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  1. #751

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Facebook allegedly offered advertisers special access to users' data and activities, according to documents released by British lawmakers

    By Craig Timberg ,
    Elizabeth Dwoskin and
    Tony Romm December 5 at 9:48 AM
    A key British lawmaker alleged Wednesday that Facebook maintained “whitelisting agreements” that gave select companies preferential access to valuable user data, echoing a key claim from an app developer that has been embroiled in a lawsuit with the social network in a California court.

    Damian Collins, chairman of a British parliamentary committee that has led a wide-ranging investigation into Facebook and its dealings with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, released a summary of findings along with more than 200 pages of documents Wednesday. Facebook has denied that it offered preferential access to data for major advertisers, as the app developer, Six4Three, has alleged in its suit.

    Collins released a limited trove of documents that long have been sealed in a California court, along with a summary saying, “Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data. It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.”

    Facebook, which has long said it does not sell user data, did not immediately reply to requests for comment but has disputed such allegations in the past, saying that some legal documents filed by Six4Three were misleadingly crafted and do not represent the company’s practices or policies.

    The documents emerged out of a closely watched legal battle in San Mateo County federal court in the United States between Six4Three and Facebook. They came into the possession of British authorities last month when Six4Three developer Ted Kramer traveled to London with digital copies of thousands of the documents. British authorities took custody of the documents, sidestepping the sealing order of the California court.

    Critics of the company say that the legal documents in the Six4Three case shed light on practices that compromised the privacy of Facebook users and could have violated a 2011 agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

    A small number of documents already became public last week, including descriptions of emails suggesting that Facebook executives had discussed giving access to their valuable user data to some companies that bought advertising when it was struggling to launch its mobile-ad business. The alleged practice started around seven years ago but has become more relevant this year because the practices in question — allowing outside developers to gather data on not only app users but their friends — are at the heart of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

    Facebook said last week that the picture offered by those documents was misleadingly crafted by Six4Three’s attorneys.

    Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy whose vice president was Republican strategist Stephen K. Bannon, gained access to data on 87 million users in ways that Facebook has said was improper but resembled a common practice at the time among app developers. Facebook largely stopped permitting such wide-ranging access to user data in 2015, but it did not stop it for all outside developers at the same time because, the company has said, some needed extensions to keep their software from breaking in ways that would have harmed users.

    Cambridge Analytica’s acquisition and use of such data for political campaigns has spawned several investigations since it was revealed in news reports in March. In the United States, the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FTC have been investigating Facebook’s handling of this data and its public representations about it.

    Since the Cambridge Analytica controversy, lawmakers have repeatedly questioned Facebook about its relationships with data partners. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in April that the company had cut off outsiders’ access to friends' data several years ago, but subsequent reports have exposed privileged relationships brokered by the company.

    Facebook has not disputed the authenticity of the documents in its battle with Kramer, the Six4Three developer. But the company said that the exhibits in the case were used selectively to give a misleading portrait of decision-making at the company at a time when the social network was sharply limiting the information that app developers could gather from the platform.

    "The documents Six4Three gathered for this baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context,” Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of developer platforms and programs, said in a statement last week. “We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers. Any short-term extensions granted during this platform transition were to prevent the changes from breaking user experience.”

    Kramer’s company was the developer of Pikinis, an app that enabled people to find photos of Facebook users wearing bikinis. The app was built on the back of Facebook’s data, which Six4Three and thousands of other developers accessed through a feed known as an application programming interface, or API. The data feed enabled Six4Three to scour Facebook for bikini photos of people who were friends with Pikinis’s users.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  2. #752

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Cyberattack from outside the U.S. hits newspapers across the country, preventing distribution, source says
    DEC 29, 2018 | 3:15 PM

    A cyberattack that appears to have originated from outside the United States caused major printing and delivery disruptions at several newspapers across the country on Saturday including the Los Angeles Times, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

    The attack led to distribution delays in the Saturday edition of The Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and several other major newspapers that operate on a shared production platform. It also stymied distribution of the West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, which are all printed at the Los Angeles Times’ Olympic printing plant in downtown Los Angeles.

    “We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly.

    No other details about the origin of the attack were immediately available, including the motive. The source identified the attacker only as a “foreign entity.”

    All papers within The Times’ former parent company, Tribune Publishing, experienced glitches with the production of papers. Tribune Publishing sold The Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune to Los Angeles businessman Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong in June, but the companies continue to share various systems, including software.

