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  • Geebo 10:13 am on December 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, , Privacy International   

    Popular apps sharing data with Facebook without users’ permission 

    Popular apps sharing data with Facebook without users' permission

    It only seems fitting that we close out 2018 with another story about Facebook’s questionable data handling practices. 2018 was a tumultuous year, to say the least. It all started with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and just went downhill from there. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify before Congress which ended up not leading to much after giving his robotic-like testimony. Then more data breaches became public knowledge which resulted in the potential exposure of millions of users’ data to third parties. Then that all was followed up with Facebook allegedly authorizing a smear campaign of its biggest detractors. Now a report has surfaced that only seems to compound Facebook’s privacy problems.

    A privacy watchdog group called Privacy International studied many of the most popular apps on Android devices. Their findings concluded that a majority of the apps they studied send user data to Facebook. While that’s not really surprising the surprising part is that not only are these apps sending data to Facebook the moment you open the app but you also don’t have to have a Facebook account for the apps to send data about you. Some of the apps in the study included travel apps Kayak and Trip Advisor but also fitness app MyFitnessPal. While Facebook may not have instructed these apps to send the data, they’re not exactly discouraging it either.

    If you’re concerned about Facebook using your personal information, The Detroit News has a great article about what you can do to limit Facebook’s access to your data. Some of these steps include reviewing the privacy permissions you grant your most frequently used apps and minimizing your Facebook presence. While it’s difficult in today’s digital world of keeping all your data out of the hands of companies like Facebook, it’s not impossible to limit that amount of information just by taking the time to stop and read what permissions you’re granting these services.

  • Geebo 10:20 am on December 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, ,   

    Is Facebook finally making progress in Myanmar? 

    Is Facebook finally making progress in Myanmar?

    Yes, Facebook is currently under fire in the Western World for its latest security gaffe. You can read about that at the New York Times which has a great write-up about just who Facebook allowed to have user data. However, news that may get lost in the shuffle is that Facebook recently made a pretty significant step in trying to curb the ethnic violence in Myanmar.

    As you may know, Facebook has largely been used by the Buddhist majority Government in Myanmar in order to spread disinformation and hate speech against the Muslim Rohingya minority. Initially, Facebook was slow in enacting measures to try to curb the use of their platform for ethnic cleansing and genocide. Facebook increased their Burmese speaking team and deleted a number of accounts on both Facebook and Instagram that were encouraging violence against the Rohingya. Facebook even deleted the account of a high-ranking Myanmar military official. These were accounts that were very blatant in their hatred for the Rohingya people. Now, Facebook has started going after accounts that are trying to be more subtle.

    Yesterday, Facebook announced that it had deleted the accounts of 135 Facebook users in Myanmar, 425 Pages, 17 Groups, and 15 Instagram accounts. This may not seem like a lot, but these accounts in total had over 2.5 million followers which is 10% of the total internet users in Myanmar. These accounts were trying to be clever by posing as news, entertainment, and beauty and lifestyle accounts but Facebook says that they took action because of “the behavior of these actors rather than on the type of content they were posting.” This is a definite change in Facebook’s Myanmar strategy as previously, they waited for someone else to take action before Facebook did anything.

    This is a step in the right direction for Facebook which has largely stumbled over the past year, not just in Myanmar but worldwide. It remains to be seen if this will be a continuing trend for Facebook’s social responsibility, we just hope it isn’t too little too late.

  • Geebo 10:12 am on December 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, ,   

    Here we go again: Facebook bug exposes millions of accounts 

    Here we go again: Facebook bug exposes millions of accounts

    In what is starting to become an almost weekly event, Facebook announced this past Friday that yet another bug exposed close to 7 million accounts to third-party app developers. The bug was first discovered in September and was active for a few weeks before being corrected. The bug is said to have exposed pictures that users had posted to Facebook but did not give permission for the pictures to be seen by third-parties.

    In the grand scheme of things, this bug is not that big of a security risk as other Facebook data leaks have been in the past year. The pictures that were exposed were only those that were started to be uploaded but for some reason were never posted to the user’s timeline. Or they were photos that were posted to Facebook Marketplace. However, it further shows Facebook’s long-standing disregard not just for user privacy but for Facebook’s own security.

