Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘facebook’ Category

Another Facebook Breach

leave a comment »

Happy Friday!

Well, depending on who you ask.

The BBC, Gizmodo, and others are reporting a new Facebook data breach, this time of private Facebook messages of at least 81,000 unfortunate souls.

It’s being reported the culprit was a Chrome Extension exploit, and is apparently not related to the more widespread September breach previously reported of 120 million Facebook accounts.

Some details:

The hackers, who may be Russian since they reached out to the BBC Russian Service, appear to have the Facebook messages of at least 81,000 people, mostly of Russians and Ukrainians, but also from people in the U.S., UK, and Brazil, according to the BBC.

“Browsers like Chrome can be very secure, but browser extensions can introduce serious gaps in their armor. The addition of browser extensions increases what is otherwise a small attack surface. Malicious extensions can be used to intercept and manipulate the data passing through the browser,” said Rick Holland, CISO of Digital Shadows, which helped the BBC analyze the breach.

As to the content of those messages:

Many of the messages are relatively benign and include simple chats about going on vacation and attending concerts. But as you’d expect, there are also more sensitive discussions, including “intimate correspondence between two lovers,” as the BBC describes it.

Hoped all 81K Facebook users whose private messages were sold!

Written by turbotodd

November 2, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Facebook’s Teen Problem

leave a comment »

CNBC had a story out yesterday citing data from investor analyst firm Piper Jaffray which indicated that teens are abandoning Facebook “at a staggering rate.”

But went on to say they’re still “flocking to sister app Instagram.”

Palo Alto, we have a problem.

The CNBC article indicated that just over a third of teenagers use the core Facebook platform at least once a month.

I wonder if a third of those are from Russia??

That number is “down significantly from 52 percent of teens two years ago and from close to two-thirds of teens in spring of 2016.”

On the plus side, Instagram “edged out SnapChat as the most-used social platform by teenagers for the first time” since Piper Jaffray started conducting its survey.

So, marketeers everywhere, uh, take more pictures?  

Maybe you can use that newfangled Apple iPhone XR, which is getting rave reviews across the board (and which comes in several hundred dollars less than the iPhone XS).

Speaking of Russians, The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. Cyber Command is now targeting individual Russian operatives “to try to deter them from spreading disinformation in elections.”

The campaign, which includes missions undertaken in recent days, is the first known overseas cyberoperation to protect American elections, including the November midterms.

Senior defense officials said they were not directly threatening the operatives. Still, former officials said anyone singled out would know, based on the United States government’s actions against other Russian operatives, that they could be indicted or targeted with sanctions. Even the unstated threat of sanctions could help deter some Russians from participating in covert disinformation campaigns, said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former intelligence official now with the Center for a New American Security.

Huh.  That only took a couple of years to get rolling.

Written by turbotodd

October 23, 2018 at 4:38 pm

Google’s Freaky Deaky

leave a comment »

Happy Hump Day.

First, it’s been a while since I wrote much about golf, and The Player’s Championship starts tomorrow at TPC Sawgrass, so I thought I would start with my list of likely winners (and in no particular order): Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, and Jordan Spieth. 

Now watch none of those win because *I* called it! 

Now, back on the tech front, Facebook has announced a sweeping new reorganization, according to Recode, appointing Chief Product Officer Chris Cox to now lead Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, and Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer to oversee AR/VR, AI, and Facebook’s foray into the blockchain.

Back over on the subcontinent, Walmart has agreed to a $16 billion deal to buy a majority stake in India’s Flipkart. Flipkart is an Indian e-commerce company based out of Bengaluru, 

According to a report from CNBC, Wallmart said it would acquire an initial stake of roughly 77 percent in Flipkart, while the remainder of the business would be held by existing investors.

More details:

Walmart said in a statement that its long-term aim would be to support Flipkart’s transition into a publicly-listed subsidiary. The retailer said it expects India’s e-commerce market to grow at four times the rate of the overall retail industry.

Walmart’s president and chief executive, Doug McMillon, said the investment in Flipkart was part of the company’s aim to invest in India’s fast-growing economy.

