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  1. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sparked criticism after he encouraged his Twitter followers to visit Myanmar, the government of which has been accused of genocide against the Muslim Rohingya people. "f you're willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar," Dorsey tweeted after traveling to the country for a meditation retreat. "Myanmar is an absolutely beautiful country," he added. "The people are full of joy and the food is amazing. "I visited the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. We visited and meditated at many monasteries around the country." Twitter users took issue with Dorsey's tweets, given that Myanmar's military has been accused of ravaging the Rohingya in what the United Nations has deemed a genocide. "Sure, if you arent bothered by literal ethnic cleansing, it's probably real nice scenery," wrote one Twitter user. "The people are so full of joy! I suppose you didn't visit any of the hundreds of villages burnt by government forces or talk to any of the more than half million Rohingya forced to flee the country who are now living in overwhelmed refugee camps in Bangladesh," another wrote. "Meditate on THAT." "It's a country actively committing genocide against its own people, but great job advertising for them," wrote another user. Twitter did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment. A source familiar with Dorsey's intentions in visiting Myanmar, however, told The Hill that the Twitter CEO visited the country because it is the only place where the particular type of meditation he practices is done in its original form. "The culture of Myanmar is the only one that retains the original teachings," the source said. "So he wanted to go and experience this particular type of meditation where it is still practiced traditionally." --This report was updated at 12:13 p.m. Source
  2. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Twitter Inc deleted more than 10,000 automated accounts posting messages that discouraged people from voting in Tuesday’s U.S. election and wrongly appeared to be from Democrats, after the party flagged the misleading tweets to the social media company. “We took action on relevant accounts and activity on Twitter,” a Twitter spokesman said in an email. The removals took place in late September and early October. Twitter removed more than 10,000 accounts, according to three sources familiar with the Democrats’ effort. The number is modest, considering that Twitter has previously deleted millions of accounts it determined were responsible for spreading misinformation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Yet the removals represent an early win for a fledgling effort by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, a party group that supports Democrats running for the U.S. House of Representatives. The DCCC launched the effort this year in response to the party’s inability to respond to millions of accounts on Twitter and other social media platforms that spread negative and false information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other party candidates in 2016, three people familiar with the operation told Reuters. While the prevalence of misinformation campaigns have so far been modest in the run-up to the Congressional elections on Nov. 6, Democrats are hoping the flagging operation will help them react quickly if there is a flurry of such messages in the coming days. The Tweets included ones that discouraged Democratic men from voting, saying that would drown out the voice of women, according to two of the sources familiar with the flagging operation. The DCCC developed its own system for identifying and reporting malicious automated accounts on social media, according to the three party sources. The system was built in part from publicly available tools known as “Hoaxley” and “Botometer” developed by University of Indiana computer researchers. They allow a user to identify automated accounts, also known as bots, and analyze how they spread information on specific topics. “We made Hoaxley and Botometer free for anyone to use because people deserve to know what’s a bot and what’s not,” said Filippo Menczer, professor of informatics and computer science at the University of Indiana. The Democratic National Committee works with a group of contractors and partners to rapidly identify misinformation campaigns. They include RoBhat Labs, a firm whose website says it has developed technology capable of detecting bots and identifying political-bias in messages. The collaboration with RoBhat has already led to the discovery of malicious accounts and posts, which were referred to social media companies and other campaign officials, DNC Chief Technology Officer Raffi Krikorian said in email. Krikorian did not say whether the flagged posts were ultimately removed by Twitter. “We provide the DNC with reports about what we’re seeing in terms of bot activity and where it’s being amplified,” said Ash Bhat, co-founder of RoBhat Labs. “We can’t tell you who’s behind these different operations, Twitter hides that from us, but with the technology you known when and how it’s happening,” Bhat said. Source
  3. Twitter is defending its policy of removing fake accounts after President Trump attacked the tech company for removing “many people from my account.” The social media giant said it was seeking to remove fake accounts so that people would know their followers are actually real people and argued that this was for the better. “Our focus is on the health of the service, and that includes work to remove fake accounts to prevent malicious behavior," a spokesperson for Twitter said in a statement to The Hill. "Many prominent accounts have seen follower counts drop, but the result is higher confidence that the followers they have are real, engaged people.” The statement comes after Trump criticized the company, tweeting Friday: “Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join — they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all. A few weeks ago it was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp! Total Bias?” SocialBlade analytics show that Trump’s follower account has steadily increased since Oct. 13. However, it is possible that Twitter’s purge of automated accounts, or bots, impacted Trump’s number of followers. Twitter announced on Thursday that its crackdown on bot accounts was a main reason why it lost 9 million users in the third quarter of this year. Right-wing politicians and activists have long accused Twitter of banning accounts that voiced conservative opinions in a practice they call “shadow banning.” “Twitter 'SHADOW BANNING' prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints,” Trump tweeted in July. Source
  4. Twitter is trying to get “healthy.” When Twitter reports its third-quarter results early Thursday morning, don’t be surprised if it lost millions of users over the past three months — or that the company says that’s a good thing. In July, Twitter announced a decrease of one million monthly active users for the second quarter, and warned investors that things would be even worse in the third quarter. RBC Capital’s Mark Mahaney thinks Twitter lost five million users in Q3, which would bring the company’s total to 330 million, down from its peak of 336 million earlier this year. It’s a bad sign when any company loses users. It’s even worse when that company is an advertising company that relies on impressions and scale to grow its business. But in Twitter’s case, the company has framed this decline as a sign that it is getting healthier. Some of the user decline surely came because Twitter removed some bot and spam accounts — no doubt, a good thing to remove. But the company also said that its cleanup efforts are so extensive that they are taking resources away from other products and initiatives that would normally lead to more growth. “We are making active decisions to prioritize health initiatives over near-term product improvements that may drive more usage of Twitter as a daily utility,” CEO Jack Dorsey explained at the time. “We do believe, ultimately over time, that this will help our growth story.” It’s the ultimate “one step back, two steps forward” kind of approach, and in some ways it’s believable. If Twitter can clean up its service, and people feel safer interacting with others on the service as a result, it could lead to more users in the long run, and more advertisers who want to spend money to reach those users. The tough part about believing in this idea is that the company’s “highest priority” — creating “healthier” conversations on the service — is hard to measure, at least right now. That forces investors to decide whether Twitter’s user decline is just the temporary cost of cleaning up the service, or a sign of even deeper problems. It’s possible we won’t know for a while. Twitter hopes to quantify its health some day, but it’s unclear if or when that will actually happen. For now, the closest thing Twitter has is its daily user growth metric. If more people are using Twitter every day, perhaps it’s because Twitter isn’t the toxic wasteland it once was. Or perhaps that growth is the result of something else. Maybe we’ll find out on Thursday. Why does this matter? As an advertising business, the size of Twitter’s user base is arguably its most important metric that doesn’t start with a dollar sign. How many people can Twitter target with ads? And is that number of people growing? The answers to those two questions can give you a pretty good idea of how Twitter’s business is doing. But things are rarely that simple with Twitter, and the company’s user-growth story has been an ever-evolving tale. Twitter used to measure itself solely on monthly active users, the same basic metric used by Facebook. But that metric hasn’t been very kind to Twitter for a couple of reasons: Facebook’s user base is much bigger, and Twitter hasn’t grown nearly as fast — in fact, it’s shrinking. So Twitter has tried over the years to talk about user growth in other ways. There was a time it talked about its “logged out” audience — how many people see tweets, even if they don’t have an account. More recently, it started to talk about its daily user growth, though the company doesn’t actually say how many daily users it has. This latest narrative — Twitter is shrinking because it’s getting healthier! — seems the hardest to accept. And while Twitter’s stock was doing great a few months ago, it’s now down about 40 percent from early July. Source
