How Facebook Exploits Underage Girls In Its Quest For Ad Revenue

Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg

How Facebook Exploits Underage Girls in its Quest for Ad Revenue

Sophie Bean, 14, of Sequim, Wash., said she was thought she was “liking” a Facebook ad related to fashion modeling. Instead, it promoted a Facebook page that recruited adult webcam models.

“I just thought it was for modeling, and I’m interested in that, and I thought it would help me out,” Sophie said.

Sophie wasn’t the only teen connecting with the page, which Facebook statistics show is most popular with users 13 to 17. Clicking on it didn’t pull the teens into nude webcam modeling, but did mean they would receive the page’s updates and could be mentioned in future versions of the ad.

– From the Wall Street Journal’s recent article: Nude Webcams and Diet Drugs: the Facebook Ads Teens Aren’t Supposed to See

This post is my third in recent weeks exploring what exactly is going on with the Facebook business model. The company reported stellar results in its latest earnings report, which has led to many questions as to exactly how they are making all this advertising money. Well the pieces are finally starting to come together, and the answer is not pretty.

For some context, I suggest you first read the previous articles I posted:

How Much of Facebook’s Ad Revenue is From Click Fraud?

This Man’s $600,000 Facebook Disaster is a Warning For All Small Businesses

With all that in mind, let’s move on to the third piece of the puzzle. The routine exploitation of the weakness and most gullible members of society, teenage girls.

The crazy thing here is not that some random selection of underage girls are being led to click on ads that direct them to adult video cam sites and dangerous dietary supplements, but that they represent the primary demographic clicking on these ads.

This story from the Wall Street Journal is sure to make your blood boil no matter who you are, but particularly if you are a parent with young children.

From the WSJ:

“Who do you like?” asked recent ads on Facebook, featuring young women in alluring poses.

Some of the ads were configured to reach young teens, who were invited to join an app called Ilikeq that let others rate their attractiveness, comment on their photos and say if they would like to date them.

That’s how 14-year-old Erica Lowder’s picture ended up on display to adult men online. Users of Ilikeq, one of Facebook’s fastest-growing “lifestyle” apps, were able to click through to the Indianapolis girl’s Facebook page. 

The case offers a glimpse into how young Facebook users are sometimes exposed to ads inappropriate for them. A 14-year-old girl in Washington state said she “liked” an ad that led to the Facebook page of a nude webcam-modeling site.

Facebook said it approved the ads for young teens because it hadn’t categorized Ilikeq as a dating site. It said it has now done so and has disabled Ilikeq ads for those below its minimum age for dating-site ads, 18. 

Advertisers on Facebook can set their ads to reach all users or narrow the focus. Facebook’s website says it can help advertisers target consumers based on an array of user information it collects, such as age, gender, relationship status, politics and type of phone owned.

“We take the quality of ads on Facebook very seriously,” Facebook said in a statement. 

Really? You could’ve fooled me.

Facebook used to limit ads to users 18 and older by default. An advertiser who wanted to reach younger people had to change the setting.

In 2011, it eliminated this restriction for some advertisers, so their ads could be shown to all unless specified. That change was extended to all advertisers in 2012, around the time of Facebook’s initial public offering.

Just a coincidence I’m sure…

The change meant roughly 10 million U.S. Facebook users aged from 13 to 17 were exposed to a wider range of marketing. Facebook said it made the change because most advertisers wanted to reach users of all ages, and most ads are appropriate for all.

Sophie Bean, 14, of Sequim, Wash., said she was thought she was “liking” a Facebook ad related to fashion modeling. Instead, it promoted a Facebook page that recruited adult webcam models.

“I just thought it was for modeling, and I’m interested in that, and I thought it would help me out,” Sophie said.

Sophie wasn’t the only teen connecting with the page, which Facebook statistics show is most popular with users 13 to 17. Clicking on it didn’t pull the teens into nude webcam modeling, but did mean they would receive the page’s updates and could be mentioned in future versions of the ad.

