Facebook: Darned Busy

November 12, 2018

I read “Zuckerberg Rebuffs Request to Appear before UK Parliament.” Now this is an AP story, and I don’t want to get into a tussle with the organization’s legal eagles by quoting an AP content gem. Therefore, you will have to navigate to the original (AP is into original) story and read the words yourself. For me, I noted the alleged factoid that Facebook’s poobah is not going to chat about fake news with European officials. Nevertheless, Facebook appears to be interested in expanding its operations in Ireland and figuring out how to make money without creating situations which require European officials to demonstrate their appetite for information about what looks and acts like a country. Perhaps Facebook should summon European officials to the sparkling streets of San Francisco or do lunch in New York? Like that?

Stephen E Arnold, November 9, 2018

Big Brother Watching

November 12, 2018

One metaphor that will never get tired is Orwell’s novel 1984. The plot grows even more real with our current level of technology and everyday brings news stories like this one from the New York Post entitled, “Social Media Companies Beware: Washington Is Watching You.” Instead of individuals needing to be weary, social media companies are the target of the current government watch list.

President Trump’s use of social media is a bane to his administration. He also blames social media networks for the dissemination of fake news. The social media companies are also on the hotbed for their monoculture business mindset. Silicon Valley is known for its support of liberal politics to the point if you do not subscribe to these political believes you become a social pariah. Silicon Valley, especially the social media companies, are being called out for this.

The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had a hearing about how foreign influence operations use social media to spread political propaganda. Social media companies are not in the hot seat due to this hearing, because their platforms are the tools used to spread the propaganda. What puts the social media companies in the hot seat is not only their platforms, but also their political monoculture

The US Senate Select Committee called Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to the hearing. Google only offered to send its vice president of global affairs. This is not a good business practice. These companies might not like the current administration, but they should appear to be above reproach. Also you never want to anger the US government! That is a solid business practice everyone in the world knows.

Also did it ever occur to these companies that their political bias is illegal and a turn off for the shareholders:

“A public social media company can’t conflate management’s political views with what it permits platform users to view on its sites and still say it is looking to serve shareholders’ interests.Intentionally excluding or turning off users isn’t good for advertising revenues.Social media companies have an obligation to their shareholders to not pollute their own brand and disenfranchise their platforms’ user bases. The revenue derived from advertising is based on the number of users. It is time for Silicon Valley to grow up and act in a way that is good for its shareholders, since they are the real owners of the companies.”

Oh snap! The New York Post just dropped the microphone, enough said.

Whitney Grace, November 12, 2018

India and Its Spicy View of WhatsApp

November 2, 2018

Spam is a pain for your inbox, feed, social network messages, and pretty much anything else you do online. One of the worse things about spam messages is when someone does not know how to identify spam from the real stuff. According to Reuters, the Indian government is getting fed up with spam, says the article, “WhatsApp To Clamp Down On ‘Sinister’ Messages In India: Ravi Shankar Prasad.”

Facebook apparently said it would develop tools to help the Indian government detect spam and other content with the purpose of sparking mass hysteria. India is not any different from other countries when it is whipped into a frenzy: people get angry, there is collateral damage, and people get hurt. WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels commiserated with India’s chief information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Prasad wants Facebook to design a way to track rabble rousing messages’ origins. The IT minister does not think it is rocket science to figure a message’s origins, seemingly not knowing what work is required in order to read the metadata and program the code.

WhatsApp’s biggest market is India with a 200 million strong market and where, quite astonishingly, people forward more content than any other country. The

“There are also concerns that supporters of political parties could use social media platforms such as WhatsApp to spread false messages in the run-up to India’s national elections in 2019.In July, WhatsApp said message forwards will be limited to five chats at a time, whether among individuals or groups, and said it will remove the quick forward button placed next to media messages.”

India appears to be fond of social interaction. One’s reputation, education, connections, and family status may make the difference between success and failure. Social networks are more complex than anything we experience in Kentucky. No surprise that WhatsApp will be put to interesting uses.

