Tag: Internet

How Technology Destroyed The Truth

The promise of the internet was that if we connect the world and give everyone a voice, we could move forward as one. It didn’t turn out that way.

The way we consume information has changed drastically over the years.

For the majority of modern history, newspapers were the arbiter of truth, and people read the newspaper once a day and then talked about the issues with friends, family, and coworkers.

When radio came around, the news was delivered 2-3 times a day, by distinguished and trusted broadcasters like Edward R. Murrow that delivered the news right down the middle.

Broadcast TV increased the amount of news to 3-4 times a day, but still news was just something people ingested in between other forms of entertainment. And different sides of the news were presented evenly thanks to the Fairness Doctrine.

But with cable TV and the first cable news network, CNN, all that changed. Then news became the entertainment and more cable news outlets like Fox News, MSNBC, Headline News, and CNBC split into different ideological camps.

But with the rise of social media, the news became an all-day every day feast, and worst of all, it removed the gatekeepers. Meaning anybody with any viewpoint could get their message heard.

This was supposed to be a good thing. But it has proven to divide us even further and be exploited by troll farms and moneyed interests.

Even more upsetting is this is happening at a time when we need together on the same page to combat various existential threats.

The post-truth era could be one of the contributors to the downfall of humanity if we’re not careful.

Your Facebook Account Is Giving Away Your Personal Info Onto The Internet. Here’s how to stop it.

Facebook is kind of a mess right now. And there are plenty of equally messy reaction pieces cajoling you, and everyone you know, to delete your account in a massive middle finger to the web’s prevailing social network.

That’s the easy take and, honestly, we’ve experienced this mob response before. Did you #DeleteFacebook then? Me neither.

We think it’s worth considering a more measured approach. The sky might be falling, but you can still be a lot smarter about social media—what data you share with it and what data you let third-party apps and services see—without opting out of social networking entirely.

There’s still some good left in Facebook. Let’s consider all our options before doing anything rash.

Should you really delete Facebook this time? Maybe.

If you’re overly concerned about Facebook’s data-collection practices, you’ll probably feel a lot better if you start distancing yourself from the social network.

It’s healthier, too. Let’s recap the three major techniques you can try:

  • Just stop using the social network
  • Deactivate your Facebook account
  • Delete thyself

When you’re ready to say goodbye, let Facebook know, and be prepared to stay away from your account.

Deleting everything about you takes some time—up to 90 days—and if you log back in before Facebook “wipes” your account, this might interrupt the process.

Change your mind, and you’ll have to start the countdown all over again.

The deletion process is fairly extreme, so make sure you’ve set up your digital life before you depart.

That includes transferring ownership of any pages or groups you manage to those who will carry the torch once your profile has vanished into the digital ether.

Don’t forget to log out of all Facebook sessions and remove the apps from your mobile devices. And don’t use Facebook’s single-sign-on feature to log into websites anymore, lest you accidentally stop your account’s deletion.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Tim Cook Calls For US Federal Privacy Law To Tackle ‘Weaponized’ Personal Data

Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, called on Wednesday for a federal privacy law in the US to protect against voracious internet companies hoarding so much digital data that the businesses know citizens “better than they know themselves” – and then often sell the information on.

Cook warned in a keynote speech that personal data was being “weaponized” against the public and endorsed tough privacy laws for both Europe and the US.

The iPhone and Mac computer giant has stood out in its explicit declarations that Apple prefers to protect its customers’ personal data.

Speaking at an international conference in Brussels on data privacy,Cook applauded European Union authorities for bringing in a strict new data privacy law in May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

This gives consumers more control over their personal information and imposes greater restrictions and transparency rules on all companies, with the threat of fines, but particularly affects the chains of companies that exploit digitally acquired data, including tech leaders such as Google and Facebook and middlemen marketers and data brokers.

The conference featured brief video comments from the Facebook chairman, Mark Zuckerberg, and Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, asserting various steps they are taking to give users greater protection, in moves observers saw as a jostling by tech giants to curry favor in Europe as regulators intensify their scrutiny.

Cook warned that the trade in personal information “has exploded into a data industrial complex”.

Data protection has become a major political issue worldwide and European regulators have led the charge in setting new rules for the big internet companies.

The GDPR requires companies to change the way they do business in the region, and a number of headline-grabbing data breaches have raised public awareness of the issue.

Cook warned that technology’s promise to drive breakthroughs that benefit humanity is at risk of being overshadowed by the harm it can cause by deepening division and spreading false information.

In the first big test of the new rules, Ireland’s data protection commission, which is a lead authority for Europe as many big tech firms are based in the country, is investigating Facebook’s data breach, which let hackers access 3m EU-based accounts.