  5. It's not the algorithmic timeline that Dorsey thinks is to blame. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Social media sites such as Twitter can reinforce certain political viewpoints or biases by surfacing posts they think its users want to see. It's a problem that Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey admits the company is trying to solve, but he's not blaming it on the algorithms. "I think Twitter does contribute to filter bubbles, and I think that's wrong of us and we need to fix it," Dorsey said at the WIRED25 conference in San Francisco on Monday. Dorsey noted that the site by design allows users to follow certain accounts, which could skew their perception of the world. If users followed a certain topic or interest, they might see more tweets from people with different viewpoints, he said. Twitter needs to give users more tools to break down these bubbles, Dorsey acknowledged. But as social media sites face allegations that it's suppressing conservative voices, these companies are also grappling with free speech concerns. Twitter's stance on freedom of expression isn't absolute and there are tradeoffs, Dorsey noted. It's the company's purpose to "serve the public conversation," he said, but Twitter believes it can only stand for freedom of expression if its users feel safe and that they're not being silenced. "Freedom of expression may adversely impact other fundamental human rights such as privacy such as physical security," he said. Source
  6. from the stop-it,-europe dept Europe really seems to have it in for the internet these days -- from the GDPR to antitrust actions to the Copyright Directive to the Right to be Forgotten, almost every legal issue popping up in Europe is coming out terribly for innovation and the public's ability to communicate freely with one another. The latest may seem a bit more narrowly focused, but it could be super important. As described on the always wonderful IPKat blog, the Paris Tribunal heard a complaint brought against Twitter by the French Consumers' Association challenging the validity of Twitter's terms of service for a whole long list of reasons. But just to keep this more focused we'll discuss the part that matters to us: the copyright license. We've discussed the "copyright license" terms (that basically every online platform has somewhere in the terms) a few times in the past -- mainly because every so often someone totally misreads or misunderstands it and a huge, viral, and totally misleading freakout occurs. That's because basically any service that hosts user content has some basic term that effectively says "when you're posting something to our site, you are granting us a perpetual license to host it on this and future iterations of our site, and that extends to other sites where our stuff might appear." That's the plain language version of it, but some people act as if it's an outrage that a platform is claiming that it can have such a broad license to include the content on future sites or with partners. Many -- incorrectly -- claim that this means that the sites are planning to "sell" your content to third parties. That's not the case. The clause really just allows for things like "embedding" where the same content will appear on other sites, and that alone shouldn't be seen as an infringement. So you're licensing the content for such uses. But, some people still find this offensive... and apparently that includes the Paris Tribunal. Twitter's terms attempt to explain this situation pretty clearly: The French Consumers Union (Union Federale des Consummateurs -- or UFC) finds this to be somehow misleading, saying that the whole beginning telling users they retain their rights is misleading, given the rest of the explanation saying that you're granting a (non-exclusive) right for Twitter to then make use of it. This is a very confused reading. Again, the necessity of the license is so that you can post something to Twitter without Twitter then having to worry you're going to sue them over the thing that you yourself posted. UFC also complained that the license was somehow "too broad." And the Tribunal bought these arguments: Specifically, the tribunal is basically saying that every copyright license has to be written out specifically around that content, and specify what the content is and what it will be used for: A big part of the problem here -- as highlighted in the IPKat article -- is that France's law apparently doesn't distinguish between assignments of copyrights and licenses. That's... bonkers. The requirements above make a lot more sense when talking about assignments (transferring the actual copyright to someone). But they make zero sense when it comes to mere licensing (basically permission to make use of the work). But, if France is saying that every license must be treated like a full copyright transfer requiring specific contracts, well, there goes all social media and user generated content in France. To put it mildly, this is crazy. It's taking permission culture to new insane levels. It certainly appears that under this ruling, in order to tweet in France, you need to sign a new agreement for each tweet with Twitter before you can post, in which you describe the content of the tweet itself and Twitter promises only very narrow uses. That's... insane. How can you possibly operate any site that allows for any user-generated input under such a standard? This is what happens when you have judicial bodies who clearly don't understand how the internet works. Requiring a new specified agreement to license each individual tweet is fundamentally at odds with how the internet works as a communications mechanism. Conceivably, this could serve to show the ridiculousness of copyright itself -- that it forces such preposterous outcomes -- but remember that no other country seems to interpret terms of service this way. Anyway, it's unclear what Twitter is going to do about this, but it certainly seems like it may be risky to continue even operating in France with such a standard in play. Source
  7. It's almost the midterm elections in the US, and that means disinformation campaigns could be working overtime. Social networks have been introducing new features, rolling out changes and even asking the government for help to fight off trolls and fake news disseminators. Twitter, for instance, has expanded its ability to spot and remove fake accounts. In a post detailing its elections integrity work, the microblogging platform said it may now delete "fake accounts engaged in a variety of emergent, malicious behaviors." Going forward, it will take several new factors into account when determining which users are fake, including the use of a stock or a stolen avatar. The use of stolen profile bios and putting intentionally misleading information, such as location, in profiles will also make a user look suspicious in Twitter's eyes. The platform will also take action against accounts that deliberately mimic or were clearly created to replace older accounts that were previously suspended for violating its rules. Further, it will also take action against users who claim responsibility for a hack, who threaten to hack specific people and who announce incentives for other people to hack specific people and accounts. According to Twitter's report, it already removed around 50 accounts pretending to be members of various state Republican parties. Back in August, it also banned 770 accounts from Iran that were part of a coordinated attempt to spread disinformation on the website. It said it's been implementing proactive detections and enforcements, which reduced the spam-related reports it's been receiving, and is also making it harder for sketchy developers to access its API. Still, the company knows those aren't enough. It needs to be able to strike down fake accounts as fast as they're created, so it's also building proprietary systems that can identify and delete "ban evaders at speed and scale." Twitter will also proactively send nominees reminders to switch on two-factor authentication for their protection. It will also offer them support via an elections-specific portal, which will allow the company to address their concerns (and their fake news/account reports) as soon as possible. Source
  8. After weeks of deplatforming efforts by social media companies, Infowars founders Alex Jones has lost his last refuge: Twitter. Twitter took the unusual step of confirming its ban of both Alex Jones and Infowars via the Twitter Safety account, citing abusive behavior. WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 5: Alex Jones of InfoWars talks to reporters outside a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing concerning foreign influence operations’ use of social media platforms, on Capitol Hill, September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg faced questions about how foreign operatives use their platforms in attempts to influence and manipulate public opinion. After weeks of deplatforming efforts by social media companies, Infowars founders Alex Jones has lost his last refuge: Twitter. Twitter took the unusual step of confirming its ban of both Alex Jones and Infowars via the Twitter Safety account, citing abusive behavior.
