Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

G7, tech giants agree on plan to block jihadist content online

October 20, 2017



© AFP / by Ella IDE | The G7 interior ministers are meeting at a seafront hotel on the island of Ischia off the coast of Naples.

ISCHIA (ITALY) (AFP) – G7 countries and tech giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter on Friday agreed to work together to block the dissemination of Islamist extremism over the internet.

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“These are the first steps towards a great alliance in the name of freedom,” Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said after a two-day meeting with his Group of Seven counterparts, stressing the importance of the internet for extremist “recruitment, training and radicalisation.”

Officials said the accord aimed at removing jihadist content from the web within two hours of being posted.

“Our enemies are moving at the speed of a tweet and we need to counter them just as quickly,” acting US Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said.

While acknowledging progress had been made, Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd insisted “companies need to go further and faster to not only take down extremist content but also stop it being uploaded in the first place”.

The meeting on the Italian island of Ischia off Naples also focused on ways to tackle one of the West’s biggest security threats — jihadist fighters fleeing Syria — as the European Union promised to help close a migration route considered a potential back door for terrorists.

Tens of thousands of citizens from Western countries travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the Islamic State group between 2014 and 2016, including some who then returned home and staged attacks that claimed dozens of lives.

Minniti warned last week that fighters planning revenge attacks following the collapse of the IS stronghold in Raqa could hitch lifts back to Europe on migrant boats from Libya.

The United States and Italy signed an agreement on the sidelines of the G7 meeting to share their fingerprint databases in a bid to root out potential extremists posing as asylum seekers.

The “technical understanding” aims “to ascertain whether (migrants, asylum seekers or refugees) are noted criminal suspects or terrorists”, Minniti’s office said.

– ‘De-radicalisation’ –

Earlier, EU President Donald Tusk promised the bloc would fork out more funds to help shut down the perilous crossing from Libya to Italy — a popular path for migrants who hope to journey on to Europe.

The EU would offer “stronger support for Italy’s work with the Libyan authorities”, and there was “a real chance of closing the central Mediterranean route”, he said.

Italy has played a major role in training Libya’s coastguard to stop human trafficking in its territorial waters, as well as making controversial deals with Libyan militias to stop migrants from setting off.

Minniti said the G7 ministers had discussed how to go about “de-radicalising” citizens returning from the IS frontline, to prevent them becoming security risks in jails.

The ministers had also brainstormed on how to tackle the legal headache of prosecuting returnees, amid questions over what sort of evidence, collected by whom, could be used in a domestic court.

The US and Britain called for more to be done on aviation safety, particularly through the sharing of passenger data.

– ‘Malware of terror’ –

The Group of Seven — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US — said it had also called on the web giants to work with their smaller partners to bolster the anti-extremism shield.

“IS took to the technology world like a fish to water,” Minniti said, adding that it was time to unleash the antidote to its “malware of terror”.

Rudd said the UK government would do its part by changing the law so that those accessing and viewing extremist material on the web could face up to 15 years behind bars.

But Julian Richards, security specialist at BUCSIS (Buckingham University Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies), said the rest of the G7 was unlikely to get behind her on that front.

“The UK’s fairly hard approach of introducing legislative measures to try to force companies to cooperate… and suggestions that people radicalising online should have longer sentences, are often considered rather unpalatable and too politically sensitive in many other advanced countries,” he told AFP.

by Ella IDE

As U.S. Confronts Internet’s Disruptions, China Feels Vindicated

October 17, 2017

HULUNBUIR, China — In the United States, some of the world’s most powerful technology companies face rising pressure to do more to fight false information and stop foreign infiltration.

China, however, has watchdogs like Zhao Jinxu.

From his small town on the windswept grasslands of the Inner Mongolia region of China, Mr. Zhao, 27, scours the internet for fake news, pornography and calls to violence. He is one of a battalion of online “supervisors” whom Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media platforms, announced last month it would hire to help enforce China’s stringent limits on online content.

For years, the United States and others saw this sort of heavy-handed censorship as a sign of political vulnerability and a barrier to China’s economic development. But as countries in the West discuss potential internet restrictions and wring their hands over fake news, hacking and foreign meddling, some in China see a powerful affirmation of the country’s vision for the internet.

“This kind of thing would not happen here,” Mr. Zhao said of the controversy over Russia’s influence in the American presidential election last year.

