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Departures, Arrivals, Surveillance: Canada Used Airport WiFi Snooparound
January 31, 2014
Canadian authorities used information culled from a free Internet service at a major national airport to track the wireless devices of scores of travelers. The Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CESC, received information from the unnamed airport's free WiFi system and then used that data to track travelers whose devices later popped up at WiFi locations in other parts of the country.
On Paper, Facebook's a Different Story
January 31, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced next week's launch of Paper, a free app for iOS that combines user and curated content into a personalized news medium. Users can create stories as well as receive stories based on their interests and organized into sections. The sections cover everything from sports, world news and animal pictures to business, photography and food.
Slipshod Security, Human Frailty Made @N Ripe for Plucking
January 30, 2014
GoDaddy reportedly has admitted one of its employees handed out customer information to a scammer who carried out a scheme to obtain a prime Twitter account. Naoki Hiroshima, a developer at Echofon, this week detailed how the scammer was able to force him to hand over his prime Twitter account, @N. The scammer used social engineering to accomplish his goal.
SEA Hackers Muck Up CNN Sites
January 24, 2014
CNN on Thursday became the latest media outlet to fall victim to hacking by the Syrian Electronic Army. The SEA hacked into and defaced various CNN social media accounts and blogs, the network's Catherine Shoichet reported. "Tonight, the #SEA decided to retaliate against #CNN's viciously lying reporting aimed at prolonging the suffering in #Syria," the SEA tweeted Thursday.
English Soccer Player Lobs One at Twitter
January 22, 2014
Stan Collymore, a retired soccer player from England, accused Twitter of sitting on its hands when it comes to combating abusive messages -- of which he has received many. Collymore, now a broadcaster, became a troll target after he suggested Liverpool forward Luis Suarez faked a foul -- "diving," in soccer parlance -- in a game played last Saturday.
Wife of Indian Minister Dead After Exposing Husband on Twitter
January 20, 2014
The wife of Shashi Tharoor, an Indian minister and member of parliament, was found dead in a luxury hotel in New Delhi days after exposing her husband's alleged infidelity via Twitter. The cause of death is not known, but a forensic expert reportedly dubbed it a "sudden, unnatural death." Private messages between Tharoor and a Pakistani journalist popped up on Tharoor's Twitter account Wednesday.
Facebook Gets More Topical
January 17, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced Trending, a new product designed to surface relevant and timely conversations occurring on the network. Displayed to the right of the user's News Feed, Trending will feature a list of topics that have recently spiked in popularity, personalized according to subjects of interest to the user. It will include topics that are trending across Facebook in general, as well.
Facebook to Share User Data With Russian Search Engine
January 15, 2014
Facebook will start peddling user data to Yandex, Russia's top search engine, as part of a deal between the two tech giants. Yandex will get full access to public data from users in Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Yandex will use the data in question -- which includes posts and comments that have not been classified as "private" -- to enhance its search results.
Tech and the Art of Text
January 15, 2014
In 1999, Chris Baty was looking for inspiration to write a novel. He got together with some friends in coffee shops and started writing, with rewards of coffee for those who reached their word counts. It was the birth of National Novel Writing Month, which the following year would become NaNoWriMo, a Web-based community of writers who commit to writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.
Facebook May Branch Into Deeper Discussions
January 14, 2014
Facebook on Monday announced its acquisition of Branch, which it plans to use in a new unit or product called "Facebook Conversations." Branch's model mimics an Internet forum in that the users create "branches" to discuss topics. Links are shared and friends are invited to participate. Participants can branch off further to discuss related topics.
Google Gives Gmail More Pluses
January 10, 2014
Google on Thursday started rolling out changes designed to further integrate its Gmail and Google+ platforms. The updates make it easier for Google+ users to contact other users without knowing their email addresses. Going forward, when users with both a Gmail and a Google+ account begin typing a contact's name into an email draft, a list of Google+ contacts will appear along with other contacts.
Snapchat Manages to Cough Up Brief Apology
January 09, 2014
Snapchat on Thursday finally apologized for last month's data breach. A website dubbed "SnapchatDB.info," which went live on New Year's Eve, published the user names and phone numbers of 4.6 million Snapchat accounts. The company now allows users to opt out of the Find Friends functionality that harvested the leaked data. "We are sorry for any problems this issue may have caused you," it said.
Security Firm Spills the Beans on Snapchat Vulnerabilities
December 28, 2013
After its discovery of a security hole in Snapchat was ignored for months, Gibson Security earlier this week released the API for the Snapchat application along with two exploits. One exploit lets hackers match phone numbers with Snapchat users' names en masse; the other enables hackers to create huge numbers of fake Snapchat accounts.
Brazil Shoots Down Snowden Asylum Speculation
December 18, 2013
Brazil reportedly does not plan to grant asylum to Edward Snowden. Snowden stoked the Brazil asylum speculation Tuesday when he offered, via an open letter, to help Brazil investigate the extent of spying on Brazilian citizens and President Dilma Rousseff. Snowden's temporary asylum in Russia, where he fled to after a stint in Hong Kong, is set to expire in August.
Portrait of the Artist as a Social Media Fan
December 18, 2013
Artists are using social media to market their work, communicate their ideas and even create new forms. Kiran Umapathy's Headphones Project, for example, documents what randomly selected headphone-wearing strangers are listening to with a story, photo and link to the song. This project -- like many other art projects these days -- lends itself well to social media sharing.
Facebook's Donate Button Spurs Social Giving
December 17, 2013
Facebook has announced a new feature that allows users to donate money to nonprofit organizations through the site, a move designed to help raise both funds and global awareness for the charitable causes. Facebook was inspired to launch the donation feature following last month's successful partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross.
China: We've Got the Goods on Qualcomm
December 13, 2013
China has "substantial evidence" on Qualcomm in an antitrust probe, according to a report in the state-run China Daily that quotes Xu Kunlin, the head of the National Development and Reform Commission's anti-price-fixing bureau. The Daily didn't divulge any specific details -- just Xu's confident assertion that Qualcomm is squarely in the crosshairs.
Twitter's Block Backtrack Scores Points
December 13, 2013
Finding itself at the center of a social media firestorm, Twitter on Friday acted quickly to placate users who were concerned about changes it made to its blocking functionality Thursday afternoon. Twitter effectively turned the block button into a mute function, allowing a blocked user to follow, retweet, favorite, and publicly share tweets of the user who had imposed the block.
Instagram Hitches Wagon to Private Messaging
December 12, 2013
Instagram has dipped its toes into private-photo and video messaging waters. Instagram Direct allows the community's more than 150 million monthly active users to send photos and videos within a group. The process of sending a private message works just like posting a photo or video publicly: Take a new photo or upload an existing one, slap on a filter and effects, and add a caption and tags.
How to Use Twitter's New Crisis Alerts
December 12, 2013
Local government emergency managers have been trying for years to figure out ways to alert members of the public about crises and incidents, like natural disasters, that could affect them. Limited success has been achieved with auto-dialer implementation, which is dependent on phone lines' capacity. Twitter thinks it may have the best answer, though.

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