Google

Google and Facebook Failed Us (theatlantic.com) 320

The world's most powerful information gatekeepers neglected their duties in Las Vegas. Again. From a report: In the crucial early hours after the Las Vegas mass shooting, it happened again: Hoaxes, completely unverified rumors, failed witch hunts, and blatant falsehoods spread across the internet. But they did not do so by themselves: They used the infrastructure that Google and Facebook and YouTube have built to achieve wide distribution. These companies are the most powerful information gatekeepers that the world has ever known, and yet they refuse to take responsibility for their active role in damaging the quality of information reaching the public. BuzzFeed's Ryan Broderick found that Google's "top stories" results surfaced 4chan forum posts about a man that right-wing amateur sleuths had incorrectly identified as the Las Vegas shooter. 4chan is a known source not just of racism, but hoaxes and deliberate misinformation. In any list a human might make of sites to exclude from being labeled as "news," 4chan would be near the very top. [...] Of course, it is not just Google. On Facebook, a simple search for "Las Vegas" yields a Group called "Las Vegas Shooting /Massacre," which sprung up after the shooting and already has more than 5,000 members. The group is run by Jonathan Lee Riches, who gained notoriety by filing 3,000 frivolous lawsuits while serving a 10 year prison sentence after being convicted for stealing money by impersonating people whose bank credentials had been phished. Now, he calls himself an "investigative journalist" with Infowars, though there is no indication he's been published on the site, and given that he also lists himself as a former male underwear model at Victoria's Secret, a former nuclear scientist at Chernobyl, and a former bodyguard at Buckingham Palace, his work history may not be reliable. The problems with surfacing this man's group to Facebook users is obvious to literally any human. But to Facebook's algorithms, it's just a fast-growing group with an engaged community.
EU

Le Pen Concedes Defeat To Macron In France's Post-Hack Election (reuters.com) 671

"France has voted for continuity," candidate Marine Le Pen said in the wake of her defeat in France's presidential election, conceding that Emmanuel Macron had a decisive lead. Reuters has ongoing coverage of Le Pen's concession phone call and reactions from world leaders. "France Rejects Far Right," read a headline at CNN, touting their own live updates and early results showing Macron with a 65.9% to 34.1% lead, "on course for a decisive win." Macron is schedule to speak at the Louvre museum (where the grounds were "briefly evacuated" this morning after discovery of a suspicious bag.) Quartz is calling 39-year-old Macron "the second Generation X president of a major world power" (after Canada's Justin Trudeau).

The election was closely watched after a 9-gigabyte trove of emails from Macron's campaign were leaked online. CNBC reports that "One of the most talked about emails makes reference to binge-watching Dr. Who and masturbating to the sound of running water. It sounds generally incoherent. It could be false, or maybe the person wrote it after a few too many." The New Yorker traces the leak to a right-leaning Canadian site, whose editor says he found the documents on 4chan. But Reuters is crediting WikiLeaks with providing "the largest boost of attention" to the leaked documents, according to an analysis pubished by the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council, a D.C.-based think tank on international affairs. WikiLeaks tweeted about the leak 15 times, bragging to Reuters that "we were hours ahead of all other major outlets." On Friday WikiLeaks also disputed the Macron campaign's claim that the leak mixed real documents with fake ones. "We have not yet discovered fakes in #MacronLeaks & we are very skeptical that the Macron campaign is faster than us."

Saturday WikiLeaks noted that several of the Office files "have Cyrillic meta data. Unclear if by design, incompetence, or Slavic employee." And Saturday afternoon they added "name of employee for Russian govt security contractor Evrika appears 9 times in metadata for 'xls_cendric.rar' leak archive."

