Posts tagged ‘deception’


False accusations from Red Points Solution SL

18.08.2022

Yesterday, I returned to find a DMCA claim filed against us by Red Points Solution SL, purporting to act for Harper’s Bazaar España publisher Hearst Magazines SL, falsely accusing us of breaching their copyright with this article. You can read the notice here.

Naturally, I filed a counter-claim because their accusation is baseless.

Our source was PR Newswire, and it’s not uncommon to find stories of interest through that platform. In fact, Armani Beauty was so keen to get this out there on November 3 that we received the release in four languages at 15.28, 15.30, 15.33, 15.36, 15.39, 15.46 and 16.03 UTC.

The quotations and images were supplied by Armani Beauty, which is part of L’Oréal. I’ve worked with people from L’Oréal for over two decades and know their systems well enough, including the money they have for licensing images for press usage.

Lucire has a lot of original articles, but some of our news is release-based, as it is for anyone in our industry.

Our rule is: even when it’s a release, you write it up individually in your own words. You may have something additional to bring to the story. And we aren’t a repository of releases.

The only time we would run a release mostly verbatim is if we issued it, something that might happen once every couple of years.

Naturally, Google has so far done nothing and our story remains absent from their index. Big Tech loves big firms like Hearst.

I’ve tagged Harper’s Bazaar España in social media demanding they front up with their evidence. I’ve also messaged Hearst’s Spanish office with the following.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
 
Yesterday, your firm lobbed a false accusation against us by deceptively claiming your copyright had been breached by one of our articles. I note that you filed this as a DMCA complaint with Google.

We have filed a counter-notice.

We find it appalling that you would claim an original work has breached your copyright.

The imagery and quotations to our articles were sourced from L’Oréal, and we have informed them directly of your deceptive and misleading conduct.

I demand you furnish proof. As you will no doubt fail to, we demand you withdraw the complaint. We reserve the right to pursue our own legal remedies against you.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Jack Yan
Publisher, Lucire

I basically thought they were being dicks and my friend Oliver Woods chimed in on Twitter about it. Oli’s very insightful and objective, and I respect his opinion.

They are being dicks, but there is a strategy behind it. Petty little minds wanting to look good on Google, not liking someone else ahead of them. (Not that I ever looked to see where our story ranked. I mean, seriously?)

It reminds me of a US designer’s rep who emailed me a while back wanting us to remove an article.

I asked: what’s wrong with it? Did we err in facts? Is it somehow defamatory?

When I probed a bit more deeply, it turned out that they were incensed it came up so highly in a Google image search.

I explained that that wasn’t a good enough reason, especially since the story had been provided to us by a PR firm.

They countered by saying that as they had not heard of us, it was highly unlikely that they would have released us that news.

I thought it was a very strange strategy to accuse someone you wanted a favour from of lying.

I still have the email from their PR firm. Call me Lord of the Files.

I’m not going to reveal the identity of the designer. I asked one of my team to see if he would call me directly instead of having one of his rude staff insult me. He never did call. The image is still there, and I bet they’re seething each time they see it.

It’s not even a bad image. It just doesn’t happen to be hosted by them.

I don’t really know why search engine domination is so important. We all should have a fair crack at it, and let whomever has the most meritorious item on a particular topic come up top.

The American designer, and the Spanish outpost of this American media giant Hearst, are obviously not people who like freedom of the press, freedom of expression, or a meritorious web. American people might like this stuff but a lot of their corporations don’t.

Which is why Google is terrible because it doesn’t allow it. We know through numerous lawsuits it has biases toward its own properties, for a start. I’ve observed them favouring big media brands over independents—even when independents break a news story.

Mojeek is just so, so much better. No agenda. Just search the way it was and should have stayed. That’s the “next Google”, the one that could save the web, that I had asked for in 2010.

Except it shouldn’t be the next Google because we don’t want more surveillance and tribalism.

Fair, unbiased search is where Mojeek excels. I really hope it catches on more. God knows the world needs it.

I think the world needs Lucire, too, the title that Harper’s Bazaar Australia named as part of its ‘A-list of style’. The Aussies are just so much nicer.
 
PS.: Hearst uses a company called Red Points Solution SL to do its supposed copyright infringement detection. Based on this, they must be pretty shit at it. And remember, we don’t even publish in Spanish. Yet.

I see you have falsely accused us of copyright infringement with our article at https://lucire.com/insider/20211103/valentina-sampaio-named-armani-beautys-newest-ambassador/ when we have done nothing of the sort.

