Fake news, piracy and digital duopoly of Google and Facebook


“FAKE NEWS” has seemingly, suddenly, become fashionable. In reality, the fake has proliferated for a decade or more, but the faux, the flawed and the fraudulent are now pressing issues because the full scale of the changes wrought upon the integrity of news and advertising by the digital duopoly — Google and Facebook — has become far more obvious.

Google’s commodification of content knowingly, wilfully undermined provenance for profit. That was followed by the Facebook stream, with its journalistic jetsam and fake flotsam. Together, the two most powerful news publishers in human history have created an ecosystem that is dysfunctional and socially destructive.

Both companies could have done far more to highlight that there is a hierarchy of content, but instead they have prospered mightily by peddling a flat-earth philosophy that doesn’t distinguish between the fake and the real because they make copious amounts of money from both.

Depending on which source you believe, they have close to two-thirds of the digital advertising market — and let me be clear that we compete with them for that share. The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates they accounted for more than 90% of the incremental increase in digital advertising over the past year. The only cost of content for these companies has been lucrative contracts for lobbyists and lawyers, but the social cost of that strategy is far more profound.

It is beyond risible that Google and its subsidiary YouTube, which have earned many billions of dollars from other people’s content, should now be lamenting that they can’t possibly be held responsible for monitoring that content. Monetising yes, monitoring no — but it turns out that free money does come at a price.

We all have to work with these companies, and we are hoping, mostly against hope, that they will finally take meaningful action, not only to allow premium content models that fund premium journalism, but also to purge their sites of the rampant piracy that undermines creativity. Your business model can’t be simultaneously based on both intimate, granular details about users and no clue whatsoever about rather obvious pirate sites.

Another area that urgently needs much attention is the algorithms that Silicon Valley companies, and Amazon, routinely cite as a supposedly objective source of wisdom and insight. These algorithms are obviously set, tuned and repeatedly adjusted to suit their commercial needs. Yet they also blame autonomous, anarchic algorithms and not themselves when neofascist content surfaces or when a search leads to obviously biased results in favour of their own products.

Look at how Google games searches. A study reported in The Wall Street Journal found that in 25,000 random Google searches ads for Google products appeared in the most prominent slot 91% of the time. How is that not the unfair leveraging of search dominance and the abuse of algorithm? All 1,000 searches for “laptops” started with an ad for Google’s Chromebook — 100% of the time. Kim Jong Un would be envious of results like that at election time.

And then there are the recently launched Google snippets, which stylistically highlight search results as if they were written on stone tablets and carried down from the mountain. Their sheer visual physicality gives them apparent moral force. The word Orwellian is flagrantly abused, but when it comes to the all-powerful algorithms of Google, Amazon and Facebook, Orwellian is underused.

As for news, institutional neglect has left us perched on the edge of the slippery slope of censorship. There is no Silicon Valley tradition, as there is at great newspapers, of each day arguing over rights and wrongs, of fretful, thoughtful agonising over social responsibility and freedom of speech.

What we now have is a backlash with which these omnipotent companies are uniquely ill-equipped to cope. Their responses tend to be political and politically correct. Regardless of your own views, you should be concerned that we are entering an era in which these immensely influential publishers will routinely and selectively “unpublish” certain views and news.

We stumble into this egregious era at a moment when the political volume in many countries is turned to 10. The echo chamber has never been larger and the reverb room rarely more cacophonous. This is not an entirely new trend, but it has a compounding effect with the combination of “holier than thou” and “louder than thou.”

Curiously, this outcome is, in part, a result of the idealism of the Silicon Valley set, and there’s no doubt about the self-proclaimed ideals. They devoutly believe they are connecting people and informing them, which is true, even though some of the connections become conspiracies and much of the information is skimmed without concern to intellectual property rights.

Ideas aside, we were supposed to be in a magic age of metrics and data. Yet instead of perfect precision we have the cynical arbitraging of ambiguity — particularly in the world of audiences. Some advertising agencies are also clearly at fault because they, too, have been arbitraging and prospering from digital ambiguity as money in the ad business has shifted from actually making ads to aggregating digital audiences and ad tech, better known as fad tech.