Meanwhile, on the International Space Station, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet voted from space. Feel free to discuss the election's results in the comments.
Movies

Hollywood Is Losing the Battle Against Online Trolls (hollywoodreporter.com) 487

An anonymous reader shares a Hollywood Reporter article: It had taken years -- and the passionate support of Kirk Kerkorian, who financed the film's $100 million budget without expecting to ever make a profit -- for The Promise, a historical romance set against the backdrop of the Armenian genocide and starring Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac, to reach the screen. Producers always knew it would be controversial: Descendants of the 1.5 million Armenians killed by the Ottoman Empire shortly after the onset of World War I have long pressed for the episode to be recognized as a genocide despite the Turkish government's insistence the deaths were not a premeditated extermination. Before the critics in attendance even had the chance to exit Roy Thompson Hall, let alone write their reviews, The Promise's IMDb page was flooded with tens of thousands of one-star ratings. "All I know is that we were in about a 900-seat house with a real ovation at the end, and then you see almost 100,000 people who claim the movie isn't any good," says Medavoy. Panicked calls were placed to IMDb, but there was nothing the site could do. "One thing that they can track is where the votes come from," says Eric Esrailian, who also produced the film, and "the vast majority of people voting were not from Canada. So I know they weren't in Toronto." The online campaign against The Promise appears to have originated on sites like Incisozluk, a Turkish version of 4chan, where there were calls for users to "downvote" the film's ratings on IMDb and YouTube. A rough translation of one post: "Guys, Hollywood is filming a big movie about the so-called Armenian genocide and the trailer has already been watched 700k times. We need to do something urgently." Soon afterward, the user gleefully noted The Promise's average IMDb rating had reached a dismaying 1.8 stars. "They know that the IMDb rating will stay with the film forever," says Esrailian. "It's a kind of censorship, really."
Communications

Fake News Prompts Gunman To 'Self-Investigate' Pizza Parlor (arstechnica.com) 789

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A rifle-wielding North Carolina man was arrested Sunday in Washington, DC for carrying his weapon into a pizzeria that sits at the center of the fake news conspiracy theory known as "Pizzagate," authorities said Monday. DC's Metropolitan Police Department said it had arrested 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch on allegations of assault with a dangerous weapon. "During a post arrest interview this evening, the suspect revealed that he came to the establishment to self-investigate 'Pizza Gate' (a fictitious online conspiracy theory," the agency said in a statement. "Pizzagate" concerns a baseless conspiracy theory about a secret pedophile group, the Comet Ping Pong restaurant, and Hillary Clinton's campaign chief, John Podesta. The Pizzagate conspiracy names Comet Ping Pong as the secret headquarters of a non-existent child sex-trafficking ring run by Clinton and members of her inner circle. James Alefantis, the restaurant's owner, said he has received hundreds of death threats. According to Buzzfeed, the Pizzagate theory is believed to have been fostered by a white supremacist's tweets, the 4chan message board, Reddit, Donald Trump supporters, and right-wing blogs. The day before Thanksgiving, Reddit banned a "Pizzagate" conspiracy board from the site because of a policy about posting personal information of others. Alefantis, the pizzeria's owner, told CNN, "What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences. I hope that those involved in fanning these flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here today, and stop promoting these falsehoods right away."
Google

