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‘Troll factory’: Facebook, Twitter suspend Russian network ahead of U.S. election – National


Facebook said Tuesday that it removed a small network of accounts and pages linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the “troll factory” that has used social media accounts to sow political discord in the U.S. since the 2016 presidential election.

Twitter also suspended five related accounts. The company said the tweets from these Russia-linked accounts“were low quality and spammy” and that most received few, if any, likes or retweets.

The people behind the accounts recruited “unwitting” freelance journalists to post in English and Arabic, mainly targeting left-leaning audiences. Facebook said Tuesday the network’s activity focused on the U.S., U.K., Algeria and Egypt and other English-speaking countries and countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

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The company said it started investigating the network based on information from the FBI about its off-Facebook activities. The network was in the early stages of development, Facebook added, and saw “nearly no engagement” on Facebook before it was removed. The network consisted of 13 Facebook accounts and two pages. About 14,000 accounts followed one or more of the pages, though the English-language page had a little over 200 followers, Facebook said.

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Still, its presence points to ongoing Russian efforts to disrupt the U.S. election and sow political discord in an already divided country. To evade detection, the people behind the network recruited Americans to do their bidding, likely unknowingly, both as journalists and as people authorized to purchase political advertisements in the U.S.

Facebook said the people behind the network posted about global events ranging from racial justice in the U.S. and the U.K., NATO, the QAnon conspiracy, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. The network spent about $480 on advertising on Facebook, primarily in U.S. dollars. However, Facebook said less than $2 worth of those ads targeted the U.S.

The network’s posts directed people to a website called PeaceData, which claims to be a global news organization that, according to a report by research firm Graphika, “took a left-wing stance, opposing what it portrayed as Western imperialism and the excesses of capitalism.”






‘Anarchists, rioters’ on plane: Trump echoes months-old Facebook conspiracy theory


‘Anarchists, rioters’ on plane: Trump echoes months-old Facebook conspiracy theory

The FBI said in a statement Tuesday that it provided information to the platforms “to better protect against threats to the nation’s security and our democratic processes.”

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“While technology companies independently make decisions regarding the content of their platforms and the safety of their members, the FBI is actively engaged with our federal partners, election officials, and the private sector to mitigate foreign threats to our nation’s security and our elections,” the statement said.

Separately, Twitter said Tuesday it will start adding context to its trending section, which shows some of the most popular topics on the service at any given moment. Experts and even Twitter’s own employees have expressed concerns that the trending section can be gamed to spread misinformation and abuse.

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Facebook erred by failing to remove post calling for armed civilians: Zuckerberg

Twitter uses algorithms and human employees to determine what topics are trending _ it is not simply the most popular topics, but topics that are newly popular at any given time. But it’s not difficult to artificially elevate trends.

In the coming weeks, Twitter said, users in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, India and several other countries will see brief descriptions added to some trends to add context.

“To be clear, we know there is more work to do to improve trends and the context updates we’re announcing today are just a small step in the right direction,” said Liz Lee, a product trust partner and Frank Oppong, a product manager, in a blog post. “We need to make trends better and we will.”

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_

Associated Press Writer Eric Tucker contributed to this story from Washington, D.C.




© 2020 The Canadian Press





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‘Tough Day for Twitter:’ Users React to Massive Platform Security Breach



Following the recent hijacking of multiple high-profile Twitter accounts, users on the platform have begun to analyze the cyber attack and the effects it may have on the platform’s future.

Twitter recently faced a major security breach as the accounts of multiple high-profile individuals and companies were hijacked, including Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Former President Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and the official accounts of ride-sharing service Uber and tech giant Apple.

Now, many individuals from multiple fields are reacting to the news that major accounts were apparently easily hijacked in the space of a few hours, and how the platform could prevent such an attack again in the future.

Motherboard reporter Jason Koebler tweeted that photos of internal Twitter tools shared with Motherboard by sources claiming to have knowledge of the hack are being removed from Twitter for containing “personal information,” despite the screenshots simply showing an internal Twitter dashboard with no identifying info.

Many across Twitter have begun to worry about the impact of the hack, game developer Mark Kern best known for working as a team lead on the popular game World of Warcraft tweeted that the hack could have “some really, really, big impacts.”

Journalist and eSports commentator Richard Lewis claimed in a twee that the leaked internal tools prove that the company lied to Congress about the types of tools they had in place, this likely refers to what appears to be “blacklisting” options for accounts in Twitter’s internal tools. Dorsey and his staff have long claimed that the act of “shadowbanning” or preventing users’ tweets from being seen is a conspiracy theory.

