CategoriesInternetPrivacySecurity

Tinder: Three Things You Probably Didn’t Know

It all seems very straightforward. Swipe right if you’re attracted to the person on your screen, swipe left if you’re not. Tinder makes the process of finding someone to date seem easy. Individual profiles take only seconds to scan. In under one hour, you could be matched up with someone available to date you tonight. Yet, there’s more to the app than meets the eye. The inner workings of Tinder’s algorithms might leave you a little surprised.

 

 



Tinder has a “desirability” ranking system.

That’s right, Tinder “scores” your desirability based on several factors. You are shown specific matches first, based on these factors. You aren’t able to retrieve these scores for yourself – but a writer, Austin Carr, from Fast Company, was granted access to his score by Tinder executives. This is what he came away with:

“Every swipe is in a way casting a vote: I find this person more desirable than this person, whatever motivated you to swipe right. It might be because of attractiveness, or it might be because they had a really good profile.” Tinder’s engineers tell me they can use this information to study what profiles are considered most alluring in aggregate.” -Carr, Fast Company

Furthermore, Tinder’s VP of product compares the ranking system to that of a World of Warcraft game. He says if someone with a really high score swipes right on you, that’s going to in turn increase your score too. Just like if a high-level player helps a lower-level player level up in Warcraft.

Your Tinder Data may not be Secure.

Yep, it says so right in their TOS: “We do not promise, and you should not expect, that your personal information, chats, or other communications will always remain secure”. With the onslaught of hacked sites and apps in recent years, it’s no wonder they’re taking this precaution.

Since the launch of Tinder, it has been an attractive medium for data scrapers. Scrapers are automated bots or tools that extract data from websites or apps. With over 50 million users on Tinder, these tools provide valuable data to marketers, research firms and potentially to governments. In fact, there have been multiple instances where scrapers were discovered to have harvested a large amount of data from Tinder.

One developer managed to scrape information from over 40,000 profiles and posted it publicly. The purpose for this massive harvesting of profile data was to train AI to recognize gender based on a person’s facial features. The project was called “People of Tinder” and it has since been removed.

Tinder has a Huge Trove of Data on Every User

Last year, Judith Duportail, a writer at The Guardian, asked Tinder for all of the data they had stored on her. Every European citizen is allowed to request their data from companies using the EU data protection law. It turned out Tinder had 800 pages of data stored on her that included information like education, Facebook likes, conversation history, number of Facebook friends, the age-rank and race of men she was interested in, which matches she’d recycled pickup lines with, who she’d ghosted on, and tons more.

The reason Tinder is able to amass so much information on each user, is because most users sign up through Facebook. When someone uses Facebook to login to any app, that app gets access to likes, location information, friend information, public profile information, and often much more (though some of this access may soon be restricted due to the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal). They also study your behaviors while using the app, and then use that behavioral data to help target matches and advertisements. Many users also link their Instagram accounts to the app, which gives Tinder even more data to harvest.

Now that you know Tinder is just as exploitative as other apps and services that have been in trouble for data-mining lately, will you still continue to use it to find dates?

CategoriesData BreachesSocial Media

Facebook Scrambles to Restrict Access to your Data

Facebook released a newsroom update today outlining their new plan to restrict data access going forward.

A Month of Scandals

It has been a turbulent month for the social media company. First, it was announced that Cambridge Analytica had performed a breach on Facebook. They did this by obtaining data from an app that tricked users into giving up personal information for “academic research”. This app harvested not only users’ data, but also the data of their friends. It has been said that over 80 million people were affected by this breach. This information was handed over to Cambridge Analytica, a British data mining firm, who used it to influence voter opinion on behalf of their political clients.

Additionally, Mark Zuckerburg recently said in a call to reporters that every user of Facebook can assume they have had their data scraped by third parties. All two billion of us.

In the wake of these scandals, there was a lot of public outcry, and Facebook’s stock prices were greatly lowered. Facebook is now scrambling to secure the privacy holes that have been left gaping for so long.

What Next?

