YouTube: Will It Continue to Fancy Dance to the Editorial Control Be Bop?

September 20, 2019

Kids these days have ambitions of being astronauts, writers, scientists, and YouTubers. YouTubers are social media influences with mass followings that make decent livings through YouTube, mostly through ad revenue. YouTubers love and hate their platform of choice and it does not come as a surprise due to how controversial YouTube has become. The Guardian runs down YouTube’s recent headlines and spoke with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in the article, “YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki: ‘Where’s The Line Of Free Speech-Are You Removing Voices That Should Be Heard?’”

 

YouTube faces frequent scandals, involving its creators posting questionable content like hate speech, Holocaust deniers, etc. And there are those pedophiles who communicate in the comments of children’s videos or engage in code speak related to videos posted by a doting parent for digitally aware Silver Surfer.

YouTube made some progress with anti-hate speech policies to curb hate mongering videos and periodic takedowns. YouTube allegedly has a 10,000 alert, morally upright, dedicated human moderators working with smart software and systems able to the alleged five hundred hours of video posted every minute. Wojcicki seems to say her Googley unit cannot catch every instance of hate speech and questionable video, but they are trying and making a good effort at it.

The video streaming platform is one of the most popular ways Americans entertain themselves and generate money for the online ad giant. The problem is these scandals and bad actor videos that stain YouTube’s reputation, but does removing/banning them violate free speech:

“But hasn’t it been dangerously influential? [Wojcicki] pauses. ‘Look, [these question videos are] a very small percentage of our views, and the way that we think about it is: ‘Is this content violating one of our policies? Has it violated anything in terms of hate, harassment?’ If it has, we remove that content. We keep tightening and tightening the policies. We also get criticism, just to be clear, [about] where do you draw the lines of free speech and, if you draw it too tightly, are you removing voices of society that should be heard? We’re trying to strike a balance of enabling a broad set of voices, but also making sure that those voices play by a set of rules that are healthy conversations for society.’”

This particular write up adds a human dimension to the problem of hate speech and child abuse. Wojcicki’s life includes hobbies. (Imagine. A hard working Type A Googler having a hobby.) She is determined to leave a strong legacy and wants to influence more women to work in the technology industry. A good attitude is a plus when working for a company whose top lawyer makes headlines about personal behavior and the video content contains some darned awful data.

YouTube would have made a great MBA case study had not the market for MBAs imploded and free online classes demonstrated that MBA students go to school for contacts, not learning.

Nevertheless, a great case study awaits.

Whitney Grace, September 20, 2019

YouTube May Be Too Big to Monitor or Fail

September 17, 2019

A friend if mine who shall remain nameless, but who is a Baby Boomer and not technology illiterate once said that the United States government should just shut down the entire Dark Web. I burst out laughing at this statement and incredulously he asked why I guffawed. After explaining how wide spread the Dark Web is, the number of countries involved, and using the “herding cats” metaphor my point was made. Google is facing the same problem as it tries to sanitize YouTube, you can read the story from IT Wire.

YouTube is a big Web site and its expanse does not know an end. Google’s CEO Sundar Puchai stated to CNN that it was too difficult to clean up the entire video platform. YouTube tends to obey the US’s First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech, but there is a mega backlash when it comes to YouTube hosting harmful content.

The definition of “harmful and malicious” content varies. The general consensus is videos related to neo-Nazism, white supremacy, racist, nudity, promoting terrorism, sexism, hate speech, and anything that specifically targets ethnic or social groups in a negative fashion fits the harmful definition.

Pichai said that using a combination humans and machines Google has gotten 99% of YouTube sanitation right, but videos still sneak between the upload cracks. This reminds me of Web filters “supposed’ to protect children from harmful Internet content, but they always took things to the extreme. Pichai admitted that while he wants the harmful content on YouTube to be well below 1%, he admitted that any large scale system will have a trace amount of fraud, take credit cards for example. Pichai remained silent when confronted with a conspiracy question:

“Asked why YouTube had taken nearly seven years to remove videos claiming that the massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012 never took place, Pichai did not give a straight answer, but danced around, saying he wished that the company had gotten to the task of removing such videos much earlier. The Google chief was not asked about the fact that numerous alternative media sites have now been demonetized as a result of the purge of content which Google says is unsuitable for YouTube.”

Yep, impossible.

Whitney Grace, September 17, 2019

DarkCyber for August 27, 2019, Now Available

August 27, 2019

DarkCyber for August 20, 2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/.

