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Reddit Has Had It With Trolls
December 2, 2016
Reddit has announced reforms designed to crack down on trolls and punish its most abusive community members. Reddit has identified hundreds of the most "toxic users," said CEO Steve Huffman, who founded the site 11 years ago while in college, and it has devised a plan to take action against them. Consequence for unacceptable behavior could range from warnings to timeouts to permanent bans.
Netflix Offers Offline Option at Long Last
December 2, 2016
Giving in to years of customer pressure, Netflix has announced that a limited number of television shows and movies will be available for viewing offline without a live connection to the Internet. Customers have been asking for a way to view content on airplanes or other locations where Internet service might be unavailable or expensive, noted Eddy Wu, director of product innovation at Netflix.
Fact-Checking Social Content
December 1, 2016
There's an argument that it's not Facebook's job to fact-check the growing flood of fake news coming at us through its portal. After all, Facebook is just a set of pipes delivering something and is not responsible for the content. Nebulous others have that responsibility. However, Facebook is in the business of delivering content to a wide variety of people for a multitude of reasons.
Facebook Denies Ransomware Infiltration
November 29, 2016
Facebook has denied that its network and Messenger app were being used to spread ransomware to its users, contradicting the claims of a security firm. Two Check Point researchers last week reported they had discovered a new method for delivering malicious code to machines, which they dubbed "ImageGate." Threat actors had found a way to embed malicious code into an image, they said.
Service in the IoT Era
November 29, 2016
Oracle recently announced a new connection between its Service and IoT clouds. That makes total sense to me. I bet a lot of folks think of the Internet of Things as those machines that do things directed by algorithms -- and if so, they might wonder why they need to be connected to customer service, such an obviously human channel. It's not off base, however.
How AI Could End Stupid Thanksgiving Arguments
November 28, 2016
I'm writing this before Thanksgiving, which I used to hate and now don't -- largely because I no longer spend the day arguing with family. I've been listening to a lot of friends and relatives dread this year's event because of political discussions that are likely to occur, and the equally annoying comments and critiques from those who supported both candidates.
Gadget Ogling: Big Bendy Screens, Chatterbox Robots, and TV in the Cloud
November 22, 2016
I'm at long last about to start setting up my new home office. Goodbye, Ikea dining table. Hello, fancy new desk. When I actually have my new setup, I'd like to have a monitor at long last to complement my laptop. AOC's latest is under serious consideration. The AG352QCX is a 35-inch, curved behemoth with two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 2.0 input, VGA, DVI, audio in and out ports, and DisplayPort 1.2.
Friend Finder Data Breach Exposes 400M Swingers
November 19, 2016
Hackers have stolen information of more than 400 million users of Friend Finder Networks, which runs several adult dating and pornography websites, LeakedSource reported. This is Friend Finders' second breach in two years. Last year, hackers accessed 4 million accounts, exposing information on users' sexual preferences and extramarital affairs. More than 412 million users were compromised.
Twitter Cracks Down on Cyber Hate
November 17, 2016
Twitter on Tuesday suspended the account of Richard Spencer, one of the leading voices of the alt-right movement. It also expanded the use of several existing tools and changed policies to make it easier for users to fight back against abuse and harassment. Twitter suspended the accounts of Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank.
US Comptroller Gears Up for Blockchain and Internet Finance
November 16, 2016
The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has a lot of catching up to do in dealing with innovative information technology, as it affects not only conventional finance, but also new channels of e-commerce made possible through advances in IT. These channels include cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, related "blockchain" technologies, and other Internet-driven financial services.
Google Clamps Down on Sneaky Malicious Sites
November 16, 2016
Sites that repeatedly violate Google's safe browsing policies will be classified as repeat offenders, the company said. A small number of websites take corrective actions after Google displays alerts on their landing pages warning visitors that they're harmful. However, they typically revert to violating the policies after Google verifies that they're safe and removes the warnings.
Post-Election Backlash Spurs Fake News Crackdown
November 15, 2016
Facebook and Google have amended their internal policies regarding advertising on fake news posts in response to increasing pressure from users and a growing controversy within the company. There are mounting concerns that the presidential election may have been influenced by unvetted fake news stories trending on the network during the past few weeks of the cycle.
Conspiracy Theories in the Information Age, Part 2
November 15, 2016
In the past, heightened rhetoric and propaganda were the tools of choice for those looking to convince an electorate to vote them into office, and conspiracy theories were their bane. This election season has seen the rise of a new form of persuasion, one that's unique to the Information Age. For months, WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange had promised to rain bombshells.
Hype Video Broadcast App Has Niche Potential
November 14, 2016
The folks who brought Vine into the world last month introduced a new video broadcasting app called "Hype." Available for free from Intermedia Labs in the iTunes App Store, Hype not only allows users to broadcast live to the Internet, but also lets followers interact with their broadcasts in real time. At first blush, it might seem that Hype's offering closely mirrors Periscope and Facebook Live.
Facebook Share Price Falls Despite Blowout Quarter
November 4, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday reported a record Q3, beating analysts' expectations for the fourth straight quarter, but concerns among investors about increased expenditures and the company's future prospects drove down share prices. They closed Thursday at $119.95, down more than $7 from Wednesday's closing price of $127.17. Friday saw little movement, with a closing price of $120.75.
