Facebook has removed hundreds of accounts and pages for what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” generally networks of ostensibly independent outlets that were in fact controlled centrally by Russia and Iran. Some of these accounts were identified as much as a year ago. In a post by the company’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, the company described three major operations that it had monitored and eventually rolled up with the help of security firm FireEye. The latter provided its own initial analysis , with more to come. Notably, few or none of these were focused on manipulating the 2018 midterm elections here in the states, but rather had a variety of topics and apparent goals. The common theme is certainly attempting to sway political opinion — just not in Ohio. For instance a page may purport to be an organization trying to raise awareness about violence perpetrated by immigrants, but is in fact operated by a larger shadowy group attempting to steer public opinion on the topic. The networks seem to originate in Iran, and were promoting narratives including “anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Iran,” as FireEye describes them. The first network Facebook describes, “Liberty Front Press,” comprised 74 pages, 70 accounts, and 3 groups on Facebook, and 76 accounts on Instagram. Some 155,000 people followed at least one piece of the Facebook network and they had 48,000 Instagram followers. They were generally promoting political views in the Middle East and only recently expanded to the States; they spent $6,000 on ads beginning in January 2015 up until this month
Popular travel app Kayak has put augmented reality to clever use with a new feature that lets you measure the size of your carry-on bag using just your smartphone. Its updated iOS app now takes advantage of Apple’s ARKit technology to introduce a new Bag Measurement tool that will help you calculate your bag’s size so you can find out if it fits in the overhead bin – you know, before your trip. The tool is handy because the dimensions of permitted carry-on luggage can differ from airline to airline, Kayak explains , so it’s not as simple these days to figure out if your bag will fit. In the new Kayak iOS app, you can access the measurement tool through the Flight Search feature. The app will first prompt you to scan the floor in order to calibrate the measurements. You then move your phone around the bag to capture its size. Kayak’s app will do the math and return the bag’s size, in terms of length, width, and height. And it will tell you if the bag “looks good” or not to meet the carry-on size requirements. Plus, the company says it compares all the airlines’ baggage size requirements in one place, so you’ll know for sure if it will be allowed by the airline you’re flying. Augmented reality applications, so far, have been a mixed bag. (Sorry). Some applications can be fairly useful – like visualizing furniture placed in a room or trying on new makeup colors. (Yes, really. I’m serious). But others are more questionable – like some AR gaming apps, perhaps.