Facebook Reactions: ‘Reactions’ Coming

January 28, 2016 by  
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Facebook Reactions: ‘Reactions’ Coming, Facebook is poised to launch its new “Reactions” feature worldwide, giving its 1.6 billion users more ways to quickly express their feelings on the world’s largest social network.

The Reactions, which were first unveiled in October 2015, include “Love”, “Haha”, “Yay”, “Wow”, “Sad” and “Angry” – as well as the traditional “Like” button.

They are currently being tested in Spain, Ireland and a few other places, but Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed that they will roll out everywhere “pretty soon”.

“The philosophy behind it is that when you only have a ‘like’ button, if you share a sad piece of content or something that makes you angry, people may not have the tool to react to it,” he explained in a conference call with analysts on Wednesday.

“We want people to be able to share all of the things that are meaningful to them, not just the things that are happy and that people are going to ‘like’ when they see it.”

The list of options appears when a person holds down the Like button on a mobile, or hovers their mouse over it on the desktop version of the site.

The status then displays counters for each reaction – how many likes, sad faces and so on a status has received.

Although the news has prompted excitement on social media, many Facebook users are disappointed Zuckerberg chose not to introduce a “dislike” button – reportedly one of the site’s most requested features.

Zuckerberg said that he had ruled out a dislike button because he was concerned it would cause negativity.

“We didn’t want to just build a dislike button because we don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts. That doesn’t seem like the kind of community we want to create,” he said.

Facebook Reactions: 'Reactions' Coming


YouTube Red: Introduces ‘Red’

October 22, 2015 by  
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YouTube Red: Introduces ‘Red’, YouTube on Wednesday unveiled a new $10-a-month (US) subscription plan in the U.S. called Red that combines ad-free videos, new original series and movies from top YouTubers, and on-demand unlimited streaming music.

Red builds on Google’s existing music streaming service by providing ad-free access to YouTube programming, along with features such as the ability to download videos to mobile devices and have music playing in the background while using other mobile apps.

Current subscribers to the Google Play Music service, which also costs $10 a month, will also get access to Red.

“It’s a major, major evolution of our platform,” YouTube’s chief business officer, Robert Kyncl, told journalists at an event at its studio space in Los Angeles.

Red targets YouTube fans who want to skip ads, while giving them a chance to pass along some cash to their favourite video creators, who’ll share in the new revenues. It comes as streaming services like Hulu, Pandora, Spotify and TuneIn offer ad-free as a paid option.

Red will be a U.S.-only service when it launches on Oct. 28. A Google Canada representative told CBC News that the company is “planning to expand the product to other major markets over the course of the next year,” including Canada, but no dates have been announced yet.

The plan includes exclusive access to new videos launching next year as well as the YouTube Music Key service – to be called YouTube Music after it launches later this year – for music videos and songs. The new YouTube Music app will allow you to toggle music videos to play audio only.

But you don’t have to wait for the new music app to have Red features work across YouTube platforms, with the exception of the YouTube Kids app, starting next week. The apps, including the existing YouTube app, are free to download.

Felix Kjellberg, a.k.a. PewDiePie, is YouTube’s top-earning celebrity. The 25-year-old video-game-playing jokester who took in $15 million in the year ending June 1, 2015. (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

The service will cost $13 a month if purchased through Apple’s iTunes – but only because Apple takes a 30 per cent cut, executives said. If purchased through the Google Play Store or on the Web, the subscription will still work on apps running on Apple’s iOS or Safari browser.

The original videos will range in length from a few minutes to feature-length movies and come from established YouTube stars such as the Fine Brothers, who are creating a scripted 10-episode series about a singing competition show called Sing It. Another new show stars video game-playing star Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg in a reality series co-created by the makers of The Walking Dead called Scare PewDiePie.

$10 a month ‘upper limit’ for most users
Performer and comedian Lilly Singh said that while YouTube helped pay for the creation of a documentary of her world tour called A Trip to Unicorn Island, the new service won’t drastically change how she serves her fans.

“Is YouTube Red going to be the extreme make of my financial career? No,” she said. “But that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it to give my viewers choice.”

