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LinkedIn Rolls Out Revamped Messaging Service

September 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

LinkedIn Corp has unveiled a revamped messaging service along the lines of modern chat apps, departing from its unpopular design that resembled email.

The new service will include features such as GIFs and stickers to add a “little extra personality” to user’s chats, the company said in a blog post.

The messaging service now has improved push and email notifications and messages are organized in a chat-style format with conversation threads akin to most messaging apps today such as Facebook Inc’s Messenger and WhatsApp.

LinkedIn, which operates the biggest social networking site for professionals, has started to roll out the new messaging service to English-language users accessing its platform via a desktop or through an app.

Users can also attach photos and documents to messages.

The company also said it was looking at offering voice and video calling with the messaging platform in the future.

LinkedIn plans to make the revamped messaging feature available in other languages in the coming weeks.

 

Facebook Deploying New Technology To Catch Pirated Videos

August 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is enhancing its technology to better identify videos uploaded to its site without the proper permission of copyright holders.

The move comes amid an explosion in the amount of video viewed on Facebook, posted by regular users, publishers and advertisers alike.

Alongside the uptick in video content, copyright holders have complained about videos posted without their permission. A recent report by video marketing and social media consulting companies Tubular and Social@Ogilvy estimated that a majority of the most popular videos on Facebook were pirated.

On Thursday, Facebook said it would be deploying new video matching technology that will be available to a small group of partners. The tool, Facebook said, will let select media companies, multichannel networks and individual video creators identify matches of their videos posted across Pages, profiles, groups and geographies on the site.

The tool will evaluate millions of video uploads quickly. When matches surface, publishers will be able to report them to Facebook for removal, the company said in a blog post.

Facebook has already been using a system called Audible Magic that uses audio fingerprinting technology to identify and prevent unauthorized videos from making their way to the site.

But the video matching tool, currently in beta, is a new step in Facebook’s broader efforts to establish a content ID system akin to what YouTube uses to quickly identify copyright violations.

On YouTube, copyright owners have the option of running ads against videos that the video sharing site has identified as matches.

 

 

 

Facebook Testing ‘M’, Personal Digital Assistant

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc is testing a personal digital assistant called “M” within its Messenger service that is capable of answering questions with live human help and performing tasks such as buying gifts online and making restaurant reservations.

M is “powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people,” David Marcus, vice president of Messaging products, wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

Rival services like Apple Inc’s Siri, Google Inc’s Google Now and Microsoft Corp’s Cortana rely entirely on technology to answer questions.

M is a hybrid backed by a team of Facebook employees with customer service backgrounds, called M trainers, who can also make travel arrangements and appointments, Marcus wrote.

Facebook has introduced several functions inside Messenger, which boasts more than 700 million users, to transform it into a standalone platform. Earlier this year, it rolled out games exclusively on Messenger and launched products for businesses to directly connect with consumers.

 

 

Instagram, Pinterest User Growth Soars

August 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Possibly market saturation or because of waning interest, some of the world’s largest social networks are experiencing sluggish growth.

Facebook, for instance, is the largest social network in the world, with more than 1 billion active monthly users. But it didn’t garner significant growth among U.S. Internet users in the past three years, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

Some 72% of online U.S. adults use Facebook today. That is up only 5 points from 67% in 2012, Pew noted.

By comparison, Pinterest more than doubled its user base, going from 15% of online U.S. adults in 2012 to 31% today. Similarly, Instagram also showed strong momentum, growing from 13% three years ago to 28% now.

Other major players, including Twitter and LinkedIn, also saw growth but not at such a strong pace.

Pew reported that 23% of online adults use Twitter, a 7-point increase from the 16% who used it in 2012. As for LinkedIn, a quarter of online adults use the site, up from 20% in 2012, the survey noted.

“Interesting but not surprising,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “I have six kids under 23 and none of them use Facebook regularly. I think Facebook is almost considered an older person’s social tool now… Much of the growth in the younger population is on Instagram, Vine, etc.”

The Pew study also shows that while younger users are using Instagram and Pinterest, they clearly haven’t abandoned Facebook.

