Facebook staff had access to hundreds of millions of people’s passwords

This time, the company acknowledges that it mishandled sensitive passwords for hundreds of millions of its users, primarily those who use its Facebook Lite product. The disclosure casts doubt on the company’s abilities to protect its users’ information as it focuses more on privacy.

On Thursday, Facebook said it didn’t properly mask the passwords of hundreds of millions of its users and stored them as plain text in an internal database that could be accessed by its staff.

The company said it discovered the exposed passwords during a security review in January and launched an investigation. Facebook did not say how long it had been storing passwords in this way.

Read entire post Facebook staff had access to hundreds of millions of people’s passwords | Donie O’Sullivan and Kevin Collier | CNN Business

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Facebook and Instagram back online after 14 hours outage – here’s what happened

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are all back online and working as normal after a 14-hour outage left many users unable to post updates.

Facebook’s outage cost small advertisers thousands of dollars

Facebook and Instagram both started experiencing difficulty at around 4pm GMT on March 13, according to data from website Downdetector, which monitors online outages.

Error messages on both sites stated: “Oops… Something went wrong. We’re working on getting it fixed as soon as we can“.

Many users took to other social networks such as Twitter to vent their frustration at being unable to access the online services.

Read entire post Facebook and Instagram back online after 14 hours outage – here’s what happened | Sophie Curtis | Mirror

Throwing out the baby with the bath water when it comes to online hate and terrorism

An interesting thing happened last week. Google, that behemoth that gives us so much of our information these days, has decided not to run advertising in the lead up to this year’s Canadian federal election because it does not want to develop a registry of ads and advertisers (although it apparently did so for the US midterms and the EU, so it is technically feasible). I imagine that Google is afraid – or at least aware – of accusations that its platform is – and has been – used for fake accounts and disinformation campaigns as we have seen in other elections worldwide.

The use of social media to spread not only disinformation but also hate and violent messaging

Google’s decision fits into a larger problem: the use of social media to spread not only disinformation but also hate and violent messaging. We know, for instance, that jihadi groups and others mastered the arrival of the Internet and messaging apps to get their material to a vast audience, such that it appears possible for wannabe terrorists to learn as much as they need to make the leap towards becoming violent extremists themselves (and even learn to make bombs and related weapons).

The reaction to this phenomenon has been mixed. It took FaceBook, Twitter, Google and other providers a long time to realise just what their platforms were being exploited for, and as a result they have put in place algorithms to identify and remove objectionable content (or in some cases humans, although their experiences in reading and eliminating this garbage has had its cost – as this article in The Verge illustrates). The algorithms may be working a little too well: I think my podcasts (An intelligent look at terrorism) on YouTube may be filtered out because I use the words ‘terrorism’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘Islamic State’ and the like, and I am AGAINST terrorism!

The algorithms may be working a little too well: I think my podcasts on YouTube may be filtered out because I use the words ‘terrorism’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘Islamic State’ and the like, and I am AGAINST terrorism!

Then there is the background debate on what exactly constitutes terrorism or hate online, as this article from The Economist explains. An EU plan to impose heavy penalties on companies that allow this material to be posted may not work either, as this piece points out. The UK is considering a law that would call for up to a 15-year prison sentence for clicking on a piece of terrorist propaganda – ONE TIME!

In some countries more draconian ideas are being considered. When I was in Central Asia in January I learned that some regional governments had decided just to ban platforms like FaceBook in their entirety under the belief, I suppose, that no access means no violent or terrorist propaganda whatsoever. India is trying to force WhatsApp “to allow authorities access to any messages they request, as well as make those messages traceable to their original sender”, a big problem for a company that prides itself on its end-to-end encryption and privacy for its users.

