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Internet Giants Ramp Up Fake News Defenses
April 27, 2017
Three major Internet brands this week announced initiatives to combat "fake news" online. Google revealed that it had tweaked its search processes to help bring high-quality content to the top of search result pages. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced a new online publication that aims to fight fake news by pairing professional journalists with legions of volunteer community contributors.
Facebook's Latest Moon Shot: I Think, Therefore I Type
April 21, 2017
Facebook on Wednesday told its F8 conference audience about two new cutting-edge projects that could change the way humans engage with devices. Over the next two years, the company will work on a new technology that will allow anyone to type around 100 words per minute -- not with fingers, but using a process that would decode neural activity devoted to speech. What Facebook envisions is a technology that would resemble a neural network.
Facebook Builds a VR Space, but Will Anyone Come?
April 19, 2017
Facebook has announced the beta launch of Facebook Spaces, a new app that allows users to connect with friends and colleagues in an interactive virtual reality environment. It provides a way for social media users to hang out as they might otherwise in person -- even bridging great distances -- noted Rachel Franklin, head of social VR at Facebook. An avatar represents each user in the VR world.
Executive Order Triggers H-1B Jitters in Silicon Valley
April 19, 2017
President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a long-anticipated executive order that addresses a campaign promise to begin shifting the country toward the "Buy American, Hire American" strategy that appealed to much of the industrial working class population in the Rust Belt states. The order calls on the U.S. government to shift purchasing toward domestically produced goods.
Cleveland Murder Intensifies Scrutiny of Facebook Live
April 18, 2017
Video footage of a senseless murder in Cleveland, posted after the fact on Facebook Live, has attracted national attention to the role of the platform in criminals' minds. Authorities Tuesday morning announced that Steve Stephens -- the 37-year-old suspect wanted for the cold-blooded shooting of Robert Godwin Sr. -- shot himself to death after a short pursuit by Pennsylvania State Police.
Microsoft's Timely Response to Shadow Brokers Threat Raises Questions
April 18, 2017
Just as the Shadow Brokers hacker group started crowing about a dump of never-seen-before flaws in Windows, Microsoft announced it already had fixed most of the exploits. "Today, Microsoft triaged a large release of exploits made publicly available by Shadow Brokers," said Microsoft Principal Security Group Manager Phillip Misner. "Most of the exploits are already patched."
Why Is It OK to Abuse Customers?
April 17, 2017
I don't know about you but I can't seem to get out of my head the image of that poor Asian doctor who, seemingly unconscious, was dragged off that United flight. The fact that the airline did that to a 69-year-old doctor just so it could save money moving employees around is nearly as unbelievable as the initial tone-deaf response from United's CEO, who blamed the passenger.
Will Amazon Go Reinvent Retail?
April 14, 2017
Every time I walk into a retail store, I grumble about the same pet peeve. After walking the aisles and filling the basket, you then must go through the most inefficient checkout process. First you unload everything in your basket, then it's rung up, then you put the items in bags that go back into your basket before you can walk out of the store. There must be a better way.
Burger King Ad Creates Whopper of a Mess for Google Home
April 13, 2017
Burger King in essence hijacked the voice-activated Google Home speakers in some consumers' homes. In a 15-second television ad, the camera zooms in on a young man wearing the company uniform who says, "OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?" The trigger phrase for Google's AI Assistant activated Home speakers situated nearby, prompting them to read Wikipedia's description of the Whopper.
Spam Czar Nabbed in Spain May Have Link to Election Tampering
April 12, 2017
An alleged spam kingpin with possible ties to election meddling in the U.S. was arrested in Spain last week under a U.S. international warrant. Pyotr Levashov had been vacationing in Barcelona with his family. Levashov was arrested for interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, the Russian news outlet RT reported, but the DoJ said the arrest was not connected to national security.
United Airlines Gives Appalling New Meaning to Customer Service
April 11, 2017
United Airlines' self-made firestorm spread on Tuesday, as a video showing a passenger being forcibly dragged off a plane continued to make the rounds on social media. The passenger had refused to comply after being told he'd been bumped off the Sunday flight. The incident sparked international outrage, including calls for a boycott of the airline and for CEO Oscar Munoz to step down.
Labor Official Skewers Google Over Gender Pay Discrimination
April 11, 2017
The Department of Labor has found "systemic compensation disparities" between Google's female employees and their male counterparts, regional director Janette Wipper said at a hearing in San Francisco. The hearing was in connection with the department's lawsuit over Google's failure to hand over detailed compensation data about employees at its Mountain View, California, headquarters.
Hackers Blast Emergency Sirens in Dallas
April 11, 2017
Screaming sirens serenaded Dallas residents in the early morning hours Saturday after a cyberattack set off the city's emergency warning system. All of the city's 156 sirens reportedly were set off more than a dozen times. Officials have not yet identified the perpetrator of the attack, but it likely was someone outside the Dallas area, said Office of Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz.
Google's Fact Check Labeling System Goes Global
April 8, 2017
Google has extended the Fact Check feature it introduced last fall. Publishers now can display a Fact Check tag in news stories everywhere that Google News is available. The company also has introduced the Fact Check feature globally in Google Search, in all of the languages it supports. Not all stories will be fact checked, though, and only certain publishers will be able to participate.
Reversing Net Neutrality
April 3, 2017
When one side or the other in a political debate refused to accept a decision, it used to be simply annoying, but lately it has become dangerous to business and to the economy. The current administration's wants "to jettison the Obama administration's net neutrality rules, which were intended to safeguard free expression online," Steve Lohrmarch wrote last week.
Online Freedom of Speech May Be in Peril: Pew
March 30, 2017
Trolling, cyberbullying, harassment and just plain nastiness have become commonplace online, and this situation is likely to remain unchanged or worsen over the next decade, suggests a Pew Research report released Wednesday. Researchers polled more than 1,500 technology experts, academics, and business and government leaders on the future of free speech online.
House Votes to Kill Privacy Rules Binding ISPs
March 30, 2017
The House of Representatives has approved the Congressional Review Act, undoing privacy restrictions imposed on ISPs during the Obama administration. The Senate passed the CRA last week in a 50-48 vote along party lines. The White House has expressed support for the CRA. "This is one time I believe the White House," remarked John Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog.
Elon Musk Plans to Build a Human-AI Interface
March 29, 2017
Tech visionary Elon Musk has launched a startup, Neuralink, dedicated to developing technology that will connect human brains directly to a computer. This venture is in its very early stages, Musk confirmed. Neuralink, which Musk is funding privately, is a medical research firm that aims to develop "neural lace" -- a technology that could allow the implanting of small electrodes into the brain.
UK Home Secretary: Apps Shouldn't Serve as Terrorist Hiding Places
March 27, 2017
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Sunday called for greater government access to encrypted content on mobile apps. Apps with end-to-end encryption, like Facebook's WhatsApp, should not be allowed to conceal terrorists' communications from law enforcement, Rudd said in a television interview. "There should be no place for terrorists to hide," she said.
Consumer Advocates Bemoan Senate Vote to Lift ISP Privacy Restrictions
March 25, 2017
Privacy advocates and consumer groups are fighting back against the U.S. Senate's Thursday vote to undo privacy restrictions on Internet service providers. In a 50-48 party line vote, the Senate approved the Congressional Review Act, S.J. Res. 34. If the House of Representatives gives it the green light, it then will go to the president to be signed into law.
Advertisers Flee YouTube Over Offensive Ad Placements
March 23, 2017
Several top U.S. advertisers -- including AT&T, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson -- this week pulled out of their agreements with YouTube due to their ads appearing with videos advocating extremism, or with other offensive content. Such placements represent violations of their agreements with Google. "We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate," AT&T said.
WikiLeaks Exposes CIA's Device Surveillance Tricks
March 23, 2017
WikiLeaks has released more Vault 7 documentation online, including details about several CIA projects to infect Apple's Mac computer firmware and operating system. The site unloaded its first batch of stolen Vault 7 data earlier this month. The CIA's Embedded Development Branch developed malware that could persist even if the targeted computer were reformatted and its OS were reinstalled.
Pro-Turkey Hackers Hit Prominent Twitter Accounts
March 16, 2017
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Twitter users, many of them high-profile, were hacked Tuesday by someone who appeared to support Turkey in its diplomatic row with the Netherlands. Their accounts displayed a Swastika -- reversed to face to the right -- as well as the Turkish flag and hashtags to the Nazialmanya and Nazihollanda accounts, which displayed comments on the attack.
US Charges 2 Russian Intel Agents, 2 Hackers in Yahoo Case
March 16, 2017
The Justice Department has announced charges against four individuals, including two officers of Russia's FSB, for carrying out a massive cyberbreach that affected about 500 million Yahoo account holders. A federal grand jury in Northern California charged the defendants -- the FSB officials and two Russian cybercriminals -- with using stolen data to gain illegal access to numerous accounts.
Tech Companies Weigh Responses to WikiLeaks Exposure
March 11, 2017
Following WikiLeaks' publication earlier this week of classified documents stolen from the CIA, major technology companies, including Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Cisco, have been scrambling to assess the risks posed to their customers by the revelations. The so-called "Vault 7" leak includes information about methods and tools the CIA crafted to hack into products produced by those companies.
Despite Intense Scrutiny, Uber Lays Another Egg
March 10, 2017
Already under the microscope for claims of sexual harassment and questionable labor practices, Uber this week said it would ban the use of a controversial technology to block regulatory authorities from monitoring its operations. The company's "greyballing" technology is designed to hide the standard city app view in specific cases -- for example, from former riders blocked for being abusive.
What Do the Academy Awards, AWS and AI Have in Common?
March 10, 2017
As the tug of war between humans and machines escalates, we've become witnesses on nearly a daily basis to events that suggest there won't be an ultimate winner or loser in this existential battle for survival and supremacy. Just take two little human mistakes that recently received worldwide attention because of the power of today's technology to magnify their impacts on a global scale.
WikiLeaks Dumps CIA Hacking Docs Online
March 8, 2017
WikiLeaks on Tuesday dumped thousands of classified documents onto the Internet, exposing hacking programs used by the CIA. The torrent of data is just the first in a series of dumps WikLeaks is calling "Vault 7." This first installment includes 8,761 documents and files stolen from an isolated high-security network within the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.
FCC Reverses Course on Internet Privacy Rules
March 2, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday issued a joint statement following the FCC's temporary stay of data security regulations. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen issued the statement to address the FCC's decision, in essence, to overturn rules designed to bolster broadband consumer privacy.
Twitter Adds Heft to Anti-Harassment Toolbox
March 2, 2017
Twitter on Wednesday announced that over the next few months it will roll out changes designed to increase the safety of users, including the following: Its algorithms will help identify accounts as they engage in abusive behavior, so the burden no longer will be on victims to report it; and users will be able to restrict their tweets to followers for a set amount of time.
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What's most likely to cost a company your customer loyalty?
a major product fail
major unethical corporate behavior
public advocacy of social or political views I oppose
a really bad customer service experience
stagnation -- I'm attracted to innovation
none of the above -- I'll stick through thick and thin