Whitney Grace, November 2, 2018

Reconstructing a Hack

November 2, 2018

Investigations into the 2016 US elections are still going to occur long after President Donald Trump is out of office. The question non-tech savvy people are asking, however, is how did the Russian hackers hack the election? OS News takes a look at the answer in, “How they Did It: GRU Hackers vs. US Elections.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller assembled a grand jury to investigate the hacking and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced an indictment against twelve of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff aka GRU. GRU is short for “Glavnoye razvedyvatel’noye upravleniye.” The twelve GRU members are charged with “active cyber operations with the intent of interfering in the 2016 presidential election.”

How was the indictment made?

“The allegations are backed up by data collected from service provider logs, Bitcoin transaction tracing, and additional forensics. The DOJ also relied on information collected by US (and likely foreign) intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Reading between the lines, the indictment reveals that the Mueller team and other US investigators likely gained access to things like Twitter direct messages and hosting company business records and logs, and they obtained or directly monitored email messages associated with the GRU (and possibly WikiLeaks). It also appears that the investigation ultimately had some level of access to internal activities of two GRU offices.”

Trump expressed doubt that Russia was involved in hacking the elections after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit meeting. The US director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, however, concluded that Russia was involved. Trump is trusting Putin over his own people. Trump is also victim bashing and blaming the DNC and DCC for not being prepared for this sort of attack and ignoring advice from third parties who said this could happen.

More hacking? Probably.

Whitney Grace, November 2, 2018

Protestors Want Palantir to Drop US Government Contract

October 24, 2018

The United States needs massive immigration reform. One of the arguments surrounding the US immigration controversy is if illegal immigrants are truly criminals and should be treated as such? Palo Alto Online shares how one tech company’s software is being used to for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “Protestors Demand Palantir End ICE Contract.”

Palantir Technologies is based in Palo Alto and its software powers a database on immigrants that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) uses to enforce immigration law. Protestors met at the company’s headquarters in July with an attempt to deliver a protest letter to CEO Alex Karp. Those who were at protest include Tech Workers Coalition, Sacred Heart Community Service, Silicon Valley Rising, Santa Clara County Democratic Party, Working Partnerships USA, and SEIU United Service Workers West.

The protestors claim that Palantir enables ICE to abuse immigrants and refugees and the company should end its relationship with ICE on a morality stand. Palantir locked its office and did not send out a representative to collect the letter. Protestors also want Silicon Valley to stand up to the Trump administration and not be complicit with its actions. Palantir is not the only company with ICE contracts:

“According to a June 20 report by NBC News, Palantir accepted more than $4.9 million from ICE on May 30, which is part of a $39 million contract dating back to 2015 for operations and maintenance of Falcon, the company’s intelligence database, which tracks immigrants’ records and relationships, NBC found in a government database search.Other tech companies have also taken ICE contracts, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Thomson Reuters, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions, according to the NBC report. The protesters said that employees at some of the other firms have asked their companies to turn down ICE contracts.”

With an alleged Palantir IPO approaching, dumping contracts does not seem to be a workable idea.

Whitney Grace, October 24, 2018

Congressional Research Becomes Far Less Mysterious with Search

October 10, 2018

A strange thing is happening in Washington, the government is making itself more transparent and searchable. At least when it comes to congressional research. The Congressional Research Service has long been among the most secretive agencies in Washington, only releasing a report or two when it absolutely must. That has changed, according to a recent Federal News Radio story, “A Window Opens Into the Secretive Congressional Research Service.”

According to the story:

“CRS didn’t volunteer this initiative. Until now Its “board of directors” would only release reports individually, maybe, upon request from a constituent. But thanks to a provision in a 2018 appropriations bill, it now has to make them all public. Which means not every member of Congress liked the way things were. The provision was the work of Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.). He’s been trotting out legislation about CRS for the past seven years.”

You can take a look for yourself. Currently, the service only provides documents dating back to January of 2018, but more is supposed to be on the way. The only limitation is a redaction of the author’s information.

One question is, “Why aren’t government documents, not marked classified, available to the public?”

USA.gov does not provide a comprehensive index of public US government information. Interesting.

Patrick Roland, October 10, 2018

Amazon: Accommodating Big Chunks of Data

September 28, 2018

Our research into Amazon’s capabilities caused us to note the information in “Amazon Rolls Out High Memory Instances for In-Memory Databases.” Many companies want to munch on Big Data. I would point out that certain US government organization have a healthy appetite for the capability as well.

I noted this statement:

The new High Memory EC2 instances offer a choice of 6, 9 and 12 terabytes of memory, with 18TB and 24TB options to arrive next year.

The individual offering this information is Amazonian Jeff Barr, one of the people providing insight into what the Bezos machine is doing. These announcements typically come after the innovation is up and running and productized.

Why is this important?

The announcement snaps into the policeware and intelligence services offerings which Amazon has available now.

Next move is up to IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle. Procurement time is fast approaching as is the announcement of the new Amazon headquarters.

Stephen E Arnold, September 28, 2018

Technology Giants and Incentive: No Payoff in Bias

September 26, 2018

I read “Google, Facebook, Twitter Have No Incentive to Inject Bias, Tech Industry Group Says.” Interesting write up because the Information Technology and innovative Foundation or ITIF seems like an objective outfit. I noted this statement in the write up:

The Justice Department should back off its unseemly political attacks on social media platforms. Policymakers should continue to employ a light touch regulatory approach so consumers can benefit from the platforms’ continued growth and innovation.

Sounds reasonable. The timing is, of course, coincidental. Why would the information appear before hearings about privacy and security take place.

Here in Harrod’s Creek we trust social media companies and we think that the technology supported non profit is even more trustworthy. Get with the program, one old geezer here in rural Kentucky said. But that person believes in self regulation even thought the fellow struggles to control his bourbon intake.

Unseemly for sure.

Stephen E Arnold, September 26, 2018

India and Social Media: A Bit of an Issue

September 5, 2018

Spam is a pain for your inbox, feed, social network messages, and pretty much anything else you do online.  One of the worse things about spam messages is when someone does not know how to identify spam from the real stuff.  According to Reuters, the Indian government is getting fed up with spam, says the article, “WhatsApp To Clamp Down On ‘Sinister’ Messages In India: Ravi Shankar Prasad.”

Facebook apparently said it would develop tools to help the Indian government detect spam and other content with the purpose of sparking mass hysteria.  India is not any different from other countries when it is whipped into a frenzy: people get angry, there is collateral damage, and people get hurt.  WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels commiserated with India’s chief information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.  Prasad wants Facebook to design a way to track rabble rousing messages’ origins.  The IT minister does not think it is rocket science to figure a message’s origins, seemingly not knowing what work is required in order to read the metadata and program the code.

WhatsApp’s biggest market is India with a 200 million strong market and where, quite astonishingly, people forward more content than any other country.  We learned:

“There are also concerns that supporters of political parties could use social media platforms such as WhatsApp to spread false messages in the run-up to India’s national elections in 2019.In July, WhatsApp said message forwards will be limited to five chats at a time, whether among individuals or groups, and said it will remove the quick forward button placed next to media messages.”

India is also a very social country, meaning your reputation, education, connections, and family status can mean the difference between success and failure.  Social networks are more complex than anything you could find in the West, China might be the only country that compares.  It does not come as a surprise WhatsApp could be used as a political tool and also to incite violence.

Whitney Grace, September 5, 2018

China Charts a Course in Cyber Space

August 19, 2018

I am not much a political thinker. But even with the minimal knowledge I possess about world affairs, it seems to me that China has made its cyber technology objective clear. Of course, I am assuming that the information in “When China Rules the Web” is accurate. You will have to judge for yourself.

The write up states:

Chinese President Xi Jinping has outlined his plans to turn China into a “cyber-superpower.”

My reaction to this statement was to ask this question, “When US companies make changes in order to sell to China, does that mean those companies are helping to make the Chinese cyber space vision a reality?”

There are other questions swirling through my mind, and I need time to sort them out. Companies define the US to a large part. If the companies go one way, will other components of the US follow?

Worth considering. A stated policy that is being implemented is different from a less purposeful approach.

Stephen E Arnold, August 19, 2018

Next Page »

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta