The Airline Whose Planes Are Said to Break Down In Mid-Air More Often Than Anyone's Is About To Have a Big PR Problem

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

They say you should get out ahead of a bad story.

Present your version before the story hits, so that people can have good feelings about you before aspersions are cast.

I wonder, therefore, what Allegiant Air might do this weekend.

I wrote about this airline a couple of years ago, after it had been accused of having planes that break down four times more often than those of other airlines.

In mid-air, that is.

Of the airline’s 86 planes, it was said that 42 of them had broken down in mid-air the previous year.

The airline fought back and claimed that the accusations were “incendiary.” Indeed, its stock went up 24 percent soon after the original Tampa Bay Times article was published.

Now, though, Allegiant might have a bigger PR problem. 

On Sunday, it’ll be featured in a 60 Minutes segment, one that CBS teases will be twice the usual length.

Here’s the teaser.

Just those 48 seconds suggest that Allegiant should brace for something of calm, considered skewering.

I asked the budget airline what it thought of the upcoming exposé. A spokeswoman told me Allegiant would wait until the segment airs before offering a rebuttal.

One of the main issues with Allegiant’s record of breakdowns is that it flies old planes. Very old planes, some 22 years of age.

Recently, though, it has begun to replace these planes with Airbuses. Indeed, last May was the first time that Allegiant enjoyed the experience of fitting out a new(ish) plane.

The question, then, is how much Sunday’s 60 Minutes piece will reflect the whole current scenario.

The problem for the airline’s PR department, though, is that Allegiant will surely come out looking not so good on one of the most respected news programs in America, one that’s watched by 12 million people.

It’s inevitable, then, that it will instantly be associated with the sort of bad reputation that plagued United Airlines over the last year. 

Worse, perhaps, is the idea that instead of a brutal lack of customer sensitivity — as in the United case — Allegiant might be tarred with the notion that it’s simply an unsafe airline.

On Friday, the airline’s stock began to drop. What might happen to it on Monday?

3 Proven Strategies Every Startup Should Use to Partner With a Bigger Company

Wrangling a partnership with Uber can’t be easy. Large companies can already be difficult to work with–and Uber’s recent history has been, well, tumultuous.

On Wednesday, San Francisco-based car-rental startup Getaround pulled it off. Uber and the startup, which landed on Inc.’s 30 Under 30 list in 2016, have teamed up to create “Uber Rent,” a service that allows users to rent vehicles from Getaround’s fleet through Uber’s app. 

The way the deal came together is perhaps the more interesting news. It’s instructive for any entrepreneur looking to partner with an industry behemoth.

Getaround first approached Uber about a potential partnership several years ago through a mutual investor, says co-founder and CEO Sam Zaid, and talks went nowhere. In the ensuing years, Getaround started gaining traction in the Bay Area. When the company reached out again in late 2016, Uber employees were using the service themselves–and were more willing to engage in conversations. “It wasn’t like we were pitching a pitch deck,” Zaid says. “Everyone knows what Getaround is, everyone in the room knows what Uber is, so let’s talk.”

Then, 2017 hit. For Uber, that meant sexual harassment allegations, lawsuits, regulatory fights, and boardroom power struggles. The Getaround deal stalled.

After a few months of patient negotiations, a pilot program launched in May 2017. The following month, Uber founder Travis Kalanick resigned as CEO–but the program survived, and Uber Rent is now live. Zaid attributes overcoming those roadblocks to three strategies, which every startup should use when striking a partnership:

1. Don’t be afraid to push back.

In classic Silicon Valley fashion, the early conversations around Uber Rent were heavily strategic and guarded. Neither company wanted to reveal its agenda. Zaid says the teams started communicating more transparently after he encouraged his employees to push back against the larger company, earning Uber’s respect. “When you have a smaller company working with a bigger company, a lot of the time, the smaller company is afraid to say ‘no’ or ‘this doesn’t work for us’ or ‘let’s do it a different way,'” Zaid says. “That’s what fostered this degree of trust.”

