Reverse location search warrants

Google collects and retains location data from Android-enabled mobile devices when a Google account user has enabled Google location services. The company uses this information for location-based advertising and location-based search results. This information is derived from GPS data cell site/cell tower information, and Wi-Fi access points… It is probable that the unknown suspects of this investigation had cellular telephones which utilized either Google’s Android or Apple iOS operating systems.

Like all evidence, there is potential for issues when the collectors are not scrupulous.

  1. Location services might be turned off. Really, if you don’t have a need, then it should be turned off. And, they tend to drain the battery, so turning it off would mean less frequent recharging.
  2. Location services might not be precise. Several apps work on geofencing. The concept being that if a phone enters a certain location, then do something. As examples, I have something that will silence my phone when I get to work. Initially, I set it for not much wider than the building, but it often didn’t run. After a few iterations of expanding the area, it is now about a quarter mile wide and seems to be consistent now.
  3. Device Identities. My wife let the stepson borrow her phone to play a game. He signed into Google on the Android device. While she signed back into her account, somehow she still got his Google Hangouts messages until she replaced the device. Google might report both of them being at the phone’s location if Hangouts provides location information.

Manychat API and suspicious Fb chat

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“apolitik_Magritte” by ApolitikNow is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

A friend’s Facebook account sent a message with a video link titled, “When was this video?” My hackles were raised because:

  1. I rarely get messages from this person.
  2. It reminded me of the Is This You video Facebook Messenger virus.

If you clicked on either, then go to the link on #2 to get advice on kicking off the program with access to your account.

I grabbed the link, https://mnch.at/r?act=48a93ac45jkbhf455465548bc&u=236764556620374&p=112045350166462&h=c2446617ed and had wget download the content safely. It took a couple iterations having it ignore the SSL mismatch and supply a “valid” browser user-agent.

It looks like this new to me version uses a Web Bot service called Manychat to propagate. mnch.at is a short DNS name for it. That posts to the /r URI with the act variable. That redirects to Facebook. Unfortunately, the Facebook HTML is obtuse to read, so I stopped here. I miss the days of hackers using simple HTML on compromised web servers.

Being able to host it in Facebook makes it more difficult to discover what they are doing.

If you go to manychat.com/r, then it has a redirect to send your browser to Facebook. I’m thinking the hackers are exploiting the trust of manychat to get a way to come to Facebook in a way that looks natural to tools looking to block malicious traffic. Sneaky.

Celebrity Death Bump

Me with a Vulcan at the Las Vegas Star Trek Experience
Star Trek Experience Re-opening in May

When a formerly popular musician dies, I suddenly see a bunch of people posting in social media about them. They come back into the consciousness. And, many people are suddenly listening to the music again. Today it was Eddie Money. But, I’ve seen this trend for most.

I bet it means more sales and listens on streaming services. (For movie stars streaming their movies or sale. For authors more book sales.) In which case, it is good for the owner of the music as they make money off them. I guess the estate benefits from this renewed attention.

Which is crazy to me. I wonder if any of these deaths were tied to financial insolvency? And could have been prevented by getting the same amount of attention while still alive?

It seems sad that we only remember many of these people at their death. Why don’t we remember them in their life?

15 days of fame

Screenshot 2019-09-03 11.03.37 Looks like the storm of visitors to this blog looking for information on that fake video circulating Facebook is over. Most of the searches were for the hostname of the server which I happened to mention in the post. Which, I guess put me to the top of the search results.

One individual found me on Facebook and accused me of being the creator of the video because I mentioned it on my blog. Of course, I had her read the blog post for help addressing her account to getting the hacker’s session kicked out and securing it.

Primed

Someone posted a video of a really long Chick-Fil-A drive thru line. The comment was Popeyes was getting to CFA.

It made me wonder if given the Popeyes running out created a pop in CFA business. If people primed themselves for a chicken sandwich, went to a place who was out, then they are more likely to go to another place with a chicken sandwich. Could these shortages create a bump in business for competitors?

Supposedly there is a beef between the two chicken chains. It would be hilarious if one inadvertently helped the other.

Spoiling others on Facebook

Like Stamp 1Dear Facebook, it would be awesome if you would create a spoilers option for posts where the poster could say what it contains.

  1. You get users feeding you data about engagement with media useful for advertisers.
  2. Nice people could contain the damage of spoilers.

