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Despite legal challenge, Facebook deploys Big Brother-style, face-scanning technology

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As we move ever more of our information onto the world wide web, Americans around the nation will need to be vigilant as to how they protect their privacy.

Corporations such as Google, Facebook, and others are constantly watching us.  They know where we are, what we’re interested in, who we bank with, and what we had for dinner last night.  They’ve admitted to harvesting this data in order to make a buck, time and time again, through the sale of our browsing history to big-name advertisers and manufacturers.  This is a case study in human consumerism run amok, and all for the benefit of those who wish to fiscally prey upon us.

Now, one of the leaders in this data harvest scheme is rolling out a new weapon in their fight to read our minds and sell the contents.

Social media giant Facebook is now opening up its facial recognition technology to all users and will be discontinuing the “tag suggestions” feature on pictures, despite a lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg’s company over intrusive use of facial recognition without user consent.

Trending: Mayor Pete Finally Gets Nickname from President Trump

Reuters reports that social media giant Facebook Inc is opening its facial recognition technology to all users and providing them with an option to opt-out from the feature. The company also plans to discontinue a related feature called “Tag Suggestions” which gave users the option to have Facebook suggest that their friends tag them in photos without giving them control over usage of the facial recognition technology.

The potential for abuse of such a system is clearly a concern for privacy advocates the nation over.

Some courts even seem to agree.

Breitbart News reported in August that a federal appeals court rejected Facebook’s argument to block a class-action lawsuit this week which could see the firm facing billions in potential damages. The lawsuit has been moving through the court system since 2015 when Facebook users in Illinois sued the firm for violating the states’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by automatically collecting and identifying individuals in photographs posted on the social media site.

The court stated in its decision: “We conclude that the development of face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged here) invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests. Similar conduct is actionable at common law.” The American Civil Liberties Union supported the court’s ruling with ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler stating: “This decision is a strong recognition of the dangers of unfettered use of face surveillance technology. The capability to instantaneously identify and track people based on their faces raises a chilling potential for privacy violations at an unprecedented scale. Both corporations and the government are now on notice that this technology poses unique risks to people’s privacy and safety.”

In authoritarian nations such as China, vast databases of this biometric data are being utilized by authorities in order to spy on citizens and track alleged criminals.  With Facebook increasing its foothold in the emerging American technocracy, facial recognition technology and its underlying algorithms could be exploited in order for the social media giant to exert their will on We The People – something that we have already seen in the company’s overt censorship of conservative ideologies.

 

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Science/Tech

Soros Wants Zuckerberg Removed from Facebook for ‘Helping’ Trump Reelection Efforts

Soros is apparently ignoring the years of conservative censorship that the platform has engaged in.

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There are some folks who are just far too removed from reality to make sense of what they are saying.  Liberal billionaire George Soros may very well fit into that category.

Soros has an immense amount of wealth, that’s for certain.  He’s not like you or I in that regard.  Instead, the Hungarian leftist lives in the ivory towers of the world, as part of the infamous 1%.

This distance between Soros and the rest of humanity was on full display this week.

The Daily Mail reports that leftist billionaire George Soros has called for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg to be removed from their positions at the company as he believes they are “helping Trump get re-elected” by refusing to fact check political ads.

In a letter to the Financial Times, Soros accused Zuckerberg and Sandberg of having a “mutual assistance agreement” with Trump that would “help him get re-elected.” Soros made similars claims in an op-ed published in the New York Times earlir this month titled “George Soros: Mark Zuckerberg Should Not Be in Control of Facebook.” Soros discussed the social media giant Facebook and stated that he doesn’t believe the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg — who controls 53 percent of voting shares of Facebook — should be in charge of the platform.

What’s missing from Soros’ comment is context, however.

Facebook has been working diligently over the course of the last several years to subvert conservative viewpoints, both by employing algorithmic adjudicators and human censors alike.  There is no conspiracy to have Trump reelected, not by a long shot, but Soros is far too removed from the regular world to understand this.

 

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Science/Tech

Parody Video of Pelosi Tearing SOTU Speech Stays Online Despite Democratic Protests

Facebook doesn’t care about your feelings, and that has irked the Democrats to no end.

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Tuesday night’s State of The Union address was one for the history books, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempting to steal the spotlight from President Trump at the event’s conclusion.

With the rip heard ’round the world, Pelosi fomented her place in the pantheon of the progressive “resistance”, tearing a gifted copy of the President’s address in half while the rest of the chamber politely applauded the achievements outlined by Trump in the speech.  The moment immediately went viral, with predictably divided opinions as to how the gesture fits into the national narrative.

Many saw the act as a show of disrespect for those whom the President lauded during the State of The Union address itself, including a member of the fabled Tuskegee Airmen.

Now, an edited video that made it appear as though the ripping stunt was in direct relation to the celebration of the brave service member is making the rounds online, and the left is helpless to stop its spread.