2. Treat everyone as one team.

Uber dispatched just a handful of staffers to examine a potential partnership. Getaround’s “team” included most of its company. The difference in scale stopped mattering once the parties started viewing the employees involved as a single team, regardless of who paid their salaries. “Obviously, there’s always going to be some tension there,” Zaid admits. “That’s where the transparency, trust, and communication balance it out.”

3. Align your goals.

Any partnership will feature competing priorities and goals. Zaid wishes he had worked more intentionally to make sure Getaround and Uber’s visions were aligned from the beginning. “Early stages, it’s probably not as necessary,” he says. “But then things start snowballing. There could be product issues, engineering issues, operational issues, legal questions that come up throughout.” Being aligned from the start could save you months of back-and-forth–and could keep the partnership from falling apart.

Within Facebook, a Sense of Relief Over the Zuckerberg Hearings

About two hours, or 20 percent, into Mark Zuckerberg’s marathon testimony before Congress this week, the Facebook CEO had a slightly awkward exchange with senator John Cornyn (R-Texas). Cornyn wanted to know what happens to people’s data when they delete their accounts. Zuckerberg responded that Facebook deletes their data. But Cornyn continued, “How about third parties that you have contracted with to use some of that underlying information, perhaps to target advertising for themselves?”

To Zuckerberg, this must have been exasperating. As he has said over and over, Facebook doesn’t sell data to advertisers. Doing so could allow outsiders to build competitive ad-targeting products that would undermine Facebook’s business. And so Zuckerberg patiently explained, yet again, how Facebook works. “We do not sell data to advertisers. We don’t sell data to anyone.”

Before the hearings, Zuckerberg’s colleagues in Menlo Park had been nervous. The company had been battered, insulted, and mocked for weeks. The stock price had collapsed. And now Zuckerberg, who isn’t known for his charisma or quick-witted stage presence, would be grilled by professional grillers. The whole thing felt to Facebook roughly like watching the father of the bride at a tense wedding, refilled glass of chardonnay in hand, slide up to the microphone to give a toast. It could go OK. It should go OK. But it might also go horribly wrong.

Once the hearings started, though, according to numerous Facebook employees asked about their reactions, everyone at headquarters started to calm down. For one, it became immediately clear that many of the senators didn’t actually know what Facebook does. “I was personally surprised by how ill-prepared the members were,” one Facebook executive told me. “Once it was clear how bad it was and how mismatched they were, everybody had this awakening: We have made some mistakes, but these guys know even less.” Numerous people at the company passed around a meme in which Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) putatively asked Zuckerberg, “Mr. Zuckerberg, a magazine I recently opened came with a floppy disk offering me 30 free hours of something called America On-Line. Is that the same as Facebook?”

After Zuckerberg finished his session with Cornyn, John Thune (R-South Dakota) interjected that it was time to take a break. Thune may have had the most power over Facebook in the room—he oversees the Senate Commerce Committee, which in turn helps oversee the Federal Trade Commission—and he may also have the best jawbone. But Zuckerberg responded that, actually, no, he was fine to keep going. “You can do a few more,” Zuckerberg said. He wasn’t worn down.

In Menlo Park, there were cheers from some employees. According to one who was watching a TV nearby, “It was like magic.” At another spot in Facebook’s offices where senior executives had gathered, people started laughing and smiling. The toast was going just fine. Nothing was going to go horribly wrong. Meanwhile, employees had their eyes on the stock ticker, which, for the first time in a while, had started to turn upward.

Shortly thereafter, Dean Heller (R-Nevada) asked a question without an easy answer. “Do you believe you’re more responsible with millions of Americans’ personal data than the federal government would be?”

Zuckerberg had a choice: He could weasel his way out and say the answer is hard. He could throw out something patriotic and muddled. But he decided to do something simple. He just said, “Yes.” Then he paused and moved on to talking about something else.

