Growing Number of U.S. Adults Now Playing Video Games

According to “2019 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry,” a new annual report from gaming industry trade group Entertainment Software Association, about 65 percent of adults now play video games in the United States. That adds up to more than 164 million people, and each year, the total grows. The report also indicates that three-fourths of U.S. adults have at least one gaming player at home, while 93 percent of those households own a smartphone on which half of them play video games.

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Justice Department Accuses Russian Spies of Cyberattacks

The Justice Department’s National Security Division claims that seven hackers suspected of working with Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit were part of a conspiracy to hack multiple organizations including the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Democratic National Committee, a nuclear energy company and several media outlets. The Fancy Bear cyber espionage group, also known as Sofacy or APT28, is accused of launching a disinformation campaign leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and “hacking to obtain non-public, health information about athletes and others in the files of anti-doping agencies in multiple countries.” Continue reading Justice Department Accuses Russian Spies of Cyberattacks

Twitter Takes Stronger Stance Against Misinformation, Spam

In May and June, Twitter deleted more than 143,000 apps that violate its prohibition against using its APIs to automate spam and abuse or breach its privacy rules. The big cleanup is part of Twitter’s overall housekeeping, and includes the removal of “suspicious accounts” from users’ follower lists. According to The Washington Post, Twitter suspended more than 70 million fake accounts. Not all automated accounts are malicious, but the social media platform has been bedeviled by those that are. Continue reading Twitter Takes Stronger Stance Against Misinformation, Spam

Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Microsoft is calling for regulation of facial recognition technology, with president Bradford Smith writing a blog post detailing its potential misuse, and comparing it to medicine and cars, both of which are highly regulated. He urged Congress to act, saying that, “government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology,” and that, “a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.” Continue reading Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

FBI Requests That We Reboot All Routers to Disrupt Malware

According to Cisco’s threat intelligence division Talos, an estimated 500,000 routers in 54 countries have been infected by malware that the FBI and cybersecurity experts refer to as VPNFilter. The Justice Department has warned that routers are already under control of the Sofacy Group, which is reportedly directed by Russia’s military intelligence agency. Devices from Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, QNAP and TP-Link are believed to be among the affected equipment. The FBI has requested that owners of home and office routers turn them off and turn them back on. Rebooting the routers will disrupt the malware if present. Users are also encouraged to upgrade firmware, disable remote-management settings, and select a new password. Continue reading FBI Requests That We Reboot All Routers to Disrupt Malware

Facebook Suspends 200 Apps Due to Possible Misuse of Data

Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has suspended about 200 apps based on the possible misuse of user data. The social giant will conduct a thorough investigation of each app, and promises that any guilty of misuse of Facebook user data will be permanently banned from the platform. So far, Facebook has reviewed thousands of apps from outside developers that have access to Facebook user data, but some question whether such an ongoing audit is worthwhile. While bad actors can be banned, there isn’t much that can be done once the data leaves Facebook’s servers. Continue reading Facebook Suspends 200 Apps Due to Possible Misuse of Data

Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

In the wake of the Facebook privacy scandal, London-based data consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and parent company SCL Elections announced yesterday that they will be shutting down and filing for bankruptcy. Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of mining the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent, has defended its actions while blaming the media for damaging its reputation and driving away clients. The company said it was “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.” Continue reading Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

Debate Erupts After Reports of Access to Facebook User Data

Lawmakers in the U.S. and U.K. are demanding answers from Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg after reports surfaced over the weekend that data analytics company Cambridge Analytica was able to exploit the personal data of 50 million Facebook users without their permission — data that was reportedly used in the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and the Brexit referendum. Facebook announced that it suspended Cambridge Analytica after learning Facebook policies specifying how third-party developers can deploy user data had been violated. Continue reading Debate Erupts After Reports of Access to Facebook User Data

Twitter to Hire Experts, Accept Proposals to Stop Bad Actors

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey has brought his own company to task, for what he said is a less-than-stellar performance in handling malicious activity. More specifically, he said that he did not move quickly enough to take action against the Russian efforts to create divisions between Americans. Dorsey, who has previously expressed contrition for his slow reaction, has now made it clear that the company needs to take actions to prevent this from happening again, rather than just reacting after the fact. Continue reading Twitter to Hire Experts, Accept Proposals to Stop Bad Actors

Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

Silicon Valley tech companies are taking a second, serious look at some of the harm that digital technology can cause. First is the so-called productivity paradox, which reveals that the integrati0n of digital technology in the work place has not resulted in big gains in output per worker, as had been expected. In fact, digital technology can actually be a drag on productivity. The companies are also looking at the harmful impact of digital technology on children, and the potential for addictions. Continue reading Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

YouTube, targeting content that promotes conspiracy theories as well as state-sponsored content, says it will begin to label all videos coming from state-funded broadcasters. That may even include the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), but in fact is intended to target such bad actors as RT, the Russian state news organization identified by U.S. intelligence as the Kremlin’s main international propaganda unit. Last year, YouTube reportedly had 5.5 million views across 20 channels of RT content. Continue reading YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

Facebook, Google and Twitter Talk About Russian Interference

Facebook, Google and Twitter faced Congress in the past weeks to answer questions about how Russian companies and troll farms spread deceptions and inaccuracies before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The digital tech companies were also asked if there was evidence of collusion between the Russian actors and the Trump campaign, and Google was asked specifically about its commercial dealings with a Russian broadcaster that, say federal intelligence agencies, is a Kremlin propaganda outlet. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Twitter Talk About Russian Interference

Facebook, Google and Twitter Execs Testify Before Congress

Facing the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Facebook, Google and Twitter executives responded to questions on why they didn’t recognize Russian-linked accounts earlier. In response, the rueful executives said their companies were working on ways to curb the activity of foreign governments, terrorists and criminals and prevent them from exploiting social media. On the other hand, however, those same Silicon Valley companies face a public that is far from united over whether they should curb free speech. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Twitter Execs Testify Before Congress

Pew: 67 Percent of Americans Turn to Social Media for News

According to new data from Pew Research Center, 67 percent of American adults “get at least some of their news on social media,” up from 62 percent in 2016. Facebook is most popular for news, followed by YouTube and Twitter. While percentages did not significantly change year-over-year for platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Tumblr, an increasing number of adults are turning to Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. Interestingly, millennials do not represent all new social media news consumers. The research found that 55 percent of today’s Americans age 50 or older say they get news on social media sites, a 10 percent increase over last year. Continue reading Pew: 67 Percent of Americans Turn to Social Media for News

Facebook, Google, Wikipedia Take Steps to Fight Fake News

Leading Internet platforms have announced separate plans to combat fake news, hoaxes and the spread of misinformation. A security team at Facebook acknowledged the social media giant was used as a platform for misinformation during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and has debuted new measures to mitigate the threat. Google is tweaking its search engine to prevent fake news and hoaxes from appearing in its top results. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has his own plan to counter the spread of fake news via a new website. Continue reading Facebook, Google, Wikipedia Take Steps to Fight Fake News

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