Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Tag

REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: BRITAIN’S GCHQ HAS TOOLS TO MANIPULATE ON-LINE INFORMATION

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Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency has developed sophisticated tools to manipulate online polls, spam targets with SMS messages, track people by impersonating spammers and monitor social media postings, according to newly-published documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents – which were published on First Look Media with accompanying analysis from Glenn Greenwald – disclose a range ofGCHQ “effects” programs aimed at tracking targets, spreading information, and manipulating online debates and statistics. The disclosure comes the day before the UK parliament is due to begin up to three days’ debate on emergency legislation governing British surveillance capabilities. With cross-party support the bill is expected to be voted through this week.

Among the programs revealed in the document are:

• GATEWAY: the “ability to artificially increase traffic to a website”.

• CLEAN SWEEP which “masquerade[s] Facebook wall posts for individuals or entire countries”.

• SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE for “perfect spoofing of emails from BlackBerry targets”.

• UNDERPASS to “change outcome of online polls”.

• SPRING BISHOP to find “private photos of targets on Facebook”.

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The document also details a range of programs designed to collect and store public postings from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, and to make automated postings on several of the social networks. Capabilities to boost views of YouTube videos, or to boost the circulation of particular messages are also detailed. GCHQ has also, the document suggests, developed capabilities to scan and geolocate the IPs of entire cities at a time. The document does not detail the legal restrictions on using any of the programs, nor state how often any were deployed. Several of the programs, though, are described as being at “pilot” stage.

GCHQ declined to provide First Look Media with a detailed statement, but told the outlet all its programs were “in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework” with “rigorous oversight”. Greenwald characterized the GCHQ statement as “questionable” in his article. This news comes as German politicians are considering a return to manual typewriters for sensitive documents in the wake of the US surveillance scandal.

The head of the Bundestag’s parliamentary enquiry into NSA activity inGermany said in an interview with the Morgenmagazin TV programme that he and his colleagues were seriously thinking of ditching email completely. Asked “Are you considering typewriters” by the interviewer on Monday night, the Christian Democrat politican Patrick Sensburg said: “As a matter of fact, we have – and not electronic models either”. “Really?”, the surprised interviewer checked. “Yes, no joke”, Sensburg responded. During the ongoing row over alleged US spying operations in Germany, there had been speculation that the CIA may have actively targeted the Bundestag’s NSA inquiry committee. “Unlike other inquiry committees, we are investigating an ongoing situation. Intelligence activities are still going on, they are happening,” said Sensburg..

Last year, the Russian government reportedly took similar measures in response to proof of NSA spying, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The federal guard service, a powerful body tasked with protecting Russia’s highest-ranking officials, put in an order for 20 Triumph Adler typewriters, which create unique “handwriting”, that allows its source to be traced. According to German media, revelations about digital surveillance have triggered a fundamental rethink about how the government conducts its communications. “Above all, people are trying to stay away from technology whenever they can”, wrote Die Welt. “Those concerned talk less on the phone, prefer to meet in person. More coffees are being drunk and lunches eaten together. Even the walk in the park is increasingly enjoying a revival”.

Posted July 15, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

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INDIANA MAN WHO CLAIMS CONNECTION TO LAS VEGAS KILLERS JAILED FOR THREATS

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana | DMN — An Indiana man has been jailed for making death threats against local police on Facebook. Samuel Bradbury, 22, was arrested by West Lafayette Police on June 21st after law enforcement received an anonymous tip about the Facebook posts. According to a probable cause affidavit, Bradbury’s posts included threats against a Tippecanoe County judge, a Indiana Supreme Court Justice, and specific members of law enforcement in Tippecanoe County. He also threatened to “blow the Tippecanoe County Courthouse to pieces”.

The affidavit says Bradbury mentions his affiliation with Amanda and Jerad Miller, the Lafayette couple who killed two police officers in Las Vegas in early June. He said the Millers were part of the “765 Anacharists” group that he leads. He says the group forming for years to kill police officers, saying the group has gathered thermite and explosives and that acts by the group may include a suicide bomber. A tipster sent screenshots of posts on Sam Bradbury’s Facebook page in which he threatened to kill a Tippecanoe County judge, an Indiana Supreme Court Justice and specific Tippecanoe County cops, according to court documents. Police were able to uncover chemical substances that contained components of incendiary devices owned by Bradbury. Bradbury was booked into Tippecanoe County Jail with his bond set at $100,000 cash.He faces four Class C felony intimidation charges for each officer he threatened. Federal charges are forthcoming.

