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Media

Snapchat's 10-Second-Video Glasses Are Real And Cost $130 Bucks (techcrunch.com) 91

Long-time Slashdot reader bheerssen writes that Snapchat "announced a new product yesterday, Spectacles, which are sunglasses with a camera built into the frame." TechCrunch reports: Snapchat's long-rumored camera glasses are actually real. The startup's first foray into hardware will be a pair of glasses called "Spectacles" and will go on sale this fall for $129.99, according to the WSJ... To start recording you tap a button on the side of the glasses. Video capture will mimic Snapchat's app, meaning you can only capture 10 seconds of video at once. This video will sync wirelessly to your phone, presumably making it available to share as a snap.
The cameras will be using a circular 115-degree lens to mimic the human eye's natural field of vision, and in the Journal's article, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel remembers his first test of the product in 2015. "I could see my own memory, through my own eyes -- it was unbelievable... It was the closest I'd ever come to feeling like I was there again." The camera glasses will enter "limited distribution" sometime within the next three months, which TechCrunch believes "could end up being like Google Glass when it first launched -- officially on sale to the public but pretty hard to come by."
Government

From Bicycles To Washing Machines: Sweden To Give Tax Breaks For Repairs (mnn.com) 144

jenningsthecat writes: The Swedish government is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to encouraging the repair of stuff that would otherwise be thrown away, according to both The Guardian and Fast Company. The country's Social Democrat and Green party coalition have submitted proposals to Parliament that would reduce the value-added-tax (VAT) on bicycle, clothing, and shoe repairs from 25% to 12%. Also proposed is an income tax deduction equalling half the labor cost of repairing household appliances. According to The Guardian, "the incentives are part of a shift in government focus from reducing carbon emissions produced domestically to reducing emissions tied to goods produced elsewhere." Per Bolund, Sweden's Minister for Financial Markets and Consumer Affairs, said the policy also tied in with international trends around reduced consumption and crafts, such as the "maker movement" and the sharing economy, both of which have strong followings in Sweden. The VAT cut may create more jobs for immigrants as it could spur the creation of a new home-repairs service industry. Also, from a science standpoint, the incentives could help cut the cost of carbon emissions on the planet as it should in theory reduce emissions linked to consumption. "I believe there is a shift in view in Sweden at the moment. There is an increased knowledge that we need to make our things last longer in order to reduce materials' consumption," Bolund said. The Guardian's report concludes: "The proposals will be presented in parliament as part of the government's budget proposals and if voted through in December will become law from January 1, 2017."
Facebook

Indian Students Score a Partial Win in Facebook Privacy Dispute (bloomberg.com) 47

WhatsApp announced last month that it would stop begin sharing some of users' information -- phone number, contact information of people in your address book etc -- with Facebook. Two Indian students last month expressed their concern over this, adding that WhatsApp was "severely" compromising their privacy and those of other billion plus users, and that it was reneging from its original promise. They approached Delhi High Court, and after hearing from everyone, the bench of chief justice told WhatsApp that it must delete data of users who are opt out of privacy policy changes before September 25. Bloomberg adds: The Delhi High Court on Friday ruled that WhatsApp has to delete all data on users who choose to stop using the service before Sept. 25, when the new policy takes effect. Also, it can only share data collected after that date. However, going forward, WhatsApp is free to share information on users who haven't opted out. The court also asked India's government to consider if it was feasible to craft regulations to oversee WhatsApp and other messaging apps, though it didn't specify what form they could take.
Microsoft

Salesforce, Google, Microsoft, Verizon Are In Talks With Twitter For a Potential Acquisition (cnbc.com) 65

Twitter is in conversation with a number of tech companies for a potential sale. The social company is in talks with Google and cloud computing company Salesforce (which also wanted to purchase LinkedIn), and may receive a formal offer soon, reports CNBC. TechCrunch corroborating on the report adds that Microsoft and Verizon are also in talks, albeit separately, with Twitter for the same. From CNBC report: Shares of Twitter were up 20 percent Friday. Twitter's board of directors is said to be largely desirous of a deal, according to people close to the situation, but no sale is imminent. There's no assurance a deal will materialize, but one source close to the conversations said that they are picking up momentum and could result in a deal before year-end. Suitors are said to be interested as much in the data that Twitter generates as its place as a media company.
Facebook

