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Thread: Tech news

  1. #101
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    CEOs Try to Ban Artificial Intelligence from War,

    Elon Musk is back at it again, warning the world about the dangers of AI, but this time he is trying to get it banned from weapons. Musk is not alone, according to the LA Times. Dozens of other CEOs have signed an open letter to the United Nations, asking them to ban the use of AI in weaponry before the technology becomes too powerful.

    “As companies building the technologies in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons, we feel especially responsible in raising this alarm,” the group wrote in an open letter to the United Nations’ Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). “Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare.”

    While some aspects of Musk’s warning seem a little too far-fetched to believe, the idea of autonomous weapons is very frightening, especially when you think of computer vision and facial recognition technology. While banning AI from war will be a massive challenge, I do believe that certain regulations should be placed upon intelligent weapons. Otherwise, every country will be using laptop guns from James Bond GoldenEye on Nintendo 64.
    This originally appeared in G2 Crowd's AI Digest. Subscribe to receive the same weekly AI news directly to your inbox.

    Amazon Brings AI to Cloud Storage

    This week Amazon announced that it has brought AI to its cloud storage services to better protect customer data. This new AI offering is called Amazon Macie, and, according to Forbes, “relies on Machine Learning to automatically discover, classify, and protect sensitive data stored in AWS.”

    The main product impacted will be Amazon S3, an Infrastructure as a Service offering that is popular among businesses for cloud-based storage. Amazon is also the first of the major players in the cloud storage services space to bring AI to its offerings, per Investopedia. When competing in such a lucrative market, enterprise companies will do anything they can to get an edge; for Amazon, AI may just be that edge. Frankly, it might not need it as it is the distinguished market leader, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. For a deep dive into Amazon’s AI offerings, check out Amazon AI: The Smart Person’s Guide from TechRepublic.


    MIT's largest research lab, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). RT≠endorsements.


    • Machines Taught by Photos Learn a Sexist View of Women (WIRED)
    • AI Learns Sexism Just by Studying Photographs (MIT Technology Review)
    • AI-Powered Filter App Prisma Wants to Sell Its Tech to Other Companies (The Verge)
    • Microsoft Teaches Autonomous Gliders to Make Decisions on the Fly (New York Times)
    • Popular YouTube Artist Uses AI to Record New Album (CNNMoney)
    • I Was Worried About Artificial Intelligence – Until It Saved My Life (Quartz)
    • This Biotech Startup Is Using AI to Help Researchers Develop Cures Quicker (Forbes)
    • NarrativeDx: The AI Platform Aiming to Be the Yelp for Patient Hospital Reviews (Forbes)
    • How AI Is Changing the Face of Retail Industry (Customer Think)
    • The Man Behind Android Says AI Is the Next Major Operating System (CNBC)
    • AI Creates Fictional Scenes out of Real-Life Photos (Engadget)
    • Databricks Raises $140M From Top VCs in Mission to Bring AI to “The 99 Percent” (Forbes)
    • Salesforce’s Marc Benioff Details Cloud Giant’s Push Into AI, Dishes on Secret Client (CNBC)
    • Microsoft Announces Project Brainwave to Take on Google’s AI Hardware Lead (Forbes)
    • This AI Tries to Figure out if You’re a Real Person (Forbes)
    • Samsung’s AI Assistant Bixby Is Finally Launching in the UK and Around the World (Business Insider)
    • Intel, Qualcomm, Google and NVIDIA Race to Develop AI Chips and Platforms (All About Circuits)


  2. #102
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    Equifax hacked

    A huge security breach at credit reporting company Equifax has exposed sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and addresses, of up to 143 million Americans.

    Unlike other data breaches, those affected by the breach may not even know they're customers of the company.

    Equifax (EFX) is one of three nationwide credit-reporting agencies that track and rate the financial history of consumers. The company gets its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers and lenders -- sometimes without you knowing.

    The data breach is among the worst ever because of the amount of people affected and the sensitive type of information exposed.

    How many people were affected?

    The company says as many as 143 million people in the United States were hit. Others in the U.K. and Canada were also impacted, but Equifax hasn't said how many. Credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. customers were compromised, in addition to "personal identifying information" on about 182,000 U.S. customers.

    Who was impacted?

    Equifax said it will send notices in the mail to people whose credit card numbers or dispute records were breached. The company said it found no evidence that consumers in other countries were affected beyond the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

    What information was accessed?

    The hackers accessed personal information such as names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, credit card numbers and the numbers of some driver's licenses.

    When did this happen?

    Equifax said the breach happened between mid-May and July. It discovered the hack on July 29. It informed the public on September 7.

    How did this happen?

    Equifax said criminals "exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files." A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

    Who was behind the breach?

    The company hasn't clarified but noted an investigation is ongoing.

    Am I at risk, and what is Equifax doing to help?

    Equifax is proposing that customers sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. It is giving free service for one year through its TrustedID Premier business, regardless of whether you've been impacted by the hack.

    To enroll and/or check whether you were affected, visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on the Check Potential Impact tab. You'll need to provide your last name and the last six digits of your social security number. Once submitted, you will receive a message indicating whether you've been affected.

    Then, you have the option to enroll in the program, but you can't actually sign up for the service until next week. Each customer is provided an enrollment date starting earliest on Monday.

    Can I sue Equifax?

    If you sign up for Equifax's offer of free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring, you may be limiting your rights to sue and be forced to take disputes to arbitration.
    But you can opt out of that provision if you notify the company in writing within 30 days. In addition, some attorneys argue that even if you don't opt out, the arbitration provision does not cover suits related to this breach.

    Is anyone investigating the breach?

    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched a formal investigation into the hack on Friday.

    Meanwhile, Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and ranking member John Conyers calling for a hearing to investigate the data breach.

    The House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas, also said his committee will hold a hearing on the breach.

    Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into the breach as well

    "The CFPB is authorized to take enforcement action against institutions engaged in unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices, or that otherwise violate federal consumer financial laws. We are looking into the data breach and Equifax's response, but cannot comment further at this time," a spokesperson told CNNMoney.


    After the Equifax breach, here’s how to freeze your credit to protect your identity

    Consumers affected by the Equifax data breach are scrambling for ways to protect their financial lives. Some are considering Equifax's own credit-monitoring service. Others suggest freezing your credit as a better option to such services. But what does freezing your credit entail, and how easy is it to do (and undo)?

    In basic terms, freezing your credit means placing restrictions on who can view your credit report. Why is this important? Well, applying for housing, checking accounts or new credit cards can all involve a credit pull by potential landlords, mortgage lenders or banks. If you prevent them from pulling your credit, it'll frustrate the fraudsters who need these organizations' approval to open fake accounts using your stolen identity

    Freezing your credit comes with a $5 to $10 charge for each credit bureau
    . The amount of the charge depends on where you live; here's a PDF from Equifax that shows how much it might cost you. Often, victims of identity theft can freeze their credit at no charge. To get the ball rolling, visit the relevant websites of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can also call Equifax (1-800-349-9960), Experian (1‑888‑397‑3742) or TransUnion (1-888-909-8872).

    The credit agencies will ask for your personal information, including your name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. Once you've supplied those and frozen your credit report, nobody except your existing lenders, or their debt collectors, will be able to see it, according to federal regulators. The only other entities that are allowed to see your credit report at this point are government agencies carrying out a search warrant or subpoena, and yourself, if you're trying to access the free credit report that is entitled to you once per year per credit bureau. (You can thank a 2003 law known as FACTA for this right. Annualcreditreport.com is the only website you'll ever see government officials recommend for this purpose.)

    But what do you do once your report is frozen and you need, say, a credit card company to look at it?

    In that case, you can contact the credit bureaus again and ask them to lift or “thaw” the freeze. To do so, you'll need a PIN that your credit bureau gave you when you enabled the freeze. The reporting agencies are required to put the thaw into effect no later than three business days after you submit the request. You can also choose to lift the freeze only for a specific amount of time, to limit your exposure. Lifting the freeze can also come with a small fee.

    If you lose your PIN, you can reset it, but that will typically require you to provide proof of your identity.
    This poses a different type of security risk; if a criminal manages to get a copy of the required identifying documents — say, through a corporate data breach or by persuading you to give up the information voluntarily through an email phishing attack — then there isn't much standing between a determined thief and an unfrozen credit report.

    Still, many Americans become identity theft victims every year simply because they represent the easiest targets. Making it even a little bit harder for criminals to put your stolen identity to use could save you an enormous headache.


    The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do

    If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies.
    Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.

    They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too.
    There are steps to take to help protect your information from being misused. Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

    • Find out if your information was exposed. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
    • Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll. Write down the date and come back to the site and click “Enroll” on that date. You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.
    • You also can access frequently asked questions at the site.

    Here are some other steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:

    • Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
    • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
    • Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
    • If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.

    • File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.

    Visit Identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.

    video: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/20...breach-what-do




    Freeze your credit reports now. (check if they charge, how much)

    – Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/
    – Experian: https://www.experian.com/consumer/ca...e=FREEZECENTER
    – TransUnion: https://freeze.transunion.com/

    Freezing your credit takes minutes. As long as you save your PIN, also takes minutes to temporarily ‘thaw’ when you need to apply for credit

    Bonus: when someone runs your *frozen* credit without telling you (looking at you Comcast) they awkwardly say “uh, it says you don't exist?”

    Also, opt-out of prescreened credit offers to stop sale of your credit info to data brokers and sites doxxers use



    How credit freezes work, what they cost

    For a cost of up to around $30, you can prevent identity thieves from opening accounts in your name by freezing your credit report.

    Credit freezesCredit freezes, also known as security freezes, place a lock on access to a borrower's credit report. With a credit freeze in place, lenders and other companies cannot view the borrower's credit. As a result, freezes prevent the consumer from gaining access to new loans, such as credit cards and mortgages, but they also keep fraudsters from opening new accounts in that person's name.

    These freezes can subsequently be lifted temporarily or permanently by consumers, sometimes also for a price.

    Credit freezes can be a great tool for protecting yourself against identity theft, but they're not for everyone. If, for example, you suspect that you might be an ID theft target because of a data breach at a company where you use your card, setting a temporary fraud alert with the credit bureaus is a simpler and no-cost alternative.