In their newsroom update, Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer outlines the main changes they will be making over the next few months:

Soon, apps will no longer be allowed to access the same amount of data related to events, groups, pages, logins, and the Instagram API. Facebook will also restrict the ability to search phone numbers and email addresses. Doing that should help prevent malicious actors from searching and scraping public profiles based on information they already own.

If you have an Android device, Facebook would keep track of call and text history, such as the date and time of calls. They say the reason for doing this was to keep those closest to you at top of your contact list. The new plan for storing call history is to only “upload to our servers the information needed to offer this feature”.

You’ll soon have easier access to your apps, and a better understanding of the information you are sharing with these apps. Facebook stated, “People will also be able to remove apps that they no longer want. As part of this process we will also tell people if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.”

To read the entire update at the Facebook Newsroom, please visit https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/04/restricting-data-access/

Photo Credit: Book Catalog

CategoriesHackingNewsSecurity

Facial Recognition gets “Hacked” Thanks to Facebook

Facial recognition technology is utilized in many different systems. Biometric software is used in facial recognition tools for security purposes and other applications such as social media marketing. Algorithms use a statistical approach to identify facial features – and facial recognition is increasingly used as a crime-fighting tool. In the future it could be used to monitor employee attendance at work, to enhance security measures at ATMs and to prevent voter fraud. Many privacy advocates see a problem with this technology because it could quickly turn us into a surveillance society.

University of North Carolina researchers have discovered a way to get around facial recognition security. By using a virtual reality (VR) system to develop 3D models of the face, they were able to trick the biometric security measures. They did this with just a handful of photos found on Facebook and were able to fool the systems more than half the time (Newsweek).

Clearly this is a huge security flaw in the technology which means other types of “verifiable data” would need to be used for authentication in order for facial recognition to be a feasible option. One technique that could be used is the detection of infrared radiation which would be given off by a real face, not a 3D model (Techworm).

For more information on how facial recognition technologies work, check out this video from Brit Lab:

CategoriesInternetSocial Media

How Should Social Media Sites Respond to Suicidal Posts?

Today, news outlets are reporting on a CDC study that indicates suicide rates in the U.S. are on the rise. What role, if any, should social media sites play in helping to decrease these suicide rates? In this new era where everyone shares every detail of their lives online, we are also seeing an increase of suicide notes and suicidal intentions posted on various social networks.

A couple of days ago on April 20, a high school student took his life after posting a short video on Instagram that began by saying, “Hey, so, I’m killing myself. Goodbye.” According to Nola.com the young man then said he “could not live happily because “my morals are totally different from the world around me.” Tragically, he used a pistol to take his own life soon after.

Many are questioning whether or not Instagram should have played a role in helping to prevent this suicide, or at least should have taken quicker action removing the video. As pointed out on Nola.com, the video stayed up for around 24 hours, had over 900 comments and over 15,000 views. There is an option for users to flag posts for “self-harm”, so it seems likely that a number of people who saw this post would have reported it. According to their Terms of Service, Instagram does not allow posts that glorify self harm or suicide. Some are left to wonder if this video fell within that category.

report instagram for self harm suicide socialhax

report post instagram self injury socialhax
There wasn’t a lot of time between when the video was posted and when the student took his life, so it may have been nearly impossible for anyone to intervene, even if Instagram did get involved. But why was the video left up for a full day? One explanation is that Instagram has such a large number of flagged posts to sift through and this one might have escaped automatic filters. The post was eventually taken down, so it does seem that the video had violated TOS in some way.

Another example of someone posting their intention to kill themselves on social media is the case of 27 year old trans-woman Kate von Roeder who took her own life in 2014. She posted a suicide note to Facebook shortly before it happened. The post is still visible today and it can be seen in the comments that her friends are pleading with her not to do it and to seek help.

