Toxic Culture / Insulin Pumps Hackable / Murder Conviction By Genealogy / Huge Libya Hack / Tech Headlines
There was no Sarin gas at Facebook’s mail facility after all thank goodness. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a toxic environment.
Casey Newton: A Facebook civil rights audit could have unintended consequences
By May of 2018, Facebook had received sustained criticism that the platform consistently enabled civil rights abuses. (Much of the criticism came after articles published by ProPublica demonstrating various ways that Facebook’s advertising platform could promote discrimination.) In response, the company announced that it had commissioned an independent civil rights audit — an effort to understand how Facebook promotes discrimination, and to develop recommendations for improvement.
In December, Facebook posted its first update about the audit, saying that the work had led to new efforts to fight voter suppression and encourage voter registration on the platform. And on Sunday, Facebook posted a second update. Joseph Cox summarizes it for us inVice:
The report itself is split into four sections: content moderation and enforcement; advertising targeting practices; elections and census; and the civil rights accountability structure. With content moderation, the audit focused on harassment on Facebook; the under-enforcement of policies where hate speech is then left on the platform; and Facebook’s over-enforcement of hate speech policies where users have content removed that actually condemned or spoke out against hate speech. The audit was conducted with civil rights law firm Relman, Dane & Colfax and Megan Cacace, one of the firm’s partners. […]
There are two major developments from this update. The first is that Facebook will work to protect the integrity of the upcoming US Census just as it would a national election. “We’re building a team dedicated to these census efforts and introducing a new policy in the fall that protects against misinformation related to the census,” the company said in its blog post. “We’ll enforce it using artificial intelligence. We’ll also partner with non-partisan groups to help promote proactive participation in the census.”
The second, more consequential development is that Facebook is extending its ban on speech promoting white nationalism. Alex Hern reports in the Guardian:
White nationalism and white separatism were previously allowed on Facebook as the company considered only white “supremacy” to be in breach of its hate speech policies. However, in March 2019 it updated its rules to ban the explicit praise, support or representation of the former two ideologies as well.
Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said in response to the audit: “We’re addressing this by identifying hate slogans and symbols connected to white nationalism and white separatism to better enforce our policy.
“We also recently updated our policies so Facebook isn’t used to organise events that intimidate or harass people based on their race, religion or other parts of their identity. We now ban posts from people who intend to bring weapons anywhere to intimidate or harass others, or who encourage people to do the same. Civil rights leaders first flagged this trend to us, and it’s exactly the type of content our policies are meant to protect against.”
This is all fairly straightforward. Civil rights groups audited Facebook and found lots of hate speech, and they want the company to eliminate more of it. But reading the report, I couldn’t help but notice one set of voices missing from the discussion: the moderators whose job it is to do all that hate speech removal.
Casey goes on to explore just how bad things got at the Tampa monitoring facility by sharing staff experiences. Read more over at The Verge.
Phee Waterfield: Insulin Pumps Recalled By FDA For Cybersecurity Risks
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning patients and healthcare providers that some insulin pumps carry cybersecurity risks.
In an alert published on June 27 2019, the FDA said that certain Medtronic MiniMed™ insulin pumps carry potential cybersecurity risks and that patients with diabetes using these models should switch their insulin pump to other models.
The alert says: “The FDA has become aware that an unauthorized person (someone other than a patient, patient caregiver, or health care provider) could potentially connect wirelessly to a nearby MiniMed insulin pump with cybersecurity vulnerabilities.” The alert goes onto say that a person could change a pump’s settings to either “over-deliver insulin to a patient, leading to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), or stop insulin delivery, leading to high blood sugar and diabetic ketoacidosis.” Both are life-threatening.
Apparently these pumps can’t be updated by the manufacturer. Read more from InfoSecurity Magazine.
