Posts tagged with "Twitter"

Here’s how to find out whether your Facebook data has been filched

April 6, 2021

Last weekend, cybersecurity experts revealed that about half a billion Facebook users’ personal information had been breached— a treasure trove of data the includes full names, birthdays, and phone numbers, CNN reports.

Facebook said that the massive hack stems from an issue in 2019, which has since been fixed. Still, there’s no clawing back that data. More than 30 million U.S. accounts were affected– and, CNN notes, the social media company isn’t making it easy to find out if your data was included in the breach.

But a third-party website, haveibeenpwned.com, has come to the rescue: It makes it simple to check whether your feed has been breached by inputting your email. For now, it just checks if your email was among those stolen.

That’s a pretty big catch: Although 533 million Facebook accounts were included in the breach, only 2.5 million of those included emails in the stolen data. So you’ve got less than a half-percent chance of showing up on that website, even though you’ve got about a 20% chance of being hacked if you’ve got a Facebook account. (This author was among those hacked.)

HaveIBeenPwned creator and security expert Troy Hunt said on Twitter that he’s examining whether to add phone numbers.

“The primary value of the data is the association of phone numbers to identities; whilst each record included a phone number, only 2.5 million contained an email address,” Hunt’s website said.

Although this data is from 2019, it could still be of value to hackers and cyber criminals like those who engage in identify theft.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to CNN on Monday about whether if it will create a way to see if their information was leaked.

Research contact: @CNN

For young ‘influencers,’ Instagram is exploring a version of the app for kids under 13

March 22, 2021

In a move certain to generate controversy, Instagram is developing a version of its popular photo-sharing app for users 13 and under, MarketWatch reports.

BuzzFeed News first reported on the project on March 18, and it was later confirmed by an Instagram executive.

To date, Instagram’s policy has not allowed users under 13 on the site. Instagram is owned by Facebook, which also has a minimum age of 13. However, despite these restrictions, a number of children under 13 already have surreptitious accounts on both sites.

Citing postings from an internal message board at Instagram, BuzzFeed reported the new app would be developed by Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri and Pavni Diwanji, a Facebook executive who previously oversaw children-focused products, including YouTube Kids, while working at Alphabet’s Google.

In a tweet Thursday, posted after the BuzzFeed report was published, Mosseri said: “Kids are increasingly asking their parents if they can join apps that help them keep up with their friends. A version of Instagram where parents have control, like we did w/ Messenger Kids, is something we’re exploring. We’ll share more down the road.”

Messenger Kids is a Facebook app on which parents can control whom their choose to communicate with. However, a bug was found in 2019 that allowed kids to communicate with not just their friends, but with friends of friends—including adults—whom their own parents had not vetted.

In a message-board post, Instagram said its kids version would emphasize privacy and safety, according to the BuzzFeed report.

Separately, MarketWatch notes, on Wednesday. March 17, Instagram announced new features and resources for its teen users and their parents, in an effort to protect users from abuse, bullying, and predators.

“Protecting young people on Instagram is important to us,” the company said in a blog post. “We want parents to have the information to help their teens have a safe and positive experience on Instagram.”

If launched, the app could face legal issues regarding children’s privacy and targeted advertising—and would likely spark heavy criticism from youth advocates on issues including harassment, sexting and mental health.

One Twitter user replied to Mosseri’s tweet: “We don’t just give stuff to kids because they WANT it. We don’t give kids dangerous tools to play with when grownups haven’t figured out how to make those tools safe.”

Research contact: @MarketWatch

Netflix begins cracking down on password sharing

March 15, 2021

Netflix has started clamping down on viewers who share passwords among separate households, CNET reports.

Some users recently have reported that they can no longer get past the login screen—having received a notification message informing them they needed to be in the same household as the account owner.

If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching,” the message reads, according to user reports on Twitter. A Netflix sign-up button is included with the message.

In case it’s the account owner trying to log in from a different location, Netflix gives the option of sending a verification code, CNET notes. So far, the message reportedly appears only on TV devices. Roku and iPhones are excluded.

Netflix commented on the situation, saying it’s more of a security measure, to make sure people are using accounts with permission.

