The Morning Jolt

Culture

Mark Zuckerberg: Yeah, Your Facebook Data Was Probably Stolen. Sorry About That.

The data was bound to be either sold or stolen. It happens when personal information is stored online.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to users: Oh, hey, sorry about that.

Facebook said Wednesday that “malicious actors” took advantage of search tools on its platform, making it possible for them to discover the identities and collect information on most of its 2 billion users worldwide. . .

The scam started when malicious hackers harvested email addresses and phone numbers on the so-called “Dark Web,” where criminals post information stolen from data breaches over the years. Then the hackers used automated computer programs to feed the numbers and addresses into Facebook’s “search” box, allowing them to discover the full names of people affiliated with the phone numbers or addresses, along with whatever Facebook profile information they chose to make public, often including their profile photos and hometown.

Two thoughts on Facebook. . .

First, the only things that Facebook has of real value are your attention and your personal information. No matter how much the company attempts to assure users that it respects their privacy, the temptation to sell that information is likely to be overwhelming at some point. They’re likely to promise whatever they feel they need to get through this public-relations debacle, and then, once someone comes along with a lucrative offer and their own trust-us-we-won’t-abuse-this-data-you’re-giving-us pledge, offer access to your data once again.

After all, Facebook previously assured users their information is secure and would never be used by, say, a data-research firm affiliated with a presidential campaign without their consent.

Secondly, even if Facebook was run by angels, the information is likely to be of value to hackers, and worth the effort on the part of the hacker. Your individual information by itself may not be of great value, but it may be once it’s bundled with the information of lots of other people.

Does this mean you shouldn’t use Facebook? No, but you probably shouldn’t post anything on there that you wouldn’t feel comfortable being out in the public domain.

What People Choose to Believe About the Pulse Nightclub Massacre

I read this good piece in the Huffington Post by Melissa Jeltsen about the Pulse nightclub shooting, pointing out that “everyone” — and by that, she means almost everyone on the left — convinced themselves that the massacre was driven by homophobia, despite a lack of any real evidence. Now that the shooter’s wife, Noor Salman, is acquitted of charges of supporting terrorism and obstructing justice, and the government’s evidence is public, it’s now irrefutable that this was an ISIS-inspired terror attack.

Almost overnight, a narrative emerged that until now has been impossible to dislodge: Mateen planned and executed an attack on Pulse because he hated gay people.

“Let’s say it plainly: This was a mass slaying aimed at LGBT people,” Tim Teeman wrote in The Daily Beast. The massacre was “undeniably a homophobic hate crime,” Jeet Heer wrote in The New Republic. Some speculated that Mateen was a closeted gay man. He was likely “trying to reconcile his inner feelings with his strongly homophobic Muslim culture,” James S. Robbins wrote in USA Today. . . .

Salman’s trial cast doubt on everything we thought we knew about Mateen. There was no evidence he was a closeted gay man, no evidence that he was ever on Grindr. He looked at porn involving older women, but investigators who scoured Mateen’s electronic devices couldn’t find any internet history related to homosexuality. (There were daily, obsessive searches about ISIS, however.) Mateen had extramarital affairs with women, two of whom testified during the trial about his duplicitous ways.

Mateen may very well have been homophobic. He supported ISIS, after all, and his father, an FBI informant currently under criminal investigation, told NBC that his son once got angry after seeing two men kissing. But whatever his personal feelings, the overwhelming evidence suggests his attack was not motivated by it.

As far as investigators could tell, Mateen had never been to Pulse before, whether as a patron or to case the nightclub. Even prosecutors acknowledged in their closing statement that Pulse was not his original target; it was the Disney Springs shopping and entertainment complex. They presented evidence demonstrating that Mateen chose Pulse randomly less than an hour before the attack. It is not clear he even knew it was a gay bar. A security guard recalled Mateen asking where all the women were, apparently in earnest, in the minutes before he began his slaughter.

Of course, the homophobia narrative wasn’t that hard to dislodge on the right, because it never got much traction or took root. In the eyes of most conservatives, the nightclub shooting looked like terrorism, sounded like terrorism, and smelled like terrorism. And when Jeltsen writes. . .

During the trial, I spoke to one LGBT community leader there who said he would always know, in his heart, that Mateen picked Pulse to kill gay people, and that Salman knew of his plans. No amount of evidence would change his mind, he said.

What she’s writing is that progressives can succumb to the temptation of “fake news” as much as anyone else.

Remember, Mateen’s attack occurred in June 2016, just weeks before the major party nominating conventions, at a time when Donald Trump and most Republicans were arguing that the Obama administration had done a lousy job in fighting ISIS and containing the threat of terrorism. The killing of Osama bin Laden was receding into the rear view mirror, and the San Bernardino attack occurred about six months earlier. Conceding that the Orlando massacre was another case of Islamist terrorism, committed by another “known wolf,” would mean admitting that Obama’s critics had a point.

No, it was much more emotionally reassuring to recast Mateen as a more politically-convenient kind of villain, a right-wing mass shooter, driven by the repressive sexual ethics of traditional religion. And thus, a group of Americans embraced their own “alternate truth” divorced from the facts of what had actually happened.

A Wee Bit of Problem in Colorado’s State Senate

Earlier in the week I wrote that journalism attracted more than its fair share of, well, nut-jobs. Clearly, the same is true for politics: Out in Colorado, they’ve got a problem with a male state senator who allegedly keeps using the women’s bathroom. Apparently this isn’t merely “walking in the wrong door without paying attention once” or “really had to go in an emergency” or “those pictograms really aren’t all that clear.” No, apparently this is habitual.

Effie Ameen, the Colorado state senate secretary, in a February 2018 phone call to Heather White, Communication supervisor of the Colorado State Patrol:

Here’s the problem I’m having and you can maybe help me figure out the best way to do this. And, again, I don’t, I don’t know if this will prevent anything. But, we have a person who works here, a male, that has been frequently accessing the bathroom, and so . . . yeah, it’s so awkward. . . and so that’s why I wanted to change the code, because I know the code we have on there is sort of our generic one that we use like for everything so it’s not shocking that people would know it but ummm . . .

Shortly thereafter, White sent out an e-mail to certain staffers:

“I also removed the Senate Restroom door (#260) from the door group “Senate Offices and Restrooms Only”. Effie advised this is a women’s restroom and Senator Daniel Kagan has continued to use it even though he’s been advised this practice needs to stop.

So, Senator Kagan now has access to these two door groups which has eliminated his access to the Women’s Senate Restroom.”

This is the sort of thing that usually gets worked out in kindergarten, right?

I’m sure this guy thinks he’s a whiz and that he’s making a splash, and that everything he does is golden. As a Democrat, he’s probably fought against trickle-down economics and he demands an investigation into the infamous alleged “pee tape.” But I don’t care what kind of party you’re in, at this rate, this kind of creepy behavior needs to get flushed. Time to send his political future down the drain.

ADDENDA: I recently chatted with Michael Graham on his soon-to-retire podcast, discussing “Trump unleashed!”, the still-very-limited prospects for potential Republican presidential challengers in 2020, and the genuine concern for Republicans in the midterm elections. Michael will soon launch a new podcast entitled “Behind the Blue Wall,” spotlighting life for conservatives in deeply-Democratic states.

Heartbreaking; the coffee and pie at the diner that was used in Twin Peaks apparently isn’t really that good.

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