  9. Bloviating conspiracy theorist Alex Jones whispered loudly in the front row with far-right media personality Jack Posobiec. Banned Twitter troll Chuck Johnson sat a few seats down giggling intermittently at who knows what. A man in a black shirt with the words “FBI used toddler for SEX" printed in red block print meandered in and out of the room. The internet’s biggest problems quite literally took a front-row seat at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday, where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, updated lawmakers on how they're addressing the issues of foreign influence and fake news that have plagued their platforms. Dorsey followed up with a solo session before the House Energy and Commerce Committee a few hours later. But while many of Wednesday's questions and answers echoed earlier statements by tech executives over the past year, the looming presence of personalities like Jones and Johnson served as a physical reminder of the still pervasive menace of misinformation. Facebook and YouTube may have kicked Jones off their platforms (and tanked his traffic in the process), but they still can't seem to shake the toxicity he propagates and personifies. Members of Congress mostly ignored the sideshow swirling around the internet trolls in the audience, instead questioning Dorsey and Sandberg on the fine line between allowing free speech and preventing harassment and disinformation campaigns. They pressed the executives on the steps their platforms have taken to identify foreign influence campaigns, and how they respond to requests from foreign countries like Turkey and Russia to suppress speech. In fact, Jones got only a glancing reference in the morning session, when Democratic senator Martin Heinrich asked the panel how they might deal with a US citizen who "says that victims of a mass shooting were actually actors, for example." Jones has famously claimed the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax. The sparse crowd let out a chuckle. But Jones didn't hear it. By then, he and his entourage had abandoned the hearing in favor of pacing the hallways, heckling lawmakers like senator Marco Rubio in front of a phalanx of microphones and cameras. “Who is this guy? I swear to god I don’t know who you are, man,” Rubio told Jones, who stood poking and prodding the senator as he talked to reporters. If that’s true, Rubio wasn’t particularly well-prepared for the hearing. Jones has been at the white-hot center of a debate over tech companies' responsibility to police not just foreign threats but also outright lies and abusive behavior from domestic actors. Recently, Facebook and YouTube suspended pages and accounts associated with Jones and his InfoWars broadcast. Apple and Spotify removed his podcasts. Twitter has, meanwhile, opted to allow Jones to operate, even while it banned fellow troll Chuck Johnson years ago. This patchwork of policies has opened the companies up to accusations of censorship, not just by the Jones and Johnson set but by government officials as well. Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee repeatedly accused Dorsey of "shadowbanning" conservatives in the afternoon session, by now a familiar refrain. Separately on Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that attorney general Jeff Sessions would meet with state attorneys general to discuss whether tech companies are suppressing free speech. But the morning hearing, which stood in stark contrast to the circus outside, focused less on partisan bias than on what steps tech companies have taken to stop foreign influence campaigns. Recently, Facebook, Twitter, and Google each suspended hundreds of accounts and pages linked to Iran after receiving a tip from the cybersecurity firm, FireEye, rather than spotting it themselves. "In our mind that’s the system working," Sandberg said. The members of the committee also floated potential fixes. Democratic senator Mark Warner asked whether Twitter might consider labeling bots on the platform, an idea Dorsey said the company has contemplated. "We are interested in it, and are going to do something along those lines," Dorsey said. It wasn't just the tech representatives in the room facing questions. Between Dorsey and Sandberg was an empty seat, held open for an executive from Google. The committee invited both Google CEO Sundar Pichai as well as Larry Page, Google’s cofounder and CEO of its parent company Alphabet. The search giant refused to send either executive, instead offering senior vice president Kent Walker, who previously testified last fall. In an interview with WIRED last week, senator Mark Warner criticized Google’s resistance. “This is a hearing that’s going to talk about solutions. I think it speaks volumes that Google doesn’t want to be part of that discussion.” Last month, a bipartisan group of senators, including Warner and Rubio, sent a letter to Google after reports surfaced that the company planned to launch a censored search engine in China. In its response, submitted Friday night of Labor Day weekend, Pichai sidestepped questions about censorship. He confirmed Google’s interest in China, framing it as crucial to reaching the “next billion users.” But with regard to the country's draconian control over information, Pichai wrote only, “We are committed to promoting access to information, freedom of expression, and user privacy, as well as to respecting the laws of jurisdictions in which we operate. We seek to strike the right balance in each context.” "Perhaps they didn't send a witness to answer these questions because there is no answer to those questions," speculated senator Tom Cotton during the hearing. In truth, after hours of cumulative testimony over the past year, there are still no clear answers to many of the questions being posed. For months, Congress has challenged Twitter, Google, and Facebook on matters of data privacy, foreign manipulation, ideological echo chambers, and content moderation. They've even prompted substantive changes at all three companies, with new policies in place and new tools and more humans helping to implement them. On Wednesday, Dorsey and Sandberg spoke earnestly and in detail about those improvements. But like Jones heckling Rubio just outside the hearing, the ugly, fact-free information landscape he personifies continues to needle all of the major platforms. Just last weekend, Twitter allowed a photo of a grieving Meghan McCain, which had been doctored to make it look like a gun was pointing at her head, stay up for five hours before it was taken down. Buzzfeed reported this week that researchers had successfully purchased ads on Google and YouTube while posing as Kremlin trolls. And Facebook is still struggling to prevent its platform from being used to incite violence in countries like Myanmar and Libya. As committee chairman Richard Burr said as he concluded the hearing, "There's no clear and easy path forward." After the morning session, as the crowd spilled onto the sidewalks of Capitol Hill, Jones stood outside berating Dorsey and members of the public as they passed. And so, the Senate's year-long investigation into what's ailing the internet, arguably the only serious investigation of the topic in the government, ended just as it began: with internet trolls spreading hate and confusion, only this time in real life. Source
  10. Twitter says it’s ending support for all Twitter iOS users who are running older versions of the iOS operating system. According to a message in the app’s update text in its latest App Store release this week, only those users running iOS 10 or higher will continue to have a supported mobile client. The company’s message notes this decision will allow it to streamline its app development for all clients. Typically, moving off older platforms means a company can more quickly roll out new features and take advantage of the benefits provided by newer frameworks, without worrying how to support legacy users along the way. It’s not unprecedented for social apps to make this choice, either – LinkedIn and Snapchat also only support iOS 10 or higher. Facebook, meanwhile, caters to anyone on iOS 9 or above. iOS 10 was released nearly 2 years ago, and next month, Apple device owners will gain access to the public release of iOS 12. Ditching older versions of iOS is not as risky for Twitter as ditching users on older versions of Android, because a majority of iOS users upgrade when Apple rolls out a new mobile operating system. In fact, Apple’s data indicates only 5% percent of users are still on iOS 9 or below. At Apple’s scale, that’s still millions, but translated to Twitter’s install base it’s a much lower number. During its Q2 2018 earnings, Twitter said it had 335 million monthly active users. And of course, many of those are running Twitter on Android. Presumably a very, very small percentage of users are on iOS 9 or below. Twitter must believe it’s small enough to be an acceptance loss, if it comes to that. This would hardly be news except for the fact that the decision comes at a time when Twitter is losing users – it lost 1 million users in Q2 – and when Twitter has been killing off a number of other client applications, as well. The company had already shut down many versions of the TweetDeck client app it acquired, and this year it shuttered Twitter for Mac along with most of its TV apps. It also ended support for legacy APIs, knowing that doing so would impact third-party clients’ ability to operate. And now it’s shedding a small number of iOS users, too. Twitter says that anyone still running iOS 9 or older will no longer receive updates, so those who want to receive performance improvements, bug fixes and new features will need to upgrade. With all these changes, it’s clear that Twitter is focused on limiting the number of platforms it has to support, so it can better address the needs of its users. Time will tell if it’s successful with that, however. Source
