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Archive for January, 2011

Twitter Blocked in Egypt as Thousands of Protesters Call for Government Reform

January 26, 2011 10 comments

Twitter was blocked in Egypt on Tuesday as demonstrators called for political reforms and clashed with police.

The micro-blogging site, which was also used as a tool to organize and report what’s going on in Tunisia’s revolt, confirmed that its social networking service was unavailable to users in Egypt in a message from its Twitter PR account, @twitterglobalpr.

The tweet directed people to the Herdict Report, a website that tracks the blocking of other sites, that reported twitter.com was blocked, stating “the government is cracking down on activists calling for change.”

The demonstrators took to the streets of Egypt to protest the government of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for about three decades.

Protesters have called for term limits, among other political changes, as well as expressing their displeasure with high jobless rates.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, protesters were able to use Twitter in Egypt through third-party applications on computers and cellphones, but those too were eventually shut down, the website TechCrunch reported.

However, just as in Tunisia, some in Egypt have been able to access Twitter through Web proxies to help mobilize themselves.

The hashtag #jan25 has been placed in many of the tweets sent out dealing with the Egyptian protests.

Hundreds of videos have been uploaded to YouTube depicting scenes from the protests in Egypt as well.

And Facebook, too, has been used as a tool to get information out about the Egyptian protests, reports Jeffrey Fleishman of the Times’ Cairo bureau who has been covering the protests.

Fleishman reported on Tuesday:

Thousands of Egyptian protesters inspired by the revolt in Tunisia rushed police and battled tear gas Tuesday in demonstrations against the political repression and unemployment that have defined three decades of rule by President Hosni Mubarak.

Groups of protesters marched through downtown Cairo, crossing bridges and outflanking riot police as the crowds headed for a square a few blocks from the parliament building. Security forces, which had shown unusual restraint early in the day, swung batons and clashed with demonstrators amid chants of “Freedom” and “Down with Mubarak.”

The protests were larger than any Egypt has seen in years. But it was unclear if the country’s opposition could mimic Tunisia and capitalize on sustained public pressure to threaten one of the region’s most entrenched police states. More than 80,000 people signed up on Facebook to attend the rallies but the number in the streets was far fewer.

“Let The Hacking Begin” – Zuckerberg’s Facebook Fan Page Hacked

A Facebook fan page dedicated to the site’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg, was hacked Tuesday morning. The hack was relatively benign, only updating a single fake status update as the young billionaire, but was another embarrassing security lapse for a company often criticized for being too open with user data.

A status update from Zuckerberg on the fan page read: “Let the hacking begin: If facebook needs money, instead of going to the banks, why doesn’t Facebook let its users invest in Facebook in a social way? Why not transform Facebook into a ‘social business’ the way Nobel Price (six) winner Muhammad Yunus described it? http://bit.ly/fs6rT3 What do you think? #hackercup2011”

While the post was only up for a matter of minutes, over 1,800 people “Liked” the status update and a debate about its merits over 400 comments-long began beneath it. More than 2.8 million people are members of the fan page.

Facebook removed the entire fan page for a few hours after the fake update was posted, but the page was live again later in the day. The latest update currently posted to the page is from Dec. 15, 2010.

The “Hackercup2011” hash-tag in the post is a reference to Facebook’s annual programming competition, but doesn’t seem to bear much relevance to the update.

Meanwhile, Internet security experts are speculating about how the hack might have been perpetrated. Everything from Firesheep — a free Firefox Internet browser extension that allows users to take control of other people’s password-protected pages like Facebook when on an unsecured network — to Zuckerberg’s own weak password choices are being blamed.

“It is difficult to know exactly why or how Zuckerberg’s fan page was hacked. He could have also had some malware on his computer which grabbed his username and password when he logged on and then hackers used the information to attack the page,” Internet security expert Graham Cluly told the Telegraph newspaper in London. “I think this hack is really embarrassing for Facebook, because if Mark Zuckerberg can be hacked, other users are just as vulnerable.”

As of Wednesday, Facebook had declined to comment on the hack, though a post on the company’s blog on Wednesday identified numerous new efforts to boost security on the site.

Hoax targets Facebook users

January 9, 2011 5 comments

Is Facebook really shutting down on March 15?

