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Spam

Amazon Marketplace Shoppers Slam the Spam (fortune.com) 83

Spammy follow-up email messages are turning off Amazon Marketplace shoppers. Shoppers who buy from Amazon's Marketplace typically like the convenience and prices. But many are also unhappy about the barrage of emails that sellers send them after the purchase, notes Fortune. It adds: Sellers deluge often inboxes with requests for product reviews, inquiries about how the process went, and sales pitches for more stuff. Considering the comments on social media, feedback from friends and family, and in posts in Amazon.com's customer service forum over the past two years, this problem is not getting any better. There appears to be no way to opt out of this email flood, which is odd, given Amazon's self-professed zeal for great customer service. One shopper in Amazon's customer forum thread posted a response from an Amazon service representative that apologized for the notifications and noted that the feedback had been forwarded to the company's "investigations team."
Crime

Saudi Arabian Teen Arrested For Online Videos With American Blogger (theguardian.com) 183

Mazin Sidahmed and Nicky Woolf, reporting for The Guardian: A male Saudi Arabian teenager has been arrested in Riyadh over a series of online videos of conversations between him and a female Californian streaming-video star that went viral. A Riyadh police spokesperson, Colonel Fawaz Al-Mayman, said the teenager, known online as Abu Sin, was arrested on Sunday for engaging in "unethical behaviour" in videos with Christina Crockett, a popular broadcaster on the conversational live-streaming site YouNow. Abu Sin's real name is not known. "His videos received many comments and many of the commenters of the general public demanded for him to be punished for his actions," Al-Maymann added, according to the Saudi Gazette. The two amassed thousands of fans on the YouNow network, and later on YouTube after videos of the two speaking were uploaded there. The videos featured Abu Sin -- a nickname given to him for his broken teeth -- and Crockett communicating despite their significant language barriers. The popularity of the videos of the two of them surprised Crockett, she told the Guardian in an interview. As a broadcaster on YouNow, she can invite her fans to join her broadcasts on split-screen, which is known as "guesting."
Facebook

Facebook at Work To Report For Duty Next Month (fortune.com) 83

The debut of the long-awaited business social network is nigh. Facebook at Work is about to report for duty. The social networking company's long-awaited foray into business applications will formally debut in London on October 10, according to tech site TechCrunch. From a report:The news site further noted this would be Facebook's first major product launch to take place outside the United States. Thus far, Facebook is seen as a fun-and-games site, not something corporate employees use to converse or track each other. But Facebook at Work, a business-minded operation, could help change that image. As has been reported, it will be a separate version of the network that can be accessed only from a company's internal IT systems, and in theory, subject to stricter corporate security and access rules. Personal accounts will be cordoned off.
Businesses

Microsoft Is Killing Yammer Enterprise in January 2017, Will Start Integrating Office 365 Groups First (venturebeat.com) 44

Microsoft today provided new information about how it will be integrating Office 365 Groups into its Yammer enterprise-focused social network. The Yammer Enterprise service tier will be going away on January 1, 2017. But Yammer itself will remain available, and there are many levels of integration with the Office 365 services, reports VentureBeat. From the report: It will be possible for people to make Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents using Office Online within Yammer, and it will be easy to go from Yammer to a shared OneNote notebook or the Microsoft Planner project management tool. Team members will be able to select existing files from OneDrive and SharePoint and share them with colleagues in Yammer, too. And Yammer teams will get their own SharePoint sites, enabling them to build wikis and blogs. Microsoft will be rolling out the integration in phases, with the first phase beginning later this year, the Yammer team said in a blog post. The first Yammer customers to get it are those whose users log in with their Office 365 identity. And Microsoft will initially be targeting organizations with a single Yammer network connected to one Office 365 tenant.
Privacy

Facebook Told To Stop Taking Data From German WhatsApp Users (bloomberg.com) 38

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: Facebook, already under scrutiny in the U.S. and the European Union for revisions to privacy policies for its WhatsApp messaging service, was ordered by Hamburg's privacy watchdog to stop processing data of German users of the chat service. In a renewed clash with the social-network operator, Johannes Caspar, one of Germany's most outspoken data protection commissioners, ordered Facebook to delete any data it already has. The news comes as EU privacy regulators, who previously expressed concerns about the policy shift, meet in Brussels to discuss their position. There's no legal basis for Facebook to use information of WhatsApp customers, Caspar said Tuesday. "This order protects the data of about 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany," Caspar said. "It has to be their decision as to whether they want to connect their account with Facebook. Therefore, Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened."
Piracy

