Author Topic: The Goolag, Facebook, Youtube, Amazon, Twitter et al: the Orwellian Tech Octopus  (Read 41675 times)

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17806
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking with Google
« Reply #400 on: September 11, 2019, 07:29:09 PM »
Previously:  "I am still VERY vulnerable to google, email, android, cell use etc."

G M: What level of privacy are you looking for, Doug?
--------------------------------------
Good question, struggling with that question myself.  I'm not ready to give up a lot of convenience and functionality and Google already has everything they could want on me.

Never too late to stop the bleeding. The less you use them, the less money and power they have.


I switched to Brave on my notebook and I like it, thank you!  I am also trying duckduckgo and startpage.com.   

Gmail:  I gave up privacy when I became an early adopter.  I understood they would scan my emails and use it to target advertising. I have to admit I receive amazing functionality, being able to store and search all my past emails, pay nothing directly, have spam removed and never have to go back and delete emails to avoid running out of space, so far.  It serves as my cloud; I can send documents and photos to myself and search and find them later - very valuable in my business.

I set up a Protonmail address but having all contacts send to there is another matter.  It has limits on storage. Is there any point in switching part way over and then having to check both?

Like many things, it depends. I use a privacy scale that roughly goes from -1 (Compulsive Social Media addict that posts where they are and what they are doing constantly) 0 (The average American today has pretty much zero privacy in any meaningful way) Level 1 does basic things to make someone spend at least several hundred dollars for a P.I. to find you. Level 2 has it so your vehicles and electronics are in alternate names, making it expensive to find you. Level 3 has you moving and using various legal structures for your residence, vehicles and other connections, making you Very difficult to find. Level 4 is comparable to the US Marshal's WITSEC program. Not legal unless Uncle Sugar does it.

Mapquest is owned by Verizon.  Should I switch driving direction to them or someone else to get that off google?  If so, I am still tracked everywhere I go by Google Android GPS...

Looking at alternatives to Android (and iphone) but it seems to be a dead end right now https://itsfoss.com/open-source-alternatives-android/  If not for the egregious violation of privacy, I have to admit I receive amazing functionality at nearly a zero cost for mobile connectivity.  It makes breaking away difficult.  Always open to ideas!  At some point I will break away.
-----------------------------------
Going through gmail spam recently I noticed the google quite effectively blocks all my political solicitations which happen to be conservative who got my contact info through the non-privacy of some past R. party involvement.  Most of those emails are spam but conservative groups have people's info with no way to reach them.  I wonder if Google also blocks moveon.org type groups from contacting liberal users.




ccp

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 10536
    • View Profile
I would not be surprised if Cambridge Analytica topic was brought up
but would be shocked if the issue of FB left wing bias was:


https://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/zuckerberg-capitol-hill-internet-regulation-meetings

as the politicians have a gourmet dinner with Zuckerberglur trying to find a way they can come out with some phoney political victory
while the system gets rigged so you know who can benefit .




Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile


DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 12455
    • View Profile
Re: China the techno totalitarian leviatan
« Reply #410 on: October 14, 2019, 06:40:49 AM »
https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/china-the-techno-totalitarian-leviathan/?fbclid=IwAR2Xuxu4Rqf5k6UmKBYloiwvWxwH9icP3I9usM9lkKoJmv7oLJf6OLaErKk

Scary stuff.  I expected the information revolution to open up places like Communist China.  Instead it is empowering the state.  Instead of them becoming more open, we are becoming more thought controlling.

From the article:
"The book to read right now — the book that every American should read, without delay — is We Have Been Harmonised: Life In China’s Surveillance State, by the German journalist Kai Strittmatter. I finished it this morning, and let me tell you, reading it is something close to a red-pill experience. I thought I had a pretty good handle on how extensive China’s surveillance state was. I was wrong. It’s much more extensive than I realized. And what’s more, reading this book made me realize that the dystopian Western future I’ve been thinking about all year — “soft totalitarianism” is the phrase I use — is not speculative science fiction. It already exists in China. We have the technology to institute it here in America. What we lack — for now — is the will. That could easily change. The system is so entrenched in China that I can’t imagine how anybody could resist it. It is not yet in place here. We can’t even begin to act against it happening here until we understand what is possible."

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile







Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile
New Yorker: The Problem of Political Advertising on Social Media
« Reply #418 on: October 24, 2019, 10:52:42 PM »
https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-problem-of-political-advertising-on-social-media?source=EDT_NYR_EDIT_NEWSLETTER_0_imagenewsletter_Daily_ZZ&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=TNY_Daily_102419&utm_medium=email&bxid=5be9d3fa3f92a40469e2d85c&cndid=50142053&esrc=&mbid=&utm_term=TNY_Daily

This caught my attention:

"Embedded in the First Amendment’s protection of political speech is the assumption that deceptions will be exposed and then rejected in the marketplace of ideas. In Zuckerberg’s view, Facebook, though a private company, is the public square where such ideas can be debated. But when political ads with false claims circulate only among the people who will be most receptive to them, there is little chance that the veracity of those ads will be openly debated."


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile
Artificial Intelligence and National Security Law
« Reply #422 on: October 30, 2019, 08:07:57 AM »


DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 12455
    • View Profile
Re: The Goolag, Google to acquire Fitbit
« Reply #424 on: November 03, 2019, 10:21:44 AM »
The Obama administration in bed with Google Facebook allowed FB to buy Instagram.  What say Trump administration about this?  Do we want one or two companies to own all industry?  Looks to me like a back door deal for government to own and or control  everything since Congress is also considering how to takeover these giants.

Google to acquire Fitbit for $2.1 billion in major health tech deal
https://www.statnews.com/2019/11/01/google-to-acquire-fitbit-for-2-1-billion-in-major-health-tech-deal/

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17806
    • View Profile

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17806
    • View Profile
« Last Edit: November 04, 2019, 09:21:56 PM by G M »

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile
 :cry: :cry: :cry:

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17806
    • View Profile

ccp

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 10536
    • View Profile
Gm,

It is time we set up 24/7 surveillance of Tech  titans and their teams .  Put them in a IT glass cage so to speak and document and sell the data .
We need to watch what they are up to and doing to protect
the rest of us .

