An international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) is a unique number, usually fifteen digits, associated with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network mobile phone users. An IMSI catcher is a device, used by the NSA drone program, the police, criminals, Chinese spammers and spies all around Washington DC and the world to spoof the identity of a GSM cell tower and intercept cellular voice and data communication. They come in all sizes and flavors, from tiny or body-worn professional surveillance devices, to easy to order off the shelf solutions, to Chinese DIY (links in Chinese) and have spawned efforts to retaliate with an IMSI-catcher-catcher. IMSI-catcher technology has become increasingly widespread, with far-reaching constitutional and technical implications.
Email is still the best thing on the internet
Getting an email address was once a nerdy right of passage for Gen-Xers arriving on college campuses. Now, the kids are waging a war of indifference on poor old email, culling the weak and infirm old-people technology. One American professor maintained that, to his students, "e-mail was as antiquated as the spellings 'chuse' and 'musick' in the works by Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards." The vice-chancellor of Exeter University claimed, "There is no point in emailing students any more." The youth appear to think there are better, faster, more exciting ways to communicate than stupid email.
Yet, despite all the prognosticators predicting it will—choose the violence level of your metaphor—go out of style, be put out to pasture, or taken out back and shot, email grinds on.
In refusing to address the problem, Gawker's leadership is prioritizing theoretical anonymous tipsters over a very real and immediate threat to the mental health of Jezebel's staff and readers. If this were happening at another website, if another workplace was essentially requiring its female employees to manage a malevolent human pornbot, we'd report the hell out of it here and cite it as another example of employers failing to take the safety of its female employees seriously. But it's happening to us. It's been happening to us for months. And it feels hypocritical to continue to remain silent about it.Because somebody is spamming Jezebel with violent porn gifs and Gawker has been lackadaisical in dealing with it, the problem has now spread to other Gawker sites.
@PicPedant (mefi's own) has attracted a loyal following in doing the Sisyphean work of calling out Twitter photo spammers and scraper accounts by tracking down, correcting and debunking images and giving attribution to the source. Twitter is awash in "interesting photo" accounts particularly since images started appearing in timelines -- some of the most successful of which may be the wildly popular @HistoryInPics and @EarthPix founded by 2 teenagers who allegedly earn $40,000+ a month. PicPedant's debunking can be vastly amusing. Here are a few greatest hits: no, not a baby panda but an Etsy doll; no, not Japanese cherry trees but an infrared scene from Stockholm; no, not a real moon, but a photo manipulation. He's even called out Madonna for lack of attribution on an image that went viral after her tweet. Keep on keepin' on, you crazy pedant.
Liver sausage pineapple? Igloo meat loaf? Tuna Jell-o pie? “21 Truly Upsetting Vintage Recipes” [via Buzzfeed]
HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA, RISING FROM THEIR SLUMBER, CLAWING UP THROUGH THE COLD MOIST EARTH, LICKING THEIR FANGS, READY TO USE THAT GROUPON
The search engine optimization community has spent the last two years in a panic. SEO people flood our Internet with spam links and fake Twitter bots and paid traffic, to help bad websites look more popular than they are, to deliver fake viewers to web ads. They now spend their lives on the run, Google nipping at their heels. Their biggest project? Removing all the spam links on websites like this one—the spam links that they put there.
Why Did 9,000 Porny Spambots Descend on This San Diego High Schooler? A voyage into the strange underworld of spambots, shady marketing, and non-human intelligence.
A hosting company's attack on the premier anti-spam watchdog has grown so huge that it threatens to slow down the Internet at large. [more inside]
A paper from Justin M. Rao and David H. Reiley in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (full-text pdf) about spam economics. [more inside]
Age your canned goods - Why I now think of best-by dates as maybe-getting-interesting-by dates. [more inside]
The Mystery of the Phantom Likes. Bernard Meisler at Read Write Web is trying to find out why his dead friends are liking stuff on Facebook. [more inside]
But back in 1996, users of the proto-Web community Usenet got spammed with messages that reached an almost transcendent level of bizarre—a weirdness so precise it implied the influence of a very human intelligence. “Markovian Parallax Denigrate,” read the title of each post, followed by a mountain of seemingly meaningless word spew:Unraveling the Internet’s oldest and weirdest mystery
The Long Con: Mail-order conservatism From The Baffler.
