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#41 grog

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Posted 22 October 2018 - 02:22 PM

Facebook's Role in the Genocide
 
 
 
 
 
October 22, 2018 
 
 
Facebook's Role in the Genocide in Myanmar: New Reporting Complicates the Narrative
 
Members of the Myanmar military have systematically used Facebook as a tool in the government's campaign of ethnic cleansing against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority, according to an incredible piece of reporting by the New York Times on Oct. 15. The Times writes that the military harnessed Facebook over a period of years to disseminate hate propaganda, false news and inflammatory posts. The story adds to the horrors known about the ongoing violence in Myanmar, but it also should complicate the ongoing debate about Facebook's role and responsibility for spreading hate and exacerbating conflict in Myanmar and other developing countries.
 
Context: The Atrocities in Myanmar
 
The Times report comes in the context of growing calls for accountability for the campaign of violence inflicted on the Rohingya. On Sep. 12, the U.N.-commissioned independent Fact Finding Mission (FFM) released its final report, which called for members of the Myanmar military to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The U.S. State Department also released a report documenting evidence that the military's operations were "well-planned and coordinated." As these reports show, the atrocities in Myanmar have become one of the world's most pressing human rights situations. The FFM concludes that the exact number of casualties from the "widespread, systematic and brutal" killings may never be known, but is more than 10,000. The over 400-page FFM report contains devastating accounts of wide-ranging crimes against humanity, including torture, rape, persecution and enslavement. Hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced.
 
Alongside this developing body of evidence and consensus about the crimes that have been committed in Myanmar, debate has raged over Facebook's role in these events. In recent months, Facebook has taken steps to accept its role and responsibility. In a surprising concession before the Senate intelligence committee in September 2018, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg even accepted that Facebook may have a legal obligation to take down accounts that incentivize violence in countries like Myanmar. Sandberg called the situation "devastating" and acknowledged that the company needed to do more, but highlighted that Facebook had put increased resources behind being able to review content in Burmese. Shortly before the hearing, Facebook announced that it had taken the unusual step of removing a number of pages and accounts linked to the Myanmar military for "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" and in order to prevent them from "further inflam[ing] ethnic and religious tensions."
 
The FFM's report did acknowledge that Facebook's responsiveness had "improved in recent months" but found that overall the company's response had been "slow and ineffective." It called for an independent examination of the extent to which Facebook posts and messages had increased discrimination and violence.
 
The New York Times report
 
Paul Mozur's recent reporting in the Times recounts how as many as 700 people worked shifts in a secretive operation started by Myanmar's military several years ago. The military personnel developed large followings for fake pages and accounts with no visible connection to the military, which they then flooded with hate propaganda and disinformation. To encourage people to turn to the military for protection, the pages often aimed at stoking ethnic tensions and generating feelings of vulnerability. Although this particular campaign is half a decade old, it continues a long practice of Myanmar's military engaging in psychological warfare, employing techniques learned by officers sent to Russia for training.
 
Following the publication of the Times story, Facebook announced it was removing more "seemingly independent entertainment, beauty and informational Pages" that were being used to push military propaganda. Altogether, the pages had about 1.35 million followers.
 
Hate speech and social media in the context of mass atrocities
 
The extent to which hate speech and propaganda can be said to factually and legally cause mass atrocities is a complicated issue. Jonathan Leader Maynard and Susan Benesch have observed that it is "one of the most underdeveloped components of genocide and atrocity prevention, in both theory and practice"-and that's before social media enters the picture. As Zeynep Tufekci tweeted years ago, Myanmar may well be the first social-media fueled ethnic cleansing. International law hasn't even begun to grapple with how to take into account the role of social media in unravelling and imposing responsibility for international crimes.
 
There is a long road ahead if international law is to do so now. Challenges include evidence-gathering when fact-finders are refused access by the government, issues to do with the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction that may result in partial accountability, as well as the inherent conceptual difficulties of line-drawing when finding the nexus between speech and violence. The case law on speech in the context of genocide has developed in a piecemeal fashion, resulting in inconsistencies and incoherence. The road to accountability in Myanmar may offer an opportunity to develop and clarify these rules, as well as wrestle with how social media fits in. The FFM report provides a starting place, concluding that there is "no doubt that the prevalence of hate speech in Myanmar significantly contributed to increased tension and a climate in which individuals and groups may become more receptive to incitement and calls for violence" and "[t]he role of social media is significant."
 
Complicating the narrative
 
The FFM has called for more work to be done to understand the effects of Facebook on the spread of violence in Myanmar. Reporting shows that Facebook was an "absentee landlord" in Myanmar. It ignored warnings about the abuse of its platform in the country for years, engaged poorly with civil society actors and generally-as the company itself has admitted-has been far too slow to act in the context of horrific crimes. For this reason, observers have compared Facebook to providing a match or tinder in the uniquely explosive environment of Myanmar.
 
But this analysis may need updating in light of the new evidence that the spread of anti-Rohingya misinformation across Facebook was not merely organic, but the result of systematic and covert exploitation by the military. As noted by Daphne Keller, the Director of Intermediary Liability at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society and former Associate General Counsel at Google, responding to problems resulting from innate structural flaws of social media requires a "different analysis and response" than a response to a calculated exploit by bad actors.
 
In these early days of trying to untangle the role of Facebook in the horrors inflicted against the Rohingya minority it's worth carefully examining the issues raised by the FFM report and the NYT reporting:
 
Facebook's relationship with state officials: Facebook's community standards, which set out when it will remove content such as hate speech, include an exception for content that it considers "newsworthy, significant or important to the public interest." This allows for subjective, political judgments. In seeking to avoid becoming the "arbiter of truth," Facebook has been reticent to censor the speech of government officials around the world even when they amount to a breach of the company's policies on hate speech. There is an added tension in Facebook censoring the speech of political figures to their own populations: How should Facebook evaluate when the harm caused by such speech outweighs its public value? Years of coordinated, covert posts in the context of mass violence seems a clear case, but the use of Facebook by the Myanmar government also includes many overt posts by members of state parliament. Indeed, as the FFM report states, "In a context of low digital and social media literacy, the Government's use of Facebook for official announcements and sharing of information further contributes to users' perception of Facebook as a reliable source of information."
 
The benefits of Facebook and its facilitation of freedom of expression: The FFM report highlights that the increased access to information and means of communication has been one of the most tangible benefits of the democratisation process in Myanmar, and that Facebook itself "can and has been used in many ways to enhance democracy and the enjoyment of human rights." This might be particularly important given that Myanmar authorities "do not tolerate scrutiny or criticism"-an emblematic example being the jailing of two Reuters reporters who documented one massacre of ten Rohingya. It is not obvious that Myanmar would be better off without Facebook, which provides an important means of communication for journalists and local businesses. This does not excuse harm it may have caused, but is an important part of the bigger picture of Facebook's role in the country.
 
Constructing the counterfactual: Mozur wrote on Twitter that researchers estimate two-thirds of the hate speech found on Facebook in Myanmar began with the military. Yet it is likely impossible to know how much of the remaining third would have been created had military propaganda not established an enabling and encouraging context. For this reason, it will be difficult to understand Facebook's role in the spread of hate speech and violence.
 
Facebook's role in documenting mass atrocities: One of the most difficult aspects of prosecuting the crime of genocide is the stringent requirements of proving specific genocidal intent. The FFM report concludes that there is sufficient information suggesting such intent in the Myanmar case-relying heavily on the record created by social media. The report points to many posts and statements made on Facebook, noting one statement by the military's commander-in-chief that the "clearance operations" were part of the "unfinished job" of solving the "Bengali problem" (referring to the Rohingya). Facebook has been criticized in the past for removing posts that could be evidence of war crimes, but it has confirmed it is "preserving data" on the Burmese accounts and Pages it has removed in the latest rounds of takedowns. The FFM has called on Facebook to make this data available to judicial authorities to enable accountability and stated its regret that Facebook has been unable to provide information about the spread of hate speech on its platform. Facebook should take its responsibility for transparency seriously, given that its data could provide powerful insights into the connection between hate speech and mass atrocity in both the Myanmar case and more generally. Civil society groups have long expressed frustration with Facebook's lack of openness and collaboration in addressing this problem.
 
