Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

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Facebook logo Add a phone number I never gave Facebook for targeted advertising to the list of deceptive and invasive ways Facebook makes money off your personal information. Contrary to user expectations and Facebook representatives’ own previous statements, the company has been using contact information that users explicitly provided for security purposes–or that users never provided at all –for targeted advertising.

A group of academic researchers from Northeastern University and Princeton University , along with Gizmodo reporters , have used real-world tests to demonstrate how Facebook’s latest deceptive practice works. They found that Facebook harvests user phone numbers for targeted advertising in two disturbing ways: two-factor authentication (2FA) phone numbers, and shadow contact information. Two-Factor Authentication Is Not The Problem

First, when a user gives Facebook their number for security purposes–to set up 2FA , or to receive alerts about new logins to their account–that phone number can become fair game for advertisers within weeks. (This is not the first time Facebook has misused 2FA phone numbers .)

But the important message for users is: this is not a reason to turn off or avoid 2FA. The problem is not with two-factor authentication. It’s not even a problem with the inherent weaknesses of SMS-based 2FA in particular . Instead, this is a problem with how Facebook has handled users’ information and violated their reasonable security and privacy expectations.

There are many types of 2FA . SMS-based 2FA requires a phone number, so you can receive a text with a second factor code when you log in. Other types of 2FA–like authenticator apps and hardware tokens–do not require a phone number to work. However, until just four months ago , Facebook required users to enter a phone number to turn on any type of 2FA, even though it offers its authenticator as a more secure alternative. Other companies– Google notable among them –also still follow that outdated practice.

Even with the welcome move to no longer require phone numbers for 2FA, Facebook still has work to do here. This finding has not only validated users who are suspicious of Facebook’s repeated claims that we have complete control over our own information, but has also seriously damaged users’ trust in a foundational security practice.

Until Facebook and other companies do better, users who need privacy and security most–especially those for whom using an authenticator app or hardware key is not feasible–will be forced into a corner. Shadow Contact Information

Second, Facebook is also grabbing your contact information from your friends. Kash Hill of Gizmodo provides an example :

…if User A, whom we’ll call Anna, shares her contacts with Facebook, including a previously unknown phone number for User B, whom we’ll call Ben, advertisers will be able to target Ben with an ad using that phone number, which I call shadow contact information, about a month later.

This means that, even if you never directly handed a particular phone number over to Facebook, advertisers may nevertheless be able to associate it with your account based on your friends’ phone books.

Even worse, none of this is accessible or transparent to users. You can’t find such shadow contact information in the contact and basic info section of your profile; users in Europe can’t even get their hands on it despite explicit requirements under the GDPR that a company give users a right to know what information it has on them.

As Facebook attempts to salvage its reputation among users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal , it needs to put its money where its mouth is . Wiping 2FA numbers and shadow contact data from non-essential use would be a good start.

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Facebook logoAnd today’s daily act of censorship is to take down 652 accounts and pages connected to Russia and Iran that published political propaganda.Facebook said in a blog post  that the errant accounts were first uncovered by the cybersecurity firm FireEye, and have links to Russia and Iran. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said:

These were networks of accounts that were misleading people about who they were and what they were doing,We ban this kind of behavior because authenticity matters. People need to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook.

In July, FireEye tipped Facebook off to the existence of a network of pages known as Liberty Front Press. The network included 70 accounts, three Facebook groups, and 76 Instagram accounts, which had 155,000 Facebook followers and 48,000 Instagram followers. Not exactly impressive figures though. And the paltry $6,000 spent since 2015 rather suggests that these a small fry.

Liberty Free Press also was linked to a set of pages that posed as news organizations while also hacking people’s accounts and spread malware, Facebook said. That network included 12 pages and 66 accounts, plus nine Instagram accounts. They had about 15,000 Facebook followers and 1,100 Instagram followers, and did not buy advertising or events.

Iran-linked accounts and pages created in 2011 shared posts about politics in the Middle East, United Kingdom, and United States. That campaign had 168 pages and 140 Facebook accounts, as well as 31 Instagram accounts, and had 813,000 Facebook followers and 10,000 Instagram followers. Again the total advertising spend was just $6,000.