    In place of credit freezes, the credit reporting industry typically promotes credit monitoring services, which bureaus and banks sell to their customers, or fraud alerts, which are available for free from the credit bureaus and do not block access to credit reports

    More on all this at: http://www.creditcards.com/credit-ca...reeze-1282.php

    Below you’ll find directions and links to assist you in obtaining your credit freeze or thaw from each major bureau:

    [Equifax Website]

    • Credit freezes may be done online or by certified mail – return receipt requested.
    • Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
    • Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
    • If your PIN is late arriving, call 1-888-298-0045. They will ask you for some ID and arrange for your PIN to be sent to you in 4-7 days.
    • Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Equifax credit freeze by snail mail, online or by calling 1-800-685-1111 (N.Y. residents dial 1-800-349-9960).
    • Info on freezing a child’s credit with Equifax can be found here.
    • If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
      • Equifax Security Freeze
        P.O. Box 105788
        Atlanta, GA. 30348

    [Experian Website]

    • Credit freezes may be done online; by certified mail – return receipt requested; or by calling 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742). When calling, press 2 then follow prompts for security freeze.
    • Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
    • Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
    • You can also freeze a child’s credit report. The information contained at this link is applicable for all three credit bureaus. You must first write a letter to each bureau to learn if your minor child has a credit report and if so, then you can proceed to freeze it.
    • Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Experian credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-397-3742.
    • Info on freezing a child’s credit with Experian can be found here.
    • If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
      • Experian
        P.O. Box 9554
        Allen, TX. 75013

    [TransUnion website]

    • Credit freezes may be done online, by phone (1-888-909-8872) or by certified mail – return receipt requested. (Some users have reported difficulty with the online method. Please try one of the other options if you too experience difficulty.)
    • Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
    • Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
    • Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your TransUnion credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-909-8872.
    • Info on freezing a child’s credit with TransUnion can be found here.
    • If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
      • TransUnion Protected Consumer Freeze
        P.O. Box 380
        Woodlyn, PA. 19094


    Visit ChexSystems.com and to submit your request online.

    Cost per state:

    - https://help.equifax.com/servlet/fil...hment__body__s

    TransUnion -

    Experian - https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze#fees

  3. #103
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    US Muslim groups welcome changes to Google results

    'Direct connection' between misleading information about Islam, uptick in Islamophobic attacks, says Imam Omar Suleiman

    By Michael Hernandez

    Queries about Islam and Muslims on the world’s largest search engine have been updated amid public pressure to tamp down alleged disinformation from hate groups.

    However, activists who have worked to bring about the changes say more work remains.

    In the past, users on Google seeking information about the religion or its adherents would be presented prominently with what many criticized as propaganda from hate groups.

    That has recently changed.

    Google's first page results for searches of terms such as “jihad”, “shariah” and “taqiyya” now return mostly reputable explanations of the Islamic concepts. Taqiyya, which describes the circumstances under which a Muslim can conceal their belief in the face of persecution, is the sole term to feature a questionable website on the first page of results.

    Google did not confirm to Anadolu Agency the changes but said it is constantly updating its algorithms.

    The search giant referred the agency to a recent blog post in which it said it was working to push back on what it called “offensive or clearly misleading content”.

    “To help prevent the spread of such content for this subset of queries, we’ve improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content,” it said.

    Combatting Islamophobia

    One leading activist in favor of Google modifying its results told Anadolu Agency he noticed the updated search results and thanked the company for its efforts but said “much still needs to be done”.

    Imam Omar Suleiman, who has been at the forefront of efforts to combat misleading information about his faith on the web, argued that Google and companies like it have a responsibility to combat “hate-filled Islamophobia” similar to how they work to suppress extremist propaganda from groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda.

    Suleiman said Google should differentiate between “criticism of Islam and hate-filled Islamophobia”, emphasizing the religion should not be infringed upon.

    “Google does not need to silence criticism of Islam and honest discussions about Islam, but heavily funded hate groups that are able to work the SEOs to get their websites showing up on the first, second page – I think that’s deeply problematic,” the popular imam said, referring to search engine optimization -- the way in which websites are able to improve their placement in search engine results.

    The task of sorting out legitimate criticism or debate about Islam from misleading information will not be easy, particularly in societies that value freedom of speech -- a fact Suleiman, who is the founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, acknowledged.

    Google told Anadolu Agency it does not seek to remove content from its platform simply because it is unsavory or unpopular, but does its best to prevent hate speech from appearing.

    One way it is working to improve on the effort is by providing users with a mechanism in autofill suggestions that would allow users to alert the company when an offensive term appears.

    Amid a nationwide increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims, the effort to combat misinformation is more imperative than ever, Muslim group said.

    Hate crimes against Muslims

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the U.S.’s largest Muslim advocacy group, said it tracked a 584 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes from 2014 to 2016.

    The group is not the only one to find such numbers. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate incidents and groups in the U.S. and said it found hate groups increasing in number for the second consecutive year in 2016, fueled largely by a near-tripling of anti-Muslim groups.

    “The growth has been accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims,” the center said in its annual report.

    Information people receive from a variety of sources -- television, radio and the Internet -- no doubt plays a role in fomenting hatred among some of those who perpetrate attacks but could also be used to stop them.

    “We are seeing a rise in hate crimes towards Muslims, and there is a direct connection between this demonization of Islam and Muslims and the hate crimes that are being perpetuated against Muslims in the United States,” Suleiman said.

    Still, he maintained that such voices should not be censored but “should not be featured prominently as authoritative voices.”

    Suleiman added: “I don’t think Google has a responsibility to portray Muslims positively. I think Google has a responsibility to weed out fear-mongering and hate groups but I don’t want Google to silence critique of Islam, or critique of Muslims, or critique of Judaism, or Black Lives Matter -- whatever it is.

    “It’s a fair ask that when someone goes to Google they are not being presented with information from hate groups, and representatives of the faith, as well as respectable academics... as if they’re all on the same playing field.

    “We’re not on the same playing field.”

    Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.


  4. #104
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    Apple to kill off fingerprint sensors and add FaceID to ALL iPhones next year

    Apple's radical FaceID system is set to come to the entire iPhone line next year, it has been claimed.

    The firm is set to abandon its current TouchID fingerprint system entirely, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

    He claims that all 2018 iPhone models will move to Face ID, according to 9to5Mac

    Just last month he issued a note in which he said the future of Face ID depended largely upon consumer reaction to the iPhone X.

    The analyst writes that 3D sensing will be a 'key selling point' of all new 2018 iPhone models and says TrueDepth cameras and Face ID will help Apple 'capitalize on its clear lead in 3D sensing design and production for smartphones.'

    Kuo also predicted that the iPad Pro would gain Face ID next year.

    However, the modules needed for FaceID are still causing major production issues for Apple just weeks before its iPhone X launch, it has been claimed.

    The firm's suppliers are still struggling to perfect manufacturing of the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera and 3D facial recognition system, according to Japan's Nikkei Asian Review.

    Jeff Pu, an analyst with Taipei-based Yuanta Investment Consulting, believes the problems could mean Apple will face even bigger shortages of its flagship handset than previously thought.

    He cut his forecast of the number of iPhone X devices that will be produced this year from 40 million units to 36 million.


    Multiple reports have claimed it has taken more time to assemble the TrueDepth system's so-called 'Romeo' module than the 'Juliet' module.

    The 'Romeo' module includes the dot projector that beams more than 30,000 invisible dots to create a precise depth map of your face.

    The 'Juliet' module includes the infrared camera that analyzes the pattern.

    Together, they help power new iPhone X features such as Face ID and Animoji.


    Face ID uses a TrueDepth front-facing camera on the iPhone X, which has multiple components.

    A Dot Projector projects more than 30,000 invisible dots onto your face to map its structure.

    The dot map is then read by an infrared camera and the structure of your face is relayed to the A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone X, where it is turned into a mathematical model.

    When FaceID is used, a dot projector projects more than 30,000 invisible dots onto your face to map its structure

    The A11 chip then compares your facial structure to the facial scan stored in the iPhone X during the setup process.

    Face ID uses infrared to scan your face, so it works in low lighting conditions and in the dark.

    It will only unlock your device when you look in the direction of the iPhone X with your eyes open.

    Face ID captures both a 3-D and 2-D image of your face using infrared light while you're looking straight at the camera.

    Five unsuccessful attempts at Face ID will force you to enter a passcode - which you'll need anyway just to set up facial recognition.

    That requires you to come up with a secure string of digits - or, for extra security, a string of letters and numbers - to protect your privacy.

    Face ID also adapts to changes in your appearance over time, so it will continue to recognize you as you grow a beard or grow your hair longer.



    It doesn't even work properly yet and they are going to push it out anyway. First they got people's fingerprints and now they will get their faces. Also a big security risk, just as fingerprinting was, you can take advantage of a sleeping person or force anyone to unlock your phone so easily now. A nice ploy to get stupid people to give up their bio-metrics for free.

  5. #105
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    Essential is the phone Android users should get if they like the iPhone X's design

    I'm talking about the Phone from Essential.

    The Phone runs on the fastest and latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and packs 4GB of RAM, which is pretty standard across the range of Android flagship handsets. Storage-wise, the only option you get is 128GB of flash memory

    The Phone's camera might not be an iPhone X or Pixel 2 killer, but it still has a great camera that anyone would be happy with.

    You won't find facial recognition on the Phone, like the iPhone X's Face ID, but the fingerprint sensor on the back of the Phone will do just fine to unlock the phone.

    for its $500 price tag compared to the iPhone X's $1,000 asking price, as well as the price of the $900+ Galaxy Note 8, $650 Pixel 2, and $850 Pixel 2 XL, those compromises may be easier to accept.

    The Phone's camera might not be an iPhone X or Pixel 2 killer, but it still has a great camera that anyone would be happy with.

    Just be aware that you'll have to make a few compromises when it comes to features.

    While I appreciate the Essential Phone's near-stock Android operating system, it's not quite as feature-packed as the iPhone X. You won't find facial recognition on the Phone, like the iPhone X's Face ID, but the fingerprint sensor on the back of the Phone will do just fine to unlock the phone.

    You may also find the Phone's camera app a little bare on the feature front compared to the iPhone X. For one, it doesn't have a portrait mode to blur backgrounds and give your photos that professional touch. Still, everyone managed without portrait mode before.

    The Essential Phone isn't without its compromises compared to the iPhone X, but it's still one of the best-looking Android smartphones you can buy. And for its $500 price tag compared to the iPhone X's $1,000 asking price, as well as the price of the $900+ Galaxy Note 8, $650 Pixel 2, and $850 Pixel 2 XL, those compromises may be easier to accept.