The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web, cybercrime, and lesser known Internet services.

This week’s story line up includes: Amazon AWS as an attack launch pad for bad actors; obtaining fake paper and passports; cyber warriors have side gigs; adversarial fashions are for sale; and information about the new DarkCyber series about policeware starting in November 2019.

The feature story this week is reports that some bad actors are integrating Amazon Web Services into their phishing and malware activities. The reason is that the platform is widely available, easy to use, and has an excellent reputation. Many phishing attacks use multiples services, and AWS is becoming a resource that is gaining acceptance among bad actors.

Other stories in this week’s program are:

Jeffrey Epstein, accused of human trafficking activity, had several passports in his home at the time of his arrest. Passports and other documents like a driver’s license can be purchased on the Dark Web and via other channels. Valid passports are available from a number of countries, including Greece. The valid passport from St. Kitts and Nevis cost between $150,000 and $400,000 and up. The lower charge is for a donation to the country’s sustainable growth fund. The $400,000 is the minimum required for a real estate purchase on the island. Crossing a border with fake paper or multiple passports can invite the question, “Why do you have these documents?” Unsatisfactory answers can result in denied entry, fines, or incarceration.

DarkCyber reports that Chinese cyber warriors have discovered how to operate side gigs. The idea is that these individuals use their hacking skills to compromise financial accounts. Another approach is to obtain digital products which can be sold to online game enthusiasts. Gamers will pay for game cheats and special powers to obtain an in game advantage.

For individuals who are concerned about facial recognition, a new fashion trend may be building up steam. Adversarial Fashion has developed clothing which uses designs and colors that can confuse facial recognition systems and license plate optical character recognition readers. DarkCyber provides information about where to order these T shirts, jackets, and other items. Plus, DarkCyber gives the viewer instructions for downloading a report about the technological weaknesses in surveillance systems.

DarkCyber is a weekly production of Stephen E Arnold. The currency series of videos ends with the August 27, 2019, program. The new series of DarkCyber videos begins on November 5, 2019. The new series will focus on policeware with an emphasis on Amazon’s products and services for law enforcement, intelligence professionals, and regulatory authorities in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

DarkCyber programs are available on Vimeo.com and YouTube.com.

Kenny Toth, August 27, 2019

Hong Kong Live Video

August 25, 2019

DarkCyber did a quick check of Amazon Twitch and Google YouTube at 0700 am US Eastern time. There were no live streams of Hong Kong protests. DLive  and Mixer were without Hong Kong streams.

But we did spot what looked like a live stream of the Hong Kong protests on Periscope at this link. Remember live streams go dead often without warning, so DarkCyber cannot provide an updated link.

Questions:

  1. Why is there no live coverage from Google YouTube?
  2. Why has Amazon Twitch dropped Hong Kong protest streams? (Note: a Hong Kong protest stream was available at 0734 am US Eastern at this link.)
  3. Is DLive unable or unwilling to stream the protest content?

Stephen E Arnold, August 25, 2019

DarkCyber for August 20, 2019, Now Available

August 20, 2019

DarkCyber for August 20, 2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/354476523 .
The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web, cybercrime, and lesser known Internet services.

The story line up this week includes a feature about Anduril Technologies’ surveillance system for border monitoring. The show also includes a critique of a public report about robocalling and a comment about the increasingly loud calls for backdoors to mobile phones and encrypted messages by law enforcement in the US and other countries.

The feature story this week is about Anduril Industries, the company which is developing systems for the Department of Defense’s Project Maven. The company was founded in 2017 by Palmer Luckey. After creating the virtual reality product Oculus Rift, Luckey sold the company to Facebook. He then founded Anduril to develop next generation surveillance products and systems. His clients include US government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security. Anduril’s innovations allow software to monitor, analyze, and make decisions. These decisions can be taken without human involved, take place automatically, or employ human-machine interactions. The system can process data from digital cameras and specialized devices. These data are then federated and analyzed by the firm’s proprietary algorithms. The system can, for example, identify a herd of cattle as well as a group of people approaching a border. Anduril, however, is able to differentiate between the animals and the humans. If detection occurs at an Anduril monitoring tower, Anduril drones can also scan the area. If multiple Anduril drones are deployed in the area in which the anomaly was detected, the resolution of the system increases. In effect, Anduril has developed a way for surveillance to deliver detection, analysis, and increased resolution. An operator can immerse himself or herself in a virtual reality presentation of what the drones and the monitoring devices “see”. Anduril’s approach to US government work stands in direct contrast to that of Google. Google refused to work on Project Maven yet funded an educational artificial intelligence center in mainland China. Anduril welcomes US government work. One of the investors in Anduril suggested that Google’s attitude toward the US government could be interpreted as treasonous.