Russian accounts taken down in the Facebook action were focused on politics in Syria and Ukraine, but did not target the United States.

Facebook’s reputation ratings

See  article from bbc.co.uk

Facebook has confirmed that it has started scoring some of its members on a trustworthiness scale.The Washington Post revealed that the social network had developed the system over the past year.

The tech firm says it has been developed to help handle reports of false news on its platform, but it has declined to reveal how the score is calculated or the limits of its use. Critics are concerned that users have no apparent way to obtain their rating. The BBC understands that at present only Facebook’s misinformation team makes use of the measurement.

Perhaps the scheme works on 1 to 5 scale with the bottom rating of 1, being as trustworthy as Facebook, a lowly score of 2 for being twice as trustworthy as Facebook, whilst top of the scale is 5 times as trustworthy as Facebook.

Facebook objected the scale being described in the Washington Post as being a ‘reputation’ score. Facebook said that this was just plain wrong claiming:

What we’re actually doing: We developed a process to protect against people indiscriminately flagging news as fake and attempting to game the system. The reason we do this is to make sure that our fight against misinformation is as effective as possible.

No doubt armies of Indian SEO workers will now redirect their efforts at improving website’s Facebook reputation ratings.

Seeking refuge in blaming Facebook

See  article from nytimes.com

Meanwhile Warwick University research suggests that anti refugee troubles are worse in German towns where Facebook usage is more than the national average. Facebook are taking a lot of stick lately but it seems a little much to start blaming them for all the world’s ills. If Facebook were to be banned tomorrow, would the world suddenly become a less fractious place? What do you think?

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facebook nudity inspectors video The Flemish Tourism Board has responded to Facebook’s relentless censorship of nudity in classical paintings by Peter Paul RubensIn the satirical video, a team of Social Media Inspectors block gallery goers from seeing paintings at the Rubens House in Antwerp. Facebook-branded security–called fbi–redirect unwitting crowds away from paintings that depict nude figures. We need to direct you away from nudity, even if artistic in nature, says one Social Media Inspector.

The Flemish video, as well as a cheeky open letter from the tourism board and a group of Belgian museums, asks Facebook to roll back its censorship standards so that they can promote Rubens. “Breasts, buttocks and Peter Paul Rubens cherubs are all considered indecent. Not by us, but by you, the letter, addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, says. Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us.

The Guardian reported that Facebook is planning to have talks with the Flemish tourist board.

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An almost theological question for, what will AI make of religion? What will it make of people who proclaim peace whilst inciting violence; who preach tolerance whilst practising intolerance; and whose hypocrisy about sexuality is simply perverse?Anyway, Facebook have excelled themselves by banning an image of Jesus Christ on the cross in a context of religious education.

A post on the Franciscan University blog explains:

We posted yesterday a series of ads to Facebook to promote our online MA Theology and MA Catechetics and Evangelization programs.

One ad was rejected, and an administrator of our Facebook page noticed this rejection today. The reason given for the rejection?

Your image, video thumbnail or video can’t contain shocking, sensational, or excessively violent content.

Our ad was rejected because it contained:

  • shocking content

  • sensational content

  • excessively violent content

What was the offending image?

banned cruxifictionAnd indeed, the Crucifixion of Christ was all of those things. It was the most sensational action in history: man executed his God.

It was shocking, yes: God deigned to take on flesh and was obedient unto death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)

And it was certainly excessively violent: a man scourged to within an inch of his life, nailed naked to a cross and left to die, all the hate of all the sin in the world poured out its wrath upon his humanity.

Although the university owned up to the ‘violent’ image Facebook then decided that of course the image wasn’t violent and yet again issued a grovelling apology for its shoddy censorship process. So do you think AI censorship process will be any better?

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open rights group 2016 logo Facebook Tracking Exposed (FTE) is a browser extension which intends to find out – but you won’t find it in the chrome store because Facebook have issued a takedown request.

Facebook don’t want you to know how their algorithm works. That will hardly be a shock to you or anyone else, but it is a serious problem. The algorithm is what Facebook uses to determine what you, or anyone else around the world, will see.