It was another moment of magic, a Facebook employee said. “The mood totally changed internally.”

Some Bad Reviews

Zuckerberg didn’t impress everyone this week. The New York Post dubbed him “The Social Nitwit.” At the TED conference, Facebook was hammered repeatedly, and one speaker, Jaron Lanier, declared, “I don’t think our species can survive unless we fix this.” People made fun of him for sitting on what was dubbed a booster seat. Those perhaps seeing Zuckerberg for the first time were surprised that he can appear like a humanoid. Trevor Noah said Zuckerberg must “have sent a robot version of himself.” Jimmy Kimmel declared that he “almost even managed to replicate a human smile.”

It’s unlikely, though, that Zuckerberg cared much about the cheap shots and the jokes. He surely noticed that the value of the company rose by about $17 billion during the hearings, making him more than $2.5 billion richer. And in some ways, the most important part of the hearings was to calm his restive employees. In recent weeks, working at Facebook has come to seem a bit like working at Goldman Sachs in 2008. The most important challenge for Facebook is employee retention: Despite the billions the company makes and the kombucha shots it serves on the corporate roof, competition for engineers in Silicon Valley is severe. In recent weeks, Facebook has seemed weak and easy to raid. One employee even boasted publicly of quitting.

And if your metric is employee morale, Zuckerberg’s testimony was a success. Early in the Senate hearings, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) pushed Zuckerberg on why the company doesn’t have a subscription model. Zuckerberg responded carefully and cautiously. Hatch then asked, “Well, if so, how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?”

Zuckerberg responded, again, with a smile: “Senator, we run ads.”

Since then, in Menlo Park, numerous Facebook employees have repeated the mantra in meetings, joking, “Senator, we run ads.”

How the Ad Business Works

That isn’t to say the hearings went over perfectly, even at home. One mystifying thing to employees was that Zuckerberg frequently seemed to come up short when asked for details about the advertising business. When pressed by Roy Blunt (R-Missouri)—who, Zuckerberg restrained himself from pointing out, was a client of Cambridge Analytica—Facebook’s CEO couldn’t specify whether Facebook tracks users across their computing devices or tracks offline activity. He seemed similarly mystified about some of the details about the data Facebook collects about people. In total, Zuckerberg promised to follow up on 43 issues; many of the most straight-ahead ones were details on how the ad business works. It’s possible, of course, that Zuckerberg dodged the questions because he didn’t want to talk about Facebook’s tracking on national TV. It seemed more likely to some people on the inside, however, that he genuinely didn’t know.

Why was this? Inside Facebook it was simply seen of a sign of something that many of his colleagues know: Zuckerberg is much more interested in product and engineering than he is in the business. His former speechwriter Kate Losse told me that she thinks he did well. But she too was struck by his inability to answer questions about the details of the way Facebook makes most of its money. “I genuinely believe that he doesn’t care about ads.”

Zuckerberg’s marathon testimony also didn’t close out questions about some of his company’s biggest threats. Zuckerberg did not give thorough answers (and the congressmembers did not ask thorough questions) about the extent of Russian operations on the platform. It is still entirely possible that we will, in due course, see the threads of the Cambridge Analytica and Russia stories converge. If that happens, the company will have to deal with something much darker than even the mess of the past few weeks. It will mean, in short, that the data—and even the private messages—of trusting Facebook users ended up in the hands of a foreign adversary trying to manipulate a presidential election.

And there is still the looming issue of the 2011 FTC consent decree, and whether Facebook violated its terms by not acting reasonably to protect people’s privacy after it learned about Cambridge Analytica’s data gathering. An investigation is ongoing, which Zuckerberg did little to put to rest. It could cost the company billions.

Still, back at home, the troops were happy. On Thursday, the day after the hearings ended, Sheryl Sandberg was supposed to address the staff in a company-wide Q&A. Instead, Zuckerberg returned to Menlo Park and answered questions in person. “It was a Mark lovefest,” one employee said.

