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You’re Never Alone: Tech Tyranny and Digital Despots – September 16

Facebook gets into the market of love and techies team up with the government to prevent election meddling.

As the technological realm becomes more pervasive, whom can we trust? Liberty Nation brings new insight into the fraudulent use of personal data, breaches of privacy, and attempts to filter our perception.

Facebook Dating

Has the internet improved love lives? Online dating may have started as a stigma-laden method for the lovelorn to find a partner, but technology has found a place in the dating, or, at least, the “hook-up” world. With Facebook still defining our “relationship status” and who our online “friends” are, perhaps it is not surprising that the company has sought to expand its control over relationships by acting as a matchmaker with its new Facebook Dating feature.

After the service was released in 19 countries around the world, Facebook Dating recently launched in the US. According to the company, engagement and marriages have already occurred as a result of people using the app – a quick conversion rate, as the rollout only began a year ago. The app is embedded within the existing Facebook app, and, though it keeps users’ dating profiles deliberately separate from their standard profile and friends list, it is no secret how the service decides who would be a good match for you. As well as the standard features found on any matchmaking site, as Wired put it, “a few options take unique advantage of Facebook’s biggest asset—its extensive cache of data on you and all your friends.”

All that data that people supply to the site on a daily basis will finally come in useful – at least for singles. According to Facebook, “our match suggestions within Dating are based on your preferences, interests and other things you do on Facebook to help you connect with people based on things you may have in common.”

The company assures, however, that “we consulted with experts in privacy and consumer protection and embedded privacy protections into the core of Facebook Dating.” The company does not mention how it may use the additional data provided by the app. Wired also points out, “it will provide Facebook with a trove of new information about how people connect with each other.” With many pointing out that Facebook is losing popularity, especially among younger demographics, will the new app – or, perhaps the additional data gleaned from it – keep the company relevant? And is it worth it – for love?

NK Sanctions

While relations between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have seemingly never been rosier, antagonism between the US and North Korea seems to simmer below the headlines. The Department of the Treasury hit North Korea with sanctions Sept. 13, as a result of cyberattack allegations against the communist nation. According to the Treasury, the sanctions target three state-sponsored “malicious cyber groups responsible for North Korea’s malicious cyber activity on critical infrastructure.” The hacking groups are known as “Lazarus Group,” “Bluenoroff,” and “Andariel” and are said to be connected to the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), a North Korean intelligence agency.

“Treasury is taking action against North Korean hacking groups that have been perpetrating cyber attacks to support illicit weapon and missile programs,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “We will continue to enforce existing U.S. and UN sanctions against North Korea and work with the international community to improve cybersecurity of financial networks.”

Govt and Techies Team Up to Prevent Election Meddling

Nathaniel Gleicher

As 2020 looms, election preparations are well underway, and, obviously, interference – especially by the Russians, one presumes – must be avoided. Officials from the FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Department of Homeland Security recently traveled to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA, to discuss security for the next election with Silicon Valley representatives.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said, “Participants discussed their respective work, explored potential threats, and identified further steps to improve planning and coordination. Specifically, attendees talked about how industry and government could improve how we share information and coordinate our response to better detect and deter threats.”

In attendance were representatives from Twitter, Google, and Microsoft. “We always welcome the opportunity to spend time with our peer companies and the government agencies tasked with protecting the integrity of the 2020 election,” a Twitter spokesman said. “This is a joint effort in response to a shared threat, and we are committed to doing our part.”

Richard Salgado, Google’s director of law enforcement and information security, added:

“We will continue to monitor our platforms while sharing relevant information with law enforcement and industry peers,” Salgado said in a statement. “It is crucial that industry, law enforcement and others collaborate to prevent any threats to the integrity of our elections.”

Cooperation between government bodies and Silicon Valley appears ever more closely integrated – with all those guys looking out for the American people, surely there could be no possibility of election meddling in 2020. It was not mentioned whether the many accusations of bias and election meddling leveled at the social media companies – particularly Google – were discussed at the meeting.

That’s all for this week from You’re Not Alone. Check back in next Monday to find out what’s happening in the digital realm and how it impacts you.


Read more from Laura Valkovic or comment on this article – and get our latest book, The Second American Revolution: Tech Tyranny and Digital Despots.

Read More From Laura Valkovic

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