Facebook Inflated Video Viewing Stats For Two Years (cnet.com) 49

Facebook has admitted inflating the average time people spend watching videos for two years by failing to count people who watched for less than three seconds. CNET reports: The metric was artificially inflated because it only counted videos as viewed if they had been seen for three or more seconds, not taking into account shorter views, the company revealed several weeks ago in a post on its advertiser help center web page. Facebook has been putting a greater emphasis on video in recent years, particularly live video. In March, Facebook began giving anyone with a phone and internet connection an easy way to broadcast live video to the 1.7 billion people who use its service every day.
Republicans

Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey Is Secretly Funding Trump's Meme Machine (thedailybeast.com) 846

The founder of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, has backed a pro-Trump political organization called Nimble America that is dedicated to "shitposting" and spreading inflammatory memes about Hillary Clinton. In 2014, Luckey's virtual-reality company, Oculus, was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. Forbes estimates his current net worth to be $700 million. The Daily Beast reports: "The 24-year-old told The Daily Beast that he had used the pseudonym "NimbleRichMan" on Reddit with a password given to him by the organization's founders. Nimble America says it's dedicated to providing that "shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real," according to the company's introductory statement, and has taken credit for a billboard its founders say was posted outside of Pittsburgh with a cartoonishly large image of Clinton's face alongside the words "Too Big to Jail." "We conquered Reddit and drive narrative on social media, conquered the [mainstream media], now it's time to get our most delicious memes in front of Americans whether they like it or not," a representative for the group wrote in an introductory post on Reddit. Potential donors from Donald Trump's biggest online community -- Reddit's r/The_Donald, where one of the rules is "no dissenters" -- turned on the organization this weekend, refusing to believe "NimbleRichMan" was the anonymous "near-billionaire" he claimed to be and causing a rift on one of the alt-right's most powerful organizational tools. Luckey insists he's just the group's money man -- a wealthy booster who thought the meddlesome idea was funny. But he is also listed as the vice-president of the group on its website. In another post written under Luckey's Reddit pseudonym, Luckey echoes Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire who used his wealth to secretly bankroll Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker. The Daily Beast adds: "'The American Revolution was funded by wealthy individuals," NimbleRichMan wrote on Saturday. Luckey confirmed to The Daily Beast he penned the posts under his Reddit pseudonym. 'The same has been true of many movements for freedom in history. You can't fight the American elite without serious firepower. They will outspend you and destroy you by any and all means.'"
Network

Reddit Brings Down North Korea's Entire Internet (mirror.co.uk) 137

After a North Korean system administrator misconfigured its nameserver allowing anyone to query it and get the list of the domains that exist for .kp, it was revealed that the secretive country only has 28 websites. That's 28 websites for a country with nearly 25 million people. Naturally, the story was published all across the web, including on Reddit, which resulted in a high number of users visiting North Korea's websites. Mirror.co.uk reports: When a list of North Korea's available websites was posted on Reddit, the surge of visitors to the reclusive state's online offering overloaded the servers. North Korea runs a completely locked-down version of the internet that consists of only 28 "websites" that the population is allowed to view. However, a technical slip-up allowed a GitHub user to work their way into the country's computer network and view the websites from the outside. As the GitHub user puts it: "One of North Korea's top level name servers was accidentally configured to allow global [Domain Name System] transfers. This allows anyone who performs [a zone transfer request] to the country's ns2.kptc.kp name server to get a copy of the nation's top level DNS data." Pretty soon, links to all the websites were posted on Reddit, where thousands of visitors took the opportunity to see what the web looks like from Pyongyang. Reddit's surge of traffic isn't the first time North Korea's internet has been knocked out. In 2014, the country suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that was believed to have originated from the U.S. Redditor BaconBakin points out that while North Korea has 28 websites, GTA V has 83 websites. They added, "I think it's safe to say that San Andreas is more technologically advanced than North Korea."
Education

Kindergarteners Today Get Little Time To Play, and It's Stunting Their Development (qz.com) 227

Christopher Brown Associate professor, University of Texas at Austin, writes:Researchers have demonstrated that five-year-olds are spending more time engaged in teacher-led academic learning activities than play-based learning opportunities that facilitate child-initiated investigations and foster social development among peers.During his research and investigation, Brown found that a typical kindergarten classroom sees kids and one teacher with them almost the entire school day. During this period, they engage in about 15 different academic activities, which include "decoding word drills, practicing sight words, reading to themselves and then to a buddy, counting up to 100 by ones, fives and tens, practicing simple addition, counting money, completing science activities about living things, and writing in journals on multiple occasions." Recess did not occur until the last hour of the day, and only lasted for about 15 minutes. He adds:For children between the ages of five and six, this is a tremendous amount of work. Teachers too are under pressure to cover the material. When I asked the teacher, who I interviewed for the short film, why she covered so much material in a few hours, she stated, "There's pressure on me and the kids to perform at a higher level academically." So even though the teacher admitted that the workload on kindergartners was an awful lot, she also said she was unable to do anything about changing it.
Twitter

