Feb 26, 2017

WhatsApp privacy backlash: Facebook angers users by harvesting their data

Facebook is being accused of backtracking on its pledge not to use the data of the 1 billion users of the WhatsApp messaging app it acquired two years ago


Facebook is being accused of backtracking on its pledge not to use the data of the 1 billion users of the WhatsApp messaging app it acquired two years ago

Stop us if you’ve heard this one: Facebook rolls out a new feature and/or acquires a new company, vowing to protect the privacy of its users’ personal information with its last dying breath. A year or two later, it backtracks and decides it wants spin your data into gold after all – and if users don’t like it, they can delete their accounts.

And so it is with today’s news about WhatsApp, the messaging service acquired by the world’s most unavoidable social network in February 2014. In a blogpost, WhatsApp announced it would begin sharing names and phone numbers with its parent company, to allow its more than 1 billion users “to communicate with businesses that matter to you too” – like notifications from airlines, delivery services or your bank, for example.

Facebook will also use that data to make friend suggestions and combine that data with the reams of information it has already collected so that it can tailor ads even more specifically to your interests.

Facebook did not want to comment on the change.

The reaction was nothing if not predictable. Tech news site Gizmodo sums up the feeling of many tech observers: “The sentiment that WhatsApp is an app that protects and cares for your privacy is no longer a reality. It was nice while it lasted.”

Some used Reddit to voice their disappointment, like Redditor Rakajj: “WhatsApp just lost a user. Was just a matter of time once the FB acquisition went through. Guess it’s time to finally give Telegram a whirl.”






And there was the inevitable tweet stream:












Yet the backlash runs deeper than a few angry tweets.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic), says that by going back on its agreement to keep WhatsApp data private, Facebook is violating an agreement reached with the FTC in 2012.

The agency’s final order requires the social network to obtain its users consent before changing settings that affect the privacy of their information. “The FTC has to act,” Rotenberg says. “It’s absurd that a company can disregard a legal judgement.”

Facebook has a long history of changing its policies in a way that puts the company’s needs ahead of its users’ and kicks the internet outrage engine into full gear.

In November 2007 the social network launched Beacon, a way to capture information about what people did on third-party sites, publishing things like the games they were playing or their recent purchases on their newsfeeds. Howls of protest and a class action suit ensued; Facebook immediately scaled back the Beacon program and then quietly killed it two years later.

In December 2009, Facebook unilaterally made some information that had been private by default, like friends lists, publicly available without warning anyone. It also shared private information with third-party apps, while claiming to do the opposite. These and other offenses earned the social network sanctions from the FTC and 20 years of third-party privacy audits.

In early 2012, Facebook performed an ad hoc psychology experiment on nearly 700,000 users to see if it could manipulate their emotions by flooding their newsfeeds with either positive or negative posts – again, without informing anyone. The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the FTC, and Facebook eventually apologized.

Those are just the greatest hits.

What does Facebook get from annoying its users yet again? If you use WhatsApp to communicate with your airline, bank, delivery service or customer service department at virtually any other establishment, Facebook will know that too – and, at some point in the future, presumably add all those nuggets of potentially monetizable information to your ever expanding yet-strangely perverse advertising profile.

If that’s too much for you, you have 30 days to opt out of data sharing. (WhatsApp offers instructions here, though these steps weren’t available on my iPhone app at press time.) You can switch to a more private messaging service, like Telegram or Signal, which doesn’t rely on an advertising-based business model. Or you can keep calm and carry on using WhatsApp and Facebook – at least, until the next outrage arises.



The Flash - Season 2 Episode 23 - The Race of His Life


The Flash - Season 2
Action, Adventure, Drama

Description : Barry Allen's life changed completely when his mother died in a freak accident and his innocent father was convicted of her murder. Now a crime-scene investigator, his dedication to learn the truth about his mother's death drives him to follow up on every new scientific advancement and urban legend. When his latest obsession -- a particle accelerator heralded as a world-changing invention -- causes an explosion, it creates a freak storm and Barry is struck by lightning. He awakes from a coma nine months later with the power of superspeed. When he learns that others who have gained powers use them for evil, he dedicates himself to protecting the innocent, while still trying to solve the older mystery.