And so, as the Times of London has reported, socially aware, image-conscious advertisers find themselves in extremely disreputable places — hardcore porn sites, neofascist sites, Islamist sites. The embarrassment for these advertisers juxtaposed with jaundice is understandable, but the situation is far more serious than mere loss of face.

If these sites are getting a cut of the commission, the advertisers are technically funding these nefarious activities. Depending on the type of advertising, it is estimated by the ad industry that a YouTube partner could earn about 55% of the revenue from a video. In recent years, how many millions of dollars have been channelled to organisations or individuals that are an existential threat to our societies?

Provenance is profound, and in this age of augmented reality and virtual reality, actual reality will surely make a comeback. Authenticated authenticity is an asset of increasing value in an age of the artificial — understanding the ebb and flow of humanity will not be based on fake news or ersatz empathy, but on real insight.

BY ROBERT THOMSON

Robert Thomson is the chief executive of News Corp, which owns The Australian and The Wall Street Journal. This is adapted from a speech he delivered on March 29 to the Asia Society in Hong Kong.

PETALING JAYA: The proliferation of fake news on social media has benefited publishers like Google and Facebook in terms of digital advertising market share at the expense of other media companies. News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson recently in his speech noted that Google and Facebook, for example, have close to two-thirds of the digital advertising market.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates they accounted for more than 90% of the incremental increase in digital advertising over the past year, he said.

The only cost of content for these companies has been lucrative contracts for lobbyists and lawyers, he added, noting that the social cost of that strategy is far more profound.

Thomson said this during his speech to the Asia Society in Hong Kong on March 29.

News Corp is also the owner of The Australian and The Wall Street Journal. “Google’s commodification of content knowingly, wilfully undermined provenance for profit. That was followed by the Facebook stream, with its journalistic jetsam and fake flotsam.

Together, the two most powerful news publishers in human history have created an ecosystem that is dysfunctional and socially destructive,’’ he said.

Both companies, he said could have done far more to highlight that there is a hierarchy of content, but instead they have prospered mightily by peddling a flat-earth philosophy that doesn’t distinguish between the fake and the real because they make copious amounts of money from both.

“It is beyond risible that Google and its subsidiary YouTube, which have earned many billions of dollars from other people’s content, should now be lamenting that they can’t possibly be held responsible for monitoring that content. Monetising yes, monitoring no – but it turns out that free money does come at a price.

“We all have to work with these companies, and we are hoping, mostly against hope, that they will finally take meaningful action, not only to allow premium content models that fund premium journalism, but also to purge their sites of the rampant piracy that undermines creativity,” Thomson said.

In his speech, he also said although “fake news” has seemingly, suddenly, become fashionable but in reality, the fake has proliferated for a decade or more.

But the faux, the flawed and the fraudulent are now pressing issues because the full scale of the changes wrought upon the integrity of news and advertising by the digital duopoly — Google and Facebook — has become far more obvious, he said.

Thomson also highlighted on the urgency of algorithms. Another area, he said that urgently needs much attention is the algorithms that Silicon Valley companies, and Amazon, routinely cite as a supposedly objective source of wisdom and insight.

“These algorithms are obviously set, tuned and repeatedly adjusted to suit their commercial needs.

“Yet they also blame autonomous, anarchic algorithms and not themselves when neofascist content surfaces or when a search leads to obviously biased results in favour of their own products,’’ he said.

A study reported in The Wall Street Journal found that in 25,000 random Google searches ads for Google products appeared in the most prominent slot 91% of the time.

“How is that not the unfair leveraging of search dominance and the abuse of algorithm?” he asked. All 1,000 searches for “laptops” started with an ad for Google’s Chromebook – 100% of the time.

And then there are the recently launched Google snippets, which stylistically highlight search results as if they were written on stone tablets and carried down from the mountain. Their sheer visual physicality gives them apparent moral force, he said.

“The word Orwellian is flagrantly abused, but when it comes to the all-powerful algorithms of Google, Amazon and Facebook, Orwellian is underused,’’ he said.

Thomson said: “What we now have is a backlash with which these omnipotent companies are uniquely ill-equipped to cope. Their responses tend to be political and politically correct.

