Apple, YouTube, and others drop conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

(Reuters) – Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, Facebook Inc and Spotify all took down podcasts and channels from U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, saying on Monday that the Infowars author had broken community standards.

The sweeping moves are the broadest actions yet by internet companies that previously have suspended or removed some of the conspiracy-driven content produced by Infowars.

Since founding Infowars in 1999, Jones has built a vast audience. Among the theories he has promoted is that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington were staged by the government.

Facebook said it removed Alex Jones pages “for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”

The Infowars app remained available on the app stores hosted by Apple and Alphabet’s Google Play, however, while Twitter Inc said that Infowars accounts were not currently in violation of its rules.

Alphabet and Apple did not immediately respond to questions about why the app remained available on their platforms.

Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson said in a tweet here that the broad take-downs amounted to censorship and were intended to help Democrats in congressional elections due in November.

“Infowars is widely credited with having played a key role in electing Donald Trump. By banning Infowars, big tech is engaging in election meddling just three months before crucial mid-terms,” Watson wrote on the Infowars website.

FILE PHOTO: Alex Jones from Infowars.com speaks during a rally in support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Neither Jones nor a representative for Infowars was available for additional comment. None of the companies that took down the content commented on whether they had coordinated their actions.

The Alex Jones Channel on YouTube on Monday displayed a banner saying the account had been terminated for violating community guidelines, and a spokesperson added by email that repeated violation of policies such as those prohibiting hate speech and harassment led to termination of accounts.

Apple deleted most Infowars podcasts and a spokeswoman said in a statement that the company “does not tolerate hate speech” and publishes guidelines that developers and publishers must follow.

“Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming,” Apple said in a statement. “We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

Only one program provided by Infowars, “RealNews with David Knight,” remained on Apple’s podcasts platforms on Monday. BuzzFeed earlier reported that Apple had removed the library for five of Jones’s six Infowars podcasts, including the shows “War Room” and the daily “The Alex Jones Show.”

Twitter said in an email that content posted to other websites often was not put on Twitter and that tweets from Infowars typically were replied to by people rebutting and challenging it. If Infowars violates Twitter rules in the future, it will take action, it added.

Music and podcast company Spotify said on Monday that it had now removed all of Jones’s Infowars programs from its platform, after last week removing some programs.

A representative said that Spotify took seriously reports of hate content. “Due to repeated violations of Spotify’s prohibited content policies, The Alex Jones Show has lost access to the Spotify platform,” the representative said.

In late July, Facebook had suspended Jones’s personal profile for 30 days for what the company said was bullying and hate speech.

Jones has also promoted a theory that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was faked by left-wing forces to promote gun control. The shooting left 26 children and adults dead at a Connecticut elementary school.

FILE PHOTO: An Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

He is being sued in Texas by two Sandy Hook parents, seeking at least $1 million, claiming that they have been the subject of harassment driven by his programs.

Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Sonam Rai, Ishita Chigilli Palli and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru and Peter Henderson, Paresh Dave and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Rosalba O’Brien

FCC Admits Its Website Wasn’t Hacked During Net Neutrality Commenting. Ajit Pai Blames Obama Hire

The FCC’s inspector general said that the agency’s commenting system was not hacked by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on May 7, 2017, despite claims by FCC officials then and a refusal to address the issue by FCC Chair Ajit Pai and others in intervening months. This included the FCC failing to respond to congressional demands for more information. The comments related to the Pai’s plan to overturn network neutrality rules clarified during the Obama administration.

The actual cause? A technical failure to handle many people simultaneously heeding John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight to post comments in favor of net neutrality.

Pai now states that he was misled, despite ample time within the agency to review the information and made a determination separate from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), especially after it admitted to Gizmodo in July 2017 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that it had no record of an analysis that led to the conclusion of an attack, nor any written record of the IT staff documenting that an attack had occurred.