    This was a bug that was discovered back in September after being active for weeks. Why did it take Facebook upwards of three months before informing the public? According to the New York Times, Facebook didn’t notify government officials about the bug until November because they needed to “create a notification page” first. Again, this shows that Facebook is really more concerned about covering their own tails from regulators rather than protecting user privacy.

  • Geebo 10:16 am on December 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, ,   

    Facebook slips as the top place to work as a Facebook scam targets veterans 

    Facebook slips as the top place to work. Also, a Facebook scam is targeting veterans.

    In a follow-up to yesterday’s post about Facebook employees looking to leave the company, Glassdoor released their 2019 rankings of the best places to work. Facebook has fallen hard from its number one perch sliding all the way down to number seven. While it’s still in the top ten of the best places to work in the country, its decline on Glassdoor’s list shows that worker’s attitudes toward the company have definitely shifted in a less than positive way. Facebook was supplanted at the top of the list by consulting firm Bain and Company.

    In other news, a scam has arisen on Facebook that is indicative of its ongoing fight with foreign agitators. WIRED is reporting that foreign entities are posing as various US veterans groups in order to provoke outrage among veterans. As has been Facebook’s usual response to matters like this, Facebook has only been shutting down these scam pages when they’ve been notified by a legitimate veterans organization although the process took months. The scam pages seem to be largely targeting veterans who served during the Vietnam War. The scammers seem to be targeting Vietnam vets due to their age and are hoping that the vets are not savvy internet users. Unfortunately, a number of these scam pages continued to stand because Facebook said that the page did not violate their ever-vague community standards.

    What can be said about this latest Facebook faux pas that hasn’t been said about the others? Again, this latest scam shows that Facebook seems to thrive on controversy and outrage in order to keep their users engaged on the platform by any means necessary. In this day and age where the average Facebook users use the platform to obtain their news, they can almost hardly be blamed for buying into the misinformation since they’re inundated by it on an almost constant basis. If Facebook isn’t willing to help those who have served our country then who are they out to help besides themselves?

  • Geebo 10:14 am on December 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, ,   

    Are Facebook employees looking to jump ship? Also, hate speech is still a problem for the platform. 

    Are Facebook employees looking to jump ship? Also, hate speech still a problem for the platform.

    For several years, Facebook was considered the place to work in Silicon Valley. Many considered it to be the holy grail of employment with Facebook even being ranked the best place to work in America by employer review site Glassdoor.com. Facebook even touted this fact themselves in a corporate video where they almost break their arm patting themselves on the back.

    However, the ranking and the video all took place before Facebook started to be embroiled in the myriad of scandals that have shaken the foundations at the Menlo Park headquarters. According to CNBC, a number of current Facebook employees have been reaching out to former colleagues supposedly looking for new employment opportunities. That’s not unusual for many companies but former Facebook employees have said they’ve seen a sharp increase recently in current Facebook employees looking to leave the company. One of the problems facing current Facebook employees is that Facebook holds a lot of sway in Silicon Valley and can basically determine your future employment opportunities. Again, according to CNBC, if you leave Facebook in the ‘wrong’ way, you can be labeled as “non-regrettable”. Not only does this status mean you could never work for Facebook again, but it could also keep you out of many other positions in the tech industry.

    To make matters worse for Facebook, The Daily Beast has published a report where they documented a deluge of posts that could be considered hate speech by most rational people, yet Facebook failed to do anything about these posts until The Daily Beast pointed them out to Facebook. The majority of these posts were calling for violence against immigrants. Even though The Daily Beast reported many of these posts to Facebook, the social network failed to remove all of them saying that some of the calls for violence didn’t violate their nebulous community standards. Again, this lends credence to the theory that Facebook wants to keep as many users engaged as possible even if it’s through inflammatory content. Facebook’s so-called commitment to stopping hate speech seems little more than lip service to anyone who actually tried to do something about it. Any private company, and by private we mean that it’s not a government-run institution, that not only allows but encourages their platform to be used for hate cannot have its users best interest at heart.