“This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” a spokesperson from Netflix told CNET.

It’s unclear whether the measure will affect more devices in the future.

Research contact: @CNET

Square acquires majority of Tidal, Jay-Z’s streaming service, in $297 million deal

March 5, 2021

What did Jay-Z and Jack Dorsey talk about when they went yachting around the Hamptons together last summer? Beyoncé knows—and now we do, too, based on a report by The New York Times.

Square, the mobile payments company founded by Dorsey (who also is CEO of Twitter) announced on March 4 that it would acquire a “significant majority” of Tidal, the streaming music service owned by Jay-Z and other artists—including Jay-Z’s wife, Beyoncé, , and singer and entrepreneur Rihanna, who is a client of Jay-Z’s entertainment management company, Roc Nation.

Square will pay $297 million in stock and cash for the stake in Tidal. Jay-Z will join Square’s board, the Times says.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Jay-Z announced that he would sell 50% of  his champagne company, Armand de Brignac—better known as Ace of Spades—to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton amid a downturn in the entertainment industry caused by the pandemic that has affected some of Jay-Z’s holdings.

“I think Roc Nation will be fine,” Jay-Z said in an interview last month about the sale of Armand de Brignac. “Like all entertainment companies, it will eventually recover. You just have to be smart and prudent at a time like this.”

Also last month, Dorsey announced that he and Jay-Z had endowed a Bitcoin trust to support development in India and Africa.

Tidal, which Jay-Z bought in partnership with other artists in 2015 for $56 million, provides members access to music, music videos and exclusive content from artists—but the streaming music industry has been dominated by competitors like Spotify, Apple and Amazon.

In 2017, Jay-Z sold 33% of the company to Sprint for an undisclosed amount. (After a merger, Sprint is now a part of T-Mobile.) Earlier this week, Jay-Z bought back the shares from T-Mobile, and most will be sold to Square as part of the deal.

Dorsey and Jay-Z began to discuss the acquisition “a few months ago,”  Jesse Dorogusker, a Square executive who will lead Tidal on an interim basis, told the Times.

“It started as a conversation between the two of them,” he said. “They found that sense of common purpose.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Capitol Police say they are stepping up security based on intel on March 4 plot to breach Capitol

March 4, 2021

QAnon followers believe that former President Donald Trump will return to power on Thursday, March 4and U.S. Capitol Police officials said Wednesday that they have “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on [on that date],” ABC News reports.

The intelligence is being taken “seriously,” the officials said in a statement posted on Twitter. But are they ready?

“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers, the statement said, adding, “Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time.”

The statement issued Wednesday morning follows another Tuesday night in which officials said they had beefed up security, ABC News notes.

“The Department is aware of concerning information and intelligence pertaining to March 4th and continues to work with all of our law enforcement partners,” the federal law enforcement agency said in that statement. “Based on the intelligence that we have, the Department has taken immediate steps to enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4th. The Department has communicated our enhanced posture as well as the available intelligence for the entire workforce.”

The threats appear to stem from QAnon, the umbrella term for a set of disproven and discredited internet conspiracy theories that allege the world is run by a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles. Followers of the fringe movement believe that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen from Trump, who has pushed baseless claims of voter fraud along with his allies.

QAnon followers also believed that Trump would not actually leave office on Inauguration Day—but rather would declare martial law, announce mass arrests of Democrats, and stop Joe Biden from becoming president. When that didn’t happen, the date was moved from January 20 to March 4—the original inauguration day for all U.S. presidents prior to 1933.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation first labeled QAnon and its fluid online community of supporters as a “dangerous extremist group” in August 2019. A number of individuals believed to be QAnon followers have been charged for their alleged involvement in the deadly insurrection on January 6, when pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis issued a confidential assessment to law enforcement agencies, which was obtained by ABC News, saying that the threat of domestic violent extremism in 2020—largely driven by “violent anti-government or anti-authority narratives, periods of prolonged civil unrest and conspiracy theories”—is a trend that will likely continue in 2021 and “could escalate to include targeting of critical infrastructure.”

