The world’s biggest social networking site has admitted a year long data beach of more than 6 million users involving their phone numbers and email addresses. Last Friday, Facebook divulged to the public that the data breach has been ongoing for more than a year.
The data leak was said to have been caused by a technical malfunction in their archive of contact information belonging to their users. Users of the social networking site who downloaded the contact data of their friends acquired other information which was meant to be private.
The Facebook security team fixed the bug last week after they were notified of the technical problem. Although, the data breach has been ongoing for more than a year, Facebook did not publicly announce the glitch until 21st of June last week.
Facebook posted on their blog that they currently have no evidence to suggest the bug has been exploited maliciously, they have not received any complaints from users nor have they seen any anomalous behavior to suggest any wrongdoing.
Recently, many Internet users have been baffled by the disclosures of major Internet companies in USA who have revealed to the public about the requests by the U.S Government to collect their data. This latest development however is reported to have caused uncertainty about privacy using social networking sites. It is reported that the U.S government has been pressurizing social networking companies to give them the details of their users. The surveillance program with the name PRISM has caused a lot of disinterest in social networking sites including Facebook, Google Plus, Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo and many others.
According to Raw Story:
A Facebook spokesman said the delay was due to company procedure stipulating that regulators and affected users be notified before making a public announcement.
“We currently have no evidence that this bug has been exploited maliciously and we have not received complaints from users or seen anomalous behavior on the tool or site to suggest wrongdoing,” Facebook said on its blog. Read Full Article
How New Digital Technologies Make It Possible to Privatize Censorship and Manipulate Citizen-Users
For most Americans, protecting free expression means countering threats from government. Private corporations are not usually seen as threatening free speech. But as private technology companies increasingly mediate access to information and services, the distinction between governmental and private censorship becomes less clear. Concepts of free speech and freedom of expression may need to be revised and enlarged to take account of new threats in the age of digital communications – and policies to protect freedom of expression may need to counter threats, often subtle, from the private sector as well as government.
New Censorship Technologies and Practices
Since the invention of writing, heavy handed governmental forms of censorship targeted ideas or words deemed dangerous by authorities, but at the risk of drawing more attention and public debate to the ideas or words targeted for suppression. Contemporary threats, barely recognizable as censorship, more often come from steering or soft censorship. Using new communications technologies, corporations – and government agencies operating indirectly through corporations – are able to intervene in expressions before they happen. Search engines, auto-predictive keyboards, machine learning algorithms and filters originally designed to keep children safe on the Web have become tools for modifying citizen behavior and altering communications. A few examples help to illustrate these worrisome practices:
- A recent update from Apple to the iPhone keyboard made it difficult for users to enter the words abortion or suicide into their smartphones. Whatever the intentions, this can make it difficult for iPhone users to take perfectly legal or constructive actions such as searching for abortion clinics or finding information about suicide prevention.
- The source code of a recent Android handset update made by Google contains a dictionary of over 165,000 words users would not get help to complete from the auto predict or spell-check functions built into their devices – including terms like preggers, intercourse, lovemaking, butt, geek, thud, pizzle, and other supposedly dirty words.
- In mainland China, searches for “human rights” on Google often return the question “Did you mean hunan rice?” and a series of rice-based recipes.
- Edward Snowden’s revelations about digital surveillance by the National Security Agency suggest that U.S. technology companies have been surprisingly amenable to surrendering user data to intelligence authorities, with companies like Microsoft providing government easier access to its services through Skype, Outlook email, and SkyDrive cloud storage.
- Blocking or tracking taboo words or language is a particularly useful way for understanding next-generation censorship. Many of these soft censorship technologies interfere with people’s use of certain words or expressions – or enable surveillance actors to track ideas or communications defined as threatening or undesirable.
Tracking and Steering Citizen-Users
Digital communications technology has also proven to be useful for collecting information about users in order to predict their needs and desires and steer their behavior. Unlike media manipulation or propaganda, which focuses on changing popular beliefs and social behaviors on a large scale, digital approaches aim to track, predict, and manipulate the behavior of individual users. For instance, Facebook’s “News Feed” has long tried to shape users’ choices by algorithmically predicting which content is most likely to keep people on the site and automatically removing content that users might find uninteresting or objectionable. For this company and many others, there is little need to challenge or change user beliefs in overt ways when more subtle forms of steering are possible given the ease of collecting and analyzing digital data on what individuals are doing or what they might find attractive or unappealing.