Two other stories round out this week’s episode.

Law enforcement agencies in the US and other Five Eyes member countries continue their call for a way for government agencies to access devices and messages by persons of interest. The “growing dark” problem in the US made headlines. Law enforcement investigating the Dayton, Ohio, killings have been unable to access the alleged shooter’s mobile phone data. DarkCyber anticipates increasingly loud calls for legislation to make it mandatory for technology companies to cooperate with law enforcement when courts permit access to mobile devices.

DarkCyber calls attention to an article which provides a road map for an individual who wants to run a robocall operation. The details of the method are reviewed. Plus, DarkCyber names two services which allow a robocall spammer to set up an operation with a few clicks online. One of these services includes a “press one feature” which allows the robocaller to charge the individual who happens to answer the telephone. DarkCyber finds these types of “how to” articles somewhat troubling. The information may encourage some individuals to launch a robocall business and runs scams anonymously.

A new multi part series about Amazon policeware initiative begins on November 5, 2019. DarkCyber programs are available on Vimeo.com and YouTube.com.

Note that DarkCyber will begin a new series of programs on November 5, 2019. The current series or “season” ends on August 27, 2019. We are developing the new series now. It’s about everyone favorite online bookstore with an emphasis on policeware and intelware.

Kenny Toth, August 20, 2019

Amazon Twitch: Curation, Manipulation, or Exploitation Issues?

August 12, 2019

One of the DarkCyber research team plays games. The rest of the group try to ignore the revolution. Someone at Engadget is into games. We determined this by reading “Ninja Calls Out Twitch after His Dormant Channel Highlights Porn.” “Ninja” is an Internet star who plays games. Ninja had a channel or stream on Amazon Twitch. Ninja left Amazon Twitch for Microsoft’s game streaming service. (No, DarkCyber did not know MSFT was into online games, but obviously with a big star like Ninja, MSFT is more than the red ring of death game console.)

The story is a vector for Ninja’s allegations that Amazon Twitch did a bad game player thing. Ninja’s channel — no longer used by Ninja — became a promotional vehicle for other Twitch gamers. The horror apparently was Hollywood all the way. Plus Amazon Twitch’s quite interesting moderation system allowed Ninja’s dormant channel to be to be used by other Twitchers to stream porn. This is bad, it seems, because the Twitch users wanted to watch Ninja play games, not watch actual humanoid interactions.

The write up points out:

We’ve asked Twitch for comment. Whatever its response, this isn’t a great look for the service. It was no surprise that Ninja’s stream would scale back (Twitch partners aren’t allowed to stream on rival services), many only expected it to remain idle, not become a billboard for other broadcasters. It certainly underscores the significance of Ninja’s switch. His leap to Mixer represented a competitive blow, and Twitch clearly wasn’t happy about it. Update 8/11 5:55PM ET: That was fast — Twitch has already reverted Ninja’s old page to a regular offline screen, including chat (where people are roasting Twitch as we write this).

A couple of questions:

  • Does Amazon Twitch have a method to use unused channels to promote other Twitch streams? If so, what is it? Happenstance, a SageMaker function, or a rule book?
  • What will Amazon change to prevent porn from being displayed to the young people who follow popular gamers like Ninja?
  • Does Amazon monetize questionable content; for example, SweetSaltyPeach now banned and brought back as RachelKay and similar streamers who appeal to teen agers?

Amazon Twitch, in its own way, is behaving in a manner which might/could develop into a formal investigation by an appropriate US government entity.

Stephen E Arnold, August 12, 2019

 

Google Accused of Favoritism by an Outfit with Google Envy?

August 10, 2019

I read in the Jeff Bezos owned Washington Post this story: “YouTube’s Arbitrary Standards: Stars Keep Making Money Even after Breaking the Rules.” The subtitle is a less than subtle dig at what WaPo perceives as the soft, vulnerable underbelly of Googzilla:

Moderators describe a chaotic workplace where exceptions for lucrative influencers are the norm.

What is the story about? The word choice in the headlines make the message clear: Google is a corrupt, Wild West. The words in the headline and subhead I noted are:

arbitrary

money

breaking

chaotic

exceptions

lucrative

norm.