Flabkiller Acai Berry Extract Helps You Lose! Make big money from home with Envelope Elf! iPads for just $39.99 at Deals R Us! [more inside]
the previously discussed horse_ebooks twitter spambot/oracle creator has been tracked down by gawker
Artist and film-maker, Hito Steyerl, asks us to stand shoulder to shoulder with our digital equivalents. Digital images are Things (like you and me) - a plethora of compressed, corrupted representations pushed and pulled through increasingly policed and capitalised information networks. If 80% of all internet traffic* is SPAM - a liberated excess withdrawn** from accepted channels of communication - perhaps it is in The Poor Image we find our closest kin? [more inside]
For the past 18 months, engineers at PayPal, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft and nine other technology companies have spent their off-hours (and some on-hours) working hand in hand to tackle the problem that plagues them all: e-mail phishing. The result is DMARC, or, "Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance". It's not new, but puts SPF and DKIM to work in a new way.
The Spam Poetry Institute is an organization dedicated to collecting and preserving the fine literature created by the world’s spammers
This month, Python won "Best Programming Language" in the Linux Journal's Reader's Choice Awards 2011. If you're not convinced, Python Facts explains little simple things that make Python great. [more inside]
Mr. Destructo (previously) discusses the inscrutable twitter bot named horse_ebooks, a Russian spam account that communicates entirely through snippets of ebooks and is more hilarious (1, 2, 3, 4), confusing (1, 2, 3, 4) and philosophically poetic (1, 2, 3, 4) than any non-spambot on the internet.
Start a home business, get rich quick, win financial freedom! If you watch late-night TV, you've heard it all before. But what's the story behind these slick pitchmen and their dubious schemes? Enter The Salty Droid, your ornery metal guide to the corrupt underworld of scam-marketing scum. This charmingly acerbic bot (owned and operated by mild-mannered Chicago dog-lover Jason Michael Jones [inter-view, long talk + transcript]) is a valiant crusader against the vile con-men who bankrupt the elderly and the desperate with beautiful lies. Exposed so far: A shadowy "Syndicate" of frauduct-pushing personality cults polluting the media with blogspam and woo-woo talking points. Boiler rooms in the Utah desert where telemarketers farm credit from easy targets with cunning, probing scripts [PDF]. Powerful politicians bought wholesale. Believers left to die in fraudulent new-age vision quests. It's a soul-crushing beat, enough to make one feel like a regular catcher-bot in the digital rye. But somebody's got to do it -- preferably someone with plasma nunchucks and titanium skin.
Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign is floundering despite his brag that "I have six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined." Maybe because 80% of them are fake. Or maybe they're not. [more inside]
The Spam Factory's Dirty Secret. Undocumented workers, an autoimmune mystery traced to aerosolized pork brains from increased line production speed, and what sounds like one of the worst jobs in America.
Do you want some Spam with your Kindle? Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Amazon.com Inc's publishing foray.
Through purchasing Viagra, herbal remedies, and replica watches, computer scientists explain how modern spam works. The spam business model consists of three components: advertising, click support (i.e., delivering the customer to an actual website), and realization (i.e., receiving payment and delivering the product to the customer). Different firms located across the globe carry out the various tasks. For example, the website domains are registered in Russia, the credit card payments are handled by banks in Azerbaijan, and the pills are sent from manufacturers in India. The spam business infrastructure appears to be organized around a small number of affiliate programs that coordinate the activities among the different firms. Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain (A 16 page PDF). [via]
Age of the Algorithm. In the age of the algorithm, you can get just about anything you think you want, learn everything you think you need to know, by clicking on a link or typing a few words into a search bar. On SEO, content farms, old media, and 'online sweatshops.' (From Maisonneuve.)
