Saturday, May 31, 2014

Google Begins Honoring Users' 'Right to be Forgotten'

Posted By on Sat, May 31, 2014 at 11:01 AM

On the first day of Google offering European citizens the right to delete their personal information from Google, the Internet behemoth received 12,000 requests from multiple countries to wipe their slates clean.

The precedent-setting move was triggered by the European Union Court of Justice, which ruled earlier this month that individuals had the right to have their online information deleted from search engines if that information is outdated or inaccurate.

Google set up an online removal form earlier this week to facilitate Europeans users' "right to be forgotten," and requests began pouring in—at a rate of 20 requests per minute.

Meanwhile, Google's corporate response has been benign:

"The court's ruling requires Google to make difficult judgments about an individual's right to be forgotten and the public's right to know," wrote a spokesman.

Even Yahoo said it too was "in the process of developing a solution for Yahoo users in Europe that we believe balances the important privacy and freedom-of-expression interests."

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Facebook 'Friends' Some New Security Options

Posted By on Sat, May 24, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Amid increased jitters over web security, Facebook designers say they're prepared to make things more secure and easier for the social network's users.

Facebookers will now be able to tighten restrictions on what information is available to the public, and new users will discover that their very first post will be seen only by friends rather than the public. In the coming weeks, users will be prompted with a new privacy checkup tool that will review their settings and ask if they would like to tighten those settings.

"While some people want to post to everyone, others have told us that they are more comfortable sharing with a smaller group, like just their friends," Facebook wrote in a blog post. "We recognize that it is much worse for someone to accidentally share with everyone when they actually meant to share just with friends, compared with the reverse."

Among some of the changes:

-Facebook will let you change the privacy setting of your old cover photos.

-When posting via a mobile device, Facebook will move the audience selector to the top of the update status box in a new "To" field, similar to what you see when you compose an email.

-The privacy checkup tool will cover a number of settings, including who you're posting to, the apps they use and the privacy of their profile information.

-You'll also be reminded when you're about to post publicly to prevent you from sharing an update with more people than you intended.

On the flip side, Facebook will continue to glean your personal data and choices to further tailor its targeted marketing and advertising.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Amazon Pulls Plug on 'Sock Puppet' Reviews, Used to Gin Up Book Sales

Posted By on Sun, Dec 23, 2012 at 10:17 AM


Have you ever purchased a book on Amazon? Then, no doubt, you have seen Amazon's prolific book reviews. But the online uber-retailer has now decided to delete thousands of reviews from its shopping site.

This morning's New York Times reports that Amazon hasn't given any public explanation for its purge but it has "generated an uproar about what it means to review in an era when everyone is an author and everyone is a reviewer."

Amazon offers reviews of hundreds of its online products but "nowhere are reviews more crucial than with books," according to the Times. It's estimated that Amazon captures nearly a third of every dollar spent in the book marketplace.

But the Times reports that several mystery writers "confessed to various forms of manipulation," using phony identities to "deceive" the buying public. In fact, a petition was launched under the banner, "No Sock Puppets Here Please," saying a so-called "sock puppet" was a moniker for someone who uses a fake identity to promote his or her own book.

Amazon has fired off a letter to some writers, saying "we do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product of a directly competing product. This includes authors."

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

CNET: Instagram Can Now Sell Your Photos

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 10:44 AM


Media companies, creatives and the iPhone-obsessed have new concern to fret. CNET is reporting that changes just announced to the Privacy and Terms of Service policies for Instagram include language that will allow the photo-sharing website to sell the photos users upload without payment, notification or an opt-out feature.

From the article in CNET:

The new intellectual property policy, which takes effect on Jan. 16, comes three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the popular photo-sharing site. Unless Instagram users delete their accounts before the January deadline, they cannot opt out.

Under the new policy, Facebook claims the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the website into the world's largest stock photo agency. One irked Twitter user quipped that "Instagram is now the new iStockPhoto, except they won't have to pay you anything to use your images."

Backlash is already growing online. But it is unknown if that will cause Instagram to reconsider the move.

The complete changes can be read here.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Priceline Packs Its Bags, Buying Kayak for $1.8 Billion

Posted By on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 9:02 AM has snapped up its younger rival Kayak in a $1.8 billion shares-and-cash deal, the companies announced late Thursday.

Kayak Software Corp., whose websites and mobile apps allow customers to comparison shop for flights, hotel rooms and car rental bookings, only went public four months ago. Bloomberg News reports that Kayak made $91 million in its initial public offering by selling 3.5 million shares at $26 apiece. Kayak shareholders will receive $40 a share from the sale to Priceline.

Priceline Chief Executive Jeffery H. Boyd told the Wall Street Journal that the company was attracted to Kayak's position as a good source of leads for advertisers and its consistent profitable growth.

The deal will be the largest acquisition ever for The company was founded in 1998 and acts as a travel agent, collecting fees and commissions on reservations.

Kayak's focus on searching other sites to compare prices could be a solid new revenue stream for Priceline. The engine makes most of its money from referrals and advertisers.

Online travel sales may reach $151.9 billion by 2016, from $107.4 billion in 2011, according to EMarketer Inc.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Facebook Exceeds 1 Billion Monthly Active Members

Posted By on Thu, Oct 4, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Facebook Inc., the social media giant that went public earlier this year, can add another zero to the breadth of its digital footprint.

