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Wikipedia

Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality 1

Posted by samzenpus
from the playing-favorites dept.
HughPickens.com writes Brian Fung writes in the Washington Post that Wikipedia has been a little hesitant to weigh in on net neutrality, the idea that all Web traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable. That's because the folks behind Wikipedia actually see a non-neutral Internet as one way to spread information cheaply to users in developing countries. With Wikipedia Zero, users in places like Pakistan and Malaysia can browse the site without it counting it counting against the data caps on their cellphones or tablets. This preferential treatment for Wikipedia's site helps those who can't afford to pay for pricey data — but it sets the precedent for deals that cut against the net neutrality principle. "We believe in net neutrality in America," says Gayle Karen Young adding that Wikipedia Zero requires a different perspective elsewhere. "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge."

Facebook and Google also operate programs internationally that are exempted from users' data caps — a tactic known somewhat cryptically as "zero rating". Facebook in particular has made "Facebook Zero" not just a sales pitch in developing markets but also part of an Internet.org initiative to expand access "to the two thirds of the world's population that doesn't have it." But a surprising decision in Chile shows what happens when policies of neutrality are applied without nuance. Chile recently put an end to the practice, widespread in developing countries, of big companies "zero-rating" access to their services. "That might seem perverse," says Glyn Moody, "since it means that Chilean mobile users must now pay to access those services, but it is nonetheless exactly what governments that have mandated net neutrality need to do."
Social Networks

Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives 85

Posted by timothy
from the looking-for-entertainment dept.
reifman writes Upstart social networking startup Ello burst on the scene in September with promises of a utopian, post-Facebook platform that respected user's privacy. I was surprised to see so many public figures and media entities jump on board — mainly because of what Ello isn't. It isn't an open source, decentralized social networking technology. It's just another privately held, VC-funded silo. Remember Diaspora? In 2010, it raised $200,641 on Kickstarter to take on Facebook with "an open source personal web server to share all your stuff online." Two years later, they essentially gave up, leaving their code to the open source community to carry forward. In part one of "Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives," I revisit/review six open source social networking alternatives in search of a path forward beyond Facebook.
IT

Big IT Vendors Mostly Mum On Commercial Drone Plans 22

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-possum dept.
alphadogg writes: Word that the Federal Aviation Administration might take a very hard line on commercial drone use has those with designs on such activity nervous. But as for big enterprise IT vendors, it's really hard to tell what they think because they're keeping any plans in this field very hush-hush. More consumer oriented companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are active, but companies like IBM and HP are quiet, while Microsoft affirms it has nothing doing. A former FAA lawyer says sitting on the sidelines even during this unsure regulatory period is probably not a great idea. "I have a hard time believing they don't have some sort of programs in place," attorney Mark Dombroff says.
Canada

Married Woman Claims Facebook Info Sharing Created Dating Profile For Her 185

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-for-love-in-all-the-wrong-places dept.
jenningsthecat writes A happily married Ontario woman was shocked and dismayed last January to discover that she had an active account with dating site Zoosk.com. Mari Sherkin saw a pop-up ad on Facebook for Zoosk, but wasn't interested, so she "clicked on the X to close it. At least I thought I did." She immediately began to receive messages from would-be Zoosk suitors in her Facebook mailbox. When she had a look on Zoosk she was horrified to find a dating profile with her Facebook picture, name, and postal code. Zoosk denies ever setting up profiles in this way, yet their terms of service explicitly allow them to do it, and there are apparently several Facebook pages with complaints of similar occurrences.
Communications

WhatsApp To Offer End-to-End Encryption 93

Posted by timothy
from the trend-worth-extending dept.
L-One-L-One (173461) writes In a surprise move, nine months after being bought by Facebook, WhatsApp has begun rolling out end-to-end encryption for its users. With true end-to-end encryption data becomes unaccessible to admins of WhatsApp or law enforcement authorities. This new feature first proposed on Android only has been developed in cooperation with Open Whisper Systems, based on TextSecure. With hundreds of million users, WhatsApp becomes by far the largest secure messaging application. FBI Director James Comey might not be pleased. Do you have a current favorite for encrypted online chat?
Republicans

Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power 440

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-everybody-will-have-forgotten-about-it-in-two-years dept.
Robotron23 writes: The latest attempt at NSA reform has been prevented from passage in the Senate by a margin of 58 to 42. Introduced as a means to stop the NSA collecting bulk phone and e-mail records on a daily basis, the USA Freedom Act has been considered a practical route to curtailment of perceived overreach by security services, 18 months since Edward Snowden went public. Opponents to the bill said it was needless, as Wall Street Journal raised the possibility of terrorists such as ISIS running amok on U.S. soil. Supporting the bill meanwhile were the technology giants Google and Microsoft. Prior to this vote, the bill had already been stripped of privacy protections in aid of gaining White House support. A provision to extend the controversial USA Patriot Act to 2017 was also appended by the House of Representatives.
Facebook

How Facebook Is Influencing Who Will Win the Next Election 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the setting-up-a-scapegoat dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Forbes: [Facebook] announced yesterday that it was shutting down a feature that the Obama campaign used in 2012 to register over a million voters. During the election supporters shared access to their list of Facebook friends list with the campaign through an app. Researchers have found that while people view often political messages with skepticism, they are more receptive and trusting when the information is coming from somebody they know. The feature was credited with boosting Obama’s get-out-the-vote efforts which were crucial to his victory, but Facebook has decided to disable this ability in order to (rightfully) protect users from third-party apps collecting too much of their information.

The company insists that it favors no particular ideology and that its efforts are “neutral.” The first part is likely true, but the second is not possible. The company’s algorithms take into account a proprietary mix of our own biases, connections, and interests combined with Facebook’s business priorities; that is the farthest thing from neutral. Facebook says it just want to encourage “civic participation,” but politically mobilizing the subsection of people that are on their network is not without its own impacts.
Facebook

Facebook Planning Office Version To Rival LinkedIn, Google 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-for-some-cubicalville dept.
An anonymous reader points out a report that Facebook may be coming out with an office version to take on LinkedIn. Facebook at Work would “allow users to chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents.” "Facebook is reportedly gearing up to take on LinkedIn, Google's Drive and services, Microsoft's Outlook and Yammer with a workplace-friendly version of the social networking site, but such a dream is unlikely to appeal to the enterprise. As reported last week by the Financial Times, "Facebook at Work" is a new product designed to allow professional users to message colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents. The website will have the same look as standard Facebook — including a news feed and groups — but according to people familiar with the matter, the idea is to keep work and personal accounts separate. It makes sense for the social networking giant. Launching a professional version can boost ad revenue, keep engagement up and give the company a valuable new market to tap. But in application, cracking the corporate world won't be easy."
The Almighty Buck

Billionaire Donors Lavish Millions On Code.org Crowdfunding Project 84

Posted by timothy
from the hey-fellas-I've-got-this-foundation-repair-project dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Whether it's winning yacht races, assembling the best computer science faculty, or even dominating high school basketball, billionaires like to win. Which may help explain why three tech billionaires — Code.org backers (and FWD.us founders) Mark Zuckerberg, VC John Doerr, and Sean Parker — stepped up to the plate and helped out Code.org's once-anemic Hour of Code Indiegogo crowdfunding project with $500k donations. When matched by Code.org's largest donors (Bill Gates, Reid Hoffman and others), the three donations alone raised $3,000,000, enough to reach the organization's goal of becoming the most funded crowdfunding campaign ever on Indiegogo. On its campaign page, Code.org remarked that "to sustain our organization for the long haul, we need to engage parents and community members," which raises questions about how reliant the K-12 learn-to-code movement might be on the kindness of its wealthy corporate and individual donors. Code.org started shedding some light on its top donors a few months back, but contributor names are blank in the 2013 IRS 990 filing posted by the organization on its website, although GuideStar suggests the biggest contributors in 2013 were Microsoft ($3,149,411) and Code.org founders Hadi and Ali Partovi ($1,873,909 in Facebook stock). Coincidentally, in a Reddit AMA at Code.org's launch, CEO and Founder Hadi Partovi noted that his next-door-neighbor is Microsoft General Counsel and Code.org Board member Brad Smith, whose FWD.us bio notes is responsible for Microsoft's philanthropic work. Just months before Code.org and FWD.us emerged on the lobbying scene, Smith announced Microsoft's National Talent Strategy, which called for "an increase in developing the American STEM pipeline in exchange for these new [H-1B] visas and green cards," a wish that President Obama is expected to grant shortly via executive action."
Google

