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Facebook

A Small Group of Journalists Control and Decide What Should Trend On Facebook (gizmodo.com) 38

An anonymous reader writes: According to five former members of Facebook's trending news team, "news curators" as they're known internally, Zuckerberg and company take a downright dim view of the media industry and its talent. In interviews with Gizmodo, these former curators described grueling work conditions, humiliating treatment, and a secretive, imperious culture in which they were treated as disposable outsiders. After doing a tour in Facebook's news trenches, almost all of them came to believe that they were there not to work, but to serve as training modules for Facebook's algorithm." "We choose what's trending," said one former news curator. From personal experience I can share a similar incident. An Indian outlet extensively wrote about flaws in Facebook's Free Basics. Few days later, "Ban [that outlet's name]" was trending on Facebook. Clicking on it, for the first few hours, literally didn't return any relevant result, as nobody was talking about it, and no media outlet had written about it. It was after more than a day or so after this fabricated item kept trending that some other outlets started to write about it. (That's common in the media industry: writing about trending topics.) In the past, we've also seen Facebook employees ask whether the company should do anything to stop Donald Trump from becoming the president.
The Almighty Buck

Should You Pay Sales Tax on Internet Purchases? South Dakota Law Could Be The Test (pcworld.com) 168

An anonymous reader shares a PCWorld report: A new South Dakota law may end up determining whether most U.S. residents are required to pay sales taxes on their Internet purchases. The South Dakota law, passed by the Legislature there in March, requires many out-of-state online and catalog retailers to collect the state's sales tax from customers. The law is shaping up to be a legal test case challenging a 25-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits states from levying sales taxes on remote purchases. Unless courts overturn the South Dakota law, it will embolden other states to pass similar Internet sales tax rules, critics said. The law could "set the course for enormous tax and administrative burdens on businesses across the country," Steve DelBianco, executive director of e-commerce trade group NetChoice, said in a statement. If dozens of states adopt Internet sales taxes, online sellers could face audits and changing tax rules in thousands of taxing jurisdictions nationwide. Even with software that could make tax calculations easier, that would be a burden, NetChoice says. And online shoppers could end up paying up to 10 percent more for many products.
Advertising

China Probes Baidu Over False Medical Ads After Student Dies (bloomberg.com) 39

hackingbear writes: China's Internet regulator said on Monday it will send a team to investigate Baidu Inc over the death of a university student who used the Chinese search engine to look for treatment for his rare cancer, and to find an experimental treatment offered by the Second Hospital of Beijing Armed Police Corps, which eventually proved ineffective. Before dying, Wei accused Baidu online of promoting false medical information, as well as the hospital for misleading advertising in claiming a high success rate for the treatment, state radio said. The post attracted a large public outcry. Baidu says around one quarter of its revenues come from medical and health-care advertisers.
Chrome

Chrome Overtakes Internet Explorer For Most Popular Desktop Browser (thurrott.com) 125

Google Chrome is now the most widely used desktop browser. According to the latest figures from marketing and research firm Net Applications (which looked into data from over 40,000 websites), in April, Chrome captured 41.66 percent of the market, surpassing Internet Explorer which now sits at 41.35 percent. Brad Sams writes:This growth by Chrome should not be too surprising as Microsoft has left Internet Explorer behind for Edge but unfortunately, the Edge browser available to the vast majority of Windows 10 users is a sub-par experience as it lacks basic features like extensions. This is a big milestone for Google as their browser faced and uphill battle against Internet Explorer when it was introduced back in 2008.Also read: Windows Desktop Market Share Drops Below 90%
Bitcoin

Craig Wright Claims He's Satoshi Nakamoto, the Creator Of Bitcoin 145

Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has put an end to the years-long speculation about the creator of Bitcoin. In an interview with the BBC, The Economist (may have a paywall), and GQ, Wright claimed that he is indeed the person who developed the concepts on which Bitcoin cryptocurrency is built. According to the BBC, Mr. Wright provided "technical proof to back up his claim using coins known to be owned by Bitcoin's creator." Wright writes in a blog post: [A]fter many years, and having experienced the ebb and flow of life those years have brought, I think I am finally at peace with what he meant. If I sign Craig Wright, it is not the same as if I sign Craig Wright, Satoshi[...] Since those early days, after distancing myself from the public persona that was Satoshi, I have poured every measure of myself into research. I have been silent, but I have not been absent. I have been engaged with an exceptional group and look forward to sharing our remarkable work when they are ready. Satoshi is dead. But this is only the beginning. According to Wright's website, he is a "computer scientist, businessman and inventor" born in Brisbane, Australia, in October 1970. Some have questioned the authenticity and relevance of the "technical proof" Wright has provided. Nik Cubrilovic, an Australian former hacker and leading internet security blogger, wrote, "I don't believe for a second Wright is Satoshi. I know two people who worked with Wright, characterized him as crazy and schemer/charlatan." Michele Spagnuolo, Information Security Engineer at Google added, "He's not Satoshi. He just reused a signed message (of a Sartre text) by Satoshi with block 9 key as 'proof.'"
Crime

