Kos petition: Support “The Honest Ads Act”

Scales of the DragonIn the wake of the 2016 elections, we continue to learn more information about how Russian agents interfered through the use of targeted Facebook and Twitter paid political ads.

There is freedom for these ads to run rampant throughout social media as there is currently no disclosure system for paid, online political advertising.

The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 requires political advertisements on television, radio, and satellite to disclose the sponsor of the advertisement. The same requirements should apply online.

The Honest Ads Act, introduced by Senators Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar as one of the first bills introduced to directly counter foreign actor interference in the 2016 election, would achieve this. The Honest Ads Act would require platforms to disclose the purchasers of ads, applying the same rules that exist for TV and radio.

We must demand Congress ensure the requirement for more transparency around online ad purchases is in place. We must protect the security of our elections!

Sign the petition: Demand Congress pass the Honest Ads Act and require transparency for all political ads.

SIGN THE PETITION
Thanks for all you do,
Erin Tulley, Daily Kos

US allies’ government officials hacked via Facebook’s WhatsApp

Victims are spread across at least 20 countries on five continents, sources close to the investigation told Reuters.

WhatsApp says a vulnerability in the app let phones be infected with spyware with a missed in-app call alone [Patrick Sison/AP]

WhatsApp says a vulnerability in the app let phones be infected with spyware with a missed in-app call alone [Patrick Sison/AP]

Senior government officials in multiple countries allied with the United States were hit earlier this year with hacking software that used Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp messaging system to take over users’ phones, according to people familiar with the company’s investigation.

Sources familiar with WhatsApp’s internal investigation into the breach told the Reuters news agency that a “significant” portion of the known victims are high-profile government and military officials spread across at least 20 countries on five continents.

More:

Many of the nations are US allies, the people said.

The hacking of a wider group of top government officials’ smartphones than previously reported suggests the WhatsApp cyber-intrusion could have broad political and diplomatic consequences.

Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group was the target of a lawsuit filed by WhatsApp on Tuesday. The Facebook-owned firm alleged that NSO Group built and sold a hacking platform that exploited a flaw in WhatsApp-owned servers to help clients hack into the mobile phones of at least 1,400 users between April 29, 2019, and May 10, 2019.

The total number of WhatsApp users hacked could be even higher. A London-based human rights lawyer, who was among the targets, sent Reuters photographs showing attempts to break into his phone dating back to April 1.

While it is not clear who used the software to hack officials’ phones, NSO has said it sells its spyware exclusively to government customers.

Some victims are in the US, United Arab EmiratesBahrainMexicoPakistan and India, said people familiar with the investigation. Reuters could not verify whether the government officials were from those countries or elsewhere.

Some Indian nationals have gone public with allegations they were among the targets over the past couple of days; they include journalists, academics, lawyers and defenders of India’s Dalit community.

NSO said in a statement that it was “not able to disclose who is or is not a client or discuss specific uses of its technology.” Previously it has denied any wrongdoing, saying its products are only meant to help governments catch groups involved in violent campaigns and criminals.

Cybersecurity researchers have cast doubt on those claims over the years, saying NSO products were used against a wide range of targets, including protesters in countries under authoritarian rule.

Citizen Lab, an independent watchdog group that worked with WhatsApp to identify the hacking targets, said on Tuesday at least 100 of the victims were civil society figures such as journalists and dissidents, not criminals.

John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, said it was not surprising that foreign officials would be singled out as well.

“It is an open secret that many technologies branded for law enforcement investigations are used for state-on-state and political espionage,” Scott-Railton said.

Prior to notifying victims, WhatsApp checked the target list against existing law enforcement requests for information relating to criminal investigations, such as violent campaigns or child exploitation cases. But the company found no overlap, said a person familiar with the matter. Governments can submit such requests for information to WhatsApp through an online portal the company maintains.

WhatsApp has said it sent warning notifications to affected users earlier this week. The company has declined to comment on the identities of NSO Group’s clients, who ultimately chose the targets.

SOURCE: REUTERS NEWS AGENCY

Rashida Tlaib to Mark Zuckerberg: Why Haven’t You Stopped Hate Groups From Organizing on Facebook?