Creators: Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg
Stars: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanagh
Country of origin: United States
Original language(s): English













The Flash - Season 2 Episode 22 - Invincible


The Flash - Season 2
Action, Adventure, Drama

Description : Barry Allen's life changed completely when his mother died in a freak accident and his innocent father was convicted of her murder. Now a crime-scene investigator, his dedication to learn the truth about his mother's death drives him to follow up on every new scientific advancement and urban legend. When his latest obsession -- a particle accelerator heralded as a world-changing invention -- causes an explosion, it creates a freak storm and Barry is struck by lightning. He awakes from a coma nine months later with the power of superspeed. When he learns that others who have gained powers use them for evil, he dedicates himself to protecting the innocent, while still trying to solve the older mystery.

Creators: Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg
Stars: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanagh
Country of origin: United States
Original language(s): English













The Flash - Season 2 Episode 21 - The Runaway Dinosaur


The Flash - Season 2
Action, Adventure, Drama

Description : Barry Allen's life changed completely when his mother died in a freak accident and his innocent father was convicted of her murder. Now a crime-scene investigator, his dedication to learn the truth about his mother's death drives him to follow up on every new scientific advancement and urban legend. When his latest obsession -- a particle accelerator heralded as a world-changing invention -- causes an explosion, it creates a freak storm and Barry is struck by lightning. He awakes from a coma nine months later with the power of superspeed. When he learns that others who have gained powers use them for evil, he dedicates himself to protecting the innocent, while still trying to solve the older mystery.

Creators: Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg
Stars: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanagh
Country of origin: United States
Original language(s): English













The Flash - Season 2 Episode 20 - Rupture


The Flash - Season 2
Action, Adventure, Drama

Description : Barry Allen's life changed completely when his mother died in a freak accident and his innocent father was convicted of her murder. Now a crime-scene investigator, his dedication to learn the truth about his mother's death drives him to follow up on every new scientific advancement and urban legend. When his latest obsession -- a particle accelerator heralded as a world-changing invention -- causes an explosion, it creates a freak storm and Barry is struck by lightning. He awakes from a coma nine months later with the power of superspeed. When he learns that others who have gained powers use them for evil, he dedicates himself to protecting the innocent, while still trying to solve the older mystery.

Creators: Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg
Stars: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanagh
Country of origin: United States
Original language(s): English













The Flash - Season 2 Episode 19 - Back to Normal


The Flash - Season 2
Action, Adventure, Drama

Description : Barry Allen's life changed completely when his mother died in a freak accident and his innocent father was convicted of her murder. Now a crime-scene investigator, his dedication to learn the truth about his mother's death drives him to follow up on every new scientific advancement and urban legend. When his latest obsession -- a particle accelerator heralded as a world-changing invention -- causes an explosion, it creates a freak storm and Barry is struck by lightning. He awakes from a coma nine months later with the power of superspeed. When he learns that others who have gained powers use them for evil, he dedicates himself to protecting the innocent, while still trying to solve the older mystery.

Creators: Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg
Stars: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanagh
Country of origin: United States
Original language(s): English













The Flash - Season 2 Episode 18 - Versus Zoom


The Flash - Season 2
Action, Adventure, Drama

Description : Barry Allen's life changed completely when his mother died in a freak accident and his innocent father was convicted of her murder. Now a crime-scene investigator, his dedication to learn the truth about his mother's death drives him to follow up on every new scientific advancement and urban legend. When his latest obsession -- a particle accelerator heralded as a world-changing invention -- causes an explosion, it creates a freak storm and Barry is struck by lightning. He awakes from a coma nine months later with the power of superspeed. When he learns that others who have gained powers use them for evil, he dedicates himself to protecting the innocent, while still trying to solve the older mystery.

Creators: Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg
Stars: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanagh
Country of origin: United States
Original language(s): English












Donald Trump’s Unprecedented War on the First Amendment Has Gone Nuclear


Trump and his administration have launched an unprecedented attack on freedom of speech and of the press. Are individual Twitter users next?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Donald Trump’s attacks on our nation’s news media and his attempts to position his Twitter account as the only official “news” outlet of the administration — effectively a state-run media outlet built upon a social media platform. Unfortunately, since I wrote that piece, Trump and his entire administration have effectively tripled-down on their war against the American news media and have taken unprecedented actions to counter it.