Facebook's strategies for removing hate speech going forward: Despite Facebook's assurances that it is devoting more resources to content moderation in Myanmar, it only removed the accounts associated with the military's campaign after being notified about them by the Times. This follows a pattern of Facebook only removing troubling content after that content is highlighted publicly by third parties. Furthermore, while Facebook has said it will have 100 Burmese content moderators by the end of the year, the Times article suggests that the military had as many as 700 people working on these propaganda campaigns-raising a serious question about whether Facebook is devoting sufficient resources to fixing the problem. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, likes to refer to the exploitation of his platform as an "arms race." But this new reporting suggests Facebook is being outgunned.
 
Facebook's reliance on artificial intelligence: Though Facebook has consistently pointed to its investment in artificial intelligence (A.I.) to proactively flag posts that break its community standards, the highly context-dependent nature of hate speech makes it difficult for A.I. to monitor effectively. The FFM report underscores this reality by describing how many of the slurs and euphemisms used to vilify the Rohingya are subtle, relying on specific understandings of history and context and even on local pronunciation. A.I. is not well-suited to these kinds of judgments. Reuters recently reported that a Burmese post saying "Kill all the kalars that you see in Myanmar; none of them should be left alive" was translated into English on the platform as "I shouldn't have a rainbow in Myanmar." At the very least, this suggests its tools are still struggling with the local language.
 
Facebook's vulnerability to exploitation: While the Times reporting suggests that the problems in Myanmar may not be due to an innate flaw in the platform but rather its exploitation, it remains true that a pattern of such incidents around the world suggests that Facebook is especially vulnerable to such concerted efforts. Indeed, the Times suggests that the military campaign used many of the same techniques as Russian influence operations such as those present during the 2016 U.S. election. Furthermore, despite decades of such propaganda efforts, the military's exploitation of Facebook since its recent arrival in Myanmar has been especially effective. As a recent Brookings report notes, the situation in Myanmar "epitomizes the magnifying effect that new technology is having on old conflicts."
 
Facebook's mitigation obligations: Facebook's own research shows the power of its platform. Famously and controversially, the company facilitated research showing that it has the power to manipulate the mood of its users depending on what posts it showed in their News Feeds. Other research has shown that Facebook can have a significant real-world effect on voter turnout by exposing users to certain nudges. Such research obviously raises concerns about the power of platforms to covertly manipulate its users. But in the context of ongoing mass atrocities, it is also worth asking whether, if Facebook has this power, it also has an obligation to not only prevent the spread of hate speech in these contexts but also try to mitigate the situation. In the face of the "crime of crimes," when Facebook is already embedded in society, what is its responsibility to protect?
 
These are enormously difficult issues, and the important effort of getting answers will require a large amount of work and cooperation by Facebook itself as well as outside researchers.
 
Even if Facebook cooperates, there is also the question of what liability the company might face for its role enabling mass atrocities. As a private company, Facebook is not subject to international criminal liability. Yet calls have grown louder for the platform to face some sort of penalty. During Sandberg's testimony before the Senate in September, Senator Mark Warner seized on her acknowledgment of legal obligation in Myanmar, stating that social media companies that had not acted responsibly should be subject to sanction. But it is unclear what this responsibility or sanction would look like within the United States-much less the world.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#42 grog

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Posted 22 October 2018 - 03:56 PM

Facebook Deletes Post Comparing Jews to Termites
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
October 22, 2018 
 
 
Facebook Deletes Louis Farrakhan Post Comparing Jews to Termites
 
 
A video posted on Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's Facebook page, in which the controversial black nationalist compared Jews to termites, was taken down on Thursday by the social media platform.
 
Facebook told TheWrap that Farrakhan's comments were in blatant violation of its hate-speech policies.
 
"To the members of the Jewish community that don't like me, thank you very much for putting my name all over the planet because of your fear of what we represent," Farrakhan says in the video.
 
"I can go anywhere in the world. I'm not mad at you, because you're so stupid. So when they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater - you know what they do - call me an antisemite, stop it! I'm anti-termite! I don't know nothing about hating somebody because of their religious preference," Farrakhan says, to applause and laughter.
 
The video was of a speech Farrakhan gave in Detroit earlier this month to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March, his famous rally in Washington, D.C.
 
Farrakhan has a long history of making comments that are perceived as antisemitic, and has suggested "powerful Jews" were responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
 
The Anti-Defamation League has called Farrakhan "the leading antisemite in America."
 
Facebook told The Wrap on Thursday that the video "amounts to Tier 1 hate speech," which, according to its community standards, includes dehumanizing speech and making comparisons to animals.
 
The company also decided to place a strike on Farrakhan's account, as a warning.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#43 grog

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Posted 22 October 2018 - 04:52 PM

TRUMP: DOES FACEBOOK FAKE NEWS FILTER MEAN CNN WILL GO OUT OF BUSINESS?
 
 
 
 
 
 
October 21, 2018 
 
 
President Donald Trump took a jab at frequent rival CNN in a Sunday evening tweet questioning whether Facebook news quality filters will put the organization out of business.
 
Facebook has just stated that they are setting up a system to "purge" themselves of Fake News. Does that mean CNN will finally be put out of business?
 
11:48 PM - Oct 21, 2018
 
156K
 
71.5K people are talking about this
 
Twitter Ads info and privacy
 
Trump's tweet appears to have been sparked by a Fox News segment which aired Sunday morning highlighting the Facebook's efforts to quell false political news heading into the 2018 midterm elections.
 
An October 11, 2018 photo shows the Facebook log-in page in Washington, DC. - Facebook on October 11, 2018 said it shut down 251 accounts for breaking rules against spam and coordinated deceit, some of it by ad farms pretending to be forums for political debate. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
 
An October 11, 2018 photo shows the Facebook log-in page in Washington, DC. - Facebook on October 11, 2018 said it shut down 251 accounts for breaking rules against spam and coordinated deceit, some of it by ad farms pretending to be forums for political debate. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
 
Facebook revealed to The New York Times that it has a team of nearly 20 people whose tasks will include monitoring and deleting potentially false political information posted to appear as news.
 
Facebook has received significant criticism for its handling of the 2016 presidential election in which Russian intelligence agents utilized its platform to post hyper-partisan content beneficial to both parties aimed at widening political divides in the U.S.
 
 
 
 

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#44 RobertD

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Posted 22 October 2018 - 11:11 PM

https://vk.com/id512828458
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#45 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 08:04 AM

 

Very good. 
 
I plan to get a Russian Facebook (vk).
 
I don't have, and don't want, the American version. 

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#46 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 08:09 AM

Japanese Government Orders Company To Improve Data Security
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
October 22, 2018 
 
 
Facebook News: Japanese Government Orders Company To Improve Data Security
 
Facebook Is Tracking You, Even If You Don't Have an Account
 
Facebook has been reprimanded by yet another government for not doing enough to protect its users' data. Japan's federal data agency told Facebook on Monday that it needs to improve its approach to data security in the wake of multiple high-profile scandals the social network has faced in 2018, according to Reuters.
 
The Personal Information Protection Commission, established in 2016, ordered Facebook to be more transparent about website security to the public, as well as step up its internal efforts to prevent future data breaches like the large one that occurred in September. In addition, the Japanese commission wants Facebook to tell authorities about security changes.
 
Facebook said nearly 30 million users could have had their personal information stolen by hackers last month. The social network provided a tool on its security website which allows users to see if their information was compromised.
 
According to Facebook, the attack was perpetrated by spammers looking for money, not a foreign state.
 
 
 
 Sharing the results of our investigation into the attack we announced two weeks ago: https://newsroom.fb....security-issue/
 
 
 
Additionally, the Cambridge Analytica controversy had also found its way to Japan. The personal data of 87 million users was sold to a right-wing election firm that assisted President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign. Most affected users were in the United States, but the Japanese commission said as many as 100,000 of them could have been in Japan.
 