YouTube-MP3 Ripping Site Sued By IFPI, RIAA and BPI (torrentfreak.com) 308

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Two weeks ago, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry published research which claimed that half of 16 to 24-year-olds use stream-ripping tools to copy music from sites like YouTube. The industry group said that the problem of stream-ripping has become so serious that in volume terms it had overtaken downloading from 'pirate' sites. Given today's breaking news, the timing of the report was no coincidence. Earlier today in a California District Court, a huge coalition of recording labels sued the world's largest YouTube ripping site. UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, Arista Records, Atlantic Records and several others claim that YouTube-MP3 (YTMP3), owner Philip Matesanz, and Does 1-10 have infringed their rights. The labels allege that YouTube-MP3 is one of the most popular sites in the entire world and as a result its owner, German-based company PMD Technologies UG, is profiting handsomely from their intellectual property. YouTube-MP3 is being sued for direct, contributory, vicarious and inducement of copyright infringement, plus circumvention of technological measures. Among other things, the labels are also demanding a preliminary and permanent injunction forbidding the Defendants from further infringing their rights. They also want YouTube-MP3's domain name to be surrendered. "YTMP3 rapidly and seamlessly removes the audio tracks contained in videos streamed from YouTube that YTMP3's users access, converts those audio tracks to an MP3 format, copies and stores them on YTMP3's servers, and then distributes copies of the MP3 audio files from its servers to its users in the United States, enabling its users to download those MP3 files to their computers, tablets, or smartphones," the complaint reads. "Defendants are depriving Plaintiffs and their recording artists of the fruits of their labor, Defendants are profiting from the operation of the YTMP3 website. Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the YTMP3 website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants," the labels add.
Security

As We Speak, Teen Social Site Is Leaking Millions Of Plaintext Passwords (arstechnica.com) 126

Dan Goodin, reporting for ArsTechnica: A social hangout website for teenage girls has sprung a leak that's exposing plaintext passwords protecting as many as 5.5 million user accounts. As this post went live, all attempts to get the leak plugged had failed. Operators of i-Dressup didn't respond to messages sent by Ars informing them that a hacker has already downloaded more than 2.2 million of the improperly stored account credentials. The hacker said it took him about three weeks to obtain the cache and that there's nothing stopping him or others from downloading the entire database of slightly more than 5.5 million entries. The hacker said he acquired the e-mail addresses and passwords by using a SQL injection attack that exploited vulnerabilities in the i-Dressup website. The hacker provided the 2.2 million account credentials both to Ars and breach notification service Have I Been Pwned?. By plugging randomly selected e-mail addresses into the forgotten password section of i-Dressup, both Ars and Have I Been Pwned? principal Troy Hunt found that they all were used to register accounts on the site. Ars then used the contact us page on i-Dressup to privately notify operators of the vulnerability, but more than five days later, no one has responded and the bug remains unfixed.
Media

Snapchat's 10-Second-Video Glasses Are Real And Cost $130 Bucks (techcrunch.com) 92

Long-time Slashdot reader bheerssen writes that Snapchat "announced a new product yesterday, Spectacles, which are sunglasses with a camera built into the frame." TechCrunch reports: Snapchat's long-rumored camera glasses are actually real. The startup's first foray into hardware will be a pair of glasses called "Spectacles" and will go on sale this fall for $129.99, according to the WSJ... To start recording you tap a button on the side of the glasses. Video capture will mimic Snapchat's app, meaning you can only capture 10 seconds of video at once. This video will sync wirelessly to your phone, presumably making it available to share as a snap.
The cameras will be using a circular 115-degree lens to mimic the human eye's natural field of vision, and in the Journal's article, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel remembers his first test of the product in 2015. "I could see my own memory, through my own eyes -- it was unbelievable... It was the closest I'd ever come to feeling like I was there again." The camera glasses will enter "limited distribution" sometime within the next three months, which TechCrunch believes "could end up being like Google Glass when it first launched -- officially on sale to the public but pretty hard to come by."
Government

