The Courts

Texas Admonishes Judge For Posting Facebook Updates About Her Trials 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Michelle Slaughter, a Galveston County judge, says she will appeal a public admonition from state officials that criticized her Facebook posts about cases brought before her court. From the article: "The State Commission on Judicial Conduct ordered Michelle Slaughter, a Galveston County judge, to enroll in a four-hour class on the 'proper and ethical use of social media by judges.' The panel concluded that the judge's posts cast 'reasonable doubt' on her impartiality. At the beginning of a high-profile trial last year in which a father was accused of keeping his nine-year-old son in a six-foot by eight-foot wooden box, the judge instructed jurors not to discuss the case against defendant David Wieseckel with anyone. 'Again, this is by any means of communication. So no texting, e-mailing, talking person to person or on the phone or on Facebook. Any of that is absolutely forbidden,' the judge told jurors. But Slaughter didn't take her own advice, leading to her removal from the case and a mistrial. The defendant eventually was acquitted of unlawful-restraint-of-a-child charges."
Google

Google Insiders Talk About Why Google+ Failed 323

Posted by samzenpus
from the here's-what-happened dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with this story about what happened to Google+ from an employee perspective. "Last month, Google announced that it's changing up its strategy with Google+. In a sense, it's giving up on pitching Google+ as a social network aimed at competing with Facebook. Instead, Google+ will become two separate pieces: Photos and Streams. This didn't come as a surprise — Google+ never really caught on the same way social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn did....Rumors have been swirling for months that Google would change its direction with Google+. Business Insider spoke with a few insiders about what happened to the network that Google believed would change the way people share their lives online. Google+ was really important to Larry Page, too — one person said he was personally involved and wanted to get the whole company behind it. The main problem with Google+, one former Googler says, is the company tried to make it too much like Facebook. Another former Googler agrees, saying the company was 'late to market' and motivated from 'a competitive standpoint.'"
Government

Woman Behind Pakistan's First Hackathon, Sabeen Mahmud, Shot Dead 473

Posted by samzenpus
from the trying-to-silence-the-future dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Sabeen Mahmud, a prominent Pakistani social and human rights activist, has been shot dead. The progressive activist and organizer who ran Pakistan's first-ever hackathon and led a human rights and a peace-focused nonprofit known as The Second Floor (T2F) was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Karachi. Sabeen Mahmud was leaving the T2F offices with her mother some time after 9pm on Friday evening, reports the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. She was on her way home when she was shot, the paper reports. Her mother also sustained bullet wounds and is currently being treated at a hospital; she is said to be in critical condition.
Facebook

Nepal Earthquake: Facebook To Google, How Tech Is Helping Survivors Reach Out 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the safe-status-update dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Nepal, many social media sites and mobile applications have come up with features that could help locate friends and loved ones. From the Times of India: "Social networking website Facebook, and Google's Person Finder have helped locate the whereabouts of those stranded in quake-hit areas. For instance, members of one Himmatramka family residing in Birgunj in Nepal marked themselves safe on Facebook. 'Our relatives back in India were worried about our safety. So, we marked ourselves safe to inform them,' said Nitesh Himmatramka.
Censorship

Irish Legislator Proposes Law That Would Make Annoying People Online a Crime 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-yourselves-in-at-the-local-pub dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from TechDirt: Is Ireland looking to pass a law that would "outlaw ebooks and jail people for annoying others?" Well, no, not really, but that's the sort of unintended consequences that follow when laws are updated for the 21st century using little more than a word swap. Ireland has had long-standing laws against harassment via snail mail, telephones and (as of 2007) SMS messages. A 2014 report by the government's somewhat troublingly-named "Internet Content Governance Advisory Group" recommended updating this section of the law to cover email, social media and other internet-related transmissions. ... The broad language -- if read literally -- could make emailing an ebook to someone a criminal offense. Works of fiction are, by definition, false. ... It's the vestigial language from previous iterations of the law -- words meant to target scam artists and aggressive telemarketers -- that is problematic. Simply appending the words "electronic communications" to an old law doesn't address the perceived problem (cyberbullying is cited in the governance group's report). It just creates new problems.
United States

House Bill Slashes Research Critical To Cybersecurity 196

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-more-with-less dept.
dcblogs writes: A U.S. House bill that will set the nation's basic research agenda for the next two years increases funding for computer science, but at the expense of other research areas. The funding bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, hikes funding for computer science, but cuts — almost by half — social sciences funding, which includes the study of human behavior. Cybersecurity uses human behavior research because humans are often the weakest security link. Research funding social, behavioral and economic sciences will fall from $272 million to $150 million, a 45% decrease. The bill also takes a big cut out of geosciences research, which includes climate change study, from $1.3 billion to $1.2 billion, an 8% decrease. The insight into human behaviors that comes from the social science research, "is critical to understanding how best to design and implement hardware and software systems that are more secure and easier to use," wrote J. Strother Moore, the Computing Research Association chair and a professor of computer science at the University of Texas.
Facebook