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 12455
    • View Profile
Re: Literally building the Goolag cities now
« Reply #430 on: November 07, 2019, 06:21:47 AM »

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile
WSJ: Amazon and China: big, long read
« Reply #431 on: November 12, 2019, 10:12:32 AM »
Amazon’s Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Sellers Puts Consumers at Risk
The e-commerce platform has included banned, unsafe, mislabeled products. One reason: It wooed China’s manufacturers to sell directly to the U.S.
By Jon Emont
Nov. 11, 2019 11:17 am ET

It looked like Amazon.com Inc.’s yearslong quest to build a shopping business in China was a bust in July when it folded a big part of its local business.

In fact, Amazon’s China business is bigger than ever. That is because it has aggressively recruited Chinese manufacturers and merchants to sell to consumers outside the country. And these sellers, in turn, represent a high proportion of problem listings found on the site, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation.

The Journal earlier this year uncovered 10,870 items for sale between May and August that have been declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labeled, lacked federally-required warnings, or are banned by federal regulators. Amazon said it investigated the items, and some listings were taken down after the Journal’s reporting.

Of 1,934 sellers whose addresses could be determined, 54% were based in China, according to a Journal analysis of data from research firm Marketplace Pulse.

Amazon’s China recruiting is one reason why its platform increasingly resembles an unruly online flea market. A new product listing is uploaded to Amazon from China every 1/50th of a second, according to slides its officials showed a December conference in the industrial port city of Ningbo.

Chinese factories are squeezing profit margins for middlemen who sell on Amazon’s third-party platform. Some U.S. sellers fear the next step will be to cut them out entirely.

Tony Sagar began noticing the China effect around 2015. His company, Down Under Bedding in Mississauga, Ontario, had sold goose-down duvets on Amazon since 2014—these days, for $699 for a queen-size version. Then Chinese competitors hit, listing goose-down duvets for sometimes a sixth his price. He bought one and had it tested: Inside was inexpensive duck down.




Tony Sagar says about 80% of his revenue comes from online sales. In recent years, Chinese competitors began listing 100% goose-down duvets for about a sixth of what he charged. Mr. Sagar arranged to have a competitor’s duvet tested: Inside were cheap duck feathers. PHOTOS: LIBBY MARCH FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL(3)
The Journal in October bought a duvet from the same Amazon seller claiming “100% Fill With Goose Down” and had it tested. The result matched Mr. Sagar’s: duck feathers.

“They’re claiming they’re selling a $500-$700 duvet based on false specifications, so people say, ‘$120, it’s a good deal!’ ” Mr. Sagar said. “Amazon is making a direct push for these factories in China.”

AMAZON’S UNRULY MARKETPLACE
Amazon Has Ceded Control of Its Site. The Result: Thousands of Banned, Unsafe or Mislabeled Products

In response to this article, an Amazon spokesman said, “Bad actors make up a tiny fraction of activity in our store and, like honest sellers, can come from every corner of the world. Regardless of where they are based, we work hard to stop bad actors before they can impact the shopping or selling experience in our store.”

Amazon said it took enforcement action on the duvet seller and that its products were no longer for sale on the site. The seller’s listings appeared to be gone from Amazon’s U.S. site as of last week.

Mr. Sagar’s discovery came as Amazon was expanding a campaign it started around 2013 urging Chinese businesses to sell directly to consumers abroad. An Amazon sales director, Alicia Liu, at a 2017 conference told Chinese business people she was leading a team in China, drawing on her previous experience cutting out middlemen in Walmart Inc. ’s supply chain.

On the Market
Amazon doesn’t divulge the percentage of its sellers based in China, but an analysis of the most-reviewedseller accounts over time shows China-based merchants gaining on its Western sites.
Percentage of top Amazon sellers in various countries that are from China

Source: Marketplace Pulse

Note: Data is based on an analysis of top 10,000 most-reviewed sellers in a country. Amazon says the U.S. numbers areinflated and the methodology is flawed. It says more than 75% of top 10,000 sellers in the U.S. are based in the country,while almost 70% of top 10,000 sellers in European stores are based in Europe as of 2018.

%
U.K.
Germany
France
Spain
U.S.
2017
’18
’19
0
10
20
30
40
50
60

“We help factories directly open accounts on Amazon and sell to U.S. consumers directly,” a video shows her telling them. “This is our value.”

A wave of Chinese merchants have joined Amazon’s millions of third-party sellers worldwide, who collectively represent more than half of Amazon’s physical gross merchandise sales.  Among the 10,000 most-reviewed accounts on Amazon’s U.S. site whose locations could be determined in October, about 38% were in China, Marketplace Pulse calculates, compared with 25% three years ago.

The Amazon spokesman said 38% “is a significant exaggeration of the real percentage of the top ten thousand’’ and that the methodology is flawed, citing what it said were problems with the way in which the analysis used seller review counts to estimate the percentage. Marketplace Pulse said it stood by its analysis.

Site control

How Amazon exercises control of its site has come under scrutiny from some in Congress, where some lawmakers are calling for more regulation of the company. That is part of a growing backlash in Washington over how tech companies run their platforms.

Amazon’s third-party marketplace, which connects merchants and buyers around the world, is crucial to the company’s growth. At the same time, even though it has become a source of fake or dangerous goods, Amazon has denied it is liable for what’s sold there, saying in court cases that it neither makes nor sells the products in question.

In its annual Securities and Exchange Commission filing this year, Amazon disclosed for the first time that counterfeits and fraudulent products are a risk factor. It said Amazon may be “unable to prevent sellers in our stores or through other stores from selling unlawful, counterfeit, pirated, or stolen goods,” among other issues.

Amazon said it recruits sellers in many countries and that these merchants are central to its goal of offering customers good selection at good prices. Amazon said it requires products to comply with applicable laws and regulations. It said that in 2018 it blocked more than three billion suspect listings for various forms of abuse.

Consumers and businesses with safety and intellectual-property grievances have found it hard to hold Chinese sellers accountable—in part because Amazon doesn’t require its sellers to provide their locations to the public on its U.S. site.

The Journal identified sellers as being in China from their pages on Amazon’s site in Mexico, where regulations require sellers to list their locations on Amazon—a method Marketplace Pulse also uses.

