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  • 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.

     
  • Geebo 10:33 am on November 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facebook, , Six4Three,   

    UK Parliament seizes internal Facebook data about privacy leak 

    UK Parliament seizes internal Facebook data about privacy leak

    While America was enjoying the tradition of the extended Thanksgiving weekend, the British Parliament was hard at work trying to hold Facebook accountable for the spate of data and privacy leaks that have been plaguing Facebook since the Cambridge Analytica scandal back in March of this year. Over the weekend, Parliament took the bold and unusual step of seizing internal Facebook documentation from an American citizen who happened to be in the UK at the time. This seizure is said to be a rarely used power of the UK Parliament. British news stalwart The Guardian first reported that Parliament had seized the documents from a US businessman and software developer who is embroiled in a lawsuit with Facebook in California.

    Parliament has tried repeatedly to get Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before them about British privacy leaks much as the US Congress did. However, Facebook has been reluctant to let Mr. Zuckerberg testify before Parliament even going so far as incurring a £500,000 fine which Facebook has the temerity to appeal. Basically, Facebook has continued to stymie Parliament’s attempt to investigate how the social media network allegedly abused the personal data of UK citizens and had little to no choice but to seize these documents.

    The documents in question were said to have been discovered by an app developer called Six4Three. Six4Three was developing an unsavory app that in theory would have allowed users to find pictures of their Facebook friends in bikinis. During the development of the app Facebook drastically altered what information app developers had access to allegedly bankrupting Six4Three. While the app may have been distasteful at best it does show how Facebook reportedly played fast and loose with users’ private data. After Six4Three went bankrupt, they sued Facebook in California for breach of contract. It was during Six4Three’s discovery process that they came across internal Facebook documents that allegedly show how Facebook allowed the Cambridge Analytica scandal to occur including confidential emails between senior executives, and communication with Mark Zuckerberg.Facebook is requesting that Parliament not make the documents public due to the fact that the documents have been sealed in a California lawsuit. However, legally Parliament does not have to grant this request and the documents may be made public as early as tomorrow. Instead of sending Mark Zuckerberg to appear before Parliament, Facebook is instead sending its Vice President for Public Policy Solutions Richard Allan.

    While the timing of this seizure seems to be incredibly convenient for Parliament, the fact that Facebook seems to be even more evasive than usual almost speaks volumes about Facebook’s alleged role in the Cambridge Analytica debacle. With reports ensuing in the months after the scandal that Facebook growth has stagnated and that they’re supposedly desperate to keep users engaged on their platform, a company-wide cover-up is not out of the realm of possibility. With Parliament taking action that Congress wouldn’t, could we be seeing the beginning of the end for Facebook? What weight will any Parliament action hold against a US-based company even though Facebook had exposed the data of millions of UK citizens? Is Facebook the Enron of privacy? With any luck, we’ll know the answers to those questions within the next 48 hours.

     
  • Geebo 10:12 am on November 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, ,   

    What will it take to remove Facebook’s top brass? 

    What will it take to remove Facebook's top brass?

    In response to last week’s expose from the New York Times, Facebook has responded in typical fashion. In a blog post published by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Mr. Zuckerberg denies using the right-wing PR firm it hired to launch anti-Semitic attacks against Facebook’s critics. If that’s true then that means that Mr. Zuckerberg was unaware of the tactics the PR firm was using. That’s not much better than ordering them to do so as it shows that Mr. Zuckerberg has either lost control over what goes on inside his company or is simply unaware of how his company runs. Because of the many accusations against the embattled social network, many investors have called for Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg to step down. However, you shouldn’t expect it any time soon.

    Facebook may be a publicly traded company, but the way their stock options are set up it allows Zuckerberg to run Facebook like his own private republic. As Business Insider points out, there is a class system when it comes to Facebook stock. There is Class A stock which is held by everyday investors, then there is class B stock which Zuckerberg controls most of. The Class B stock gives these shareholders 10 times the votes as Class A shareholders meaning that Zuckerberg’s word is law. While Facebook is not the only tech company that divides stock like this, none of the other companies are facing such a myriad of world-influencing accusations like Facebook is.

    So as of right now, the only way to get Mark Zuckerberg removed from the CEO chair would be some kind of Congressional action. While Congress might be on the warpath against Facebook, they don’t seem to have a clear and concise plan of dealing with them as the country has never experienced a company like Facebook before. It is possible they could try to break up Facebook treating it like a monopoly since Facebook also owns popular apps like Instagram and WhatsApp. However, it would be highly unlikely that would remove Mark Zuckerberg from power. Unless Facebook is somehow ordered to restructure its stock classes we’ll probably see the same face at the helm of Facebook for years to come.

     
  • Geebo 8:20 am on November 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, ,   

    Facebook tries to silence a critic in Geebo 

    Facebook tries to silence a critic in Geebo

    After the daily blog post is published here at Geebo, a link to the day’s blog post is also posted on all of Geebo’s social media accounts. This obviously includes the Geebo Facebook page where we not only post links to the blog but also share some of our users’ ads we think our customers might enjoy.

    Yesterday, the blog post was about how the New York Times accused Facebook of a myriad of transgressions, however, the post mainly focused on how Facebook allegedly used some underhanded tactics to try to silence its critics. More often than not, one of our employees also posts links to that day’s blog on their personal Facebook. That employee is also a content creator in their off time who has been critical of Facebook in the past, but they never had a problem with any of the content they’ve posted. That was until yesterday when they received a notification from Facebook stating that the post goes against Facebook’s ‘Community Standards’ and it has been removed from the news feed section. Isn’t it ironic that Facebook removed a post that was critical of them for trying to silence their critics?

