Oct 28
China Watch Blog reports that social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and mainland equivalents Renren and Weibo, are proving useful in the investigations of fraud and corruption.
“The days of searching through press cuttings in dusty archives are long gone,” said Jason Wright, the Greater China managing director of Kroll, a US risk consultancy. “Now, social media is a key resource for any investigator.
“Many individuals and companies make substantial amounts of information freely available on social media, and investigators can often find invaluable clues and connections.”
Eric Young, EY’s Greater China fraud investigation and dispute services partner, concurs.
“What social media can help in fraud and corruption investigations is it can help you find behaviour in the data of individuals and situations,” Young said. “Once you match this unstructured data onto structured data, it gives better information on an individual.”
Young cited the example of a company EY worked with that sold information-technology products. “We found the company’s sales [staff] ordered more products than what its clients ordered,” he said. “Some sales executives were trading the company’s IT products on the side without the company’s knowledge. This happened in the US and China. Without tapping into social media, you would not have found out.”
Young said EY was discussing the potential of using social media to prevent fraud and corruption with clients in China.
“We have also spoken to regulators in Hong Kong and Chinese state-owned enterprises on the potential of using social media for conducting investigations,” he said.
A lot of clients – mainly multinationals – were already looking into social media and network analytics in an effort to better understand employee and customer behaviour and take pre-emptive measures to combat fraud and corruption.
EY had been using data analytics on unstructured data for fraud investigations in Hong Kong and on the mainland for the past two years, he said, adding that it also conducted keyword searches on social media discussions.
Young said social media was the fastest-growing unstructured data. “You’re looking at this explosion of data,” he said.
The number of active monthly users of Weibo, the mainland’s Twitter-like microblogging service, hit 143.8 million in March, up from 129.1 million in December, according to Weibo. Twitter has 271 million active monthly users, according to is website. On average, EY says, there are 6,101 people talking about each corporate Facebook page, and every Fortune 100 company gets 55,970 mentions a month on Twitter.
Mainland chief executives are becoming increasingly receptive to the use of “big data” in decision-making, according to a recent survey sponsored by accounting firm PwC.
It found 84 per cent of executives said their decisions were highly data-driven (39 per cent) or somewhat data-driven (45 per cent), with 41 per cent saying risk and regulatory changes were an important factor driving major decisions.
The survey, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, involved 1,135 senior executives across the globe.
Scott Likens, PwC China and Hong Kong analytics consulting leader, said it was “beginning to see a much stronger interest and take-up of data analytics among Chinese companies”.

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May 15

China Watch Blog reports the amount of money stolen from Internet bank accounts in Japan so far this year has already exceeded the annual record marked last year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

Jiji Press reported that the amount in a four-month period through Friday stood at some 1,417 million yen, compared with 1,406 million yen in 2013. A total of 58 banks were hit by illegal money transfers this year, up from 32.

A growing number of regional and “shinkin” banks, as well as “shinyo kumiai” credit cooperatives, reported illegal transfers, while corporate bank accounts were hit by a surge in theft.
“Thieves are widening their targets and stolen amounts may grow in size,” an NPA official said. The police urged nine financial industry groups, such as the Japanese Bankers Association, on Thursday to strengthen preventive measures.

A total of 873 cases of illegal money transfers were confirmed by Friday, with victims in all Japan’s 47 prefectures except Tottori.

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Apr 06

China Watch Blog reports that authorities around the world should set up emergency communication teams to manage the amount of misinformation circulating on social media during disasters, terrorist attacks and other social crises.

A study on the use of social media in three major incidents, including the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, by Dr Onook Oh, of Warwick Business School, Manish Agrawal, of the University of South Florida, and Raghav Rao, of the State University of New York at Buffalo, revealed that Twitter is emerging as the dominant social reporting tool to report eye-witness accounts and share information on disasters, terrorist attacks and social crises as a collective effort to make sense of what is happening.

But when it is the online community who are creating and exchanging the news rather than official news channels, this can not only exaggerate the unfolding situation, but also unintentionally turn it into misinformation, diverting attention from the real problems.

Dr Oh, Assistant Professor of Information Systems, believes authorities or organisations involved in a disaster or terrorist attack need to set up an emergency communication centre to provide speedy, relevant information on the unfolding crisis and to confirm or dispel misinformation circulating on social media.

The study, which is the first application of rumour theory to social media and community intelligence, analyses three large Twitter data sets: the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, where a group of gunmen killed 165 and injured 304 people, the May 2012 shooting of five people by a gunman in Seattle and the recall of four million cars by Toyota in 2009 and 2010 because of a faulty accelerator pedal.

Within minutes of the initial terrorist attack in Mumbai, a local resident posted a stream of pictures on photo sharing website Flickr. Almost concurrently, a group of people voluntarily formed a Twitter page with a link to the Flickr site and spread eyewitness accounts of the terrorist attacks with texts, photos, and links to other sources.

While the flurry of social media activity had many positive outcomes, enabling people to contact family members, encouraging blood donations and providing eyewitness accounts, it also caused many rumours to circulate.

In total 20,920 tweets were analysed on the Mumbai attacks in the study, ‘Community Intelligence and Social Media Services: A Rumor Theoretic Analysis of Tweets During Social Crisis’ published in MIS Quarterly, from the moment the terror attack occurred on November 26 until November 30.

Dr Oh said: “Natural disasters and crises such as terrorist attacks provide the optimum conditions for rumours to spread which can exacerbate the situation for emergency response operations and cause panic amongst the public. For example, during the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the police control room was flooded with incorrect reports of explosions at leading hotels.

“Misinformation on the internet was also influencing what was being reported on official news channels. In fact, the BBC was forced to admit they had made a mistake after using Twitter coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks as a source of their official news.”

Dr Oh believes the main motivation for people turning to Twitter in a crisis is to find out what is happening in their immediate area or to acquaintances, so in order to control the flow of misinformation, emergency communication centres need to be set up quickly to respond to misinformation through social media channels.

“People use mainstream media to try to make sense of the situation but it usually provides general information or repeatedly broadcasts a few sensational scenes over and over again,” said Dr Oh, who cites the US Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Rumour Control Centre website during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 as an example of one way of using emergency communication centres. “Whereas what people involved in the crisis really want is very localised information in real time to aid their decision-making. Hence they rapidly realise that mainstream media do not provide them with local information that they desperately need to overcome the extreme situation, hence, they turn to social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

“Emergency response teams need to put in place prompt emergency communication systems to refute the misinformation and provide citizens with timely, localised, and correct information through multiple communication channels such as website links, social network websites, RSS, email, text message, radio, TV or retweets.

“In cases of community disasters, emergency responders need to make extra effort to distribute reliable information and, at the same time, control collective anxiety in the community to suppress the spreading of unintended rumour information. This includes the setting up of an ‘emergency communication centre’ in the local community who would monitor social media very closely and respond rapidly to unverified and incorrect rumour information.

“Given that the motivation of rumouring is fundamentally to make sense of uncertain situations such that people can deal with a possible threat, the provision of timely and certain information may lead to successful crisis management in partnership with voluntary online citizens.

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Feb 18

China Watch Blog reports that no one could argue very convincingly that mobile isn’t one of the most disruptive, transformational factors in business – and in life – today. Consumers are armed 24/7 with ever more powerful smartphones and tablets. But most aren’t dying to download the app you paid handsomely to develop.

Most consumers are using their mobile devices to access the web while away from home and from the couch. They’re using them to read your opt-in emails, clicking on your links and forwarding your offers to friends. They’re comparison-shopping, pitting brick-and-mortars with online stores, and reading reviews as part of their decision-making process. They’re relating their experiences with ratings and photos in real time with their social networks.

Anyone competing today for consumers’ hard-earned income, loyalty or even just their attention simply MUST embrace mobile. And they must develop a multi-faceted strategy to take advantage of it..

Building your own mobile app is hardly ever a best first step. Building a useful app is a considerable investment in time and money. Instead, these four strategies can make you immediately mobile friendly. Plus, they can actually inform your future app development process.

1. Make your website mobile friendly
More than half of your customers are searching for your information using their smartphones. Three-quarters of them won’t come back if your site isn’t optimized for mobile. More than 90 percent of websites are not optimized for mobile, so optimizing yours becomes a competitive advantage. What’s more, your mobile site can incorporate features unique to mobile device like geolocation, tap-to-call and others.

An easy way to make your site mobile friendly is to create a dedicated mobile website, separate from your main site. This site would be served up automatically when people navigate to your site using a smartphone or tablet. The drawbacks to having separate sites are that the branding between the two can be limited and the need to coordinate the content between the main site and the mobile version.

Responsive design is a set of web technologies that enables developers to change the visual appearance of specific elements of your website depending on the screen size the site is displayed on.

2. Collect customer and prospect contact info with a tablet in your store
People love to have insider access to special offers, flash sales and seasonal discounts. While they’re in your store or interacting with you at an event, use a tablet to collect their email address for exactly those purposes. Never use paper forms—they send the wrong message in this age of mobile and require someone to input the data after it’s collected. Offering a coupon or chance to win in exchange for contact information will significantly increase the volume of contact details you collect.

Even if you don’t yet have a structured email marketing process in place, you can start collecting this info to build this very strategic asset for future marketing activities.

3. Use mobile to grow your social following
People engaged with a personable employee in your store or at an event are great candidates to become Facebook or other social media followers. All you have to do is ask. Why not have them—right then and there—use their personal mobile to like your FB page or follow you on your other social outlets?


