Category Archives: Social media

Twitter is garbage: “All your data is belong to us”, to paraphrase

Twitter’s oversight over the 1,500 workers who reset accounts, review user breaches and respond to potential content violations for the service’s 186 million daily users have been a source of recurring concern, the employees said. The breadth of personal data most of those workers could access is relatively limited — including such things as Internet Protocol addresses, email addresses and phone numbers — but it’s a starting point to snoop on or even hack an account, they said.

The controls were so porous that at one point in 2017 and 2018 some contractors made a kind of game out of creating bogus help-desk inquiries that allowed them to peek into celebrity accounts, including Beyonce’s, to track the stars’ personal data including their approximate locations gleaned from their devices’ IP addresses, two of the former employees said.

Source: Twitter Hack: Broad Access to User Accounts, Security Woes – Bloomberg

CBS flags its own marketing material on Youtube as a copyright violation – heh!

When Youtube originally announced they would auto-detect music copyright violations, I noted that they could not tell the difference between a licensed use and an unlicensed use. CBS just managed to issue a take down notice on its own stars – hilarious – and shut down a much watched live stream run put on by CBS marketing.

A bot can’t tell when playback is approved or infringing if nobody tells it.

Source: CBS’s overzealous copyright bots hit Star Trek virtual Comic-Con panel | Ars Technica

One of my videos was flagged on Youtube for a music copyright violation that illustrate that Youtube’s much vaunted AI is a joke.

I put together an edited video of a U.S. Civil War era historical camp and battle re-enactment. I added a recording of Taps, performed by a US Army trumpet player, and posted on an official US Army web page, with unambiguous wording that the recording was in the public domain and could be used for any purpose.

And then two different recording companies, Sony being one of them, flagged my video has copyright infringement!

First, how could both of them claim copyright simultaneously? That right there illustrated their fraudulent claims.

Second, the music was written by a Civil War private and a General during the Civil War and before the enactment of copyright laws. The music itself is not copyrighted.

Third, the music was performed by the US Army and released in a public recording which they said was not copyrighted.

I had to file a complaint to Youtube and my video was eventually released.

It sure illustrated the absurdity of automated copyright strike systems.

Twitter’s lack of security comes into focus

The extraordinary hacking spree that hit Twitter on Wednesday, leading it to briefly muzzle some of its most widely followed accounts, is drawing questions about the platform’s security and resilience in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election.

Twitter said late Wednesday hackers obtained control of employee credentials to hijack accounts including those of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, former president Barack Obama, reality television star Kim Kardashian, and tech billionaire and Tesla founder Elon Musk.


Wednesday’s hack was the worst to date. Several users with two-factor authentication — a security procedure that helps prevent break-in attempts — said they were powerless to stop it.

“If the hackers do have access to the backend of Twitter, or direct database access, there is nothing potentially stopping them from pilfering data in addition to using this tweet-scam as a distraction,” said Michael Borohovski, director of software engineering at security company Synopsys.

In 2010, Twitter reached a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after it was found the company had lied about efforts to protect users’ information during an extended hack the year before.

Under the terms of the settlement, Twitter was barred for 20 years from misleading users about how it protects the security and confidentiality of private information.

Source: Twitter hack alarms experts already concerned about platform’s security – National |

Yes: Is Twitter shadow banning accounts?

Today, the entire Twitter network was taken over by hackers who then took over perhaps thousands of accounts and used them in a mostly ineffective digital currency scam.

As a result, we are learning a bit more about Twitter’s internals – and that prior claims they do not shadow ban people may be false.

A social media “shadow ban” allows the user to think their content is being visible to others – when the service is actually hiding their content. Their posts are visible only to the poster – so the poster is unaware that they are being censored.

Twitter previously said they do not shadow ban people. However, hackers have sent screen captures of the Twitter administrative tool they took over today – and it appears to show the ability to shadow ban users.

This image has now been shared widely.

The tool appears to have an option to block tweets – or an account – from appearing on search results – see “Search Blacklist” and to block the item from appearing in a trending list. The company also said it was eliminating racist language such as “Blacklist” from internal functions – obviously, they have not done so.

“Bounced” reportedly moves one’s tweets to the bottom of your follower’s news feeds – so your tweets will not be seen.

Is the screen shot genuine? We can’t know but there are reports that accounts which retweeted this image earlier today, were terminated by Twitter (and that appears to be true). Later, many people reported they had shared the above image and their tweet magically disappeared.

