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Wireless Networking

Italy Quake Rescuers Ask Locals To Unlock Their Wi-Fi (bbc.com) 133

Rescue teams searching for earthquake survivors in central Italy have asked locals to unlock their Wifi passwords. The Italian Red Cross says residents' home networks can assist with communications during the search for survivors, reports BBC. From the report: On Wednesday a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy and killed more than 240 people. More than 4,300 rescuers are looking for survivors believed to still be trapped in the rubble. On Twitter, the Italian Red Cross posted a step-by-step guide which explains how local residents can switch off their Wifi network encryption. Similar requests have been made by the National Geological Association and Lazio Region. A security expert has warned that removing encryption from a home Wifi network carries its own risks, but added that those concerns are trivial in the context of the rescue operation.
Social Networks

YouTube Plans To Bring Photos, Polls, and Text To Its Video Service (venturebeat.com) 22

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: YouTube is developing a feature internally called Backstage where users can share photos, polls, links, text posts, and videos with their subscribers. Backstage is expected to launch by the end of the year, possibly this fall, on mobile and desktop, initially with select popular YouTube accounts and with limited features, VentureBeat has learned. Akin to a Facebook Timeline or Twitter profile, Backstage will live alongside the Home and Videos tabs within individual YouTube channels. Posts shared to Backstage will appear in reverse chronological order, and, crucially, will also appear in subscribers' feeds and notifications, making them highly visible to fans. While Backstage is expected to introduce entirely new types of content to YouTube, including tweet-like text posts and topical polls, it also presents new opportunities for video sharing. Backstage will eventually enable users to share both traditional YouTube videos and Backstage-only videos, possibly creating an opportunity for more intimate, or even ephemeral, video sharing between YouTubers and their fans.
Transportation

World's Largest Aircraft Crashes Its Second Flight (theverge.com) 164

Not too long after it completed its first test flight, the Airlander 10 -- the world's largest aircraft -- has crashed its second test flight. Since the 300-foot long aircraft contains 38,000 cubic meters of helium inside its hull, the crash was all but sudden. You can see in a video posted to YouTube from witnesses on the ground that the aircraft slowly descended to the ground, nose first. The BBC has published some close-up photos of the cockpit, which sustained damages. There were no injuries in the crash, according to a tweet from Hybrid Air Vehicles. The company did also deny eyewitness reports of the aircraft being damaged in a collision with a telegraph pole.
AI

Microsoft Buys AI-Powered Scheduling App Genee (thestack.com) 28

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Microsoft has announced that it has completed its acquisition of artificial intelligence-based scheduling app Genee for an undisclosed amount. The app, which was launched in beta last year, uses natural language processing tools and decision-making algorithms to allow users to schedule appointments without having to consult a calendar. Prior to the acquisition, Genee supported scheduling across Facebook, Twitter, Skype, email, and via SMS. From September 1, Genee will close its own service and will officially join Microsoft, supposedly the Office 365 team. Microsoft believes the addition will help it "further [its] ambition to bring intelligence into every digital experience."
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Tries To Remove News Articles About PlayStation 4 Slim Leak From The Internet (techdirt.com) 85

Sony is expected to announce two new PlayStation 4 consoles at a scheduled event on September 7th in New York City, but as that date nears more leaks of the consoles have emerged. The most recent leak appears to show the upcoming PlayStation 4 Slim, which Sony is trying to remove from the internet by taking down news articles from social media accounts about the leak. Erik Kain via @erikkain on Twitter tweeted (Tweet no longer exists): "Sony issued a takedown and had this post removed from my Facebook page: https://t.co/fIjP0buTdY (Warning: may be paywalled)." Techdirt reports: "[The Forbes post] references the work Eurogamer did in visiting the leaker of the image to confirm the console is for real (it is), as well as generating its own image and even video of the console working for its story on the leak. But if you go today to the Eurogamer post about the leak, the video has been replaced by the following update. UPDATE, 7.30pm: Upon taking legal advice, we have removed the video previously referenced in this article. Left unsaid is whether or not any contact had been made by Sony with Eurogamer, thus prompting this 'legal advice,' but one can imagine that being the case, particularly given Sony's threats to social media users sharing images and reporting of Sony leaks and, more to the point, threats against any media that might report on those leaks."
The Almighty Buck