New sellers from China are hurting merchants that have built Amazon businesses offering products they import from Chinese factories, said Amazon seller Bernie Thompson. His Plugable Technologies in Redmond, Wash., lists electronics products made in China. Since about five years ago, Chinese manufacturers selling on Amazon have priced him out of some product categories, he said—some of them his own suppliers and others who game Amazon’s rating system, he said.

“Amazon is trying to disintermediate everyone they can, and get products as directly as possible to consumers,” he said. “In a way, they’re a perfect partner for China Incorporated to engage with to take them around the world.”

The Amazon spokesman said: “Independent retailers in the U.S. are enjoying record sales in our store.” Amazon said more than 75% of the 10,000 top sellers by gross sales in its U.S. store were America-based as of 2018 and that the company spends more recruiting U.S. sellers than sellers from any other location.

Global recruiting

In China over the past six years, Amazon has made its site more accessible to Chinese speakers, created special programs that address Chinese sellers’ logistical needs and sent a stream of employees to recruit suppliers.


Amazon ‘is the most cost-effective way to sell into the United States,’ says businessman Zhao Weiming. A factory in southern China produces his Lagunamoon-branded products. PHOTO: BILLY H.C.KWOK FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
At the 2017 conference, Ms. Liu, who said she had spent over a decade purchasing for Walmart, told Chinese sellers that when she joined the industry in 2004, around 90% of her suppliers were trading companies and that by 2017, around 80% were the factories themselves. Ms. Liu said the same logic applied to Amazon, the video shows.

“Let’s cut out the middleman,” said Geoffrey Stewart, an Amazon employee in Shenzhen, at an April trade event in Hong Kong in a video the Journal viewed. “We think that will enhance margins for our manufacturing partners and it will delight customers.”

Amazon said Ms. Liu’s and Mr. Stewart’s comments didn’t mean Amazon was less committed to helping sellers everywhere. Ms. Liu, who no longer works at Amazon, didn’t respond to LinkedIn messages, and the Journal couldn’t determine where she now works. Amazon said Mr. Stewart wasn’t available for comment. Walmart declined to comment on Ms. Liu’s assertions.

Amazon seller Zhao Weiming said the site “is the most cost-effective way to sell into the United States.” The Guangzhou businessman experimented several years ago listing gadgets on Amazon before settling on cosmetics and essential oils, he said, establishing factories to produce them under the name Lagunamoon. He said his company earns $50 million a year on Amazon.

Listings for some popular Lagunamoon essential oils claimed they were U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved, until the Journal raised the matter with Amazon and Mr. Zhao in early November. An FDA spokesman said essential oils wouldn’t meet the agency’s definition of an approved product, although it was possible some component—a dye, say—might be approved.

Mr. Zhao said FDA requirements are complex and he didn’t want to use tens of thousands of words to explain.




Lagunamoon products, available on Amazon, are manufactured in a southern China factory.
Amazon said it was investigating the case and would take proper action. It said sellers are prohibited from listing products that improperly claim to be FDA cleared or FDA approved, or improperly include the FDA logo. At least one Lagunamoon essential-oil listing that cited FDA approval had that claim removed after inquiries from the Journal.

Concerns at Amazon about Chinese listings arose several years ago in its China team, which noticed that as local sellers flocked to the platform, it saw increasing patterns of fraud, counterfeits and unsafe products, said former Amazon employees in China.

Washington state’s attorney general’s office said Amazon agreed to pay $700,000 as part of a legally binding agreement after an investigation revealed dozens of products marketed toward children had excessive lead and cadmium. The products were made in China, the office said, some sold by China-based third parties. Amazon didn’t admit wrongdoing.

“Customer safety is Amazon’s top priority,” said the Amazon spokesman. “We work closely with our selling partners to verify that the school supplies and children’s jewelry in our store are safe.”

Bogus brushes
Cheap Chinese counterfeits drove Kevin Williams, a Utah seller of water-powered cleaning brushes on Amazon, to lay off six employees this year—most of his U.S. staff, he said. He and his co-founder developed their patented Brush Hero product, made in the U.S. and U.K., in 2015 after finding it difficult to clean their vehicles, selling them on Amazon for $34.99.


Kevin Williams, co-owner of Brush Hero, at his distribution warehouse in Salt Lake City, Utah on November 8, 2019. PHOTO: LINDSAY D'ADDATO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Poorly made copies began appearing in 2018 on Amazon, eventually listing for as low as $9.99, some claiming to be the Brush Hero brand, he said. Buyers, unaware they were fake, trashed Mr. Williams’s products on his Amazon page, he said. When he complained to Amazon, he said, it told him to order the alleged counterfeits and test them. Amazon removed brushes he proved counterfeit, he said, but it could take weeks for them to arrive for testing, and new counterfeits kept popping up.

He dropped prices to $19.99, which “pulled out the rug from us from a cash-flow perspective” he said. A retailer declined to give him a large contract. “He said, ‘What the heck, your Amazon reviews are terrible,’ ” said Mr. Williams, who calls his company “walking dead.”

Amazon said that it acted on infringement cases where Brush Hero provided adequate information and that it has introduced programs for sellers to fight counterfeits, including one called Project Zero that uses automation to scan Amazon stores and remove suspected counterfeits.

Counterfeits and inauthentic reviews “have all gone through the roof with the rise of Chinese sellers,” said Chris McCabe, an investigator for Amazon until 2012, now a consultant helping Amazon sellers counter illicit competition.




Brush Hero products are manufactured in the United States and sold on Amazon from Salt Lake City, Utah. PHOTOS: LINDSAY D'ADDATO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL(3)
Inauthentic reviews for listings from China can trick Amazon’s algorithm into boosting products, people outside Amazon familiar with the activities said. A search for “travel pillows” in August presented products with names such as MLVOC offered by sellers whose names matched those of Amazon accounts registered in southern China.

The Journal ordered MLVOC-brand pillows from sellers named Corki and Kingstyle Supplies, and got gift cards offering a free pillow if the buyer emailed an address—the same address for both sellers. A “Gift card team” responded, asking the buyer to give a five-star review for which it promised an Amazon gift card. Of one MLVOC pillow’s roughly 2,000 reviews, about 86% have five stars.

Amazon policy forbids making inducements for positive reviews. Amazon said it investigated and took action, eventually reinstating Kingstyle and Corki. Amazon said in some cases it will reinstate seller accounts after violations if the sellers provide corrective action plans, though the accounts would be blocked after further infractions.