This looks horrible for Twitter. This hacked admin tool also reportedly gave hackers access to all private “Direct Messages” sent through Twitter.

Continue reading Yes: Is Twitter shadow banning accounts?

Many Twitter accounts hacked as part of massive crypto currency fraud

Update: There appears to have been  a massive hack on Twitter involving many hundreds of accounts, if not more.  According to BNO News, this hack impacted accounts of corporations, politicians, celebrities and more as part of a digital currency scam.

As I no longer use Twitter very much, this sort of security breach might cause me to delete my Twitter account.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter account, which is his preferred method of public communication, got hacked today as part of a massive crypto scam. For years now, Musk’s popular Twitter account with more than 30 million followers has been a target of cryptocurrency scammers trying to make money off his followers by creating accounts that […]

Source: Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter account gets hacked as part of massive crypto scam – Electrek

Airbnb rental hosts are setting up their own booking sites

Short-term rental hosts are launching their own direct-booking websites in an effort to diversify their business after years of mounting frustrations with companies like Airbnb

Source: Airbnb hosts are building their own direct booking websites in revolt

This happens as more and more become disenchanted with “big business” hassles.

Continue reading Airbnb rental hosts are setting up their own booking sites

Do HEPA Vacuum bags contain fiberglass?

A UK doctor posted a Youtube video claiming that HEPA vacuum filter bags contain fiberglass. That claim has since been disputed by many.

Further, the UK doctor, Simon Freilich, has backed off his claims.

After some pushback from YouTube viewers saying the bags they’d checked didn’t have dangerous glass fibers in them, Freilich posted that he couldn’t research “every possible type” and that there “are clearly various types of filters and materials out on the market.”

Vacuum bag makers say they have never used fiberglass materials.

Many have to say “not suitable for any other uses” (or similar) due to liability concerns. If someone uses a product in a way that the manufacturer has not tested, the manufacturer does not wish to be accused of liability for any harm that may occur.

Freilich said he got his info from an unnamed random Youtube video – because, you know, social media is a highly reliable source of information.

Freilich has updated his own social media with this:

The unfortunate reality, having looked through the research, is that home made masks are only marginally better than no masks at all, and the effects are difficult to isolate as usually a range of measures are simultaneously enacted. Hence the best protection is to stay away from other people, as far as possible. Obviously, this is difficult for many but that’s literally the best method.

He acknowledged that he has no expertise in mask design or materials.

What happened: a social media post used the “appeal to authority” method of argument and then went viral and got picked up by the news media.

We tend to treat “facts” promoted by authorities, “experts”, celebrities and politicians as truth. As Bertrand Russell said (I’m paraphrasing): facts are true (or false) regardless of who says they are true or false. But most people fall for the “appeal to authority” argument which is why it is one of the top most used forms of persuasion. Russell viewed such arguments as the worst form of argument possible and insisted on facts and logic as the only valid forms of argument.

Once Doctor Freilich posted his video, his “assertion” became a “fact”. Once established as “fact” it is very difficult to undo the public perception of that topic. In this way, untrue “facts” become “true facts”, even though they are not true.

Why I am walking away from social media including #Facebook and #Twitter

Last December “We watched a social media propaganda theme explode in real time – and you won’t believe what happened next!” when a train derailed on the first passenger carrying run of a brand new, $181 million upgraded rail corridor completed as part of an $800 million dollar infrastructure upgrade. Read the linked post for details.

From the President of the United States down through network television personalities to individuals, everyone piled on saying this was an example of a lack of a infrastructure investment, our country’s “crumbling infrastructure”, that Congress was stealing from the poor and giving to the wealthy – or that the crash was caused by domestic terrorists.

All ignored that this was a brand new locomotive on a brand new rail corridor completed as part of an $800 million upgrade program.

Facts and logic no longer mattered.  The signal-to-noise ratio of social  media had fallen to very low levels.

I also concluded that social media seems dominated by idiots devoid of facts and logic.

After taking a ten day break from Twitter, I briefly looked at Twitter again and it seemed that about 90% of the Twitter feed is just noise.  Why do we waste so much time subjecting ourselves to noise?

Social media is designed as a platform for highly effective propaganda – no broadcast license or printing press is required. The ease of use of social media for propaganda means it will and is over run with noisy idiocy.

What can we do about this? Our best bet is to walk away from social media. The purpose of social media is global surveillance for creating the world’s most effective propaganda and manipulation of people – this is what is designed to do!

Why are doing this to ourselves by voluntarily signing up for propaganda mind control?

