Russians ‘used Pokemon Go to sow division’ in run-up to US presidential election

A Russian-linked account reportedly used the popular video game Pokemon Go to draw attention to alleged police brutality in the United States.

A report by CNN adds another detail to the emerging portrait of Russian efforts to shape public opinion and foment discord in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

After American intelligence agencies concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had launched a wide-ranging campaign to “undermine public faith in the US democratic process”, Facebook revealed that Russian entities had purchased thousands of advertisements intended to widen divisions around contentious issues like race and gun rights.

Among the topics reportedly addressed was the Black Lives Matter movement, which seeks to draw attention to African-Americans dying at the hands of police officers. According to CNN, one of the artificial accounts Facebook has taken down was entitled “Don’t Shoot Us” and was used to disseminate information about incidents of police brutality.

The effort reportedly enlisted Pokemon Go, a game in which players use their smartphones to “catch” digital creatures superimposed on the real world. CNN found that Don’t Shoot Us encouraged users to play near sites of reported police violence and to name their Pokemon “with a US police brutality victim’s name”.

Niantic, the company behind Pokemon Go, said in a statement that “our game assets were appropriated and misused in promotions by third parties without our permission“ and that ”our platform was in no way being used“ because players can’t use the app to share information with other players. 

Facebook did not respond to a request to confirm that Don’t Shoot Us was among the suspended accounts.

Congressional investigators are keenly focused on the role social media platforms may have played in helping to disseminate Russian-generated content. Representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter have been invited to testify on the matter in an upcoming open hearing.

In an interview on Thursday with Axios, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said Congress should publicly release the Russian-linked ads the social media giant has turned over.

“Things happened on our platform in this election that should not have happened, especially troubling foreign interference in a democratic election,” Ms Sandberg said.

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Presidential office reveals Samsung succession reports

The previous administration appears to have looked closely into the Samsung Group’s succession, and may have taken steps to help Lee Jay-yong’s gain control of the group, documents revealed by Cheong Wa Dae showed Friday. 

According to Cheong Wa Dae, about 300 documents were found in an unused cabinet in the office used by President Moon Jae-in’s civil affairs aides, and that the documents contain potentially incriminating information about Park Geun-hye administration’s interest in Samsung Group’s succession. “These documents are deemed to be related to the so-called Choi Soon-sil state affairs manipulation case. Special counsel Park Young-soo attempted to search the previous government’s civil affairs secretary’s office but was not able to do so,” said Park Soo-hyun, President Moon Jae-in’s spokesman. 

Park said that the documents were produced under the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations, and that many of the documents were compiled by Woo Byung-woo — a civil affairs secretary to former President Park Geun-hye on trial for his part in the scandal that ousted Park. 

“With these documents having been found, copies will be handed over to the prosecution,” Park said, saying that copies of documents are not presidential records.  According to Park, a handwritten memo found among the documents reads “Samsung’s management rights inheritance” followed by an arrow pointing to the words “use as an opportunity.” 

“Determine what Samsung requires in passing on management rights, and help (Samsung) where possible. Seek ways for Samsung to contribute more to the country’s economy,” reads the memo, Park said. 

“It is possible for the government to exert significant influence in resolving issues Samsung faces. Response to regulations regarding economic democratization, support (by) deregulating separation of finance and industry.” 

Moon’s spokesman also revealed that included among the documents are outlines of plans to make the country’s culture and arts circles “wholesome.” The concerned documents also includes statements such as that most of the top civil servants in the Culture Ministry were “subject to review.” 

Other issues dealt with in the documents include minister nominations between June 11, 2014 and June 24, 2015, the National Pension Service’s voting rights as a corporate shareholder, and local elections outlook. 

Park also revealed the contents of a memo presumed to be written by late civil affairs secretary Kim Young-han. 

The memo mentions “judges lenient on spies” and includes the words “replacement driver report to southern district-urge stringent investigation” which Park interpreted as being related to the case of a replacement driver who was assaulted by members of a committee representing Sewol victims’ families. 