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On June 8, Miller and his wife, Amanda, who had moved to Las Vegas from Lafayette in January, shot and killed two police officers. They went next to a Wal-Mart, where Amanda Miller killed a shopper who confronted her husband before police arrived. Police fatally wounded Jerad Miller; Amanda Miller killed herself. In a rambling video posted to YouTube, Jerad Miller described the Tippecanoe County Courthouse as “a beautiful building” but “a monument to authoritarianism,” casting himself as a freedom fighter against tyranny. Bradbury’s activity on Facebook reflects a similar perspective. He liked pages called, “No Tears for Dead Cops,” “I HATE COPS!” and “Illuminati Exposed (This is the resistance).”

In another similarity to Jerad Miller, court records indicate that Bradbury has an adult criminal history that includes a marijuana conviction. Police executed search warrants at residences frequented by Bradbury and found chemicals that preliminary testing indicates are components of incendiary devices, the affidavit states. Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington said Friday that he can’t release any information other than what is in the affidavit. Bob Ramsey, supervisory special agent for FBI’s Merrillville office, said Bradbury also faces federal charges, which are sealed. More information about those charges may be available, he said, after an initial hearing scheduled for Monday in U.S. District Court Northern District of Indiana in Hammond.

Posted June 28, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

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REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: FACEBOOK MANIPULATED USERS ‘EMOTIONS’ AS PART OF EXPERIMENT

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Facebook conducted a psychological experiment on its users by manipulating their emotions without their knowledge, a new study reveals. Researchers toyed with the feelings of 689,003 randomly selected English-speaking Facebook users by changing the contents of their news feed, according to a paper published in the June edition of the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists’ (PNAS).  During a week-long period in January 2012, researchers staged two parallel experiments, reducing the number of positive or negative updates in each user’s news feed.

“When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks,” said the authors of the paper, who include researchers from Facebook, Cornell University, and the University of California. “We also observed a withdrawal effect: People who were exposed to fewer emotional posts (of either valence) in their News Feed were less expressive overall on the following days.”

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The researchers indicated that the successful study is the first to find that moods expressed via social networks influence the emotions of others.  “These results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods, constituting, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence for massive-scale emotional contagion via social networks, and providing support for previously contested claims that emotions spread via contagion through a network.”

The Facebook users were not notified of the experiment. However, according to Facebook’s terms of service (to which every person agrees when they register on the social network), users’ data may be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”  The researchers argue that their experiment was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy.  The paper also stated that the researchers never saw the content of the actual posts; instead, they relied on a computer which counted the occurrence of positive and negative words in more than three million status updates. Those posts contained a total of 122 million words; four million of those were positive (3.6%) and 1.8 million were negative (1.6%).  The significance of the research was reduced to a very small percentage, as the “emotional contagion” was estimated at only 0.1 percent. However, one can argue that with more than 1.3 billion Facebook users worldwide, that small percentage still includes a significant amount of people.

Posted June 28, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

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REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: PALESTINIAN PROFESSOR BRANDED ‘TRAITOR’ AFTER TAKING STUDENTS TO AUSCHWITZ

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For most of us in the civilized world, there is no doubt regarding the holocaust or it’s effects on the Jewish people and scores of other minorities. This story defies logic unless, of course, you at least consider the source.  A professor who took a group of Palestinian students to Auschwitz has been disowned by his university and branded a ‘traitor’ by those in his community. Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian students from Al-Quds University to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in March. The trip was part of a joint venture focusing on conflict resolution between the university and two others. However, when the professor and the group returned, the university distanced itself from the trip – saying professor Dajani and the students ‘acted in their personal capacity and were not representatives of the university.’

According to the Washington Post, Professor Dajani was also reportedly called a ‘traitor’ by some members of his community, while some of his friends advised him to go on holiday until the controversy died down. The professor, who believes the group may have first Palestinians students to visit Auschwitz, has since said he doesn’t regret the trip – and he would return if given the opportunity. Writing on Facebook, he said: ‘My response to all this tirade is that my duty as a teacher is to teach, to have my students explore the unexplored, to open new horizons for my students, to guide my students out of the cave of perceptions and misperceptions to see the facts and the reality on the ground. ‘I will go to the university, I will put my photos of the visit on Facebook, and I do not regret for one second what I did.  ‘As a matter of fact, I will do it again if given the opportunity. I will not hide, I will not deny. I will not be silent. I will not remain a bystander even if the victims of the suffering I show empathy for are my perpetrators and my occupiers. ‘The aim is not to get any one’s approval but to do the right thing.’
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A student who went on the trip told haaretz.com: ‘Most people said we shouldn’t go. It is a strange thing for a Palestinian to go to a Nazi death camp. But I would recommend the trip.’ The controversy came as the Obama administration attempted to move towards a peace deal with the Middle East. The trip was part of a research project called ‘Heart of Flesh — Not Stone’. It was reportedly paid for by the German Research Foundation and run by the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany,  and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. According to the project’s Facebook page: ‘The project analyses individuals and groups experiencing the “suffering of the other” as a means for understanding how and why groups may become more or less open to reconciliation.’

