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The launch of Obamacare has been a complete and total nightmare so far. The “online exchanges” are constantly crashing, there are endless glitches and delays, and many of the people that actually have been able to successfully register for an account are discovering that health insurance premiums under Obamacare are far higher than what [...]
Facebook: Governments demanded information on 38K users, among them protesters and political activists
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Published time: March 12, 2013 07:07
Facebook’s ‘like’ button can reveal more than you realize, a new study has showed. By liking posts and links, you may be revealing personal secrets, like your sexuality or religious and political views. The findings have raised privacy concerns.
A study by the National Academy of Sciences examined 58,000 Facebook users in the US, who volunteered their likes, demographic profiles and psychometric test results. Researchers managed to draw “surprisingly accurate” findings about a given user’s race, IQ, sexuality, substance use, personality and political views by analyzing the topics and items they ‘liked,’ even if they set strong privacy settings for their page.
The study’s authors developed an algorithm that uses Facebook ‘likes’ to create personality profiles, potentially revealing a user's personality. Anyone with training in data analysis could be able to derive such information, even if users had not explicitly shared it, they explained.
As a result, researchers were able to predict whether men were homosexual with 88 percent accuracy by their ‘like’ clicks on sites related to gay marriage or same-sex relations. Preferences of music and TV shows, for example, were also more revealing than users may have imagined: Men who liked the musical TV show ‘Glee’ were more likely to be gay, the study showed.
In 82 percent of cases, Christians and Muslims were correctly identified among the volunteer profiles. And the study was not only predictive of sexuality or religion, but also a user’s IQ.
Those with higher IQs tended to more frequently like ‘The Colbert Report’ TV show, for example, or films like ‘The Godfather’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ Those with lower IQs liked Harley Davidsons and Bret Michaels of the rock band Poison.
Similarly accurate predictions were also made about users’ political views, and could even predict potential voting patterns during elections, mapped to users’ relationship status, their number of Facebook friends and a half-dozen other personality traits.
“The important point is that, on one hand, it is good that people’s behavior is predictable because it means Facebook can suggest very good stories on your news feed,” South China Morning Post quoted Michal Kosinsky, one of the academics behind the study as saying.
While the study could be seen as a new step towards creating more personalized content, it also highlighted the potential threats to privacy posed by Facebook. “What is shocking is that you can use the same data to predict your political views or your sexual orientation. This is something most people don’t realize you can do,” Kosinsky warned.
Similar profiles could be created using other digital data, including Web searches, emails and mobile phone activity, according to a co-author of the study: ``Your likes may be saying more about you than you realize,'' David Sitwell, a Cambridge University researcher said, according to AFP. "But you don't realize that years later all those likes are building up against you."
Facebook declined to comment on the study.
This is an update to our first three Facebook forensic analyses, two of which released before the actual Facebook IPO (search the :downloads section for the first two documents). The updated valuation for Facebook (which has actually has an increase in terms of value now that we have more information to deal with) is available to download for all paying subscribers (FB Q4-2012 Analysis & Valuation Note - update with per share valuation). I'm available to discuss this with professional and institutional subscribers via phone or Google+. Click here to subscribe or upgrade.
As of the writing of this addendum, Facebook is trading at $31.10, not even a year after debuting at $38.This utter disappointment and gutting of the Muppets is exactly what our research has anticipated. Facebook has fell as low as $17.xx, and is now on the rebound towards its IPO price. Notwithstanding the massive capital losses suffered by those who bought into the over hyped IPO against my admonitions, or the losses suffered by those who bought in the Sell Side powered private offerings which was actually valued higher than the majority of trading time as a public company, the argument is being made that Facebook has finally got the mobile thing and can’t be valued using conventional metrics due to its status as a high growth company.