The solution is to Walk away from social media.

Be skeptical of everything. Learn to think for yourself. Refuse to be manipulated by those in powerful positions.

My Journey off of Social Media

Almost two years ago I stopped sharing anything on Facebook that I did not personally create (except I shared a few items created by friends who I know in real life and trust).  If we share only our own content then fake news can not spread.

After the details of Facebook’s surveillance operation became public, I deleted essentially all posts and likes since I created the account in 2010. I dropped out of 60+ groups, stopped following Pages and unfriended 25% of my FB “friends”. I kept the account primarily to access a software programming group page that I manage – I no longer post status updates.

I set up Twitter so that Tweets more than a few months old are deleted automatically (the half life of a Tweet is about 15 minutes – no one reads old Tweets except when trying to find dirt on someone).

After a break from Twitter, Twitter just looks like a massive waste of time. Twitter does not even show us what we want to follow – Twitter, like Facebook, curates our newsfeed to show us what their algorithms want us to see.

We have passed peak social media. It’s time to resume real life and think for ourselves.

HP computers and data privacy and spying

I have an older HP desktop computer. I’ve long observed significant slow downs as various background tasks were underway and I had assumed it was just anti-virus software running in the background. But it was not – instead, the HP Support Assistance was frequently scanning the entire system, using 55% of the CPU and hogging the disk input/output, tremendously slowing down the system. I finally disabled the HP software as I had never seen any value from it.

Then I went to read the HP Privacy policy (which may be different today from what it was when I bought the computer years ago).

(Click on any image to read the full size screen capture of the HP privacy policy).

In addition to the data collected by HP, HP also “deduces” attributes about you, and collects data when you use social media logins to access anything. This means when you log in to a site using your Facebook login, data about your visit is collected by Facebook and shared with Facebook’s partners (which is literally the entire world).

HP remotely spies on your use of HP printers, collecting a database of pages printed, type of print media used, what ink you are using, including what brand of ink, and the names of the applications from which you print.

HP also purchases information from third party data services, social media networks and advertising networks. Ad networks are used to track every web site you visit online. HP uses this, as they disclose, to get your name, address, “preferences, interests and certain demographic data”. Clearly, HP is buying data about us from Facebook, Google and Twitter.

This example illustrates the pervasive – and nasty – web of anti-privacy efforts underway by the high tech industry. The entire industry works together to intensely monitor, intercept and collect enormous quantities of data about every one of us. Further, they use automated software systems to analyze and interpret this data to then draw inferences about us.

A previous post on my blog found that inferences made by Facebook and Twitter were completely wrong – but there is no way to correct that. In most cases there is no way to know what inferences companies like HP have made about us.)

What Can You Do?

  • Delete the HP support assistant. I have found no value from having run it on this computer for many years. Optionally, disable it in the Windows Task Scheduler so it does not run.
  • Delete or disable other software that you do not need or us.
  • Do not use social media logins to web sites other than the social media web site.
  • Use privacy enhanced browsing to minimize tracking across the web. First, never use Chrome. Google logs every web site you visit. Use the Epic Privacy Browser or use Mozilla Firefox with the Privacy Badger and Ghostery plug ins. Use the Cookie-AutoDelete plugin to automatically remove tracking cookies when leaving a web site (you can optionally “white list” web sites so that cookies and logins remain active, if you wish).
  • The Epic Privacy Browser includes access to a proxy server to hide your IP address from web sites.
  • When using mobile phones, note that operating systems such as Android always track your location if Location Services is enabled (such as using mapping). Most people leave Location Services on all the time, and Google uses that to build a database of everywhere you travel and every place you visit. Google also records information about WiFi networks and Bluetooth devices within range of your phone. Even when location services is turned off, WiFi access points and even some Bluetooth devices can reveal your location anyway. Disabling WiFi and Bluetooth will reduce this data collection.

The tech industry has been operating in a free wheeling, Orwellian 1984 world of intense spying on everyone who uses online services including web sites, monitoring our email communications, our social media Likes, every where we travel, and even monitoring our use of home printers.

Automobiles are also now collecting information about our use of the vehicles, including our driving habits and locations visited.

They argue that if we don’t like this, then we should not use online services or we should not use printers or we should not drive a car. These arguments are wholly unrealistic.

Yet most people seem oblivious to this: Facebook has been widely exposed as a massive global surveillance network and propaganda platform – yet financial analysts say they see little harm to Facebook’s business as few seem to care.