Facebook and Twitter are concerned about what is going to happen after Election Day


Securing democracy on social media may be hardest after Americans vote in the presidential election.

In what is shaping up as a newfangled nightmare in their efforts to stop election interference, Facebook Inc.
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, Twitter Inc.
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and others are as concerned about misinformation and other issues in days after the U.S. election as they are in the months preceding it, including Election Day.

“How do we ensure that voters have accurate information?” as election results are counted in the days following the Nov. 3 presidential election, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, asked during a Tuesday webinar on protecting the upcoming elections. He did not elaborate, but hinted there could be attempts by politically motivated groups to question the legitimacy of votes, including mail-in ballots.

President Donald Trump has endlessly claimed without evidence that voting by mail — expected to increase dramatically because of the pandemic — is susceptible to large-scale fraud. (Nearly one in four voters cast 2016 presidential ballots that way.)

Yoel Roth, head of site integrity at Twitter, echoed those concerns, but he added that social-media companies are better positioned this time around than four years ago. He said the micro-blogging service is promoting “credible, authoritative information” during political-party conventions, presidential and vice-presidential debates, and election results in November.

Gleicher added that Facebook is detecting more “bad actors” than in elections in 2018 and 2016, through a greater understanding of the risk, and through coordination with academia, media, and state and local officials.

Their fears come amid concerted efforts by Facebook, Twitter and others to tamp down on misinformation concerning the U.S. elections.

Facebook, which has repeatedly acknowledged its part in being exploited by foreign and domestic adversaries during the 2016 presidential election with fake news and misinformation, this month launched a Voting Information Center to help users with accurate, easy-to-find information about voting wherever they live.

Read more: Facebook hardens digital defense for misinformation ahead of elections

The addendum will link to a new voter information hub similar to one about COVID-19 that Facebook says has been seen by billions of people globally. The labels will read, “Visit the Voting Information Center for election resources and official updates.” Facebook expects the voter hub to reach at least 160 million people in the U.S. In July, the company began adding similar links to misleading posts by politicians, including Trump, about voting.

Twitter, meanwhile, has said it will roll out measures on new tools, policies and voting resources, as well as expand its “civic integrity policies” to address misrepresentations about mail-in voting. In January, the company created a feature that lets users report voter suppression and misinformation.

Among other companies, Snap Inc.
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has unveiled a “Voter Registration Mini” tool so users can register to vote directly in Snapchat. It also posted a “Voter Guide” with information about topics such as voting by mail and voter registration.



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Facebook, Twitter remove Trump posts for making ‘false claims’ about coronavirus


President Donald Trump answers a question during a press conference in the White House on Wednesday.


AFP/Getty Images

Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. on Wednesday removed posts by President Donald Trump that violated their coronavirus misinformation policies.

The identical posts were a video clip from a Fox News interview with Trump about reopening schools, in which he wrongly claimed children are “virtually immune” to COVID-19.

While children appear to be generally less affected by the coronavirus, they are not “virtually immune,” and a number have died. The state of California, for example, has recorded more than 48,000 cases of COVID-19 in patients 17 and younger.

A Facebook
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spokesperson said in an email: “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation.” 

However, that message was not included on Facebook’s site. The post was replaced by a message reading “This content isn’t available right now,” which does not explain why it was removed or that its content was inaccurate.

It was the first time Facebook has taken down a Trump post for violating its coronavirus rules. In June, Facebook took down Trump campaign ads that included a Nazi symbol, and in March took down Trump campaign ads that were misleading about the census.

Trump’s official campaign account — which Trump retweeted — posted the same video on Twitter, which has been more active than Facebook at taking down presidential posts that violate guidelines. It was up for at least five hours before being taken down, with a note reading: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules.”

A Twitter
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spokesperson confirmed the tweet was removed for being in violation of the company’s rules on COVID-19 misinformation. Twitter added that the Trump campaign’s official account will be blocked from posting again until the video is removed.

Trump has harshly criticized social-media companies for fact-checking and removing his posts, and in July the Trump administration asked the FCC to reinterpret a 1996 law that gives broad latitude to how tech companies police content on their sites.





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Florida teen masterminded Twitter hack that hit Biden, Musk accounts among others By Reuters


© Reuters. A magnifying glass is held in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in Berlin

By Raphael Satter, Katie Paul and Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) – A 17-year-old Florida boy masterminded the hacking of celebrity accounts on Twitter Inc (NYSE:), including those of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Tesla (NASDAQ:) Chief Executive Elon Musk, officials said on Friday.

A 19-year-old British man and a 22-year-old man in Orlando, Florida were also charged under U.S. federal law with aiding the attack, the Justice Department said.

Florida’s State Attorney identified the 17-year-old as Graham (NYSE:) Clark of Tampa and charged him as an adult with 30 felony counts of fraud. Clark netted at least $100,000 from the scheme by using the celebrity accounts to solicit investments from unsuspecting Twitter users, state officials said.

“He’s a 17-year-old kid who just graduated from high school,” said Florida State Attorney Andrew Warren in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, “But make no mistake: This was not an ordinary 17-year-old.”

Mason Sheppard, a 19-year-old from Bogner Regis (NYSE:), Britain who used the alias Chaewon, was charged with wire fraud and money laundering while Orlando-based Nima Fazeli, 22, nicknamed Rolex, was accused of aiding and abetting the crimes, according to a Justice Department statement.

Twitter said it appreciated the “swift actions of law enforcement.”

Clark and one of the other participants were in custody, officials said.