  11. An open-source collaboration for ‘the future of portability’ Today, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter joined to announce a new standards initiative called the Data Transfer Project, designed as a new way to move data between platforms. In a blog post, Google described the project as letting users “transfer data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it.” The current version of the system supports data transfer for photos, mail, contacts, calendars, and tasks, drawing from publicly available APIs from Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, Remember the Milk, and SmugMug. Many of those transfers could already be accomplished through other means, but participants hope the project will grow into a more robust and flexible alternative to conventional APIs. In its own blog post, Microsoft called for more companies to sign onto the effort, adding that “portability and interoperability are central to cloud innovation and competition.” The existing code for the project is available open-source on GitHub, along with a white paper describing its scope. Much of the codebase consists of “adapters” that can translate proprietary APIs into an interoperable transfer, making Instagram data workable for Flickr and vice versa. Between those adapters, engineers have also built a system to encrypt the data in transit, issuing forward-secret keys for each transaction. Notably, that system is focused on one-time transfers rather than the continuous interoperability enabled by many APIs. “The future of portability will need to be more inclusive, flexible, and open,” reads the white paper. “Our hope for this project is that it will enable a connection between any two public-facing product interfaces for importing and exporting data directly.” The bulk of the coding so far has been done by Google and Microsoft engineers who have long been tinkering with the idea of a more robust data transfer system. According to Greg Fair, product manager for Google Takeout, the idea arose from a frustration with the available options for managing data after it’s downloaded. Without a clear way to import that same data to a different service, tools like Takeout were only solving half the problem. “When people have data, they want to be able to move it from one product to another, and they can’t,” says Fair. “It’s a problem that we can’t really solve alone.” Most platforms already offer some kind of data-download tool, but those tools rarely connect with other services. Europe’s new GDPR legislation requires tools to provide all available data on a given user, which means it’s far more comprehensive than what you’d get from an API. Along with emails or photos, you’ll find thornier data like location history and facial recognition profiles that many users don’t even realize are being collected. There are a few projects trying to make use of that data — most notably Digi.me, which is building an entire app ecosystem around it — but for the most part, it ends up sitting on users’ hard drives. Download tools are presented as proof that users really do own their data, but owning your data and using it have turned into completely different things. The project was envisioned as an open-source standard, and many of the engineers involved say a broader shift in governance will be necessary if the standard is successful. “In the long term, we want there to be a consortium of industry leaders, consumer groups, government groups,” says Fair. “But until we have a reasonable critical mass, it’s not an interesting conversation.” This is a delicate time for a data-sharing project. Facebook’s API was at the center of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the industry is still feeling out exactly how much users should be trusted with their own data. Google has struggled with its own API scandal, facing outcry over third-party email apps mishandling Gmail users’ data. In some ways, the proposed consortium would be a way to manage that risk, spreading the responsibility out among more groups. Still, the specter of Cambridge Analytica puts a real limit on how much data companies are willing to share. When I asked about the data privacy implications of the new project, Facebook emphasized the importance of maintaining API-level controls. “We always want to think about user data protection first,” says David Baser, who works on Facebook’s data download product. “One of the things that’s nice about an API is that, as the data provider, we have the ability to turn off the pipeline or impose conditions on how they can use it. With a data download tool, the data leaves our hands, and it’s truly out there in the wild. If someone wants to use that data for bad purposes, Facebook truly cannot do anything about it.” At the same time, tech companies are facing more aggressive antitrust concerns than ever before, many of them centering on data access. The biggest tech companies have few competitors. And as they face new questions about federal regulation and monopoly power, sharing data could be one of the least painful ways to rein themselves in. It’s an unlikely remedy for companies that are reeling from data privacy scandals, but it’s one that outsiders like Open Technology Institute director Kevin Bankston have been pushing as more important than ever, particularly for Facebook. “My primary goal has been to make sure that the value of openness doesn’t get forgotten,” Bankston says. “If you’re concerned about the power of these platforms, portability is a way to balance that out.” Update 7/20/2018 12:00PM EST: This piece was updated to include reference to Microsoft’s announcement of the Data Transfer Project. Source
  12. President Donald Trump — and millions of other devoted Twitter users — are about to lose some followers. Twitter announced on Wednesday that it would begin purging suspicious and dormant accounts from users' follower counts. It’s the latest step Twitter is taking to clean up its platform and promote what CEO Jack Dorsey calls “conversational health.” Twitter users should see their follower counts decrease this week. The typical user will lose fewer than five followers, while large accounts could experience a “more significant drop,” Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head counsel, said in a blog post. “Followercounts are a visible feature, and we want everyone to have confidence that the numbers are meaningful and accurate,” Gadde said. The move also means a user’s influence will be better reflected on Twitter, since follower counts will be more accurate. Some of these accounts may have once belonged to actual people before being taken over by hackers. However, the correction to users’ follower lists excludes spam bots, which Gadde said Twitter’s technology was getting better at identifying and quickly shutting down. The adjustments to follower counts comes one week after Twitter disclosed that its technology was now capable of identifying more than 9.9 million potential spam accounts per week and shutting them down. Twitter also said it was removing 214 percent more spam accounts compared to this time last year. The company said it was able to achieve this through improvements to its processes and technology. Source
  13. Twitter is urging all of its more than 330 million users to immediately change their passwords after a bug exposed them in plain text. While Twitter’s investigation showed that there was no evidence that any breach or misuse of the unmasked passwords occurred, the company is recommending that users change their Twitter passwords out of an “abundance of caution,” both on the site itself and anywhere else they may have used that password, which includes third-party apps like Twitterrific and TweetDeck. According to Twitter, the bug occurred due to an issue in the hashing process that masks passwords by replacing them with a random string of characters that get stored on Twitter’s system. But due to an error with the system, apparently passwords were being saved in plain text to an internal log, instead of masking them with the hashing process. Twitter claims to have found the bug on its own and removed the passwords. It’s working to make sure that similar issues don’t come up again. Twitter hasn’t revealed how many users’ passwords may have potentially been compromised or how long the bug was exposing passwords before it found and fixed the issue. But the fact that the company is urging its entire user base to change their passwords indicates that it would seem to be a significant number of users. Twitter has added a warning in its mobile apps recommending users change their passwords In general, it’s worth taking some time to think about how your passwords are set up. Consider switching over to a password manager (we have a great guide on how and why you should use one here) and avoid repeating passwords across services. That way, when leaks like these do happen, you can avoid the worst of the damage. < Here >
