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  • Geebo 10:07 am on February 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alexey Navalny, , , , Roskomnadzor,   

    Facebook yields to Russian internet police 

    Facebook yields to Russian internet police

    In America, if someone had video of a Presidential cabinet member taking bribes from a top business magnate, that story would not only be all over the news but it would be the trending topic on social media and Facebook wouldn’t lift a finger to stop it. Now if that happened in Russia? Not so much.

    Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny claims to have a video that was posted to Instagram that shows Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko on the yacht of a Russian oligarch where bribes were said to have allegedly taken place. Not only did the Russian courts rule that the video violated Prikhodko’s right to privacy but the Russian ‘media watchdog group’ Roskomnadzor ordered Facebook owned Instagram to remove two more posts in relation to the matter. Facebook was more than happy to oblige.

    An Instagram representative released the following statement to CNBC

    “When governments believe that something on the internet violates their laws, they may contact companies and ask us to restrict access to that content. We review such requests carefully in light of local laws and where appropriate, we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory.”

    “We are transparent about any content restrictions we make for government requests with local law in our Transparency Report.”

    What they don’t seem to be transparent about is when a post is removed due to political motivations.

    While such a politically motivated move of this magnitude has not yet happened in the US, could one be that far behind, and would Facebook be so willing to comply if it did?

     
  • Geebo 10:18 am on February 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , schools   

    California schools to teach human trafficking awareness 

    California schools to teach human trafficking awareness

    While California may be the leading state in the country for human trafficking that doesn’t mean the state is taking it lying down. California is also one of the leaders in the country of human trafficking prosecution. This is the state that is trying to curb human trafficking at one of its roots by prosecuting the CEO and founders of Backpage.

    California is now trying to prevent human trafficking by using one of the greatest weapons known to man, knowledge. Back in October the state legislature passed a law that would require schools to train teachers and educate students on the signs of human trafficking. Let’s not kid ourselves that our children are not being targeted by pimps and traffickers online. With the advent of social media, these predators are using the impressionability of our children with promises of money and independence to lure them into a life of slavery.

    Since many parents are so unwilling to educate their children or are ignorant to the problem themselves that it is up to the schools to warn our children about these dangers. It’s more than high time for the rest of the country to follow California’s lead in this matter since the trafficking of women and children occurs in every state in just about every town.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on February 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Florida wants to allow human trafficking victims to sue hotels 

    Florida wants to allow human trafficking victims to sue hotels

    With its year-round beaches, spring break destinations, and theme parks, the Sunshine State of Florida has long been a popular vacation destination for people of all ages for generations. Because of that popularity, Florida also has a reputation of being one of the biggest destinations for human traffickers.

    Recently, the Florida State legislature has considered a bill where hotels could be sued by human trafficking victims if the hotels either turned a blind eye, or helped others engage in the modern-day slave trade. While the bill has not been opposed in public, some claim that big names in Florida tourism have been working behind the scenes to undermine the bill.

    However, there is an out for the hotel industry in Florida. If the hotel provides proper training in how to recognize human trafficking and provide a protocol for reporting trafficking then those hotels could not be sued under the proposed legislation.

    While some fear this could cause a new cottage industry for overly litigious Florida attorneys, it could also provide new allies in the fight against the trafficking of women and children in what is supposed to be the ‘happiest place on earth.’

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on February 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dallas, , ,   

    Are safe exchange zones effective? 

    Are safe exchange zones effective?

    In the wake of the multitude of violent crimes that have been committed through sites like craigslist and apps like OfferUp, a number of police departments across the country have set up safe exchange zones for people to have a safer environment to make transactions. For example, each ad on Geebo contains a link to the SafeTrade Stations initiative which contains a list of all participating police departments across the country. In the Dallas, Texas area, a number of police departments created safe exchange areas after too many high-profile crimes took place where the criminals used classifieds sites or apps to find their victims.

    More recently, another murder has sadly taken place in the Dallas area where the victim was using a classifieds app to try to purchase a cell phone. This has caused Dallas news station WFAA to ask if the safe exchange zones are having any effect to which police departments in North Texas say that the effect has been mixed. A representative of the Arlington Police Department had the following to say on the matter.

    “We know people are utilizing it but unfortunately you still have that segment of the population that is still kind of trusting other individuals and meeting them offsite,” Lt. Christopher Cook said. We still have a lot of our robberies occurring at nighttime unlit places and untraveled locations.”