Separately, the issue that as many as 94% of the 23 million comments successfully submitted were clogged with duplicates and contained mostly forgeries remains unaddressed, and has also dogged the credibility of Pai and others at the FCC. The attorney general of New York at the time opened an investigation. In May 2018, two Democratic senators demanded new security measures for commenting and accountability for previous failures in a letter to Pai.

The OIG report denying an attack in May 2017 has not yet appeared, but FCC Chair Ajit Pai released a statement to try to set the news coverage agenda, ascribing all blame on one person, David Bray: “I am deeply disappointed that the FCC’s former Chief Information Officer (CIO), who was hired by the prior Administration and is no longer with the Commission, provided inaccurate information about this incident to me, my office, Congress, and the American people.”

This wasn’t the first time the comment system locked up, nor the first time Bray was fingered as making an unsupportable statement. In 2014, Oliver also asked viewers to post comments supporting net neutrality and the system went down. According to reporting in August 2017 from Gizmodo, Bray allegedly leaked information to Motherboard in 2014, following that crash, claiming that malicious activity was responsible.

Gizmodo reported that no information emerged showing an attack in 2014. Pai’s statement purports that the contents of the FCC’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reveals the same.

The FCC voted December 14, 2017, in a party-line 3-2 split, to repeal rules set in 2015 that prohibited Internet service providers from throttling, prioritizing, or discriminating data based on site, service, or device, among other regulations.

What Is Snapchat Dysmorphia And How It May Lead To More Plastic Surgery

Model Lindsey Pelas (L) and rapper Danny Boy of HardNox take a selfie at the Sapphire Pool & Day Club. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

Feeling too good about your looks? Think that you are just too darn hot? Worried that your sexiness and self-confidence will intimidate far too many people? Not spending enough time obsessing over your appearance? Well, there is always Snapchat, Instagram, or other photo-sharing platforms to take your self-esteem down a few pegs.

In fact, doctors are worried that the spread of photo-editing technology and photo-sharing can really screw up the way you view yourself. There is even an unofficial new term, Snapchat dysmorphia, to describe what may happen. The term is a riff on body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a mental health condition where you have a very distorted view of your own appearance. You focus obsessively on what you perceive as flaws in your appearance and exhibit accompanying compulsive behaviors such as excessively checking yourself in the mirror, grooming, and asking others about your looks and even getting unnecessary plastic surgery. Snapchat dysmorphia is essentially some form of BDD triggered by seeing too many unrealistic pictures on social media. Of course, the problem is not Snapchat specific. One could also coin the terms “Instagram Ick” or Can’t Stand My Face On Facebook.”    

As Susruthi Rajanala, Mayra B. C. Maymone, MD, DSc, and Neelam A. Vashi, MD from Boston University explained in a recent JAMA Facial and Plastic Surgery opinion pieceit used to be that only models and actors could regularly have their faces and bodies altered by photo-editing technology. Not anymore. With the flood of such photo-altering apps and filters and photo sharing platforms, now you and practically anyone else can be like a celebrity, in that way, minus the fame and the money. Thus, you can now choose from many, many more people to make you feel bad about your looks.

This may have real, serious consequences. I’ve written previously for Forbes about how digitally altered photos may be leading to more eating disorders and emotional issues. Additionally, as the opinion piece indicated, improving appearance in selfies seems to be an increasing reason why people are seeking plastic surgery. The availability of filters and other digital editors allows more people to edit their own selfies and then show dermatologists and plastic surgeons what they “want” to look like. Of course, there is a big difference between editing your selfie on a smartphone and editing yourself with a knife and chemicals.

Nowadays, there is a plethora of photo editing and sharing apps to choose from on your smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

What then can be done about this growing problem? When it comes to photo-editing, the cat is already out of the bag and also being painted on people’s faces. (No, your friends probably don’t really have cat ears and noses.) Society will never return to a time where only analog photographs existed. Digital technologies will only get more and more advanced to the point where reality will harder and harder to discern.