As it is, I saw several people created a post and put the spoiler in the comment which Facebook showed to me in the preview. So, people get spoiled inadvertently by people not intending to do so. A person trying to not spoil others has to create a post that says the content contains spoilers, create a spoiler-free comment on it, and reply to that comment with what contains the spoilers. Pretty cumbersome and other commenters might not get it and accidentally put a spoiler comment by not replying to the spoiler-free one.

Another approach Facebook might be to do is something similar to Twitter which has “muted keywords.”. The person seeking to avoid them can enter what they are trying to avoid and anything with that gets disappeared. There is a Tumblr XKit browser extension that operates similarly by collapsing the post into a message that says it is hidden because it contains the keyword. The XKit method is nice for TV shows because I do not have to add and remove each week.

It boggles the mind that we are in 2019 and this has not yet been solved by the social media giants such that we are still relying on 3rd party products that try to help. These are Facebook versions of XKit that work on desktop browsers and are no help inside the Facebook app.

You have to have the forethought to have the correct terms screened. In other words,

  • you probably are not protected from an image
  • you are not protected from esoteric terms, so someone could craft a spoilery hashtag with a reference you can tell is a spoiler without a contextual term the screener will catch.

Basically, use Facebook at your own risk. Maybe unfriend people who get a kick out of spoiling others. Definitely, unfriend people who get a kick out of fake spoiling others.

TED Talk: The story of ‘Oumuamua, the first visitor from another star system | Karen J. Meech

In October 2017, astrobiologist Karen J. Meech got the call every astronomer waits for: NASA had spotted the very first visitor from another star system. The interstellar comet — a half-mile-long object eventually named `Oumuamua, from the Hawaiian for “scout” or “messenger” — raised intriguing questions: Was it a chunk of rocky debris from a new star system, shredded material from a supernova explosion, evidence of alien technology or something else altogether? In this riveting talk, Meech tells the story of how her team raced against the clock to find answers about this unexpected gift from afar.

TED Talk: How to take a picture of a black hole | Katie Bouman

A talk on how the process would work presented a couple years ago. Interesting how closely the actual image matches the reconstruction before they did it.

At the heart of the Milky Way, there’s a supermassive black hole that feeds off a spinning disk of hot gas, sucking up anything that ventures too close — even light. We can’t see it, but its event horizon casts a shadow, and an image of that shadow could help answer some important questions about the universe. Scientists used to think that making such an image would require a telescope the size of Earth — until Katie Bouman and a team of astronomers came up with a clever alternative. Bouman explains how we can take a picture of the ultimate dark using the Event Horizon Telescope.

Shortcuts: Rules

(I should have recognized this in my Shortcuts series of posts. Intro > 1. Illusions > 2. Labeling > 3. Math > 4. Multitasking > 5. Rules)

Rules exist to help reduce the friction of society so that we can more easily work with strangers. Without rules, we need to have potentially damaging interactions with individuals, establish a series of data points about them to decide what kind of person they are to know how to handle them in the future. Instead, we create laws, policies, and traditions to define how we interact with each other. This frees our brains from Dunbar’s Number such that we can have larger social groups over that about 150 person limit.

We also have an instinctive bias to when others break the rules. People who severely or habitually do so need to be punished. We will claim it to be that others see that society will not tolerate the behavior, but really it is so we feel better that a rule breaker did not get away with it this time.

I started thinking about this because I had a conversation with a coworker about an odd claim about a rule. One problem with rules is there are too many for any individual to understand them all. We have specializations, so experts in an area are expected to know the rules for that knowledge domain.

People are human and may inform us about things that are less true and more desires of the way things ought to be. Traditions can sometimes fall into the latter. Sometimes when properly challenged, traditions find their way into being codified as laws or policies so that people properly behave.

Hammurabi almost 4,000 years ago solved this misunderstanding about what the rules are by writing them down. It really is a good way to handle it. One can read the rules oneself to check to see if how it was explained is correct or missing an important distinction.

And then, there is intentional rule breaking. Do you drive faster than the speed limit? Read all the terms for using a website? Criminals are deemed people who break the rules intentionally. Most of us are breaking some rules several times a day. Some intentionally, some by ignorance. Some because we were set up for failure. Some because the likelihood of being caught and punished are so low the wasted effort at complying is not worth it.

Podcasts updated for 2019

Back in 2016, I did a post on the podcasts to which I was listening. About six months ago, I lost everything due to my cloud-based podcasting app becoming unreachable.

It is weird to me how talking styles for radio news shows I listened to 15 years ago are unlistenable today. It makes me think maybe I should give another try to something I’ve been avoiding.

So here is my list at the moment categorized into genres: