Updates from November, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:59 am on November 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Sandy Parakilas   

    Former Facebook Exec: Facebook can’t be trusted 

    Former Facebook Exec: Facebook can't be trusted

    In the wake of governmental calls for potential regulation against Facebook, one former Facebook employee has come out to say that Facebook must be regulated since they won’t regulate themselves. Former operations manager Sandy Parakilas wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times where he calls for the government to regulate Facebook since Facebook cares more about putting a stop to bad PR than they do about privacy.

    In his piece, Parakilas relates a story from before Facebook’s IPO where a game developer was using Facebook’s user information to automatically generate profiles of children without their consent. When the developer was confronted they claimed that no violation of Facebook policy took place and that there was no way to verify if this was true or not.

    Mr. Parakilas also calls out the fact that Facebook discovered Russian tampering on their platform after payments for ads were received in foreign currency. He says that much like his own investigation into the game developer, this should have been an easy thing to stop and he calls on the government to regulate Facebook as democracy itself is at stake with the amount of power Facebook yields.

    Facebook has almost become a world power in itself with the amount of information it possess and its infiltration into our lives. Without regulation it will just become a political tool for hire, being used by any entity who has the money to buy whatever influence they want.

     
  • Geebo 10:31 am on November 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Is the FCC trying to silence American voices? 

    Is the FCC trying to silence American voices?

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    On this blog, we’ve discussed the FCC’s plan to dismantle the net neutrality policies put in place by the Obama administration to try to keep a free and open internet. Long story short, the Trump administration’s FCC, helmed by Chairman Ajit Pai, will be voting next month to determine the fate of net neutrality in the US, and the vote is expected to scrap the protections that were put in place by the previous administration. This was inevitable considering Pai’s stance on net neutrality since he was made chairman. However, there have been two other recent FCC rulings when you put them all together paint a pretty bleak picture.

    Last week, the FCC loosened a decades long restriction on one company owning more than one TV station in the same market. Locally it could lead to one company’s dominance of the media in that market essentially only providing one voice in news. That effect could happen nationally as well as any one company could own multiple outlets in each market.

    The other ruling from last week was that the FCC voted to roll back Lifeline subsidies that helped provide low-cost internet and phone to low-income families. In that same ruling, the FCC put a cap on service providers offering Lifeline plans. With the internet being an essential tool today for trying to accomplish any kind of basic function, this will make it extremely difficult for low-income families to look for employment or find financial assistance if needed.

    When you look at the three of these rulings together, one can almost see it as small parts of a larger plan to stifle the voices of the average American consumer. Ajit Pai’s plans almost seem like that of a totalitarian regime except offered under the banner of false promises of competition and innovation among broadcasters and internet providers.

     
  • Geebo 10:04 am on November 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Amazon Key already hacked 

    Amazon Key already hacked

    Previously, we’ve discussed Amazon’s Key program which in theory would allow deliveries to be dropped off inside your home while you were away. A number of consumers and Amazon Prime members said they would not subscribe to the service due to security concerns such as having strangers in your home even though Amazon Key comes with a security camera.

    Those security fears may have been validated as Wired is reporting that a security research firm has successfully hacked the Key system. In a move that appears almost out of a movie, researchers were able to disable the Key camera in such away that in the camera’s view the door is closed while a rogue delivery person could be searching through your home.

    Amazon says that they will be issuing a software update to prevent these kinds of hacks from happening but that’s not to say that another exploit could be found in the future. With the Key already being exploited and the amount of trust you have to put into strangers being in your home, is the Amazon Key really worth it? We would have to say not at this point in time.

    With the prohibitive cost of purchase and installation, and now with security vulnerabilities, the Amazon Key may become Amazon’s New Coke.

     
  • Geebo 10:30 am on November 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Why Whole Foods’ price cuts aren’t good news 

    Why Whole Foods price cuts aren't good news

    In the run up to the Thanksgiving holiday, Amazon owned Whole Foods has announced deep price cuts on Thanksgiving staples and other products. Whole Foods has even gone so far as to say that the price cuts are permanent. This announcement has caused concern among other grocery outlets causing a number of their stocks to drop.

    However, things may not be as rosy as Whole Foods would have you believe. according to financial experts at Barclay’s, Whole Foods saw a decline in foot traffic after their initial sale to Amazon. Shoppers were curious at first to see how the new Whole Foods was, but now foot traffic into their stores has leveled off which could have triggered the new price cuts.

    These deep price cuts may be having a human cost as well. Many stores in the chain are said to have been reducing staff in order to compete. The stereotypical Whole Foods shopper seem to be more socially conscious than other shoppers. If they realize that their discounts are coming at the cost of jobs, that could definitely have an impact on Whole Foods bottom line. Would you want to shop in a store that was laying off employees just in time for the holidays?

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on November 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brexit, , ,   

    Did Russian Facebook meddling influence another election? 

    Did Russian Facebook meddling influence another election?

    According to recent reports, there may have been Russian involvement in another historical election besides the 2016 US Presidential election. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre is said to be getting ready to announce that there was severe Russian interference when it came to the 2016 Brexit referendum. As with the US election, Russian groups were said to have allegedly placed Facebook ads in the UK stirring the flames of nationalism and anti-immigration movements.

    Buzzfeed has reported that Facebook has admitted there may have been Russian bought ads in the UK about the Brexit vote. Interfering in the Brexit vote doesn’t just affect England but affects the whole of the European Union if not all of Europe. When the UK leaves the EU this will have a negative economic impact on the rest of Europe which Russia may be trying to exploit, all through a social network used mainly for cat pictures.