Google, meanwhile, shut down its Plus social network this month after revealing it had a flaw that could have exposed personal information of up to half a million people.

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How Google Will Use High-Flying Balloons To Deliver Internet To The Hinterlands

Project Loon sails through the stratosphere, where there are different wind layers.

Using wind data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the balloons are maneuvered by identifying the wind layer with the desired speed and direction and then adjusting altitude to float in that layer.

The Project Loon team prepared for launch in the pre-dawn frost near Lake Tekapo, New Zealand.

Solar panels and insulated electronics packages, prepared for launch. It takes 4 hours for the solar panels to charge the battery during the day, and that power is sufficient to keep all the flight systems working 24 hours a day.

A fully-inflated balloon envelope at Moffett Field, California. The balloons are 15m in diameter when fully inflated, but they do not inflate until they’ve reached float altitude in the stratosphere.

Project Loon team members Paul Acosta and Peter Capraro placed red balloons near the launch site at sunrise. The balloons were used as a rough indicator of wind direction and speed just above ground level.

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Net Neutrality Is Not “Officially Dead,” Today

There have been a lot of inaccurate reports that the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality will officially go into effect last April 23rd. That’s not true. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

It’s understandable many journalists are confused by this. It’s legitimately confusing. The FCC order said it would go into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which would have been April 23rd.

But, it still has to be approved by the Office of Management & Budget.

The most important thing for EVERYONE to understand is that nothing catastrophic or dramatic is going to happen immediately when the FCC rules go into effect.

Telecom shills will immediately start saying “See? The sky didn’t fall, we never needed Net Neutrality.” They’re lying.

The ISPs aren’t going to immediately start blocking content or rolling out paid prioritization scams. They know Congress and the public are watching them.

Rather, the death of net neutrality will be slow and insidious. You might not even notice it at first.

And that’s the worst part. What will happen is over time ISP scams and abuses will become more commonplace and more accepted.

They’ll roll out new schemes that appear good on their face but undermine the free market of ideas by allowing ISPs to pick winners and losers.

Over time we’ll see less awesome startups. Less awesome videos. Less diverse online content. And we’ll see more content that our ISPs want us to see.

The Internet will be watered down and manipulated. It will change forever in ways that harm our democracy. But it will take time.

So don’t fall for ISP lobbyists talking points. They’re ALREADY claiming that net neutrality was never needed since the sky hasn’t fallen, and the rules haven’t even gone into effect.

But also don’t panic. The Internet is not going to die next week. Keep calm and keep fighting. The Senate will vote in a matter of weeks on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to block the FCC’s repeal. Now is the moment to get engaged.

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How To Watch Mark Zuckerberg’s Keynote At Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference

Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference kicks off this morning, just roughly a month and a half since the Cambridge Analytica scandal completely redefined the conversation around data privacy and social networking platforms.

That means F8’s keynote address, which in years past has focused on the frontiers of new technology like virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence, will also have to reckon with the hard conversations on responsibility and accountability that have made up Facebook’s biggest existential crisis to date.

The whole controversy may have even postponed the company’s plans to reveal its rumored smart speaker, known internally as Portal, at F8 amid fears of Facebook’s overreach and concerns over having the company listening inside consumers’ homes.

Of course, there will be news completely unrelated to Cambridge Analytica. Facebook is expected to talk more about its plans for VR hardware over at Oculus.

We’ll hear more about the company’s push into AR to take on Google and Snapchat since first debuting its intelligent camera platform at last year’s F8.

We’ll also hear more about the company’s secretive Building 8 division, which this time a year ago announced it was working on brain-computer interfaces.

Former DARPA director Regina Dugan has since left her post as head of Building 8, so we’re eager to hear how those more outlandish projects are coming along in her absence.

There’s a keynote on day two that takes place at 1PM ET / 10 AM PT on Wednesday, May 2nd, and that will likely be when we’ll hear more about Building 8 developments.

But the Cambridge Analytica situation has forced Facebook to make radical changes to its developer platform, which makes a developer conference like F8 an especially interesting time to hear how the company plans to move forward with its platform and entice app makers to build products on top of its core service.

Facebook has restricted or shut down numerous high-profile APIs and curtailed developers’ access to user data in a variety of ways, in hopes of preventing future data abuse situations.

So what has typically been a rather quiet, developer-focused affair has been transformed into more of a litmus test for Facebook’s handling of the data privacy scandal.

Naturally, everyone’s eyes will be on CEO Mark Zuckerberg and how he plans to address the elephant in the room when he takes the stage for today’s opening keynote.