Thus, the solution will be in the people and not the photos or technology. Our society has become way too obsessed with appearance and arbitrarily chosen standards for appearance. If you are like many others, you may be choosing whom you work with, whom you befriend, whom you date, and even whom you listen to based simply on superficial appearance. But unless you are a face mask manufacturer, chances are you are placing way too much emphasis on the wrong things.

Instead, try to focus on and develop real talents, abilities, and skills. To my knowledge, Snapchat and Instagram still don’t have filters that can add thinking ability, insight, compassion, and personality to people. As a general rule, if you can easily change something on Snapchat or Instagram, it probably wasn’t worth that much in the first place.

'NBA 2K19' Player Ratings: Deandre Ayton Render And Overall Rating Revealed

Phoenix Suns’ No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton will be rated a 79 overall in NBA 2K19 when the game is released on September 11 for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.

Deandre Ayton in NBA 2K19Credit: 2K

The Suns took the Arizona product with the top pick after an impressive freshman campaign. Ayton averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocked shots. He also made 34 percent of his three-point attempts.

Deandre Ayton in NBA 2K19Credit: 2K

Unfortunately, Ayton and the Wildcats were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the first round. The 79 rating seems a little low for a top pick. Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Markelle Fultz got an 80 rating out of the gate. Not only is Ayton rated beneath last year’s top pick, he has an equal overall rating as Luka Doncic who was drafted third.

The 79 overall rating is consistent with what the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons got as the top pick coming out of the 2016 draft. With the Sacramento Kings’ Marvin Bagley only getting a 78 rating, it appears as though Doncic is the player with a mark that is above his draft slot.

Expect to hear arguments from both sides of the fence, even though the difference is just two overall points.

As we saw with the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum last year, the No. 3 pick can outperform the two players drafted ahead of him when it counts. Ayton is the highest-rated rookie big man in the game since Anthony Davis started his career with a 79 overall rating in NBA 2K13. As the upcoming season progresses, it’ll be interesting to monitor which players trend up, down or stay even with their initial assessment.

I write about sports and video games. I began my career with Bleacher Report in 2010 and I’m now a Forbes Contributor as well as a YouTuber, Twitch streamer and co-host of The Fight Guys podcast, The SimHangout, and my own weekly Q&A AskMazique. I’ve been blessed to make…

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AT&T Is Sending Collection Agents After Its Own Retirees

AT&T has taken the rare step of hiring collection agencies to pursue money it says it is owed by its own retired former employees. AT&T claims the retirees mistakenly received excess pension benefit payments, but some say they don’t have the ability to return the funds.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, pension overpayments, some dating back decades, have been identified by Fidelity, the company’s current pension administrator. Unsurprisingly, many recipients of pension overpayments assume the payments are correct and use the money to pay living and medical expenses, leaving them unable to repay the funds. AT&T says overpayments have impacted “significantly less than 1/10th of 1%” of roughly 517,000 pension participants, and only a small number of those have been referred to collection agencies.

But retirees who have been impacted report significant anxiety. Eileen Ralston, 75, worked for AT&T in two separate roles between 1970 and 1999, and was mistakenly sent excess pension payments because one of her positions was essentially counted twice. She told the Journal she initially thought the higher payments were a mistake, but was reassured by pension administrators that they were correct.

In September of 2017, Ralston found out her suspicions had been correct – she was told she owed the plan $58,500.11 because of the miscalculation. Ralston has not repaid and has not been referred to a collection agency, but worries AT&T will take further action.

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AT&T did not disclose exactly how many of its retirees may be in similar situations, but 17 former AT&T workers have contacted lawyers at the nonprofit Pension Rights Center. Several recipients of excess benefits have cited an inability to pay and asked that the repayment demands be waived, but have been denied, according to the Journal. Some were notified that collection efforts would be put on hold, but that AT&T reserved the right to resume them in the future.

