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Facebook

The Loophole Obscuring Facebook and Google's Transparency Reports 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the fuzzy-math dept.
Jason Koebler writes The number of law enforcement requests coming from Canada for information from companies like Facebook and Google are often inaccurate thanks to a little-known loophole that lumps them in with U.S. numbers. For example, law enforcement and government agencies in Canada made 366 requests for Facebook user data in 2013, according to the social network's transparency reports. But that's not the total number. An additional 16 requests are missing, counted instead with U.S. requests thanks to a law that lets Canadian agencies make requests with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need? 271

Posted by Soulskill
from the might-be-time-to-reevaluate-the-Clippy-department dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday, word came down that Microsoft was starting to lay off some 18,000 workers. As of June 5th, Microsoft reported a total employee headcount of 127,005, so they're cutting about 15% of their jobs. That's actually a pretty huge percentage, even taking into account the redundancies created by the Nokia acquisition. Obviously, there's an upper limit to how much of your workforce you can let go at one time, so I'm willing to bet Microsoft's management thinks thousands more people aren't worth keeping around. How many employees does Microsoft realistically need? The company is famous for its huge teams that don't work together well, and excessive middle management. But they also have a huge number of software projects, and some of the projects, like Windows and Office, need big teams to develop. How would we go about estimating the total workforce Microsoft needs? (Other headcounts for reference: Apple: 80,000, Amazon: 124,600, IBM: 431,212, Red Hat: 5,000+, Facebook: 6,800, Google: 52,000, Intel: 104,900.)
Networking

MIT May Have Just Solved All Your Data Center Network Lag Issues 83

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hierarchy-beats-anarchy dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes A group of MIT researchers say they've invented a new technology that should all but eliminate queue length in data center networking. The technology will be fully described in a paper presented at the annual conference of the ACM Special Interest Group on Data Communication. According to MIT, the paper will detail a system — dubbed Fastpass — that uses a centralized arbiter to analyze network traffic holistically and make routing decisions based on that analysis, in contrast to the more decentralized protocols common today. Experimentation done in Facebook data centers shows that a Fastpass arbiter with just eight cores can be used to manage a network transmitting 2.2 terabits of data per second, according to the researchers.
Technology

Rand Paul and Silicon Valley's Shifting Political Climate 526

Posted by Soulskill
from the businesses-going-into-protection-mode dept.
SonicSpike sends this story from NY Magazine: Rand Paul appears to be making a full-court press for the affections of Silicon Valley, and there are some signs that his efforts are paying off. At last week's Sun Valley conference, Paul had one-on-one meetings with Thiel and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. ... Next weekend, Paul will get to make his case yet again as the keynote speaker at Reboot, a San Francisco conference put on by a group called Lincoln Labs, which self-defines as "techies and politicos who believe in promoting liberty with technology." He'll likely say a version of what he's said before: that Silicon Valley's innovative potential can be best unlocked in an environment with minimal government intrusion in the forms of surveillance, corporate taxes, and regulation. “I see almost unlimited potential for us in Silicon Valley,” Paul has said, with "us" meaning libertarians.

Today's Silicon Valley is still exceedingly liberal on social issues. But it seems more skeptical about taxes and business regulation than at any point in its recent history. Part of this is due to the rise of companies like Uber and Tesla Motors, blazing-hot start-ups that have been opposed at every turn by protectionist regulators and trade unions, in confrontations that are being used by small-government conservatives as case studies in government control run amok.
Mozilla

Mozilla Doubles Down on JPEG Encoding with mozjpeg 2.0 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-cats-per-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today announced the release of mozjpeg version 2.0. The JPEG encoder is now capable of reducing the size of both baseline and progressive JPEGs by 5 percent on average (compared to those produced by the standard JPEG library libjpeg-turbo upon which mozjpeg is based). Mozilla today also revealed that Facebook is testing mozjpeg 2.0 to see whether it can be used to improve the compression of images on Facebook.com. The company has even donated $60,000 to contribute to the ongoing development of the technology.
United Kingdom

Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek To Control the Internet 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the learning-to-troll dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, "amplif[y]" sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be "extremist." The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call. The tools were created by GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG's use of "fake victim blog posts," "false flag operations," "honey traps" and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.
United States

FCC Public Comment Period For Net Neutrality Ends Tomorrow, July 15 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the use-your-outside-voice dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "The deadline for the FCC's public comment period on their proposed net neutrality rule is coming up fast. The final day to let the FCC know what you think is tomorrow, July 15. A total of 647,000 comments have already been sent. Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and other tech companies are making a final push for net neutrality saying that the FCC decision, "shifts the balance from the consumers' freedom of choice to the broadband Internet access providers' gatekeeping decisions." The Consumerist has a guide to help you through the comment process, so make sure your voice is heard."
Input Devices

Take a Picture Just By Thinking About It, Using Google Glass With MindRDR App 41

Posted by timothy
from the what's-on-your-mind-and-your-ears dept.
rtoz (2530056) writes A London based company, This Place, is launching a new app "MindRDR" for providing one more way for controlling Google Glass. It will allow the users to control the Google Glass with their thoughts. This MindRDR application bridges the Neurosky EEG biosensor and Google Glass. It allows users to take photos and share them on Twitter and Facebook by simply using brainwaves alone. This Place has put the code of this app on GitHub for others to use it and expand on it.
Encryption

UK Computing Student Jailed After Failing To Hand Over Crypto Keys 353

Posted by Soulskill
from the guilty-until-proven-guilty dept.
stephendavion sends news that Christopher Wilson, a 22-year-old computer science student, has been sent to jail for six months for refusing to hand over his computer encryption passwords. Wilson has been accused of "phoning in a fake warning of an impending cyber attack against Northumbria Police that was convincing enough for the force to temporarily suspend its site as a precaution once a small attack started." He's also accused of trolling on Facebook. Wilson only came to the attention of police in October 2012 after he allegedly emailed warnings about an online threat against one of the staff at Newcastle University. ... The threatening emails came from computer servers linked to Wilson. Police obtained a warrant on this basis and raided his home in Washington, where they seized various items of computer equipment. ... Investigators wanted to examine his encrypted computer but the passwords supplied by Wilson turned out to be incorrect. None of the 50 passwords he provided worked. Frustration with his lack of co-operation prompted police to obtained a order from a judge compelling him to turn over the correct passphrase last year. A judge ordered him to turn over these passwords on the grounds of national security but Wilson still failed to comply, earning him six months behind bars.
Cellphones

Avast Buys 20 Used Phones, Recovers 40,000 Deleted Photos 231

Posted by Soulskill
from the delete-then-rewrite-then-smash-into-bits dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The used smartphone market is thriving, with many people selling their old devices on eBay or craigslist when it's time to upgrade. Unfortunately, it seems most people are really bad at wiping their phone of personal data before passing it on to a stranger. Antivirus company Avast bought 20 used Android phones off eBay, and used some basic data recovery software to reconstruct deleted files. From just those 20 phones, they pulled over 40,000 photographs, including 1,500 family pictures of children and over a thousand more.. personal pictures. They also recovered hundreds of emails and text messages, over a thousand Google searches, a completed loan application, and identity information for four of the previous owners. Only one of the phones had security software installed on it, but that phone turned out to provide the most information of all: "Hackers at Avast were able to identify the previous owner, access his Facebook page, plot his previous whereabouts through GPS coordinates, and find the names and numbers of more than a dozen of his closest contacts. What's more, the company discovered a lot about this guy's penchant for kink and a completed copy of a Sexual Harassment course — hopefully a preventative measure."
Businesses

US Tech Firms Recruiting High Schoolers (And Younger) 253

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-oughta-be-a-law-enforcing-the-laws-we-already-have dept.
ShaunC writes: Is there a glut of qualified American tech workers, or isn't there? Some companies like Facebook and Airbnb are now actively courting and recruiting high school students as young as 13 with promises of huge stipends and salaries. As one student put it, "It's kind of insane that you can make more than the U.S. average income in a summer." Another who attended a Facebook-sponsored trip said he'd "forego college for a full-time job" if it were offered. Is Silicon Valley taking advantage of naive young workers?
Displays

Oculus VR Announces Its First Oculus Connect In Los Angeles 1

Posted by timothy
from the on-your-face-like-a-squid dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The virtual reality startup Oculus announced the organization of a conference for professionals, developers and designers. "Oculus Connect" will be held September 19-20 in Los Angeles. Objective: To accommodate participants of virtual reality and start creating momentum around Oculus VR after acquisition Oculus last year by Facebook. The startup virtual reality is now turning to professionals to gauge their interest in technology ... and to develop content. . Oculus says on its website "Oculus Connect is a conference that brings together developers, designers and creatives from around the world to share and collaborate new virtual reality experiences."
The Internet