Within hours, the speaker’s office was demanding both social media companies remove the video, arguing it was unfair to Pelosi, who actually stood and applauded the airman during the speech.

Both Facebook and Twitter decided against removing the Trump video, although the companies cited different reasons for their decisions.

The dispute became public Friday when Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, posted a link to a criticism of the video Friday afternoon, writing “The latest fake video of Speaker Pelosi is deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people, and every day that these platforms refuse to take it down is another reminder that they care more about their shareholders’ interests than the public’s interests.”

The argument turned fierce in a hurry.

Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, replied to Hammill on Twitter: “Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn’t make those remarks and the Speaker didn’t rip the speech?”

Hammill fired back: “What planet are you living on? This is deceptively altered. Take it down.”

Critics of Facebook have repeatedly chastised the platform for allowing misleading content, which often remains on the site for the purpose of financially capitalizing from the controversy that it creates.

 

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Science/Tech

Teen Shocks NASA by Finding New Planet 3 Days Into Internship

A New York high school student shocked the scientific establishment by identifying a new planet only three days into his internship.

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A New York high school student shocked the scientific establishment by identifying a never before seen planet only three days into his internship.

Wolf Cukier, 17, was interning at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland last year when he uncovered what became known as TOI 1338 b — a planet orbiting two stars instead of one, Yahoo News reports.

The teen caught the telltale signs of a planet while reviewing data captured by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), NASA said.

“I was looking through the data for everything the volunteers had flagged as an eclipsing binary, a system where two stars circle around each other and from our view eclipse each other every orbit,” Cukier said. “About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338.”

“At first, I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet,” he added.

The teen chalked up some scientific firsts with his identification:

TOI 1338 b is the first circumbinary planet discovered by TESS, according to NASA. The planet is around 6.9 times larger than Earth — nearly the size of Saturn — and lies in a system 1,300 light-years away in the constellation of Pictor.

The world orbits the two stars every 95 days, the agency said. One star is about 10 percent bigger than our sun, while the other is a cooler and dimmer M dwarf that is only a third of our sun’s mass.

Cukier likened his discovery to the Star Wars planet, Tatooine.

“I discovered a planet, which has two stars that orbit around. So, if you think to Luke’s homeworld, Tatooine, from Star Wars, it’s like that. Every sunset, there’s going to be two stars setting,” Cukier said.

The high schooler joked that the rest of his internship didn’t live up to its first 72 hours.

“Funny thing is, I didn’t find anything else for the rest of the internship, even though I found one on like day three,” he said.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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Science/Tech

FBI Issues Warning Over Black Friday Television Sales, Citing Cybersecurity Risk

It might not be your fellow shoppers that you need to worry about.

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If we’re being honest, Black Friday might be one of the most disturbing pop culture events in the United States.

It’s consumerism run rampant, and it reeks of excess in ways that few other materialistic machinations do.  It’s a declaration to the rest of the world that Americans are so focused on what they have, that they are willing eschew their own morality to get more for less.

Witnessing the inevitable violence and chaos of these Black Friday events can be more than a little bit disheartening, and there are certainly dangers to be had for those foolish enough to brave the doorbuster madness.

But what if it were the items themselves that you need to be wary of, and not the lesser inclinations of your rival shoppers?

The FBI’s Portland, Oregon, field office shared some tips this week for anyone who needs to secure a smart TV.

Some models of smart TVs include built-in cameras. They can be used for video chatting with friends and family, and some can let the TV recognize who is watching and suggest programming based on their past preferences.

To prevent being a victim of hackers via your new television, the FBI has a few tips for would-be buyers.

  • Because each smart TV is different, owners should search for the exact model number online and words like “microphone,” “camera” and “privacy” to learn how to control those features.

  • Don’t leave security settings on the default option and chance passwords if possible. It’s also a good idea to check how to turn off microphones, cameras and personal data collection ahead of making a purchase, and considering a different model if they can’t be turned off.

  • A piece of black tape can help when a camera can’t be turned off.

  • Check whether the manufacturer can and whether it does update the device with security patches.

  • Also check the privacy policy for the manufacturer and any streaming services, including what data they collect, how they store it and what they do with it.

The FBI is also concerned that some smart TV’s could be used as a sort of backchannel into accessing your home router and wifi, which could lead to any number of issues more devastating than unwanted camera access.

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Science/Tech

VIDEO: Tesla’s ‘Cybertruck’ Release Tainted by Botched ‘Bulletproof’ Glass Demonstration

Today, Tesla, (the car company), released their Cybertruck – a futurist utility vehicle that was equal parts Delorean and Lamborghini, with perhaps a dash of Tonka Truck thrown in for the sake of Musk’s manufactured eccentricity.

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Elon Musk is a bit of a character, that’s for sure.

