Showing posts with label Social media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social media. Show all posts

Sunday, 1 July 2018

So what has Facebook Inc been up to lately?


Everything from admitting to further data breaches, to altering images, to supressing legitimate content, to considering payment for access, to shareholder revolt, it seems......

The Herald Sun reported on 9 June 2018 at p.59:

Facebook is ­embroiled in another data privacy scandal, confirming a software bug led to the private posts of 14 million users being made public.

According to Facebook, the bug was active from May 18 to May 27 and changed the privacy settings of some users without telling them.

“Today we started letting the 14 million people affected know — and asking them to review any posts they made during that time,” Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan said.

“To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before, and they could still choose their audience just as they always have.” It was unclear yesterday how many Australian users were affected. Facebook said the bug occ­urred during the development of a new share function that ­allowed users to share featured items on their profile page, such as a photo.

“The problem has been fixed, and for anyone affected, we changed the audience back to what they’d been using before,” Ms Egan said.

Facebook has urged affected customers to review posts made between May 18 and May 27 to see if any private posts had been automatically made public.

The latest issue comes as Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg faces the prospect of a public grilling before the Aus­tralian parliament’s intelligence and security committee.
Facebook admitted this week it had struck data partnerships — where it shares the personal data of people on the social media platform — with at least four Chinese electronics companies, including Huawei Technologies.

Huawei has been barred from a series of major projects in Australia over concerns about its close links to the Chinese government.

Members of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee want Mr Zuckerberg to come to Australia and answer questions about the data-sharing pact.

On 18 June 2018 The Sun reported that Facebook Inc had begun to manipulate images – effectively producing ‘fake images’ that were being passed off a real.

Then on 20 June 2018 Facebook Inc. declared its intention to charge certain private group users for participation on its platforms:

Today, we’re piloting subscriptions with a small number of groups to continue to support group admins who lead these communities.

This world-wide social platform apparently expects that if it formally launches this access fee (reportedly up to $360 a year) then these costs to be passed on as subscription fees – with Facebook  letting administrators charge subscription fees from $4.99 to $29.99 each month to join premium subgroups containing exclusive posts.

Presumably, if the market responds in sufficient numbers then Facebook will change the rules and demand that private groups hand over a percentage of subscription fees collected.

The Guardian, 24 June 2018:

George Orwell wrote in his essay Politics and the English Language: “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues.” 

When Facebook constructed a new archive of political advertising, had it thought a little more about this concept of what is “political”, it might have more accurately anticipated the subsequent Orwellian headache. As it is, journalists are finding their articles restricted from promotion because they are lumped in with campaigning materials from politicians, lobby groups and advocacy organisations.

The new archive of ads with political content, which Facebook made public last month, has become the latest contested piece of territory between platforms and publishers. The complaint from publishers is that Facebook is categorising posts in which they are promoting their own journalism (paying money to target particular groups of the audience) as “political ads”. Publishers have reacted furiously to what they see as toxic taxonomy.

Mark Thompson, the chief executive of the New York Times, has been the most vocal critic, describing Facebook’s practices as “a threat to democracy” and criticising the platform in a recent speech to the Open Markets Initiative in Washington DC. “When it comes to news, Facebook still doesn’t get it,” said Thompson. “In its effort to clear up one bad mess, it seems to be joining those who want to blur the line between reality-based journalism and propaganda.”

At a separate event at Columbia University, Thompson and Facebook’s head of news partnerships, Campbell Brown, fought openly about the initiative. Thompson showed examples of where New York Times articles, including recipes, had been wrongly flagged as political. Brown emphasised that the archive was being refined, but stood firm on the principle that promoted journalism ought to be flagged as “paid-for” political posts. “On this you are just wrong,” she told Thompson.

Publishers took to social platforms to question the labelling and representation of their work. One of the most egregious examples came from investigative journalism organisation Reveal. Last week, at the height of the scandal around the separation of undocumented migrant families crossing the US border, it published an exclusive story involving the alleged drugging of children at a centre housing immigrant minors. It was flagged in the Facebook system as containing political content, and as Reveal had not registered its promotion of the story, the promoted posts were stifled. Facebook did not remove the article, but rather stopped its paid circulation. Given the importance of paid promotion, it is not surprising that publishers see this as amounting to the same thing.