From Bicycles To Washing Machines: Sweden To Give Tax Breaks For Repairs (mnn.com) 146

jenningsthecat writes: The Swedish government is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to encouraging the repair of stuff that would otherwise be thrown away, according to both The Guardian and Fast Company. The country's Social Democrat and Green party coalition have submitted proposals to Parliament that would reduce the value-added-tax (VAT) on bicycle, clothing, and shoe repairs from 25% to 12%. Also proposed is an income tax deduction equalling half the labor cost of repairing household appliances. According to The Guardian, "the incentives are part of a shift in government focus from reducing carbon emissions produced domestically to reducing emissions tied to goods produced elsewhere." Per Bolund, Sweden's Minister for Financial Markets and Consumer Affairs, said the policy also tied in with international trends around reduced consumption and crafts, such as the "maker movement" and the sharing economy, both of which have strong followings in Sweden. The VAT cut may create more jobs for immigrants as it could spur the creation of a new home-repairs service industry. Also, from a science standpoint, the incentives could help cut the cost of carbon emissions on the planet as it should in theory reduce emissions linked to consumption. "I believe there is a shift in view in Sweden at the moment. There is an increased knowledge that we need to make our things last longer in order to reduce materials' consumption," Bolund said. The Guardian's report concludes: "The proposals will be presented in parliament as part of the government's budget proposals and if voted through in December will become law from January 1, 2017."
Facebook

Indian Students Score a Partial Win in Facebook Privacy Dispute (bloomberg.com) 47

WhatsApp announced last month that it would stop begin sharing some of users' information -- phone number, contact information of people in your address book etc -- with Facebook. Two Indian students last month expressed their concern over this, adding that WhatsApp was "severely" compromising their privacy and those of other billion plus users, and that it was reneging from its original promise. They approached Delhi High Court, and after hearing from everyone, the bench of chief justice told WhatsApp that it must delete data of users who are opt out of privacy policy changes before September 25. Bloomberg adds: The Delhi High Court on Friday ruled that WhatsApp has to delete all data on users who choose to stop using the service before Sept. 25, when the new policy takes effect. Also, it can only share data collected after that date. However, going forward, WhatsApp is free to share information on users who haven't opted out. The court also asked India's government to consider if it was feasible to craft regulations to oversee WhatsApp and other messaging apps, though it didn't specify what form they could take.
Microsoft

Salesforce, Google, Microsoft, Verizon Are In Talks With Twitter For a Potential Acquisition (cnbc.com) 65

Twitter is in conversation with a number of tech companies for a potential sale. The social company is in talks with Google and cloud computing company Salesforce (which also wanted to purchase LinkedIn), and may receive a formal offer soon, reports CNBC. TechCrunch corroborating on the report adds that Microsoft and Verizon are also in talks, albeit separately, with Twitter for the same. From CNBC report: Shares of Twitter were up 20 percent Friday. Twitter's board of directors is said to be largely desirous of a deal, according to people close to the situation, but no sale is imminent. There's no assurance a deal will materialize, but one source close to the conversations said that they are picking up momentum and could result in a deal before year-end. Suitors are said to be interested as much in the data that Twitter generates as its place as a media company.
Facebook

Facebook Inflated Video Viewing Stats For Two Years (cnet.com) 49

Facebook has admitted inflating the average time people spend watching videos for two years by failing to count people who watched for less than three seconds. CNET reports: The metric was artificially inflated because it only counted videos as viewed if they had been seen for three or more seconds, not taking into account shorter views, the company revealed several weeks ago in a post on its advertiser help center web page. Facebook has been putting a greater emphasis on video in recent years, particularly live video. In March, Facebook began giving anyone with a phone and internet connection an easy way to broadcast live video to the 1.7 billion people who use its service every day.
Republicans

Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey Is Secretly Funding Trump's Meme Machine (thedailybeast.com) 852