According to Pew, 82% of online U.S. adults between the ages of 18 to 29 use Facebook, along with 79% of those between 30 and 49, 64% of those ages 50 to 64 and 48% of those 65 and older.

 

 

 

Rovio Seeks Resurgence, Growth In Asia With ‘Angry Birds 2′

August 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Gaming

Finnish mobile gaming company Rovio Entertainment, popular for its high-flying “Angry Birds,” is hoping to rebound from a tough 2014 and to expand in Asia by tailoring its games to draw local consumers.

After reporting a 73 percent drop in its 2014 earnings due to a decline in the licensing of the “Angry Birds” brand, and cutting about 110 jobs, Rovio is focusing on going local, the company’s chief commercial officer Alex Lambeek told Reuters this week.

“(We have the) building capability to scale into parts of the world where we haven’t been strong in the past and a big part of that is actually working with partners, not trying to do everything ourselves,” said Lambeek, who joined the company from Fox International Channels in April.

“Angry Birds,” which was released in 2009 as a mobile game and fast became a hit, allowed players to fling an array of birds at pigs using a virtual slingshot.

“Angry Birds 2,” released last month, adds more characters, high-definition scenes, options to pick which bird to fling and the ability to compete with friends.

China accounts for a third of the nearly 40 million downloads of “Angry Birds 2″ since July 30, making it the top market. That is in line with the first “Angry Birds,” which Rovio said has seen nearly one billion Chinese downloads, out of what the company says is a total of 3 billion game downloads since 2009.

For Birds 2, Rovio partnered with Chinese mobile gaming company Kunlun Inc to make changes within the prompts and language used to target the way Chinese players are used to gaming, Lambeek said.

Chinese customers “want to be spoken to and listened to in their own language with their own specific humor,” he said.

Rovio hopes the new game renews interest in the brand ahead of May 2016′s “The Angry Birds Movie.”

 

 

 

Mozilla Unveils App For Creating Web Pages On Smartphones

August 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The Mozilla Foundation intends on insuring that the Web remains a platform where anyone can create content, rather than just a place to consume information and services created by others.

The non-profit organization has unveiled an easy-to-use app for Android devices, called Webmaker, that allows users to create Web pages and simple apps from their smartphones, which are quickly becoming the predominant technology used to use the Internet, especially in less wealthy countries.

“We want the next two billion people coming online to understand that the Web is theirs to read, write, and participate in,” said David Ascher, Mozilla’s vice president of products.

Currently, about 40% of the world’s population — or a little over 3 billion people – enjoys Internet access. Webmaker was designed to give these usersa way to create their own presence online. Webmaker also could set the stage for bringing more local content on the Web, Ascher said.

While social networking sites such as Tumblr and Instagram offer the ability to create content for mobile devices, Webmaker was designed to provide more flexibility in terms of how users can present information, by not locking them into a single format.

The foundation says it designed the software to be as easy to use as possible.

After signing in, users are provided with a blank page and the ability to add text, images or photos. Additional pages can be then be added. A user is given a map to stitch together pages in a way that best fits their needs.

When the app is finished, it is stored on the Webmaker.org site, where it can be accessed from either a phone or a computer browser.

Webmaker can run on smartphones with Android 4.0 or newer. Initially, Webmaker is available in four languages, Bengali, Brazilian Portuguese, English and Indonesian. Additional languages will be supported in future releases.

 

 

 

Microsoft Announces Major Updates To Yammer

August 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft unveiled a bevy of improvements to its Yammer enterprise social network, focused on helping people connect more easily with their teams.

By default, people who access Yammer via their web browser will be taken to a new “Discovery” feed on the service’s home page that is supposed to better show them relevant content from their groups along with other public teams across their company’s network. It’s supposed to help keep people in closer touch with important discussions they may be missing on Yammer.

After users finish reviewing new content in one group, Yammer will display a pop up banner with a link to the next group they’re subscribed to that has new content. Yammer’s mobile apps will get similar functionality through a new Group Updates feed that lets users see a list of different conversations in various groups all on one screen. That way, they won’t have to look through individual groups to get the same information. That feature will begin rolling out on Android first before making it to Yammer’s iOS app.