If you’re interested in tuning in live and following along with The Verge’s coverage, see below for the best ways to do so.

How to follow along?

Starting time: San Francisco: 10AM / New York: 1PM / London: 6PM / Berlin: 7PM / Moscow: 8PM / New Delhi: 10:30PM / Beijing: 12:30AM (May 2nd) / Tokyo: 2AM (May 2nd) / Sydney: 3AM (May 2nd)

Live stream: Facebook will be live streaming the keynote over on its dedicated F8 website.

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Watch Zuckerberg Testify Before Congress

Senator Leahy brought out this board and asked Zuckerberg if it specifically shows groups run by Russian operatives.

After yesterday’s seemingly endless marathon hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today Mark Zuckerberg heads to the House, where he’ll be answering questions in front of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Yesterday’s session featured almost 50 legislators peppering Zuckerberg with queries about how Facebook safeguards user data, details on the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

And even questions about what kind of regulations Zuckerberg believes should be put in place to regulate Facebook.

The day ended with a number of revelations: Zuckerberg said that Facebook “doesn’t feel” like a monopoly to him, but he had a hard time naming a viable competitor.

He hinted that there may one day be a paid version of the platform; over and over, he promised senators that data privacy was a legitimate concern, and a priority for the platform.

Mark supports legislation to rein in Facebook’s data collection powers, but he had a hard time committing to supporting new laws that would do that.

This print shows how This Is Your Digital Life conflicted with the terms of service from Facebook at the time.

And he once again tried to tamp down suspicion that Facebook listened to our conversations through our phones.

We also learned that a lot of the legislators responsible for regulating Facebook don’t fully understand what Facebook is — or how it works.

Zuckerberg looked mostly comfortable and confident through the almost 5-hour long hearing. Let’s see how he holds up on day two.

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Twitter Is Killing Its Twitter For Mac Desktop Client

On Friday, Twitter announced that it would abandon its lesser-loved Mac app, directing users to Twitter.com instead.

The company declared that it will refocus its efforts on “a great Twitter experience that’s consistent across platforms” rather than continuing development for Twitter for Mac, a message that doesn’t sound great for TweetDeck lovers.

The Twitter for Mac app no longer lives in the Mac App Store, though its one and a half star rating lives on in the hearts and minds of its few tenacious users, maybe.

Over the years, Twitter has often seen its own official app eclipsed by slicker, more feature-rich third-party clients, which it sometimes buys up.

Twitter bought the software that evolved into Twitter for Mac (formerly known as Tweetie for Mac) back in 2010, though it’s largely believed to have languished following the acquisition.

Many Twitter users are expressing their concerns that the company could similarly sunset TweetDeck, a well-loved client with multi-column organization, list-making tools and robust notifications that the company acquired for $40 million back in 2011.

For a normal company, ending a product that everyone feels pretty good about wouldn’t be a likely potential outcome, but Twitter isn’t exactly known for making choices in lockstep with the desires of its opinionated user base.

While most people aren’t likely to mourn the passing of Twitter for Mac, the choice does highlight the gaping hole where a solid multi-platform client should go.

Considering its resources and the lessons the company should have learned from unnecessary bickering with its development community over the years, it doesn’t seem like a big ask.

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Top 5 Ways To Find Better Answers Online (That Aren’t Google)

You can Google just about anything, but it’s not always your best resource for finding the exact answer to what you want. Here’s a look at our top ten tools for finding better answers online.

You can’t ask Wolfram Alpha anything, but you can ask it for information you can’t find anywhere else. It’s full of information and calculations that no other search engine can provide.

For example, you can use Wolfram Alpha to calculate activity-specific calorie burn, analyze illness symptoms and generic drug options, and make sense of your confusing family relationships.

For more ideas, check out our full Wolfram Alpha coverage, or just play around with it yourself.


4. Wikipedia

You might be thinking, “duh.” For that reason it’s pretty much impossible to keep Wikipedia off of a Top 10 list about finding better answers online.

Wikipedia contains an enormous wealth of information and it ought to be your primary destination when you want quick information on a given topic.

While you can’t ask it a specific question, if you know what you’re looking for you’re bound to find it on Wikipedia. It doesn’t have an article on everything, but if it did there would be no need for this Top 5.

3. Ask Reddit

For the more casual and fun questions, you have Ask Reddit. If you’re not familiar with Reddit, it’s a social news site with a dedicated user base.

Those users make Ask Reddit a good tool to get answers, but most of the questions you find tend to fall on the light side of things.

You can learn how to cope with putting down your old cat, combat your extreme paranoia, and find out how many people feel Christmas isn’t worth it anymore, making the tool more interesting to read when you’re bored than the best tool to find the answer you’re looking for.