Wait a minute! Facebook as a high growth company is actually growing revenue SLOWER than its biggest and better capitalized competitor – Google! Considerably slower! While it’s perfectly prudent for the management of a high growth company challenged for market share in a fast moving industry undergoing a paradigm shift, results must result from said efforts. Google is out Facebooking Facebook. Reference I Don't Think Facebook Investors Will "Like" This!!! Google Has Already Caught Up In Terms Of Active Users…
In my previous warnings of Facebook euphoria, I brought up the topic of growth many times, particularly active user growth. Reference The World's First Phenomenally Forensic Facebook Analysis - This Is What You Need Before You Invest, Pt 1, while remaining cognizant that this was written exactly 1 year ago:
Thus, it is highly unlikely one can legitimately factor in the type of growth needed to justify the current Goldman $50B valuation - particularly when you consider that Facebook's growth is already slowing!
Well, let's see if I had a valid point now that we have clear and convincing historical evidence from which to base our analysis... (click any of these graphics to enlarge to print quality size)c
At this point, I can't help myself. I MUST point out the literal rippoff that Goldman Sachs pushed as a once in a life time investment a year and a half ago. As excerpted from Facebook Registers The WHOLE WORLD! Or At Least They Would Have To In Order To Justify Goldman's Pricing: Here's What $2 Billion Or So Worth Of Goldman HNW Clients Probably Wish They Read This Time Last Week! while remaining cognizant that this was written exactly 1 year ago:
Goldman warns, 'We’re probably going to dump this load, but we may also need you to remain behind to hold the bag!'
In its offer for the $1.5bn stock sale of privately held social-networking company Facebook,Goldman Sachs disclosed that it might sell or hedge its own $375m investment without warning clients. Under the deal, private wealth-management clients would be subject to “significant restrictions” limiting their ability to sell stakes while Goldman Sachs own holding can be sold or hedged at any time, and without warning. One would hope that astute clients and investors would be put on guard by such conflicting and restrictive liquidity measures! In addition, it appears as if Goldman Sachs failed to disclose its clients that it had offered Facebook shares to its internal investment group, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, headed by one of its star fund managers, Richard A. Friedman.
So, this begs the question, "Has the easy money already been made Facebook???" Well, let's take an empirical look now that we have some hard data to steer us throught that sell side fog, that very same fog that people pay me to clear.... (click to enlarge to printer size)
I’m available to discuss this in detail with all professional and institutional subscribers via Google+, or phone.
It's official, the mainstream media has turned on those "doing God's work" and come to the side of BoomBustBlog.
I must admit, I was shocked when I first read this headline and saw the accompanying cover. After all, Bloomberg was the organization that published a story lavishing adulation upon a young Goldman analyst that had a 38% win rate throughout the credit crisis and (faux) recovery. I see those results as mediocre at best, and downright horrible from a realistic perspective. To make matters even worse, I believe I ran circles not only around that analyst, but the entire firm, see Did Reggie Middleton, a Blogger at BoomBustBlog, Best Wall Streets Best of the Best?
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For those who don't follow me, I've been bearish on Facebook's stock since day one, primarily due to valuation and pricing issues. I'vemade (or saved) my subscribers a fortune on the Facebook IPO, from pre-IPO private trading to IPO at $38, to its fall to $17 or so. Lately, the stock has been on a tear. On January 10th, I posted "As Facebook Finally Starts To Approach Its IPO Price The Competition Thoroughly Outclasses It - Buyer Beware", basically a warning that my many admonitions concerning FB's risk adjusted prospects for success are still rather optimistic considering the offerings of its most dangerous competitor, Google. The piece illustrated how Google+ was not only technically superior to Facebook in nearly every way, but far cheaper for advertisers (Facebook's only real revenue stream) as well. Well, here's another potential nail in the like button coffin...
Facebook has two major caveats to its current business model. One is the monetization of its user base. The second is the growth of said user base itself....
Facebook's subscriber growth has actually slowed materially since this graphic was made.
Well, here's the real kicker....
... and to make things worse, Google also owns the number three social platform as well. When combined, they have effectively caught up to Facebook already after just a single year of effort. That should scare the shit out of Facebook investors!