Protecting Free Expression in a New Era
Given the subtlety of contemporary forms of censorship and steering often practiced by private corporations, freedom of expression and choice can no longer be construed simply in terms of protection against governmental infringements. By better understanding the newest mechanisms for regulating language and steering citizens, we become better able to make informed policy decisions. Several new ways to protect free expression should be considered for the digital age.
- Independent auditors may need to review search engines and algorithms, given their enormous power to shape what can be found on the Internet and how findings are ranked. Private companies have a legitimate interest in protecting their private intellectual property, but it should be possible for auditors to certify that search engines are not biased or designed to be coercive without divulging any details that amount to true trade secrets.
- Users should not be regarded as disinterested in the possible biases of steering devices. Terms of service agreements could be simplified and rewritten so as not to discourage users from peering into the operations of the services they use.
- New public technology services may also be needed. Instead of a proprietary search algorithms like Google, open-source search engines could be created along the same lines as Wikipedia, with users contributing to the creation and operation of searches. Algorithmic gatekeepers could be opened up and made intelligible to people with little technical knowledge. Universities might be best equipped to administer public knowledge platforms, because they are present in many countries and regions, enjoy academic freedom in many parts of the world, and have access to advanced research resources and technical experts not dependent on corporations for employment.
Well-designed new policies and institutions could help democratic nations – and peoples aspiring to freedom – to parry manipulative uses of digital technologies. Optimal policies must be future-oriented and able to accommodate rapidly changing technologies. Of course, new technologies and the companies that devise and deploy them deserve to prosper in coming decades – but only in ways that protect vital public interests in transparency and full freedom of expression.
Social For Social: 5 Professional Ways For Social Workers to Effectively Use Social Media
Whenever you hear the context of social work in social media, it primarily generates unlikely images of disciplinary hearings and confidentiality breaches. But on the contrary, incorporating social media in social work could be very beneficial and will serve as a productive outlet for many social workers who want to show to everyone a glimpse of their world and of what it truly means to become one.
It’s inevitable for some social workers to get hesitant about involving in social media and that’s perfectly understandable. Most of them just don’t want to break the law and boundaries between them and their clients. With almost 3 billion active social media users, it’s easy to see the picture. One wrong post and your career will be in jeopardy.
The good news though, is that there are professional ways to connect to your clients, gather support from your colleagues and improve your knowledge. Below are five ways social media can aid social workers.
Feed Yourself With Information
Social workers will learn about social work through reading books and case studies. However, one fact remains – social work is ever-changing and changes its mode as fast as people do. To keep updated with the changing practices, one needs to plug in online, in social media for starters.
For example, you can follow and keep tabs on different social work centers through their social channels to learn more about their practices as well as the practices in another country. You can also follow different companies with blog posting service and check their blogs for case studies and informative contents.
Or if you’re working with victims of recent calamities and natural disasters, you can check the sentiments of these people about their situation through browsing for different feeds online from the locals rather than depending on the hand-me-down information that local authorities provide.
Reach Out And Create A Positive Influence
The beauty of social media is that it allows you to connect with your clients and your colleagues. You can also reach out to people with disabilities and other types of limitations that hinder them from reaching out social workers due to their condition and struggles of getting around.
For instance, if you have a social media account, they can just look for you online and ask for assistance if they can’t obtain the help they need. Furthermore, social media also enables you to reach out more people since it only takes less energy and time compared to making phone calls to just to check in for people.
Build Professional Identity
Most often than not, social workers face challenges when it comes to creating a professional persona. Social media platforms furnish a solid ground for establishing that identity. It also allows you to share serviceable links to credible organizations.
You can show to everyone that a commonly overlooked profession should get more credibility and attention. What you can do is acquire clients who best match the skills that you have. You can also provide and share useful contents about your profession and industry that your followers can read. For this matter, you can collaborate with a company that offers guest blog posting service to produce the contents you want.
Breed A Discussion
The ability to create a group discussion is probably one of the most positive aspects of social media for social workers. When you create conversations in social media, you’re doing it with an audience. You’re performing a useful knowledge for your co-workers, your clients, and students as well.