Twitter No Longer Counts Photos, GIFs, Videos Toward 140-Character Limit (adweek.com) 29

Twitter is finally relaxing its 140-character limit. The company announced today that it will now don't count things like emojis, images against the 140-character limit. Adding quotes, polls, videos will also no longer reduce your characters. From a report on Adweek: The moves don't come as a huge surprise. In May, the company revealed that such changes were likely forthcoming. At any rate, with video and GIFs becoming increasingly important to the social channel, the developments make sense. Social media marketers, no doubt, will enjoy the extra freedom as they try to get their points across to potential customers. "With long-form content on the rise, businesses who can take advantage of Twitter's new offering stand poised to create deep, meaningful communities," said Rod Favaron, Spredfast CEO.
Transportation

Uber Accused of Cashing In On Bomb Explosion By Jacking Rates (thesun.co.uk) 428

After a bomb exploded in Manhattan, leaving 29 injured, people leaving the scene discovered Uber had doubled their fares. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Sun: Traumatized families caught up in the New York bomb blast have accused Uber of cashing in on the tragedy by charging almost double to take them home. Furious passengers have taken to social media to slam the taxi firm in the wake of the blast... Uber reportedly charged between 1.4 and 3 times the standard fare with one city worker saying he had to pay twice as much as usual. Mortgage broker Nick Lalli said: "Just trying to get home from the city and Uber f****** doubled the surge price."
"Demand is off the charts!" the app informed its users, adding "Fares have increased to get more Ubers on the road." Uber soon tweeted that they'd deactivated their surge pricing algorithm for the affected area in Chelsea, "but passengers in other areas of Manhattan said they were still being charged higher than normal fares." One of the affected passengers was Michael Cohen, who is Donald Trump's lawyer, who tweeted that Uber was "taking total advantage of chaos and surcharging passengers 1.4 to 1.8 times." And another Uber user tweeted "I'm disgusted. People are trying to get home safe. Shame on you #DeleteApp."
Medicine

Vanity Fair Blames The Failure of Theranos On Silicon Valley (vanityfair.com) 127

"I was only a day or two behind FBI agents who were trying to put together a time line of what Elizabeh Holmes knew and when she knew it," writes Vanity Fair, in what Slashdot reader PvtVoid describes as "a compelling story of hubris, glamour and secrecy about the unicorn Silicon Valley company that turned out to be founded on bullshit." Another anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Holmes raised $700 million "on the condition that she would not divulge to investors how her technology actually worked," according to an article detailing how Silicon Valley can "replicate one big confidence game in which entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and the tech media pretend to vet one another while, in reality, functioning as cogs in a machine that is designed to not question anything -- and buoy one another all along the way... In the end, it isn't in anyone's interest to call bullshit."

Theranos employed "hundreds of marketers, salespeople, communications specialists, and even the Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris," as well as a chief scientist who eventually became suicidal. But then the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services "discovered that some of the tests Theranos was performing were so inaccurate that they could leave patients at risk of internal bleeding, or of stroke among those prone to blood clots." A reporter at the Wall Street Journal says "It's O.K. if you've got a smartphone app or a social network, and you go live with it before it's ready; people aren't going to die. But with medicine, it's different."

He became suspicious after reading the answer that the company's CEO, a Stanford dropout, supplied for a question about their technology. "A chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel."
The Almighty Buck

Religion In US 'Worth More Than Google and Apple Combined' (theguardian.com) 539

A new study says religion in the United States is worth $1.2 trillion per year. Not only is that equivalent to the 15th largest national economy in the world, but it's more than the combined revenues of the top 10 technology companies in the U.S., including Apple, Amazon and Google. The study, "The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion To American Society: An Empirical Analysis," was conducted by Brian J. Grim from Georgetown University and Melissa E. Grim from Newseum Institute. The Guardian reports: The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis calculated the $1.2 trillion figure by estimating the value of religious institutions, including healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programs; and staff and overheads for congregations. Co-author Brian Grim said it was a conservative estimate. More than 344,000 congregations across the U.S. collectively employ hundreds of thousands of staff and buy billions of dollars worth of goods and services. More than 150 million Americans, almost half the population, are members of faith congregations, according to the report. Although numbers are declining, the sums spent by religious organizations on social programs have tripled in the past 15 years, to $9 billion. The report points to analysis by the Pew Research Center which shows that two-thirds of highly religious adults had donated money, time or goods to the poor in the previous week, compared with 41% of adults who said they were not highly religious. The analysis didn't account for the value of financial or physical assets held by religious groups, or for "the negative impacts that occur in some religious communities, including [...] such things as the abuse of children by some clergy, cases of fraud, and the possibility of being recruitment sites for violent extremism."
Privacy