He’s a man who, at every turn, seems to channel his inner-Nikola Tesla – quite blatantly in the naming of his car company – but also a bit more subtly through his enthusiasm for conjuring his own mythos.  Tesla, the man, was eccentric and odd, and so Musk puts on that mask when he can, attempting to glean something from the behavior that might help him to truly unlock the Nikola narrative.

But it doesn’t work that way.  Tesla’s eccentricities were a product of his genius, not the other way around, and Musk’s frantic character development just feels forced.

Today, Tesla, (the car company), released their Cybertruck – a futurist utility vehicle that was equal parts Delorean and Lamborghini, with perhaps a dash of Tonka Truck thrown in for the sake of Musk’s manufactured mania.

Also, as has become a staple of Elon’s eccentricity, the truck was over-built – including what was advertised as “bulletproof glass”.

Turns out that this was perhaps a feature to be added after launch.

You see those wholes in the “bulletproof” windows?  A metal ball thrown with the gusto of a pre-teen little leaguer created them.

I’ve seen more heat in tee ball.

Surely, Musk will get the window issued fixed before these angular activity pods hit the streets, but will he do anything to repair how they look?

 

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2020

Liz Warren Raises Concerns Over President Trump’s Dinner with Zuckerberg

Warren seems all too happy to participate in Facebook’s obstruction fo the First Amendment, and is seemingly concerned about President Trump’s work to restore freedom online.

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Throughout the entirety of Donald Trump’s presidency, there have been concerns regarding the tilt of the mainstream media, but also a shift in tactics being deployed by the leviathans of the social media scene as well.

It has been patently obvious that companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are being helmed by figures who find themselves on the left side of the political aisle, and, given the heightened state of agitation among the Democratic Party in the days following Trump’s electoral victory, these figures seemed unafraid of pursuing their political goals throughout their platforms.

This, quite simply put, is a violation of the First Amendment rights of many Americans, both constitutionally and ethically.

Now, as President Trump looks to turn the tide back into the favor of freedom its very self, Senator and presidential candidate Liz Warren is raising an objection.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren tore into Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for attending a previously undisclosed meeting with President Trump at the White House in October, accusing the tech billionaire of intentionally cozying up to the administration as his company faces increased scrutiny from regulators and Democratic lawmakers.

“Amid antitrust scrutiny, Facebook is going on a charm offensive with Republican lawmakers,” Warren wrote in a series of tweets on Thursday. “And now, Mark Zuckerberg and one of Facebook’s board members—a major Trump donor—had a secret dinner with Trump. This is corruption, plain and simple.”

If elected next year, Warren said she “won’t cozy up to Facebook.”

“It’s time to root out corruption in Washington,” she said.

Warren is essentially telling the nation that the limits put on free speech by Facebook over the course of the last three years, particularly as it pertains to domestic American politics, should be the new norm despite the very obvious conflict that this creates with the constitution.

 

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Science/Tech

Report: Google Does Blacklist Conservative Sites Despite Claiming It Doesn’t

Google is secretly blacklisting conservative sites to prevent them from appearing in search results, despite public denials of doing so.

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Google is secretly blacklisting conservative sites to prevent them from appearing in search results, despite public denials of doing so.

The tech giant has claimed that it does not manipulate its search results to exclude conservative sites and also denies manipulating results to benefit certain big corporations. But a new report finds that the search giant has lied. It absolutely manipulates the results in those ways.

The report at the Wall Street Journal claims that Google blacklists certain sites going back as far as the early 2000s, including sites that continually break copyright laws and sites that contain certain types of pornography.

But Google also blacklists conservative sites so that they do not appear in searches for news.

Explaining the results of the report, Google claims that sites that do not adhere to its “inclusion policies” are “not eligible to appear on news surfaces or in information boxes in Search.”

Even though it appears that mostly conservative sites are blacklisted, Google maintains that it does not employ “political bias” to exclude sites from search results.

Indeed, just last year Google said it doesn’t blacklist conservatives at all. In a public statement, Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president of public policy, said, “We don’t use blacklists/whitelists to influence our search results.”

Google also slammed the Journal’s story. In a statement this week, Google said:

This article contains a number of old, incomplete anecdotes, many of which not only predated our current processes and policies but also give a very inaccurate impression of how we approach building and improving Search.

Google adds that it only works to quash sites that are “actively deceptive.” By that they mean sites that hide true identities of owners, writers, and participants of the site, or sites that actively push false stories.

The Journal also found that Google pushes sites of big corporations over other small companies, especially big corporations that are Google advertisers.

Finally, the Journal report found that Google screens negative searches from its autocomplete results for Democrats to help maintain the left’s positive veneer.

The paper noted that if you type in “Joe Biden” in a number of search engines, one of the autocomplete choices is always “creepy” except when you use Google. “Creepy” is never associated with Biden in a Google search because, the paper says, Google purposefully prevents such results for Democrats.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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