  • Geebo 10:31 am on December 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buzzfeed, Definers, Facebook,   

    Buzzfeed releases Facebook document on critic George Soros 

    Buzzfeed releases Facebook document on critic George Soros

    George Soros

    For the past several weeks, Facebook has been facing a public backlash ever since the New York Times revealed Facebook’s alleged plans to try to discredit their critics. One of those tactics was to hire right-wing media firm Definers who have been accused of allegedly trying to run a smear campaign against progressive philanthropist George Soros. Definers was said to have been given the orders to investigate Soros by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg. More recently, Buzzfeed News has obtained a document created by Definers for Facebook about George Soros’ alleged ties to activist groups that are critical of Facebook. The document can be read below.

    While Buzzfeed calls the document ‘largely innocuous’, not only does it make a giant leap in logic, but it also reads like a conspiracy theorists manifesto. The document from Definers basically concludes that since some groups that are critical of Facebook have received money from Geroge Soros then the group Freedom from Facebook must be receiving money from Soros too. Soros has been a very prominent critic of Facebook for some time now, however, the right has long held Soros up as some kind of villain who they claim is funding everything that is wrong with America.

    As TechCrunch points out, Freedom from Facebook says that they have received no money from Soros and instead its initial funding came from a Pennsylvania-based philanthropist and former hedge fund executive. It almost seems like Definers were given orders by Sheryl Sandberg to connect George Soros to Freedom From Facebook in any way possible and this is what they came up with. While the document from Definers may not be damning in itself, it does exhibit the questionable tactics Facebook will use in order to try to quash any public dissent.

  • Geebo 10:15 am on November 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, ,   

    Facebook COO admits investigation into main critic 

    Facebook COO admits investigation into main critic

    Two weeks ago, the New York Times accused Facebook of allegedly using underhanded tactics in trying to silence their critics. The Times said that Facebook hired a right-wing media group to run a smear campaign against George Soros. At first, Facebook fired the media group known as Definers and tried to deny any investigation into Mr. Soros. Now the New York Times is back with another look into the matter claiming that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was well aware of the investigation of the progressive philanthropist.

    Late yesterday, The Times published an article claiming that multiple sources within Facebook have told The Times that Sheryl Sandberg was not only aware of the investigation into George Soros but ordered it herself. Ms. Sandberg is said to have ordered the investigation into Mr. Soros’ finances after he called Facebook a ‘menace’ at a world economic forum. Ms. Sandberg allegedly wanted to know if Mr. Soros stood to gain financially from his criticism of Facebook and his calls to have Facebook regulated by the government. This supposedly led to the Definers group investigating anti-Facebook groups and accusing them and Mr. Soros of being anti-Semitic.

    The reason this is news is that previously Facebook has stated that Sheryl Sandberg had no knowledge of any of the activity that The Times accused her of. Facebook even went as far as to lay the blame squarely at the feet of outgoing executive Elliot J. Schrage. Facebook’s ever-changing narrative of the situation seems to be indicative of some kind of cover-up at the company. Along with the internal documents set to be released soon by the British Parliament, Facebook could be looking at its own Watergate moment within the coming days.

  • Geebo 10:07 am on November 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Camp Fire, Facebook, natural disasters, , ,   

    Excerpts of Facebook documents released and a scam warning for the victims of the Camp Fire 

    Excerpts of Facebook documents released and a scam warning for the victims of the Camp Fire

    The Wall Street Journal has obtained some excerpts of the internal Facebook documents seized by British Parliament. According to the WSJ, by way of The Verge, Facebook once considered selling user data to third parties. You know, instead of giving it away like they unintentionally do with all these data breaches. Emails show that there was chatter among Facebook employees about selling user data for a premium price after Facebook’s lackluster IPO failed to garner the company the assets they were hoping for. The question is how high up did this discussion go? We should no more once the complete documents are published.

    However, the main topic of today’s blog post is the devastating Camp Fire that has caused so much destruction and devastation in California. As we’ve mentioned before when discussing natural disasters, while events like these can bring out the best in humanity by those volunteering to help the victims of the fire it also brings out the worst in humanity when scammers and con artists descend on the area looking to take advantage of the victims. Local news media in Sacramento is reporting that housing scams are proliferating through the area targeting the victims of the fire.

    The scam itself is nothing new. The scammer will post a phony ad for a rental property on craigslist or Zillow at a too good to be true price. The scammer will come up with some excuse as to why they can’t show the property and will request that you wire them a deposit. Unfortunately, the scammers are normally from overseas so prosecuting them after the fact is almost impossible as is the recovery of any money sent to the scammer. As the article from Sacramento points out, always use a check or credit card to pay for any deposits as these transactions are easier to recover if you’ve been scammed. Please don’t let your anxiety over finding shelter cloud your judgment. Always do the research before giving anyone any money for rent or deposits.

  • Geebo 10:16 am on November 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Facebook, ,   

    Update on Facebook and Parliament, and Delaware suing to dissolve Backpage’s LLCs 

    Update on Facebook and Parliament, and Delaware suing to dissolve Backpage's LLCs

    First, we have a quick update on the ongoing British Parliament hearing from yesterday involving Facebook. The hearing went almost along the lines as the US Congressional hearing where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified. A number of politicians addressed their concerns with Facebook’s privacy policies and interference by political agitators with Facebook giving little to no information in response. However, according to reports, Parliament may publish the sensitive internal documents that they’ve seized later this week. This could potentially be devastating for Facebook as the documents could show just how complicit Facebook was in allowing the Cambridge Analytica scandal to happen.

    Moving on from Facebook, Backpage was back in the news again recently. As you may know, Backpage was responsible for 80% of all online human trafficking in the US by allowing thinly veiled ads for prostitution on their website. Earlier this year, Backpage was seized by the Federal Government and CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to human trafficking and money laundering charges. One of the last vestiges of Backpage’s existence was that even after their government seizure, Backpage was still incorporated in Delaware as an LLC in good standing and there was little the state government could do to change that. Now, that all seems to be changing.

    After passing a state law back in June, Delaware is now able to dissolve certain LLCs with Backpage being one of them. Last week, Delaware State Attorney General Matt Denn asked the Court of Chancery to dissolve the four LLCs that were related to Backpage. AG Denn argues that Backpage abused their “powers, privileges or existence” under state law. This lawsuit was the first one filed after the passing of the new law in June. This has far-reaching implications that affect more than just Backpage as various other shady operations have hidden under Delaware’s lax corporate tax laws. Hopefully, this means that companies like Backpage are no longer welcome in the First State.

  • Geebo 10:14 am on November 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, , ,   

    Facebook Parliament update and how Zuck stole Thanksgiving 

    Facebook Parliament update and how Zuck stole Thanksgiving

    In an update to yesterday’s post about the UK’s Parliament seizing internal documents from Facebook, The Guardian is updating the proceedings live on their website and is live streaming the hearings at the video below. So far there has been nothing earth-shattering revealed in the testimony from Facebook’s Vice President for Public Policy Solutions Richard Allan. So far, Parliament has said that they would not be publishing the seized documents today, but publishing them at a later date has not been ruled out.

    If the stream is currently not playing it is set to resume at 3:30PM GMT/10:30AM EST

    Meanwhile, while we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop in Parliament, let’s revisit an older story that seems to have mostly gone under the radar. If you’ll recall, about 2 weeks ago we published a post about how the New York Times accused Facebook of using underhanded tactics to try to silence Facebook’s critics. One of those tactics was said to include hiring a right-wing media firm to run a smear campaign against philanthropist George Soros and accusing many of Facebook’s critics as being anti-Semitic. Facebook finally came out and admitted that they did, in fact, hire the media firm known as Definers. So they’ve basically admitted to at least one of the major accusations by the Times. So why hasn’t this been bigger news? Because Facebook used one of the oldest tactics in the PR book by releasing this information right before the Thanksgiving holiday. This was a brilliant sleight of hand distraction that most stage magicians would be proud of.

    Facebook is more and more becoming the public face of privacy intrusion and cover-ups. In the past, most people were more worried about the government invading their privacy instead, it turned out to be a company that was started as a way people could connect to their friends. Then again, I guess we’re always betrayed the hardest by the ones we trust the most and in the past, the American people put a lot of trust in Facebook. Now it’s becoming more evident with each passing day that trust was misplaced.

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