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Ashley Madison: how many real estate insiders exposed?

When hackers threatened to make public Ashley Madison users’ data, the site didn’t change their ways, so who got exposed in the data dump?

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When hackers released personal information of users of infidelity site, Ashley Madison, the world paid attention because the data was released to the public. You’ve been told that the hackers had an ethical stance, but the truth is that the hackers objected to Ashley Madison’s parent company’s offer to delete user data for $19, but the hackers discovered the data was not permanently deleted, warned the company that user data would be released if they didn’t make good on their promise (and they didn’t, so the hackers followed through).

We saw many people make jokes on social networks about real estate industry leaders that will be exposed, and one person even proposed they start a betting pool regarding who will be exposed as a cheater.

So, we actually looked at the database

We dug into the data that was released by hackers and should start by saying that a user of the site is not the same as a paying user. While it could be said that most users are smart enough to use a non-work email to register and pay for a site that pairs cheaters (unlike the 15K+ government employees and 40+ White House staffers), the number of users in the real estate industry was nowhere near as prevalent as the jokers online likely assumed.

We looked at all users and uncovered that on AshleyMaidson.com, there are zero registered Realtors.org emails, two registered Realogy.com emails, one Zillow.com, 13 Realtor.com, 194 KW.com, and 195 remax.com emails.

We only reviewed these extensions as a means of sampling, not as any scientific study. But what of paid users? There were far fewer accounts in the industry that had actually paid to actively use the site – only one Realogy.com email user, 11 remax.com, and 10 kw.com users. That’s it. No one at Zillow, NAR, Trulia, or Realtor.com showed up in the list of paying members.

In the data dump, there are 31 million non-paying members, and 4.1 million settlement transactions (payment receipts), to the numbers above represent an extremely minute portion of that overall number.

In truth, anyone can sign up using someone else’s email address, so take the non-paying member data with a grain of salt. That said, you can’t fake credit card information that is attached to a mailing address and verifiable IP address.

The takeaway

It’s an ugly, complicated situation, this mess of dirty laundry. People have made endless jokes, but Ashley Madison’s parent company’s refusal to actually delete data and ignore hackers’ warnings, has led to numerous lawsuits, ruined lives, and even suicides.

For that reason, we will not be releasing the names of the users, because what they do in private is no one’s business, and the hackers never intended to make an ethical stand (although that’s how it has been taken by uninformed journalists).

Our nation is obsessed with scandals, so this is no different, but we would like to assert that the real estate industry is not as scandalous as outsiders might think (even if government employees are).

And for those that are judging others for websites they use, just remember that your browser knows your weird search history, your internet service provider knows what sites you’ve visited, your computer is potentially tracking everything you type (online or offline), your phone’s microphone and camera might be listening and watching, and privacy doesn’t really exist.

Story updated to include remax.com email user counts.

#AshleyMadison

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The Real Daily and sister news outlet, The American Genius, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Real Estate Technology

Transcribe your flood of meetings with Tony

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) With all the audio meetings that have to take place now it might be useful to get a transcriber, TonydoorAI is a free one that’s perfect for you.

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While meetings sometimes (rightfully) get a bad rep for being a waste of time, there are often moments where meetings are crucial for the betterment of your work. And, in these cases, meetings can be particularly daunting.

You’re worried about how to dress, what to say, and how to say it, all while retaining the information presented and taking helpful notes for your future self. It’s impossible to do all of that at the same time and feel like you hit it out of the park.

Even with our current world of video meetings from home, it can still be hard to manage all of those components and take detailed notes that will make sense in the future. However, there may be a friend who can help.

TonyDoorAI is an AI assistant for calls and video meetings. Users can turn it on to record meetings on Zoom or Google Meet.

The AI can transcribe in 120 languages and can summarize in two minutes with 95 percent accuracy. This is a largely untapped system of record that is designed with remote teams in mind.

The system also provides time-stamped notes and works to keep the communication between customers or employees smooth and transparent. TonyDoor has strong analytic skills built into the platform that track a conversation’s theme and structure – in only one hour, the system will review an hour-long meeting into your CRM.

There are plans tailored for all business types, including a free plan that offers four hours of transcription per month, records Zoom and Google Meet, provides time-stamped notes, and integrates with Slack and Calendar.

On the website, Tony states that only the user owns the data and that they do not sell or use data for their interests. Additionally, Tony explains the encryption of data as, “We encrypt your data at rest, including emails, calendar events and other personal identifiable metadata. We use a 256-bit AES encryption in storage and a 256-bit SSL/TLS encryption in transit. Our database is hosted in a Virtual Private Cloud with AWS.”

