Tag Archives: Facebook

Truth In Media with Ben Swann, Episode 17: Facebook Bans Stay-At-Home Protest Posts, Calling Them “Harmful Misinformation”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company won’t allow promotion of protests “that defy government’s guidance” on social distancing.


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Truth In Media with Ben Swann, Episode 16: Fact-Checker Who “Debunked” Wuhan Lab as Source of Coronavirus Worked at Lab

A Facebook fact checker who has ‘debunked’ articles suggesting that COVID-19 may have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology has a giant conflict of interest: she worked at the institute.


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Unstoppable Domains: Buy one domain, get one free.



Pulse Cellular: Use code “TRUTH” for 10% off every plan for life. 



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Introducing ISE Media Network!

ISE Media Network is a 24-hour news and entertainment streaming platform built with blockchain technology in response to the widespread systematic censorship of independent media by corporate media giants like Google, Apple, Youtube, Facebook, etc.

This platform was conceived by Emmy Award winning journalist and freedom activist Ben Swann. Ben has a reputation for honest and fearless journalism, accumulating hundreds of millions of views for his content through his company Truth in Media.

ISE Network will be a hub for independent media, providing channels for media outlets that have been decimated by the “big tech purge,” as well as creating new original content and providing opportunities for independent content creators to obtain funding to produce their material. All content will be permanently recorded on the ISE blockchain, making it free from censorship and deletion. Content creators and network users will be rewarded with cryptocurrency for uploading and engaging in content.

Isegoria is made of 3 major components:

ISE Live. A 24/7 streaming channel offering daily newscasts, entertainment, docudramas, video podcasts, and independent media content.

ISE Quality. A platform tailored for independent channels. Channels will provide content that is currently being purged from other platforms.

ISE Indie. Independent journalists and content creators that are not large enough to have enough ongoing content for its own dedicated channel will have access to a treasury system. Projects can be presented to the ISE community and subjected to a vote to be awarded funding from the Treasury.

One standout feature of Isegoria is a rewards system for Isegoria’s content creators and users who engage with the platform’s content. All of the content on Isegoria’s network will be permanently recorded on the ISE blockchain, which will free content from censorship and deletion.

For more information about ISE Media network, please visit Isegoria.com.

Are Media Matters and George Soros Behind the Social Purge?

A nearly two year old document reportedly issued by Media Matters for America lays out a plan for “defeating Trump” and Republicans over the next four years. But is this strategy actually responsible for the social media taking place on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google? After all, this purge only protects establishment “left” and “right”.

Let’s give it a Reality Check.

Facebook Audit: Thousands Of Apps Investigated, 200 Suspended For Mishandling Users’ Data

(DCNF) Facebook has suspended roughly 200 apps suspected of misusing data they have gathered on the social media site, a vice president at the company said on Monday.

The company has investigated “thousands of apps” and “around 200 have been suspended,” Ime Archibong, vice president of Product Partnerships at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.

Facebook’s next step is to conduct a “thorough investigation into whether they did in fact misuse any data” and will delete any app that did.

The announcement comes after Facebook was hit with a privacy scandal revealing it had collected users’ data to build profiles on American voters that was used in both former-President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Mark Zuckerberg announced on March 21 Facebook’s plans for this two-phase investigation into all the apps that had access to large amounts of users’ information before it changed its platform policies in 2014.

“In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data,” Zuckerberg said. This gave Cambridge access to tens of millions of voters’ data. In 2014, Facebook changed its policies to block apps from acquiring users’ friends’ data unless their friends had independently authorized the app.

“The investigation process is in full swing,” Archibong said.

The first phase in the investigation is a comprehensive review to identify every app that had access to a large amounts of users’ Facebook data. The second phase is to conduct interviews, make requests for information by asking “a series of detailed questions about the app and the data it has access to,” and perform an audit that may include an on-site inspection.

Facebook “will ban any developer from our platform [who] does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers [who] misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps.” Zuckerberg said.

Written by Kyle Perisic. Follow Kyle on Twitter @KylePerisic


This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Facebook Plans To ‘Dial Up’ Suppression Of Certain News Outlets

(DCNF) Facebook plans to “dial up” the suppression of certain news outlets, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed on Tuesday.

Zuckerberg made the comment while holding an off-the-record meeting with a select group of media outlets. Zuckerberg briefly went on the record at the end of the meeting to answer questions about Facebook’s recent changes to the newsfeed, according to BuzzFeed, which first reported his comments.

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“We put [that data] into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a suppression, and we’re going to dial up the intensity of that over time,” Zuckerberg said. “We feel like we have a responsibility to further [break] down polarization and find common ground.”

In January, Zuckerberg announced two key algorithm changes to Facebook’s newsfeed feature that have boosted a minority of news outlets while harming their competitors.

First, Facebook slashed news articles’ share of the newsfeed from five percent to four percent in the coming months. Second, Facebook began boosting certain “trusted” news outlets and suppressing other, ostensibly less trustworthy sources.

Conservative and right-wing publishers “were hit the hardest” by the algorithm change, tech website The Outline concluded in a lengthy report published March 5.