Is it necessary to work through the complete write up? I have the frame. This is “real news”, which may be as problematic as the high school management methods in operation at Google.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of “real news”:

Here’s the unfair angle:

With each crisis, YouTube has raced to update its guidelines for which types of content are allowed to benefit from its powerful advertising engine — depriving creators of those dollars if they break too many rules. That also penalizes YouTube, which splits the advertising revenue with its stars.

Nifty word choice: crisis, race, powerful, dollars, break, and the biggie “advertising revenue.”

That’s it. Advertising revenue. Google has. WaPo doesn’t. Perhaps, just perhaps, Amazon wants. Do you think?

Now the human deciders. Do they decide? WaPo reports the “real news” this way:

But unlike at rivals like Facebook and Twitter, many YouTube moderators aren’t able to delete content themselves. Instead, they are limited to recommending whether a piece of content is safe to run ads, flagging it to higher-ups who make the ultimate decision.

The words used are interesting:

unlike

Facebook

Twitter

aren’t

limited

recommending

higher ups

Okay, that’s enough for me. I have the message.

What if WaPo compared and contrasted YouTube with Twitch, an Amazon owned gaming platform. In my lectures at the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference, I showed LE and intel professionals, Twitch’s:

online gambling

soft porn

encoded messages

pirated first run motion pictures

streaming US television programs

Twitch talent can be banned; for example, SweetSaltyPeach. But this star resurfaced with ads a few days later as RachelKay. Same art. Same approach which is designed to appeal the the Twitch audience. How do I know? Well, those pre roll ads and the prompt removal of the ban. Why put RachelKay back on the program? Maybe ad revenue?

My question is, “Why not dive into the toxic gaming culture and the failure of moderation on Twitch?” The focus on Google is interesting, but explaining that problems are particular to Google is interesting.

One thing is certain: The write up is so blatantly anti Google that it is funny.

Why not do a bit of research into the online streaming service of the WaPo’s owner?

Oh, right, that’s not “real news.”

What’s my point? Amazon is just as Googley as Google. Perhaps an editor at the WaPo should check out Twitch before attacking what is not much different than Amazon’s own video service.

Stephen E Arnold, August 10, 2019

DarkCyber for August 6, 2019, Now Available

August 6, 2019

DarkCyber for August 6, 2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/351872293. The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web, cybercrime, and lesser known Internet services.

DarkCyber (August 6, 2019) explores reports about four high-profile leaks of confidential or secret information. Each “leak” has unique attributes, and some leaks may be nothing more than attempts to generate publicity, cause embarrassment to a firm, or a clever repurposing of publicly available but little known information. Lockheed Martin made available in a blog about automobiles data related to its innovative propulsion system. The fusion approach is better suited to military applications. The audience for the “leak” may be US government officials. The second leak explains that the breach of a Russian contractor providing technical services to the Russian government may be politically-motivated. The information could be part of an effort to criticize Vladimir Putin. The third example is the disclosure of “secret” Palantir Technologies’ documents. This information may create friction for the rumored Palantir INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING. The final secret is the startling but unverified assertion that the NSO Group, an Israeli cyber security firm, can compromise the security of major cloud providers like Amazon and Apple, among others. The DarkCyber conclusion from this spate of “leak” stories is that the motivations for each leak are different. In short, leaking secrets may be political, personal, or just marketing.

Other stories in this week’s DarkCyber include:

A report about Kazakhstan stepped up surveillance activities. Monitoring of mobile devices in underway in the capital city. DarkCyber reports that the system may be deployed to other Kazakh cities. The approach appears to be influenced by China’s methods; namely, installing malware on mobile devices and manipulating Internet routing.

DarkCyber explains that F Secure offers a free service to individuals who want to know about their personal information. The Data Discovery Portal makes it possible for a person to plug in an email. The system will then display some of the personal information major online services have in their database about that person.

DarkCyber’s final story points out that online drug merchants are using old-school identity verification methods. With postal services intercepting a larger number of drug packages sent via the mail, physical hand offs of the contraband are necessary. The method used relies on the serial number on currency. When the recipient provides the number, the “drug mule” verifies that number on a printed bank note.

DarkCyber videos appears each week through the September 30, 2019. A new series of videos will begin on November 1, 2019. Programs are available on Vimeo.com and YouTube.com.

Kenny Toth, August 6, 2019

DarkCyber for July 30, 2019, Now Available

July 30, 2019

DarkCyber for July 30, 2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/350567599. The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web, cybercrime, and lesser known Internet services.