Regardless of your own views, you should be concerned that we are entering an era in which these immensely influential publishers will routinely and selectively “unpublish” certain views and news.

He also faulted ad agencies as they have been arbitraging and prospering from digital ambiguity as money in the ad business has shifted from actually making ads to aggregating digital audiences and ad tech, better known as fad tech.

“Provenance is profound, and in this age of augmented reality and virtual reality, actual reality will surely make a comeback. Authenticated authenticity is an asset of increasing value in an age of the artificial – understanding the ebb and flow of humanity will not be based on fake news or ersatz empathy, but on real insight,’’ he added.

Sources: Starbiz

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 ‘Essential to tackle fake news correctly’

 
KUALA LUMPUR: Your office is swamped by phone calls from impatient customers, asking why they have yet to receive their free plane tickets as promised for ha­­ving participated in a survey.

You find out later that they had completed the survey which was featured on a dubious website.

Or, when you come to work, you see a horde of unhappy customers waiting outside the building, demanding to know why they were not informed that they would have to pay a fee if they did not get their membership cards renewed by the month’s end.

Apparently, there had been a Facebook posting about the new fee ruling.

The above two incidents happened in Kuala Lumpur over the past year.

In the age of scams, fake news and “alternative facts”, such cases are getting more frequent.

A recent incident involved shoemaker Bata Primavera Sdn Bhd, which was accused of selling shoes with the Arabic word “Allah” formed in the pattern on the soles.

Bata ended up removing 70,000 pairs of the B-First school shoes from its 230 stores nationwide.

It was a step which cost them RM500,000 in losses.

The shoes were returned to the shelves only after Bata was cleared of the allegation by the Al-Quran Printing Control and Licensing Board of the Home Ministry on March 30.

In February, AirAsia came under unwanted attention when its brand name was used in a purported free ticket survey and fake ticket scam.

Back in 2014, the airline had also asked its customers to be wary of an online lottery scam which made use of its name to solicit personal information from them.

What is more astounding is that the e-mail highlighting the lottery had been circulating since 2011.

And in January last year, Public Bank saw a rush of customers crowding its branches to renew their debit cards.

A Facebook post that had gone viral claimed that they would be charged a RM12 fee if they did not renew it by Jan 31.

What are the dos and don’ts for companies under attack by fake news?

“A quick and concise response is the way to go,” said AirAsia’s head of communications Aziz Laikar.

“Be prepared. The more high profile the brand is, the quicker the response should be.”

The communications team have to be able to draw up a statement fast to deal with the issue head on before it grows to a full-blown crisis, Aziz said.

He listed out four steps that a company could take.

“Start by immediately responding with facts via a short statement to the media, as well as on social media platforms,” he said.

Aziz also advised companies to lodge police reports and to make use of the chance to educate the public that they should always refer to announcements made via official platforms.

“Also, disseminate the information internally to your colleagues. Every employee should be a brand messenger.

“They are a powerful force to spread the correct message.

“The best way to effectively ma­­nage an issue is to make sure the entire company is aware of the situa­tion and able to communicate it correctly,” he said.

Ogilvy account director Clarissa Ng said that loyal clientele and employees were usually a company’s “first line of defence” and must be treated well.

Ng, who has handled the case of a client hit by rumours of exploding phones, preferred a “low profile” approach in dealing with such fake news.

She opted by focusing on promo­ting the phone’s safety features.

The campaign reassured consumers that the phone underwent rigorous testing in their laboratories in Shenzhen, China, and how its electrical current would be cut off automatically to prevent the gadget from exploding.

“Sometimes, the more you explain, the public will demand more answers. How we handled it was to remain low profile,” she said.

Source: By ADRIAN CHAN The Star

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Expert: Building trust with audience reduces impact of false news


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Beware of fake news! Traditional media still the best and credible, says experts


News outlets have trained staff and trump social media on factual accuracy

Traditional media continues to be a reliable source of information for the public who have grown wary of fake news littering social media.

Paul Glader, an associate professor at the King’s College in New York, pointed out that traditional newsrooms often earn their brand value by their integrity and edito­rial practices.

