Were your Facebook data shared?


After tens of millions of people have had their Facebook data harvested and exploited by Cambridge Analytics, a data analytics firm with ties to President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook is attempting to redeem its reputation. Starting this past Monday, Facebook has begun adding a “see how you’re affected” tool to the top of affected user’s homepages.

The information was compiled after Facebook users granted a psychological questionnaire, hosted by a website called “This is your life,” access to their Facebook before completing the survey, according to CNN. The data, including location, friend’s information, and things user’s liked, was then sent to Cambridge Analytics.

According to The New York Times, Cambridge Analytics used the collected data to “help build tools that it claimed could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior.” The firm obtained the data before 2015, but was hired by Trump’s campaign in 2016.

Records obtained by The New York Times say that about 300,000 people took the survey, but because the survey allowed access to user’s friends information, an estimated 87 million people have been potentially affected.

The new tool that is appearing atop affected user’s homepage is headlined “Protecting your information.” The users see a message explaining that some of their data was misused when Facebook shared it with Cambridge Analytics.

According to CNBC, the ex-CEO of Cambridge Analytics, Alexander Nix, was caught on camera saying that the firm ran all operations for Trump’s campaign. Despite this, Cambridge Analytics is denying any accusations.

Affected users will see a message at the top of their homepage addressing the breach.

Millions of users are appalled by the scandal and have even started a #DeleteFacebook movement. They want to voice their anger about their lack of privacy on the widely-used platform.

Christopher Deason, who owns his own computer business, said, “If I were just working my 9-to-5 at the local bank or whatever, and coming home and getting on Facebook to check on my friends and whatnot, yeah, I would delete Facebook.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify in front of Congress on Wednesday, April 9.

Tank fails at fertility clinic in Ohio


Called a “catastrophic” failure, a storage tank at an Ohio fertility clinic malfunctioned and resulted in the loss of more than 4,000 eggs and embryos this month. 950 patients were affected by the failure and have since had their childbearing plans altered.

The beginning of the newsletter issued by the University Hospitals fertility clinic. The full letter can be found at http://news.uhhospitals.org/news-releases/uh-fertility-clinic-update-patient-letter.htm.

According to a newsletter provided by the University Hospitals fertility clinic, the remote alarm system designed to alert employees of rising temperatures was turned off the weekend that the tank temperature rose.

The newsletter says that the clinic, “does not know who turned off the remote alarm nor how long it was off, but it appears to have been off for a long period of time.”

“We are heartbroken to tell you that it’s unlikely that any of the eggs are viable,” the newsletter said.

According to the letter, the clinic had recently come across issues with the auto-refill function of the tank, which fills the liquid nitrogen that preserves the eggs and embryos. Employees had been manually refilling the liquid nitrogen. The clinic claims that they do not know if the new fill process was affecting the temperature of the tank.

In an interview on March 21, cancer patient Elliot Ash said that he froze his sperm in 2003 before he underwent chemotherapy.  After getting married a few years later, Ash and his wife were able to use in-vitro fertilization to have a child in 2015. According to Ash’s wife, the couple’s “goal was to always give [their] son a biological sibling … it has been a rough few weeks.” The couple is “now unsure about their family plans,” according to The New York Times. The Ashs are filing a class action lawsuit against the clinic.

The newsletter issued by the clinic was sympathetic and deeply apologetic for the tank failure, but patients remain outraged and heartbroken. Jeremy and Kate Plants, a couple who lost their embryos, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper that they “had accepted that [their] embryos were lost, but [their] hearts still break for those who were holding on to hope that their embryos were still alive.”

Regarding the clinic, the Plants wrote, “why was nothing done before this disaster happened?”

The logistics of what actually happened are still being investigated.

Space station to make crash-landing


A Chinese space station that was launched in 2011 has begun a spontaneous crash-landing towards Earth. The station is expected to crash on Earth’s surface within the next few months.

Illustration of the Tiangong-1.

