Regulator looking for expanded powers

Such a surprise that a bureaucracy looks for this, eh?

Twelve million people in Britain have been harmed by social media and the internet because online firms escape regulation, the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom will warn on Tuesday.

Sharon White, the regulator’s chief executive, will reveal research showing that one in five people in the UK have experienced harmful content or conduct ranging from bullying and harassment to fraud and violence.

“Harmful content” eh?

Alas, Woo is popular, as Jezza shows

Facebook is putting children’s lives at risk by reviving spurious MMR claims, the UK’s top health chiefs have said.

The anti-vaccination sites which promote the fake science that caused a surge in measles cases as well as conspiracy theories about other vaccines appear at the top of searches when parents use Facebook to find information about the MMR vaccine or other vaccinations.

Andrew Wakefield, the discredited doctor behind the fraudulent research linking the MMR vaccine to autism, features prominently on the sites with his film Vaxxed in which he accuses the US government’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of a cover-up over the risks.

Unlike Google, which filters out anti-vaccination sites to promote guidance from the NHS, government or World Health Organisation, Facebook’s searches appear to be based solely on their most popular and active sites irrespective of whether they are peddling false information. The biggest anti-vaccination sites have more than 100,000 followers.

The problem here is, well, who gets to decide what is Woo?

Proper examination of detailed claims would show that pretty much any economic plans to the left of Tony Blair are woo for example. Should that be filtered out of Facebook listings? One could go on with many other popular beliefs….

Not quite sure what to make of this

An initiative launched by Facebook and Snapchat to help children combat online bullying has resulted in no calls to a national helpline.

Facebook and Snapchat’s parent company Snap entered into a trial with the NSPCC last year to help young children on their sites who might be subjected to bullying.

Through this initiative, if someone reports that they are being bullied, they will see a message suggesting that they talk to Childline for support and advice. Choosing this option will launch more information and the option to speak to a counsellor.

No one wants to call childline? No one is being bullied? No one pays any attention to anything on Facebook or Snapchat?

Presumably the net step is to demand tax subsidy as it isn’t working.

Idiot damn stupidity

There is legitimate fear that GDPR will threaten the data-profiling gravy train. It’s a direct assault on the surveillance economy, enforced by government regulators and an army of class-action lawyers. “It will require such a rethinking of the way Facebook and Google work, I don’t know what they will do,” says Jonathan Taplin, author of Move Fast and Break Things, a book that’s critical of the platform economy. Companies could still serve ads, but they would not be able to use data to target someone’s specific preferences without their consent. “I saw a study that talked about the difference in value of an ad if platforms track information versus do not track,” says Reback. “If you just honor that, it would cut the value Google could charge for an ad by 80 percent.”

That is, the value to the advertiser is cut by 80%.

He’s arguing in favour of a reduction in economic efficiency……

No Telegraph, really, just no

Thousands of government websites have been hijacked by hackers to mine cryptocurrency, in a process known as “cryptojacking”, it has emerged.

The sites, including the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Scottish NHS helpline and the Student Loans company – along with hundreds of other central and local government sites – appear to have been running a power-pinching program that uses visitors’ computers to mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum.

No, the websites aren’t hijacked. They’re infected. They’re not using the servers to mine, they’re using visitors’ computers.

Sigh. You’d think the young shavers would get this part of the world right, wouldn’t you?

Welcome to governance by the anal retentives

Facebook was yesterday accused of being in an ‘abusive relationship’ with its users, as MPs called for web giants to be regulated.

The culture, media and sport select committee told executives at Facebook, Twitter and Google that they have opened a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of social problems and have become so powerful, it is ‘time for rules’ to keep them in check.

Lots of people are doing something they like doing. Without being guided. By, you know, the Illuminati who ought to guide all. Therefore regulation.

There is nothing else here.

Try this thought experiment. If social media did not exist would these very same people be promoting its use – as properly conceived and managed by themselves – in order to something something?

Given they dropped however much it was on Lily Cole’s thing, yes, they would.

It’s about control by those who should righteously* control, nothing else.

*Definitions of righteously have been known to differ.

Isn’t this a surprise?

Silicon Valley billionaire Marc Benioff has compared the current crisis of trust facing the tech giants to the financial crisis of a decade ago, urging regulators to wake up to the threat from Google, Facebook, and the other dominant firms.

The outspoken entrepreneur accused some of the industry’s most influential bosses of “abdicating responsibility” and being ignorant to how powerful and sophisticated they had become. Regulators now had “have no choice” but to intervene, he said.

To translate: “Regulate my competitors, but not me.”

The call was backed by Sir Martin Sorrell, who said the “Seven Sisters” – Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and China’s Alibaba and Tencent – had become too big. Comparing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to a modern-day John D Rockafeller, the chief executive of WPP, said “we are now in a position where they need to be regulated”.