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    Apple Admits Secretly Slowing Down Older iPhones

    Apple settled long-standing conspiracy theories surrounding claims that the company was purposefully slowing down older iPhones in order to force people into buying newer models - and there's a "perfectly good" explanation.


    In early December, Reddit user TeckFire posted a report in the iPhone subreddit, noting that after experiencing a painful slowdown on his iPhone 6S, a brand new battery resulted in significant improvement in benchmark scores - as can be seen in photos posted to the thread:

    After testing performed by Geekbench developer John Poole, it was indeed confirmed that iPhones were being throttled to preserve battery life or avoid unexpected shutdowns while the battery degrades.

    The Cupertino, CA company responded to the internet sleuths, admitting in a statement "Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components."

    "Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future," said the company.

    As TechCrunch explains:

    Basically, iPhones were hitting peaks of processor power that the battery was unable to power and the phones were shutting off. Apple then added power management to all iPhones at the time that would “smooth out” those peaks by either capping the power available from the battery or by spreading power requests over several cycles. This is clearly shown in Poole’s charts in his post:

    Many have pointed out how bad it looks for Apple - which has been accused of throttling older phones to make them buy new ones, was caught throttling phones. No matter how legitimate the reason, the fact that they were caught - and forced to admit - is going to fuel conspiracy theories for a while.

    To recap: due to battery performance degradation issues, the power demands of the iPhone processor was causing shutoff issues. To solve this, Apple secretly throttled their phones in order to avoid the issue... and were caught by internet sleuths before issuing a statement with their tail between their legs. Was there any impact on the stock price? Of course not: after all 2018 is the year companies make buybacks great again.


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    Germany starts enforcing hate speech law

    Germany is set to start enforcing a law that demands social media sites move quickly to remove hate speech, fake news and illegal material.

    Sites that do not remove "obviously illegal" posts could face fines of up to 50m euro (£44.3m).

    The law gives the networks 24 hours to act after they have been told about law-breaking material.

    Social networks and media sites with more than two million members will fall under the law's provisions.

    Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will be the law's main focus but it is also likely to be applied to Reddit, Tumblr and Russian social network VK. Other sites such as Vimeo and Flickr could also be caught up in its provisions.

    Act faster

    The Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG) law was passed at the end of June 2017 and came into force in early October.

    The social networks were given until the end of 2017 to prepare themselves for the arrival of NetzDG.

    The call to police social media sites more effectively arose after several high-profile cases in which fake news and racist material was being spread via the German arms of prominent social media firms.

    Germany's justice ministry said it would make forms available on its site, which concerned citizens could use to report content that violates NetzDG or has not been taken down in time.

    As well as forcing social media firms to act quickly, NetzDG requires them to put in place a comprehensive complaints structure so that posts can quickly be reported to staff.

    Most material will have to be removed within 24 hours but networks will have a week to act on "complex cases".

    Facebook has reportedly recruited several hundred staff in Germany to deal with reports about content that breaks the NetzDG and to do a better job of monitoring what people post.

    The law has been controversial in Germany with some saying it could lead to inadvertent censorship or curtail free speech.

    The German law is the most extreme example of efforts by governments and regulators to rein in social media firms. Many of them have come under much greater scrutiny this year as information about how they are used to spread propaganda and other sensitive material has come to light.

    In the UK, politicians have been sharply critical of social sites, calling them a "disgrace" and saying they were "shamefully far" from doing a good job of policing hate speech and other offensive content.

    The European Commission also published guidelines calling on social media sites to act faster to spot and remove hateful content.



    Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Face Massive Fines As German Hate Speech Law Kicks In

    Social media companies are facing a herculean task following the January 1 kickoff of Germany's strict new "hate speech" laws, giving companies such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube 24 hours after a complaint to remove postings containing hate speech.

    Failure to remove the offending posts in time so will expose the platforms to fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million USD).

    The new law was passed last June and went into effect in October - however social media companies were given until January 1 to prepare for compliance, such that they maintain an "effective and transparent procedure for dealing with complaints" which users can submit freely. Upon receiving a complaint, social media companies have 24 hours to block or remove "obviously illegal content" - and up to a week in "complex cases."

    Germany has unique hate speech laws which criminalize certain language - such as incitement to racial or religious violence, speech denigrating religions, and other posts deemed to be offensive.

    Facebook hired over 500 German contractors in November out of a reported 3,000 to help comply with the new law, who will work for a service provider called CCC out of a new office in the western city of Essen. Meanwhile, the German government has reportedly hired a staff of 50 people assigned to the task of implementing and policing the law.

    The new law isn't just for the big three (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter) either:

    Social platform giants such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were couched as the initial targets for the law, but Spiegal Online suggests the government is looking to apply the law more widely — including to content on networks such as Reddit, Tumblr, Flickr, Vimeo, VK and Gab. -TechCrunch

    Social media giants face a gigantic task - which some might say is impossible. It is estimated that around 37.3 million Germans will use social media in 2017.


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    Amazon is raising its monthly Prime membership rate

    Amazon is raising its monthly Prime membership rates 18 percent.

    The premium membership that grants faster shipping and access to Amazon Video will now cost $12.99 per month, up from $10.99, according to the company's membership page.

    Amazon is also increasing the discounted student monthly rate from $5.49 to $6.49 per month for new sign-ups.

    The cost of a yearly membership, $99, will not change.

    Recode first noticed the new price.

    Amazon started the monthly pricing model less than two years ago as a more flexible way of taking advantage of Prime's fast shipping and other benefits. Prime members spend considerably more on Amazon than non-Prime members.
    Amazon issued this statement Friday morning:

    "Prime provides an unparalleled combination of shipping, shopping and entertainment benefits, and we continue to invest in making Prime even more valuable for our members. The number of items eligible for unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping increased in recent years from 20 million to more than 100 million items. We have expanded Prime Free Same-Day and Prime Free One-Day delivery to more than 8,000 cities and towns. We also continue to introduce new, popular and award-winning Prime Originals, like The Grand Tour, Sneaky Pete, and the Golden Globe-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – all included with Prime Video. Members also enjoy a growing list of unique benefits like Prime Music, Prime Reading, exclusive products and much more. We will keep introducing new ways to make members' lives even better."
    The company doesn't disclose the number of Prime members in its earnings. Instead, the company shows revenue from "subscription services," which includes Prime in the U.S. and overseas, as well as subscriptions for things such as e-books and music. In the third quarter of 2017, subscription revenue grew 59 percent from the prior year, to $2.4 billion.

    Research firm GBH Insights estimates 88 million people subscribe to Amazon Prime and expects only a 2 percent churn from the price hike as the more expensive monthly rate nudges users to an annual subscription, analyst Daniel Ives said.

    Morgan Stanley said in a note published in December that Amazon Prime growth is plateauing in the U.S., showing the first signs of a slowdown. It based its conclusion on a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults.


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    Hacker Hijacked School Webcams to Produce Child Pornography, Indictment Alleges

    By Anthony Cuthbertson - 1/11/18

    A man from Ohio was charged on Wednesday for allegedly producing child pornography from footage obtained by spying through the webcams of computers used by children.

    Phillip Durachinsky, 28, was indicted for infecting thousands of computers with malware that allowed him to secretly hijack webcams in order to watch and listen to unknowing victims for over a decade.

    The indictment alleges that Durachinsky took part in the hacking scheme from 2003 until January 2017, using computers owned by individuals, organizations and schools.

    For more than 13 years, Phillip Durachinsky allegedly infected with malware the computers of thousands of Americans and stole their most personal data and communications,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan. “This case is an example of the Justice Department’s continued efforts to hold accountable cybercriminals who invade the privacy of others and exploit technology for their own ends.”

    Durachinsky has been charged with Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violations, Wiretap Act violations, production of child pornography, and aggravated identity theft.

    The so-called Fruitfly malware that Durachinsky allegedly developed and used also alerted him if a victim used their search engine to look for terms associated with pornography.

    “This defendant is alleged to have spent more than a decade spying on people across the country and accessing their personal information,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney David Sierleja.

    Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony added: “Durachinsky is alleged to have utilized his sophisticated cyber skills with ill intent, compromising numerous systems and individual computers.

    “The FBI would like to commend the compromised entities that brought this to the attention of law enforcement authorities. It is this kind of collaboration that has enabled authorities to bring this cyber hacker to justice.”

    The case once again highlights the issue of webcam security, as well as other internet-connected devices like smart baby monitors.

    A 2016 investigation by Newsweek found hundreds of web-connected CCTV cameras, webcams and smart baby monitors listed on an online search engine called Shodan.

    Security researchers say device manufacturers are largely to blame for the issue, as they tend to prioritize other features over security.

    “The problem here is that many Internet of Things devices [smart devices that connect to the internet] are horribly broken security-wise because it costs money to ensure a reasonable standard of protection on a product,” Chris Boyd, an analyst at the security firm Malwarebytes, said at the time.


    Cover Up Your WebCams


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    Amazon And Google Employees Busted In Asian Sex Trafficking Sting

    Several Seattle employees of both Google and Amazon were busted after using their corporate accounts to send emails to local brothels and pimps looking to purchase services from sex workers trafficked from Asia, according to emails obtained by Newsweek.

    "[E]mails obtained by Newsweek reveal another sordid corner of the tech sector’s treatment of women: a horny nest of prostitution “hobbyists” at tech giants Microsoft, Amazon and other firms in Seattle’s high tech alley."

    Many of the emails were swept up in a 2015 sting operation which targeted online chat rooms and message boards in which customers rate sex workers - resulting in the arrest of 18 of these "prostitution hobbyists," including several high level Amazon and Microsoft directors - two of which are currently scheduled for trial in March.

    Seattle brothels had been catering to Microsoft employees through several "backpage.com" ads
    located nearby the company's Redmond, WA headquarters, in what is becoming a booming business.

    A study commissioned by the Department of Justice found that Seattle has the fastest-growing sex industry in the United States, more than doubling in size between 2005 and 2012. That boom correlates neatly with the boom of the tech sector there. It also correlates to the surge in high-paying jobs, since this “hobby” (the word johns use online to describe buying sex) can be expensive: some of these men spent $30,000 to $50,000 a year, according to authorities.