The Tiangong-1 space laboratory, nicknamed “Heavenly Palace,” weighs 8.5 tons and has begun its downward spiral towards Earth. According to CNBC, pieces as much as 100 kg could potentially crash onto Earth’s surface.

Chinese officials say that the space station’s functions failed after two years of orbiting Earth.

Jonathon McDowell, a Harvard University astrophysicist, claims that scientists will only be able to predict where pieces of the station will come down a few hours before it happens.

Current predictions, according to ABC News, have debris from the Tiangong-1 hitting the surface anytime between March 29 to April 2. The majority of the station will supposedly burn up on it descent to Earth, but it is possible that some debris will make the journey to Earth.

Information on the falling station is extremely vague, despite that the potential landfall is just days away. Chinese officials have not given much information on what exactly happened to the station since it ceased functioning on March 6, 2016.

Instead, researchers and scientists have been making assumptions about the impact of the fall. According to CNN, researcher Alan Duffy claims that “China’s secrecy around the space mission made the risks difficult to assess.”

CNN claims that the last space station that fell to Earth landed in the ocean. The first U.S. space station that ever fell landed in a part of Australia that was hardly populated and injured no one. The falling of the Tiangong-1 is similar to the space stations that fell before it and poses little threat to humans. Researches claim that the odds that the debris will damage ground activity is “very low”.

Only few types of materials could withstand the plasma in space. If titanium, makes the journey, according to CNN, it could fall to Earth.

SXSW bomb threat halts concert


On March 16, a bomb threat at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas, resulted in the cancellation of a performance by The Roots.

The event, sponsored by Bud Light, was cancelled at 4:30 p.m. via Twitter, following a bomb threat that had been sent through email to the Live Nation Music event promotion company. Bud Light tweeted, “your safety and the safety of all fans at SXSW is our most important priority.”

Twitter effectively helped to cancel the show and publicize news of the bomb threat. Bud Light representatives took to twitter to say that as information is made available, it will be posted on Twitter. Austin police arrested 26-year-old Trevor Weldon Ingram as the main suspect of the threat. Ingram was charged for making a terroristic threat – a third-degree felony in the United States.

Before the arrest, police were already scared of ongoing bombings in Austin. The threat came a few days after homemade bombs exploded in the city, resulting in two fatalities and three injuries. Two packages exploded at Austin homes on March 12 and March 2.

Statement issued by the Austin local government regarding the bomb threat via Twitter.

According to neighbors, the packages were so powerful that windows and walls of houses blocks away shook when the bombs went off. The explosive devices inside the packages were detonated when the residents picked them up.

According to The New York Times, Austin civilians have been warned to call 911 in the case of receiving any suspicious packages. Since the warning, the phone lines at the police station have been consistently busy with news of suspicious packages.

Police have not ruled out the incidents as being hate crimes, as the two victims of the bombings were African-Americans whose families were very involved in the community.

The bomb threat at SXSW targeted The Roots concert – a primarily African-American hip hop group. The Roots were supposed to be performing alongside several other musicians including Ludacris, Rapsody and Tank and the Bangas, who are also African-American performers.

The Roots drummer, Questlove, addressed the cancellation as the result of a “severe emergency”.

Times compares nations’ gun rules


The New York Times just published an article titled “How to Buy a Gun in 15 Countries” highlighting the different ways a person can buy a gun in 15 countries. The article by Audrey Carlsen and Sahil Chinoy passively emphasizes the lack of gun restrictions in place for Americans to buy guns.

The article is in a list format in which the steps for how to obtain a gun in each of the 15 countries mentioned are laid out in numerical order. Among the 15 different countries, the authors highlight the 13-step-process to get a gun in Japan.

The very first step is joining a hunting or shooting club, while the second to last step is allowing police to inspect a personal gun storage unit. Japan’s restrictions include obtaining doctors notes, permits, personal history and opinion of friends and family in order to reach the possibility of owning a gun. These elaborate rules have created one of the lowest gun violence rates in the world in Japan.