At the same time, “the engagement numbers of most predominantly liberal publishers remained unaffected,” the report found.

Facebook has no plans of making public its list of “trusted” news sources, a Facebook spokesperson previously told TheDCNF.

Written by Peter Hasson: Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson


This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

UK Parliamentary Committee Presses Zuckerberg to Address Privacy, User Data Questions

Damian Collins, Member of Parliament (MP) and chair of the UK’s Parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, recently issued a letter to Rebecca Stimson, the head of public policy at Facebook UK, renewing the committee’s request for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s physical presence before Parliament as well as additional information detailing the company’s protocols.

Zuckerberg has repeatedly refused the committee’s multiple requests to appear for questioning. Most notably, following the Cambridge Analytica revelations earlier this year, the DCMS committee requested that “a senior Facebook executive” provide testimony about “how Facebook acquires, stores, and protects users’ data,” according to a report from The Verge. While Zuckerberg himself appeared before US Congress earlier this month and spoke with legislators for several hours, Facebook’s chief technical officer Mike Schroepfer met with the DCMS committee later in the month, during which he faced a reportedly tougher series of questioning regarding “the company’s data-collection techniques, oversight of app developers, fake accounts, political advertising and links to the voter-targeting firm Cambridge Analytica,” as noted by The New York Times.

In the request for Zuckerberg to appear before the DCMS committee, Collins expressed dissatisfaction with the information and responses provided by Schroepfer at the previous hearing and further claimed that Schroepfer “failed to answer fully” dozens of inquiries.

“This is especially disappointing to the committee considering that in his testimony to Congress Mark Zuckerberg also failed to give convincing answers to some questions,” Collins wrote.

“It is worth noting that, while Mr Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the UK parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country. We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but, if not, the committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK,” Collins noted.

[Related: Facebook Dodges New EU Privacy Regulations]

As Zuckerberg is reportedly set to visit with Parliamentary members later this month, he has been requested to appear before the committee on May 24. Collins listed the following questions to be answered by May 11, noting that “Mr. Schroepfer agreed that his team would follow up on the questions included below”:

1. What is the percentage of sites on the internet on which Facebook tracks users?

2. Did the Internet Research Agency use custom audiences? What targeting tools did the IRA use for their advertising? Did they have a custom audience for state-by-state campaigns/races in the USA? Did they use look-alike audiences from Facebook as part of their advertising spend?

3. What is Facebook’s definition of a political advertisement? What budget does Facebook put behind examining the parameters and use of political adverts?

4. How many developers did your enforcement team at Facebook take action against between 2011-2014?

5. Does the NDA signed with Dr Kogan prevent legal action being taken? What was the date of the agreement? Was there a payment made to Dr Kogan? [NB later in the session Mr. Schroepfer said that a) the date was June 2016 and that b) no payment was made, but it would be useful to have these points confirmed in writing. Confirmation was given in the session that the full NDA document would be provided to the Committee.]

6. Who was the person at Facebook responsible for the decision not to tell users affected in

7. Who at Facebook heads up the investigation into Cambridge Analytica, including all the
strands of the investigation?

8. Has Joseph Chancellor signed an NDA?

9. Agreement to provide documentation that Cambridge Analytica had certified the deletion of the data.

10. What was the number of paid adverts from the IRA during the US election?

11. From which country did the $2million that AIQ spent on ads come?
12. How many UK Facebook users and Instagram users were contacted by non-UK entities during the EU referendum?

13. How many clicks or swipes does it take to alter your Facebook privacy settings on a
smartphone? What steps are you taking to reduce the lengthy process of changing one’s
privacy settings?

14. What proportion of political campaigning ads globally are run on your platform? Do you have a rough estimate, based on average political campaign spend data?

15. What data on dark ads do you have?

16. Is it possible for Facebook to view pages set up during elections (e.g. the EU Referendum campaign) that host dark ads, and then are taken down a day later? Is it possible that no-one would ever be able to audit these dark ads, as no one (not even Facebook) would see them during the time they are online?

17. Was there any link between the US elections and the 2017 purge of fake accounts?

18. What proportion of the fake accounts you purged had any involvement from Russia?

19. Do you know how many developers were using and selling data on to third parties such as GSR? Is GSR the only company that has received letters from Facebook, demanding that they delete their Facebook data?

20. What kind of developer activity leading up to 2014 led to Facebook’s major policy changes related to sharing friends’ data? (Please give specific examples.) Were these changes responding to genuine concerns among Facebook users?

21. How many Facebook staff have been added to the app review team since 2014?

22. What is the legal situation regarding Facebook storing non-Facebook users’ data?

23. Did Facebook pass user information to Cambridge Analytica or to Aleksandr Kogan?

24. At the 8 February evidence session, Chris Matheson asked Simon Milner, “Have you
ever passed any user information over to Cambridge Analytica or any of its associated
companies?” Simon Milner replied “No”. Chris Matheson asked, “But they do hold a large
chunk of Facebook’s user data, don’t they?” Simon Milner said, “No. They may have lots of
data, but it will not be Facebook user data. It may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided.” [Qq 447-448] Do you agree with this answer?

