Updates from October, 2018 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:11 am on October 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , VICE News   

    Has Facebook made any progress in stopping election meddling? 

    Has Facebook made any progress in stopping election meddling?

    Ever since the 2016 Presidential campaign, Facebook has been under fire for allegedly allowing foreign influencers to post deceptive ads designed to agitate the political scene in America. Since then Facebook has made claims that they’ve made strides in verifying who has paid for political ads and have removed several accounts thought to belong to Russian and Iranian groups looking to further interfere in the democratic process. So with the midterm elections less than a week away, Facebook must be all good right? Well, as you can probably expect, not so much.

    VICE News recently published an expose on just how well Facebook is screening their political ads. VICE paid for 100 political ads on Facebook posing as all sitting US Senators. All 100 ads were approved by Facebook showing that just about anybody with the time and money can allegedly pay for any ad they want posing as whoever they want. Building off of VICE’s idea, Business Insider took another tact by buying an ad posing as Cambridge Analytica, the embattled firm that allegedly exposed millions of Facebook users’ information. Again, the ad was approved by Facebook with no problem.

    This is just further proof that no one should have their political views influenced by what they see or read on Facebook. Between your hyper-partisan friends who post meme after meme that reinforces their position no matter how wrong they might be, and the fact that just about anyone can buy an ad on Facebook posing as anyone and saying anything, Facebook has lost the fight to be considered a useful tool in political discourse. Anymore, Facebook just exhibits that it’s become the public restroom wall of the nation covered in the graffiti of misinformation.

     
  • Geebo 11:02 am on October 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , kansas city, ,   

    Real Estate agent saves renters from scam 

    Real Estate agent saves renters from scam

    Online con artists are always changing and adapting. That’s part of why the term ‘con man’ is actually short for ‘confidence man’. When the general public starts catching on to one scheme, con artists will tweak the scam ever so slightly that it almost becomes a brand new scam. For example, in the past scammers would list a property for rent in craigslist that isn’t there’s and would use various excuses as to why you had to wire them the deposit money before even seeing the property. Some of the more popular ones were that the ‘landlords’ were leaving the country either because they were church missionaries or they were in the military having just been deployed.

    It’s rare when I hear about a new rental scam but today seems to be that day. In the Kansas City area, a Real Estate agent saved a family from losing out on their money after one of the realtor’s property was listed on craigslist. The renters were about to send money to someone in Texas who was claiming to be the landlord of the property. The phony landlord claimed they were having problems with the realtor and decided to rent the house out themselves. Luckily, the renters called the realtor before sending any money. The realtor informed the renters that the scammers had copied the realtor’s ad and reposted it on craigslist, which is usually the heart of the scam.

    Rental scams are one of the most prolific scams on classified sites that don’t monitor their ads. Usually, the scammers try to rope you in with a too good to be true price and some kind of story designed to lower your defenses. If you’re ever unsure about who is truly renting a property you can always check with the county assessor’s website or office. Taking that little extra step could mean the difference between finding a new home or losing that down payment you needed for a new place.

     
  • Geebo 10:05 am on October 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Mozilla,   

    California to hold back on net neutrality, for now 

    California to hold back on net neutrality, for now

    California Gov. Jerry Brown

    Always being the trendsetter, the state of California recently passed the most stringent net neutrality laws in the country, defying the edict handed down by the FCC stating that states could not enforce their own net neutrality laws. When the FCC repealed net neutrality protections for consumers they also issued an edict that the individual states could not make their own laws regarding net neutrality which many see as an abuse of power by the FCC. After California Governor Jerry Brown signed California’s net neutrality into law, not only was the Golden State sued by the Trump Administration and a consortium of broadband providers. But now, a third lawsuit has arisen which has caused California to take pause.