Sophie’s father, Robert Bean, said he found the matter “pretty disgusting.” He said that if Facebook is aware of such ads, “they need to be exposed for dealing with companies like this.”

Ads for diet products containing a substance called HCG have run on Facebook. HCG, a hormone produced during pregnancy, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a prescription drug for infertility. But the agency, in a 2011 news release headed “HCG Diet Products Are Illegal,” said HCG doesn’t help with weight loss and isn’t approved for over-the-counter sale for any purpose.

A Florida outfit that has run Facebook ads in the past uses an “HCG Diet Kits” Facebook page as an online storefront to sell HCG serum and syringes. The page is most popular with Facebook users aged 13 to 24, according to Facebook’s statistics. On Feb. 20, the page posted “Back in stock!” and listed prices for its diet-shots kits to its Facebook following.


Full article here.


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Thoughtful gift from one of my clients who just got back from Hawai’i. #PineappleMakesTheStuffThatComesOutOfYourPeePeeTasteYummy #SoIHear


Thoughtful gift from one of my clients who just got back from Hawai’i. #PineappleMakesTheStuffThatComesOutOfYourPeePeeTasteYummy #SoIHear




from @hooper_fit RSS | Webstagram

Fortress Loses Millions On Bitcoin Investment

Readers will recall that back in October, when the only way for Bitcoin seemed up, none other than the head of sophisticated hedge fund/private equity megafund Fortress Group, Michael Novogratz, recommended buying Bitcoin:  “I have a nice little Bitcoin position,” Novogratz said. “Enough that I’m smiling that it doubled… Put a little money in Bitcoin…Come back in a few years and it’s going to be worth a lot.”

Or, you can come back in a few months and now that the momentum euphoria is over and done with, watch it be worth far less.

According to the FT, Fortress “is sitting on losses of $8m on an experimental investment in Bitcoin. The company’s annual report revealed that it bought $20m of the virtual currency in the final months of last year, making it the first mainstream investment company to list Bitcoin among the assets on its balance sheet.”

The value of its position was already underwater by the end of December, however, and the price of Bitcoin has continued to slip this year amid scares over the underlying technology and the bankruptcy of what was once the largest virtual currency exchange.


By buying the currency for its own account, Fortress not only places a small bet on its future value but also learns more about the practicality of using Bitcoin as a financial instrument in the future and about the potential for business built around virtual currency.


The company deemed Bitcoin too speculative, however, to put in any of the funds it manages on behalf of other investors.

Good. Because as of year end, Fortress valued its stash of Bitcoin at $16.3 million at the end of December. Since then Bitcoin has fallen by a further one-quarter so far this year, cutting the value of the stake to $12.1m at mid-Friday prices. The bankruptcy of the formerly biggest Bitcoin exchange will do that.

As for Fortress, don’t cry for the asset manager: “The experimental stake in Bitcoin represents a fraction of Fortress’s $2.6bn balance sheet. The company manages $61.8bn in assets and posted a 121 per cent rise in net income to $484m for 2013.”

Oh well: on to the next gigamomentum (to borrow a popular prefix) investment which sophisticated investors buy into and just because the dumber money always chases on their coattails, makes them believe what incredible investors they are. So for anyone following in Fortress’ footsteps: go for it, just don’t come back to check on your money “in a few years.” It will have long since been “disappeared.” Come to think of it, just like those millions of Mt. Gox bitcoins


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

New Spy Technology To Spawn Oil Revolution

Submitted by James Burgess of

New Spy Technology to Spawn Oil Revolution

The future of oil exploration lies in new technology–from massive data-processing supercomputers to 4D seismic to early-phase airborne spy technology that can pinpoint prospective reservoirs.

Oil and gas is getting bigger, deeper, faster and more efficient, with new technology chipping away at “peak oil” concerns.  Hydraulic fracturing has caught mainstream attention, other high-tech developments in exploration and discovery have kept this ball rolling.