    “Every market across the company was impacted,” said Marisa Kollias, spokesperson for Tribune Publishing. She declined to provide specifics on the disruptions, but the company properties include The Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Annapolis Capital-Gazette, Hartford Courant, New York Daily News, Orlando Sentinel and Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

    Tribune Publishing said in a statement Saturday that “the personal data of our subscribers, online users, and advertising clients has not been compromised. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank our readers and advertising partners for their patience as we investigate the situation. News and all of our regular features are available online.”

    The Times said the problem was first detected Friday. Technology teams made significant progress in fixing it, but were unable to clear all systems before press time.

    Readers can access a digital edition of the Saturday paper here.

    Director of Distribution Joe Robidoux said he expects the majority of Los Angeles Times subscribers will receive their paper Saturday, however delivery will be late. For print subscribers that did not receive Saturday’s paper, they will receive the paper with their regularly scheduled delivery of the Sunday edition.

    The attack seemed to have begun late Thursday night and by Friday had spread to crucial areas needed to publish the paper.

    The computer problem shut down a number of crucial software systems that store news stories, photographs and administrative information, and made it difficult to create the plates used to print the papers at The Times’ downtown plant.

    “We are trying to do work-arounds so we can get pages out. It’s all in production. We need the plates to start the presses. That’s the bottleneck.” Robidoux said.

    “We apologize to our customers for this inconvenience. Thank you for your patience and support as we respond to this ongoing matter,” The Times said in a statement.

    It was unclear whether the company has been in contact with law enforcement regarding the suspected attack. An FBI spokeswoman was not immediately aware if the incident had been reported to her agency.

    The problem caused widespread issues for Sun-Sentinel readers in South Florida, one of Tribune Publishing’s major markets.The paper told readers that it had been “crippled this weekend by a computer virus that shut down production and hampered phone lines,” according to a story on its website.

    The problem caused widespread confusion, the paper noted, because subscribers who called the newspaper’s offices on Saturday morning were “told, incorrectly, that the numbers were not in service.”

    New York Times and Palm Beach Post readers in South Florida also failed to receive their Saturday editions because the Sun-Sentinel also prints those newspapers. The Sun Sentinel told readers that they would receive their Saturday issue along with their Sunday papers. The Orlando Sentinel subscribers received their papers on time, according to a Tribune Publishing executive.

    The Ventura County Star, owned by Gannett Co. Inc., said it was also affected.

    Experts said holidays are "a well known time for mischief" by digital troublemakers, because organizations are more thinly staffed

    "Usually when someone tries to disrupt a significant digital resource like a newspaper, you're looking at an experienced and sophisticated hacker," said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit public interest research group.

    Malware has, over time, become more sophisticated and coordinated, involving more planning by networks of hackers who infiltrate a system over time, she said."

    Modern malware is all about the long game," Dixon said. "It's serious attacks, not small stuff anymore.""When people think of malware, the impression may be, 'It's a little program that runs on my computer,'" Dixon said.

    Today, "malware can root into the deepest systems and disrupt very significant aspects of those systems."
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  3. #753

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Bruce Arthur
    ‏Verified account

    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  4. #754

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Teenager and His Mom Tried to Warn Apple of FaceTime Bug
    Michele Thompson said it was frustrating trying to get the attention of one of the world’s largest technology companies

    By Robert McMillan
    Jan. 29, 2019 12:36 p.m. ET

    An Arizona teenager and his mother spent more than a week trying to warn Apple Inc. AAPL +0.11% of a bug in its FaceTime video-chat software before news of the glitch—which allows one FaceTime user calling another in a group chat to listen in while the recipient’s Apple device is still ringing—blew up on social media Monday.

    In the days following their discovery, the pair posted on Twitter and Facebook , called and faxed Apple, and learned they needed a developer account to report the bug. They eventually traded a few emails, viewed by The Wall Street Journal, with Apple’s security team.

    But it wasn’t until word of the bug started spreading more widely on social media that Apple disabled the software feature at the heart of the issue.

    Michele Thompson said her 14-year-old son, Grant, discovered the issue Jan. 20. She said it was frustrating trying to get the attention of one of the world’s largest technology companies,

    “Short of smoke signals, I was trying every method that someone could use to get a hold of someone at Apple,” said Ms. Thompson, 43, who lives with her son in Tucson.