Pokemon Go Daily Active Users, Downloads, Engagement Are Dropping (bloomberg.com) 192

An anonymous reader writes:Pokemon Go is starting to lose the battle for mobile mindshare, according to Axiom Capital Management. As such, investors and executives at Facebook Inc., Instagram, Tinder (Match Group Inc.), Twitter Inc., and Snapchat can breathe a sigh of relief, says Senior Analyst Victor Anthony. "Given the rapid rise in usage of the Pokemon Go app since the launch in July, investors have been concerned that this new user experience has been detracting from time spent on other mobile focused apps," he writes. Enthusiasm about the potential for Pokemon Go (and augmented reality gaming in general) to improve Nintendo Co Ltd.'s financial performance sent shares parabolic after the app launched in the U.S., and even spurred rallies in secondary plays linked to the success of the game. Data from Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia, however, show that Pokemon Go's daily active users, downloads, engagement, and time spent on the app per day are all well off their peaks and on a downward trend.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

US Customs and Border Protection Wants To Know Who You Are On Twitter (eff.org) 347

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electronic Frontier Foundation: U.S. border control agents want to gather Facebook and Twitter identities from visitors from around the world. But this flawed plan would violate travelers' privacy, and would have a wide-ranging impact on freedom of expression -- all while doing little or nothing to protect Americans from terrorism. A proposal has been issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect social media handles from visitors to the United States from visa waiver countries. The Electronic Frontier Foundation opposes the proposal and has commented on it individually and as part of a larger coalition. "CBP specifically seeks 'information associated with your online presence -- Provider/Platform -- Social media identifier' in order to provider DHS 'greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections' for 'vetting purposes,'" reports EFF. "In our comments, we argue that would-be terrorists are unlikely to disclose social media identifiers that reveal publicly available posts expressing support for terrorism." They say this plan "would unfairly violate the privacy of innocent travelers," would cause "innocent travelers" to "engage in self-censorship, cutting back on their online activity out of fear of being wrongly judged by the U.S. government," and would lead to a "slippery slope, where CBP would require U.S. citizens and residents returning home to disclose their social media handles, or subject both foreign visitors and U.S. persons to invasive device searches at ports of entry with the intent of easily accessing any and all cloud data."
Government

Group Wants To Shut Down Tor For a Day On September 1 (softpedia.com) 228

An anonymous reader writes: An internal group at the Tor Project is calling for a full 24-hour shutdown of the Tor network to protest the way the Tor Project dealt with the Jake Applebaum sexual misconduct accusations, and because of recent rumors it might be letting former government agents in its ranks. Two Tor members, also node operators, have shut down their servers as well, because of the same reason. They explained their motivations here and here.
"The protesters have made 16 demands," according to the article, six related to related to supposed infiltration of Tor by government agents, and 10 regarding the Appelbaum ruling and investigation -- including "asking all Tor employees that participated in this investigation to leave" and "the persons behind the JacobAppelbaum.net and the @JakeMustDie and @VictimsOfJake Twitter accounts to come forward and their identities made public."
Twitter

Twitter Announces New Blocking and Filtering Features (wired.co.uk) 117

Twitter just began rolling out "new ways to control your experience," promising the two new features "will give you more control over what you see and who you interact with on Twitter." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from Wired UK: First up, notification settings will allow those using Twitter on the web or on desktop to limit the notifications they receive for @ mentions, RTs, and other interactions to just be from people they follow. The feature can be turned on through the notifications tab. Twitter is also expanding its quality filter -- also accessible through notifications. "When turned on, the filter can improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals, such as account origin and behavior," the company's product manager Emil Leong said in a blog post.

In December 2015, the company changed its rules to explicitly ban "hateful conduct" for the first time, while back in February last year, Twitter's then-CEO Dick Costolo admitted the network needed to improve how it handled trolls and abuse. In a leaked memo he said: "I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd. There's no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing."

Meanwhile, the Twitter account of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales was hacked on Saturday.
Piracy

India Threatens 3-Year Jail Sentences For Viewing Blocked Torrents (intoday.in) 95

"It is official now. The punishment for rape is actually less..." writes an anonymous Slashdot reader, who adds that "Some users think that this is all the fault of Bollywood/Hollywood movie studios. They are abusing power, court and money..." India Today reports: The Indian government, with the help of internet service providers, and presumably under directives of court, has banned thousands of websites and URLs in the last five odd years. But until now if you somehow visited these "blocked URLs" all was fine. However, now if you try to visit such URLs and view the information, you may get a three-year jail sentence as well as invite a fine...

