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Privacy Shield Data Pact Gets European Approval
Posted by News Fetcher on July 08 '16 at 07:43 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's for-now department:
A commercial data transfer pact provisionally agreed by the EU executive and the United States in February received the green light from EU governments on Friday, the European Commission said, paving the way for it to come into effect next week. This will end months of legal limbo for companies such as Facebook, Google, and MasterCard after the EU's top court struck down the previous data transfer framework, Safe Harbour, on concerns about intrusive U.S surveillance. BBC reports: Member states of the European Commission have given "strong support" to the Privacy Shield said the EC's Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova in a statement. Ms Jourova said the approval paved the way for the formal adoption of the agreement early next week. "The EU-US Privacy Shield will ensure a high level of protection for individuals and legal certainty for business," said Commissioner Jourova. "It is fundamentally different from the old Safe Harbour." The adoption of the Privacy Shield ends months of uncertainty for many tech companies such as Google and Facebook after the European court found the Safe Harbour agreement wanting. The agreement covers everything from personal information about employees to the detailed records of what people do online, which is often used to aid targeted advertising. The Safe Harbour pact let US companies skirt tough European rules that govern how this data can be treated, by letting them generate their own reports about the steps they took to stop it being misused.Ars Technica's report further explains the matter.

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Antivirus Software Is 'Increasingly Useless' and May Make Your Computer Less Safe
Posted by News Fetcher on July 08 '16 at 06:21 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Emily Chung, writing for CBC: Is your antivirus protecting your computer or making it more hackable? Internet security experts are warning that anti-malware technology is becoming less and less effective at protecting your data and devices, and there's evidence that security software can sometimes even make your computer more vulnerable to security breaches. This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) issued a warning about popular antivirus software made by Symantec, some of it under the Norton brand, after security researchers with Google's Project Zero found critical vulnerabilities. "These vulnerabilities are as bad as it gets. They don't require any user interaction, they affect the default configuration, and the software runs at the highest privilege levels possible," wrote Google researcher Tavis Ormandy in a blog post. Symantec said it had verified and addressed the issues in updates that users are advised to install. It's not the only instance of security software potentially making your computer less safe. Concordia University professor Mohammad Mannan and his PhD student Xavier de Carne de Carnavalet recently presented research on antivirus and parental control software packages, including popular brands like AVG, Kaspersky and BitDefender, that bypass some security features built into internet browsers to verify whether sites are safe or not in order to be able to scan encrypted connections for potential threats. In theory, they should make up for it with their own content verification systems. But Mannan's research, presented at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium in California earlier this year, found they didn't do a very good job. "We were surprised at how bad they were," he said in an interview. "Some of them, they did not even make it secure in any sense."

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Putin Gives Federal Security Agents Two Weeks To Produce 'Encryption Keys' For The Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on July 08 '16 at 06:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's goals-and-aspirations department:
An anonymous reader writes: The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, has ordered the Federal Security Service (FSB) to produce "encryption keys" to decrypt all data on the internet, and the FSB has two weeks to do it, Meduza reports. The head of the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, is responsible for accomplishing such a task. "The new 'anti-terrorist' laws require all 'organizers of information distribution' that add 'additional coding' to transmitted electronic messages to provide the FSB with any information necessary to decrypt those messages," reports Meduza. "It's still unclear what information exactly online resources are expected to turn over, given that all data on the internet is encoded, one way or another, and in many instances encryption keys for encrypted information simply don't exist." Some of the details of the executive order include requiring telecom providers and "organizers of information distribution" to store copies of the content of all information they transmit for six months and store the metadata for three years so the Kremlin can access it whenever they want. In order for that to happen, ISPs would need to build new data centers capable of holding all that information and buy imported equipment, all without state subsidies, where they risk going bankrupt. To actually operate the data centers, the Russian government would need to upgrade Russia's outdated electrical grid and cables, which could cost between $30 and $77 billion. What about the "encryption keys?" In addition to storing all the transmitted information, "organizers of information distribution" have to turn over "any information necessary to decrypt those messages." Therefore, "additional coding" will need to be added to all electronic messages to act as instructions for the FSB to "decode" them. Many services and websites don't have "keys" or are fundamentally unsharable, like banks and financial institutions. Nearly all electronic information needs to be "encoded" in some way. Bortnikov has two weeks and the clock starts now. Good luck!

