Updates from January, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Apple flexes its muscle and disables part of Facebook’s internal infrastructure 

    Apple flexes its muscle and disables part of Facebook's internal infrastructure

    Yesterday’s news story about how Facebook was paying some of its users to have complete access to their phones has had more far-reaching implications than some had previously thought. If you’ll recall, when the news of Facebook’s marketing app broke, Facebook pulled the app from the iOS App Store. Apparently, that wasn’t enough for Apple as they have taken what some may call drastic measures against the social media titans.

    Apple has now taken steps to revoke Facebook’s developer certificates on iOS devices. While this will mean little to the average Facebook user, internally it has struck a blow against Facebook developers using Apple products. Apple’s certificate revocation has disabled many of the intraoffice Facebook apps that Facebook employees use to do business including such things as communication apps, lunch menus, and bus schedules some employees use to get to and from work. Apple released a statement saying…

    “Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.”

    Will this be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to Facebook and user privacy? Considering that not only are iPhones one of the most popular consumer electronic devices, but the fact that Facebook employees rely on them internally could cause a major backlash against Facebook both internally and externally. Would Apple even go as far as to ban the Facebook app from its app store? Apple has such a devout following among its user base it could potentially start its own social network if it wanted to and would probably draw a large chunk of Facebook’s younger demographic away from Facebook’s plateauing userbase. Or will Facebook just make the switch to Android devices for all its employees? Either way, this is a story that could have rippling effects that we will be seeing for years.

     
  • Geebo 10:11 am on January 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Facebook is paying teens to allow them complete access to their phones 

    Facebook paying teens to allow them complete access to their phones

    It appears that Facebook is starting 2019 the same they left off in 2018, continuing to be criticized for questionable practices when it comes to user privacy. Even more unfortunately, this time the target for Facebook’s latest privacy mishap appears to target children. Not satisfied with exposing the personal data of millions of users to third parties, Facebook is now being accused of paying minors to allow Facebook to have complete access to the teens’ phones in order for Facebook to accomplish what they call ‘marketing research’.

    Tech news stalwart TechCrunch first broke the story yesterday about discovering an app that Facebook was using where people from the ages of 13-35 could make $20 a month for letting Facebook track all of their phone activity. Participants in the program were even encouraged to refer their friends to the program in order to make more money. The app requires the user to give root access to Facebook and in some cases requires you even send Facebook screenshots of your Amazon purchases. At first, Facebook defended the practice then hours later pulled the app from the iOS App Store. Its fate on Android devices is still unknown.

    While the majority of people Facebook is paying are probably over 18, there are too many kids under 18 who are being asked to compromise their privacy in order to get a $20 gift card. This seems like this is the age group that Facebook wants the most information on since so many reports claim that Facebook is hemorrhaging teen users and they can’t seem to reclaim the dominance in the market they once had with teen users. To call this practice predatory is an understatement.

     
  • Geebo 10:17 am on January 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facetime, , ,   

    Apple bug let you spy on friends 

    Apple bug let you spy on friends

    If you’re a fan of Apple products and are deeply entrenched within the iOS ecosystem, you’ve probably used the popular app Facetime. For those of you who may not know, Facetime is an app that allows you to make video calls to your friends on many Apple devices. While Apple prides itself on user privacy, the hacking of iCloud accounts notwithstanding, a major bug was recently discovered in Facetime that potentially allowed users to spy on their contacts.

    According to unofficial Apple new site 9 to 5 Mac, a bug in Facetime allows you to connect a Facetime call without the other party having to accept the call. In order to enact the bug, you would need to add yourself as a contact in a Facetime group call and the call would connect automatically while it appears to the other contact that they have not accepted the call yet.

    In order to prevent these types of Facetime calls from happening it was recommended that you disable Facetime in the settings of your iOS device. However, Apple has since reacted to the news of the bug by disabling group chat ion Facetime across most devices. Apple claims that there will be a patch for the bug later this week.

    This privacy gaffe comes in the wake of Apple taking out a massive billboard at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that touted their reputation of iOS devices being secure than other devices.

     
  • Geebo 10:19 am on January 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AMA, , , , ,   

    AMA criticizes Armslist in legal brief 

    AMA criticizes Armslist in legal brief

    If you’re unfamiliar with Armslist they are a website that facilitates the sale of firearms between private sellers and buyers. Many have referred to Armslist as the ‘craigslist of guns’. Since there are many states that do not require background checks or waiting periods on private gun sales a number of people who were forbidden from owning guns have used Armslist to circumvent background checks. On more than one occasion, guns purchased through Armslist have been used in a mass shooting. Here is Armslist’s owner commenting on a mass shooting that took place in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2015 where the shooter had purchased guns through Armslist.

    If any of that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same ‘free speech’ tactic used by Backpage when they were trying to defend their ‘right’ to profit from human trafficking. As has been famously said, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

    This hasn’t prevented people from trying to claim legal recourse against Armslist. A lawsuit has been filed in Wisconsin against Armslist. In 2012, Radcliffe Haughton stormed his estranged wife’s workplace in Brookfield, Wisconsin, shooting and killing his wife, Zina Daniel Haughton, and two other victims before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life. Haughton had a domestic violence injunction against him which prevented him from legally owning a gun. Zina’s daughter, Yasmeen Daniel, had previously tried to sue Armslist for their role in facilitating the gun sale but the suit was dismissed due to the Communications Decency Act of 1996, again, another Backpage tactic. Back in April of last year, an appeals court ruled that suit can continue claiming that it can be argued that Armslist is designed to facilitate illegal gun sales.

