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United Kingdom

In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail 187

Posted by timothy
from the don't-worry-he's-trolling dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Guardian about a proposed change in UK law that would greatly increase the penalties for online incivility: Internet trolls who spread "venom" on social media could be jailed for up to two years, the justice secretary Chris Grayling has said as he announced plans to quadruple the maximum prison sentence. Grayling, who spoke of a "baying cybermob", said the changes will allow magistrates to pass on the most serious cases to crown courts. The changes, which will be introduced as amendments to the criminal justice and courts bill, will mean the maximum custodial sentence of six months will be increased to 24 months. Grayling told the Mail on Sunday: "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the six-month sentence.
Advertising

Snapchat Will Introduce Ads, Attempt To Keep Them Other Than Creepy 117

Posted by timothy
from the trying-to-keep-the-golden-goose-alive dept.
As reported by VentureBeat, dissapearing-message service Snapchat is introducing ads. Considering how most people feel about ads, they're trying to ease them in gently: "Ads can be ignored: Users will not be required to watch them. If you do view an ad, or if you ignore it for 24 hours, it will disappear just like Stories do." Hard to say how much it will mollify the service's users, but the company says "We won’t put advertisements in your personal communication – things like Snaps or Chats. That would be totally rude. We want to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted."
Social Networks

Facebook 'Safety Check' Lets Friends Know You're OK After a Major Disaster 124

Posted by timothy
from the mom-please-stop-the-prank-alerts dept.
rtoz (2530056) writes Facebook has launched a new Tool called "Safety Check." The Facebook Safety Check tool will notify your friends so that they know you're OK after a major disaster. In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates. "During a major disaster, Safety Check will help you: Let friends and family know you're safe; Check on others in the affected area; Mark your friends as safe ... When the tool is activated after a natural disaster and if you're in the affected area, you'll receive a Facebook notification asking if you're safe. [Facebook] will determine your location by looking at the city you have listed in your profile, your last location if you've opted in to the Nearby Friends product, and the city where you are using the internet. ... If you're safe, you can select "I'm Safe" and a notification and News Feed story will be generated with your update. Your friends can also mark you as safe." More creepy, or more reassuring?
Privacy

The Guardian Reveals That Whisper App Tracks "Anonymous" Users 173

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-keep-using-that-word-I-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means dept.
New submitter qqod writes this story at The Guardian that raises privacy concerns over the Whisper app. "The company behind Whisper, the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be the “the safest place on the internet”, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed. The practice of monitoring the whereabouts of Whisper users – including those who have expressly opted out of geolocation services – will alarm users, who are encouraged to disclose intimate details about their private and professional lives. Whisper is also sharing information with the US Department of Defense gleaned from smartphones it knows are used from military bases, and developing a version of its app to conform with Chinese censorship laws."
Medicine

Early Childhood Neglect Associated With Altered Brain Structure, ADHD 87

Posted by samzenpus
from the root-cause dept.
vinces99 writes "Under the rule of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, thousands of Romanian children were placed in overcrowded orphanages with bleak conditions and minimal human contact, a legacy that continued even after the 1989 revolution. Only recently have research and public concern caused policy changes.

University of Washington research on children who began life in these institutions shows that early childhood neglect is associated with changes in brain structure. A paper published this month in Biological Psychiatry shows that children who spent their early years in these institutions have thinner brain tissue in cortical areas that correspond to impulse control and attention. "These differences suggest a way that the early care environment has dramatic and lasting effects for children's functioning," said lead author Katie McLaughlin, a UW assistant professor of psychology.

Since 2000, the Bucharest Early Intervention Project has worked to document and treat the children's health. McLaughlin joined the team about six years ago to focus on brain development. This study is among the first in any setting to document how social deprivation in early life affects the thickness of the cortex, the thin folded layer of gray matter that forms the outer layer of the brain. The study provides "very strong support" for a link between the early environment and ADHD, McLaughlin said.
Social Networks

Eggcyte is Making a Pocket-Sized Personal Web Server (Video) 91

Posted by Roblimo
from the my-data-belongs-to-me-and-no-one-else dept.
Eggcyte has been working on this for two years. It's on Kickstarter now; a personal server you can use to share music, video, text, and just about anything else without resorting to cloud-based services where one weak password can put your private celebrity photos (you are a celebrity, right?) into the wrong hands. If you suddenly decide you don't want to share the information on your Egg any more, turn it off. If you suddenly have something new to share, like a video you just shot of the Loch Ness Monster capturing an alien spaceship, you can connect your Egg to the Internet anywhere you find a wireless access point. The main thing, say the Eggcyte people, is that your data is yours and should stay that way. Facebook and other cloud-based "sharing" companies use your data to learn about you. Here in the U.S. their primary purpose may be to show you ads for things you might want to buy. In more repressive countries, cloud-based sharing services may use your private data in ways that could be hazardous to your health. Of course, our government people would never keep track of what we post on Twitter and other online services... or would they? (Alternate Video Link)
Science

