Updates from February, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 10:56 am on February 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Close to 30,000 guns were for sale on Armslist requiring no background check 

    Close to 30,000 guns were for sale on Armslist requiring no background check

    City Pages in Minnesota is reporting that 28,818 firearms were for sale on Armslist last year in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. If you’re not familiar with Armslist, they are an online classifieds site specifically designed for the sale and trade of firearms. Armslist has been courting controversy since many Armslist buyers and sellers take advantage of a loophole in the law which does not require a background check when a firearm is sold between private individuals. While many sellers on Armslist are licensed gun dealers there are many who aren’t.

    A gun control advocacy group conducted a study on Armslist and they estimate that 10% of the gun buyers on Armslist couldn’t pass a background check if the buyers tried to buy their firearms from outlets that required the checks. If you apply that to the state of Minnesota, that’s roughly 2800 guns that could have been sold to people looking to circumvent a background check for illegal purposes. Even in a state of 5.6 million people, that’s still too many guns that could potentially fall into the wrong hands.

    Armslist’s defenders will claim that most guns used in crimes are purchased on the black market not realizing the irony of their statement. Armslist is part of that chain where guns end up in the black market as they have in Chicago and other locations. All the while, Armslist does very little to discourage the sale of guns to those who shouldn’t be able to own except for a button that buyers have to click that says they’re over 18 and they’re legally able to purchase a gun. Because no one lies on the internet.

     
    • J M2064 8:39 am on February 17, 2019 Permalink

      Gunsuckers are such filth. Gunsuckers are not the same as responsible gun owners, that vanishing minority. Gunsuckers suck guns because they think gunsucking Makes The Man. They’re also fools as well as gunsuckers.

  • Geebo 10:04 am on February 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , motels   

    Trafficking victim sues Backpage and motel where she was trafficked 

    Trafficking victim sues Backpage and motel where she was trafficked

    As we have stated in the past, just because Backpage is gone that doesn’t mean that the damage they’ve done to their victims has magically disappeared. Many of the victims of Backpage sex trafficking have had to deal with both physical and psychological damage done to them by their traffickers who Backpage helped facilitate. To that end, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Backpage seeking damages for the suffering Backpage allegedly had a hand in creating. One lawsuit recently filed even seeks damages against the motel where the victim was trafficked through Backpage. This is not the first of such lawsuits.

    In this instance, the victim is suing a motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico along with Backpage. The unidentified victim is alleging that not only did Backpage actively edit their ads to remove any reference to the trafficking of underage girls, but the motel “had a duty to exercise reasonable care in discovering that the danger of human trafficking.” The victim, in this case, was 17 when a man claiming to be her boyfriend prostituted her through Backpage at the motel in question.

    The attorneys for the victim state that…

    …the motel failed to properly train staff to look for signs of human trafficking, failed to prevent traffickers from renting a room and didn’t install security devices that could have helped deter or identify human traffickers.

    While there are many motel and hotel chains that are trained in recognizing the signs of human trafficking there are many more who either aren’t trained or just don’t care. I’m sure we can all think of a motel in our own areas that are used primarily for such purposes. Lawsuits like these should be a lesson for other motels to put an end to this practice whether the victims were trafficked online or not.

     
  • Geebo 11:03 am on February 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Geebo introduces new feature to better protect consumers 

    Geebo introduces new feature to better protect consumers

    Since the beginning, Geebo has always had user safety in mind. Not just personal safety but financial and emotional safety as well. Many of the safety choices made by Geebo have gone against what many would consider industry standards. However, we’ve always stood by those choices and have challenged other online marketplaces to do the same. For example, other classifieds sites rely on users to flag potentially fraudulent ads. This has led to abuses of the flagging system on other sites. Instead, Geebo employs a trained staff to moderate each ad for potentially fraudulent or illegal activity and the innovation doesn’t stop there.

    In 2010, Geebo took a stand against sites like Craigslist and Backpage by engaging in an anti-human trafficking campaign designed to bring awareness to the plight of victims trafficked through Geebo’s competitors. In that same year, Geebo closed its personal ads section due to the amount of trafficking that took place in the personals section of other sites. Even though there were no reported incidents about Geebo’s personals Geebo felt the removal of the section was necessary to further ensure user safety.

    In 2011, Geebo CEO Greg Collier wrote an open letter to other online classifieds asking them to take user safety more seriously by implementing such measures as moderating ads and removing adult-oriented ads. Many of those challenges were largely unheeded by other classifieds sites until media and government pressure forced them to remove their adult sections and their other ads are still largely unmoderated.

    In January 2013, Geebo made the decision to stop accepting ads for pets. In a company blog post, CEO Greg Collier noted puppy mills that sell abused or sick animals commonly use online classifieds.

