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Lydia Callis, Interpreter, is deleted. ‘Killing the messenger’, Bloomberg Style…

30 Oct

Last night, as New York state (and also half the world) watched TV news for information on Pretty Damn Big Storm Sandy, a star was born.

As New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg  droned relentlessly onward like a Caterpillar D8 bulldozer (shown below), Lydia Callis translated the true meaning of his words for those listeners who still believed in the power of life and who still had hearts that beat.

By 02:00 hrs GMT, as the storm was thrashing Lower Manhattan, Lydia had a Twitter account that was trending like a rocket. She was gaining followers  in a way that meant only one thing: she had become an overnight sensation in the literal sense.

Her outstanding, intuitive and skilled visual interpretation of Bloomberg’s words was truly electrifying to watch.

It was made more so by the contrast between her vivacious delivery and his life-sucking, soul-crushingly unmemorable droning. 

Lydia spoke to the living and the hard of hearing.

Mike spoke to the telegraph poles and the concrete kerb stones.

By morning, Lydia was receiving the kind of internet media attention that spelled trouble. People loved her. People adored her. People wanted to see more of her rather than Bloomberg.

One just knew what would happen next…

In a simple feat of 1950’s Russian Communist Party subtlety, Lydia has been deleted. Airbrushed out of the history of New York’s worst night.

Camera footage of her at Bloomberg’s side on the night of the storm has been cropped so that she is no longer in view. You can just catch a glimpse of her elbow if you have sharp eyes. Yes, the footage looks slightly grainy now; it has been cropped and enlarged  to counter for the fact that it is zoomed in on Mike.

Her upbeat Twitter account comment which she made last night:   “I’m back…!” has gone.

So have all her other comments and posts.

So has her Twitter account.

All that remains is a hashtag page for ‘SignLanguageLady’ – her own original account address. It leads to nowhere. She is now nobody. She has become a ‘non-person’.

Some might argue that it does not befit a mayor’s interpreter to upstage a mayor.

Others might counter that it does not befit a mayor to make his atrociously poor communication worse by removing his interpreter.

Some might argue that she diverted attention from Bloomberg’s words.

Others might argue that this was an act of supreme charity and kindness since Mike has no talent for communication. Not a shred. Nada.

Lydia mentioned last night that, although she loves working with Mike, when Bloomberg tries to “habla” (speak Spanish) – she stops signing. 

Her comment has now been removed from the internet.

Bloomberg has as much in common with the Hispanic community as a hat stand does with a pork pie. This is not a thing that should be pointed out. If it is, then people might think that he is unelectable in the Hispanic community.

People might be right. 

Bloomberg does not speak for and does not speak with the people. He should not be a mayor.

Callis (or: Callas – the spelling that used to appear) spoke for and to the people and she should be.

Cyber-casing: Did you just Geo-tag your car keys to a criminal?

10 Jul

She ‘likes’ Audi on Facebook. She uploaded the name of the cafe she is currently in to Twitter. The keys are in her bag, by her feet. Her phone is visible on Bluetooth.

Criminals are increasingly focusing their efforts upon those people who upload valuable data to social networking sites.

“Cybercasing”  is the term used to describe the process by which a criminal can anonymously monitor a potential victim by watching as they sequentially upload valuable data about their possessions and their current geographical location.

A Simple Example:

Facebook Status Update: “A picture of me and my new Audi at the dealer franchise in Dallas!”

then, two days later…

Twitter Update: ” In Rocky’s Bar, Dallas with Kim. Come and join us!” – sent via iPhone App

The criminal already knows what you look like (you posted your beautiful face on Facebook, didn’t you?) and you told them what you drive. They now know your precise location (you just uploaded a helpful map to Twitter using your iPhone, didn’t you?) and that you are relaxing in a cafe bar.

Just as the Darwin Awards were invented in the 1990’s to honor those who killed themselves through their own stupidity, so time may be running out for those who openly advertise their valuable possessions and their geographical whereabouts to 900 million complete strangers.

Insurance companies already refuse to pay out on theft claims from people who have left their keys in their car’s ignition…only to find that some absolute cad has slipped behind the wheel and selected “Drive” while they were chatting to the postman or getting something from the house.

It makes sense to assume that it will not be long before the insurance industry takes a dim view of those who sequentially reveal information to strangers about their identity, location, their valuables and where to find the keys.

Most police forces, just like professional criminals, make full use of un- encrypted cell phone messages and social networking sites to hunt down their prey. In the case of the Police, they are usually trying to intercept a particular person but criminals are interested in knowing where someone is  for the opposite reason: if the person is at the beach, then they aren’t at home. If they drove into town then their keys are certainly with them. If they are out celebrating with friends then they may not be on their guard.