Oxytocin Regulates Sociosexual Behavior In Female Mice 216

Posted by timothy
from the take-two-of-these-and-I'll-make-breakfast-in-the-morning dept.
Chipmunk100 writes In a research article in the journal Cell scientists report that there is a subset of neurons that are vital in social interest of female mice for males during estrus, the sexually receptive phase of their cycle. They say that these neurons are responsive to oxytocin. The level of oxytocin rise when we hug or kiss a loved one. The BBC has an article on the findings as well, and reports that Without [oxytocin], female mice were no more attracted to a mate than to a block of Lego ... [The affected] neurons are situated in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain important for personality, learning and social behaviour. Both when the hormone was withheld and when the cells were silenced, the females lost interest in mating during oestrous, which is when female mice are sexually active.
The Almighty Buck

Mining Kickstarter Data Reveals How To Match Crowdfunding Projects To Investors 20

Posted by timothy
from the arbitrage-opportunities dept.
KentuckyFC writes Since 2001, crowdfunding sites have raised almost $3 billion and in 2012 alone, successfully funded more than 1 million projects. But while many projects succeed, far more fail. The reasons for failure are varied and many but one of the most commonly cited is the inability to match a project with suitable investors. Now a group of researchers from Yahoo Labs and the University of Cambridge have mined data from Kickstarter to discover how investors choose projects to back. They studied over 1000 projects in the US funded by over 80,000 investors. They conclude that there are two types of backers: occasional investors who tend to back arts-related projects, probably because of some kind of social connection to the proposers; and frequent investors who have a much more stringent set of criteria. Frequent investors tend to fund projects that are well-managed, have high pledging goals, are global, grow quickly, and match their interests. The team is now working on a website that will create a list of the Twitter handles of potential investors given the URL of a Kickstarter project.
China

China Bans "Human Flesh Searching" 109

Posted by timothy
from the but-human-flesh-is-delicious dept.
hackingbear writes The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, has outlined the liabilities of network service providers in a document on the handling of online personal rights violation cases. "Rights violators usually hide in the dark online. They post harmful information out of the blue, and victims just can't be certain whom they should accuse when they want to bring the case to court," said Yao Hui, a senior SPC judge specializing in civil cases. Those re-posting content that violates others' rights and interests will also answer for their actions, and their liability will be determined based on the consequences of their posts, the online influence of re-posters, and whether they make untruthful changes to content that mislead. This essentially tries to ban the so-called human flesh searching. Though this does not stop others from using the chance to highlight the country's censorship problems even though the rulings seem to focus on personal privacy protection.
Communications

Snowden's Tough Advice For Guarding Privacy 209

Posted by timothy
from the going-through-the-eye-of-the-needle dept.
While urging policy reform as more important than per-person safeguards, Edward Snowden had a few pieces of advice on maintaining online privacy for attendees at Saturday's New Yorker Festival. As reported by TechCrunch, Snowden's ideas for avoiding online intrusions (delivered via video link) sound simple enough, but may not be easy for anyone who relies on Google, Facebook, or Dropbox, since those are three companies he names as ones to drop. A small slice: He also suggested that while Facebook and Google have improved their security, they remain “dangerous services” that people should avoid. (Somewhat amusingly, anyone watching the interview via Google Hangout or YouTube saw a Google logo above Snowden’s face as he said this.) His final piece of advice on this front: Don’t send unencrypted text messages, but instead use services like RedPhone and Silent Circle. Earlier in the interview, Snowden dismissed claims that increased encryption on iOS will hurt crime-fighting efforts. Even with that encryption, he said law enforcement officials can still ask for warrants that will give them complete access to a suspect’s phone, which will include the key to the encrypted data. Plus, companies like Apple, AT&T, and Verizon can be subpoenaed for their data.
Bug