The commission said Facebook would respond to its order on Facebook's Japanese webpage. Facebook is not legally required to comply with any of Japan's requests.
 
 
 
 
Japan told Facebook to improve data security. An illustration picture taken through a magnifying glass on March 28, 2018 in Moscow shows the icon for the social networking app Facebook on a smart phone screen. Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images
 
Facebook has seen its fair share of recent problems, which have been highlighted by the Cambridge Analytica incident. The European Union told Facebook to fully comply with new data regulations by the end of the year, or the company could face sanctions.
 
In response to Facebook's data controversies, a group of shareholders signed a proposal to remove CEO and chairman Mark Zuckerberg from the company's board. The proposal could just be symbolic, as Facebook told International Business Times that a similar proposal was voted down last year.
 
 
 
 

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#47 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 08:43 AM

Facebook takes down more sites
 
 
colin-fb-23.jpg?itok=f1Ug32sq&timestamp=
 
 
 
October 23, 2018 
 
 
Facebook takes down more sites in the Philippines, including several that are pro-Duterte
 
 At least 20 confirmed sites with links from pro-Duterte Facebook pages were blocked, with notices citing security issues.
 
 
Facebook has removed over 100 pages and accounts in the Philippines, including several linked to President Rodrigo Duterte, that it said violated its policies on spam.
 
The social networking giant said in a statement posted on Monday (Oct 22) that it deleted 95 pages and 39 accounts "for violating our spam and authenticity policies".
 
It said the pages and accounts, which were mostly political or entertainment-themed, directed visitors to "low quality websites that contain little substantive content and are full of disruptive ads".
 
One page had about 4.8 million followers.
 
"All were sharing links to the same advertising click farms off Facebook… We don't want this kind of behaviour on Facebook - and we're investing heavily in both people and technology to keep bad content off our services," it said.
 
Among the pages that were removed by the company were "Duterte Media", "Duterte sa Pagbabago Bukas" (Duterte for Tomorrow's Change), "DDS", "Duterte Phenomenon" and "DU30 Trending News".
 
All professed backing for Mr Duterte, 73. But it could not be ascertained whether the administrators of these pages were actual supporters of the president or were just profiting off his popularity.
 
"Manang Imee", a page managed by supporters of Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, 62, the eldest daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was also removed.
 
Ms Marcos is a close political ally of Mr Duterte.
 
"This takedown is a small step in the right direction, and we will continue working to find and remove more bad content," said Facebook.
 
In April, Facebook blocked a number of websites that supported Mr Duterte but which were suspected of spreading fake news.
 
At least 20 confirmed sites with links from pro-Duterte Facebook pages were blocked, with notices citing security issues.
 
The websites carried bogus reports designed to help Mr Duterte. One claimed that Chinese President Xi Jinping had promised in a recent speech to defend him for pulling the Philippines out of the International Criminal Court.
 
Facebook's recent crackdown on spam networks in the Philippines comes five months before the country holds its midterm elections.
 
Over 18,000 candidates are seeking national and local seats, in what is seen as a barometer of public support for Mr Duterte.
 
Facebook and other social media apps played a key role in getting Mr Duterte elected into office.
 
A recent study by the University of Oxford found that his camp spent about US$200,000 (S$276,000) to mobilise an army of "keyboard warriors" who turned him into the "undisputed king of Facebook conversations" during the 2016 elections. He was the subject of 64 per cent of all Philippine election-related conversations on the site.
 
Facebook has 33 million users in the Philippines.
 
Facebook's tougher line on fake news comes amid issues on the company's efforts to protect users' data, as well as accusations that the platform has been used as a tool to influence elections and imperil democracies through the spread of false and divisive content.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#48 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 09:20 AM

How A Twitch-Owned Wiki May Be Inflating Streamers' Views
 
a4k0h2ztnzq9xgjbv0cd-620x349.png
 
 
 
October 23, 2018 
 
 
Twitch streamer Chris "Bognogus" Steinert was live on camera, reading an article about space exploration game No Man's Sky on Gamepedia, online gaming's equivalent of Wikipedia, when he discovered his own livestream playing at the very bottom of the page. Steinert was streaming his galactic wanderings to an audience of 3,183 viewers. One of them, it turned out, was me. On a hunt for stealthy Twitch streams, I happened upon Steinert at the very bottom of a long, rambling wiki entry about No Man's Sky lore, autoplaying on silent in the abyss at the footer of the page.
 
I would later ask Steinert who made up his audience that day. Well over half of them were other people browsing Gamepedia, his personalised statistics gleaned from Twitch indicate. A few engaged viewers made comments in the chat box of Steinert's stream, but the vast majority of the Gamepedia users "watching" him may have had no idea he even exists.
 
Digital marketing is a shady business. Last week, a lawsuit against Facebook revealed credible claims that Facebook had inflated its metrics for how long people watched its videos by 150 to 900 percent. "Facebook did not take verifications of its metrics seriously, did not address known problems in a timely fashion, and had never conducted an internal audit of its metrics," the complaint reads. "All the while, Facebook continued to reap the benefits from the inflated numbers." People who scrolled by muted, autoplaying Facebook videos, and their advertisements, were, due to quirks of calculation, essentially counted as viewers, the suit alleges. (Many companies, of course, including our own, place autoplaying ads on embedded videos on their websites.)
 
Who got screwed here? Advertisers, certainly. The complaint says these artificially inflated views impacted the market price for Facebook ad space. It's a scandal in the world of digital video, an alleged fraud that induced advertisers to strategise around Facebook video and collectively dump some unknowable but likely vast sum into capitalising on these too-good-to-be-true metrics. And there were other unintentional victims as well: the untold number of working journalists who lost their jobs as newsrooms run by smooth-brained executives decided to "pivot to video" because Facebook said viewers were flocking there, and the ad dollars were chasing them.
 
Kotaku's investigation into Gamepedia's role in Twitch's booming streaming economy adds more questions about the sanctity of digital media's click economy, which will reach $273.4 billion this year according to media research company eMarketer. It's a Wild West industry that peddles a vague notion of "views" to traditional brands that want to get a piece of the content gold rush. After spending time on the internet titan Gamepedia, it's become clear that the website has some strange role in bolstering Twitch's streaming empire.
 
The Gamepedia entry for DOTA 2's Alchemist, which is capped by a live Twitch stream.
 
An optimist might view Twitch's relationship to Gamepedia as savvy, above-board entrepreneurship; a more cynical onlooker might wonder if it's more akin to the sort of thing that's put Facebook in hot water - especially because Gamepedia is in fact owned by Twitch through a subsidiary named Curse LLC.
 
A Curse rep told Kotaku, "The Twitch embed is actually a replacement for other content that was less relevant to users. Gamepedia is a destination for gamers and Twitch's focus is around content for gamers, so there it is a natural fit." A Twitch spokesperson says that "The Twitch video player can only be initiated when the player is in view in the browser. When a viewer scrolls down the page, the player initiates once it's in view. Views should not be inflated due to this technical setup." They added, "Since the player only initiates when in view in the browser, any ad impressions would also be in view and counted as a viewable impression." Twitch's claim that Gamepedia's setup does not result in view inflation is questionable considering data shared with us by Twitch streamers who have been embedded in Gamepedia. Kotaku's investigation indicates that Gamepedia is apparently feeding huge numbers of unengaged, sometimes junk views to streams - sometimes in the thousands - and raises questions how about the workings of the Twitch economy at large.
 
Twitch's reach is unfathomably wide; its advertising page claims Twitch to has 15 million daily active viewers who, on average, watch live gaming for about 95 minutes a day. It's home to 2.2 million people who broadcast live video content, including game streams, heartfelt conversations with commenters, and big esports tournaments. In August 2014, Amazon purchased Twitch for nearly a billion dollars. Increasingly, Twitch is the company to beat when it comes to live-streaming anything. Advertisers have caught on, too. At the beginning of Twitch streams, an ad autoplays - maybe for Call of Duty, or Reese's cups, or Verizon Fios - and these ads autoplay throughout Twitch streams as well, sometimes once every eight minutes. According to stats from SuperData Research, Twitch is on track to make $952 million in ad revenue in 2018.
 
