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Submission + - UW Professor: The Information War Is Real, And We're Losing It (seattletimes.com)

An anonymous reader writes: It started with the Boston marathon bombing, four years ago. University of Washington professor Kate Starbird was sifting through thousands of tweets sent in the aftermath and noticed something strange. Too strange for a university professor to take seriously. “There was a significant volume of social-media traffic that blamed the Navy SEALs for the bombing,” Starbird told me the other day in her office. “It was real tinfoil-hat stuff. So we ignored it.” Same thing after the mass shooting that killed nine at Umpqua Community College in Oregon: a burst of social-media activity calling the massacre a fake, a stage play by “crisis actors” for political purposes. “After every mass shooting, dozens of them, there would be these strange clusters of activity,” Starbird says. “It was so fringe we kind of laughed at it. “That was a terrible mistake. We should have been studying it.” Starbird argues in a new paper, set to be presented at a computational social-science conference in May, that these “strange clusters” of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web of surprising power and reach. There are dozens of conspiracy-propagating websites such as beforeitsnews.com, nodisinfo.com and veteranstoday.com. Starbird cataloged 81 of them, linked through a huge community of interest connected by shared followers on Twitter, with many of the tweets replicated by automated bots. Starbird is in the UW’s Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering — the study of the ways people and technology interact. Her team analyzed 58 million tweets sent after mass shootings during a 10-month period. They searched for terms such as “false flag” and “crisis actor,” web slang meaning a shooting is not what the government or the traditional media is reporting it to be. Then she analyzed the content of each site to try to answer the question: Just what is this alternative media ecosystem saying? Starbird is publishing her paper as a sort of warning. The information networks we’ve built are almost perfectly designed to exploit psychological vulnerabilities to rumor.

Comment Re:The gov is just trying to level the field (Score 1) 306

I can mitigate it....

That's right. The post I initially replied to asserted the power to mitigate this data collection was outside the capability of the ISP customer, which is false. I never said it would be free, although if you're broken up over $5 a month ... I dunno what to say to that.

Submission + - Verizon to Force AppFlash Spyware on Android phones

saccade.com writes: Verizon is joining with the creators of a tool called "Evie Launcher" to make a new app search / launcher tool called AppFlash, to be installed on all Verizon phones running Android. The app provides no functionality to users beyond what Google Search does. It does, however, give Verizon a steady stream of metrics on your app usage and searches. A quick glance at the AppFlash privacy policy confirms this is the real purpose behind it:

We collect information about your device and your use of the AppFlash services. This information includes your mobile number, device identifiers, device type and operating system, and information about the AppFlash features and services you use and your interactions with them. We also access information about the list of apps you have on your device. ... AppFlash information may be shared within the Verizon family of companies, including companies like AOL who may use it to help provide more relevant advertising within the AppFlash experiences and in other places, including non-Verizon sites, services and devices.

Comment Re:The gov is just trying to level the field (Score 1) 306

You can choose a provider whose policies you agree with, or host your own on any of the numerous cloud services out there, or like 99% of the people who are already tracked by Twitbook, Flitter, Scroogle, etc. just live with it. The point is that if you care, you can mitigate it, and if you don't you're already probably tracked out the wazoo anyway.

Submission + - About 90% of Smart TVs Vulnerable To Remote Hacking Via Rogue TV Signals (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new attack on smart TVs allows a malicious actor to take over devices using rogue DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting — Terrestrial) signals, get root access on the smart TV, and use the device for all sorts of nasty actions, ranging from DDoS attacks to spying on end users. The attack, developed by Rafael Scheel, a security researcher working for Swiss cyber security consulting company Oneconsult, is unique and much more dangerous than previous smart TV hacks. Scheel's method, which he recently presented at a security conference, is different because the attacker can execute it from a remote location, without user interaction, and runs in the TV's background processes, meaning users won't notice when an attacker compromises their TVs. The researcher told Bleeping Computer via email that he developed this technique without knowing about the CIA's Weeping Angel toolkit, which makes his work even more impressing. Furthermore, Scheel says that "about 90% of the TVs sold in the last years are potential victims of similar attacks," highlighting a major flaw in the infrastructure surrounding smart TVs all over the globe. At the center of Scheel's attack is Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV), an industry standard supported by most cable providers and smart TV makers that "harmonizes" classic broadcast, IPTV, and broadband delivery systems. TV transmission signal technologies like DVB-T, DVB-C, or IPTV all support HbbTV. Scheel says that anyone can set up a custom DVB-T transmitter with equipment priced between $50-$150, and start broadcasting a DVB-T signal.

Submission + - Scientists Discover Way to Transmit Taste of Lemonade Over Internet (vice.com)

schwit1 writes: With the use of electrodes and sensors—and zero lemons—a group of researchers at the University of Singapore have announced that they can convince you that you're drinking lemonade, even if it's just water. Plus, they can send you a glass of lemonade virtually over the internet.