"This morning, there are more than 1 billion people using Facebook actively each month," wrote CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg from Palo Alto, Calif., near the company's headquarters in Menlo Park.

The website actually hit the magic number at 12:45 p.m. Pacific Time on Sept. 14, according to the company.

Facebook Inc. reported revenue of $1.18 billion in the second quarter of this year. But as the Chicago Tribune notes, the company has dealt with a rough debut on Wall Street since its May IPO, with shares trading at $22 as of 7:30 a.m., well below the company's $38 per share opening.

The company also debuted a new advertisement, which it called a "branding video," available below.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rocky Mountain HS Facebook Page: 'There's a Lot of Hate Here'

Posted By on Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 3:13 PM


Social media is a popular outlet for American youth. But more than 1,200 Rocky Mountain High School students on Facebook are following an anonymous page called "Rocky Mountain High Memes," which criticizes students and teachers, labeling one group of boys "faggots."

"It says 'no hate intended,'" said RMHS Principal Mike Hirano, referencing a sentence at the top of the page. "But I say there’s a lot of hate here."

Individual students are often called out by the page, which receives submissions from its fan base. Posts include pictures with words like "niggas" and one that called a group of male students "attention-seeking faggots."

"If you'd like to send in a Meme, send it to me in a message, that's the only guaranteed way it will be uploaded," wrote the anonymous author of the page.

Continue reading »

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Amazon to Start Collecting Sales Tax in California

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Various media are reporting that online retail behemoth Amazon will start collecting sales taxes for purchases in California beginning this weekend.

From a report by the AP:

The change, which takes effect this weekend, comes after years of bitter back and forth between the world's largest online mall and the California Legislature over whether Internet retailers should have to charge sales tax. The two sides reached a deal in 2011 that included a one-year grace period set to end Saturday.

According to the AP, the pending change has driven many consumers to go on a buying frenzy, trying to make big-ticket purchases before the tax kicks in.

Though this change brings the issue to a close in California, it will now move on to the rest of the nation. Amazon will be lobbying for national legislation to make the laws more consistent. Idaho's Legislature considered a bill to collect sales tax for online purchases earlier this year as tax-free online sales are estimated to cost the state around $35 million in revenue a year. It failed.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Go Daddy Latest Target of Anonymous Hack-Job

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM

UPDATE: CNET is reporting that Go Daddy released a statement today claiming that its outage was not the result of hackers, but an internal issue.

The statement read: "We have determined the service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables. Once the issues were identified, we took corrective actions to restore services for our customers and We have implemented measures to prevent this from occurring again."

CNET and other news sources reported Sept. 10 that domain hosting giant Go Daddy has become the latest target of a hacker or hackers using the Anonymous online handle.

According to CNET, a Twitter account called "Anonymous Own3r" has both claimed credit and said that it was a solo operation, not a group action. That Twitter account also claimed it was to test security issues with Go Daddy.


The attack has caused access issues for an unknown number of websites that use Go Daddy's hosting and registrar services.

From CNET:

Go Daddy representatives did not immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment on the outage, and phone lines at the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company were busy. The problem could be affecting thousands, if not millions, of sites, given that Go Daddy is not only one of the biggest Web site hosters but also the largest domain registrar. The Go Daddy site itself was up, but Twitter users were complaining that numerous sites hosted by the company were inaccessible.

Go Daddy acknowledged "an outage."


Anonymous has previously criticized Go Daddy for cyber censorship due to its support of the Stop Online Piracy Act. Go Daddy's CEO has also been criticized for a much-publicized elephant hunt he went on in 2011.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Google Wants You ... Online, With a Free Website

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 11:34 AM


Google, indexer to trillions of web pages, is prepared to help Idaho small businesses negotiate Internet traffic. In order to assist more Gem State employers stake their own claim on the Web, the Mountain View, Calif., company is sending a team of Googlers to Boise Friday, July 13, to build free websites.

“It started with some research that we did this year that showed that in Idaho, 58 percent of small businesses don’t have a website,” said Scott Levitan, Google's director of small business engagement from his office in the Bay Area.

Google launched a national effort to help American businesses build websites, in partnership with Idaho's Small Business Development Center, and tech company Intuit. Levitan said companies without websites are missing out on new customers and sacrificing potential new revenue.

“$500 billion is spent on products researched online but purchased offline,” said Levitan.

According to the study, 97 percent of people look for local products and businesses online. Potential customers want access to information on hours, specials, directions and more, he said.

“If you’re looking to go somewhere, or something to eat, or having a plumbing disaster, you look online,” he said.

Yet business owners often shy away from the task of assembling their own website and purchasing domain space, he said, because of concerns that the process is expensive, difficult or time-consuming.

“It boils down to the perception that getting online is really hard, and if I editorialize a bit, it’s a little scary,” said Levitan. “We want to change the perception that getting online is hard.”

To do that, a team of 15 Google employees will make the trip to the Linen Building in Boise, armed with computers and website-building software. Local business owners are encouraged to build a free website, with a year’s worth of free hosting.

“We’ve had tens of thousands of businesses attend our workshops in person, but we’ve had close to 3 million people experience it online,” he said.

After the first year, hosting costs less than $10 per month, according to Levitan.

Idahoans can take advantage of the offer by attending the Google workshop Friday, July 13, between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., or at the Idaho Get Your Business Online website.

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