THREAD: This, friends, is the astonishing story of a mobile casino-style game that anyone can put unlimited amounts of money into.

But here’s the catch: it is actually impossible to win anything.

As a result, players have lost up to $500,000 apiece.

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
When I first heard about this game (back in Feb 2020, in the Before Times), just the premise of a casino that you can’t cash out of seemed crazy on its face.

How could anyone spend so much on something like this?

I made call after call and heard the same heartbreaking story.
By and large, people I spoke with were ashamed at their addiction. Some hid their behavior from their spouses.

One woman I spoke with even had her own brother change the pwd on her iTunes account so she couldn’t spend more.

But this one took the cake.

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
From the moment I downloaded Big Fish Casino or Jackpot Magic (they’re nearly identical), I was constantly hounded in-game to buy more chips.

With chips, I could bet on a slew of casino games.
Like any casino, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. So if you bet more, you can win more. (What do you win? More in-game chips!)

Each time you come back to the game, YOU GET MORE CHIPS.

When you “level up” in-game, your potential winnings go up.
I’d heard from players how easy it is to lose chips quickly.

Once, just to see, I went from having over 109M chips in Jackpot Magic to just 650 simply by maxing out all my bets, and then losing on several spins over the course of a few minutes.

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
The game also encourages players to join teams (or form their own!), and compete in tournaments and other events.

And this is one of the critical differences between this type of game (“social mobile casino”) and an in-person casino.

Here, you’re pushed to be social.
That means your in-game peers can exert social pressure on you to keep up with your team — to earn your keep. As your team does better, you find yourself playing more and more, and betting higher and higher.

As you lose (and you will lose), you’ll consider buying chips.
"I have considered walking away for good but then I think of all my time and more importantly all my money and it's hard to walk away,” Crystal Fair, one player wrote in a court declaration.

"That's how I know I'm addicted."

documentcloud.org/documents/6782…

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
There’s so much more to this game and this story.

I’m grateful to the previous work done by @eWords and @reveal last year:

revealnews.org/episodes/harpo…

I’m humbled by the 21 players who entrusted me with this heartbreaking story.

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…

More soon.

-30-

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More from @cfarivar

9 May
THREAD: I’m reading some old newspaper clips tonight about the Spanish flu!

HED: CITY SUED FOR $100,000

DEK: Oakland man arrested for failure to wear flu mask, claims heavy damages of Richmond

Hanford Sentinel, Volume 62, Number 89, 24 October 1919

cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=HS19191…
Summary: Oaklander was arrested on a street car for not wearing a mask and resisting an officer. Was jailed for 2 days. Sued the city of Richmond! (Would love to know how this ended.)
HED: Mayor Davie arrested

Stockton Independent, Volume 115, Number 170, 18 January 1919

cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=SDI1919…
Read 50 tweets
1 May
THREAD: It’s been a day, you guys.

First, thx to @factionbrewing for making awesome ale.

Second, big ups to my new pals, @jonallendc, @PhilMcCausland, and editor extraordinaire, @sinderbrand. Can’t wait to drink with you in person, one day

Our latest: nbcnews.com/politics/white…
@factionbrewing @jonallendc @PhilMcCausland @sinderbrand HED: While Trump minimizes the toll, government orders 100,000 new body bags

There are some incredible details in this story.

This small company in LA Co. was hired to be the middleman for 100,000 “human remains pouches,” better known as body bags.

nbcnews.com/politics/white…
@factionbrewing @jonallendc @PhilMcCausland @sinderbrand It was incredible to be privy to details such as these.

nbcnews.com/politics/white…
Read 13 tweets
26 Mar
THREAD: Exactly one week ago, I asked what felt like a dumb, simple question on Twitter: where to donate N95s?

@ETSshow and @jilliancyork were the first to speak up, so they got my household’s small stash.

But it didn’t take long before nurses starting contacting me.
@ETSshow @jilliancyork Very quickly, I received messages from nurses DESPERATE to be heard from.

They were frustrated at their employers, anxious to protect themselves and their patients, and baffled as to why they were practically having to beg for PPE, a term I didn’t even know until last week.
@ETSshow @jilliancyork I received a message from Oakland Kaiser nurse, who wanted to know if I still had N95s.

I asked around, and lo, neighbors, friends, coworkers had them.

I met this nurse in front of Doña Oakland and handed them off in person.
Read 23 tweets
15 Feb
THREAD: The latest from yours truly:

Cute videos, but little evidence: Police say Amazon Ring isn't much of a crime fighter

nbcnews.com/news/all/cute-…
This piece began months ago when I started to see story after story about Ring and privacy by @dellcam, @josephfcox, among others.

I had a more basic question: does Ring actually stop crime? Does it deter crime, as the company claims?
@dellcam @josephfcox This is a major tenet of Ring, that it has the power to reduce property crime.

See the company’s boilerplate about one one LA "neighborhood saw a 55% decrease in home break-ins after Ring Video Doorbells were installed on just ten percent of homes.”

businesswire.com/news/home/2018…
Read 19 tweets
6 Dec 19
This amazing WaPo story establishes :

a) The president was more concerned about his own chief of staff snooping on his calls than foreign adversaries.

b) Giuliani is "otherwise known for his lack of technological sophistication.”

Also, a Trump infosec reading list!

1) Rudy Giuliani butt-dials NBC reporter, heard discussing need for cash and trashing Bidens (Oct 2019)

nbcnews.com/politics/polit…
2) Rudy Giuliani needed Apple genius help to unlock his iPhone after being named Trump cybersecurity adviser (Oct 2019)

nbcnews.com/news/us-news/r…
Read 5 tweets
24 Oct 19
Thanks again to the lovely people who came out to my talk last night, and big ups to @Info_Activism and @mozilla for putting on THE GLASS ROOM, a fun and interactive tech/art/privacy show in downtown SF. (Free!)

@Info_Activism @mozilla My book is here: habeasdatabook.com

Here’s some stories I’ve done on surveillance at US border for @NBCNews and @arstechnica :

1) Without warrants, U.S. border agents can search devices for wide range of crimes, lawyers claim (April 2019)

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
@Info_Activism @mozilla @NBCNews @arstechnica 2) How Face ID could be a game-changer for aggressive US border agents (Oct 2018)

arstechnica.com/tech-policy/20…
Read 17 tweets

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