Wow! I think it is time to step back and take a deep breath. It may very well be, in the words of The Economist, that “social media have made it easier than ever to propagate prejudice and target scapegoats. Ideas and insinuations that would find no place in the respectable media or political discourse can cascade all too easily from phone to phone“(referring to anti-Semitism), but are total bans and increased government snooping the answer? Is the problem that big, that dangerous and that irresolvable so that these drastic measures are required? We need to figure this out first before going there.

social media have made it easier than ever to propagate prejudice and target scapegoats
Social media have made it easier than ever to propagate prejudice and target scapegoats

In many ways this line of reasoning is flawed and could be applied in increasingly ridiculous ways. If we take down social media because terrorists, who represent an infinitesimally small proportion of humans, use, it why not go further:

  • Some terrorists have used cars and vans to run people over: ban cars and vans!
  • Some terrorists have used knives to stab people: ban knives!
  • Some terrorists have used golf clubs (see Rehab Dughmosh): ban golf!

See where this can end up?

I do not have all the answers to these challenges. I do think companies can do better at policing their platforms, both through better algorithms and having human eyes on violent material (although the latter needs to be managed better). I think that we need more knowledge on how this material affects people and how to mitigate the worst effects. I think we need to keep all this in perspective.

We cannot go back to a pre-Internet or pre-social media world, or rather we should not (if we do I am out of a job as a post-intelligence career blogger!). Humans are smart – we can figure out a better way to not give room for the jihadis and other terrorists and hatemongers without throwing out the digital baby with the online bathwater.

In disasters, Twitter influencers are out-tweeted

From Australian bushfires to Haitian earthquakes, social media platforms are proving to be flexible tools in spreading life-saving information about impending disasters and vital aid after an event, but how to use them wisely remains a vexed question.

Analysis finds users with small networks are critical in keeping their communities informed

A new study from the US focuses on the use of the online news and social networking platform Twitter during natural disasters and has found that average users with relatively small numbers of followers are more effective at spreading useful information than high-profile so-called “influencers” who boast massive numbers of followers.

Additionally, the research, published in the journal PLOS One, finds each type of natural disaster has its own unique pattern of social media use.

Read entire post In disasters, Twitter influencers are out-tweeted | Cosmos Magazine

Crisis communication: Key lessons from 2018

Crisis communication can be defined as “the PR, media and communication process by which a business or an organisation deals with an unexpected high-profile negative issue.”

As a PR professional, it’s all about getting your client out of the storm with the least amount of damage, whether it’s to the organisation or its reputation.

But the digital era has made this a tricky landscape to navigate. Gone are the days where PR professionals had hours before a story broke, today it takes minutes and in some cases seconds – thanks to social media and the power of digital communication in general.

Read entire post Crisis communication: Key lessons from 2018 |  Leago Monareng | BizCommunity

How to be a spy in the digital age

But more than 20 years on from that, the demands on agents have massively changed. It’s no longer just a matter of trench coats, cocktails and false identities. So what does it take to be a spy in the digital age?
See also A rare look at the terrorist threat to Canada thanks to CSIS by our contributor Phil Gurski

New Google+ bug moves site end date forward

Google is speeding up the closure of its unpopular social networking platform after discovering a new bug affecting over 52 million users.

The tech giant announced in October that it would be shutting Google+ in August 2019. However, that date has been brought forward to April next year, while its APIs will disappear “within the next 90 days,” according to G Suite product management VP, David Thacker.

The reason appears to be a newly discovered vulnerability in the API which the firm says impacts roughly 52.5 million users.

With respect to this API, apps that requested permission to view profile information that a user had added to their Google+ profile — like their name, email address, occupation, age — were granted permission to view profile information about that user even when set to not-public,” Thacker explained.

Read entire article New Google+ Bug Moves Site End Date Forward | Phil Muncaster | InfoSecurity

Why Google is shutting down Google+

Following a massive data exposure first reported on by The Wall Street Journal, Google announced last month that it is shutting down its social network Google+ for consumers.

The company has admitted that user engagement on the service was low.
While data was exposed, there is no evidence that it was improperly accessed. The company finally admitted that Google+ never received the broad adoption or engagement with users that it had hoped for – according to a blog post, 90% of Google+ user sessions last for less than five seconds.

In light of these newly revealed security concerns with Google+’s API, the company has opted to put it out of its misery over the next ten months rather than try and make the social network more secure.

The company discovered a bug in one of Google+’s People APIs that allowed apps access to data from Google+ profiles that weren’t marked as public.

