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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Google, , ,   

    YouTube’s livestream of hate speech hearings was flooded by hate speech 

    YouTube's livestream of hate speech hearings was flooded by hate speech

    In the wake of the deadly mass shooting that took place in Christchurch, New Zealand by an alleged white nationalist, the US House Judiciary Committee held a hearing about hat speech online. If you’ll recall the gunman in the Christchurch shooting that left 50 victims dead not only livestreamed his attack on Facebook but also posted a hate-filled manifesto online. Facebook and Google were called before the committee to address what steps they were taking to combat the problem. Both Facebook and Google defended the practices they use in order to prevent online hate. However, Google, who owns YouTube, may have spoken too soon.

    The hearing was being livestreamed on YouTube and about 30 minutes into the livesstream many YouTube users were leaving racist and anti-Semitic comments in the stream’s live chat and comment section. At that point, YouTube shut down the chat and closed the comments section but by then the damage had already been done. Committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, was handed a sampling of the hateful comments and read them aloud during the hearing. “This just illustrates part of the problem we’re dealing with,” Nadler said.

    Unfortunately, just because YouTube clamped down on one livestream doesn’t mean the hate speech went away. Instead, they just relocated to other livestreams of the hearing. At least one recognized hate group ran their own livestream of the hearing and even raised money for themselves through YouTube’s own platform. Because of social media, there hasn’t been a surge in hate groups like this since the days of the civil rights movement. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are over 1,000 organized hate groups in the US alone. Violence committed by some of these groups has also been on a sharp rise in the past few years as well.

    What remains to be seen is if these social media platforms can actually develop effective safeguards to screen for hate speech or will it just remain business as usual? Hate speech has been a problem since the early days of the internet and no major platform has been able to tackle it convincingly.

     
  • Geebo 10:13 am on February 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Google,   

    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 9:58 am on December 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Edge, Google, , , , ,   

    Netflix phishing scam returns, Google becomes Microsoft, and watch out for phony shipping companies 

    Netflix phishing scam returns, Google becomes Microsoft, and watch out for phony shipping companies

    Today we bring you a few consumer protection stories that we think you should be aware of.

    First up is the return of the Netflix phishing scam. This is not a new scam but it seems to be making the rounds again. Reports from all over the country are stating that people are receiving emails that appear to be from Netflix asking customers to update their payment information. If you receive one of these emails do not click any of the links contained in the email. Doing this will take you to either a malware infested site or will try to obtain your credit or debit card information. Anytime some service requests any kind of information change, go directly to the site in your web browser instead of clicking any links.

    A former Microsoft intern is claiming that today’s Google is acting more like yesterday’s Microsoft. The intern used to work on Microsoft’s Edge Browser and claims that Google purposely tries to slow down other browsers than Chrome on some of their services such as YouTube. This is reminiscent of the browser wars of the early internet when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer gained the majority of the browser market by being included by default in Windows. The only difference this time is that Microsoft blinked and they are changing Edge to be a Chromium-based browser. Chromium is the engine that powers the Chrome browser and many of its offshoots like Opera and Vivaldi.

    Lastly, the state of South Dakota is warning consumers to be wary of phony shipping companies that are claiming they reside in the state. The state’s Attorney General is saying that people are being tricked into sending money to phony shipping companies when buying cars off of craigslist. If you’re going to buy a car online we hope that you would purchase the vehicle through Geebo.com, however, we always recommend shopping local when looking for a vehicle and using a safe place to conduct the transaction. However, if you do need to deal with a shipping company for whatever reason, a quick Google Maps search using the company’s supposed address should be able to tell you if the company actually exists or not.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Google, ,   

    Google+ shutting even earlier due to more massive breach 

    Google+ shutting even earlier due to more massive breach

    If you’ll recall, back in October, Google announced that it would be shuttering its underused social network Google+ in August of 2019 due to a security breach that left 500,000 user accounts vulnerable. This was after the Wall Street Journal discovered a flaw in the comically underused platform. In a world where Facebook is continually exposing millions of accounts to third parties in an almost regular basis, 500,000 users seemed like a thimble of water in the ocean in comparison. Now, a new breach has put Google in very similar company with Facebook.

    During internal testing by Google, it was recently discovered that Google+ had another bug in it that left 100 times the amount of accounts exposed than the last breach. Over 52 million accounts could have been potentially exposed with such information as a user’s name, email address, occupation, and age to third-party developers. Google has stated that there’s no evidence that any of the exposed information was used by bad actors but this latest breach has caused Google to move up the timetable for the demise Google+. Now Google has scheduled the shutdown for April of 2019.