Facing Up

AT&T economist argues Time Warner merger is good for consumers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – AT&T’s (T.N) proposed merger with Time Warner Inc (TWX.N) would save consumers money because the marriage of a pay-TV provider with a movie and TV giant would create a more efficient company, an economist testifying for AT&T said in court on Thursday

FILE PHOTO – An AT&T logo is seen at a AT&T building in New York City, October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo

Dennis Carlton, from the University of Chicago, sought to rebut testimony on Wednesday from an economist for the government, Carl Shapiro of the University of California at Berkeley, who said the $84.5 billion deal would cost American consumers some $286 annually in higher prices.

The government filed a lawsuit in November to block the deal, citing antitrust concerns. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon will order the deal stopped if he determines it would raise prices for pay TV consumers or threaten the development of online video.

Shapiro had argued that the proposed deal would spur AT&T, which owns DirecTV, to charge its pay TV rivals more for Time Warner content, in particular the Turner family of news and sports shows.

He also said the combined company would have an incentive to decline to offer content to cheaper online video services.

Carlton attacked the assumptions in Shapiro’s testimony and used newer data to show that by his tally, the deal would provide a net benefit to consumers of 52 cents per pay TV subscriber a month.

“There is an efficiency from vertical integration,” argued Carlton. The proposed transaction is considered a vertical deal since AT&T, which owns satellite television company DirecTV, is buying a content supplier, Time Warner.

Carlton said Shapiro underestimated how many people were dropping pay TV altogether and overestimated how many people would leave their pay TV provider if they lost access to Turner’s channels.

On cross-examination, government attorney Craig Conrath sought unsuccessfully to push Carlton to concede that a previous vertical deal, Comcast’s purchase of NBCU, led to more expensive TV shows and movies when NBCU negotiated new contracts with other pay TV companies.

The trial, which began in mid-March in U.S. District Court in Washington, is expected to wrap up this month.

In a sign of the high stakes of the trial, the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, sat at the government counsel’s table on Thursday, prompting a reaction from Leon, who said: “My goodness gracious,” when Delrahim introduced himself.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Peter Cooney

This Passenger Just Claimed He Was Forcibly Dragged Off a Plane By His Collar (No, It Wasn't United Airlines)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

For United Airlines, the anniversary of dragging a paying, bloodied passenger, Dr. David Dao, down a plane brought nothing more than a few fond remembrances and claims that the airline is so much better now.

This doesn’t mean that somewhere, on some airline, there aren’t passengers still being forcibly dragged off planes.

Indeed, as if with perfect timing, a passenger has just claimed that he was “threatened,” “manhandled by the crew” and “offloaded from the aircraft.”

His alleged offense?

He complained that the early Sunday morning flight was garlanded with mosquitoes.

Dr. Saurabh Rai, a heart surgeon, was flying on IndiGo Airlines from Lucknow to Bangalore in India.

He claims that his complaints led to him being dragged by the collar and marched off the plane.

He even claims he was told: “If you have a problem with mosquitoes, then why don’t you leave India.” Which does seem a touch harsh.

He told Times Now that he asked for mosquito repellant cream or spray. He said many children were crying.

Thankfully, there’s at least a little video, posted by Asian News International, that appears to show mosquitoes were bothering several of the passengers. (It was incorrectly marked by ANI as Jet Airways.)

I contacted IndiGo, a budget carrier that enjoys more passengers than any in India, to ask for its perspective. I will update, should I receive a reply.

Could it be that complaining about mosquitoes can get you removed from an IndiGo flight? 

Bugs are, after all, an occurrence in flights all over the world. In some cases — British Airways, for example — a big problem appears to be bed bugs.

IndiGo doesn’t appear to see things in the same way as Rai. It suggests he had a stinging manner.