More Details On The 3rd-Party Apps That Led to Snapchat Leaks 97

Posted by timothy
from the you-didn't-really-think-they-were-secure-did-you dept.
Yesterday we posted a link to Computerworld's reports that (unnamed) third-party apps were responsible for a massive leak of Snapchat images from the meant-to-be-secure service. An anonymous reader writes with some more details: Ars Technica identifies the culprit as SnapSaved, which was created to allow Snapchat users to access their sent and received images from a browser but which also secretly saved those images on a SnapSaved server hosted by HostGator. Security researcher Adam Caudill warned Snapchat about the vulnerability of their API back in 2012, and although the company has reworked their code multiple times as advised by other security researchers, Caudill concludes that the real culprit is the concept behind Snapchat itself. "Without controlling the endpoint devices themselves, Snapchat can't ensure that its users' photos will truly be deleted. And by offering that deletion as its central selling point, it's lured users into a false sense of privacy."
Privacy

Kmart Says Its Payment System Was Hacked 101

Posted by timothy
from the worst-case-scenario dept.
wiredmikey writes Kmart is the latest large U.S. retailer to experience a breach of its payment systems, joining a fast growing club dealing successful hack attacks. The company said that on Thursday, Oct. 9, its IT team detected that its payment data systems had been breached, and that debit and credit card numbers appear to have been compromised. A company spokesperson told SecurityWeek that they are not able to provide a figure on the number of customers impacted. The spokesperson said that based on the forensic investigation to date, no personal information, no debit card PIN numbers, no email addresses and no social security numbers were obtained by the attackers.
Security

Interviews: Ask Reuben Paul What Hackers Can Learn From an 8-Year-Old 44

Posted by timothy
from the at-8-I-was-mostly-hiding-behind-the-bleachers dept.
Reuben A. Paul, aka RAPstar, has something of a head-start when it comes to learning about computer security: his father, Mano Paul, has been a security researcher (and instructor) for many years. So Reuben grew up around computers, seeing firsthand that they're neither mysterious nor impregnable. Reuben, though, has a curious mind and his own computer security interests, and a knack for telling others about them; last month, he became the youngest-ever speaker at DerbyCon, and explained some of what he's picked up so far on what kids can learn about security, as well as what the security field can learn from kids. (One hard to dispute nugget: "Kids are the best social engineers, followed by puppies.") Ask of Reuben whatever you'd like, below (please, one question per post), and we'll get answers to selected questions when we catch up with him at next week's Houston Security Conference. (This year's conference is sold out, but there's always 2015.)
The Internet

Why the Trolls Will Always Win 715

Posted by Soulskill
from the emboldened-and-protected-by-anonymity dept.
maynard writes: Kathy Sierra spent a tech career developing videogames and teaching Java programming in Sun Microsystems masterclasses. Up until 2007, she'd been a well regarded tech specialist who happened to be female. Until the day she opined on her private blog that given the crap-flood of bad comments, maybe forum moderation wasn't a bad idea. This opinion made her a target. A sustained trolling and harassment campaign followed, comprised of death and rape threats, threats against her family, fabricated claims of prostitution, and a false claim that she had issued a DMCA takedown to stifle criticism. All of this culminated in the public release of her private address and Social Security Number, a technique known as Doxxing. And so she fled from the public, her career, and even her home.

It turned out that a man named Andrew Auernheimer was responsible for having harassed Sierra. Known as 'Weev', he admitted it in a 2008 New York Times story on Internet Trolls. There, he spoke to the lengths which he and his cohorts went to discredit and destroy the woman. "Over a candlelit dinner of tuna sashimi, Weev asked if I would attribute his comments to Memphis Two, the handle he used to troll Kathy Sierra, a blogger. Inspired by her touchy response to online commenters, Weev said he "dropped docs" on Sierra, posting a fabricated narrative of her career alongside her real Social Security number and address. This was part of a larger trolling campaign against Sierra, one that culminated in death threats."

Now, seven years later, Kathy Sierra has returned to explain why she left and what recent spates of online harassment against women portend for the future if decent people don't organize. The situation has grown much more serious since she went into hiding all those years ago. It's more than just the threat of Doxxing to incite physical violence by random crazies with a screw loose.
Read on for the rest of maynard's thoughts.
Facebook

DoJ: Law Enforcement Can Impersonate People On Facebook 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-because-you-can-doesn't-mean-you-should dept.
An anonymous reader sends news that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency impersonated a young woman on Facebook to communicate with suspected criminals, and the Department of Justice argued that they had the right to do so. The woman was charged with being part of a drug ring and sentenced to probation, after which a DEA agent set up a Facebook page in her name, uploaded images to it (including pictures of her son and niece), and used it without her consent. She recently sued the agent in federal district court, and the government argued that she "implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cell phone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in an ongoing criminal investigations [sic]." Facebook has now removed the account, and the DoJ is "reviewing" the case.
Advertising