    Besides being in amazement that Google+ actually had that many users at one point, this bug could not have come at a worse time. Maybe Google will be able to weather this storm since Google+ was nowhere near as popular as its competitors but when you add it to the multitudes of other security breaches in similar spaces this could invite even more governmental eyes looking to regulate companies like Google and Facebook. And as we’ve mentioned before, in today’s highly partisan climate it might not be the best time for any kind of sweeping legislative change.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on October 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Google, ,   

    Security breach claims Google+ 

    Security breach claims Google+

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A major social network run by a major tech corporation exposes a good size chunk of its user data which the company chooses not to disclose until it’s investigated by the media. Normally, you probably wouldn’t be wrong if you thought that this was another story about Facebook but for once you’d be mistaken. This time it’s Google’s failed attempt at a social network known as Google Plus or Google+ as the search engine behemoth has branded it.

    The Wall Street Journal recently uncovered that a flaw in Google+ allowed user data to be exposed for 500,000 users. While this would be a drop in the bucket for Facebook, this is a massive breach for Google+ users. After the Journal report was released, Google almost immediately announced it was shuttering Google+ within the next ten months. So by August of 2019, Google+ will be no more. In a very Facebook-like move. Google reportedly knew of the breach back in Spring of this year but remained silent on it in order to avoid the controversy that Facebook was undergoing after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

    Now, we can all joke about how barely anyone we know used Google+ but its impending demise shows a greater problem among the tech giants whose services we all use. Whether it’s Facebook, Google, Twitter or whomever, we use their services in exchange for a certain amount of trust that our personal information will be handled with a modicum of responsibility. Many of these companies have betrayed that trust especially in 2018. If these data breaches continue then these companies are just begging for governmental regulation and considering how divisive and partisan the current governmental scene is, it would make it the worst time for any kind of sweeping legislative change.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on January 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alphabet, , , , Google,   

    Facebook, Twitter, and Google to be called before Congress again 

    Facebook, Twitter, and Google to be called before Congress again

    Not too long ago, tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, were called to testify before Congress about their alleged roles in foreign meddling of the 2016 Presidential Election. Now those same companies are being asked to return to Washington to testify about their part in the dissemination of extremist propaganda. If you’ll recall, the tech companies did not do themselves any favors in their testimony over the Russian backed ads from the election.

    At that time, we asked if the CEOs of each respective company were afraid to appear before Congress themselves. It may appear that the answer to that question is yes, they are scared. Once again, instead of Larry Page, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg testifying before congress about their platforms we’ll instead have the heads of each company’s public policy department. Even though they have the records of the disastrous performance of their companies’ last representatives, I doubt this new crop of underlings will fare any better.

    This also comes on the heels of Mark Zuckerberg himself stating that Facebook is ‘broken’ in his pledge to fix the platform. If he’s aware of the problems that have befallen his ubiquitous network then why is he uncomfortable to appear before Congress to make these same promises? As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thee companies indeed have absolute power over most of our daily lives. To not be completely transparent shows that they probably have many things to hide.

     
  • Geebo 10:13 am on January 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Google,   

    Should Facebook be broken up? 

    Should Facebook be broken up?

    British media trade magazine Press Gazette recently ran an article where one of the directors of the London School of Economics has called for Facebook and Google to be broken up as virtual monopolies. While the two companies may not be publishers themselves, in today’s digital world these two companies have an enormous influence on what media gets to be shared. While the UK has stricter antitrust laws should Facebook and Google be broken up in the US?

    When we think back to monopolies in the US being broken up we think back to companies like Standard Oil, US Steel and AT&T. While Facebook and Google are not similar companies to these ones from history, they do trade in the currency of our modern age, information, which these two companies do seem to have an inordinate amount of control on the flow of information. Even noted consumer advocate Ralph Nader says these companies release products and policies out onto the world without realizing what the consequences will be.

    Now, some may say that Facebook and Google aren’t monopolies and that there is competition to these platforms, but is there really? While there may be other social networks and other search engines do any of them even compare to the industry leaders? Facebook has 2 billion users. Can anyone even name what the #2 social network is? Even if it is Twitter, their userbase doesn’t even come close to Facebook’s. What is the #2 search engine? Yahoo? Bing? Google is so large that their name has become a verb for looking things up on the internet.

    Due to their undue influence on today’s media, maybe it’s time for Facebook and Google to start thinking smaller before the government does it for them?

     
  • Geebo 8:57 am on November 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Colin Stretch, , Google, , , ,   

    Are cowardly CEOs afraid to face Congress over Russia probe? 

    Are cowardly CEOs afraid to face Congress over Russia probe?

    Not pictured: Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Page

    This week, Congress continued its probe into alleged Russian influencers purchasing ads on the internet’s three top platforms, Facebook, Google and Twitter. Rather than appearing themselves, the CEOs of each company sent their legal counsel in their stead. Yes, that’s not unheard of for businesses to send their legal representatives to Congress, but we’re talking about these companies taking money from foreign entities that might have influenced the outcome of the 2016 election.

    While Congress by and large can be tech-illiterate, at least one Senator seemed to hammer the point home that these companies probably knew who they were taking money from. Minnesota Senator Al Franken showed everyone just how unwilling these companies are to divulge the truth.