And trust issues can be found both inside and outside Facebook's castle walls.....

Business Insider, 24 June 2018:

A Survata study, seen exclusively by Business Insider, asked US consumers to rate big tech companies from one (most trusted) to five (least trusted). Survata surveyed more than 2,600 people in April and May. It’s the first time Survata has carried out the survey.

The results show that Facebook is nowhere near as trusted as Amazon, PayPal, or Microsoft – but that people do trust it more than Instagram. Instagram, of course, is owned by Facebook.

Here’s the top 15 in order of most to least trusted:
1 .Amazon
2. PayPal
3. Microsoft
4. Apple
5. IBM
6. Yahoo
7. Google
8. YouTube
9. eBay
10. Pandora
11. Facebook
12. LinkedIn
13. Spotify
14. AOL
15. Instagram

Business Insider, 26 June 2018:

Shareholders with nearly $US3 billion invested Facebook are trying to topple Mark Zuckerberg as chairman and tear up the company’s governance structure.

Business Insider has spoken with six prominent shareholders who said there was an unprecedented level of unrest among Facebook’s backers following a series of scandals.

They are in open revolt about Zuckerberg’s power base, which gives him the ability to swat away any shareholder proposal he disagrees with.

 One investor compared him to a robber baron, a derogatory term for 19th-century US tycoons who accumulated enormous wealth.

Facebook says its governance structure is “sound and effective” and splitting Zuckerberg’s duties as chairman and CEO would cause “uncertainty, confusion, and inefficiency.”

Finally, it was reported on 29 June 2018 by IT News that, you guessed it, yet another Facebook sponsored personality test was allowing data to be extracted without the users knowledge or informed consent:

A security researcher has found that a popular personality test app running on Facebook contained an easily exploitable flaw that could be used to expose sensitive information on tens of millions of users.

Belgian security researcher Inti De Ceukelaire joined Facebook's bug bounty program, set up by the giant social network after the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal and tried out the NameTests.com's personality test app developed by Social Sweethearts.

De Ceukelaire discovered that when he loaded a personality test, NameTests.com fetched his personal data from Facebook and displayed it on a webpage.

He was shocked to see that users' personal data was wrapped in a Javascript file by NameTests.com, which could be accessed via a weblink over the plain text HTTP protocol.

This meant that any website that requested the file could access the personal information retrieved from users' Facebook accounts.

The security researcher tested this by setting up a website that connected to NameTests.com and was able to access Facebook posts, photos and friend lists belonging to visitors.

Information leaked included people's Facebook IDs, first and last names, languages used, gender, date of birth, profile pictures, cover photo, currency, devices used, and much more.

Worse, De Ceukelaire found that NameTests.com doesn't log off users which means the site would continue to leak user data even after the app was deleted.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A Turnbull Government Minister Gets The Dig In - then tries to remove the evidence


This was Australian Treasurer and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison having second thoughts....


This was the tweeted video Morrison was attempting to hide....
The video still lives on Twitter because although Morrison could be incredibly childish he couldn't be all that original....
Journalist Alice Workman tweeting @nickwray's creation, 11 May 2018

 Even the UnbelievaBill has tag is not original - see Instragram hash tag - and then there is poor Bill D who as @unbelievabill must wonder what is happening to his Twitter mentions.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Away from the spotlight of congressional hearings Zuckerberg and Facebook Inc. show their true colours – implementing weaker privacy protection for 1.5 billion users


The Guardian, 19 April 2018:

Facebook has moved more than 1.5 billion users out of reach of European privacy law, despite a promise from Mark Zuckerberg to apply the “spirit” of the legislation globally.

In a tweak to its terms and conditions, Facebook is shifting the responsibility for all users outside the US, Canada and the EU from its international HQ in Ireland to its main offices in California. It means that those users will now be on a site governed by US law rather than Irish law.

The move is due to come into effect shortly before General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in Europe on 25 May. Facebook is liable under GDPR for fines of up to 4% of its global turnover – around $1.6bn – if it breaks the new data protection rules.