(photo attribution: http://www.wildli.com/blog/slick-facebook-like-counter-for-your-shop-or-event/)

4. Engage event attendees using mobile
Event attendees can be easily engaged with a mobile survey at your booth or out on the floor of the event. You can survey in real time via a QR code or offline with a tablet-based survey that will upload survey results the next time the tablet connects to the internet.

This real-time interaction with your audiences yields a goldmine of fresh insights and opinions you simply won’t be able to capture days or weeks later—assuming you even have their email address.
Mobile has changed everything, and you can leverage it to your advantage.

Use some of these quick-strike strategies to begin creating a more well-rounded mobile strategy.

Stefan Debois is Co-founder & CEO of Survey Anyplace. Survey Anyplace Mobile Surveys allow for the capture of real-time customer insights without an app or need for an email address.

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Jan 02

China Watch Blog has reported that the US National Security Agency can reportedly sniff out every last bit of data from your iPhone, according to leaked NSA documents published by German magazine Der Spiegel.

Known as DROPOUTJEEP, the spyware is said to be one of the tools employed by the NSA’s ANT (Advanced or Access Network Technology) division to gain backdoor access to various electronic devices.

On Sunday, leaked documents obtained by Der Spiegel showed how these tools have reportedly been used to infiltrate computers, hard drives, routers, and other devices from tech companies such as Cisco, Dell, Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, and Samsung. Those same documents reveal how DROPOUTJEEP can infiltrate virtually all areas of the iPhone, including voice mail, contact lists, instant messages, and cell tower location.

The tool’s abilities are revealed in the following description from one of the apparently leaked NSA documents published by Der Spiegel, Shelly Palmer reported.

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Aug 30

China Watch Blog reports that Vocefy, Inc. has announced the launch of Infinite English, a mobile learning app that will challenge all current approaches to learning English.

The app uses mobile smart devices and cloud processing to mimic a clever, animated personal tutor named “Vocefy.” The friendly online tutor lets users pick interesting content from anywhere, practice reading out loud and gives immediate feedback with infinite patience, anywhere and anytime. And she works cheap.

1.7 billion people worldwide study English as a second language. Through traditional avenues, students learn vocabulary and reading and writing, but because there are few opportunities to interact with native English speakers, they fail to develop conversational fluency.

That’s where “Vocefy” and Infinite English come in. “Vocefy” is an always available and infinitely patient tutor. She delivers feedback and assistance in very much the same way as a live native English tutor. The only difference is that she is always accessible and never tires or gets frustrated. She’s also infinitely accommodating and will work with whatever content is interesting to the student.

“The technology behind “Vocefy” is very complex”, said Founder and CEO Jim Behrens, “But we were determined to hide all the complexity and really mimic a native tutor and offer unlimited interesting content. “Vocefy” is all you see and hear.”

Assistant Professor Julien McNulty from Chosun University in Korea participated in the testing in early 2013 and became a believer:

“Infinite English is very powerful and convenient for my students. I just didn’t have sufficient resources and time to push students through the fluency barrier. Now I will be able to assign content, see results immediately and better direct their English efforts all from their smart devices at their own individual speeds and needs.”

English Language Director Wu Dan from Global Education, Kunming, China sees Vocefy as an example of how technology should be used to solve educational barriers.

“I see these students on their phones constantly and now I can envision tens of millions of them improving their fluency at the same time using Infinite English. The convenience and immediate feedback will be very valuable. I think they will love Vocey”.

Infinite English supports 64 languages and launched in August 2013 and is available in 130 countries from the Apple and Android App stores at a yearly fee of $9.99 for unlimited use. Infinite English is a product of Vocefy, Inc., headquartered in Golden, CO, USA.

Summary:

Infinite English has been designed to change the way English is learned. This powerful and convenient on-the-go technology provides an animated, virtual tutor named “Vocefy” to address fluency – the most difficult part of mastering conversational English. “ Vocey” comes to life via a novel combination of a smart device and cloud technology. She is always available on the student’s smart device and utilizes whatever content the student chooses. She just might become your favorite tutor ever.

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Aug 29

China Watch Blog has learnt that China has been hit by the “largest ever” attack on its internet structure, crashing servers across the country, according to a government agency.

Websites with a Chinese address – ending in .cn – went down for around two hours early on Sunday, the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) said in a statement.

The cyber attacks work by overloading servers with a huge number of requests to view internet pages – so much so that the system cannot cope and freezes.

After the first attack, a second wave was described as “the biggest of its kind ever”, CNNIC said.

“The resolution of some websites was affected, leading visits to become slow or interrupted.”

The organisation did not say who might have been responsible.

Washington has repeatedly accused China of trying to hack the websites of US government agencies and businesses.