A Woman Is Suing Her Parents For Posting Embarrassing Childhood Photos To Facebook 412

Earlier this year, we ran a story which talked about how a parent could be sued by their kids for posting their photos on Facebook. Over the past two years, we have seen several such cases, and now we have another one. From a report on NYMag:An 18-year-old woman in Carinthia, Austria, is suing her parents over the 500-odd childhood photos they've posted of her on Facebook without her consent. "They knew no shame and no limit and didn't care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot -- every stage was photographed and then made public," she told The Local, an English-language Austrian newspaper. She went on, "I'm tired of not being taken seriously by my parents," who, despite her requests, have refused to take the photos down. The woman's father reportedly believes he's in the right to post the pictures because he took them. But her lawyer is adamant that if he can prove the photos violated the woman's right to privacy, her parents could be forced to pay damages and legal fees.
Communications

YouTube Gets Its Own Social Network With Launch of YouTube Community (techcrunch.com) 73

The earlier reports were right when they said YouTube was working on launching its own social networking service for content creators. Instead of the "YouTube Backstage" branding, YouTube has decided to call their social networking service "YouTube Community," which allows content creators to use text, GIFs, and images to better engage viewers. Given the controversy surrounding YouTube in regard to demonetizing videos that are not deemed "friendly to advertisers," many YouTube creators have been or are thinking about leaving the site and joining competing services. These new tools are designed to help keep creators from departing to competing platforms. TechCrunch reports: YouTube has been testing the new service over the past several months with a handful of creators in order to gain feedback. It's launching the service into public beta with this group of early testers, and will make it available to a wider group of creators in the "month's ahead," it says. Access to this expanded feature set is made available to the creators and their viewers by way of a new "Community" tab on their channels. From here, creators can share things like text posts, images, GIFs and other content, which the audience can thumbs up and down, like the videos themselves, as well as comment on. Viewers will see these posts in their "Subscriptions" feed in the YouTube mobile application, and can also choose to receive push notifications on these posts from their favorite creators, YouTube says." Only time will tell whether or not this new move will be better received than YouTube's Google+ integration...
Privacy

ClixSense Suffers Massive Data Breach, 6.6 Million Users Compromised (digitaltrends.com) 16

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: ClixSense, a site which pays users to view ads and take surveys, was the victim of a massive data breach compromising around 6.6 million user accounts. Usually when there's a data breach of this size, the information stolen contains usernames, passwords, and some other personal information, but due to the nature of ClixSense and the service it provided, home addresses, payment histories, and other banking details have also been compromised. According to the message posted to PasteBin along with a sample of the stolen data, social security numbers, dates of birth, and some internal emails from ClixSense may also have been compromised. Ars Technica reported this morning that about 2.2 million people have had their data posted to PasteBin over the weekend, reportedly just a taste of the 6.6 million user accounts that have been stolen. The hackers responsible stated in their PasteBin post that they intend to sell the user information they gathered, without disclosing a specific price. PasteBin has since removed the posts and the sample of the compromised user account information.
Social Networks

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg On 'Napalm Girl' Photo: 'We Don't Always Get it Right' (theguardian.com) 196

Facebook will learn from a mistake it made by deleting a historic Vietnam war photo of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack, said Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer. The photograph was removed from several accounts on Friday, including that of the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, on the grounds that it violated Facebook's restrictions on nudity. It was reinstated after Solberg accused Facebook of censorship and of editing history, The Guardian reports. From the article:"These are difficult decisions and we don't always get it right," Sandberg wrote in a letter to the prime minister, obtained by Reuters on Monday under Norway's freedom of information rules. "Even with clear standards, screening millions of posts on a case-by-case basis every week is challenging," Sandberg wrote. "Nonetheless, we intend to do better. We are committed to listening to our community and evolving. Thank you for helping us get this right," she wrote. She said the letter was a sign of "how seriously we take this matter and how we are handling it."
Censorship

