Posted by Sam Gliksman
A Congressional briefing last week entitled “Hate in the Information Age” highlighted the fact that we’re experiencing a sharp increase in hate and terror propaganda on the Internet. To make matters worse, new interactive web 2.0 services allow extremists to leverage technologies such as blogs and video sharing to promote their agenda on popular sites such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube.
At their core, social networking sites provide a simple mechanism for connecting with friends and like minded people across the Internet. Anti-Semitic propagandists and terror supporters however use these sites as a dynamic tool for spreading their propaganda against Jews and Israel. What should be particular cause for concern is that they are targeting the teens and young adults that form the majority of members at social networking sites such as Facebook.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, an associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, presented the results of their Digital Terrorism and Hate Project’s annual study to the Congressional Hearing. He reported that they had observed a 30% increase in the presence of hate groups online in the last year. Most of it can be attributed to posts in blogs and discussion forums. “The Internet is a fantastic marketing tool,” Rabbi Cooper noted.
Unlike more traditional web sites, group pages on social networking sites can be harder to find and track. “You can market and train followers while bypassing traditional Web sites. It makes it very, very difficult for law enforcement to follow what’s going on,” he said. According the Wiesenthal Center report, “Extremists are leveraging 2.0 technologies to dynamically target young people through digital games, Second Life scenarios, blogs, and even Youtube and Facebook style videos depicting racist violence and terrorism.”
I discussed the various Holocaust Denial sites on Facebook in my last blog post. It does however seem that the more you dig, the uglier it gets.
How bad is it? A quick look at the page of one group called “We hate Israel” gives you an idea of what can still pass uncensored on Facebook. The main page contains the image of a large swastika made from the letters in the word Israel. There’s a poster of the Twin Towers on fire with a large caption stating “The Jews. We all know it was them.” The group blog is littered with posts such as “Kill all Israel people!!!”, “Death to Israel!” and “Hitler took the (right) decision with the Jewish people. They must all be burned at the same time”. Other posts threaten that there will be a strike in October that will wipe out all of Israel. Companies such as Disney and Pepsi are accused of being Zionist (it’s claimed that Pepsi derived its name as an acronym from “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel”!). Yes, even Facebook - the company that is allowing the group to spread this vicious anti-Semitic dribble - is supposedly “owned by a Zionist”!
I should clarify that sites such as Facebook state expressly that they do not allow objectionable groups, comments or images to appear on their web pages. They will actively search for and censor any pornographic or violent images. Their terms of service clearly state “You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” In addition, “You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.” Inexplicably however, it seems that extremists espousing hatred or threatening violence towards Jews and Israel fall under their radar.
To be fair, Facebook - albeit under significant pressure - has removed a number of Holocaust Denial sites recently. The most offensive includes a cartoon of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank, posted from Lebanon. Some of the extremist groups still using Facebook however include Stormfront, National Socialist Life, Libertarian National Social Movement, Aryan Guard, FARC, Al Shabab Mujahideen, Hamas (Multiple), Hezbollah (multiple), Faloja Forum, Support Taliban, Support Taliban and scores of anti-Israel sites.
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May 9, 2009 | 2:57 pm
Posted by Sam Gliksman
With the advent of increasingly simple, interactive web technologies anyone can now publish their opinions on the internet. For example, websites such as Facebook allow users to form social groups where they can connect and communicate with each other. Friends and family can stay in touch. Online communities can share information and opinions. On occasion however those opinions can be offensive and social networking sites such as Facebook can be used as a launching pad for establishing and expanding those offensive views.
This week CNN reported that Facebook was under pressure to remove Holocaust denial pages from its website. The issue at hand is not new. Is the right to free speech absolute or can an opinion become offensive to the point that it demands censorship?
The Holocaust Denial movement seeks to deny or minimize the Holocaust, in which Nazis killed about six million European Jews during World War II. Texas attorney Brian Cuban has been leading an effort to have Facebook remove pages of groups with names such as “Holocaust: A Series of Lies,” and “Holocaust is a Holohoax” removed from its site.