    The bug, revealed while Apple is touting its commitment to user privacy to distinguish itself from other big tech companies, affects FaceTime software running on iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. It isn’t clear when the glitch originated, though it affects a multiperson video-chat function called Group FaceTime that Apple launched in October 2018.

    On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo took the unusual step of issuing a consumer alert on the issue. “The FaceTime bug is an egregious breach of privacy that puts New Yorkers at risk,” he said in a statement.

    Apple disabled the Group FaceTime feature late Monday. A spokeswoman said late Monday Apple was aware of the issue and expected to release a software fix this week.

    Informed of Ms. Thompson’s claims Tuesday morning, the spokeswoman declined to comment further.

    Grant, a high-school freshman, was setting up a FaceTime chat with friends ahead of a “Fortnite” videogame-playing session when he stumbled on the bug. Using FaceTime, Mr. Thompson found that as he added new members to his group chat, he could hear audio from other participants, even if they hadn’t answered his request to join the chat.

    He was surprised. That gave him a way of listening in on people without their consent while calls were ringing, a period that typically lasts less than a minute.

    Grant did what any responsible teenage security researcher would do: He went to mom. “I was interested to see if we could report to Apple,” Grant said.

    Starting Sunday of last week, Ms. Thompson posted Twitter and Facebook messages she hoped would be seen by Apple’s social-media or support team. She followed with a now-deleted Twitter message to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook. But Tuesday, she had faxed and phoned the company directly.

    Ms. Thompson finally spoke with an Apple support representative that day about the bug. “He called me back and he really had no information,” she said. “He said there’s really nothing I could do. You have to register as a developer and submit it.”

    Apple’s Bug Reporter program requires a person to sign in with an Apple ID and a developer account, according to the company’s website.

    Ms. Thompson, who is an attorney, registered herself as an Apple developer to participate in the program. Since 2016, Apple has paid out cash bounties to researchers who discover significant bugs. Ms. Thompson hoped she might secure a payout for her son, she said.

    While companies are increasingly adding bug-bounty programs, they aren’t always integrating them with their social media and support teams, said Katie Moussouris, CEO of Luta Security Inc., which advises companies on such programs. “Apple has a good reputation for having solid engineering, but that doesn’t mean that the intake process is completely worked out,” she said.

    According to emails viewed by the Journal, Ms. Thompson heard back from Apple’s security team on Wednesday, Jan. 23. At around 11:15 p.m. on Friday, she emailed them a description of the issue, along with a link to a YouTube video in which she and her son demonstrated how to exploit the bug.

    Late yesterday, Apple disabled the group chat function in FaceTime after news of the bug was made public on social media. Security experts recommend disabling FaceTime until Apple issues a patch; the company expects to issue one later this week.

    Ms. Thompson said she doesn’t know how the bug was made public.

    She isn’t sure whether she or Grant will get a bounty or even a thank-you note from Apple for their efforts. “It’s just hard for the average citizen to report anything,” she said.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  5. #755

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random
    ‏Verified account

    How to Turn Off FaceTime … by @julipuli

    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  6. #756

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Facebook pays teens to install VPN that spies on them
    Josh Constine@joshconstine / 4 hours ago

    Desperate for data on its competitors, Facebook has been secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that lets the company suck in all of a user’s phone and web activity, similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and that was removed in August. Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access to network traffic in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity, a TechCrunch investigation confirms.

    Facebook admitted to TechCrunch it was running the Research program to gather data on usage habits, and it has no plans to stop.

    Since 2016, Facebook has been paying users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month plus referral fees to sell their privacy by installing the iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app. Facebook even asked users to screenshot their Amazon order history page. The program is administered through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest to cloak Facebook’s involvement, and is referred to in some documentation as “Project Atlas” — a fitting name for Facebook’s effort to map new trends and rivals around the globe.

    We asked Guardian Mobile Firewall’s security expert Will Strafach to dig into the Facebook Research app, and he told us that “If Facebook makes full use of the level of access they are given by asking users to install the Certificate, they will have the ability to continuously collect the following types of data: private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps – including photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and even ongoing location information by tapping into the feeds of any location tracking apps you may have installed.” It’s unclear exactly what data Facebook is concerned with, but it gets nearly limitless access to a user’s device once they install the app.