    Facebook has more users than most countries have citizens. It wields massive influential power but that power has grown wildly out of their control and Facebook doesn’t seem to be doing much to rein that power in. Instead, they’re letting burn out of control while trying to tell everyone that everything is fine. Even while they’re allegedly being manipulated by world superpower with a history of meddling in the political affairs of other nations.

     
  • Geebo 9:53 am on November 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: pay phones,   

    Pay phones are still making money 

    Pay phones are still making money

    There was a time, for those of us old enough to remember, when payphones were everywhere. Shopping malls would have banks of them, busy intersections would have them on the corners and most public places like restaurants would have at least one. Pay phones were the lifeline to home and safety in a world without cell phones. Fast forward to today when finding a pay phone is about as easy as finding Bigfoot, but did you know that pay phones are still making a lot of money?

    According to tech blog Motherboard, pay phones in the US and Canada are still making hundreds of millions of dollars even though the profits have been declining steadily over the years. However, the Motherboard post seemed to gloss over the question that’s on everyone’s mind. Who’s still using pay phones?

    A lot of people in rural parts of the country where there is no landline or cell phone service are still using pay phones as in many cases it’s their only way of communications. In neighborhoods with a high immigrant population, pay phones are still popular because in most cases it’s cheaper to use a pay phone to call their home country than in it is to use what we might consider a regular phone. Then there are those who just don’t feel the need for a phone. With all the ways we are able to communicate today, how many of us even use the phone function of our cell phones?

    While pay phones may be a relic of the past, to a lot of people they are a still a vital lifeline.

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on November 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: lockbox, , , rently   

    Beware of lockbox rental scams 

    Beware of lockbox rental scams

    Reports have come out of the Treasure Valley section of Idaho where a new rental property scam has been taking place. The new scam starts out as the usual rental scam with the scammers copying a legitimate real estate ad then pasting it on to less than trustworthy classifieds sites. However, the scam takes a new twist when it comes to accessing the electronic lockbox used to secure the property for realtors and landlords. Specifically, the scammers have been targeting lockboxes given out by a company called Rently.

    Here’s how the lockboxes are normally supposed to work…

    Unfortunately, victims of the scam then give out the Rently access code to the scammers. The scammers then get access to the property and are able to show it to prospective victims like they own the property which makes it easier for scammers to ask victims for money in the form of non-existent security deposits and the like.

    If you’re looking for a property and end up needing to use one of these electronic lockbox devices, don’t ever give out the security access code to third parties. Also, you may think that since this scam is happening nowhere near you it can’t affect you, but if it’s happening in one area of the country there’s a good chance it could be happening in multiple locales.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on November 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Sen. Al Franken calls for regulation for sites that can’t police themselves 

    Sen. Al Franken calls for regulation for sites that can't police themselves

    It seems that Senator Al Franken isn’t done with the big three tech companies just yet. In a speech he gave this past Wednesday, Franken still had deep concerns about Facebook, Google and Twitter after they gave vague and unsatisfying answers during the Senate hearing about the Russian political ads on American social media. The Senator claims that these companies are unable to control the unchecked influence they have and suggested that regulation may be required for companies that can’t police themselves.

    While Senator Franken is considering regulation against Google, Facebook, and the like, he may want to consider regulating a couple of other sites that have shown they can’t police their own yards, so to speak. Of course those sites would be craigslist and Backpage.

    While Facebook may have accepted foreign money for American political ads designed to influence the 2016 Pesidential election, craigslist has a long and ever-increasing body count. That’s not even mentioning the number of sexual predators that continually use craigslist to find new victims. As for Backpage, their history of being unable or unwilling to stop the human trafficking that takes place on their site is well documented. Even newcomers like OfferUp and LetGo have been having their own issues with customer violence and scams. While moderation may not be able to stop every crime on these sites and apps, it would go a long way in stopping a majority of them. Since they’re all unwilling to monitor themselves, maybe it is time for the government to intervene in order to protect the customers these other services refuse to.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on November 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: free delivery, holiday shopping, , ,   

    Target offers free delivery while closing stores 

    Target offers free delivery while closing stores

    Retail’s favorite holiday is fast approaching, Black Friday. That time that used to announce the start of the Christmas shopping season the day after Thanksgiving, which has now even encroached into the holiday. In order to compete with online retailers that they’ve been losing ground to for years now, some stores are offering certain perks.

    Target will be offering free shipping for their online orders for the holiday in an effort to try to battle for that coveted ‘last mile’. Again, the last mile is considered the most expensive part of any home delivery by retailers. The question is, should Target be offering free delivery for the holidays when they’re set to close multiple locations in the new year?

    Will the promise of free delivery for the holidays be enough to turn Target’s profit margins around? It’s highly doubtful as it seems like they’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. It almost seems like it’s too little too late for Target as they waited too long to try to compete with the much larger competition of Amazon and Walmart.

     
  • Geebo 9:55 am on November 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , RV,   

    BBB reports uptick in Facebook Marketplace scams 

    BBB reports uptick in Facebook Marketplace scams

    The Better Business Bureau has recently reported that they’ve received an increased amount in complaints about Facebook Marketplace. Specifically, the complaints the BBB has been receiving are about big-ticket recreational vehicles like RVs and trailers.

    The scams work the same way that they’ve been working on craigslist. The seller will set up a fake Facebook profile and list an RV for sale. They’ll have some story as to why they’re selling the RV like they’re out of the country or they’re deployed in the military. Then they’ll try to have you pay for the RV with some form of unusual payment such as wiring the money or paying with prepaid credit cards or gift cards. Both methods of payment are virtually untraceable.

    Again, this is just another symptom of the larger problem of classified ads on other sites not being moderated. Facebook moderates their site for all sorts of content violations yet they’re taking the hands off approach when it comes to Marketplace. Then again, what do you expect from the company that took foreign currency payments for American political ads?

     
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