We demand that you withdraw your DMCA complaint to Google.
 
https://lumendatabase.org/notices/28469986#
 

Our story’s source is Armani Beauty through PR Newswire, to which we are signed up as a legitimate international media organization. The story is our work, using facts and quotations provided in the release.

PR Newswire provided us with this release on November 3, 2021, at 15.28, 15.30, 15.33, 15.36, 15.39, 15.46 and 16.03.

A counter-notice has been filed.

We require an explanation from you on why you have targeted a legitimate media organization with your deception. Clearly your detection systems are not very good and we would certainly be discouraged from using them.

 
P.PS.: One more email to Red Points Solution SL on August 19, 21.56 UTC after they doubled-down with another notice removing two URLs from Google. Again, no proof of their original work was provided, and none can be seen in Lumen even when requested. It seems Google will lap anything up if it sees a big company behind it.

I have reached out to you through numerous means but yet to hear back.

I publish Lucire, a magazine with a 25-year history and five editions worldwide. You might even say we’re the sort of business that would need Red Points Solution’s services.

However, we’ve found ourselves at the other end, with legitimate media stories from our website removed from Google with DMCA notices you’ve filed.

Your client is Hearst SL.

If your latest efforts are down to Hearst’s orders, then they are claiming ownership over material that is not theirs.

All our content is original, and where it is not, it is properly licensed.

In the first case:
 
https://lucire.com/insider/20211103/valentina-sampaio-named-armani-beautys-newest-ambassador/
 

Your client does not own this material at all. We own the story, and the quotations and images are owned by and licensed to us by L’Oréal. Hearst has no connection to it other than Harper’s Bazaar being mentioned in an editorial fashion.

In the second case:
 
https://lucire.com/insider/20190905/nicky-hilton-hosts-brunch-to-celebrate-her-collaboration-with-french-sole/
 

Your client does not own this material at all. We own the story, and the images are owned by and licensed to us by French Sole and BFA.com. Hearst has no connection to it other than Harper’s Bazaar being mentioned in an editorial fashion.

In the third case:
 
https://lucire.com/insider/page/164/?mobiinsider%2F20120130%2Felizabeth-olsen-models-asos-magazines-cover%2F%3Fwpmp_switcher=mobile
 

Your client does not own this material at all. In fact, we own this material fully. No Hearst properties are even mentioned.

Counter-notifications have been filed on the basis that it is our original content and that your client has no right to make the claim in the first place.

It would be far easier if you would review your systems as presently they are opening your client and yourselves up to a legal claim …

We think you need to go back to your client and have them show you just how they can legitimately claim ownership of material that is not theirs.

In the meantime, we insist you stop these notices as they are unwarranted and unfounded.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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Rand Fishkin’s ‘Something is Rotten in Online Advertising’

21.07.2022

I’ve been meaning to link Rand Fishkin’s ‘Something is Rotten in Online Advertising’ for some time, so here it is.

He writes, in his second and third paragraphs (links in original):

Where to even begin… Should we start with the upcoming loss of third-party cookies? The bizarre Google & Facebook duopoly teamup against anti-trust action? The rise of online ads as a money laundering & terrorist-funding tactic? Or maybe we should talk about brands’ ever-shrinking ability to attribute ad clicks. Hundreds of millions in provable ad fraudDisturbing privacy issues that remain unaffected by GDPR or other government efforts.

No wonder a lot of savvy people believe adtech and the entire online advertising industry are due for a subprime-mortgage-style reckoning.

It’s a well written piece, covering ad fraud, the incentivization of ad fraud, and real-world examples, including this:

The world’s biggest con continues. The con artists don’t need to do three-card Monte any more. They can just get into ad tech. Rand’s piece is well worth a read.

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If corporate America says it, it’s probably untrue

16.07.2022


Le dernier.
 
I see the Le Snak range has now left us, after its US owner PepsiCo cited a lack of demand. I call bullshit, since during 2021 it was becoming increasingly difficult to find them on the shelves. Throttling distribution is not the same as a lack of demand, something you see time and time again with corporate claptrap.

It’s like the myth that New Zealanders all prefer automatic transmissions. No, not supplying manuals will inevitably force people to change. Has the industry done a survey as I have? Last time I conducted one, in the 2010s, we were still running 50–50, with a lot of people saying, ‘I prefer a manual, but I had no choice but to buy an automatic.’

Ford is a useful example of US companies citing reduced demand but doing things behind the scenes to ensure it. The line that no one was buying big cars saw to the end of the road for the Australian Falcon and the closure of its Broadmeadows plant. Did any of you see any advertising for the Falcon leading up to that? Or see many Falcons on dealer lots? It seems to me that a corporate decision had been made, and steps taken to guarantee an outcome. Throttle the distribution (‘We’re out of stock’) and of course demand falls.

