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AT&T, Verizon and WhatsApp Flunk Privacy
June 22, 2015
An Electronic Frontier Foundation survey published last week gave AT&T, Verizon and WhatsApp the thumbs down when it comes to protecting user privacy. Google and Twitter also got a black eye. The five were among 24 companies the EFF evaluated on criteria worked out over the past four years. WhatsApp, now owned by Facebook, also took criticism in the EFF's fifth annual report, "Who Has Your Back?"
Costolo Out in Twitter's Latest Round of Musical Chairs
June 12, 2015
Twitter is changing CEOs for the fourth time in four years. Incumbent Dick Costolo is stepping down July 1 and company cofounder Jack Dorsey will take over as interim CEO while the board searches, both internally and externally, for a suitable candidate to hold the post. Costolo will remain on Twitter's board, and Dorsey will continue to serve as CEO of Square, which he also cofounded.
QuizUp Branches Out Into Social Territory
May 21, 2015
Popular trivia game QuizUp on Thursday issued an update that gives players access to a broader array of social networking tools. Users' exchanges had been spilling out of the trivia app and into forums, so developer Plain Vanilla Games decided it was time to build out the game's social features. QuizUp now aims to connect users through their shared interests.
Reddit Flaps Gums at Harassers
May 15, 2015
Reddit has announced a new policy prohibiting personal attacks. "We are updating how we apply existing policies to address new types of harassment on Reddit," said company spokesperson Heather Wilson. However, Reddit did not indicate what action it would take against harassers. Instead, it promised a thorough investigation by the company and a response based on the nature of the harassment.
Facebook's Instant Articles Raise Troubling Questions
May 13, 2015
Facebook on Tuesday introduced Instant Articles, a feature that lets publishers place their stories directly on its site. Nine major media outlets have signed on so far. The content is optimized for mobile devices, and Instant Articles currently is available only on iOS. Publishers get 100 percent of the revenue from ads they place with their content.
Users Choose to Wear Blinders, Facebook Suggests
May 8, 2015
Facebook, in collaboration with the University of Michigan, conducted a study on the diversity of news and opinions posted by members of the network, in an effort to determine whether its manipulation of News Feed algorithms could be responsible for creating an echo chamber of viewpoints. Users themselves are to blame if all they're exposed to is preaching to the choir, the study found.
Twitter's Timid Anti-Trolling Tweaks
May 7, 2015
Twitter recently amended its rules in yet another attempt to crack down on the abuses perpetuated by online trolls, but the changes may do little to protect victims. Its latest move was an extension of its ban on threats of violence against others or the promotion of violence against others. The company decided to let its support team lock down abusive accounts for specific periods of time.
Facebook Responds to Critics by Unlocking Internet.org
May 4, 2015
Net neutrality and Facebook's Internet.org initiative can and must coexist, insists CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook on Monday announced that it will expand Internet.org to ensure that it doesn't conflict with the principles of a free and open Internet. CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to criticisms of Internet.org and outlined plans to make the free service even more open.
Twitter Takes It on the Chin
April 30, 2015
Twitter's stock took a hit when investors got an early look at first quarter earnings, leaked just ahead of closing time on Tuesday, ahead of the company's Wednesday announcement. Shares plummeted about 18 percent from Tuesday's opening price of $51.84. The slide continued on Wednesday, with the loss of a couple more percentage points, and the share price hovered near that level through Thursday.
YouTube Marks 10 Years of Nondisruptive Revolution
April 23, 2015
YouTube on Thursday celebrated its first full decade in business. It was 10 years ago to the day that cofounder Jawed Karim uploaded the site's first video. It was a humble beginning: a 19-second clip of elephants, with Karim declaring that the pachyderms have "really, really long trunks." In fairness, it may have been in keeping with other notable firsts in technology.
LinkedIn Links Up With Lynda
April 9, 2015
LinkedIn on Thursday announced its intent to complete the acquisition of online business school Lynda.com by the close of 2015's second quarter. The deal, about 52 percent cash and 48 percent stock, is valued at around $1.5 billion. The terms are subject to adjustments, however, and there was still plenty of time left to make them when the agreement was announced.
Facebook Invites App Devs to Join in Messenger Family Planning
March 27, 2015
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week told an audience at the F8 conference for Facebook developers that the company's future lies in its family of apps and in giving the network's members the ability to share what they want, where they want. "We're building this family so we can offer unique, world-class experiences for all of the ways that people want to share," Zuckerberg said.