Tony sounds like an ideal helper for new client calls, interviews, and anything where you want to retain information. Give us your thoughts on AI transcription in the comments!

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Real Estate Technology

Toronto neighborhood of the future gets canceled, thanks COVID-19

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Google partner company cancels technological utopia project in Toronto, Ontario, amid pandemic financial uncertainty. Damn you COVID-19!

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Sidewalk Labs has announced the termination of a new-age urban paradise to be built in the world’s societal paradise due to the pandemic-induced apocalypse: the new-and-improved Quayside, Canada will not be.

The project was a 12-acre technological utopian neighborhood on the Toronto eastern waterfront. Sidewalk Toronto would combine “forward-thinking urban design and new digital technology to create people-centred neighbourhoods that achieve precedent-setting levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.”

The project was a collaborative effort between Sidewalk Labs, an urban innovation company owned by Alphabet (the parent company of Google) and Waterfront Toronto, the local nonprofit steward of the area. Launched in October 2017, Sidewalk Labs committed to a $50 million USD investment for initial planning and testing.

According to the announcement by Sidewalk Labs CEO Daniel Doctoroff, the work completed to date on Quayside “represent[s] a meaningful contribution to the work of tackling big urban problems, particularly in the areas of affordability and sustainability. This is a vital societal endeavor, and Sidewalk Labs will continue our work to contribute to it.”

Sidewalk Labs has made many a grandiose proclamation for the contributions of this project to inspire new models for sustainable transportation, waste management, and affordable housing. But the execution of this vision has not been without controversy. The project has been criticized over the years by Toronto residents for its dubious regard to privacy standards and personal data collection, such as motion-sensor cameras to track people’s movements and manage transportation accordingly. At one point, Sidewalk Labs proposed to expand the project to a 350-acre plot of undeveloped land.

Despite Sidewalk Labs emphasis on the importance of the project and its significance in the context of the social and physical shifts the world has made to adapt to COVID-19, the announcement gave no indication that the project will be reinitiated at a later time.

For now, the announcement only indicates that Sidewalk Labs will continue other internal projects and external investments. Some of Sidewalk Labs other projects include Proto-Model X (PMX), a digital model for manufacturing tall timber buildings, and a Clean Recycling pilot to help apartment habitants improve waste and recycling habits. Sidewalk Labs also invests in other companies working on the front lines of urban innovation.

While the world may be no worse for the wear without a heated-sidewalk Zion, the project cancellation is definitely a disappointment. I was really looking forward to moving to Google Town after coronavirus decimates my local population and economy.

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Real Estate Technology

Google Duo expands to support 32-people calls to compete in new Zoom world

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Google Duo is expanding to include 32 people on a call to compete with WhatsApp. Zoom had better watch out, here is another competitor coming up.

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Google Duo is expanding and at it couldn’t come at a better time for the renaissance of video calling. While social distancing is keeping us away from friends and loved ones, messaging services are keeping connections alive and remote working viable. Google Duo is making plans to expand group calls to accommodate 32 people, becoming a stronger competitor with Zoom and Google Meet.

Duo is catered towards families and friends through its features like doodles, masks, and the recently-launched Family Mode. Thanks to Google’s popularity with contacts and gmail accounts, it’s betting users will find convenience in the platform fluidity.

Well, WhatsApp didn’t take this challenge laying down. The app announced its moving towards support video calls with up to 50 people. The feature (currently in beta version in the desktop app), functions by transferring users into new Facebook Messenger Rooms. As of this publication, the WhatsApp mobile version only supports 8 users per call. Since it was purchased by Facebook, WhatsApp, combined with Messenger, could rise to become a widely utilized video call platform.

What’s a little confusing is why Google has 3 separate video conferencing tools at all. Google Hangouts, Google Meet, and Google Duo. Why is Google competing with itself? Surely they are splitting users between the 3 instead of backing 1 to take the top spot from Zoom. Which hand isn’t talking to a 3rd foot?

While more seems like a good idea, we’re all figuring out that there’s a critical threshold where online video call devolve into a garbled mess where people can’t get a word in or progress the conversation in a meaningful manner. Every company seems to be trying take away Zooms domination of the market by being able to add more people to a call, but why not better compression, more security, ease of use, better UI. These are the features we demand out of other programs, but I have only heard complaints, but seen no solutions.

In the meantime, we as consumers will have plenty of options to continue navigating communication and workflow in a COVID-19 world and beyond.

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