Twitch has seductive numbers for advertisers. The question is whether those numbers are totally legitimate. For years, Twitch has been waging a bloody war against viewbots - bits of code that send phony viewers to Twitch streams and inflate their viewer count. And Scott Newton, the senior vice-president of Twitch's revenue operations, emphasised in a call how scrupulous Twitch is about rooting out viewbotting or fraudulent views, adding, "I'd be surprised if anything shady is going on, especially with a company we own." But in 2018, bots are passé, and view inflation appears to be happening in more subtle nooks and crannies of the internet.
 
The streamer M1ndr appearing at the bottom of a long Dayz Gamepedia entry.
 
A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through a Gamepedia entry for the survival video game DayZ when I found the streamer SadaPlays. His stream was embedded at the very bottom of a very long Gamepedia entry cluttered with niche rifle terminology and dry technical jargon. It began playing automatically and silently when I scrolled to the bottom of the page. I caught it halfway into an ad for first-person shooter game Call of Duty before SadaPlays' DayZ stream reappeared. It looked like a couple hundred people were watching his avatar jog across a dreary field. He would later tell me that about 200 of them were Gamepedia visitors like me, based on the traffic stats provided to him by Twitch.
 
"I don't think there's anything untoward with all this," Sadaplays told me later over Discord. "I really don't. I think Twitch is just a popular website and people embed the streams." Streamers Kotaku interviewed who have been featured on Gamepedia uniformly say the site has helped grow their stream's audience, but most question how meaningful these views are in comparison to fans whose eyes are glued to their monitors, or are even halfway paying attention on a second monitor.
 
Gamepedia hosts 5.2 million pages of gaming content for an average of 133 million monthly users, according to website data scraper SimilarWeb. It is owned by Twitch through a company called Curse, a network of gaming sites. Gamepedia told Kotaku that it's primarily supported by ad revenue. If a user's ad-blocker is off, a Twitch stream is embedded at the bottom of each of Gamepedia's 5.2 million pages, which details everything there is to know about over 2,000 games. It's not readily visible or apparent that the stream is there, but it does appear to start playing when someone scrolls down, often along with an advertisement.
 
(Twitch says that these streams do not autoplay immediately when the user loads up the page. Gizmodo Media Group's senior product manager for video, Alex Mason, helped me confirm this. Curiously, if you load up the same stream in two different windows - one where it is in view, one where it's not in view - the oldest message in chat appears to be the same in both. This indicates that something loads when you land on the page, although it's hard to determine what that means.)
 
When I browsed dozens of pages on Gamepedia, the Twitch streams I saw playing fell into a few different categories: the top streamer playing the game discussed in the article at hand; Gamepedia's own branded Twitch channel; and, sometimes, the stream of Ninja, Twitch's most popular streamer, who has 12 million followers. (Ninja did not respond to Kotaku's request for comment.)
 
Curse LLC's "Advertising" page.
 
The impact of these embedded Gamepedia streams is as difficult to quantify as it is hard to grok. Curse's main page showcases its enormous advertising capacity, including "live streaming & influencer units" - in other words, the streams appearing on Gamepedia pages. Curse's biggest assets appear to be its ad delivery service, which help countless gaming websites monetise themselves, and the gaming websites it operates, including a couple mod sites or fan sites. What this all amounts to is a valuable audience. Eighty-six percent are male; their average age is 30; their average household income is $92,500; and over half are parents. Those are some big-money stats for advertisers.
 
Five streamers who were featured on Gamepedia's pages told Kotaku that their Twitch view count has been boosted by dozens, hundreds, or thousands of viewers as a result of being embedded in Gamepedia. And for the most part, they say, those boosted numbers don't result in more fans or a significantly more active chat, indicating that these autoplaying streams for the most part aren't engaging Gamepedia readers. In fact, Gamepedia's own Twitch channel, which appears in a large portion of Gamepedia pages, has a disproportionately inactive chat compared to its apparently huge viewership. Watching it for five-minute periods on three separate occasions earlier this month, the stream averaged about 12,000 viewers, yet an average of nine messages were sent. Channels with an average of 200 live viewers usually see 18 messages in five minutes, an expert on Twitch streaming who is anonymous for fear of compromising their relationship with Twitch told Kotaku.
 
"We've seen increases up to 700-800% on smaller channels and up to 50-60% on large ones."
 
Stats like this aren't unusual among streams embedded in Gamepedia. One streamer named SirSlaw, for example, had his 805 viewers flooded by 17,357 Gamepedia visitors one day earlier this year when he was embedded at the bottom of a page - an increase of 2,156 percent. This increased his exposure on Twitch's directory, which helped him accumulate followers. Thousands of the initial influx of Gamepedia views, however, may have been superficial.
 
Gamepedia's own streamer attempts to explain this in a light-hearted video featuring a man wearing a naval hat and holding a glass of brown liquid. "Hello friends," he begins. "Mr. Woodhouse here from the Gamepedia stream. Now, some of you have been asking some questions about why our follower count is so very low but our viewer count is so very high. And it's quite simple really. We take the Twitch embedded function and we put it in over 2,100 Wikis that we own and operate. That way our Wiki viewers become our stream viewers. They're all humans. They're not bots." He concludes by taking a sip from his glass. Nothing to see here!
 
In an e-mail, Curse a told Kotaku that "When live, the Gamepedia channel is typically selected for this embedded unit. On the Gamepedia channel, we cycle through playing different games, but often are featuring titles that are partners in our Official Wiki program."
 
Mr. Woodhouse is right that the views come from humans - and, in fact, many of them have Twitch accounts. An informal experiment conducted by about 40 Gizmodo Media staff saw a Gamepedia-embedded Twitch stream's numbers appearing to inflate and deflate in conjunction with us loading up Gamepedia, watching the stream and closing out the window. That implied that visitors to Gamepedia who have the stream auto-playing on a page they are reading are being counted as "viewers" of a video.
 
When asked whether there's a good rate of conversion between Gamepedia viewer and a fan of an embedded Twitch stream, Curse told Kotaku, "We see a non-trivial amount of users who do engage with the unit and become new viewers, chatters, and followers for streams that are featured. It was our intent to provide relevant content to users while creating a positive user experience. While the content is there for all users, it is initially without sound and allows users who are interested in the content to quickly and easily engage."
 
Anecdotal data from Twitch streamers and managers dispute that Gamepedia is converting even a significant amount of the people viewing pages with embedded streams to those streams' followers. According to six instances of embedded streams in Gamepedia, for instance - which a source, who was given anonymity because they were concerned about their relationship with Twitch, provided to Kotaku - there was only an average of .4 click-throughs to Twitch per 1,000 viewer minutes watched compared to 2.3 click-throughs for four non-embedded streams. So if these embedded streams are serving to inflate the viewer numbers on Twitch streamers' channels without gaining them tons of new fans, why are they there, autoplaying at the bottom of long wikis?
 
A couple of years ago, Omeed Dariani CEO of the Online Performers Group, a company that manages Twitch streamers, saw an enormous spike in one of his streamers' viewership when they began working with Curse on a promotion. "We noticed that Twitch streams were being embedded across Curse sites in place of blocked ads," he told me over e-mail. At first, he considered it to be a clever way to expose his streamers to new audiences while simultaneously giving exposure to sponsors. Dariani didn't give it much thought. Then came Gamepedia.
 
"The issue to me comes down to how we define 'viewers.'"
 
"Gamepedia is one of the biggest sites in gaming. These embedded streams throw a ton of new viewers into the channels that are selected. Depending on the size of the channels involved and the time of day, these can be dramatic percentages of the audience. We've seen increases up to 700-800% on smaller channels and up to 50-60% on large ones," he told me.
 