New Russian Law To Forbid Storing Russians' Data Outside the Country 206

Posted by timothy
from the just-one-small-restriction dept.
TechWeek Europe reports that on Friday Russia's parliament passed a law "which bans online businesses from storing personal data of Russian citizens on servers located abroad[.] ... According to ITAR-TAAS, the changes to existing legislation will come into effect in September 2016, and apply to email services, social networks and search engines, including the likes of Facebook and Google. Domain names or net addresses not complying with regulations will be put on a blacklist maintained by Roskomnadzor (the Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications), the organisation which already has the powers to take down websites suspected of copyright infringement without a court order. In the case of non-compliance, Roskomnadzor will be able to impose 'sanctions,' and even instruct local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to cut off access to the offending resource." According to the article, the "measure is widely seen as a response to reports about the intrusive surveillance practices of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s GCHQ. Edward Snowden, who revealed sensitive data about the operations of both, is currently residing in Russia, with his asylum application up for a review in a couple of months." The writer points out that this would mean many web sites would be legally unavailable altogether to Russian users.
Social Networks

Employees Staying Away From Internal Corporate Social Networks 131

Posted by timothy
from the it's-so-uncrowded-nobody-goes-there. dept.
jfruh (300774) writes As social networks proliferated in the early '10s, so did the idea of a corporate social network — a Facebook-like community on an intranet where employees could interact. Unfortunately, corporate users are staying away in droves, perceiving the systems as one more in-box they'd have to take care of and getting their social-networking fix from Facebook and the like. From what I've seen of these internal networks, another good reason is that they're not as good as the full-time social networks are, and offer access only to a small universe of particpants anyhow. They're like a central-casting "rock band" in '80s movies — they come off as conspicuously aping the real thing.
Facebook

Facebook Fallout, Facts and Frenzy 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-friend-or-not-to-friend dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company's experiment designed to purposefully manipulate the emotions of its users was communicated "poorly". Sandberg's public comments, which were the first from any Facebook executive following the discovery of the one-week psychological study, were made while attending a meeting with small businesses in India that advertise on Facebook. "This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was," Sandberg said. "It was poorly communicated. And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you." anavictoriasaavedra points out this article that questions how much of this outrage over an old press release is justified and what's lead to the media frenzy. Sometimes editors at media outlets get a little panicked when there's a big story swirling around and they haven't done anything with it. It all started as a largely ignored paper about the number of positive and negative words people use in Facebook posts. Now it's a major scandal. The New York Times connected the Facebook experiment to suicides. The story was headlined, Should Facebook Manipulate Users, and it rests on the questionable assumption that such manipulation has happened. Stories that ran over the weekend raised serious questions about the lack of informed consent used in the experiment, which was done by researchers at Cornell and Facebook and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But to say Facebook’s slight alteration of news feeds caused people to suffer depression seems to be unsupported by any kind of data or logic.
Facebook

Baton Bob Strikes Back Against Police That Coerced Facebook Post From Him 203

Posted by timothy
from the bizarro-world-southeast-division dept.
McGruber (1417641) writes "In June 2013, Atlanta police arrested costumed street performer "Baton Bob" during the middle of a street performance after Baton Bob was allegedly involved in a verbal altercation with mall security guards. Now, a year later, Baton Bob has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Atlanta police of violating his constitutional rights, assault, discrimination, privacy violations and identify theft. Atlanta Police allegedly forced Baton Bob to make a pro-police statement on his Facebook page before officers would allow Bob to be released on bond. According to the lawsuit: "At approximately 3:40 p.m., while Plaintiff sat handcuffed and without an attorney, he was told to dictate a public statement to Officer Davis, who then typed and posted the message to the Baton Bob Facebook account. The message read: 'First of all, the atl police officer that responded to the incident thru security has been very respectful and gracious to me even in handcuffs. So, the situation escalated from a complaint from a security officer in the area and for some reason she rolled up on me like she didn't know who I was and like I had not been there before. For them to call police to come to intervene was not necessary. So, out of it, because of my fury, the Atlanta police officer did not understand the elements of the situation, so he was trying to do his job, respectfully and arrested my ass!!!!!!!!! I'll be out tomorrow so look out for my show at 14th and Peachtree. So now I'm waiting to be transported so I can sign my own bond and get the hell out of here. I want to verify, that the Atlanta police was respectful to me considering the circumstances. See you when I see you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!' As promised, Plaintiff was then given a signature bond and released from jail."
Social Networks

