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  • Geebo 10:21 am on March 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, , , , Motel 6   

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim 

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim

    Social media has long been a tool that human traffickers use to approach their victims. Even going back to the days of MySpace pimps and traffickers would use social media to groom underage victims to come to work for them. These predators look for any vulnerability in their victims to exploit to get their victims to believe in working for the pimps. Most pimps offer a lifestyle of money and luxury while others promise them a better life than what the victims parents are currently providing. So, the question that needs to be asked is should social media platforms be held responsible for the messages sent between traffickers and their underage victims?

    An attorney in Houston thinks the answer to that question is yes. She is suing Facebook on behalf of Jane Doe #19 claiming that Facebook allowed the traffickers to message the then 12-year-old girl for six months before convincing the girl to meet them at a local Motel 6. She was then put up for sale on Backpage where she, unfortunately, was forced to meet with multiple johns. In response to this suit, Facebook released the following statement…

    “Human trafficking is abhorrent and is not allowed on Facebook. We use technology to thwart this kind of abuse and we encourage people to use the reporting links found across our site so that our team of experts can review the content swiftly. Facebook also works closely with anti-trafficking organizations and other technology companies, and we report all apparent instances of child sexual exploitation to NCMEC.”

    Backpage and Motel 6 have also been named in the suit and on those instances, we think the suit has merit. Backpage for the obvious reasons and Motel 6 because they allegedly told the girl’s parents that the victim wasn’t there. However, we’re not so sure that Facebook should be held responsible in this matter. For one, while we sympathize with the victim, no 12-year-old girl should be on Facebook as their terms of service state that a user must be 13-years-old to use their service. I know that sounds like splitting hairs but it’s almost guaranteed it will be brought up by Facebook’s attorneys. Secondly, Facebook, in this case, is just a form of communication. If the girl had been texted by her traffickers should the phone company be sued for allowing traffickers to text her? Then if Facebook starts to monitor messages between users there will be another backlash against Facebook over privacy issues.

    While we hope this girl is able to receive some form of justice with her suits against Backpage and Motel 6, we believe the suit against Facebook holds no merit.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, 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 10:00 am on February 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, ,   

    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
    Tags: , Facebook, ,   

    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.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook,   

    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
    Tags: Facebook,   

    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 10:02 am on January 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, 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 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ad sellers, Facebook, 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 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Facebook, ,   

    Amid shutdown, federal employees forced to sell belongings on Facebook and craigslist 

    Amid shutdown, federal employees forced to sell belongings on Facebook and craigslist

    Today, the government shutdown reaches its 24th day. This is the longest government shutdown in American history. 800,000 federal employees are going without their paychecks because the President is throwing a tantrum like a tangerine toddler over a border wall that would actually do little to stop the influx of immigrants that we should be welcoming into this country. Most illegal immigration doesn’t even take place at the country’s southern border with Mexico but rather through people who have stayed in the country after their travel visas have expired. But far be it from the truth getting in the way of a President who was elected on a platform of fear and intolerance. Meanwhile, the federal employees caught in the crossfire are in danger of having their lives ruined.

    Due to their lack of income, many locked out employees have taken to selling their possessions on places like Facebook and craigslist. So not only are they being driven into poverty by their own government but now these employees will have to deal with many scammers and con artists that prey on people like this on the less than scrupulous classifieds sites and marketplace apps like craigslist. The Coast Guard even published a survival guide recommending their members try to get part-time jobs as secret shoppers which has a well-known history of being mostly a scam.

    To make matters worse, the President has the temerity to claim that the unpaid federal employees are behind him and his ridiculous wall.

    President Donald Trump, when asked about the hardship facing workers, said federal employees “are on my side.”

    “You take a look at social media, so many of those people saying ‘it’s very hard for me, it’s very hard for my family, but Mr. President you’re doing the right thing. Get it done.’ They’re patriots,” he said.

    Then again, what do you expect from someone who made a business out of declaring bankruptcy on multiple occasions? However, Mr. Trump right now is the worst kind of bankrupt, morally bankrupt.

     
  • Geebo 10:40 am on January 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, ,   

    Many Android users can’t delete Facebook even if they wanted to 

    Many Android users can't delete Facebook even if they wanted to

    Nothing is more frustrating to an android user than when you have limited storage space and there are bloatware apps on your device that can’t be deleted. A number of phone companies include these indestructible apps in order to make money through various partnerships by nudging their customers into using these apps. However, unlike a computer where you can delete just about anything, many Android users are locked into these apps for the life of their device. Now, it’s being reported that a company not known for its security or privacy is allegedly paying at least one major phone manufacturer into making its app irremovable.

    Bloomberg has reported that Facebook is not only coming pre-installed on many of Samsung’s flagship phones but that the Facebook app can’t be deleted as well. While the app can be put in a disabled app that hasn’t stopped Samsung customers from being concerned about what personal data may have been sent to Facebook. Considering Facebook’s less than stellar year when it came to privacy and security, this seems to be a valid concern. Facebook claims that when their app is in disabled mode that it’s the same as if the app had been deleted. That’s not reassuring to many users who want the app off of their phone for good which puts Samsung in an anti-consumer light even though Samsung has said they’re trying to give consumers the best out of the box experience.

    Unfortunately, Samsung isn’t the only manufacturer that includes permanent apps and Facebook isn’t the only company pushing them. Most cellular carriers include apps for their various services that can’t be deleted as does Google who created and maintains the Android operating system. While Facebook may be taking the brunt of criticism right now it’s just a symptom of a larger problem where consumers do not have the freedom to do what they want with the phones that they’ve paid for. Considering how expensive some of these devices are shouldn’t the choice of whether or not the customer wants to have Facebook on their phone be left up to them?

     
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