Bot Armies Boost Candidates' Popularity on Twitter
October 29, 2016
Internet bots have many useful online purposes, but they have a dark side, too, as three researchers demonstrated in their analysis of Twitter traffic during the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Bots are used to automate functions on the Net. For example, if you belong to several social networks, you could use a bot to post a photo to all of them at once.
Stock Price Rises as Twitter Slashes Jobs, Uproots Vine
October 28, 2016
Twitter shares were up Friday following a third-quarter earnings report that beat Wall Street estimates despite declining revenue growth. Twitter also announced a widely expected round of job cuts and the unexpected shutdown of Vine. Twitter has been on financial oxygen in recent weeks, after failing to find a buyer. Investors applauded the news that it will slash 9 percent of its workforce.
Conspiracy Theories in the Information Age, Part 1
October 28, 2016
One of the most volatile conspiracy theories in recent times ended with a whimper last month, when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made the terse statement, "President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. Period." Though birthers may be with us always, it seems many have turned their attention to other potentially scandalous topics -- and they need look no further than the Internet.
Tech on TV: A Little Realism Goes a Long Way
October 27, 2016
Watching TV shows often requires the suspension of disbelief -- that is, a willingness to press pause on one's critical faculties in order to believe the unbelievable. Realism often must be secondary to story, in other words. This very often is necessary when computers are used to advance plot lines, when programmers and hackers alike can produce tremendous results in seconds.
Social Media Analytics, Meet Big Brother
October 26, 2016
The ACLU recently uncovered evidence that led Twitter, Facebook and its Instagram subsidiary to stop sharing data with Geofeedia, a firm accused of improperly collecting social media data on protest groups, and sharing that information with numerous law enforcement agencies. Geofeedia, a developer of location-based analytics, had been marketing its technology to law enforcement agencies.
Twitter May Kick 300 Employees Out of Its Nest
October 25, 2016
Twitter appears close to slashing another 300 jobs, or about 8 percent of its workforce, as it works to recover from a failed round of acquisition talks with several suitors. The job cuts likely would be in sales. Twitter might be taking steps to make itself look more attractive to investors in preparation for its third-quarter earnings report later this week.
Battlefield 1: Big, Bombastic and Very Loosely Based
October 25, 2016
If filmmaker Michael Bay -- known for the Transformers and other over-the-top films -- were to decide to make a World War I movie, and if he chose to rely on comic books for research, the result would be very much like Electronic Arts' newly released video game Battlefield 1. This latest entry in the popular series moves the action from recent modern settings to the Great War.
DDoS Attack Causes Waves of Internet Outages
October 22, 2016
Hundreds of websites -- including those of biggies such as Netflix, Twitter and Spotify -- on Friday fell prey to massive DDoS attacks that cut off access to Internet users on the East Coast and elsewhere in the U.S. Three attacks were launched over a period of hours against Internet performance management company Dyn. The first attack started at about 7:10 a.m. EDT.
Airbnb Offers to Give a Little in NY, SF Tussles
October 21, 2016
Airbnb recently proposed changes to its listing policies for short-term rental property owners in New York City and San Francisco, possibly in response to threats of aggressive action from state and local lawmakers. With respect to New York operations, Airbnb on Wednesday proposed a set of five changes in an article penned by Chris Lehane, the company's global head of public policy.
Red Hat and Ericsson Forge 5G, IoT Open Source Alliance
October 20, 2016
Red Hat and Ericsson on Wednesday announced an alliance meant to speed adoption of open source solutions in the information and communications technology space. The alliance will help promote a range of fully open source and production-ready cloud solutions, spanning OpenStack, software defined-networking and software-defined infrastructure, the companies said.
New Tag Helps Google News Readers Unearth Facts
October 19, 2016
Google last week launched a Fact Check tag to help readers find fact-checking in major news stories. Readers will see tagged articles in the expanded story box on news.google.com and in the Google News & Weather apps for iOS and Android. One factor the Google News algorithms consider in determining whether an article might contain fact checks is the Schema.org ClaimReview markup.
Twitter Hopes Fade as Salesforce Deal Slips Away
October 18, 2016
Salesforce, the last known suitor for Twitter, last week officially bowed out of the running for an acquisition deal, a move that forces the embattled company either to look for a new savior or find some internal answers to its lingering inability to find a winning growth strategy. Salesforce walked away from the deal because it wasn't the right fit, CEO Marc Benioff said.
This Election May Be Scarier Than You Think
October 17, 2016
Not that it isn't scary enough -- but if you look at both candidates, who have had their images destroyed largely by technology, i.e., tapes and emails -- there is a huge warning inherent in the process. Email really wasn't a big thing until the late 1990s and even having your own email server wouldn't have been likely before 2005, let alone thinking through the security aspects.
Big Data and Analytics: Creating New Value
October 14, 2016
The massive amount of data available from connected devices creates an unprecedented opportunity for increased optimization of products and services -- and, consequently, revenue. The deep investment in big data gathering and analytics is fueled by an ability to create added value for companies based on actionable business insights, and for consumers by providing lifestyle benefits.
Amazon Music Unlimited Rolls Gently Down the Stream
October 13, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday rolled out its Music Unlimited cut-rate subscription streaming service, available on its Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap devices for as little as $4 a month for a single device. Setting a low-entry price point "is a logical move, given that the company has invested heavily into the AI and voice recognition powering Alexa," said IHS Markit analyst Paul Erickson.
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