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Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes Banned From Owning a Lab
Posted by News Fetcher on July 08 '16 at 02:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's close-up-shop department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: The Wall Street Journal reports U.S. regulators have devised to ban the owners and operators of Theranos from running a lab for two years. That includes CEO and founder Elizabeth Holmes, as confirmed by a press release issued tonight. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revoked the lab's Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certificate and imposed a civil money penalty for an unspecified amount. The ban does not take effect for 60 days, however Theranos says it will not do any testing at the Newark, CA lab CMS investigated, and instead will serve customers from its lab in Arizona. Elizabeth Holmes wrote: "We accept full responsibility for the issues at our laboratory in Newark, California, and have already worked to undertake comprehensive remedial actions. Those actions include shutting down and subsequently rebuilding the Newark lab from the ground up, rebuilding quality systems, adding highly experienced leadership, personnel and experts, and implementing enhanced quality and training procedures. While we are disappointed by CMS' decision, we take these matters very seriously and are committed to fully resolving all outstanding issues with CMS and to demonstrating our dedication to the highest standards of quality and compliance."

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Robot Stingray Is Powered By Rat Heart Cells
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 11:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's robotic-ray department:
An anonymous reader writes: Harvard researchers report in the journal Science this week that they've built a "bio-inspired swimming robot that mimics a ray fish [and] can be guided by light." The robot's body consists of "a cast elastomer body with a skeleton of gold, along with a single layer of carefully aligned muscle fibers harvested from neonatal rat hearts." The fibers were genetically modified to respond to pulses of blue light and structured along the body of the robot such that contractions result in a repetitive undulating motion, propelling the robot forward. "About 200,000 live rat heart cells form the muscle layer that powers the robot, which has a body 16.3 mm long and weighs just over 10 grams," reports IEEE. "At full tilt, it can swim at a speed of 3.2 mm/s, which isn't bad for such a tiny thing." You can watch the video that shows the robot being led through a 250 mm long obstacle course.

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Debian Founder's 2015 Death Ruled A Suicide
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's closure department:
gosand writes: According to a story on The Register, the death of Ian Murdock in late 2015 has been ruled a suicide. This news brings some closure to the sad ending of his life. An interesting note from the article that I never knew before: "he was the Ian in Debian; his girlfriend at the time, Debra Lynn, was the Deb." Debian has truly been a cornerstone in the Linux world, and the founder will be missed. The medical report was obtained on Wednesday by CNN journalists.

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FBI Director: Guccifer Admitted He Lied About Hacking Hillary Clinton's Email
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's infamous-hackers department:
blottsie writes from a report via The Daily Dot: The Romanian hacker known as Guccifer (real name Marcel Lehel Lazar) admitted to the FBI that he lied to the public when he said he repeatedly hacked into Hillary Clinton's email server in 2013. FBI Director James Comey testified before members on Congress on Thursday that Guccifer never hacked into Clinton's servers and in fact admitted that he lied. Lazar told Fox News and NBC News in May 2016 about his alleged hacking. Despite offering no proof, the claim caused a huge stir, including making headline news on some of America's biggest publications, which offered little skepticism of his claims. "Can you confirm that Guccifer never gained access to her server?" asked Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold. "He did not. He admitted that was a lie," Comey replied. Lazar is currently imprisoned in Alexandria, Virginia, following his extradition from Romania.

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IRS Is Suing Facebook Over Asset Transfers In Ireland
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tax-evasion department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has sued Facebook on Wednesday to force it to comply with summonses related to a 2010 asset transfer. Fortune reports: "According to documents the IRS filed in San Francisco federal court, the agency suspects Facebook and its accounting firm, Ernst and Young, understated the value of intangible assets transferred to Ireland by billions of dollars. The IRS says it is seeking an order to enforce six summonses that asked Facebook to appear at the agency's offices in San Jose, Calif., and to produce papers and others records. According to IRS agent Nina Stone, Facebook failed to show up at the appointed date of June 17, and nor did it provide the documents. The dispute arose as a result of an ongoing audit of Facebook by IRS that stretches back to 2010. In that year, the company chose to designate Facebook Ireland as the rights-holder for its worldwide business outside of the U.S. and Canada, and also to transfer intellectual property assets such as its platform and 'marketing intangibles.' The crux of the disagreement between Facebook and the IRS turns on the arcane question of whether the assets in question could be transferred in their entirety or if, as the agency argues, they are 'interdependent.' [The agent's declaration can be found here.] Such arrangements are common among U.S. tech companies, and seek to reduce tax payments by scoring revenue in low tax jurisdictions like Ireland, while having higher tax countries (especially the U.S.) reduce profits by paying to license intellectual property from overseas subsidiaries."

