January 05, 2012, 3:57 PM EST
By Tom Schoenberg
(Updates with excerpt from ruling in third paragraph.)
Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) — Three WikiLeaks backers lost their bid to keep information on them collected from their Twitter Inc. accounts from being turned over to U.S. prosecutors who are investigating the group’s publication of classified information.
U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady in Alexandria, Virginia, yesterday denied a request by the backers that the information sought by prosecutors be blocked while a federal appeals court considers their challenge. O’Grady, in his ruling, said the appeal has little chance of success because existing case law “overwhelmingly” supports the government’s position.
“Litigation of these issues has already denied the government lawful access to potential evidence for more than a year,” O’Grady said in his ruling. “The public interest therefore weighs strongly against further delay.”
The litigation over the Twitter data was the first public skirmish in the government’s criminal investigation of WikiLeaks’s leader, Julian Assange, and others who may have helped leak diplomatic cables and classified military documents through the WikiLeaks website.
The subscribers challenging the order include Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of the Icelandic parliament; Jacob Appelbaum, a computer security researcher who represented WikiLeaks at a 2010 hacker’s conference in New York; and Rop Gonggrijp, described in court papers as a Dutch activist and businessman.
The three subscribers argued that the U.S. subpoena to Twitter violated their privacy and their rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“We’re obviously disappointed by this ruling and we think the judge got it wrong,” said Aden Fine, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who represents Jonsdottir. Fine said his client is considering her options, which include asking the appeals court to delay turning over the data.
They filed an appeal with the U.S. Appeals Court in Richmond, Virginia, last month after O’Grady upheld a magistrate judge’s ruling that required San Francisco-based Twitter to give investigators data on subscribers “associated with WikiLeaks,” including Assange and Bradley Manning, a U.S. soldier charged with leaking classified information.
In March 2011, U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan said the three backers didn’t have standing to challenge her order because the government wasn’t seeking the contents of their communications on Twitter.
Prosecutors asked for subscriber names, contact information, billing records, user activity, Internet protocol addresses and source and destination e-mail addresses.
In a Dec. 14 filing, prosecutors said that a delay in turning over the Twitter data would harm the grand jury’s criminal investigation.
“Ongoing litigation has already deprived the grand jury of the requested information for more than a year,” Andrew Peterson, an assistant U.S. attorney in Alexandria, wrote in the filing. “This, in turn, has prevented the grand jury from following up on investigative leads generated from the Twitter records for more than a year.”
Peter Carr, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride, declined to comment on O’Grady’s ruling.
The district court case is In re Application of the U.S. for an Order Pursuant to 18 USC 2703(d), 11-dm-00003, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria). The appeal is In re: 2703(d) Application, 11-5151, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Richmond).
–Editors: Andrew Dunn, Stephen Farr
To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at email@example.com
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By Barbara Chai
Nick Cannon at the TeenNick HALO Awards in October.
Nick Cannon was transferred to a hospital in L.A. yesterday and is recovering from what his wife, singer Mariah Carey, called “a mild kidney failure.” Carey Tweeted the news as she posted a photo of herself tending to Cannon in a hospital bed and asked for prayers for his recovery.
Cannon, a host on “America’s Got Talent,” later Tweeted that he was “Currently being transfered to a hospital in LA. Thank you all for all your love, prayers and concern. You know me… I will be a’ight” from his own account.
His representative confirmed he’s recovering at an L.A. hospital.
Both posts by Carey and Cannon were re-Tweeted more than 100 times.
Carey posted the same photo on her website as well, with a longer description of her and Cannon’s ordeal. She wrote, “We’re trying to be as festive as possible under the circumstances but please keep Nick in your thoughts because this is very painful.”
Follow Barbara Chai on Twitter @barbarachai
(CNN) — Cuban state media this week expressed outrage at a rumor of the death of Fidel Castro, and even pinpointed the Twitter account they say sparked the fuss. But the account’s owner, a Spaniard named David Fernandez, says Cuba has it wrong.
An expose published on the state-run Cuba Debate website claimed to track down the origin of the rumor that the leader of the Cuban revolution had died. It’s investigation led to Fernandez’s Twitter page, where he goes by the handle @naroh.
The report said that a spam robot used Fernandez’s account, possibly without his knowledge, to spread rumors about Castro.
“They should double-check their ‘information’ before blaming someone for no reason,” Fernandez told CNN late Wednesday. “I wrote about that when the topic was already trending and my tweets were mostly jokes. I didn’t start anything.”