  14. Aleksandr Kogan had access to the data for single day in 2015 Twitter has removed Cambridge Analytica as an advertiser Twitter Inc. sold data access to the Cambridge University academic who also obtained millions of Facebook Inc. users’ information that was later passed to a political consulting firm without the users’ consent. Aleksandr Kogan, who created a personality quiz on Facebook to harvest information later used by Cambridge Analytica, established his own commercial enterprise, Global Science Research (GSR). That firm was granted access to large-scale public Twitter data, covering months of posts, for one day in 2015, according to Twitter. “In 2015, GSR did have one-time API access to a random sample of public tweets from a five-month period from December 2014 to April 2015,” Twitter said in a statement to Bloomberg. “Based on the recent reports, we conducted our own internal review and did not find any access to private data about people who use Twitter.” The company has removed Cambridge Analytica and affiliated entities as advertisers. Twitter said GSR paid for the access; it provided no further details. The Telegraph earlier reported that Twitter sold data to Kogan, who told the U.K. newspaper that he was in compliance with Twitter’s policies but didn’t elaborate on what level of access he received. Explanations Needed Twitter provides certain companies, developers and users with access to public data through its application programming interfaces (APIs), or software that requests and delivers information. The company sells the data to organizations, which often use them to analyze events, sentiment or customer service. Enterprise customers are given the broadest data access, which includes the last 30 days of tweets or access to tweets from as far back as 2006. To get that access, the customers must explain how they plan to use the data, and who the end users will be. Twitter doesn’t sell private direct messaging data, and users must opt in to have their tweets include a location. Twitter’s “data licensing and other revenue” grew about 20 percent, to $90 million, in the first quarter. Social media companies have come under intense scrutiny over reports that Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users. Companies like Twitter tend to have access to less private information than Facebook. The latter has said that Cambridge Analytica, which worked for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, may have harvested data on 87 million users. Personality Quiz About 270,000 people downloaded Kogan’s personality quiz app, which shared information the people and their friends that was then improperly passed to Cambridge Analytica. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has testified in front of Congress about the misuse of data, and lawmakers have called on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to testify as well. Criticism of Twitter’s failure to prevent misinformation and abuse on its platform has risen since the 2016 election. In the first quarter, the company removed more than 142,000 applications connected to the Twitter API that was collectively responsible for more than 130 million “low-quality” tweets during the period. The company has also limited the ability of users to perform coordinated actions across multiple accounts. Bloomberg LP produces TicToc, a global breaking news network for the Twitter service. < Here >
  15. Jack Dorsey, CEO of both Twitter and Square, has managed to get his name in the headlines again today after a comment he made about Bitcoin during an interview with The Times. Speaking of the current cryptocurrency king, Dorsey said that he believes Bitcoin will become the world’s single currency within the next ten years. If ten years seems fast to you, it’s worth noting that Dorsey actually said that the transition could even happen more quickly than that, something that seems particularly unlikely despite what can only be described as Bitcoin’s huge increase in popularity over the past few months. “The world ultimately will have a single currency, the internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be bitcoin.” This would happen “probably over ten years, but it could go faster.” Of course, Dorsey’s bullish stance on Bitcoin may be slightly far fetched, but it should not come as a surprise at all. As mentioned earlier, he may be the top dog at Twitter but he is also CEO of Square, a company that recently added the option to buy and sell Bitcoin via its Square Cash app on mobile. Dorsey also has a history of speaking of the benefits of Bitcoin as a currency. He also owns an unknown amount of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, which may or may not be a good reason for him to hype it up. Dorsey’s interview with The Times was apparently limited to Square, with the Twitter CEO declining to take questions about the social network. Given the current focus on Facebook and its roll in world affairs right now, that move was no doubt a calculated one. Redmondpie.com
  16. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the internet was abuzz with discussion when reports surfaced that Floyd Mayweather wore a hijab to a Donald Trump rally, daring people to fight him. The concocted story started on a sports comedy website, but it quickly spread on social media—and people took it seriously. From Russian “bots” to charges of fake news, headlines are awash in stories about dubious information going viral. You might think that bots—automated systems that can share information online—are to blame. But a new study shows that people are the prime culprits when it comes to the propagation of misinformation through social networks. And they’re good at it, too: Tweets containing falsehoods reach 1500 people on Twitter six times faster than truthful tweets, the research reveals. Bots are so new that we don’t have a clear sense of what they’re doing and how big of an impact they’re making, says Shawn Dorius, a social scientist at Iowa State University in Ames who wasn’t involved in the research. We generally think that bots distort the types of information that reaches the public, but—in this study at least—they don’t seem to be skewing the headlines toward false news, he notes. They propagated true and false news roughly equally. The main impetus for the new research was the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The lead author—Soroush Vosoughi, a data scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge—says after the attack a lot of the stuff he was reading on social media was false. There were rumors that a student from Brown University, who had gone missing, was suspected by the police. But later, people found out that he had nothing to do with the attack and had committed suicide (for reasons unrelated to the bombing). That’s when Vosoughi realized that “these rumors aren’t just fun things on Twitter, they really can have effects on people’s lives and hurt them really badly.” A Ph.D. student at the time, he switched his research to focus on the problem of detecting and characterizing the spread of misinformation on social media. He and his colleagues collected 12 years of data from Twitter, starting from the social media platform’s inception in 2006. Then they pulled out tweets related to news that had been investigated by six independent fact-checking organizations—websites like PolitiFact, Snopes, and FactCheck.org. They ended up with a data set of 126,000 news items that were shared 4.5 million times by 3 million people, which they then used to compare the spread of news that had been verified as true with the spread of stories shown to be false. They found that whereas the truth rarely reached more than 1000 Twitter users, the most pernicious false news stories—like the Mayweather tale—routinely reached well over 10,000 people. False news propagated faster and wider for all forms of news—but the problem was particularly evident for political news, the team reports today in Science. At first the researchers thought that bots might be responsible, so they used sophisticated bot-detection technology to remove social media shares generated by bots. But the results didn’t change: False news still spread at roughly the same rate and to the same number of people. By default, that meant that human beings were responsible for the virality of false news. That got the scientists thinking about the people involved. It occurred