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Facebook reportedly hasn’t contacted the regulator it says will oversee Libra’s privacy and data security

Facebook reportedly hasn’t contacted the regulator it says will oversee Libra’s privacy and data security

July 16, 2019

A Swiss regulatory agency that Facebook executive David Marcus said in congressional testimony would be responsible for overseeing data and privacy protections for the company’s newly launched cryptocurrency, Libra, has not been contacted by Facebook, according to a report.

CNBC is reporting that the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, who Marcus said would oversee data protections for its cryptocurrency in his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, has yet to hear from the company which is depending on it for oversight.

In a statement provided to CNBC, Hugo Wyler, who’s the head of communication at the FDPIC said:

We have taken note of the statements made by David Marcus, Chief of Calibra, on our potential role as data protection supervisory authority in the Libra context. Until today we have not been contacted by the promoters of Libra… We expect Facebook or its promoters to provide us with concrete information when the time comes. Only then will we be able to examine the extent to which our legal advisory and supervisory competence is given. In any case, we are following the development of the project in the public debate.

Facebook’s attempted end-run around national monetary policy already has been criticized by lawmakers in the U.S. and around the world.

“With the announcement that it plans to create a cryptocurrency, Facebook is continuing its unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users… Given the company’s troubled past, I am requesting that Facebook agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on developing a cryptocurrency until Congress and regulators have the opportunity to examine these issues and take action,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who heads the House Financial Services Committee, in a statement on the day Facebook announced its …

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Facebook reportedly gets a $5 billion slap on the wrist from the FTC

Facebook reportedly gets a $5 billion slap on the wrist from the FTC

July 12, 2019

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has reportedly agreed to end its latest probe into Facebook‘s privacy problems with a $5 billion payout.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the 3-2, party-line vote by FTC commissioners was carried by the Republican majority and will be moved to the Justice Department’s civil division to be finalized.

A $5 billion payout seems like a significant sum, but Facebook had already set aside $3 billion to cover the cost of the settlement and the company could likely make up the figure in less than a quarter of revenue (the company’s revenue for the last fiscal quarter was roughly $15 billion). Indeed, Facebook said in April that it expected to pay up to $5 billion to end the government’s probe.

The settlement will also include government restrictions on how Facebook treats user privacy, according to the Journal.

We have reached out to the FTC and Facebook for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

Ultimately, the partisan divide which held up the settlement broke down with Republican members of the commission overriding Democratic concerns for greater oversight of the social media giant.

Lawmakers have been calling consistently for greater regulatory oversight of Facebook — and even a legislative push to break up the company — since the revelation of the company’s mishandling of the private data of millions of Facebook users during the run up to the 2016 presidential election, which wound up being collected improperly by Cambridge Analytica.

Specifically the FTC was examining whether the data breach violated a 2012 consent decree which saw Facebook committing to engage in …

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Twitter returns after an hour-long outage

Twitter returns after an hour-long outage

July 11, 2019

After an hour of sweet freedom, the world has been returned to the grasp of Twitter.

At about 2:50 pm ET, the desktop and mobile site were down, displaying a “Something is technically wrong” error. The app was also not working. The site returned at about 3:45 pm ET, but took a few minutes to regain full functionality.

Twitter’s status page said little more than it was an “active incident.” A spokesperson for Twitter confirmed the outage but referred us to the status page.

After the site returned, Twitter said it was because of an “internal configuration change,” which it has since rolled back.

It’s not the first time Twitter’s had a hiccup in the past few weeks. The social media giant was hit by a direct message outage earlier this month. In fact, between June and July, most of the major internet companies had some form of outage, knocking themselves or other sites offline in the process.

Please tweet about how it was down and how it’s hard to tweet about how Twitter’s down when it is itself down, and the irony therein.

We’ll patiently wait to hear from Twitter about the cause of the outage.

Devin Coldewey contributed.

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Apple has pushed a silent Mac update to remove hidden Zoom web server

Apple has pushed a silent Mac update to remove hidden Zoom web server

July 10, 2019

Apple has released a silent update for Mac users removing a vulnerable component in Zoom, the popular video conferencing app, which allowed websites to automatically add a user to a video call without their permission.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant told TechCrunch that the update — now released — removes the hidden web server, which Zoom quietly installed on users’ Macs when they installed the app.

Apple said the update does not require any user interaction and is deployed automatically.

The video conferencing giant took flack from users following a public vulnerability disclosure on Monday by Jonathan Leitschuh, in which he described how “any website [could] forcibly join a user to a Zoom call, with their video camera activated, without the user’s permission.” The undocumented web server remained installed even if a user uninstalled Zoom. Leitschuh said this allowed Zoom to reinstall the app without requiring any user interaction.