A Palestinian newspaper al-Quds wrote a piece about the trip – which was reportedly pulled down following a heated discussion in the comments section of the piece. According to reports, one reader said the trip was not freedom of expression  – but treason. TV analysts and newspaper columnists also spoke against the trip, while others claimed the professor was attempting to brainwash his students. Auschwitz was a network of concentration and extermination camps built during World War II. It was operated by the Third Reich. The network consisted of original camp Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Auschwitz III–Monowitz  and a further 45 satellite camps.

Refusing to acknowledge to holocaust does not mean it did not happen. Understanding how and why it happened might just keep it from happening again…but sadly…probably not. When man’s depravity reaches a low to the point of denying history, in effect trying to rewrite it, we are all bound by centuries old hate and nonsense.

 

REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: LITTLE BOY WHO WAS LOCKED IN CLOSET…MALNOURISHED IS BEGINNING TO RECOVER

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You may recall the story about a 5-year old Texas boy malnourished, who was allegedly held captive in a locked closet has been saved from the abusive home? There is some great news to report…he is recovering and thriving! Little Jordan Bleimeyer, his scabbed and skinny back shown in horrific pictures taken by police after his rescue last month, has gained weight and a smile as he recovers in the hospital.  A picture posted Monday to the Facebook page “Toys for Jordan” shows a smiling, healthy boy lying in a hospital bed, covered in a Super Mario blanket and surrounded by a Ninja Turtles stuffed animal and children’s books like “Cars” and “Elmo.” “The power of love and prayers bring us this amazing smile,” the page administrator wrote.

Tiny Jordan drew support from around the world since the story of his condition broke last week. The boy’s 16-year-old stepbrother told cops that Jordan’s father, Bradley Bleimeyer, was keeping the boy locked in a closet. When officers searched the Spring, Texas, home, they found a lock on a closet below a stairwell and a soiled mattress inside.  When officers caught up to the boy’s stepmother, Tammi Bleimeyer, they found the 5-year-old tot in a soiled diaper, weighing just 29 pounds. Photographs taken of the blond-haired tyke showed him severely underweight, with a scabbed back and his shoulder blades, ribs and vertebrae showing through his skin.

closet3n-4-webBradley and Tammi Bleimeyer were arrested and charged with endangering a child.

On Friday, tiny, fair-skinned Jordan was moved from the pediatric intensive care unit. And on Saturday, the boy had his IVs removed and his dietary restrictions lifted, according to the Facebook page documenting his recovery. “He enjoyed food so much that he finally said he was full,” the post reads. “Unlike most of us, we’re thrilled to report that he’s already increased his weight by four pounds to 33 lbs.”  The boy’s stepmom, Tammi Bleimeyer, 33, is out on $2,000 bond after being arrested for child endangerment. The mother of five said the pictures showing her emaciated stepson “shocked” her. “I don’t know what caused him to look like that,” Tammi Bleimeyer told KHOU-TV. “I don’t know if it’s a health issue or something else like that.” “I don’t want to be like everyone else and assume the worst,” she said.

Bradley Bleimeyer, 24, who was out on bail on a burglary arrest, remains jailed on a child endangerment charge.  His ex-wife, Windy Hall, has been reunited with the boy and is fighting to keep custody. Hall told reporters that little Jordan told her a horrific tale of druggings and abuse at the hands of his father. He was fed just bread and a cup of water or milk once a day, Hall recounted. “He was locked up under that stairwell. In a separate room. His daddy hitting him. He can’t cry when the other children took his food,” Hall told reporters at Houston Hospital last week, according to KHOU-TV. Almost 5,500 people have “liked” the toy drive Facebook page, which has pictures of donations of Batman and Ninja Turtles clothes, games and toys, while a local company donated a swing for little Jordan.

A Go Fund Me page has raised more than $1,600 for the boy and his family.

To send donations to the boy, mail items to:

Toys For Jordan
A Child’s View Day Care
31925 Nichols Sawmill Rd.
Magnolia, TX 77355

 

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