25. At the time of Simon Milner’s testimony in February 2018, who at Facebook knew about
Cambridge Analytica? Who was in charge?

26. When did Mark Zuckerberg know about Cambridge Analytica?

27. Can you tell us about the financial links between SCL and Cambridge Analytica? (In evidence Mr Schroepfer said he had knowledge to share about this.)

28. How much money has been made from fraudulent ads (for example – but not limited to- the recent case of financial expert Martin Lewis?) When you find out they have been fraudulent, do you return the money to the purchaser of the ads?

29. Can we see copies of adverts from AIQ? Who saw these adverts shown to? Who paid for them?

30. Why wasn’t GSR identified during audits of third party developers?

31. How can the feature allowing users to edit previews of article (in response to concerns over Fake News) be removed?

32. What work is Joseph Chancellor doing right now for Facebook? What is his job title? Was Facebook aware of Joseph Chancellor’s involvement in GSR at the time of his application to the company, or during his employment?

33. Mr Schroepfer said that recruitment is taking place to boost work being done in Myanmar. When is this happening and can you provide more details?

34. What is the average time taken to respond to content that has been reported to Facebook in the region?

35. How many fake accounts have been identified and removed in Myanmar?

36. How much of your revenue is derived from Myanmar?

37. Are custom audiences used as a tool by AIQ using the GSR data from the US? What was the total value of AIQ/Vote Leave spend on Facebook? Can we see examples and copies of adverts that they used? To whom were they sent, and who decided what kind of targeting to use?

38. Is there evidence that CA/SCL shared data with AIQ?

39. Why was data responsibility moved from Facebook Irl to Facebook Inc in California just one month before GDPR kicks in?

Facebook COO Sells $23M in Shares, Company Declines to Attend House Hearing on “Social Media Filtering Practices”

Facebook’s chief operations officer, Sheryl Sandberg, recently sold $23 million in the company’s stock on Wednesday as governments in the EU move to quickly implement new online privacy laws that would significantly limit the social network’s advertising practices and thus its income.

Sandberg is arguably one of the most powerful and influential women in technology. As Mark Zuckerberg’s COO and the head of the company’s advertising operations, she has been recently blasted by experts for her role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. She has since profusely apologized once news of her involvement was made public. However, despite usually being comfortable in the spotlight, Sandberg has retreated from center stage amid the legal probes Facebook is currently facing, resulting in Mark Zuckerberg’s solo appearance before Congress last week.

In a string of appearances scheduled before the congressional hearings, Sandberg— the social media site’s 2nd in command— affirmed that Facebook’s main source of income comes from advertising. In other words, collecting data of its users is how and why the service remains free.

”The service [Facebook],” Sandberg reminded the public in an interview last Friday, “depends on your data.” Completely opting out of data-based targeted ads, she asserted, would have to be a paid option.

Experts have been quick to analyze and point out the aggressiveness of Facebook’s data collection practices, especially surrounding shadow profiles, which can collect data on users even if they don’t have an account with the social network. Before Congress, Mark Zuckerberg flatly denied any knowledge of the shadow profiles, even though the practice has been well-known since 2013 when the company’s data collection on non-users was revealed during a similar data-mishandling ordeal.

[Related: Facebook Dodges New EU Privacy Regulations]

Regarding the responsibility of the current misuse of data and future regulation regarding people’s privacy, Sandberg has been almost overly apologetic. However, it is still unclear what steps the company has taken since the story first broke in March.

“We know that we did not do enough to protect people’s data. I’m really sorry for that,” she’s said. In a separate instance she apologized yet again saying, “This was a huge breach of trust. People come to Facebook everyday and they depend on us to protect their data, and I am so sorry that we let so many people down.” She couldn’t promise that data was complete safe for now, adding that “We are going to find other things” and “there will always be bad actors.”

Sandberg would not comment about if anyone had lost their jobs at Facebook because of the scandal, saying that “We don’t talk about this publicly and we’re not going to; we don’t think it’s the right thing to do.” Hired in 2008, the former Google advertising chief joined the social network precisely to consolidate the company’s ad-based business model. Facebook’s then 20-something Mark Zuckerberg, who was reclusive and struggling with investors, brought Sandberg on to be the mature face of the company.

Analysts are still in disagreement over the immediate financial future of Facebook, whose stock price took a sharp dip after the harrowing news about personal data leaks. On Wednesday, Sandberg sold 163,500 shares of Facebook stock for a total value of just over $23,000,000. Over the course of 2017, Sandberg sold $316 million worth of shares, with over half that amount being sold in the first half of the year, according to CNBC. Sandberg has sold shares on a consistent basis over the past several years, yet the future of the company remains uncertain in light of dramatic changes and controversies.

A report from CNBC on April 10 highlighted a claim from Brian Wieser, a senior research analyst at Pivotal Research Group, that predicted a role shift for either Sandberg or Zuckerberg. “The company is not well managed,” said Wieser, also claiming that “one of Zuckerberg or Sandberg will not be in the same jobs in 12 months time.”