In the hack, fraudulent tweets soliciting investments in the digital currency bitcoin were posted in mid-July by 45 verified Twitter accounts, including those belonging to Biden, former President Barack Obama and billionaire Bill Gates. Twitter said the hackers also likely read some direct messages including to a Dutch elected official.

More than $100,000 was obtained, bitcoin’s public ledger showed.

Twitter has previously said its employees were duped into sharing account credentials.

Authorities provided new details Friday in an affidavit alleging that Clark “used social engineering to convince a Twitter employee that he was a co-worker in the IT department and had the employee provide credentials to access the customer service portal.”

Sheppard and Fazeli did not return emails seeking comment. An attorney for Clark could not be immediately identified. Phone calls and an email to Clark’s mother were not immediately returned.

Warren said the state rather than the federal government was prosecuting Clark because Florida law enabled him to be charged as an adult.

StopSIMCrime founder Robert Ross, whose group tries to combat a popular hacking technique, said the case showed the prowess of adolescent amateurs at defeating corporate security.

“Groups of teens/youngsters are doing this en masse,” he said by email. “It’s really a national security risk.”

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

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The most disturbing part of the Twitter hack: Many of its employees have access to accounts


On July 17, 130 high-profile Twitter accounts were hijacked for the purpose of tweeting messages that solicited cryptocurrency scams.

As a result, 12.58 bitcoin
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or close to $116,000, went to addresses mentioned in fraudulent tweets. According to an official tweet, the social-networking service fell victim to “… a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of employees with access to internal systems and tools.”

The story illustrates that a system is only as strong as its weakest link. In this case, it was a brain, not a machine, that was hacked.

Social engineering

Social engineering is a psychological manipulation of people to perform actions or divulge confidential information. Greed, dishonesty, vanity, opportunism, lust, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility, desperation and naivete are all human traits that can be exploited, and no social-engineering scheme is the same.

As its basis, it involves recognizing “weak links” in a victim’s character, gaining a person’s trust or abusing his lack of suspicion, and then playing on those weaknesses to perform a malicious act. In Twitter’s case, it was tricking key employees into giving hackers access to internal systems and tools.

“We used a rep that literally done all the work for us,” one of the hackers said in an interview with Motherboard, while other added that the Twitter representative got paid for providing access to a special set of Twitter internal tools that enabled them to do the deed. Screenshots of the tools were leaked after the hack took place.

The real news

While many obsess over dissecting this information and getting into the nitty-gritty of what really happened with Twitter, the fact that many of its employees — over 1,000, according to Reuters — have such access over every individual account is the real news. It shows that Twitter cannot only block/unblock your account (which is fine), but also that it has access to private messages (known as “direct messages,” or DMs) sent to or by you.

This last part is the most worrisome aspect, as it means that nothing published on Twitter is ever private. Rather, it’s visible to many Twitter employees. They can peruse your DMs and do whatever they please with your private correspondence without you ever realizing it.

Twitter has never been a politically neutral platform, and knowing that its employees have this kind of power and oversight over the communication of those they deem dangerous or simply disagreeable is deeply worrying. It goes without saying that you should never share on Twitter any information, especially via DMs, that you would not otherwise share publicly. This will remain the case until the company implements end-to-end encryption for direct messages. (End-to-end encryption is a method of secure communication that prevents third parties from accessing data while it’s transferred from one device to another.)

But Twitter isn’t the only social-networking platform with “special tools.” Two years ago, the New York Post reported of a security engineer at Facebook
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who was accused of using their “privileged access” to personal data to stalk women online. SnapLion is a tool of choice for eager Snapchat employees, enabling them unfettered access to the user data. I’m sure the list goes on, and I’m also sure that some of this info finds its way to the dark web, where more notorious individuals gain access to your personal data for nefarious purposes.

When asked, many of these companies will say that the access to personal and private data is sometimes necessary — for example, to respond to a government inquiry or to provide system maintenance. Even if this were true, one thing is certain: If this access isn’t properly monitored, it will inadvertently be abused. Perhaps not by an entire company trying to sabotage your political endeavors, but simply by an overly curious employee — or a hacker.

This is not acceptable. Insisting on end-to-end encryption should be a hill to die on, lest we lose the last shreds of our privacy.

What do you think? Let me know in the comment section below.

Jurica Dujmovic is a MarketWatch columnist.





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Twitter moves against QAnon, suspending accounts and blocking URLs


Twitter Inc. is cracking down on QAnon.

In a series of tweets late Tuesday, Twitter
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announced it will permanently suspend accounts related to the conspiracy-theory movement, as well as block URLs and work to keep QAnon activity out of search results.

NBC News reported the moves will affect about 150,000 QAnon-related accounts, and about 7,000 have already been banned for breaking Twitter’s policy against targeted harassment. The crackdown is partially intended to prevent QAnon accounts from “swarming” individual victims

“We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called ‘QAnon’ activity across the service,” Twitter said.

The San Francisco-based company said the moves will be “rolled out comprehensively” this week.

“As we work at scale to protect the public conversation in the face of evolving threats, we’ll continue to lead with transparency and offer more context on our efforts,” Twitter said.

In recent months, Twitter has taken more forceful steps to rein in the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories, and has fact-checked a number of misleading tweets by President Donald Trump.

QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that has taken flight on social media that involves a multitude of beliefs, including government cover-ups, perceived threats from a “deep state” and the existence of an international sex-trafficking ring made up of celebrities and politicians. Most recently, QAnon believers have spread baseless rumors that Wayfair Inc.
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trafficks children, charges that the online retailer has vehemently denied.

Last year, the FBI named QAnon as a domestic terror threat, saying its theories could drive “groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts.”



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