    In May 2015, Geebo partnered with the AIM Group’s SafeTrade Station initiative in order to provide a list of safe trading spots at police stations across the country. Each Geebo ad contains a link to the SafeTrade Stations website so users can find a safe location to make their transactions.

    In 2016, in response to the Orlando nightclub shooting and other mass shootings, Geebo stopped accepting ads for firearms even though no firearms-related crimes were ever linked to Geebo.

    That brings us to Geebo’s latest innovation for user safety. Since late 2018, Geebo staff have been monitoring the responses to ads made through the Geebo platform. By doing this we can determine if the responses are coming from overseas which largely indicates that the ad’s respondent is more than likely a scammer. It also allows us to detect potential fraud from inside the country since our staff is trained in the detection of the most commonly used scams. We believe this proactive stance against scammers will go a long way in protecting the safety of our customers. While other sites and apps in our industry may see this as going above and beyond the call of duty we believe it’s the most logical and needed step in consumer protection.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    FBI warns of proliferation of puppy scam 

    FBI warns of proliferation of puppy scams

    This past week the Portland, Oregon office of the FBI issued a warning about online puppy scams. There are many online scams that involve pets but the specific one the FBI is referring to is where the scammers will promise you a puppy for a certain price and will then try to get you to pay additional ‘fees’.

    According to reports, in many, cases, the puppy doesn’t even exist. Signs to be on the lookout for that your purchase of a puppy may be a scam is if the seller asks you to pay by wire transfer, gift card, or pre-paid debit card. These payment methods are surefire signs of a scam. If you do end up making an additional payment for a puppy the scammers will try to get you to make additional payments for such things as shipping fees, special shipping containers, or some form of insurance. A great number of these scams can be found on craigslist even though craigslist specifically bans the sale of animals except for re-homing animals with a small adoption fee. You couldn’t tell by looking at craigslist as puppy ads are abundant in their listings but then again, craigslist hardly does any moderation of their own site.

    The FBI also offers tips to avoid scams like this such as…

    • Meet the pet in person if at all possible.
    • Don’t pay to ship a pet if you can’t verify the seller is a reputable breeder.
    • Do your homework on the seller before sending any form of payment. Look for contact information, check credentials, and confirm reviews from previous clients.
    • If you virtually chat with the seller, watch for odd phrasing or typos.
    • If the seller asks you to pay via wire transfer or gift card, don’t. There’s a huge chance it’s a scam.

    Another resource you can use is the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association’s list of known pet scammers. While the list is not comprehensive as new scammers are constantly popping up it’s a great place to start to make sure you’re not dealing with a scammer. If you’ve been the victim of a puppy scam you can report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

    For this and many other reasons, Geebo does not accept ads for pets. Instead, we always recommend that if you’re making a pet a new addition to your family either use a local reputable breeder or adopt a pet from your local shelter.

     
    • lisa Cuddy 10:54 am on December 5, 2019 Permalink

      I’ve been scammed to the tune of $3300. Now what? can I get the FBI involved?

    • Geebo 11:06 am on December 5, 2019 Permalink

      We would recommend contacting your local law enforcement first. However, you may also register a complaint with the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Germany,   

    Germany puts the brakes on Facebook data collection 

    Germany puts the brakes on Facebook data collection

    Modern day Germany is very sensitive about the privacy of its citizens. You can hardly blame them after dealing with oppressive regimes from the 1930s to the 1990s where spying on the citizens was the norm and citizens were expected to report their fellow countrymen for ‘crimes’ against the state. Germany is not only the country where the concept of the ‘right to be forgotten’ was made famous but also where Google Street View was found to be too invasive. So it should come as no surprise that the German government recently severely limited Facebook’s data collection of its German users.

    The antitrust arm of Germany’s government, the Federal Cartel Office, ruled that Facebook was exploiting its users by collecting excessive amounts of data and tying the information to a user’s Facebook account. The FCO ruled that Facebook could continue to collect data from WhatsApp and Instagram but could not tie that information to a specific Facebook account and banned the Facebook collection of data from third-party websites unless a user has given Facebook informed consent. So in essence, Germany has basically banned Facebook’s entire business model in their country.

    Facebook has publicly stated that they will appeal the FCO’s decision but if history is any indicator they probably won’t be successful. Facebook defended its data collection policies by claiming that not only does it show more relevant ads to consumers, which really doesn’t help their case, and that it helps combat terrorism. In the past, laws designed to combat some type of subversive threat has led to some of the greatest atrocities in history not just in Germany but in America as well. So for Facebook to make such a claim trying to appeal to nationalist tendencies seems like they’ve taken a page out of the dictator’s playbook. One has to wonder if Facebook has now instituted a policy of “today Germany, tomorrow the world.”