“This means they have copy editors or copy desks to verify facts. It means they have seasoned journa­lists as editors who question and bullet proof big stories, sometimes running such stories by lawyers. It means they apologise for any errors by running corrections,” he said.

Glader said while social media can disseminate news more quickly at times than traditional media, it does not have the accuracy checks and the principle of verification.

One example of this, he said, was during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. He said everyone in the United States had followed the incident via Twitter and many facts emerged before being reported in mainstream news outlets.

Worse, people in the crowd were accused of being the culprits while the real bombers were at large.

“Those identified by the mob were innocent and could have been badly hurt because of the false information,” he said.

Advertising industry veteran Khoo Kar Khoon said the public is bombarded with information over social media with no way of telling if it’s true or not.

Khoo, who is a non-executive director of publishing conglomerate Media Chinese International Ltd, said traditional media are licensed and had to be accountable, adding that journalists had to verify information with authorities.

Verifying information, he said, was important for issues which could impact public health, safety and the economy.

Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur’s (IUKL) Prof Dr Faridah Ibrahim said established media had a responsibility to sieve out the truth.

“Accuracy should not be compromised for speed, facts must be double and triple checked,” said Dr Faridah, the executive dean for IUKL’s Faculty of Arts, Com­muni­cation and Education.

The Communications and Multi­media Ministry recently advised social media users not to add fuel to fire, following the ongoing diplomatic row with North Korea.

This followed a false claim over Facebook of a massacre of Malay­sians in North Korea.

On Tuesday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) launched fact-checking website sebenarnya.my for the public to both check the authenticity of information.

Assoc Prof Dr Judith Clarke said that very often, information may go viral before anyone bothered to check it.

“They may quickly become accepted knowledge, whether true or not,” said Clarke, who is with Hong Kong Baptist University’s Department of Journalism.

“Some academics are calling for schools to teach news literacy cour­ses to build up the public’s news judgment,” she said.

Readership and circulation of The Star had increased following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam.

The Star Online saw its number of visitors surge to an all-time-high of 7.9 million.

The website also saw 5.7 million new users while the number of followers on its Twitter account surpassed 1.1 million people.

Source: by Neville Spykerman The Star
 

 

Government launches ‘Tidak Pasti, Jangan Kongsi’ to stop spread of false information

CYBERJAYA: A fact-checking website, sebenarnya.my,, has been launched to curb the spread of fake news.

The website will allow members of the public to both check the authenticity of a news item or a piece of viral information. It will also submit the information if it is found to be false.

Multimedia and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said the website was much needed as many Malaysians had the habit of spreading information without verifying the news.

“They would share certain information and claim that this is dari group sebelah (from another group) and then say minta pencerahan (seeking clarification).

“They should verify first and only share if it’s true,” said Dr Salleh after launching the website at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) auditorium here yesterday.

The website’s tagline is Tidak Pasti, Jangan Kongsi (Do not share if unsure).

Asked if it was set up with the general election in mind, Dr Salleh said: “Not at all. In fact, if opposition members find fake news being spread about them, they can submit it to the website, too.

“The website belongs to all Malaysians. It does not belong to the Government.”

Malaysians, said Dr Salleh, should be discerning enough to tell between real and fake news.

“Spreading fake news will not only cause public confusion but can lead to unrest and cause unnecessary threat to the country’s security.”

MCMC, said Dr Salleh, discovered some 1,000 incidences of fake news that had gone viral on the Internet.

“This is also happening outside Malaysia,” he said.

A check on the sebenarnya.my website showed that there were 155 articles that had been uploaded, debunking various “news items” or social media posts.

The latest is that of a Facebook post about a soldier purportedly injured in a bomb explosion by terrorist groups, which the army later clarified to be a re-enactment during a training camp in Negri Sembilan.

Source: by Joseph Kaos Jr The Star

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Malaysian start-up CO3 plans to set up Google-like offices in the region


 

KUALA LUMPUR: Taking a cue from the trendy, cool office spaces of Google and the like, a Malaysian start-up aspires to offer a one-of-its-kind co-working space in the region.

Dubbed CO3 Social Office, the venture was launched yesterday and will roll out by June.