Get your tape measures out, and you’ll find the Falcon was smaller than the Mondeo (which at that point was still selling) on key measures other than overall length and, presumably, boot volume. The two-litre Ecoboost Falcon with its rear-wheel drive was promoted with all the energy of a damp squid, but it had all the ingredients for success as a decent-handling sedan. But Broadmeadows was an inefficient plant, from what I understand (from hearsay), and bringing it up to speed would have cost more than a bunch of Pinto lawsuits. ‘But there’s no demand for what it builds anyway!’ they cry. Then they can justify the closure.

Go back to the 1990s and the same thing happened with Ford’s Contour and Mystique twins in the US. People were buying BMW 3-series in droves, cars the same size as the Contour. But Ford claimed there was no demand, leading to its US cancellation after the 2000 model year. Reality: I say the Dearborn fiefdom didn’t like the fact the Contour was part of a world-car project (which gave us the original Mondeo) led by Ford’s Köln fiefdom. Not-invented-here killed the Contour, and a relative lack of promotion also guaranteed its fate. (Ford would wind up contesting the segment again later in the 2000s with the Fusion and Milan, but put far more effort into promoting them since they were US-led programmes. I actually saw advertising for them in US magazines! I saw a Milan in Manhattan with Mercury encouraging us to try it out!)

If you take the line that anything a big US firm utters is an utter lie, it keeps you in good stead. Use that approach with Facebook, for instance, and you’ll find things make sense more often than not. And of course we all knew what Elon Musk meant when he said he wanted to buy Twitter.

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Kissing that Disqus advertising money goodbye (webmasters beware)

14.07.2022

I’m going to have to write off what Disqus owes us. No response to this thread, and no response to a DM I sent at their request.

I assume it’s a bit like Amazon, where they just ignore you regardless of what you’ve actually earned.

I think the rule is if it’s a big US tech firm, they’re going to BS you—especially when it comes to money.

Maybe it’s time to threaten them as I did with Twitter?

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They’re brainwashed by the cult of Boris, so the next Tory leader will be an ideologue

10.07.2022

Sean O’Grady puts into his opinion piece what so many of us have said. He does it far better than I could.

They backed Johnson through the Dominic Cummings scandal, through the resignations of two ethics advisers, through the scandal of a party donor paying for the decoration of his flat, through the mishandling of the pandemic and the mismanaging of Brexit with a rotten deal, Partygate and law breaking, an unlawful prorogation of parliament and breaking treaties and international law, allegedly trying to get Carrie a £100,000 job and Wilfred a £150,000 treehouse, depriving kids of free school dinners … and much, much more …

So it’s not just Johnson who’s morally compromised, but the whole Tory party, with rare exceptions. They are all guilty men and women because they voted for him, campaigned for him, sustained him, lied for him and generally disgraced themselves and the country in the process. They were all members of the cult of Boris, and they knew exactly what he was.

They didn’t care because he was a winner. He hasn’t suddenly turned nasty – he was like this since about the age of eight. He’s outlived his usefulness to them, but if they thought the devil incarnate could win them the next election they’d be signing his nomination papers right now. Parties tend to get the leaders they deserve.

Sunak, Javid and others are in no position to be preaching about integrity. If seeing the monarch mourn her husband whilst sitting alone due to COVID-19 restrictions at the same time Johnson partied at his ‘work event’ didn’t concern them, are we to believe that they are one bit concerned about sexual assault? Pull the other one.

If the Tories are smart, they’ll go for someone well outside this band of muppets. But as O’Grady also states, ‘Your next PM, like Johnson, will be chosen by about 90,000 mostly elderly, reactionary and unrepresentative members of the Conservative Party.’ In such cases, name recognition and familiarity will decide the next leader. Sadly, that’s unlikely to be anyone from the moderate wing of the Conservative Party. That is now a minority.

Will they promote a better culture than Johnson did? Possibly. If they have some sense of organization and leadership. But that alone is not going to fix the UK’s problems. Ideologues should not come before pragmatists, but it’s hard to see any other outcome given what the Conservative Party has become.