For the US $50-billion company, it’s highly unlikely.
A hoax claiming that Facebook chief executive officer and president Mark Zuckerberg planning to shut down the social networking site has gone viral, with ABS-CBN News’ Twitter account getting peppered with questions regarding the rumor’s veracity.
The hoax, perpetrated by the website of American supermarket tabloid Weekly World News, claims that Zuckerberg held a press conference outside his Palo Alto office to announce Facebook’s closure.
“Facebook has gotten out of control and the stress of managing this company has ruined my life. I need to put an end to all the madness,” Time magazine’s person of the year awardee allegedly said.
WWN, which runs stories often based on aliens, paranormal phenomena, the supernatural, and weird creatures, also claimed that Facebook users need to remove their photos from the site.
WWN ran the Facebook story on its website alongside an article claiming that alien spaceships will attack the Earth in 2011.
The tabloid’s list of unverified stories include:
  • An enormous dustcloud in outer space that is allegedly on its way to destroy the Earth in 2014;
  • A fossilized tornado found underground;
  • Bigfoot stealing a race car;
  • A cruel surgeon who re-attached a pair of conjoined twins after they failed to pay their medical bill for the initial surgical separation he performed;
  • A cannibal food critic.
On October 25 last year, anchors at the Fox News national morning news show “Fox and Friends” in the United States fell for a WWN satirical story claiming that the Los Angeles Angeles Police Department planned to buy 10,000 jetpacks for police officers at a cost of around US $1 billion.
“Fox and Friends” hosts later retracted the story after realizing the hoax, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Zuckerberg has yet to comment on the WWN hoax.
Facebook earned about US $500 million last year on sales of nearly US $2 billion, according to a memo distributed to potential investors in Facebook shares sold by Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs.
The social networking site is expected to launch an initial public offering in the US stock market next year. – With a report from Reuters

HOW TO: Use Advanced Twitter Search To Find a Job [VIDEO]

January 9, 2011 24 comments

Looking for a job is never an easy task. But, in the Internet (Internet) age, there are certain tools at our disposal that can help job seekers focus on what’s out there. One of these tools is Twitter (Twitter).

In this screencast, we’ll show you how Advanced Twitter Search can help you find a job by using hashtags, geolocation and a little ingenuity.

Have you found a job using Twitter? Would you try something like this for your next job search? Let us know in the comments section below.

Source: Mashable

Twitter Subpoenaed by U.S. Government for Wikileaks Accounts

January 9, 2011 1 comment

The U.S. government has asked Twitter to hand over private messages sent to and from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks staffers.

In all likelihood, it’s also contacting other web services Assange may have used to get contact details and personal information about Assage’s activities and supporters.

According to a report just filed by The New York Times, Twitter (Twitter) has been subpoenaed by the U.S. government in connection to the ongoing WikiLeaks (Wikileaks) investigation.

Twitter, like most web companies, has a “spy guide,” documents pertaining to compliance with request from governments and law enforcement into criminal investigations. These requests are supposed to be accompanied by subpoenas or warrants.

According to Twitter’s specific guide [PDF], “In accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, non-public information about Twitter users is not released unless we have received a subpoena, court order or other legal process document.” Such requests would only be valid if sent by law enforcement.

In this particular case, every indication would point to the speedy release of Assange’s direct messages and other data to the U.S. government.

A court order [PDF] was sent to Twitter by the Department of Justice on Decemer 14, 2010. Stating that information held by Twitter was “relevant and material” to the WikiLeaks investigation, the district court ordered the startup to hand over:

  • session times and connection records
  • telephone numbers
  • credit card information
  • e-mail and IP addresses
  • correspondence and notes of record

The court ordered Twitter to surrender the above information for accounts belonging to Assange, WikiLeaks, Pfc. Bradley Manning (widely suspected to be the original source responsible for transfering cables to WikiLeaks), and several WikiLeaks associates and volunteers, including Birgitta Jonsdottir, Rop Gongrijp, and San Francisco-based programmer Jacob Appelbaum.

Google (Google) and other web and social media services all have the same kinds of spy guide documents governing compliance; we’d be shocked if Twitter was the only company that got a WikiLeaks-related court order to surrender information. And we’re pretty sure other services have much more sensitive information on Assange et al.

We’ll continue to keep you updated as this story develops.

Source: Mashable