    It was then decided to see if the post was still live on the Geebo Facebook page and it was gone like it never existed. However, in the case of the Geebo page, there was no notification of the post violating the ever-nebulous community standards such as the one posted above from our employee’s personal page. As far as could be told, the post had been wiped off the face of the earth like it had been black bagged by Facebook’s content police and shipped off to a virtual Gitmo. Our employee has reached out to Facebook but has only received a canned response stating that the matter is under review.

    As a whole, we try not to be hyperbolic and we would never claim that Facebook is violating Geebo’s First Amendment right to free speech. Facebook is a private company and has every right to remove whatever content they see fit. However, we are also well within our right to point out what we believe to be evidence supporting some of the allegations that the New York Times has made. It’s one thing to disagree with your critics but it’s another matter completely when you try to rob them of their voice.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on November 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, ,   

    NYT: Facebook sinks to new lows in trying to protect its rep 

    NYT: Facebook sinks to new lows in trying to protect its rep

    Once again, I was trying not to post about Facebook for the rest of the week. While we’re no fans of Facebook’s unchecked power around the world, our criticism of Facebook is not personal. Also, I didn’t want our readers and customers to get burned out on a constant barrage of Facebook news. However, yesterday, the New York Times published a blistering expose on Facebook that is probably the most damning criticism of Facebook to date. While the Times article focuses most of its attention on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and how she allegedly tried to downplay the various crises Facebook has endured since the 2016 Presidential Election, I want to focus on some specific tactics Facebook allegedly used to try to silence its critics.

    Media outlets that follow a specific political leaning have long accused Facebook of being against whatever their political ideology might be. The right says that Facebook censors conservative posts while the left accuses Facebook of being a cauldron of right-wing hate speech. The Times report shows that Facebook is neither left or right-leaning. Facebook only leanings are toward Facebook and is willing to use either side of the political spectrum to protect themselves. For example, according to The Times, Facebook employed a right-wing media group to run a smear campaign against George Soros. Mr. Soros is a left-leaning philanthropist who has been a very vocal critic of Facebook and has been the target of many right-wing conspiracy theories. Conversely, Facebook has called upon the aid of the Anti-Defamation League to accuse one of its critics of being anti-Semitic in their criticism of Facebook. A liberal advocacy group called Freedom From Facebook, which I posted about here, depicted Facebook in a protest picture as a two-headed octopus with its tentacles encircling the globe. The heads of the octopus were those of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. The ADF accused Freedom From Facebook for the image being anti-Semitic stating that “Depicting Jews as an octopus encircling the globe is a classic anti-Semitic trope.” However, similar images were used in political cartoons back in the days of oil and steel monopolies. With this latest look into Facebook’s protectionist tactics, the comparison to companies like Standard Oil could not be more apropos.

    If the Times report is to be believed, and by all accounts, I think it should, it shows just how far Facebook is willing to go to try to discredit its critics. While I’m not a fan of the level of venom used in their article, I think Slate put it best by saying that Facebook isn’t a special company anymore, it’s now just a regular sleazy company engaged in normal sleazy lobbying and corporate propaganda. As far as Facebook is concerned there is only Facebook. Anything else is the enemy and there’s no tactic too low they’ll stoop to in order to protect their brand.

     
  • Geebo 10:47 am on November 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Facebook, , , Secret SIster   

    Avoid the Secret Sister scam this season 

    Avoid the Secret Sister scam this season

    The old saying goes that the stores start advertising for Christmas earlier and earlier each year. In my opinion, it seemed like as soon as the calendar turned to November, the flood of yuletide advertisements began to assail our televisions and internet devices. The holidays are also a time when scam artists come out in droves since people are more likely to open their hearts and wallets during the holiday season than any other time of the year. This year, an old scam that I haven’t thought about in years is being proliferated through social media and while the risk appears to be minimal, the consequences could have far-reaching effects long after the holidays are over.

    I’m talking about the ‘Secret Sister’ gift exchange where someone posts on social media asking you to add your name to a list where and send in a small $10 gift. In return, you’re promised to receive up to 36 of the gifts. According to the Better Business Bureau not only is this a pyramid scheme, but it’s also illegal since you need to use the US Postal Service to send the gift which can be considered mail fraud. And as usual, when it comes to scams like this, it’s highly unlikely you’ll receive any gifts in return.

    Since the scam seems to proliferate on social networks like Facebook, I decided to see if any of my Facebook friends were soliciting for this scam. While none of my friends were, there were friends of friends who were definitely being taken in by this scam. The post usually looks something along these lines.

    The problem with this scam is not only is it illegal as I mentioned above but if you decide to participate in the alleged gift exchange you’re also putting your personal information out to potential strangers who could use the information to their benefit and your detriment. Identity theft comes immediately to mind but the information could be used for even more nefarious purposes.

    Just because a friend of yours may be participating in the Secret Sister exchange on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a Bernie Madoff in the making. They could potentially be a victim in all of this. If you’re worried about one of your friends being caught up in this scam, you may want to remind them that the Secret Sister gift exchange is considered illegal and show them this post or the BBB information. People are more likely to start thinking more critically if there’s potential for them to be in trouble with the law. NO one wants to be investigated for mail fraud for the holidays.

     
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