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Facebook, Patents, and Privacy: Social Media Innovations to Mine Personal Data

[©2016. Published in GPSOLO, Vol. 37, No. 5, September/October 2020, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder]

* Updated November 25 to include references to CPRA/ Prop24.

The episode “Nosedive” of the television series Black Mirror envisions a society built on social credit scores. In this dystopia, all social media networks have converged into one platform—think Facebook, TikTok, Yelp, and Equifax combined.

This umbrella social platform allows users to rate each other on a five-point scale after each social interaction. Those with a high score gain access to job opportunities, favorable zip codes, and even high-status relationships. Those with a low score have the social ladder kicked out from under them, leading to a downward cycle of estrangement—and in the case of Black Mirror’s protagonist, jail time.

While the society in “Nosedive” seems far-fetched, is the technology behind it plausible?

Facebook Patents That Impact Privacy

According to Facebook’s patents, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

In a series of filings spanning almost a decade, Facebook has obtained several patents that allow social media platforms to track, identify, and classify individuals in new and innovative ways. Below are just few.

Tracking individuals via dust. U.S. Patent No. 9485423B2, “associating cameras with users and objects in a social networking system” (filed September 16, 2010, patented June 25, 2013), allows social media networks to identify an individual’s friends and relationships by correlating users across the same camera. To do so, an algorithm analyzes the metadata of a photo to find a camera’s “signature.”

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Women in Cybersecurity – Metaverse Law Interviews Malia Mason

Image Credit: Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Metaverse Law recently interviewed Malia Mason, co-founder and president of the Southern California Chapter of Women in CyberSecurity, Navy veteran, and business owner. A transcript of the conversation is available below:

Lily Li: Women make up only 15% of today’s cyber security workforce.  Today, I have brought my good friend, Malia Mason, who’s trying to get that number to 50%.  Malia, thanks for joining me today and talking a little bit about women in the cyber security and tech community.  To get started, can you let us know a little bit about how you got involved in cybersecurity? 

Malia Mason: Yeah, so, my career in cybersecurity actually began in the military when I was in the Navy years ago. I served active duty for four years and worked to secure our nation’s secrets. When I got out of the military, that’s when I wanted to continue to help secure data and decided to get into the cybersecurity realm and I’ve worked as a consultant for a few years and actually, this year, just founded my own small cybersecurity consulting firm called Integrum. We’re working to help secure small businesses, especially in nonprofits. 

Lily Li: Another thing that you’re very involved with is women in cybersecurity. So, tell us a little bit about what that organization does and what’s been happening lately in that space. 

Malia Mason: Yes, so, Women in CyberSecurity is a national nonprofit that was founded in 2012 and I am actually the co-founder and president of the Women in CyberSecurity SoCal chapter.  We boast over a hundred members so far and we have a chapter as well in San Diego and our launch event actually brought over 50 attendees, both women and allies, and it was great to see the community come together and we’re hosting a big Cyber Career Day on October 19th; which should be really, really fun and try to help more people get into this industry, especially women.

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Privacy Law Forecast for 2019

Image Credit: ID 23689850 © Steve Ball | Dreamstime.com

This past year was quite a whirlwind for privacy and cybersecurity watchers. Just to sum up a few of the top events of last year:

  • Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal rocked political headlines
  • Europe introduced the GDPR, the most comprehensive data protection legislation to date in the world
  • California enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act, becoming the first US state to create GDPR-style rules
  • Google came under fire for allowing app developers to read your email, and track your location (even with location tracking off!)
  • Marriott’s guest reservation system was hacked, exposing the personal information of up to 500 million guests, including passport numbers and payment numbers for some of those hacked

What will happen in 2019? Here are our top 5 predictions:

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