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Facebook responded to a New York Times investigation on Oct. 15 into ethnic violence incited by members of the Myanmar military by banning 13 additional pages with a combined 1.35 million followers. The pages represented themselves as offering beauty, entertainment, and general information, but the Times report said the military controlled the pages, rather than fans of pop stars and national heroes, as the pages alleged.
Facebook announced the move in an update to a blog post about its previous actions to combat the spread of false information via its service in Myanmar that have led to killings and widespread violence against ethnic minorities. Accounts and pages previously banned had about 12 million followers, and included the account for the general in charge of the country’s armed forces.
Facebook received heavy criticism for its slow response to its platform being used for violence, and said as much in August in the initial version of its Myanmar blog post, when it admitted “we have been too slow to prevent misinformation and hate.”
The Times reported that the Myanmar military have engaged in a systemic campaign for five years on Facebook to target the Rohingya, a stateless minority population in the country comprising mostly Muslims. As many as 700 military personnel were involved, the Times said. Facebook confirmed many details for the newspaper. The company did not immediately respond to a request from Fortune for comment.
The spread of fake information ranging from specific false accounts about rapes and murders by Muslims to blanket condemnations of Islam are seen as leading directly to a large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing. Over 700,000 Rohingya have left Myanmar since August 2017, joining more than 300,000 who had already departed the country, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. A report from the agency in August estimates at least 10,000 Rohingya people had been killed in violence, but other observers believe the number could be far higher.
The OpenStack cloud computing platform — some call it a cloud computing operating system — has been around for several years. Adoption has been …
It appears that Apple is feeling pretty confident that its next-generation iPhone is going to be a huge success as it has reportedly increased orders of the components needed to manufacture the handset by 10 percent. Unfortunately, the exact reason for the surge in demand remains unknown. However, it’s safe to say that it likely has something to do with the mediocre sales of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus that Apple faced when it launched the devices this time last year. With that being said, it’s a well-known fact that full number iPhone releases create more excitement than…
This story continues at The Next Web
Apple’s developer software Xcode will soon be available to Chinese developers.
First spotted by Apple Insider, this news comes on the heels of a malware attack on apps in the App Store.
Last week, security researchers at Palo Alto Networks discovered the infected apps and publicized an analysis report detailing the malware’s spread and impact. Xcode is a set of software tools developers use to create iOS apps, but a modified version of Xcode containing the malware, dubbed XcodeGhost, made its way into the App Store.
As Palo Alto Networks explains, the standard Xcode installer is nearly 3GB, which means it could take even longer to download large files from Apple’s servers in other countries. In response to this, some Chinese developers choose to download the software from other sources or obtain copies from colleagues. It’s also hard for developers to detect malware like XcodeGhost because it’s deeply hidden. Read more…
For the first time, Google joined the legal fight last week against robocalls.
But even mighty Google can only do but so much to counter the epidemic of robocalls. Carriers can and should do more to combat them, according to Jan Volzke, vp of reputation services for identity management firm Whitepages.
We’re at “at a point where we have no trust in a phone call,” he told me in a recent conversation.
In case you’re one of the six people in the U.S. who haven’t encountered such “extremely urgent” robocalls, here’s one Googlized version that also touts Bing and Yahoo. (Although it’s of the same ilk, it’s not clear if this robocall is from the company Google is suing.)
But things could change. In early summer, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) strengthened carriers’ hand in combatting robocalls.
In a big breakthrough this past June, the FCC gave the carriers the green light to block unwanted calls. The carriers had asked the federal agency to decide if they could legally offer call-blocking, given their common carrier status and other issues. Under common carrier, all traffic needs to be handled in the same manner.
Yes, the agency said. You, the carriers, can block calls.
The FCC also gave consumers additional latitude in how they grant consent and in their ability to block calls. They said consent could be withdrawn at any time, consent is automatically removed if a landline or cell number gets assigned to someone else, and text messages count as robocalls.
Previously, Volzke pointed out, it was difficult to undo consent once you gave it, and “now all robocallers must allow you to get out of it.”
If there is any doubt you have opted out, the FCC clarified that later in the summer — the burden is on the robocalling business to show the user has opted in or that there is an existing business relationship.
Carriers now “need to get serious” about the fight, Volzke said.
As one example of their weak response, he said that carriers offer “these services for a ridiculous $ 4.99 a month to block up to ten [robocalling phone numbers], and then you have to renew it every 30 days.”
He’s not alone in his frustration. The attorneys-general of dozens of states have written to the carriers to take care of this.
But robocalls have not been declining since the FCC’s decision in June. In fact, Volzke said, the amount of mobile spam and robocalls that Whitepages blocks monthly is up about 40 percent since then.
He pointed to several remaining structural issues, such as the fact that unwanted calls can involve multiple carriers and the solution would best be industry-wide. And right now carriers can only block calls as the result of each subscriber’s request — that is, it’s still onesies.
So robocalling — even, probably, robocalling that drops Google’s name — is not going away anytime soon.
As we await the ultimate battle, Volzke offers a few tips:
- The number one thing that affects the robocalls you get is the amount of consent you’ve given. In most cases, your phone number is the key to granting consent. So, treat your phone number with a level of confidentiality just below that of your Social Security number. He noted with amazement that people list their primary phone number on Facebook and Craigslist, where it can be scooped by a spider.
- “Get a second phone number” for public postings, he advised, and be careful when you give your number to people or sites you don’t know. “No one reads all the fine print,” Volzke pointed out.
- If you’re already on robocallers’ list, he suggests getting an app to filter the calls by originating phone number — assuming we’re talking about your smartphone and not your landline. (Not coincidentally, Whitepages offers a robocall- and robotext-blocking app for Android and iOS devices.)
- Next step up is call blocking for a specific phone number, although the bad guys may well change their number after a while.
- If that still doesn’t help, and you’re still getting multiple robocalls, Volzke said that getting a new phone number is “sometimes the only option.” That is, until the carriers get their act in gear.
By the way, Whitepages is an identity data company, not the phone book. They are involved in robocall issues because a) phone numbers are a key identifier, and b) they recently bought robocall blocker NumberCop.
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