He also released a proof-of-concept page demonstrating the vulnerability.

Although Zoom released a fixed app version on Tuesday, Apple said its actions will protect users both past and present from the undocumented web server vulnerability without affecting or hindering the functionality of the Zoom app itself.

The update will now prompt users if they want to open the app, whereas before it would open automatically.

Apple often pushes silent signature updates to Macs to thwart known malware — similar to an anti-malware service — but it’s rare for Apple to take action publicly against a known or popular app. The company said it pushed the update to protect users from the risks posed by the exposed web server.

Zoom spokesperson Priscilla McCarthy told TechCrunch: “We’re happy to have worked with Apple on testing this update. We expect the web server issue to be resolved today. We appreciate our users’ patience …

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Internet group brands Mozilla ‘internet villain’ for supporting DNS privacy feature

Internet group brands Mozilla ‘internet villain’ for supporting DNS privacy feature

July 5, 2019

An industry group of internet service providers has branded Firefox browser maker Mozilla an “internet villain” for supporting a DNS security standard.

The U.K.’s Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA), the trade group for U.K. internet service providers, nominated the browser maker for its proposed effort to roll out the security feature, which they say will allow users to “bypass UK filtering obligations and parental controls, undermining internet safety standards in the UK.”

Mozilla said late last year it was planning to test DNS-over-HTTPS to a small number of users.

Whenever you visit a website — even if it’s HTTPS enabled — the DNS query that converts the web address into an IP address that computers can read is usually unencrypted. The security standard is implemented at the app level, making Mozilla the first browser to use DNS-over-HTTPS. By encrypting the DNS query it also protects the DNS request against man-in-the-middle attacks, which allow attackers to hijack the request and point victims to a malicious page instead.

DNS-over-HTTPS also improves performance, making DNS queries — and the overall browsing experience — faster.

But the ISPA doesn’t think DNS-over-HTTPS is compatible with the U.K.’s current website blocking regime.

Under U.K. law, websites can be blocked for facilitating the infringement of copyrighted or trademarked material or if they are deemed to contain terrorist material or child abuse imagery. In encrypting DNS queries, it’s claimed that it will make it more difficult for internet providers to filter their subscribers’ internet access.

The ISPA isn’t alone. U.K. spy agency GCHQ and the Internet Watch Foundation, which maintains the U.K.’s internet blocklist, have criticized the move to roll out encrypted DNS features to the browser.

The ISPA’s nomination quickly drew ire from the security community. Amid a backlash on social media, the ISPA doubled down on …

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How to Create an Engaging B2B Content Marketing Plan

July 3, 2019


However, the plan must be if engaging, organized, and focused on your audience. Well-crafted content is one of the best ways to reach decisionmakers, who look at an average of 10 articles or posts before they make a buying decision.

Good content creates touchpoints that build brand recognition, establish your expertise and help you become part of your audience’s online community. These are vital marketing functions, whether you’re growing in an existing market or expanding into a new one. To get started, or to strengthen your existing program, here are four core elements your content marketing plan needs.

Build an effective B2B blog 

Blogs drive keyword search traffic to your site, promote your thought-leadership content, and give you content to share on social media. Which is why more than 80 percent of B2B companies have a blog.  A good blog focuses on what your audience needs and delivers that information in a relatable, non-salesy voice. 

The purpose of your blog is to establish your brand as an expert resource for your customers. Research shows that 88 percent of content marketers say good content achieves this goal. That means that whatever form your blog content takes, every post should speak to one or more of your brand’s buyer personas. These buyer personas are created based on the characteristics of your best customers. For example, if your brand sells SaaS cybersecurity solutions, your personas may be CISOs who want to keep pace with industry trends and IT managers who need to stay current on network security best practices. 

What type of content can you post on your blog? Employee profiles, industry news discussions, event promos and recaps, how-to videos, customer profiles, media mentions, webinars, and more. Each post should include relevant keywords and metadata, references to support your assertions, and …

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Instagram’s new chat sticker lets friends ask to get in on the conversation directly in Stories

Instagram’s new chat sticker lets friends ask to get in on the conversation directly in Stories

July 2, 2019

Instagram has a new sticker type rolling out today that lets friends and followers instantly tap to start conversations from within Stories. The new sticker option, labelled “Chat,” will let anyone looking at a story request to join an Instagram group DM conversation tied to the post, with the original poster still getting the opportunity to actually approve the requests coming in from their friends and followers.