Google Surfaces Fake News About Election Results (theverge.com) 243

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Last week, Facebook faced criticism that the platform's habit for surfacing fake news contributed to the election of Donald Trump -- a claim Mark Zuckerberg denied. This week, Google faces a similar problem, as its search algorithm surfaces fake election results. As Mediaite's Dan Abrams first reported, when you search "final election numbers" or "final vote count 2016," the first result in Google's "in the news" box is from a scrappy-looking Wordpress blog called 70 News that appears to be run by one person. The article, posted on November 12th, features the headline "FINAL ELECTION 2016 NUMBERS: TRUMP WON BOTH POPULAR ( 62.9 M -62.2 M ) AND ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES ( 306-232)HEY CHANGE.ORG, SCRAP YOUR LOONY PETITION NOW!" First, the numbers in this post are inaccurate. Though millions of votes have yet to be counted, but Clinton has already been shown to be leading the popular vote by a sizable margin. Current counts have her ahead by around 668,000 total votes, with some polling experts projecting Clinton will ultimately rack up a 2 million-vote lead. Second, the writer of the 70 News post claims that the source material for the article is "Twitter posts," specifically, this tweet from a user named Michael. Michael, on the other hand, is sourcing an article from the ultra-conservative tabloid USA Supreme, which argues that Clinton might win the number of votes "counted" but will not win the number of votes "cast" because of ignored Republican absentee ballots. (Michael also believes that Trump has been singled out by God to be president of the United States, a conspiracy theory popular with 4chan users who believe that Pepe the Frog is a reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian deity.) And yet Michael -- by way of 70 News, by way of Google -- has become the sole source for a story squatting at the top of Google's search results. 70 News has since updated its post with a single line admitting that CNN is showing different numbers -- the headline and the body of the post remains the same.
Botnet

4chan May Have Brought Down Pro-Clinton Phone Lines Before Election Day (theverge.com) 99

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Yesterday, as groups across the country hit the final stretch of their get-out-the-vote campaigns, workers at NextGen Climate noticed some problems with their automated dialer program. As the team started its morning hours, the program used to initiate and monitor voter calls was suddenly clunky, and cut out entirely for crucial hours in the afternoon. The downtime wasn't a coincidence. Just after midnight on Sunday night, a post on 4chan's /pol/ board announced an impending denial-of-service attack on any tools used by the Clinton campaign, employing the same Mirai botnet code that blocked access to Twitter and Spotify last month. One of those targets was TCN, the Utah-based call center company that runs NextGen's dialer. According to the post's author, the company was also providing phone services to Hillary Clinton's offices in Nevada. "List targets here that if taken out could harm Clinton's chances of winning and I will pounce on them like a wild animal," the post reads. "Not sleeping until after this election is over." TCN confirmed the outage in a statement, describing the attack as "fairly sophisticated in nature." According to the statement, "the primary impacts were a slow site and a few brief periods of unavailability." The statement also makes it clear that NextGen Climate was far from the only group slowed down by the outage. TCN manages calling services for 2000 different clients, with a particularly brisk business during campaign season handling "everything from inbound information IVRs, outbound surveys to volunteer outreach."
Government

Hotspot Vigilantes Are Trying to Beam the Internet To Julian Assange (vice.com) 246

Ecuadorian government said earlier this week that it did cut off Julian Assange's internet connection. They noted that Assange's continued interference in the U.S. election campaign was the reason why they decided to disconnect Assange from the internet. But it appears some people are going to great lengths to beam internet connectivity to Mr. Assange. This week 4chan urged people to head to the embassy to set up mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, and many are doing just that. From a Motherboard report:"We are now calling all BRITS to get their ass down to the embassy and stand around in mass, taking shifts with wifi-hotspots on hand!" reads the post. "Give Assange constant network and morale support all while streaming it live for the world to see." Are people actually going to try this? Motherboard UK visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has claimed political asylum since August 2012, today to find out. Admittedly, on a late October afternoon, things were rather quiet on the street outside the embassy. Nevertheless, I found my guy. "Marco" was loitering outside the embassy, turning on and off his mobile hotspot. I approached him, and while tentative at first, Marco finally started explaining how he was hoping to aid Assange.
Iphone

4Chan Hackers Claim To Have Remotely Wiped John Podesta's iPhone and iPad (gizmodo.com) 269