    The strategy shows how far Facebook is willing to go and how much it’s willing to pay to protect its dominance — even at the risk of breaking the rules of Apple’s iOS platform on which it depends. Apple could seek to block Facebook from continuing to distribute its Research app, or even revoke it permission to offer employee-only apps, and the situation could further chill relations between the tech giants. Apple’s Tim Cook has repeatedly criticized Facebook’s data collection practices. Facebook disobeying iOS policies to slurp up more information could become a new talking point. TechCrunch has spoken to Apple and it’s aware of the issue, but the company did not provide a statement before press time.

    “The fairly technical sounding ‘install our Root Certificate’ step is appalling,” Strafach tells us. “This hands Facebook continuous access to the most sensitive data about you, and most users are going to be unable to reasonably consent to this regardless of any agreement they sign, because there is no good way to articulate just how much power is handed to Facebook when you do this.”

    Facebook’s surveillance app

    Facebook first got into the data-sniffing business when it acquired Onavo for around $120 million in 2014. The VPN app helped users track and minimize their mobile data plan usage, but also gave Facebook deep analytics about what other apps they were using. Internal documents acquired by Charlie Warzel and Ryan Mac of BuzzFeed News reveal that Facebook was able to leverage Onavo to learn that WhatsApp was sending more than twice as many messages per day as Facebook Messenger. Onavo allowed Facebook to spot WhatsApp’s meteoric rise and justify paying $19 billion to buy the chat startup in 2014. WhatsApp has since tripled its user base, demonstrating the power of Onavo’s foresight.

    Over the years since, Onavo clued Facebook in to what apps to copy, features to build and flops to avoid. By 2018, Facebook was promoting the Onavo app in a Protect bookmark of the main Facebook app in hopes of scoring more users to snoop on. Facebook also launched the Onavo Bolt app that let you lock apps behind a passcode or fingerprint while it surveils you, but Facebook shut down the app the day it was discovered following privacy criticism. Onavo’s main app remains available on Google Play and has been installed more than 10 million times.

    The backlash heated up after security expert Strafach detailed in March how Onavo Protect was reporting to Facebook when a user’s screen was on or off, and its Wi-Fi and cellular data usage in bytes even when the VPN was turned off. In June, Apple updated its developer policies to ban collecting data about usage of other apps or data that’s not necessary for an app to function. Apple proceeded to inform Facebook in August that Onavo Protect violated those data collection policies and that the social network needed to remove it from the App Store, which it did, Deepa Seetharaman of the WSJ reported.

    But that didn’t stop Facebook’s data collection.

    Project Atlas

    TechCrunch recently received a tip that despite Onavo Protect being banished by Apple, Facebook was paying users to sideload a similar VPN app under the Facebook Research moniker from outside of the App Store. We investigated, and learned Facebook was working with three app beta testing services to distribute the Facebook Research app: BetaBound, uTest and Applause. Facebook began distributing the Research VPN app in 2016. It has been referred to as Project Atlas since at least mid-2018, around when backlash to Onavo Protect magnified and Apple instituted its new rules that prohibited Onavo. [Update: Previously, a similar program was called Project Kodiak.] Facebook didn’t want to stop collecting data on people’s phone usage and so the Research program continued, in disregard for Apple banning Onavo Protect.

    Ads (shown below) for the program run by uTest on Instagram and Snapchat sought teens 13-17 years old for a “paid social media research study.” The sign-up page for the Facebook Research program administered by Applause doesn’t mention Facebook, but seeks users “Age: 13-35 (parental consent required for ages 13-17).” If minors try to sign-up, they’re asked to get their parents’ permission with a form that reveal’s Facebook’s involvement and says “There are no known risks associated with the project, however you acknowledge that the inherent nature of the project involves the tracking of personal information via your child’s use of apps. You will be compensated by Applause for your child’s participation.” For kids short on cash, the payments could coerce them to sell their privacy to Facebook.

    The Applause site explains what data could be collected by the Facebook Research app (emphasis mine):

    “By installing the software, you’re giving our client permission to collect data from your phone that will help them understand how you browse the internet, and how you use the features in the apps you’ve installed . . . This means you’re letting our client collect information such as which apps are on your phone, how and when you use them, data about your activities and content within those apps, as well as how other people interact with you or your content within those apps. You are also letting our client collect information about your internet browsing activity (including the websites you visit and data that is exchanged between your device and those websites) and your use of other online services. There are some instances when our client will collect this information even where the app uses encryption, or from within secure browser sessions.”