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Let’s do some maths on Facebook’s user numbers

03.11.2021

Bear with me on some maths here.
   Facebook says it will delete a milliard ‘faceprints’. In The Guardian: ‘Facebook will delete the “faceprints” of more than a[n American] billion people after announcing that it is shutting down its facial recognition system due to the “many concerns” about using the technology.’
   We know that you can turn on (and off) facial recognition in Facebook, to enable tagging. This came pretty suddenly, if I recall correctly. I turned it off immediately.
   The fact it came suddenly suggests that Facebook had already compiled these faceprints, because we all had the feature if we wanted to keep it. They must have been working on it behind the scenes for a while, before introducing it to every user.
   Now Facebook says it holds over an American billion, i.e. a milliard, of them.
   If we all had them, as we could turn them on and off at will, then it follows that Facebook only has just over a milliard users.
   This gels with their own research into new accounts, where they found that up to 56 per cent of them were owned by existing users. I’ve taken the higher figure here but, frankly, I think they’re underestimating.
   Now, Facebook claims it has 2·9 milliard users. Once again, just ask yourself: know anyone who’s recently joined? Exactly. Most of us don’t. So the user base shouldn’t be rising at the rate they claim. (We all know there are tons of bots on there.)
   On the assumption (you may think it’s a wild one) that their research is representative across all of Facebook, that 44 per cent of all accounts are legitimate and the remainder are owned by the 44 per cent, then:
 
2,900,000,000 × 0·44 = 1,276,000,000
 
   Remember not long ago I posited that Facebook’s actual user numbers were closer to a milliard?
   I don’t believe I’m far off, and this latest news might, if the logic holds up, suggest I’m right.
 
PS.: Thanks to Ton Zylstra for inspiring more maths on this. If Facebook finished 2020 on just under 2,000 million users, and now claims 2,900 million, yet the number of social media users increased last year by 400 million, you can pretty easily see their numbers do not add up.

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Facebook knows it doesn’t have as many users as it claims

22.10.2021

In the ‘I told you so’ department, from the Murdoch Press this week:

An internal Facebook presentation this spring called the phenomenon of single users with multiple accounts “very prevalent” among new accounts. The finding came after an examination of roughly 5,000 recent sign-ups on the service indicated that at least 32% and as many as 56% were opened by existing users. The company’s system for detecting such accounts also tends to undercount them, according to the presentation, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

   They know, and frankly it’s been this case for years.
   Bot nets are the biggest culprit but they don’t even get on to that. But when you get news that milliards of bots have been removed, you know there’s a serious problem.
   And of course even regular people have multiple accounts, because no one can predict when Facebook is going to kill their primary one. I was locked out for 69 hours in 2014 because of a bug, then Facebook decided to force malware on to me in 2016 in the guise of a malware ‘scanner’. Wouldn’t you have a second back-door account?
   The Wall Street Journal also notes that this affects advertisers’ decisions about audience targeting. Considering that there’s no independent verification of these metrics, why would you even bother with that site?
   The newspaper continues: ‘Facebook said in its most recent quarterly securities filings that it estimates 11% of its monthly active users world-wide—which totaled 2.9 [American] billion for its flagship platform in the second quarter—are duplicate accounts, with developing markets accounting for a higher proportion of them than developed ones.’ Notice how that total number is rising. Now ask yourself: do you know anyone who’s recently joined?
   Exactly.
   The proportion is much higher, in my opinion. I’ve long said their total sits at around 750 million. Maybe it’s at 1 milliard now. It’s a great way for dictators to manipulate their countries.
   If Facebook’s own sample of 5,000 says as many as 56 per cent were opened by existing users, it would not surprise me one bit if this phenomenon occurred through the entire user base. As early as 2014 I said Facebook had a bot ‘epidemic’ and I had the user account URLs from just one night to back me up.
   And here’s the biggest joke of all:

Unlike Twitter Inc. and other platforms without such rules, the company requires users to have just one master account under a real name.

   I can find you 5,000 with fake names right now. It’s bloody easy.
   Of course I’ve reported some of them, but it’s not my job to sit there and report all of them—particularly if Facebook consistently gives the ones I report a pass.
   I’m glad the WSJ is keeping the story going because for a while the Frances Haugen whistleblowing had disappeared from the headlines. On that note, here are several links to that, from Aljazeera English, The Independent, and Vox.

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It feels like half of Facebook is bot