In response to a query sent to the email address given by Corki and Kingstyle, a respondent wrote: “I can’t share the company information.” The sellers didn’t respond to requests for comment sent through Amazon’s platform.

Travel-pillow seller Teri Mittelstadt, co-founder of HiGear Design Inc. in California, said counterfeits and review manipulation from China have hurt sales. Her patented Travelrest pillows, which attach to airline seats to prevent slipping, were among the top-selling travel pillows on Amazon for seven years starting in 2008, she said, but now rank in the 20s or lower.

“The person who gets hurt the most is the consumer who buys the product. They think they are buying a product with all these great reviews,” she said.

Amazon said Travelrest’s sales on Amazon have steadily grown year-to-year since 2015. Ms. Mittelstadt said her sales growth has slowed significantly over the past two years and that this year her sales are down on Amazon’s U.S. site.

Strategy shift

Starting in the mid-2000s, Amazon’s attempt to build an online retail business in China was thwarted by local competitors like Alibaba. Early this decade, it began experimenting with the new strategy, and employees “realized that global selling is much bigger” than selling in China, a former Amazon manager said.

At a Shenzhen trade fair in early 2013, no one had heard of Amazon, said Steven Chen, who says Amazon dispatched him to recruit Chinese sellers. He left Amazon in 2015 and operates an e-commerce consulting business.

Amazon employees distributed Chinese-language tutorials on opening Amazon accounts to prospective new sellers, people familiar with the company’s strategy said. Interns in Beijing phoned vendors on Chinese e-commerce sites to invite them to join Amazon.



Chinese sellers’ products often took weeks to ship across the Pacific and arrive at buyers’ addresses. So Amazon offered a logistics system, “Dragonboat,” which for a fee brought goods made in China and elsewhere to Amazon fulfillment centers in the U.S.

American buyers could receive purchases within 48 hours in Amazon boxes, said a former high-level Amazon China employee and a Chinese seller who used the service.

By 2015, Amazon’s website was functional for sellers in Mandarin. Its team responsible for signing up and assisting Chinese sellers expanded to 120 people in 2016, said the former high-level employee. Other employees built relationships with businesses such as Chinese logistics-services providers and translator services, asking them to encourage clients to establish Amazon accounts.

It is often hard to tell that an Amazon seller is based in China, as is the case with the Amazon page of Lagunamoon, the essential-oil and cosmetics provider. It shows no indication the products are Chinese and gives no store address. Lagunamoon’s Mr. Zhao said that is because the U.S. doesn’t require it.

Amazon seller Molson Hart in Texas is suing 73 sellers, many located in China, in Texas federal court, for trademark infringement on products like his Brain Flakes interlocking plastic disk set. He has been selling the Chinese-made toys on Amazon since 2014, and counterfeits started appearing in 2015, he said.

After he filed suit, he couldn’t hunt down the Chinese companies. “I know who did it,” he said, “but I can’t serve them.”

Amazon said it has worked closely with brands to support criminal referrals against counterfeiters in China and anticipates working with brands to jointly pursue litigation in the U.S. and China.

Amazon buyer Irvin R. Love Jr. of Georgia bought a hoverboard on Amazon in November 2015 that caught fire and burned down his home, according to a suit he filed February 2018 against Amazon, the seller and others, in Georgia federal court. In an amended complaint this year he alleged that Amazon was negligent for not removing the hoverboard from its website before Mr. Love’s purchase. Amazon argued in a legal filing that it doesn’t owe damages because it didn’t design, manufacture or sell the hoverboard.

Mr. Love also sued the seller, Panda Town, which his lawyer, Darren Penn, said appeared to be a Chinese company, based on sales information. Mr. Penn said that he can’t locate the seller and that Amazon declined to provide its location.

Cross-border e-commerce has made it harder to police unsafe products entering the U.S., he said. “When you had the traditional importer and customs and brokers—and all those procedures are followed—you provide a couple of layers of protection that you don’t when you’re talking about an internet market.” The case is in discovery, and Mr. Penn declined to make Mr. Love available for comment.

Amazon said it has provided information about the seller to the plaintiff, consistent with its policy on such matters. Panda Town doesn’t appear to list on Amazon anymore, and the Journal couldn’t locate a company by that name.

‘Not normal’

Product safety on Amazon and other online marketplaces isn’t assured, because Amazon doesn’t require all third-party sellers to test products to prove they are compliant with regulations, said Sebastien Breteau, chief executive of QIMA, an inspection, certification and audit company that is an Amazon vetted service provider.

“It’s not normal that a factory with 200 people manufacturing baby monitors in Dongguan can ship products directly to consumers in Minnesota or in Europe through a marketplace,” he said. “The day the regulator makes them responsible, then we’ll have proper compliance programs.”

Amazon said sellers create their own product listings and are required to comply with all relevant laws and regulations when listing items for sale in Amazon stores.

Mr. Thompson, the electronics seller, said Chinese factories have steadily pushed him out of lower-end goods such as USB cables, pricing at less than he can. The Chinese sellers often boost their product rankings by arranging large purchases of their own products and leaving positive reviews for themselves, he said—a tactic he said he learned about while attending an independent Amazon-seller event featuring a China-based sales consultant in Hong Kong several years ago.

He now counts on selling higher-end products like $199 docking stations for displays and charging electronic devices, he said, but “there really isn’t much upper end left for us.”

Amazon said competition is a part of business and some more-mature product categories can be particularly competitive. The spokesman said its goal is to quickly remove abusive reviews and that over the past month “over 99% of the reviews read by customers were authentic.”

Chinese sellers were seen as too valuable to give up, despite warning signs, a former Seattle-based Amazon employee said. “There were crazy things, hundreds of listings created every hour,” the person said, adding that when U.S. vendors complained, staff told them, “We don’t control third-party selection. It’s not us, it’s an open-end platform.”

Goose-down test

Mr. Sagar, the goose-down-duvet seller, said an employee posing as a customer last year contacted Rosecose, the Chinese seller of the down duvet on Amazon, offering proof its product was deceptively listed. A Rosecose representative apologized and said its suppliers could be to blame, offering to refund the lab-test costs, according to messages the Journal viewed.

