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InfoSec News Nuggets 10/09/2020

Facebook rebuts ‘The Social Dilemma,’ a popular Netflix documentary

The movie revealed, perhaps for the first time to some viewers, how social networks use algorithms to keep people coming back. It also addressed how tech companies have influenced elections, ethnic violence and rates of depression and suicide. Some viewers said they were deleting Facebook and Instagram after watching it. The rebuttal suggests that Facebook may be worried about the documentary’s effects on usage. “The Social Dilemma” appeared in Netflix’s top 10 most popular movies and TV shows list in September and is still listed in its Trending section. In a post published on its site, Facebook addressed several concerns it has with the movie, covering topics such as addiction, users being “the product,” its algorithms, data privacy, polarization, elections and misinformation. “Rather than offer a nuanced look at technology, it gives a distorted view of how social media platforms work to create a convenient scapegoat for what are difficult and complex societal problems,” Facebook said.


States are finally starting to use the Covid-tracking tech Apple and Google built

Six months after it was announced, the tech that Apple and Google built for sending Covid-19 exposure alerts to smartphones is finally gaining momentum in the United States. New York and New Jersey both released Covid-19 alert apps this week, bringing the total to 10 states plus Guam that have published apps using technology from the Apple-Google partnership. Seventy million people, or 21% of the U.S. population, now have access to a Covid-19 app, according to a CNBC analysis using U.S. Census data. More are coming soon, too. Five other states plus Washington, D.C., have announced plans to use the Apple-Google exposure notification system, and California and Arizona are currently testing apps in pilot programs. If the system works properly, the apps will provide push alerts to any user who came in close contact with another app user who tested positive for the coronavirus. 


Judge Orders Twitter To Unmask FBI Impersonator Who Set Off Seth Rich Conspiracy

A federal judge in California has ordered that Twitter reveal the identity of an anonymous user who allegedly fabricated an FBI document to spread a conspiracy theory about the killing of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who died in 2016. The ruling could lead to the identification of the person behind the Twitter name @whyspertech. Through that account, the user allegedly provided forged FBI materials to Fox News. The documents falsely linked Rich’s killing to the WikiLeaks hack of Democratic Party emails in the lead-up to the 2016 election. While Twitter fought to keep the user’s identity secret, U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu in Oakland, Calif., ordered on Tuesday that the tech company must turn over the information to attorneys representing Rich’s family in a defamation suit by Oct. 20.


Slack is getting Instagram-like stories and push-to-talk audio calls for the pandemic era

Slack is getting ready to introduce Instagram-like stories and push-to-talk audio into its communications software before the end of 2020. Both additions are born out of the shift to remote working during the pandemic era we’re all adjusting to. Slack is hoping these features might cut down on constant video calls or inefficient text conversations, and bring back the impromptu office interactions most people haven’t experienced for months. While Instagram stories are designed to share your every day life experiences with friends and family, Slack’s stories aren’t really about videos of your pets, favorite food, or vacations. Slack sees the video snippets as a way for remote workers to check in and provide status updates, for example, or to set the daily agenda for a team.


Comcast cable remotes hacked to snoop on conversations

Security researchers analyzing Comcast’s XR11 Xfinity Voice Remote found a way to turn it into a listening device without needing physical access or user interaction. Dubbed WarezThe Remote, the attack allowed taking over the remote and snooping on conversations from at least 65 feet (about 20 meters), making possible a “van parked outside” scenario. Unlike regular remotes that use infrared, Comcast’s XR11 relies on radiofrequency to communicate with cable set-top boxes and comes with a built-in microphone to allow voice commands. XR11 is the older model of the X1 Voice Remote, which controls the X1 video entertainment platform. There are more than 18 million units deployed in homes across the U.S. 

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