Google+, who despite being branded a failure or ghost town by large portions of the media, grew in terms of active usage by 27% to 343m users to become the number 2 social platform. Interestingly for Google, YouTube (not previously tracked by us as a social platform) comes in at number 3, demonstrating the immense opportunity of linking Google’s services through the G+ social layer. This is also a key indication of why Google+ integrated with the Google product set is so key to the future of search and the internet. We’ve got more coming on Google+ later this week as well.
Here are some very interesting comments from the Google+ post that I sourced this from, one being from the Google+ head himself (Vic).
- I recently read an article about Exxon using G+ in place of Facebook and Microsoft to create global collaborative workgroups. The article noted the seamless G+ integration with video, messaging, and document sharing as a key factor in their decision to utilize Google over similar services offered by MS and the like. Another interesting growth area has been in education.#GooglePlusInTheClassroom. IMO Google Plus isn't as much of a social networking platform as much as a Information Enterprise platform for the masses.
This level of social interaction from Google managment is both impressive and commendable. Now, to reminisce on past pontifications Facebook....Here's where I broke it down on Capital Account
I also happened to do the same on the Max Kesier show...
Subscribers who haven't refreshed their viewing of our Facebook research should do so now - (subscription only) FaceBook IPO & Valuation Note Update. Pro and instititional subscribers are welcome to peruse the downloadable Facebook Valuation Model, allowing you to input your own assumptions in the very unlikely event you may not agree 180% with me :-)
And from the archives...
I discussed Facebook on the Peter Schiff radio show, the Facebook excerpt is below...
Additional Facebook analysis, valuationa and commentary.
On Max Keiser, go to the 13:55 marker for more on Facebook...
Professional and institutional BoomBustBlog subscribers have access to a simplified unlocked version of the valuation model used for this report, available for immediate download - Facebook Valuation Model 08Feb2012. I just nominally input some very generous numbers and the best case scenario chart (see the chart tab after your own individual inputs) is quite revealing, indeed! The full forensic opinion is available to all subscribers here FaceBook IPO & Valuation Note Update, and the latest iteration can be found here FB IPO Analysis & Valuation Note - update with per share valuation 05/21/2012. It is recommended that subscribers (click here to subscribe) also review the original analyses (FB note final 01/11/2011).
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Introducing its new search engine, Facebook assured users that the system is strongly privacy aware. However, prank searches made by one of the beta testers have revealed that the system may expose just a bit more people would want.
The new ‘Graph Search’ system was presented by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his team last week. The engine was designed to search Facebook for specific information, be it a Mexican restaurant your Facebook friends like the most or single people from India in your neighborhood.
The current Graph Search is a beta version still to be tested; it is limited to searches of people, their likes, places, interests and photos. Posts and status messages so far are out of reach, but soon may become searchable as well, Forbes reported.
During the presentation Zuckerberg and his crew devoted a special part to the issue of Facebook privacy. They assured the audience that the engine is only going to process data that has been allowed to be processed by the users themselves.
To demonstrate the system at work the team conducted a number of sample searches including ‘Friends who like Star Wars and Harry Potter’, ‘Languages my friends speak’, ‘Music liked by people who like Mitt Romney’ and ‘Music liked by people who like Obama’.
However, one of the people invited to test the beta version of the engine soon found out that Graph Search can find way more than Star Wars fans and music preferences of Obama supporters.
In his blogpost published on Wednesday, computer programmer and ‘Gadget Geek’ Tom Scott revealed some peculiar searches he conducted using Graph Search. The results turned out to be quite controversial, if not scandalous.
Scott found out that the new search engine will readily find ‘Married people, who like prostitutes’ and ‘Spouses of married people who like Ashley Madison’, a dating website for people who are already in a relationship.
Furthermore, he was able to find ‘Islamic men interested in men who live in Tehran, Iran’, where homosexual relations are prohibited by law and ‘Places where they’ve worked’.
Something corporate America would not like – a search exposing ‘Current employers of people who like Racism’.
These are just some of the searches Scott was able to do using the new Graph Search. When posting the results, he blurred the names and the pictures of those he found.
Commenting on his research, Scott said that although the search does not directly violate Facebook privacy settings, users just need to be aware of the new search engine capabilities and might want to reconsider the information they put on the web.