The shift highlights the cautious phrasing Facebook has applied to its promises around GDPR. Earlier this month, when asked whether his company would promise GDPR protections to its users worldwide, Zuckerberg demurred. “We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing,” he said.
A week later, during his hearings in front of the US Congress, Zuckerberg was again asked if he would promise that GDPR’s protections would apply to all Facebook users. His answer was affirmative – but only referred to GDPR “controls”, rather than “protections”. Worldwide, Facebook has rolled out a suite of tools to let users exercise their rights under GDPR, such as downloading and deleting data, and the company’s new consent-gathering controls are similarly universal.

Facebook told Reuters “we apply the same privacy protections everywhere, regardless of whether your agreement is with Facebook Inc or Facebook Ireland”. It said the change was only carried out “because EU law requires specific language” in mandated privacy notices, which US law does not.

In a statement to the Guardian, it added: “We have been clear that we are offering everyone who uses Facebook the same privacy protections, controls and settings, no matter where they live. These updates do not change that.”

Privacy researcher Lukasz Olejnik disagreed, noting that the change carried large ramifications for the affected users. “Moving around one and a half billion users into other jurisdictions is not a simple copy-and-paste exercise,” he said.

“This is a major and unprecedented change in the data privacy landscape. The change will amount to the reduction of privacy guarantees and the rights of users, with a number of ramifications, notably for consent requirements. Users will clearly lose some existing rights, as US standards are lower than those in Europe.

“Data protection authorities from the countries of the affected users, such as New Zealand and Australia, may want to reassess this situation and analyse the situation. 

Even if their data privacy regulators are less rapid than those in Europe, this event is giving them a chance to act. Although it is unclear how active they will choose to be, the global privacy regulation landscape is changing, with countries in the world refining their approach. Europe is clearly on the forefront of this competition, but we should expect other countries to eventually catch up.” [my yellow highlighting]

NOTE:

The Australian Dept. of Human Services still continues to invite those who use its welfare services to visit its five Facebook pages on which it will:


* post about payments and services 

* answer questions 
* give useful tips 
* share news, and 
* give updates on relevant issue

All associated data (including questions and answers) will of course be captured by Facebook, then collated, transferred, stored overseas, monetised and possibly 'weaponised' during the next election campaign cycle which occurs in the area visitors to these pages live.


Monday, 26 February 2018

Facebook Inc remains part of the problem


Tin-eared social media giant Facebook Inc demonstrates once again that it is part of the problem and not part of the solution, as it promotes toxic gun culture at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference and fails to come to grips with its part in spreading conspiracy theories and "fake news".

Gizmondo, 25 February 2018:

Facebook has pulled a demo of Oculus Rift's VR shooter Bullet Train from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland amid concerns over gun violence, Variety reported earlier.

It doesn't appear to have been Bullet Train's violent content that prompted the withdrawal per se, but rather that CPAC draws lots of gun rights advocates right at the same time those same National Rifle Association types are drawing a massive wave of criticism in the wake of another school massacre in Parkland, Florida this month.

A number of companies have cut ties with the NRA, like software firm Symantec, which decided to pull discounts for the pro-gun group's members this week. A running New York Times tally of others to do so includes banks, airlines, automotive rentals and services, insurance companies, and a home security company.

As the Times noted on Friday, boycott campaigns tend to fade over time but this time the pressure has built quickly, buoyed by a number of Parkland survivors speaking out on social media and leaving some corporations with no middle ground to recede to.
demo clip of Bullet Train hosted on the Oculus Rift website shows that at least one level in the game involves the player fighting through waves of "resistance forces" in a fairly generic rail station setting. It does not appear to be particularly bloody, though video of CPAC attendees using the game's motion-tracking controls in a vague pantomime of actual shooting probably did not help, either.

In a statement to Variety, Facebook virtual reality VP Hugo Barra said:

There is a standard set of experiences included in the Oculus demos we feature at public events. A few of the action games can include violence. In light of the recent events in Florida and out of respect for the victims and their families, we have removed them from this demo. We regret that we failed to do so in the first place.