Why Do Contextual Ads Fail? 249

Posted by timothy
from the pandemic-tone-deafness dept.
minstrelmike writes If we give up all our privacy on-line for contextual ads, then how come so many of them are so far off the mark? Personal data harvesting for contextual ads and content should be a beautiful thing. They do it privately and securely, and it's all automated so that no human being actually learns anything about you. And then the online world becomes customized, just for you. The real problem with this scenario is that is we're paying for contextual ads and content with our personal data, but we're not getting what we pay for. Facebook advertising is off target and almost completely irrelevant. The question is: Why? Facebook has a database of our explicitly stated interests, which many users fill out voluntarily. Facebook sees what we post about. It knows who we interact with. It counts our likes, monitors our comments and even follows us around the Web. Yet, while the degree of personal data collection is extreme, the advertising seems totally random.
Education

Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System? 389

Posted by samzenpus
from the trying-something-else dept.
An anonymous reader points out this opinion piece by professor Adam Grant that questions how useful the current college application system is and suggests some alternate methods to gather information about candidates. The college admissions system is broken. When students submit applications, colleges learn a great deal about their competence from grades and test scores, but remain in the dark about their creativity and character. Essays, recommendation letters and alumni interviews provide incomplete information about students' values, social and emotional skills, and capacities for developing and discovering new ideas. This leaves many colleges favoring achievement robots who excel at the memorization of rote knowledge, and overlooking talented C students. Those with less than perfect grades might go on to dream up blockbuster films like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg or become entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs.
Facebook

Ask Slashdot: Is There an Ethical Way Facebook Can Experiment With Their Users? 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-gets-the-placebo dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This summer, news broke that Facebook had conducted an experiment on some of their users, tweaking which posts showed up in their timeline to see if it affected the tone of their later posts. The fallout was extensive — Facebook took a lot of flack from users and the media for overreaching and violating trust. (Of course, few stopped to think about how Facebook decided what to show people in the first place, but that's beside the point.) Now, Wired is running a somewhat paranoid article saying Facebook can't help but experiment on its users. The writer says this summer's blowback will only show Facebook they need to be sneakier about it.

At the same time, a study came out from Ohio State University saying some users rely on social media to alter their moods. For example, when a user has a bad day, he's likely to look up acquaintances who have it worse off, and feel a bit better that way. Now, going on social media is going to affect your mood in one way or another — shouldn't we try to understand that dynamic? Is there a way Facebook can run experiments like these ethically? (Or Twitter, or Google, or any similarly massive company, of course.)
Facebook

The Single Vigilante Behind Facebook's 'Real Name' Crackdown 305

Posted by Soulskill
from the feeding-the-trolls dept.
Molly McHugh sends this story from Daily Dot: When Facebook issued an apology this week for suspending user accounts that had what it alleged to be fake names, it pinned the whole debacle on one person. This "individual," Facebook reasoned, sewed confusion into its flawed reporting system—intended to protect against bullying and online abuse. Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox explains that Facebook was caught “off guard” by a lone actor who reported “several hundred” accounts as fake. According to our source, who claims to have spent "hours and hours" systematically reporting Facebook users from the drag community and beyond, thousands of accounts were suspended—and they've been at it for weeks. ... Given the timing and the accounts suspended, they believe that they are in fact the mystery "individual" who threw a wrench into Facebook's system, noted in Facebook's explanation of the events. "Considering the hours and hours I spent reporting accounts over the course of the past month, it is likely that I am."
Businesses

Fortune.com: Blame Tech Diversity On Culture, Not Pipeline 342

Posted by Soulskill
from the opposing-view dept.
FrnkMit writes: Challenging a previous Code.org story on tech diversity, a Forbes.com writer interviewed 716 women who left the technology field. Her conclusion: corporate culture, and the larger social structure, is the primary cause for these women leaving the industry and never looking back. Specific issues include a lack of maternity policies in small companies, low pay which barely covers day care, "jokes" from male coworkers, and always feeling like the "odd duck." In reality, there are probably many intertwined causes: peer pressure at the high-school and college level, female-unfriendly geek culture, low pay, a lack of accommodations for pregnant/nursing mothers, the myth of "having it all," stereotype threat, and repeated assertions that women aren't biologically suited to writing software and therefore there's no problem at all.

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