Research contact: @abcnews

 

Twitter floats letting users charge for exclusive content

March 1, 2021

On February 25, Twitter announced plans to build a new paid product called Super Follows, Bloomberg reports.

The social network describes Super Follows as a potential subscription product that will enable users to charge their followers for access to special content or experiences—part of a broader effort to diversify Twitter’s revenue sources and give high-profile users a way to make money on the service.

The company first mentioned the new feature during an Analyst Day event—describing it as an “account subscription” that would enable users to charge others on the service for certain content. This could be a number of things, including exclusive tweets, special access to another user’s direct messages or audio conversations, or a paid newsletter, said Twitter’s Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour,. The company plans to release Super Follows “sometime this year.”

According to Bloomberg, Twitter’s shares rose to an all-time high on the product announcement and an upbeat forecast for sales and user growth through 2023. San Francisco-based Twitter recently purchased newsletter startup Revue, and executives have said they are excited about letting newsletter writers build a paying audience on the service. The company is also considering “tipping,” or letting users donate money to people they enjoy following, and charging for Tweetdeck.

“We also think that an audience-funded model, where subscribers can directly fund the content that they value most, is a durable incentive model that aligns the interest of creators and consumers,” said Dantley Davis, Twitter’s chief design officer. Presumably, Twitter would take a cut of the subscription fee.

Twitter executives also talked about the need to move fast—pointing out that the company historically has moved too slowly when it comes to launching and testing new products. “We agree we’ve been slow,” Co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said to start the event. “If you compare us to our peers on the market, this is especially stark.”

In addition to goals around revenue and user growth, Twitter also said it wants to “double development velocity” by 2023, which means “doubling the number of features shipped per employee.”

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Parler reappears with help from Russian-owned security service

January 20, 2021

Parler—a social network similar to Twitter to which then-President Donald Trump fled after he was tossed off his @realDonaldTrump feed for bad behavior—has reappeared.

Early in January, Parler also was taken down—by big tech companies Apple, Google, and Amazon after it was used by members to send messages inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol. However, its website is back  up—powered by a hosting service from DDoS-Guard, a Web security service that is owned by two Russians, according to a report by The Boston Globe.

“Our return is inevitable due to hard work and persistence against all odds,” CEO John Matze wrote in a new post—the latest since Amazon Web Services stopped hosting the site and it was banned from Apple and Google’s app stores. “Despite the threats and harassment not one Parler employee has quit. We are becoming closer and stronger as a team.”

According to the Globe, public data associated with the Parler.com domain name shows that one of the Internet servers it directs visitors to is routed via DDoS-Guard. Another server, specifically for routing Parler.com e-mail but not website content, is an Outlook.com address, operated by Microsoft.

A spokesperson for DDoS-Guard said the company was not hosting Parler and declined to comment on what services it was providing to the social media app. It confirmed it did store customer data as part of its offering.

On Sunday, January 17, Apple CEO Tim Cook defended Apple’s decision to delist the Parler app despite complaints from critics that the move impinges on free speech.

“We looked at the incitement to violence that was on there,” Cook said on Fox News Sunday, adding, ”We don’t consider that free speech and incitement to violence has an intersection.”

Parler’s domain name is now registered with Epik, a website services company based in Sammamish, Washington, according to public records made available by Internet regulator Icann. Epik is also the domain registrar for Gab, another less restrictive social networking site popular with the far right.

Most of the features on Parler.com appeared to remain down early Tuesday, the Globe reports—besides statements from Matze and other employees. Members are unable to log in or post messages and the app is still unavailable in the Apple or Google Play stores.

Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Epik said in a sprawling statement on its website from JanIuary 11 that it’s had “no contact or discussions with Parler in any form.” The statement also addressed propaganda, breakdowns in civil society, and editorial malfeasance on the part of “major media owners.”

Before its ban, Parler—which has less restrictive terms dictating what members can post and was endorsed by some Republican lawmakers and media figures—had seen a surge in users as Twitter and Facebook banished outgoing President Trump along with users and groups that supported the violence.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

 

Trump supporters flee to MeWe, Gab, and Rumble after Parler goes offline

January 13, 2021

Now that the account of @realDonaldTrump has been banned from Twitter—and both Apple and Google have dropped Parler from their app stores—supporters are flocking to the social media sites MeWe, Gab, and Rumble, Fortune reports.