(a warning to more sensitive readers – this is a suicide note and may be triggering):

Should sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter be required to police self-harm-related or suicidal content? Currently they send a message to users who post such content and tell them to seek help. They also will point them to suicide hotline phone numbers. Could social media sites do more than this to help prevent suicides? When suicide notes are posted, should they be allowed stay up even if the person has ended their life, like in the case with Kate von Roeder? Or do they need to be taken down because they may be triggering or “glorify” suicides and self-harm? If the deceased didn’t want their post to be censored, should we honor that? It’s a new problem that doesn’t have a clear answer at this time.

CategoriesNewsSocial Media

If Facebook Paid you, Would you Post More?

Facebook recently circulated a survey that suggests they might pay users for sharing content on their personal profile. This might remind people of Tsu, a social media company that “shares revenues with its users and those who invited them into tsu”:

Over the past year, Facebook’s users have shared 21% less personal updates according to Inc.com and 5.5 percent of sharing is down overall. CNET once showed us how “Facebook Fatigue” is a real thing and this could be a way to get social media users excited about posting on Facebook again.

There is little information on how and when Facebook plans to implement paying users for sharing. It might not even be available to everyone. Like Adweek suggests, it might only be for verified accounts. Facebook already pays some creators for sharing videos. One thing Facebook needs to do is to catch up with YouTube on finding and eliminating stolen videos. They have recently announced that they’re about to test a tool “to help stop freebooting“. Facebook should probably take care of this first, before they potentially start paying people for stolen content.

According to Facebook’s survey, some of the ways users could make money is through revenue sharing, donation butons, advertising, branded content and a “tip jar”.

Will more thought be put into Facebook content if users are paid for what they share? Or will people be scrambling to post any stupid thing they think might go viral?

CategoriesNewsSmart PhonesSocial Media

Facebook Messenger Adds New VoIP Feature

From Gadget Diary: “Facebook Group calling is now available and you can easily do a conference call using the feature.” Here is a sneak peak into the new Facebook Messenger Group Calling app:

Over the next 24 hours, Facebook is going to roll out a new VoIP feature that will allow its users to make group calls to each other. According to TechCrunch, you’ll be able to call up to 12 people simultaneously and it will ring to all of their apps at the same time. If a potential participant misses the call, they will have the option to join up by tapping a phone icon once they’re back at their phone. Video chat is not available yet, so it isn’t really a replacement for Skype or Google Hangouts at this time. However, calls can be made to any Facebook user anywhere in the world free of charge – which may be attractive to users who currently spend a lot of money on long distance calls.

Some people prefer to not have Facebook Messenger installed on their phones because it’s known to violate their privacy by tracking all kinds of phone data and is also a huge drain on both iPhone and Android phone batteries. Could this be a way for the company to get more people to install the app? Would you be willing to reinstall the app to save money on phone charges, or would you utilize one of the many other free VoIP services available? Do you think it’s a good idea to be able to call so many people at once with Facebook messenger? It could take ‘drunk-dialing‘ to a whole new level.

CategoriesNewsSmart PhonesSocial Media

Another Reason to Delete Facebook from your Phone

Reports are surfacing that the Facebook app is responsible for major battery drain on both iOS and Android.

What’s the best way to fix this problem? Delete the app entirely and only use the web-browser version of Facebook. Deleting the app altogether can save up to 20% of a phone’s battery.

“Tests have revealed that iPhones with the Facebook app installed are using 15 per cent more power – that’s compared to users who access Facebook via Apple’s Safari web browser.” -Express.co.uk

It is unclear why Facebook needs to use so much of your phone’s resources in order to run. It even drains the battery when the app is closed and not being used. Many people who have made the switch to the browser-version are already reporting more battery life. You can even delete the messenger extension app now, because the messaging function still works in browser mode.

CategoriesInternetSocial Media

What Happens with your Social Media Accounts After you Die?

What happens to your data after you die really depends on the social media platform you are looking at. Due to federal privacy laws, there are some things that companies are not willing to let you do with someone else’s account after they’ve died. There have been battles in government on both state and national levels on if family should be able to access the deceased’s social media profile. Currently, the laws applying to social media sites are not complete in ways that make administrating them straight forward – each social media platform approaches the subject in a different way. They have their own policy that people should be aware of.

