Tech News

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MasterCard shows off mobile payments (photos)

Cnet - Mon, 2038-01-18 20:14
MasterCard is readying technology and applications that will let people use their phones to pay for things.
Categories: Tech News

While Facebook Gets All The Hate, Verizon Continues To Show It's No Better, And Potentially Much Worse For Privacy

TechDirt - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:54

Facebook certainly deserves ample criticism for its lax privacy standards and its decision to threaten news outlets that exposed them. That said, we've noted a few times now that the uneven press fixation on Facebook obscures the fact that numerous industries routinely engage in much worse behavior. That's particularly true of broadband providers (and especially wireless carriers), who routinely treat consumer privacy as a distant afterthought, with only a fraction of the total volume of media hyperventilation we saw during the Facebook kerfuffle.

Facebook's casual treatment of your data isn't some errant tech industry exception, it's the norm, making #quitFacebook an arguably pointless gesture if you still own a stock mobile phone. In the telecom industry, a disdain for consumer privacy is a cornerstone of their entire business model(s). Companies like AT&T and Verizon aren't just bone grafted to our government's domestic surveillance apparatus, they collect and sell everything from browsing to location data to absolutely anyone and everyone--with little to no real oversight, and opt out tools that may or may not actually work.

Verizon has been particularly busy on the anti-privacy front. You'll recall that the company was fined by the FCC for modifying wireless user data packets to track users around the internet without telling them. The company was engaging in this behavior for two years before security researchers even discovered it, and it took another six months of media criticism for Verizon to offer a simple opt out. Despite the wrist slap, a more powerful variant of this technology is still very much in play at Oath (AOL & Yahoo), Verizon's effort to compete with Google and Facebook in the media advertising wars.

Not long after that, Verizon played a starring role in gutting modest FCC privacy rules protecting consumers (spurred in part by Verizon's tracking tech). Those rules, which Verizon lobbyists dismantled last year, simply required that ISPs be transparent with what data they're collecting and who they're selling it to. When California tried to mirror the FCC's discarded privacy policies, Verizon, Facebook and Comcast lied to lawmakers, falsely claiming that modest privacy protections would harm children, increase internet popups, and embolden extremism. None of it was true.

More recently, Verizon has been facing numerous lawsuits over Yahoo hacks that exposed the data of roughly three billion consumers. And while this was before Verizon's ownership (Verizon wasn't informed of the hacks during negotiations, netting it a $350 billion discount), the company has since been actively trying to prevent customers from suing Oath (Yahoo) or Verizon over future breaches by using fine print to mandate binding arbitration:

"The new Oath terms of service "contain a binding arbitration agreement and class action and jury trial waiver clauses..., which are applicable to all US users," the terms say.

Congress has considered legislation to ban many mandatory arbitration clauses, but it hasn't followed through yet and the practice remains legal.

The AOL terms already contained a binding arbitration clause and class-action waiver before Verizon bought that company. But the Yahoo terms didn't previously contain such clauses."

Thanks to AT&T's Supreme Court victory in 2011 using contract fine print to erode consumer legal rights is now something we view as the norm. And while everybody can agree that the class action system has numerous problems, the system of binding arbitration is a terrible solution. Under binding arbitration, the arbiter rules for the company they work for the vast majority of the time, leaving consumers shit out of luck. While class actions often only net lawyers a nice new boat, they at least occasionally result in substantive change. Arbitration, in turn, is often more like consumer theater than justice.

The reality is that informed and empowered consumers are more likely to opt out of efforts to monetize their online behavior. And however breathlessly companies like Verizon and Facebook pretend to be dedicated to consumer privacy or policy solutions, they're going to fight tooth and nail against any policies -- even reasonable ones -- that could potentially hamstring that revenue. But however bad Facebook is and has been on privacy, Verizon routinely offers a master class when it comes to undermining efforts at anything even vaguely resembling a solution.