In addition, Yammer is also tweaking the design of individual groups’ pages. Now, each group will have a full-width banner at the top of its page, and discussions within the group can now take up a wider space on the page to aid in lengthier discussions. The whole page has also been redesigned to focus users’ attention on important content.

Icons in the left-hand sidebar will show the users that are active in groups they are a part of, so they can stay up-to-date on where conversations are happening in real time. It’s a move that could make Yammer more competitive with popular chat solutions like Slack, which has been growing incredibly rapidly and was recently valued at $2.8 billion.

Yammer’s mobile app also gained support for attaching files from external storage services like OneDrive and Dropbox, inviting coworkers to a user’s network by email and mentioning people in comments.

There’s even more up Yammer’s sleeve on top of all these updates. The social network’s iPhone app will soon have a companion version for the Apple Watch that will let people interact with content from their coworkers.

The updates come at a time when Microsoft is putting more effort into improving its workplace collaboration tools.

 

 

 

Government Requests For Twitter Data Is Surging

August 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter has experienced an increase in government demands for account information in the first half of this year, with the U.S. followed by Japan topping the list for such requests.

The increase is the largest ever seen between reporting periods by Twitter, wrote Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s senior manager for global legal policy, in a blog post Tuesday.

The Transparency Report from the company indicated that government requests for account information in the first half rose by 52% and affected 78% more account holders than in the second half of last year.

The scope of the report has been expanded to include information on notices of alleged trademark violations and a section where users can check how different email providers handle the privacy and encryption of email messages from Twitter.

The total number of government requests for account information worldwide was 4,363 in the first half and referred to 12,711 accounts across Twitter, Vine and Periscope. Twitter received 2,436 requests from the U.S. that specified 6,324 accounts, which came largely in the form of subpoenas, which are usually orders to testify or provide information. In the second half of last year, the U.S. had made 1,622 information requests affecting 3,299 accounts.

Content removal requests were also on the upswing at 26% higher in the first half of this year in comparison to the second half of last year, and came primarily from Turkey and Russia. The number of accounts impacted also went up by 11%.

The increase in content removal requests reflect growing sensitivity in some countries over the use of social media for propaganda and communications by terror groups and political extremists.

 

 

 

Does Facebook Need To Overhauls Its Privacy Controls?

August 11, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

A security research firm has a problem with Facebook’s privacy settings and systems that could enable the mass harvesting of personal details.

The problem stems from the storing of mobile phone numbers that it was important for the social network to have, and the exploitation of people who have chosen to share their digits with the service.

Users who have linked a mobile phone number to their account are at risk of an attack that uses guesswork and effort to break them down and make off with their details.

Reza Moaiandin, software engineer and technical director at security firm the SALT Agency, said that he discovered the fault and informed Facebook about it “months ago”. His public post was designed to encourage Facebook to heed his warnings.

Moaiandin said that he effectively stumbled on the problem, and wasn’t looking for flaws when he fell onto one. Elsewhere, including in Belgium, flaws in the Facebook privacy proposition are a very hot topic.

“A few months ago, I discovered a security loophole in Facebook that allows hackers to decrypt and sniff out Facebook user IDs using one of Facebook’s APIs in bulk – therefore allowing them to gather millions of users’ personal data (name, telephone number, location, images, and more),” he said.

“Through this, a hacker can then communicate with Facebook’s GraphQL to get as many details as possible, by passing the hashed ID.

“Unfortunately, for the 1.44 billion people currently using Facebook, this [problem] means that sophisticated hackers and black market sellers can access names and mobile phone numbers in as little as an hour through reverse engineering – at a time when an entire identity can be sold for as little as $5.”

The researcher said that he went to Facebook in April, but that the firm’s response was not enthusiastic and it did not consider the problem to be significant.

We poked Facebook to see what it has to say about this. The company did not specifically address Moaiandin’s concerns, saying only that it takes user privacy very seriously and trusts those that use its APIs to do the same.

“The privacy of people who use Facebook is extremely important to us. We have industry leading proprietary network monitoring tools constantly running in order to ensure data security, and have strict rules that govern how developers are able to use our APIs to build their products. Developers are only able to access information that people have chosen to make public,” said a spokesperson.