This has impacted the Twitch ecosystem in a number of ways, Dariani says. He's noticed that some Twitch broadcasters prefer to play games that have lot of Gamepedia pages. Also, it means that a lot of streams' new viewers are what he calls "low quality" for advertisers: "While they are actual human beings, [they] aren't guaranteed to scroll to the bottom of the page to see the stream and, even if they do, there's no way to know if they even understand what they're looking at... Those viewers are unlikely to have the sound on and are very likely to close out or scroll back up immediately upon seeing the ad play. I'm guessing that's not the experience the advertiser was paying for which will lead to more impressions, but lower engagement, viewed time and click-through rates, ultimately devaluing ads on the platform." (Dariani continues to work with Curse.)
 
Twitch streamers are not obviously victimised by Gamepedia's strange embedding methods, just as the victims of Facebook's view inflation weren't, first and foremost, companies like Buzzfeed that spam newsfeeds with videos. If anybody is victimised by a little injection of popularity, it's probably advertisers. (Razer, Activision, and Verizon did not comment for Kotaku; Hershey's says they "work closely with our partner streams/streamers to look at metrics to analyse what is or isn't connecting with that audience." Bryan Christmas, Twitch's director of advanced media, told Kotaku that Twitch's advertisers "put a lot of tracking tests in their ads they run on Twitch" and "monitor a lot of that stuff in conjunction with our own ad tech.")
 
Curse's advertising page demonstrating its "live streaming & influencer units," like the ones that appear on Gamepedia.
 
Granting this, for any independent analysis of impact on sponsors - or on the seeming scale of Twitch's impressive viewership as a whole - we ultimately would need to know what Twitch counts as a "view." Unfortunately, that information is on lockdown. Twitch says they are not selling brands on viewer numbers artificially inflated by Gamepedia or other Curse network sites. In an e-mail, a Twitch spokesperson told Kotaku, "We don't report on Twitch player views per se, we report on reach and frequency of the advertising in the form of impressions, completion rates, click throughs, viewability and other standard media metrics. Twitch viewability scores far exceed industry benchmarks as reported by 3rd party measurement firms." In a follow-up call, when Kotaku asked whether Gamepedia's inflated views counted toward these impressions, a spokesperson was unable to answer.
 
The streamer SirSlaw, whose views were once inflated by 2,156 percent because of Gamepedia, believes that while there's nothing wrong with Gamepedia-embedded Twitch streams at face, "the issue to me comes down to how we define 'viewers.'" He continued, "Obviously, a lot of us find this wording a bit deceitful and unfortunately Twitch provides literally no way to delineate between who is *actually* watching and who is a 'viewer' (according to their interpretation)."
 
All of this is taking place in a broader context, and questions about what a "view" is are hardly unique to Twitch. Back in 2016, Gawker writer Kevin Draper - currently toiling at the New York Times - took a look at how digital video companies measure views compared to companies that broadcast on TV. His report centred on a Buzzfeed video on Facebook Live in which a watermelon was exploded using rubber bands. Buzzfeed advertised that it had 880,000 viewers at peak - a stat that mainstay TV companies ferociously disputed (a year prior, CNN had 712,000 viewers on average in primetime). The point of contention here was simple: Facebook's impressive number wasn't really comparable to what TV ratings organization Nielsen uses to measure viewership because it was measuring average minute audience, or the average number of people watching something each minute, something distinct from what TV ratings generally measure. (Nielsen has confirmed to Kotaku that Twitch uses Nielsen digital ad ratings, but would not describe what constitutes a view.)
 
The lack of transparency is entirely the point, though, if we do take Twitch at their word. Given what we know about how viewer metrics work and have worked, questions about them are not to be lightly dismissed by a liquor-swilling streamer.
 
"I wouldn't compare it to viewbotting. There technically is someone watching the stream."
 
Joost van Dreunen is the CEO of SuperData Research, which collects market data on gaming networks. "There are two perspectives. You can take a dystopian, sarcastic or cynical perspective or look at this more optimistically. I'll go with the latter. They're experimenting in finding new ways to expand their current audience. They're probably running through a whole bunch of different efforts. . . How do we scale this? How do we go off-site and embed ourselves elsewhere and then bring that back to the mothership? Along the way, they have a whole bunch of different efforts, throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall. Along the way, there may be some glaring cases that don't work at all. That's the nature of iterative design."
 
Van Dreunen's more dystopian view is as follows: "A cynic would say, like Facebook and like YouTube, here is a video platform, a social platform, that's trying to figure out how to generate lots of clicks and impressions. And let's say there's always going to be some inflation in those numbers. Some of those impressions aren't measured correctly. There might be some overlap, there might be some false positives. I don't think they'd do that on purpose."
 
Angelo Damiano, who helps run PowerSpike, an agency that connects streamers to sponsors, thinks that Gamepedia's embeds are good for Twitch and are not shady: "I wouldn't compare it to viewbotting. There technically is someone watching the stream. Their stream is playing on a computer and there's a person behind the computer. Viewbotting will make fake accounts and pump them into a stream." As for the autoplaying Twitch ads, he said, "It's just tough to say whether their attention is on the streamer at the moment."
 
It's tough to say definitively what is or isn't going on with Gamepedia specifically and Twitch generally, which could fit into tech giants' general policy of a policy of deliberate opacity. However, having spoken with streamers, analysts, agents and Twitch and Curse, what is clear is that few people involved seems particularly panicked over whether or not these viewers are paying attention to what they're watching, or in fact watching at all - whether they are, in fact, very different at all from the very robots they're prized for not being. In all of this, the companies are within the bounds that now obtain in technology and digital media, and seem well-positioned for a bright future.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#49 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 10:47 AM

Facebook login - How to change your Facebook password
 
Facebook-password-1566327.jpg?r=15402817
 
 
 
October 23, 2018 
 
 
FACEBOOK recently revealed 30 million accounts were hacked following a breach in security, requiring affected users to log back in with a new password. 
 
So how do you change your Facebook password?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#50 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 12:16 PM

marijuana legalization - watch live on Facebook
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
October 23, 2018 
 
 
NJ marijuana legalization: Weed forum in Asbury Park sold out, watch live on Facebook
 
Legal weed could be coming to NJ soon, and USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey is bringing together a panel of journalists and community leaders - both in favor of legalization and against - to have a frank conversation about what it could mean for you.  
 
iBake Denver is a membership lounge where members can consume cannabis within the city limits of Denver without fear of breaking any laws. Members must bring their own supply. Mary Carniglia gets high in the lounge. 
 
Denver, CO Thursday, April 12, 2018
@dhoodhood Doug Hood
 
All available seats for this live, free event, "Let's talk about Marijuana," have now been reserved.
 
Watch 'Let's Talk about Marijuana' live on Facebook
 
You can still sign up for the wait list or watch and join the conversation virtually via our Facebook Live, streaming 7 p.m. Oct. 24 from The Asbury hotel.
 
Follow any USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey Facebook page: The Asbury Park Press (app.com), the Courier Post (CourierPostOnline.com), the Daily Record (dailyrecord.com), the Daily Journal (thedailyjournal.com), MyCentralJersey.com (Home News Tribune and Courier News) or NorthJersey.com (The Record), or visit our sites 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 and tune in.
 
We'll let you hear the pros and cons in the weed debate and answer your questions about the future of New Jersey with - or without - legal weed.  
 
Our Let's Talk about Marijuana panel:  
 
USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey staff writer Mike Davis, our event moderator, and James Nash, Trenton bureau reporter, cover marijuana legalization developments in the statehouse, in our communities and beyond. They were among USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey journalists who traveled to Colorado and California for our special report, High Hopes: Legal weed lessons from our trip out west, to get a first-hand look, smell and taste of what the future could hold for the Garden State if marijuana is legalized.
 
Amol Sinha has been the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union New Jersey chapter since 2017. A Lawrenceville native, Sinha previously worked as a policy advocate at the Innocence Project, where he led state-level policy campaigns nationwide to address wrongful criminal convictions.
 