If you’ve had a chance to watch any of Sean Spicer’s White House press briefings over the last month (I usually see them on CBSN), you have probably seen at least a couple of instances of Spicer directly arguing with and attacking individual reporters, much the way that Trump did with Katy Tur during the campaign. Spicer has already shown himself to be combative with the news media, and Trump himself continues to decry established media outlets, such as CNN and The New York Times as “fake news” and now, “very fake news” (emphasis mine).










This, of course, is just a small sampling of his tweets directed at delegitimizing the entire media apparatus of this nation. But that last one may be the most alarming: Trump has officially declared the news media “the enemy of the American People.” Let that one sink in just for a minute.

The American news media is effectively our liaison into the workings of our state and federal governments. Whenever reporters include quotes in newspaper or on-line reports, or sit down with officials in one-on-one interviews, they are giving the American people a brief glimpse into that representative’s policy positions, personality, and method of governing. Reporters can communicate with inside sources — often anonymously for fear of reprisals — and find out more of what is going on behind the scenes, which is often how questionable policies and even outright corruption are revealed to the populace. The media also brings crucial information, such as product recalls, threats to public safety, and foreign policy, to the attention of the populace. Their ability to communicate effectively has only grown in the technological age, with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook serving to provide additional ways for people to receive their news and stay informed.

It is perhaps this latter outlet which Trump is trying to monopolize and control. By labeling many media organizations as “fake news” through his Twitter account, Trump seeks not only to control his own narrative, but also the media’s ability to effectively communicate with the American people. Every time Trump mentions a specific organization or reporter in a speech or in a tweet, he is singling that person or entity out for public ridicule, knowing that if they have a public Twitter account (the vast majority do), his supporters and followers will assail them with harassment. This is a way to not only undermine their credibility with the nation, but also an attempt to silence them completely. Individual journalists especially may feel pressured to disconnect from social media due to constant harassment and threats made against them. Donald Trump is both enabling and encouraging such behavior.

So maybe it should come as no surprise that, just a few days ago, the Trump Administration literally blocked a number of news media outlets from participating in a press briefing. Reporters from CNN, The New York Times, Politico, and The Los Angeles Times were all barred from entry. In fact, according to the report, Sean Spicer was literally hand-picking the news outlets he wanted in attendance — a form of “journalistic discrimination.” This is potentially the beginning of a total media blackout of journalistic outlets the administration seeks to impugn. If Trump and his team can ultimately position the American news media as something to be shunned and discredited, his supporters — and potentially a large chunk of the American populace — will be less likely to trust their reporting as the full gamut of their offenses comes to light. This in itself will make it much harder to eliminate the threats his administration’s policies present to America.

The administration has also taken the media to task as of late for its very use of anonymous sources. On CBS’ Face the Nation recently, Reince Priebus declared:

“I think that the media should stop with this unnamed source stuff, put names on a piece of paper and print it. If people aren’t willing to put their name next to a quote, then the quote shouldn’t be listed.”






This is disingenuous at best, given the administration’s use of its own anonymous sources in an attempt to confuse the public. Furthermore, there is little question that, for certain types of stories, anonymity is the only way to get the story out there. Sources may be, depending on the story, risking their careers and potentially even their lives by simply speaking to a reporter. Outing the identities of these sources simply puts a target on their backs — which, given how vindictive this entire presidency has become, may be exactly what Trump and Priebus are hoping for, to squelch as much public criticism as possible.