Read entire article Google is shutting down Google+ following massive data exposure | Swapna Krishna | Engadget

6-Year-Old explains how messed up it is that her entire life has been put on Facebook

Although this is a satirical video, there is a lot to take out from this ”testimony”. What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below!

See also Do you know what you agree to when you download an app on your smartphone?

Alphabet shuts down Google+ after data leak it has known about since March is exposed

Google will shut down the consumer version of its social network Google+ after announcing data from up to 500,000 users may have been exposed to external developers by a bug that was present for more than two years in its systems.

The company said in a blog on Monday it had discovered and patched the leak in March of this year and had no evidence of misuse of user data or that any developer was aware or had exploited the vulnerability.

Shares of its parent company Alphabet Inc, however, were down 1.5% at US$1150.75 in response to what was the latest in a run of privacy issues to hit the United States’ big tech companies.

> Read entire article Alphabet shuts down Google+ after data leak it has known about since March is exposed | Financial Post

Bite size resilience – Self mockery is a trait of resilience

I’ve learned to pout because of using social media. Others pout professionally or socially, and they do it so darn well.

As for me, I try my best. I don’t mind looking like a 52½ year old bloke who’s got gas. My pout gets noticed yes, but I don’t take it, or myself, too seriously at all.

The ability to self-mock yourself, shows great maturity (in my eyes anyway). It shows an awareness of your own capabilities; your strengths and weaknesses. You can self-coach yourself sometimes by identifying what you’re good at, and perhaps, what you could do better?

We can all do something slightly better if we know about it and try.

It’s better to laugh than to cry

Self-mockery isn’t the same though, as ‘self adulation’. Now that’s a completely different thing, but we see so much of that today. Much more than we did when Carly Simon had everyone guessing who she was singing about back in the 70’s with ‘You’re so vain’.

When we can break down our own ego’s, without fear of losing any self-respect or credibility, we are infinitely more resilient ourselvesTo be able to identify what our ‘flaws’ are, also helps us recognise our true strengths. We help to develop and build relationships with others because internal to the rank and role, we recognise humility and character. We show it. That helps us to be and to share resilience together. And all without the need for a detailed plan or complicated algorithm.

When we can break down our own ego’s, without fear of losing any self-respect or credibility, we are infinitely more resilient ourselves. If we are indulged in self-adulation, it creates the opposite effect. We swap ‘war stories’ to boost our credibility ego or say where we are next, to showcase some degree of success? We get sexed up in our image.

For me, anybody who shows a sense of character and the ability to be professional when needed, but can also show the human side of life, it shows they can adapt to today’s world quite easily, and that shows great resilience.

As Carly may say…..”I bet you think this song is about you, don’t you?”

Bite size resilience – Are you ready?

We don’t want to live in fear of things going wrong, but ‘it’ happens. We live in a risky world, we take risks, we even give off risks sometimes to others. We make mistakes.

We take ‘calculated’ risks on social media platforms and sites like this one, especially when we hit the publish/post tab. We know the audience is there, or at least they are coming. But are your lines good enough to grab attention?

Will they attend, but take no
interest in what you have to say?

‘All the world’s a stage’ as the Shakespeare guy once famously proclaimed in his play. Today, the stage is set for you to say what you want, if it’s legal and not offensive.

But some take offence regardless.

Gary Vaynerchuck states “if you’re good enough, no one is holding you back”.

You have to be ready to speak up for what you believe and use your voice. Use your experience and fresh ideas to influence wider thinking. Don’t always follow, but lead. Take the lead if you are good enough and the chances are, you’re ready now.

Take the risk, be prepared to make a mistake, don’t be denied your opportunity to add to the debates and comment, rather than just like. Don’t just follow the obvious for the sake of it.

Don’t waste your vote. Don’t vote if you’d rather not.

You’re ready for anything.

But do as you like. It’s your call. Stay resilient in yourself and feel good about it. Be ready, because you are.

Unless of course you know you’re not ready yet. Then you weigh up the risks for yourself. Seek advice. Take the necessary steps to make yourself more resilient and then, when the time comes, walk on the stage and do your thing.

Good people will listen to what you have to say.

Gary Vaynerchuck states “if you’re good
enough, no one is holding you back”.