gain in years’
Google is wrapping up 2020 with what it claims are major performance enhancements to the company’s Google Chrome browser. “This month’s update represents the largest gain in Chrome performance in years,” Matt Waddell, Chrome’s director of product, wrote in a blog post. Sounds pretty exciting on the surface, no? Waddell says a slew of under-the-hood changes and optimizations have led to boosts to Chrome on several fronts.
But even opening Chrome should feel faster. The browser now launches 25 percent faster — hopefully to where you’ll notice the difference. It loads pages up to 7 percent faster, “and does all of this using less power and RAM than before.”
Google is also adding tab search, which is exactly what it sounds like and could be a godsend for those of us buried under an avalanche of them. “You’ll now be able to see a list of your open tabs — regardless of the window they’re in — then quickly type to find the one you need.” This feature is debuting on Chromebooks first and then expanding to other desktop versions of Chrome.
The address bar is getting a bit more useful with something Google calls Chrome Actions, “a faster way to get things done with just a few keystrokes.”
For example: when you type “edit passwords,” or “delete history,” you can now take action directly from the bar. Our first set of actions — available initially on desktop — focuses on privacy and security, so you can increase your peace of mind in a few clicks.
And last, you might soon notice “cards” when you open a new tab in Chrome.
To help you jump back into activities like planning a meal, researching a holiday gift, or winding down with a video, we’ll soon add cards to your new tab page in Chrome. Clicking on them will take you to recently-visited and related content on the web, and save you time in the process.”
For now, cards will only appear “for some users” beneath the shortcuts area; Google says it’s planning to add entertainment-focused cards in 2021.
All these things together add up to a significant update for the world’s most popular web browser. And they come on the very day that Apple is being lauded for the speed and efficiency of its new M1 Mac computers. Speaking of which, Chrome for macOS also gets a new icon that’s a better fit for the latest Big Sur release. But if the optimizations actually meet Google’s claims, I’m way more excited about the improved efficiency. The update to Chrome 87 is rolling out beginning today.
Facebook and Instagram are getting Vanish Mode in chats
Ten days ago WhatsApp got Disappearing Messages and now the other two apps with messaging abilities in the Facebook family are adopting it. Both Messenger and Instagram will get Vanish Mode which will delete messages upon closing the conversation window.
Vanish Mode is activated with a swipe from the bottom of the chat. Once a message is sent, it will stay on the screen until it is turned off or the app is switched. Of course, you can always screenshot the message before it disappears.
The new feature will work both in group chats and personal conversations. While they are instantly disappearing, Facebook revealed conversations can be reported, meaning they will remain in the system for up to 14 days, so they are not instantly deleted.
Such features aren’t entirely new in the Facebook universe – there still is “Secret Conversation” for Messenger but it is rather tedious to set up and use and nobody has the time for that. Instagram also has something of a disappearing feature – currently, photos can be sent and set up to disappear once seen but nothing on messages unless you Unsend them.
YouTube went down around the world, but it’s now fixed
YouTube has recovered from a seemingly worldwide outage that prevented videos from loading for roughly an hour. During the outage, many Verge staffers were unable to watch videos, and YouTube confirmed at 7:23PM ET that something was going on:
The issue appeared to affect other services that use the YouTube infrastructure too, including YouTube TV and the movies and TV shows you’d purchase through Google TV (formerly known as Google Play Movies & TV). We couldn’t load them.
Early in the outage, the YouTube website itself seemed to load just fine, but videos themselves would continuously show the loading wheel. One Verge staffer got a video to load after about a minute. As of about 8:00PM ET, though, we saw error screens like this whenever we tried to watch a video:
At 9:13 PM ET, YouTube gave the all-clear:
Things seemed to be back as early as 8:30PM ET, but you might have hit a few quirks. At that point, videos played on YouTube’s website seemed to be working as they normally do. On the mobile app, one Verge staffer saw a few error messages, but those would clear with a refresh. YouTube TV worked on mobile for another Verge staffer at that point after he force closed the app.
DownDetector showed a truly tremendous number of user reports of problems with YouTube, indicating the problem was widespread — the DownDetector graph peaked with more than 280,000 user reports in less than an hour. Numerous users on Twitter reported that YouTube wasn’t working for them, either, and searches spiked for “is YouTube down.”
When reached for comment, YouTube pointed us to the tweet we included in this story.