Updates from March, 2018 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:29 am on March 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Chris Cox, , , Section 230   

    Author of Section 230: 230 was not to facilitate people doing bad things on the internet 

    Author of Section 230: 230 was not to facilitate people doing bad things on the internet

    With Congress about to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a number of pundits in tech circles have decried the amendment as the end of free speech on the internet and various other reasons why the sky is falling. However, one of the section’s authors says that Section 230 is not being used the way it was intended. Former Congressman Chris Cox recently said that Section 230 “was to help clean up the Internet, not to facilitate people doing bad things on the Internet.”

    Cox helped wrote the legislation back in 1994 when a financial company tried to sue the platform Prodigy for libel when one of its users had accused the financial company of fraud. Since Prodigy moderated its content for language the courts ruled against Prodigy. Cox wanted protection for platforms like Prodigy from third-party users. The fact that we’re talking about Prodigy, a long dead internet portal, should show you how antiquated Section 230 truly is.

    As you may know, Section 230 is about to be amended to include language that would help prosecute websites and platforms that knowingly facilitate human trafficking such as Backpage is accused of doing. Congressman Cox even says that websites connected to unlawful activity should not be protected by Section 230. Let’s also not forget that we’re talking about real human lives that are being peddled through Backpage and if Backpage would be forced to curtail its activities it would greatly reduce the number of women and children being sold as slaves in the US. Without Backpage, we wouldn’t have every two-bit wannabe pimp thinking they can make themselves some money just by getting some girls and advertising them on Backpage. While it wouldn’t solve the trafficking crisis completely, it would go a long way in keeping a lot of people safe from the life that Backpage gets rich off of.

  • Geebo 8:59 am on March 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Anti-Backpage trafficking bill on track to become law 

    Anti-Backpage trafficking bill set to become law

    Late last month, the US House of Representatives passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, or FOSTA. Yesterday, the US Senate voted almost unanimously to advance their version of the act known as the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, or SESTA. It’s expected to be passed by the Senate later today and then signed into law later this week. SESTA/FOSTA would allow the victims of online sex trafficking to seek damages against sites like Backpage who allegedly knowingly assisted in the trafficking trade.

    As has been mentioned before, SESTA/FOSTA amends section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 which Backpage has used to claim that their role in the sex trade is protected free speech under the law. A number of opponents to SESTA/FOSTA claim that this amendment will mean the death of free speech on the internet as we know it, however, that is simply not true. As this piece on political blog The Hill points out, “the legislation requires proof that a website “knowingly” assisted, facilitated, or supported sex trafficking when it entered into a venture with a sex trafficker.”

    All the evidence that has been uncovered by journalists and a congressional investigation seem to point out that Backpage knowingly engaged and assisted sex traffickers by advising them on what to put in their ads. This is and has never been an issue about free speech, but rather the freedom of the women and children who have been trafficked on Backpage. Most arguments against the purported legislation are just fear-mongering and histrionics.

  • Geebo 9:01 am on March 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cambridge Analytica, data breach, , , Steve Bannon   

    50 million Facebook accounts exposed in political data breach 

    50 million Facebook accounts exposed in political data breach

    In a story that seems like it was taken straight from the 1988 sci-fi movie ‘They Live’, a large data firm is accused of allegedly breaching the Facebook accounts of 50 million US voters in order to ‘change audience behavior’. It was supposedly done, once again, to try to influence the 2016 Presidential election.

    Cambridge Analytica is accused of allegedly using a paid survey app that was disguised as a personality test. The app required users to log in through Facebook. After a user logged into Facebook, the app would not only harvest the information of the user, but also data from everyone in the user’s friends list. Trump advisor Steve Bannon was a board member of Cambridge Analytica and, according to the New York Times, “was intrigued by the possibility of using personality profiling to shift America’s culture and rewire its politics.”

    To make matters worse, Facebook allegedly knew of the misuse of the data and did little about it except to ask Cambridge Analytica to delete the information they had. Again, the New York Times claims that the data was not deleted and was discoverable online. So this seems like it is another instance where Facebook supposedly knew of alleged election interference and chose to do next to nothing about it. Many lawmakers are even calling for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress. It’s about high time that he did since it’s obvious he really has little to no control over what’s really happening throughout Facebook and the detrimental effect it has on our society.

