Twitter announced Friday it received two national security requests, one each in 2015 and 2016, asking for users’ account data without informing the affected users. The company could not reveal this earlier since it was bound by gag orders until now that restricted it from openly speaking about the matter.
The requests were received in the form of national security letters…
Each letter requests a special kind of data called electronic communication transaction records, including email header data and browsing history.
FBI requests go far beyond the limitations set by a 2008 Justice Department legal memo, which said such orders could only be restricted to phone billing records…
NSLs are government orders used for obtaining communication data available to service providers. They are usually accompanied by a gag order restricting the provider from informing the user whose data is obtained. The legal tool has been available since the 1970s, but has been put into regular usage for varied purposes since the passing of the U.S.A. Patriot Act…
The use of NSLs to obtain data is being opposed by major tech companies including Twitter which is fighting its own lawsuit against the government…
Yup. Last two years of the Obama Administration.
Nothing new about Liberal Democrats supporting the same crap Big Brother ideology as scumbags in the Republican Party. You ain’t about to see Donald Trump start supporting constitutional freedoms, privacy rights or net neutrality.
We’re posting this because while some Democrats are working sincerely to bring the supposedly liberal half of the TweedleDeeDum 2-Party system in line with the real needs of working folks – they will need concerned individuals to twist their arms, remind them to walk away from Cold Warrior lies and rationales. Stop snooping on ordinary citizens.
A massive botnet secretly infiltrated the Twitterverse in 2013 but has lain mysteriously dormant since then, say researchers.
❝ The rise of the Twitter bot has plagued the online world in recent years. These are Twitter accounts that are automated and require little or no human intervention. Many are entirely legitimate, publishing headlines and links to news stories.
But others are malicious. These Twitter bots produce spam, provide fake followers for anybody willing to pay, and can manipulate debates and public opinion in insidious ways that are hard to track and prevent. The effects of large swarms of Twitter bots — so-called botnets — are largely unknown…
❝ Today that changes thanks to the work of Juan Echeverria and Shi Zhou at University College London. These cybersecurity experts have stumbled across a Twitter botnet consisting of more than 350,000 automated accounts, a network of almost unimaginable proportions, that has existed undetected since 2013…its longevity raises serious questions about the potential impact of botnets and the way they are tracked and monitored…
❝ A simple assessment of the…accounts that created these tweets showed they had much in common. These accounts had never published more than 11 tweets, they never had more than 10 followers and less than 31 friends. They were all produced by Twitter for Windows phones.
But reading the tweets, Echeverria and Zhou realized that they all contained random quotations from Star Wars novels with hashtags inserted at random. A typical tweet is: “Luke’s answer was to put on an extra burst of speed. There were only ten meters #separating them now.”…
❝ …The researchers trained a machine-learning algorithm to recognize Star Wars bots and set it loose on a much larger database of 14 million English-speaking Twitter users.
The results were a shock. The machine-learning algorithm, with the help of some manual filtering, found some 350,000 accounts that had the same characteristics. These accounts had never tweeted more than 11 times, had fewer than 31 friends and were all produced by Twitter for Windows Phone.
What’s more, this entire botnet was created in just a few days in June and July 2013. At the time, it produced 150,000 tweets a day…Then it stopped. “When the creation of new Star Wars bots stopped on 14 July 2013, all the bots suddenly fell silent and remained so ever since…”
❝ So what might these fake Twitter accounts be for? Although the accounts have been silent for some time, this makes them valuable since they are less likely now to be labeled as fake. For this reason, pre-aged bots have significant value on the black market…
❝ Clearly, the discovery of this giant botnet raises important questions about the extent to which the Twitterverse has been infiltrated by bots that can influence the dynamics of conversations, opinions, and even elections. The work leaves open the crucial question of who set up this botnet and why.
BTW – Echeverria and Zhou report they “…have recently discovered another botnet with more than 500k bots”.
❝ Twitter was the first big tech company to say it would refuse to hand over data to help the United States government build a registry President-elect Donald Trump has described that would be used specifically to track Muslim-Americans…
As of Friday, companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, IBM, Uber and Microsoft have all chimed in to likewise refuse to hand over data to help build a database that would profile Muslim-Americans…
❝ Trump’s potential plan to create a registry of Muslim-Americans was a topic that surfaced repeatedly on the campaign trail. And, unlike many of Trump’s campaign promises, this one may actually be on the table. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a member of Trump’s transition team, said that after the election, Trump’s policy advisers began discussing a proposal to build the registry…
❝ Trump has promised to be heavy on surveillance, which has long required the cooperation of technology companies that collect user data to provide services and sell ads. Companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google get so many requests for user data from the government and law enforcement that they voluntarily publish regular transparency reports to detail, in broad figures, how these requests are made and fulfilled…
❝ Twitter, the one major tech company noticeably absent from Trump’s tech summit, has long had an anti-surveillance rule. Earlier this year, Twitter shut off access to at least two different companies that were providing surveillance services to U.S. law enforcement efforts.