Besides Communist Party loyalists, few would argue that China’s internet control serves as a model for democratic societies. China squelches online dissent and imprisons many of those who practice it. It blocks foreign news and information, including the website of The New York Times, and promotes homegrown technology companies while banning global services like Facebook and Twitter.

At the same time, China anticipated many of the questions now flummoxing governments from the United States to Germany to Indonesia. Where the Russians have turned the internet into a political weapon, China has used it as a shield.

In fact, when it comes to technology, China has prospered. It has a booming technology culture. Its internet companies rival Facebook and Amazon in heft. To other countries, China may offer an enticing top-down model that suggests that technology can thrive even under the government’s thumb.

An electronic display showing recent cyberattacks in China at the China Internet Security Conference in Beijing last month. Credit Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

“It doesn’t matter how efficient the internet is,” said Zhu Wei, deputy director of the Communications Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, which advises the government on internet laws. “It won’t work without security.”

China is not resting on its laurels.

In the weeks leading up to the major party congress that opens in Beijing on Wednesday, the country’s internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, has issued a raft of new regulations.

One, which took effect last week, holds the creators of online forums or group chats responsible for their users’ comments.

Another bans anonymous users, a blow at the bots and deceptive accounts — like those on Facebook and Twitter — that distributed false stories aimed at American voters.

“If our party cannot traverse the hurdle presented by the internet, it cannot traverse the hurdle of remaining in power,” a department of the cyberspace administration wrote in a top party journal last month.

The article was in keeping with President Xi Jinping’s early recognition of the power of the internet. Mr. Xi created and empowered the cyberspace administration, which has subsumed many of the overlapping agencies that once governed content in cyberspace.

Read the rest:

Russia Has Turned Kaspersky Software Into Tool for Spying

October 11, 2017

Searches exploited popular Russian-made antivirus software to seek classified material, officials say

WASHINGTON—The Russian government used a popular antivirus software to secretly scan computers around the world for classified U.S. government documents and top-secret information, modifying the program to turn it into an espionage tool, according to current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.

The software, made by the Moscow-based company Kaspersky Lab, routinely scans files of computers on which it is installed looking for viruses and other malicious software. But in an adjustment to its normal operations…

The abortion lobby is delighted with Twitter’s censorship of Marsha Blackburn

October 11, 2017
According to the abortion lobby, the right to choose and the right to free speech are mutually exclusive. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights League made that clear Tuesday when they cheered Twitter’s censorship of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.The Tennessee Republican ran afoul of Twitter with a campaign video promoting her fight against “the sale of baby body parts.”
That claim refers to the Stem Express scandal and the subsequent congressional investigation which found that Planned Parenthood was making money by either hustling the remains of unborn children or serving as the Amazon Prime for the little arms and legs of aborted babies.
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Instead of questioning the veracity of Blackburn’s statement, Twitter attacked its “inflammatory” sentiment, pulling the video from its website and, in the process, siding with the abortion lobby. This makes absolutely no sense.

Twitter feeds are veritable tinderboxes when it comes to unpopular and fiery opinions. Numerous writers have already noted what’s immediately apparent when opening up the website: Twitter gives the same voice to white supremacists as humanitarian organizations, equal footing to the reprehensible and the commendable. Until now, the relative flammability of any sentiment was entirely subjective.

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Since creating their account in 2008, NARAL has posted hundreds of tweets and photos that some would find not only false but also extremely inflammatory. The social media goliath never pulled their posts, but has suddenly decided to start policing the other side of the debate.

Worse than the censor, Twitter has embraced the role of a nanny. They’re not bothering to evaluate facts. They’re judging posts based on feelings. And all of this is just fine with the abortion lobby, so long as democracy’s digital forum continues to elevate the right to abort babies over the right to free speech.

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

Spy vs spy vs spy as Israel watches Russian hackers: NYT

October 11, 2017


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© AFP/File | The Russian intrusion detected more than two years ago used anti-virus software manufactured by the Russian firm Kaspersky Lab as an ad hoc global search tool, The New York Times said

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Israeli spies observed Russian government hackers in real time as they scoured computers around the world for the codenames of US intelligence programs, The New York Times reported Tuesday night.

The Russian intrusion detected more than two years ago used anti-virus software manufactured by the Russian firm Kaspersky Lab as an ad hoc global search tool, the Times said, quoting current and former government officials.

