Italy fines Facebook over Cambridge Analytica case

Italy's data protection watchdog slammed Facebook Friday with a fine of one million euros for violating privacy laws over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Italy fines Facebook over Cambridge Analytica case
Photo: AFP

The penalty was for “illegal actions committed in the 'Cambridge Analytica' case, the company that gained access to the data of 87 million users through an app for psychological tests,” it said in a statement.

The social media network has been dogged by controversy in the wake of revelations that defunct political consultancy Cambridge Analytica used private data from tens of millions of Facebook users for political targeting.

The same consultancy worked on both the Leave campaign in the UK's Brexit referendum of 2016 and on Donald Trump's election campaign in the same year.

The privacy watchdog said the fine related to the download of the Thisisyourdigitallife app by 57 Italians via the Facebook login, which saw data gathered on a further 214,077 Italian users without their consent.

The data in this case was not passed on to Cambridge Analytica, it said.

“We're are strongly committed to protecting privacy, and we have invested in resources, technology and partnerships, as well as hiring over 20,000 people to work on security in the last year alone,” Facebook said.

Critics slammed the watchdog for handing the social media giant a relatively small fine, while analysts said it was low because the offence was committed before Europe's new data protection framework came into force.

In December, Italy's competition authority fined Facebook 10 million euros for selling users' data without informing them and “aggressively” discouraging users from trying to limit how the company shares their data.

READ ALSO: Facebook shuts down more than 20 'fake news' pages in Italy

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Facebook backtracks after censoring nude Caravaggio painting

Social media giant Facebook has backtracked on a decision to censor a painting by Italian artist Caravaggio, on the grounds that the nudity violated the site's rules.

Facebook backtracks after censoring nude Caravaggio painting
Amor Vincit Omnia depicts a naked Cupid. Image: Public Domain/WikiCommons

Milan-based art promoter Hamilton Moura Filho had posted an image of the artwork, Amor Vincit Omnia (Love Conquers All), along with a comment about the painting's history.

But his post was swiftly removed by Facebook, with the social network notifying Filho that it had violated the site's “Community Standards” due to the nudity of the painting's subject, Cupid. 

Filho's account was also blocked for several hours.

The offending painting shows a boyish Cupid leaning against a table and smiling, while surrounded by objects representing human achievements. Painted in 1602, it is noted among art historians for its realism – rather than being idealized, the Cupid figure has crooked teeth – but apparently it was just too realistic for Facebook's liking.

The art enthusiast labelled the incident “an outrage against history and culture” and called on other leading figures in the art world to support him in challenging Facebook's decision.

“This is a very important work in art history, and I want to take legal action to protest this censorship,” Filho told La Repubblica on Monday evening.

Legal action is likely to be unnecessary however; Filho later said that Facebook had apologized for blocking his page and reinstated his account. 

“My Facebook is a place to share art and culture. Art is a medicine against ignorance,” he said, thanking numerous prominent art historians and museum directors for their support.

Facebook's guidelines over nudity have created controversy before. Two months ago, Facebook reversed its decision to censor an iconic photograph from the Vietnam War, which shows a young naked girl running from a Napalm bombing.

Norwegian author and journalist had complained of censorship after his post containing the photo was deleted, prompting a national outcry as leading newspaper editors and even Norway's Prime Minister called on Facebook to rethink the decision.