The same memo also mentions directions for using “patriotic rightwing organizations” in a matter related to history textbooks. 

Facebook, not presidential ambition, is why Zuckerberg’s on tour

This morning, Hubbard wrote a series of tweets about why Zuckerberg’s recent activities aren’t about running in the next election, but about understanding how his company influenced the last one. “Zuck woke up on Nov 9th acutely aware that FB had facilitated a new shift he didn’t foresee or understand; that’s terrifying to a founder,” said Hubbard in one of the tweets.

This isn’t a farfetched theory on Zuckerberg’s movements. Just after the election, Zuckerberg denied that Facebook had an influence on the election, but there’s no way he actually believes that. It’s undeniable that Facebook has changed how the world communicates and shares information. For that not to eventually have some sort of impact on our elections is wildly improbable.

There were many moments during the election where Facebook played a role. Along with the claims that rampant fake news swayed voters, there were reports that the website’s employees filtered conservative news stories. On the other hand, there were also reports that Facebook had the means to combat fake news but that it chose not to because the the system tended to disproportionately remove news posted by conservative sites. Plus, from a campaigning perspective, Trump’s team spent a hell of a lot of money on Facebook ads.

It was only a matter of time before people began to realize that Facebook could go beyond social media and serve as a tool for political sway. Fake news is probably just one of the more obvious tactics being used. But when it came to fake news, whatever Facebook did resulted in it having a new level of influence, whether that meant sitting back and letting it happen or jumping in and trying to take it down. Either way Facebook became an active player.

Zuckerberg has never been a hands-off guy when it comes to Facebook. And like Hubbard points out, this new role that his company clearly played in the presidential election pushed the CEO out of Facebook headquarters and into the world so that he could better understand its direction.

Plus, just because Zuckerberg has the skills to run a company, it doesn’t mean he has what it takes to run a country. And unlike our current president, I think that’s something Zuckerberg is actually aware of. We should give him a little more credit.

In 2017, tweets are official presidential statements

It’s hard to keep up with all the back-and-forth, but after Trump unexpectedly fired Comey in early May, he then tweeted that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” In his early June testimony, Comey essentially said he’d welcome the existence of those tapes, indicating that they’d exonerate him and show that he’s been telling the truth about his accounts of his interactions with the president.

The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating the extent of Russian hacking and influence on the 2016 election, asked the White House counsel on June 9th about the existence of any such tapes and said the White House had until June 23rd to respond. Trump’s tweets went out on the 22nd, and the White House says they’re sufficient response to the inquiry, calling them a “statement” from the president.

Of course, Trump could delete the tweets at any time — he’s already deleted a handful of tweets during his presidency. Representatives Mike Conaway and Adam Schiff, the leading republican and democrat on the committee, don’t agree. Conaway said that the tweet wasn’t a sufficient response, while Schiff noted that Trump’s tweet stopped short of denying that the White House had recordings and said he wanted a response in writing.

Given the fleeting nature of Twitter, it’s not surprising that the committee wants a more traditional response. The question is whether or not the White House will provide it — and if they don’t, how these tweets will hold up to legal scrutiny in the ongoing investigation. That’s not to mention the fact that Trump has since indicated that his original tapes tweet was meant to essentially influence Comey’s public comments and testimony, something some believe could qualify as witness intimidation or obstruction of justice — something the president is already believed to be under investigation for.

“If the president had no tapes, why did he suggest otherwise? Did he seek to mislead the public? Was he trying to intimidate or silence James Comey?” Schiff said on Friday. “And if so, did he take other steps to discourage potential witnesses from speaking out?” While it’s almost impossible for charges to actually be brought against Trump, these developments could certainly feed into the obstruction case and eventual potential punishment from Congress.

South Korean presidential front-runner taps StarCraft lovers with two new maps

South Korean presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in’s marketing campaign staff produced two customized-designed maps to celebrate StarCraft: Brood War’s transition to free of charge-to-participate in on Wednesday. The two maps, downloadable .scm (StarCraft Map) structure, are true documents that can be played by way of Brood War’s sport client. Both of those function Moon’s social gathering amount — 1 (in South Korea, candidates are assigned numbers, beginning from 1, in the get of their party’s amount of seats in the Countrywide Assembly) — drawn in large chunks of minerals to display the determine on the minimap.