    A tool is only as good as the person who is using it. If people aren’t using the exchange zones it’s difficult to ascertain their true effectiveness. It seems more like the problem isn’t the zones themselves but the education and publicizing of these zones.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Delaware,   

    Backpage shouldn’t be ‘in good standing’ anywhere 

    Backpage shouldn't be 'in good standing' anywhere

    The tiny, three county state of Delaware has long been a tax haven for thousands of corporations. Many high-profile companies incorporate in Delaware due to their lax corporate tax laws that allow many of these companies to get out of paying their fair share of taxes to the state where they actually do business. Many of the country’s leading companies are incorporated at the same nondescript office building in Wilmington.

    One of the companies that is incorporated in Delaware is Backpage, whose main offices are actually in Dallas, Texas. A number of Delaware government officials are concerned about Backpage’s presence in Delaware but say there’s nothing they can do about it. Even though Backpage is responsible for 80% of all online human trafficking in the U.S., are being investigated by Congress, and have had all major credit card companies refuse to do business with the, Backpage is still considered a company ‘in good standing’ by the state of Delaware.

    Both the Delaware Secretary of State and Attorney General say they do not have the legal authority to do anything about Backpage’s standing in Delaware stating they can’t dissolve the company but wish they could. Then maybe it’s time for the legislature of Delaware to give them the legal authority. While a number of companies would probably side with Backpage on this front claiming it starts a dangerous legal precedent, how many of those companies are making their money from the illegal trade of trafficking in human beings? While a company’s main objective is to turn a profit, it shouldn’t be done through the modern-day slave trade.

     
  • Geebo 11:02 am on February 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Amazon offering Whole Foods delivery amid stock shortages 

    Amazon offering Whole Foods delivery amid stock shortages

    As of yesterday, members of Amazon Prime can have orders from Whole Foods delivered to their homes. So far the program is only available in Dallas, Austin, Cincinnati, and Virginia Beach although Amazon has full plans to roll out the service nationally. Prime members will be able to get Whole Foods orders delivered to their homes in two hours as long as the order is over $35. With Whole Foods’ pricey reputation that could be just a bag of Kale and a bottle of Sriracha sauce.

    In all seriousness though, one has to wonder if this announcement will only compound the preexisting problems at Whole Foods. Previously we’ve not only posted about how the shelves on many Whole Foods stores are close to barren thanks to their ordering procedure, but we’ve also discussed how employee morale is at an all-time low thanks to an almost Orwellian employee review system.

    Before Amazon starts offering new programs in their bid to be the global retail solution, maybe they should fix problems already plaguing their acquisitions. As of right now, this new delivery program is akin to adding an addition to a house that’s on fire. In their quest for retail dominance is Amazon starting to cut off their own nose to spite their face?

     
  • Geebo 10:09 am on February 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Super Bowl stings catch those who would buy children 

    Super Bowl stings catch those who would buy children

    Previously, we’ve posted about Washington County, Minnesota, and how they’re cracking down on the type of human trafficking that deals in children. This past weekend, Washington County was the site of many Super Bowl visitors due to its proximity to the Twin Cities area of St. Paul and Minneapolis, where the Super Bowl took place.

    They were just one of many police departments that conducted stings to try to catch those who would use sites like craigslist and Backpage to buy children for the purposes of sex. In Woodbury, which is the largest city in Washington County, at least three men were apprehended for allegedly looking for what they thought were children as young as 13 on both Backpage and craigslist. It’s highly doubtful that either website were willing participants in this investigation meaning they allowed ads placed by police posing as children to remain on their platforms. Washington County wasn’t the only task force cracking down on the trafficking of children as over 100 human trafficking arrests were made during Super Bowl week.

    People who say sites like craigslist and Backpage are making it easier for police to find human traffickers are forgetting one thing. It’s also making it much easier for pimps and traffickers to sell women and children against their will. Craigslist and Backpage can’t be both the cause of and solution to human trafficking. That is the textbook definition of a logical fallacy which forgets that the true victims in these cases aren’t craigslist and Backpage but the women and children who are sold unabated on these websites.

     
  • Geebo 10:29 am on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Has Facebook been caught in the ballot box again? 

    Has Facebook been caught in the ballot box again?

    Facebook’s shady political ad practices have been in the news ever since the 2016 Presidential election when it was discovered the platform accepted foreign money for ads that were disguised as American political ads. They’ve been called before Congress multiple times without ever giving a satisfactory answer as to whether or not they will or can stop this practice. Now, Facebook has run afoul of an election law and has yet to give those seeking answers any pertinent information.