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Unreal Engine and Unity To Get NVIDIA's New VR Rendering Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 04:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's head-mounted-display department:
An anonymous reader writes: NVIDIA has announced that Unreal Engine and Unity will see integrations of its new Simultaneous Multi-projection (SMP) rendering tech, which the company says can yield "a 3x VR graphics performance improvement over previous generation GPUs." NVIDIA recently introduced the technology as a unique feature of its latest series of GPUs built on the 'Pascal' architecture. According to the company, Simultaneous Multi-projection allows up to 16 views to be rendered from a single point with just one geometry pass, whereas older cards would need to add an additional pass for each additional view. This is especially beneficial for VR rendering which inherently must render two views for each frame (one for each eye). With Simultaneous Multi-projection built into Unreal Engine and Unity, game creators will have much easier access to its performance benefits. SMP is supported by all of NVIDIA's 10-series GPUs, including the recently announced GTX 1060.

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Ask Slashdot: Is It Ever OK To Quit Without Giving Notice?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 04:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's please-take-a-moment-to-locate-your-nearest-exit department:
HughPickens.com writes: Employees and employers alike have the right under at-will employment laws in almost all states to end their relationship without notice, for any reason, but the two-week rule is a widely accepted standard of workplace conduct. However, Sue Shellenbarger writes at the WSJ that a growing number of workers are leaving without giving two weeks' notice. Some bosses blame young employees who feel frustrated by limited prospects or have little sense of attachment to their workplace. But employment experts say some older workers are quitting without notice as well. They feel overworked or unappreciated after years of laboring under pay cuts and expanded workloads imposed during the recession. One employee at Dupray, a customer-service rep, scheduled a meeting and announced she was quitting, then rose and headed for the exit. She seemed surprised when the director of human resources stopped her and explained that employees are expected to give two weeks' notice. "She said, 'I've been watching 'Suits,' and this is how it happens,'" referring to the TV drama set in a law firm.

< article continued at Slashdot's please-take-a-moment-to-locate-your-nearest-exit department >

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And the Lord Said, 'Let There Be Free Wi-Fi'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 03:01 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-free-internet department:
Germany doesn't have free wi-fi at most places, especially because a German law holds the network provider accountable for any illegal activity on their network. But moving forward, the country is getting free wi-fi called "Godspots" at 3,000 churches and other religious places. From an article on Quartz: The service was launched in advance of the 500th anniversary of theologian Martin Luther's infamous protest of corrupt practices by the Catholic clergy, which ultimately led to the Protestant Reformation. The event will be commemorated across Germany next year. The wifi service is also a strategic move to draw young people back into Germany's glorious, but mostly underutilized, churches and cathedrals. Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Oberlausitz's IT manager Fabian Blatner says Godspot aligns with the church's mission to foster community. "People are no less spiritual than before," Blatner believes, "but the places of communication have shifted. Much takes place in digital social networks and communities. With Godspot we want to build a Protestant Church [that serves as] a safe and familiar abode in the digital world." EKBO says Godspot's connections will be secure and it will not be collecting any information about users or bombarding them with ads. Well, except for a landing page featuring "topics of faith and life."

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Baton Rouge Police Database Hacked In Retaliation For Killing of Alton Sterling
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's vigilante-justice department:
Patrick O'Neill quotes a report from The Daily Dot: Just days after the fatal shooting of a black man by Baton Rouge police prompted international outrage and a Justice Department investigation, the Baton Rouge city government's servers have been hacked and 50,000 city police records leaked including names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers. A hacker that goes by the name @ox2Taylor claimed responsibility for the breach, which was confirmed by security intelligence analyst at Patch Penguin, Jamie-Luke Woodruff. He told the Daily Dot that the administrators of the website had failed to implement proper security measures. When the hacker first announced the hack, he accompanied the tweet with three hashtags revealing the motivation: #AltonSterling, #Hacked, and #BlackLivesMatters. "The reason i did it is because of what that officer did to alton sterling," Taylor told the Daily Dot in a private message. "i'm sick of seeing police abuse their power and all the killings."