Co-founder and CEO Yong Chen Hui said CO3 stood for connectivity, collaboration and community that offered a platform for people from different establishments to work together.

“Cool workplaces like Google make people envy,” he said in his presentation during a media conference here yesterday.

“Such places will inspire people to give their best to the corporation everyday,” Yong said.

The first CO3 Social Office, with a space of 21,000 sq ft for 300 people, will be housed at the shoplots next to IOI Mall in Puchong.

The second, covering 40,000 sq ft for 500 people, will be located at Jalan University in Petaling Jaya, next to Sin Chew Media Corporation Bhd, which is one of CO3’s eight founders.

Three more are planned. These will be situated at the Kuala Lumpur city centre, Sentral and Damansara.

The ambitious expansion plan is to include 40 locations in the Asean region. The spaces will be equipped with meeting rooms, private booths, sleeping pods, mini library, fast wi-fi, etc.

Yong said the company’s target audience was the 90s – “the future” – who value freedom, cool and charming trends, etc.

CO3 aims to respond to the flexibility and fluidity of today’s work environments by transforming offices into hip communal living spaces.

CO3 will also strive to provide entrepreneurs, SMEs and non-pro­fit organisations a unique co-office environment to help grow their businesses.

“We hope to be the next US$2bil ‘unicorn’ by 2022,” Yong said during the presentation.

A “unicorn” is a company with a billion-dollar valuation. The mythical animal is used to emphasis how rare it is to reach that status.

Bruneian artiste Goh Kiat Chun, better known as Wu Zun, is one of the eight founders of CO3 Social Office.

Source: The Star by tho xin yi

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Hackers in your heads, Cybercriminals preying on gullible


 

Cyberscammers tapping into minds – Conmen get personal data from social media

<< You’ve been had: A user checking an SMS alert about an unauthorised credit card transaction.

PETALING JAYA: Cybercriminals are getting into your head.

Realising that victims are no longer falling for the ‘I’m a Prince who wants to deposit US$50mil (RM199mil) into your account’ e-mail, these syndicates have enlisted psychologists and behavioural experts to launch targetted attacks on companies, groups and individuals.

By going through their victims’ social media accounts, they learn more about their targets and are able to craft attractive e-mail, prompting them to respond.

Clicking on the link in the e-mail will download malware that encrypts your device. Computers, smartphones, smartwatches and any other network-connected device, can be locked by cybercriminals who will only release it for a fee, or “ransom”.

Such ransomware has reached our shores, with a total of 5,069 attacks in Malaysia last year, according to cybersecurity company Symantec Corporation.

“The new modus operandi uses social engineering, with the e-mail being crafted by Malaysians who know the local scenario and how to trigger emotional reactions,” Symantec (Asia Pacific and Japan) cyber security services senior director Peter Sparkes told Sunday Star.

For example, if they find out from Facebook that you went shopping, you could get an official-looking e-mail from a trusted source like a government body or postal department saying: ‘You’ve received a free gift from shopping at our KL outlet. Click this link to trace your parcel’.

“Or if they see you at a cycling event, the e-mail could say: ‘Thank you for participating. Click on the link for photos and videos of the ride’,” he said.

“To decrypt your device, they’ll ask for about US$200 (RM782) in virtual currency like Bitcoin, to bypass the banks,” Sparkes added.

Acknowledging this new threat, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) strategic communication head Sheikh Raffie Abd Rahman urged the public to be more alert.

He said one of the most commonly used social engineering techniques was phishing attacks targetting online banking customers.

Such cases would be investigated by the police under the Computer Crimes Act 1997 or the Penal Code.

A total of 1,311 phishing websites have been blocked by the MCMC between last year and March 8.

This includes fake pages created to acquire personal information such as usernames, passwords, banking information and credit card details by masquerading as a trusted entity in an electronic communication.

CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) chief executive officer Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab said the number of incidents reported to the CSM indicates the growing threat of ransomware here.

Revealing that local businesses are also targeted, he said the CSM will work together with international communities to share current information on ransomware threats and disseminate them to the public.

Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said cybercriminals have become more sophisticated in their approach by enlisting psychologists.