The software is used by 400 million people around the world, including by officials at some two dozen American government agencies, the Times reported.

Israeli intelligence had hacked into the Kaspersky network and upon detecting the Russian intrusion, alerted the United States. This led to a decision last month for Kaspersky software to be removed from US government computers, the Times said.

It is known that Russian hackers stole classified documents from a National Security Agency employee who had stored them on his home computer which featured Kaspersky antivirus software, the paper said.

It said that it is not yet publicly known what other secrets the Russians may have obtained from US government agencies by using Kaspersky software as “a sort of Google search for sensitive information.”

The Times said Kaspersky Lab denied any knowledge of or involvement in the Russian hacking.


How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets


Image result for Russia's FSB intelligence service, photos

Kaspersky Software Used by Russian Government to Steal NSA Hacking Tools, Say Israeli Spies: Reports

Kaspersky Software Used by Russian Government to Steal NSA Hacking Tools, Say Israeli Spies: Reports


  • Israeli spies have found Russian government using Kaspersky
  • The spies had previously warned their US counterparts of intrusion
  • US has already banned the use of Kaspersky in its defence domain

Israeli intelligence officials spying on Russian government hackers found they were using Kaspersky Labantivirus software that is also used by 400 million people globally, including US government agencies, according to media reports on Tuesday.

The Israeli officials who had hacked into Kaspersky’s network over two years ago then warned their US counterparts of the Russian intrusion, said The New York Times, which first reported the story.

That led to a decision in Washington only last month to order Kaspersky software removed from government computers.

The Washington Post also reported on Tuesday that the Israeli spies had also found in Kaspersky’s network hacking tools that could only have come from the US National Security Agency.

After an investigation, the NSA found that those tools were in possession of the Russian government, the Post said.

And late last month, the US National Intelligence Council completed a classified report that it shared with NATO allies concluding that Russia’s FSB intelligence service had “probable access” to Kaspersky customer databases and source code, the Post reported.

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Russian intelligence services — the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and the FSB

That access, it concluded, could help enable cyber attacks against US government, commercial and industrial control networks, the Post reported.

The New York Times said the Russian operation, according to multiple people briefed on the matter, is known to have stolen classified documents from a National Security Agency employee who had improperly stored them on his home computer, which had Kaspersky antivirus software installed on it.

It is not yet publicly known what other US secrets the Russian hackers may have discovered by turning the Kaspersky software into a sort of Google search for sensitive information, the Times said.

The current and former government officials who described the episode spoke about it on condition of anonymity because of classification rules, the Times said.

The newspaper said the National Security Agency and the White House declined to comment, as did the Israeli Embassy, while the Russian Embassy did not respond to requests for comment.

The Russian embassy in Washington last month called the ban on Kaspersky Lab software “regrettable” and said it delayed the prospects of restoring bilateral ties.

Kaspersky Lab denied to the Times any knowledge of, or involvement in, the Russian hacking. “Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Eugene Kaspersky, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, has repeatedly denied charges his company conducts espionage on behalf of the Russian government.

Kaspersky spokeswoman Sarah Kitsos told the Washington Post on Tuesday that “as a private company, Kaspersky Lab does not have inappropriate ties to any government, including Russia, and the only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight.” She said the company “does not possess any knowledge” of Israel’s hack, the Post said.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a multipronged digital influence operation last year in an attempt to help Donald Trump win the White House, a charge Moscow denies.

Trump calls for tax law changes for NFL over protests, “disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country”

October 10, 2017


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NFL protests, Sunday, September 24, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday called for changes to U.S. tax law affecting the National Football League, fueling a feud with the league and its players over protests that he says disrespect the nation.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.


ESPN suspends Jemele Hill

October 10, 2017

ESPN suspended Jemele Hill for two weeks after the popular ‘SportsCenter’ anchor violated the company’s social media policy for a second time, the network announced on Monday.

According to ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz, Hill’s latest violation of the policy was a series tweets over the weekend about Cowboys advertisers after team owner Jerry Jones said he would bench any player that knelt during the anthem.

This play always work. Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers. 

The suspension comes less than a month after Hill apologized for letting down her co-workers after a controversial Twitter rant in which she called Donald Trump “a white supremacist.”

At the time, the network said that those comments were did “not represent” ESPN and Hill recognized her actions were “inappropriate.”