In the event you have a question that fits the topics floating around Ask Reddit, however, you’ll have plenty of people to join in and answer.

2. Duck Duck Go

Duck Duck Go is a clever search engine that provides tons of shortcuts to help you find what you’re looking for very quickly. The idea is to get you your information without the need to click around too much.

Need a color swatch for a particular HEX value? Just enter the HEX value in Duck Duck Go and you’ll get it. It can even help you quickly generate a strong, random password.

Although search, in general, is pretty fast, Duck Duck Go has a tool set to help you get answers and information as quickly as possible.

1. Aardvark

Aardvark lets you ask just about any question and receive an answer in under a minute—for free. Aardvark aims to keep the process simple by keeping your questions short and sweet.

You ask a question that’s about the length of a tweet and you get an answer that isn’t much longer from helpers whose interests match that of the question.

In return, you’re encouraged to answer questions that fall into your area of expertise.

5. Wolfram Alpha

Aardvark is possible because of this information exchange and generally works very well, although it did fail to find a good soft-serve ice cream shop in Los Angeles.

I guess I’ll have to settle for Tasti D-Lite, whenever it finally shows up. But why is Aardvark number one? Because it effectively does the same thing as Twitter, but without the need for a base of followers.

It does a fantastic job at matching your question with relevant, helpful people and it does it fast.

Even though it couldn’t do the impossible and find soft server ice cream in Los Angeles, it’s probably the best question and answer service you could ask for.

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Feed The News Need Of The New Facebook News Feed

Updates from friends and family, current events, political rants, the latest celebrity gossip, ads for items you would never consider purchasing and sometimes the Facebook News Feed can feel more like a hodgepodge of random information.

Other times, it totally gets you—showing you exactly what you want to see, at the exact moment you want to see it.

What you see when you log into your Facebook account isn’t random. The Facebook algorithm takes into account a wide variety of information about you to decide what content to show you.

With a little understanding of the inner workings of this algorithm, you can have a more relevant and engaging experience.


Although Facebook keeps the specifics of the algorithm a secret, they have given us enough information to deduce general themes that allow users to actively manage what they see.

At the most basic level, the Facebook algorithm shows you more from the people and Pages you interact with—that is, those posts you like, comment on, and share.

Diving deeper, it takes into account the amount of time you spend looking at different types of content, trends in the types of content you view, and your clicking habits.

For example, if you spend a lot of time viewing videos, video content will be delivered to you more often. If you’re likely to spend more time looking at a photo that contains a smiling face, you’ll see photos of happy-looking people more often.

If you click through to the comments on a certain topic, or click through to articles about specific topics, Facebook will serve those up to you more often.

Here are five News Feed hacks to see the posts you’ll be most interested in.

  1. Interact with the Pages and people you like and give the rest the cold shoulder:To see more from Pages, make sure to interact with the posts you see from them and ignore the ones about Kim and Kanye.To exclude content on a particular topic, click the down arrow at the right-hand side of the post, and choose
    Hide Post.” Facebook will then be less likely to show you similar stories in the future.
  2. Decide which Pages are important to you:At the top right of any page, click the downward facing triangle, and select “News Feed Preferences” toward the bottom of the menu.Click “Unfollow people to hide their posts” and then choose “Pages only” from the drop down menu.

  3. Prioritize who you want to see first:The easiest way to make sure you never miss a post from a Page you follow is to tell Facebook. There are two ways to do this.First, in “News Feed Preferences,” click “Prioritize who to see first” and choose up to 30 friends and Pages that interest you the most.The latest posts from these people or Pages will always appear at the top of your News Feed when you log in.
  4. Check out the “Pages Only” News Feed:

    When in business research mode, visit the Pages feed to see recent updates from Pages you’re connected to without any distractions from posts by friends and family.

    If you have the Facebook app on your phone, follow these steps to set up your Pages feed:

  5. Manage your Facebook ad preferences:Are you seeing ads that aren’t relevant to you? Would you rather get more of one type than another? The Facebook Ad Preferences page allows you to see and edit a list of interests Facebook has determined you have.If an interest triggers ads you aren’t interested in, remove it from the list. You can also hide ads that are in the form of Sponsored Posts, or let Facebook know you’re more interested in Sponsored Posts.In the News Feed, click the down arrow in the top right corner of the Sponsored Post, and choose either “Hide ad” or “This ad is useful.”

With a more relevant News Feed, and some clues into how the Facebook algorithm determines what you see, you’ll have more insight into what is likely to be popular when deciding what to post to your own business Page.

Keep in mind that in general, the content that gets the most traction is the content that viewers interact with the most.

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