    California’s net neutrality was supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2019, however, this past Friday the state of California announced they would be holding off on enforcing net neutrality until a certain lawsuit is settled. Mozilla, the non-profit behind the Firefox browser, is suing the FCC stating that their repeal of net neutrality protections “violates both federal law as well as harms internet users and innovators.” To put it in simpler terms, Mozilla is claiming that it’s beyond the FCC’s scope of powers to interfere with a state’s rights to pass their own legislation on net neutrality.

    So, this isn’t a defeat for net neutrality in California. The state is merely awaiting the outcome of Mozilla’s lawsuit before determining how to move forward with net neutrality as the Mozilla lawsuit could have national ramifications on the states’ rights to enforce net neutrality. Once again, I find it ironic that an administration that supposedly champions states rights is so quick to try to quash those rights when it goes against financial backers who helped get them to the office, to begin with.

     
  • Geebo 9:12 am on October 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Feds trying to seize the house that trafficking built 

    Feds trying to seize the house that trafficking built

    Federal authorities are attempting to seize additional assets from Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. The Department of Justice is seeking the permanent forfeiture of more than $100 million. So far, the DOJ has seized $97 million in assets that included money from bank accounts all over the world including those in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. The DOJ alleges that the Backpage founders used various shell corporations to try to obfuscate their ownership of Backpage.

    One of the major assets the DOJ is trying to seize is a property valued at around $3 million owned by Jim Larkin’s wife. The Property in the Napa Valley area of California is believed to have been repaired and maintained with money that Larkin allegedly made through Backpage’s advertisements for illegal prostitution and trafficking which resulted in money laundering. This is in addition to properties that Larkin has owned in Arizona and Chicago.

    Think about this for a moment. While Larkin was living up in the lap of luxury in California wine country, countless women and girls were being housed in motel room closets or worse by their pimps and traffickers. Many of these victims had to endure endless amounts of violence and physical abuse perpetrated against them by their captors would advertise these victims for sale on Backpage while Jim Larkin was defending Backpage’s ‘right’ to free speech. If Larkin was any more of a villain he would have lit a cigar with a $100 bill right in front of reporters. So, in my opinion, it’s no small amount of justice that Larkin could be facing a fate where he is possibly housed in a room no bigger than that of a cheap motel room. It’s where he belongs.

     
  • Geebo 9:10 am on October 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , American Broadband and Telecommunications, ,   

    FCC cracks down on corrupt telco, but is it a case of the tail wagging the dog? 

    FCC cracks down on corrupt telco, but is it a case of the tail wagging the dog?

    In the past, I’ve not had kind things to say about the FCC led by former Verizon mouthpiece Ajit Pai. I’ve long criticized Pai for his obvious disregard for the American people when it came to his total disregard for the consumer when he repealed the net neutrality protections. However, recently, the FCC has cracked down on an allegedly corrupt telecommunications company who was said to be taking advantage of the less fortunate among us. Here’s Chairman Pai himself to tell you all about it.

    A company called American Broadband and Telecommunications based in Toledo, Ohio, is accused of taking government money for the Lifeline program which is supposed to provide low-income households with more affordable phone and internet service. The founder of the company is said to have used the money for country club memberships, a Ferrari, a Florida condo and a private aircraft. The FCC is looking to fine American Broadband and Telecommunications a record-breaking $63 million. So you might think the FCC should be commended for putting a stop to such corruption, right? Well, not so fast.

    First off, American Broadband and Telecommunications has claimed that they have mostly paid back the money that was inappropriately used. Secondly, this is the same Lifeline program that not only Ajit Pai drastically reduced but also wanted to take away from tribal lands before being blocked by the US Court of Appeals.

    While it may be the cynic in me, this so-called crackdown seems nothing more like a PR stunt in order to garner some positive press for the FCC who is in desperate need of some. Ajit Pai is no friend of the consumer. Time and time again, his edicts have only benefitted the giant communication companies like the one that used to pay his salary. Yet he has the nerve to get in front of the American public and act like has their best interest at heart while blatantly removing the protections that American consumers need.