“But whichever methods they use, there is an underlying modus operandi of appealing to human emotions of fear, greed, curiosity, loneliness, compassion or even spirituality,” he said.

By Christina Chin Yuen Meikeng The Star

Cybercriminals preying on gullible

Users beware! With cybercriminals leveling up, ransomware attacks are expected to spike here. Malaysians shouldn’t let their guard down when it comes to personal information and should be on the lookout for online scams.

HE wasn’t the fastest, but Eugene (not his real name) feels like a champion after finishing his first marathon.

Posting a selfie he made public on his Facebook account, the 28-year-old later receives an e-mail congratulating him on the feat. “Click on this link to see more pictures and videos of the event,” says the e-mail, which appears to be sent from the organiser of the run.

Curious and hoping to see images of himself, Eugene clicks open the link on his laptop but instead, gets a message telling him his device is now locked. All his files have been encrypted and he can’t access them, including his work document to be submitted on Monday.

The only way he can retrieve them is to pay a hacker a ransom of US$300 (RM1,181) in Bitcoin currency. Such an incident, known as a ransomware attack, could very well happen to you if you are not careful.

To top it all off, these cases are expected to increase this year, with “very specific ransomware targeted very specifically at Malaysians” being detected, says Symantec (Asia Pacific and Japan) cyber security services senior director Peter Sparkes.

According to cybersecurity company Symantec Corporation, Malaysia ranks 47th globally, and 12th in the Asia Pacific and Japan region, in terms of ransomware attacks.

Last year, there were 5,069 ransomware attacks or 14 per day in Malaysia. But Sparkes foresees that these numbers will surge.

“Ransomware is very attractive because it makes lots of money. It’ll be big here in the coming months, probably averaging 20 attacks per day.

“We’ve seen a lot of smartphone attacks recently. They love WhatsApp because the best way to get someone to click on a link is if it comes from someone you know,” he says.

Sparkes describes such crypto ransomware as the latest, and most dangerous malware threat because it’s near impossible to get rid of.

He adds that the experience is very emotional because many people do not back up their data.

“For individuals, losing personal data like photos and videos is traumatic so most victims will pay. Some will even tell you how to infect your friends to decrease your ransom,” he reveals.

Ransomware hackers are also using help from psychologists and behavioural experts to study their victims on social media before sending them personalised messages to trigger a response.

But it is not just ransomware that needs to be taken seriously as Malaysians need to be vigilant over social media scams, with these two being named as key trends in the country now by Symantec Malaysia systems engineering director David Rajoo.

He says cybercrime is extremely widespread with one in three Malaysians surveyed having experienced it in the past year and 83% know of someone else who was a victim.

“Consumers here lost an average of 27 hours and about RM8.9bil over the past year, dealing with the fallout of online crime.

“The amount of personal data stored online continues to grow, and while this free flow of data creates immense opportunities, it also opens the doors to new risks,” he warns.

Cybercriminals preying on personal data are also a cause for concern here and globally.

Sparkes points out that personal assistants and those in human resources are popular targets because that’s how cybercriminals gain access into an organisation’s database.

“Take a hotel for example. I’d target the CEO’s personal assistant. All I need is 200,000 of their best guests. If I sold the details at US$50 (RM197), it’s pretty good money for a day’s work. HR staff’s another good one because they look at CVs,” he says.

Last year, 500 million personal information was breached globally. That, he says, is a conservative estimate.

Someone checks out your Facebook activities, creates a personalised e-mail to get you to click on a link, and that’s it.

Everytime you download an app on social media, you could be giving access to your life, he cautions.

Of 10.8 million apps analysed in 2015, three million were collecting way more information than necessary, Sparkes says.

“Cyber scammers are also making you call them to hand over your cash,” he adds.

They send fake warning messages to devices like smartphones, driving users to attacker-run call centers to dupe them into buying useless services.

The services industry is the most vulnerable sector in the country, attracting 72.4% of spear phishing attacks.

There was also a significant spam increase with Malaysia jumping up the global ranking from 44 in 2014 to 23 last year, he adds, lamenting how many still don’t realise that cybercrime is an industry.