Her tweets last month caught the attention of the White House and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Hill’s tweets constituted a “fireable offense,” an unprecedented comment that almost immediately created a firestorm surrounding Hill and the network. But in recent days, it seemed like that controversy was waning.

In an essay written on The Undefeated late last month, Hill said that she cried in a meeting with ESPN president John Skipper about her controversial tweets.

“Since my tweets criticizing President Donald Trump exploded into a national story, the most difficult part for me has been watching ESPN become a punching bag and seeing a dumb narrative kept alive about the company’s political leanings,” she wrote.

She added that as a career journalist she couldn’t ignore what was happening in the ever-blurring arena of sports and politics.

“Yes, my job is to deliver sports commentary and news,” she wrote. “But when do my duties to the job end and my rights as a person begin?”

But, she wrote, Twitter might not be the best place to “vent my frustrations.”

“Because fair or not, people can’t or won’t separate who I am on Twitter from the person who co-hosts the 6 p.m. SportsCenter,” she wrote. “Twitter also isn’t a great place to have nuanced, complicated discussions, especially when it involves race. Warriors player Kevin Durant and I probably need to take some classes about how to exercise better self-control on Twitter. Lesson learned.”

ESPN suspends Jemele Hill for 2 weeks for 'second violation' of company's social media policy

Google uncovers Russian-bought ads on YouTube, Gmail and other platforms

October 9, 2017

By  Elizabeth Dwoskin and Adam Entous
The Washington Post

October 9 at 7:00 AM

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Google found tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s platforms.(Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

SAN FRANCISCO — Google for the first time has uncovered evidence that Russian operatives exploited the company’s platforms in an attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the company’s investigation.

The Silicon Valley giant has found that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s many products, which include YouTube, as well as advertising associated with Google search, Gmail, and the company’s DoubleClick ad network, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that have not been made public. Google runs the world’s largest online advertising business, and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site.

The discovery by Google is also significant because the ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook — a sign that the Russian effort to spread disinformation online may be a much broader problem than Silicon Valley companies have unearthed so far.

Google previously downplayed the problem of Russian meddling on its platforms. Last month, Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville told The Washington Post that the company is “always monitoring for abuse or violations of our policies and we’ve seen no evidence this type of ad campaign was run on our platforms.”

Nevertheless, Google launched an investigation into the matter, as Congress pressed technology companies to determine how Russian operatives used social media, online advertising, and other digital tools to influence the 2016 presidential contest and foment discord in U.S. society.

Google declined to provide a comment for this story. The people familiar with its investigation said that the company is looking at a set of ads that cost less than $100,000 and that it is still sorting out whether all of the ads came from trolls or whether some originated from legitimate Russian accounts.

To date, Google has mostly avoided the scrutiny that has fallen on its rival Facebook. The social network recently shared about 3,000 Russian-bought ads with Congressional investigators that were purchased by operatives associated with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian-government affiliated troll farm, the company has said.

Some of the ads, which cost a total of about $100,000, touted Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and the Green party candidate Jill Stein during the campaign, people familiar with those ads said. Other ads appear to have been aimed at fostering division in United States by promoting anti-immigrant sentiment and racial animosity. Facebook has said those ads reached just 10 million of the 210 million U.S. users that log onto the service each month.

At least one outside researcher has said that the influence of Russian disinformation on Facebook is much greater than the company has so far  acknowledged and encompasses paid ads as well as posts published on Facebook pages controlled by Russian agents. The posts were shared hundreds of millions of times, said Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

In a blog post, Facebook wrote it is also looking at an additional 2,200 ads that may have not come from the Internet Research Agency.

“We also looked for ads that might have originated in Russia — even those with very weak signals of a connection and not associated with any known organized effort,” the company wrote last month. “This was a broad search, including, for instance, ads bought from accounts with US IP addresses but with the language set to Russian — even though they didn’t necessarily violate any policy or law. In this part of our review, we found approximately $50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on roughly 2,200 ads.”

Meanwhile, Twitter said that it shut down 201 accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency. It also disclosed that the account for the news site RT, which the company linked to the Kremlin, spent $274,100 on its platform in 2016. Twitter has not said how many times the Russian disinformation was shared. The company is investigating that matter and trying to map the relationship between Russian accounts and well-known media personalities as well as influencers associated with the campaigns of Donald Trump and other candidates, said a person familiar with Twitter’s internal investigation. RT also has a sizeable presence on YouTube.