1 Linked

The 1st map is fairly bare and clear-cut: Moon’s complete title and social gathering amount are spelled out in minerals at the centre of it. The next is a copy of the preferred typical map “Hunters,” but with a twist: The participant who receives to start off from the 1 o’clock base receives a large economic gain.

A little promotional video clip was also produced alongside the two maps, featuring a subtle political jab towards Moon’s political rival Ahn Cheol-soo, who is next in the polls. The close of the 26-next clip finishes with “Participant 3 was eradicated” — the conventional program concept the sport shows when Participant 3 is defeated by possessing all of their buildings wrecked. Ahn’s social gathering amount just so happens to be three.

The South Korean internet’s reception of the celebration has been positive overall, with many longtime lovers of the legacy RTS praising the marketing campaign team’s timeliness and creative imagination. Moon’s social gathering — The Democratic Occasion of Korea — has normally loved the guidance of the normal gaming crowd, in huge section owing to three-time congressman Jeon Byeong-heon’s attempts as KeSPA’s (Korean e-Sports Association) chairman.

StarCraft has a extensive historical past in South Korea, and is widely acknowledged as the sport that popularized esports and designed superstars out of the major gamers. The sport is nonetheless heading nowadays, setting the conventional for the relaxation of the environment in regard to esports manufacturing price and stage of competition. Though the pair of maps will most most likely hardly ever see competitive participate in, the go demonstrates Moon’s understanding of a demographic that is normally complicated to interact.

A sure “Basic Manager Kim” from the camp’s Digital Media Group has been discovered as the creator of the two maps. No further facts about his track record, other than his nickname becoming KimDragon, has been produced at this time.

How Facebook Live Transformed Ghana’s Presidential Elections – Adweek

BARCELONA, Spain—Telecoms have notoriously rocky relationships with Facebook and others when it comes to their “pipes” and letting tech companies push data-heavy content like video through them while consumers don’t have the data plans necessary to watch them. But as mobile phones become the predominant way that consumers access the internet in parts of the world, some carriers are seeing a sizable shift in video consumed on mobile phones.

Lucy Quist, CEO of Ghana-based mobile carrier Airtel Ghana said she was astonished by the magnitude that consumers watched Facebook Live videos during the country’s general elections in December and indicated that her company’s ties with Facebook will be more important in the years to come as other major events play out online.

“The majority of people in Ghana found out about what was going on with the elections on Facebook—you had every major network in Ghana livestreaming their TV content on Facebook,” Quist said during a Mobile World Congress panel about mobile content and operators. “All of the sudden, we went from [thinking], ‘OK, we know people are doing livestreaming and it’s growing’ to December where it completely took over the entire market.”

She added, “It was the first time in the country’s history that an entire election had been conducted electronically and communicated in that way.”

As Facebook Live opened new ways for people to watch content, Quist said she was surprised that her consumers were willing to fork over data to watch the clips from a mobile phone.

“I was completely taken aback—it’s an interesting way to discover that your customers have changed, but I wish I knew more before it happened,” she explained.

Facebook in general “is massive in our market,” Quist said as Facebook is often the only platform that consumers use to access internet content. She added that Airtel Ghana has a friendly relationship with Facebook and partnered with the social giant to launch programs offering free access to Facebook.

“When you survey customers, you will find that there are more customers who say ‘yes’ to using Facebook than say ‘yes’ to using the internet,” Quist said. “I know [that] doesn’t sound right, but [for] some of these customers, their first point of interaction with the internet is Facebook so they assume that it’s not the internet, it’s Facebook.”

On the opposite side of the carrier spectrum, U.S.-based AT&T is betting big on the over-the-top streaming DirecTV app that targets cord-cutters with more than 100 channels of content for $35 a month.