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Gizmodo: For the past several days, WikiLeaks has been publishing thousands of emails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta -- and the leaks are starting to cause some serious damage. Gizmodo reports: "Many of the leaked emails contained contact info, cell phone numbers, and account data, none of which was redacted by Wikileaks before being posted. With this information accessible to anyone with the time and energy to read through it all, users on 4chan's /pol/ (politically incorrect) board were able to gain access to Podesta's Twitter account, tweeting a message in support of Trump. Imageboard posters also stumbled on an email containing Podesta's Apple ID -- and appear to have exploited it. 'iPad/iPhone info and data wiped out,' a post on Endchan claimed, show screenshots of what seems to be the hacker gaining access to Find My iPhone using Podesta's credentials. If Podesta's Apple ID was compromised, it stands to reason that his iCloud account was similarly vulnerable. And sure enough, Redditor's on r/The_Donald claim Podesta's iCloud data was downloaded. A hacker known as CyberZeist also appears to have uncovered the passwords to dozens of senators' email addresses, as well as social security numbers and credit card info for many Democrats including Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and acting Chair of the DNC Donna Brazile. The information was posted to pastebin.
Businesses

Milo Yiannopoulos Wants To Buy 4Chan, Promises Free Speech Haven (hollywoodreporter.com) 369

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Hollywood Reporter: Milo Yiannopoulos, an alt-right hero known for his banishment from Twitter, is preparing a bid to acquire his own social media firm: 4chan... The Hollywood Reporter learned that Yiannopoulos, with the help of a wealthy backer, is preparing to approach 4chan owner Hiroyuki Nishimura, a Japanese entrepreneur, with a bid this week. Contacted Saturday, Yiannopoulos confirmed plans for a possible acquisition but did not offer details.

"As a free-speech fundamentalist and a student of Internet culture, I appreciate how fragile and precious the 4chan ecosystem is and how much it gives to the wider Internet -- even if some corners of it, such as /pol/, don't always approve of me very much," Yiannopoulos said... "I spoke to my lawyer this morning about purchasing the business... I intend to approach the current owners in the next few days with an offer."

Yiannopoulos added this his philosophy as an owner "would be very simple: free-speech central, no ifs, no buts."
Businesses

Interviews: Ask Martin Shkreli a Question 410

Martin Shkreli has agreed to answer your questions. Shkreli is the co-founder of the hedge fund MSMB Capital Management, the co-founder and former chief executive officer (CEO) of the biotechnology firm Retrophin, and the founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Shkreli has been active on Twitter about a wide range of topics, including the 2016 presidential election. Most recently, he expressed interest in buying 4chan.

Ask him your questions here, and we'll post the full interview with Shkreli's answers in the near future.
The Almighty Buck

4chan Is Running Out of Money and Martin Shkreli Wants To Buy It (theverge.com) 254

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The infamous message board 4chan is struggling to stay afloat and will have to make changes to reduce costs, the site's owner wrote in a post on Sunday. "4chan can't afford infrastructure costs, network fee, servers cost, CDN and etc, now," writes Hiroyuki Nisimura, who bought the site from its founder last year. Nisimura says ads haven't been effective enough to support the site, nor have subscriptions offering additional features. "We had tried to keep 4chan as is. But I failed," Nisimura writes. "I am sincerely sorry." There are three options for 4chan to survive going forward, as far as Nisimura sees it: sell more subscriptions, include "much more" -- and potentially even malicious -- ads, or cut traffic to the site in half. That might be done by closing message boards, slowing down the site, or reducing the size of images that can be posted. Nisimura makes it sound bad (his post is titled "Winter is coming"), but he also proposes changes to save the site. Meanwhile, another infamous name -- Martin Shkreli -- says he's interested in buying 4chan; he's in touch with Nisimura, so maybe we'll see how that remarkably bad combination turns out. Martin Shkreli tweeted: "I'm open to joining the Board of Directors of 4Chan. @4chan." Not too long after, Hiroyuki Nisimura replied: "I have replied your DM. Thank you for supporting 4chan @MartinShkreli twitter.com/MartinShkreli/...."
Crime

Cops Are Raiding Homes of Innocent People Based Only On IP Addresses (fusion.net) 241