Twitter's Periscope Allows Live Stream Replays
March 26, 2015
Live streaming from mobile devices has been having a rebirth of sorts with the proliferation of 4G, the continued rise of smart devices and the quickening pace of the demise of feature phones. Twitter has been seeking its own rebirth, and it's wagering that its renaissance will be influenced largely by Periscope, a new live-streaming app that just surfaced.
Facebook Aims to Turn Social Media Into 'the' Media
March 24, 2015
Facebook reportedly has been talking with multiple news organizations about hosting their content on its network, rather than linking to their websites. No deal has been finalized, but The New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic are among its first likely partners. They may be interested in negotiating with Facebook now because they understand change is inevitable.
New Facebook Marketing Tool Chews Up Data, Spits It Out
March 17, 2015
Facebook has launched Topic Data, a new service that reveals to advertisers the subjects users discuss, the products they use, and the activities they follow. Marketers will be able to sift through data compilations of what users say about events, brands, subjects and activities. Data on all of Facebook's 1.3 billion users will be used -- anonymized and aggregated to protect their identities.
Facebook Talks Tough About Online Harassment
March 17, 2015
Facebook on Monday issued a new set of community standards, including provisions designed to clamp down on revenge porn, bullying, threats and other forms of online harassment. Facebook will remove content that appears to purposefully target private individuals with the intent of degrading or shaming them, or that threatens or promotes sexual violence or exploitation.
Twitter Tries, Tries Again to Reduce Abuse
March 13, 2015
Twitter this week updated its rules to combat online abuse and revenge porn, in the wake of continuing outrage among netizens. The most significant change is a new statement that users may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent. Sounds good, but like last month's update, it's more bark than bite.
Private, Public Teamwork Needed to Fight ISIS on Twitter: Report
March 9, 2015
Social media firms should team up with the U.S. government to work out appropriate responses to extremism on their sites, recommends a Brookings Institution report. J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan last year launched a study to define and describe the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter. They found that ISIS ramped up efforts on Twitter following the suspension of many supporters' accounts.
Nextdoor Snags $110M for Community-Building Efforts
March 5, 2015
Nextdoor on Wednesday announced it has received $110 million in venture capital to grow its neighborhood-based network of residents and vendors. Nextdoor plans to use the money to develop additional ways for members to benefit from the recommendations shared on the social network. "People don't know their neighbors -- but we are changing that," said spokesperson Jennifer Burke.
Twitter's New Safety Rules: Hot Diggity or Hot Air?
March 3, 2015
Twitter has announced actions to further protect users of its network -- but it left them vague. The company is rolling out unspecified improvements to its reporting process for content issues including impersonation, self-harm, and the sharing of private and confidential information, aka "doxing." It's also beginning to add new enforcement actions for use against accounts that violate its rules.
Facebook Launches ThreatExchange to Stymie Cybercrime
February 13, 2015
"Threat researchers do already share this data manually," Jeremy Demar, director of threat research at Damballa, told TechNewsWorld. "The value in systems like this isn't the ability to share raw intelligence [it's the] structured data that allows for the information to be accessed quickly and easily by the users." ThreatExchange is based on Facebook's ThreatData threat analysis framework.
Facebook Lets Members Prepare for the Digital Beyond
February 13, 2015
Facebook on Thursday announced a new feature for members who want to plan for their passing into the digital beyond. The feature allows Facebook members to appoint a "legacy contact" to administer their account when they die. Legacy contacts will, among other powers, have the authority to download an archive of the deceased member's public information, including photos, posts and profile information.
Facebook's Place Tips May Lead Advertisers to Pot of Gold
February 2, 2015
Facebook last week announced Place Tips for iPhones, a feature that will give subscribers location-based recommendations at the top of their News Feeds. No mention was made of launching Place Tips for Android or Windows Phone devices. Tapping on Place Tips will call up the information, which will include posts and photos friends have shared about a particular place.
Twitter Adds Cliques and Flicks
January 28, 2015
Twitter on Tuesday announced two new offerings that could bolster its efforts to compete with Facebook. The new group functionality will let them direct message up to 20 members of a group simultaneously. They also will be able to shoot, edit and share video from within Twitter's mobile app. Twitter will be rolling out the new features in the coming weeks.

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