You can start by addressing a particular issue or topic about social work and encourage your followers and friends on social media to participate by throwing in suggestions, opinions, and experiences. You can also employ for a guest blog service to create contents that will meet your goals.
Apart from the interaction, you also open the doors of opportunities for others who get cold shoulders or have a limited voice. You know very well that representing the side of unmerited people is a big interest among social workers.
Build And Reinforce
It’s inevitable sometimes for many social workers and the people they serve to feel alone and isolated. Social media is a great platform to get care and support that you need. You’ll be able to share your experiences and get a response from your comrades in social work who know the emotional struggles of helping people with a lot of incapabilities.
You can keep in touch with your former clients by leaving a positive comment or doing a quick check on them through social media channels. Social workers, just like social networking, is always at the center of everything which makes it crucial in supporting and connecting the people around them. Your job, your life and those people you help are better off if you participate and join.
We’re now living in a digital era where digitization influence almost every facet of our lives, be it at home, school or work – we are under the influence of digital revolution. It’s no longer surprising that it also invade the social work industry. With too many changes and development taking place left and right, there’s no better way to us than to adapt them and go forward. And social work is no exception.
Young Victims of Cyberbullying Twice as Likely to Attempt Suicide and Self-Harm
Children and young people under-25 who become victims of cyberbullying are more than twice as likely to enact self-harm and attempt suicide than non-victims.
While perpetrators of cyberbullying are also more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and behaviours, researchers say.
The study, which is a collaboration of a number of researchers from across the United Kingdom (UK) including the University of Birmingham looked at more than 150,000 children and young people across 30 countries, over a 21-year period. The University of Birmingham’s Department of Social Work and Social Care, which is based in the School of Social Policy, is the oldest running social work education programme in the country established in 1908.
Their findings, published on open access in PLOS One, highlighted the significant impact that cyberbullying involvement (as bullies and victims) can have on children and young people.
The researchers say it shows an urgent need for effective prevention and intervention in bullying strategies. Professor Paul Montgomery, University of Birmingham said:
‘Prevention of cyberbullying should be included in school anti-bullying policies, alongside broader concepts such as digital citizenship, online peer support for victims, how an electronic bystander might appropriately intervene; and more specific interventions such as how to contact mobile phone companies and Internet service providers to block, educate, or identify users. ‘
‘Suicide prevention and intervention is essential within any comprehensive anti-bullying programme and should incorporate a whole-school approach to include awareness raising and training for staff and pupils.’
A number of key recommendations have been made:
- Cyberbullying involvement should be considered by policymakers who implement bullying prevention (in addition to traditional bullying) and safe Internet use programmes;
- Clinicians working with children and young people and assessing mental health issues should routinely ask about experiences of cyberbullying;
- The impact of cyberbullying should be included in the training of child and adolescent mental health professionals;
- Children and young people involved in cyberbullying should be screened for common mental disorders and self-harm;
- School, family, and community programmes that promote appropriate use of technology are important;
- Prevention of cyberbullying should be included in school anti-bullying policies, alongside broader concepts such as digital citizenship, online peer support for victims, how an electronic bystander might appropriately intervene; and more specific interventions such as how to contact mobile phone companies and Internet service providers to block, educate, or identify users;
- Suicide prevention and intervention is essential within any comprehensive anti-bullying programme and should incorporate a whole-school approach to include awareness raising and training for staff and pupils.
The study also found a strong link between being a cyber-victim and a perpetrator. This duality was found to particularly put males at higher risk of depression and suicidal behaviours.
The researchers highlighted that these vulnerabilities should be recognised at school so that cyberbullying behaviours would be seen as an opportunity to support vulnerable young people, rather than for discipline.
It was recommended that anti-bullying programmes and protocols should address the needs of both victims and perpetrators, as possible school exclusion might contribute to an individual’s sense of isolation and lead to feelings of hopelessness, often associated with suicidal behaviours in adolescents.
It was also found that students who were cyber-victimised were less likely to report and seek help than those victimised by more traditional means, thus highlighting the importance for staff in schools to encourage ‘help-seeking’ in relation to cyberbullying.
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