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Facebook Piracy The Almighty Buck Wikipedia Your Rights Online

Angola's Wikipedia Pirates Are Exposing Loopholes in Zero Rating 115

Reader Jason Koebler quotes a Motherboard article: Wikimedia and Facebook have given Angolans free access to their respective websites, but not to the rest of the internet. So, naturally, Angolans have taken to hiding pirated movies and music in Wikipedia articles and are also sharing links to these files on Facebook, creating a totally free and clandestine file sharing network in a country where mobile internet data is extremely expensive. It's undeniably a creative use of two services that were designed to give people in the developing world some access to the internet. But now that Angolans are causing headaches for Wikipedia editors and the Wikimedia Foundation, no one is sure what to do about it.
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Angola's Wikipedia Pirates Are Exposing Loopholes in Zero Rating

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  • It is amazing how any communications system eventually descends in to Chaos.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Stop hiding stuff that people desire. Learn the market price and make money from it.

    • by quenda ( 644621 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @12:42PM (#51761791)

      The tragedy of the wikimedia commons.

    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @12:46PM (#51761817) Homepage

      Well, it's also amazing how quickly people realize "wait, this is free and that isn't, so if I rename this to look like that it's free"

      If you tell people they can only use a communication medium one or two ways, they'll eventually figure out how to do all of the rest by piggy-backing on those methods.

      This isn't "this is why we can't have nice things". This is telling people "we have nice things, but you can't have nice things so you get these things". And then those people turned around and said "no, we can have nice things too".

      • If this were actually about providing access to the poor Angolans, rather than basically being facebook's marketing effort with wikipedia thrown in to look altruistic, the easy solution would just be to subsidize cell data by quantity, rather than confronting the basically hopeless task of attempting to classify by type against users with a strong incentive to disguise one type of activity as another.

        If you have X megabytes or gigabytes to play with, rather than 'unlimited wikipedia', you no longer have
        • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @01:20PM (#51762111) Homepage

          Pretty much, yeah.

          And it just seems so patronizing ... oh, look at these poor backwards Angolans without the interwebs ... we should give them Facebook and Wikipedia so they can uplift themselves from their savagery.

          Meanwhile "the poor backwards Angolans" have said "what, you think we're idiots? Screw you, we want movies, porn, music, and picture's of Nicki Minaj's ass (apparently), just like everyone else on the interwebs."

          I don't see this as misuse. I see this as flipping the bird to the patronizing attempts to give them a tiny bit of the internet and expect them to be all "thank you boss" about it.

          I think this is hilarious, and I applaud them for doing it.

          • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @01:45PM (#51762485) Journal
            I think that it is great that the locals are taking facebooks "altruistic" 'hey, let's lock down the emerging markets on an awful walled garden non-internet before anyone else does!' plan and getting actual use out of it. Good for them, and hopefully throwing a spanner in facebook's plan(or at least inflating its costs a bit, I'm assuming that the local telcos want to get paid by someone for the extra traffic).

            It does seem somewhat unfortunate that wikipedia, rather than facebook, is the one whose relative openness is being exploited to serve as an improvised transfer mechanism for assorted blobs. Allowing themselves to be included as the 'altruistic' face of the plan was a dubiously principled move; but they are still eating the additional costs of hosting a bunch of stuff that doesn't advance their mission at all because a blatant market distortion makes anything you can squeeze into their system effectively 'free' in certain cost-sensitive markets. I'd be much happier if they'd figured out how to use facebook's systems for the purpose.
          • Meanwhile "the poor backwards Angolans" have said "what, you think we're idiots? Screw you, we want movies, porn, music, and picture's of Nicki Minaj's ass (apparently), just like everyone else on the interwebs."
            I see this as flipping the bird to the patronizing attempts to give them a tiny bit of the internet and expect them to be all "thank you boss" about it.
            I think this is hilarious, and I applaud them for doing it.

            Will the geek still be applauding when Wikimedia pulls out because it can't afford to provide Angola with a free porn fix? No encyclopedia? No free textbooks or other educational resources that might actually make a difference?

            • The problem is you can't seriously expect people to be told "this part of the internet is special and magical and you can only have it if you use it this way."

              You can't just slap it together and then be all shocked that people said "I reject your limited reality and substitute my own". You gave them a means to exchange data and a place to host files and expected them to only use it the way you told them they were allowed to.

              Which is kind of like putting up a public graffiti wall and then being outraged som

          • by mm4902 ( 3612009 )
            I definitely applaud the creative use. Facebook is clearly out for profit here but I think Wikimedia truly wants to help the world and statistics show education is the answer. The true travesty here is Unitel charging the high rates it does(by Angolan standards) for something that really should be a universal human right by now.
      • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )

        My roommate did this at university. IT instituted a "bandwidth" cap (actually a download cap) for general internet usage, but email was unaffected. Turns out it's not too hard to write a service to email large files to you, split into chunks just under the email size cap, and cat them back together.

  • Anybody else remember hiding rars in jpgs?
  • But now that Angolans are causing headaches for Wikipedia editors and the Wikimedia Foundation, no one is sure what to do about it.

    Crazy thought but how about limiting uploads to, say, 2MB?

    Second crazy thought, how about scanning the files they already have uploaded, identifying the ones that are way too big for what they are (say, over 2MB) and checking each one manually?

    • by Dster76 ( 877693 )

      But now that Angolans are causing headaches for Wikipedia editors and the Wikimedia Foundation, no one is sure what to do about it.

      Crazy thought but how about limiting uploads to, say, 2MB?