    The tech sector has not only employed a significant number of men who pay for sex with trafficked women, it has also enabled traffickers to more easily reach customers and to hide their business from cops by taking it off the streets and into computers and ultimately, hotel rooms, motels or apartments. In one 24-hour-period in Seattle, an estimated 6,487 people solicited sex on just one of the more than 100 websites that connect buyers with sellers, according to a 2014 study.

    Of note, Backpage.com shut down its adult sections in January, citing government pressure following a 2016 Senate report on commercial sex services fingered the website as a hotbed for criminal activity, and stating that "Backpage officials have publicly acknowledged that criminals use the website for sex trafficking, including trafficking of minors."

    In October, 2016, Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer was arrested in Houston and the company's Dallas headquarters searched. NPR reported at the time that Ferrer, 55, was charged with pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. Two controlling shareholders of Backpage — Michael Lacey and James Larkin — also are charged with conspiracy to commit pimping."

    The prostitutes trafficked from Asia typically don't speak much English, relying on translation apps to offer services such as "girlfriend" experiences and "Nuru" (nude massage). Many of the women are working their way out of debt bondage, and feared for their lives or those of their families - according to one pimp interviewed during the 2015 sting.

    A spokesman for Microsoft said of the emails "Microsoft has a long history of cooperating with law enforcement and other agencies on combating sex trafficking and related topics, and we have employees who volunteer their time and money specifically to combat this issue as well. The personal conduct of a tiny fraction of our 125,000 employees does not in any way represent our culture. No organization is immune to the unfortunate situation when employees act unethically or illegally. When that happens, we look into the conduct and take appropriate action. Microsoft makes it clear to our employees they have a responsibility to act with integrity and conduct themselves in a legal and ethical manner at all times. If they don’t, they risk losing their jobs."

    Amazon told Newsweek it's investigating the matter, and that "It is against Amazon's policy for any employee or Contingent Worker to engage in any sex buying activities of any kind in Amazon's workplace or in any work-related setting outside of the workplace, such as during business trips, business meetings or business-related social events.' When Amazon suspects that an employee has used company funds or resources to engage in criminal conduct, the company will immediately investigate and take appropriate action up to and including termination. The company may also refer the matter to law enforcement."


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    Google Drive on PC/Mac is dead, Backup and Sync Arrives

    If you use Google Drive and/or Photos on PC and Mac, beware that both of those apps are being eliminated starting December 11th, 2017 and shut off completely in March of next year. Don't mourn their loss too much, though. Both have already been replaced by a single app called Google Backup and Sync, which handles both photos and data at once.

    Business and enterprise users, meanwhile, are being shuffled to
    Drive File Stream, which is now in wide release after a limited launch in March.

    Backup and Sync lets you, well, backup and sync photos and files from PC folders, USB keys and SD cards to the cloud, so they're available anywhere. The original Google Drive was not so convenient, as it required you to use two separate apps for files and photos. That could affect your storage space dramatically -- if you upload images to Drive, it counts against your space, but if you upload them to Photos (using the "high," not "original" setting), it doesn't. At the same time, PC backups are now a more automated process.

    Google also fully launched Drive File Stream, an app that performs roughly the same chores as Backup and Sync, but for enterprise and business users. It has more team-oriented features, like on-demand file streaming and access to Team Drives (for a comparison chart and other info, check here).

    The loss of Drive on the desktop won't affect your life much, unless you really liked the old Drive logo, which has been changed to something that resembles Microsoft's OneDrive icon. Google also points out that you may soon see messages notifying you that "Drive for Mac/PC is going away," presumably to join Google Reader and others in the great App Graveyard.


    Google launches Drive File Stream to replace the Google Drive desktop app for G Suite users

    Google today announced the launch of new desktop application for Google Drive users, called Drive File Stream, which is now available to G Suite customers. The app will serve as a replacement for the Google Drive desktop app that will be shut down for good next year – a far enough date to give enterprise customers plenty of time to make the switch.

    The company had earlier detailed its plans related to this transition.

    Back in July, Google said it would consolidate its desktop file sync applications for Google Drive and Google Photos for consumers into a single new app called “Backup and Sync” ahead of its plan to end support for the older Google Photos and Google Drive client apps for Mac and PC.

    Related to this, it said it would launch an enterprise solution called Drive File Stream, which would roll out to all G Suite customers at a later date. It also opened an Early Adopter Program for Drive File Stream at that time.

    A key difference between the consumer application and the enterprise version is the option for administrative control.

    Company I.T. departments starting today will see the settings for Drive File Stream appear in the Admin Console for their version of G Suite, says Google. This will allow them to configure and distribute the solution for their domain, including turning sync on, specifying how the software is installed, disabling Google Update if the company prefers manual updates, and managing other settings.

    While the Drive File Stream settings are appearing today, Google notes that they won’t go into effect until Tuesday, September 26th, when the solution becomes generally available.

    However, the launch of the settings signals the official deprecation for the tool File Stream replaces: Google Drive for Mac and PC.

    The older Google Drive desktop software will no longer be supported beginning on December 11th, 2017, and it will shut down completely on March 12th, 2018, Google says.

    The company also notes that users can choose to install the consumer-facing tool, Backup and Sync, either as an alternative to or in addition to the Drive File Stream enterprise software.

    Backup and Sync doesn’t support Google’s collaborative Team Drives, but it can be used along with Drive File Stream to sync other folders with Drive, like Documents and Desktop. However, it shares several features with File Stream, too. (Leave it to Google simplify things making two different tools that have overlapping features when trying to streamline its products.)

    To help with figuring out what tool does what, a comparison chart and other details about the differences between the two can be found here.

    The launch news arrived alongside some instability for the Google Drive cloud service today. Both Drive and Google Classroom were suffering outages this morning – the latter likely related to its use of Drive for saving attachments. After a couple of hours, the issues were resolved.


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    Unilever Threaten To Pull Advertising From Facebook And Google Over Extremist Content

    They warn of a 'techlash' of advertisers turning on tech giants.

    Unilever has threatened to pull advertising from platforms like Google and Facebook if they don’t do more to tackle extremist and illegal content.

    It said consumer trust in social media is at an all time low and called on the industry to “collectively build trust back into our systems and society” in an era of “fake news and toxic online content”, warning it may cut investment in “platforms which breed division”.

    Speaking at a leadership meeting in Palm Springs, Florida, Unilever’s Chief Marketing Officer, Keith Weed, called on technology giants to make a veritable stand against “things they see are not right” and stop “illegal, unethical and extremist behaviour and material on their platforms”.

    Speaking ahead of his speech, Weed said: “As a brand-led business, Unilever needs its consumers to have trust in our brands. We can’t do anything to damage that trust – including the choice of channels and platforms we use. So, 2018 is the year when social media must win trust back.”

    He continued: “2018 is either the year of techlash, where the world turns on the tech giants – and we have seen some of this already – or the year of trust. The year where we collectively rebuild trust back in our systems and our society.

    “Across the world, dramatic shifts are taking place in people’s trust, particularly in media. We are seeing a critical separation of how people trust social media and more ‘traditional’ media. In the US only less than a third of people now trust social media (30%), whilst almost two thirds trust traditional media (58%).”

    Weed added: “Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children – parts of the internet we have ended up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us.

    “It is in the digital media industry’s interest to listen and act on this.”

    Weed said it was up to all stakeholders to be part of the “solution”, saying Unilever was not “interested in issuing ultimatums or turning my face while I demand others sort this out”.

    Unilever has met with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon and Snapchat and Weed said he had repeated “one point to each and every one of them”, that it was “critical that our brands remain not only in a safe environment, but a suitable one”.

    “It is acutely clear from the groundswell of consumer voices over recent months that people are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of digital on wellbeing, on democracy – and on truth itself. This is not something that can brushed aside or ignored,” he said.

    Experts in digital media say that more buyers of advertising will have to join Unilever to spur change.

    “The advertising ecosystem contains so many players, so for Facebook and Google to see any dent in the profits they make, there will need to be many companies that not only put their hat in the ring, but also follow through on these threats,” Sam Barker, a senior analyst at Juniper Research told the BBC.

    Unilever’s warning came as the Government unveiled a new technology that aims to automatically detect terrorist content before it hits the web.

    Tests show the tool can identify 94% of IS propaganda videos and has an extremely high accuracy rate.


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    Shatterproof screens that save smartphones


    University of Akron polymer scientists have developed a transparent electrode that could change the face of smartphones, literally, by making their displays shatterproof.

    In a recently published scientific paper, researchers demonstrated how a transparent layer of electrodes on a polymer surface could be extraordinarily tough and flexible, withstanding repeated scotch tape peeling and bending tests. This could revolutionize and replace conventional touchscreens, according to Yu Zhu, UA assistant professor of polymer science. Currently used coatings made of indium tin oxide (ITO) are more brittle, most likely to shatter, and increasingly costly to manufacture.

    Novel and cost-effective

    “These two pronounced factors drive the need to substitute ITO with a cost-effective and flexible conductive transparent film,” Zhu says, adding that the new film provides the same degree of transparency as ITO, yet offers greater conductivity. The novel film retains its shape and functionality after tests in which it has been bent 1,000 times. Due to its flexibility, the transparent electrode can be fabricated in economical, mass-quantity rolls.

    “We expect this film to emerge on the market as a true ITO competitor,” Zhu says. “The annoying problem of cracked smartphone screens may be solved once and for all with this flexible touchscreen.

    The team’s findings are published in the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Nano in the article titled “A Tough and High-Performance Transparent Electrode from a Scalable and Transfer-Free Method.”

    This research was conducted by Zhu, UA graduate students Tianda He and Aozhen Xia, and Darrell Reneker, distinguished professor of polymer science at UA.


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    Facebook Just Lost More Than Tesla's Entire Market Cap in 2 Days

    March 20, 2018

    Facebook Inc.’s privacy crisis has turned into a shareholder crisis.

    The social media giant has lost over $60 billion in market value over the past two days, following revelations that personal data of millions of users was obtained by a data analytics firm. That’s more than the market capitalization of Tesla Inc. at around $52 billion or three times that of Snapchat owner Snap Inc. at about $19 billion.

    Facebook shares tumbled 6.8 percent on Monday, the most in almost four years, and the selloff resumed on Tuesday with news that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is reportedly investigating the handling of user data, and a report that Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos plans to leave. Shares fell 4.7% to $164.51 at 2:23 p.m. in New York.

    The two-day rout is the worst since July 2012, the year of Facebook’s initial public offering at $38 a share.