Professional athletes have known for some years that their houses are most likely to suffer a break-in while they are away competing or playing their sport. Everybody who follows sport knows where they are going to be at a certain time on a certain day.

But it seems to be a lesson not yet learned by the average person that Social Media reveals their own movements and plans just as clearly if they openly publicize their social interests, hobbies, friend network and current location.

Love motorbikes? Of course you do. Particularly Harleys. You have a profile of yourself on the Harley-Lovers Site. You post on the forum. You uploaded a picture of your pride and joy. It is one of the rare ones, very desirable. There’s you, in the picture, next to it. You even got three “likes” for the picture. Fantastic bike. Way to go!

Then, you  bought some rare enamel Harley badges on e-Bay. Real bargain! The guy posted them to you sameday. Top seller. Great guy.

That’s right.

You just gave your full address to a complete stranger who now knows exactly where you live.

What’s that you say on Facebook? You and your partner have got tickets to see Radiohead play and you’re in ecstacy ‘cos its her turn to drive?

Excellent.

You will be away from home for at least six hours.

The wireless alarm box will act dumb once I climb my ladder, unscrew the cover and remove the back-up battery. A suction-pad glass cutter on the back door will stop the neighbors hearing anything. Your fuse box is exactly where I expect it to be.

The Harley is in the garage and the keys will be in the drawer in the kitchen.  You have a dog? Nope. You used to.

You can keep the ladder. It wasn’t mine, anyway.

It is becoming ever more crucial that people understand that it is not cool to upload information to websites that can identify and link you like the cross-hairs in a sniper’s gun.

If you value your folk and your possessions, keep it private. Think carefully about whether it is a good idea to keep the same  username across different websites.

Be sociable but always be smart.

E.U. “Cookie Law” changed at 11th Hour: Wolves to be protected from sheep.

9 Jun

BBC Radio 4 News ran an excellent interview on Friday 8th June with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).The BBC has been quick to monitor business response to the EU “Cookie Law”.

The interview with the ICO’s spokesman was an attempt to discover whether the newly-implemented “Cookie Law” was being obeyed. The Cookie Law demanded that websites seek explicit consent from visitors to their site before that site is allowed to store tracking data about that user. When you consider how many ways cookie data can be stored and used against the interests of the consumer, this is not an unreasonable idea.

But very recently, just prior to the implementation of the law on 26th May 2012, the ICO suddenly added a clause to allow websites to exempt themselves from the law (and the need to ask permission) if something called “implied consent” was given by the visitor. The definition of “implied consent” appears to be that the person continues to use the website.

This is a bit like introducing a seat belt law that says: “Passengers in a car must wear their seat belt or face legal action…with the exception of those passengers who persistently do not wear their seat belt.”

Roadwax dispatched a top reporter to cover the BBC Radio interview. By sitting really close to the radio and turning the volume up, the following information was overheard:

BBC Interviewer: “Has the ICO been monitoring websites to ensure compliance with the new Cookie Law?

Man from ICO: “websites…? You mean internet websites…?”

BBC Interviewer: “Yes. Have you checked to make sure that businesses with websites are complying with the new law?”

Man from ICO: “Do you mean websites run by businesses…?”

BBC Interviewer: “Yes.”

Man from ICO: “Well…I should imagine that they have…I mean, these business people are jolly good sorts, mostly.”

BBC Interviewer: “Have you monitored the situation – yes or no?”

Man from ICO: “Well…it is still very early days. I mean, you can’t rush these things. It is all terribly complicated.”

BBC Interviewer: “So, you haven’t actually done anything to monitor the situation.”

Man from ICO: “Oh, well, I wouldn’t say that exactly. I mean, we sent someone down the shop to buy a pen…”

BBC Interviewer: “A pen…? How does that constitute monitoring for compliance…?”

Man from ICO: “Well…it pays to write things down, you know. We thought buying a pen might be a good start.”

BBC Interviewer: “Well, we at the BBC have been monitoring the situation.”

Man from ICO: “Gosh…! How frightfully clever! How did you do that?”

BBC Interviewer: “We contacted businesses and asked them whether they were complying.”

Man from ICO: “Yikes..! That all sounds thoroughly like a Sherlock Holmes story. How exciting!”

BBC Interviewer: “We discovered that a lot of businesses have not complied.”

Man from ICO: “No…! Really..? Gosh…! Well, bless my Aunt Betty. Really…?”

…and so it went on…and on…and on…

Facebook “advised analysts to cut (valuation) forecast before float”.

23 May

Facebook…A Place For Feds

The Press Agency Reuters claims that Facebook told selected business analysts to reduce revenue and earnings forecasts for their stock flotation while it pursued it’s marketing campaign to raise it’s share price.

You can read the full Reuters article here.

It is unclear at present which market analysts were contacted with the new downward-revised forecast by Facebook and which were not but it is apparent at present that public investors may not have been contacted, nor were privy to the revised forecast.

Facebook shares have already dived 8.9% since launch, wiping more than $19,000,000,000 of market capitalization from the original $38/share initial offering.

It appears that private investors (the many ordinary members of the public who may have bought shares) were not informed by Facebook of this new, reduced estimate of the true share valuation prior to flotation.

On the contrary, Facebook was busy plowing ahead with it’s intense publicity campaign, actually talking the share price up while Morgan Stanley and other select analysts were being told the real news.

Since the legality of such behavior is currently under scrutiny, and since Facebook’s revised (downward) estimate of it’s true value are linked to the discovery that the market for future revenue was incorrectly analyzed by Facebook, this may mark the high-water point in Facebook’s place in the history of contemporary Social Media.

It has always been my personal contention that Mark Zuckerberg wished to float Facebook partly to escape impending legal culpability for law-suits brought about by Class Actions; his position at the top of Facebook left him personally exposed to truly massive personal financial loss and even prison sentences while he stayed in control.

My estimate is that Facebook will now lose share value at a rate of 30% over the next 12 month period, caused by aquisition of unstable Start-Ups, Supreme Court litigation and migration of its users to other sites.

My estimate is that Facebook will be as insignificant a player in the Social Networking sector as MySpace by 2015.

Facebook: The wheels start falling off and the screaming begins…

10 Apr

My name is...

When Phillip Markoff, the ‘Craigslist Killer’ committed suicide while awaiting trial for murder, he unwittingly set in motion a chain of events that has blown the lid off Facebook’s Privacy Policy.

Facebook has always gone to great lengths to encourage users to upload as much personal data as possible. However, when the Boston Police Department issued a subpoena, demanding access to Markoff’s Facebook account, two things happened:

1) Facebook handed over the full, unredacted account history, including the account details of all Markoff’s friends and their ID information and their interaction.

2) The Boston Police Department then released this document into the public domain, without redacting the names and account details of his friends.

If Facebook users ever worried what information Facebook might pass on to the police and other government agencies about them, they need  fret no more. Facebook hands over the whole lot. You can read the excellent Boston Phoenix article here, including a copy of the document that Facebook handed over to the BPD.

The British government is currently seeking to pass a law allowing it to ‘monitor’ all UK citizens’ website conversations in “real time” – as they actually happen, without any limitation, nor requesting permission from a judge to prove any need or justification. You can read a simple BBC synopsis of this law here.

Now, add the following facts to your understanding of the above story:

Tens of millions of UK citizens’ private records held by Government Agencies have been lost or released. (1)

One in three British men has a criminal record by the time that they are 30. (Home Office Statistic, JRF)

Thousands of losses of our personal data occur at Local Council level through hacking and weak security. (2)

It is estimated that 27% of friend requests on Facebook are fake – around two in every ten. (3)

Let us take all these facts and try to create a ‘conservative’ mathematical algorithm:

For each hundred ‘friends’ you have on Facebook, ten are actually fake.

For each further hundred ‘friends’ you add, twelve are fake. The risk figure rises exponentially as you add more ‘friends’ whose real identity you do not know – for example, they are someone you met in a club, bar or online.

If you have 300 ‘friends’ on Facebook, in excess of 30 are ‘fake’-  the person is not who they say they are.

If 33% of UK males under thirty have a criminal record, and 50% of convicted criminals re-offend, (4) then any Facebook profile containing 300 ‘friends’ includes profiles of least 10 convicted criminals, hiding under fake IDs.

If 100 of your Facebook ‘friends’ also have 300 ‘friends’ themselves, you are connected by an evidence trail to 300 convicted criminals. Let’s be even more conservative still. Let’s say 200.

Ask yourself:

“If Facebook provide the authorities with full details of all ‘friend’ data and links that an active criminal has, and government agencies are allowed to monitor my Facebook page in “real time”…how long will it take before my identity will become PERMANENTLY and wrongly associated with a criminal whom I do not know and have never met?”

And if you know of a single instance of somebody who has successfully removed themselves from an Interpol database of criminals (onto which their name was wrongfully and unreasonably added) will you please provide me with the link?

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