Category: Internet (Page 1 of 5)

The Facebook Internet Tracking Settlement

If you’ve received an email or news about the Facebook Internet Tracking Settlement, please know that it is legitimate & true.

You may trust in the following and take part in the proceedings, to get your piece of the settlement:

The Lawsuit

Facebook is accused of collecting user data through outside websites, and selling it to advertisers. They allegedly did this through those Facebook Like buttons that used to appear all over the web. In doing so, Facebook may have violated privacy laws and unjustly profited from all of us.

Facebook is admitting no guilt in the matter, but they are settling. In order to put this matter to bed, they are agreeing to $90 Million settlement. It’s somewhat of a speeding ticket to a company worth $538 Billion, but so it goes…

How to Participate

You can get your share of that settlement, as long as you qualify. Consider yourself qualified if you:

  • Had a Facebook account between 4/22/2010 and 9/26/2011
  • Visited non-Facebook websites that displayed the Facebook Like button.

Don’t remember if that was the case? Those Like buttons were everywhere back then, so it is very likely you encountered them, while reading the news or checking out personal blogs or shopping online.

Here’s the website to sign up, just scroll down to the SUBMIT A CLAIM section and use the Submit Online link to get started.

Final Commentary

I notice that the Online Claim page may not load in the presence of an ad-blocker. I guess they are tracking who visits that page! If you can’t get it to load, try disabling your ad-blocker. Or, you can right-click the link and open the page in Incognito/InPrivate mode. That should bypass any adblocker woes.

And after all of that reading & signing up & waiting… you might get a dollar or two. Sorry, but the lawyers are going to take a big bite out of that $90M before it trickles down to us. There are 240 million Facebook users in the USA. It all comes down to how many people hear about this and sign up, I suppose.

The RV Giveaway Scam

No, you are not going to win a free RV! But when you see posts about this on social media, they are so tempting. Companies with names like Camping & RV World boast about “unclaimed RVs” that they have to give away for free, and the included photos show some beautiful vehicles. But this is one of those too-good-to-be-true situations. You will not win anything. And there is a lot of harm afoot, even if you click Like on the post.

Scam!

How To Spot the Scam?

This gets harder every year, as the scammers study Facebook and other platforms for ingenious ways to conceal their identities. But here are some clues:

  • When you visit a Business Page on Facebook, scroll down to find the Page Transparency section. Click “See All” to get the most details. This will tell you useful info, like the date that the Page was created, and possibly the country of origin. Scam pages often show a very recent date, while known trusted pages have older dates.
  • Regard the About section: Scam pages often have no info here, while legitimate pages will reveal a proper phone number, physical address and website. Do not trust any “tinyurl”, “bit.ly” or “google.sites” addresses!
  • Search on Facebook for the company in question. Take Camping World, for example, they show hundreds of thousands of Likes. Notice that the scammer’s page probably only has a handful of Likes.
Only 32 people? And most of them are other scammers…

The Hazards of This Scam

The first part of the scam is in the first interaction you have with it. If you click Like or Share the scam, Facebook will promote the scammy post to your friends & family, or to everyone else in your group. It will help it spread like wildfire, or a chain letter. And your endorsement will make the scam look more believable to everyone else!

Next, many of these scams steer you towards marketing websites that promise free money via CashApp. This nonsense will waste your time with survey after survey and form after form. You’ll never get the promised cash, but they will hoover up your information. And sell it to every spammer and telemarketer known to man. If you think you get a lot of spam and junk calls now, just you wait. Participating in these surveys will elevate your spam to nightmare levels!

Finally, these RV Giveaways will “select” you as a winner, and push you into Private Messaging or other non-public communication. And the scammer will prepare to deliver your winnings… but first, they want a delivery fee to be paid. Or some insurance. Maybe a “customs surcharge.” Whatever it is, they’ll make it seem like a trifle, compared with the value of the big thing you’ve just won. But if you pay that fee (through CashApp or wire xfer or gift cards), then you will never hear from them again, and you will not see any RV appear in your driveway.

What To Do

When you encounter this scam on social media,

  • Do NOT click Like. Do NOT comment on it.
  • Report it to Facebook or other social media, as a scam.
  • If posted in a Group, also report it to the admin(s), and ask them to take it down.

Don’t Post That Privacy Notice to Facebook

For ten years now, people have been posting the following notice on Facebook:

Please don’t do that. Don’t post this or Share this if you see it. It is a hoax and it is misinformation. It accomplishes nothing.

I understand if you have privacy concerns over Facebook’s treatment of your information. Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t have a great track record of protecting and respecting our user data. But this kind of post does not protect you or change how Facebook treats you.

Please read up about this on Snopes or other websites. When you first signed up for a free Facebook account, you agreed to a lengthy contract. You agreed to so many many things, including:

Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others (again, consistent with your settings) such as service providers that support our service or other Meta Products you use. This license will end when your content is deleted from our systems.

Facebook Terms of Service

If you really want control over what Facebook does with your data, your options are few and simple enough:

  • Don’t post it in the first place.
  • Delete your info, posts or pictures from Facebook.
  • Delete your whole Facebook account!

I understand that those may not be the most helpful options, and for that, I can only apologize and sympathize. Remember: If you’re using something for free, you are probably not the customer, you are the product!

Facebook Text Delights

You’ve seen these special effects on Facebook for some time now: certain words or phrases, like Congrats or You’ve Got This, do special things in posts and comments. As you type these secret texts on a computer (doesn’t often work in their mobile apps), Facebook colors them in and anyone may click on them later to see a special animation.

These “text delights” are harmless fun, and you should be able to use in most text entry fields on Facebook. The trick may be knowing what triggers the text delights in the first place.

Facebook doesn’t offer a master list of these text delights. And they vary from one country/language to the next. Plus, when Facebook retires an old text delight or introduces a new one, they don’t always announce it. We’re still discovering these easter eggs to this day!

If you want some idea of what text delights are out there, you can simply search the web for “Facebook text delights” or check out YouTube videos about what people have discovered. And when you go to use them, you will know if what you’ve typed will work as soon as you key it in. Text delights change color as soon as you type them into Facebook, to let you know there will be a special effect.

One last thing: you don’t have to use a text delight, if you don’t want to. Let’s say you type GG or xoxo, and Facebook colors it in as a delight. As soon as the color appears, hit your Backspace key one time, and the delight-coloring should disappear. Now you have plain text, with no special effect.

Facebook Protect

Facebook is rolling out a new tool for safeguarding your account. But not everyone will see this just yet. For now, they’re pushing this feature out to high-profile accounts and business pages with significant reach. You may see this pop-up for you if you are a politician, for example, or run a Business Page with thousands of Likes on it.

Unfortunately, when Facebook does reach out to someone about their new Protect feature, it presents as a scam. The sender’s email looks fishy and the message urges to you act soon, lest you be locked out.

If you get a notification for Facebook Protect, please understand that it is probably legitimate. And if you ignore it for too long, you truly could get locked out of your Facebook account!

If you get an email or notification about this, cooperate with it if you are comfortable doing so. If you aren’t 100% sure, you can still satisfy the Facebook Protect requirement without clicking on the email:

  • Open Facebook.com in your computer’s web browser.
  • Click the triangle button in the upper-right corner, click Settings & Privacy, click Settings.
  • On the left, click Security & Login, then to the right, look for Facebook Protect and click Get Started.

You cannot sign up for Facebook Protect before you are invited, so if you can’t do this now, no worries! There’s nothing to do until you get a notice that you should activate this.

Nextdoor’s Questionable Marketing Tactics

Nextdoor is a social networking website with a focus on neighborhood connections and local resources. If your neighborhood isn’t already connecting through Facebook groups or other means, Nextdoor might be a useful option for doing so.

Now, if you’re already a Nextdoor user, we should go over their marketing tactics. They’re a little bit sus, in the parlance of the younger generation. To attract new users, Nextdoor commonly mails letters to people. On paper, through the USPS. These letters invite you to join up for free and try out Nextdoor.

But now here’s the sus part: These letters often drop names of people in your neighborhood. They mention your neighborhood by name, as well. They’re a little uncanny, and many people read these letters and smell a scam. There is no scam! But it sure looks sketchy…

We can’t stop Nextdoor from this marketing behavior. But we should be aware that Nextdoor may use your name or other PII on their marketing letters to others! Unless, you deliberately opt out, and here’s how to do that:

On a computer

  • Visit the Nextdoor website and sign in.
  • Click the account bubble to the upper-right, and then click Settings.
  • On the left, click Privacy.
  • Scroll down to the Invitation letters section, and turn off the toggle next to “Allow Nextdoor to mail letters on your behalf”.

In the Nextdoor app

  • Open the Nextdoor app and sign in.
  • To the lower-right, tap More.
  • Scroll down and tap Settings.
  • Tap Privacy Settings.
  • Scroll down to the Invitation letters section, and turn off the toggle next to “Allow Nextdoor to mail letters on your behalf”.

5G Is Not the Same as 5G

Tech jargon is confusing enough as it is. But then some geniuses had to go and name two completely different technologies the same thing. Not helpful….

I’m referring to the label “5G”, which can be used regarding your home Wi-Fi or with cellphones. I continue to find that people conflate the two technologies when they have absolutely nothing to do with each other! So I’m going to try and clear this up:

5G Stands for Fifth Generation

When talking about telecommunications, 5G refers to the latest technology that makes your cellphones work. Right now, the fifth generation (5G) of technology is being rolled out in our country. The fourth generation (4G) is the existing cellular communications technology used in much of the country, and 3G & 2G technology is on its way out. The old 3rd gen and 2nd gen antennae and other hardware is being decommissioned and dismantled to make way for the new hotness that is 5G.

5G Stands for 5 Gigahertz (GHz)

By now, most households have Wi-Fi to spread your internet connection around to laptops, tablets and smartphones. And many of you may notice that your Wi-Fi router offers two network names, one that may end in “-5G”. This is merely to distinguish the two bands of frequency emanating from your device. Those two bands are 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz, the latter can be referred to as the “5G band.” If you want to read more on Wi-Fi frequency bands, this site has you covered.

Facebook Phishing on Facebook

Watch out for this recent scheme on Facebook:

this is a clever FAKE Facebook page!

If you encounter this anywhere on Facebook, please know that it is not legitimate, and Facebook/Meta did NOT send this to you. Do not click the link. Do not respond to the message.

You can and should click the 3-dots button to the upper-right, to report the message/account to Facebook as a fake or impostor. That will help Facebook detect and remove the ruse.

True Facebook messages about your reports & violations would appear in the Support Inbox for your Facebook account. That can be a bit tricky to find, but try this link if you want to visit yours. You can trust what you read on that website.

How Bad This Scam Can Get

If someone is tricked into clicking the link, some browsers will protect the user and warn about the dangerous site ahead:

thank you, Google Chrome!

But other, less-secure browsers might load that link straight away, and then this alert appears:

fake Facebook login screen, made by cyber criminals

This is still all fake! The user’s FB account is perfectly fine, and the above text is 100% fiction. But when a person clicks the blue button there, the next page prompts them to type in their Facebook credentials. After that, the scammers quickly capture and use that info to log into that Facebook account.

Once inside the victim’s account, they will:

  • Change the FB password, locking the true owner out.
  • Change the account recovery methods, so that the true owner cannot reset his/her password.
  • Start using the account to scam everyone on the Friends List of the account.
  • Start using the account for other criminal enterprises on Facebook and beyond.

If The Worst Has Happened To You

If you have been fooled by this phishing effort, contact Facebook for help with your account ASAP. You may certainly try to reset your password first, but if that fails, Facebook will have to put you through some considerable verification steps and other processes to fix the situation.

You’ll need this Facebook article to begin the recovery process. Click on “I think my Facebook account was hacked…” and then click the get Started button. Answer the next questions as best you can and hopefully Facebook will repair your account… soon.

You might also contact your friends and family, via email or phone, to let them know about your stolen account. Tell them something like, “Don’t trust anything coming from my FB account, until I explicitly tell you I’ve recovered it!”

For more reading on this, check out the Malwarebytes Blog.

Mail2World’s 2022 Email Outage

On Wednesday, 1/12/2022, an email provider named Mail2World disappeared from the internet. They’re a modest company based in California that provides email for millions of people worldwide. They handle the email service for many different ISPs (including Shentel, Buckeye Broadband, and SRT), as well as for individuals and small businesses. Information on this outage was challenging to come by, so I’m going to chronicle what I saw and learned during this event, below.

Day One (January 12)

Around 7AM EST, all email service with Mail2World stopped. For the entire day, no answers were forthcoming. People calling their ISPs got only vague explanations: “Email is completely down, we have no ETR.”

Those that contacted Mail2World directly received an unprofessional response. I had hoped they would issue a press release or a Pinned Post on Facebook. But, ironically commenting on an older Facebook Post about “improving your chances of getting your email read,” Mail2World shared only a few vague tidbits. It was nothing informative (“Please be advised that we’re fully and diligently working on the current email service outage.”) and only aggravated their clients further.

Day Two (January 13)

With email still down, Mail2World told some ISPs to expect a 3PM EST recovery time. But that deadline came and went, and everyone had to face the fact that nothing would be restored this day.

A sharp-eyed Facebook commenter pointed out a breaking news story (alternate link) about a ransomware attack and suggested it might be relvant. I called the ISP mentioned in the story and got confirmation: Mail2World is their email provider, and a ransomware attack had brought down all of Mail2World.

Day Three (January 14)

The outage continued, but repair progress could be detected. Using DNS detection websites, people could see that Mail2World DNS entries were coming back online, across the globe. M2W had been completely absent from the world’s DNS servers for the first two days of this outage!

Repeatedly contacting Mail2World, I could only get the briefest assurance from M2W that no one data was compromised or stolen. And as more news reports about the ransomware attack emerged, that seemed to confirm that user data was safe through this debacle. Other ISPs started to report more details, as well.

After much teeth-grinding, Mail2World posted an non-update on their Facebook Page. Huzzah! And their sales website came back online, more progress!

Day Four (January 15)

Early in the morning, Shentel reported email service may be restored in the next 24 hours. By some estimates, that would be extremely quick and efficient, but not unheard of.

By mid-day, a rare few M2W email accounts were able to send out messages, although they arrived with security warnings and other malformations. Still, it showed further progress!

As Day Four drew to close, a few users reported in about email arriving to their Mail2World accounts. We couldn’t declare a complete recovery yet, but some people were able to send off a few messages, and verify that their old emails were once again available.

Day Five (January 16)

I woke to reports of Shentel (Virginia) email users happy with their restored accounts. Reports from other states (Indiana, South Dakota, Ohio) were varied, but most showed some signs of functionality. Other countries (Sweden, Australia, Mexico) also reported in about recovery, again varied, with some at full email ability, while others still hampered or limited.

This outage was mentioned over at Slashdot, but still hadn’t garnered any national or large-scale news coverage.

For my part, I recommended to anyone with fully-restored ISP email, to call into to their internet providers for a refund or credit. Since Mail2World would surely pay a penalty to their ISP clients for the outage, I reasoned that that money should be passed along to the ISP customers themselves. And my experience with many ISPs is that: If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Day Six (January 17)

Today I found that most people worldwide have their basic M2W email service back. But there are some outliers that are still waiting, in Sweden or Mexico. These folks tend to be individuals that have enrolled in free email service directly with Mail2World. I can only guess that they are low-priority, and may have a much longer repair time than the blocks of email addresses repaired for the large ISP customers.

If you’re still waiting for an M2W repair, I can only tell you to hang in there, keep waiting and reach out to Mail2World repeatedly as time goes on. You can call them at +1 (310) 209-0060, visit their website, check them on Facebook, or find their Twitter feed. Good luck!

Epilogue (March 9)

Most everyone I know has moved on from this issue. But I am still disappointed. There are many questions left unanswered: What ransomware or criminal group caused this? Was the attack successful because of employee error or a zero-day exploit? Was the ransom paid or not?

For my part, I’ve pinged M2W for 2 months, through FB/Twitter/email/LinkedIn, asking for more info. And today, I got a phone call from one of their agents. He explained that the matter has been investigated, mitigated, resolved and put to bed. All informative reports have been finished and submitted… to the ISPs and involved companies.

He didn’t have any press releases or documentation for me. Or for the masses of email users out there. All of the “post-mortem” reports have been sent to Shentel, Buckeye Broadband and similar companies. And those big ISPs might not share that info with us little people, because, well… lawyers.

But this kind gentleman who called me reiterated: The ransomware attack did not expose anyone’s email info. He briefly mentioned that a 3rd-party vendor made a mistake and left a port open somewhere, and bad actors capitalized on the vulnerability. Now that all the forensics and investigation is through, M2W has improved their security and procedures to prevent this from happening again.

Lack of Policing on Facebook

Yesterday, I reported a scam from a Facebook group. And an autoreply quickly arrived, stating that their “technology” had reviewed my request and found nothing to act on. I then chose the option to Request a Second Review, because they got it wrong. That got me this disappointing response:

This suggests that they put more manpower towards moderating issues involving loss of life and limb. And they put less or no effort into preventing fraud and deception. On Facebook, you will get support if your life is threatened, but not if someone is only trying to lie, cheat and steal from you.

I especially take issue with their bulleted list at the end. This just doesn’t set well with me. If I see someone on a street corner trying to scam my neighbors, would I walk away and ignore the scammer? Go in my house and forget the crime I just saw? How does that help keep things safe for everyone?

I apologize for taking a sharp tone over this. But this shows why Facebook (and much of the rest of the internet) is so hazardous. I liken it to the Wild West. We do not have as much protection or support on the web as we do when we are walking down Main Street in Small-Town America.

When you see something wrong on Facebook, you should still report it. But you may want to go further, because Facebook does not always have your back. When the questionable post is in a Facebook Group, also report it to the admin(s) of the group. The admin is usually a local person who cares more than Facebook, and will respond in a more nuanced manner.

You could also comment on the offending material, to give public notice to others. But even the most non-confrontational comment can trigger a backlash from a hostile criminal. Always go to an admin if you need discretion in dealing with something.

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