Kashmir Hill has a fascinating story today on what can go wrong when you solely rely on IP address in a crime investigation -- also highlighting how often police resort to IP addresses. In the story she follows a crime investigation that led police to raid a couple's house at 6am in the morning, because their IP address had been associated with the publication of child porn on notorious 4chan porn. The problem was, Hill writes: the couple -- David Robinson and Jan Bultmann -- weren't the ones who had uploaded the child porn. All they did was voluntarily use one of their old laptops as a Tor exit relay, a software used by activists, dissidents, privacy enthusiasts as well as criminals, so that people who want to stay anonymous when surfing the web could do so. Hill writes: Robinson and Bultmann had [...] specifically operated the riskiest node in the chain: the exit relay which provides the IP address ultimately associated with a user's activity. In this case, someone used Tor to make the porn post, and his or her traffic had been routed through the computer in Robinson and Bultmann's house. The couple wasn't pleased to have helped someone post child porn to the internet, but that's the thing about privacy-protective tools: They're going to be used for good and bad purposes, and to support one, you might have to support the other.Robinson added that he was a little let down because police didn't bother to look at the public list which details the IP addresses associated with Tor exit relays. Hill adds: The police asked Robinson to unlock one MacBook Air, and then seemed satisfied these weren't the criminals they were looking for and left. But months later, the case remains open with Robinson and Bultmann's names on police documents linking them to child pornography. "I haven't run an exit relay since. The police told me they'd be back if it happened again," Robinson said; he's still running a Tor node, just not the end point anymore. "I have to take the threat seriously because I don't want my wife or I to wake up with guns in our faces."Technologist Seth Schoen, and EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn in a white paper aimed at courts and cops. "For many reasons, connecting an individual to a crime linked to an IP address, without any additional investigation, is irresponsible and threatens the civil liberties of innocent people."
Chrome

Chrome Extension Caught Hijacking Users' Browsers (softpedia.com) 77

An anonymous reader writes: Google has intervened and banned the Better History Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store after users reported that it started taking over their browsing experience and redirecting them to pages showing ads. As it turns out, the extension was sold off to an unnamed buyer who started adding malicious code that would redirect the user's traffic through a proxy, showing ads and collecting analytics on the user's traffic habits. This same malicious code has also been found in other Google Chrome extensions such as Chrome Currency Converter, Web Timer, User-Agent Switcher, Better History, 4chan Plus, and Hide My Adblocker. At the moment, only Better History and User-Agent Switcher have been removed from the Web Store.
Social Networks

4chan Founder Chris Poole Will Try To Fix Social At Google (techcrunch.com) 185

An anonymous reader writes: Google never "got" social. For all the resources thrown at it, Google+ just never quite felt human. But luckily Google just hired the guy behind 4chan -- a site that epitomized the good, the bad and the ugly of humanity on the internet. Chris Poole started 4chan in his bedroom at age 15. In the 12 years since, he built it into a 20 million active user image-sharing community around topics ranging from cosplay and cute animals to anime porn and the notoriously uncensored anonymous channel /b/. While Google probably won't force him into a suit and tie, Poole now has a much more corporate job: He'll be working under Google's Bradley Horowitz, VP of streams, photos and sharing. Poole writes: "When meeting with current and former Googlers, I continually find myself drawn to their intelligence, passion, and enthusiasm -- as well as a universal desire to share it with others. I'm also impressed by Google's commitment to enabling these same talented people to tackle some of the world's most interesting and important problems."
Security

Imgur Exploited To Channel Botnet Attacks At 4chan 73

An anonymous reader writes: Imgur has been compromised by attackers looking for an opportunity to direct large volumes of traffic to 4chan. A Reddit thread explains that "when an Imgur image is loaded from /r/4chan [...] imgur loads a bunch of images from 8chan, which causes a DDoS to those sites." Meaning that if a user clicks an Imgur link on /r/4chan, it automatically makes around "500 requests" for one image from imageboard 4chan.org/8chan.
The Internet