“Everyone who uses Facebook has control of the information they share, this includes the information people include within their profile, and who can see this information. Our Privacy Basics tool has a series of helpful guides that explain how people can quickly and easily decide what information they share and who they share it with.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Facebook Activates New ‘Send Message’ Feature For Businesses

August 7, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc unveiled new features will allow businesses to privately communicate with customers through messages as part of the social networking company’s push to make its Messenger app a stand-alone platform.

Businesses can now include a “send message” button in ads that appear in Newsfeed that allow Facebook users to click a button and send messages, which are private. If users post a comment on a business’ Facebook page, then the business can privately message that person

The features are part of Facebook’s efforts to convince more small and medium-sized businesses – especially those in emerging markets, such as India, Brazil and Indonesia - to advertise on its platform.

By giving them direct access to customers, the world’s largest social network hopes to show that advertising on Facebook directly leads to increased sales.

To encourage quick responses, Facebook will award “very responsive to messages” badges on business pages that respond to 90 percent of messages and respond on average within five minutes. People will, however, still be able to block private messages from businesses.

The features will be especially valuable in southeast Asia, Facebook wrote in a blog post. About twice as many Thai and Singaporean users use Facebook messages to communicate with businesses each month and most Southeast Asia users follow some company pages.

Facebook hosts more than 40 million active small and medium business pages, it said, with more than 1 billion page visits each month.

 

Facebooks Wants Drones In The Sky By Year End

August 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

At 140 feet, it has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but doesn’t transport passengers — and it’s much lighter too, weighing in at no more than 1,000 pounds. And within the next couple months, Facebook hopes to get its drone off the ground on an inaugural test flight.

Named Aquila, the aircraft is the product of more than a year’s work at the social networking giant. Its function is not to drop retail items from the clouds like Amazon’s drones, but to provide Internet access to the hundreds of millions of people who don’t have it in under-served parts of the world. Facebook aims to partner with carriers and other companies to provide connectivity, potentially at a lower cost than typical infrastructure like cell phone towers.

Aquila comes out of Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, formed last year to develop new technologies for expanding Internet access. The company also hired team members from U.K.-based unmanned aircraft maker Ascenta.

The drone is just one element in the company’s master plan to improve Internet access, which also includes satellites and data-carrying laser beams. But it might be the most awe-inspiring.

“If you think about these little quadcopters, that’s not what we’re building,” said Jay Parikh, Facebook’s global head of engineering, during a talk on the status of the company’s efforts at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

The plane’s entire surface is covered with solar panels. It’s meant to stay up in the air for three months at a time, at an altitude between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. That’s above commercial airlines and above the weather. It could potentially provide Internet access to people in a 50-kilometer (31-mile) radius, Facebook says.

Facebook has been flying scale models of the plane at altitudes of less than 400 feet. After on-the-ground testing, the company is now close to being able to launch the Aquila for a test flight, possibly at a location in the U.S., Parikh said.

The plane itself will receive Internet connectivity from a free space optical communication system, or lasers, also developed by Facebook. The lasers use light to transmit data through space. In this case, the laser system will beam an Internet signal to the plane from the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

Yahoo Acquires Fashion Website Polyvore

August 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo Inc announced on Friday that it has agreed to acquire fashion start-up Polyvore to help drive traffic and strengthen its mobile and social offerings.

Yahoo, which did not disclose terms of the deal, said Polyvore will accelerate its ‘Mavens’ growth strategy.

The company has been focusing on four areas — mobile, video, native advertising and social — which it calls Mavens, to drive user engagement and ad sales as it battles intense competition from Google Inc and Facebook Inc .

Revenue from Mavens made up about one-third of the company’s total revenue in the quarter ended June 30.

The Mavens portfolio includes BrightRoll, mobile app network Flurry, mobile ad buying platform Yahoo Gemini and blogging site Tumblr.

Polyvore, the brainchild of 3 ex-Yahoo engineers, was started in 2007.

The Mountain View, California-based company allows users to mix-and-match articles of clothing and accessories and customize them into “sets”.

Polyvore’s co-founder and CEO Jess Lee was earlier part of Google Inc’s  associate manager program, which Marissa Mayer headed before joining Yahoo as CEO.