Dara Servis has been the executive director of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association since 2017. She joined the lobbying firm CLB Partners in 2014, after working as a paralegal supporting attorneys in all practice areas of civil litigation and criminal law.
 
Jethro James is the senior pastor of Paradise Baptist Church in Newark, where he has served since 1990. A Paterson native, James heads the Newark/North Jersey Committee of Black Churchmen and serves as a member of several civic and fraternal organizations.
 
John Zebrowski is the chief of police in Sayreville and vice president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. The Sayreville native has headed the 85-officer police department since 2011 after rising through the ranks to captain in charge of detectives.
 
On the table for our marijuana discussion:   
 
What has to happen for weed to be legalized in New Jersey and how could it change your town or neighborhood? 
 
How could New Jerseyans benefit - or not - from the expansion of medical marijuana? What could it mean for your healthcare? 
 
What would you be allowed to do, legally? How will it all be regulated?  
 
Will New Jerseyans be able to get marijuana-related criminal records expunged and what would it take for that to happen? 
 
Get ready for our 'Let's talk marijuana' event now
 
Catch up now on our special project, High Hopes: Legal weed lessons from our trip out West, before Wednesday's forum. 
 
Have a question for our panel? Ask it in the comments and we could answer it live on stage. 
 
 
 
 
 

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#51 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 01:22 PM

falsely accused man then posted his picture on Facebook
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
October 23, 2018 
 
 
Glen Parva mum falsely accused man of abducting her son then posted his picture on Facebook
 
The man had only been in the country for a few days
 
A mum from Glen Parva, who falsely accused a man of trying to abduct her son, has been sentenced at Leicester Crown Court.
 
Kerry Lount, 37, of Ford Rise, circulated an image of a man on social media who she claimed had tried to abduct her young son after an incident in Wigston in October 2016.
 
Lount contacted the police to inform them of the incident, and police launched an investigation only to find that the report had been made up.
 
At Leicester Crown Court yesterday (October 22), Lount plead guilty to making a false statement and was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
 
She was also charged with perverting the course of justice, a charge which will lie on file.
 
Det Con Nick Robbins, the investigating the officer, said: "Lount had no hesitation in wrongfully accusing an innocent man of such a serious offence.
 
"He had only been in the country for a matter of days when this incident occurred and was left extremely distressed by what happened.
 
"We are pleased Lount has pleaded guilty and we hope the victim in this case can put the events of October 2016 behind him.
 
"We would like to take this opportunity to remind people how seriously we take false reports.
 
"It's not just the impact it has on those involved but the time it takes for officers to investigate when they could be dealing with genuine reports."
 
 

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#52 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 02:07 PM

il_fullxfull.299012199.jpg

 


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#53 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 03:23 PM

BYRON LAUNCHES FACEBOOK MESSENGER PAYMENT BOT IN ITS RESTAURANTS
 
 
Byron_Quickpay_Facebook_Messenge.jpg
 
 
October 23, 2018 
 
 
British hamburger restaurant chain Byron has begun rolling out a payment bot which enables customers to pay for their bill using Facebook Messenger.
 
With Byron Quickpay, powered by 'bot' technology created by hospitality tech firm Flyt, customers just have to open Messenger, select the Byron restaurant they're in, and enter the table number they're on. Then the bill is recalled from the point-of-sale system and displayed in Messenger for the customer to approve and pay with the payment method linked to their Messenger app.
 
"We have previously provided our customers with the ability to pay and leave when they want via our own app," said Steve de Polo, managing director at Byron. "This latest innovation using Facebook Messenger further decreases the friction for giving our guests control in how they choose to pay. We're proud to be the first to roll out this service and are in the process of making it available across our restaurants."
 
Flyt's bot made its debut at Facebook's F8 Developer Conference in May this year. And it was piloted by UK restaurant chain Wahaca, where it accounted for up to 14.5 per cent of payments in the restaurant with a peak conversion rate of 69 per cent, according to Flyt.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#54 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 04:20 PM

Facebook's NATO-Led Crackdown on Alternative Media 'Only Just Starting'
 
1067173306.jpg
 
 
 
October 23, 2018 
 
 
On October 11 Facebook closed down 559 pages and 251 personal accounts. While the social media giant claimed the pages were misleading users "about who they are, and what they are doing", and broken "rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior", the overwhelming bulk were alternative news sources and political organizations.
 
Many highlighted issues and events the mainstream media downplayed or ignored - US interventionism, drug legalization, police brutality and much, much more. In conversations with Sputnik, those affected by the purge expressed their dismay.
 
"I was inspired to do what I could to plant seeds and combat the mainstream media's bullsh*t narratives, to keep police and government accountable, to make sure people knew their rights and how to interact with police. All that's gone now with a click of a button. Six years of hard work, literally seven days a week, working our asses off finding stories, researching them, writing them, making thumbnails and titles, making graphics and videos, sharing them on various social media outlets," said Jason Bassler, co-founder of The Free Thought Project.
 
However, if US journalist Max Blumenthal's latest report is accurate, much more politically-motivated mass-defenestration from Facebook impends - potentially in the very near future.
 
Push Back Inc.
 
During a lunch-break at the 12th Berlin Conference on Asian Security, a summit organized by Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (German Institute for International and Security Affairs), Jamie Fly, senior fellow and director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund, told Jeb Sprague, a visiting faculty in sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara, "we are just starting to push back".
 
?"Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system. They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning," he said.
 
Fly is a well-connected US neoconservative hardliner, who over the years has variously and vociferously advocated for regime-changing military action against Iran, Syria and elsewhere, and raising US defense spending to record levels. Moreover, there's every reason to think he didn't use the term "we" in the generic sense when discussing Facebook's future censorship plans.
 
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivers a speech on European defence and transatlantic security at the German Marshall Fund think-tank in Brussels, Belgium, November 18, 2016.
 
© REUTERS / FRANCOIS LENOIR
 
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivers a speech on European defence and transatlantic security at the German Marshall Fund think-tank in Brussels, Belgium, November 18, 2016.
 
In July 2017, the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) was launched - a "bipartisan, transatlantic initiative" with the stated aim of "[defending and deterring] against Russian and other state actors' efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions".
 
The Alliance's funding sources are unclear, with official literature merely stating "a group of American private individuals and small family foundations from across the political spectrum" bankroll the effort. Nonetheless, its advisory council is crammed with prominent and often controversial national security figures from across the US political spectrum, including Bill Kristol, John Podesta and former acting CIA Director Michael Morrell.
 
Moreover, ASD is sponsored by and "housed at" the German Marshall Fund, Fly's employer - and the former Bush administration staffer has taken a leading role in promoting and defending its work ever since launch.
 
ASD's flagship resource is the 'Hamilton 68' dashboard, which tracks in real-time 600 Twitter accounts suspected to be "linked to Russian influence" whether directly or indirectly. Bizarrely, the organization does not disclose which accounts the dashboard actually tracks, or the methodology by which an account is determined to be "linked to Russian influence" - although merely tweeting what the organization believes to be pro-Russian views can apparently be grounds for inclusion. Fly has stated accounts remain anonymous to prevent them from being shut down - a perhaps strange principle to uphold for an organization committed to countering the spread of foreign propaganda.
 
'Hamilton 68' dashboard
 
© SPUTNIK /
 
'Hamilton 68' dashboard
 
While several mainstream pundits and news outlets have praised the provision, it's also been sharply criticized. The Nation journalist James Carden wrote in August 2017 the project was "the opposite of what one would expect in an open society", and sought "to police and narrow the scope of acceptable political discourse".
 
"The implicit message is Americans should ignore unpleasant news so long as it comes from foreign outlets, regardless of the veracity of the story," he added.
 
Even individuals involved in Hamilton 68's creation have expressed doubts about its reliability. Clint Watts, Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, self-avowed expert on online foreign influence operations and high-profile proponent of social media censorship, told Buzzfeed in February the narrative of Kremlin-backed Twitter operations was "overdone", and some of the accounts monitored by the dashboard were "legitimately passionate people that are just really into promoting Russia".
 