Facebook's "Hello" Tells You Who's Calling Before You Pick Up 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-is-it? dept.
Mark Wilson writes: When you receive a call you'll usually see the number of the caller, but this may not be helpful in identifying them before you decide whether to pick up. Facebook's answer to this problem is Hello. This new app comes from the Facebook Messenger team and aims to tell you more about the person getting in touch with you even if you don't have their number saved in your address book. Currently available for Android, the dialer app also allows for the blocking of calls from individuals.
Facebook

Facebook Working To Weed Out Fake Likes 74

Posted by timothy
from the click-here-to-weed-out-fake-likes dept.
jfruh writes In the early days of brands on Facebook, it was crucial for companies to garner as many "likes" as possible to boost their image, and that led to some unethical businesses selling likes that came from fake accounts. Now Facebook is informing brands that they're working to root out fake likes, leaving like counts lower but realer. Now if only I could get my relatives to stop clicking on pictures that say they like puppies and are against cancer.
Privacy

The Upsides of a Surveillance Society 254

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-it's-not-all-upside? dept.
theodp writes Citing the comeuppance of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, who was suspended from her job after her filmed ad-hominem attack on a person McHenry deemed to be beneath her in terms of appearance, education, wealth, class, status went viral, The Atlantic's Megan Garber writes that one silver lining of the omnipresence of cameras it that the possibility of exposure can also encourage us to be a little kinder to each other. "Terrible behavior," Garber writes, "whether cruel or violent or something in between, has a greater possibility than it ever has before of being exposed. Just as Uber tracks ratings for both its drivers and its users, and just as Yelp can be a source of shaming for businesses and customers alike, technology at large has afforded a reciprocity between people who, in a previous era, would have occupied different places on the spectrum of power. Which can, again, be a bad thing — but which can also, in McHenry's case, be an extremely beneficial one. It's good that her behavior has been exposed. It's good that her story going viral might discourage similar behavior from other people. It's good that she has publicly promised 'to learn from this mistake.'"
Stats

Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-argue-about-sabermetrics-instead dept.
sandbagger writes: Editors of Basic and Applied Social Psychology announced in a February editorial that researchers who submit studies for publication would not be allowed to use common statistical methods, including p-values. While p-values are routinely misused in scientific literature, many researchers who understand its proper role are upset about the ban. Biostatistician Steven Goodman said, "This might be a case in which the cure is worse than the disease. The goal should be the intelligent use of statistics. If the journal is going to take away a tool, however misused, they need to substitute it with something more meaningful."
Sony

Wikileaks Publishes Hacked Sony Emails, Documents 143

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-a-look dept.
itwbennett writes Wikileaks has published a searchable database of thousands of emails and documents from Sony Pictures Entertainment that were leaked in late 2014 after the studio was attacked by hackers. Some of the 173,132 emails and 30,287 documents contain highly personal information about Sony employees including home addresses, personal phone numbers and social security numbers, a fact which is likely to raise new concerns about the use of stolen information online.
The Internet

India's Net Neutrality Campaign Picks Up Steam, Sites Withdraw From Internet.org 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the leaving-the-ship dept.
First time accepted submitter arvin (916235) writes The Huffington Post reports on prominent Indian websites withdrawing from Facebook's internet.org initiative. The net neutrality debate in the country has focused on zero-rating, where ISPs offer a free data plan which provides access to a set of websites that pay to be included. Internet.org provides free access to Facebook, Bing, Wikipedia and a few other websites. Another similar service, Airtel Zero, lost its flagship partner as e-commerce company Flipkart withdrew following a social media backlash.

Net neutrality activists believe that as these plans proliferate, access to the open internet will become extremely expensive or unavailable, innovation will slow as for startups are prevented from reaching the market, and the competitive consumer ISP market will be replaced with a cartel negotiating against internet companies. In a campaign similar to that in the US, over 630,000 Indians sent responses to their regulator through the website savetheinternet.in.
Iphone

Chess Grandmaster Used iPhone To Cheat During Tournament 237

Posted by Soulskill
from the there's-an-app-for-that dept.
SternisheFan sends this quote from the Washington Post: Gaioz Nigalidze's rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental. On Saturday, Nigalidze, the 25-year-old reigning Georgian champion, was competing in the 17th annual Dubai Open Chess Tournament when his opponent spotted something strange. "Nigalidze would promptly reply to my moves and then literally run to the toilet," Armenian grandmaster Tigran Petrosian said. "I noticed that he would always visit the same toilet partition, which was strange, since two other partitions weren't occupied." Petrosian complained to the officials. After Nigalidze left the bathroom once more, officials inspected the interior and say they found an iPhone wrapped in toilet paper and hidden behind the toilet. "When confronted, Nigalidze denied he owned the device," according to the tournament's Web site. "But officials opened the smart device and found it was logged into a social networking site under Nigalidze's account. They also found his game being analyzed in one of the chess applications." Nigalidze was expelled from the tournament, which is still ongoing and features more than 70 grandmasters from 43 countries competing for a first-place prize of $12,000. The Georgian's career is now under a microscope. His two national titles are under suspicion.
The Internet