For Some Would-Be Google Glass Buyers and Devs, Delays May Mean Giving Up 154

Posted by timothy
from the you're-going-to-like-the-clip-on-tie-version dept.
ErnieKey writes with a Reuters story that says Google's Glass, not yet out for general purchase, has been wearing on the patience of both developers and would-be customers: "After an initial burst of enthusiasm, signs that consumers are giving up on Glass have been building.' Is it true that Google Goggles are simply not attractive to wear? Or perhaps it's the invasion of privacy that is deterring people from wearing them. Regardless, Google needs to change something quickly before they lose all their potential customers. From the article: Of 16 Glass app makers contacted, nine said that they had stopped work on their projects or abandoned them, mostly because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device. Three more have switched to developing for business, leaving behind consumer projects. Plenty of larger developers remain with Glass. The nearly 100 apps on the official website include Facebook and OpenTable, although one major player recently defected: Twitter. "If there was 200 million Google Glasses sold, it would be a different perspective. There's no market at this point," said Tom Frencel, the chief executive of Little Guy Games, which put development of a Glass game on hold this year and is looking at other platforms, including the Facebook-owned virtual-reality goggles Oculus Rift. Several key Google employees instrumental to developing Glass have left the company in the last six months, including lead developer Babak Parviz, electrical engineering chief Adrian Wong, and Ossama Alami, director of developer relations.
Power

Facebook Testing Lithium-Ion Batteries For Backup Power 41

Posted by timothy
from the economies-of-web-scale dept.
itwbennett writes Facebook has just started testing lithium-ion batteries as the backup power source for its server racks and plans to roll them out widely next year. Lithium-ion has been too expensive until now, says Matt Corddry, Facebook's director of hardware engineering, but its use in electric cars has changed the economics. It's now more cost effective than the bulky, lead-acid batteries widely used in data centers today.
Stats

Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism 350

Posted by timothy
from the believe-the-worst dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: A editorial with 24,000 Facebook shares highlights the differences in public reaction to two nearly identical breastfeeding photos, one showing a black woman and one showing a white woman, each breastfeeding an infant. The editorial decries the outrage provoked by the black woman's photo compared to the mild reaction elicited by the white woman's photo, and attributes the difference to racism. I tried an experiment using Amazon's Mechanical Turk to test that theory. Read on to see the kind of results Bennett found.
Education

Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech 459

Posted by timothy
from the convergent-factors dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes While pundits and analysts debate about diversity in Silicon Valley, one thing is very clear: Black Americans make up a very small percentage of tech workers. At Facebook, Google, and Yahoo, that number is a bit less than 2 percent of their respective U.S. workforces; at Apple, it's closer to 7 percent. Many executives and pundits have argued that the educational pipeline remains one of the chief impediments to hiring a more diverse workforce, and that as long as universities aren't recruiting a broader mix of students for STEM degrees, the corporate landscape will suffer accordingly. But black IT entrepreneurs and professionals tell Dice that the problem goes much deeper than simply widening the pipeline; they argue that racial bias, along with lingering impressions of what a 'techie' should look like, loom much larger than any pipeline issue.
Facebook

New Facebook Update Lets You Choose News Feed Content 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-feature dept.
An anonymous reader writes The company has rolled out some changes that make it easier to control what comes in your News Feed. From the article: "The social network unveiled a new settings menu and customization options for News Feed that allows users to personalize the types of content they see. The News Feed settings menu, which appears in the Facebook apps and on the web, displays which friends appear most often in your News Feed and which friends you've chosen to unfollow. From there, you can choose to unfollow people you don't want to see anymore or re-follow (Facebook calls it "reconnecting" with) those you've previously hidden from your feed."
The Internet

More Tor .Onion Sites May Get Digital Certificates Soon 52

Posted by timothy
from the try-to-stop-from-crying dept.
Trailrunner7 writes News broke last week that Facebook had built a hidden services version of its social network available to users browsing anonymously via the Tor Project's proxy service. Unlike any .onion domain before it, Facebook's would be verified by a legitimate digital signature, signed and issued by DigiCert. Late yesterday, Jeremy Rowley, DigiCert's vice president of business development and legal, explained his company's decision to support this endeavor in a blog entry. He also noted that DigiCert is considering opening up its certification business to other .Onion domains in the future. "Using a digital certificate from DigiCert, Tor users are able to identify the exact .onion address operated by Facebook," Rowley explained. "Tor users can evaluate the digital certificate contents to discover that the entity operating the onion address is the same entity as the one operating facebook.com."
Facebook