Most recently, Facebook has seen a modest uptick in active users, as it was reported April 25 that “Facebook’s daily active users in North America rose slightly last quarter to 185 million, a sign that the company’s News Feed algorithm tweaks and data privacy issues may not have deterred consumers.” This news may signal that the public is relenting to Facebook’s conduct; however, it may be worthy for these users to note that Facebook has declined an invitation to offer testimony at the upcoming “Examining Social Media Filtering Practices and their Effect on Free Speech” House of Representatives hearing that will discuss “what metrics social media platforms use to moderate content, how filtering decisions are made, and whether viewpoints have been silenced on some of the most popular and widely used platforms.”

Facebook Dodges New EU Privacy Regulations

Amidst apologies over mishandling user data and the affirmation that the company is “offering everyone who uses Facebook the same privacy protections, controls and settings, no matter where they live,” the social network recently confirmed plans to shift all users outside the European Union (EU) to a Terms of Service agreement governed by US regulation. Currently, EU users agree to Terms of Service (ToS) under Irish law as the majority of Facebook’s EU user base is located in Ireland.

The move comes after EU announced plans to roll out a new, “game changing” policy aimed at protecting user privacy. The new regulations, dubbed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), would fine companies that breach user privacy up to 4% of their annual profits. For Facebook, that would mean about $1.6 billion dollars based on 2017 reports.

Earlier this month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would adhere “in spirit” to GDPR guidelines worldwide, but he did not confirm if this meant that US users would receive the same protection as those in the EU. The GDPR would affect up to 70% of Facebook’s user base, and moving users in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America from non-EU to US-governed terms and conditions would exempt Facebook from following GDPR guidelines. The social platform opened operations in Ireland in 2008, taking advantage of low corporate tax rates.

Under the new EU regulations— which will take effect next month— Facebook will have to ask users for permission to use their information for advertising purposes, but there will be no option to decline. This means that Facebook will continue to use their own data on user behavior in order to show targeted ads, and users will have to accept these terms via “permission screens” in order to view certain content.

According to a April 17th Facebook blog post, “People in the EU will start seeing these requests this week to ensure they have made their choices ahead of GDPR coming into effect on May 25. As part of our phased approach, people in the rest of the world will be asked to make their choices on a slightly later schedule, and we’ll present the information in ways that make the most sense for other regions.” However, Tuesday’s announcement about shifting users to ToS governed by US legislation raises questions about the motives behind the move as doing so means that Facebook will not be subject to GDPR sanctions.

In the US, a complaint filed on April 6 with the Federal Trade Commission accused Facebook of abusing user privacy through facial recognition practices after changes made this year to the site’s privacy policy allowed the company to scan photos for biometric data without consent.

Addressing reporters at Facebook corporate offices, Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman said that “Facebook users will be able to limit the kinds of data that advertisers use to target their pitches” but the option to opt-out completely will not be available. Sherman also added that “People can choose to not be on Facebook if they want.”

Last week, Ben Swann reported in a Reality Check episode about issues of privacy and data collection that were widely publicized following the news of personal data mishandling by Cambridge Analytica.



Facebook Accused of Violating Privacy Via Facial Recognition Technology

On April 6, a coalition of consumer privacy organizations led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, accusing Facebook of violating individual’s privacy via the company’s facial recognition practices. The complaint focuses on changes to Facebook’s policy which went into effect in early 2018, namely the ability to scan user photos for biometric facial matches without consent.

The organizations say that Facebook is deceptively selling the facial recognition technology to users by encouraging them to identify people in photographs. “This unwanted, unnecessary, and dangerous identification of individuals undermines user privacy, ignores the explicit preferences of Facebook users, and is contrary to law in several state and many parts of the world,” the complaint states.

The coalition also claims Facebook’s policy violates the 2011 Consent Order with the Commission, calling the scanning of faces without “unlawful”. The organizations are calling on the FTC to reopen a 2009 investigation of Facebook due to recent revelations regarding Cambridge Analytica accessing millions of Facebook users private data. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has called on the FTC to investigate Facebook’s facial recognition practices since 2011.

“Facebook should suspend further deployment of facial recognition pending the outcome of the FTC investigation,” EPIC President Marc Rotenberg said.

Other organizations participating in the complaint against Facebook include The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, The Center for Digital Democracy, The Constitutional Alliance, Consumer Action, The Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Watchdog, The Cyber Privacy Project, Defending Rights & Dissent, The Government Accountability Project, The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Patient Privacy Rights, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and The U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

This is not the first time Facebook has been under fire for their facial recognition technology. As far back as 2015, The Anti Media reported on a lawsuit involving a man who, despite not having a Facebook account, was fighting to get his “faceprint” from the company. The complaint was filed by Frederick William Gullen of Illinois. Gullen’s complaint stated:

Facebook is actively collecting, storing, and using — without providing notice, obtaining informed written consent or publishing data retention policies — the biometrics of its users and unwitting non-users … Specifically, Facebook has created, collected and stored over a billion ‘face templates’ (or ‘face prints’) — highly detailed geometric maps of the face — from over a billion individuals, millions of whom reside in the State of Illinois.