Journalist Tim Pool came to a similar conclusion, stating that blacklisting options are clearly labeled in the leaked internal screenshots:

Kim Dotcom, the German-Finnish Internet entrepreneur and founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload.com who is fighting 2012 charges of copyright infringement and money laundering related to the site, commented that the hack has revealed that evidence from social media is no longer reliable in Court as it can be edited by Twitter employees or anyone with access to Twitter’s internal tools.

The account of the cryptocurrency wallet MyCrypto posted a number of tweets outlining when certain accounts posted tweets containing links to Bitcoin donation scams and the Bitcoin addresses linked to the scam.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that it was a “tough day” at the company following the events of the hack:

Many made light of the situation including British television host Piers Morgan who tweeted that he would not be tweeting “Bitcoin advice”:

Breitbart News will continue to follow this story and update readers on the latest events as more information comes to light.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address [email protected]





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Twitter hack alarms experts already concerned about platform’s security – National


The extraordinary hacking spree that hit Twitter on Wednesday, leading it to briefly muzzle some of its most widely followed accounts, is drawing questions about the platform’s security and resilience in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election.

Twitter said late Wednesday hackers obtained control of employee credentials to hijack accounts including those of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, former president Barack Obama, reality television star Kim Kardashian, and tech billionaire and Tesla founder Elon Musk.

Read more:
Twitter says ‘coordinated social engineering attack’ targeted politicians, tech leaders

In a series of tweets, the company said: “We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”

The hackers then “used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf.”

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The company statements confirmed the fears of security experts that the service itself — rather than users — had been compromised.

Twitter’s role as a critical communications platform for political candidates and public officials, including President Donald Trump, has led to fears that hackers could wreak havoc with the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election or otherwise compromise national security.






Facebook and Google suspend China’s data requests, TikTok to pull out of Hong Kong


Facebook and Google suspend China’s data requests, TikTok to pull out of Hong Kong

Adam Conner, vice president for technology policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank, said on Twitter: “This is bad on July 15 but would be infinitely worse on November 3rd.”

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Bitcoin bounty

Posing as celebrities and the wealthy, the hackers asked followers to send the digital currency bitcoin to a series of addresses. By evening, 400 bitcoin transfers were made worth a combined $120,000. Half of the victims had funds in U.S. bitcoin exchanges, a quarter in Europe and a quarter in Asia, according to forensics company Elliptic.

Those transfers left history that could help investigators identify the perpetrators of the hack. The financial damage may be limited because multiple exchanges blocked other payments after their own Twitter accounts were targeted.

Read more:
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The damage to Twitter’s reputation may be more serious. Most troubling to some was how long the company took to stop the bad tweets.

“Twitter’s response to this hack was astonishing. It’s the middle of the day in San Francisco, and it takes them five hours to get a handle on the incident,” said Dan Guido, CEO of security company Trail of Bits.

An even worse scenario was that the bitcoin fraud was a distraction for more serious hacking, such as harvesting the direct messages of the account holders.






Donald Trump signs executive order on social media


Donald Trump signs executive order on social media

Twitter said it was not yet certain what the hackers may have done beyond sending the bitcoin messages.

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“We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it,” the company said.

Mass compromises of Twitter accounts via theft of employee credentials or problems with third-party applications that many users employ have occured before.

Wednesday’s hack was the worst to date. Several users with two-factor authentication — a security procedure that helps prevent break-in attempts — said they were powerless to stop it.

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“If the hackers do have access to the backend of Twitter, or direct database access, there is nothing potentially stopping them from pilfering data in addition to using this tweet-scam as a distraction,” said Michael Borohovski, director of software engineering at security company Synopsys.

In 2010, Twitter reached a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after it was found the company had lied about efforts to protect users’ information during an extended hack the year before.

Under the terms of the settlement, Twitter was barred for 20 years from misleading users about how it protects the security and confidentiality of private information.

U.S. Rep. Josh Hawley wrote to Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey during the hack calling for the company to work with the FBI and Department of Justice to secure its platform, and then answer questions publicly about the effects of the hack.

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One of his questions is how the hack may have affected the account of President Donald Trump.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco and Raphael Satter in Washington; Additional reporting by Anna Irrera in New York; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Lincoln Feast.)