Oil majors are second only to the US Defense Department in terms of the use of supercomputing systems, which find sweet spots for drilling based on analog geology. These supercomputing systems analyze vast amounts of seismic imaging data collected by geologists using sound waves.

What’s changed most recently is the dimension: When the oil and gas industry first caught on to seismic data collection for exploration efforts, the capabilities were limited to 2-dimensional imaging. The next step was 3D, which gives a much more accurate picture of what’s down there.

The latest is the 4th dimension: Time, which allows explorers not only to determine the geological characteristics of a potential play, but also tells them how a reservoir is changing in real time.   But all this is very expensive.  And oilmen are zealous cost-cutters.

The next step in technology takes us off the ground and airborne—at a much cheaper cost—according to Jen Alic, a global intelligence and energy expert for OP Tactical.

The newest advancement in oil exploration is an early-phase aerial technology that can see what no other technology—including the latest 3D seismic imagery—can see, allowing explorers to pinpoint untapped reservoirs and unlock new profits, cheaper and faster.

“We’ve watched supercomputing and seismic improve for years.  Our research into new airborne reservoir-pinpointing technology tells us that this is the next step in improving the bottom line in terms of exploration,” Alic said.

“In particular, we see how explorers could reduce expensive 3D seismic spending because they would have a much smaller area pinpointed for potential.  Companies could save tens of millions of dollars.”

The new technology, developed by Calgary’s NXT Energy Solutions, has the ability to pinpoint prospective oil and gas reservoirs and to determine exactly what’s still there from a plane moving at 500 kilometers an hour at an altitude of 3,000 meters.

The Stress Field Detection (SFD) technology uses gravity to gather its oil and gas intelligence—it can tell different frequencies in the gravitational field deep underground.

Just like a stream is deflected by a big rock, SFD detects  gravity disturbances due to subsurface stress and density variations.   Porous rock filled with fluids has a very different density than surrounding solid rocks. Remember, gravity measurement is based on the density of materials. SFD detects subtle changes in earth’s gravitational field.

According to its developers, the SFD could save oil and gas companies up to 90% of their exploration cost by reducing the time spent searching for a reservoir and drilling into to it to determine whether there’s actually any oil and gas still there.

“Because it’s all done from the air, SFD doesn’t need on-the-ground permitting, and it covers vast acreage very quickly. It tells explorers exactly where to do their very expensive 3D seismic, greatly reducing the time and cost of getting accurate drilling information,” NXT Energy Solutions President and CEO George Liszicasz, told in a recent interview.

Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex has already put the new technology to the test  both onshore and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, and was  a repeat customer in 2012.  They co-authored with NXT a white paper on their initial blind-test used of the survey  technology.

At first, management targeted the technology to frontier areas where little  seismic  or well data existed.  As an example, Pacific Rubiales Energy is using SFD technology in Colombia, where the terrain, and environmental concerns, make it difficult to obtain permits and determine where best to drill.

The technology was recently  contracted in the United States for unconventional plays  as well.


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Officers Of 76th Russian Shock Troops Division Operating In Ukraine

Everyone is curious who those unmarked men in unforms that have been seen in youtube clips from the Crimea are. Courtesy of Russian blogger Lev Shlosberg who writes for the newspaper Pskovskaya Guberniya, we now have an answer: according to him they are the officers of the 76th Chernihov (Pskov) Storm Troops Division and have slowly dispersed across key choke points in Ukraine.

From his post, translated by

According to one of the participants in the operation, officers and contractors of the 76th Shock Troops Division have been re-locating to Ukrainian territory since last week. By early this week, there were already more than 100 soldiers. The last of the famous detachments was sent on Thursday, 27 February. They are fully armed, with 5,000 rounds of ammunition per person. There is one truck per 10 soldiers, and they are completely loaded with weapons including flame-throwers. Upon arrival on the territory of Ukraine, they did not report their geographical locations to people, and they were assigned local tasks. Most likely, this was Sevastopol and Simferopol. Emergency troops remain in Yysk, and did not take part in the operation. The barracks of the 76th Storm Troops Division on Margelova Street in Pskov is practically empty.