to them that Twitter users who spread false news might have more followers. But that turned out to be a dead end: Those people had fewer followers, not more. Finally the team decided to look more closely at the tweets themselves. As it turned out, tweets containing false information were more novel—they contained new information that a Twitter user hadn’t seen before—than those containing true information. And they elicited different emotional reactions, with people expressing greater surprise and disgust. That novelty and emotional charge seem to be what’s generating more retweets. “If something sounds crazy stupid you wouldn’t think it would get that much traction,” says Alex Kasprak, a fact-checking journalist at Snopes in Pasadena, California. “But those are the ones that go massively viral.” The research gives you a sense of how much of a problem fake news is, both because of its scale and because of our own tendencies to share misinformation, says David Lazer, a computational social scientist at Northeastern University in Boston who co-wrote a policy perspective on the science of fake news that was also published today in Science. He thinks that, in the short term, the “Facebooks, Googles, and Twitters of the world” need to do more to implement safeguards to reduce the magnitude of the problem. But in the long term we also need more science, he says—because if we don’t understand where fake news comes from and how it spreads, then how can we possibly combat it? Source
  17. Embedding a Tweet Can be Copyright Infringement, Court Rules A New York federal court has ruled that people can be held liable for copyright infringement if they embed a tweet posted by a third party. The case was filed by Justin Goldman, whose photo of Tom Brady went viral and eventually ended up at several news sites, which embedded these 'infringing' tweets. Nowadays it’s fairly common for blogs and news sites to embed content posted by third parties, ranging from YouTube videos to tweets. Although these publications don’t host the content themselves, they can be held liable for copyright infringement, a New York federal court has ruled. The case in question was filed by Justin Goldman whose photo of Tom Brady went viral after he posted it on Snapchat. After being reposted on Reddit, it also made its way onto Twitter from where various news organizations picked it up. Several of these news sites reported on the photo by embedding tweets from others. However, since Goldman never gave permission to display his photo, he went on to sue the likes of Breitbart, Time, Vox and Yahoo, for copyright infringement. In their defense, the news organizations argued that they did nothing wrong as no content was hosted on their servers. They referred to the so-called “server test” that was applied in several related cases in the past, which determined that liability rests on the party that hosts the infringing content. In an order that was just issued, US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest disagrees. She rejects the “server test” argument and rules that the news organizations are liable. “[W]hen defendants caused the embedded Tweets to appear on their websites, their actions violated plaintiff’s exclusive display right; the fact that the image was hosted on a server owned and operated by an unrelated third party (Twitter) does not shield them from this result,” Judge Forrest writes. Judge Forrest argues that the server test was established in the ‘Perfect 10 v. Amazon’ case, which dealt with the ‘distribution’ of content. This case is about ‘displaying’ an infringing work instead, an area where the jurisprudence is not as clear. “The Court agrees with plaintiff. The plain language of the Copyright Act, the legislative history undergirding its enactment, and subsequent Supreme Court jurisprudence provide no basis for a rule that allows the physical location or possession of an image to determine who may or may not have “displayed” a work within the meaning of the Copyright Act.” As a result, summary judgment was granted in favor of Goldman. Rightsholders, including Getty Images which supported Goldman, are happy with the result. However, not everyone is pleased. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says that if the current verdict stands it will put millions of regular Internet users at risk. “Rejecting years of settled precedent, a federal court in New York has ruled that you could infringe copyright simply by embedding a tweet in a web page,” EFF comments. “Even worse, the logic of the ruling applies to all in-line linking, not just embedding tweets. If adopted by other courts, this legally and technically misguided decision would threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability.” Given what’s at stake, it’s likely that the news organization will appeal this week’s order. Interestingly, earlier this week a California district court dismissed Playboy’s copyright infringement complaint against Boing Boing, which embedded a YouTube video that contained infringing content. A copy of Judge Forrest’s opinion can be found here (pdf). SOURCE
  18. A new version of a classic online scam is percolating on Twitter. And while anyone even halfway paying attention likely wouldn't fall for it, the trick has already raked in thousands of dollars of ethereum and bitcoin in less than a week. The scheme itself is pretty straightforward: Attackers make Twitter handles that closely mimic the verified accounts of well-known figures like Elon Musk, John McAfee, or Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin. Then they respond to one of those genuine tweets, giving the appearance of having started a thread, in which they claim that they'll send a significant quantity of cryptocurrency (like 2 bitcoin) to anyone who sends a smaller amount of currency (like 0.02 bitcoin) to a particular wallet. Yup, that's it. As of publication, you can see new attempts popping up on Twitter every few minutes. "It's like a social media impersonation mixed with a classic Nigerian prince scam," says Crane Hassold, a threat intelligence manager at the security firm PhishLabs, who previously worked as a digital behavior analyst for the FBI. "Twitter will likely start blocking the accounts making the posts, but the level of effort needed for this scam is so low that it'll probably be a cat and mouse game, and the return on investment at the beginning will be pretty good for the actor." The scheme also closely resembles a popular trick in the game Eve Online, in which scammers post "send a little, get a lot" promises to collect Eve's in-game currency (known as ISK) in its Jita solar system, which acts as the commerce center. Like cryptocurrency, ISK is stored in electronic wallets for digital transactions. The Twitter version, which started cropping up on February 1, doesn't appear to be a total blockbuster, since most people know to avoid "send a little, get a lot" setups. (Not to mention that Elon Musk probably wouldn't randomly give out a ton of bitcoin for no reason through Twitter. We think.) Still, many of the bitcoin and ethereum wallets the attackers set up do have a low key stream of payments coming in. For example, one wallet posted in a fake John McAfee tweet, which promised 20 bitcoin for every 0.02 received, racked up 0.184 bitcoin within hours. At current prices that's about $1,500. Not a gold rush, but also not bad for a scam that takes so little effort. "It’s all a statistics game. They aren’t targeting folks who need to be convinced, they’re targeting folks who will knee-jerk react," says Tinker, a researcher from the Dallas Hackers Association who was early to spot the scam. "By lessening the length of the message, it makes the scam more consumable. Combine that with impersonating famous people sending out popular tweets and the fall of bitcoin—folks are desperate to get a gain on their loss." As the price of cryptocurrencies has soared—and then crashed back down—scammers have capitalized on the booms and preyed on victims of the busts. The hustles are diverse, including all different types of phishing, spamming, and the notorious development of bogus initial coin offerings, but social media impersonation has a role in many of them, perhaps because so much discussion, speculation, and misinformation about cryptocurrency takes place there. One attempt to identify bogus accounts impersonating prominent cryptocurrency community members is the new Chrome Extension "EtherSecurityLookup." Created by web developer Harry Denley, who also makes the anti-phishing tool "EtherAddressLookup," the new extension checks Twitter accounts against a whitelist of legitimate cryptocurrency community members, and flags handles that are too similar as potentially problematic. Impersonation on social media is an ongoing problem, but these rackets violate the user agreements of pretty much every service, and platforms like Twitter can discourage them by playing whack-a-mole with the malicious accounts. And scams that are easy for fraudsters to run never totally go away, because it doesn't take much investment to do them as quick one-offs. "It's like any of the old school schemes," PhishLabs' Hassold says. "They're somehow still around, because there are always people who are going to fall for it." Article