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Facebook now ranks news organizations based on trustworthiness - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:47
The company reportedly asked consumers about their familiarity with publications and whether they trust them.
Categories: Tech News

A day after Oculus Go, Facebook demos next-gen VR plans - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:47
A prototype headset Half Dome takes on some of VR's big annoyances, like tunnel vision and difficulty focusing on stuff right in front of your face.
Categories: Tech News

Westworld season 2 images: New episode three photos - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:46
The second season of the HBO series starts April 22. Until then, here's every image released and some ridiculous theories and speculation.
Categories: Tech News

Confirmed: LG V30S ThinQ costs $930 in the US - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:44
Just as its successor, the LG G7 ThinQ, arrives, LG's earlier phone finally gets US pricing.
Categories: Tech News

Cambridge Analytica is reportedly shutting down following Facebook data mining scandal - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:39
The shutdown is effective Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Categories: Tech News

Facebook brings high-speed wireless data links to Silicon Valley, Hungary - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:36
As it tries to bring more people around the world online, Facebook is using AI to figure out the best places to install radio network links, it says at its F8 conference.
Categories: Tech News

Cambridge Analytica Shuts Down Amid Ongoing Facebook Crisis

Wired - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:21
The troubled data firm, which improperly accessed the data of up to 87 million Facebook users, has ceased operations.
Categories: Tech News

Hyundai changes its mind on Genesis dealers -- again - Roadshow

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:20
Genesis' parent company has rethought its January plans for a limited network of standalone dealers -- but will the new plan work?
Categories: Tech News

My day as a cabbie in the London taxi of tomorrow - Roadshow

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:20
A new electric-powered black cab is on London's streets. I took it out to pick up a passenger and see what this eco taxi is like.
Categories: Tech News

Our first impressions of the LG G7 ThinQ (The 3:59, Ep 395) - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:11
Plus, Apple earnings and Facebook F8.
Categories: Tech News

Facebook is Using Instagram Photos and Hashtags To Improve Its Computer Vision

SlashDot - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:10
Facebook today revealed that, using 3.5 billion publicly shared Instagram photos and their accompany hashtags, its computer system has achieved new advances, with a 85.4 percent accuracy rate when used on ImageNet, a well-known benchmark dataset. From a report: The results were shared onstage at F8, Facebook's annual developer conference taking place today at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. Other news announced at F8 this year include the release of Oculus Go, new Facebook Stories sharing capabilities, and the reopening of app and bot reviews following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. See the full rundown here. The results of Facebook's research mean that its computer vision in the real world can see more specific subsets, so instead of just saying "food," it's Indian or Italian cuisine; not just "bird" but a cedar waxwing; not just "man in a white suit" but a clown.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech News

Reddit's Alexis Ohanian: What I learned from Serena Williams - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:07
Think your job is tough? The Reddit co-founder learned from his tennis star wife just how good he has it.
Categories: Tech News

New Google Lens features are coming at Google I/O, LG says - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 11:00
A small button on the new LG G7 phone holds the clue.
Categories: Tech News

Google invests in startups to find new horizons for its Assistant - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 10:43
Google's investment program will offer money, advice and insider access to promising startups that can push the boundaries of Google Assistant.
Categories: Tech News

Avengers: Infinity War reportedly blows past $800M worldwide - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 10:40
It's on track to set even more records at the box office both domestically and internationally.
Categories: Tech News

Facebook Ranking News Sources By Trust Is A Bad Idea... But No One At Facebook Will Read Our Untrustworthy Analysis

TechDirt - Wed, 2018-05-02 10:40

At some point I need to write a bigger piece on these kinds of things, though I've mentioned it here and there over the past couple of years. For all the complaints about how "bad stuff" is appearing on the big platforms (mainly: Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter), it's depressing how many people think the answer is "well, those platforms should stop the bad stuff." As we've discussed, this is problematic on multiple levels. First, handing over the "content policing" function to these platforms is, well, probably not such a good idea. Historically they've been really bad at it, and there's little reason to think they're going to get any better no matter how much money they throw at artificial intelligence or how many people they hire to moderate content. Second, it requires some sort of objective reality for what's "bad stuff." And that's impossible. One person's bad stuff is another person's good stuff. And almost any decision is going to get criticized by someone or another. It's why suddenly a bunch of foolish people are falsely claiming that these platforms are required by law to be "neutral." (They're not).

But, as more and more pressure is put on these platforms, eventually they feel they have little choice to do something... and inevitably, they try to step up their content policing. The latest, as you may have heard, is that Facebook has started to rank news organizations by trust.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday that the company has already begun to implement a system that ranks news organizations based on trustworthiness, and promotes or suppresses its content based on that metric.

Zuckerberg said the company has gathered data on how consumers perceive news brands by asking them to identify whether they have heard of various publications and if they trust them.

