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Facebook

Facebook Successfully Tests Laser Internet Drones 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-social-networks-need-laser-drones-for-stuff dept.
rtoz writes: At its F8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook announced the first hardware it plans to use to beam the Internet down to billions of people around the world. Codenamed "Aquila," the solar-powered drone has a wingspan comparable to a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a small car. It will be powered by solar panels on its wings, and it will be able to stay at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for months at a time. Facebook says it'll begin test flights this summer, with a broader rollout over the next several years. The drones were tested over the UK recently, and everything worked as expected.
Businesses

Win Or Lose, Discrimination Suit Is Having an Effect On Silicon Valley 344

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-pay-or-not-to-pay-that-is-the-question dept.
SpzToid sends word that the Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers discrimination case wrapped up yesterday. No matter what the outcome turns out to be, it has already affected how business is being done in Silicon Valley. "'Even before there's a verdict in this case, and regardless of what the verdict is, people in Silicon Valley are now talking,' said Kelly Dermody, managing partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, who chairs the San Francisco law firm's employment practice group. 'People are second-guessing and questioning whether there are exclusionary practices [and] everyday subtle acts of exclusion that collectively limit women's ability to succeed or even to compete for the best opportunities. And that's an incredibly positive impact.' Women in tech have long complained about an uneven playing field — lower pay for equal work, being passed over for promotions and a hostile 'brogrammer' culture — and have waited for a catalyst to finally overhaul the status quo. This trial — pitting a disgruntled, multimillionaire former junior partner against a powerful Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm — was far from the open-and-shut case that many women had hoped for. More gender discrimination suits against big tech firms are expected to follow; some already have, including lawsuits against Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc."
Facebook

Facebook Sued For Alleged Theft of Data Center Design 74

Posted by timothy
from the architectural-plans-want-to-be-free dept.
itwbennett writes British engineering company BladeRoom Group says it contacted Facebook in 2011 about using its technique, which involves constructing data centers in a modular fashion from pre-fabricated parts. What happened next isn't clear, since much of the public version of BRG's lawsuit is redacted. But it claims Facebook ended up stealing its ideas and using them to build part of a data center in Lulea, Sweden, that opened last year. 'Facebook's misdeeds might never have come to light had it decided that simply stealing BRG's intellectual property was enough,' the company said in its lawsuit, filed Monday at the federal district court in San Jose, California. "Instead, Facebook went further when it decided to encourage and induce others to use BRG's intellectual property though an initiative created by Facebook called the 'Open Compute Project.'"
The Media

NY Times: "All the News That Mark Zuckerberg Sees Fit To Print"? 79

Posted by timothy
from the who-do-you-trust-and-why dept.
theodp writes Two years ago, Politico caught Mark Zuckerberg's soon-to-be launched FWD.us PAC boasting how its wealthy tech exec backers would use their companies to 'control the avenues of distribution' for a political message in support of their efforts. Now, the NY Times is reporting that Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook, citing a source who said the Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal. Facebook declined to comment on specific discussions with publishers, but noted it had provided features to help publishers get better traction on Facebook, including tools unveiled in December that let them target their articles to specific groups of Facebook users. The new plan, notes the Times, is championed by Chris Cox, the top lieutenant to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg and a "major supporter" of FWD.us. Exploring Facebook's wooing of the media giants, the Christian Science Monitor asks if social media will control the future of news, citing concerns expressed by Fusion's Felix Salmon, who warns that as news sites sacrifice their brands to reach a wider audience, their incentives for accuracy and editorial judgment will disappear.
Facebook

Facebook Makes Messenger a Platform 48

Posted by samzenpus
from the stand-on-your-own-two-feet dept.
Steven Levy writes At Facebook's F8 developer conference, the ascension of the Messenger app was the major announcement. Messenger is no longer just a part of Facebook, but a standalone platform to conduct a wide variety of instant communications, not only with friends, but with businesses you may deal with as well. It will compete with other messaging services such as Snapchat, Line and even Facebook's own WhatsApp by offering a dizzying array of features, many of them fueled by the imagination and self-interest of thousands of outside software developers.
Transportation

Uber To Turn Into a Big Data Company By Selling Location Data 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the yellow-cabs-looking-slightly-less-unappealing dept.
Presto Vivace sends news that Uber has entered into a partnership with Starwood Hotels that hooks accounts from both companies together. If you're a customer of both, you'll get a small benefit when chartering Uber rides, but the cost is that Uber will share all their data on you with Starwood. The article says, This year, we are going to see the transformation of Uber into a big data company cut from the same cloth as Google, Facebook and Visa – using the wealth of information they know about me and you to deliver new services and generate revenue by selling this data to others. ... Uber can run the same program with airlines, restaurants, nightclubs, bars – every time you go from point A to point B in an Uber, “A”, “B” or both represent a new potential consumer of your data. ... Uber knows the hot nightclubs, best restaurants and most obviously now has as much data about traffic patterns as Waze (which coincidentally trades data with local governments). Combining Uber’s data with the very-personal data that customers are willing to give up in exchange for benefits, means that Uber can, and is, on its way to becoming a Big Data company.
Censorship