Carsen and Chinoy put the U.S. gun restrictions at the top of the article, presumably to show how easily obtainable a gun is in America. According to the article, “roughly a third of American gun owners buy guns without a background check, which federal law does not require when buying directly from a private seller.”

While Carsen and Chinoy do not offer any commentary in the article, the format in which the United States lack of gun restrictions is at the top speaks for itself in showing how much harder it is to obtain a gun in the majority of countries that proceed the U.S. in the list.

According to the article, only Yemen, one of the poorest Middle Eastern countries and a country that has been war-stricken since 2015, has slightly less gun restrictions than the U.S. The authors want readers to see the scary reality that the United States is not far from becoming a country controlled by violence and terror.

There is middle ground when it comes to gun restrictions. In America, we often are torn between wanting heavy restrictions in which it would be hard for almost anyone to obtain gun, to extremely lenient restrictions in which most people could obtain a gun.  After mass shootings, much like the one that occurred less than a month ago in Parkland, Fla., the country polarizes and our government often enters into a gridlock when it comes to changing gun laws.

What this article stresses most, without even saying it, is that there are so many alternatives to creating suitable gun restrictions without making them too tight or too lose.  In almost every country mentioned in the article, including India, Canada, Austria, and Australia, a person must have proper storage for the gun. While this small regulation seems simple, in America, many school shooters are kids who have easy access to a weapon.

The article does not say how American gun laws should change, but merely shows that in other countries with less gun violence, there are regulations in place that protect and save the lives of civilians.

Carlsen and Chinoy present this list as considerations for our law makers. The article can be read in the New York Times at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/02/world/international-gun-laws.html.

Father of 13 wins paternity rights


In Bangkok, Thailand, Mitsutoki Shigeta, a Japanese man nicknamed the “baby factory,” has won the paternity rights to 13 of the babies he has fathered via Thai surrogate mothers.

In 2014, Shigeta revealed to have fathered 16 babies through surrogacy. He won the paternity rights of three of the children in a 2015 trial.

According to strong research by BBC News South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head, an airport security photo from more than three years ago that showed Shigeta holding a baby as he was leaving Thailand, caused concern about his motives for leaving the country. Shigeta was investigated by Thai police for possible human trafficking, as he had already taken some of his children to Cambodia.

Further investigation by the Japanese government and a statement from Shigeta’s lawyer has since revealed that he is the son of a wealthy entrepreneur and is merely looking to expand his family.

Details about Shigeta’s life are very secretive and there is hardly any information about him that is public, besides for the fact that he owns several companies and has set up trust funds for his children. BBC shares that according to several “sources,” Shigeta has been moving around through Asia frequently and could have even fathered children in India and Ukraine.

Mitsutoki Shigeta, father of 16 surrogate babies.

BBC does not convince the audience that Shigeta should have won the paternity rights, but merely shines a light on the kind of questionable activity that Asian authorities are letting occur.

According to BBC, Shigeta’s Bangkok apartment was raided during a crackdown on commercial surrogacy and nine surrogate babies, nannies, and a pregnant surrogate mother were found. The Thai police seized Shigeta’s 13 children, leading to an investigation and Shigeta filing for sole custody.

According to Thailand’s Central Juvenile and Family Court, Shigeta earns the American equivalent of more than $3 million a year and has enough caretakers and resources to take care of his 16 children.

The reporting on this case is questionable, as is the decision to let Shigeta have sole custody of his 16 children. Despite this, the Thai government has found evidence that he should have paternal rights of the children, according to BBC.

Could gun violence be curbed by banks?


In a New York Times Dealbook article in the Business & Policy section by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Sorkin suggested that banks such as JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America should ban the purchase of certain firearms using their credit cards companies in order to curtail gun violence in America.

Sorkin effectively discussed the position that many CEOs and high level executives of banks feel that they should take towards moral and social issues. He claims that they feel a “sense of moral responsibility … to confront social challenges when Washington won’t.”