    Meanwhile, the BetaBound sign-up page with a URL ending in “Atlas” explains that “For $20 per month (via e-gift cards), you will install an app on your phone and let it run in the background.” It also offers $20 per friend you refer. That site also doesn’t initially mention Facebook, but the instruction manual for installing Facebook Research reveals the company’s involvement.

    Facebook seems to have purposefully avoided TestFlight, Apple’s official beta testing system, which requires apps to be reviewed by Apple and is limited to 10,000 participants. Instead, the instruction manual reveals that users download the app from and are told to install an Enterprise Developer Certificate and VPN and “Trust” Facebook with root access to the data their phone transmits.
    Apple requires that developers agree to only use this certificate system for distributing internal corporate apps to their own employees. Randomly recruiting testers and paying them a monthly fee appears to violate the spirit of that rule.

    Once installed, users just had to keep the VPN running and sending data to Facebook to get paid. The Applause-administered program requested that users screenshot their Amazon orders page. This data could potentially help Facebook tie browsing habits and usage of other apps with purchase preferences and behavior. That information could be harnessed to pinpoint ad targeting and understand which types of users buy what.

    TechCrunch commissioned Strafach to analyze the Facebook Research app and find out where it was sending data. He confirmed that data is routed to “” that is associated with Onavo’s IP address, and that the domain is registered to Facebook, according to MarkMonitor. The app can update itself without interacting with the App Store, and is linked to the email address He also discovered that the Enterprise Certificate indicates Facebook renewed it on June 27th, 2018 — weeks after Apple announced its new rules that prohibited the similar Onavo Protect app.

    “It is tricky to know what data Facebook is actually saving (without access to their servers). The only information that is knowable here is what access Facebook is capable of based on the code in the app. And it paints a very worrisome picture,” Strafach explains. “They might respond and claim to only actually retain/save very specific limited data, and that could be true, it really boils down to how much you trust Facebook’s word on it. The most charitable narrative of this situation would be that Facebook did not think too hard about the level of access they were granting to themselves . . . which is a startling level of carelessness in itself if that is the case.”

    “Flagrant defiance of Apple’s rules”

    In response to TechCrunch’s inquiry, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed it’s running the program to learn how people use their phones and other services. The spokesperson told us “Like many companies, we invite people to participate in research that helps us identify things we can be doing better. Since this research is aimed at helping Facebook understand how people use their mobile devices, we’ve provided extensive information about the type of data we collect and how they can participate. We don’t share this information with others and people can stop participating at any time.”

    Facebook’s spokesperson claimed that the Facebook Research app was in line with Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program, but didn’t explain how in the face of evidence to the contrary. They said Facebook first launched its Research app program in 2016. They tried to liken the program to a focus group and said Nielsen and comScore run similar programs, yet neither of those ask people to install a VPN or provide root access to the network. The spokesperson confirmed the Facebook Research program does recruit teens but also other age groups from around the world. They claimed that Onavo and Facebook Research are separate programs, but admitted the same team supports both as an explanation for why their code was so similar.

    However, Facebook claim that it doesn’t violate Apple’s Enterprise Certificate policy is directly contradicted by the terms of that policy. Those include that developers “Distribute Provisioning Profiles only to Your Employees and only in conjunction with Your Internal Use Applications for the purpose of developing and testing”. The policy also states that “You may not use, distribute or otherwise make Your Internal Use Applications available to Your Customers” unless under direct supervision of employees or on company premises. Given Facebook’s customers are using the Enterprise Certificate-powered app without supervision, it appears Facebook is in violation.

    Facebook disobeying Apple so directly could hurt their relationship. “The code in this iOS app strongly indicates that it is simply a poorly re-branded build of the banned Onavo app, now using an Enterprise Certificate owned by Facebook in direct violation of Apple’s rules, allowing Facebook to distribute this app without Apple review to as many users as they want,” Strafach tells us. ONV prefixes and mentions of, “onavoApp://” and “onavoProtect://” custom URL schemes litter the app. “This is an egregious violation on many fronts, and I hope that Apple will act expeditiously in revoking the signing certificate to render the app inoperable.”

    Facebook is particularly interested in what teens do on their phones as the demographic has increasingly abandoned the social network in favor of Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook’s acquisition Instagram. Insights into how popular with teens is Chinese video music app TikTok and meme sharing led Facebook to launch a clone called Lasso and begin developing a meme-browsing feature called LOL, TechCrunch first reported. But Facebook’s desire for data about teens riles critics at a time when the company has been battered in the press. Analysts on tomorrow’s Facebook earnings call should inquire about what other ways the company has to collect competitive intelligence.

