Tech News

U.S. Government Hijacks Facebook, Kids Love Their iPads, And More… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 07-10-2014

Also, Facebook owns WhatsApp, Vib-Ribbon debuts, Plex lands on Xbox One, and Homestar Runner returns.


U.S. Government Creates Fake Facebook Profile

A special agent working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) allegedly hijacked a woman’s identity online, and the Department of Justice (DoJ) claims he had the right to do so. The story, as reported by BuzzFeed, centers on Sondra Arquiett, who was known at the time as Sondra Prince.

Arquiett was arrested and accused of being part of a drug trafficking ring. While awaiting trial, DEA special agent Timothy Sinnigen created a Facebook account in the name of Sondra Prince, posted pictures of her and members of her family, and communicated with “at least one wanted fugitive.” This was all done without Arquiett’s knowledge, but the U.S. Government claims she “implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cell phone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in an ongoing criminal investigations [sic].

Facebook’s Community Standards make it clear that, “Claiming to be another person, creating a false presence for an organization, or creating multiple accounts undermines community and violates Facebook’s terms.” While Facebook refused to comment on this particular case, a spokesperson stated that “there is no exception to this policy for law enforcement.” Arquiett was eventually sentenced to five years of probation which was terminated earlier this year.

Privacy advocates Online Privacy: Do You Share Too Much Information? Sharing has always been a prominent part of what the Internet is and how it functions. And with social networks exploding in popularity in the past several years, sharing is probably the one aspect we... Read More are up in arms over this incident, but what do you think of it all? Feel free to share your views in the comments below.

Kids Love iPad Over Hershey’s & Cheetos

It turns out kids love their iPads more than they love Hershey’s, Oreos, Disney, McDonald’s, and countless other famous brands. We know this thanks to the results of the Young Love 2014 survey [PDF link] conducted by family research company Smarty Pants.


Having spoken to 6,661 children aged between 6 and 12, Smarty Pants ranked 256 brands according to their Kidfinity score (measuring love, popularity, and brand awareness). The Apple iPad came top, beating a host of other brands more traditionally associated with children.

The takeaway from these results? That we should all prepare for the next generation of teenagers Monitor Teenage Computer Use & Detect Inappropriate Content With Care4Teen [Windows] As my girls grow into young teens, as a father I do tend to worry quite a bit. I worry about them when they go out to a friend's house, I worry about them when... Read More who are being brought up on smartphones and tablets rather than on TV and junk food. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Facebook Concludes WhatsApp Deal

Facebook now officially owns WhatsApp, with the deal which sees the social network paying $21.8 billion for the messaging app finally being closed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The final price is actually $2.8 billion more than the $19 billion originally agreed Facebook WhatsApp, SkyDrive OneDrive, Yahoo Siri, Apple Tesla [Tech News Digest] Facebook buys WhatsApp, FCC responds to the loss of 'net neutrality', SkyDrive becomes OneDrive, Yahoo wants its own Siri, Apple is interested in Tesla, and Samsung mocks Apple in its latest set of television commercials. Read More thanks in part to how much the price of Facebook stock has increased in the meantime. It’s fine though, as that’s small change to Mark Zuckerberg.


Vib-Ribbon Available On PlayStation Store

Vib-Ribbon is coming to the PlayStation Store, with a digital version of the classic (and totally bonkers) PS1 game available on the PS3 and PS Vita from today (Oct. 7). It’s also on the way to the PlayStation 4, but no release date has yet been set.

For Vibri virgins, Vib-Ribbon is a rhythm-action game 4 Rhythm Games That Don't Look Musical At First Glance With these games, you get to flex your musical muscles while also taking part in a game from a different genre altogether. Read More which sees you controlling a rabbit trying to navigate a white line shaped to coincide with the music. It’s entirely as strange as it sounds, but it’s also brilliant fun.

As well as featuring annoyingly addictive Japanese tunes, you can also create unique levels using your own music CDs. Which means this game will potentially last you forever. Hence its inclusion in our list of cult Japanese video games still worth playing 6 Cult Japanese Video Games Still Worth Playing [MUO Gaming] The history of video games is littered with the dead corpses of titles that never quite fulfilled their promise. Not because they sucked - far from it, in fact - but because they didn't sell... Read More .

Plex Comes To Xbox One

Plex, the popular media management software, has landed on the Xbox One. Plex is an official Xbox partner, and the app is available on Xbox One from today (Oct. 7), with an Xbox 360 version coming soon. Unfortunately, it will require a Plex Pass ($4.99 per month) for the time being, with a one-time fee option added at a later date.


This news means Plex has come full circle, as it started out as a fork of XBMC How to Set Up Your XBMC Media Center XBMC may have evolved into Kodi, but if you have an old version installed this guide will help you set it up and get started. Read More (Xbox Media Center). Which is all rather serendipitous.

Homestar Runner Returns

And finally, the long-running animated Web series Homestar Runner is back after a four-year-long hiatus. The new episode is embedded above.

Your Views On Today’s Tech News

Should the authorities ever be allowed to hijack someone’s online identity? Are you shocked to discover kids love iPad over all over brands? Are you pleased to see Homestar Runner return?

Let us know your thoughts on the tech news of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.


Image Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr

Related topics: Facebook, Online Privacy, Xbox One.

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  1. dragonmouth
    October 7, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Of course. And cops are paragons of obedience to the legal code.

  2. dragonmouth
    October 7, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    "Facebook’s Community Standards make it clear that, “Claiming to be another person, creating a false presence for an organization, or creating multiple accounts undermines community and violates Facebook’s terms."

    And how vigorously does FB enforce that? I wonder how many fake and misleading accounts exist on FB. How many "honeypot" accounts have been set up by various entities?

    • Dave Parrack
      October 7, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      I'm sure there are lots, and FB is probably very shitty at enforcing those guidelines. However, the fact they exist means the DEA effectively broke Facebook's rules, which you would hope government agencies would be above doing (wishful thinking).

  3. David
    October 7, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Dear Dave,
    I thoroughly enjoy reading Tech News Digests. I've come to learn that there's always something interesting in them, so I read them whenever I can.

    That said, I'm rather disappointed in this one.

    You don't have to give these things such sensationalist and misleading headlines like "U.S. Government Hijacks Facebook...". That's quite different from "U.S. Government Creates Fake Facebook Profile", which is a fine headline.

    This is worse than clickbait. This is dishonest, and I'd like to think makeuseof is better than this.


    • Dave Parrack
      October 7, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      Dear David,

      Thanks for letting me know your concerns with this headline. I'll be honest, I went back and forth on it a little, but in the end decided that it was genuine enough to warrant using. I mean, the DEA is a government agency, and they did hijack Facebook for their own ends. So, it's truthful, but just fails to tell the full story. I made sure to use a more accurate (though utterly boring) subheading for that story to ensure no one felt tricked into reading.

      These TNDs are written on the morning of publication to ensure freshness, and that does mean I sometimes run out of time to fine-tune things as much as I would like. These headlines are limited to how long they can be, and I try to fit the two top stories in as best I can. Sometimes that means making compromises.

      I'm genuinely sorry you don't like this headline, and I completely understand where you're coming from. I hope you keep on reading TND every morning regardless.


  4. Davin Peterson
    October 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    iPad's aren't the only tablet on the market. What about Android & Windows Tablet? You can't assume every child uses an Apple device.

    • Dave Parrack
      October 7, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      I'm not assuming anything of the sort. This research company asked 6- to 12-year-olds what brands they loved and 'iPad' beat all-comers. I have no idea why 'Galaxy Tab' or 'Surface Tablet' don't also resonate with children, but they don't.