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  • Geebo 9:34 am on September 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Libya, Russia   

    Is the outlook for Facebook not so good? 

    Is the outlook for Facebook not so good?

    As I write this, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is set to testify before Congress about Facebook’s role in alleged election meddling by foreign opportunists. She is expected to stay the course set by CEO Mark Zuckerberg when he testified before Congress claiming to right the wrongs that Facebook supposedly allowed. However, this week’s news has not been too kind to Facebook as it faces a crucial point in its history.

    For example, after announcing that Facebook had removed multiple accounts of foreign agitators in Russia and Iran, The Daily Beast is reporting that many of the Russian operatives banned by Facebook have found their way back on to the platform. It appears that Facebook’s protocols from keeping such entities off their network amount to that of a revolving door.

    Speaking of Facebook’s foreign relations, according to the New York Times, Facebook is a major contributing factor to the internal strife and violence affecting Libya. Various armed and violent militias within Libya are using Facebook organize attacks and trade weapons. This is in addition to human traffickers who lure their victims through Facebook with the promise of smuggling them out of the country. Everytime Facebook deletes one of these pages, more pop up in its place.

    Back home in The States, the Pew Research Center has released an unflattering poll about Facebook’s usage in America. According to the poll, 42 percent of US Facebook users said they had taken a break from the platform in the past year while many others have deleted the Facebook app from their phone. While Facebook’s global numbers still far surpass any of their competitors this could show a stagnation in Facebook’s growth.

    Again, all of these are symptoms of the much larger problem of Facebook’s reach that has gotten out of their control. When you try to be the soapbox for the world, you have to be ready for the world’s problems and Facebook has shown time and time again that they are not ready.

     
  • Geebo 10:07 am on February 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alexey Navalny, , , , Roskomnadzor, Russia   

    Facebook yields to Russian internet police 

    Facebook yields to Russian internet police

    In America, if someone had video of a Presidential cabinet member taking bribes from a top business magnate, that story would not only be all over the news but it would be the trending topic on social media and Facebook wouldn’t lift a finger to stop it. Now if that happened in Russia? Not so much.

    Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny claims to have a video that was posted to Instagram that shows Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko on the yacht of a Russian oligarch where bribes were said to have allegedly taken place. Not only did the Russian courts rule that the video violated Prikhodko’s right to privacy but the Russian ‘media watchdog group’ Roskomnadzor ordered Facebook owned Instagram to remove two more posts in relation to the matter. Facebook was more than happy to oblige.

    An Instagram representative released the following statement to CNBC

    “When governments believe that something on the internet violates their laws, they may contact companies and ask us to restrict access to that content. We review such requests carefully in light of local laws and where appropriate, we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory.”

    “We are transparent about any content restrictions we make for government requests with local law in our Transparency Report.”

    What they don’t seem to be transparent about is when a post is removed due to political motivations.

    While such a politically motivated move of this magnitude has not yet happened in the US, could one be that far behind, and would Facebook be so willing to comply if it did?

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

    Former Facebook Exec: Facebook can’t be trusted 

    Former Facebook Exec: Facebook can't be trusted

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

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

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

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

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

    Did Russian Facebook meddling influence another election? 

    Did Russian Facebook meddling influence another election?

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

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

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

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

    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 9:52 am on March 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Russia,   

    So what exactly did the Russian hackers get from Yahoo? 

    So what exactly did the Russian hackers get from Yahoo

    As was posted yesterday, the Department of Justice did indict four hackers believed to be involved with the massive data breaches that have plagued Yahoo over the past few years. The alleged hackers have been identified as Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, 29, and Karim Baratov, 22. Dokuchaev and Sushchin are said to be Russian intelligence agents while Belan and Baratov were hired by the aforementioned agents. The only one of the four to be arrested was Baratov since he was living in Canada at the time of his arrest. The other three suspects are currently in Russia which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

    So while the hacks exposed hundreds of millions of Yahoo accounts, only a minority of those accounts turned out to be valuable to the hackers. Among those accounts were those of Russian journalists and cybersecurity experts. Considering Russia’s track record of allegedly targeting and suppressing opposition against the regime this should come as no surprise. Outside of Russia, targets included a Nevada gaming official, a high-ranking executive in a US airline and the CTO of a French transportation company.

    For the average Yahoo Mail user this means that you probably weren’t targeted by the Russians and your Aunt Betty’s recipe for peach cobbler is probably safe, however, it is recommended that you update your password if you haven’t done so in a while or consider moving to a more secure platform that hasn’t been hacked to the tune of 500 million users.

    On the geopolitical scale these hacks could be seen as the start of a new type of cold war where the battlefield is through cyberspace rather than blocs of puppet governments. While the battle may be contained to a confined virtual space that doesn’t make the possible outcomes any less concerning.

     
  • Geebo 9:51 am on March 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DOJ, , Russia,   

    DOJ to charge four in Yahoo hacks 

    DOJ to charge four in Yahoo hacks

    It seems that the Yahoo hacks have been in the news forever. For the past few months we’ve been hearing about hack after hack after hack that exposed hundreds of millions of accounts to the masses. The data breaches were so bad not only did it cause Verizon to ask for a $350 million dollar discount in their purchase of Yahoo, but it also basically cost Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer her job. Now a new chapter in the Yahoo hack saga has developed.

    Bloomberg is reporting that the Department of Justice has discovered the identity of four hackers they believe are at least partly responsible for the Yahoo data breaches. According to sources close to the situation, the DOJ believes one of the hackers to be in Canada and four to be in Russia.

    While the Canadian hacker might be easy to extradite, the problem may be with the three Russian hackers. Despite what you feel about alleged relationships between the current administration and Russia, the DOJ seems to believe that the Russian hackers are state-sponsored. Even if there are friendly relations between the two administrations will Russia be willing to extradite these alleged hackers to the US? That remains to be seen and could be the most interesting chapter in this saga.

     
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