The employee last year also sent an email to Amazon with the test results showing the duck down, he said. Rosecose kept listing duvets, Mr. Sagar said.

The Journal bought a duvet on Amazon from Rosecose in October and sent its own test results to Amazon late in the month. Early this month, Rosecose was still selling duvets on Amazon as “100% Fill With Goose Down,” including a king-size option listing for $129.99.




The Rosecose duvet bought by WSJ on Amazon claimed to be 100% goose down but was found by IDFL Laboratory and Institute to contain duck feathers instead. PHOTOS: LINDSAY D’ADDATO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL(3)
The Wall Street Journal verified Rosecose was based in China by visiting its page on Amazon’s Mexican site, which listed its location. Rosecose didn’t respond to inquiries sent through Amazon and no one picked up calls to a phone number associated with the brand.

Amazon said it took down Rosecose listings Nov. 4. They appeared to be gone from the U.S. site early last week, but some still appeared on Amazon’s Canada site until after the Journal pointed them out to the company.

—Shane Shifflett, Stella Yifan Xie and Lekai Liu contributed to this article.

—Illustration by Jessica Kuronen/WSJ

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile
Stratfor: Saudi spies at Twitter
« Reply #432 on: November 12, 2019, 10:23:28 AM »
second post

Lessons Learned From a Saudi Spy Case at Twitter
Scott Stewart
VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor

Nov 12, 2019 | 09:00 GMT

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington is pictured in Seattle on Nov. 8, 2019. It might be the digital age, but Riyadh's recruitment of spies at Twitter harkens back to the espionage tactics of yesteryear.

HIGHLIGHTS

New charges against two former Twitter employees whom Saudi Arabia recruited for spying purposes demonstrate the need for companies to keep tight control on which employees are able to access what kind of information and more.
In this specific case, Riyadh was not chasing critical business secrets, but user data for a specific group of Twitter accounts.
The case illustrates that the threat of old-fashioned human intelligence remains potent, as Riyadh wished to recruit insiders, rather than hack Twitter.
In an age in which cybersecurity is top-notch, sometimes all it takes for hostile intelligence to gain a treasure trove of information is some old-fashioned espionage tradecraft — like finding an insider. In a criminal complaint filed Nov. 5 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the FBI accused two former Twitter employees and a third man of acting as agents of the Saudi government in the United States without declaring themselves. Two of the men, Ali Alzabarah and Ahmed Almutairi, are Saudi citizens, while the other, Ahmad Abouammo, is a U.S. citizen of Saudi descent. The men are charged with helping the Saudi government identify political dissidents and others on the social media platform who were critical of the government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Big Picture

Social media companies like Twitter will always be a target for state and non-state spies, yet they can take a number of steps to reduce the threat of malefactors.

I've already written on the case for Stratfor's Threat Lens clients, but there are some important lessons in the affair for a wider audience — like rethinking just what kind of information it's important to protect, being circumspect on just which employees are entrusted with critical data and keeping an eye on who might be snooping around a company's workers.

Recruiting Insiders

According to the criminal complaint, Abouammo — who is in U.S. custody alongside Almutairi — was employed at Twitter as a media partnerships manager from November 2013 to May 2015, when he worked with prominent users in the Middle East and North Africa, such as government officials, companies, journalists and celebrities. He became a focal point of the Saudi government in April 2014, when Twitter assigned him to handle Riyadh's inquiries and requests. The complaint notes that in late 2014, Abouammo met with Almutairi, who was running a social media company connected to the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK), a charity with ties to "Royal Family Member 1" — who appears to be Mohammed bin Salman, the man who would later become Saudi Arabia's crown prince. 

In December 2014, Abouammo reportedly met with Bader al-Askar, the charity's director, in London and received an expensive watch from him. (The complaint states that Abouammo attempted to sell the watch, which he valued at $35,000, for $25,000 on Craigslist. He reportedly lied about its value in a subsequent FBI interview.) Reading between the lines of the complaint, the meeting in London was clearly the "pitch" stage of the human intelligence recruitment cycle, and Abouammo appears to have taken the bait — hook, line and sinker. After the meeting, Abouammo made several queries in Twitter's database for information on users of interest to Saudi Arabia. Al-Askar then paid him for the information, depositing the money in an account in Beirut that Abouammo's relative there opened on his behalf. Although Abouammo left his job at Twitter in June 2015 to move to Seattle, he continued to contact former colleagues at the company for information he needed to satisfy al-Askar's requests, receiving money for his services. All told, Abouammo received at least $300,000 in cash from al-Askar, plus the watch.

The meeting in London was clearly the "pitch" stage of the human intelligence recruitment cycle, and Abouammo appears to have taken the bait — hook, line and sinker.

In February 2015, Almutairi called Alzabarah, who worked as a site reliability engineer at Twitter from August 2013 to December 2015 after initially coming to the United States on a Saudi government-funded scholarship to attend university in 2005. According to the complaint, a few days after establishing contact with Alzabarah, Almutairi traveled to San Francisco to have dinner with the engineer. Alzabarah, meanwhile, sent Almutairi a copy of his resume the same day they met for dinner.

In May 2015, Alzabarah traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with al-Askar. By the time of the meeting arranged by Almutairi, al-Askar was a member of the Saudi royal court, serving as the director of the private office of the crown prince. During the visit, it appears that al-Askar pitched and recruited Alzabarah, because within a week after returning from Washington, Alzabarah began conducting bulk searches of the Twitter account information of people of interest to the Saudi government. In total, the complaint alleges that he accessed the account information of over 6,000 users — including 33 accounts about which Saudi law enforcement agencies had demanded information from Twitter as part of "emergency disclosure requests." 

On Dec. 3, Alzabarah left his job at Twitter, abruptly returning to Saudi Arabia with his wife. He reportedly sent his resignation message to the company from the plane after he left the United States. Exactly why Alzabarah left the company is not publicly known, as authorities redacted seven paragraphs from the publicly released letter that might have explained the reasons for his sudden resignation. But given Alzabarah's hasty departure and the number of calls he made to Saudi officials during the process, including the consul general in Los Angeles, it is very likely that Twitter security and, possibly, the FBI questioned him about his activities on Dec. 2, 2015.