  19. Twitter has removed the profile pictures of several of its users after the company received a takedown notice from World Cup organizer FIFA. The football organization forbids the use of any of its official logos and emblems on social media, including pictures of the World Cup trophy. While over a billion people are enjoying the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, organizer FIFA is working around the clock to make sure that their rights are protected. Stopping pirated live streams is one of the main priorities, but there is another concern. In all the excitement many social media users have added World Cup related logos and other pictures as their avatars, something that’s strictly forbidden by FIFA. The football organization fears that use of their logos and emblems by others may cause serious damage. FIFA believes that this endangers the entire worldwide football community. “Any unauthorized use of the Official Marks not only undermines the integrity of the FIFA World Cup™ and its marketing programme, but also puts the interests of the worldwide football community at stake,” FIFA says in an official statement. Social media is particularly worrisome because the official logos may lead followers to believe that the user is somehow related to FIFA. “FIFA’s official logos, symbols and other graphic trade marks may not be used on any social media platform. FIFA’s Protected Terms may not be used to create the impression that a page is officially related to the 2014 FIFA World Cup,” FIFA notes. Considering the above FIFA sees no other option than to crackdown on Twitter users with official FIFA logos and images as avatars. In recent weeks Twitter has beenasked to take action against several of its users, by removing their infringing profile pictures. The requests were made for a wide variety of images including the World Cup emblem, logo and even the trophy. Twitter appears to have honored the requests and has replaced the infringing avatars with the default egg. Most of the targeted accounts seem to be specifically related to football. However FIFA has also asked Twitter to remove the profile picture of @afobajee, a relatively random user. Most of the affected users have changed their profile pictures to something non-infringing. However, others appear to have simply switched back to using official FIFA material. We expect that FIFA still has their eye on the ball, so these infringing profile pictures probably won’t stay online for very long. Infringing profile picture Source
  20. QuicksilverInc


    Anybody know, if there anything like twitter blaster or similar software around?. I while ago joined twitter and im trying to get followers to my twitter account @HyvonenMichael and still figuring out how it works. :smoke:
  21. This was the original tweet posted by the NYPD asking for users' photos A plan by the New York Police Department to use Twitter to boost its image seems to have backfired. Users were asked to tweet a photo of themselves with officers and add the hashtag #myNYPD as part of a social media campaign. But instead of a steady stream of friendly photos, the hashtag was quickly adopted by users posting images of possible police aggression. The NYPD said: "Twitter provides an open forum for uncensored exchange." The original tweet was posted on the NYPD's Twitter feed on Tuesday. Featuring two smiling officers and a member of the public, it encouraged users to send in similar photos. But while several people did so, the hashtag was also picked up by others who used it to identify tweets containing photos of the NYPD in more hostile situations. By Wednesday, the hashtag had become one of Twitter's top trending terms. One photo showed a man being pushed down on to a car bonnet. It was from March 2013 and followed protests in Brooklyn over the death of 16-year-old Kimani Gray who was shot by police. The protest group Occupy Wall Street tweeted an image of an NYPD police officer advancing towards a crowd with a baton raised. Many of the photos appeared to be taken by professional photographers at incidents in New York City rather than users' own images. One from the Associated Press showing a man being held down on the floor by two officers appeared in several tweets. The NYPD issued a statement on Tuesday evening in response to the activity: "The NYPD is creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community. Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city." Other Twitter interactions that have backfired include US Airways posting an explicit photo in response to a customer's tweet and McDonald's using a hashtag to highlight its farmers that quickly got taken over by people sharing their bad experiences of the burger chain. Source
  22. Retweeting is an integral part of the Twitter experience, and the ability to instantly repeat something that another user has said to all of your followers is a feature that tweeters across the globe take advantage of every day. But just days after Twitter announced a range of multimedia-focused changes - including the ability to upload multiple images in a single tweet, and to tag other users in an image - it looks like the company may be toying with further changes, this time related to retweets. Before you panic, take a deep breath and be reassured by the news that the ability to retweet doesn't seem to be in any danger of going away. But it looks like Twitter may be considering a name change for this feature, as Engadget reports that a small number of users have been seeing things differently in recent days. Rather than being shown a retweet button in Twitter's iOS and Android apps, some users are instead being given the option to 'share' tweets with their followers. For those seeing the change, it appears to be entirely cosmetic - a simple name change, from 'retweeting' to 'sharing', with no real difference in terms of functionality. But even this small change has annoyed many; Eli Langer, social media reporter with CNBC, collected a selection of tweets from some of those users whose RT buttons have been replaced by 'Share', and the tone of their feedback is fairly negative. Twitter's experimentation may be aimed at making its user experience more easy to understand for newer and less tech-savvy users. The jargon - retweets, mentions, hashtags etc - of Twitter are an integral part of the whole experience, but for some, it can all sound a bit too technical and intimidating. Removing these kinds of barriers for potential users is an important step for Twitter as it seeks to grow its user numbers further. But Twitter also runs the risk of angering its existing user base if it dares to change things too much for those who already enjoy its services. For now, there are no indications that Twitter plans to implement this change on a wider basis. Given the way that many of its users have responded so far, that's perhaps for the best. Source: Engadget via Neowin.net
  23. Friday's news that the Turkish government had banned its citizens from accessing Twitter was depressing but an opportunity to be embraced. Forewarned is forearmed, and the fact that Turks are learning how to beat censorship with VPNs and DNS tricks better prepares them for the future. Two days ago on the campaign trail ahead of end-of-March elections, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan showed his Internet naivety by doing something extremely silly. In the midst of a corruption scandal he first threatened and then carried through with an outright ban of Twitter. “I don’t care what the international community says at all. Everyone will see the power of the Turkish Republic,” Erdogan said on Thursday. Angry that Twitter did not respond to requests by Turkish courts to remove material that showed him in a bad light, Erdogan swung the banhammer and by Friday everything was in place. Turkish visitors to Twitter were greeted with notices displayed by their ISPs indicating that Twitter had been blocked by court order. “Because there was no other choice, access to Twitter was blocked in line with court decisions to avoid the possible future victimisation of citizens,” Turkish telecoms watchdog BTK said on Friday. What followed was anger from citizens, then delicious payback against yet another government trying – and ultimately failing – to artificially restrict access to information on the Internet. Rather than bow to Erdogan’s wishes, Turkish citizens reacted in much the same that file-sharers around the world have done when sites such as The Pirate Bay were blocked by their ISPs. They took to the open web to spread the word on how to circumvent web censorship but in a fresh twist, they also took to the streets The wonderful image below, ironically posted to Twitter itself, shows a poster on a Turkish street explaining how to change DNS settings to obliterate the Twitter ban. Another photograph, again posted to Twitter, shows graffiti on a housing block informing people of the IP addresses