Apple and Android phones targeted by Italian spyware; Ads for unproven cancer care on metaplatforms

In this weekly segment, ExchangeWire lists key industry updates in media, marketing and commerce from around the world. In this issue: Smartphones in Italy and Kazakhstan hacked by Italian spyware; Metaplatforms flood users with ads for discredited cancer treatments; developers criticize Meta over costs for VR apps; and Amazon restricts listing of LGBTQ+ related products in the UAE.

Google reveals Apple and Android phones hacked by Italian spyware

Hacking tools from Italian RCS Labs were used to spy on Apple and Android smartphones, according to google† The spyware, developed by the tech security company to secretly record private messages and contacts from targeted devices, is believed to have infiltrated smartphones in Italy and Kazakhstan.

In response to the revelations, RCS Labs stated that it operates in accordance with European technical regulations and is compliant with law enforcement authorities. The Milan-based consultancy told Reuters in an email that “RCS Lab personnel are not exposed to, nor participate in, activities conducted by the relevant clients,” adding that it condemned any misuse of its software.

Facebook, Instagram show ads for discredited cancer treatments

Ads for unproven and discredited cancer treatments are unquestionably shown to Facebook and Instagram users, reports MIT Technology Review† The magazine, which conducted its own analysis of ads on Meta’s platforms, found that some of these ads promote treatments proven to cause physical harm, while others are for expensive therapies with redundant or questionable results.

One practitioner promoted by the ads is Centro Hospitalario Internacional del Pacifico, SA (CHIPSA). While CHIPSA’s Facebook ads describe it as “leading” cancer treatment, the facility’s diet-based therapy, Gerson discredited by the medical community for decades† According to MIT’s research, ads for CHIPSA and similar dubious practitioners can spend months in Meta’s ad inventory without challenge.

Hot water meta over VR app cost

The Financial Times reports developers are frustrated that Meta has imposed fees on its VR app store, replicating the chargers in smartphone app stores. For example, The Quest Store, which hosts apps and games for Meta’s popular Oculus Quest 2 VR headset, takes a 30% discount on digital purchases and charges between 15% and 30% on subscriptions.

However, Meta, which has pledged $10 billion ($8.174 billion) a year to develop the metaverse over the next decade, defended its policies, claiming they serve to “promote choice and competition in the VR ecosystem.” The company added, “Our efforts have delivered material financial returns for developers: as we announced earlier this year, more than $1 billion has been spent on games and apps in the Meta Quest Store.”

Amazon restricts LGBTQ+ related products under pressure from UAE

E-commerce giant Amazon has restricted search results for LGBTQ+ related products in the United Arab Emirates after threats of sanctions from the country’s government. The UAE is one of 69 countries worldwide whose laws criminalize homosexuality.

An Amazon spokesperson told the BBC: “As a company, we remain committed to diversity, equality and inclusion, and we believe the rights of LGBTQ+ people should be protected,” but added: “With Amazon stores around the world, we must also comply with the local laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate.”

The move comes as Pride Month, celebrated every June to commemorate the Stonewall uprising and uplift the LGBTQ+ community, comes to a close.

Also in the news:

— The MadTech Podcast: Digilearning’s Lisa Goodchild on eBay’s NFT Buy, Premium Tiers, and Big Tech’s Legal Woes

– Equativ at Cannes Lions – Publishers 2.0

– Insights & Attitudes Report: The Future of UK Advertising

– ATS London 2022 – Top Tips Ebook

– “In a world of walled gardens, we want to be fields” – a summary of Equativ’s Cannes panel

– ATS London 2022: what went wrong

– IAB GCC’s MENA Digital Adspend Report: What the Industry Says

– The Wires Global – Meet the judges: Patrick Zinga

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