    Last year when Tim Cook was asked what he’d do in Mark Zuckerberg’s position in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he said “I wouldn’t be in this situation . . . The truth is we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer, if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that.” Zuckerberg told Ezra Klein that he felt Cook’s comment was “extremely glib.”

    Now it’s clear that even after Apple’s warnings and the removal of Onavo Protect, Facebook is still aggressively collecting data on its competitors via Apple’s iOS platform. “I have never seen such open and flagrant defiance of Apple’s rules by an App Store developer,” Strafach concluded. If Apple shuts the Research program down, Facebook will either have to invent new ways to surveil our behavior amidst a climate of privacy scrutiny, or be left in the dark.

    Additional reporting by Zack Whittaker.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  7. #757
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    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    Bruce Arthur
    ‏Verified account

    I use Facebook daily (many times daily) to be in contact with my family and friends, and I honestly don't know how much it would suck without it. But I'm just about done. They've shown again and again that they don't care about their users. What they care about is the money, and only the money. I wish there were a valid alternative.
    Oh Grigor. You silly man.

  8. #758

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    We dismantle Facebook’s memo defending its “Research”
    Josh Constine@joshconstine / 17 mins ago

    Facebook published an internal memo today trying to minimize the morale damage of TechCrunch’s investigation that revealed it’d been paying people to suck in all their phone data. Attained by Business Insider’s Rob Price, the memo from Facebook’s VP of production engineering and security Pedro Canahuati gives us more detail about exactly what data Facebook was trying to collect from teens and adults in the US and India. But it also tries to claim the program wasn’t secret, wasn’t spying, and that Facebook doesn’t see it as a violation of Apple’s policy against using its Enterprise Certificate system to distribute apps to non-employees — despite Apple punishing it for the violation.

    Here we lay out the memo with section by section responses to Facebook’s claims challenging TechCrunch’s reporting. Our responses are in bold and we’ve added images.

    Memo from Facebook VP Pedro Canahuati
    Early this morning, we received agreement from Apple to issue a new enterprise certificate; this has allowed us to produce new builds of our public and enterprise apps for use by employees and contractors. Because we have a few dozen apps to rebuild, we’re initially focusing on the most critical ones, prioritized by usage and importance: Facebook, Messenger, Workplace, Work Chat, Instagram, and Mobile Home.

    New builds of these apps will soon be available and we’ll email all iOS users for detailed instructions on how to reinstall. We’ll also post to iOS FYI with full details.

    Meanwhile, we’re expecting a follow-up article from the New York Times later today, so I wanted to share a bit more information and background on the situation.

    What happened?

    On Tuesday TechCrunch reported on our Facebook Research program. This is a market research program that helps us understand consumer behavior and trends to build better mobile products.

    TechCrunch implied we hid the fact that this is by Facebook – we don’t. Participants have to download an app called Facebook Research App to be involved in the stud. They also characterized this as “spying,” which we don’t agree with. People participated in this program with full knowledge that Facebook was sponsoring this research, and were paid for it. They could opt-out at any time. As we built this program, we specifically wanted to make sure we were as transparent as possible about what we were doing, what information we were gathering, and what it was for — see the screenshots below.

    We used an app that we built ourselves, which wasn’t distributed via the App Store, to do this work. Instead it was side-loaded via our enterprise certificate. Apple has indicated that this broke their Terms of Service so disabled our enterprise certificates which allow us to install our own apps on devices outside of the official app store for internal dogfooding.

    Author’s response: To start, “build better products” is a vague way of saying determining what’s popular and buying or building it. Facebook has used competitive analysis gathered by its similar Onavo Protect app and Facebook Research app for years to figure out what apps were gaining momentum and either bring them in or box them out. Onavo’s data is how Facebook knew WhatsApp was sending twice as many messages as Messenger, and it should invest $19 billion to acquire it.

    Facebook claims it didn’t hide the program, but it was never formally announced like every other Facebook product. There were no Facebook Help pages, blog posts, or support info from the company. It used intermediaries Applause (which owns uTest) and CentreCode (which owns Betabound) to run the program under names like Project Atlas and Project Kodiak. Users only found out Facebook was involved once they started the sign-up process and signed a non-disclosure agreement prohibiting them from discussing it publicly.