With files from Global News’ Sean Boynton








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Nasa says FOUR asteroids moving up to 50,000mph will make close passes of Earth today


FOUR asteroids are heading past Earth today at up to 50,000 miles per hour.

Nasa has put them all on its ‘close approach’ list.

The asteroids aren't expected to impact Earth

1

The asteroids aren’t expected to impact EarthCredit: Getty – Contributor

The space rocks are called 2020 KK7, 2020 KD4, 2020 KF and 2020 KJ1.

Asteroid 2020 KK7 should have just zoomed past us.

Experts predicted it to be up to 108 foot wide.

Nasa estimated that it could come as close as 310,445 miles from our planet.

In the grand scheme of space this isn’t a large distance at all.

Any fast moving space object that comes within around 4.65 million miles is considered to be “potentially hazardous” by cautious space organisations.

The next space rock heading past Earth today will be Asteroid 2020 KD4, which could be as wide as 114 foot.

This asteroid is expected to pass at the much further distance of 2.5million miles away.

Asteroid 2020 KD4 should pass Earth at around 13:47 GMT.

Around three hours later 2020 KD4, Asteroid 2020 KF should shoot past from even further away.

This space rock could be the largest of the group at up to 144 foot wide.

Lastly, Asteroid 2020 KJ1 should shoot past Earth from 1.3million miles away.

This space rock could be up to 104 foot wide.

A different 98 foot asteroid also skimmed past Earth today but in the very early hours of the morning.

Nasa keeps an eye on objects that will be coming close to Earth but stresses that “a “close” passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms.”

What’s the difference between an asteroid, meteor and comet?

Here’s what you need to know, according to Nasa…

  • Asteroid: An asteroid is a small rocky body that orbits the Sun. Most are found in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) but they can be found anywhere (including in a path that can impact Earth)
  • Meteoroid: When two asteroids hit each other, the small chunks that break off are called meteoroids
  • Meteor: If a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it begins to vapourise and then becomes a meteor. On Earth, it’ll look like a streak of light in the sky, because the rock is burning up
  • Meteorite: If a meteoroid doesn’t vapourise completely and survives the trip through Earth’s atmosphere, it can land on the Earth. At that point, it becomes a meteorite
  • Comet: Like asteroids, a comet orbits the Sun. However rather than being made mostly of rock, a comet contains lots of ice and gas, which can result in amazing tails forming behind them (thanks to the ice and dust vapourising)

 

Jupiter is flinging asteroids at Earth ‘like a sniper’, top scientist warns

In other space news, the biggest solar flare since 2017 and new sunspots suggests our star could be ‘waking up’, according to Nasa.

A SpaceX rocket launched two US astronauts into orbit over the weekend.

And, Flat-Earth conspiracy theorists were ridiculed on social media after footage from the launch captured the curvature of our planet.

What do you make of Nasa’s ‘close approach’ definition? Let us know in the comments…

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]





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Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton joins TikTok social media video app – Edmonton


One of the oldest institutions has turned to one of the newest social media sites to help spread the Good Word.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton decided to join TikTok after noticing a drop in engagement on other social media sites like Instagram.

It is one of the first religious organizations to use the platform in Canada. Officials told Global News the decision was not an easy one, but that it is a natural step.

“Evangelization, you know, in different mediums is not a new thing,” social media strategist Lincoln Ho explained of the decision.

The app is one of the fastest-growing social networking sites in the world, accumulating 500 million active users worldwide since launching in 2016.


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In fact, it beat out a few of its more seasoned competitors, like Twitter and Snapchat, which boast about 330 million and 203 million active users, respectively.

The mobile TikTok app allows users to shoot and edit short videos set to music and has been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times.

The videos range in length from 15 to 60 seconds, and feature an array of content from comedy sketches and dance challenges to lip-syncing celebrities and pranks.

Many of the videos are adaptations of other trends on the platform. For the Archdiocese, the first video posted was meant to promote their Day of Confessions.

It showed St. Joseph’s Basilica pastoral counsel Scott Jenken walk into a confessional wearing jeans before coming out in robes.

Pastoral Counsel Scott Jenken can be seen in a TIk Tok video posted by The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton.

Pastoral Counsel Scott Jenken can be seen in a TIk Tok video posted by The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton.


Tik Tok

“I was serving for the Archbishop Sunday and my good friend Lincoln had approached me and said, ‘Scott, you’re going to do this.’ And I said, ‘Oh. Okay,’” Jenken explained.