What it chooses to promote or bury has become increasingly important to our democracy. But Facebook don’t want you to know how it works.

Facebook Tracking Exposed (FTE) is a browser extension which intends to find out – it lets users compare their timeline posts against the potential chronological content, helping them to understand why some posts have been promoted, and other haven’t. It also allows comparative research, pooling data to help researchers try and reverse engineer the algorithm itself.

So far, so great – but you won’t be able to find FTE in the chrome store because Facebook have issued a takedown on the basis on the basis of an alleged trademark infringement. Facebook do not want you to know how their algorithm works – how it controls the flow of information to billions of people.

To pretend the premise of Facebook’s trademark claim is reasonable for a second (it’s not likely – the Facebook used in the name describes the purpose of the tool rather than who made it) the question becomes – is it reasonable for Facebook to use this as an excuse to continue to obfuscate their filtering of important information?

The answer, as all of the news around Cambridge Analytica is making clear, is that it absolutely is not. People looking to understand the platform they are using would find it very difficult to find without the Facebook in the name. But then, Facebook don’t want you to know how their algorithm works.

This is easy for Facebook to fix, they could revoke their infringement claim, and start taking on some genuine accountability. There is no guarantee that FTE will be able to perfectly reveal the exact workings of the algorithm – attempts to reverse engineer proprietary algorithms are difficult, and observations will always be partial and difficult to control and validate.

That doesn’t change the fact that companies like Facebook and Google need to be transparent about the ways they filter information. The information they do or don’t show people can affect opinions, and potentially even sway elections.

We are calling on Google to reinstate the application on the Chrome store and for Facebook to withdraw their request to remove the app. But, then, Facebook don’t want you to know how their algorithm works.

The equivalent add-on for Firefox is also now unavailable.

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Facebook logoFor years, privacy advocates have been shouting about Facebook, and for years the population as a whole didn’t care. Whatever the reason, the ongoing Cambridge Analytica saga seems to have temporarily burst this sense of complacency, and people are suddenly giving the company a lot more scrutiny.When you delete Facebook, the company provides you with a compressed file with everything it has on you. As well as every photo you’ve ever uploaded and details of any advert you’ve ever interacted with, some users are panicking that Facebook seems to have been tracking all of their calls and texts. Details of who you’ve called, when and for how long appear in an easily accessible list — even if you don’t use Facebook-owned WhatsApp or Messenger for texts or calls.

Although it has been put around that Facebook have been logging calls without your permission, but this is not quite the case. In fact Facebook do actually follow Facebook settings and permissions, and do not track your calls if you don’t give permission.  So the issue is people not realising quite how wide permissions are granted when you have ticked permission boxes.

Facebook seemed to confirm this in a statement in response:

You may have seen some recent reports that Facebook has been logging people’s call and SMS (text) history without their permission. This is not the case. Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. People have to expressly agree to use this feature. If, at any time, they no longer wish to use this feature they can turn it off.

So there you have it, if you use Messenger of Facebook Lite on Android you have indeed given the company permission to snoop on ALL your calls, not just those made through Facebook apps,

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facebook-ads-small-businessGoogle and Facebook accused of supposedly profiting from pop-up brothels and sex clubs sweeping Britain

Ministers are reportedly considering new laws to make internet giants liable when sex workers use their sites to organise business.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) are supporting the propaganda and claim Google and Facebook are making profits from sex trafficking, according to the Times.

Pop up sex clubs have been discovered in Cornwall, Cambridge, Swindon and holiday cottages in the Peak District. Will Kerr, the NCA’s ‘head of vulnerabilities’, claimed:

People are using the internet and social media sites to enable sexual exploitation and trafficking. It is clear that the internet platforms which host and make a profit out of this type of material need to do more to identify and stop these forms of exploitation.

Government figures want internet giants like Facebook to be held accountable, eying new US laws that are set to overturn more than 20 years of blanket immunity for sites for content posted by users. It will make firms liable if they knowingly assist, support or facilitate content that leads to trafficking.

Downing Street and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said they are looking at whether and how to replicate the action in the UK.