Instagram Rolls Out 'Keyword Moderation Tool' That Will Filter Out Offensive Comments (macrumors.com) 220

In an effort to "promote a culture where everyone feels safe to be themselves without criticism or harassment," Instagram has introduced today a "keyword moderation tool" that anyone can use to block offensive or inappropriate words. Mac Rumors reports: Referred to as a "keyword moderation tool," the feature will let each user type in words they find to be offensive, effectively hiding any mention of them in the comment section of their posts. The comments containing the harsh language will still be available for other Instagram users, but the company believes that allowing each user to determine which words to hide from their personal collection of photos will cultivate a "positive and safe" environment. To deal with abusive accounts, Instagram already lets users swipe to delete comments, report inappropriate comments and block accounts.
Communications

Twitter Will Extend Its 140 Character Limit On September 19th (theverge.com) 135

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Beginning September 19th, [Twitter] will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages. Twitter first announced plans to stop counting extras like photos, videos, and user polls toward the limit back in May, but gave no firm date on when the shift would occur. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by The Verge. The date comes from two sources familiar with the company's business, but plans for the rollout could change. Another new adjustment to the character limit is that usernames will no longer count when they're at the beginning of replies, giving users additional room for discussion. It's unclear whether all of these changes will occur simultaneously; certain content types may gradually stop counting against the character limit in stages. But the company will at least kick off the move next Monday.
Businesses

Yelp Is Not Liable For Negative Rating 'Stars' On Website, Says Appeals Court (cbsnews.com) 97

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: Online review site Yelp's star rating system does not make it responsible for negative reviews of businesses because it is based on user input, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday, dismissing a libel lawsuit filed against Yelp by a Washington state locksmith company owner. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the star rating system that Yelp features is not content created by the company that helps guide people to everything from restaurants to plumbers. Under federal law, the decision said, Yelp is not liable for content its users post. The ruling focused on the libel lawsuit filed by Douglas Kimzey, a locksmith business owner in Redmond, Washington. The court said Kimzey's business received a negative review on Yelp in 2011. The review by a person identified in court documents only as "Sarah K" gave Kimzey's company one star out of five, saying it was slow to respond to a car lockout and then overcharged. The appeals court has ruled previously that the 1996 Communications Decency Act lets websites provide "neutral tools" to post material online and that they cannot be held liable for libelous or potentially libelous material posted by third parties. Monday's ruling affirmed a lower federal court decision that also dismissed Kimzey's claim that Yelp should be held liable for distributing reviews to search engines. The appeals court said distributing the content does not make Yelp the creator or developer of the content.
Facebook

Facebook Is Collaborating With The Israeli Government To Determine What Should Be Censored (go.com) 232

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: The Israeli government and Facebook agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on the social media network, a senior Israeli Cabinet minister said Monday. The announcement came after two government ministers met top Facebook officials to discuss the matter. The Facebook delegation is in Israel as the government pushes ahead with legislative steps meant to force social networks to rein in content that Israel says incites violence. Israel has argued that a wave of violence with the Palestinians over the past year has been fueled by incitement, much of it spread on social media sites. It has repeatedly said that Facebook should do more to monitor and control the content, raising a host of legal and ethical issues over whether the company is responsible for material posted by its users. Both Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, two key figures in Israel's battle against the alleged online provocations, participated in Monday's meeting. Erdan's office said they agreed with Facebook representatives to create teams that would figure out how best to monitor and remove inflammatory content, but did not elaborate further. Erdan and Shaked have proposed legislation that seeks to force social networks to remove content that Israel considers to be incitement. An opposition lawmaker has also proposed a bill seeking to force social networks to self-monitor or face a fine. Facebook said in a statement "online extremism can only be tackled with a strong partnership between policymakers, civil society, academia and companies, and this is true in Israel and around the world." The company did also say that its community standards "make it clear there is non place for terrorists or content that promotes terrorism on Facebook." ABC News reports that "over the past four months Israel submitted 158 requests to Facebook to remove inciting content and another 13 requests to YouTube," according to Shaked. "She said Facebook granted some 95 percent of the requests and YouTube granted 80 percent." All of this adds to the censorship controversy that is currently surrounding Facebook. Last week, Norway's largest newspaper accused Mark Zuckerberg of abusing power after his company decided to censor a historic photograph of the Vietnamese "Napalm Girl," claiming it violated the company's ban on "child nudity."

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