Indian Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Against Posting 'Offensive' Content Online 54

Posted by Soulskill
from the score-one-for-free-speech dept.
palemantle writes: The Indian Supreme Court has overturned the controversial Section 66A of the IT Act which included a provision for a three-year jail term for sending "offensive" messages through a "computer resource or a communication device." In its judgement, the Supreme Court held "liberty of thought and expression as cardinal" and overturned the provision (66A) deeming it "unconstitutional." It's been in the news recently for an incident involving the arrest of a high school student for posting allegedly "offensive" content on Facebook about a local politician.
Networking

Facebook Engineering Tool Mimics Dodgy Network Connectivity 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the open-source-tools-for-pranks dept.
itwbennett writes: Facebook has released an open source application called Augmented Traffic Control that can simulate the connectivity of a cell phone accessing an app over a 2G, Edge, 3G, or LTE network. It can also simulate weak and erratic WiFi connections. The simulations can give engineers an estimate of how long it would take a user to download a file, for instance, given varying network connections. It can help engineers re-create problems that crop up only on very slow networks.
Books

Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart. Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
GNU is Not Unix

RMS Talks Net Neutrality, Patents, and More 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the straight-from-the-man dept.
alphadogg writes "According to Richard Stallman, godfather of the free software movement, Facebook is a "monstrous surveillance engine," tech companies working for patent reform aren't going nearly far enough, and parents must lobby their children's schools to keep data private and provide free software alternatives. The free software guru touched on a host of topics in his keynote Saturday at the LibrePlanet conference, a Free Software Foundation gathering at the Scala Center at MIT.
Facebook

Fake Suicide Attempt Tests Facebook Prevention Tool, Lands Man In Asylum 317

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-guess-it-worked dept.
First time accepted submitter abhishekmdb writes Shane Tusch faked his suicide in an attempt to test the authenticity of Facebook suicide prevention tool and got detained for 72 hours. Facebook has rolled out a set of tools to keep a check on its users who are having suicidal tendencies and prevent these users from suicidal attempts. In case some user is having suicidal thoughts and mentions that in the Facebook posts and if a friend of that user reports it to Facebook then a third party will immediately review the post and Facebook would lock the suicidal user's account and the user will be made to read Facebook's suicide prevention materials.
Facebook

Facebook Introduces Payment System 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-i-want-there-to-be-17-different-ways-for-people-to-send-me-$6 dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Today Facebook announced a new feature for its Messenger services: the ability to send money to friends. The payment system will work by connecting debit cards from Visa or Mastercard — no credit cards, and no bank accounts. The company claims they aren't trying to make money on it, since it'd be such a small business compared to their ad revenue. "Once the $ button is tapped, users simply enter the dollar amount and hit Pay. The money is instantly taken from their debit account and delivered to the recipient's debit account. Facebook never holds the money, though the receiver's bank will usually take a few days to make the funds available as is standard. Both users see a confirmation message detailing the transfer status and time." Facebook says transaction information is encrypted, and users will protect their cards with a dedicated passcode (or fingerprint identification).
Facebook

This App Lets You Piggyback Facebook's Free Internet To Access Any Site 67

Posted by timothy
from the bits-is-bits dept.
sarahnaomi writes In countries like Zambia, Tanzania, or Kenya, where very few have access to the Internet, Facebook is bringing its own version of the net: Internet.org, an app that gives mobile users free access to certain sites such as Google, Wikipedia and, of course, Facebook. While the initiative has clearly positive goals, it's also been criticized as an "imperialistic" push for Facebook colonies, where novice Internet.org users will grow up thinking their restricted version of the web is the real internet. To fight against that possibility, a 20-year-old developer from Paraguay is working on an app that tunnels the "regular" internet through Facebook Messenger, one of the services free to use on Internet.org's app. This allows Internet.org users to establish a link to the outside, unrestricted internet, circumventing restrictions.
Facebook

Nipples, Terrorism, and Sexual Descriptions - Facebook's List of Banned Content 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the standards-and-practices dept.
Mark Wilson writes Facebook has updated its Community Standards document, outlining the type of content that is not permitted on the social network. When it's not forcing people to reveal their real names, blocking 'offensive' content, or encouraging users to vote, Facebook is often to be found removing content that has been reported for one reason or another. But what's acceptable, and what's not? A little while back, the site revealed a simplified version of its privacy policy, and now the Community Standards document has received the same treatment. Facebook has set out the types of pictures that are permissible, along with specifying guidelines for other content.
Blackberry

BlackBerry's Latest Experiment: a $2,300 'Secure' Tablet 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-people-who-think-high-end-tablets-are-too-cheap dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After missing the boat on smartphones, BlackBerry has been throwing everything they can at the wall to see what sticks. From making square phones to insisting users want physical keyboards, their only standard is how non-standard they've become. Now they're expanding this strategy to the tablet market with a security-centric tablet that costs $2,300. And they're not doing it alone — the base device is actually a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. The tablet runs Samsung Knox boot tech, as well as software from IBM and encryption specialist Secusmart (which BlackBerry recently purchased). The device will be targeted at businesses and organizations who have particular need for secure devices.