Canada’s Lilly Singh is number 8 on Forbes list of top-earning YouTube stars. (Rick MatharuThe Canadian Press)

YouTube still intends for advertising revenue to remain its core business, and executives say they believe it could take a while for paid subscribers to grow significantly. Some original content will also be made available to non-subscribers later with ads.

Kyncl said the subscription will bolster YouTube’s revenues and that of artists, and said $10 a month is the upper limit of what consumers would pay for such a plan. He said YouTube’s advertising revenues will not be hurt, given that the number of users switching to the new service won’t likely make a dent in YouTube’s billion-plus users.

“It wouldn’t really impact the amount of eyeballs we’re providing through our platform,” he said.

One challenge is getting people to pay for a service they long associated with being free, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney in a research note Wednesday.

The fight against ad-blocking software
The move comes amid a boom in consumer appetite for ad-free experiences.

Ad-blocking software has become popular on personal computers, and Apple’s iOS 9 operating system update last month allowed ad-blocker apps to run on its mobile Safari browser for the first time. Worldwide usage of ad blockers rose 41 per cent last year to nearly 200 million people, according to PageFair, a firm that seeks to counter ad blockers.

And yet content providers are finding a way to make money from eliminating ads, too.

Internet radio giant Pandora Media Inc. made $54.6 million on subscription and other revenue in the quarter through June, mainly from its $5-a-month ad-free plan, Pandora One. Its subscription revenue is growing faster than ad revenue itself.

Hulu launched a “No Commercials” plan in September for $4 more per month than its regular $8 subscription, and TuneIn added a premium tier for $8 a month in August that throws ad-free music together with audio books and sports play-by-play coverage.

Red could help boost the ranks of Google Play Music subscribers, which stood at around 815,000 in the U.S. at the end of last December, according to royalty tracking firm Audiam.

That’s far short of leader Spotify with 20 million paying subscribers globally. Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook told a technology conference this week that Apple Music has 6.5 million paying subscribers and millions more still on free trials following its launch at the end of June.

YouTube is part of Google, a division of the newly created holding company Alphabet Inc.


Blackphone 2: Blackphone 2 Release

September 29, 2015 by  
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Blackphone 2: Blackphone 2 Release, There are two things certain in life — death and taxes. But you can take a bet on a third: there’s almost nothing that’s unhackable.

In the wake of revelations of government surveillance and a nearly endless stream of reports of hacks and data breaches, there’s a reason to be paranoid. All too often hackers or spy agencies find a way into the most popular devices, but that’s where Geneva-based secure phone maker Silent Circle wants to make it almost impossible.

Blackphone 2, the company’s second generation security phone, builds on the successes of its debut incarnation by bolstering privacy and security features, while not compromising on what many want in a modern smartphone. It’s available to buy now globally for $799 .

Anyone who’s wanted to adopt a more secure approach to his or her online activity quickly encounters a harsh reality: setting up strong security is rarely easy. Most of the best security and privacy apps and services are many years old, having stood the test of time; Pretty Good Privacy for encrypted email, for instance, is now in its third decade. Built in a time when user experience and ease-of-use wasn’t considered, nowadays they seem clunky or impossible to use.

With that in mind, the Blackphone 2 streamlines and simplifies how it wants its users — primarily business users and the core privacy-minded consumer market — to think about security, making it almost immediately more appealing than most other security-focused products.

Is this a hack-proof phone? It’s not and it doesn’t pretend to be, said Javier Aguera, Silent Circle chief scientist, at a meeting in London. But by patching up the conventional ways that a hacker can attack, the Blackphone 2 goes far above and beyond in securing your data than any other smartphone on the market today.

Secure to the core
By far the most important feature of the phone is its security — through and through. The Blackphone 2 acts like any other Android phone, but with a twist: it also runs Silent OS, an enhanced version of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop operating system, which adds a number of additional security features to the device.