Yet the optics of the Oculus Rift demo are probably not the most important issue Facebook should be worried about right now.

Facebook itself has also come under fire for the rapid spread of conspiracy theories about the Parkland shooting, which as CNN noted migrate from internet underbellies like 4chan onto mainstream social media sites via "conservative pages, alt-right personalities, nationalist blogs and far-right pundits." Posts on Facebook promoting the idiotic smear that survivors speaking out against guns were "crisis actors," i.e. some hazily defined variety of professional propagandists paid off to promote gun control, went far and wide; the social media giant repeatedly declined to discuss how it was enforcing violations of its community guidelines against offenders when asked by CNN.

Per the New York Times, it is still really, really easy to find hundreds of posts claiming the shooting was part of a "deep state" black flag operation or the like using Facebook's built-in search option, which kind of calls into question the company's sincerity:

On Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, searches for the hashtag #crisisactor, which accused the Parkland survivors of being actors, turned up hundreds of posts perpetuating the falsehood (though some also criticised the conspiracy theory). Many of the posts had been tweaked ever so slightly -- for example, videos had been renamed #propaganda rather than #hoax -- to evade automated detection.

The spread of the theories on Facebook has also caused some in the tech media to question whether the long-maligned and ill-defined "trending" metric should be retired. Users who post conspiracy theories often rabidly engage with others promoting similar ideas, which in numerous instances means the posts are promoted right to the top of Facebook and other sites like YouTube.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Is this 'fake news' site on YouTube just American home-grown nutters or is this a Russian-backed bad actor?


Freedom Daily says of itself that it exists topresent a forum for discussing meaningful conservative American and world news,from a perspective that is not your normal agenda-based Beltway bull. Articles on Freedom Daily are posted by members who are warriors for America’s freedom.We post and decipher content to a level that is consistent with a common senseapproach and falls in line with the ideals of American liberty and freedom.

This is the text of one of the videos it displays on YouTube.


Published on Feb 5, 2018
Over the last several weeks, the walls have been closing in around Barack Obama and the rest of his liberal minions in Washington D.C., as more evidence is revealed to the public concerning the criminal acts committed under his watch. It is apparent that the pressure is getting to the Obama family as Michelle has distanced herself from her corrupt husband by taking long vacations overseas alone. A damning video has emerged that could be all the evidence President Trump needed to put both Barack and Michelle Obama behind bars for a long time, and there is nothing they can do about it. 
Over the last two Presidential terms, the American people have had to sit and watch as Barack Obama made a mockery of the constitution and our nation's laws. For too long Obama was able to get away with numerous crimes, and we as conservatives began to feel hopeless. However, that all changed the moment that Donald Trump stepped on the scene, breathing new life into our country and promising that those who were corrupt would face dire consequences. 
The left scoffed at the very prospect of a Trump presidency, but to be safe, they began to craft a devious plan to protect the criminal elite hiding in D.C., knowing that Trump would come after them all. After Trump won the presidential election, the left sprung into action ready with their plan to protect their own including Barack Obama and of course, Hillary Clinton. 
Trump is not anyone's fool and was well aware that when he stepped foot into the White House. Trump knew the White House would be teeming with swamp creatures poised and ready to attack. Trump bided his time and made sure he chose wisely on who to allow into his inner circle, and one man who made the cut was Inspector General Michael Horowitz. 
Horowitz is what you would call a police departments "internal affairs" field, where he investigates the FBI and DOJ to ensure that all are playing by the same rules and held to the same standard of integrity as everyone else. Also, it is important to note that Horowitz was not a fan of the Obama administration after witnessing the despicable crimes that these leftist rats thought they got away with, such as the Hillary Clinton email scandal. 
The Inspector General conducted a sting operation last year into the corrupt FBI and DOJ and what he found was astounding. In fact, the Hillary email scandal and the Russian-collusion false narrative is just the beginning of the horrific crimes that occurred under the Obama administration. 
The FISA memo is mere child's play compared to the rest of crimes Obama and his minions committed, which brings us to the damning video. 
Rep. Steve King recently found an interview with Barack Obama in April 2016, where he "guarantees" to the American people that there was no corruption occurring in the FBI and DOJ. Well, that is funny since the FISA memo states that members of Obama's administration signed off on warrants to wiretap Trump based on false information. It was not just false information, but it was information that was manufactured all lies in a fake Russian scandal in an attempt to impeach Trump if he did get elected. 
Of course, you know this is driving Obama and Michelle crazy since they see the writing on the wall. The Obama's still have some friends left in D.C., and the word on the street is that there will be an inditement for Barack coming at the end of March. Now, here is where some could say is just a coincidence, but I don't believe in coincidences and neither should you. 
According to recent reports, Barack Obama is planning on taking his corrupt tail to New Zealand in March to celebrate the opening of Air New Zealand's new route to the U.S. Here is more from New Zealand Herald: 
"Former US President Barack Obama will finally go ahead with his promise to visit New Zealand on a trip in March. 
The Herald on Sunday understands Obama will visit on about March 21 arranged by Air New Zealand. 
It is understood the contract is due to be finalised and the visit announced next week. 
The reason for the visit is unknown but there has been speculation Air NZ is about to launch a new route to the United States, likely Chicago which is Obama's hometown.
Snopes calls Freedom Daily a disreputable website. One can understand why.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Oh dear, is the Turnbull Government asking chickens to visit the digital fox's den?