In an experiment that involved 13 tasters, the subjects' taste buds were stimulated using electricity from receiving electrodes; LED lights mimicked a lemony color. Some were convinced that the water they were drinking was, in fact, almost as sour as lemonade.

"We're working on a full virtual cocktail with smell, taste, and color all covered. We want to be able to create any drink."

Why would anyone want to drink a virtual lemonade? Advocates of virtual eating say that virtual foods can replace foods that are bad for you, that you may be allergic to, or that you shouldn't eat because of a medical condition.

Submission + - Obama allowed use of NSA data in politics (circa.com)

mi writes: Barack Obama’s top aides routinely reviewed intelligence reports gleaned from the National Security Agency’s incidental intercepts of Americans abroad, taking advantage of rules their boss relaxed starting in 2011 to help the government better fight terrorism, espionage by foreign enemies and hacking threats.

Dozens of times in 2016, those intelligence reports identified Americans who were directly intercepted talking to foreign sources or were the subject of conversations between two or more monitored foreign figures. Sometimes the Americans’ names were officially unmasked; other times they were so specifically described in the reports that their identities were readily discernible.

Some intercepted communications from November to January involved Trump transition figures or foreign figures' perceptions of the incoming president and his administration.

Submission + - Flaws in Samsung's 'Smart' Home Let Hackers Unlock Doors and Set Off Fire Alarms (wordpress.com)

TrustedLocksmithPeac writes: A SMOKE DETECTOR that sends you a text alert when your house is on fire seems like a good idea. An internet-connected door lock with a PIN that can be programmed from your smartphone sounds convenient, too. But when a piece of malware can trigger that fire alarm at four in the morning or unlock your front door for a stranger, your “smart home” suddenly seems pretty dumb.

Submission + - The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs

Presto Vivace writes: They betrayed you for chump change

Republicans in Congress just voted to reverse a landmark FCC privacy rule that opens the door for ISPs to sell customer data. Lawmakers provided no credible reason for this being in the interest of Americans, except for vague platitudes about “consumer choice” and “free markets,” as if consumers at the mercy of their local internet monopoly are craving to have their web history quietly sold to marketers and any other 3rd party willing to pay. ... The only people who seem to want this are the people who are going to make lots of money from it. (Hint: they work for companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.) Incidentally, these people and their companies routinely give lots of money to members of Congress.

Submission + - Study: Playing Tetris Can Reduce Onset Of PTSD After Trauma (cnn.com)

dryriver writes: CNN reports that a new study has found that playing Tetris within hours of a traumatic event can reduce the onset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: "After experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a car accident, people are likely to develop anxiety or distress in relation to that event soon after the experience, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But a new study has shown that playing the computer game Tetris within hours of experiencing trauma can prevent those feelings from taking over your mind.

PTSD occurs when intrusive memories linked to fear from a traumatic event become consolidated in a person's mind by them visualizing the event in a loop until it becomes locked in their brain. Competing with the visualization, such as with a game like Tetris, can block that consolidation form happening. 'An intrusive memory is a visual memory of a traumatic event,' said Emily Holmes, Professor of Psychology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, whose team led the study. 'Tetris also requires imagination and vision. Your brain can't do two things at once, so this interrupts.' "

Submission + - Test flights planned for cargo drone prototype

linuxwrangler writes: Backed by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, drone startup Natilus is attempting to reduce global airfreight costs by 50% through the use of autonomous cargo drones. To reduce regulatory and infrastructure burden, they plan to have their cargo drones take off and land on water 12 miles offshore and fly over uninhabited areas below controlled airspace. Shipments that take 11 hours in a 747 would take 30 in the drone but at half the cost. Container shipping is less than half the cost of the drone but takes three weeks. Test flights of a 30 foot prototype over San Pablo Bay north of San Francisco are planned for this summer.

Submission + - Telecom Giants Are Pushing States to Constrain Public Rights (backchannel.com)

mirandakatz writes: There are currently plans underway in at least 17 state legislatures, as well as at the FCC, that would block cities from constraining uses of their rights-of-way by private cellular companies for 5G deployments. That means that if a city wants to set up a fair and competitive system that favors competitors, citizens, and long-range goals instead of the interests of a single big company, that would be illegal. But there's one massive catch: All of this is being done in the name of 5G—and 5G does not yet exist. At Backchannel, Susan Crawford digs into why we need to slow the onslaught of deregulatory legislation in this area and not get swept up in the still-mythical 5G hype.

Submission + - California prosecutes couple for filming officials (ap.org) 2

mi writes: California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two activists who made undercover videos of themselves interacting with officials of a taxpayer-supported organization with 15 felonies, saying they invaded privacy by filming without consent. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a longtime Congressional Democrat who took over the investigation in January, said in a statement that the state "will not tolerate the criminal recording of conversations."

Didn't we just determine, that filming officials is not merely a right, but a First Amendment right?

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