I buy my adspace from these people. Regulate them!

So, coding letters, umlauts and things

OK, so , ALT + 0228 gives ä.

Etc.

And now the big question. Is there an ANSI code for an i but with a little heart replacing the jot?

Yes, I know, but…..or a Unicode or something?

Specifically want to be able to have a heart as the jot, not as a separate letter or image…..

Well, that’s business

Facebook is testing moving publishers’ posts out of people’s news feeds unless the companies pay thousands of dollars to reach their audience.

The new format is being tried in six countries, including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka, and moves any posts that do not come from users’ friends and family into a secondary feed unless they are paid for. Paid promotions still appear in news feeds as normal.

The change could wreck the business models of small publishers who depend on organic sharing on Facebook for a large part of their audience. It could also have a big impact on larger companies such as BuzzFeed that create content designed to go viral on the site, as “likes” cause Facebook’s algorithm to promote them in news feeds.

Well, OK.

Critics yesterday accused Facebook of devious tactics, in giving publishers a huge organic reach and only later charging for that audience.

Yes, that’s how it works. You fiddle around until you’re doing something that people want and profit from then you charge them for that.

Nonsense Jacob, nonsense

Saying he would receive far more abuse if he were female, he added: “This is something we should take really seriously. The abuse of women online for sharing their views is a disgrace.”

Saying the large internet companies like Twitter and Facebook must be held accountable, and brought under the same publishing laws as the UK press, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “It is a real digrace of modern society and will discourage women policians from going into it if they are treated the way Jess is.

“It is deeply outrageous.”

The abuse, sure. But the idea that platforms should be publishers, no way. That’s a truly vile idea, like making BT responsible for what is said down a phone line, Royal Mail for the contents of a letter.

Sir Simon’s lost it

Search engines are like cars on motorways with no requirement for brakes, emission controls or seatbelts. The failure to regulate, let alone properly tax, these massive corporations is the grossest lapse of modern government.

Whut? He wants to regulate search engines? Stop them indexing stuff?

Facepalm

Technology and cloud giant Accenture has confirmed it inadvertently left a massive store of private data across four unsecured cloud servers, exposing highly sensitive passwords and secret decryption keys that could have inflicted considerable damage on the company and its customers.

The servers, hosted on Amazon’s S3 storage service, contained hundreds of gigabytes of data for the company’s enterprise cloud offering, which the company claims provides support to the majority of the Fortune 100.

The data could be downloaded without a password by anyone who knew the servers’ web addresses.

Just put it in the hands of the experts they said…..

Sigh

The Government is stepping up pressure on Silicon Valley giants to take responsibility for unlawful material online and share the spoils of the internet with media companies.

It’s like the car industry having to share the cash with the coach and horses.

That Russian Facebook spying

Russian intelligence agents attempted to spy on President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign earlier this year by creating phony Facebook personas, according to a U.S. congressman and two other people briefed on the effort.

About two dozen Facebook accounts were created to conduct surveillance on Macron campaign officials and others close to the centrist former financier as he sought to defeat far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and other opponents in the two-round election, the sources said. Macron won in a landslide in May.

Facebook said in April it had taken action against fake accounts that were spreading misinformation about the French election. But the effort to infiltrate the social networks of Macron officials has not previously been reported.

Hands up everyone who thinks that all other spy agencies around the world are doing exactly the same thing?

All of you? What a well informed and practical community we are then.

Amazingly, I agree with plod here

Consumers who buy internet-enabled devices such as televisions, refrigerators and even kettles are leaving themselves open to hackers who could use them to gain access to their bank accounts, one of the country’s most senior police officers has warned.

Not sure that the fridge will ever know the bank account numbers but still, yes, people will indeed hack into everything. No residence of mine is ever going to be internet enabled, in this sense at least, therefore.

Isn’t this fun?

Google has spent millions funding academic research in the US and Europe to try to influence public opinion and policymakers, a watchdog has claimed.

Over the last decade, Google has funded research papers that appear to support the technology company’s business interests and defend against regulatory challenges such as antitrust and anti-piracy, the US-based Campaign for Accountability (CfA) said in a report.

OK:

Google described the report as “highly misleading” as it included any work supported by any organisation to which it has ever donated money.

My word, but the kicker?

Miller added that it was ironic that the CfA talked about accountability and transparency when it would not reveal its own financial backers, one of which is Oracle, a company “running a well-documented lobbying campaign against us”, funding hundreds of pieces of research and events.

“Whenever Google’s bad behaviour is exposed, it invariably points the finger at someone else,” said Stevens. “Instead of deflecting blame, Google should address its record of academic astroturfing, which puts it in the same league as big oil and big tobacco.”