     
  • Geebo 10:02 am on February 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    House Dems put the FCC on notice 

    House Dems put the FCC on notice

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    To say that the Ajit Pai-led FCC has been anti-consumer would be an understatement. From the repeal of net neutrality to the attempt to cut subsidies that provide phones to low-income families, it’s become pretty obvious that the former Verizon attorney has acted more in the interests of the corporations rather than the American people. Now, with the House of Representatives being controlled by the Democrats, lawmakers are looking to reassert their oversight of the FCC.

    Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle have accused the FCC of being too secretive and acting too much in the interest of corporations instead of consumers. The pair of Democratic Representatives published an open letter to Chairman Pai and pulled no punches in the process…

    Not only have you have failed on numerous occasions to provide Democratic members of this committee with responses to their inquiries, you have also repeatedly denied or delayed responding to legitimate information requests from the public about agency operations. These actions have denied the public of a full and fair understanding of how the FCC under your leadership has arrived at public policy decisions that impact Americans every day in communities across the country.

    Later today, the Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the impact Pai’s repeal of net neutrality has had on consumers and free speech. Pai has been instructed to have a written response to the Representatives concerns by March 4th. While this won’t be an overnight restoration of net neutrality protections, it’s at least a step in the right direction.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    The House seeks to close loophole that keeps Armslist in business 

    The House seeks to close loophole that keeps Armslist in business

    Today before the House of Representatives a bill is going before the House Judiciary Committee that would require universal background checks for the sale of all firearms. The bill seeks to close the commonly named ‘gun show loophole’ that does not require a background check when firearms are sold between private individuals such as at gun shows and the so-called craigslist of guns Armslist.

    If you’re unfamiliar with Armslist, it’s a classified site where gun owners post the guns that they have for sale online. Just about anyone can buy a gun through Armslist no matter whether or not you have a criminal record or not as the loophole doesn’t require background checks for guns sold through Armslist. This has led to a number of high-profile crimes such as a domestic workplace murder and a Chicago police commander being killed. That’s not even taking into account the number of unreported crimes probably committed with Armslist guns. As with most scoundrels, Armslist sees themselves as some kind of champion for both the 1st and 2nd Amendments as body counts continue to climb around them.

    In Amrslist’s defense, they cling to a survey conducted by the Department of Justice done in 2016 that says that most criminals either steal their guns or purchase them from the black market. That’s all well and good but not only are incarcerated criminals not the most honest people in the world but where do you think black market guns come from. It’s not like there are scores of illegal weapons manufacturers operating throughout the country. These illegal guns started off as someone’s legal purchase and probably more than a few guns on the black market have passed through the hands of Armslist sellers and buyers.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on February 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Just another day of classifieds crime 

    Just another day of classifieds crime

    One might think that after over 20 years of having online classified ads being so prevalent online that most people would become more aware of the pitfalls that have become inherent when using some of the less reputable sites and apps. Here are some of the stories that have happened just over the past 24 hours.

    While not technically a classified site even though it does have Facebook Marketplace, a tired old scam has targeted Facebook messenger uses. It’s the grant scam which promises users large government grants to do with what they wish. The only catch is that you have to pay a fee, usually of at least several hundred dollars, in order to process the grant. Of course, you’re expected to wire the money to whoever is supposedly managing the grants. To be clear, the government does not use Facebook Messenger to offer grants and they never offer grants unsolicited. Also, you should always be suspicious of any transaction that requires you to wire money as once the money is wired it’s virtually untraceable once it’s gone.

    In Youngstown, Ohio, there has been a rash of robberies through the marketplace app LetGo. In these robberies, the buyers are posing as men in their 30s and 40s but when the seller shows up to the meeting place they’re approached by teens who then rob them. The article we linked to does have some good safety tips but leaves out the most important one. Don’t just meet someone during the day in a well-lit and well-traveled area as even there robberies and worse have been committed. Instead, insist on meeting at a local police station. This one simple step goes a long way in discouraging scammers and thieves from trying to take advantage of you.

    In the Kansas City area, one man was swindled out of close to $400 after buying tickets from a supposed seller off of craigslist. The scammer had official looking documentation that carried the Ticketmaster branding, the only problem with that is the arena where the concert was being held doesn’t use Ticketmaster to distribute their tickets. The tickets never appeared and the would-be buyer was out of $400 before buying more legitimate tickets from a reputable dealer. The victim, in this case, was an IT specialist who admits that he should have known better showing that it’s people of all stripes and backgrounds that can fall for a craigslist scam.