“The Turnbull Government has welcomed the eSafety Commissioner’s announcement today about the delivery of the pilot for a new national portal for reporting instances of non-consensual sharing of intimate images (colloquially known as image-based abuse or revenge pornography).”  [Senator Mitch Fifield, media release,15 October 2017]

Given the dubious reputation Facebook Inc has managed to garner in relation to business ethics, transparency, consumer privacy, e-safety, data mining and data breach history, one wonders what the Minister for Communications and Liberal Senator for Victoria Mitch Fifield was thinking.

Facebook Newsroom, 9 November 2017:

Image Pilot
By Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety

We don’t want Facebook to be a place where people fear their intimate images will be shared without their consent. We’re constantly working to prevent this kind of abuse and keep this content out of our community. We recently announced a test that’s a little different from things we’ve tried in the past. Even though this is a small pilot, we want to be clear about how it works.

This past week, in partnership with the Australian eSafety Commissioner’s Office and an international working group of survivors, victim advocates and other experts, Facebook launched a limited pilot in Australia that will help prevent non-consensual intimate images from being posted and shared anywhere on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Specifically, Australians who fear their intimate image may be shared without their consent can work with the eSafety Commissioner to provide that image in a safe and secure way to Facebook so that we can help prevent it from being shared on our platforms.

To be clear, people can already report if their intimate images have been shared on our platform without their consent, and we will remove and hash them to help prevent further sharing on our platform. With this new small pilot, we want to test an emergency option for people to provide a photo proactively to Facebook, so it never gets shared in the first place. This program is completely voluntary. It’s a protective measure that can help prevent a much worse scenario where an image is shared more widely. We look forward to getting feedback and learning.

Here’s how it works:

* Australians can complete an online form on the eSafety Commissioner’s official website.

* To establish which image is of concern, people will be asked to send the image to themselves on Messenger.

* The eSafety Commissioner’s office notifies us of the submission (via their form). However, they do not have access to the actual image.

* Once we receive this notification, a specially trained representative from our Community Operations team reviews and hashes the image, which creates a human-unreadable, numerical fingerprint of it.

* We store the photo hash—not the photo—to prevent someone from uploading the photo in the future. If someone tries to upload the image to our platform, like all photos on Facebook, it is run through a database of these hashes and if it matches we do not allow it to be posted or shared.

* Once we hash the photo, we notify the person who submitted the report via the secure email they provided to the eSafety Commissioner’s office and ask them to delete the photo from the Messenger thread on their device. Once they delete the image from the thread, we will delete the image from our servers……..

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Trump administration seeking information on thousands of people who interacted with anti-Trump Facebook page


CNN Politics, 29 September 2017:

Washington (CNN)Trump administration lawyers are demanding the private account information of potentially thousands of Facebook users in three separate search warrants served on the social media giant, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

The warrants specifically target the accounts of three Facebook users who are described by their attorneys as "anti-administration activists who have spoken out at organized events, and who are generally very critical of this administration's policies."….