used by Google’s DNS service rather than the ‘infected’ ones offered by local ISPs. But while these images will be a delight to anti-censorship advocates everywhere, it was online that the real battle was taking place. Here at TF we noticed an unusual level of interest from Turkish visitors in our latest VPN article and then later in the day the effect on VPN takeup was confirmed by the company behind Hotspot Shield. AnchorFree CEO David Gorodyansky told WSJ that 270,000 Turkish users installed their software in one 12 hour period Friday versus around 10,000 on a normal day, a huge increase by any standards. TorrentFreak spoke with Andrew Lee at Private Internet Access who explained that while his company does not track the identities or locations of its customers, there had definitely been an uptick in signups following the introduction of Twitter censorship in Turkey. “More and more, we are seeing that censorship is a form of control that the weak use in an attempt to hang onto power. In addition to Turkey, we can also see this happening in China, the United Kingdom and other various countries,” Lee explained. “Fortunately, the people of this world, including Turkey, are strong, and democracy will continue to stand. As such, the attempt to censor Twitter in Turkey has all but failed.” This article began with the suggestion that censorship of the type imposed by Turkey is something to be embraced. Not welcomed, of course, but treated as an opportunity to gain knowledge on how the Internet works and how web blockades can be circumvented. Those who think they can control the Internet and people’s right to communicate should be made to think again and in Turkey this week that point has been admirably made. According to analysis site Zete.com, tweets in Turkey before the ban numbered 10 million a day – they now sit at 24 million. Update: According to a local report, Turkey has now appears to have blocked Google’s DNS, although other sources say that this is an actual network issue. Source: TorrentFreak
  24. Days after the Supreme Court denied Kim Dotcom access to evidence held by the FBI, the Megaupload founder's legal team were back in court seeking other documents in connection with a compensation claim. During the hearing, however, a Crown lawyer took the opportunity to complain about Dotcom's use of Twitter. Last week the Supreme Court handed a significant blow to Kim Dotcom and his associates with a ruling confirming they would not be entitled to receive any more than a summary of the claims in the extradition case against them. Just days later and the Megaupload and Mega.co.nz founder’s legal team were back in court in connection with their huge compensation claim against the New Zealand police and the government’s GCSB spy agency following the raid on Dotcom’s Coatville mansion in 2012. The claim, for breaches of the Bill of Rights Act and the Government Communications and Security Bureau Act, spans not only Kim Dotcom but also his wife Mona, three of his Megaupload associates, plus one of their wives. On the basis that the surveillance leading up to the raid was carried out illegally, and that the raid itself was executed by the police using excessive force, the claim for compensation has reached around NZ$5m (US$4.27m) In the High Court in Auckland this morning, Dotcom lawyer Paul Davison said that he believed that additional documents being held by the government should be revealed as part of the discovery process. Should such documents exist, Davison said, then he would ask that Justice Winkelmann orders their disclosure. However, Crown lawyer David Boldt said there was nothing left to hand over. “The defendants at least have discovered thousands of documents in this proceeding and have been extraordinarily diligent in scouring records for relevant material,” Boldt said. “What I can say is, if that material existed, it would have been discovered, and we’ve sworn affidavits to the effect that this is all there is.” The Crown also took the opportunity to attack Dotcom’s use of Twitter, a service used by the Megaupload founder to give his followers a window into his private life. Dotcom posts tweets several times every day, sometimes giving his 350,000 followers updates on his family but on other occasions referring to his ongoing legal battles with both the United States and New Zealand governments. That has included the posting documents connected to his case Crown lawyer Kristy McDonald said that through his actions on Twitter, Dotcom had demonstrated “considerable disregard” for court processes and suggested that any documents obtained by Dotcom might end up getting published on the social networking platform. “Is this about obtaining documents so they can be put out in the public arena?” McDonald questioned. The notion was dismissed by Dotcom’s lawyer. This is the second attack on Dotcom’s use of Twitter. In December 2013, the U.S. Government claimed that the entrepreneur’s use of the social networking site made his defense less credible. Dotcom’s legal team, however, suggested that government attempts “to widely disseminate a one-sided, cherry-picked set of facts” threatened to “infect the jury pool before defendants are afforded any opportunity to present their side of the story.” In the meantime, Dotcom’s tweets continue. Although not mentioning anyone by name, Dotcom today criticized former security staff for “leaking family secrets” and demanding large sums of money. He said that rumors suggesting he treats his staff badly are untrue. The compensation hearings, which will continue in the High Court tomorrow, will see Dotcom’s lawyers argue that the manner in which the 2012 raid was carried out breached his human rights. Earlier this year the Court of Appeal decided that the warrants used in the raid were not in themselves unlawful. Dotcom’s appeal to the Supreme Court in that matter is pending. Source: TorrentFreak
  25. The Turkish government blocked Twitter on Thursday night after the social media network had been used to spread recordings of telephone conversations and leaked documents that appeared to implicate high-ranking officials and some of their relatives and associates in a widespread corruption investigation. The shutdown, which Turks began to notice around midnight, occurred 10 days before local elections and came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Twitter in an election rally in Bursa, a western town, on Thursday, saying that he did not care about international reactions if national security was at stake. “Twitter, mwitter! We will wipe out roots of all,” Mr. Erdogan declared in a campaign speech before the pivotal elections on March 30. “They say, ‘Sir, the international community can say this, can say that.’ I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the state of the Republic of Turkey is.” Mr. Erdogan had faced perhaps the biggest challenge in his 11 years in office when unidentified critics began using Twitter and YouTube to leak dozens of phone calls and documents that seemed to tie government officials and business circles close to the government to a graft inquiry that began last December. One of the recordings purports to be of the prime minister himself telling his son to get rid of large sums of cash on the morning of Dec. 17, when the homes of three former ministers’ sons were raided. Mr. Erdogan has repeatedly — and angrily — insisted that the recording was fake. The prime minister’s office issued a statement before the ban was imposed, underlining what it said was Twitter’s lack of cooperation after four local courts ruled that certain content must be removed. “The presidency of Telecommunication made necessary attempts in line with court rulings, however, Twitter officials have remained indifferent to these requests,” said the statement, posted on the semiofficial Anadolu News Agency. Unless the website cooperated, the agency added, “Technically, there would be no other option than blocking access to Twitter in order to reduce damages of our citizens.” Social media networks in Turkey have grown more popular since antigovernment protests last summer, when traditional media organizations were silenced under government pressure and journalists critical of Mr. Erdogan were fired or forced to resign. “This is certainly politically motivated prior to the local elections and the worst kind of political censorship I have seen,” said Yaman Akdeniz, a professor of cyberlaw at Istanbul’s Bilgi University. “Absence of Twitter from Turkey will be a significant democratic deficit.” Jim Prosser, a Twitter spokesman, said the company was “looking into” the ban, adding, “That’s all we have for the moment.” In Twitter messages, the company urged people to use mobile connections to get back on Twitter. New Internet restrictions, adopted by the government in February, allowed for the swift closing of websites or removal of content by court order. In a statement on Thursday night, the United States State Department expressed concern over “any suggestion that social media sites could be shut down.” Source
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