    For our next story, we stay in Ohio, Hilliard to be precise where police have discovered a counterfeiting operation that was using OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace transactions to allegedly try to launder the money. In this instance, the phony bills were not theatrical money as has been the more popular counterfeit scam lately. Instead, these bills were manufactured and ranged in denominations from the humble $1 bill to the much more respectable $100 bill. Again, the article we linked to has several tips to prevent yourself from being ripped off by counterfeiters even claiming that the marker test isn’t always reliable as some fake bills will show as genuine when the special anti-counterfeit marker is used. In this case, the bills should have been easy to detect as they had markings on them in one of the Chinese languages.

    While not every marketplace platform is perfect, there are very few that go the extra mile in trying to protect its users. For example, Geebo reviews every ad in order to try to weed out the ads that are obvious scams and setups. Maybe if our competitors were more concerned about user safety they wouldn’t keep cropping up in the daily headlines for all the wrong reasons.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Snopes pulls out of Facebook’s fact-checking program 

    Snopes pulls out of Facebook's fact checking program

    If you’ve been on the internet for any length of time you’ve probably encountered the fact-checking site Snopes.com. Snopes has been an internet vanguard for over 20 years as a resource people can use to determine whether or not the latest viral story is true or not. Snopes started back in 1994 as an urban legend debunking site but has evolved over the years to debunking everything from whatever chain email that one annoying friend kept sending you to whatever exaggeration the President has posted to Twitter this week. Due to its extensive research of such subjects, Snopes is well-respected across the internet as the de facto fact-checking source.

    In 2016, Snopes was contracted by Facebook to be one of many fact-checking resources used by the social network to try to combat the spread of misinformation Facebook became infamous for during the 2016 Presidential Election. Just a little over two years later, Snopes has left Facebook’s fact-checking initiative. Now, the reason Snopes left depends on who at Snopes you happen to be talking to at the time. The official response has been that it’s not financially viable for Snopes to continue to participate in the program as it’s more expensive to fact-check Facebook than what Facebook is paying Snopes. Another report states that Facebook allegedly doesn’t take fact-checking seriously at all. And a former Snopes employee has said that Facebook is more concerned about using fact-checking to make themselves look good rather than stopping the spread of misinformation.

    So which of the reasons for Snopes’ departure from Facebook is the real one? If we had to guess we’d probably say it was a combination of all of them. As Facebook has shown in the past, it seems to be more interested in keeping people engaged on their platform by counting on users’ outrage, not the truth. The truth doesn’t make for a good story that Facebook users will write epic-length rants about leading to more outrage. And when a Snopes link is posted to try to debunk the latest outrage post, it’s usually met with a resounding “What do they know?” If some of the stories are to be believed, Facebook only wants to have the appearance of fact-checking while promoting any incendiary idea that will keep their users engaged through hate and fear.

     
  • Geebo 10:13 am on February 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Apple/Facebook privacy dispute drags Google into the fray 

    Apple/Facebook privacy dispute drags Google into the fray

    Earlier this week, Facebook was caught paying users including teens for complete access to their phones. Unhappy with this, Apple struck back by not only banning the app from iOS devices but also revoked Facebook’s enterprise access which hamstrung a number of internal apps that Facebook employees needed to use just to do their daily jobs. At least one report states that some Facebook employees were considering quitting their jobs if Apple did not restore Facebook’s enterprise certificate because they couldn’t do their jobs. However, since the original kerfuffle over user privacy, Apple has restored Facebook’s enterprise access. Facebook didn’t seem to learn their lesson though as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has allegedly defended Facebook’s paid marketing research by claiming that its users consented to the program. But again, the question of consent needs to be reframed when it comes to paying minors.

    Facebook wasn’t the only tech company who felt Apple’s wrath this week as Google admitted that they had a similar research program that was also being used on Apple devices. Google came clean about their program during the initial dust-up between Apple and Facebook, however, that didn’t stop Apple from temporarily revoking Google’s enterprise access as well. While you may think that Google would be an Android-only workplace they do have to develop their most popular apps for Apple’s iOS operating system as well. Without that access, Google could have potentially lost out on having their apps on Apple devices. However, Apple has since restored Google’s enterprise access as well.

    With two of the top tech companies in the country being severely admonished by another one of the top tech companies in the country, will this be a turning point in the fight for user privacy? Unfortunately, it’s doubtful that it will be. Facebook has shown time and time again that they follow their own path when it comes to user privacy as they have continued to forge ahead with questionable privacy practices even in the face of past controversies. Meanwhile, Google has their own Android operating system that outnumbers Apple’s iOS. Consumers still demand products from Facebook and Google on their devices no matter which platform they use as there aren’t many alternatives to their services. So it still may be a while before we see Google or Facebook stop treating consumers as the actual product.

     
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