The airline told DNA India:

Before cabin crew could address his concerns he became aggressive and used threatening language. As matter escalated after closure of the aircraft doors, he attempted to instigate other passengers on board to damage the aircraft & used words such as ‘hijack’. Hence, keeping in mind applicable safety protocols crew apprised pilot-in-command, who decided to offload him.

That sounds very different from Rai’s version.

Oddly, DNA says passengers on the flight insisted that the cabin crew’s only reaction to Rai’s complaints was to suggest he take another flight.

There was more. It doesn’t make the airline look entirely friendly.

“Eyewitnesses said neither the staff nor the security men arranged any vehicle to drive Dr Rai back to the airport lounge; he walked all the way back,” said DNA.

Indeed, at least one passenger offered his complaints on Twitter.

NDTV suggests that this isn’t the first incident involving alleged manhandling on an IndiGo flight.

And now India’s Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered an inquiry.

Optimists will say that at least Rai doesn’t appear to have suffered physical injury, unlike Dao, who lost a couple of teeth.

Pessimists will say that Rai must have provoked the cabin crew in some way with his tone and manner and surely won’t get the sort of large settlement that Dao is said to have received.

In the end, such incidents merely underline the problems that, all too often, surround the flying experience these days.

Airlines used to pride themselves on customer service. Many still claim to, but good customer service requires a commitment that begins at the highest levels.

One difficult interpersonal incident can reverberate beyond anything airlines thought previously possible.

Passengers have phones with cameras. They have the web, which can magnify and accelerate with untold speed.

The minute they complain, the airline is often on the defensive.

The line between a situation defused and an international PR issue is thinner than a hamster’s nasal hair.

Knowing how to react to a complaint — look how cleverly KFC did it recently — can bring enormous benefits in the future.

A strong brand doesn’t want this sort of thing buzzing around it for a long time.

Why Facebook's 2011 Promises Haven't Protected Users

Mark Zuckerberg’s comments during this week’s congressional hearings could cost him.

Over 10 hours of questioning about Facebook’s privacy practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, Zuckerberg fielded numerous questions about one of the few government enforcement actions against his company: a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission to settle allegations that Facebook made privacy promises it did not keep, including sharing data with other apps without informing users.

The consent decree, which required audits of Facebook’s privacy practices every two years and barred the company from misleading consumers about the privacy of their personal information, was hailed as groundbreaking at the time. It was supposed to prevent the kind of privacy breach that occurred when a Cambridge University researcher used a little-noticed app to collect personal information on 87 million US Facebook users, which he then shared with the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Zuckerberg was asked repeatedly why Facebook did not inform the FTC when it learned about the Cambridge data sharing in 2015. Wednesday, US Representative Raul Ruiz (D-California), asked Zuckerberg if Facebook believed it was not required to report the breach under the terms of the consent decree.

“In retrospect it was a mistake. We should have and I wish we had notified and told people then,” Zuckerberg replied. But, he added, “I don’t believe that we necessarily had a legal obligation to do so. I think that it was the right thing to have done.”

On Tuesday, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) questioned whether Facebook should have permitted the app to gather data in the first place, since its data-gathering practices appear to conflict with the consent decree. Blumenthal said Facebook’s actions amounted to “willful blindness. It was heedless and reckless, which, in fact, amounted to a violation of the FTC consent decree.”

Zuckerberg replied, “Senator, it certainly appears that we should have been aware that this app developer submitted a term that was in conflict with the rules of the platform.”

Last month, the FTC took the unusual step of publicly announcing that it would investigate Facebook’s data-handling practices, one week after The Guardian and The New York Times reported that Cambridge Analytica still held the data gathered by the researcher.

The Cambridge incident laid bare both the FTC’s shortcomings in enforcing its own orders, and the agency’s weak arsenal against global behemoths such as Facebook.

“We’re frankly learning just how outrageous it is that [Facebook] completely flouted this order,” says Sam Lester, a consumer privacy fellow with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, whose complaints to the FTC led to the 2011 consent decree.