 

Twitter Woes Continue, User Growth Rate Slows

July 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc’s shares continued to drop after the microblogging company said its number of monthly average users grew at the slowest pace since it went public in 2013.

“This is unacceptable and we’re not happy about it,” Jack Dorsey, who stepped in as interim chief executive on July 1, said on a call with analysts.

Twitter said it had 304 million core users in the second quarter, up from 302 million in the prior quarter.

Twitter’s struggles to increase its audience worries investors, who are focused on the company’s growth potential, and the latest figures did little to reassure them.

The data on users overshadowed the company’s second-quarter earnings and revenue, which exceeded expectations, and its bullish projections for future revenue.

Executives also made clear it would be a long process, and were candid about problems with the service.

“We do not expect to see sustained meaningful growth (in monthly active users) until we start to reach the mass market,” Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said on the call.

“We have not clearly communicated Twitter’s unique value. And as a result non-users continue to ask, ‘Why should I use Twitter?’ “Simply said, the product remains too difficult to use.”

Twitter recognizes “there is an issue that needs to be worked on,” Evercore ISI analyst Ken Sena said. “They were giving investors a sense of the challenge and I think the stock sell-off that you saw just reflected that.”

 

 

 

Facebook Invites More Mobile Operators To Internet.org

July 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Facebook is inviting additional mobile operators to join Internet.org, its project to bring Internet access to poorly connected parts of the world.

Internet.org turns one year old this week, and Facebook says it’s ready to scale the project to reach more people.

The company is making it easier for more mobile operators to join the project by launching an online portal where they’ll find technical tools and best practices to help them get started.

So far, Facebook has been working with about a dozen operators in 17 countries to provide an app that gives people free access to a set of basic Internet services.

According to Facebook, people who use the app quickly become paying subscribers — something that will no doubt appeal to the mobile operators it’s trying to partner with.

“Internet.org brings new users onto mobile networks on average over 50 percent faster after launching free basic services, and more than half of the people who come online through Internet.org are paying for data and accessing the Internet within the first 30 days,” Facebook said.

The Internet.org mobile app is perhaps the most tangible element in Facebook’s efforts to expand Internet access — and its own services — to more people throughout the world. It’s also using satellites, drones and lasers that can beam Internet signals through space to bring people online.

While the number of people with Internet access continues to grow, 4.2 billion of the world’s roughly 7.4 billion people will still be offline by the end of the year, according to data from the International Telecommunication Union.

The Internet.org app typically includes a stripped-down version of Facebook and access to other free services like weather reports, health information and services for finding jobs.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook could become the Internet on-ramp for the world.

 

 

 

Massive iPhone Counterfeiting Operation Shut Down In China

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Police in Beijing have raided a factory that made more than 41,000 fake iPhones worth as much as 120 million yuan ($19 million), including some that reached the United States, and have arrested nine suspects in the counterfeiting operation.

Apple is one of the most popular brands in China, where authorities have stepped up efforts in recent years to dispel the country’s reputation for turning out counterfeit goods.

Officials have taken stiffer action to enforce intellectual property (IP) rights, pushed firms to apply for trademarks and patents and cracked down on fakes.

Police arrested nine people, including a married couple who led the operation, after a raid in May on the factory, run under the guise of a gadget maintenance shop on the northern outskirts of the Chinese capital.

The details were revealed in a social media posting on Sunday by the public security bureau in Beijing.

The group, headed by a 43-year old man, surnamed Yu, and his 40-year old wife, surnamed Xie, both from the southern hardware manufacturing city of Shenzhen, allegedly set up the Beijing factory with six assembly lines in January, the bureau said.

They hired “hundreds” of workers to repackage second-hand smartphone components as iPhones for export, it added.

Police seized 1,400 handsets and large quantities of accessories during the May 14 raid. In the United States, the newest Apple Inc handsets can fetch $649, or more, depending on the model.

Beijing police said their investigation followed a tip-off from U.S. authorities who seized some of the fake devices.

The destination of the counterfeit phones, and how many made it there, remains unknown.

Public security representatives declined to comment on Monday, telling Reuters they had no additional information.

Apple also declined to comment, saying the investigation was ongoing.