Google Helps Police With Child Porn WebCrawler (siliconbeat.com) 111

The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that the Internet Watch Foundation, "an organization that works with police worldwide to remove images of child sexual abuse from the Internet, has credited Google with helping it develop a 'Web crawler' that finds child pornography." The pilot project makes it easier to identify and remove every copy of specific images online, and the group says "We look forward to the next phase of the Googler in Residence project in 2016." Last year Google also had an engineer working directly with the foundation, and the group's annual report says "This was just one part of the engineering support Google gave us in 2015." [PDF] Their report adds that the new technology "should block thousands of their illegal images from being viewed on the Internet."
Australia

Australia: VPN Users Aren't Breaching Copyright (abc.net.au) 115

Slashdot reader Zanadou writes: The Australian Government Productivity Commission in a draft report recommended that Australian consumers should be able to legally circumvent geoblocking restrictions that have prevented them from using foreign online streaming services like Netflix, and that the Australian Government needs to send a clear message that it is not an infringement of copyright for consumers to be able evade geoblocking technology. Karen Chester, a commissioner with the Productivity Commission, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that geoblocking restrictions have the opposite effect of encouraging internet piracy. "Making copyright material more accessible and more competitively priced online, and not geoblocking, is the best antidote to copyright infringement."

In probably related news, Australia topped the list of countries who illegally downloaded the Game Of Thrones season six premiere, this week.

In January Netflix's chief product officer admitted that the company has no magic solution to subscribers who use VPNs to circumvent geoblocking.
Microsoft

Amazon Beats Microsoft In 'The Battle of Seattle' (usatoday.com) 109

An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos earned $5 billion in one afternoon when the company's stock price jumped 9.6%. Amazon reported an actual profit of $513 million (nearly double the amount expected), and next year Amazon's sales are projected by analysts to be 63% higher than Microsoft's, which USA Today calls "a good illustration of how growth in the sector has moved from hardware, software and chip companies to Internet firms selling goods or advertising online... [W]hile Bill Gates helped put Seattle area on the map as a U.S. tech hub, Bezos now runs the largest tech company in the State of Washington, by far, in terms of sales."

Amazon's Echo and Alexa devices are believed to be outselling their Kindles (and Alexa will soon make her first appearance on a non-Amazon device). But Amazon attributed their surprise jump in revenue to a 51% annual increase in the "tens of millions" of subscribers paying for their Amazon Prime shipping service (which in San Francisco now even includes delivery from restaurants), as well as a 64% increase from their AWS cloud service, which recently announced a new automated security assessment tool.

Amazon ultimately reported more than twice as much new business as Google and three times as much as Facebook, according to USA Today, which notes that now of all the tech companies, only Apple has more revenue than Amazon, and because of the jump in their stock price, Jeff Bezos is now the fourth-richest person in the world. But with all that money floating around, Seattle tech blogger Jeff Reifman is now wondering why Amazon's local home delivery vehicles in Seattle seem to be operating with out of state plates.
The Almighty Buck

Yahoo's Marissa Mayer In Line For $55M Severance If Fired Within A Year Of Sale (nytimes.com) 180

whoever57 writes: A Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing on Friday revealed that Yahoo's board has agreed to a $55 million severance package for Marissa Mayer if she loses her job within a year of a sale. That's a lot of money for a chief executive who hasn't been able to keep Yahoo's stock from falling. In 2015, the value of Yahoo's stock fell by 33%. Worth noting: most of the money from the severance package is composed of restricted stock units and options -- there's only $3 million in cold hard cash. Also, Yahoo revealed Mayer received a significant pay cut last year. Her "reported pay" was $36 million, but her "realized pay" is closer to $14 million.
Security

Berkeley Researchers Examine Five Worst-Case Security Nightmares (berkeley.edu) 22

An anonymous reader writes: Berkeley researchers have gamed out five worst-case security scenarios at their Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, calling it "a disciplined, imaginative approach to modeling what cybersecurity could mean in the future...to provoke a discussion about what the cybersecurity research and policy communities need to do now in order to be better positioned..." Two of the scenarios are set in 2020 -- one called "The New Normal" imagining a world were users assume their personal information can no longer be kept safe, and another involving the privacy and security implications in a world where hackers lurk undetected on a now-ubiquitous Internet of Things.