    TechCrunch has reviewed communications indicating Facebook would threaten legal action if a user spoke publicly about being part of the Research program. While the program had run since 2016, it had never been reported on. We believe that these facts combined justify characterizing the program as “secret”

    The Facebook Research program was called Project Atlas until you signed up

    How does this program work?

    We partner with a couple of market research companies (Applause and CentreCode) to source and onboard candidates based in India and USA for this research project. Once people are onboarded through a generic registration page, they are informed that this research will be for Facebook and can decline to participate or opt out at any point. We rely on a 3rd party vendor for a number of reasons, including their ability to target a Diverse and representative pool of participants. They use a generic initial Registration Page to avoid bias in the people who choose to participate.

    After generic onboarding people are asked to download an app called the ‘Facebook Research App,’ which takes them through a consent flow that requires people to check boxes to confirm they understand what information will be collected. As mentioned above, we worked hard to make this as explicit and clear as possible.

    This is part of a broader set of research programs we conduct. Asking users to allow us to collect data on their device usage is a highly efficient way of getting industry data from closed ecosystems, such as iOS and Android. We believe this is a valid method of market research.

    Author’s response: Facebook claims it wasn’t “spying”, yet it never fully laid out the specific kinds of information it would collect. In some cases, descriptions of the app’s data collection power were included in merely a footnote. The program did not specify specific data types gathered, only saying it would scoop up “which apps are on your phone, how and when you use them” and “information about your internet browsing activity”

    The parental consent form from Facebook and Applause lists none of the specific types of data collected or the extent of Facebook’s access. Under “Risks/Benefits”, the form states “There are no known risks associated with this project however you acknowledge that the inherent nature of the project involves the tracking of personal information via your child’s use of Apps. You will be compensated by Applause for your child’s participation.” It gives parents no information about what data their kids are giving up.

    Facebook claims it uses third-parties to target a diverse pool of participants. Yet Facebook conducts other user feedback and research programs on its own without the need for intermediaries that obscure its identity, and only ran the program in two countries. It claims to use a generic signup page to avoid biasing who will choose to participate, yet the cash incentive and technical process of installing the root certificate also bias who will participate, and the intermediaries conveniently prevent Facebook from being publicly associated with the program at first glance. Meanwhile, other clients of the Betabound testing platform like Amazon, Norton, and SanDisk reveal their names immediately before users sign up.

    Facebook’s ads recruiting teens for the program didn’t disclose its involvement

    Did we intentionally hide our identity as Facebook?
    No — The Facebook brand is very prominent throughout the download and installation process, before any data is collected. Also, the app name of the device appears as “Facebook Research” — see attached screenshots. We use third parties to source participants in the research study, to avoid bias in the people who choose to participate. But as soon as they register, they become aware this is research for Facebook

    Author’s response: Facebook here admits that users did not know Facebook was involved before they registered.

    What data do we collect? Do we read people’s private messages?
    No, we don’t read private messages. We collect data to understand how people use apps, but this market research was not designed to look at what they share or see. We’re interested in information such as watch time, video duration, and message length, not that actual content of videos, messages, stories or photos. The app specifically ignores information shared via financial or health apps.

    Author’s response: We never reported that Facebook was reading people’s private messages, but that it had the ability to collect them. Facebook here admits that the program was “not designed to look at what they share or see”, but stops far short of saying that data wasn’t collected. Fascinatingly, Facebook reveals it was that it was closely monitoring how much time people spent on different media types.

    Facebook Research abused the Enterprise Certificate system meant for employee-only apps

    Did we break Apple’s terms of service?
    Apple’s view is that we violated their terms by sideloading this app, and they decide the rules for their platform, We’ve worked with Apple to address any issues; as a result, our internal apps are back up and running. Our relationship with Apple is really important — many of us use Apple products at work every day, and we rely on iOS for many of our employee apps, so we wouldn’t put that relationship at any risk intentionally. Mark and others will be available to talk about this further at Q&A later today.

    Author’s response: TechCrunch reported that Apple’s policy plainly states that the Enterprise Certificate program requires companies to “Distribute Provisioning Profiles only to Your Employees and only in conjunction with Your Internal Use Applications for the purpose of developing and testing” and that “You may not use, distribute or otherwise make Your Internal Use Applications available to Your Customers”. Apple took a firm stance in its statement that Facebook did violate the program’s policies, stating “Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple.”