This is just for viewing a torrent file, or downloading a file from a host that may have been banned in India, or even for viewing an image on a file host like Imagebam. You don't have to download a torrent file, and then the actual videos or other files, which might have copyright. Just accessing information under a blocked URL will land you in jail and leave your bank account poorer.

While it's not clear how this will be enforced, visiting a blocked URL in India now leads to a warning that "Viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating an illicit copy of the contents under this URL is punishable as an offence under the laws of India, including but not limited to under Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act, 1957 which prescribe imprisonment for 3 years and also fine of up to Rs. 3,00,000..."
Twitter

Twitter Has Suspended 235,000 Accounts Since February For Promoting Terrorism (theverge.com) 132

An anonymous reader writes: Twitter has suspended 235,000 accounts since February for promoting terrorism, the company said in a blog post today. "Daily suspensions are up over 80 percent since last year, with spikes in suspensions immediately following terrorist attacks," the company wrote. "Our response time for suspending reported accounts, the amount of time these accounts are on Twitter, and the number of followers they accumulate have all decreased dramatically." The company said it's also expanded the team that works on flagging such content, and claims to have made progress on stopping accounts from starting again under a new handle. In a previous post from February, Twitter said it had suspended 125,000 accounts since mid-2015.
Google

Malware That Fakes Bank Login Screens Found In Google Ads (fastcompany.com) 120

tedlistens quotes a report from Fast Company: For years, security firms have warned of keystroke logging malware that surreptitiously steals usernames and passwords on desktop and laptop computers. In the past year, a similar threat has begun to emerge on mobile devices: So-called overlay malware that impersonates login pages from popular apps and websites as users launch the apps, enticing them to enter their credentials to banking, social networking, and other services, which are then sent on to attackers. Such malware has even found its way onto Google's AdSense network, according to a report on Monday from Kaspersky Lab. The weapon would automatically download when users visited certain Russian news sites, without requiring users to click on the malicious advertisements. It then prompts users for administrative rights, which makes it harder for antivirus software or the user to remove it, and proceeds to steal credentials through fake login screens, and by intercepting, deleting, and sending text messages. The Kaspersky researchers call it "a gratuitous act of violence against Android users." "By simply viewing their favorite news sites over their morning coffee users can end up downloading last-browser-update.apk, a banking Trojan detected by Kaspersky Lab solutions as Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng.q," according to the company. "There you are, minding your own business, reading the news and BOOM! -- no additional clicks or following links required." The good news is that the issue has since been resolved, according to a Google spokeswoman. Fast Company provides more details about these types of attacks and how to stay safe in its report.
Communications

Snowden Speculates Leak of NSA Spying Tools Is Tied To Russian DNC Hack (arstechnica.com) 133

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Two former employees of the National Security Agency -- including exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden -- are speculating that Monday's leak of what are now confirmed to be advanced hacking tools belonging to the U.S. government is connected to the separate high-profile hacks and subsequent leaks of two Democratic groups. Private security firms brought in to investigate the breach of the Democratic National Committee and a separate hack of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have said that the software left behind implicates hackers tied to the Russian government. U.S. intelligence officials have privately said they, too, have high confidence of Russian government involvement. Both Snowden and Dave Aitel, an offensive security expert who spent six years as an NSA security scientist, are speculating that Monday's leak by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers is in response to growing tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the hacks on the Democratic groups. As this post was being prepared, researchers with Kaspersky Lab confirmed that the tools belong to Equation Group, one of the most sophisticated hacking groups they've ever investigated. "Why did they do it?" Snowden wrote in a series of tweets early Tuesday morning. "No one knows, but I suspect this is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack." In a brief post of his own, Aitel agreed that Russia is the most likely suspect behind both the Democratic hacks and the leaking of the NSA spying tools. He also said the NSA data was likely obtained by someone with physical access to an NSA secure area who managed to walk out with a USB stick loaded with secrets.
Social Networks