"Our goal is to identify emerging issues that will become more important..." they write in an executive summary, including "issues on the table today that may become less salient or critical; and new issues that researchers and decision-makers a few years from now will have wished people in the research and policy communities had noticed -- and begun to act on -- earlier.

Scenario #2 imagines a super-intelligent A.I. which can predict and even manipulate the behavior of individuals, and scenario #3 involves criminals exploiting valuable data sets -- and data scientists -- after an economic collapse.
Security

Slack To Disable Thousands of Logins Leaked on GitHub (detectify.com) 27

An anonymous reader writes: Thursday one technology site reported that thousands of developers building bots for the team-collaboration tool Slack were exposing their login credentials in public GitHub repositories and tickets. "The irony is that a lot of these bots are mostly fun 'weekend projects', reported Detectify. "We saw examples of fit bots, reminding you to stretch throughout the day, quote bots, quoting both Jurassic Park...and Don Quixote...."

Slack responded that they're now actively searching for publicly-posted login credentials, "and when we find any, we revoke the tokens and notify both the users who created them, as well as the owners of affected teams." Detectify notes the lapse in security had occurred at a wide variety of sites, including "Forbes 500 companies, payment providers, multiple internet service providers and health care providers... University classes at some of the world's best-known schools. Newspapers sharing their bots as part of stories. The list goes on and on..."

Communications

Wireless Carriers To Adopt New Real-Time Text Protocol By December 2017 (engadget.com) 28

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: The FCC is ready to adopt a proposal that'll bring a new protocol to wireless networks to help people with disabilities communicate. It's called real-time text (RTT) and will be a replacement for the aging teletypewriter devices that let users transmit text conversations over traditional phone lines. According to the FCC's statement, RTT will "allow Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled or deaf-blind to use the same wireless communications devices as their friends, relatives and colleagues, and more seamlessly integrate into tomorrow's communications networks." The big differentiator for RTT over current, commonly-used text-based messaging systems is that RTT messages are sent immediately as they're typed. The RTT technology will let text users communicate with people on voice-based phones and vice versa; it can also work easily in your standard smartphone, eliminating the need for specialized equipment. The proposal calls for RTT to roll out over wireless networks run by "larger carriers" by December of 2017.
Businesses

Cable Industry Threatens To Sue If FCC Tries To Bring Competition To Cable Set Top Boxes (techdirt.com) 100

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Techdirt: Back in February the FCC voted on a new plan to open up the traditional cable box to competition. According to a fact sheet being circulated by the agency (pdf), under the FCC's plan you'd still pay your cable company for the exact same content, cable operators would simply have to design systems -- using standards and copy protection of their choice -- that delivered this content to third-party hardware. The FCC's goal is cheaper, better hardware and a shift away from the insular gatekeeper model the cable box has long protected. Given this would obliterate a $21 billion captive market in set top box rental fees -- and likely direct consumers to more third-party streaming services -- the cable industry has been engaged in an utterly adorable new hissy fit. And now, the industry is also threatening a lawsuit. Former FCC boss turned top cable lobbyist Michael Powell is arguing that the FCC has once again overstepped its regulatory authority: "An agency of limited jurisdiction has to act properly within that jurisdiction," Powell said, making it abundantly clear the NCTA does not believe the FCC has not done so in this case. He said that the statute empowers the FCC to create competition in navigation devices, not new services. "Every problem does not empower an FCC-directed solution. The agency is not an agency with unbridled plenary power to roam around markets and decide to go fix inconveniences everywhere they find them irrespective of the bounds of their authority."
Software

Microsoft Flow -- An IFTTT Alternative -- Aims To Connect Your Online Apps (fortune.com) 53

An anonymous user writes: Microsoft has unveiled a new product called Microsoft Flow, which is designed to better connect diverse services so that you could, if you were so inclined, put all your tweets into a spreadsheet or get an SMS alert when you receive an email. That example may be a solution in search of a problem, but there are other more useful possibilities. Flow could be set up so that any email from your boss triggers an SMS notification to your phone, for example. Or you could make sure any updated work documents get deposited in your team's SharePoint. To be sure, Microsoft is not first to this app-integration party. Many people already use If This Then That (IFTTT) or Zapier, which claims more than 500 app integrations, to knit their services together.Some IFTTT users must be breathing a sigh of relief.
Piracy

US Calls Switzerland An Internet Piracy Haven (torrentfreak.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes: The Office of the United States Trade Representative has published its annual Special 301 Report calling out other nations for failing to live up to U.S. IP enforcement standards. This year European ally Switzerland has been placed on the Watch List for protecting file-sharers and playing host to many pirate sites. "Generally speaking, Switzerland broadly provides high-levels of IPR protection and enforcement in its territory. Switzerland makes important contributions to promoting such protection and enforcement internationally, including in bilateral and multilateral contexts, which are welcomed by the United States," the USTR writes in its assessment.
Security