Cybercriminals are professionals using very sophisticated tools and techniques.

“They work like any other legit organisation – it’s a 9am to 5pm job with weekends off, holidays and proper offices. A lot of users still think it’s 18-year-olds in the garage fooling around. Nothing could be further from truth. The guys sell info to the underground economy,” Sparkes says.

Syndicates only need three things – cheap broadband, a cyber-savvy workforce they can hire, and countries where cyber laws are weak. Asia Pacific and Japan has invested significantly to give their population access to the Internet, he adds, explaining the shocking rise of cybercrime.

“I’m particularly concerned about the senior citizens as many are just discovering the Internet. They’re very trusting and will download without questioning. People stress on being streetsmart, but it’s just as crucial to be cybersmart,” he feels.

By Christina Chin Yuen Meikeng The Star

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M’sians still giving away sensitive info

Facebook Brings ‘Chat bots’ to Messenger


SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook on Tuesday extended its reach beyond online socializing by building artificial-intelligence powered “bots” into its Messenger application to allow businesses to have software engage in lifelike text exchanges.

The move announced at the leading online social network’s annual developers conference in San Francisco came as the number of monthly users of Messenger topped 900 million and the Silicon Valley company works to stay in tune with mobile Internet lifestyles.

“We think you should be able to text message a business like you would a friend, and get a quick response,” Facebook co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg said as he announced that developers can build bots that could even be better than real people at natural language text conversations.

Bots are software infused with the ability to “learn” from conversations, getting better at figuring out what people are telling them and how best to respond.

The bots could help Facebook over time monetize its messaging applications and get a start on what some see as a new way of interacting with the digital world, potentially shortcutting mobile applications and sidestepping search.

“Our goal with artificial intelligence is to build systems that are better than people at perception — seeing, hearing, language and so on,” Zuckerberg said while laying out a long-term vision for Facebook.

A look at the number and types of services that titans such as Facebook, Google and Apple have rolled out in the last couple of years, it appears the companies are “trying to dominate the customers’ mobile moments,” Forrester analyst Julie Ask told AFP.

Getting smarter

Artificial intelligence is already used in Messenger to recognize faces in pictures, suggesting recipients for messages and for filtering out spam texts.

“Soon, we are going to be able to do even more,” Zuckerberg said.

He promised a future in which Facebook AI would be able to understand what is in pictures, video or news articles and use insights to recommend content members of the social network might like.

Bot-building capabilities will be in a test mode with Facebook approving creations before they are released, according to vice president of messaging products David Marcus.

Some of the latest tools include one for the creation of “high-end, self-learning bots,” along with ways for them to be brought to people’s attention at Messenger, Marcus said.

“If you want to build more complex bots, you can now use our bot engine,“ Marcus told a packed audience of developers.

“You feed it samples of conversation, and it’s better over time. You can build your bot today.”

The list of partners launching Messenger bots included Business Insider, which said it will use the technology to deliver news stories to people in real-time.

“We are excited about this new offering because we know that messaging apps are exploding in popularity,” Business Insider said in a story at its website announcing the move.

Cloud computing star Salesforce planned to use the platform to help businesses have “deeper, more personalized and one-to-one customer journeys within the chat experience,” said Salesforce president and chief product officer Alex Dayon.

Bridges, not walls

Zuckerberg laid out a future for Facebook that, aside from Messenger, included ramping up live video streaming and diving into virtual reality.

“We think we are at the edge of the golden age of video,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook opened its Live platform to allow developers to stream video content from their applications to audiences at the social network.

Zuckerberg demonstrated with a drone that flew over those seated, streaming live video to Facebook while he spoke.

Messenger and Live will be built out further in coming years, along with virtual reality technology at Facebook-owned Oculus, according to Zuckerberg.

When his daughter takes her first steps, Zuckerberg said he planned to record it in 360-degree video so family and friends can experience it in virtual reality as if they were there for the moment.

At one point, Zuckerberg’s comments took on a political tone, with the Facebook chief maintaining that the mission to connect the world is more important than ever given rhetoric about building walls and fearing those who are different.

“If the world starts to turn inward, then our community will have to work even harder to bring people together,” Zuckerberg said.