    The city of Seattle has asked Facebook to provide information about campaign ads on the social network that were displayed during last year’s city elections. Seattle has a law in place that states those who pay for political campaign ads in the city must be revealed or face a potential $5,000 per ad penalty. Facebook claims they’ve sent Seattle the necessary information, however, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission say that Facebook has not “come close to meeting their public obligation.”

    What makes matters worse is that Facebook could easily pay these penalties with the change found in Mark Zuckerberg’s couch cushions. Facebook is far from lacking in the funding department which in turn could have undue influence on just about any election that an ad buyer wishes to undermine while Facebook allegedly hides their identity. This is the true threat to Democracy in our country.

     
  • Geebo 10:07 am on February 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Factmata, , ,   

    Does craigslist’s founder really want to stop hate speech? 

    Does craigslist's founder really want to stop hate speech?

    (Disclaimer: This post will be discussing frank topics that may be disturbing to some readers)

    It was announced recently that a number of tech luminaries would be investing in a start-up called Factmata. Factmata’s purpose is to use artificial intelligence (A.I.) in order to “help social media companies, publishers and advertising networks weed out fake news, propaganda, clickbait, online bullying and hate speech.” Factmata’s founders were so confident in their product that they e-mailed billionaire investor Mark Cuban out of the blue and he liked it so much he was an initial investor in the start-up.

    One of the supposed tech heavyweights investing in the latest round of Factmata’s funding is craigslist founder Craig Newmark. We find this more than ironic as Newmark’s record on stopping hate speech and online harassment is laughable at best. If it’s hate speech you’re looking for, you can look no further than the rants & raves section from craigslist’s own beloved San Francisco Bay Area. On the off-chance that racist diatribe is flagged we’ve provided a screen shot below.

    Click to enlarge

    As far as online harassment goes, craigslist has long been wielded as a weapon by petty individuals looking to get revenge on unsuspecting victims including ads soliciting the rape of former romantic partners. Sadly, that’s not the only case of rape by proxy attempted on craigslist.

    That’s not even taking into account the number of child predators that roam throughout craigslist with ads so blatant you might wonder how they were allowed on craigslist to begin with. Here’s just a sample.

    Virgin? Would you like to lose it (M4W)” and “Hello HS and Virgin Girls.”

    “mothers who were looking for a guy to teach their daughter about the joys of sex.”

    “a little girl to play with for the night”

    Craigslist still relies on their so-called ‘community policing’ to flag such ads, but when your ads are being posted and read by sexual predators, then no one is going to flag any ad. This is the textbook definition of letting the inmates run the asylum. So you’ll have to excuse us if we’re just a little more than skeptical about Craig Newmark’s commitment to fighting hate speech and harassment.

    Factmata could in fact end up being a great tool to curb the rising tide of hate speech and online harassment, but when one of your major investors cares little about fighting those problems on his own website it severely hurts Factmata’s credibility.

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on February 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DeleteHQ, HQ Trivia,   

    Has Peter Thiel become the kiss of death for start-ups? 

    Has Peter Thiel become the kiss of death for start-ups

    In case you haven’t heard of the app HQ Trivia, it’s one of those apps that has captured the imagination of smart phone users that hasn’t been seen since the days of Angry Birds. The trivia app works like a game show, broadcasting live and promises cash prizes to those users who can complete a series of trivia questions. However, something has happened that may put a huge dent in HQ’s popularity.

    Like most start-ups, especially ones that hand out money as prizes, HQ has recently received a round of funding from a group of angel investors. HQ’s latest round of funding has come from the Founders Fund group. Founders Fund is a venture fund founded by the infamous Peter Thiel. As you may know, Thiel privately funded lawsuits against tech gossip blog Gawker including the Hulk Hogan lawsuit which eventually bankrupted Gawker. Some have called this plot by Thiel nothing more than an act of petty revenge after Gawker outed Thiel as being gay even though it wasn’t the most closely guarded secret in Silicon Valley. Others have referred to it as Thiel buying his way to censorship.

    This new round of funding for HQ has led to a number of people to delete the app and has started the #DeleteHQ (NSFW language) movement on social media. Will this revolt actually affect HQ’s popularity or will the lure of free money continue to keep HQ Trivia at the top of the most popular apps?

     
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