The company’s approach has divided pension experts. The IRS requires that companies make serious efforts to recover excess pension payments, which reduce funds available to other recipients. Failing to recoup overpayments, some pension lawyers told the Journal, could threaten pension programs’ tax benefits. However, the IRS says missing funds can also be replaced by seeking restitution from plan administrators who caused the errors the first place, or repaying them from company funds. AT&T reported $5.1 billion in net profit in the second quarter of 2018.

A lawyer with the South Central Pension Rights Project told the Journal his service has not previously seen collection agencies involved in such situations, and described AT&T’s tactics as “kind of harsh.” Former Treasury Department officials also said they had not seen collection agencies used in similar cases. AT&T and Fidelity, for their part, described their tactics as “common and similar to how most other employers handle this issue.”

Wall Street eyes more gains from Apple, its $1 trillion stock

(Reuters) – Shares in Apple Inc (AAPL.O) edged higher on Friday but stayed close to the $1 trillion valuation milestone the iPhone maker reached a day earlier, even as Wall Street predicted more gains.

An electronic screen displays the Apple Inc. stock price at the Nasdaq Market Site in New York City, New York, U.S., August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

After becoming the first $1 trillion publicly-listed U.S. company on Thursday, Apple last traded up 0.1 pct at $207.57 after falling as low as $205.48 and as high as $208.74, as it oscillated around the $207.0425 price that marked the record market cap.

Daniel Morgan, portfolio manager at Synovus Trust in Atlanta, said Apple’s lukewarm Friday was a temporary pause for the stock rather than a sign it could lose ground.

“It’s like the horse that crosses the finish line and says I’m totally wiped out,” said Morgan, whose firm holds more than 200,000 shares in Apple.

“There was a strong earnings report on Tuesday. All the enthusiasm around the $1 trillion market capitalization, both those things have just exhausted the current trading in Apple. And it’s Friday. The whole week was engulfed by Apple,” he said.

Apple still looks relatively cheap even with a trillion dollar valuation. Its shares trade at less than 16 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months, according to Morgan, who said he would be comfortable with a multiple of 18 or 19 for the stock.

“That’s a reasonable level so I don’t feel there’s any risk that people will say its trading at a $1 trillion let’s put the brakes on this … If it was Amazon or Netflix that were hitting a trillion, then we could have that conversation,” he said.

(Interactive Graphic – Apple hits $1 trillion stock valuation: tmsnrt.rs/2Mg6mZ8)

Netflix (NFLX.O) currently trades at 93.8 times estimates for its earnings in the next 12 months while Amazon.Com’s (AMZN.O) multiple is 83.74.

“If Apple trades at 20 times earnings that would be crazy,” he said, estimating that Apple shares could go as high as $220 by year-end.

Amazon, Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) are in a tight race to become the second U.S. company to reach the $1 trillion milestone.

Most sell-side analysts also seemed to see $1 trillion as just one milestone on Apple’s way to greater gains as the median price target for the stock is $218.50 and the mean price target at $215.46, according to data collected by Thomson Reuters.

The highest price expectation for the stock is Brian White’s $275 target, which would mean a $1.3 trillion valuation, according to the analyst from Monness Crespi Hardt, who says he was first on the Street with a price target that reflected a $1-trillion valuation.

Despite the record valuation, White said, “Apple is one of the most under-appreciated stocks in the world.”

Trip Miller, managing partner at Gullane Capital LLC in Memphis, said Apple “should trade much higher.”

“They are so dependent on one product for such a huge part of their revenue that I believe that’s why it gets that discount,” said Miller whose firm also owns Amazon shares.

(Graphic: Apple revenue by segment, product units – tmsnrt.rs/2LNgw6q)

Reporting By James Thorne and Sinéad Carew in New York, Noel Randewich in San Francisco,; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Tom Brown

Google in talks with Tencent, others for cloud services in China: BBG

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google is in talks with Tencent Holdings Ltd, Inspur Group and other Chinese companies to offer its cloud services in the mainland, Bloomberg reported here on Friday, citing people familiar with the discussions.