Metropolitan Police To Target Online Hate Crime and Abuse (bbc.com) 161

A new team of specialist police officers is being set up to investigate online hate crimes, including abuse on Twitter and Facebook. The London-based hub will include a team of five officers who will support victims and identify online abuse, reports BBC. From the report: The two-year pilot will cost 1.7m pound and has received 452,000 pound from the Home Office, the London Mayor's office said. A spokesman said there was "no place for hate" in London and there would be a "zero tolerance" of online abuse. The team, which will be set up in the coming months, will identify the location of crimes and allocate them to the appropriate force. They will work with a team of volunteers. The Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (Mopac) said social media "provides hate crime perpetrators with a veil of anonymity, making it harder to bring them to justice and potentially impacting on a larger number of people".
Democrats

DNC Creates 'Cybersecurity Board' Without Any Cybersecurity Experts (techdirt.com) 156

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Techdirt: The Democratic National Committee has created a "cybersecurity advisory board" to improve its cybersecurity and to "prevent future attacks." Politico reports: "'To prevent future attacks and ensure that the DNC's cybersecurity capabilities are best-in-class, I am creating a Cybersecurity Advisory Board composed of distinguished experts in the field,' interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile wrote in a memo. 'The Advisory Board will work closely with me and the entire DNC to ensure that the party is prepared for the grave threats it faces -- today and in the future.' Members include Rand Beers, former Department of Homeland Security acting secretary; Nicole Wong, former deputy chief technology officer of the U.S. and a former technology lawyer for Google and Twitter; Aneesh Chopra, co-founder of Hunch Analytics and former chief technology officer of the U.S.; and Michael Sussmann, a partner in privacy and data security at the law firm Perkins Coie and a former Justice Department cybercrime prosecutor." What's surprising is that none of these members are cybersecurity experts. Techdirt reports: "If the goal of the board was to advise on cybersecurity policy, then the makeup of it is at least slightly more understandable, but that's not goal. It's to actually improve the cybersecurity of the DNC. Even if the goal were just policy, having someone with actual technology experience with cybersecurity would be sensible."
Twitter

Former Twitter Employees: 'Abuse Problem' Comes From Their Culture Of Free Speech (buzzfeed.com) 465

Twitter complained of "inaccuracies in the details and unfair portrayals" in an article which described their service as "a honeypot for assholes." Buzzfeed interviewed 10 "high-level" former employees who detailed a company "Fenced in by an abiding commitment to free speech above all else and a unique product that makes moderation difficult and trolling almost effortless". An anonymous Slashdot reader summarizes their report: Twitter's commitment to free speech can be traced to employees at Google's Blogger platform who all went on to work at Twitter. They'd successfully fought for a company policy that "We don't get involved in adjudicating whether something is libel or slander... We'll do it if we believe we are required to by law." One former Twitter employee says "The Blogger brain trust's thinking was set in stone by the time they became Twitter Inc."

Twitter was praised for providing an uncensored voice during 2009 elections in Iran and the Arab Spring, and fought the secrecy of a government subpoena for information on their WikiLeaks account. The former of head of news at Twitter says "The whole 'free speech wing of the free speech party' thing -- that's not a slogan. That's deeply, deeply embedded in the DNA of the company... [Twitter executives] understand that this toxicity can kill them, but how do you draw the line? Where do you draw the line? I would actually challenge anyone to identify a perfect solution. But it feels to a certain extent that it's led to paralysis.

While Twitter now says they are working on the problem, Buzzfeed argues this "maximalist approach to free speech was integral to Twitter's rise, but quickly created the conditions for abuse... Twitter has made an ideology out of protecting its most objectionable users. That ethos also made it a beacon for the internet's most vitriolic personalities, who take particular delight in abusing those who use Twitter for their jobs."
Space

Fourth SpaceX Rocket Successfully Landed on A Drone Ship (theverge.com) 71

Saturday a SpaceX rocket completed the company's fourth successful landing at sea (watched by over 100,000 viewers on YouTube and Flickr). Saturday's landing means Elon Musk's company has now recovered more than half the rockets they've launched. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Saturday's report from The Verge: Tonight's landing was particularly challenging for SpaceX... The Falcon 9 had to carry its onboard satellite -- called JCSAT-16 -- into...a highly elliptical orbit that takes the satellite 20,000 miles out beyond Earth's surface. Getting to GTO requires a lot of speed and uses up a lot of fuel during take off, more so than getting to lower Earth orbit. That makes things difficult for the rocket landing afterward...there's less fuel leftover for the vehicle to reignite its engines and perform the necessary landing maneuvers.