“Instead of building walls, we can build bridges,” he added, in an apparent reference to the fiery rhetoric of Donald Trump. – AFP

Being constantly connected online has bad consequences: harming memory, make you stupid


How much is too much?: Studies have found that Internet is harming our memory, especially short-term or working memory
How Smart Phones Make You Stupid
– Consumer Association of Penang (CAP)

Being constantly connected to the digital world has its consequences – setting the rules with social media

In order to have a more harmonious marriage, H and I have decided that we need some rules.

Recently, we came up with Rule No. 1: You can only repeat something once.

It’s been really helpful in keeping the nagging level of our marriage down. In the past, we would nag at each other quite a bit.

It has worked so well, we thought we should introduce more rules.

A few weeks back, he suggested Rule No. 2: No Googling and checking of e-mail at the dining table and just before we sleep.

I baulked.

What a ridiculous rule, I said. It’ll be impossible for me to agree to it and it’s not fair because it’s targeted at me.

How can I not be checking my e-mail all the time, I continued. I am a journalist. I must know what’s happening and I must be contactable 24/7. What if a story breaks? I need to know at once. I was, of course, exaggerating my own importance.

The world and the newsroom chug along just fine whether or not I am online. My bosses don’t expect me to be constantly connected (I think).

I was using work as an excuse. An excuse for an affliction I am finally coming around to acknowledging, but which H has noticed for some time: I have an addiction.

I have an addiction to Googling, to my smartphone, to my iPad, to being connected to the digital world.

My phone follows me everywhere I go. I sleep with it inches away from my pillow and my nights (as well as his) are punctuated with beeps, blips and pings from the many message notifications streaming in.

I check my phone goodness knows how many times a day, to look at my e-mail, WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram and a few other apps.

When I’m at the cinema, I’m one of those irritating people whose phone screen lights up during a movie because I’m checking it.

I literally break out in a cold sweat when I misplace my phone.

At home, I walk around not only with my phone, but also my tablet.

I am addicted to Googling on my iPad. I can spend an entire day in bed just Googling (oh, bliss). Sometimes, when the Wi-Fi speed is acting up, I Google on both my phone and tablet at the same time, just in case one gets to the information I want quicker.

“You’re addicted,” H says.

“I’m not,” I say. “It’s my job. I am not addicted. I know when to stop.”

To prove my point, I went onto Google (of course) to try out some are-you-an-Internet-addict tests.

The most helpful article I came across was in Yahoo by Dr James Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University in Texas in the United States.

He explained that anything that can produce pleasure in our brain has the potential of becoming addictive and what makes something an addiction is when we lose control.

Research, he said, has identified “six signs” of any type of substance or behavioural addiction.

These signs relate to issues connected to salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict and relapse. I have a problem. But the situation isn’t that dire, I’d like to think.

Still, I shouldn’t be complacent. It can’t be pleasant living with someone who doesn’t give you her full attention because her nose is always stuck in a screen. It is also rude.

At work, I have got into the bad habit of not looking at colleagues I’m talking to because I’m also typing away on my phone or computer.

At meetings when I’m just the slightest bit bored, I find it hard to resist reaching for my phone and checking my e-mail, which is impolite to the person who’s speaking.

My attachment to my devices can be dangerous – I walk and text a lot. The intense and constant staring at screens is causing eye strain.

Studies have also found that the Internet is harming our memory, especially short-term or working memory.

Information overload and distractions – hallmarks of Internet surfing – make it harder to retain information in our brains.

When we know a digital device holds information for us, we are also less likely to remember it ourselves. It has been years since I memorised anyone’s telephone number. I’m not even sure I can do it now.

Having so much information at my fingertips has made my brain lazy and mushy.Google makes you feel clever when you really aren’t.

Also, while social media like Facebook have been praised for bringing people closer, they can in fact isolate us when we use them in place of face-to-face interactions.

As for H and me, I think I should agree to some version of Rule No. 2 if I want a happier marriage.

Totally no Googling and checking of e-mail at the dining table and just before we sleep might not be doable.

But I can live with “less” Googling and checking of e-mail. One step at a time

By Sumiko Tan The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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