These warrants were first reported by LawNewz.com.

Facebook has not responded to a request for comment about whether it has, or plans to, comply with the search warrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the three Facebook users, filed a motion to quash the warrants Thursday.

"What is particularly chilling about these warrants is that anti-administration political activists are going to have their political associations and views scrutinized by the very administration they are protesting," said ACLU attorney Scott Michelman.

Facebook was initially served the warrants in February 2017 along with a gag order which barred the social media company from alerting the three users that the government was seeking their private information, Michelman said. However, Michelman says that government attorneys dropped the gag order in mid-September and agreed that Facebook could expose the existence of these warrants, which has prompted the latest court filings. Michelman, however, says all court filings associated with the search warrant, and any response from Facebook, remain under seal.

The Justice Department is not commenting on these search warrants, but government attorneys have issued a similar search warrant to the web provider DreamHost seeking wide-ranging information about visitors to the website disruptj20.org, which provided a forum for anti-Trump protestors. In that case, DOJ modified its initial search warrant seeking millions of IP address for the visitors who merely clicked on the disruptj20.org website. But DC Superior Court Judge Robert Morin largely granted prosecutors' request to collect a vast set of records from the company, which will include emails of the users who signed up for an account associated with the website, and membership lists……

American Civil Liberties Union DC, media release, 28 September 2017:

Overbroad Search Warrant Implicates Private Pages of Two Local Activists and First Amendment Rights of Thousands of Facebook Users

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia (ACLU-DC) went to court today to block the enforcement of search warrants targeting three Facebook accounts as part of the government’s investigation and prosecution of activists arrested on Inauguration Day 2017 in Washington D.C.

Two of the warrants would require Facebook to disclose to the government all information from the personal Facebook profiles of local DisruptJ20 activists Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour from November 1, 2016 through February 9, 2017. Although the warrants claim to seek only evidence in support of the government’s prosecutions of January 20 demonstrations, they demand—among other things—all private messages, friend lists, status updates, comments, photos, video, and other private information solely intended for the users’ Facebook friends and family, even if they have nothing to do with Inauguration Day. The warrants also seek information about actions taken on Facebook, including all searches performed by the users, groups or networks joined, and all “data and information that has been deleted by the user.”

The third search warrant was issued for the “DisruptJ20” Facebook page (now called “Resist This”), administered and moderated by Emmelia Talarico. Although the page is public, the warrant would require the disclosure of non-public lists of people who planned to attend political organizing events and even the names of people who simply liked, followed, reacted to, commented on, or otherwise engaged with the content on the Facebook page. During the three-month span the search warrant covers, approximately 6,000 Facebook users liked the page.
The ACLU-DC filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the Facebook users whose accounts are targeted, and a motion to quash or modify the search warrants, arguing that the warrants are overbroad under the Fourth Amendment (which protects personal privacy) and are particularly problematic because the lawful political associations and activities of the users and thousands of third parties will be revealed. The ACLU filing asks the court either to void the warrants outright or to appoint a “special master” who is not part of the prosecutor’s office, to review the Facebook information before providing to the prosecutor only the material—if there is any—relevant to their criminal prosecutions.

“Opening up the entire contents of a personal Facebook page for review by the government is a gross invasion of privacy,” said Scott Michelman, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU-DC.  “The primary purpose of the Fourth Amendment was to prevent this type of exploratory rummaging through a person’s private information. Moreover, when law enforcement officers can comb through records concerning political organizing in opposition to the very administration for which those officers work, the result is the chilling of First Amendment-protected political activity.”

None of the ACLU-DC’s clients in today’s filing has been charged by the U.S. Attorney with any Inauguration Day-related crimes.

The public first learned of this case when Facebook revealed it had received the warrants and challenged a gag order attached to the warrants that prevented the company from notifying its customers that their information was sought by federal law enforcement. Public interest groups including the ACLU, ACLU-DC, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Citizen, as well as internet companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft, filed friend-of-the-court briefs arguing that the gag order should be lifted so the Facebook users could challenge the constitutionality of the search warrants under the First and Fourth Amendments. On the eve of the hearing on the gag order before the D.C. Court of Appeals, the government abruptly withdrew the order. Facebook then notified MacAuley, Carrefour, and Talarico of the warrants and the threats to their privacy.