This second-generation phone also includes for the first time Google’s own services, like Drive, Gmail, Photos, and even the Play app store — meaning you can download all manner of mainstream third-party apps. That might have some heads scratching: An unfortunate truth is that many of the apps and services you use are not working in your favor, by containing security flaws or sucking up your valuable data to better serve ads. So how can Google’s services, which collect vast sums of data on its users, coexist with a privacy-based phone?

The key to the Blackphone 2’s success is a security umbrella feature, which combines a series of granular controls without compromising the overall experience.

The Blackphone 2 has everything you need in a consumer phone, including a strong 13-megapixel camera. It does the job well, but there are better phones on the market for picture taking.

Take the new Security Center, which sits in the bottom-right of the home screen, ready to take orders from the user — not the individual app, which has for all too long called the shots. It’s goal of this central port-of-call is twofold: to help users separate and compartmentalize apps and services, while offering an overarching and comprehensive set of controls over your phone’s features and functionality, superseding all other options buried deep in the phone’s settings.

There’s also the new Spaces feature, which allows users to build isolated, secure areas. Similar to setting up a new user profile on a computer, the Blackphone 2 has a bevy of finely-tuned options that customize the space’s apps, settings, and even networks to connect to, and the space’s lock-screen passcodes. The feature physically cuts off your data from other spaces, meaning if an app is compromised, it can’t get access to anything else outside that space. That means you can have a dedicated space for that sketchy game you downloaded and make sure it doesn’t touch those mission-critical apps, such as your bank, mobile wallets, or email accounts. If you’re particularly averse to Google’s data collection, you can create a walled-off space away from the stock Android or Google apps. Think of it as the incognito mode in the Chrome browser that’s extended to other apps as well.

Sans user manual or step-by-step instructions, it took a while to understand the full potential of these spaces. It may take some experimentation and fiddling, but it’s hard to misstep or get lost, thanks to the general simplicity of the spaces’ design. You can easily switch spaces from the pull-down menu, or even the lock screen.

There’s a set standard in Silent Circle’s books for what default security and privacy should look like, but the level of customization and choice is refreshing. Silent Phone, the company’s flagship encrypted voice and video calling and messaging service, comes preloaded on the device. The stock Android phone and messaging apps remain on the home screen, giving the user the option to make unencrypted phone calls or send a standard text message.


Dislike this FB scam: Scam Dislike Facebook

September 26, 2015 by  
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Dislike this FB scam: Scam Dislike Facebook, On the heels of Facebook’s announcement that it may or may not be working on a dislike button comes a new wave of cyber scams that prey on those hoping for its adoption.

Security firm Sophos recently caught wind of a new “dislike” button scam making the rounds — a ruse that dates back to at least 2011. This time around, scammers are claiming that the dislike button is an “invite only feature” in a bid to get you to click a download link.

“If you click through, the scam unfolds like many ‘you know you want this’ tricks we’ve written about before, on Facebook and on other social networks,” Sophos’ Paul Ducklin wrote in a blog post. “To go forward, you must first recommend — in fact, you must actively promote — the link you just clicked on.”

The scammers up the pressure by saying you only have a certain amount of seconds to “complete the participation requirements.” That includes sharing the link with your friends and sending it to five Groups that you belong to.

As a rule of thumb, users should be cautious of these types of posts. “If a posting expects you to advertise it before you know what you are promoting, DON’T DO IT,” Ducklin said.

Regardless of whether or not you end up completing all the steps, you’ll be redirected to one or more revenue-generating sites which have nothing to do with Facebook or a dislike button, and instead aim to trick you into handing over your personal information. One of the sites is a get-rich-quick scheme promising a $1,419 return in the first hour and another asks you to complete a survey of your choosing.

“Typically, the crooks will have signed up as affiliates for the surveys or software downloads you’re being offered, and will be paid a small fee if you sign up,” Ducklin wrote. “That’s how they make their money.”

In the end, those who fall for the scam never get the “invite only” Dislike button they were promised, because it’s all fake — there isn’t one.


225K iPhones hacked: 225,000 iPhone Accounts Hacked

September 2, 2015 by  
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225K iPhones hacked: 225,000 iPhone Accounts Hacked, Security company Palo Alto Networks is calling the attack “the largest known Apple account theft caused by malware.” Palo Alto Networks discovered the hack along with Chinese tech group WeipTech.

