Daily Archives: April 12, 2017

Sock puppet accounts unmasked by the way they write and post 

By Edd Gent“Sock puppets” are the scourge of online discussion . Multiple accounts controlled by the same user can dominate comment forums and spread fake news. But now there’s a way to unmask the puppeteers.A study of nine websites that use comment service Disqus to let readers post responses to articles found that sock puppets can be identified based on their writing style, posting activity and relationship with other users.In the era of fake news, detecting sock puppets is important, says Srijan Kumar at the University of Maryland. “Whenever multiple accounts are used by the same party it is harmful and it skews the discussion and fake news can be propagated very confidently,” he says.Kumar and his colleagues at the University of Maryland and Stanford University in California analysed commenter accounts on news websites including CNN, NPR, Breitbart and Fox News. They identified the sock puppets by finding accounts that posted from the same IP address in the same discussion at similar times. This approach isn’t always possible, so they wanted to develop a tool that automatically detects sock puppets based only on publicly accessible posting data.They found that sock puppets contribute poorer quality content, writing shorter posts that are often downvoted or reported by other users. They post on more controversial topics, spend more time replying to other users and are more abusive. Worryingly, their posts are also more likely to be read and they are often central to their communities, generating a lot of activity.

Source: Sock puppet accounts unmasked by the way they write and post | New Scientist

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Taser stuns law enforcement world, offers free body cameras to all US police

Taser, the company whose electronic stun guns have become a household name, is now offering a groundbreaking deal to all American law enforcement: free body cameras and a year’s worth of access to the company’s cloud storage service, Evidence.com.In addition, on Wednesday, the company also announced that it would be changing its name to “Axon” to reflect the company’s flagship body camera product.Right now, Axon is the single largest vendor of body cameras in America. It vastly outsells smaller competitors, including VieVu and Digital Ally—the company has profited $90 million from 2012 through 2016.If the move is successful, Axon could quickly crowd out its rivals entirely. In recent years, federal dollars went to police agencies both big (Los Angeles) and small (Village of Spring Valley, New York), encouraging the purchase of body-worn cameras. However, while cameras are rapidly spreading across America, they are still not ubiquitous yet. Axon wants to change that.

Source: Taser stuns law enforcement world, offers free body cameras to all US police | Ars Technica

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Garage Door Opener Company Bricks Customer Hardware After Negative Review

So if there’s one thing we’ve probably repeated more than others around here, it’s the idea that in the IoT and copyright maximalist era, you no longer truly own the things you think you own. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about video game consoles, software, smart home hubs, ebooks, DVDs or routers — in the always-connected, copyright mad, instantly-upgradeable firmware age, companies are often quick to remove some or all functionality at a whim, leaving you with little more than a receipt and a dream of dumb technology days gone by.But we’ve also noted repeatedly that part of this new paradigm involves companies using this capability to punish customers for poor reviews. This is, it should go without saying, an idiotic policy that almost always invokes the Streisand effect and makes the “problem” of a negative review significantly worse than if the company in question had done nothing at all.Case in point: internet-connected garage opener Garadget, which is taking heat this week for bricking a customer’s ‘smart’ garage door opener after the customer in question left a negative review on Amazon. Earlier this month, a Garadget user posted to the company’s message board, complaining about problems with the iPhone app that controls the garage door opener:

Source: Garage Door Opener Company Bricks Customer Hardware After Negative Review | Techdirt

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Dutch doctors oppose plans for ‘completed life’ euthanasia

Although Dutch government proposals for euthanasia for “completed life” – that is, for elderly people who want to step off the treadmill gracefully – have received a lot of publicity, they have not been legislated.Now the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), the peak body for doctors in the Netherlands, has announced its opposition.” Such a radical proposal is not desirable for practical reasons and for reasons of principle,” says the KNMG.Adding another law to govern the practice of euthanasia will lead to great complications, it contends. “The current Act is meticulous, transparent, verifiable, safe for patients and physicians, and has broad support.”

Source: BioEdge: Dutch doctors oppose plans for ‘completed life’ euthanasia

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WikiLeaks reveals Grasshopper, the CIA’s Windows hacking tool

In case you haven’t had your dose of paranoia fuel today, WikiLeaks released new information concerning a CIA malware program called “Grasshopper,” that specifically targets Windows.The Grasshopper framework was (is?) allegedly used by the CIA to make custom malware payloads. According to the user guide:Grasshopper is a software tool used to build custom installers for target computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems.Ever been to a tech festival?

TNW Conference won best European Event 2016 for our festival vibe. See what’s in store for 2017. Grasshopper is designed to detect the OS and protection on any Windows computer on which it’s deployed, and it can escape detection by anti-malware software.If that was enough for you to put your computer in stasis, brace yourself for a doozy: Grasshopper reinstalls itself every 22 hours, even if you have Windows Update disabled.

Source: WikiLeaks reveals Grasshopper, the CIA’s Windows hacking tool

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