As part of that transition, “We’re not a phone company anymore, we’re evolving to a media company,” said Tony Goncalves, entertainment group svp of strategy and business development for Otter Media, which is the joint venture between AT&T and Chernin Group tasked with creating digital content.

About 60 percent of AT&T’s network data is video, and Goncalves said the strategy behind DirecTV Now is working—though he declined to share any numbers on new subscribers.

“The idea was that we’d be able to attract folks into the ecosystem that historically may not have considered that ecosystem—that younger demographic and entice people,” Goncalves said. “We’ve seen that.”

For the time, DirecTV Now is both a subscription and ad-supported product. That means that the app streams the same commercials that also air on TV: Typically 30-second spots that run a few times during one piece of content, but Goncalves hinted that the model is likely to change in the future because consumers can find back-to-back long video ads particularly annoying on mobile.

“We are all going to have to evolve the model in a data-driven, innovative ad format kind of way,” he said. “That’s just not a model that works today—it doesn’t mean that it’s the right model. So, from a small-screen perspective, we’re going to have to get to less advertising, much more relevant in a much more mobile-friendly format.”

​Samsung raided for second time over presidential scandal

Samsung’s office has been raided for the second over allegations that it has paid bribes to a close friend of the South Korean President Park Geun-hye to get approval of a controversial merger of two of its key affiliates.

Local prosecutors raided the offices of Samsung’s Future Strategy Office located at Samsung Electronics’ building in Seoul. It is the second time this month that the company has been targeted by investigators following the one on November 8.

South Korea’s largest conglomerate allegedly bribed Choi Soon-shil, a close friend of the president, who has been jailed for using her influence to extort conglomerates and influencing national affairs.

President Park has also been charged by prosecutors, but she is refusing to comply with investigations. She is alleged to have met top leaders of local conglomerates, including Samsung, extorting them for bribes.

Several senior executives of the firm have been called by prosecutors for investigations.

The second raid was to collect evidence of whether Samsung attempted to use Choi’s influence to have the national pension, which has a large share of Samsung C&T, vote in its favor on the firm’s merger with Cheil Industries last year.

The merger was eventually approved and Samsung beat US hedge fund Elliott Associates. The newly formed Samsung C&T is now the de facto holding company of Samsung Group and has a large share of Samsung Electronics. The merger was seen as a way for the ruling Lee family to tighten control over the electronics giant, the group’s most important asset.

Investigators are also looking into whether there was an organized attempt on the part of Samsung to bribe Choi for influence.

Samsung was unavailable for comment.

The latest scandal, called “Choi Soon-shil gate” by the media, has gripped the nation with tens of thousands protesting in front of the president’s office calling for a resignation. Opposition leaders are preparing a process to impeach her.

Presidential Medal of Freedom awards go to top computer scientists

Enlarge / Margaret H. Hamilton received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama on Tuesday, November 22.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to several luminaries in the arts, sports, and sciences.

Of those, the class of 2016 included two women who played crucial roles in American computer science in the 20th century: Margaret H. Hamilton and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, who was given the award posthumously.

Here’s how the White House described the pair:

Margaret H. Hamilton led the team that created the on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo command modules and lunar modules. A mathematician and computer scientist who started her own software company, Hamilton contributed to concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling and priority displays, and human-in-the-loop decision capability, which set the foundation for modern, ultra-reliable software design and engineering.

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, known as “Amazing Grace” and “the first lady of software,” was at the forefront of computers and programming development from the 1940s through the 1980s. Hopper’s work helped make coding languages more practical and accessible, and she created the first compiler, which translates source code from one language into another. She taught mathematics as an associate professor at Vassar College before joining the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant (junior grade) during World War II, where she became one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and began her lifelong leadership role in the field of computer science.

Wired wrote a brief profile of Hamilton in October 2015, which noted that Hamilton took great pride in her code and made sure that it was in tip-top shape. She told the magazine that she worried about flaws in her code and commented that she “was always imagining headlines in the newspapers, and they would point back to how it happened, and it would point back to me.”

In September 2016, the United States Naval Academy announced that it would name its future cyber building after Hopper, who passed away in January 1992 at the age of 85.