Some background on the 76th:

Originally established in 1939 as the 157th Rifle Brigade, division gained prominence during WWII as the 76th Guards Rifle Division fighting on the USSR’s southern frontiers. From 1988-1992 the 76th Airborne Division, as it had become known, engaged in preventative security, averting the possible outbreak of war in former USSR territory. The division battled alongside Chechen paramilitary forces in the 1990s to wrest control of Chechen territories from Chechen separatists in the first and second Chechen wars. In 2006 the 76th Airborne Division became an Air Assault Division. During the 2008 Battle of Tskhinvali 76th Airborne Division assaults were instrumental in driving Georgian troops from South Ossetia in the Southern Caucasus.

The 76th Division comprises three regiments – the 104th, 234th and 237th, whose ranks are filled by full time professional servicemen, as opposed to conscripts. The division is equipped with the most sophisticated weaponry in modern warfare, such as the ‘smart’ precision guided munitions, guided missiles and 2S9 NONA self-propelled mortar vehicles.

Perhaps not surprising, it was the 76th that was also involved in Syria:

Given the worsening crisis in Syria, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reported that the Russian army is apparently being prepared for a mission in Syria. Citing anonymous sources in the military leadership, the newspaper said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the general staff to work out a plan for military operations outside Russia, including in Syria.


The units being prepared for an intervention are the 76th Division of airborne forces (an especially experienced unit of the Russian army), the 15th Army Division, as well as special forces from a brigade of the Black Sea fleet, which has a base in the Syrian port of Tartus.


The details of the operational plan are being prepared by the working parties of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, to which most of the post-Soviet states belong, as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to which China and Russia belong.

And the 76th appears to have been busy today: Ayder Muzhdabayev, deputy editor of Moskovsky Komsomolets, reported on Facebook 2 hours ago:

Urgent from Crimea


Armed divisions have seized the state television station (GTRK) of Crimea. All the staff have gathered together at the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR, hundreds of others have come. They are waiting for the seizure. Several APCs have arrived. For now, they’ve passed by. They are also expected seizure of the building of the Crimean Tatar’s Medjlis [Assembly]. People are already going there. Everyone is afraid of what will happen tonight. There it is.


Friends, colleagues, take care of yourself! Don’t resist the military. God save Crimea!

It would appear Putin is not exactly deterred by Obama’s harsh language.


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Want to Scare the Bejesus Out of Your Kid With a Fake Call From the Cops? There’s an App for That.

parents, aren’t there days when you wish you could have a cop call
and yell at your kids for you? Who doesn’t occasionally want to
invoke fear of a SWAT team busting down the door when Junior just
won’t pick up his Legos?

Now you can! Get your very own call from the cops for 99 cents.
A new app will generate a fake
call from “Sergeant Friendly” admonishing your kid by name for
failing to do things like sleep in their own bed or clean up their
toys. (There’s a free version, but it doesn’t have a full library
of nags.)

“Hello, this is the police department,” the call begins after a
computer-generated voice bleats the child’s name. “I heard you
haven’t been eating all of your food lately….I’ll be checking in
on you later to see that you’re eating all of your food. I have to
go now and catch some bad guys.” And then there a police

According to the press release I received today, this is the
genesis of this not-at-all creepy app:

I was visiting a mall with my two youngest children when both of
them began to misbehave.  I was embarrassed by their
behavior and was willing to do anything to get them to
listen.  I told them that the mall police were watching
them on the security cameras and that they needed to be good. At
that moment, I thought to myself, how nice would it be to have a
personalized phone call from a police officer to correct or reward
your child’s behavior. 