Birds of a Feather
 
Fly also disclosed over his lunch-break discussion with Sprague he was working with the Atlantic Council, a perhaps unsurprising development - like ASD, the think tank is based in Washington, and its board of directors is likewise a 'who's who' of contentious pro-interventionist figures old and new, including Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Robert Gates, Michael Hayden and David Petraeus, among others. Unlike ASD though, the NATO offshoot discloses its funding sources - among them the governments of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and Ukrainian oligarchs such as Victor Pinchuk.
 
Atlantic Council
 
© FLICKR / ATLANTIC COUNCIL
 
Atlantic Council
 
Specifically however, Fly said he was assisting the Council in its campaign to combat 'fake news' and 'propaganda' on Facebook - the very crusade that saw so many independent organizations and movements unceremoniously removed from the social network on October 11.
 
Launched in May, the official initiative got off to an inauspicious start. Ben Nimmo, a fellow in the Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, immediately set to work identifying Russian bots and trolls operating on Facebook and other key social media platforms - many accounts he eventually flagged turned out to be real people, including popular anti-interventionist Maram Susli ('SyrianGirl'), Ukrainian concert pianist Valentina Lisitsa, and British pensioner Ian Shilling.
 
The partnership's next salvo saw Facebook delete or suspend several alternative media pages, including TeleSUR - an English-language Latin American news network funded by regional governments - and VenezuelaAnalysis.com - an independent information service supported by reader donations.
 
A television photographer shoots the Like sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif
 
© AP PHOTO / PAUL SAKUMA
 
TeleSur English Shuttered, Restored by Facebook for No Clear Reason
 
Both outlets were created expressly to provide an alternative to Western media coverage, and have been praised by academics and analysts for their reporting - given the Council's close ties to the US establishment, media analyst Alan MacLeod has suggested the suspensions amounted to state censorship.
 
Nonetheless, in addition to suppressing alternative viewpoints, VenezuelaAnalysis' suspension may have had even darker motives - in December 2017, the site exposed how the Atlantic Council had donated over US$1 million to the Venezuelan opposition. Following online outcry, the pages were eventually reinstated in September - it's unclear whether the numerous pages excommunicated in October will be as fortunate.
 
"The US government and its allies are effectively using [Facebook] to silence dissenting opinion, both at home and on the world stage, controlling what its two billion users see and do not see. Progressives should be deeply skeptical these moves have anything to do with promoting democracy. The US government has effectively become the arbiter of what the world sees and hears, with the ability to marginalize or simply delete news from organizations or countries that do not share its opinions," MacLeod warns.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#55 grog

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 04:56 PM

Instagram tests sharing your location history with Facebook
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
11 OCT 2018  
 
 
For those Facebook users who still cling to the notion that they can limit Facebook's tracking of our lives like it's an electronic bloodhound, you should be aware that its Instagram app has been prototyping a new privacy setting that would enable location history sharing with its parent company.
 
It was first spotted by bug finder Jane Manchun Wong:
 
 Instagram, as a "Facebook Product", is testing Facebook Location History in their app.
 
It allows tracking the history of precise locations from your device, now through instagram app too
 
 
Jane Manchun Wong
 
@wongmjane
 
Facebook is testing Map view in Nearby Friends
 
As you can see in Wong's screen grab, the "Learn More About Location History" section in the prototype notes that the setting will enable Facebook to build a history of precise locations on your device, even when you're not logged in to the app.
 
It's all about letting users "explore what's around you," the prototype says. You can translate "explore" as "buy stuff in nearby stores whose ads we can pepper you with." The geo-tagged data will show up in users' Activity Log on their Facebook Profiles, including daily maps of where you've been.
 
DEEP LEARNING FOR DEEPER CYBERSECURITY
 
Watch Video
 
It only makes sense that Facebook would want to squeeze advertising profit out of Instagram, be it through spammy ads, notifications, or pulling more data out of users. As it is, even a $122 million fine from the European Union for giving "incorrect or misleading information" about its WhatsApp acquisition was nothing more than a bump in the road as it went ahead and commingled Facebook and WhatsApp data.
 
WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton recently revealed that he left the Facebook-acquired company because of a disagreement over how to monetize WhatsApp: an app whose cofounders were known for despising ads. Or, in Acton's own words, "I sold my users' privacy."
 
But back to that Instagram location history tracking bloodhound prototype: A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch that nothing's changed in the Instagram app… yet:
 
To confirm, we haven't introduced updates to our location settings. As you know, we often work on ideas that may evolve over time or ultimately not be tested or released. Instagram does not currently store Location History; we'll keep people updated with any changes to our location settings in the future.
 
Hasn't happened yet. Is being tested. Could happen at some point.
 
I would be surprised if location services on Instagram didn't sniff its way to our phones, sooner or later. Given that Facebook already had to forego five months of profits by sitting on the release of its Portal smart videoconferencing gadget until the Cambridge Analytica fury died down, I'm going to take a wild guess and say "sooner."
 
Some good news: TechCrunch reports that the prototype defaulted to "off" and that Wong had to turn location services on. Good thing: these settings are often buried so far down, many if not most users never dig far enough to turn them off.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#56 grog

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 08:26 AM

Facebook launches ‘simplified’ Messenger
 
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October 24, 2018 
 
 
Facebook launches ‘simplified’ Messenger to make chatting easier for 1.3 billion people
 
The social network has housed all the features under three tabs at the bottom of the app: Chats, People and Discover. 
 
Chats shows messages and Stories from your friends while People shows stories and who’s currently available online. 
 
Discover lets you talk to businesses or play games with your friends. 
 
It’s also changed the user interface, making it more white and clean-looking.
 
‘In a recent Messenger study, 7 out of 10 (71%) people told us simplicity is the top priority for them in a messaging app,’ Stan Chudnovsky, the vice president of Messenger at Facebook said. ‘We believe Messenger 4 delivers the closeness and authenticity that you’ve been asking for — through simplicity of design and powerful features that put the focus back on messaging and connecting.’ 
 
Although predominantly white, you’ll soon be able to add colour gradients to your chat messages or enable ‘dark mode’ that apparently reduces the glare from your phone.
 
Messenger may be primarily a text-based application, but it also offers mobile games, video chat and the option to send payments instantly. 
 
Its main competition is really WhatsApp – which also happens to be owned by Facebook. 
 
‘It can take time to get used to changes in an app you rely on every day, which is why we’re rolling out Messenger 4 in phases,’ Chudnovsky said, explaining that it should be available for most users in the coming weeks. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#57 grog

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 10:00 AM

data harvesting in third-party Facebook and Google apps
 
privacy_shutterstock_1062285074.jpg?itok
 
 
 
October 24, 2018 
 
 
Oxford researchers expose personal data harvesting in third-party Facebook and Google apps
 
Study finds that data slurping is building up highly personal profiles of users
 
Research into 959,000 apps has discovered that vast amounts of personal data is finding its way into the hands of companies such as Facebook and Google via third-party apps.
 
According to a study by scientists at the University of Oxford probing the apps on Google's Play Store in the US and UK, 88% of third-party apps transfer data to Google's parent company Alphabet. Facebook receives third-party data from 43 per cent of apps, Twitter 34 per cent, Verizon, 26 per cent, Microsoft 23 per cent, and Amazon 18 per cent, according to the research.
 
Among the types of data collected by tech companies include age, gender, location, usage pattern, to name a few. This data is used by tech giants to develop extremely personalised profiles of users and their behaviour.
 
"This enables construction of detailed profiles about individuals, which could include inferences about shopping habits, socio-economic class or likely political opinions. These profiles can then be used for a variety of purposes, from targeted advertising to credit scoring and targeted political campaign messages," said researchers.
 
The data from apps is sent to tech companies via third-party trackers. The researchers found that many apps were targeted at children and gathering data from them. Revenues from online advertising are more than $59bn (£45bn) per year in the US alone, according to researchers.
 