Facebook's Emotion Experiment: Too Far, Or Social Network Norm? 219

Posted by timothy
from the applied-semantics dept.
Facebook's recently disclosed 2012 experiment in altering the tone of what its users saw in their newsfeeds has brought it plenty of negative opinions to chew on. Here's one, pointed out by an anonymous reader: Facebook's methodology raises serious ethical questions. The team may have bent research standards too far, possibly overstepping criteria enshrined in federal law and human rights declarations. "If you are exposing people to something that causes changes in psychological status, that's experimentation," says James Grimmelmann, a professor of technology and the law at the University of Maryland. "This is the kind of thing that would require informed consent." For a very different take on the Facebook experiment, consider this defense of it from Tal Yarkoni, who thinks the criticism it's drawn is "misplaced": Given that Facebook has over half a billion users, it’s a foregone conclusion that every tiny change Facebook makes to the news feed or any other part of its websites induces a change in millions of people’s emotions. Yet nobody seems to complain about this much–presumably because, when you put it this way, it seems kind of silly to suggest that a company whose business model is predicated on getting its users to use its product more would do anything other than try to manipulate its users into, you know, using its product more. ... [H]aranguing Facebook and other companies like it for publicly disclosing scientifically interesting results of experiments that it is already constantly conducting anyway–and that are directly responsible for many of the positive aspects of the user experience–is not likely to accomplish anything useful. If anything, it’ll only ensure that, going forward, all of Facebook’s societally relevant experimental research is done in the dark, where nobody outside the company can ever find out–or complain–about it."
Social Networks

In 2012, Facebook Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions 130

Posted by timothy
from the beats-the-top-stories-option-at-least dept.
The Atlantic reports that two years ago, Facebook briefly conducted an experiment on a subset of its users, altering the mix of content shown to them to emphasize content sorted by tone, negative or positive, and observe the results. From the Atlantic article: For one week in January 2012, data scientists skewed what almost 700,000 Facebook users saw when they logged into its service. Some people were shown content with a preponderance of happy and positive words; some were shown content analyzed as sadder than average. And when the week was over, these manipulated users were more likely to post either especially positive or negative words themselves. This tinkering was just revealed as part of a new study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many previous studies have used Facebook data to examine “emotional contagion,” as this one did. This study is different because, while other studies have observed Facebook user data, this one set out to manipulate it. At least they showed their work.
Education

Is K-12 CS Education the Next Common Core? 113

Posted by timothy
from the think-I-prefer-google-to-the-nea dept.
theodp (442580) writes In an interview with The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton that accompanied her report on How Bill Gates Pulled Off the Swift Common Core Revolution (the Gates Foundation doled out $233 million in grants to git-r-done), Gates denied that he has too much influence in K-12 education. Despite Gates' best efforts, however, there's been more and more pushback recently from both teachers and politicians on the standards, GeekWire's Taylor Soper reports, including a protest Friday by the Badass Teacher Association, who say Gates is ruining education. "We want to get corporations out of teaching," explained one protester. If that's the case, the "Badasses" probably won't be too pleased to see how the K-12 CS education revolution is shaping up, fueled by a deep-pocketed alliance of Gates, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others. Google alone has already committed $90 million to influence CS education. And well-connected Code.org, which has struck partnerships with school districts reaching over 2M U.S. students and is advising NSF-funded research related to the nation's CS 10K Project, will be conducting required professional development sessions for K-12 CS teachers out of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon offices this summer in Chicago, New York City, Boston, and Seattle. So, could K-12 CS Education ("Common Code"?) become the next Common Core?
Facebook

Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo 265

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the but-how-many-are-brogrammers? dept.
theodp (442580) writes Facebook is mostly white dudes, writes Valleywag's Sam Biddle, cutting to the chase of Facebook's inaugural disclosure of diversity figures. "We're serious about building a workplace that reflects a broad range of experience, thought, geography, age, background, gender, sexual orientation, language, culture and many other characteristics," said Facebook, which has a tech workforce that's 15% female and only 1% Black. By contrast, Wikipedia's Baseball Color Line article notes that "by the late 1950s, the percentage of blacks on Major League teams matched or exceeded that of the general population." So, is it surprising that the company whose stated mission is "to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected" is having problems connecting with the general population in 2014?

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