Gab, a service that claims to champion free speech, said it added 600,000 new users over the weekend. Meanwhile, MeWe, a similar service, said it has added 400,000 users every day since Saturday and now has more than 14 million members.

The gains follow Sunday’s shut down of conservative social network Parler, which went offline after Amazon web hosting service dumped Parler as a customer because of violent posts and threats in wake of the Capitol riot. Shortly beforehand, both Apple and Google had banned Parler from their app stores.

Adding to the increased interest in alternative social media sites are bans by Twitter and Facebook on President Trump and other high-profile conservative personalities..

On Monday, Fortune notes, Facebook went to the additional step of removing content containing the phrase “stop the steal” in hopes of preventing future violence. The phrase is a popular rallying call of Trump supporters who falsely believe there was widespread fraud in the presidential election.

“It’s almost like the perfect storm,” MeWe CEO Mark Weinstein told the news outlet, adding, “The melting pot of people coming to MeWe are coming from all directions.”

Weinstein hammered home the point that his goal is to be “more vigilant” in moderating content on his service, and that he does not want to be an “anything goes” app—a thinly veiled swipe at Parler’s lax approach.

He said that MeWe has just shy of 100 content moderators who review posts on its service, and that they actually adhere to “strict” terms of service that includes the possibility that they’ll alert authorities about any concerning posts. But on Monday, several QAnon and “patriot” private groups could be found, one of which called Patriots Unleashed asked users if they were “armed and ready” before allowing them to join.

Weinstein acknowledged that some of MeWe’s user growth has been due to Parler shutting down. But he added that the app was growing prior to the election and riots. As a result, he said MeWe’s users have a wide array of political views, and are not just Trumpists.

“Those other guys, they’re opinion chambers,” he said about Parler and Gab. “We’re a social network.”

The rise of alternative social media services began late last year after Facebook and Twitter began labeling and removing more posts on their services for election misinformation. Conservatives considered the crackdown to be evidence of bias against them and President Trump.

For example, Rumble, a little-known YouTube rival, suddenly soared in popularity. Over the weekend, users downloaded its app 162,000 times— a nearly 10-fold gain from last weekend, Fortune says.

But Mark Shmulik, analyst at investment bank AB Bernstein, said he doesn’t expect the latest rise in popularity of MeWe and Gab to be long-lasting. “It’s a fad,” he said. “There will be a little niche, but it won’t disrupt what we’re seeing on Twitter.”

Shmulik said Twitter and Facebook, though growing slower, are far larger and also attract a more diverse set of users with a diverse set of thoughts. That’s what makes big social media companies more engaging than the upstarts, he added, which he described as the “equivalent to Trump rallies.”

“You can continue that, but at some point you have to reach the masses,” Shmulik said.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Dominion brings $1.3 billion defamation suit against ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell

January 11, 2021

Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems—which serves 28 U.S. states nationwide—has brought a $1.3 billion defamation suit against the conservative lawyer Sidney Powel, alleging that her false and outlandish claims about fraud in the 2020 election “caused unprecedented harm,” CNBC reports.

The suit is the first in an expected flurry of high-priced litigation against prominent conspiracy theorists and right-wing media organizations that have spread baseless falsehoods about President Donald Trump’s defeat in last November’s election.

It comes as the nation continues to reckon with the aftermath of Wednesday’s deadly insurrection by a mob of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The supplier of voting machines brought the suit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The company warned last month that it would bring defamation suits against those trumpeting conspiracy theories about its voting machines, including Fox News and major media personalities.

Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment  from CNBC. The attorney, a former member of Trump’s legal team, has falsely claimed among other things that Dominion was somehow created by the deceased Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to rig the 2020 contest. Chavez died in 2013.