Raúl Castro anuncia cambios en Cuba
A look at Fernandez’s Twitter activity shows that the offending tweet was in fact not his, but a retweet, or copy, of someone else’s tweet.
An online search showed that a tweet claiming that a publication called Cuba Press had confirmed Castro’s death began to circulate on January 2, but the originator of that message was impossible to pinpoint.
The hashtag #FidelCastro, used to identify the topic of a tweet, on that day became one of the most popular tags, known as a Trending Topic.
According to Cuba Debate, the “frustration” of Cuba’s enemies to assassinate Castro “has led some to try (to kill him) in the virtual world with the hope of accomplishing what more than half a century of criminal attempts have failed to do.”
For his part, Fernandez took his new found notoriety with some humor.
“Cuba has blamed me for killing Fidel Castro on Twitter. Can I consider myself a twitstar?”
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Last week I had the misfortune of attending a funeral. At the funeral home on a corner table, subdued as it was, stood a small 8×11 display reading “Find us on Facebook.” Really? What exactly does a funeral home expect to gain from social media? To what end?
As of mid 2011, 44-percent of Fortune 500 companies don’t have a Facebook account and another 40-percent don’t have a Twitter. These companies –with a vastness of resources that we small-businesspeople can only dream of– haven’t taken the time to ask the iPhone-wielding mail-cart guy to set up a simple Facebook page. Are they crazy?
It has become something of a profitable business model to call yourself a “guru” or “expert” or “consultant” on the ways of social media. To qualify your resume needn’t say more than “Age: 28” and you’re believe-able. And its thanks to this newly embraced snake oil salesman in the business world that we–in the land of the sane–have to fight, tooth-and-nail, to get a serious audience for the question “why?”. Why post 5 times a day on Facebook? Why tweet 100 times a month? Why open a seventh branded twitter account? Why get your space carved out on Google+, Foursquare, or the like?
Well let me take this time to illustrate some reasons you should not waste your time on social media.
When it Makes Sense
If you can still hear me over the gasps of the “gurus” around you, don’t let them read this part. There are plenty of instances where Facebook and Twitter make a great deal of sense. I’ve broken them down into two categories–though I’ll accept arguments for more.
Clearly, as a news service, blog, paper, magazine, radio station, or other regularly updated information source; Facebook and Twitter give you another channel to carry your information to the masses. Your business is reliant on regular interaction with the consumer and, more than that, the perception of an authoritative voice on something. If you’re a news-maker without a Facebook, that’s a problem.
Regularly Returning Customers:
If your business/organization has regularly returning customers (say at least once a month) the sort of instant mass-contact you get from Facebook makes a great deal of sense. Lets say you’re a beauty salon trying to drum up business around prom time, or a coffee shop trying to get rid of those scones before they expire… A Facebook post might be your best and cheapest weapon in the advertising arsenal.
One Syncapse, a social media measurement firm, study found that for the top major retailers on Facebook, each fan is worth $136.38. In the case of one of those, Starbucks, this equates to (26,607,626 x 136.38) over $3.5 billion. Its hard to imagine their spending quite that much on their social media campaigns. But we should be wary of this sort of research. This valuation has a lot to do with likelihood of return. Fans are 28-percent more likely to continue using a brand and 41-percent more likely to recommend a product. But, never is it mentioned how Facebook itself has impacted these consumers. Methinks without Facebook there might still be brand loyalty, just fewer ways to proclaim it.
Now, if you don’t fit into one of those categories, its time to start asking yourself: “Self, why do I need to devote business hours to updating social media?” Well, you don’t.
When it Doesn’t
Ask any high school kid how to survive without Facebook and they’ll stare at you, mouth agape, as if you had just asked them to explain the infinite blackness of space. I don’t think it takes a lot of explaining on my end to understand how social media like Twitter and Facebook have intertwined themselves into every facet of our lives. As a business owner the question, increasingly rare as it is, now becomes, “Why shouldn’t you use social media?” Well, I’m here to say there are a lot of good answers for that.
Companies spend time urging customers to like them. Begging, “Help us get to 1000 fans by tomorrow night!” New York Times blogger MP Mueller rightly puts these practices in perspective. “It feels a little like a kid on the playground begging to be picked for a team,” he writes. “It makes me feel uncomfortable for that company and question why I would consider a relationship with them.” And the reward that consumers get for giving in? Giving up vital wall-space to self-promoting advertisers. Folks don’t want to see business spam on Facebook, this is their space.