“India is one of the most attractive retail markets in the world, given its size and growth rate, and our investment is an opportunity to partner with the company that is leading transformation of e-commerce in the market,” McMillon said in a statement.

As for Google’s announcements at the first day of Google’s developer confab, Google I/O, yesterday, get ready to take some notes.

Google announced: Android P; AD-2, an Android TV streaming HDMI stick (for developers only, for now); App Bundles (lets Android devs define which parts of an app to download on a specific device); Android Jetpack (set of components to speed up app development); ML Kit (an SDK for devs to add AI smarts to iOS and Android apps).

That’s just some of what was announced. 

The most impressive demo at Day 1 was of Google Duplex, where the company demoed the Google Assistant calling another human to make reservations for a hair cut appointment. If watching that demo didn’t completely freak you out and, at the same time, be excited about watching as our robot overlords prepare to take over, I don’t know what will.

You can read more about how it works here.

Written by turbotodd

May 9, 2018 at 9:08 am

Posted in 2018, facebook

Tagged with ,

Didja Delete Your Facebook Yet?

leave a comment »

People around the globe are having a crisis of conscience.

Do I delete my Facebook account or do I not?

Even Hamlet didn’t have to contend with such an existential crisis.

Get a grip and some perspective, people.  Take a deep breath, and…one….hold…and two….

And then, if you’re really, really concerned about whether or not the privacy trade-off is worth keeping up with the virtual Joneses, Techpinions did some fast research of 1,000 Americans about their feelings and actions re: Facebook post-Cambridge Analytica;

The big takeaways:

  • 17% of respondents said they deleted the Facebook app from their phone over privacy concerns
  • 35% said they were using Facebook less than they used to over the privacy issue
  • 39% said they were “very aware” of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, while 37% said they were “somewhat aware.”
  • 9% reported deleting their Facebook account altogether

So, according to that report, nearly 1 in 10 have said “sayonara” to Facebook. 

For those who stayed, there’s the issue of perhaps exerting more usage of Facebook’s already-extensive privacy controls.  

Facebook VP of global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, spoke at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council in London, and indicated that “we have not seen wild changes in behavior with people saying I’m not going to share any data with Facebook anymore,” and that Facebook users largely haven’t changed their privacy settings in the past four weeks since the Cambridge story broke.

If you don’t want to break up with Facebook, but you’d like to exert more control of how your information is used there, check out this guidance from ZDNet.

It’s like getting your PhD in Facebook privacy!

Written by turbotodd

April 13, 2018 at 9:49 am

Posted in 2018, facebook, privacy

Tagged with , ,

You Thought You Had a Bad Tuesday

leave a comment »

You thought you had a bad Tuesday?

You weren’t sitting in front of a bunch of hot lights and a swarm of photographers before a joint session of the Commerce and Judiciary committees on Capitol Hill.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, was, and judging from coverage of his “performance,” he was a calm and cool customer, absorbing jibes, barbs, and other commentary and questions from a Senate with a wide range of perspectives (No report I’ve seen yet as to how many of the senators had taken campaign contributions from his inquisitors).

The Verge did a nice job of breaking down some of the key issues raised, and who raised them.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked about Facebook’s monopoly power (As in, IS Facebook one?). Zuckerberg: “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.”
  • Multiple senators raised the issue of whether Zuckerberg might consider a paid, ad-free version of Facebook. Zuckerberg said it was possible, but that there would always be a free version.
  • Leaning on AI to improve moderation on the platform: Zuckerberg “invoked the promise of AI to help Facebook quickly sort through hate speech and other problematic posts.”

In terms of actionability, Zuckerberg referred repeatedly to changes in the product that will better prevent data leakage and make privacy shortcuts easier to find, as well as restrict data shared with developers.

Will it be enough to keep regulation and/or legislation at bay? Doubtful. On the other hand, I hardly see a pro-regulatory government about to completely throw the book at one of the world’s most successful Internet companies.

So I’ll quote from that bastion of Congressional wisdom, SchoolHouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill”:

I’m just a bill
Yes I’m only a bill,
And I got as far as Capitol Hill.
Well, now I’m stuck in committee
And I’ll sit here and wait 
While a few key Congressmen discuss and debate
Whether they should let me be a law.
How I hope and pray that they will,
But today I am still just a bill.