Within a month of returning home, Alzabarah began working for al-Askar at MiSK as part of the team working on social media issues. From information recovered from Alzabarah's Apple Notes app, it appears that he was motivated by the offer of a lucrative job inside the kingdom, as well as government help in resolving an unidentified issue for his father, instead of bulk cash like Abouammo. Still, he did contact al-Askar to inquire if his efforts might qualify for some of the $1.9 million in reward money the Saudi government was offering for information that helped prevent terrorist attacks, as some of the Twitter users of interest to Riyadh were terrorism suspects.

Maintaining Vigilance

In writing about countering corporate espionage threats, we often outline how important it is to identify what data is truly important to protect; only grant access to such information to certain people; carefully vet such employees; and then control when, where and how they can access it.

But in terms of determining what data to protect, it is important to recognize that different information will be of value to different spies. In this case, the Saudis were not interested in Twitter's algorithm — the secret sauce that makes the app work — the way a competitor would be. Instead, they were eager to glean information on the identities of a very specific set of Twitter users — to the extent that they were willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain it. This means that when deciding what information to protect, corporations should consider the goals and desires of various espionage actors, and not just what they consider to be valuable to their business internally. 

In addition to user-provided biographical data, Abouammo and Alzabarah succeeded in accessing information about the devices and browsers the targets used to access Twitter, as well as their IP addresses — the type of technical information that would be very useful to anyone wanting to compromise their devices with tailored malware.

The Saudis were not interested in Twitter's algorithm — the secret sauce that makes the app work — the way a competitor would be. Instead, they were eager to glean information on the identities of a very specific set of Twitter users.

In this case, the criminal complaint noted that neither Abouammo nor Alzabarah had a work-related need to access the confidential user information data that they obtained and passed on to the Saudi government. Twitter has reportedly addressed the problem by limiting access to user data, but given that Riyadh and other governmental and nongovernmental actors are clearly interested in this type of information, countries like Saudi Arabia will continue to woo anyone — not just Saudis — who might be able to provide it with offers of large sums of cash. Because of this, profiling and stereotyping can be counterproductive. Furthermore, the fact that anyone might find themselves the target of a human intelligence recruitment pitch highlights the need to train employees on how to spot and respond to human intelligence approaches, not only so they can recognize when someone has targeted them, but also so they can notice when someone may have recruited their co-workers.

This case also illustrates that — current digital age notwithstanding — the low-tech, old-fashioned human intelligence threat remains extremely relevant. I've often argued that in a case where a company has good cybersecurity, it is often easier and cheaper for malefactors to simply recruit an insider than it is to try to hack their way into the information they desire. The Saudi Twitter affair also shows how insiders who have been recruited as corporate spies can serve as "advanced persistent insider threats" by remaining in place for months or even years as they feed information to a hostile intelligence actor.

It is certainly no surprise that the Saudis would attempt to gather this type of information from Twitter given the global reach that social media has achieved. Twitter is also not the only social media company in the crosshairs; it just happens to be the one we have heard about because of this criminal case. Furthermore, the Saudis are not the only threat in this sphere, as a wide array of state and non-state actors have undoubtedly recruited corporate spies in a large number of companies and are in the process of spotting and recruiting others as I write this. Ultimately, it's a threat that pertains not just to Twitter but every company, especially in the current environment in which the corporate espionage threat is more critical than ever. Companies, however, don't have to fatalistically accept this reality. They can — and indeed must — work to identify and thwart the spies in their midst. 

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17806
    • View Profile
Goolag wants your DNA
« Reply #433 on: November 12, 2019, 08:37:56 PM »

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile
My Ciaramella post on FB promptly got deleted.  Others are reporting the same thing.


G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17806
    • View Profile
My Ciaramella post on FB promptly got deleted.  Others are reporting the same thing.

I believe the term is "memory-holed".



DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 12455
    • View Profile
My Ciaramella post on FB promptly got deleted.  Others are reporting the same thing.

I believe the term is "memory-holed".

Now you've got their attention.

'Orwell's famous book wasn't meant to be a how to guide.'

Looking at alternatives to Facebook, the main problem is that they have roughly zero users.  Your friends and family aren't on them.  But if FB, twitter etc shut down down enough info, enough posts, enough users, people will eventually seek alternatives.

https://www.ionos.com/digitalguide/online-marketing/social-media/the-best-facebook-alternatives/

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile
Let's see if they Memory Hole that!

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile
WSJ: Twitter political ad ban
« Reply #440 on: November 18, 2019, 06:02:48 AM »
Speech and Sanctimony at Twitter
Banning ‘political’ ads, Dorsey throws himself into a political thicket.
By The Editorial Board
Nov. 17, 2019 6:39 pm ET

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in 2018. PHOTO: JIM WATSON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey saw an opportunity last month to please the political left and embarrass a competitor. Now he’s stuck with a jury-rigged ads policy that will damage confidence in his company and do nothing to improve political discourse.

In October Democrats and the press were pummeling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for refusing to take down a Donald Trump campaign ad against Joe Biden. If Facebook did not fact-check and censor politicians, they said, democracy would be undermined. So Mr. Dorsey tweeted on Oct. 30 that he would “stop all political advertising” on Twitter. “This isn’t about free expression,” he insisted, but about protecting “democratic infrastructure.”


The press feted Mr. Dorsey as a hero compared to the democracy-destroying Mr. Zuckerberg. But once the anti-Trump high had worn off, progressives started to realize that a Twitter political-ad ban could block their speech too. Some climate activists, for example, use Twitter ads to find an audience.

Now Twitter has backtracked from Mr. Dorsey’s promised blanket ban on political ads. The policy Twitter announced Friday allows some political ads but not others. Ads from candidates, parties and PACs are banned, but individuals, corporations and nonprofits may still pay to promote political messages (though their ability to target ads to users will be restricted).

For those that can advertise, Twitter will impose convoluted political controls. Ads can’t mention politicians, elections or legislation and also “should not have the primary goal of driving political, judicial, legislative, or regulatory outcomes.” Sounds comprehensive, right?

But wait. Twitter says it will allow “cause based” ads that “call for people to take action in connection with civic engagement, economic growth, environmental stewardship, or social equity causes.”