A Google sign is seen during the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy) in Shanghai, China August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

The talks began in early 2018 and the internet giant narrowed partnership candidates to three firms in late March.

It is immediately unclear if the plans will proceed in the wake of increasing trade tensions between China and the United States, the report said.

Google and Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Google, which quit China’s search engine market in 2010, has been actively seeking ways to re-enter China, where many of its products are blocked by regulators.

Through local partnership, Google aims to run its internet-based services through the domestic data centers and servers of Chinese providers, similar to the way other U.S. cloud companies access that market, the report said.

Reuters on Thursday reported that Google plans to launch a version of its search engine in China that will block some websites and search terms.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

It's Never Too Late to Be a Reader Again

It was a book that drove me away from books. This wasn’t a trauma of distaste, or indulgence: not a literary bad mussel, not waking up on the floor of someone’s house with a swimming head and the knowledge that I could never again be within smelling distance of their first editions. My aversion was borne of fear.

The fear took root in 2016—which, while decidedly not-great in general, was very much a great year for books. Especially fiction. Especially especially speculative fiction. Between new releases and neo-classics I finally got around to reading (*cough* American Gods *cough*), not to mention the WIRED Book Club, the year remains the most consistently pleasant span on my otherwise dusty and shame-ridden Goodreads page. The books were an escape. Early in the year I’d been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to write a book of my own, and responded by getting as far away from the project as possible, diving into imaginary worlds as though I could take up residence there.

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Knowing the task I faced and my keen desire to avoid it, you’d think I would be able to find a balance. You’d think that once I settled into some sort of writing routine, that groove would accommodate pleasure reading. Not so much, as it turns out! Instead, books became daunting. I’d start a novel, and my focus would atrophy almost immediately. I’d get 100 pages in, or 60, or 20, and put it to the side. The reason was never dislike, but rather a host of other culprits. Seeing a published book, I’d remember that I wasn’t finished—and that I’d never be finished. I was consumed with the idea that I’d be intimidated by someone else’s gift, that I’d subconsciously mimic another’s voice. These weren’t rational concerns so much as they were whispers of pettiness and self-doubt, the same ones that haunt us all in tiny ways; still, their small voices massed in a choir that out-sang any note a book could strike. (What made this sadder still is I was working on a nonfiction book. Novels should have been a DMZ for my insecurities, not an incubator.)

That’s how 2016 ended; that’s how 2017 passed; that’s how 2018 began. Somewhere along the way, I finished my book, and the cloud began to lift. I started going to bookstores again, taking pictures of covers and spines so I’d remember them later. I started buying novels once more. But while they helped me to think of myself as a reader again, they didn’t get read. Instead, they stacked—on my coffee table, next to my bed, crowding the front page of my Kindle. As the BBC kindly pointed out recently, this was a textbook case of tsundoku: good-faith purchases that start as literature but become architecture. Turns out, though, that having a Japanese term for something doesn’t make it feel any better.

Gaining traction again was a matter of steering into the skid. Sometimes you—OK, sometimes I—don’t need challenging prose or epic scope or shifting perspectives and unreliable narrators; sometimes you need a fucking yarn. Which, for me, means crime novels. My father sparked the habit by feeding me Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books when I was a kid, and I’ve been a junkie ever since. Patricia Cornwell’s innumerable books about forensics expert Kay Scarpetta; Andrew Vachss’ series starring Burke, the child abuse survivor who took down creeps with extreme prejudice. I can’t remember what introduced me to Jack Reacher, but I read the first eight of Lee Child’s books about the ex-soldier-turned-do-gooder in rapid succession, never caring that by the fourth one I could see their templated structures like so many 1s and 0s in the Matrix. Donald Stark’s Parker novels? God, yes, that’s the good stuff.