    WhatsApp co-founder tells everyone to delete Facebook

    Facebook bought his app for $16 billion

    In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion, making its co-founders — Jan Koum and Brian Acton — very wealthy men. Koum continues to lead the company, but Acton quit earlier this year to start his own foundation. And he isn’t done merely with WhatsApp — in a post on Twitter today, Acton told his followers to delete Facebook.

    “It is time,” Acton wrote, adding the hashtag #deletefacebook. Acton, who is worth $6.5 billion, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. WhatsApp declined to comment.

    It was unclear whether Acton’s feelings about Facebook extend to his own app. But last month, Acton invested $50 million into Signal, an independent alternative to WhatsApp.

    The tweet came after a bruising five-day period for Facebook that has seen regulators swarm and its stock price plunge following concerns over data privacy in the wake of revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of user data.

    Acton is not the first former Facebook executive to express unease about the company after leaving it. Last year, former head of growth Chamath Palihapitiya caused a firestorm after saying “we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” Other former executives to express regrets include Sean Parker, Justin Rosenstein, and investor Roger McNamee.


    Facebook reveals news feed experiment to control emotions

    Protests over secret study involving 689,000 users in which friends' postings were moved to influence moods

    It already knows whether you are single or dating, the first school you went to and whether you like or loathe Justin Bieber. But now Facebook, the world's biggest social networking site, is facing a storm of protest after it revealed it had discovered how to make users feel happier or sadder with a few computer key strokes.

    It has published details of a vast experiment in which it manipulated information posted on 689,000 users' home pages and found it could make people feel more positive or negative through a process of "emotional contagion".



    Have we not learned by now that NOTHING we put on-line is private?

    It's about time. I was a Facebook user many years ago and when the first utterance of how they owned all the content you uploaded was disclosed I deleted my account and never looked back. Now we see how a social platform has been manipulated to undermine the very fabric of democracy. Is it really just a simple sharing site?

    My buddy got tagged in a post the other day and I was also in the picture. FB sent me a message saying you maybe in this pic from facial awareness , so they now scan everyone's image and 100% guarantee it is uploaded to the NSA, along with your likes, comments etc. there is no doubt they have your file and know who potentially will be a dissenter when the time comes.

    Cannot agree more! $17 billion wiped off FB stock in 7 days due to data leaks. Watsapp data encryption was the major selling point of the app, now Zuk has taken it over and changed the code it is open to total data mining on a massive scale.

    Send a link to a product using watsapp and within 20 minutes log on FB. You will see the pop up for the same product. Delete either fb or wa, having both is simply asking for trouble. Give Signal 6 months and it will be the new watsapp.

    So while you're at it, go ahead and ditch Facebook-owned Instagram too. For good measure, also get rid of WhatsApp — try Signal instead.


    If you’ve finally given up on the world’s most popular social media network and want to get rid of Facebook, it’s not too complicated to remove yourself from the service. But before you delete all of those pictures, posts, and Likes, you should download your personal information from Facebook first.

    Your Facebook archives contain just about all of the pertinent information related to your account, including your photos, active sessions, chat history, IP addresses, facial recognition data, and which ads you clicked, just to name a few. That’s a ton of personal information that you should probably maintain access to. To download your archive, go to “Settings” and click “Download a copy of your Facebook data” at the bottom of General Account Settings, and then click “Start My Archive.”

    If you are ready to delete your account, you can click this https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account, which will take you to the account deletion page. (Facebook doesn’t have the delete account option in its settings, for some reason.) Once you click “Delete My Account,” your account will be marked for termination, and inaccessible to others using Facebook.

    The company notes that it delays termination for a few days after it’s requested. If you log back in during that period, your deletion request will be cancelled. So don’t sign on, or you’ll be forced to start the process over again. Certain things, like comments you’ve made on a friend’s post, may still appear even after you delete your account. Facebook also says that copies of certain items like log records will remain in its database, but notes that those are disassociated with personal identifiers.

    The company says it can take up to 90 days to fully delete your account and the information associated with it, but it notes that your account will be inaccessible to other people using Facebook during that time.

    If you’re really serious about quitting Facebook, remember that the company owns several other popular services as well, like Instagram and WhatsApp, so you should delete your accounts there as well.

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    Tinder and Instagram are ‘crippling’ relationships, sex therapist Esther Perel says

    On the latest Recode Decode, Perel says dating apps are giving us too many options, and other apps give us an excuse to be “psychologically gone.”

    Most people would define “cheating” in a relationship as sleeping with another person, without your partner’s consent. But psychotherapist Esther Perel says some couples are cheating on each other constantly — with their phones.

    “As one of my patients recently said: ‘Every night, I go to bed and she’s on Instagram, in the bed,’” Perel said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “And it’s like, ‘I’m lonely! I just want to chat, to talk, to connect. She’s just getting lost.’”

    Perel, the author of “The State of Affairs” and host of the podcast “Where Should We Begin?” spoke with Recode’s Kara Swisher at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. She said our phone addictions are creating “a new definition of loneliness,” likening it to the psychology term “ambiguous loss”: A loved one is physically present, but in all other ways absent from a relationship.

    “It no longer has to do with being socially isolated,” Perel said. “It has to do with experiencing a loss of trust and a loss of capital while you are next to the person with whom you’re not supposed to be lonely.”

    You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

    On the new podcast, Perel also talked about how dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble are the latest in a series of massive changes to how we think about relationships, sex and love.

    “If I have a choice between two people, it’s rather limiting,” she said. “In the village, I had a choice between two people. Later, I had a choice between six or 10 or 15 people, and that was a lot better. When I have a choice between 1,000 people, it’s crippling.”

    One of the problems with having a never-ending feed of potential mates in your pocke
    t, she explained, is that a person in a good, healthy relationship might still experience fear of missing out, or FOMO. What winds up happening instead is that many single people “simmer” multiple partners at once to stave off loneliness, but don’t commit and thereby surrender their freedom.

    “I’m, on the one hand, looking for the soulmate, the one-and-only,” Perel said. “That one-and-only is supposed to be the one that’s gonna cure you of your case of FOMO, is going to fulfill you. It’s not just a person with whom you’re going to have the basic needs of Maslow, not even the belonging needs of Maslow — it’s the self-fulfilling needs.”

    “You’re constantly checking there is nothing better there,” she added. “Basically, the ritual of commitment becomes deleting the apps: ‘I found the one! I can stop searching! I can delete my app!’”


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    GOOGLE HAS QUIETLY secured a contract to work on the Defense Department’s new algorithmic warfare initiative, providing assistance with a pilot project to apply its artificial intelligence solutions to drone targeting.

    The military contract with Google is routed through a Northern Virginia technology staffing company called ECS Federal, obscuring the relationship from the public.

    The contract, first reported Tuesday by Gizmodo, is part of a rapid push by the Pentagon to deploy state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology to improve combat performance.

    Google, which has made strides in applying its proprietary deep learning tools to improve language translation, and vision recognition, has a cross-team collaboration within the company to work on the AI drone project.

    The team, The Intercept has learned, is working to develop deep learning technology to help drone analysts interpret the vast image data vacuumed up from the military’s fleet of 1,100 drones to better target bombing strikes against the Islamic State.

    The race to adopt cutting-edge AI technology was announced in April 2017 by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who unveiled an ambitious plan called the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team, code-named Project Maven. The initiative, Work wrote in an agency-wide memo, is designed to “accelerate DoD’s integration of big data and machine learning” and “turn the enormous volume of data available to DoD into actionable intelligence and insights at speed.”

    The first phase of Project Maven, which incorporates multiple teams from across the Defense Department, is an effort to automate the identification and classification of images taken by drones — cars, buildings, people — providing analysts with increased ability to make informed decisions on the battlefield.

    “The technology flags images for human review, and is for non-offensive uses only,” a Google spokesperson told Bloomberg. “Military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns. We’re actively discussing this important topic internally and with others as we continue to develop policies and safeguards around the development and use of our machine learning technologies.”

    The idea is to essentially provide a recommendation tool, so that the AI program can quickly single out points of interest around a type of event or target so that drone analysts can work more efficiently.

    The department announced last year that the AI initiative, just over six months after being announced, was used by intelligence analysts for drone strikes against ISIS in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.

    Gregory C. Allen, an adjunct fellow with the Center for New American Security, says the initiative has a number of unusual characteristics, from its rapid development to the level of integration with contractors.

    “The developers had access to the end-users very early on in the process. They recognized that [with] AI systems … you had to understand what your end-user was going to do with them,” Allen said. “The military has an awful lot of experts in analyzing drone imagery: ‘These are the parts of my job I hate, here’s what I’d like to automate.’ There was this iterative development process that was very familiar in the commercial software world, but unfamiliar in the defense world.”

    “They were proud of how fast the development went, they were proud of the quality they were getting,” added Allen, co-author of “Artificial Intelligence and National Security,” a report on behalf of the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

    While the contract with Google has gone unreported until today, Project Maven leaders have not been shy about their push to partner with Silicon Valley and harness the growing reach of commercial AI technology.

    Not long after the formation of the Defense Innovation Board, which was created in 2016 to encourage the military adoption of breakthrough technology, the board released a set of recommendations that stressed the importance of adopting artificial intelligence and machine learning, stressing that technological superiority with AI is as important as “nuclear weapons in the 1940s and with precision-guided weapons and stealth technology afterward.”

    The DIB — which is chaired by Eric Schmidt, former executive chair of Alphabet, Google’s parent company — recommended “an exchange program and collaboration with industry and academic experts in the field.”

    Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan, director for defense intelligence overseeing Project Maven, joked at the GeoINT2017 conference that he hoped Google would start sharing more of what it knows with the Pentagon. “On the far end of the scale, you see Google. They don’t tell us what they have, unless anyone from Google wants to whisper in my ear later,” he said.


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    #LoveAMuslim Twitterstorm Responds to #PunishAMuslimDay

    CAIR, MPOWER Change, Poligon Education Fund Respond to #PunishAMuslimDay Threat with #LoveAMuslim Twitterstorm


    On Tuesday, April 3, in response to an anonymous letter delivered to several mosques in London declaring that day "Punish a Muslim Day,” national American Muslim organizations including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), MPOWER Change and the Poligon Education Fund will hold a #LoveAMuslim twitterstorm at 3 p.m. EDT encouraging people to tweet about Muslims in their lives they appreciate, and why.

    Video: CAIR-NY Director Afaf Nasher Responds to 'Punish a Muslim Day'
    Video: CAIR-Chicago Alerts FBI to 'Punish a Muslim Day'

    The Twitterstorm is inspired by the Quranic verse that instructs Muslims to repel evil with that which is better.