“If it’d be awkward if it was put on a screen in Times Square, don’t put it on Facebook. Oh, and check your privacy settings again,” he said.
Facebook has repeatedly been accused of violating the privacy of its users. In early January, the EU pressured the world`s most popular social network to provide more data protection. In September, Facebook was forced to stop using its facial recognition software in Europe following an investigation by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland.
Envy and dissatisfaction on Facebook
A recent study conducted by German scientists revealed that envy and dissatisfaction are among most popular feelings Facebook users experience while browsing through their friends’ ‘timelines’.
The survey of some 600 Facebook users showed that one third of them have negative feelings as using the social network mostly because they are envying their ‘Facebook friends’, whose life seems more interesting and wholesome than their own.
“Although respondents were reluctant to admit feeling envious while on Facebook, they often presumed that envy can be the cause behind the frustration of ‘others’ on this platform – a clear indication that envy is a salient phenomenon in the Facebook context,” said project manager Dr. Hanna Krasnova from Humboldt-Universität.
She explained that access to positive news and the profiles of seemingly successful friends bolsters social comparison, which can easily provoke envy.
The survey found that about one-fifth of all recent online and offline events provoking envy among respondents were posted on Facebook. According to the researchers, respondents’ envy often led to “embellishing their Facebook profiles” creating what they called “envy spiral.”
It was also established that the envy provoked by looking through Facebook lead many to “greater life dissatisfaction”.
“Considering the fact that Facebook use is a worldwide phenomenon and envy is a universal feeling, a lot of people are subject to these painful consequences,” Co-author Helena Wenninger of TU-Darmstadt University said.
Communication technology is leading to a radical reorganization of UK society, says a major study. Traditional communities will become “less cohesive”, as virtual ones form in their place, and the very definition of what it is to be a person changes.
Extensive social predictions off the back of latest Instagram usage statistics are not rare, but the report, funded by the Treasury and led by Chief Government Science Advisor Sir John Beddington, is the most comprehensive attempt yet to understand the implications of technological change on our identities.
“Increasingly, UK citizens will be globally networked, hyper-connected individuals, and this has substantial implications for what is meant by communities and by social integration. This means that some people also become part of ‘virtual’ communities, or communities of interest, rather than their neighbourhoods, and so feel less attachment to their physical locality,” write the authors, who commissioned 20 separate studies for the Future Identities report.
“Communities in the UK are likely to become less cohesive over the next 10 years.”
Seventeen out of twenty Britons of all ages regularly go online, and over two thirds are members of social networks, up from just 17 percent in 2007. Both Facebook and Twitter are used by just over half of the population.
Aided by “hyper-connectivity” – the ability to always be online and to instantaneously document anything that is happening to them – the report claims Britons are no longer bound by traditional social roles.
Be it through a Facebook profile that shows one’s life as a never-ending carnival, a post on a football forum in the guise of a rabid fan, or a sober CV on LinkedIn, people now project what the study calls ”social plurality”, a variety of overlapping parts of personality they choose to amplify and show other people.
These new identities are replacing the older social personas of working professional, housewife, or pensioner, as people present themselves as they wish, and socialize on the basis of their interests, beliefs or fantasies.
Even age roles – which have in the recent past been defined by concrete things such as children, home ownership or retirement – are breaking down.
“An important trend for people’s identities is the emergence of new life stages, such as the more prolonged transitions between adolescence and adulthood (‘emerging adulthood’, referring to people in their 20s and early 30s) and between middle-age and old-age (‘older adulthood’: roughly between the ages 60 and 75), with a fluid period of reaching ‘full adulthood’ and then ‘middle adulthood’ sandwiched in between,” says the study.
“Increasingly these life stages are being either delayed, extended, or blurred together, and are likely to become even more fluid in future.”
Some of these changes maybe sparked by demographics (an older population) or the economy (more expensive housing) but they are exponentially accelerated by the freedom and connectivity offered by the internet.
Bedroom terrorists, London rioters and Facebook donors
The impact is mixed.