Truthfully, following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day, the sales of assault weapons has not yet been limited by lawmakers in Washington, but according to Sorkin there is a “real opportunity for the business community to fill the void and prove that all the talk about moral responsibility isn’t hollow”.

An AR-15: the automatic assault weapon responsible for the most amount of deadly shootings in America

Sorkin suggests that these credit card processing banks should add restrictions in their Terms of Service in which they start by restricting the purchase of assault rifles and bump stocks, the mechanism that makes rifles fire faster.

There is even a precedent for banning the usage of credit cards for certain purchases, so the banks would not be doing something extremely outlandish. In the past month, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America have set restrictions to ban the usage of their credit cards to purchase Bitcoin – a completely legal worldwide payment system.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase said that he and his bank “have a moral obligation but also a deeply vested interest [in helping] solve pressing societal issues,” according to Sorkin.

Sorkin’s quoting of high level executives reveals their deeper interest behind solving issues like gun violence, which Sorkin believes could be easily curtailed by simply restricting what could be purchased on bank-issued credit cards.

Most people will not pay for an assault weapon in cash or they will have a harder time figuring out how to pay for it or why they should pay for it when their bank condemns it.

Sorkin includes an important detail in his editorial to show a problem in restricting gun control in this country. He writes that, after 72 hours of phone calls to high level people, nobody wanted to discuss his idea on the record or even at all.

Nobody wants to talk about a world where the purchase of assault weapons would be untraceable – only in cash. But, an America where assault rifles could not be purchased using credit cards would make purchasing them more difficult and would raise national recognition of the level of danger of these guns. According to Sorkin, it would be a great start for a country that has had more than 18 school shootings in just one month.

Times reporter unveils Alt-Right mask


Emma Cott, a New York Times reporter, sat down with one of the primary leaders of the white supremacist group, the Alt-Right movement, and uncovered the key to their success.

Cott interviewed Elliot Kline, an Alt-Right leader who goes by the pseudonym Eli Mosley, after British fascist Oswald Mosley who tried to bring Nazism to England. Mosley made his transition from a Twitter-troll to a leader of the alt-right movement when he helped plan the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017. The rally ended in one fatality and more than a dozen wounded and was considered a success by the alt-right standards.

Eli Mosley, Facebook

Eli Mosley, one of the Alt-Right movement leaders.

At an Alt-Right member’s home in Alexandria, Va., Cott did an on-camera interview with Mosley in which he told her that there is a huge connection between the military and Alt-Right. He said that he served in Iraq and found it “boring.”

According to Mosley, lots of alt-right members served in the military and were “disillusioned with the American political system,” including himself.

Cott’s in-depth research following her sit-down with Mosley led her to ask questions. She contacted the Army for confirmation of Mosley’s deployment and to not much surprise, she found he had never actually been deployed. Cott’s strong reporting skills led her to conclude that Mosley’s identity in the Alt-Right movement was based on a lie.

Not only did Mosley lie about going to Iraq, but he refused to admit it was not an internal computer error that led the Army to tell Cott that he was never actually deployed.

Because Mosley’s position within the movement is to help bring people together who share a common goal of becoming so-called “activists” in the white supremacist community, he pretends to be apart of the target audience: veterans.

Cott pieced together the fraudulence within the alt-right movement by concluding that the movement is filled with “Holocaust deniers and pseudo-intellectuals who spout unsubstantiated theories about the science behind racial difference.”

Mosley’s trick of lying to gain entrance and ranking within the white supremacist community does not differ from the strategies of his fellow Neo-Nazis. Cott claims that alt-right is merely a place, “where a weekend warrior can pass himself off as a disillusioned veteran of war.” The interview is merely a spotlight on Mosley caught in a lie.

Real lost and found played on ‘Bachelor’


According to CNN, a woman previously classified as “missing” has now been found on ABC’s reality dating television show, “The Bachelor.”

