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Facebook Unfazed by $5B FTC Settlement
July 18, 2019
The Federal Trade Commission this week announced its approval of a $5 billion settlement with Facebook, ending a long-running investigation into the company's privacy practices. The commission's 3-2 vote was along party lines. The United States Department of Justice must finalize the settlement before the matter is closed. The DoJ's action will end the investigation that began early last year.
Twitter Tweaks Desktop Design
July 17, 2019
Twitter has unveiled a fresh new look for its desktop website that mimics the look and feel of its mobile platforms. The company has been testing a new version of its desktop website since the beginning of the year. The most noticeable change is the organization and layout of the Twitter home screen itself. The upgraded design simplifies navigation with a new and larger left-hand sidebar.
Mnuchin Sounds Alarm Over Facebook's Money-Minting Plan
July 17, 2019
The Treasury Department has "very serious concerns" about Facebook's new Libra cryptocurrency, according to Secretary Steve Mnuchin. "Libra could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity, like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, human trafficking."
The Growing Menace of Weaponized Deepfakes
June 27, 2019
The U.S. House Intelligence Committee recently heard expert testimony on the growing threat posed by "deepfakes" -- altered videos and other AI-generated false information -- and what it could mean for the 2020 general elections, as well as the country's national security overall. The technologies collectively known as "deepfakes" can be used to manipulate and falsify images and videos.
LinkedIn Tweaks Its Algorithms to Skew Feeds to User Interests
June 26, 2019
LinkedIn has disclosed algorithm changes designed to favor conversations catering to niche professional interests. The criteria for posts showing up in members' feeds can be summed up as "people you know, talking about things you care about," said LinkedIn Senior Director of Product Management Pete Davies. LinkedIn tested 100 variations of its feed models through online A/B testing last year.
In Zuck We Trust: Facebook to Launch Own Cryptocurrency
June 19, 2019
Facebook's plans to mint its own digital coin will test the company's consumer credibility. After being savaged for months for its cavalier attitude toward users' privacy, the social network will be asking those same users to trust its new cryptocurrency. The currency, called "Libra," will be stashed in a digital wallet, the first product of new Facebook financial services subsidiary Calibra.
Facebook's Libra Cryptocurrency May Revolutionize E-Commerce
June 19, 2019
Facebook has released details about Libra, its long-rumored cryptocurrency. The company outlined plans "for a new decentralized blockchain, a low-volatility cryptocurrency, and a smart contract platform that together aim to create a new opportunity for responsible financial services innovation." The aim is to help people worldwide gain access to a cheaper, more connected global financial system.
Instagram Targets Account Hijacking
June 18, 2019
Account hijacking has become a nettlesome problem at Instagram so it has decided to do something about it. The social media company has begun testing a simpler method for users to reclaim their compromised accounts. It allows users locked out of their hacked accounts to ask for a six-digit code to be sent to the email address or phone number originally used to open the account.
For Brands the Future Is Facebook
June 7, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg recently said that the future of Facebook is private. Interestingly, connecting the dots between all the announcements made at Facebook's 2019 developers conference draws a bright picture of what the future looks like for brands, small e-commerce stores, and new businesses using the Facebook family of apps. It includes a whole new world of opportunities.
Dodging Facebook's 'Like' Trap for Small Businesses
June 7, 2019
Despite complaints about user privacy and the sharing of personal data, Facebook remains the de facto social media powerhouse. It may have started out as a place to connect with friends, but with 2.23 billion users worldwide it isn't hard to see why it matters to marketers. For the past decade Facebook has been a proven way for small businesses to connect with customers -- at least in theory.
YouTube Punishes Homophobic, Racist Pundit Following Internet Furor
June 6, 2019
YouTube on Wednesday demonetized the account of right-wing commentator Steven Crowder following widespread indignation over its initial response to his attacks on Vox host Carlos Maza. Crowder for years has attacked Maza, host of Vox's Strikethrough series. Crowder's homophobic and racist comments often spurred mass social media attacks and other abuse against Maza.
EU's Counterattack on Junk News May Help Protect Elections
May 22, 2019
Government efforts to minimize the effects of junk and fake news circulating on social media ahead of this week's EU parliamentary elections may have succeeded, suggest results of a study conducted by Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project. The European Commission undertook targeted actions to counter junk news last year.
Facebook's Ad Library API Draws Fire
May 1, 2019
Facebook has come under fire for its Ad Library API, which lets users perform customized keyword searches of all active and inactive ads related to politics or issues of national importance stored there. Released in beta last summer, the archive became available to everyone in March, following pressure from Mozilla ahead of the EU's upcoming parliamentary elections.
What Social Can Learn From CRM
April 25, 2019
There's been a chorus of calls from all corners for social media regulation -- from pundits like me to the halls of Congress and even from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself. The social media community seems tied up in knots over what to do about the abuse happening within their communities, but if you look elsewhere you might see signs of solutions that could solve some fundamental problems.
Snapchat Refreshes App to Revive Prospects
April 9, 2019
New augmented reality features, an SDK for Stories, and a games platform highlighted Snapchat's first developer's conference. AR features announced at Snap's first Partner Summit: solving math problems by pointing the app's camera at them; AR effects for monuments, pets and people; buying what the camera sees through Amazon; and identifying songs through Shazam.
Zuckerberg Tries, Tries Again
April 6, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg's most recent effort to change the conversation about Facebook seems like just another attempt at self-justification. In a recent op-ed, he places the onus squarely on the shoulders of government to regulate how social media works. "I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability," Zuckerberg wrote.