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UW, Microsoft Successfully Encoded 200MB of Data Onto Synthetic DNA Molecules
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's DNA-data-storage department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Seattle Times: Researchers from Microsoft and the University of Washington said Thursday that they had successfully encoded about 200 megabytes of data onto synthetic DNA molecules. The information included more than 100 books, translations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a high-definition music video from the band OK Go. Previously, the record was 22 megabytes encoded and decoded on DNA, said the researchers. Microsoft's lead researcher on the project, Karin Strauss, said DNA storage of the type demonstrated in the UW lab could, theoretically, store an exabyte (one billion gigabytes) of data in about one cubic inch of DNA material. "Our goal is really to build systems to show that it is possible," she said. DNA is also very durable. If stored in the right conditions, data encoded on DNA could be readable for thousands of years, compared to typical hard disks or flash drives that can fail in a few years.

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Wendy's Says More Than 1,000 Restaurants Affected By Hack
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 01:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's burgers-on-a-budget department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via ABC News: The fast food giant Wendy's has reported today that hackers were able to steal customers' credit and debit card information at 1,025 of its U.S. restaurants. The company said Thursday hackers were able to obtain card numbers, names, expiration dates and codes on the card, beginning in late fall. Some customers' cards were used to make fraudulent purchases at other stores. Wendy's first announced it was investigating a possible hack in January. In May, it found malware in fewer than 300 restaurants; two types of malware were found two months later and the number of restaurants affected was "considerably higher." There are more than 5,700 Wendy's restaurants in the U.S. Customers can check to see which locations were affected via Wendy's website. The company said it is offering free one-year credit monitoring to people who paid with a card at any of those restaurants. In May, Wendy's announced plans to start automating all of its restaurants with self-service ordering kiosks.

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Mozilla Could Walk Away and Still Get More Than $1 Billion If It Doesn't Like Yahoo's Buyer
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 01:31 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's release-22 department:
Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode: Under terms of a contract that has been seen by Recode, whoever acquires Yahoo might have to pay Mozilla annual payments of $375 million through 2019 if it does not think the buyer is one it wants to work with and walks away. That's according to a clause in the Silicon Valley giant's official agreement with the browser maker that CEO Marissa Mayer struck in late 2014 to become the default search engine on the well-known Firefox browser in the U.S. Mozilla switched to Yahoo from Google after Mayer offered a much more lucrative deal that included what potential buyers of Yahoo say is an unprecedented term to protect Mozilla in a change-of-control scenario. It was a scenario that Mayer never thought would happen, which is why she apparently pushed through the possibly problematic deal point. According to the change-of-control term, 9.1 in the agreement, Mozilla has the right to leave the partnership if -- under its sole discretion and in a certain time period -- it did not deem the new partner acceptable. And if it did that, even if it struck another search deal, Yahoo is still obligated to pay out annual revenue guarantees of $375 million.

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UK ISP Sky Is About To Start Censoring the Web For All of Its Customers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 12:11 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's say-no-to-porn department:
Mark Wilson, writing for BetaNews: The UK government is on a mission to protect the young of the country from the dark recesses of the web. And by the darker recesses, what is really meant is porn. The main ISPs have long been required to block access to known piracy sites, but porn is also a concern -- for politicians, at least. As part of its bid to sanitize and censor the web, Sky -- from the Murdoch stables -- is, as of today, enabling adult content filtering by default for all new customers: Sky Broadband Shield. The company wants to "help families protect their children from inappropriate content", and in a previous experiment discovered -- unsurprisingly -- that content filtering was used by more people if it was automatically enabled.

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Android KeyStore Encryption Scheme Broken
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 12:11 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Reader msm1267 writes: The default implementation for KeyStore, the system in Android designed to store user credentials and cryptographic keys, is broken, researchers say.>In an academic paper published this week, researchers argue that the particular encryption scheme that KeyStore uses fails to protect the integrity of keys and could be exploited to allow an attacker to modify stored keys through a forgery attack.KeyStore, which performs key-specific actions through the OpenSSL library, allows Android apps to store and generate their own cryptographic keys. By storing keys in a container, KeyStore makes it more difficult to remove them from the device. Mohamed Sabt and Jacques Traore, two researchers with the French telecom Orange Labs, claim the scheme associated with the system is "non-provably secure," and could have "severe consequences." The two point out in their paper "Breaking Into the KeyStore: A Practical Forgery Attack Against Android KeyStore," that it's the hash-then-encrypt (HtE) authenticated encryption (AE) scheme in cipher block chaining mode (CBC) in KeyStore that fails to guarantee the integrity of keys.

