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Hackers Post Porn on High-Profile Twitter Accounts

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Hacked Twitter accounts have been a feature of the Internet ever since the platform started gaining serious momentum in the late 2000s. One of the bigger stories was of Taylor Swift’s account and a subsequent ransom of alleged naked photos. Sometimes the threats are empty, sometimes they aren’t. Other times, the hackers just get straight to the point, and start doing ridiculous things with the stolen credentials. That’s what happened in two cases Sunday and Monday.

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In the first case, New South Wales, Australia Rugby League’s Twitter account was taken over. The account has more than 30,000 followers. The hackers immediately re-tweeted pornographic content during a match, to the amusement of attentive followers, who were quick on the draw. Australian “Internet Hooligan” Mark Boric said,

Let that bloke run the pre-game entertainment.

This was in response to another user who’d noticed the retweet, saying:

So clearly @NSWRL requires additional entertainment during the all-QLD Grand Final.

But none were as clever as Portugal Girlie, who said:

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The best bit about that @NSWRL RT was the original is FOUR DAYS OLD. They’ve gone looking for that.

The tweet was actually deleted within minutes, the league later explaining that the account had been “hacked” but giving no further details on the hack. Social media accounts are generally of the lowest security, even high-profile ones. Gaining access can be as simple as social engineering or, in the case of large organizational accounts like @NSWRL, compromising a single member of the organization.

Also read: Stealing a Tweet is Against the Law – Twitter Cracking Down on Joke Piracy

Big Brother’s Dick Pics

Meanwhile, Brian Belo, whose fame began when he won British Big Brother in 2007 at around age 20, experienced a similar episode in the UK. A hacker gained access to Belo’s account, @brian_belo, and immediately proceeded to begin posting lewd comments, the apex of which was a picture of penis. Other antics included telling people they had AIDs and saying offensive things to other celebrities, including gossip blogger Perez Hilton.

Within hours, Belo regained access to his account, and was apologetic to his more than 10,000 followers. Essex police told Metro UK:

We have received reports that a man in his 20s from Basildon has been a victim of alleged malicious communications. We are investigating and our enquiries are continuing.

Neither of these two recent hacks was of the magnitude of Taylor Swift, who now has more than 64 million followers and at the time of her last hack, had more than 50 million. However, they could represent a new form of “revenge porn” in which the victim is not actually exposed, but loses face to their followers, who may not expect such content. Twitter had recently vowed to crack down on revenge porn.

Featured image from Twin Design / Shutterstock.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jim Brown

    October 5, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    Have you ever bothered to ask the question :
    Why is this a news item ?

    These shenanigans are being perpetrated by people
    that are PAID to do it.

    Why would someone pay for this type of thing and then
    try to sell it as a news story ???

    Simple, if you make it into a big enough problem then
    people will start looking for solutions,
    and if they don’t see a solution right away they
    start saying, “some things got to be done about this”,
    then some politician sticks his face on the TV and says,
    “I feel your pain and we have a plan for stopping this
    criminal activity once and for all”
    We have plans right now for a brand new alphabet agency
    that will start working on bringing these
    criminal activities to an end for the protection of
    the children that may be affected for life by exposure to
    these immoral attacks.
    These attacks make it perfectly obvious that government
    surveillance of all social media sites must be put in place
    for the public good.
    We have proposals being written at this time that would
    require all accounts to be registered with the appropriate
    government agencies, for your own protection of course.
    In addition there will be laws written for the purpose of
    eliminating hate speech such as disagreeing with the
    policies of the current administration.
    Yada, Yada, Yada,

    Are you starting to wake up yet ???

    What kind of a demented mind would it take to wake up
    every morning and search for some conversation
    to spew hate on ? or to deface in some other way ?

    This is mind control propaganda in action.
    There’s even a term for it, it’s called :
    “Problem/Reaction/Solution”

    If you look for it you will start to see it everywhere.
    It’s not anything new,
    it’s been used for several hundred years now,
    but people are starting to wake up by the thousands
    and see it for what it is.

    Think about it, who really cares if a million squealing
    teen age girls are following Paris Hilton to find out what
    her OOTD (outfit of the day) is, but instead they got
    a picture of a dick instead.
    Are you kidding me ???

    Find out who and why anyone would come up
    with such a scheme hear :
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iN_zYkJFXjo
    .
    ……Jim
    .
    .
    .

    • P. H. Madore

      October 24, 2015 at 5:00 am

      I don’t appreciate you being rude to me. I just take the tips and write them. That’s what I am paid to do. You have a problem with that, you’re free to browse your way somewhere else.

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Politics

Viral Disinformation Warning: Fake News Are Taking over Facebook

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Today’s news: Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford voted for Donald Trump, the Republican President-elect of the US, because the liberals want to take away their money; Melania Trump filed to divorce her husband, Donald Trump; Donald Trump himself said to People Magazine that Republicans are the dumbest group of voters; All the news above are fake, but trending on the social networks.

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Op-Ed

Like: Facebook Could Stop Playing Nanny and Thought Cop

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Facebook is often criticized for playing nanny: removing content deemed unsuitable for minors, removing content deemed offensive to this or that group, and in general adopting a perhaps benevolent but certainly heavily hands-on approach to the material posted by users. That could be about to change.

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According to a Facebook news release penned by Joel Kaplan, VP Global Public Policy, and Justin Osofsky, VP Global Operations and Media Partnerships, the social network’s interference practices are about to be relaxed.

“In the weeks ahead, we’re going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest – even if they might otherwise violate our standards,” say Kaplan and Osofsky. “We will work with our community and partners to explore exactly how to do this.”