    Given Facebook distributed the Research apps to teenagers that never signed tax forms or formal employment agreements, they were obviously not employees or contractors, and most likely use some Facebook-owned service that qualifies them as customers. Also, I’m pretty sure you can’t pay employees in gift cards.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  9. #759
    Everyday Warrior MJ2004's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Does anyone here have an Apple Watch? Is it worth it? I am doubtful, but curious.

  10. #760

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Google fails to disclose microphone in Nest Secure

    (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Wednesday it had made an “error” in not disclosing that its Nest Secure home security system had a built-in microphone in its devices.

    Earlier this month, Google said here Nest Secure would be getting an update and users could now enable its virtual assistant technology Google Assistant on Nest Guard.

    The device's published specifications did not mention a microphone, however the updated product page here now mentions one.

    “The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part. The microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option,” Google said.

    Nest, which Google acquired for $3.2 billion in 2014, sells video doorbells, security cameras and thermostats that automatically adjust settings based on user behavior.

    Alphabet merged Nest, which had operated as an independent unit, into its Google hardware group last year.

    Reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  11. #761

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Quote Originally Posted by MJ2004 View Post
    Does anyone here have an Apple Watch? Is it worth it? I am doubtful, but curious.
    I do not, but I do know a few who have them and they love them. Those who have them are SUPER into Apple, which may make a difference. I can ask them any questions you have if you're curious about anything. But I'm positive they love them, they use them constantly. And I know at least one replaces the band with an off-brand replacement that she likes better to fit her style than the original similar to what I do with my Fitbit.

  12. #762
    Everyday Warrior MJ2004's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNU View Post
    I do not, but I do know a few who have them and they love them. Those who have them are SUPER into Apple, which may make a difference. I can ask them any questions you have if you're curious about anything. But I'm positive they love them, they use them constantly. And I know at least one replaces the band with an off-brand replacement that she likes better to fit her style than the original similar to what I do with my Fitbit.
    Thanks, I was just curious what all the fuss is about. I'm not a watch person.

  13. #763

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    Quote Originally Posted by MJ2004 View Post
    Thanks, I was just curious what all the fuss is about. I'm not a watch person.
    I think if you get one, you may really like it. Like I'm a watch person, but I don't like feeling my watch if that makes any sense. And I thought the Fitbit was too heavy and bulky and I'd always feel it and it would annoy me, I only got one because of a super deep discount through work. Switching the band made me forget about it and be like I wanted it to be. I think AW is very expensive and there are less expensive choices that can do a good deal of what it does, but if you are on Apple and don't mind the cost, so many seem to enjoy it. It's definitely not something you need, but I think once you have it, you might realize you miss it if you got rid of it. I know one thing for sure, you don't have to pay attention to your phone as much if you have an AW. The notifications and everything else coming straight to your wrist means much less reliance on your physical phone for quick tasks. If you have both an iPhone and a Mac, the AW has even greater usefulness, I'm not sure what exactly, I just know it does more when you have all three.

  14. #764

    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    I am a watch person, although not a Digital watch person. I had an MS Band and it was great, until the strap broke. But the functionality was awesome.
    About iWatch. Have seen it. It is a very good piece of hardware/software. But for the price, there are better things out there. Polar still has it beat, and for my money, I would go with Garmin. Not only they are loaded with functions, they are the sturdiest.
    Of course, they all are worked through your phone, after you download the app. So in reality, it is just which one you like best. And how much money you want to spend.
    Starry starry night

  15. #765
    Head Cheese
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    Kirkus's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    California, USA
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    Re: Techno-babble Random Random

    I actually made the decision between an Apple Watch and a FitBit watch about a month ago. I've always worn a watch and I feel uncomfortable without one one -- I realize how often I look at it during the day when it's not there. The battery on my old one died (for the third time) so I used that to justify a new watch. I'm an Apple Person and I really really wanted an Apple Watch, even a lower priced entry level one. But I ended up buying a FitBit watch instead, for one single reason. Apple Watches don't have any sleep analysis. I think it's the only smart watch on the market without that feature. No smart watch does any kind of movement analysis perfectly, but I do use the sleep analysis just to get a broad idea of how well I'm sleeping at night. I use the FitBit to kind of half-heartedly (no pun intended) keep an eye on my heart rate, and it also allows me to read text messages and see who's calling when I get a phone call. It does a lot more but I haven't really tapped into its other apps.
    Oh Grigor. You silly man.

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