Beyond the desires of your consumers, we have to ask, “Are these people even my consumers?” In 2011, 77-percent of Facebook users were 33 years old and younger. The U.S. census data reveals that only 12.7-percent of business owners, leaders, and CEOs are in that same age range. If you’re targeting businesses, Facebook is not your tool.
Upon hearing that social media is a massive investment in time, folks have one of two reactions, generally: (1) They nod in disgust, realizing the wasted productivity, or (2) think, “I don’t invest much in social media at all.” To the former, I’m sorry. To the latter, you are either failing to plan and execute a real social media strategy (and potentially endangering your brand), or you’re not looking closely at the books. A 2011 infographic from Social Times illustrates the “Real Cost of Social Media.” They find that the average social media campaign (year-long) costs just over $200,000 in time and expense. So much for free advertising, right?
Another study looked closely at the potential return on investment a company gets from Twitter. The findings were a bit worrisome for the “gurus” of the world. The average company on Twitter invests $2,382 a month and sees a return of $1,667 (ROI: 43%).
When is the last time you went out of your way to hop online and say, “Thanks for a wonderful [insert product/service here] folks at [insert company name]?” An easy response to defend the use of social media (albeit not especially compelling) is the “What harm can it do? Its free!” response. To that I’ll offer an anecdote. In early 2010, food-giant Nestle found themselves in quite the Facebook quandary. Thousands upon thousands of comments flooded their wall. “Why is there no ‘I want to register my disgust button’?” was one such comment. Implications about company ethics, personal remarks about employees, and mean-spirited comments on Nestle products were all anyone could see.
Nestle started to delete the comments one-by-one (not standing a chance against the onslaught), but the censorship just meant a juicier story for the media. A few rumors and a viral video turned Nestle’s Facebook page from a non-destination into the worst PR move in company history. And if that story isn’t enough Google the Southwest Airlines twitter fiasco or any number of other social media disasters.
A Facebook page without a clear voice, tone, and direction is nothing more than a giant white space with your logo at the top. Graffiti artists are sure to come. Indeed, more than 1 in 3 polled folks admit to posting a negative comment or review using social media. And if your target is younger than 35, that number looks more like 1 in 2. Internet Psychologist Graham Jones suggests the desire to post negativity has everything to do with a “sense of freedom.” As much as we love freedom, there is no hand these angry consumers the spray cans.
The take home point here isn’t that your business should close down every social media outlet you’ve opened. In fact, giving your consumers the ability to “like” or “mention” you is perfectly good practice. Spending work hours on twitter of Facebook hoping to drum up business, on the other hand, likely has the worst ROI of any marketing effort.
This post originally appeared at Golden Technologies
January 5, 2012 04:00 AM
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Thursday, January 5, 2012
A pervasive worm has expanded its reach to now steal login and password details for Facebook users, warned security vendor Seculert, which found a server holding 45,000 login credentials.
The worm, called Ramnit, infects Windows executables, Microsoft Office and HTML files, according to a profile published by Microsoft. It steals user names, passwords, browser cookies and can also function as a backdoor, allowing a hacker to do other malicious actions on an infected computer.
Researchers from Seculert discovered a command-and-control server for the worm and found that it had harvested some 45,000 credentials from Facebook users, mostly in the U.K. and France, according to its blog.
Aviv Raff, CTO and cofounder of Seculert, said Ramnit’s authors may be finding that attacking social networks is a more productive way to collect people’s sensitive data.
“We see a growing trend of malware writers embedding social networks in the malware instead of sending the malware itself via email spam,” Raff said. “This is the same for Ramnit.”
Once the Facebook login and password have been collected, it is suspected that the victim’s account is then accessed and a link is posted on their Facebook profile that leads to Ramnit, which will try and infect the computer.
“We suspect that they use these credentials to continuously spread the Ramnit malware through Facebook,” Raff said.
Another security vendor, Trusteer, noted last year that Ramnit appeared to have been modified in order to commit financial fraud, acquiring similar capabilities as the famous Zeus and SpyEye malicious software programs.
Ramnit can inject HTML fields into a Web page and ask for information on a banking site that would not normally be asked, Trusteer noted in a blog post on Aug. 22.
Seculert estimates that some 800,000 computers were infected with Ramnit between September through the end of December. A Symantec report from July 2011 put Ramnit as the most common piece of malware it blocked in June and July 2011.