    “Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” [Qur’an 41:34]

    Its purpose is to amplify voices appreciating the contributions of Muslims, embrace diversity, and reject fear tactics designed to intimidate Muslim communities.

    Last week, CAIR issued a community safety advisory after receiving concerned inquiries from American Muslims worried if their families or community will be similarly targeted.

    SEE: Community Advisory: CAIR Urges Increased Security Measures Following ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ Threat in UK

    Community members are being urged to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report

    CAIR launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and to simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents. CAIR is urging American Muslims and members of other minority groups to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.



    People are influenced by majority or the loudest voice. We should have social media accounts and respond to Islamophobia in a storm so they can see the overwhelming response from so many people. Islamophobes have social media accounts just for the purpose of attacking Islam and Muslims, the least we can do is have the accounts to counter it.

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    The Palestinian struggle is being attacked by a digital occupation

    Young Palestinians turn to the internet as one of the few places where they can roam freely in a virtual reality world. However, even that is now under attack as they and their supporters face mass surveillance and by “digital occupation” forces working for the likes of Facebook and other social network sites.

    Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will testify next week before the US Congress on the data scandal and privacy issues engulfing the social media giant. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Facebook head will be challenged and questioned in minute detail by US politicians about Cambridge Analytica and its alleged abuse of data to influence polls, but it remains to be seen if they will even touch on the issue of the abuse encountered by Palestinian and pro-Palestine Facebook users. I think it is fair to say that it is highly unlikely.

    That’s why a vocal group of Jewish pro-Palestine activists has launched a global campaign to put Zuckerberg under pressure with the message “Stop Blocking Palestine”. Citing this report, Jewish Voices for Peace says that every 71 seconds a post inciting hatred against Palestinians is uploaded online; in total, around 445,000 social media posts calling for violence against Palestinians, using hate speech or cursing them were uploaded in 2017 alone. The shocking statistics have been compiled by the Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media.

    While Congress might ignore the data which exposes astonishing levels of hatred towards Palestinians, the findings of the report based on Palestinian digital activism for 2017 have provoked a strong reaction from the Jewish pressure group and other pro-Palestine activists.

    “It’s demoralising and terrifying,” said Ari Wohlfeiler, JVP’s Deputy Director. “New research shows that 1 in 9 Facebook posts written about Palestinians contains a call for violence or a curse. And In Israel, hate-filled anti-Palestinian posts go up every 71 seconds!” Incredibly, he pointed out, Facebook removes 10,000 pro-Palestinian posts each year, thanks to an extraordinary agreement with the Israeli government.

    Ironically, Facebook claims that its mission is to bring the world closer together. “And yet,” added Wohlfeiler, “Facebook is actively pulling Israel-Palestine apart.”

    Now JVP has decided to target what it sees as Zuckerberg’s and Facebook’s “hypocrisy” by launching a global petition to stop Facebook from blocking Palestinians and their supporters.

    Apart from challenging the hate speech against Palestinians, JVP accuses Facebook of doing some “dirty work” for the Israeli government. Calling for people to sign the petition, Wohlfeiler noted that Facebook has shut down hundreds of Palestinian media and activists’ accounts recently, including the controversial Safa Palestinian Press Agency, which has 1.3 million followers.

    “The justification for this muzzling is to stop ‘incitement’ under an agreement where Facebook acts as the enforcer of Israel’s apartheid laws that lumps activists together with terrorists to shut down dissent. And the Israeli government isn’t shy about getting Facebook to do its dirty work: its own stats show that they’ve asked for 12,000 posts to be taken down.”

    When he receives the petition from JVP, Zuckerberg will be told that Facebook has become a “de facto” enforcer of the Israeli government’s apartheid laws: “…As Facebook users from across the world, including in Israel and Palestine, we call on you to end your cooperation with Israel to enforce these laws.”

    The founder of Facebook, has long held that the company’s mission is to make the world more open and connected; his assumption is that such a world is a better place for us all. As it stands at the moment, however, Zuckerberg’s brainchild has more than two billion users but appears to be making it easier to spread hatred about, and incite violence against, the Palestinians. That doesn’t even take into account the massive user bases of Facebook-owned social media like Instagram and WhatsApp.

    A boycott in favour of the Palestinians could make a serious dent in Facebook’s worldwide coverage; perhaps the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign should take up the cudgels on their behalf, and turn this possibility into reality. Would one-time golden boy Zuckerberg want to put everything on the line for the sake of a rogue state which treats international laws – and those who follow them – with utter contempt? It’s a risky strategy.


    YouTube bans 28 countries from watching a video exposing Israel’s violence against protesters

    April 6th, 2018

    YouTube has blocked 28 countries from watching a video of two journalists exposing the Israeli occupation. Presenter of Empire Files Abby Martin interviewed author Max Blumenthal, who also criticised violence from Israel’s military against Palestinian protestors. The programme was broadcast on Latin American network teleSUR English.


    YouTube, owned by Google, says that the internet platform banned the video in 28 countries because it violates “local laws”. Most of the countries YouTube has blocked from seeing the video are European. Elsewhere, YouTube has added a warning to the video and blocked all interactive features:
    In response to user reports, we have disabled some features, such as comments, sharing, and suggested videos, because this video contains content that may be inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.

    “Nothing was even remotely illegal”

    But Blumenthal, author of The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, said:
    YouTube has claimed that it removed my interview on Israel-Palestine with Abby Martin to comply with laws in 28 countries. However, nothing I did or said in the discussion was even remotely illegal, even in countries with the strictest hate crime laws. My comments were based entirely on my extensive journalistic experience in the region and my analysis was clinical in nature. At no point did I denigrate anyone based on their faith or ethnicity.

    The journalist said his motivations were a “strong opposition to Israel’s systemic discrimination against Palestinians” and “dedication to equal rights for all”.

    Shining a light on recent acts by Israel’s military

    The Empire Files video, uploaded in November 2015, draws attention to Israel’s policies on Palestinian demonstrations.

    On 30 March 2018, Israel’s armed forces shot at protesting Palestinians in Gaza. At least 17 died and hundreds more were injured.

    In the banned video, Blumenthal speaks to host Abby Martin about an alleged ‘shoot to cripple’ policy:
    Soldiers were cracking down on demonstrations with live fire to the legs.

    It appears Israel is continuing such behaviour in 2018. After the 30 March shootings, Israel’s military tweeted:
    everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed

    The tweet has since disappeared.
    Israel said that killing and crippling Palestinian protestors on 31st March was "accurate and measured, we know where every bullet landed". Now YouTube has banned an @EmpireFiles video that spotlights Israel's alleged 'shoot to cripple' policy against Palestinian demonstators: pic.twitter.com/AGi8rvsi4i
    — James Wright (@wrightismight) April 6, 2018

    In the video, Blumenthal also says Israel has used:
    ‘dum dum bullets’, which are expanding rounds. So, they’ll bounce around inside your limbs and expand, and really cripple you for life.

    When challenged by Vice in 2013, a spokesperson for Israel’s military did not deny using such bullets, which are illegal under the Hague Declaration.

    ‘Political decision’

    Now, YouTube has censored the video. Blumenthal branded YouTube’s decision a “political one” and “likely made under pressure from powerful pro-Israel interests”. Since last year, the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League has been a select contributing member of YouTube’s Trusted Flagger program. The Anti-Defamation League conflates opposition to Israeli violence with ‘opposition to Israel’s right to exist’. Blumenthal believes that the Anti-Defamation League is likely the root of the censorship of his interview with Martin.

    He continued:
    The trend of censoring material that presents Israel in a less than favorable light has only intensified as establishment attacks on critical voices expands. This latest episode confirms my view that the pro-Israel lobby and its willing accomplices in Silicon Valley present one of the greatest threats to free speech in the West

    As well as YouTube, Facebook has blocked many accounts of Palestinian activists. Israeli officials have lauded how willing Facebook is when Israel demands censorship, saying Facebook granted 95% of requests in four months.

    The Canary asked Google for comment but had received none by the time of publication.


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    Some Facebook employees are reportedly quitting or asking to switch departments over ethical concerns

    Some dissatisfied Facebook engineers are attempting to switch divisions to work on the company's other products, like Instagram or WhatsApp, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, The New York Times reported over the weekend.

    Christopher Wylie, the founder of the data analytics company Cambridge Analytica, which worked on Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, told news outlets last month that the company had illegitimately obtained data from over 50 million Facebook profiles. Facebook has since revised that figure to as many as 87 million.

    Facebook says it was aware of the data Cambridge Analytica had and asked the company to delete it when it changed its advertising rules 2015, but it never followed up to ensure Cambridge Analytica had done so.

    Many have argued that Facebook could and should have handled the data more responsibly, and the increased scrutiny of Facebook has apparently taken a toll on employees working on the platform.

    CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have spoken to the media on a few occasions since news of the scandal broke, but it was days before the company commented on the scandal. Then late last month, a leaked 2016 memo from the Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth described a "growth at all costs" mentality at the company, piling on the recent backlash.

    Amid the uproar, some engineers working on Facebook's core product have found it increasingly difficult to stand by it. Westin Lohne, a former Facebook product designer, explained his dilemma in a tweet.

    Lohne said in his tweets that he didn't choose to go to Instagram or WhatsApp and is now unemployed.

    Zuckerberg is testifying before Congress on Tuesday, where he's expected to face questions about the company's role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. What he says in his testimony is likely to affect some employees' decisions about whether to stay or go.

    Meanwhile, Zuckerberg isn't planning on going anywhere.

    The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer recently asked Zuckerberg whether he had ever considered resigning.

    "I mean, it started in a dorm room, and now it's this unprecedented community in scale, and I'm very confident that we're gonna be able to work through these issues," Zuckerberg said.


    Why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is winning the US Senate hearings

    The social-media giant's economic model emerged unscathed despite hours of questions from senators

    Mark Zuckerberg did just fine in his first turn in the Congressional hot seat. He was confident. He capably tackled many of the queries proposed last week by Bloomberg columnists. The 33-year-old billionaire appeared humble throughout much of the hearing, with only a few smug smiles.

    The best news for Facebook Inc. the company was that Zuckerberg ably deflected any challenges to the beating heart of its economic model: its hungry data collection and the fine-tuned targeted advertising based on that data. Zuckerberg's success is a win for anyone primarily concerned with the company's market value. But it's a loss for the rest of us.