Facebook

Previously, there were only three things that could happen to your Facebook account after your death. One, you could just leave it as it was. Two, it would be deleted. Third, you have the profile memorialized. What that does is puts the profile in this special state that locks that account. It doesn’t send out notifications nor does it come up when you search for it. Only friends will be able to see the account.

Recently, Facebook announced that they were going to give the profile owner the ability to assign someone the responsibility of managing your profile after you die. The assignee won’t be able to view your private messages. However, they will have the ability to update your profile. They’ll be able to changes your cover and profile photos. They can accept or deny friend requests. They’ll even be able to archive posts and photos. Facebook is calling this new role as a “legacy contact”.

If you want to assign someone the role of “Legacy Contact”, all you have to do is go into the settings of your profile. There, you will see a link called “Security”. After that, there will be a section where you can select “Legacy Contact”. You will be able to set up a message that will tell them what you would like and how they are to handle your profile. When your death has been reported to Facebook, the message will be sent to the “Legacy Contact”.

Google

For Google, you have to submit a request to gain access to the deceased user’s account. Go to https://support.google.com/accounts/contact/deceased?hl=en. From there, you can select the action you want to do. You can close someone’s account. You can submit the request for funds from a deceased person’s account. You can request data from someone’s account. You can even put in a request to have the account looked at if you believe the account has been hacked. Lastly, you can even set up plans in for what should happen to your account when you die. Similar to Facebook, you assign someone a role of “Inactive Account Manager”.

Twitter

Twitter has a page that you can access to put in a request to remove someone’s account. The link is https://support.twitter.com/forms/privacy. It’s the third option down. After you fill out the request form, they send out a confirmation email with instructions. Once you get there, you’ll have to submit documentation for support.

Instagram

Instagram has something similar to Facebook. You can submit a request to have their profile memorialized. You can also have the account removed from Instagram. If you have someone’s account memorialized, you won’t be able to log in as them because Instagram sees that as an invasion of privacy. They will just set up the profile so as not to display the account in a manner that is disrespectful. They also add security to the account so nobody can use it normally.

If you want the account removed, you’ll have to provide three forms of proof. One, you’ll need the death certificate. Second, you’ll need the birth certificate. Finally, you’ll need something showing you are the representative of that person. It needs to be something from the local law.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn will remove the account if the person has died. On their website you will need:

  • The member’s name
  • The URL to their LinkedIn profile
  • Your relationship to them
  • Member’s email address
  • Date they passed away
  • Link to obituary
  • Company where they most recently worked

Once you have that, go to https://help.linkedin.com/app/ask/path/ts-rdmlp. You’ll need to fill out the form.

Pinterest

Go to https://help.pinterest.com/en/articles/reactivate-or-deactivate-account#Web. There select the fourth one down. Once you supply the needed information. They will deactivate the account so it won’t be accessible to anyone. They need five items:

  • The full name of the person submitting the request
  • Information on the deceased such as the full name and email
  • A link the profile. You can also search for it at http://pinterest.com/all/
  • Proof of death such as a news article or death certificate
  • Documentation of your relationship to them

For the documentation on your relationship to the deceased, if your name is in the obituary then that is enough. If not, then you’ll need some other form of documentation such as a birth or marriage certificate. A notarized document will work too.

Overall

It should be noted that not every social media will just delete the account. It isn’t that easy. The old saying is true: Whatever you put on the internet cannot be taken back.

Legality over Digital Asset Management

As stated earlier, not all states are specific about what to do with someone’s social media account after their death. Currently, there are only 19 states that have laid out plans and passed laws that dictate this. There are plans to standardize this, however. It’s being done under the Uniform Law Commission or the UFC. It’s called The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. There have been several drafts over the years with 2015 being the most recent. The page for the committee over this can be found by clicking here. You can also click here to view the summary of the act. There has been a lot of opposition to this act in fears that it violates privacy acts. So far, about half the states have pushed for laws for Uniform Fiduciary Access.