  • Geebo 8:59 am on March 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , domestic violence, Rihanna, ,   

    Snapchat in hot water over insensitive ad 

    Snapchat in hot water over insensitive ad

    Since its public debut, photo sharing app Snapchat has been trying to drag teen users away from Facebook. Since many teens like to follow their favorite celebrities on social media, Snapchat’s business has relied heavily on the activity of celebrities whether Snapchat wants to admit it or not. Now, Snapchat is facing a public backlash after one of its celebrities was featured in a very insulting ad on its platform.

    Recently, Snapchat users were served an ad for a mobile game that asked if you would rather slap R&B singer Rihanna or punch her former boyfriend Chris Brown. If you’ll recall, Rihanna was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of Brown. The Grammy award-winning songstress took to Instagram to voice her displeasure over the ad.

    “Now SNAPCHAT I know you already know you ain’t my fav app out there!” Rihanna wrote. “But I’m just trying to figure out what the point was with this mess! I’d love to call it ignorance, but I know you ain’t that dumb! You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke out of it!!! This isn’t about my personal feelings, cause I don’t have much of them … but all the women, children and men that have been victims of DV in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet … you let us down! Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.”

    Snapchat apologized for the ad, but it was too little too late as their stock took a tumble after the debacle. According to tech blog Recode, this just one in a long line of questionable ads on Snapchat as they are said to run ads for cryptocurrency miners and the infamous Ashley Madison website which supposedly helps people carry on affairs. While those ads may be tasteless, domestic violence is no laughing matter and should not be joked about in such a flippant manner. If this is the attitude Snapchat takes in supposedly curating their ads then it’s no wonder Instagram is beating them at every turn.

  • Geebo 9:11 am on March 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3d printed home,   

    Could 3D printed homes help the housing crisis? 

    Could 3D printed homes help the housing crisis?

    It’s no secret that there is a housing crisis not just here in the US but around the world. Too many families worldwide do not have access to affordable or sustainable housing. Now, a proof of concept home has been developed that its developers are hoping to help end that crisis. Recently, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, two companies joined together to present what they refer to as a 3D printed home.

    ICON is a company that has developed a machine that is basically a 3D mobile printer that lays out a home in concrete. They’ve partnered with a non-profit called New Story whose goal it is to build homes in developing nations. Together, they’ve developed a 600 square foot concrete home that can be built for less than $10,000. The companies are hoping to get the cost down to about $4,000 in future developments.

    While the houses may not be the most palatial they could go a long way in helping people. Shelter is one of the most basic human needs and with a project like this many of those struggling could afford the dignity to be able to call someplace home that’s inexpensive but still sturdy. This endeavor has great potential and more projects like this need to come out of Silicon Valley instead of yet another social app.

  • Geebo 8:57 am on March 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , grocery delivery, ,   

    Walmart offering home grocery delivery in its war with Amazon 

    Walmart offering home grocery delivery in its war with Amazon

    Retail giant Walmart has fired the latest shot in their ongoing battle with Amazon. After Amazon purchased Whole Foods last year, a number of grocery chains started offering home delivery. Since Walmart is the nation’s leader in grocery sales, they’ve announced that they will be rapidly expanding home grocery delivery into at least 100 cities over the coming year. Currently, through Whole Foods, Amazon only offers that service in six markets.

    The main difference between the two services, besides availability, is cost. With Amazon, you need an Amazon Prime membership which can cost as much as $99 a year. Walmart’s new delivery service will be a $9.95 flat fee per delivery and deliveries have to include at least $30 worth of groceries. While that may seem a little exorbitant at first, at least it’s not Whole Food prices and no membership is required.

    On the one hand, Walmart’s new delivery service could be great for lower-income families who may not have the transportation to get to a local grocery store. When you factor in costs such as public transportation, taxis, or ride share programs like Uber, the $9.95 delivery fee doesn’t seem so bad. However, with Walmart and Amazon battling it out like this for retail dominance, the shadow of a duopoly continues to loom over consumers. While better access to affordable food is always a good thing, what happens if only two corporations control those avenues?

  • Geebo 9:06 am on March 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , genocide, , , United Nations   

    UN: Incitement to violence on Facebook rampant and unchecked 

    UN: Incitement to violence on Facebook rampant and unchecked

    We’ve previously posted about the crisis of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar here about how Facebook was allegedly being used to not only spread falsehoods about the Rohingya, but also how the social network is being used to fuel ethnic cleansing. The use of Facebook as a weapon against the Rohingya has gotten so bad in Myanmar that the United Nations has referred to Facebook as a ‘beast’.

    UN investigators looking into claims of genocide against the Rohingyan people recently said that Facebook is the de facto internet in Myanmar and that “Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar.” The investigators also said that the incitement to violence against the Rohingya on Facebook were rampant and unchecked.