“My Facebook page contains the most private aspects of my life—and also a frightening amount of information on the people in my life. There are intimate details of my love life, family, and things the federal government just doesn’t need to see,” said MacAuley, one of the ACLU-DC clients challenging the enforcement of the warrants. “Jeff Sessions doesn’t need to see my family photos.”

"This is part of a pattern of prosecutorial overreach in the repression of Inauguration Day protestors," said Carrefour. "This warrant is more than just a violation of privacy. It is a direct attack on D.C.’s grassroots organizing community," said Talarico. "In a city rife with inequities and injustices, the deck is already stacked against us. This overreaching warrant would strike a devastating blow to organizers working every day to make this city a better place."

This is second known attempt by the government to conduct unlawful dragnet searches of the internet and social media in search of evidence against activists arrested on Inauguration Day. In a similar case of government overreach, the government had issued a warrant to website hosting provider Dreamhost for the IP addresses of the 1.3 million people who ever visited the DisruptJ20.org website. Dreamhost, supported by several amici and intervenors, challenged the scope of the warrant and went public with the government’s overbroad request. Amidst public outcry, the government asked the D.C. Superior Court to narrow the time frame of the warrant and eliminate the request for IP addresses. The court agreed and went further by demanding strict safeguards for privacy before the warrant may be executed. The government is now litigating the scope of these additional protections. 

Today’s motions to intervene and to quash were filed in D.C. Superior Court. The case is formally titled In the Matter of the Search of Information Associated with Facebook Accounts disruptj20, lacymacauley, and legba.carrefour That Is Stored at Premises Controlled by Facebook, Inc.


BACKGROUND

The New Yorker, 21 June 2017:

On the morning of January 20th, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated, in Washington, D.C., a large group of anti-Trump protesters, dressed in black, roamed through the city for close to an hour. Some chanted, some dragged newspaper boxes into the street, and some smashed the windows of various stores. In response, the police arrested more than two hundred people, setting in motion a complex legal saga that, months later, is far from over.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia filed a federal lawsuit accusing the police of violating the rights of several people by using pepper spray and explosive devices without warning or justification; by making a mass arrest without differentiating between those who had broken laws and those who hadn’t; and by holding detainees for hours without food, water, or access to toilets, and subjecting some to “humiliating and unjustified” invasive searches.

The four plaintiffs in the A.C.L.U.’s lawsuit include Shay Horse, a twenty-three-year-old whose Twitter account identifies him as a photojournalist and “scrumptious/rambunctious anarchist.” According to the lawsuit, Horse broke no laws on the day of the protest but was doused with pepper spray, trapped between police lines for several hours, and then arrested and subjected to a rectal probe. In February, prosecutors dropped all charges against him. The other plaintiffs are Milo Gonzalez, a protester who, the lawsuit says, was also subjected to a rectal search after his arrest and was denied access to a bathroom for nine or ten hours; Elizabeth Lagesse, who, according to the suit, did not break any laws before being arrested but was handcuffed so tightly her wrists bled; and a lawyer named Judah Ariel, who said that he was among a group of people on a sidewalk who were pepper-sprayed without cause but not taken into custody…………

While it seemed clear on the day of the protest that the vandalism and property damage were committed by a small number of people, a superseding indictment handed down in late April charged two hundred and twelve people with rioting, inciting a riot, and engaging in a conspiracy to “damage, destroy, or deface property.” Because participants in a conspiracy can be held responsible for an offense committed by a co-conspirator, the defendants were all charged with breaking the windows of a Bank of America branch, a McDonald’s restaurant, a café, and two separate Starbucks stores. All of them faced the possibility of lengthy prison sentences.

According to defense lawyers, there appears to be no modern-day precedent for charging everyone arrested during a particular protest with conspiracy, and, in May, thirty of the accused filed a motion saying that those charges lacked merit and asking that the superseding indictment be dismissed. Lawyers from the Georgetown Criminal Justice Clinic, white-shoe firms like Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, and D.C.’s Public Defender Service joined in the motion, which argued that the indictment had attributed crimes “collectively and indiscriminately” to defendants without offering evidence of individual culpability.