US Toy Maker Maisto's Website Pushes Ransomware (pcworld.com) 26

An anonymous reader shares a PCWorld article: Attackers are aggressively pushing a new file-encrypting ransomware program called CryptXXX by compromising websites, the latest victim being U.S. toy maker Maisto. Fortunately, there's a tool that can help users decrypt CryptXXX affected files for free. Security researchers from Malwarebytes reported Thursday that maisto.com was infected with malicious JavaScript that loaded the Angler exploit kit. This is a Web-based attack tool that installs malware on users' computers by exploiting vulnerabilities in their browser plug-ins. It also steals bitcoins from local wallets, a double hit to victims, because it then asks for the equivalent of $500 in bitcoins in order to decrypt their files. [...] Researchers from antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab recently updated their ransomware decryption toolto add support for CryptXXX affected files. The attack code exploits vulnerabilities in older versions of applications such as Flash, Java, Internet Explorer, and Silverlight. At this point, it isn't clear exactly how many users are affected.
Government

Supreme Court Gives FBI More Hacking Power (theintercept.com) 174

An anonymous reader cites an article on The Intercept (edited and condensed): The Supreme Court on Thursday approved changes that would make it easier for the FBI to hack into computers, many of them belonging to victims of cybercrime. The changes, which will take immediate effect in December unless Congress adopts competing legislation, would allow the FBI go hunting for anyone browsing the Internet anonymously in the U.S. with a single warrant. Previously, under the federal rules on criminal procedures, a magistrate judge couldn't approve a warrant request to search a computer remotely if the investigator didn't know where the computer was -- because it might be outside his or her jurisdiction. The rule change would allow a magistrate judge to issue a warrant to search or seize an electronic device if the target is using anonymity software like Tor."Unbelievable," said Edward Snowden. "FBI sneaks radical expansion of power through courts, avoiding public debate." Ahmed Ghappour, a visiting professor at University of California Hastings Law School, has described it as "possibly the broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI's inception."
Advertising

In Internet Age, Pirate Radio Arises As Surprising Challenge (ap.org) 156

K7DAN writes: Just as the demise of terrestrial radio has been greatly exaggerated, so has the assumed parallel death of pirate radio. Due to the failure of licensed stations to meet the needs of many niche communities, pirate radio continues to increase in popularity. Helping facilitate this growth is the weakening power of the FCC to stop it, reports the Associated Press. Rogue stations can cover up to several square miles thanks largely in part to cheaper technology. The appeal? "The DJs sound like you and they talk about things that you're interested in," said Jay Blessed, an online DJ who has listened to various unlicensed stations since she moved from Trinidad to Brooklyn more than a decade ago. "You call them up and say, 'I want to hear this song,' and they play it for you," Blessed said. "It's interactive. It's engaging. It's communal." It's upsetting many congressional members who are urging the FCC to do more about the "unprecedented growth of pirate radio operations." They're accusing said pirates of undermining licensed minority stations while ignoring consumer protection laws that guard against indecency and false advertising.
The Internet

Dissension Grows Inside Anonymous Because Of Political Propaganda (softpedia.com) 132

An anonymous reader writes from a report on Softpedia: Political tensions relating to the U.S. presidential race are creating turmoil inside the Anonymous hacker collective, muddling waters even more in a group that's known for its lack of leadership and a common goal. The most recent Anonymous infighting relates to the actions of the group's most famous news portal known as AnonHQ, who's been showing downright public support for Bernie Sanders, while being extremely busy at bashing Trump, Cruz, and more recently issuing video threats against Clinton. Ever since Anonymous' official news source has started showing public support for Sanders, many of the group's divisions have publicly disavowed it and have even gone so far as launching constant waves of DDoS attacks at what once used to be the hacker's official news portal. Last month, when a former Anonymous member decided to dox himself, he said in interviews that the group had been infiltrated by government agents.
Communications

Google's OnHub Is First WiFi Router To Support IFTTT (theverge.com) 49

An anonymous reader writes: The first router to feature IFTTT support is Google OnHub. IFTTT is an abbreviation of "If This Then That," a free web-based service that can allow users to create "recipes," which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, etc. OnHub's smart features can now connect to the 300-plus programs and apps supported by IFTTT. Google provides some examples in its blog post. For example, you can automatically prioritize Wi-Fi to your Chromecast when it connects to your OnHub network after you plug it in to start binge watching your favorite TV show, or to your Nest Cam when it senses motion or sound after you've exhausted yourself from said binge watching and passed-out on your couch. There's a friendly little video Google put together to explain the feature in detail.

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