EPIC is seeking all of the FTC’s communications with Facebook regarding compliance with the consent order under the Federal Freedom of Information Act. Lester says the records may show “whether Facebook had been lying to the FTC, or the FTC had been failing to job its job, or both.”

The FTC has a broad mandate to protect consumers, but has relatively weak authority to issue binding rules and impose penalties. That could prove little comfort to Facebook, since the consent decree it signed specifies penalties of up to $40,000 per violation. With so many users affected, the fines could theoretically run into the trillions.

Two former FTC officials believe the blame lies with Facebook. David Vladeck, the former director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection who oversaw the Facebook investigation that led to the 2011 consent decree, expects the new FTC investigation to lead to substantial penalties, and a new, stronger consent decree.

“To this day Facebook cannot ensure people that [their data] isn’t in some server in Russia. That is an utter failure,” says Vladeck, now a professor at Georgetown Law. “Facebook was required to assess these risks and not doing anything to verify [where user data was shared] is just outrageous. They didn’t do any audits, that’s why they didn’t know about Cambridge Analytica until they read about it.”

Jessica Rich the vice president of advocacy for Consumer Reports and Vladeck’s successor as director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, predicts that the FTC will take at least a year to investigate and that another consent order is likely.

“The kind of public attention that this matter is getting obviously puts pressure on them to do an extra careful job,” says Rich. The fact that the commission chose to publicly disclose the investigation “is evidence that they do feel the pressure,” she says.

Vladeck and Rich both emphasized that the agency is small and has hundreds of companies under consent order. As part of the decree, an outside firm is supposed audit Facebook’s privacy practices every two years, but those reports are not made public.

Rich says the consent order does not specifically require Facebook to notify the FTC immediately about potential violations. But, she says, “I would expect that a breach like [Cambridge Analytica] should have come to light in the third party audits.”

Whether or not Facebook was legally required to disclose the breach, its failure to do so showed a “lack of good faith” in the process, says Rich.

Facing the Music

Here’s Why Facebook Just Gained $21 Billion in Value

Facebook[/f500link] CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced off with a room full of senators on Tuesday in what many believed would be a tough grilling about privacy in the wake of news that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had obtained data about 87 million Facebook users.

But investors concluded that Zuckerberg responded to the challenge better than expected, sending the company’s shares up 4.5% to $165, their biggest one-day gain in nearly two years.

With the gain, Facebook added $21.3 billion in market value to $479.4 billion. That reverses some of the company’s 15% in lost valuation since reports emerged in March, when the news about Cambridge Analytica first erupted.

Of course, some of the rise could be also be attributable to the general market optimism on Tuesday after China appeared more conciliatory about a potential trade war. The Nasdaq Composite rose 2%.

Rather than squirming in his seat during the questions about data privacy and Russian-backed political ads, Zuckerberg appeared poised and in control on Tuesday. Instead, it was the lawmakers who appeared to have forgotten their homework.

“How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) asked Zuckerberg, apparently unaware how Facebook made money. Zuckerberg deadpanned, “Senator, we run ads,” eliciting responses like the following on Twitter:

Facebook’s stock gains came despite lawmakers having plenty of ammunition against the company in addition to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The honeymoon period between Silicon Valley and Washington D.C. has been fading quickly over the past year and a half, with lawmakers questioning to what extent Facebook had influenced the outcome of the presidential election by allowing fake news and Russian-backed political ads onto its platform. Critics also question whether Facebook had censored some conservative content in favor of content more favorable to liberals.

Shares of Twitter also received a boost on Tuesday, rising as much as 7%, or $878.6 million in value for a total market capitalization of $22.2 billion.

Still, Facebook isn’t out of the woods yet. Shares of the company are still about 11% below their pre-Cambridge Analytica price.