    Senator Franken put forth a poignant argument to Facebook’s legal Counsel, Colin Stretch…

    “People are buying ads on your platform with roubles. They’re political ads. You put billions of data points together all the time. That’s what I hear that these platforms do: they’re the most sophisticated things invented by man, ever. Google has all knowledge that man has ever developed. You can’t put together roubles with a political ad and go hmm, those two data points spell out something bad?”

    Stretch replied: “Senator, it’s a signal we should have been alert to and in hindsight–”

    But Franken cut him off, asking whether Facebook would pledge not to publish a political ad paid for in North Korean won. As Stretch demurred, Franken interjected fiercely: “Please answer yes or no, sir. You’re sophisticated. You’re the chief legal counsel for Facebook. Please answer yes or no.”

    Of course, Senator Franken did not get a straight answer out of Stretch. Instead the counselor hemmed and hawed his way through a non-committal answer.

    However, the question remains, why weren’t the CEOs there to answer questions directly? What exactly are they afraid of? Perjury perhaps? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t comment on the hearings until the day after Stretch’s testimony on an earnings call.

    “I’m dead serious,” Zuckerberg said. “I’ve directed our team to invest so much in security on top of the other investments we’re making it will significantly impact our profitability going forward.” That investment will include hiring at least 10,000 new employees to focus on security and enforcement. CFO David Wehner later clarified that many of those new jobs won’t be full time but rather contract positions at partner companies.

    “Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits,” Zuckerberg said.

    Which doesn’t address the problem at hand at all. Zuckerberg was then said to have handed off the remainder of the call to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

    Facebook was the biggest offender in this story having served up alleged Russian ads to at least 125 million American users. Considering the entire population of the US is 323 million, that’s not a small percentage of potential voters who saw these misleading ads. That’s more than enough people to sway an election one way or the other. If protecting the community is more important than profits, why take the foreign money at all for American political ads? Facebook can claim hindsight is 20/20 all they want, but there were accusations of Russian political meddling even before these ads appeared on Facebook. So how could accepting Russian currency for American political ads not throw up a red flag?

    If you don’t think the CEOs of this company aren’t cowards, please think of this for a moment. Even Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer eventually appeared before Congress. So when the CEO of a company that reportedly makes money from the sexual slave trade in this country appears before Congress and these other CEOs don’t, it goes a long way in showing just how scared of Congress they probably are.

     
  • Geebo 9:08 am on September 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Family Link, Google,   

    Google’s new parental app for Android leaves a lot to be desired 

    Google's new parental app for Android leaves a lot to be desired

    Recently, Google announced the public release of their parenting app for android devices called Family Link. For a family of Android phone and tablet users this is a welcome announcement as Android has had no built-in child safety apps until now. Unfortunately, there are still some major kinks in the system which could make the app pointless.

    In theory, once you install the Family Link app on yours and your children’s Android devices you’ll be able to see what apps they’re using, restrict control to some apps and even set a time when the device is to be shut off at night. You’re able to basically monitor your children’s devices from your own device. However, that comes with several caveats.

    The first hurdle is your children’s devices will need to be running Android Nought (7.0) or higher. That’s fairly recent and many budget Android devices are not currently running Nougat. The second and most glaring problem is that Family Link can only be set up on new Google accounts and not preexisting ones. Depending on the age of your child, this could be a deal breaker considering the email address they’ve been using for a while may be tied into that account.

    Google has valiantly tried to bring parental control to Android with this app, unfortunately it’s fallen short of its goal.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on September 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Google,   

    When it comes to ‘Don’t be evil’, Google gives Backpage a pass 

    When it comes to 'Don't be evil', Google gives Backpage a pass

    Nicholas Kristof, of the New York Times, is one of the few nationally known journalists who has continually reported on the transgressions of Backpage when it comes to Backpage’s part in the sex trade. In one of his recent columns, Kristoff goes after an even bigger fish in the polluted waters of internet sex trafficking, Google. The Mountain View, California, search king opposes the proposed amendments to the Communications Decency Act that would remove the protections from prosecution that sites like Backpage have been hiding behind, otherwise known as the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

    Kristoff claims that Google has an unfounded fear when it comes to their argument of a slippery slope with Google claiming the new amendment to the CDA could open them up to frivolous lawsuits. However, a spokesperson for the National Center for Missing and Exploited children points out the new legislation is crafted in such a way that it only applies to those sites which are directly receiving money from traffickers.

    “This bill only impacts bad-actor websites,” notes Yiota Souras, general counsel at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “You don’t inadvertently traffic a child.”

    Yet the majority of Silicon Valley is opposing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act mostly out of fear that it will somehow affect their right to free speech, which couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no slippery slope here. There is no downside. I think what the mostly insular tech community forgets is there are actual people being trafficked and sold into sexual slavery on sites like Backpage and aren’t just faceless pixels.

    Instead of worrying about Backpage’s ‘freedom of speech’ these tech companies should be more worried about the fact that many of the women and girls being trafficked on Backpage have no freedom at all in a country that prides itself on liberty.

     
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