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The UK’s Tech Backlash Could Change the Internet

British officials took a swipe at global internet giants Monday, suggesting rules that would require the companies to proactively remove content the government views as illegal or “harmful,” and giving the government the right to shut down offending sites. The proposals, contained in a 102-page white paper, are aimed at combating the spread of disinformation, hate speech, online extremism, and child exploitation. If enacted as described, they would constitute some of the most stringent and far-reaching restrictions on internet speech by a major western democracy. But critics said the proposals…

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Report: Millions of Facebook user records left exposed online

Yawn.Image:  NurPhoto / getty Another day, another Facebook privacy scandal.  Hundreds of millions of Facebook user records — including some plain text passwords — were found exposed online free and open for the taking. So reports UpGuard, a cybersecurity risk assessment company, which notes in an April 3 press release that the two data sets in question were configured for public download. Yes, that means that anyone who knew where to look could have pulled it.  SEE ALSO: Facebook backs away from asking for some users’ email passwords At the…

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Odds and Ends 

Facebook Suit Reveals Ukrainian Hackers Used Quizzes to Take Data from 60,000 Users

Two Ukrainian men used online quizzes to lure more than 60,000 Facebook users into installing malicious browser extensions that exfiltrated their profile data and friends lists to offshore servers, according a federal lawsuit the company filed late Friday. The men, Andrey Gorbachov and Gleb Sluchevsky, allegedly used the browser extensions to overlay their own advertisements onto Facebooks news feed when their victims visited through the compromised browsers. The company doesnt offer a motive for the data-scraping, but it may have been used to work friends names into the ad copy,…

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Odds and Ends 

Apple ad focuses on iPhones most marketable feature privacy

Apple is airing a new ad spot in primetime today. Focused on privacy, the spot is visually cued, with no dialog and a simple tagline: Privacy. That’s iPhone. In a series of humorous vignettes, the message is driven home that sometimes you just want a little privacy. The spot has only one line of text otherwise, and it’s in keeping with Apple’s messaging on privacy over the long and short term. “If privacy matters in your life, it should matter to the phone your life is on.” The spot will…

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Headlines 

Your Facebook Password Isnt Safe. Neither Is Your Android Phone

Tech news you can use, in two minutes or less: Change your Facebook password Facebook acknowledged a bug that caused hundreds of millions of user passwords (dating back to 2012) for both Facebook and Instagram to be stored as readable text internally. This basically means that thousands of Facebook employees could have searched for and found them. Facebook says they weren't accessible outside of the company, and that there's no evidence employees did in fact abuse or improperly access them. We say, change it anyway. Airbnb may be beloved by…

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Facebook Stored Millions of Passwords in PlaintextChange Yours Now

By now, it’s difficult to summarize all of Facebook’s privacy, misuse, and security missteps in one neat description. It just got even harder: On Thursday, following a report by Krebs on Security, Facebook acknowledged a bug in its password management systems that caused hundreds of millions of user passwords for Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram to be stored as plaintext in an internal platform. This means that thousands of Facebook employees could have searched for and found them. Krebs reports that the passwords stretched back to those created in 2012.…

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Facebook Changes Its Ad Tech to Stop Discrimination

On Tuesday, Facebook reached a historic settlement with civil rights groups that had accused the company of allowing advertisers to unlawfully discriminate against minorities, women, and the elderly by using the platform’s ad-targeting technology to exclude them from seeing ads for housing, jobs, and credit—three areas with legal protections for groups that historically have been disenfranchised. After fighting back against the accusations for years, Facebook announced it will make significant changes to its platform so that advertisers can no longer target, or exclude based on characteristics like gender or race.…

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The People Trying to Make Internet Recommendations Less Toxic

The internet is an ocean of algorithms trying to tell you what to do. YouTube and Netflix proffer videos they calculate you’ll watch. Facebook and Twitter filter and reorganize posts from your connections, avowedly in your interest—but also in their own. New York entrepreneur Brian Whitman helped create such a system. He sold a music analytics startup called The Echo Nest to Spotify in 2014, bolstering the streaming music service’s ability to recommend new songs from a person’s past listening. Whitman says he saw clear evidence of algorithms’ value at…

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How Cambridge Analytica Sparked the Great Privacy Awakening

On October 27, 2012, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote an email to his then-director of product development. For years, Facebook had allowed third-party apps to access data on their users’ unwitting friends, and Zuckerberg was considering whether giving away all that information was risky. In his email, he suggested it was not: “I’m generally skeptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think,” he wrote at the time. “I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused…

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Odds and Ends 

Facebook admits 18% of Research spyware users were teens, not <5%

Facebook has changed its story after initially trying to downplay how it targeted teens with its Research program that a TechCrunch investigation revealed was paying them gift cards to monitor all their mobile app usage and browser traffic. “Less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch and many other news outlets in a damage control effort 7 hours after we published our report on January 29th. At the time,  Facebook claimed that it had removed…

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Odds and Ends 

Tech platforms called to support public interest research into mental health impacts

The tech industry has been called on to share data with public sector researchers so the mental health and psychosocial impacts of their service on vulnerable users can be better understood, and also to contribute to funding the necessary independent research over the next ten years. The UK’s chief medical officers have made the call in a document setting out advice and guidance for the government about children’s and young people’s screen use. They have also called for the industry to agree a code of conduct around the issue. Concerns…

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Odds and Ends 

Facebook drafts a proposal describing how its new content review board will work

In November, Facebook announced a new plan that would revamp how the company makes content policy decisions on its social network — it will begin to pass off to an independent review board some of the more contested decisions. The board will serve as the final level of escalation for appeals around reported content, acting something like a Facebook Supreme Court. Today, Facebook is sharing (PDF) more detail about how this board will be structured, and how the review process will work. Facebook earlier explained that the review board wouldn’t be…

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Odds and Ends 

LinkedIn now requires phone number verification for all users in China

LinkedIn’s China site looks and functions just like LinkedIn everywhere else, except now it asks users in the country to verify their identities through phone numbers. The American company is requiring both new and existing users with a Chinese IP address to link mobile phone numbers to their accounts, TechCrunch noticed this week. LinkedIn had for months told its China-based users to provide mobile number details before sending them to the main page, but it had mercifully kept a little “Skip” button that let users avoid the fuss — until at least…

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Odds and Ends 

What history could tell Mark Zuckerberg

Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg obsessed over the wrong bit of history. Or else didn’t study his preferred slice of classical antiquity carefully enough, faced, as he now is, with an existential crisis of ‘fake news’ simultaneously undermining trust in his own empire and in democracy itself. A recent New Yorker profile — questioning whether the Facebook founder can fix the creation he pressed upon the world before the collective counter-pressure emanating from his billions-strong social network does for democracy what Brutus did to Caesar — touched in passing on Zuckerberg’s admiration for Augustus, the first emperor of…

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Odds and Ends 

In 2018 the ticketing industry finally killed the sold out show

Jesse Lawrence If the Redskins and Warriors signaled a shift away from the sellout era in sports, Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour did the same for music. Having wrapped up earlier this month, Reputation finished as the highest grossing US Tour in history, despite a flurry of articles lambasting the artist for not selling out many shows.  Ironically, it turns out that the most important factor in her record-breaking success was exactly that: not selling out. Rather than a lack of demand, these unsold tickets for high-profile events are the result…

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