I contacted my wife to tell her my idea and she thought it was
brilliant. After giving it some thought, the app was developed and
now it’s available on Apple and Android devices worldwide for
FREE.  The character I created is Sergeant
Friendly.  He is a police officer that children can look
up to as a role model.  I didn’t want to scare the
children, so I made him very approachable and
likable.  The first time I tried the app with my
children, ages 3 and 5, they corrected their behavior
immediately.  About 10 minutes later, I arranged a second
call to them so that Sergeant Friendly could praise them for being
good.  They were ecstatic and could not wait to tell me
what Sergeant Friendly had said to them on the phone.
“Daddy, Sergeant Friendly just called me and told me that he
is proud of me for being good”. 

And the kicker: The creator of the app is a police

The funny thing is that I happen to be a Friendly Police Officer
myself with over 18 years of experience.  I hope your
child loves the app just as much as mine do.  Thank

On a far more grim note, here’s a reminder about what can happen
parents actually call the police on their kids.

from Hit & Run

Arizona Republicans Now Seek Warrantless Searches of Abortion Clinics

Following her
veto of Senate Bill 1062
, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer reprimanded
Republican legislators for focusing on social issues instead of
“passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona’s economic
comeback.” Naturally, they responded by
immediately taking up a new piece of abortion related

The bill, backed by the Center for Arizona Policy (the same
group that pushed SB 1062), would do away with the state health
department’s need to obtain an administrative warrant in order to
search abortion clinics, among other things. Its sponsor, state
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria), says there’s no reason abortion
clinics shouldn’t be subjected to the same kind of surprise
inspections “that happen at Burger King and McDonald’s.”

Should the measure pass,
a lawsuit is almost certain
, according to
Arizona’s Northwest Valley News. A federal appeals
court blocked a similar Arizona measure in 2004, concluding that
abortion clinics differ from other types of health facilities
because of patients’ need for an “enhanced level of privacy.”

Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix … predicted that if this measure
is approved it will wind up back in court, with a similar result —
but only after the state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars
trying to defend the measure.

When that argument failed to sway supporters, Cardenas tried a
different tactic. He offered an amendment saying that if the law is
changed and the state loses, then the cost of the legal fight
should come directly out of the budgets controlled by the House
speaker and Senate president and not from other taxpayer

After being initially approved by the Arizona House on Thursday,
a final vote on the measure (House Bill 2284) was postponed until
next week. 

from Hit & Run

Obama To Deliver Statement On Ukraine At 4:45 PM – Live Stream

Obama is scheduled to speak on the Ukraine 4:45pm. He may not even be half an hour last this time.

And while we are waiting, we just got this:


Perhaps this confirms there are no Russian troops on the ground after all.


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Tonight on The Independents: The Grouchy Oscars! Featuring Kurt Loder, Kyle Smith, Virginia Postrel, Linda Obst, and More

Keepin' it classy! |||As is the Friday
, tonight’s episode of The
(Fox Business Network 9 pm ET, 6 pm PT, with
repeats three hours later) is organized around a theme: In this
case, in honor of Sunday’s 86th annual Academy Awards, we present
our “Grouchy Oscars,” a list of best and worst movies,
performances, and historical Oscar picks. Helping out is an
all-star panel of outstanding movie reviewers—the New York
’s Kyle
, and’s own Kurt Loder.

Also on the program is beloved former Reason editor Virginia
, who will be talking about the intersection between
Hollywood and the subject of her book
The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual
. Also, producer-author Lynda Obst will talk
about her business-model book,
Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie
. And yes, we’ll be talking about
Hollywood subsidies

Send your tweets to @IndependentsFBN
throughout, use the hashtag #indFBN, and see you in
your best gowns!

from Hit & Run

What’s Not Being Said About Bitcoin by Coinbase Founder Brian Armstrong

Before I get to today’s excellent article by one of the co-founders of “next-gen” Bitcoin company Coinbase, I want to add a few of my own updated thoughts on the Mt. Gox fiasco.