Meanwhile, it still remains to be seen whether lawmakers may seek to impose new regulations on tech firms. Both Twitter and Facebook said Tuesday ahead of the hearing that they would support the Honest Ads Act, a proposed piece of legislation that would require tech firms that sell ads to disclose how much they are paid for placing political ads on their platform.

Senators have also urged Google to support the act, although the tech giant has yet to comment. Shares of Google were up 1.5% on Tuesday, roughly in line with the wider market.

Facebook’s Most Popular Black Lives Matter Page Was Fake and Had Ties to a White Australian Man

The largest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook was discovered to be a fake with ties to online fundraisers that raised nearly a $100,000 — some of which was transferred to Australian bank accounts — raising questions over how Facebook verifies the identity of its pages.

The page bore the same exact title of the actual organization but had more than twice the amount of followers — nearly 700,000 in total — according to a report from CNN. The outlet found the page was connected to a “middle-aged white man in Australia” and used services such as PayPal, Patreon and Donorbox to collect money that was intended to be for Black Lives Matter-affiliated causes in the U.S.

PayPal and Patreon suspended the campaigns upon learning of the page’s connections via CNN, the outlet reports. Donorbox and another fundraising platform, Classy, had already done so.

It took nearly a week for Facebook to suspend the page after being contacted by CNN, according to the outlet. The incident comes days before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify in front of Congress in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that brought to light Facebook’s difficulty in protecting its users’ personal data.

The fake Black Lives Matter page was linked to Ian Mackay, a National Union of Workers official in Australia, according to CNN. The union did not immediately respond to a request to comment from Fortune.

Last week, Facebook announced plans to ensure verification of its pages with a large number of followers. “This will make it much harder for people to administer a Page using a fake account, which is strictly against our policies,” Facebook wrote in a statement. “We will also show you additional context about Pages to effectively assess their content. For example, you can see whether a Page has changed its name.”

Fortune has reached out to Facebook for comment and will update this story when the company responds.

Arizona election database targeted in 2016 by criminals, not Russia: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A hack on an Arizona election database during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign was carried out by suspected criminal actors and not the Russian government, a senior Trump administration official told Reuters on Sunday.

A woman arrives at a polling site during the U.S. presidential election in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec

The official was responding to a report on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” citing an internal government document that Russian hackers successfully infiltrated computer systems associated with at least four U.S. states, including Arizona, leading up to the 2016 election.

Hackers working for the Kremlin breached systems in Illinois, a county database in Arizona, a Tennessee state website and an information technology vendor in Florida, according to the previously undisclosed Oct. 28, 2016, assessment from the Department of Homeland Security, according to the program.

But an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said media reports had at times relied on outdated or incomplete information and conflated criminal hacking with Russian government activity. The cyber attack on Arizona was not perpetrated by the Russian government, the official said.

Media outlets including Reuters reported in August 2016 that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had detected Russian breaches of voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the authenticity of the DHS assessment, which would have been issued less than two weeks before the election. A DHS representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

FILE PHOTO – The U.S. and Arizona flags flutter in the wind in Fountain Hills, Arizona, U.S. on September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo

U.S. intelligence agencies last year accused Russia of using hacking, false information and propaganda to disrupt the 2016 election and try to ensure Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. Russia denies interfering in the election. Trump has denied any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

In June 2017, the news website The Intercept published a classified U.S. intelligence document that described a spear-phishing attack waged by Russian military intelligence on a U.S. election software company based in Florida.

The alleged breach of Tennessee’s state website had not been previously reported.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said publicly that at least 21 of the 50 states had experienced initial probing of their election systems from Russian hackers in 2016 and that a small number of networks were compromised.

While DHS has said there is no evidence any votes were actually altered, it has not publicly provided full details regarding which states experienced compromised systems or how deeply hackers penetrated them.

Americans vote in November in congressional elections, which U.S. intelligence officials have warned in recent weeks could be targeted by Russia or others seeking to disrupt the process.

Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Peter Cooney