    More recently, the American Medical Association has filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit against Armslist. In the brief, the AMA states that “facilitating illegal arms sales does not fall under “traditional publisher functions,” and that the claim of aiding a murder “does not depend on whether Armslist is treated as a publisher.”

    While Armslist doesn’t physically sell firearms to people, they do very little to discourage the illegal sale of firearms outside of making users click on a button that says they’re over 18 and they’re legally able to purchase a gun. That’s not exactly what should be called reasonable steps to help prevent illegal gun sales. That seems to be enough for Armslist through as they continue to make money off of the blood of shooting victims.

     
  • Geebo 10:20 am on January 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Nothing the FCC promised has happened after repealing net neutrality 

    Nothing the FCC promised has happened after repealing net neutrality

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the worst advertisement for Resse’s.

    When the FCC led by Chairman Ajit Pai repealed the net neutrality regulations put in place by the Obama Administration, Pai said that the repeal would lead to greater internet innovation, deliver broadband to more rural areas and would increase competition among internet service providers. By the same token, he might as well have promised everyone a pony, world peace, and a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl victory. He also claimed that prior to the regulations, no ISP had ever violated the tenets of net neutrality which of course was not true.

    Now, over a year after the repeal, Motherboard investigated whether or not if any of Pai’s claims came true. To the surprise of no one, except those who have blind faith in the current administration, not only have none of these claims come even remotely close to true, things have gotten even worse. There has been no marketable increase in competition as still most areas in the country only have a ‘choice’ between one or two providers, internet rates have steadily increased, innovation is all but dead, and the majority of rural areas still find themselves being underserved by the broadband providers.

    Meanwhile, many broadband providers or their parent companies have been laying off employees while raking in record profits. Speaking of profits, none of that money is being invested back into the infrastructure needed to maintain a serviceable internet in our country even after the ISPs were given tax cuts and subsidies by the Trump Administration. Again, it’s at this point we must point out that Chairman Pai is a former attorney for broadband provider Verizon who is just one of the companies who has benefitted from the repeal.

    Sadly, the repeal of net neutrality is just a symptom of a bigger disease where the current administration has little regard for consumers or its constituents and continues on a campaign of grandiose falsities no matter how much common sense dictates otherwise.

     
  • Geebo 10:02 am on January 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , petitions   

    Are Facebook Petitions pointless or dangerous? 

    Are Facebook Petitions pointless or dangerous?

    If you’re anything like us when you first heard the announcement of Facebook adding a petition feature you might have thought how useless that will probably be. For example, 25,000 people signed a White House petition in 2013 asking the Obama administration to build a Death Star. Online petitions usually carry about as much weight as a European Swallow unburdened by coconuts. That was until we saw an article that changed our mind but didn’t make us feel any better.

    Recently, tech blog Gizmodo published a post asking the question How Long Before Facebook’s New Petition Feature is Complicit in Genocide? The post makes a number of valid points. For example, if a group makes a valid petition to government officials how long will it take before virtual mobs flag the petition as abusive or offensive? Conversely, how long will it take before someone creates a truly offensive petition and Facebook will do nothing about it since it supposedly doesn’t violate Facebook’s ill-defined community standards?

    As the Gizmodo author and we have pointed out, Facebook needs your continued engagement to keep making money and if that means doing it by preying on your outrage, they will. The new petitions feature could just be another weapon in Facebook’s arsenal of agitation designed to keep you angry and glued to Facebook at all times. Remember as always, more often than not, if you’re not paying for a service then you are the product.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Craigslist is a billion dollar company, but should they be? 

    Craigslist is a billion dollar company, but should they be?

    If you’re unfamiliar with the AIM Group, they describe themselves as “a world-class business intelligence consultancy focused on digital marketplaces and classified advertising.” Or as they’ve been described by some, an industry watchdog for the online classifieds industry. They once famously called craigslist a ‘cesspool of crime’ and we’re unapologetic about it. But let’s face it, they were right. However, the AIM Group has released a new report that shows craigslist may have broken the old adage of ‘crime doesn’t pay.’

    In a recently issued press release, the AIM Group has announced a report that says craigslist is now a billion dollar company. Now some may scoff at such a paltry amount of revenue when it’s compared to companies like Apple and Facebook but to keep the amount in perspective, craigslist only has 50 employees. For an equivalent of a modestly successful ‘mom and pop’ business, craigslist had done all right for themselves.

    But the success has not come without controversy. It almost seems like craigslist has reinvested little of that money back into the infrastructure of their own website especially when it comes to user safety. Without even delving into craigslist’s questionable past of facilitating human trafficking, the number of violent acts that have been perpetrated against craigslist users has been unsettling over the past two decades. The fact that a number of murderers have been branded by the press as the ‘Craigslist Killer’ over the years can attest to that. It’s still no different today as just in the past day there have been headlines mentioning craigslist about scams, opiate dealing, and stolen goods. This is an addition to the almost daily headlines of robbery and assault.