What better way to show your mom you love her on Mother's Day than to send her as many spammy email forwards as she sent you all year? Momspam.net This is why the Internet was invented.
G4TV.com, GamePro, and VGChartz GamrFeed have been abusing multiple accounts to spam and manipulate Reddit for months. Via Game Journalists Are Incompetent Fuckwits.
A quick google search for "free wordpress themes" returns quite a number of varied results. The author of Why You Should Never Search For Free WordPress Themes in Google or Anywhere Else does a quick run-down of which of the first 10 results are genuine, trustable sites, vs. how which carry themes full of malicious code. The results aren't good.
How (crowd) curation is making a comeback in search and how Facebook is using it to "remake whole industries."
Global spam email levels suddenly fall. The volume of email spam has been dropping for 5 months, but during the holidays fell below 25% of August 2010 levels. [more inside]
"[U]sers ... are beginning to find that when they try to do searches to evaluate or buy consumer items--such as dishwashers, or iPhone 4 cases--or to find a site that will give them some useful answers, that Google's results are awash with spam." Is there "Trouble in the House of Google?" Is Google the next Yahoo? ... or worse? Why we need a better Google, and how Facebook likes, Blekko, and Bing are "changing search." (Previously; more previously)
The Wall Street Journal's What They Know blog is charged with determining what information marketers are capable of learning about internet users through tracking technology. This weekend, they took aim at Facebook, after their investigation discovered that many popular apps on the social-networking site, including those by Zynga, have been transmitting identifying information in the form of User ID's to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, even if a user has enabled strict privacy settings. Additional analysis. Response post on Facebook's Developer Blog. Forbes' blogger Kashmir Hill asks if the WSJ is overreacting, and Techcrunch notes that the severity and risks of UID transferral are still being debated.
User-submitted inspiration for comics and art: Poorly-drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines (prev), and more refined comics from "normal" text spam text. Cartoons drawn from titles sent to one Sam Brown (pseudonym of Adam Culbert). Artists send artwork, someone else adds the text. Submit a video game title and description and get the box art made for you, courtesy of MeFi's own cheap paper [via mefi projects].
We're the makers of Spam. We invented Kool-Aid, and this is where the first Reuben sandwich was made: Right Here in Nebraska. (SLYT) [more inside]
Why aren't we furious about email's dysfunction? Spam just keeps getting worse. And it's been bad for a long time. The spam/virus anti-spam/anti-virus arms-race continues to generate profits for spammers and anti-spammers at everyone else's expense. Attachments maybe weren't a good idea. And neither was the reply-all button. Attempts at "fixing" email are the subject of ridicule, and perhaps deservedly so. Google Wave was released as an alternative to email; few seem to care. What gives? Are we really stuck with this crap?
You can thank sex and early Internet porn kingpins for popularizing many of the computer technologies you use every day, such as video streaming, secure online credit card transactions, and, of course, filling our inboxes with spam; China's stance, obligatorily.
The Beaver: Canada's History Magazine Canada's second-oldest magazine, published since 1920, will be changing its name because in this age of electronic communications its emails keep getting removed by spam filters.
Ars Technica reports 12% of e-mail users have actually tried to buy stuff from spam, according to a study by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group. Read the published survey here: part 1 (PDF), part 2(4.6MB zip file) and press release. (via).
High-priced emergency locksmith services clog up local business listings (and Google Maps), driving all the emergency calls to their numbers. It's happened all over the country. E.g., a 'brash new locksmith company' comes to Madison, WI.
The dry, technical language of Microsoft's October update did not indicate anything particularly untoward.
Its reach is impossible to measure precisely, but more than 3 million vulnerable machines may ultimately have been infected. : The inside story on the Conficker Worm at New Scientist.