But Beijing has always denied the accusations, saying China itself is a victim of internet attacks.

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Aug 27

China Watch Blog reports that Sina has launched its rival to WeChat. Called WeMeet (Weimi in the Chinese vernacular), it was created by a team of experts at the Hangzhou Kuyue Tech to become China’s #1 mobile messaging app. It’s a good answer to Twitter too.

Sina originally made an investment in Hangzhou Kuyue Tech which paid off in the form of WeMeet. This newfangled app caters to the social messaging crowd. People may get the daily news and share pictures as well as content through this app. As for the contacts, they may be gotten from Sina Weibo. Each group on this app has its separate interests. There is even a facility that resembles Snapchat. Thus the message self-destructs in a matter of seconds. Meanwhile, China Telecom and Netease have also thrown the gauntlet to WeChat by producing Yixin. Sina also made Weiyou in the meantime. Sina happens to be the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. It is very popular in its home market. Close to two dozen experts combined forces to produce Weimi at the aforementioned tech center.

This is a new step for Sina. It is definitely expanding its domain. Since the Chinese believe in collectivism, the focus will be on groups. The art of networking will benefit all those who avail the service. The number of people who will be utilizing the facility will probably be a lot since the population of this region on the planet is literally bursting at the seams. With the rise of the Pacific Rim Boom and Asian Culture to counter the hegemony of the West, the times appear poised to change. It is “Go East” instead of the “Go West” slogan (which by now is old hat).

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May 08

China Watch Blog has learnt that three months from now, Yahoo will shut down its Chinese email service, meaning that millions of users here will have to prepare for an alternative. But that in fact is a very small number as the American conglomerate only holds less than 2 percent of the market share in China against tough local competition.
Wang Yan, 28, has been using her Yahoo account for more than 10 years. It was in fact the first email address she ever had.

“I started using Yahoo in college. But eventually more choices came along and now I’m also using many more accounts such as qq and gmail. I don’t think I’m going to move my email content like Yahoo has suggested. It’s too much trouble,” Wang Yan said, Xinhua news agency reports.

Users are advised to register with AliCloud, before the service is completely closed on August 19. The recommended product is run by Alibaba, which became yahoo China’s parent company in 2005, after reaching a deal with the American headquarters.

China has some 200 million email users, and nowadays it’s rather common to have multiple mailbox accounts, as consumers’ demands are changing all the time. Wang Yan’s husband Wan Quan is also one of yahoo China’s users who’ve been slowly driven away by its competitors.

“The closure won’t affect me too much and I’ve migrated my account to alicloud. I chose yahoo China ten years ago because at the time there weren’t many other free and quality options, but now I also use qq because it makes sending super size emails easy,” Wan Quan said.

According to statistics, currently the top five e-mail services are all provided by domestic companies. Tecent QQ, Sina, and Sohu are some of Yahoo’s most outstanding rivals. Not only has its email service rank dropped from number four to six from last year, its mainland employees have also been reduced by two thirds to about only 200 today, leaving just about some 30 people running the email service in China.

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May 05

China Watch Blog has learnt that a disturbing new type of telecom blackmail has appeared in Shanghai, one that seems to operate through enforcement loopholes of telephone companies and police.

Criminals are using telephone software to make very frequent phone calls to a victim’s cellphone, and threatening to keep it up until they are paid off, the Shanghai Daily reported.

In a recent case, a salesman surnamed Zhang said he received more than 2,000 calls, with a call every one to two minutes over two days, and as soon as he picked up, the call ended, the Shanghai Morning Post reported.

According to a message sent to Zhang, the harassment would stop only if he transferred 500 yuan to a designated bank account.

Zhang called police, but was told the amount of money was too small to file the case, and it is hard to collect evidence as the suspects usually use software and a server outside the city or country to make the calls.

Zhang’s phone service said it could act against only those calling or sending messages using their service.

The harassment started on Friday last week when a call that appeared as “private number” showed up on Zhang’s phone.

“I tried to call back, but the other side hung up right after the call was put through,” Zhang said.

In just 10 minutes, Zhang got 16 such calls. Zhang did not pay the 500 yuan and he received more than 2,000 calls that weekend.

Zhang dared not turn off his phone for fear of missing important calls.

“I think they found my number on the Internet,” Zhang said. “I’m so frustrated. I don’t want to change my number and I’m afraid they are just going to ask for more if I pay.”

“The suspects are very crafty as they asked for only a couple of hundred yuan just to avoid criminal charges,” a police officer said.

The phone company suggested Zhang set up his phone to allow only calls from contacts in his phone, which Zhang said wasn’t a good answer, either.

During the May Day holiday, Zhang turned off his phone and received no more of the calls when he turned it on again. He’s hoping they don’t come back.

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