While I am not at all surprised by the end of Mt. Gox (I predicted it in my piece several weeks ago), it happened much faster and in a much more spectacular fashion than I imagined. So the question here is: What comes next? Well that’s a two part question in most people’s minds, there’s the price action and the future of the protocol itself in the long-term. Let’s start with the first point.

For a while now, I thought the price pattern in Bitcoin might resemble what we saw following the last 10x run up and crash. In that case, we saw a six month consolidation from last spring to the Silk Road shutdown, after which the price exploded 10x again. If such a pattern was to reoccur, we’d be looking at the next move in Bitcoin around June. So we are still very much in a price consolation phase with wild moves within a wide trading range. I continue to work under that assumption.

What concerns me about the “missing” 750,000 bitcoins from Mt. Gox is that we don’t know who has them now. What if it is the feds, or some banking interest? The feds already own a lot of Silk Road coins, so let’s hope this is not the case. That would be the worst case scenario for the price in the near-term. Still, even if they do have these coins, they can only dump them on the market once. The problem is, we have no idea who has access to them at this point. It’s also worth considering that the market has already priced this in. After all, the Mt. Gox Bitcoin price was already trading at a massive, bankrupting predicting discount for weeks before the actually filing.

As far as the future of Bitcoin, the protocol itself as well as peer-to-peer, decentralized crypto-currencies in general, I have no doubt the future is extremely bright. It’s the financial equivalent of the invention of the internal combustion engine. However, this point is much more eloquently made by Mr. Armstrong of Coinbase. So here are some excerpts from his recent article: What’s Not Being Said About Bitcoin.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a string of issues in the Bitcoin space, from the transaction malleability bug that ultimately closed Mt.Gox’s doors to a corresponding distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that delayed transfers on multiple exchanges and services. These attacks, along with recent phishing scams and money-laundering arrests, have cast doubt on the Bitcoin space and caused consumer panic — which is fair.

But what hasn’t been communicated well is how those who are truly invested in the future of Bitcoin remain totally confident, because with every attack, breach, and arrest, Bitcoin is getting stronger and proving to consumers and businesses it is not going away.

Here is what is not being said about Bitcoin that should be.

Open networks keep growing even if individual participants fail.

It is critical to understand just how different an open payment network is from the proprietary payment networks that exist today. To illustrate this differently, let’s look at another open protocol: email.

Email is a good example of an open network with a standardized protocol; and this standardization is one reason why email is fast, free, and works just about anywhere in the world. There is no single company or country who controls the email protocol (just like Bitcoin), so thousands of different clients and implementations have been created all over the world giving it great reach and driving down prices for consumers who have many email options to choose from. You may have noticed you can successfully send emails between different service providers (such as Gmail to Outlook). This is also due to the open nature of the protocol.

If an individual email provider has a security breach, or loses the integrity of its customers, this doesn’t reflect on the concept of email generally — it merely reflects on the integrity of the individual provider. Further, the beauty of open networks is that they provide a low barrier to entry for competing services to come in and vie for your business as a consumer. Bad actors are quickly weeded out of open networks because consumers have choice — the choice of many new entrants coming on the market to vie for their business. Open networks do a great job of keeping incumbent companies honest, because if they make a mistake and lose their customers’ trust, their customers will be gone in a flash.

Unlike Bitcoin or email, our financial institutions and payment systems today are proprietary. This limits the ability for consumers to easily switch between payment providers and creates less competition for services. If the provider of a proprietary payment network isn’t serving its customers’ needs, where else will their customers turn? There is only one company you can use to access a proprietary payment network — the company that owns it. This higher switching cost has a few side effects: less competition in the market, higher fees, limited geographic reach of any individual network, and less innovation around things like speed of transactions.

continue reading

from A Lightning War for Liberty