    While Facebook has not commented on the UN’s recent findings, in the past their responses have been non-committal at best saying it’s hard to curb hate speech at this magnitude before throwing out figures like “it removes about 66,000 posts a week — around 288,000 monthly — on what it considers hateful rhetoric.” That’s all well and good but it doesn’t change the fact that the government and some of the populace of Myanmar are using Facebook’s platform to help carry out what some consider an ongoing genocide of a religious minority in their country. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people who have either been targets of violence or have been forced to flee from their homes. Facebook telling people how many posts they’ve removed isn’t helping and unless Facebook doesn’t take greater measures to prevent their network from being used by oppressive forces they will forever be known as a tool of genocide.

  • Geebo 9:08 am on March 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , deadbolt, ,   

    Scam victim living in house illegally 

    Scam victim living in house illegally

    A man in Colorado is living in a house illegally after falling victim to a rental scam. The man found a home for rent on craigslist and wired $3000 to the people claiming to be the landlords. In return, the ‘landlords’ were able to give the man the access code to the home’s deadbolt. This is not unlike a similar scam we posted about back in November where scammers were hacking the electronic lockboxes used by realtors

    Once the victim in this case realized he had been scammed he contacted police, but now he may find himself out on the street. He asked the rental company if there was any way he could stay there but the company wants him off the premises. Again, it appears that the weak link in the security is the electronic deadbolt used by the rental company. As shown in the video below, many of these types of locks can be hacked remotely.

    However, as I’m sure you’ve surmised by now, the first mistake made in this unfortunate story was the victim wiring the money to someone before seeing the home. When dealing with sites that are a haven for scammers like craigslist, you should never wire money to anybody you don’t know personally. Not only could that money be received anywhere in the world, but it’s almost impossible to get the money back once it’s been transferred. While we hope this man lands on his feet, let his story serve as a cautionary tale to others when using unscrupulous classified sites.

  • Geebo 9:59 am on March 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: burglary, , home invasion, Utah   

    Don’t ever let them in 

    Don't ever let them in

    One of the cardinal rules when selling or buying something through a classifieds site is to never let the person on the other side of your transaction to come to your home. Unfortunately, some sites and apps with less than stellar reputations, such as craigslist, have attracted a criminal element that are more than willing to take advantage of a situation like that. While this may seem like common sense to most, some consumers are still in need of reminding.

    For example, in Santa Clara, Utah, a family had their home burglarized after a couple with a baby came to their home while looking at a car the family was selling on craigslist. While the family was showing the car they had several valuable items taken from their home right under their noses. Luckily, there was no violence involved with this burglary as there has been with so many others.

    One of the more infamous craigslist home invasions happened in 2010 in Kirkland, Washington, where a family was held captive and the father, James Sanders, was killed after the family advertised a diamond ring for sale on craigslist.

    Meeting in a public place during daylight hours isn’t enough anymore either. As always, we recommend using the SafeTrade Stations that are linked to in each Geebo ad, or your local police department, to conduct these kind of transactions.

  • Geebo 10:18 am on March 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , marketplace app, MIjem   

    College marketplace app: Good in theory, bad in practice 

    College marketplace app: Good in theory, bad in practice

    Earlier, I came across this article from The News Record, the University of Cincinnati’s student run newspaper, about a marketplace app called Mijem that’s geared toward college students. On the surface, it sounds like a great concept by making a local marketplace between students who could potentially help each other out by selling or trading things like furniture, clothes and the always expensive textbooks. However, the reality of the app appears to be more concept than practice.

    First, I tried signing up for the app through the Google Play Store and the app kept crashing on me. I was able to sign up through their website but was then unable to sign in through the app itself. In looking at the app’s reviews on the Play Store there were a number of suspicious 5 star reviews that either did not elaborate or had one sentence reviews. Mijem also claims that their app is safer than other platforms, but I was unable to determine how that could possibly be. While they do have users create profiles, that alone does not make it safer than any other platform. Other marketplace apps have user profiles and are still plagued by safety issues.

    Lastly, the MIjem developers talk about a safety feature that should have been implemented before launch. In The News Record article, the developers claim they’re working on verifying .edu email addresses so users can have a verified check mark on their profile. This should have been a feature at launch and to make the app more secure only .edu email addresses should be accepted. While this doesn’t guarantee safety, it would go a long way in discouraging bad actors.

    However, since the app is extremely buggy and somewhat sketchy with its Play Store reviews, I would recommend college students to take a hard pass on MIjem.

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