“The internet can allow many types of people to realise their identities more fully; for example, some people who have been shy or lonely or feel less attractive discover they can socialise more successfully and express themselves more freely online,” says the report.
“For many with disabilities being online or having an avatar can be the first time the person feels they are seen by others as a ‘normal’ human being.”
But as individuals burrow into their private cubby holes with the like-minded, they may lose touch with the rest of society.
“The role of online channels is often seen as crucial in providing support and information to facilitate Islamic radicalisation. It is true that the internet may provide a medium in which extreme views can become accentuated and normalized.”
But it is not just trainee terrorists who are feeling alienation, but also the young. In their minds, many have higher expectations than previous generations, fueled largely by the “everyone-is-a-star” mentality of social networks, but in reality they face “uncertainty” in a globalized economy that can no longer guarantee them a lifetime of financial security, even if they complete university. Instead, they face a prospect of caring for an ever-growing army of elderly relatives.
The authors say this may lead to a “lack of feeling of belonging, and less social investment for the future”.
When such disenfranchised groups do find a shared purpose, it can be through destructive behavior such as the London riots of 2011, organized primarily through mobile phones and social media.
The report claims that hyper-connectivity can compensate for the lack of cohesion, and often produce positive displays of social unity. Current technology means that when the Olympics take place or a natural disaster occurs, “disparate groups can be more easily mobilised where their interests temporarily coincide”, whether those lie in joining in national celebrations of sporting excellence or donating money for a relief effort.
One-way information superhighway
Regardless of how one sees these changes, they cannot be reversed. The study points out that by the time the current generation of under-18s become adults, they will not remember Britain without social networks and instant internet access.
In their world “maintaining an online presence could become normalised to the point where refusing to participate in online media could appear unusual or even suspicious”.
As for those for those who still say no to logging on (or are unable to, due to age or poverty) simply leaving is not an option.
The report says those “people may also find increasingly that their online identities are created or mediated by others.” As in, just because you are not on Facebook, it does not mean that other people haven’t uploaded your photos there and commented on them.
So, while the pace of social change will be “increasingly dynamic or volatile”, in the past decade Britain has already changed in ways that are invisible to the naked eye, but as fundamental as any physical construction or new law. As the authors sum up in their final recommendation to the politicians in charge, “In future, the UK needs to be considered as much a part of the virtual world as a real place.”
Igor Ogorodnev, RT
A snapshot of the Real Democracy movement's page on facebook.com
In a move of high-tech civil disobedience, thousands of Israeli citizens are donating their right to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections to their Palestinian neighbors via Facebook.
The political initiative, called Real Democracy, so far has over 1,400 followers and is allowing Israelis to "donate" their votes for the Palestinian cause, giving their second-class citizen compatriots an opportunity to participate in general elections on Tuesday.
The founders of the initiative call their campaign “an act of civil disobedience against … the undemocratic nature of Israeli elections … the election of a government which controls four million Palestinians without voting rights," quotes The Guardian.
The goal is to take the action a step further and allow Palestinians a potential say in the Israeli government’s “de facto control over the United Nations Security Council.”
Around a one and a half million Palestinians have Israeli citizenship, the other roughly two and a half million living in the country fall under the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and of Hamas in Gaza – and do not have an opportunity to vote in the elections that ultimately influences their lives.
Participants in the campaign say they are willing to go to the polling stations on January 22 to cast their votes according to the decision of the Palestinian to whom they gave their vote.
In his video post supporting the campaign, Israeli Moriel Rothman says he is “ashamed” of how the Israeli government treats the Palestinian population, surrendering his vote, saying, “I will vote the way you tell me to vote.”
Haim Barack Cohen, a lawyer from Tel Aviv, urged in his post the destruction of all barriers, giving up his right to vote so that the Palestinian people can have “equal rights.”
One of the men behind the movement, Shimri Zameret, says real democracy should rise above borders. “Politics transcends borders but governments are national. This is an attempt to create a new form of politics,” Zameret was quoted by The Guardian as saying.
The Real Democracy movement follows a similar model, initiated in 2010 in the UK, when a number of Britons agreed to donate their votes to minorities in the country.