Written by turbotodd

April 11, 2018 at 8:58 am

Posted in 2018, facebook, legislation, privacy

Tagged with , ,

We Still Connect People

leave a comment »

And…now the Facebook “memos” are starting to leak.

This one headlines a story from BuzzFeed, from Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook vice president writing on June 18, 2016:

So we connect more people. 

That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.

And still we connect people.

The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned.

The memo was apparently titled “The Ugly.”

What happened to the Good and the Bad preceding the Ugly?

BuzzFeed’s team suggests this memo “reveals the extent to which Facebook’s leadership understood the physical and social risks the platform’s products carried — even as the company downplayed those risks in public.”

And they point out Bosworth was no newbie — he’d been with the company since 2006, working on everything from the introduction of the News Feed (which many people forget instigated its own privacy outcry) to Facebook’s anti-abuse system and AR/VR efforts.

Mark Zuckerberg apparently didn’t respond at the time, but did respond to BuzzFeed after publication of their story:

Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We’ve never believed the ends justify the means.

We recognize that connecting people isn’t enough by itself. We also need to work to bring people closer together. We changed our whole mission and company focus to reflect this last year.

More from Bosworth’s memo:

I know a lot of people don’t want to hear this. Most of us have the luxury of working in the warm glow of building products consumers love. But make no mistake, growth tactics are how we got here. If you joined the company because it is doing great work, that’s why we get to do that great work. We do have great products but we still wouldn’t be half our size without pushing the envelope on growth. Nothing makes Facebook as valuable as having your friends on it, and no product decisions have gotten as many friends on as the ones made in growth. Not photo tagging. Not news feed. Not messenger. Nothing.

In almost all of our work, we have to answer hard questions about what we believe. We have to justify the metrics and make sure they aren’t losing out on a bigger picture. But connecting people. That’s our imperative. Because that’s what we do. We connect people.

The cynical business side of me says, “Of course it was all about growth.”

The humanitarian side of me’s reaction says, “Really? ‘We have to answer hard questions about what we believe?’”

What were the questions Facebookers asked themselves about their massive, breakneck growth, and what were their answers?

Once again, I refer you to Mark Zuckerberg’s coming testimony on Capitol Hill.  It could be the grilling of the century.

Written by turbotodd

March 30, 2018 at 8:57 am

Posted in 2018, facebook

Tagged with ,

Facebook to Limit 3rd Party Data

leave a comment »

Facebook is going to start to limit how much data it makes available to advertisers buying hyper-targeted ads on the social network, according to a report from Recode.

Specifically, Facebook has indicated it would stop using data from third-party data aggregators, including companies like Acxiom and Experian, both of which have extensive data stores of offline data such as purchasing activity which Facebook could use to supplement its own data set.

Recode recounts that Facebook previously let advertisers target people using data from a number of sources (beyond Experian and Acxiom), including:

  • Data from Facebook, which the company collects from user activity and profiles.
  • Data from the advertiser itself, like customer emails they’ve collected on their own.

Official confirmation of the move came from Graham Mudd, a product marketing manager at Facebook:

We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories,” Mudd said in the statement. “This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.

Recode notes, however, that even had the move been made earlier, this decision would not have impacted the outcome of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which that firm collected the personal data of some 50 million Facebook users without their permission.

In related news, Facebook has also introduced new, more centralized privacy controls that are “easier to find and use”:

We’ve redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they’re now accessible from a single place. We’ve also cleaned up outdated settings so it’s clear what information can and can’t be shared with apps.

The new “Privacy Shortcuts” menu is just that, a menu where you can “control your data in just a few taps, with clearer expectations of how our controls work.”

As for all the various and sundry your data has been used by the company in the past, I guess we’ll just have to wait for Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony on Capitol Hill.

Be sure to share with all your friends. ; )

Written by turbotodd

March 29, 2018 at 9:57 am

Posted in 2018, facebook, privacy, social media

Tagged with , ,

%d bloggers like this: