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FEATURED SOCIAL MEDIA REPORT: Tax filing services caught sending data to Facebook

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.03: 2022:

#AceNewsDesk – Major tax filing services have been found using a simple piece of code called Meta Pixel, which covertly sends sensitive financial information to Facebook, according to The Markup. The tax filing services include TaxSlayer, TaxAct, and H&R Block.

RECLAIM THE NET REPORT

The information sent to Facebook includes name, email, income, college scholarship information, filing status, and refund amounts. Facebook then uses the information to “improve its advertising algorithms.”

The information is sent whether or not someone has a Facebook account: According to The Markup, TaxAct asks for personal information to calculate a taxpayer’s returns. The information includes a taxpayer’s income and their investments. Meta’s Pixel code on the TaxAct website sends some of that information, including filing status, refunds, and gross income, to Facebook.

The pixel code also sends dependents’ names in an obfuscated form, which, according to The Markup, can be reversed to reveal the true identity.
TaxAct also sends anonymized taxpayers’ data to Google, through the analytics tool.

TaxSlayer, which completed the returns of 10 million taxpayers in 2021, sent Facebook taxpayers’ names and the names of dependents. Facebook uses that data for its “advanced matching” system that’s designed to link internet users’ information to Facebook accounts.

The pixel code on H&R Block’s website collects information on a taxpayer’s expense, usage of health savings accounts, and dependents’ college tuition grants.

Speaking to The Markup, tax filing service Ramsey Solutions said that it “implemented the Meta Pixel to deliver a more personalized customer experience,” but they “did NOT know and were never notified that personal tax information was being collected by Facebook from the Pixel.”

“As soon as we found out, we immediately informed TaxSlayer to deactivate the Pixel from Ramsey SmartTax.”

TurboTax, owned by Intuit, uses Meta Pixel. However, it did not send personal financial information, only names and the last time a device logged in. That’s because it does not use Meta Pixel past the sign in page.

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BREAKING SOCIAL MEDIA: Elon Musk suspends Kanye West from Twitter for inciting violence

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.02: 2022:

#AceBreakingNews – Kanye West has been suspended from Twitter and accused of “inciting violence” over offensive tweets – just two months after his last ban.

Kanye West

The US rapper, who now goes by the name Ye, posted a series of erratic tweets – one of which appeared to show a symbol combining a swastika and a Jewish star.

Twitter’s new boss Elon Musk was asked by one user to “fix Kanye”.

West had “violated our rule against incitement to violence”, Musk tweeted.

“Account will be suspended,” Musk wrote in a Twitter post.

Also on Thursday, during an interview with US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and with his face covered in a mask, West praised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and ranted about sin, pornography and the devil.

In recent months West has caused controversy with a series of antisemitic and racist remarks – leading to clothing giant Adidas cutting ties with the rapper.

West was initially locked out of his Twitter and Instagram accounts after posting antisemitic messages in October. Both platforms removed West’s posts – which accused rapper Diddy of being controlled by Jewish people – saying the star had violated policies on hate speech.

These posts came in response to a backlash against his show at Paris Fashion Week, where he wore a T-shirt carrying the slogan “White Lives Matter”.

The Anti-Defamation League branded his phrase “hate speech” and attributed it to white supremacists, who began using it in 2015 in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Adidas dropped Kanye West in October after he made anti-Semitic comments

Earlier this year, West was suspended from Instagram for 24 hours in March after using a racial slur in reference to comedian Trevor Noah.

In 2018, singer Will.i.am led a backlash against West after he claimed the enslavement of African-Americans over centuries may have been a “choice” – remarks he later tried to clarify.

His latest Twitter ban comes hours after the right-wing social media platform Parler – which styles itself as a “free speech” alternative to mainstream platforms – said West could no longer buy the firm.

In a statement, Parlement Technologies said: “The company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale.” 

The firm – which runs the much smaller platform, popular with conservatives and the far right – said the decision was made in mid-November.

“Parler will continue to pursue future opportunities for growth and the evolution of the platform for our vibrant community,” the firm said in its statement.

Musk took control over Twitter in October and immediately embarked on a series of radical changes within the social media giant – including lifting the bans on controversial accounts.

He has clarified that he had no role in bringing West back on Twitter, saying the account was restored before he acquired the social media platform.

West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder years ago and has publicly spoken about his challenges with his mental health.

However, medical experts and people who share West’s condition have warned that mental health problems do not go hand-in-hand with antisemitism.

By Thomas Mackintosh: BBC News

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Ace Daily News

FEATURED: Apple’s history of censorship: 10+ years of crackdowns on news, apps, music, and more

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.30: 2022:

#AceNewsDesk – Apple’s history of censorship: 10+ years of crackdowns on news, apps, music, and more

Due to the tight control Apple maintains over its hardware and software, particularly on iPhones and iPads, Apple’s censorship is often far more impactful than the censorship of other big tech companies.

When apps, products, or services are censored by other big tech companies, consumers can usually still visit alternative stores or websites and access the censored goods on their device.

However, if apps, products, or services are booted from Apple’s ecosystem, Apple’s tight grip over the hardware and software make it impossible to access the censored apps on an Apple device.

Not only is Apple’s censorship often more impactful but Apple also has its own products and services in many of the markets where it enacts censorship and several companies that have had their access to Apple services and features blocked or limited have accused Apple of anti-competitive behavior.

In addition to this, Apple is often inconsistent with its censorship and allows Big Tech organizations to flout its rules with notable examples being:

Yet despite the impact, anti-competitive concerns, and inconsistencies, Apple’s censorship is showing no signs of slowing down and has ramped up in recent years.

Here’s a history of Apple’s censorship across the main markets it operates in:

Apple’s history of censoring the news

According to analytics service Sensor Tower, the most popular news curation app on the App Store, News Break: Local and Breaking, currently receives 1 million US downloads per month while specific news apps from publishers such as The New York Times and CNN receive 400,000 US downloads per month each.

Apple also has its own competing news subscription services, Apple News (free) and Apple News+ (premium), which have 125 million users.

When Apple censors news publishers, not only do they lose access to this huge distribution network but they also lose the ability to send push notifications to their followers on iPhones and iPads – a feature that’s valuable for breaking news events and which Apple has been accused of using excessively in the Apple News app.

Every time Apple censors a publisher, it’s also censoring a potential competitor to its Apple News service.

And even if publishers aren’t directly censored by Apple, research has shown that its Apple News app rarely promotes smaller publishers and instead curates most of its articles from a handful of big-name publishers.

Apple has been censoring news publishers and features that enable news consumption for over a decade.

Here are some of the many examples from those 10+ years:

Apple’s history of censoring social networking and communication apps

Social networking and communication apps are another major category on Apple’s App Store with data from Sensor Tower suggesting that Facebook and Facebook Messenger, two of the leading apps in these categories, each receive 8 million US downloads per month.

Apple also has a popular communication app in this space, iMessage, which has an estimated 1.3 billion users.

Like with the news, when apps are censored from this marketplace, they lose access to a huge audience and push notifications – a feature that is essential for messaging and communication.

And every app that Apple censors in this category is a potential rival to iMessage.

Apple has banned and blocked many apps in this space over the years with some of the most notable examples including:

Apple’s history of censoring other apps and utilities

Beyond social networking and communication, Apple has a huge user base who rely on its operating system and App Store to access various utilities with a total of 1.5 billion active Apple devices and 900 million active iPhones.

As with most of the other markets it operates in, Apple has several of its own apps and utilities embedded into this ecosystem including its Safari web browser, its parental control system Screen Time, and its emoji keyboard.

When Apple censors apps and utilities or cuts them off from certain Apple features, it’s also cutting them off from millions of potential users and in some cases, eliminating competitors to its own apps.

Here are some of the many examples of Apple censoring apps and utilities since 2010:

Apple’s history of censoring music

Apple has been a dominant player in the music industry for years with it reportedly having 800 million users of its now deprecated iTunes media player app (many of which still purchase music via the iTunes store) and 70 million users of its Apple Music streaming service.

The market for alternative music apps on the App Store is also thriving with Sensor Tower data suggesting that Spotify, the most popular app in this category, receives 5 million US downloads per month.

When Apple bans or blocks artists and music apps from either Apple Music or the App Store, they lose access to millions of potential customers and many features that ease the customer’s music consumption experience on Apple devices.

And when it censors music apps, Apple is also blocking a potential competitor to Apple Music – something music streaming app Spotify has filed an anti-competitive motion with the European Commission (EC) over.

Apple has been censoring music since 2008 with some of the key examples being:

Apple’s history of censoring books

Books is another huge category in the Apple ecosystem with one of the leading apps in this space, Amazon’s Kindle app, generating 2 million US downloads per month, according to Sensor Tower.

Apple also has its own books app Apple Books with the most recent stats on the previous iteration of this app, iBooks, indicating that it has generated more than 1 billion total book downloads and picks up an average of 1 million customers per week.

Apple has banned both reading apps and books over the last 10+ years, and in doing so, blocked potential rivals to Apple Books and prevented publishers from reaching the millions of book readers that use the Apple Books app.

Here are some of the top examples of Apple’s censorship of books and reading apps:

Apple’s history of censoring games

Most of the top games on the App Store get millions of downloads per month with stats from Sensor Tower suggesting that Call of Duty: Mobile brings in 4 million US downloads each month while Fortnite racks up 3 million monthly US downloads.

In addition to this, Apple also has its own gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade, which is predicted to reach 12 million users by the end of 2020.

Gaming is one of the most locked-down areas on iPhones and iPads which means if a game gets banned from the App Store, there’s no other official way for users to load games on to their device.

Here are some of the main examples of Apple blocking and banning games and gaming apps over the last 12 years:

Apple has also previously censored gaming services which allow users to stream many of the games that are available on the App Store and in doing so, potentially blocked a competitor to one of its services.

Apple’s history of censoring movies and TV

Apple has a huge base of customers purchasing movies and TV shows through its services with many of the 800 million users of the now deprecated iTunes media player app still using the iTunes Store to purchase movies and TV shows and an estimated 33 million customers subscribed to its Apple TV+ streaming service.

Apple’s has censored movies and TV shows in several countries over the years with some of the main examples including:

Apple’s history of censoring podcasts

Apple has been the dominant force in podcasting for years with 52% of the 150 million total podcast listeners in the US using the Apple Podcasts app and Apple’s podcasts directory being used by most of the major podcasting clients.

This means that when Apple boots a podcast, not only does it get removed from the most popular podcasting app in the US but it also gets scrubbed from most of the other alternative podcast apps too because they use Apple’s podcast directory.

Here are some of the podcasts Apple has censored since 2015:

The impact of this is that if Apple censors a podcast, the only way customers are likely to find it is if they manually copy and paste the feed into a podcast client – a cumbersome process and something that the majority of podcast listeners won’t do.

Future implications of Apple’s censorship

The past 12+ years of Apple censorship indicate that going forward, Apple’s tight grip on its hardware-software ecosystem and the strict rules that surround it are going to be even more impactful for end users.

The scale of Apple’s censorship has increased over time and the markets that Apple operates in are becoming increasingly digital each year – a trend that gives Apple even more power to censor in these sectors.

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Ace Daily News

FEATURED U.K PARLIAMENT REPORT: Encouraging self-harm to be criminalised in Online Safety Bill

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.29: 2022:

#AceNewsDesk – The encouragement of self-harm will be criminalised in an update to the Online Safety Bill, the government has said.

Molly Russell
Molly Russell was aged 14 when she died in 2017 after viewing suicide and self-harm content

Content that encourages someone to physically harm will be targeted in a new offence, making it illegal.

The government said the changes had been influenced by the case of Molly Russell – the 14-year-old who ended her life in November 2017.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said she was strengthening the bill “to make sure these vile acts are stamped out”.

“I am determined that the abhorrent trolls encouraging the young and vulnerable to self-harm are brought to justice,” she said.

Molly Russell, from Harrow in north-west London, took her own life after viewing suicide and self-harm content on Instagram and Pinterest. 

Her father has previously criticised delays to the Online Safety Bill and called for online platforms to stop self-regulating their content. 

At the inquest, the coroner concluded the schoolgirl died while suffering from the “negative effects of online content”. 

In October, Coroner Andrew Walker wrote to social media firms and the government to call for changes including separate platforms for adults and children. 

Ms Donelan said social media firms could no longer be “silent bystanders” and they would face fines for “allowing this abusive and destructive behaviour to continue”. 

She said the update to the Online Safety Bill would create a new offence, bringing self-harm content in line with communications that encourage suicide – which is already illegal. 

The amendment would mean social media platforms would be required to remove self-harm content and any person found to have such content would face prosecution. 

More details about the maximum penalty would be published in due course, the government said. 

The NSPCC’s Richard Collard said it was “good news” the government was recognising the dangers of children being exposed to online content promoting self-harm.

But he said a “culture of compliance and accountability” from technology firms that have allowed this type of content “to spread like wild fire” was needed.

The Online Safety Bill is due to return to Parliament in early December, following a number of delays. 

The digital department said it could not say when the amendments would be tabled. 

Earlier this week the government announced other new offences being added to the bill that would crack down on the sharing of intimate images without consent. 

Representative’s from both Pinterest and Meta, Instagram’s parent company, gave evidence during Molly Russell’s inquest. 

Meta executive Elizabeth Lagone said she believed posts seen by Molly, which her family say “encourage” suicide, were safe, but the firm agreed that regulation was needed. 

Judson Hoffman of Pinterest told the inquest the site was “not safe” when the school girl was using it. The company said it was “committed” to making ongoing improvements to help ensure the platform is “safe for everyone”. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said:

Lives and families” had been destroyed by “those who encourage vulnerable internet users to self-harm”.

“Our changes will ensure the full force of the law applies to those callous and reckless individuals who try to manipulate the vulnerable online in this way,” Mr Raab said.

BBC NEWS

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com