Moot Sells 4chan To 2channel Founder Hiroyuki Nishimura 88

An anonymous reader writes: A year after stepping down from the day-to-day running of the site following a mass user rebellion over moderation issues, Christopher 'moot' Poole has transferred ownership of the once nefarious 4Chan to 2channel founder Hiroyuki Nishimura. “Hiroyuki is literally the only person in the world with as much if not more experience than myself in running an anonymous, large destination community that serves tens of millions of people,” Mr. Poole said in an interview. “He’s the great-grandfather of all of this.”
Twitter

Twitter Adds "Report Dox" Option 101

AmiMoJo writes Twitter announced that its abuse-report system, which was recently refined to simplify and shorten the reporting process, has now expanded to allow users to report content such as self-harm incidents and "the sharing of private and confidential information" (aka doxing). The announcement, posted by Twitter Vice President of User Services Tina Bhatnagar, explained that December's report-process update was met with a "tripling" of the site's abuse support staff, which has led to a quintupling of abuse report processing. Chat logs recently revealed how Twitter is used by small groups to create vast harassment campaigns, thanks to sock puppet account and relative anonymity.
The Internet

Moot Retires From 4chan 184

vivaoporto writes Moot bids his final farewell as the administrator of the (in)famous imageboard. The full resignation letter can be read on the site blog (it's cool, it's SFW) but for those who are not brave enough to dwell in the "underbelly of the internet" here are some excerpts: "I founded 4chan eleven and a half years ago at the age of 15, and after more than a decade of service, I've decided it's time for me to move on. 4chan has faced numerous challenges... [B]ut the biggest hurdle it's had to overcome is myself. As 4chan's sole administrator, decision maker, and keeper of most of its institutional knowledge, I've come to represent an uncomfortably large single point of failure. I've spent the past two years working behind the scenes to address these challenges,... [T]he site isn't in danger of going under financially any time soon,... and while I've still been calling the shots, I've delegated many of my responsibilities to a handful of trusted volunteers, most of whom have served the site for years. That foundation will now be put to the ultimate test, as today I'm retiring as 4chan's administrator.... I look forward to one day returning to 4chan as its Admin Emeritus or just another Anonymous,... I'm humbled to have had the privilege of both founding and presiding over what is easily one of the greatest communities to ever grace the Web."
Security

Snapchat Says Users Were Victimized By Their Use of Third-Party Apps 90

Lucas123 writes: Reports that the servers of photo messaging site Snapchat were hacked are being denied by the company, which is now is saying its users were instead victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps. Hackers on 4chan have said broke into the site and they're preparing to release 200,000 photos or videos in their own database that will be searchable by Snapchatter name. According to one report, the third-party Snapchat client app enabled access for years to the data that was supposed have been deleted. The hackers have said they have a 13GB photo library. For its part, Snapchat in a statement reiterated its Terms of Use Policy, that "expressly prohibits" third-party app use "because they compromise our users' security."
Open Source

Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In" 993

An anonymous reader writes "Free software programmer Lennart Poettering has been part of his fair share of controversy in the open source community, and his latest essay may raise the most eyebrows yet. Poettering takes on the idea that the community is one big happy family and has some harsh words for the loudest and most obnoxious members. He says in part: "I don't usually talk about this too much, and hence I figure that people are really not aware of this, but yes, the Open Source community is full of a#@&oles, and I probably more than most others am one of their most favourite targets. I get hate mail for hacking on Open Source. People have started multiple 'petitions' on petition web sites, asking me to stop working (google for it). Recently, people started collecting Bitcoins to hire a hitman for me (this really happened!). Just the other day, some idiot posted a 'song' on youtube, a creepy work, filled with expletives about me and suggestions of violence. People post websites about boycotting my projects, containing pretty personal attacks. On IRC, people /msg me sometimes, with nasty messages, and references to artwork in 4chan style. And there's more. A lot more."

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