     
  • Geebo 9:21 am on October 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Lawsuits over net neutrality fall along party lines 

    Lawsuits over net neutrality fall along party lines

    Ever since the FCC repealed the net neutrality regulations put in place by the Obama administration, a number of states have either enacted their own net neutrality legislation or have sued the FCC to restore the previous federal legislation. If you’ll recall, when the FCC, backed by Chairman Ajit Pai, repealed the protections the FCC claimed that the states could make no laws in regard to net neutrality which many see as the FCC overstepping their legal authority. With states enacting their own legislation in defiance of the FCC this has led to a coalition of internet providers to file their own lawsuits against some states such as California and more recently Vermont.

    22 State Attorneys General and the Attorney General of the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against the FCC arguing that the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality was arbitrary and capricious and that the FCC can not preempt state laws. Now, the Attorneys General of three other states, Texas, Arkansas, and Nebraska respectively, have filed a brief in support of the FCC’s decision claiming that the states “have an interest in protecting both consumers and purveyors of Internet services.” Somehow, I doubt the esteemed Attorneys General from these three states have the consumers best interest at heart.

    So what’s the difference between the 23 Attorneys General who are suing the FCC and the three that support them? Well, the 23 who are suing are all Democrats while the three in support of the repeal are Republican. While I would never tout one political party over the other if you care about a free an open internet I think it’s obvious where your votes should go next month if this is an issue that matters to you. Even if you’re a Republican party loyalist you have to take notice of the fact that only three red states have weighed in on this matter as the rest have decided to remain on the sidelines.

     
  • Geebo 9:14 am on October 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hurricane Michael, phone service   

    Ajit Pai blames telcos for slow response after hurricane due to regulations he enacted 

    Ajit Pai blames telcos for slow response after hurricane due to regulations he enacted

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    After Hurricane Michael recently struck Florida, many in the devastated areas were left without any kind of phone service. This was reminiscent to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when many New York residents were left without similar capabilities. In both cases, the phone companies were slow to restore service. In 2012, Verizon was hesitant to restore landlines after the storm destroyed the lines. The Obama-era FCC instituted regulation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that required service restoration by the telcos after natural disasters.

    Now, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai criticized the phone companies for not restoring phone service in Florida quickly enough after Hurricane Michael. But as Ars Technica points out, Chairman Pai is basically criticizing a problem that he created. Pai repealed the Obama-era requirement to restore service in 2017 claiming that the regulation prevented the telcos from upgrading their copper lines to fiber. This didn’t prevent Chairman Pai from criticizing Verizon, his former employer, from not responding fast enough to restore service in Florida.

    In my opinion, this is more evidence of how Ajit Pai acts like someone from the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell’s novel 1984. He says things to the public that are so blatantly untrue you have to wonder if he knows he’s lying or if he actually believes what he’s saying. For example when Pai claimed that the majority of Americans were opposed to net neutrality while the public was clamoring for the FCC to keep the protections in place. While I’m not prone to name calling, Ajit Pai is a joke and only has his position as a way to protect the interest of the telecommunications companies rather than the American people.

     
  • Geebo 9:04 am on October 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Mankato,   

    17-year-old caught with gun from Armslist 

    17-year-old caught with gun from Armslist

    Previously, I’ve posted about how ‘the craigslist of guns’, better known as Armslist, has been used by several felons to purchase guns when the law expressly prohibits felons from owning guns. Armslist falls under the ‘gun show’ loophole meaning no background check is required when the private sale of a firearm is made. These shady gun sales through Armslist have led to several murders. Now besides felons, who is the last type of person who should be buying a gun through Armslist? If you answered minors you would be correct. However, this hasn’t stopped at least one teen from buying a weapon from the dubious website.

    In Mankato, Minnesota, a 17-year-old male was pulled over by a state trooper for allegedly speeding. The trooper was said to believe that there may have been drugs in the car. When the car was searched the trooper reportedly found a minor amount of drugs but also found a handgun. The driver claimed that he bought the gun from a private seller on Armslist for $300. In case you were wondering, Minnesota state law dictates you have to be at least 18 before legally purchasing a handgun. The suspect is facing felony charges of underage gun possession and drug possession.