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Google Is Working To Safeguard Chrome From Quantum Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 10:51 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's safety-first department:
Quantum computing could potentially someday be used to retroactively break any communications that were encrypted with today's standard encryption algorithms. Google realizes this, and hence, is ensuring that it doesn't happen. Today, it announced that it has begun to deploy a new type of cryptography called the New Hope algorithm in its Chrome Canary browser that is designed to prevent such decryption attacks. From a report on The Verge: Although quantum computers of this variety are only small and experimental at this stage, Google is taking precautions for the worst case scenario. "While they will, no doubt, be of huge benefit in some areas of study, some of the problems that they [quantum computers] are effective at solving are the ones that we use to secure digital communications," writes Matt Braithwaite, a Google software engineer, in a blog post. "Specifically, if large quantum computers can be built then they may be able to break the asymmetric cryptographic primitives that are currently used in TLS, the security protocol behind HTTPS." In other words, quantum computers could undermine the security of the entire internet. Quantum computers promise computational power far exceeding today's standards by taking advantage of the underpinning physics discipline. So the presence of a hypothetical future quantum computer, Braithwaite adds, puts at risk any and all encrypted internet communication past or present. It's unclear how secure New Hope (PDF) will prove to be for Chrome, and Braithwaite admits it could be less secure than its existing encryption. But Google says New Hope -- developed by researchers Erdem Alkim, Leo Ducas, Thomas Poppelmann and Peter Schwabe -- was the most promising of all post-quantum key-exchange software it looked into last year.

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Smartphones Lift Samsung To Best Profit In Over Two Years
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 10:51 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's samsung-is-back department:
Samsung said on Thursday that its second-quarter operating profit likely rose 17.4% from a year earlier. The figure marks the highest for Samsung in more than 2 years. The company adds that sales of Galaxy S7 flagship smartphone propelled its mobile earnings. Engadget reports: While Samsung won't be releasing its detailed earnings until the end of July, Reuters believes the top earner this quarter is none other than the mobile division, which also topped the last one. The news source says the division's profit could be up 54.5 percent from the same period last year. According to Yonhap News, Samsung shipped out around 15 million S7 and S7 edge units from April to June, with the latter beating out the basic S7 despite being more expensive.The company's mobile division, which once mostly had to compete with Apple's iPhone in the smartphone market, has been facing stiff competition from Chinese players such as Xiaomi and Huawei especially in the emerging market. But interestingly, some of these Chinese players have started to cut the big margin that their phones enjoyed in the recent months to make more profit.

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Facebook Decides Which Killings We're Allowed to See
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '16 at 09:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's unprecedented-power department:
Minutes after a police shooting took place in the Falcon Heights suburbs of Minnesota, a Facebook Live video was published on the social juggernaut website. The death of Philando Castile, 32, was documented in harrowing detail thanks to the live streaming tool offered by the social media giant. The 10-minute video was streamed via smartphone by a woman identified in media reports as Diamond Reynolds. She narrates the video with a mix of eerie calm and anguish. The video was removed from Facebook due to, as company says, a "technical glitch." The video has since been restored, but with a "Warning -- Graphic Video," disclaimer. Motherboard notes that Facebook has become the de-facto platform for such controversial videos, and that there's a pattern in these so called glitches -- as they happen very often time after a questionable content is streamed. This makes one wonder whether it is up to Facebook to decide which kind of controversial videos one should be able to watch The publication writes: As Facebook continues to build out its Live video platform, the world's most popular social network has become the de-facto choice for important, breaking, and controversial videos. Several times, Facebook has blocked political or newsworthy content only to later say that the removal was a "technical glitch" or an "error." Nearly two-thirds of Americans get their news from social media, and two thirds of Facebook users say they use the site to get news. If Facebook is going to become the middleman that delivers the world's most popular news events to the masses, technical glitches and erroneous content removals could be devastating to information dissemination efforts. More importantly, Facebook has become the self-appointed gatekeeper for what is acceptable content to show the public, which is an incredibly important and powerful position to be in. By censoring anything, Facebook has created the expectation that there are rules for using its platform (most would agree that some rules are necessary). But because the public relies on the website so much, Facebook's rules and judgments have an outsized impact on public debate.

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