"We find that most apps contain third-party tracking, and the distribution of trackers is long-tailed with several highly dominant trackers accounting for a large portion of the coverage," the report said. "The extent of tracking also differs between categories of apps; in particular, news apps and apps targeted at children appear to be amongst the worst in terms of the number of third-party trackers associated with them. Third-party tracking is also revealed to be a highly trans-national phenomenon, with many trackers operating in jurisdictions outside the EU."
 
Researchers said that the findings suggested that "there are challenges ahead both for regulators aiming to enforce the law, and for companies who intend to comply with it".
 
"Full audits of mobile app stores such as this could help regulators identify areas to focus on," they added. 
 
According to reports from Business Insider, a spokesperson for Google said that the data collected was used for "ordinary functions" such as information on an app crashing.
 
"We have clear policies and guidelines for how developers and third-party apps can handle data and we require developers to be transparent and ask for user permission. If an app violates our policies, we take action," the spokesperson said.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#58 grog

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 10:49 AM

ad archive outs top spending political advertisers
 
 
 
 
 
 
October 24, 2018 
 
 
Facebook ad archive outs top spending political advertisers in the US
 
Facebook is making good on its pledge to introduce greater transparency to the political ads bought within its walls, releasing the first of its regular 'ad archive' reports which details the biggest political ad spenders in the US.
 
Since May, the social network has been making it easier for US voters to access data about political campaigns that have ran in the country. This ad archive details which page or group paid for the campaign, how much they spent on it, its reach and other ads the page has stumped up for.
 
Similar initiatives have been employed by Facebook in Brazil and, more recently, the UK. Now Facebook is curating reports that make that information easier to digest.
 
It's now revealed that US political ad spend on the social network and sister site Instagram from individual candidates and special interest groups came in at $256m since May alone.
 
This largesse was used to generate 1.7m ads, pushing messages designed to encourage people to vote in a certain way, or sway opinion in a particular direction.
 
The first tranche of figures show that Beto O'Rourke, Democratic representative for the state of Texas, spend $5.3m purchasing 6,000 ads over the same time period; the largest spend of any single candidate.
 
Also among the biggest advertisers were supporters of President Trump via two separate accounts; The Trump Make America Great Again Committee and Donald J. Trump for President. Between them, both accounts lavished $4.8m buying over 100,000 ads.
 
Going forward Facebook will continue to maintain an archive documenting digital media spending, enabling researchers to easily track spikes in advertising around major elections, although it stops short of providing zip codes and a breakdown of targeting data.
 
While the sums involved may seem large Facebook's ad revenue as a whole stands at $50bn a year, dwarfing the political contributions.
 
In the UK Facebook political ads will now carry a disclaimer amid calls for tighter regulation.
 
Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service based in Menlo Park, California. 
 
 
 
 

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#59 grog

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 01:47 PM

Meddling in US polls seemingly found in Russia and Iran
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
October 24, 2018 
 
 
Meddling in US polls seemingly found in Russia and Iran, but not in China, Facebook and Twitter say
 
Facebook and Twitter are the latest in a string of tech firms that have made findings undercutting Donald Trump's claim against China
 
 
Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. Picture: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC
 
 
Washington- Facebook and Twitter have not detected Chinese meddling in the 2018 elections, company officials said, casting doubt on claims by US  President Donald Trump that the Asian nation is trying to interfere.
 
The social media giants have reported online disinformation campaigns ahead of the November 6 elections that appear to originate from Russia and Iran. But media representatives for both companies, who spoke on condition they not be identified by name, said they haven't found evidence so far of such activity from China.
 
Facebook and Twitter are the latest in a string of tech companies that have made findings undercutting Trump's claim. Last week, top cybersecurity firms - FireEye, Symantec and Crowdstrike - said that, in working to help safeguard the November elections, they haven't seen evidence of digital interference by China.
 
In the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Facebook and Twitter have stepped up efforts to detect and stop foreign-government disinformation campaigns on their platforms. The companies use automated algorithms and human reviews of suspicious activity to search for co-ordinated campaigns.
 
Facebook and Twitter have both suspended or removed accounts that appeared to emanate from Russia and Iran and seemed to be intended to influence US opinion as November's elections approach. It is possible that Chinese activity could be undetected or surface closer to the election.
 
The Trump administration's claims about Chinese interference have mounted since September, when Trump told the UN Security Council that "China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November, against my administration".
 
Vice-president Mike Pence followed up with a speech earlier in October, saying: 'There can be no doubt: China is meddling in America's democracy.' Pence characterised Beijing's behaviour as "an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections".
 
Trump and Pence have both cited a paid advertising supplement the Chinese government placed in Iowa''s Des Moines Register newspaper criticising the administration's trade policies.
 
Beijing and Washington are currently locked in an escalating trade conflict, and late in September, US and Chinese warships nearly collided in the South China Sea, where both nations are seeking to assert their regional dominance.
 
The department of homeland security, Federal Bureau of Investigation and office of the director of national intelligence warned last Friday that nations including China were engaged in "ongoing campaigns" to "undermine confidence" and influence policy and opinion in the US
 
The administration has not provided evidence to back up the allegations.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#60 grog

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 02:19 PM

defences to curb Russian cyber attacks
 
NETHERLANDS SAYS IT IS IN RUSSIAN CYBERWAR
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
17 OCTOBER 2018
 
 
EU to boost defences to curb Russian cyber attacks
 
Russia-backed operatives and their copycats are expected to unleash cyber meddling ahead of the bloc's elections
 
EU officials are bracing for attempted meddling by Russia-backed operatives and their copycats ahead of the bloc's elections in the spring, where far-right parties are expected to make gains.
 
That has led the bloc to bolster its defences against cyber-attacks and pressure tech platforms to ramp up the fight against misinformation.
 
"Today's cyber bullets are getting harder to spot and harder to stop," said EU security commissioner Julian King at a conference on Monday in Brussels on election interference.
 
"The need for action on this is urgent … doing nothing risks our democratic processes being undermined," he said.
 
Elections to the European Parliament will be held in May 2019, amid a surge in support for populist parties that oppose further integration in the bloc and want to end Russian sanctions.
 
Russian-backed campaigns
 
European officials are also concerned that Russian-backed campaigns - mostly through social media platforms - could boost support for parties that are more sympathetic to Moscow.
 
EU governments are set to pledge to further strengthen deterrence and resilience against cyber and other threats at a gathering of leaders in Brussels this week, according to a draft of the conclusions seen by Bloomberg.
 
The UK, the Netherlands and other EU governments have pushed the bloc to expand the scope of its sanctions regime to target individuals and groups behind cyber-attacks, potentially including activities that seek to interfere in elections.
 
Leaders will call for measures to "combat cyber and cyber-enabled illegal and malicious activities and build strong cybersecurity", and "protect the union's democratic systems and combat disinformation, including in the context of the upcoming European elections", according to the latest draft of their summit's conclusions.
 
Officials are concerned about potential attacks targeting voting technology but especially those designed to try to manipulate voting behaviour, for instance by leaking documents, hacking or spreading fake news articles.
 
Large technology firms have faced pressure over the past year from legislators in the US and Europe after intelligence services concluded that Russia spread disinformation across their platforms to influence the 2016 US presidential election and the UK's Brexit vote.
 
"Platforms can do better when it comes to fake news and manipulation," Eva Maydell, a centre-right member of the European Parliament, said at the Brussels conference. "What we are afraid of is that this information actually only helps, to put it very simplistically, populist parties and politicians."
 
Under pressure from the European Commission, Alphabet's Google, Facebook, Twitter and other tech and advertising companies recently agreed to a joint code of conduct, pledging to fight the spread of "fake news" online in Europe.
 
As part of the code, Google and Facebook committed to bringing transparency tools for political adverts in Europe after recently rolling them out in the US. Those changes require administrators of Facebook pages that promote political parties to get authorised and provide copies of their IDs to Facebook. Any sponsored content also needs to display disclaimers stating who has paid for the advert.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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