“We put [that data] into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a suppression, and we’re going to dial up the intensity of that over time," he said. "We feel like we have a responsibility to further [break] down polarization and find common ground.”

But, as with the lack of an objective definition of "bad," you've got the same problem with "trust." For example, I sure don't trust "the system" that Zuckerberg mentions above to do a particularly good job of determining which news sources are trustworthy. And, again, trust is such a subjective concept, that lots of people inherently trust certain sources over others -- even when those sources have long histories of being full of crap. And given how much "trust" is actually driven by "confirmation bias" it's difficult to see how this solution from Facebook will do any good. Take, for example, (totally hypothetically), that Facebook determines that Infowars is untrustworthy. Many people may agree that a site famous for spreading conspiracy theories and pushing sketchy "supplements" that you need because of conspiracy theory x, y or z, is not particularly trustworthy. But, for those who do like Infowars, how are they likely to react to this kind of thing? They're not suddenly going to decide the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal are more trustworthy. They're going to see it as a conspiracy for Facebook to continue to suppress the truth.

Confirmation bias is a hell of a drug, and Facebook trying to push people in one direction is not going to go over well.

To reveal all of this, Zuckerberg apparently invited a bunch of news organizations to talk about it:

Zuckerberg met with a group of news media executives at the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park after delivering his keynote speech at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference Tuesday.

The meeting included representatives from BuzzFeed News, the Information, Quartz, the New York Times, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, NBC, Recode, Univision, Barron’s, the Daily Beast, the Economist, HuffPost, Insider, the Atlantic, the New York Post, and others.

We weren't invited. Does that mean Facebook doesn't view us as trustworthy? I guess so. So it seems unlikely that he'll much care about what we have to say, but we'll say it anyway (though you probably won't be able to read this on Facebook):

Facebook: You're Doing It Wrong.

Facebook should never be the arbiter of truth, no matter how much people push it to be. Instead, it can and should be providing tools for its users to have more control. Let them create better filters. Let them apply their own "trust" metrics, or share trust metrics that others create. Or, as we've suggested on the privacy front, open up the system to let third parties come in and offer up their own trust rankings. Will that reinforce some echo chambers and filter bubbles? Perhaps. But that's not Facebook's fault -- it's part of the nature of human beings and confirmation bias.

Or, hey, Facebook could take a real leap forward and move away from being a centralized silo of information and truly disrupt its own setup -- pushing the information and data out to the edges, where the users could have more control over it themselves. And not in the simplistic manner of Facebook's other "big" announcement of the week about how it'll now let users opt-out of Facebook tracking them around the web (leaving out that they kinda needed to do this to deal with the GDPR in the EU). Opting out is one thing -- pushing the actual data control back to the end users and distributing it is something entirely different.

In the early days of the web, people set up their own websites, and had pretty much full control over the data and what was done there. It was much more distributed. Over time we've moved more and more to this silo model in which Facebook is the giant silo where everyone puts their content... and has to play by Facebook's rules. But with that came responsibility on Facebook's part for everything bad that anyone did on their platform. And, hey, let's face it, some people do bad stuff. The answer isn't to force Facebook to police all bad stuff, it should be to move back towards a system where information is more distributed, and we're not pressured into certain content because that same Facebook thinks it will lead to the most "engagement."

Push the content and the data out and focus on the thing that Facebook has always been better at at it's core: the connection function. Connect people, but don't control all of the content. Don't feel the need to police the content. Don't feel the need to decide who's trustworthy and who isn't. Be the protocol, not the platform, and open up the system so that anyone else can provide a trust overlay, and let those overlays compete. It would take Facebook out of the business of having to decide what's good and what's bad and would give end users much more control.

Facebook, of course, seems unlikely to do this. The value of the control is that it allows them to capture more of the money from the attention generated on their platform. But, really, if it doesn't want to keep dealing with these headaches, it seems like the only reasonable way forward.



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NASA's new InSight mission set to dig deep into Mars mysteries - CNET

Cnet - Wed, 2018-05-02 10:36
Mars InSight is scheduled to launch from California on Saturday, equipped with everything needed to do a complete internal exam of our neighbor the Red Planet.
Categories: Tech News

Daily Deal: Aura Premium Subscription

TechDirt - Wed, 2018-05-02 10:35

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