And then earlier tonight, this story popped up on my Twitter feed. Sebastian Gorka, an Islamophobe who was also hired by Steve Bannon to serve as a terrorism advisor to Trump, personally phoned one of his critics with threats of a lawsuit for tweeting his criticism of Gorka. Michael S. Smith II, a regular contributor to discussions on terrorism and how groups like ISIS are using social media to leverage support, has tweeted criticisms of both Trump’s and Gorka’s handling of radical Islam. Gorka apparently expressed hurt feelings at being criticized by someone he’s never met and threatened the lawsuit at the beginning of the conversation:

Smith says he did not begin recording the call until after Gorka allegedly threatened to sue Smith. In an email to Newsweek, Smith said that, “Gorka asserted my tweets about him merited examination by the White House legal counsel. In effect, he was threatening to entangle me in a legal battle for voicing my concerns on Twitter that he does not possess expertise sufficient to assist the president of the United States with formulating and guiding national security policies.”
Which begs the question: Is the Trump Administration now seeking to pursue lawsuits against individual Twitter users who denounce and criticize their policies on the platform? If Gorka does indeed press for charges against Smith, it would certainly set that precedent. It would also send a clear and direct message to every citizen in the United States: Donald Trump is not to be questioned. In fact, Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior advisor, recently said in so many words:

“The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”

This should make every American tremble in fear. Welcome to the new reality under Donald Trump.

Feb 22, 2017

Lindsay Lohan says she was profiled at Heathrow airport while wearing headscarf


"She opened my passport and saw 'Lindsay Lohan' and started immediately apologizing, but then said, 'Please take off your headscarf,'” the 30-year-old actress said.

In the clip shared by "Good Morning Britain," Lohan didn't say whether the woman was an airline, airport or security employee of any kind, though a representative for the actress told ABC News it was somebody at the security checkpoint right before passengers put their luggage through the X-ray system.

In response to a request for comment, an airport spokesperson told ABC News, “Heathrow respects the cultural and religious needs of all passengers traveling through the airport. We work hard to provide our passengers with great service while ensuring everyone remains safe and secure.”

Lohan said of the request, "I [took it off], it's OK."






She continued: "But what scared me was in that moment, how would another woman who doesn’t feel comfortable taking off her headscarf feel? That was really interesting to me."

Lohan couldn't speak to why she was stopped, but said "it was jarring" and that she had never been stopped before.

"It was strange," she said. "I'm from New York, I'm born and raised there so, I was a little intimidated."

The "Mean Girls" star added that actresses like Audrey Hepburn used to wear scarves on their head and that "my red hair doesn't exactly not stand out. ... I was doing it because I was leaving Turkey and out of respect for certain countries that I go to ... when I see certain people I feel more comfortable acting the same way as the other women, that’s just a personal respect issue for me that I have."

According to British travel regulations, passengers wearing headgear for religious reasons have the right to "ask for it to be checked using a hand-held scanner" so they don't have to remove it.

When asked earlier in the interview if she would convert to Islam, she replied, "I do study [the Quran], nothing is confirmed yet."

Lohan called the faith a "solace" and said she was studying other faiths as well. She added that her sister is Buddhist and that any religion is a personal belief. "I don't want to speak on something I haven't finished yet," she said, adding the faith feels "like it's a family to me ... it calms me."








Asked about President Donald Trump, Lohan said, "At the end of the day, he is the president right now. So, what’s the point of picking on someone instead of just seeing what they’re capable of, or not capable of," though she added that she disagrees with certain "policies."

"People are making it overly dramatic," she said. "I do think his Twitter needs to be taken away."

Kim Kardashian sex tape leaks showing never before seen X-rated footage of the reality star


Kim Kardashian has managed to put her sex tape past behind her in recent years, but now new footage has reportedly emerged.

The reality star's sex tape with ex-partner Ray J leaked back in 2007, and sent the star's fame skyrocketing.

While it made her a household name, Kim has worked hard to make a name for herself and has since gone on to become one of the world's biggest celebrities.

However, Kim's world is about to be turned upside down now new footage allegedly featuring the star has leaked online.








The images, obtained by another outlet, show a woman appearing to be Kim in bed wearing a skimpy bra and showing off her cleavage to a man who appears to be holding the camera.

While Kim rarely talks about her meteoric rise to fame, she revealed how she felt about the tape all these years later during a recent interview.

“If I do have one regret in life that’s it," she told Love Magazine.







In a later interview, she told Oprah that she's very aware that despite her dislike for the video, it's what made her famous.

“You know, I think that’s how I was definitely introduced to the world,” said Kim.

"“It was a negative way, so I felt like I really had to work 10 times harder to get people to see the real me.”