Nice to see a number of money-making geeks still care about constitutional freedoms. Even even a few that our elected officials in Congress and the White House haven’t gotten round to explicitly codifying. Like privacy.
❝ On Sunday Donald Trump took to Twitter in what has become a regular SNL-bashing session.
It was supposed to be business as usual, but musician and civil rights activist Danielle Muscato had enough.
❝ On Sunday, she brought the fire in a string of coherent, scathing tweets.
It goes on from there and thoughtful people – by the thousands – are sharing her feelings, her critique.
❝ Business isn’t good at a Chicago tech company that was outed last month for its practice of buying social media data and re-selling it to police.
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that Geofeedia had been given access to data by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which Geofeedia used to build software products for police that the ACLU called “surveillance tools.” Facebook and Instagram took cut off Geofeedia’s access in September, and Twitter blocked access after reviewing the ACLU report in October.
❝ Losing access to those social media data feeds seems to have had a big impact on Geofeedia’s business. A Geofeedia spokesperson today told the Chicago Tribune that it laid off 31 employees out of about 60 total…
Nice to see a company lose out because their opportunist corruption of civil liberties is turned out.
❝ The company…claimed more than 500 customers, including police agencies in Chicago, Denver, Seattle, and Baltimore. Denver police paid $30,000 for a one-year subscription. In a funding request, a Denver police lieutenant said the service would be used to monitor large public events, like Denver’s annual marijuana rally and Martin Luther King Day march.
I hope there aren’t too many fools out there thinking this invasion of privacy and civil liberties is going to retreat anytime soon. Not so incidentally, how about inquiring if your city has been sending these scumbags a monthly check?
Of all the loose cannons to roll across political Twitter’s decks, Donald Trump may have been the most volatile. The GOP nominee blasted his messages into the feeds of 13 million followers and accrued retweets by the thousands. For every hit scored against Jeb Bush (“low energy“), Ted Cruz (“Lyin’“) or Hillary Clinton (“Crooked“), though, there remained a risk Trump’s potshots would be self-destructive rather than tactical…
Now, during the final stretch of the presidential race, Trump’s campaign staff has taken control of his social media persona, the New York Times reported Sunday.
“Aides to Mr. Trump have finally wrested away the Twitter account that he used to colorfully — and often counterproductively — savage his rivals,” the Times wrote. According to the report into the Republican nominee’s last few days on the campaign trail:
Taking away Twitter turned out to be an essential move by his press team, which deprived him of a previously unfiltered channel for his aggressions.
Twitter has been especially useful – since an overwhelming number of Trump/Tea Party/Republican opponents can actually read and write.
❝ Vine will not be left to shrivel up and die on itself, not if Pornhub has anything to say about it.
Earlier on Thursday Twitter announced it was ending Vine’s short run, and the adult site was quick to come to the rescue…maybe.
❝ In a letter from Pornhub VP Corey Price to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that was shared with CNET, Price lays out the rationale:
“We figure since Twitter has dropped (Vine) and is having significant layoffs, that you and your stakeholders could benefit from a cash infusion from the sale of Vine. Not to mention we would be saving Vine gems like ‘Damn Daniel,’ ‘Awkward Puppets’ and many more.”
Pornhub also promises to “restore Vine to Its NSFW glory,” saying that clips “of porn in six seconds is more than enough time for most people to enjoy themselves.”
❝ …Who knows, maybe Twitter will be willing to deal with Pornhub. Let’s just hope it doesn’t lead to a rash of six-second naked prank vids; that might be the only thing worse than killing off Vine.
CNET’s analysis of financial news is probably the only thing worse than their product reviews. Still, they made it to the humor plateau. Poisonally, I doubt the PornHub folks are kidding or foolish. Unlike most adult industrial nations in the mainstream of Western constitutional democracy the United States still defines most ethics by the morality stored in the fundamentalist Christian guidebook originated to the designs of a 17th Century monarch.
The most successful pornographers know better than that.
“Pay no attention to those wires coming out of my pants!”
❝ More than four times as many tweets were made by automated accounts in favour of Donald Trump around the first US presidential debate as by those backing Hillary Clinton, a study says.
The bots exaggerated support for the Republican, it suggests, but Trump would still have won a higher number of supportive tweets even if they had not.
The authors warn such software has the capacity to “manipulate public opinion” and “muddy political issues”…
❝ The investigation was led by Prof Philip Howard, from the University of Oxford, and is part of a wider project exploring “computational propaganda”.
It covered tweets posted on 26 September, the day of the first debate, plus the three days afterwards, and relied on popular hashtags linked to the event.
❝ First, the researchers identified accounts that exclusively posted messages containing hashtags associated with one candidate but not the other…
The researchers then analysed which of these had been posted by bots. They identified an account as such if it had tweeted at least 50 times a day across the period, meaning a minimum of 200 tweets over the four days…
In total, that represented a total of 576,178 tweets benefiting the Republican nominee and 136,639 in support of the Democratic one…
Nice to see serious examination of how technology has changed opinion-shaping. Now, I’m still waiting for pollsters to identify how often their telephone polls still rely on calling folks with landlines. And other fossils.