Twitter declined to comment for this story.

Executives for Facebook and Twitter will testify before Congressional investigators on Nov. 1. Google has not said whether it will accept a similar invitation to do so.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russian president Vladmir Putin intervened in the U.S. election to help Donald Trump win. But Silicon Valley companies have received little assistance from the intelligence community, people familiar with the companies’ probes said.

Google discovered the Russian presence on its platforms by siphoning data from another technology company, Twitter, the people familiar with Google’s investigation said. Twitter offers outsiders the ability to access a small amount of historical tweets for free, and charges developers for access to the entire Twitter firehose of data stemming back to 2006.

Google downloaded the data from Twitter and was able to link Russian Twitter accounts to other accounts that had used Google’s services to buy ads, the people said. This was done without the explicit cooperation of Twitter, the people said.

Google’s probe is still in its early stages, the people said. The number of ads posted and the number of times those ads were clicked on could not be learned. Google is continuing to examine its own records and is also sharing data with Facebook. Twitter and Google have not cooperated with one another in their investigations.


 (Maybe Facebook needs some ethics training)

British Police to tell social media firms to take down hate posts in major government crackdown

October 8, 2017

‘One stop shop’ for reporting online abuse to be established CREDIT: KACPER PEMPEL

Police officers will help victims of online hate crime to pressure Twitter and Facebook to take down abusive messages, Amber Rudd has said.

The Home Secretary pledged to establish an online hub that will allow internet users to lodge all reports of hate crime to drive up numbers of prosecutions.

Police will then help victims to refer “appropriate cases to online platforms hosting external content, such as social media companies, so that hateful material can be removed”, the Home Office has said.

Twitter and Facebook have been under fire for not doing enough to deal with so-called trolls who send abusive messages to members of the public.

This “one stop shop” for reporting online abuse will be run by police officers for the National Police Chiefs’ Council who will work to ensure online cases are managed efficiently.

Amber Rudd delivers her speech on the third day of the Conservative Party annual conference 
Amber Rudd has pledged to help internet users lodge reports of hate crimes CREDIT:  PAUL ELLIS

Ms Rudd said: “With the police, we will use this new intelligence to adapt our response so that even more victims are safeguarded and perpetrators punished. “Online hate crime is completely unacceptable. What is illegal offline is illegal online, and those who commit these cowardly crimes should be met with the full force of the law.

“The national online hate crime hub that we are funding is an important step to ensure more victims have the confidence to come forward and report the vile abuse to which they are being subjected.

“The hub will also improve our understanding of the scale and nature of this despicable form of abuse.”

The new hub will allow victims to see which police force is responsible for their case, removing any uncertainty when victims and perpetrators are in different parts of the UK.

Specialist officers will provide expert case management and better support and advice to victims of online hate crime.

The hub will ensure all online cases are properly investigated and will help to increase prosecutions, the Home Office said. Victims will be kept updated throughout, as police forces seek to bring perpetrators to justice, officials said.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the hate crimes lead at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “Hateful abuse online can leave victims with significant psychological harm, but can also lead to more serious physical offences, so police need to be able to intervene at the earliest possible stage to reassure victims that we will act to protect them.

“This new national hub will enable a small team of specialist officers to significantly improve the service we provide to victims, reduce the burden on front-line officers, and help bring more offenders to justice.

“We recognise and will uphold the right to free speech even where it causes offence – but this does not extend to inciting hatred or threatening people.”

It follows proposals announced by the Tories last week for internet companies to be forced to hand over the contact details of online trolls who anonymously abuse MPs.

Some Russia-linked Facebook ads sent to Congress also ran on Instagram

October 8, 2017


By Daniel Uria

Oct. 7 (UPI) — Some of the Russia-linked advertisements that ran on Facebook also appeared on the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app Instagram.

Facebook said in an update to a blog post made Friday that about 5 percent of the 3,000 ads it shared with Congress also appeared on Instagram, which the company acquired in 2012.

The social media company said about $6,700 were spent on the ads appearing on Instagram from 2015 to earlier this year.

It is unclear how many people viewed the ads on Instagram, but Facebook estimated about 10 million users saw the ads when they appeared on Facebook.

Facebook said the ads originated from a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency and violated the social network’s policies by using inauthentic accounts.

The company also said it plans to add 1,000 workers to its global ads review team and make additional investments in machine learning to flag and take down ads.
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