    Facebook will keep failing users' trust as long as its business is based on unrestrained hoovering of as much user data as possible, and crafting ever-more innovative ways for advertisers to harness that information for commercial goals. It's an arrangement to which Facebook's users agree and can sidestep, technically, but it is hardly informed consent or a real option to avoid.

    The answer, as Zuckerberg surely knows, is yes. Facebook brags to advertisers that it can provide "cross-device" targeting, as it is called. The company can also track people nearly everywhere they go online, and it can see what apps people have installed on their phones.

    Facebook also collects information on "offline" activity
    , as Blunt also asked, which includes information on users' location as they roam around the real world. Companies can also match their information on what your purchase in stores -- that box of cereal at the supermarket, for example -- and marry it with Facebook account information. Inexplicably, Zuckerberg tried to say he wasn't completely sure about Facebook's data collection policies, and one of his underlings could follow up later. The Facebook CEO knows what his company does, but perhaps he couldn't acknowledge that his companies relies on assembling detailed dossiers on billions of people.

    This exchange mattered because Blunt and others revealed the flaw in Facebook's bargain with users. The company gives us a service we find valuable, and in exchange, we agree that Facebook will harness that information to make money. Zuckerberg said everyone who uses Facebook consents to what they agree to share and has complete control of it. The trick is few people really understand what they're giving, or are capable of truly controlling it. Zuckerberg seemed to concede as much after a lawmaker brandished a stack of papers said to be Facebook's data collection and ad policy disclosures to its users.

    Technically, Facebook's users can turn off targeted advertisements or disable sensitive features such as image recognition in photos. (I couldn't figure out how to do the latter, and I write about technology for a living.) Zuckerberg believes he's giving users control, but he's giving them the illusion of control. And that means the consent of Facebook users is not informed.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal and other lawmakers tried to get Zuckerberg to change the rules of engagement between Facebook and its users. Facebook right now operates as taking or leave it. Users of Facebook give the company broad permission to collect whatever information the operators of Facebook want for whatever reasons they have. If the user decides to protect that information, it is more of a case-by-case process. Blumenthal, the Democrat from Connecticut, asked to flip that around, and force Facebook to explicitly ask permission for whatever pieces of personal information it wanted to harvest and use, and explains why.

    Maybe people would find this system too cumbersome to be practical. And regardless, there is no way Zuckerberg can agree to this. If everything on Facebook only functioned with an informed "opt-in" from users, the company's business doesn't work. (Yes, a new European law forces companies to only collect the information they need to provide a service and obtain clear consent to collect and use the personal information. Facebook has been wishy-washy about whether its implementation of the European law will also be applied to Facebook users outside of Europe.)

    Facebook could voluntarily change the rules of the game. It could elect to turn off location tracking of users by default, to stop collecting information on people's activity away from Facebook without express permission, and to give people even more information that shows how advertisers target them for each Facebook ad they see.

    Those changes could dramatically curtail Facebook's power and its revenue -- and that's the point. None of the good changes the company announced in recent weeks will truly hurt Facebook because it hasn't revised its economic engine: all that data, and unfettered use of it without the informed approval of Facebook's citizens. Only a dramatic data diet can curb the worst downsides of Facebook. It's time for Facebook to really change.


    Miss Zuckerberg's Senate testimony? These 8 GIFs and memes sum it up nicely in mere seconds


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    Myanmar group blasts Zuckerberg’s claim on Facebook hate speech prevention

    by Jon Russell@jonrussell - Apr 6, 2018

    It’s becoming common to say that Mark Zuckerberg is coming under fire, but the Facebook CEO is again being questioned, this time over a recent claim that Facebook’s internal monitoring system is able to thwart attempts to use its services to incite hatred.

    Speaking to Vox, Zuckerberg used the example of Myanmar, where he claimed Facebook had successfully rooted out and prevented hate speech through a system that scans chats inside Messenger. In this case, Messenger had been used to send messages to Buddhists and Muslims with the aim of creating conflict on September 11 last year.

    Zuckerberg told Vox:

    The Myanmar issues have, I think, gotten a lot of focus inside the company. I remember, one Saturday morning, I got a phone call and we detected that people were trying to spread sensational messages through — it was Facebook Messenger in this case — to each side of the conflict, basically telling the Muslims, “Hey, there’s about to be an uprising of the Buddhists, so make sure that you are armed and go to this place.” And then the same thing on the other side.

    "So that’s the kind of thing where I think it is clear that people were trying to use our tools in order to incite real harm. Now, in that case, our systems detect that that’s going on. We stop those messages from going through. But this is certainly something that we’re paying a lot of attention to."

    That claim has been rejected in a letter signed by six organizations in Myanmar
    , including tech accelerator firm Phandeeyar. Far from a success, the group said the incident shows why Facebook is not equipped to respond to hate speech in international markets since it relied entirely on information from the ground, where Facebook does not have an office, in order to learn of the issue.

    The messages referenced by Zuckerberg, and translated to English by the Myanmar-based group

    The group — which includes hate speech monitor Myanmar ICT for Development Organization and the Center for Social Integrity — explained that some four days elapsed between the sending of the first message and Facebook responding with a view to taking action.

    In your interview, you refer to your detection ‘systems’. We believe your system, in this case, was us – and we were far from systematic. We identified the messages and escalated them to your team via email on Saturday the 9th September, Myanmar time. By then, the messages had already been circulating widely for three days.

    The Messenger platform (at least in Myanmar) does not provide a reporting function, which would have enabled concerned individuals to flag the messages to you. Though these dangerous messages were deliberately pushed to large numbers of people – many people who received them say they did not personally know the sender – your team did not seem to have picked up on the pattern. For all of your data, it would seem that it was our personal connection with senior members of your team which led to the issue being dealt with.

    The group added that it has not had feedback from the Messenger incident, and it is still to hear feedback on ideas raised at its last meeting with Facebook in November.

    Myanmar has only recently embraced the internet in recent times, thanks to the slashing of the cost of a SIM card — which was once as much as $300 — but already most people in the country are online. Since its internet revolution has taken place over the last five years, the level of Facebook adoption per person is one of the highest in the world.

    “Out of a 50 million population, there are nearly 30 million active users on Facebook every month,
    ” Phandeeyar CEO Jes Petersen told TechCrunch. “There’s this notion to many people that Facebook is the internet.”

    Facebook optimistically set out to connect the world, and particularly facilitate communication between governments and people, so that statistic may appear at face value to fit with its goal of connecting the world, but the platform has been abused in Myanmar.

    Chiefly that has centered around stoking tension between the Muslim and Buddhist populations in the country.

    The situation in the country is so severe that an estimated 700,000 Rohingya refugees are thought to have fled to neighboring Bangladesh following a Myanmar government crackdown that began in August. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has labeled the actions as ethnic cleansing, as has the UN.

    Tensions inflamed, Facebook has been a primary outlet for racial hatred from high-profile individuals inside Myanmar. One of them, monk Ashin Wirathu who is barred from public speaking due to past history, moved online to Facebook where he quickly found an audience. Though he had his Facebook account shuttered, he has vowed to open new ones in order to continue to amplifly his voice via the social network.

    Beyond visible figures, the platform has been ripe for anti-Muslim and anti-Rohinga memes and false new stories to go viral. UN investigators last month said Facebook has “turned into a beast” and played a key role in spreading hate.

    Petersen said that Phandeeyar — which helped Facebook draft its local language community standards page — and others have held regular information meetings with the social network on the occasions that it has visited Myanmar. But the fact that it does not have an office in the country nor local speakers on its permanent staff has meant that little to nothing has been done.

    Likewise, there is no organizational structure to handle the challenging situation in Myanmar, with many of its policy team based in Australia, and Facebook itself is not customized to solicit feedback from users in the country.

    “If you are serious about making Facebook better, we urge you to invest more into moderation — particularly in countries, such as Myanmar, where Facebook has rapidly come to play a dominant role in how information is accessed and communicated,” the group wrote.

    “We urge you to be more intent and proactive in engaging local groups, such as ours, who are invested in finding solutions, and — perhaps most importantly — we urge you to be more transparent about your processes, progress and the performance of your interventions, so as to enable us to work more effectively together,” they added in the letter.

    Facebook has offices covering five of Southeast Asia’s largest countries — Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines — and its approach to expansion has seemed to focus on advertising sales opportunities, with most staff in the region being sales or account management personnel. Using that framing, Myanmar — with a nascent online advertising space — isn’t likely to qualify for an office, but Phandeyaar’s Petersen believes there’s a strong alternative case.

    “Myanmar could be a really good test market for how you fix these problems,” he said in an interview. “The issues are not exclusive to Myanmar, but Facebook is so dominant and there are serious issues in the country — here is an opportunity to test ways to mitigate hate speech and fake news.”

    Indeed, Zuckerberg has been praised for pushing to make Facebook less addictive, even at the expense of reduced advertising revenue. By the same token, Facebook could sacrifice profit and invest in opening more offices worldwide to help live up to the responsibility of being the de facto internet in many countries. Hiring local people to work hand-in-hand with communities would be a huge step forward to addressing these issues.

    With over $4 billion in profit per quarter, it’s hard to argue that Facebook can’t justify the cost of a couple of dozen people in countries where it has acknowledged that there are local issues. Like the newsfeed changes, there is probably a financially-motivated argument that a safer Facebook is better for business, but the humanitarian responsibility alone should be enough to justify the costs.

    In a statement, Facebook apologized that Zuckerberg had not acknowledged the role of the local groups in reporting the messages.

    “We took their reports very seriously and immediately investigated ways to help prevent the spread of this content. We should have been faster and are working hard to improve our technology and tools to detect and prevent abusive, hateful or false content,” a spokesperson said.

    The company said it is rolling a feature to allow Messenger users to report abusive content inside the app. It said also that it has added more Burmese language reviewers to handle content across its services.

    “There is more we need to do and we will continue to work with civil society groups in Myanmar and around the world to do better,” the spokesperson added.

    The company didn’t respond when we asked if there are plans to open an office in Myanmar.

    Zuckerberg’s interview with Vox itself was one of the first steps of a media campaign that the Facebook supremo has embarked on in response to a wave of criticism and controversy that the company has weathered over the way it handles user data.

    Facebook was heavily criticised last year for allowing Russian parties to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election using its platform, but the drama has intensified in recent weeks.