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We feature more highlights from the five-hour grilling of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week on Capitol Hill, where Michigan Congressmember Rashida Tlaib said she feared that far-right hate groups were using Facebook event pages to incite violence against Muslims and other minorities — including death threats directed at her office. Tlaib asked to be seen not only as a Congresswoman, but also as “a mother that is raising two Muslim boys in this pretty dark time in our world.” Meanwhile, California Congressmember Katie Porter pinned Zuckerberg down on Facebook’s privacy policies. “You are arguing in federal court that in a consumer data privacy lawsuit, in which your own lawyers admit that users’ information was stolen, that the plaintiffs fail to articulate any injury,” Porter said. “In other words, no harm, no foul. Facebook messed up, but it doesn’t matter. Is that your position?”

“You Won’t Take Down Lies or You Will?”: AOC Grills Facebook’s Zuckerberg on Lies in Political Ads

OCTOBER 25, 2019

This week, as Facebook said it will not fact check political ads or hold politicians to its usual content standards, the social media giant’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled for more than five hours by lawmakers on Capitol Hill on the company’s policy of allowing politicians to lie in political advertisements, as well as its role in facilitating election interference and housing discrimination. We play highlights from New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ohio Congressmember Joyce Beatty, who asked Zuckerberg about Facebook’s record on civil rights, which she called “appalling and disgusting.” Beatty said the company “should have known better” and might have if “you had real diversity and inclusion on your team.”

Facebook Hired Hundreds to Listen In on Users’ Audio Messages (I know you don’t care, or u don’t get it.)

H5 facebook contractors transcribe audio private messages artificial intelligence data privacy

Facebook secretly paid hundreds of contractors to transcribe audio clips shared by users in private messages. That’s according to Bloomberg News, which reports the practice rattled the contract workers, who were often subjected to vulgar and intrusive recordings and were not told whose conversations they were transcribing or why. In a statement, Facebook said the practice was aimed at improving its artificial intelligence transcription service, but that the company had “paused human review of audio more than a week ago.” An Irish data privacy commission said Wednesday it’s investigating whether Facebook violated European Union privacy laws. Bloomberg reported earlier this year that Amazon, Apple and Google similarly hired thousands of workers to listen to users’ recorded audio.

Facebook sets aside $3bn for possible privacy probe damages (guilty, anyone?)

Facebook

Facebook has said it will set aside $3bn (£2.3bn) to cover the potential costs of an investigation by US authorities into its privacy practices.

While it has provided for a heavy toll from the investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission, the final cost could be $5bn, it said.

The social media giant also said total sales for the first three months of the year leapt 26% to $15.08bn, narrowly beating market expectations.

Monthly users rose 8%, it said.

That rise takes the number of users to 2.38 billion.

“We had a good quarter and our business and community continued to grow,” founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said.

“We are focused on building out our privacy-focused vision for the future of social networking, and working collaboratively to address important issues around the internet.”

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Image: “Facebook, #2”  by Alyssa Joy Bartlett, 2018

Shares rise

The shares are up by nearly 40% in the year to date, far outperforming the broader market, and were up nearly 5% in late trading on Wall Street.

Facebook is facing a probe over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, however no findings have yet been published.

Facebook was labelled “morally bankrupt pathological liars” by New Zealand’s privacy commissioner this month after hosting a livestream of the Christchurch attacks that left 50 dead.

In an interview after the attacks, Mr Zuckerberg refused to commit to any changes to the platform’s live technology, including a time delay on livestreams.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, last week admitted that millions more Instagram users were affected by a security lapse than it had previously disclosed. It had mistakenly stored the passwords of hundreds of millions of users without encryption.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram users hit by outages (huh.)

Social media sites were inaccessible to many users across the globe on Sunday, according to Downdetector.com.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram users hit by outages
Most of those affected by the outages were in Europe, according to Downdetector.com 

Social media networks, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, were inaccessible to some users across the world on Sunday, according to Downdetector.com, a website which monitors outages.

The outage tracking website showed that there are more than 9,000 incidents of people reporting issues with Facebook.

Downdetector.com’s live outage map showed that the issues mainly cropped up in Europe.

Separately, Downdetector.com also showed that there were issues with WhatsApp and Instagram, but with a relatively lower count of outage reports.

Facebook had experienced one of its longest outages in March, when some users around the globe faced trouble accessing Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp for over 24 hours.