Meanwhile Twitter’s “issue ads” policy covers “abortion, civil rights, climate change, guns, healthcare, immigration, national security, social security, taxes, and trade.” Apparently ads can take a position on such issues so long as Twitter’s ad police judge them as not aimed at driving political “outcomes.” What a mess. It’s no wonder Twitter is already saying it expects to “make mistakes” in enforcement.

If the NRA Foundation runs an ad campaign on the right to bear arms, is that an issue ad or is it advocacy for a “judicial outcome” and thus prohibited? What about a Planned Parenthood ad supporting abortion rights—is that impermissible advocacy for legislation or is it an issue ad about health care or “social equity”?

The main effect of the policy is to give Twitter wide discretion to either approve or ban political content. This opens the door to bias. Even if the company tries to be neutral between right and left—and we’re skeptical, given Mr. Dorsey’s political opportunism in ordering the ad ban—it will be accused of bias when it blocks ads on grounds advertisers can’t understand.

Meanwhile, the company’s outright prohibition on candidate ads is a gift to established politicians or those who make outrageous claims. Mr. Dorsey intoned that political messages shouldn’t be “compromised by money” but ads are most valuable for speech that wouldn’t otherwise find an audience.

Conceived in sanctimony about Mr. Trump, Twitter’s policy could end up benefiting incumbents like him even as it pulls Twitter into a political thicket. Better if social-media companies recognize that, whatever their engineering expertise, it doesn’t extend to designing elaborate systems for controlling political speech.


DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 12455
    • View Profile
Re: WSJ: Twitter political ad ban
« Reply #441 on: November 19, 2019, 06:58:54 AM »
Swimming in uncharted waters, these giants are caught between an unmoderated forums running wild and becoming the all knowing arbiters of who can say what, when, where, how.

I wish them all the worst.   )

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile
WSJ: Goolag to restrict political ad targeting on its platforms
« Reply #443 on: November 21, 2019, 02:46:12 PM »


oogle to Restrict Political Ad Targeting on Its Platforms
Advertisers will no longer be able to target political ads based on users’ interests inferred from browsing or search history

The Google policy changes follow calls for regulation of political advertising online. PHOTO: ALEXANDER POHL/ZUMA PRESS
By Patience Haggin
Updated Nov. 20, 2019 10:42 pm ET
Alphabet Inc.’s Google said Wednesday it plans to stop allowing highly targeted political ads on its platform, further fragmenting the rules being set by Silicon Valley tech giants for guarding against misinformation.

Google will roll out the ban within a week in the U.K., in advance of a Dec. 12 general election. The ban will take effect in the European Union by the end of the year and in the rest of the world on Jan. 6, the company said in a blog post.

Under the new policy, political ads can only be targeted based on users’ age, gender, and location at the postal-code level. Political advertisers will also still be able to display ads based on the content of the page a user is viewing.

Advertisers would no longer be able to target political ads based on users’ interests inferred from browsing or search history.

So-called microtargeting, in which advertisers can limit their messaging to narrow slices of people based on their personal preferences or online behavior, has been criticized as enabling campaigns to single out groups susceptible to misinformation.

Google’s announcement is the latest in a series of new policies from digital-advertising’s giants—with each of the major platforms taking a different approach. Last month Facebook Inc. announced it would no longer fact-check ads from political campaigns. Then Twitter Inc. announced it would no longer accept political ads and would impose targeting restrictions on cause-related advertising.

In its blog post, Google also clarified its policy on politicians making false claims, saying they wouldn’t be allowed on its platforms, consistent with the company’s broader prohibitions against misleading advertising. In doing so, it effectively committed to fact-checking political ads and taking down those that make false claims.

“We expect that the number of political ads on which we take action will be very limited—but we will continue to do so for clear violations,” the company said in the blog post.

Facebook on Wednesday also left the door open to more coming changes.

“For over a year, we’ve provided unprecedented transparency into all U.S. federal and state campaigns—and we prohibit voter suppression in all ads. As we’ve said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads,” a Facebook spokesman said.

The Trump campaign used targeted advertising to great effect in 2016, particularly on Facebook, and candidates from both parties have ramped up spending this year. Digital political ad spending is expected to reach $2.9 billion in 2020, up from $1.4 billion in 2016, according to Borrell Associates Inc., a consulting firm.

Brad Parscale, who is heading President Trump’s reelection effort, criticized Google’s move in a tweet, saying, “Political elites & Big Tech want to rig elections,” noting that it would hurt Mr. Trump as well as leading Democratic candidates.

Watchdogs including lawmakers and advocacy groups have called for greater oversight of political ads following revelations that Russian entities purchased digital ads designed to influence the 2016 vote, many of them spreading misinformation.

Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub recently called for a ban on microtargeting.

Google’s new policy will apply to ads on Google Search, Google’s video platform YouTube and third-party sites across the web purchased through Google’s ad-buying software.

Google imposed certain regulations on political advertising for U.S. federal races last year. It will expand those existing regulations to cover U.S. state-level candidates and officeholders, ballot measures and ads that mention federal or state political parties.

YouTube has allowed advertisers to target their ads based on thousands of categories, including a user’s household income, education level, profession, marital or homeownership status or the age of their children. YouTube touted these categories to political ad-buyers in a presentation given within the past year, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The presentation also suggested political ad buyers take advantage of targeting based on so-called affinity audiences, which it tagged with monikers such as “Avid Investors,” “Country Music Fans,” “Green Living” and “Spanish-Language Music.” It also touted the ability to target users based on their searches, providing an example of targeting users who had searched for information about taxes.

YouTube Grapples With Digital Political Ad Dilemma
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

UP NEXT


YouTube Grapples With Digital Political Ad Dilemma
YouTube Grapples With Digital Political Ad Dilemma
Google is discussing changes to its current political ad policy just a few weeks after releasing a new tool on YouTube to streamline its ad booking process. WSJ's Emily Glazer breaks down the state of political advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Google.
In the U.S., Google has also previously allowed political ad buyers to target based on public voter records and general political affiliations, including left leaning, right leaning and independent.

Since May 2018, Google has banned political ads from making false statements and provided fact-checking to enforce the policy.

The company required customers purchasing these ads to register and verify their organization.

It also preserved these ads in a publicly available archive along with estimated data on the amount spent on the ads. These policies initially applied only to federal candidates and officeholders within the U.S. but will expand to state-level politics under the new policy.