The good news for most iPhone customers is that the malware, nicknamed KeyRaider, only targets “jailbroken” iPhones.

Jail-breaking allows iPhone owners to access parts of a phone’s file systems that are otherwise restricted for security reasons.

KeyRaider is mostly found in Chinese websites and apps that provide software for jailbroken iPhones. But the malware has spread far beyond China, showing up in 18 countries, including the United States.

Once infected with the KeyRaider malware, a jailbroken iPhone will give up all of its owner’s iTunes App Store information to the hackers, including the Apple account username, password and the iPhone’s unique ID. It also steals all the information about the owner’s App Store purchases and prevents people from recovering their phones once they’ve been hijacked.

The hackers aren’t keeping all that for themselves: They have allowed other people to take advantage of the stolen account information.

The hackers have uploaded software that lets other people purchase iTunes apps for “free,” using the victims’ accounts. About 20,000 people have downloaded the software that lets them steal from the 225,000 affected iPhone owners.

To put it in perspective, Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2015 alone.

Palo Alto Networks said victims have reported that their Apple account purchase history has displayed apps they never bought. Others say their phones have been locked, and the hackers are demanding a ransom to return access to the owners.

Jailbreaking phones can be a useful way for technologically savvy iPhone owners to customize their devices to their liking and install apps that don’t appear on the iTunes App Store. But it also bypasses some important barriers Apple puts in place to prevent these kind of attacks from happening.

“Users … need to consider carefully if the additional functionality is worth the additional risk,” said Nicko Van Someren, chief technology officer of mobile security company Good Technology.


1B users in a day: Facebook 1 Billion Users

August 29, 2015 by  
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1B users in a day: Facebook 1 Billion Users, In what some have interpreted as one sign of an approaching, biblical-style apocalypse, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that this week, one billion people — one out of every seven people on Earth — used Facebook in a single day.

Zuckerberg wrote in the post, “This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world.”

His vision of the digital Utopia ran unabated in the post.

“A more open and connected world is a better world. It brings stronger relationships with those you love, a stronger economy with more opportunities, and a stronger society that reflects all of our values,” Zuckerberg wrote.

This differs from the numbers that Facebook usually reports, which are averaged over 30 days. Facebook had 968 million daily active users in June, which represented a 17% increase from the same month in 2014.

Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook has nearly 1.5 billion users who log in at least once a month. Most people on Facebook live outside the United States and Canada.

Another way to look at this number is that one person used Facebook for every four dollars the company reported in revenue ($4.04 billion) in the last quarter. Net profit for the quarter was less than that ($719 million) which was still a honkingly big number.

Additionally, Facebook is not standing on its laurels by counting a billion users in one day. Oh no. The company is up to a lot more, including the announcement this week of M, a digital assistant that uses artificial intelligence, as well as good, old-fashion know-how, to get people answers. It’s expected to compete with Siri, Cortana, and other digital assistants.

However, all is not perfect in this online destination oasis. FB’s new feature of video uploads has caused problems with content creators, who say users have been “freebooting” their copyrighted content onto FB without compensation.

In response, Facebook has announced it will use a system to identify videos uploaded (through their audio tracks) and check if they belong to others.

“We’re working with Audible Magic to enhance the way that system works with Facebook, including improving the intake of content intended to be blocked from our platform,” according to Facebook. “We’re making improvements to our existing procedures so that infringing content can be reported and removed more efficiently, and to keep repeat infringers off our service.”

But wait, there’s more!

“We have been building new video matching technology that will be available to a subset of creators,” Facebook claims. “This technology is tailored to our platform, and will allow these creators to identify matches of their videos on Facebook across Pages, profiles, groups, and geographies. Our matching tool will evaluate millions of video uploads quickly and accurately, and when matches are surfaced, publishers will be able to report them to us for removal.”

It’s just like a DMCA takedown without all that messy legal stuff.

Yes, having a billion users in one day is impressive. The mess that all those users create by trying to communicate in unauthorized ways is also impressive.


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