DarkCyber (July 30, 2019) explores China’s aggressive method of dealing with encrypted messaging; Perceptics’ data breach and its consequences; a way to determine email links to other online services; and Palantir’s secret Gotham information exposed.

This week’s lead story concerns Palantir Technologies, a vendor of search and analytic tools for analysts. Founded in 2003, Palantir has draped a cloak of secrecy over one of its flagship products, now more than 16 years’ old. The information about the “secret” document appeared in Vice, an online information service. For those unfamiliar with investigative software, the revelations were of interest to some individuals. Vice’s public records request yielded a user manual written for police with access to the Palantir Gotham “intelware” system. The manual—described as secret and confidential—provides step-by-step instructions for performing certain investigative tasks; for example, how to obtain a profile of a person of interest, how to obtain information about a vehicle, and similar basic investigative questions.

Other stories in the July 23, 2019, program are:

First, China has introduced a very direct method of obtaining access to content on mobile phones and tablets. Citizens and allegedly some visitors have to install software from Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Company. The MFSocket software provides access to images, audio files, location data, call logs, messages, and the phone’s calendar and contacts, including those used in the messaging app Telegram. It is possible that the Meiya Pico organization has a cooperative relationship with the Chinese government. The company allegedly has 40 percent of the Chinese digital forensics market.

Second, a Web service named Deseat.me provides a useful service. Few people know what Web sites and Web services are linked to a person’s email address. Deseat.me makes locating this information easy. The service, at this time, is offered without charge. DarkCyber points out that many modern policeware systems offer a similar functionality for any email address. Deseat, along with a small number of similar services, makes the process of locating these linked sites and services easy and quick.

Finally, Perceptics, a company best known for its license plate identification system, suffered a security breach. Among the items of information compromised were US government data and a range of Perceptics’ proprietary data. The information allegedly included data related to recent border activities, a contentious issue in the United States. Perceptics may find that making sales to the US government more difficult. A loss of contracts would adversely impact the company’s revenue. A larger issue is that the security measures implemented by a company engaged in cyber services failed to deploy systems which guarded high-value data. The cost of a data breach can be high and create a public relations challenge for organizations more comfortable operating in a low-profile way.

DarkCyber videos appears each week through the September 30, 2019. A new series of videos will begin on November 1, 2019. Programs are available on Vimeo.com and YouTube.com.

Kenny Toth, July 30, 2019

YouTube: Keep on Clicking

July 25, 2019

YouTube wants you to watch videos. The more videos you watch, the more advertising space it can sell. In order to keep you engrossed, YouTube recommends videos that its algorithms think will appeal to you based on your viewing history. Sometimes the recommendations score, other times they sink faster than a flash in the pan viral video. Make Use Of explains how you can take control of your YouTube recommendations so they score every time: “YouTube Gives Viewers More Control Over Content.”

YouTube wants to give viewers more control over curating their video experience and they debuted brand new features to put viewers in “the driver’s seat.” YouTube wants to “help viewers find new interests and passions” and this comes from understanding what viewers like. In order for YouTube to know what to recommend, viewers need to tell YouTube so its content algorithms can do their magic. Here is how YouTube is “placing viewers in the driver’s seat” (although it’s really the illusion of control):

Explore Topics on the Homepage and Up Next: YouTube is making it easier to explore topics and related videos. You’ll see these topics both at the top of your homepage (when you scroll up) and on the Up Next section below the video you’re currently watching.

Stop Certain Channels Being Recommended: On the flipside, you can now tell YouTube to stop recommending videos from particular channels. Just tap the three-dot menu next to a video and select “Don’t recommend channel” from the dropdown menu.

Discover Why YouTube Is Recommending Videos: YouTube is also explaining why it’s recommending particular content. When YouTube recommends videos based on what other viewers have watched, you’ll see an information box underneath the video.”

The last feature about “discovering why YouTube recommends a video” is a real show of AI intelligence, unless the algorithm is similar to what Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu use to make similar recommendations. It is neat at first, then becomes passé unless there is flashy cover art. These updates were made, because YouTube’s old algorithms sent viewers down endless rabbit holes. For example, if a viewer watches a single anti-vaccination video, suddenly all of their recommendations were about anti-vaccinations. The only way to wipe out the recommendation was to clear the viewing history or watch a bunch of videos on another topic.

YouTube wants to retain ands gain viewers. Giving its viewers more control and understanding what they like with smarter AI will keep the video platform relevant.

Whitney Grace, July 25, 2019

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