"Organizations deploying the SecuTablet will be able to set policies controlling what apps can run on the devices, and whether those apps must be wrapped, said IBM Germany spokesman Stefan Hefter. The wrapping process—in which an app is downloaded from a public app store, bundled with additional libraries that encrypt its network traffic and intercept Android 'intents' for actions such as cutting or pasting data, then uploaded to a private app store—ensures that corporate data can be protected at rest, in motion and in use, he said. For instance, it can prevent data from a secure email being copied and pasted into the Facebook app running on the same device—yet allow it to be pasted into a secure collaboration environment, or any other app forming part of the same 'federation,' he said."
Social Networks

Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the learning-how-to-spy-via-standardized-tests dept.
theodp writes: As if people haven't found enough to hate about the new 11+ hour K-12 PARCC standardized testing, the Washington Post reports that Pearson, the world's largest education company, is monitoring social media during the administration of the PARCC Common Core test to detect any security breaches, saying it is "obligated" to alert authorities when any problems are discovered. The monitoring of social media was revealed in a message that a New Jersey School Superintendent sent to colleagues about a "Priority 1 Alert" initiated by Pearson in response to a student who referenced a PARCC test question in an after-school Tweet. The news was broken in a blog entry by former NJ Star-Ledger reporter Bob Braun, who also posted the Superintendent's message and called the monitoring of social media nothing less than "spying." Pearson has a contract of more than $100 million to administer the PARCC in New Jersey.
Facebook

Man Claiming Half Ownership of Facebook Is Now a Fugitive 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the poke-on-the-run dept.
alphadogg writes Paul D. Ceglia, who was arrested in 2012 for defrauding Facebook on the claim that he owns half the company, is now a fugitive. Ceglia cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet some time around last Friday and left home in violation of the conditions of his bail, court papers said. Ceglia claimed in a 2010 lawsuit that he was entitled to half ownership of Facebook under a 2003 contract with Mark Zuckerberg, who had done programming work for Ceglia's StreetFax.com.
Businesses

Gigaom Closes Shop 101

Posted by timothy
from the that's-a-shame dept.
Presto Vivace writes "What a loss for the tech community," linking to this announcement at Gigaom that the site is shutting down: Gigaom recently became unable to pay its creditors in full at this time. As a result, the company is working with its creditors that have rights to all of the company's assets as their collateral. All operations have ceased. We do not know at this time what the lenders intend to do with the assets or if there will be any future operations using those assets. The company does not currently intend to file bankruptcy. We would like to take a moment and thank our readers and our community for supporting us all along. — Gigaom management Reader bizwriter adds a link to this story on the shutdown.
Social Networks

Yik Yak Raises Controversy On College Campuses 367

Posted by timothy
from the staples-and-bulletin-boards dept.
HughPickens.com writes Jonathan Mahler writes in the NYT that just as Facebook swept through the dorm rooms of America's college students a decade ago, the social app Yik Yak, which shows anonymous messages from users within a 1.5-mile radius is now taking college campuses by storm. "Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board — or maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union," writes Mahler. "It has become the go-to social feed for college students across the country to commiserate about finals, to find a party or to crack a joke about a rival school." While much of the chatter is harmless, some of it is not. "Yik Yak is the Wild West of anonymous social apps," says Danielle Keats Citron. "It is being increasingly used by young people in a really intimidating and destructive way." Since the app's introduction a little more than a year ago, Yik Yak has been used to issue threats of mass violence on more than a dozen college campuses, including the University of North Carolina, Michigan State University and Penn State. Racist, homophobic and misogynist "yaks" have generated controversy at many more, among them Clemson, Emory, Colgate and the University of Texas. At Kenyon College, a "yakker" proposed a gang rape at the school's women's center.

Colleges are largely powerless to deal with the havoc Yik Yak is wreaking. The app's privacy policy prevents schools from identifying users without a subpoena, court order or search warrant, or an emergency request from a law-enforcement official with a compelling claim of imminent harm. Esha Bhandari, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, argues that "banning Yik Yak on campuses might be unconstitutional," especially at public universities or private colleges in California where the so-called Leonard Law protects free speech. She said it would be like banning all bulletin boards in a school just because someone posted a racist comment on one of the boards. In one sense, the problem with Yik Yak is a familiar one. Anyone who has browsed the comments of an Internet post is familiar with the sorts of intolerant, impulsive rhetoric that the cover of anonymity tends to invite. But Yik Yak's particular design can produce especially harmful consequences, its critics say. "It's a problem with the Internet culture in general, but when you add this hyper-local dimension to it, it takes on a more disturbing dimension," says Elias Aboujaoude." "You don't know where the aggression is coming from, but you know it's very close to you."