CEO Elon Musk said the company is aiming to launch its first landed rocket sometime this fall...SpaceX's president, Gwynne Shotwell, estimates that reusing these landed Falcon 9 vehicles will lead to a 30 percent reduction in launch costs.

SpaceX named their drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You."
Republicans

Cracking The Code On Trump Tweets (time.com) 330

jIyajbe writes: From Electoral-Vote.com: "A theory has been circulating that the Donald Trump tweets that come from an Android device are from the candidate himself, while the ones that come from an iPhone are the work of his staff. David Robinson, a data scientist who works for Stack Overflow, decided to test the theory. His conclusion: It's absolutely correct. Robinson used some very sophisticated algorithms to analyze roughly 1,400 tweets from Trump's timeline, and demonstrated conclusively that the iPhone tweets are substantively different than the Android tweets. The former tend to come later at night, and are vastly more likely to incorporate hashtags, images, and links. The latter tend to come in the morning, and are much more likely to be copied and pasted from other people's tweets. In terms of word choice, the iPhone tweets tend to be more neutral, with their three most-used phrases being 'join,' '#trump2016,' and '#makeamericagreatagain.' The Android tweets tend to be more emotionally charged, with their three most-used phrases being 'badly,' 'crazy,' and 'weak.'" reifman adds: In an excellent forensic text analysis of Trump's tweets with the Twitter API, data geek David Robinson demonstrates Trump authors his angriest, picture-less, hashtag-less Android tweets often in the morning, while staff tweet from an iPhone with pictures, hashtags and greater joy mostly in the middle of the day. Robinson's report was inspired by a tweet by artist Todd Vaziri. As for why Robinson decided to look into Trump's tweets, he told TIME, "For me it's more about finding a really interesting story, a case where people suspect something, but don't have the data to back it up. For me it was much more about putting some quantitive details to this story that has been going around than it was about proving something about Trump's campaign."
Censorship

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Secretly Censored Abusive Responses To President Obama, Says Report (buzzfeed.com) 308

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed: In 2015, then-Twitter CEO Dick Costolo secretly ordered employees to filter out abusive and hateful replies to President Barack Obama during a question and answer session, sources tell BuzzFeed News. According to a former senior Twitter employee, Costolo ordered employees to deploy an algorithm (which was built in-house by feeding it thousands of examples of abuse and harassing tweets) that would filter out abusive language directed at Obama. Another source said the media partnerships team also manually censored tweets, noting that Twitter's public quality-filtering algorithms were inconsistent. Two sources told BuzzFeed News that this decision was kept from senior company employees for fear they would object to the decision. According to sources, the decision upset some senior employees inside the company who strictly followed Twitter's long-standing commitment to unfettered free speech. A different source alleges that Twitter did the same thing during a question and answer with Caitlyn Jenner.
The Courts

Twitter Is Not Legally Responsible For The Rise of ISIS, Rules California District Court (theverge.com) 140

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: A lawsuit accusing Twitter of providing material support to ISIS has been dismissed by a California District Court. First filed in January, the lawsuit argued ISIS's persistent presence on Twitter constituted material support for the terror group, and sought to hold Twitter responsible for an ISIS-linked attack on that basis. Filed by the family of an American contractor named Lloyd Fields, the lawsuit sought damages from an ISIS-linked attack in Jordan that claimed Fields' life. The plaintiff's initial complaint alleged widespread fundraising and recruitment through the platform, attributing 30,000 foreign actors recruited through ISIS Twitter accounts in 2015 alone. The judge assigned to the case was ultimately not swayed by that reasoning, finding that the plaintiffs had not offered a convincing argument for holding Twitter liable. The plaintiff will have the chance to submit a modified version of the complaint within 20 days of the order, the second such modification ordered by the judge. The report adds: "Apart from the private nature of Direct Messaging, plaintiffs identify no other way in which their Direct Messaging theory seeks to treat Twitter as anything other than a publisher of information provided by another information content provider," the ruling reads. At the same time, even the private nature of Twitter's Direct Messaging feature "does not remove the transmission of such messages from the scope of publishing activity under section 230(c)(1)."

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