Got an Android phone? Might need to scan the QR code scanner you downloaded. Google has removed some in the Play Store for being spammy.
Privacy and Security
Why are your Facebook friends giving away your personal information?
Is Facebook getting closer to MySpace territory?
Last week I reported that MoviePass tracks its users on the way to the theater and on the way back home. That’s what CEO Mitch Lowe said at a conference in Hollywood during Oscar week, adding the popular movie ticket buying company collects “an enormous amount of data” from the folks who subscribe to the service.
This evening Lowe released a letter to members in which he apologized and said the app does not track and has never tracked the location of members at any point when the app is not active.
For the uninitiated, MoviePass is (right now) the best deal on the internet for people who like going to movie theaters. After downloading the free app, users subscribe to the service for $9.99/month. When you arrive at a participating theater (most) open the app, select the movie you want to see and check-in using the app. MoviePass then reserves a seat for you and deposits the cost of the ticket to a MasterCard debit card which is sent to you when you subscribe.
When you get to the ticket window you simply use the debit card to pay for your ticket.
I subscribed last September and I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth going to 1 or 2 movies a week. Most times I buy popcorn and a soda to support the theater since that’s how theater chains make revenue to keep the lights on (and off).
Lowe said then that the data collected was going to be used to help create and encourage a ‘movie night’ for its users, suggesting future updates might send relevant coupons and information based on location.
Some MoviePass subscribers were none too happy because MoviePass had not revealed this in its Terms of Service and Privacy agreements.
I agree but you know what? I wouldn’t have cared if MoviePass knew what restaurants I passed on the way to the theater. I would not care if MoviePass knew what I did after the credits rolled. Here’s why:
I expect I’m being followed by the apps on my phone. If I’m eating at McDonald’s I’m not surprised if I get a coupon for Buy 1 Get 1 Free Big Macs from GasBuddy or any of the other apps on my phone. I’m not surprised because that is the way of the digital world today. It’s why I get relevant coupons and discounts on my computer screen when I’m checking Gmail. It’s why I see an ad for DisneyWorld vacations after I searched for Orlando, Florida vacations on my phone or computer.
I realize that MoviePass does not care if Jamey Tucker is eating at Applebees after seeing “Black Panther”. It cares that the owner of this iPhone X is eating at Applebees.
Like other freebies on the internet like Yelp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google, MoviePass can watch my trip to the theater and back home again. I’m not that interesting. It is a bad move to not reveal that information before I sign up.
According to MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe, it wasn’t included in the terms because it didn’t really happen.
If you’ve been paying attention to your Facebook timeline over the past few weeks, you may have seen an announcement from the social media giant of a new facial recognition feature. The new feature allows Facebook to locate you in any photo or video posted publicly, whether you’re tagged in it or not. You may not even know the picture was taken or who took it.
Facebook and other online companies have been capturing and collecting biometric data such in order to engage its users and encourage more sharing of posts and photos. The biometric data is used whenever you post a picture and Facebook asks if you’d like to tag the people in the photo with the names already attached to their faces.
The new feature will show Facebook users any photos or videos they’re in, even if they’re never tagged.
Last week the new feature appeared on my ‘recent activity’ after someone posted a photo of a large group of people. I was practically hidden in the background but Facebook recognized my face from my profile picture and sent it to me, asking if I’d like to tag myself, ignore it or notify Facebook that it is not me.
Facebook gives the impression that you will begin receiving notifications of pictures, anytime it believes your face is in it. The photos do not necessarily have to be posted by a Facebook friend.
In the announcement (or notification) of the new feature, Facebook said it thinks users will like finding photos of themselves. It also states that the feature will help users protect their own privacy. Rather than search Facebook for your name you can search for your face. If someone is using a photo of you for their profile picture you can report it to Facebook.
Facebook also states the feature can help the visually impaired get an understanding of a photo by using voice to read the names of people in the photos or videos.
The feature is turned off, Facebook says but I have seen reports that some users have noticed the feature was turned on by default. If you want to change (or check) whether it is turned on or off for your photos, go to settings and you’ll see Facebook added a ‘facial recognition’ tab.
Facebook isn’t alone of course in collecting biometric data. Google knows what you look like too. If you’re not sure about that, go Google your name and tap images. You’ll probably be surprised how many photos there are of you posted on the internet.
Google knows more about you than the government! This browser add-on keeps some of your information private.
Got a smartphone you don’t use? Turn it into a security camera
It is rare when there’s a security flaw that affects virtually every desktop and laptop computer, smartphone and other mobile device. The latest, discovered just a few days ago, is that risk.
Dubbed “Meltdown” and “Spectre”, the risk is not a cyber-threat but rather a flaw or security hole affecting computer chips. Processing chips are the brains of the computer and are made by Intel, AMD and ARM. In this case there is an apparent risk that hackers could gain access to a remote computer or device as the computer processes information.
The Department of Homeland Security issued this warning on the vulnerabilities Wednesday.
For most of us, understanding what’s happening is less important than understanding what to do with out computers and devices.
Windows, Apple, Google and the chip makers quickly issued security updates in hopes of fixing the flaw.
For Windows PC users, go to the Microsoft support page (linked at the bottom of this story) which will guide you through the update process.
Mac and Apple users will see a prompt that they should update their device. Google Chromebooks and Android devices generally automatically update.
If your are a Windows user and haven’t gotten a prompt to update, re-boot your computer when you go to bed tonight. As it restarts Windows will check for any updates and install them. If you still don’t see a prompt to update, check the website of your anti-virus program.
Some anti-virus programs have issued updates but some still have not. Microsoft will not install the security update on any computer running 3rd party anti-virus software that has not been updated itself. Initially there were reports that the update was causing the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” on computers running anti-virus software that wasn’t updated to handle the latest Windows update.
In short, this is not a security concern to ignore. While there’s been no confirmation of the flaw being used by hackers to gain access to a computer, those hackers just learning of it are surely trying to take advantage of the vulnerability.
Microsoft support site
Microsoft update page https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4056892/windows-10-update-kb4056892