Some of the defendants have said that they believe they are being targeted for their perceived political identity. Calls for an “anti-capitalist anti-fascist bloc” on Inauguration Day had begun circulating soon after the election in November. Social-media messages included a photograph of a group of black-clad figures brandishing flags and what appear to be flares along with the hashtag #disruptJ20 and the words “wear black.” A communiqué on the Web site CrimethInc read, “If Trump is to be inaugurated at all, let it happen behind closed doors, showing the true face of the security state Trump will preside over. It must be made clear to the whole world that the vast majority of people in the United States do not support his presidency or consent to his rule. . . . We must take to the streets and protest, blockade, disrupt, intervene, sit in, walk out, rise up, and make more noise and good trouble than the establishment can bear.”

The authorities seemed aware of the political leanings associated with the protest. Charging documents said that police officers had been “monitoring a planned assembly of individuals that were known to be associated with an anarchist group” and that intelligence-division officers knew that they would be gathering “with the express intent to disrupt Inauguration-related activities.”

Prosecutors in D.C. now face a potentially daunting number of cases, and whether they will be able to come up with individual evidence for each defendant’s case remains to be seen. So far, according to court documents, they have looked at photographs taken by police officers, reviewed video footage, and obtained a judge’s permission to search more than a hundred cell phones seized from those who were arrested. In March, they obtained a warrant to search the home of a man described as a protest organizer and to take computers, cell phones, tablets, and any material documenting the planning of a “riot or ‘Black Bloc’ march” or the planned destruction of property.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Twitter shows its heart is as dark as Facebook's when it comes to Donald Trump


As a businessman, television ‘personality', presidential candidate and now US president, Donald J. Trump has always used his Twitter account @realDonaldTrump to boast, misinform, openly lie, insult, incite, personally attack, defame and threaten.

Over the seven years his main account has been in existence I know of no instance where Twitter Inc has sanctioned this account for breaking its participation rules.

Having deliberately used this digital megaphone to bring the world closer to a nuclear war in 2017, Trump remains immune regardless.

It would appear that, like Zuckerberg and Facebook Inc, CEO Jack Dorsey and Twitter 
shareholders have been more concerned with profit margins than the harm they are enabling. 

In Twitter's case by allowing Trump to tweet with no genuine consideration by the company of a tweet’s context or content.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Twitter cited President Donald Trump’s “newsworthiness” and the public interest as reasons why it declined to remove a tweet that added to the fiery rhetoric between the United States and North Korea.

Trump tweeted Saturday : “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” On Monday, North Korea’s top diplomat called the tweet a declaration of war. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded by calling the suggestion of such a declaration “absurd.”

Twitter’s rules state users “may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.”

The company responded to questions about why Trump’s tweet wasn’t removed Monday by posting in a series of messages on its public policy account that “newsworthiness” is one of the factors it considers in determining if a tweet breaks the platform’s rules.

“This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it,” one message read. “We need to do better on this, and will.”

The company also stated it’s “committed to transparency and keeping people informed about what’s happening in the world.”

Calls on the company to curtail Trump’s use of the platform are not new . The company has said in the past that it doesn’t comment on individual accounts, but it has cited the importance of hearing from leadership in order to hold people accountable.

Trump’s account wasn’t affected in July, when Twitter announced that it was taking action, including suspensions, on 10 times the number of abusive accounts than it did a year before.

Excerpt from The Twitter Rules:

Abusive Behavior

We believe in freedom of expression and in speaking truth to power, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.

Any accounts and related accounts engaging in the activities specified below may be temporarily locked and/or subject to permanent suspension.

Violent threats (direct or indirect): You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.

Harassment: You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others. Some of the factors that we may consider when evaluating abusive behavior include:

if a primary purpose of the reported account is to harass or send abusive messages to others;
if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats;
if the reported account is inciting others to harass another account; and
if the reported account is sending harassing messages to an account from multiple accounts.

Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.