CNN’s classification as “missing” deviates from the true nature of Rebekah Martinez’s status of personhood.

Rebekah Martinez, 22, was marked “missing” by her mother on Nov. 18. Martinez’s mother told local authorities in Humboldt County, Calif., that Martinez was leaving the area to pursue work on a marijuana farm. This type of missing persons report sounds more like a notification of her leaving the area rather than her being unequivocally missing.

The North Coast Journal released an article on Feb. 1 on Facebook titled “The Humboldt 35: Why does Humboldt County have the highest rate of missing persons reports in the state?” showing 35 pictures of people who have been listed as missing in the county to see if any of them could be identified. The same day, Facebook user Amy Bonner O’Brien identified Rebekah Martinez from the recently aired season 22 of “The Bachelor.”

During the time when Martinez was so-called “missing,” she was actually filming for the show, according to ABC spokeswoman Courtney Kugel. Every report of the scenario seems to overlook the fact that Martinez was not missing, but merely at an undisclosed location for filming. Regardless of the fact that Martinez did not tell her mother where she was actually going, she did tell her that she was going to a farm where she would be out of communication.

Season 22 ‘The Bachelor’ contestant Rebekah Martinez as both a TV personality and a missing person.

After confirmation by the Humboldt County sheriff’s department that Rebakah Martinez of Humboldt county was actually “Bekah M” from “The Bachelor,” Martinez took to Twitter to say “MOM. how many times do I have to tell you I don’t get cell service on The Bachelor??”

Martinez insinuated through the sarcastic tweet that she had told her mother before that she would be out of reach for several months.

News sources neglected to shame authorities for doing insufficient research, as Martinez tweeted on Jan. 16 that did not have her phone at the filming site, over 10 days before the North Coast Journal article was published with her face listed as a “missing person.”

With the California authorities aware of her name and face, it is astounding that they were unable to identify Rebekah Martinez as who she was before a viewer of “The Bachelor” did so on Facebook.

Exercise app threatens national security


Australian student and analyst for the Institute of United Conflict Analysts, Nathan Ruser, recently discovered that the Strava fitness tracker could impose threats to U.S. national security by revealing locations of military bases.

In November 2017, Strava released global heat maps that use running and cycling information from wireless devices to show hot spots of heavy activity. Strava’s maps take the GPS location from a variety of devices that have their tracking services turned on, covering over 17 billion miles and tracking 27 million users.

According to Ruser, “US Bases are clearly identifiable and mappable.” The running paths of soldiers became visible to Twitter users when they noticed high activity in places including a suspected CIA base in Somalia, military sites in the Falkland Islands and a suspected military operations base in the Sahel region of Africa.

As of 2015, 20,000 soldiers and reservists were invited to participate in a program in which the Army issued Fitbit Flex wristbands. The location and patterns of these devices are easily accessible to those who have the Strava fitness tracker. The participants in this program do not even include the thousands of soldiers who exercise in their spare time using their personal devices.

Ruser tweeted on Saturday that “if soldiers use the app like normal people do, by turning it on tracking when they go to do exercise, it could be especially dangerous. This particular track looks like it logs a regular jogging route. I shouldn’t be able to establish any pattern of life info from this far away.”

Nathan Ruser reveals privacy violations for U.S. bases his tweets.

Strava not only shows where people move, but also how they move. Time and paths are easily determined from the tracker. The Washington Post said that Afghani and Syrian bases are exposed and not only patrol lines, but also where “troops live, eat or work, suggesting possible target lines of enemies.”


The heat maps put a spotlight on the daily lives of all military personnel, not just U.S. forces. Hmeimen, the main Russian base in Syria, is visible, along with patrol routes.

The spider web-esq lines that connect bases and protrude from highly active locations endanger the lives of many and poses a breach of security.

Ruser’s in-depth research has led him to conclude that this slip-up by Strava is a “big oversight,” according to his tweets. Strava is now working with military and government personnel to change privacy settings and protect troops.