Ramnit’s mining of Facebook could yield passwords that people have re-used on other websites, a common mistake that gives hackers an easy in.
“Many users use the same password for Facebook and other organization web services, such as SSL VPN or Outlook Web Access,” Raff said. “The attackers may use this to gain remote access to corporate networks. Same goes for their online bank account.”
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It is not clear how Twitter thought that a male Londoner was the Chinese-born wife of a billionaire media mogul – but what is certain is that once the social network got in touch with Wendi Deng directly they knew that the account they had verified as belonging to her was fake.
It is understood that Twitter was in contact with Rupert Murdoch‘s wife directly – as is routine when verifying accounts – at which point it would have become clear that the @wendi_deng account that had been marked as hers for 24 hours was in fact nothing of the sort.
The unfortunate episode throws a spotlight on Twitter’s verification process, which it uses to clamp down on the many thousands of imposters that feature on the social network.
Twitter launched its verified accounts programme more than two-and-a-half years ago in an effort to combat a rise in fake celebrity profiles.
It is not known how many verified accounts exist today, although an exponential rise in its number of users worldwide – from 17 million users at the end of 2009 to 100 million in December 2011 – meant that it had to close a verification scheme open to the general public.
The social network closely guards the process of its verification scheme, saying only that it “mistakenly” verified the @wendi_deng account for a short period, but declined to offer any detail about how the rare mistake was made.
People who have had Twitter accounts verified describe a relatively informal process, often conducted by email with someone at the social network.
One email from a Twitter employee based in San Francisco to a high-profile user wishing to add the blue tick to their profile said: “Send me a link to your bio/resume/major online presence, the direct email associated with your account, your manager’s email, the organisation you want to be associated with, and I’ll see what I can do.”
An employee of a company that sought to verify colleagues’ accounts on the social network said they had been told by Twitter that individual account holders needed “more than 5,000 followers and to tweet regularly” to get the seal of approval.
This person was asked by Twitter for two personal email addresses, a phone number, and to obtain a reference from a third-party.
Back with the @Wendi_Deng saga, someone able to tweet on the account told the Guardian on Tuesday that Twitter had not made contact at any time in the process – before, during, or after verification.
Instead, Twitter apparently attempted to make contact with Deng herself. It is not clear why the hoax account was given the blue tick before Deng confirmed the account was false.
Twitter declined to comment.
Mathew Ingram at GigaOM neatly summed up the opacity of the process, saying: “If [Twitter] is going to continue to ask for the trust of its users, it is going to have to be more transparent about how it manages the network, or risk losing the faith that it has spent so much time building up.”
And if Rupert Murdoch was flirting with buying or investing in Twitter, the briefly successful hijacking of his wife’s profile on the network will surely give him pause for thought.
5 January 2012
Last updated at 10:33 ET
Diane Abbott was Westminster’s first black woman MP
Shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott has apologised for any offence caused by comments she made on Twitter, after claims they were racist.
She said she had not meant to generalise when she wrote: ”White people love playing ‘divide rule’”.
It was a response to criticism of media use of “black community leaders” after the Stephen Lawrence murder trial.
Labour’s Chuka Umunna said party leader Ed Miliband had told Ms Abbott her remarks were “unacceptable”.
In a statement, Ms Abbott said: “I apologise for any offence caused.
“I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people. I do not believe in doing that.”
Abbot’s tweet as it appears on Twitter
‘Out of context’
Ms Abbott, the first black woman to be elected as an MP, had earlier tweeted that her remark had been “taken out of context”.
Continue reading the main story
How the exchange unfolded
Bin Adewunmi: I do wish everyone would stop saying ‘the black community’ though. WHICH ONE?
Bin Adewunmi: Clarifying my ‘black community’ tweet: I hate the generally lazy thinking behind the use of the term. Same for ‘black community leaders’.
Diane Abbott: I understand the cultural point you are making. But you are playing into a “divide and rule” agenda.
Bin Adewunmi: Maybe. I find it frustrating that half the time, these leaders are out of touch with black people they purport to represent.
Diane Abbott: White people love playing “divide rule” We should not play their game #tacticasoldascolonialism
Bin Adewunmi: I don’t advocate ‘divide and rule’. But I wish we could deal more effectively with issues without resorting to monolithic view.
Diane Abbott: Ethnic communities that show more public solidarity unity than black people do much better #dontwashdirtylineninpublic
Shadow Business Secretary Mr Umunna told the BBC: “Ed Miliband has spoken to her this morning and made it very clear in no uncertain terms that the contents of the tweet were unacceptable.