Although no federal law exists to govern the commercial use and collection of biometrics, Illinois and Texas have passed laws designed to protect the public. Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act made it illegal to collect and store faceprints without obtaining informed written consent. The law also made it illegal for companies to sell, lease, or otherwise profit from a customer’s biometric information. Lawsuits filed against Facebook allege the company is violating BIPA because it makes faceprints without written consent.

With Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg facing pressure from the U.S. Congress and public, the company may shift towards privacy oriented practices. However, for the moment, users should be aware that their words and face are owned by Facebook and whoever else they decide to share the data with.

Civil Liberties Groups Warn CLOUD Act In Spending Bill Erodes Privacy

Last Friday, President Donald Trump signed the controversial $1.3 trillion government spending bill into law, despite opposition from concerned citizens and senators who complained the public did not have adequate time to read the 2,232-page bill. The massive bill was handed to representatives on Wednesday night and put to a vote the following morning. The bill passed the House with a 256-167 vote and the Senate with a 65-32 vote, before being sent to Trump.

The vast majority of the funds— about $700 billion— will be going to the Department of Defense to continue funding America’s expanding empire. However, as is typical in Washington D.C., the bill was not only focused on government spending.

“In the final pages of the bill—meant only to appropriate future government spending—lawmakers snuck in a separate piece of legislation that made no mention of funds, salaries, or budget cuts,” The Electronic Frontier Foundation reported. “Instead, this final, tacked-on piece of legislation will erode privacy protections around the globe.”

The bill in question is The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, or CLOUD Act, and its stated goal is to establish new standards for how the government acquires data outside of its jurisdiction. The CLOUD Act was heavily supported by the Department of Justice and major tech companies who stated the bill would advance consumer rights.

[RELATED: Trust Lost: How Social Media Users’ Data Should Be Protected]

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) released a joint statement demanding the CLOUD Act not be included in the spending bill, and a coalition of 24 human rights and privacy advocates led by the American Civil Liberties Union condemned the bill. However, as the EFF noted, the bill was never reviewed or marked up by any committee in the House or the Senate before being put to a vote. Instead of being given time to debate the nuances of the bill, lawmakers voted on the bill as part of the trillion-dollar spending bill.

The EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union have both come out against the CLOUD ACT, with the EFF stating that the bill will give U.S. and foreign law enforcement “new mechanisms to seize data across the globe.” Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel with the ACLU, wrote in an op-ed for The Hill that the bill “would allow countries to wiretap on U.S. soil for the first time, including conversations that foreign targets may have with people in the U.S., without complying with Wiretap Act requirements.”

This includes private emails, instant messages, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, and any other communications or photos individuals have shared on the internet. The CLOUD Act will also allow foreign nations to access personal data that is stored on servers in the United States without approval by a judge. Finally, the bill grants the U.S. president the authority to sign “executive agreements” which give foreign agents access to data in the U.S., regardless of U.S. privacy laws.

The EFF outlined how the bill might work in real time:

London investigators want the private Slack messages of a Londoner they suspect of bank fraud. The London police could go directly to Slack, a U.S. company, to request and collect those messages. The London police would not necessarily need prior judicial review for this request. The London police would not be required to notify U.S. law enforcement about this request. The London police would not need a probable cause warrant for this collection. Predictably, in this request, the London police might also collect Slack messages written by U.S. persons communicating with the Londoner suspected of bank fraud. Those messages could be read, stored, and potentially shared, all without the U.S. person knowing about it. Those messages, if shared with U.S. law enforcement, could be used to criminally charge the U.S. person in a U.S. court, even though a warrant was never issued.

What are the implications for digital privacy and security? How might the CLOUD Act impact privacy protections guaranteed by the 4th Amendment?

Trust Lost: How Social Media Users’ Data Should Be Protected

Over the past few days, there has been public outrage over the way Facebook is handling personal data. This was brought to light by the recent scandal with Cambridge Analytica, but really should come as no surprise as Facebook has been treating its users this way since it launched back in 2004.

What Happened with Cambridge Analytica

The story that broke over the past few days is really just a piece of a much larger issue with Facebook and how they handle personal data. To summarize, a developer named Aleksandr Kogan developed an application in 2014 offering a personality quiz to Facebook users. About 270,000 users took the quiz, but in doing so they granted Kogan’s app access to not only their Facebook data, but the data of ALL of their Facebook friends as well— meaning the app now had data on 50 million users. Kogan then provided this data to Cambridge Analytica, who used it to create over 30 million psychographic profiles about potential voters.

Facebook is at fault for a major data breach because it failed to protect the personally identifiable information of its users.

1) Data Policy

Up until 2014, Facebook’s policy allowed for an application developer to ask permission from Facebook users to access their data. However, it also allowed the apps to collect that same data about ALL of that user’s friends on Facebook, without consent. Facebook changed this policy in 2014 to ensure that apps could not collect data on user’s friends, but at that point, the damage had been done.

An ex-Facebook employee on the privacy team stated, “At a company that was deeply concerned about protecting its users, this situation would have been met with a robust effort to cut off developers who were making questionable use of data. But when I was at Facebook, the typical reaction I recall looked like this: try to put any negative press coverage to bed as quickly as possible, with no sincere efforts to put safeguards in place or to identify and stop abusive developers. When I proposed a deeper audit of developers’ use of Facebook’s data, one executive asked me, ‘Do you really want to see what you’ll find?’”