    Thankfully, the teen decided not to engage the trooper with the weapon at hand. That may have been his smartest move. Considering how many law enforcement officers end up being ambushed in similar situations this teen should never have had the gun in the first place. What is it going to take for either Armslist to start being more responsible or for legislators to close the gun show loophole? Since the multitudes of murders and mass shootings haven’t changed the laws or Armslist’s disregard for safety, will it take a shooting tragedy of such massive proportions that it shakes us from our complacency for these types of shooting before anything is done? Instead, action should be taken now before our country reaches that level of violence.

     
  • Geebo 9:05 am on October 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Boston, Kurt Stokinger, ,   

    Armslist sued by Boston cop shot by illegal gun 

    Armslist sued by Boston cop shot by illegal gun

    Armslist, the so-called ‘craigslist of guns, is back in the news once again. Previously, Armslist has been tied to a domestic violence-related murder and the murder of a Chicago police commander. In both cases, the guns used to commit these crimes were purchased through Armslist by people who were forbidden by law from owning a gun. Much like Backpage did before it was seized by federal investigators, Armslist hides behind the Communications Decency Act of 1996 claiming that they’re not responsible for their users’ actions. A new lawsuit is looking to change Armslist’s tired tune.

    In 2016, Boston Police Officer Kurt Stokinger was shot in the leg by a known drug dealer. The incident left Officer Stokinger with considerable medical issues. The gun used to shoot Officer Stokinger was not only bought through Armslist but the seller had sold over 60 guns with the serial numbers removed. Officer Stokinger is suing Armslist, the shooter, and the seller. The lawsuit claims…

    “Armlist chose to establish an online firearms marketplace which facilitated sales to illegal purchasers and did not include reasonable safeguards to minimize the risks of illegal and dangerous conduct.”

    As has been mentioned before, Armslist falls under the gun show loophole where firearm sales from private sellers do not require a background check. In my opinion, there’s no way Armslist could have gotten into this business without realizing that their platform would be used for a plethora of illegal sales. Much like how Backpage was well aware that they were dealing in the human trafficking trade. And much like how the time eventually came for Backpage, the time will come for Armslist as well if they don’t change their policy of allowing anonymous firearm sales with no regard for human life.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on October 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Latest Facebook hack was not politically motivated. The real explanation is worse. 

    Latest Facebook hack was not politically motivated. The real explanation is worse.

    It was back in late September, which was not all that long ago, when it was announced that Facebook was hacked to the tune of 50 million accounts. The hack not only exposed user information but allowed the hackers access to what’s been referred to as ‘access tokens’, which theoretically would allow the hackers to gain access to other platforms which use Facebook as a login. While Facebook is now claiming the number of accounts hacked was closer to 30 million, it was believed the attack was carried out by state-sponsored agents. Now, Facebook is walking back on that claim and the new claim isn’t much better.

    According to yesterday’s report from the Wall Street Journal, brought here via Business Insider, an anonymous Facebook insider has said that the hack was conducted by your run of the mill spam hackers. These hackers are the type who are in it for the money rather than any political ideal. Among some of the information that was taken from Facebook were birthdates, phone numbers, search history of Facebook users.

    In my opinion, it’s worse that Facebook was hacked by a group of spam hackers rather than a foreign power. To me, this means that Facebook’s security is lacking in a basic way since they can’t keep out the hackers who sell your information to email spammers and phone scammers. An attack from a world power can almost be understood against a platform that is as massive as Facebook. However, Facebook’s security should be above nickel and dime attacks like this that are more akin to the stereotypical hacker who lives in their parents’ basement.

    A saying that’s been going around in tech circles lately is that the only safe Facebook account is a deleted Facebook account.

     
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