The social network’s policies are outlined in the Facebook Community Standards. The first two sections of the document, titled “Helping to keep you safe” and “Encouraging respectful behavior” are relevant here.

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Many Facebook users are familiar with the fact that a post containing adult language, or a picture showing nudity, or a video with sexual content, for example, can be removed by Facebook.

The company is also known for enforcing a strict real name disclosure policy: pseudonymous users and privacy-conscious users who log in through Tor and anonymizing proxies can be blocked from accessing Facebook unless they provide government-issued documents and pictures.

Facebook has probably good intentions. Its interference and censorship measures can be justified by invoking, for example, the need to protect young Facebook users from predators hiding behind a fake identity. At the same time, many perfectly normal Facebook users are beginning to resent the leading social network’s nanny attitude, and switching to more hands-off social media like Reddit.

Censorship is more difficult to justify when it comes to current news and opinions shared by users and media operators on Facebook, which may “involve violence and graphic images of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses or acts of terrorism.” Though such material is deeply disturbing, publishing it is important to raise awareness of important issues.

“Our intent is to allow more images and stories without posing safety risks or showing graphic images to minors and others who do not want to see them,” say Kaplan and Osofsky.

Facebook move to relax its community standards is a step in the right direction, and it’s to be hoped that the identity standards will be also relaxed. There are plenty of nice folks who don’t want to reveal their real identity for perfectly legitimate reasons.

Facebook, Please Also Stop Political Censorship and Thought Policing

CensoredKaplan and Osofsky admit that “people often disagree about what standards should be in place to ensure a community that is both safe and open to expression.”

“We think of ourselves as a technology company,” said Facebook VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri, as reported by TechCrunch. Mosseri added that Facebook plays an important media role, yet “our responsibility is to make sure we’re a platform for all ideas.”

We’re not in the business of deciding which ideas people should read about.

That makes perfect sense, though TechCrunch seems to disagree. It appears that some people at Facebook also disagree. In fact, some employees pushed to remove posts by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for alleged “hate speech,” The Wall Street Journal reported a few days ago. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ruled that it would be inappropriate to censor the candidate, after which some pro-censorship employees threatened to quit.

In August, Facebook fired some contract workers who manipulated the social network’s trending topics feed for political purposes, skewing it toward a liberal bias.

According to Pew Research, about bout 44 percent of Americans get at least some of their news from Facebook. That shows how Facebook is de-facto a major news media with important political impact. Therefore, Facebook should either explicitly declare a political bias, or strive to provide impartial, unbiased coverage of political news and opinions.

Libertarian magazine Reason notes that calls to ban hate speech are deeply misguided. “Such bans have the opposite of the intended effect, protecting the forbidden speech from critical engagement and giving it a martyr-like status.”

Unpopular speech is the most important speech to protect, otherwise free speech is an illusion.

Zuckerberg recently resisted witch-hunting calls to end Facebook’s association with venture capitalist Peter Thiel, “guilty” of openly supporting Trump. “We can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate,” said Zuckerberg in an internal memo. “There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault.”

In related news, the Trump campaign launched a new Facebook Live show Monday night.

Facebook’s steps toward an open, impartial and unbiased approach, are to be praised. “Like” it or not, the world is full of people who, for perfectly legitimate reasons that make sense to them, adopt wildly different political positions, and the citizens can exercise their right to democracy only if they can listen to, and evaluate, all different political position.

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Law

A Judge Has Approved a Lawsuit to be Served via Twitter

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Non-profit St. Francis of Assisi has been prosecuting a lawsuit on behalf of the estates and families of Assyrian Christians were murdered and had their property destroyed as a result of ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State activities in the middle east. The group is suing Kuwait Finance House, Kuveyt-Turk Participation Bank Inc., and a man named Hajjaj al-Ajmi for having financed the terrorist groups, but has had trouble serving papers on al-Ajmi.

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The plaintiffs noticed that al-Ajmi has an active Twitter account and asked a federal court to allow them to serve the papers that way. US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler assented to this request, saying in a ruling:

The court grants St. Francis’s request because service via Twitter is reasonably calculated to give notice and is not prohibited by international agreement.

Also a Twitter Rebel

Hajjaj al-Ajmi was kicked off Twitter in 2014 following a Treasury Department sanction. However, in May of this year he created at least one new account, and currently has over 100,000 followers. At the time, al-Ajmi was actively raising funds for Islamic State efforts, even posting phone numbers for people to call and make donations through. Archived tweets and news coverage would provide ample evidence in a case against him.

4-al-ajmi-tweet

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The St. Francis of Assisi is acting specifically on behalf of Christian victims of the Islamic State. Al-Ajmi’s status as a banned transactor by the Treasury Department, his history of being kicked off social media platforms for terrorist activities, and his general repertoire of anti-Christian, extremist Islam make him a ripe target for the proceedings. The other parties named in the suit have already been served by traditional means.

Not a First

The ruling notes that other cases in the past have allowed for the use of social media as an alternative means of serving papers. It noted the case of a trademark infringement suit against a Turkish citizen who could not be located. In that case, the court authorized e-mail, Facebook, and LinkedIn to be used. In a scam artistry case in which the Federal Trade Commission could not reach the alleged scam artists and could not get help from the Indian government, a federal court gave them permission to use the Facebook accounts of the parties named.

Probably Not a Normal Thing

Don’t worry, though. If you’re named in a lawsuit and you’re reachable by traditional methods, most likely you’re still going to be served in the traditional ways. One can imagine a future where frustrated process servers push for legislation to allow for the regular serving of papers via social media, and such an explicit law could conceivably make this ordeal the norm, but in all three of the largely known cases where this has happened, the plaintiffs had to get special permission from the court before considering social media serving to be in line with due process.

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