2) Data Collection

The crux of the issue lies in the data that Facebook requires from new users in the first place. You are forced to provide your first name, last name, email or phone number, birthday and gender. The reason is simple – this information is a marketer’s (or a politician’s) targeting dream, and also the key to Facebook’s revenue and entire business model.

Facebook, however, does share blame with its users because when you sign up, you are agreeing to hand over rights regarding your personal information, so there is the level of consent. However, Facebook further deceives and confuses their users into thinking their information will not be disclosed by providing layers of permissions and privacy settings. If users were more aware about how much of their personal data was actually public (or being shared with government), they would be much more reserved in giving it away. Your personal data on Facebook is not private, and Zuckerberg has known this since the beginning. Obviously he has attempted to apologize for the below comments, but he has demonstrated no tangible actions to actually address the public concern.

How can you protect YOUR data?

1) Allow users to be anonymous if they want, untracked and free from surveillance and spying.

Anonymity means that site data is de-identified and not traceable to a person. As a result nearly all users data is public by default.

2) Maintain zero-knowledge on sensitive data.

This is essential in ensuring that users can chat freely with each other without the concern that the conversation is being monitored by anyone including Minds. All sensitive data on Minds is encrypted end to end whether in motion or at rest and original content is the property of the user.

3) 100% free and open source for public accountability and inspection.

Unlike top proprietary social networks, social media should be open source.  You must be able to inspect code and even help contribute and build the network. This provides much needed community ownership and transparency into what the platform is actually doing, as opposed to simply taking their word for it.

This debate exposes the paradox between transparency and privacy, both of which are core principles of Internet freedom pioneers. Facebook has gotten themselves into a deadly trap by pretending they are giving people privacy with layered permissions levels and supposed ‘privacy’ settings while also exposing massive amounts of data without consent. They are handing over data to the highest bidders and the user has lost all control.

Social Networks must give that control back to the people. This is only the beginning of the privacy movement and we all must join together for a better future for everyone.  

About the author:
Bill Ottman is an American internet entrepreneur, freedom of information activist and hacker based in New York City, best known as the CEO and co-founder of Minds, an open-source social networking service. He is a graduate of the University of Vermont, and co-founded Minds with John Ottman and Mark Harding in 2011.

China Uses The Same Excuse As This CNN Analyst To Censor Social Media

(DCNF) With fears of Russia soaring to new heights, a CNN national security analyst is employing a classic argument used by the Chinese government to support censorship, arguing that social media sites should be held accountable for the content their users post to protect national security.

“Social media firms are aiding and abetting our enemies, providing them a firing platform,” retired lieutenant general and CNN analyst Mark Hertling wrote on Twitter Monday. He called attention to a Twitter post by former CIA analyst John Sipher, who promoted an article asserting that social media sites have become tools for Russia’s information warfare campaign.

Hertling, advancing the argument that social media companies should take responsibility for the content of their users and tossing the first amendment out the window, suggested that social media sites are engaging in treasonous behavior.

Following Hertling’s argument to its logical conclusion, there are some serious problems.

China, an example of a country that decides what online content is acceptable, argues that the purpose of the Great Firewall of China, the country’s massive censorship apparatus, is to “maintain social stability and national security.” It removes posts that are deemed subversive or treasonous.

The American left strongly believes that Russian bots, disinformation, and fake news swayed the 2016 presidential election in President Donald Trump’s favor, but the intelligence community has yet to find hard evidence proving that Russian meddling in any way affected the outcome of the election. Others argue that the purpose of Russia’s activities is to sow discord.

Either way, there have been repeated calls from the left for social media sites like Facebook to censor user content.

It is worth noting that China was cracking down on “fake news” before the term was popular in the West. “All levels of the cyberspace administration must earnestly fulfill their management responsibility for internet content, strengthen supervision and investigation, severely probe and handle fake and unfactual news,” the Cyberspace Administration of China said in an official statement on the issue in July 2016.

Interestingly, China is believed to fabricate a few hundred million social media posts to promote pro-Chinese government content each year.

China has used its sweeping cybersecurity laws to censor prominent social media platforms, everything from the QQ chat service to WeChat and Weibo, Chinese versions of Twitter and Facebook, social media sites which are blocked in China because they, for the most part, are unregulated platforms for free speech.

Chinese internet companies are actually required to sign a pledge to self-regulate their online content to “carry forward the rich cultural tradition of the Chinese nation and the moral code of socialist spiritual civilization.” Five years ago, China reportedly had two million people policing the internet, and that number is believed to have grown substantially over the years.

Written by Ryan Pickrell Follow Ryan on Twitter


This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Brazil’s Largest Newspaper Abandons Facebook; Says News Feed is “Banning Professional Journalism”

São Paulo, Brazil— The largest newspaper in Brazil, Folha de S Paulo, announced late last week that due to Facebook’s recent changes to their news feed algorithm resulting in what the paper claims is “effectively banning professional journalism,” it would cease publishing content on the social media platform.