21.07.2021

Here’s a screenshot from the new members of one of my Facebook groups—actually the only public one I still have. Since Facebook lets spammers join now, we have to block them manually. Their posts don’t make it through to the group as we have safeguards there, too. But I’m not going to let them inflate, falsely, the member count, which in turn will make it harder for posts to reach group members.
   A lot of these bots—they hunt for large groups and their scripts join them—seem to hide under the guise of role-playing for the Pinoy TV series Halik, and they all chat to each other in automated fashion. As Facebook is stupid enough not to recognize the bot activity, you’d think that at least they could see the script at play here, as these accounts are often new, and they set to work joining large groups and pages.
   They don’t recognize them, or, they do recognize them and allow the bot activity to carry on with their blessing. Each one of these blocked accounts was reported, and as usual they were found to be perfectly fine.
   In this screenshot, there were five legitimate accounts. We used to keep the numbers well down because potential members had to answer basic questions, and even some legit people are too lazy to do that. Back then we would see one legit account joining after weeks or months. I think I preferred that, because it kept the spammers and bots away.
   It certainly gives the impression that bots, based on this sample (and others like it since Facebook’s pro-bot policy change arrived with this group), are running at about 50 per cent of the total, which gels with recent research that Instagram is 46 per cent fake (that is, 46 per cent of all accounts are not legit). Nevertheless, I still see far more bots than humans overall: just get yourself into the fake Halik accounts of the Smiths and Montefalcos, and now they’re branching out into other surnames like Montenegro and Buenavista. Thousands, untouched, the only consistent activity on the wasteland that is Facebook.

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When New Zealand is the subject of misinformation

12.07.2021

This thread echoes what a lot of us feel in New Zealand when we see intentional misinformation on Twitter, possibly from the US. I answered back to one of these parties over the weekend, as did many, to see us all branded as ‘the left’ (I suppose if your politics are eugenics-led libertarianism, everyone is ‘the left’), while another “journalist” claimed that anyone who did so were part of a government op using taxpayer dollars (to which some of us asked, ‘Where’s my cheque?’). Folks, sometimes you just have to look at the evidence—do I believe the first-hand accounts of people I know plus what I myself observe, or the one single case you’ve hand-picked or the one single out-of-context quote you’ve intentionally misrepresented?

   While this explains what the foreign agenda are, it makes you wonder why certain media talking heads in this country, usually ones who work for foreign-owned news outlets, would be just as keen to sell us out. A lack of patriotism, a lack of perspective, a lack of ethics, or just a lack of bollocks?

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Facebook continues to give in to fake accounts, much like the UK with COVID-19

10.07.2021

At the beginning of July I noticed Facebook had changed its reporting options. Gone is the option labelled ‘Fake account’, replaced by ‘Harmful or spam’. It’s a small change that, I believe, is designed to get Facebook off the hook for failing to remove fake accounts: since you can’t report them, then you can’t say they’ve failed to take them down.

   Except, if you choose ‘Harmful or spam’, Facebook does acknowledge that your report is for a fake account:

   Of course they’re harmful. Harmful to us regular people who have to pay more and more money to reach our human supporters since the fakes command an increasing amount of fans on our pages, for instance. It isn’t harmful for Facebook’s revenue or Zuckerberg’s wealth. So it really depends how you define harmful; one would imagine that a competent court would define it from a consumer’s point of view.
   Their new group policy, where Facebook has also given up against the bot epidemic, letting fake accounts join public groups, is a disaster. As you can see, the majority of new members to one group I oversee—and where I usually get tips to new bot accounts—are fakes. They’ve used scripts to join. It’s a bit of a giveaway when there are brand-new accounts joining groups before they’ve even made friends. The legit names have been pixellated; the fakes I’ve left for you to see.

   It’s not as bad as, say, giving up on the people who elected you to run the country and letting COVID-19 do whatever it wants, killing citizens in the process. But it comes from the same dark place of putting people second and lining your pockets first—Mark Zuckerberg does it, Robert Mugabe did it, etc. Distract and plunder.
   In The Guardian:

Boris Johnson will revoke hundreds of Covid regulations and make England the most unrestricted society in Europe from 19 July despite saying new cases could soar to 50,000 a day before masks and social distancing are ditched.

   In fact, one Tweeter jokingly showed his interpretation of the UK’s COVID alert levels:

   On this, let our own Prof Michael Baker have the last word. Also in The Guardian, which I shared three days ago on Mastodon:

   Baker said public health professionals were “disturbed” by the UK’s return to allowing Covid to circulate unchecked, and that the phrase “living with it” was a “meaningless slogan” that failed to communicate the consequences of millions of infections, or the alternative options for managing the virus.
   “We often absorb a lot of our rhetoric from Europe and North America, which have really managed the pandemic very badly,” he said. “I don’t think we should necessarily follow or accept Boris Johnson and co saying: “Oh, we have to learn to live with virus.’
   “We always have to be a bit sceptical about learning lessons from countries that have failed very badly.”

   We really need to be confident of our own position on this. There are too many, especially those propelled by foreign forces with their friends in the foreign-owned media, advocating that we follow other Anglophone countries—probably because they lack either intelligence, imagination, pride, or empathy. I’ve spent a good part of my career saying, ‘Why should we follow when we can lead?’

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