      Second crazy thought, how about scanning the files they already have uploaded, identifying the ones that are way too big for what they are (say, over 2MB) and checking each one manually?

      Crazy thought: isn't there a way to, I don't know, break up a big file into lots of little files, in a way that's easy to reassemble the little files into the big file?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So now instead of getting charged for distributing one file, you get charged for the production and distribution of 337 different derivative works. You just cost the movie industry 5 billion dollars!

      • Re:Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @01:34PM (#51762301) Journal

        Kids these days don't even remember the arguments over UUencode vs yenc, RARs and PARs, the lengthy toolchain needed just to get a binary file out in the same shape it went in, or the other joys of the early years. Damn kids on my lawn!

      • The real problem is the Angolans aren't morons (which isn't actually a problem). But apparently the people who set them up with this crippled internet assumed they were (which is their problem, not the Angolans).

        Nobody built special hooks to keep them honest, either because they assumed the Angolans would be so grateful they wouldn't dare misuse it, or because they thought the Angolans would never figure out something as sophisticated as renaming a file.

        So, unless Facebook and Wikipedia deployed special ve

  • Angolans see censorship as damage, and route around it just like anybody else. I am shocked, shocked I tell you!

    This is just like the library catalog I hacked when I was younger. The librarians thought they had it locked down to catalog search only; but those machines were actually on the Internet and all you had to do was fool the search engine into echoing a URL back to you, which was easy to do.

    I know that at least the Wikimedia people were trying to do good, and I sort of feel for them... but they sho

  • Man, the control freaks at Wikipedia must be going crazy. On one hand, they're doing a Good Deed[tm] for the Poor Third Worlders[tm] which is part and parcel of their Knight In Shining Armor Self-Image[tm].

    On the other hand, the filthy peasants are Using Wikipedia Wrong[tm], a capital offense that carries the penalty of Summary Deletion. They must be experiencing such cognitive dissonance that cerebrospinal fluid is squirting out their ears under high pressure. I wish I cared enough to go follow the to

  • It's Facebook and Wikimedia's job to give Angolans access to the rest of the Internet?

  • This is another classic example of why, although it is very tempting, subsidizing things by type, rather than by quantity, usually doesn't end well.

    People providing subsidies really like attaching strings to them, it feels much better than just handing over cash(whether, as in this case, it's because the subsidy is mostly there to support facebook's business interests with wikipedia thrown in to make the process look vaguely altruistic; or because Senator Somebody heard that WIC was being used to buy junk food and doesn't approve); but this means that the people receiving the subsidy have a strong incentive to shoehorn whatever it is that actually want or need into a form allowed by the subsidy, even if doing so isn't very efficient.

    If this zero-rating stuff were actually about the interests of the users, rather than basically being facebook's pet project, the obvious solution would be to drop the site-by-site classification nonsense and just subsidize the first x GBs of data use and let the user decide what to do with it.
    • Perhaps FB was "$helping$" the WikiMedia Foundation to get them to sign on to this.
      • I'd certainly be interested to know what, if any, agreements were made between the two; but it seems like one could(albeit with the risk of wikipedia choosing to play whack-a-mole and try to block you) implement the arrangement that Facebook has set up without any specific agreement with wikipedia. The local telcos obviously need to be explicitly included, they are carrying a bunch of additional data traffic that isn't being paid for by their subscribers; but once that is set up, those subscribers could jus
  • Rip Mix Burn... [macworld.com] The Internet is a device to steal intellectual property. Some steal a little some a lot.

  • I love a good outrage when I see it. Screw companies with walled gardens offering you only a selective service based on their "partners" who pay them money.

    As a side note does anyone know how to install a different browser on my iPhone, they are all just skins for safari. Would throwing another $800 at Apple help? Do I need Apple care? Or maybe an iWatch?

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @02:14PM (#51762859)

    What's the best way to covertly shift gigabytes of data via Facebook?

    • Pack it into a video with a method of storing the data that is resistant to video compression. Ta-da!
    • by Ormy ( 1430821 )

      What's the best way to covertly shift gigabytes of data via Facebook?

      Encode the data as a properly formatted .jpg (doesn't matter if the image looks like TV-static or a QR code or similar). Facebook loves 'your pictures' so much it doesn't have the time to check them all by hand and relies on users reporting offensive stuff. I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

  • Just put more of your stellar editors in place.

  • > to give people in the developing world some access to the internet

    Giving people access to Facebook and Wikipedia is as much access to the internet as access to MSN or AOL (without internet) was during the 90s.

    Neither Wikipedia nor Facebook are the internet. Period. They give people access to two websites. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • This is why socialism doesn't work even if it were moral-- which it isn't!

    Truth:
    1. People don't respect anything unless they, personally, paid something for it.
    2. There's ain't no sech thing as a free lunch.
    3. Not everyone is dishonest or behaves dishonestly. But enough people do that it's impossible to do nice things for others on a large scale without being abused.

    So even if socialism was morally right it would still end in disaster.

    But it isn't morally right to take (by force!) from some to give
  • If you cannot afford Internet, then what the hell are they marketing to them? Is Facebook just using them to inflate their user count and trick investors/advertisers or on Facebook Angola do they advertise bread, "mud cookies", and goats instead of PlayStation 4s and designer cars?

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Western gov's are often hoping to spread information too. Western broadcasters backed by gov's with big budgets to spread information have moved from powerful radio stations, satellite television to web 2.0 to spread their traditional messages globally.
      ie what was the old international public radio broadcaster methods backed by the US is now an online effort and buying into any social media to get its message out.
      So expect to see a massive expansion of "free" walled garden internet that feeds back to gov
  • That should slow them down a bit.

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