“If Diane believed the words as they were expressed and she had not apologised then Ed Miliband would obviously have taken the requisite action.
“For us as politicians, Twitter is a very useful tool to communicate with people, but it has its perils.”
The original remark from Ms Abbott was a reaction to a conversation on Twitter about media coverage in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder trial.
It was a response to journalist Bim Adewunmi, who complained about the use of the terms “the black community” and “black community leaders” in the media.
Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Ms Abbott, who stood for Labour leader in the 2010 contest, remarked: “White people love playing ‘divide rule’. We should not play their game” followed by “#tacticasoldascolonialism” – a way Twitter users flag up keywords and topics.
She added: “Ethnic communities that show more public solidarity unity than black people do much better.”
The comments sparked much criticism from other Twitter users and she updated her page later to say: “Tweet taken out of context. Refers to nature of 19th Century European colonialism. Bit much to get into 140 characters.” The original remark was later removed.
In a statement, the Labour Party said: “We disagree with Diane’s tweet.
“It is wrong to make sweeping generalisations about any race, creed, or culture.
“The Labour Party has always campaigned against such behaviour – and so has Diane Abbott.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Ms Abbott’s comments on twitter were a “stupid and crass generalisation” and that she should apologise and explain her remarks.
Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Radio 5 live: “This is racism.
“If this was a white member of Parliament saying that all black people want to do bad things to us he would have resigned within the hour or be sacked.
“For a shadow minister to hold these sort of views is intolerable, it is wrong, she needs to go.”
Another Conservative MP, Rehman Chishti, told BBC Radio 4′s World at One the comments were “completely unacceptable” and amounted to “a racist comment”.
“If there was a strong leader in the Labour Party he would have taken further action against that.”
However another Conservative MP, Robert Halfon wrote on Twitter: “The Right should know better than to get all PC re @HackneyAbbott – disagree strongly, but let voters decide. Freedom of speech all that.”
But she was supported by the senior Labour MP Keith Vaz, who told the BBC she was doing an “excellent job” as shadow public health minister and had a “great history of supporting the anti-racism struggle”.
“She’s done the right thing in withdrawing her statement and apologising for the offence that’s been caused.”
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16423278
Once Kanye West pops, he really just can’t stop.
The outspoken rapper took to Twitter to unleash a barrage of tweets late Wednesday night, touching base on everything from his humble beginnings in fashion to reinventing the education system to his desire to launch a design company.
What began as a confirmation that he was indeed without representation quickly turned into a stream-of-consciousness flow of late-night thoughts and ideas.
West, 34, announced that he is currently looking to launch design company DONDA, with the help of “a team of architects, graphic designers, directors musicians, producers, AnRs, writers, publicist, social media experts, app guys, managers, car designers, clothing designers, DJs, video game designers, publishers, tech guys, lawyers, bankers, nutritionist, doctors, teachers.”
The rapper even mentioned an email, contactDONDA@gmail.com, where interested parties can reach him.
“I want to put creatives in a room together with like minds that are all waaaay doper than me,” he wrote. “We want to help simplify and aesthetically improve everything we see hear, touch, taste and feel.”
He even quoted thinker George Bernard Shaw to drive his point home: “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple.
“But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
Yeezy also waxed nostalgic on his success thus far.
“Being a celebrity has afforded me many opportunities but has also boxed me in creatively,” he wrote.
“Good logic tells me smile Kanye … the world likes you again … red or blue pill? …aaaaand Swallow lol.”
West, who famously fell into a downward spiral of shame following his abrupt stage-storming at the 2009 MTV VMAs, said he now finds redemption by giving back to the creative community.
“Spike Jonze and I want to do a Summer school that tries new forms of curriculum,” he wrote, pointing out that “schools should be designed to prep human beings for real life.”
“Help education,” he wrote. “School systems were designed to turn people into factory workers.”
He believes so much in the idea of nurturing a culture of creativity, that he hasn’t “bought a new car or piece of jewelry in about 2 years,” instead investing “every dime back into creativity.
“I sit everyday and ask what can I do to make a difference.”
Charlie Osborne, Medical Anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, graphic designer and former teacher.
After studying Anthropology at university, she spent several years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East, living for periods of time in Italy and Spain. She has been involved in the running of several businesses ranging from University media and events to b2b sales, and works currently as a freelance website designer and mobile development specialist.
She has particular interests in social media, intellectual property law, data protection and online hacker organisations.