Lisa Vaas: Relatives’ DNA in genealogy database leads to murder conviction
At the time that the brutalized bodies of a Canadian couple were discovered near Washington’s Mount Rainier nearly 32 years ago, police believed that the killer left his plastic gloves in plain view near their van so as to taunt investigators… That killer’s self-confidence was misplaced. Decades later, he was tracked down through links to the DNA of two cousins. On Friday morning, a Snohomish County jury found William Earl Talbott II guilty on two counts of aggravated murder in the first degree for the deaths...This is believed to be the first murder conviction of a suspect who was identified through genealogy databases. CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist who works for forensic company Parabon NanoLab, had used a public DNA site, GEDmatch, to help build this family tree for what would turn out to be the now-convicted murderer, based on DNA evidence from the crime scene. That tree shows the links between Talbott and two of his cousins who had uploaded their genetic profiles to GEDmatch.
This isn’t the first time DNA databases have led to the identification of a suspect — or of victims. GEDmatch is the same database that was used to identify Joseph James DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer, in 2018.
In fact, there have been dozens of arrests made in cold-case crimes nationwide through the forensic technique known as genetic genealogy.
The article goes on to laud the work DNA researchers are making to track down those who have escaped justice but also reminds us that these databases are public, and someone could potentially use the information in bad ways. You can read the rest of this story from Sophos.
I also can’t help but wonder, is it possible to spoof the system by clobbering it with disinfo…what if patrons aren’t submitting their own DNA? How secure is the library and could data be changed or swapped? Before we put faith in a system that declares guilt or innocence, we need to be very sure of the facts.
Dan Goodin: Researchers crack open Facebook campaign that pushed malware for years
Researchers have exposed a network of Facebook accounts that used Libya-themed news and topics to push malware to tens of thousands of people over a five-year span.
Links to the Windows and Android-based malware first came to researchers’ attention when the researchers found them included in Facebook postings impersonating Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commander of Libya’s National Army. The fake account, which was created in early April and had more than 11,000 followers, purported to publish documents showing countries such as Qatar and Turkey conspiring against Libya and photos of a captured pilot that tried to bomb the capital city of Tripoli. Other posts promised to offer mobile applications that Libyan citizens could use to join the country’s armed forces.
When searching for other sources that made the same mistakes, the researchers found more than 30 Facebook pages, some active since as early as 2014, that had been used to spread the same malicious links. The top-five most popular pages were collectively followed by more than 422,000 Facebook accounts.
This detailed article at Ars Technica goes on to explain how the malefactor used command & control systems to get passport and other personal data from infected devices, compromising them by posting the hacked details on Facebook. It’s an interesting case that asks why Facebook’s investments didn’t catch such a large operation working on their platform.
Some other web story highlights for today:
Best games for your phone. Engadget reminds us that gaming revenue is coming predominantly from mobile and has a page of recommendations for the best mobile games for your device that they will keep updating.
Florida City Fires IT Director after Meeting Ransomware Actors’ Demands. Tripwire reports Lake City terminated their IT guy after their run-in with ransomware resulted in a decision to pay off the hackers.
Virginia updates its revenge porn law to include deepfakes. That was fast.
With AI tools making it increasingly easy to create fake explicit images, the problem of revenge porn is only getting worse. Now, the state of Virginia has expanded its law against harassment through the sharing of sexual images to cover deepfake images and videos. The ban came into effect on July 1st. Previously, the law criminalized using nudes or sexual images to “coerce, harass, or intimidate” another person, and now a line has been added to cover such images that include “a falsely created videographic or still image.”
Sony’s PlayStation Vue Hikes Prices of Internet TV Service by $5 per Month For Second Year in Row variety.com
Loon — Google’s internet balloon spinoff company — is still looking for ways to make money cnbc.com
SpaceX loses control of three of its Starlink internet satellites just Weeks after launch dailymail.co.uk
While you may be one of the growing number of Americans without a cable box, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re saving a lot of money zdnet.com
American Broadband Buildout Act Would Dedicate $5 Billion to Rural Broadband telecompetitor.com
5% of Broadband Users Likely to Cut the Cord in the Next 12 Months multichannel.com
We Tested T-Mobile’s 5G in New York: What a Difference a Map Makes gizmodo.com
The U.S. now has 4 live 5G networks, but good luck actually using them venturebeat.com
AT&T reaches tentative labor deals with Communications Workers of America covering about 8,000 employees fiercetelecom.com
PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV: Which is the better live TV streaming service?digitaltrends.com
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