Month: October 2016

End social engineering social media posts

Society

I abhor the commonly reoccuring social media posts that say something like this:

If you love Jesus, you’ll share this post. If you support the Devil, you’ll ignore this.

Would you save your mother from a burning house? Share if you would, ignore if you want her to die.

You fell for the Breast Cancer Awareness Challenge! Now you have to post one of the following on your page: 1. I met Gordon Ramsey, blah blah blah

If you don’t repost this before tomorrow, your social media account will be deleted because [insert false reason here]. Copy and paste this message if you don’t want that to happen!

For the first three: The people who made these messages simply want popularity. Do you think your local pastor wrote this as a moral test? Actually, by exploiting our tender emotions, they are able to obtain their much beloved social media presence. Such manipulation is not only extremely immoral, it’s basically extortion. Either post or be known as a terrible person. And of course you’re not a terrible person, so you must repost it, right?

Hey, you are a strong human being. Your feelings were not made so you would fall to these traps. They were made to care about the issues that matter. Instead of sharing a trap, why don’t you go help your mother with the dishes or go talk to her or something? She’ll appreciate it much more than reposting an extortion post, I promise. As for the “breast cancer” bait-and-switch, that’s really just a sneaky method to spread awareness. These three are all basically Ponzi schemes where nobody even earns money, except perhaps their happiness about their extortion post getting shared, which isn’t even on the minds of most good people, because they’re more concerned for Jesus or their mothers.

For the last one: Social media companies will not determine if an account will be deleted based on if a message was posted. If you think about it just a bit, you’ll agree with me that it doesn’t make too much sense, right? That’s an absurd way for discriminating which accounts get deleted and which won’t; and even if you’re doing it “just in case,” it seriously won’t happen, because they’re trying not to become bankrupt (which is the effect if they mass delete billions of users off their databases).

So don’t repost those traps, because you’d have only fulfilled the perverse attention-grabbing desires of the creators. I’m pretty sure both Jesus and mothers around the world know very well that your love for them does not depend on submitting to an immoral Facebook post. Additionally, breast cancer is already well known around the United States. There is no need to play deceptive tricks amongst friends to spread information about it. Finally, social media companies won’t resort to asinine “copy-and-paste or delete” games because something suddenly “happened.”

In conclusion, just please stop falling for them. It’ll make everyone’s life better. You can take on the guilt for others; your followers won’t have to see the guilt-striking post. You would be making a good sacrifice for your dear friends. 🙂

Why the “handover” of the internet is a nonissue

InternetSociety

I am writing this article because many media outlets are dumbing this current situation down. What exactly does “handing over the internet” mean?

The internet links many machines together. When you visit a website, you are visiting a machine. How do you know how to get to this machine? IP addresses. We don’t memorize IP addresses, but we do memorize domain names. For instance, we know 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW as the White House. This system works very well. Except, how do we know which IP address(es) correlate to which domain names? And if they control this, how much control do they have over the assigning of domain names and IP addresses?

It turns out that the organization that controls the “address book” of the internet is called IANA, which is owned by ICANN. IANA operated the DNS root (“address book of the internet”) under the supervision of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the US Department of Commerce. On October 1, 2016, the NTIA’s contract to let ICANN control the DNS root expired and control of the DNS root was ceded to ICANN.

One major bit of information that media outlets and Ted Cruz have failed to mention is that this DNS root is only the most popular one out of many. It turns out that there are also many alternative DNS roots. They can also choose to add their own top-level domains (TLDs; e.g. .com, .net, .org, etc.), and they have. Ever heard of “.free” or “.geek”? IANA’s DNS root does not have either of these TLDs in their DNS root, but OpenNIC does have these two TLDs. OpenNIC has been around longer than Ted Cruz has had his concern that the internet will be hijacked by other countries. His argument is fallacious, simply because other countries could hijack only one predominant DNS root, out of many DNS roots. If the predominant DNS root were hijacked, it would be very easy for the US to simply route major ISPs to start using a non-hijacked DNS root. Don’t forget that Russia and China, instead of whining about the US’s control over the internet, instead created their own DNS roots and methods of censorship. Regardless of whether their actions were good or bad, they found a solution to the problem.

A prudent solution would be for the United States government (and I even suggest other organizations like the EFF) to maintain a backup of the DNS root to its liking. That way, if a foreign country truly does begin “censoring” in the predominant DNS root, we can simply switch DNS servers on our machines to begin using our preferred DNS root. Better yet, just begin using OpenNIC, if you’re truly paranoid about internet censorship à la DNS.

As someone who owns domain names, I obviously have dealt with ICANN. I do believe they do a pretty good job. They won’t suddenly be swayed by foreign countries, and if they do, we’ll simply switch to another DNS root. Think of ICANN as the United Nations. If a country truly did not like the UN, they can simply leave. In fact, Switzerland didn’t even join the UN until 2002, and Indonesia left the UN in 1964 (only to rejoin in 1965). The internet is decentralized and this is simply an administrative change that has been waiting to happen for a long time. There’s nothing to worry about.