The new changes are unlikely to hurt Google’s bottom line, or stem the flow of ad dollars to digital platforms as the 2020 elections approach.

“Advertising dollars follow eyeballs. So while campaigns will have to adjust to these new rules, Google’s platforms are still effective for reaching voters online,” said Reid Vineis, vice president of conservative digital ad-buying firm Majority Strategies. “It is unlikely that this change would hurt Google’s political advertising revenue.”

Mr. Vineis also said the level of targeting allowed by Google “will still allow advertisers to generally reach homogeneous voting blocs.” Advertisers often use ZIP Codes as a proxy for demographics such as race, income and education level.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Google was considering changing its political ad policy and that employees speculated it could relate to audience targeting.

—Emily Glazer contributed to this article.

Write to Patience Haggin at patience.haggin@wsj.com


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 12455
    • View Profile
Re: US tech companies prop up Chinese Goolag
« Reply #446 on: November 27, 2019, 11:48:37 AM »

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 50957
    • View Profile
FTC considers action against FB
« Reply #449 on: December 14, 2019, 07:49:59 AM »
y John D. McKinnon and Emily Glazer
Dec. 12, 2019 2:14 pm ET
WASHINGTON—Federal officials are considering seeking a preliminary injunction against Facebook Inc. over antitrust concerns related to how its products interact, according to people familiar with the matter.

If it materializes, the action by the Federal Trade Commission would focus on Facebook’s policies concerning it how it integrates its apps or allows them to work with potential rivals, these people said. Alongside its core social network, Facebook’s key products also include Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

The potential FTC action would likely seek to block Facebook from enforcing those policies on grounds that they are anticompetitive, the people said. An injunction could seek to bar Facebook from further integrating apps that federal regulators might look to unwind as part of a potential future breakup of the company, one of the people said.

A majority of the five-member FTC would be needed to seek an injunction, which the commission would need to file suit in federal court to obtain. The FTC declined to comment.

Facebook declined to comment. The social-media giant has worried for months that the FTC would seek an injunction against what are known as its “interoperability” rules, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Interoperability refers to the manner in which digital platforms interact.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Has Facebook created a monopoly for messaging apps? Why or why not? Join the conversation below.

Concern that Facebook’s interoperability policies curb other services’ ability to compete would underlie a potential FTC action, these people said. Facebook has rejected that recurring complaint about its practices.

FACING PRESSURE
The social-media giant has confronted mounting scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers over its business practices and products. Related reading:

She Argued Facebook Is a Monopoly. To Her Surprise, People Listened. (Dec. 12)
Facebook to Antitrust Regulators: Data Is Complicated (Dec. 2)
Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Antitrust Scrutiny Grows (Oct. 28)
FTC Antitrust Probe of Facebook Scrutinizes Its Acquisitions (Aug. 1)
Officials also worry that some of Facebook’s plans to further integrate its own major products could make it harder to eventually split up the company in an antitrust case, according to one of the people.

It isn’t known whether the FTC will move forward with an antitrust action against Facebook or seek an injunction over its interoperability policies. If the agency takes either step, its action could occur as soon as next month, according to one person familiar with the matter. It is also possible that the FTC could attempt to block certain Facebook interoperability policies that critics say have disadvantaged social-media rivals in the past.

Facebook said in January that it was considering closer interoperability of messaging across its main platforms. But the company has said its recent plans to increase interoperability are aimed at improving users’ experiences, particularly in light of recent controversies over privacy on Facebook, and not to freeze out competitors or fend off regulatory action.

“There are privacy and security advantages to interoperability,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post in March. “With the ability to message across our services…you’d be able to send an encrypted message to someone’s phone number in WhatsApp from Messenger.”

How the Microsoft Antitrust Case Paved the Way for Big Tech
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

UP NEXT

How the Microsoft Antitrust Case Paved the Way for Big Tech
How the Microsoft Antitrust Case Paved the Way for Big Tech
The Department of Justice is investigating the U.S.'s largest tech firms for allegedly monopolistic behavior. Roughly 20 years ago, a similar case threatened to destabilize Microsoft. WSJ explains.
Messaging networks are gaining in popularity, particularly among younger users, and becoming more important to Facebook’s business. The company hopes to update its platforms to address that trend.

Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, a former senior adviser for the FTC, said seeking a preliminary injunction could hold strategic benefits for the commission.

“The advantages are that it gets things moving, and sort of forces things to a judicial decision very quickly,” Mr. Wu said, “as opposed to having an antitrust investigation going for five years….The burdens of proof can be higher for the government, but if they’ve got a good case it can be advantageous.”

Mr. Wu is among a group of Facebook critics who see the company’s pursuit of closer integration as concealing anticompetitive motives. They have argued to the FTC that it should seek an injunction blocking the company’s plans for further interoperability.

“One anticipated (and possibly intended) effect of the integration is to make divestiture more difficult,” read a slide in a deck reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that Facebook critics presented to antitrust regulators last summer. “A preliminary injunction may be necessary or desirable to prevent this merger and maintain the status quo.” The slide deck’s authors include Mr. Wu and New York University law professor Scott Hemphill.

Moving swiftly toward litigation over interoperability also could allow the FTC to take enforcement action ahead of the Justice Department. The two agencies share federal antitrust-enforcement authority, and occasionally are rivals. Both agencies are known to be looking into possible antitrust issues involving Facebook.

An FTC antitrust lawsuit against Facebook could become federal enforcers’ opening salvo against big tech companies as they look into similar concerns involving Alphabet Inc. ’s Google unit as well as Amazon.com Inc. State attorneys general also are investigating Facebook and Google.

The FTC has been examining Facebook’s acquisitions as a central part of its antitrust inquiry into the company, seeking to determine whether they were part of a campaign to consume potential rivals and head off competitive threats, the Journal reported in August. Facebook has acquired about 90 companies over the last 15 years, according to data compiled by S&P Global, including Instagram and WhatsApp.

In congressional testimony earlier this year, Matt Perault, then director of public policy at Facebook, told a House antitrust subcommittee that the company’s acquisitions have fueled innovation and brought together firms of complementary strengths

Companies purchased by Facebook “have had more opportunity to innovate as part of Facebook than they would have on their own—enhancing users’ experience and resulting in more choice for more people overall, not less,” Mr. Perault said.

—Deepa Seetharaman contributed to this article.