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The video has only been viewed a modest 300 times (as of Monday morning) but Jenken said it’s made its way to parishioners.

“I have heard a few people come and say, ‘I saw you on that TikTok’ and I thought, ‘Oh! Goodness!’”


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While they’re happy to share the message with Catholics, the idea is to also break through to those who aren’t frequent attendees.

“You never really know who you’re going to reach with this and so you might capture someone’s attention who says, ‘Hey, I should go and maybe do confession,’” Jenken said.


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Ho plans to use the videos to do just that. He has already created others including a video based on a so-called Paper Towel Challenge spreading on the app.

It sees users write on two sides of a paper towel then put it on water, revealing two messages.

@archedmonton

Spring be late… typical #Edmonton weather right?#papertowelchallenge #timechange #yeg #pourtoi #archedmonton #catholic #alberta #tiktokcanada

♬ Originalton – qwestar


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That kind of creativity doesn’t come easily.

“A TikTok actually takes way more planning than other ones that I’ve done.”


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But Ho believes it is worth the effort.


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Using social media to evangelize is not unprecedented — Pope Francis joined Twitter in 2012. In that time, he has amassed more than 18 million followers.

It’s why the Archdiocese of Edmonton believes he would be on board with their latest venture.

“I think he’d approve, certainly,” Jenken said.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton can be found on TikTok as @ArchEdmonton. You can also follow Global News @globalnews.ca.

TikTok and its parent company, Chinese technology company Bytedance, are not without controversy.

In early December 2019, TikTok admitted to suppressing the content of users it deemed ‘susceptible to bullying’, namely people with disabilities or those in the LGBTQ2+ community.

It also faced public scrutiny over allegations that the platform removed politically-sensitive content for users in China.


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WATCH BELOW: Marc Saltzman explains the TikTok craze and shares this month’s tAPPworthy apps






What is TikTok?


What is TikTok?

— With files from Sara Hussein, Global News




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.







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‘We are hiring big time’: Calgary tech companies join forces to attract job seekers – Calgary


A Calgary-based group of tech companies held a hiring fair downtown on Saturday to help get the word out that the technology sector needs skilled workers.

Jason Moore was working as a geologist in Calgary for the past eight years until September when he was laid off.

“I left on good terms. They treated me very fairly but it was more just a side effect of what all of Alberta is going through at this time,” Moore said.


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Moore is one of the hundreds of people who attended the first Tech West Collective hiring expo on Saturday. He now considers himself lucky. Moore is learning the world of coding and discovering a passion he never knew he had.

“I think one of the great things about coding is you get to build stuff, and you get to see if it works right away. It’s like the mouse pushing the button and you get the pellet,” Moore said with a laugh.

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The Tech West Collective is a group of Calgary tech companies that have teamed up to help fill vacant positions.

“We are feeling a talent gap. Now we want to build up the talent pool,” said Tech West Collective organizer Kat Lesperance.

Lesperance works at Showpass, a Calgary-based tech company that provides ticketing solutions for event organizers. Showpass and Avanti Software are two of the seven members of the collective.

“We are hiring big time,” said David Owen Cord, Avanti Software co-CEO.

He said the company is looking for people of all backgrounds — not just tech-related positions.

“It’s been interesting because of the negative headlines here in Calgary and the layoffs that are going on but we are having a very different reality in the business we live in every day. One of our biggest challenges is actually filling the open spots that we are trying to hire for,” Owen Cord said.

Part of the problem is a lack of people with tech skills.

EvolveU is a non-profit educational institution that is helping job hunters transform their careers to adapt to the rapidly changing digital economy.

“There’s so much opportunity right now that people don’t even know about. That’s exciting for me and it’s exciting to watch the students go through the transformation,” said Jen Morrison, program manager with EvolveU, at the job fair on Saturday.

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Calgary working to attract tech talent

Members of the Tech West Collective said it’s time for tech companies to stop poaching talent from each other and get the word out that Calgary’s economy goes beyond oil and gas. Those transitioning from the energy industry said the job hunt in the tech world is more encouraging.

“There [are] more jobs than would be for my old profession. It’s not that they’re handing them out, but there definitely does seem to be more excitement and more opportunity and a desire for more people to enter this industry,” Moore said, adding that he’s taking courses at EvolveU.

According to Calgary Economic Development, the city has over 2,000 open tech jobs.




© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.







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