Israel will hold parliamentary elections on January 22. The latest polls show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bloc ahead of their center-left opponents, with the right claiming 63 seats against 57 for the moderates, according to Dialogue service poll numbers.
A programmer at a US company outsourced his job to a Chinese contractor for a fraction of his six-figure salary. After handing over his login information, he spent his days on Facebook and perused cat videos while the Chinese firm worked in his name.
‘Bob,’ as he has been dubbed in the media, had his cover blown when an external audit showed that a Chinese company had been logging in under his name.
The audit revealed an active virtual private network (VPN) between ‘Bob’s’ workstation and a firm in Shenyang, China. Suspecting a breach in their security system, the company’s executives initially requested an audit from Operations Verizon.
"Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going across multiple companies in the area,” Andrew Valentine of Verizon said, adding that “he earned several hundred thousand dollars a year, and only had to pay the Chinese consulting firm about $50,000 annually."
Verizon uncovered hundreds of PDF files and invoices exchanged between the Shenyang contractor and ‘Bob.’ Verizon said that the employee had sent his security credentials by Fedex to the Chinese company so they could log on with his username during working hours.
"Authentication was no problem. He physically FedExed his RSA [security] token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday. It would appear that he was working an average nine-to-five work day,” Valentine said.
Verizon revealed the Shenyang contractor had been working for ‘Bob’ for months, and had access to the classified files of the “critical infrastructure company.” This gives rise to the question: What did Bob actually do during his workday?
A look at the employee’s Internet browsing history revealed he whiled away the hours updating Facebook, surfing Reddit and perusing the Web for cat videos. And at the end of every workday, ‘Bob’ would send a personal email to the management to safeguard his integrity.
Official performance figures for the company where ‘Bob’ worked showed that he was the most productive developer in the building.
‘Bob’ has been described as “inoffensive, quiet” and talented, and is fluent in several different programing languages.
Unsung hero or couch potato?
The Internet lit up with comments after the story broke, with some praising ‘Bob’s’ ingenuity and resourcefulness.
One blogger opined that he was an “American hero,” worthy of a medal. “Where’s the problem? He improved his personal profit and the quality and efficiency of his work.”
However, Chinese users of Twitter-style social network Weibo were more critical of ‘Bob’s’ work ethic.
“Learn English and let’s find work in US. Why do we have to do the dirty work for such a cheap price in China?" one Weibo commenter wrote.
The real identity of ‘Bob’ has not yet been revealed, but he reportedly no longer works for the infrastructure company.
Someone commented on my last article that no one was going to read the whole article because it was too long and that I needed to present my points visually instead. While I respectfully disagree with the premise that no one would read my last two articles just because they were a little bit lengthy in comparison with newspaper articles, I wholeheartedly agree that the use of visual mediums is often a more effective tool in converying one’s message than the use of only words. Last week, I stumbled upon a YouTube video from LarkenRose called “The Tiny Dot” (thanks to a commenter on one my videos) that explains how just a few people can easily control many. So I am presenting it below.
Secondly, the use of social media has been beneficial in many ways, allowing people to share ideas very quickly with strangers in far away lands. However, there are also some very definitive drawbacks to social media as well, including the granting to tyrannical governments of an instantaneous digital “footprint” that records a person’s thoughts and movements over many years. Furthermore, given the exploding popularity of the instant-gratification paradigm of social media, social media has also been very detrimental in many ways to our quality of life by decreasing our levels of patience and our socialization skills, while simultaneously increasing OCD-like behavior among many of us. Thus, I plead of you to “Take the No Facebook, No SmartPhone Challenge” with me. You just may discover that this challenge will greatly improve the quality of your life for a week. See you in a week!
About the author: JS Kim is the founder and Managing Director of SmartKnowledgeU, a fiercely independent investment research & consulting firm that focuses on gold & silver as a means of resisting the tyranny of the global banking cartel and of restoring sound money that would lay the foundation for the reintroduction of sustainable, organic economic growth to the world. Follow him on twitter @smartknowledgeu, & sign up for his free newsletter here.
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