Researchers Developing An Algorithm That Can Detect Internet Trolls 279

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-fire dept.
An anonymous reader writes Researchers at Cornell University claim to be able to identify a forum or comment-thread troll within the first ten posts after the user joins with more than 80% accuracy, leading the way to the possibility of methods to automatically ban persistently anti-social posters. The study observed 10,000 new users at cnn.com, breitbart.com and ign.com, and characterizes an FBU (Future Banned User) as entering a new community with below-average literacy or communications skill, and that the low standard is likely to drop shortly before a permanent ban. It also observes that higher rates of community intolerance are likely to foster the anti-social behavior and speed the ban.
Google

Has Google Indexed Your Backup Drive? 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-out-there dept.
itwbennett writes Depending on how you've configured the device, your backup drive may have been indexed by Google, making some seriously personal information freely available online to anyone who knows what they're looking for. Using a few simple Google searches, CSO's Steve Ragan discovered thousands of personal records and documents online, including sales receipts with credit card information and tax documents with social security numbers. In all cases, the files were exposed because someone used a misconfigured device acting as a personal cloud, or FTP (File Transfer Protocol) was enabled on their router.
Government

FTC Creates Office Dedicated To "Algorithmic Transparency" 75

Posted by timothy
from the from-the-government-and-here-to-help dept.
jfruh writes When Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm filters a meme you posted out of your friends' feed, you might find that annoying. When your bank's algorithm denies you a mortgage, that has a serious effect on your life. But both kinds of algorithms are generally opaque to customers and regulators, and the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection has set up an office dedicated to figuring out these algorithms affect our lives and intersect with the law. Perhaps they can start with how the IRS selects people to audit, and whether constantly shifting TSA policies make sense.
Crime

The Courage of Bystanders Who Press "Record" 489

Posted by samzenpus
from the doing-the-right-thing dept.
HughPickens.com writes Robinson Meyer writes in The Atlantic that in the past year, after the killings of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, many police departments and police reformists have agreed on the necessity of police-worn body cameras. But the most powerful cameras aren't those on officer's bodies but those wielded by bystanders. We don't yet know who shot videos of officer Michael T. Slager shooting Walter Scott eight times as he runs away but "unknown cameramen and women lived out high democratic ideals: They watched a cop kill someone, shoot recklessly at someone running away, and they kept the camera trained on the cop," writes Robinson. "They were there, on an ordinary, hazy Saturday morning, and they chose to be courageous. They bore witness, at unknown risk to themselves."

"We have been talking about police brutality for years. And now, because of videos, we are seeing just how systemic and widespread it is," tweeted Deray McKesson, an activist in Ferguson, after the videos emerged Tuesday night. "The videos over the past seven months have empowered us to ask deeper questions, to push more forcefully in confronting the system." The process of ascertaining the truth of the world has to start somewhere. A video is one more assertion made about what is real concludes Robinson. "Today, through some unknown hero's stubborn internal choice to witness instead of flee, to press record and to watch something terrible unfold, we have one more such assertion of reality."
Crime

AT&T Call Centers Sold Mobile Customer Information To Criminals 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
itwbennett writes Employees at three call centers in Mexico, Colombia and the Philippines sold hundreds of thousands of AT&T customer records, including names and Social Security numbers, to criminals who attempted to use the customer information to unlock stolen mobile phones, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said. AT&T has agreed to pay a $25 million civil penalty, which is the largest related to a data breach and customer privacy in the FCC's history.
Businesses

LG Will Lend You a Free Phone If You Talk About It On Social Media 22

Posted by samzenpus
from the phones-for-flattery dept.
jfruh writes LG will let people in a host of countries use its G4 free for 30 days — with the hope that this will result in positive buzz on social media sites. From the article: "By offering 4,000 people a G4 for 30 days, the company hopes to create some buzz around its new device as flagship devices from its rivals Samsung Electronics and HTC go on sale. The Consumer Experience Campaign kicks off in South Korea on Wednesday, and will then expand to Turkey, Indonesia, Singapore, U.S., China, India, Brazil, Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong, LG said."
Open Source

10 Years of Git: An Interview With Linus Torvalds 203

Posted by samzenpus
from the straight-from-the-horses-mouth dept.
LibbyMC writes Git will celebrate its 10-year anniversary tomorrow. To celebrate this milestone, Linus shares the behind-the-scenes story of Git and tells us what he thinks of the project and its impact on software development. From the article: "Ten years ago this week, the Linux kernel community faced a daunting challenge: They could no longer use their revision control system BitKeeper and no other Software Configuration Management (SCMs) met their needs for a distributed system. Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, took the challenge into his own hands and disappeared over the weekend to emerge the following week with Git. Today Git is used for thousands of projects and has ushered in a new level of social coding among programmers."