The Guardian reported that the popular Brazilian newspaper has an online and print subscription base of nearly 285,000 subscribers and had roughly 204 million page impressions last December, according to the Communication Verification Institute, a non-profit media auditor. The company’s Facebook page has nearly 6 million Facebook followers.

The executive editor of Fohla, Sérgio Dávila, told The Guardian that the paper’s decision reflected “the declining importance of Facebook to our readers,” but added that the recent algorithm changes to Facebook’s Newsfeed had precipitated the decision. The paper claimed the new algorithm “privilege[s] personal interaction contents, to the detriment of those distributed by companies, such as those that produce professional journalism.”

Only weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, announced that the company would be changing the algorithm used to determine what shows up in an individual’s Newsfeed to prioritize “meaningful social interactions” and posts by friends, and “trusted” news sources.

Folha noted that the choice to abandon Facebook was “a reflection of internal discussions about the best ways to get the content of the newspaper to reach its readers. The disadvantages of using Facebook as a path to this distribution became more evident after the social network’s decision to reduce the visibility of professional journalism on its users’ pages.”

A separate report in Folha noted that the newspaper’s own analysis found that “fake news pages received five times the number of engagements that professional journalism received” during the month of January.

“This reinforces the tendency of the user to consume more and more content with which it has affinity, favoring the creation of bubbles of opinions and convictions, and the propagation of fake news,” Folha argued. “These problems have been aggravated in recent years by the mass distribution of deliberately false content…as happened in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.”

“In effectively banning professional journalism from its pages in favor of personal content and opening space for ‘fake news’ to proliferate, Facebook became inhospitable terrain for those who want to offer quality content like ours,” Dávila told the Guardian.

There has been widespread concern among civil libertarians, and independent media, about the continuing use of algorithms that effectively soft-censors content that includes controversial ideas or dissent.

Brazil is the third biggest market in the world for Facebook, with roughly 130 million users, according to statistics portal Statista.

Facebook, Twitter Among Companies Supporting Apple in Fight Against FBI

The CEOs of several major tech companies have voiced their support for Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook after he openly opposed a federal order to “build a backdoor” into the iPhone.

Cook released a statement in response to U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym’s order that Apple must help the FBI break into an encrypted iPhone that belonged to one of the suspects in the San Bernardino shooting.

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]  

Arguing that creating a way to break into an encrypted iPhone “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” Cook claimed that once “a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.”

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey voiced his support for Cook’s decision on Thursday, writing that he and his company “stand with Tim Cook and Apple,” and “thank him for his leadership.”

Facebook issued a statement late Thursday, in which it said it will “continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems.”

[pull_quote_center]We condemn terrorism and have total solidarity with victims of terror. Those who seek to praise, promote, or plan terrorist acts have no place on our services. We also appreciate the difficult and essential work of law enforcement to keep people safe. When we receive lawful requests from these authorities we comply. However, we will continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems. These demands would create a chilling precedent and obstruct companies’ efforts to secure their products.[/pull_quote_center]

Google CEO Sundar Pichai released a series of Tweets Wednesday in which he called Cook’s statement “important,” and said that forcing companies to enable hacking “could compromise users’ privacy” and “could be a troubling precedent.”

WhatsApp CEO and cofounder Jan Koum released a statement on Facebook saying that he “couldn’t agree more” with Cook’s statement, and he believes tech companies “must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set.”

[pull_quote_center]I have always admired Tim Cook for his stance on privacy and Apple’s efforts to protect user data and couldn’t agree more with everything said in their Customer Letter today. We must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set. Today our freedom and our liberty is at stake.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: McAfee: I Will Decrypt Information on the San Bernardino Phone for Free]

Computer programmer and 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate John McAfee called the FBI’s claim that the technology to decrypt an iPhone would only be used on the San Bernardino shooting suspect’s phone “a laughable and bizarre twist of logic,” and said his team would decrypt the information on the suspect’s phone for free.

“I will, free of charge, decrypt the information on the San Bernardino phone, with my team,” McAfee said. “We will primarily use social engineering, and it will take us three weeks. If you accept my offer, then you will not need to ask Apple to place a back door in its product, which will be the beginning of the end of America.”

While White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest argued that the FBI is “simply asking for something that would have an impact on this one device,” Cook said he believes that once a way to decrypt the iPhone is created, “the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

“The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor,” Cook said. “And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

[RELATED: Bill Gates Sides with FBI, Downplays Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]

Follow Rachel Blevins on Facebook and Twitter.

US Special Ops Kicked Out of Libya

by Jason Ditz

A US military ground operation began and ended without much fanfare earlier this week in Libya, the Pentagon admitted today, in a shockingly bungling effort to secretly establish a presence of US special forces in the country.

A group of about 20 US soldiers, armed with assault rifles and bulletproof vests, but conspicuously not wearing uniforms, showed up in the Wattiya airbase just south of Tripoli Monday. Pictures of the US troops were published by the Libyan Air Force on their Facebook page.