In 2018, the hit came courtesy of—who else?—Stephen King. Reading Amazon comments while considering an impulse buy of The Outsider, I saw someone mention that it was a cousin to King’s so-called Bill Hodges trilogy of detective novels. So I got the first, Mr. Mercedes. Two weeks later, I’d devoured all three. Where they great? They were not. Did I care? Not even a little. If story is the carbohydrate of fiction, King makes a mean baguette.

Besides, they’d given me at least a degree of mojo back. I was back in that place where I would look forward to reading, where I’d reach for a book instead of my phone. But instead of starting to scale my tsundoku mountain, I surprised myself by going looking for one of the novels I’d abandoned during my exile: Paul La Farge’s The Night Ocean, the fictional tale of a journalist who had gone missing after writing a book about H.P. Lovecraft’s hidden gay affair. Crossing the hundredth page— the same one that had felled me more than a year before—I felt something in my chest settle. And when I got to the last page, I realized I’d found something more than a beautifully unresolved ending. I’d found a reckoning.

Look, I’m just gonna say it. Reading is hard. Not the act, but the pursuit. There’s always something else to do—something easier, something bigger or louder, something that makes you feel better, something that makes you feel worse. (Looking at you, social media.) But none of that changes the fact that we all want to be readers. That’s why Goodreads elicits hope and inadequacy in equal measure; it’s why you keep that paperback in your bag even if you haven’t opened it since you bought it two months ago. And it’s why putting a book down unfinished creates a little scar tissue. I couldn’t do it, you think. I failed. Couple that with the ever-growing list of books you want to read, and the only choice is to march grimly on; looking back is grief.

Something happened when I went back to that fallen book, though. I found myself appreciating not just the rest of the book, but everything that had happened since the time I’d first closed it. It was story and sacrament in one, a healing that I never expected. So, instead of beginning one of the many new titles I’d amassed, I returned to the scene of the crime again. And this reunion—with Babylon’s Ashes, the sixth book in the Expanse saga of sci-fi novels—was even sweeter.

With so much life waiting in my reading list, I’m ready to leave my other ghosts behind. But next time you put down a book, remember this: It’s not you. It’s not the book, either. (OK, maybe it’s the book.) It’s the timing. A year down the road, maybe more, that book might be just the thing you need. Maybe you need to grow into it; maybe it needs to grow into you. But you’re not going to discover that connection if you pretend it never happened. Anything can drive you away from reading—but only a book will bring you back.


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Tesla shares spike, dealing short-sellers a $1.7 billion loss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) shares soared 16 percent on Thursday, a day after the electric car maker’s better-than-expected quarterly report, and financial analytics firm S3 Partners said short-sellers were slammed with $1.7 billion in paper losses on the day.

FILE PHOTO: The Tesla logo is seen at the entrance to Tesla Motors’ new showroom in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District in New York City, U.S., December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

S3 said the day’s losses pushed the aggregate year-to-date performance of short-sellers in Tesla into the red. Short-sellers aim to profit by selling borrowed shares, hoping to buy them back later at a lower price. Tesla is the most shorted U.S. stock.

Until Wednesday, Tesla short-sellers had, on paper, been up $276 million for the year. Following Thursday’s stock surge, they now have losses of $1.4 billion for the year, S3 data showed.

“We are not seeing a large amount of buy to covers yet,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, head of research at S3 in New York, referring to traders buying shares to close out an existing short position.

“With such a large price move on the open, most short-sellers that are looking to cover are waiting for a retracement before placing buy-to-cover orders,” he said.

Tesla shares rallied $48.70 to $349.54 a day after the manufacturer said it would produce its new Model 3 sedan at a profit, following several recent weeks in which output had stabilized.

The update buoyed hopes that the company led by Elon Musk will stanch its losses.

Tesla’s rapid cash burn and struggles at turning a profit have made it a favorite target for shorts, including big names such as Jim Chanos, head of Kynikos Associates, and billionaire hedge fund manager David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital fund.

Since the beginning of 2016, Tesla is the fourth-worst performing U.S. short bet, and short-sellers have lost $4.70 billion on a net basis over that period, according to S3 data.