    With all that purported money you would think that craigslist could invest in some site moderation to help keep scammers and robbers off of their site in order to better protect their users. Instead, it seems like they’d rather spend it on lavish homes in ritzy New York City neighborhoods.

    Craigslist can continue to play off their ‘We’re the little guy’ reputation all they want when in reality they’re just another greedy corporation.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Immigration scam targeting college students 

    Immigration scam targeting college students

    As we’re sure you’re well aware of, immigration has been a hot button topic in this country for a few years now. It’s such a divisive topic that the subject has stopped the US government from fully functioning. Even though most ‘illegal’ immigration comes from people overstaying their visas instead of our southern border hasn’t stopped our government officials from fighting over a wall that would accomplish little to nothing. In today’s politically charged environment just imagine how those here on foreign visas must feel. Well, leave it to the scammers of the world to take advantage of just such a situation.

    A phone scam is targeting foreign college students who are here on study visas. The caller purports to be from either the US Government or the embassy of the victim’s home country. The students are told that they are in danger of being deported. Being thousands of miles away from your family coupled with a potential language barrier could cause victim’s of this scam to panic and give in to whatever the scammers are demanding. As usual, the scammers are either looking for personal information or money. In one instance a student at Carnegie Mellon University was instructed to transfer close to $30,000 to a foreign bank account as ‘collateral’ for her to stay in the US. While the latest round of this scam is targeting college students, foreign citizens here on work visas aren’t immune from this scam either.

    If you or someone you know is a student visiting this country and may have been a target of this scam please let them know this is not how matters like this are handled in the US even in today’s political climate. It’s extremely rare for any government agency to contact someone by phone let alone demanding money. With today’s politics of fear, it’s understandable how successful this scam could be, however, you shouldn’t have to live in fear while visiting here. If you receive one of these calls contact your school’s administration and they should be more than happy to assist you.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ad sellers, , Rent your Facebook,   

    Renting out your Facebook account could lead to trouble 

    Renting out your Facebook account could lead to trouble

    BuzzFeed News recently reported on a Facebook scam that we had previously unheard of until now. Apparently, there are shady ad dealers that promise you that you can make at least hundreds of dollars a week if you just hand over your Facebook credentials. This is done so the ad dealers can create a Facebook page under your name in order to serve ads that are usually frowned upon by Facebook such as online gambling. There are many ad dealers that use this promise of easy money and here’s a YouTube video showing what the pitch usually looks like. We found this particular video posted to multiple YouTube accounts.

    What they don’t tell you in the video is that in order to make money you have to grant these ad dealers almost complete access to your computer. That means the ad dealer can remotely access just about anything on your computer which could lead to financial or identity theft. In some cases, the ad dealers will send you a free laptop that is filled with these virtual backdoors that allow the ad dealers to continue running ads on Facebook in your name even while the browser is closed.

    Another issue that can arise from renting out your Facebook account is that it violates Facebook’s terms of service. If Facebook discovers that your Facebook account is being rented out they could delete your account. While you’re locked out of Facebook the ad sellers just move on to the other accounts that they’ve rented out. That means all your posts, photos, and connections that you’ve made are gone and it’s unlikely you’d ever have access to them again.

    The old adage of “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” applies here as the ad sellers don’t care what happens to your Facebook account. Also, if a platform that says you can’t make a lot of easy money isn’t a scam you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Collection #1, ,   

    Data breach could potentially expose millions of email accounts 

    Data breach could potentially expose millions of email accounts

    If you’re the type that doesn’t change their online passwords frequently, you may want to change your passwords today. It’s been reported that a massive amount of data known as ‘Collection #1’ has been floating around on the internet for a while and contains 773 million email addresses and 21 million passwords. The list itself is a few years old so if you’ve been using the same password for while you should probably go ahead and start changing your passwords on your online accounts.

    Now you may think that you’ve probably changed your passwords since this data was collected. Well, there’s a reason this data dump has been called Collection #1. THat’s because there is a Collection #2 on the horizon which contains even more recently exposed data from within the past year. Collection #2 is said to have ten times the data that Collection #1 had. While we’re waiting for Collection #2 to hit the internet like a wrecking ball you can check to see if your email account was included in Collection #1 by checking your email address at Have I Been Pwned.

    While you’re changing your passwords there are some good practices that everyone should follow. You should never use the same password for all of your online accounts. If you have trouble remembering all your passwords there are a plethora of secure password managers that will create and remember secure passwords for your accounts. If you are going to manage your own passwords don’t fall into the trap of using the most common passwords. You may think your clever by using ‘password’, ‘qwerty’, and ‘football’ as your passwords but you’re not fooling anyone. Instead, most security experts agree that passwords should contain no dictionary words, contain a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers and at least one non-alphanumeric symbol.

    If a bad actor were to gain access to your email account they could wreak some fairly damaging havoc to your life since most of your online accounts are probably tied to that email address.

     
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