The Air Force pointed out the troops arrived with no coordination and apparently no approval, though the Pentagon claims to have gotten an okay from some government faction or other, but apparently not the right ones, as local commanders quickly demanded that the US troops leave, and the Pentagon says they did to “avoid conflict.”

Pentagon officials further claimed the deployment was a “training mission” aimed at enhancing ties with the Libyan National Army, but didn’t explain why they sent the troops in wholly unannounced, nor why the troops were clearly combat-ready but out of uniform.

Recent conferences on Libya among NATO members, including one earlier this month in Rome, have had several nations talking up the idea of sending troops. It is surprising to learn, then, that the US went first, bungling their way into Libya and almost immediately getting chased out.

New Facebook Feature Alerts Users of State-Sponsored Cyberattacks

Facebook announced late last week that it has enabled a new security feature that notifies a user when it appears that his or her devices or private accounts are under a government-sponsored cyberattack.

The social network’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos published a Facebook note from the company’s verified security page last Friday that explains how the new feature works. “Starting today, we will notify you if we believe your account has been targeted or compromised by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state,” he said.

When Facebook detects that a user might be under a state-sponsored cyberattack, it will show that user a notification, seen below.


While we have always taken steps to secure accounts that we believe to have been compromised, we decided to show this additional warning if we have a strong suspicion that an attack could be government-sponsored. We do this because these types of attacks tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others, and we strongly encourage affected people to take the actions necessary to secure all of their online accounts,” wrote Stamos.

[RELATED: Facebook Is Tracking You Even When You Aren’t Logged In]

The notification recommends that users turn on the setting “Login Approvals” to secure their Facebook accounts against such attacks. TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez says that when Login Approvals is activated, “users are alerted when their Facebook account is accessed from a new device or a new web browser.” She added, “When this occurs, Facebook sends a security code to your phone, so only you – as the phone’s owner – will be able to enter in the code and proceed to log in.

Stamos noted that Facebook will not explain in these instances why it believes that the user is under an attack in an effort to “protect the integrity of our methods and processes” but that it will only issue the notifications when the social network’s software detects evidence that “strongly supports our conclusion.”

U.S. Senate Wants to Censor “Terrorist Activity” on Social Media Sites

The Senate Intelligence Committee has approved a new measure which would force social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to report content that is believed to be connected to “terrorist activity”.

The Washington Post reported that the measure will be included as part of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2016. The Senate Intelligence Committee approved the measure in a closed session on Wednesday July 1st. The measure is supposed to help intelligence and law enforcement officials detect terror threats.

The Post reports:

“It would not require companies to monitor their sites if they do not already do so, said a committee aide, who requested anonymity because the bill has not yet been filed. The measure applies to “electronic communication service providers,” which includes e-mail services such as Google and Yahoo.”

The bill would require any online company that “obtains actual knowledge of any terrorist activity . . . shall provide to the appropriate authorities the facts or circumstances of the alleged terrorist activity.”

Google, Facebook and Twitter declined to comment to The Post, however, “anonymous industry officials” reportedly called the measure a bad idea.

Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, told The Post he believed the measure would erode privacy in the name of fighting terrorism.

“If it becomes law, their natural tendency will be to err on the side of reporting anything that might be characterized as ‘terrorist activity’ even if it is not. And their duty to report will chill speech on the Internet that relates to terrorism.”

The U.S. government already maintains a massive surveillance state, including a number of programs that gather internet user data. This latest measure would only further codify the government’s ability to force private companies to hand over sensitive information.

New York Judge Lets Wife Serve Divorce Papers To Husband Via Facebook

A landmark ruling by a Manhattan Supreme Court Judge is allowing a woman to legally serve her husband with divorce papers via a private message on Facebook, due to the fact that he is “hard to find” and has no physical address.

The NY Daily News first reported that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper is allowing a 26-year-old nurse from Brooklyn, Ellanora Baidoo, to serve her elusive husband, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku, with divorce papers, using a private Facebook message from her lawyer.

Cooper wrote that Baidoo is “granted permission serve defendant with the divorce summons using a private message through Facebook,” because of his lack of a registered physical address.

This transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff’s attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged,” wrote Cooper.

Andrew Spinnell, Baidoo’s lawyer, will be the one sending the messages to Blood-Dzraku. He told the NY Daily News that Baidoo and Blood-Dzraku, who are both from Ghana, were married in a civil ceremony in 2009.

Spinnell said that although Blood-Dzraku would not keep his promise to have a traditional Ghanian wedding ceremony, and the two never lived together, or consummated their marriage, Blood-Dzraku still does not want a divorce.

Cooper’s ruling states Blood-Dzraku mainly communicated with Baidoo by telephone and Facebook, and that she learned over a phone call that he “has no fixed address and no place of employment.”

Cooper went on to state that Blood-Dzraku has “refused to make himself available to be served with divorce papers,” and he has not been located, due to the fact that the “post office has no forwarding address for him, there is no billing address linked to his prepaid cell phone, and the Department of Motor Vehicles has no record of him.”

Spinnell told the NY Daily News that they have tried multiple ways to locate Blood-Dzraku, including hiring a private detective, and that the first Facebook message notifying him of his divorce was sent last week, but Blood-Dzraku has not responded.