Zuckerberg: Most of Facebook Will Be Video Within Five Years 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-deliver-electric-shock-if-you-look-away dept.
jfruh writes: Facebook recently held its first ever town-hall meeting in which Mark Zuckerberg took questions from the general public, and one of his answers might raise some eyebrows. When asked if the increasing numbers of photos being uploaded might strain the company's servers, he said the infrastructure is more than up to the task, because they're preparing for the notion that "in five years, most of [Facebook] will be video."
Businesses

Big Data Knows When You Are About To Quit Your Job 185

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-this-job-and-recycle-it dept.
HughPickens.com writes Quentin Hardy reports at the NYT that a leading maker of cloud-based software for running corporate human resources and financial operations has announced new products that provide the kind of data analysis that Netflix uses to recommend movies, LinkedIn has to suggest people you might know, or Facebook needs to put a likely ad in front of you. One version of the software, called Insight Applications, predicts which high-performing employees are likely to leave a company in the next year; it then offers possible actions (more money, new job) that might make them stay. In another instance, expense reporting software can predict which employee populations are most likely to exceed their budgets. "We've applied machine learning to affect consumer tastes," says Mohammad Sabah, director of data science at Workday. "Putting it to career choices, to pay and employment, have a huge upside if we do it right." Already, Sabah says, "we're surprised how accurately we can predict someone will leave a job." The goal is to predict future business outcomes to take advantage of opportunities and cut risk levels. One future product may be the ability to predict who will and won't make their sales quotas, and suggest who should be hired to improve the outcome. "Making an employee happy, improving the efficiency of a company these are hard problems that affect corporations."
Social Networks

Users Can't Distinguish Scams From Facebook's Features 116

Posted by timothy
from the deeper-lessons dept.
Anyone who's seen social media sites like Facebook has probably also seen scam ads that promise new features or insider access to the sites themselves. rudy_wayne writes Zdnet reports that a new whitepaper from antivirus company Bitdefender, which examined 850,000 Facebook scams over two years, shows that Facebook's own user experience enables these scams to flourish. The researchers found that scammers have infected millions of users with the same tricks over and over again — just repackaged. The most common tricks, such as 'Guess who viewed your profile (45.5 percent)' and 'change your background color' (29.53 percent) rely on a combination of the obsessions encouraged by the Facebook experience, and a general lack of understanding about Facebook's functionality — which, as most users know, is a constantly moving target. Users would be none the wiser that a given scam isn't just a new "feature" or another of Facebook's psychological experiments being done on users.
Facebook

Government Data Requests To Facebook Up By 24% 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the strong-YoY-growth dept.
davidshenba writes: Facebook has revealed that government requests for user data has increased by 24% to nearly 35,000 during the first six months of the year. Also content restrictions due to local laws increased by 19% in the same period. According to Facebook, they scrutinize every government request for legal sufficiency and "push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests." Already Facebook is fighting its largest ever legal battle against a U.S. court order to handover 400 users' data.
Sci-Fi

Michelle Sleeper Creates 'Gaming, Comics, and Pop Culture Based Props' 35

Posted by Roblimo
from the add-one-part-3-d-printing-to-three-parts-imagination-and-you're-good-to-go dept.
If you go to a sci-fi or gaming convention you'll see people in exotic "character" costumes, often holding exotic props, with some of the most popular being futuristic firearm mockups of one sort or another. Who makes all these cool fannish items? A whole bunch of artists and artisans, including Michelle Sleeper (who says she got tired of jokes about her name many years ago). She's not only one of these artisans, but is also a committed 3-D printer user, since 3-D printing is how she forms a high percentage of her props (with the word "props" being used here in the theatrical rather than the nautical sense). To keep up with what Michelle is making, you should check her blog. One of her most interesting posts, titled Atlanta Mini Maker Faire: On missing deadlines, failure, and triage, is about preparing for the event where Timothy Lord met and interviewed Michelle.

Even if gamer gatherings and SF conventions aren't your thing, the interview (along with the links above) gives a nice glimpse into the life of an independent artisan who uses technology to create a lot of her art. (Alternate Video Link)

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