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Facebook agrees to restrict anti-government content in Vietnam after months of throttling

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Facebook has agreed to block access to certain anti-government content to users in Vietnam, following months of having its services throttled there, reportedly by state-owned telecoms.

Reuters, citing sources within the company, reported that Vietnam requested earlier in the year that Facebook restrict a variety of content it deemed illegal, such as posts critical of the government. When the social network balked, the country used its control over local internet providers to slow Facebook traffic to unusable levels.

An explanation at the time that the slowdown was owing to maintenance of undersea cables likely did not convince many, since it was specific to Facebook (and related properties Messenger and Instagram).

All things being equal, Facebook has shown in the past that it would prefer to keep discourse open. But all things are not equal and in this case millions of users were unable to access its services — and consequently, it must be said, unable to be advertised to.

The slowdown lasted some 7 weeks, from mid-February to early April, when Facebook conceded to the government’s demands.

One Reuters source said that “once we committed to restricting more content… the servers were turned back online by the telecommunications operators.”

Facebook offered the following statement confirming general, though not specific, aspects of the story reported by Reuters:

The Vietnamese government has instructed us to restrict access to content which it has deemed to be illegal in Vietnam. We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and work hard to protect and defend this important civil liberty around the world. However, we have taken this action to ensure our services remain available and usable for millions of people in Vietnam, who rely on them every day.

Facebook is no stranger to government requests both to restrict and to hand over data. Although the company inspects these requests and sometimes challenges them, it’s Facebook’s stated policy to comply with local law — even if that means (as it often does) complicity with government censorship practices.

The justification usually offered (as here) is that people in a country with such restrictions are better served with an incomplete set of Facebook’s communications tools rather than none at all.

TechCrunch

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Facebook Could Be Messing With Your Phone. Here’s What We Know

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Facebook Could Be Messing With Your Phone. Here's What We Know

Battery life is one of the most important aspects of smartphone usage — without solid battery life, a phone becomes far less useful. Even worse are instances when a phone’s battery drains faster than expected for no apparent reason, which may result in the user being caught off guard with a dead battery while away from a charger.

That’s the issue that prompted Hayward’s complaint, according to The New York Post, which quotes the data scientist as saying, “I said to the manager, ‘This can harm somebody,’ and she said by harming a few we can help the greater masses.” Hayward was allegedly fired in November 2022 after refusing to engage in the negative testing practices, leading to the lawsuit soon after. The big question is whether this practice — assuming the allegations are accurate — is widespread at Meta. 

If so, what other kinds of negative testing may be taking place without a user’s knowledge, and how might those tests impact their experiences with the company’s products? Hayward claimed that during his time working for the company, Meta gave him a training document that allegedly described types of negative tests that may be conducted — the document was reportedly titled, “How to run thoughtful negative tests.” Unfortunately, specific examples of those tests weren’t provided, and Meta hasn’t commented on the allegations to clarify how its testing practices may impact users, if at all.

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Meta tilldelade forskaren en $27 200 buggpenning för glitch som kringgick Facebook 2FA

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Meta awarded researcher a $27,200 bug bounty for glitch that bypassed Facebook 2FA

Facepalm: Meta recently implemented a centralized login system to make it easier for Instagram, Facebook, and Meta (VR) users to manage their accounts. Unfortunately, in setting up the 2FA system, engineers overlooked a glaring failure regarding attempt limitation.

A freshman security researcher named Gtm Mänôz noticed the bug in July 2022. While looking for his first bug bounty to present at BountyCon 2022, Mänôz started playing around with the Meta Accounts Center interface, which manages all Meta accounts, adding similar functionality as Google’s one-stop login for its various services (YouTube, Gmail, Docs, etc).

He noted that the page allowed users to associate a phone number with their accounts when linking them. Users simply enter their phone number and then the six-digit 2FA code the system sends them. However, Mänôz discovered that if the wrong code is entered, the Account Center just asks the user to reinput it instead of sending a new code.

Furthermore, there was no limit on how many failed attempts one could enter into the verification box. This oversight allowed Mänôz to brute force the 2FA on his own account to associate his phone number with another Facebook profile. The only warning comes after the phone number is stolen in an email from Meta to the victim informing them that it has been linked to another user’s account.

While the harmfulness of this exploit is mainly limited to a bothersome re-establishing of the owner’s phone number, it effectively disables 2FA on the victim’s account, albeit temporarily. Until the target takes action, they are open to password phishing attacks.

“Basically, the highest impact here was revoking anyone’s SMS-based 2FA just knowing the phone number,” Mänôz told TechCrunch.

Mänôz notified Meta of the bug in September, and it patched the vulnerability immediately. A spokesperson said that when Mänôz found the problem, the Meta Accounts Center was still in beta and only available to a small number of users. The representative also noted that Meta’s investigation revealed no spikes in the usage of that feature, indicating that hackers hadn’t exploited it.

Despite the relatively low-treat of the glitch, Meta awarded Mänôz a $27,200 bug bounty. Not too shabby for his first bug hunt.

Meta has stumbled a few times in the last couple of years regarding the login features of its various accounts. In 2021, it caused a mild panic when it logged everyone out of Facebook when reconfiguring the website. Last year, it purposefully locked many users out of their accounts for not enabling “Facebook Protect” by a deadline set by an official Meta email that looked suspiciously like a phishing scam.

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Brandon Smiley, Son Of Rickey Smiley, Dies At 32

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Patch News

ATLANTA, GA — Brandon Smiley, the son of famed comedian and actor Rickey Smiley, died Sunday morning. He was 32.

The comedian made the announcement on social media Sunday, which was followed by a series of tributes Monday.

The cause of death is unknown.

Brandon was featured on Smiley’s Atlanta-based reality show, “Rickey Smiley For Real,” which chronicled the work and family balance of the comedian. The show also featured Smiley’s three other children and his “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” co-hosts. The nationally-syndicated radio show is headquartered in Atlanta.

Smiley is a Birmingham, Alabama native.

“I lost my oldest son #BrandonSmiley this morning,” Smiley said in a Facebook post Sunday. “I’m okay, but please pray for my son’s mother, Brenda, his siblings and his daughter, Storm.”

In a nearly three-and-a-half-minute Facebook Live, Smiley shared the news.

“I hate to announce this, but I want to give it to you before you hear it in the streets,” Smiley said. ” … Life comes with a whole bunch of twists and turns.”

His announcement was followed up by a 2020 stand-up set Brandon performed at the StarDome Comedy Club in Hoover, Alabama and a photo of Smiley with Brandon’s daughter, Storm.

Smiley shared Monday a video of him and Brandon together with the caption, “‘When you a daddy, you a daddy for life.’ #BrandonSmiley #DaddysBoy #DaddyForLife

His latest Facebook Live came around 10 a.m., when an emotional Smiley shared words of gratitude to people who have offered support.

“Losing your child is a terrible nightmare,” Smiley said in the post. “Yesterday was the shock of losing my son, Brandon, but today reality is setting in. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, kind words, text messages and calls. I really appreciate it.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin took to Twitter to share his condolences.

“I’m devastated to hear that my friend @RickeySmiley has lost his son, Brandon. Rickey has given so much to our city; this is the time when we need to give back to him. Join me in wrapping our arms around him and his family during this difficult time. We’re praying for you, Rickey,” Woodfin said in the tweet.



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