“As a result of the defamatory falsehoods peddled by Powell—in concert with likeminded allies and media outlets who were determined to promote a false preconceived narrative—Dominion’s founder, Dominion’s employees, Georgia’s governor, and Georgia’s secretary of state have been harassed and have received death threats, and Dominion has suffered enormous harm,” Dominion attorney Thomas Clare said in the 124-page lawsuit.

The suit says the company issued Powell a letter formally warning her to stop lying about the company, and cited a tweet that she posted shortly afterward refusing to do so.

“Powell doubled down, tweeting to her 1.2 million Twitter followers that she heard that ‘#Dominion’ had written to her and that, although she had not even seen Dominion’s letter yet, she was ‘retracting nothing’ because ‘[w]e have #evidence’ and ‘They are #fraud masters!’,” the company said.

Dominion asked the court to award it at least $651,735,000 in compensatory damages and the same amount in punitive damages, in addition to paying for the expenses it incurred filing the litigation. The suit lists Defending the Republic, a company Powell has used for fundraising purposes, as a defendant alongside Powell.

Powell, L. Lin Wood and Brannon Castleberry are the directors of Defending the Republic.

Powell and Wood, another conspiracy theorist lawyer, held a joint “Stop the Steal” rally in Georgia in December in which they spread conspiracy theories about the election. Wood frequently tweeted conspiracy theories about Chief Justice John Roberts and the election until he was banned from the platform this week.

Powell, a former federal prosecutor, and Wood, had filed lawsuits in district courts in Georgia and Michigan seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election. All of the lawsuits have been dismissed.

“Powell and Wood filed their election lawsuits—which never had a chance of reversing the results of the election—with the obvious and cynical purpose of creating court documents they could post on their fundraising websites and tout as ‘evidence’ during their media campaign,” the Dominion lawsuit says.

It also accuses the attorneys of seeking “to raise funds and their public profiles, and to ingratiate themselves to Donald Trump for additional benefits and opportunities that they expected to receive as a result of their association with him.”

Wood did not immediately return a request for comment from CNBC.

Other lawsuits are expected shortly.

Research contact: @CNBC

COVID aid package in limbo after Trump’s surprise demand to boost direct payments

December 24, 2020

Outgoing President Donald Trump’s last-minute demand to increase the size of direct payments to Americans—from $600 to $2,000— threw the status of the U.S. Congress’s coronavirus relief package into limbo Wednesday, just days before many crucial support programs expire, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In a video posted on Tuesday night, December 22, on Twitter, the president criticized the legislation and called on lawmakers to increase direct payments to Americans to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples—up from $600 per adult and per child, the current level in the bill.

His unexpected broadside against the bill unleashed another standoff between the White House and Capitol Hill—where, the Journal said, Senate Republicans had angered Trump by acknowledging Democrat Joe Biden as the president-elect.

Trump already had threatened to veto the annual defense policy bill, which passed both chambers of Congress with broad, bipartisan support.

His pushback on the coronavirus relief package surprised lawmakers, many of whom already had departed Washington after Congress overwhelmingly approved the relief bill in a 92-6 vote in the Senate and 359-53 in the House. The 5,593-page year-end package combines the coronavirus relief and a $1.4 trillion spending bill needed to fund the government through next September, the Journal reported.

The final bill approved by Congress carrying the $600 check to no public role. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been the main White House negotiator in talks with congressional leaders—who said the final agreement had the support of President Trump. The president waited nearly a full day after it had passed both chambers of Congress to lodge his complaints.

Democrats, who had pressed for higher direct payments during the negotiations, welcomed the opportunity to seek more aid for households struggling from the economic impacts of the pandemic. They also called on. Trump to sign the sweeping year-end package, which includes extensions of unemployment benefits, among other coronavirus relief measures.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said on Twitter late Tuesday that she would try this week to pass under unanimous consent legislation approving $2,000 checks. Multiple Democrats had already prepared legislation authorizing the larger checks.

“I’m in. Whaddya say, Mitch?” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York.) said on Twitter late Tuesday, retweeting a comment from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D.-New York), who said she had a $2,000 check bill ready to go. “The American people deserve it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who had pushed to keep the coronavirus aid package’s cost below $900 billion, has notyet commented on Trump’s new stance.

Research contact  @WSJ