Instagram’s Direct Messages provide built-in one-to-one and one-to-many private messaging for users on the platform, and are one key way that the social network owned by Facebook has used to fend off, anticipate and adapt features from would-be competitor Snapchat. The company confirmed in May that it was discontinuing development of Direct, its own standalone app version of the Instagram DM feature, but its clearly still interested on iterating the core product to make it more engaging for users and better linked to Instagram’s other core sharing capabilities.

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Facebook News Feed changes downrank misleading health info and dangerous ‘cures’

Facebook News Feed changes downrank misleading health info and dangerous ‘cures’

July 2, 2019

No, drinking bleach is not a miracle cure for diseases and other conditions — but that’s the sort of bogus health claim that’s floating around the web these days, getting blocked by sites like Amazon and YouTube. Now you can add Facebook to that list of sites taking action — well, kind of! The social network today announced it will minimize the spread of health content that’s sensational or misleading.

No, not block it. Not ban it. Minimize it.

Facebook says it’s taking the same approach to reduce the spread of misleading health information as it did when it previously changed the News Feed algorithms to downrank clickbait and other low-quality content. (Not that clickbait ever killed anyone the way that fake miracle cures have. But we digress.)

In two algorithm changes, which actually rolled out a month ago but are only today being detailed, Facebook says it’s reducing the spread of posts that make exaggerated or sensational health claims, as well as those trying to sell products or services based on health-related claims.

The former will go to address the dangerous miracle cures while the latter will be more focused on reducing the spread of posts trying to make a buck through unsubstantiated claims — like those touting weight loss pills, for example.

“Posts with sensational health claims or solicitation using health-related claims will have reduced distribution,” explains Facebook. “Pages should avoid posts about health that exaggerate or mislead people and posts that try to sell products using health-related claims. If a Page stops posting this content, their posts will no longer be affected by this change,” it says.

Unfortunately, with a focus on Facebook Pages, the changes may overlook a popular means of spreading misleading health information: individuals. A number of people directly post misinformation to their …

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Higher Ground Labs is betting tech can help sway the 2020 elections for Democrats

Higher Ground Labs is betting tech can help sway the 2020 elections for Democrats

July 1, 2019

When Shomik Dutta and Betsy Hoover first met in 2007, he was coordinating fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign and she was a deputy field director for the campaign.

Over the next two election cycles the two would become parts of an organizing and fundraising team that transformed the business of politics through its use of technology — supposedly laying the groundwork for years of Democratic dominance in organizing, fundraising, polling and grassroots advocacy.

Then came Donald J. Trump and the 2016 election.

For both Dutta and Hoover the 2016 outcome was a wake up call against complacency. What had worked for the Democratic party in 2008 and 2012 wasn’t going to be effective in future election cycles, so they created the investment firm Higher Ground Labs to provide financing and a launching pad for new companies serving Democratic campaigns and progressive organizations.

As the political world shifts from analog to digital, we need a lot more tools to capture that spend,” says Dutta. “Democrats are spending on average 70 cents of every dollar raised on television ads. We are addicted to old ways of campaigning. If we want to activate and engage an enduring majority of voters we have to go where they are (and that’s increasingly online) and we have to adapt to be able to have these conversations wherever they are.”

Social media and the rise of “direct to consumer” politics

While the Obama campaign effectively used the Internet as a mobilization tool in its two campaigns, the lessons of social media and mobile technologies that offer a “direct-to-consumer” politics circumventing traditional norms have, in the ensuing years, been harnessed most effectively by conservative organizations, according to …

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Adopting a ratings system for social media like the ones used for film and TV won’t work

Adopting a ratings system for social media like the ones used for film and TV won’t work

June 30, 2019

Internet platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter are under incredible pressure to reduce the proliferation of illegal and abhorrent content on their services.

Interestingly, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently called for the establishment of “third-party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and to measure companies against those standards.” In a follow-up conversation with Axios, Kevin Martin of Facebook “compared the proposed standard-setting body to the Motion Picture Association of America’s system for rating movies.”

The ratings group, whose official name is the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA), was established in 1968 to stave off government censorship by educating parents about the contents of films. It has been in place ever since – and as longtime filmmakers, we’ve interacted with the MPAA’s ratings system hundreds of times – working closely with them to maintain our filmmakers’ creative vision, while, at the same time, keeping parents informed so that they can decide if those movies are appropriate for their children.  

CARA is not a perfect system. Filmmakers do not always agree with the ratings given to their films, but the board strives to be transparent as to why each film receives the rating it does. The system allows filmmakers to determine if they want to make certain cuts in order to attract a wider audience. Additionally, there are occasions where parents may not agree with the ratings given to certain films based on their content. CARA strives

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