    The company’s data privacy policy came under fire after it emerged that a developer named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan used the platform to administer a personality test app that collected data about participants and their friends. That data was then passed to Cambridge Analytica where it may have been leveraged to optimize political campaigns including that of 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump and the Brexit vote, allegations which the company itself vehemently denies. Regardless of how the data was employed to political ends, that lax data sharing was enough to ignite a firestorm around Facebook’s privacy practices.

    Zuckerberg himself fronted a rare call with reporters this week in which he answered questions on a range of topics, including whether he should resign as Facebook CEO. (He said he won’t.)

    Most recently, Facebook admitted that as many as 87 million people on the service may have been impacted by Cambridge Analytica’s activities. That’s some way above its initial estimate of 50 million. Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear in front of Congress to discuss the affair, and likely a whole lot more, on April 11. The following day, he has a date with the Senate to discuss, we presume, more of the same.

    Following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, the company’s stock dropped precipitously, wiping more than $60 billion off its market capitalization from its prior period of stable growth.

    Added to this data controversy, Facebook has been found to have deleted messages that Zuckerberg and other senior executives sent to some users, as TechCrunch’s Josh Constine reported this week. That’s despite the fact that Facebook and its Messenger product do not allow ordinary users to delete sent messages from a recipient’s inbox.


    Myanmar rights groups say Facebook put thousands in danger, contradict Mark Zuckerberg

    The social media network's response to hate speech amid a suspected genocide has been "inadequate," the groups wrote in an open letter.

    by Elizabeth Chuck - Apr.06.2018

    Facebook potentially endangered hundreds of thousands of people in conflict-ridden Myanmar with its "inadequate" attempts to quash online hate speech, civil rights groups say.

    In an open letter on Thursday, six civil society and
    human rights organizations blamed Facebookfor allegedly facilitating propaganda and misinformation that helped to fuel Myanmar's suspected genocideand contradicted cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent claims that his platform had effectively shut down the threats targeting western Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya community.

    On Monday, in a wide-ranging interview with Vox about the various controversies Facebook is currently embroiled in, Zuckerberg had praised his company's response to anti-Rohingya propaganda, which proliferated through Facebook Messenger chain letters last September.

    "That’s the kind of thing where I think it is clear that people were trying to use our tools in order to incite real harm. Now, in that case, our systems detect that that's going on. We stop those messages from going through," Zuckerberg said. "But this is certainly something that we're paying a lot of attention to."

    But according to the open letter, the
    messages, sent last September, were passed around for days before Facebook took notice of them — and Facebook only became aware of them after the rights organizations escalated the messages to staffers at the social network via email.

    "We were surprised to hear you use this case to praise the effectiveness of your 'systems' in the context of Myanmar.
    From where we stand, this case exemplifies the very opposite of effective moderation," wrote Phandeeyar, a tech innovation lab, and five other groups in the letter.

    The Facebook messages, screenshotted in the letter, warned of an impending attack and cautioned members of Myanmar's Muslim minority to stay alert wherever they went. With no reporting function on the Facebook Messenger platform, there was no way to stop the messages, the authors of the letter said.

    "Though we are grateful to hear that the case was brought to your personal attention, Mark, it is hard for us to regard this escalation as successful. It took over four days from when the messages started circulating for the escalation to reach you, with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, being reached in the meantime," the letter added. "This is not quick enough and highlights inherent flaws in your ability to respond to emergencies."

    Facebook's role in spreading misinformation in Myanmar has become one of the most sensitive topics for the social media company, which is already dealing with a variety of controversies — most notably how data for tens of millions of users ended up being used by a data analysis firm with ties to President Donald Trump's campaign.

    Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the
    U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said that Facebook"substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict, if you will, within the public," and had played a "determining role" in Myanmar.

    Facebook has acknowledged its role in the conflict. Adam Mosseri, head of the company's News Feed, told Slate in relation to the Myanmar situation: "we lose some sleep over this" despite the company's efforts to stop the spread of misinformation.

    Fake news on Facebook fans the flames of hate against the Rohingya in Burma

    By Annie Gowen and Max Bearak - December 8, 2017

    An endless stream of provocative photos and cartoons claim that there is noethnic cleansingagainst Burma’s Muslim Rohingya minority. Instead, according to the posts, international news and human rights organizations are falsely accusing the military of carrying out atrocities against the Rohingya to help terrorists infiltrate the country, kill Buddhists and carve out a separatist Islamic province.

    Burma was long closed off by a military regime, with centuries-old tensions between its Budd*hist and Muslim communities leashed by strict control over traditional media. As the country transitions into democracy, those constraints have loosened and access to the Internet has expanded rapidly, most notably through a
    Facebook program called Free Basics that has catapulted the platform into prominence as a major source of news in Burma.

    But the sudden proliferation of recently available technologies has
    accelerated the spread of ethnic hatred in Burma, stoking tensions amid a violent military crackdown that has sent more than 600,000 Rohingya fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.

    Information-age Burma is defined by Facebook:
    More people have access to Facebook than have regular electricity in their homes. A recent study found that 38 percent of Facebook users in Burma got most, if not all, of their news on the site. And news feeds in Burma are rife with anti-Rohingya posts, shared not only by ordinary people but also by senior military officers and the spokesman for Burma’s de facto leader, Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

    “Burma is experiencing an ugly renaissance of genocidal propaganda,” said Matthew Smith, the co-founder of Fortify Rights, a human rights organization working in Southeast Asia. “And it spreads like wildfire on Facebook.”

    Ruchika Budhraja, a spokeswoman for Facebook, said the company has been ramping up its efforts in Burma to curtail hate speech and has had a Burmese-language team in place to monitor posts “for several years.” Facebook relies on users to flag content that might violate the site’s complicated “community standards.” Misinformation does not qualify for removal on its own but can be removed if it is particularly obscene or contains threats.

    most well-known purveyor of anti-Rohingya social media posts is Ashin Wirathu, an enormously influential hard-line monk who turned to Facebook after he was banned from public preaching for a year by the government. Wirathu likened Muslims to mad dogs and posted pictures of dead bodies he claimed were Buddhists killed by Muslims, while never acknowledging brutality faced by the *Rohingya.

    Facebook said in a statement that Wirathu’s access to his account had been restricted in the past, and that some content had been removed, but would not say whether the company regularly monitors it for hate speech.

    Other Buddhist nationalist monks also use Facebook as a recruiting tool.

    Nationalist monk Thu Seikta at his monastery in Rangoon, Burma

    One of those monks is Thu Seikta. In a monastery in central Rangoon, Burma’s former capital and largest city, Seikta pulled out a silver tablet and swiped through its applications. Nearby, two junior monks held phones, filming visitors in the hushed, wood-paneled hall. Cats snoozed on sacks of rice.

    Seikta knows well that Facebook isn’t just a place to share ideas but to mobilize followers, too. In April, he advertised a rally he was organizing outside the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon against the State Department’s use of the term “Rohingya” and subsequently
    called for volunteers to intimidate Muslim shopkeepers who work near the golden-domed Shwedagon Pagoda.

    Facebook said that Seikta’s account was being evaluated based on information provided by The Washington Post.

    Seikta said the Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh since violence broke out in late August made him happy. The Burmese military engaged in what it called “clearance operations” in Rohingya villages and said it targeted only Rohingya militants accused of attacking outposts of the security forces, killing officers and stealing weapons.

    “Bengali people are the most dangerous people in the world,” the monk said. “It is natural for them to go to their home place. If they come back, there will be more violence.”

    In Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, the term “Bengali” takes on pejorative connotations when used to identify the Rohingya. Much of the
    propaganda that spreads online reinforces the falsehood that the Rohingya are immigrants from Bangladesh, despite the group having historical ties to what is now Burma since before the British colonial era. And the first to perpetuate the use of “Bengali” and other falsehoods on Facebook are often government or military accounts.

    A recent Facebook post on the
    page of the office of the Burmese military’s commander in chief — which has more than 2 million followers — detailed the results of an internal investigation that exonerated the military of any persecution of the Rohingya and used the term “Bengali terrorist” 41 times.


    allegation that some Rohingya burned their own villages and then blamed it on Burmese security forces is also common. Zaw Htay, a spokesman for Suu Kyi, used his Facebook page to share the claim, along with images since proven to have been doctored. They remain on his page.

    The deployment of Facebook by Suu Kyi’s government “smacks of immaturity of governance,” said David Mathieson, an independent Burma analyst formerly with Human Rights Watch. “The military has embraced this as well. The commander in chief [of the armed forces] is a slave to social media.”

    Facebook’s reliance on users to flag questionable content means people like Maung Maung Lwin, 29, a waiter at a trendy coffee shop, are left mostly to their own wits to distinguish fact from fake.

    Lwin works and lives in Sittwe, the capital of Burma’s Rakhine state, home to most Rohingya before these months of upheaval. He flicked the screen of his Redmi Note 3, an inexpensive Indian-made cellphone, to show the news of the Rohingya crisis on his Facebook feed.

    A cartoon on social media shows the United Nations and Organization of Islamic Cooperation pushing a Trojan horse full of Rohingya militants into Burma.

    His friend had posted an
    anti-Rohingya cartoon that shows the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations pushing a Trojan horse full of Rohingya militants into Burma. Farther down, dated photos of dead Burmese soldiers are attached to another post. Lwin dismissed the first cartoon as “too political” and the second as obvious fake news.

    Lwin said he could usually tell the difference between real and fake news. But for most, that kind of discernment comes only with experience, and Burma is just entering the digital era.

    The Internet’s power seems to have disturbed Burma’s elected government, too — though not out of any apparent concern for the Rohingya. On Nov. 8, Burma’s parliament approved a law that allows the government “to oversee and monitor the misuse of information technology which may harm the character and morality of youths and disrupt tranquility.”

    In a post for Facebook’s “Hard Questions” blog, a company vice president wrote of the problem of catching and removing hate speech in Burma.

    “We’ve had trouble enforcing this policy correctly recently, mainly due to the challenges of understanding the context; after further examination, we’ve been able to get it right,” he wrote. “But we expect this to be a long-term challenge.”


    These Buddhist terrorists of Burma keep peddling the lie that the Rohynga are Bengalis (from Bangladesh) who illegally came to the Rakhine State and settled there. The truth is that the "Rakhine" state used to be the Kingdom of Arakan of which these Rohynga are natives. Buddhist Burmese invaded it and occupied it while claiming it to be part of the Burma.


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