What Lies Beneath Facebook's Sudden Embrace of Government Regulation
April 5, 2019
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for greater government oversight and even regulation of the Internet in an op-ed piece published last weekend. Zuckerberg, who famously built the social network by playing by his own rules, said it was time for government and regulators around the world to step up and help rein in the Internet. The main point was to regulate what he called "harmful content."
Report: YouTube Too Fixated on Engagement to Curb Toxic Content
April 3, 2019
YouTube executives have been unable or unwilling to rein in toxic content because it could reduce engagement on their platform, according to a report that maintained the company has spent years chasing one goal: engagement. The problem YouTube now faces is how to create an effective mechanism to handle problematic content, observed Cayce Myers, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech.
How to Rein In Powerful Companies Without Ruining the US Tech Industry
March 18, 2019
Elizabeth Warren's desire to curtail Facebook, Amazon and other companies that have misused their massive power -- or may do so in the future -- is well founded. The U.S. appears to be trending toward civil war, and I'd place social media in general on the wrong side of this trend. However, we need a plan that will cure the problem without killing the patient.
Can Facebook Solve Its Worsening Privacy Problem?
March 14, 2019
The good news is that of the many troubles Facebook has, privacy seems to be front and center for both CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. The question is, will the actions they take to address the company's privacy issues be enough? If not, this is the kind of problem that can and will cause long-term damage to the Facebook brand. Its leaders need to come up with an immediate fix.
New Chrome Extension Aims to Make the Web Less Toxic
March 14, 2019
Jigsaw has released Tune, an experimental Chrome extension that lets users hide comments its algorithms identify as toxic. It is available for Mac, Windows, Linux and the Chrome OS. Tune builds on the same machine learning models that power Jigsaw's Perspective API to rate the toxicity of comments. Tune users can adjust the volume of comments from zero to anything goes.
Facebook's 2FA 'Security' Practices Violate User Privacy
March 5, 2019
Facebook has undermined privacy on its network by exposing mobile phone numbers provided to secure user accounts through two-factor authentication. That's because anyone can use the numbers to look up a user's account. One doesn't even have to be a Facebook member to do so. Moreover, there's no way to opt out of the setting, although it can be limited to "friends" only.
Apple's Plans for Subscription News Service Irk Publishers
February 14, 2019
Apple plans to launch a subscription news service at an event next month. Described as "Netflix for news," it would let customers access an unlimited amount of content from publishers for a single monthly fee. It will be based on a reworked version of Texture, the media subscription service Apple purchased last year. The monthly fee for the service is expected to be about $10.
LinkedIn Launches Streaming Video Service as Private Beta
February 13, 2019
LinkedIn has launched an invitation-only private beta of LinkedIn Live, a streaming video feature. The service initially will be available in the United States. After the invitation-only period, LinkedIn will post a contact form on its website for others who want to participate in the beta. The company will broadcast live content from conferences, product announcements, Q&As, and other events.
Zuckerberg's Take on Facebook's History Raises Eyebrows
February 6, 2019
Musing about Facebook's first 15 years, CEO Mark Zuckerberg positioned it as a David confronting a Goliath composed of hierarchical institutions. Facebook gives the masses a voice, he wrote. It brings communities together and provides businesses with low-cost outreach. Progress has been made in addressing the new social and ethical issues raised, including protection of privacy, he said.
Apple Banishes Facebook Data Reaper From iPhones
January 31, 2019
Apple has blocked a Facebook app that paid users for total access to all network data. The controversy over use of the Facebook Research app erupted earlier this week, with a report that revealed Facebook was paying users $20 a month for root network access to their phones. Facebook was on-boarding users of the program, which included teenagers, through Apple's Enterprise system.
Is Facebook's Five-Point Fix-It Plan Enough?
January 22, 2019
Many faithful Facebook users had the rug pulled out from under them during the last year. Both Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the U.S. Congress and spilled the beans on how the company had betrayed its members. I don't think the company's leaders realized that Facebook was doing the wrong thing until recently. Now they have a five-point fix-it-plan. Will it work?
Facebook Adds Petition Feature to Global Community-Building Effort
January 22, 2019
Facebook has begun rolling out a new feature that's bound to charm political activists. Community Actions lets Facebook members create a page where they can describe what they'd like done, and set up a button that like-minded members can click to show their support. The page will show the government agencies and officials notified about the action, as well as the number of its supporters.
Abusive Tweets Hurled at Women Every 30 Seconds: Report
December 20, 2018
Women are abused on Twitter every 30 seconds, and minority women are harassed more often, according to Amnesty International. Volunteers for Troll Patrol, a crowdsourcing project set up by Amnesty International to process large-scale data about online abuse, sorted through 288,000 tweets sent to 778 woman politicians and journalists in the UK and the United States last year.
Firework Offers Snack-Size Original Content
December 19, 2018
Firework this week released a collection of shows consisting of 12 episodes that will run just 15-seconds each. The first, "Fireside Chat featuring Molly Tarlov," debuted Tuesday. Three more followed on Wednesday, and another is scheduled for release on Dec. 28. Users can download the episodes via the Firework app, which is now available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
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Which type of cybersecurity threat concerns you the most?
Theft of my personal assets
A serious privacy invasion affecting me or a close family member
Reputation damage affecting my business
Child pornography, drug and weapon sales, and other Dark Web crimes
Activities that might compromise free and fair elections
A life-threatening attack on the nation's infrastructure