Cuban points out that Facebook is in the private realm and therefore has a clear right to review and censor content published on its website. According to Cuban, “This isn’t a freedom-of-speech issue. Facebook is free to set the standard that they wish.” Facebook’s own Statement of Rights and Responsibilities says that users “will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”
Brian Cuban, the brother of the NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, is of Russian Jewish descent and has written about his fight to have the Holocaust-denial pages removed on his site, The Cuban Revolution.
See the full story on cnn.com
May 1, 2009 | 7:08 pm
Posted by Sam Gliksman
What is it about the estate laws in Nigeria that make it so diffiicult for princes to retrieve their millions in inheritance? We’ve all received that hoax email from someone that needs your help in recovering millions in a bank account. One of the more common forms of hoax email is the “phishing” scheme. Phishing is when an email sender tries to trick the recipient into thinking the message is from someone else. The message may ask you to “update,” “validate,” or “confirm” your account information. Phishing emails typically attempt to trick people into revealing financial data, or direct you to spoof sites or phone numbers to call where they ask you to provide personal data.
The consequences of falling prey to a phishing scam can be devastating. Scammers potentially gain access to your credit card, social security number, bank account, password or personal information. Your data is traded on the black market and, in a worst case scenario, you end up becoming the victim of identity theft. Some creative scammers even use your data to defraud others of greater amounts of money. In one scenario, a scammer will gain access to your account information on an auction site such as eBay. Trading in your name they sell a fake item worth thousands of dollars. A buyer bites and you’re left explaining why don’t know anything about it.
It’s estimated that over 100 million phishing e-mails are sent ... every day! Losses are estimated at over $1 billion a year.
What does a phishing scam look like?
A phishing scam can take many forms. The scam is traditionally spread through email and might appear to come from a financial institution, company you regularly do business with, ecommerce site such as ebay or Paypal or from a social networking site. Phishing email often includes official company logos and can look convincingly like they come from legitimate websites.
The following is an example of what a phishing scam in an e-mail message (as displayed on an informational page on the Microsoft website) might look like.
Note that the graphic header is the actual logo taken from the real company’s website. The email includes a masked link to a fake website. The text of the link appears to be from the actual company’s website but if you place your mouse pointer above the link (rest it above - do not click the link) it reveals that the real address is actually a totally bogus site (184.108.40.206 ...). Scammers will sometimes also use addresses that contain minor alterations of the real company’s name (eg. wellsfagro.com) in the hope that you don’t notice. In either case, clicking on the link will take you to a spoofed site that attempts to have you submit your personal information.
There are several steps you can take to help protect yourself against phishing scams:
1. Don’t respond to emails that ask for personal, financial or account information. They are almost always scams.
2. Mouse over links in the email and read the pop-up that displays the actual address. See if looks genuine or not (then don’t click it anyway…).
3. Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date.
4. Never, ever email sensitive personal information. Even if you are sending it to a legitimate source, it will likely sit in somebody’s Inbox for a period of time where it can be read or stolen.
5. Check your bank and credit card statements for any unusual charges.
6. If you are using a Windows computer, upgrade your web browser to either Internet Explorer 7 or later or Firefox 3 or later. Both contain a phishing filter that warns you if you are about to enter a site that appears to be spoofed.
And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…
“Smishing” is the growing practice of sending phishing scams via SMS text messaging. Email filters have become more proficient at recognizing and blocking phishing schemes. This has pushed scammers to search for alternative digital delivery methods for their spoofed messages. SMS texts avoid filters normally associated with emails. Very few SMS messages are blocked and it can be difficult to determine if a message is real. Smishing text messages will prompt you to call a phone number. When you call, a phony operator will ask for your personal or financial information in order to complete some bogus financial transaction or account change.
The solution here is crystal clear. No legitimate company or financial institution will send you a text message asking you to call them and submit personal information. Do not reply. It’s that simple.