A sharp rally in the electric car maker’s shares since early April has hurt short-sellers.

On Tuesday, Einhorn told investors that his bet against the stock had turned into heavy second-quarter losses at his Greenlight Capital fund.

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by David Gregorio and Phil Berlowitz

Reddit Got Hacked Thanks to a Woefully Insecure Two-Factor Setup

Reddit said in a blog post Wednesday that a hacker broke into the company’s systems in June and gained access to a variety of data, including user emails, source code and internal files, and “all Reddit data from 2007 and before.” And it likely could have been avoided if some Reddit employees were using two-factor authentication apps or physical keys instead of their phone numbers.

“On June 19, we learned that an attacker compromised a few of Reddit’s accounts with cloud and source code hosting providers by intercepting SMS 2FA verification codes,” a Reddit spokesperson said in a statement. (Advance Publications, which owns WIRED publisher Condé Nast, is Reddit’s majority shareholder.) “We are working with federal law enforcement, and have also taken measures to both address this current situation and prevent similar incidents in the future. A small number of users were affected and have been notified.”

Among the compromised information was a 2007 Reddit database backup, which means if you were using the platform back then, your account information from that time—like your email address, username, and password—has been exposed. Reddit says the passwords were protected by cryptographic salting and hashing defenses, but if you still use that old password for your Reddit account, or any online account, you should change it to a strong, random password in case the Reddit trove can be cracked.

“Since the salting and hashing is going back to 2006 or 2007, it’s likely sub-optimal,” says Kenn White, director of the Open Crypto Audit Project. “Everyone should probably change their passwords.”

Reddit also noted that logs from June 3 to June 17, 2018 related to the platform’s “email digests” were exposed. This is a problem, because access to that information would allow attackers to see the usernames connected to each user email address—helpful information if you’re trying to compromise accounts. The digests also make suggestions about posts and subreddits a user might like, which potentially gives attackers additional information about individuals on Reddit.

Those are the main user impacts the company is highlighting, but chief technology officer Christopher Slowe mentions in the blog post that the breach also compromised “Reddit source code, internal logs, configuration files and other employee workspace files.” All those things combined could give hackers deep insight into Reddit’s fundamental structure and architecture, which creates a long-term risk the company will need to address.

“Once a criminal sneaks in through a window in your house in the middle of the night, yes, they can steal your china, snap a picture of your bank statements, and drink your beer,” White says.

Attackers got into Reddit’s systems by compromising some employee administrative accounts for company cloud storage and source code storage. Slowe notes in the blog post that the employees were using two-factor authentication to protect these crucial accounts, but some number of them had that layer of protection set up with SMS—meaning someone would need a code texted to their mobile number to complete an account login. The problem is that SMS-based two-factor is known to be insecure, because attackers can launch a “SIM swapping” attack to take control of a user’s SIM card and all the data coming to their phone number.

Though the average consumer may not have heard about the dangers of using SMS in two-factor authentication, the tech community has known about the risk for a few years. Yet somehow Reddit missed the memo. “We learned that SMS-based authentication is not nearly as secure as we would hope, and the main attack was via SMS intercept,” Slowe wrote on Wednesday.

“What they are saying is that their cloud infrastructure had high-privilege accounts secured by crappy two factor protections and one of their admins was popped,” White says. “A high-value property like Reddit secured with some dude’s mobile number is no bueno.”

Reddit says that it will notify users whose current account password relates to credentials compromised in the breach, and will prompt those affected individuals to change their passwords. The company is encouraging everyone to “think about whether you still use the password you used on Reddit 11 years ago on any other sites today. If your email address was affected, think about whether there’s anything on your Reddit account that you wouldn’t want associated back to that address.”

The company also says users should do as it says, not as it (apparently) does, and only use authentication apps or physical authentication tokens for two-factor protection. As Slowe notes, SMS-based two-factor is not an option for Reddit accounts.


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