The founder of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, has backed a pro-Trump political organization called Nimble America that is dedicated to "shitposting" and spreading inflammatory memes about Hillary Clinton. In 2014, Luckey's virtual-reality company, Oculus, was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. Forbes estimates his current net worth to be $700 million. The Daily Beast reports: "The 24-year-old told The Daily Beast that he had used the pseudonym "NimbleRichMan" on Reddit with a password given to him by the organization's founders. Nimble America says it's dedicated to providing that "shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real," according to the company's introductory statement, and has taken credit for a billboard its founders say was posted outside of Pittsburgh with a cartoonishly large image of Clinton's face alongside the words "Too Big to Jail." "We conquered Reddit and drive narrative on social media, conquered the [mainstream media], now it's time to get our most delicious memes in front of Americans whether they like it or not," a representative for the group wrote in an introductory post on Reddit. Potential donors from Donald Trump's biggest online community -- Reddit's r/The_Donald, where one of the rules is "no dissenters" -- turned on the organization this weekend, refusing to believe "NimbleRichMan" was the anonymous "near-billionaire" he claimed to be and causing a rift on one of the alt-right's most powerful organizational tools. Luckey insists he's just the group's money man -- a wealthy booster who thought the meddlesome idea was funny. But he is also listed as the vice-president of the group on its website. In another post written under Luckey's Reddit pseudonym, Luckey echoes Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire who used his wealth to secretly bankroll Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker. The Daily Beast adds: "'The American Revolution was funded by wealthy individuals," NimbleRichMan wrote on Saturday. Luckey confirmed to The Daily Beast he penned the posts under his Reddit pseudonym. 'The same has been true of many movements for freedom in history. You can't fight the American elite without serious firepower. They will outspend you and destroy you by any and all means.'"
Network

Reddit Brings Down North Korea's Entire Internet (mirror.co.uk) 137

After a North Korean system administrator misconfigured its nameserver allowing anyone to query it and get the list of the domains that exist for .kp, it was revealed that the secretive country only has 28 websites. That's 28 websites for a country with nearly 25 million people. Naturally, the story was published all across the web, including on Reddit, which resulted in a high number of users visiting North Korea's websites. Mirror.co.uk reports: When a list of North Korea's available websites was posted on Reddit, the surge of visitors to the reclusive state's online offering overloaded the servers. North Korea runs a completely locked-down version of the internet that consists of only 28 "websites" that the population is allowed to view. However, a technical slip-up allowed a GitHub user to work their way into the country's computer network and view the websites from the outside. As the GitHub user puts it: "One of North Korea's top level name servers was accidentally configured to allow global [Domain Name System] transfers. This allows anyone who performs [a zone transfer request] to the country's ns2.kptc.kp name server to get a copy of the nation's top level DNS data." Pretty soon, links to all the websites were posted on Reddit, where thousands of visitors took the opportunity to see what the web looks like from Pyongyang. Reddit's surge of traffic isn't the first time North Korea's internet has been knocked out. In 2014, the country suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that was believed to have originated from the U.S. Redditor BaconBakin points out that while North Korea has 28 websites, GTA V has 83 websites. They added, "I think it's safe to say that San Andreas is more technologically advanced than North Korea."
Education

Kindergarteners Today Get Little Time To Play, and It's Stunting Their Development (qz.com) 228

Christopher Brown Associate professor, University of Texas at Austin, writes:Researchers have demonstrated that five-year-olds are spending more time engaged in teacher-led academic learning activities than play-based learning opportunities that facilitate child-initiated investigations and foster social development among peers.During his research and investigation, Brown found that a typical kindergarten classroom sees kids and one teacher with them almost the entire school day. During this period, they engage in about 15 different academic activities, which include "decoding word drills, practicing sight words, reading to themselves and then to a buddy, counting up to 100 by ones, fives and tens, practicing simple addition, counting money, completing science activities about living things, and writing in journals on multiple occasions." Recess did not occur until the last hour of the day, and only lasted for about 15 minutes. He adds:For children between the ages of five and six, this is a tremendous amount of work. Teachers too are under pressure to cover the material. When I asked the teacher, who I interviewed for the short film, why she covered so much material in a few hours, she stated, "There's pressure on me and the kids to perform at a higher level academically." So even though the teacher admitted that the workload on kindergartners was an awful lot, she also said she was unable to do anything about changing it.
Twitter

Twitter No Longer Counts Photos, GIFs, Videos Toward 140-Character Limit (adweek.com) 29

Twitter is finally relaxing its 140-character limit. The company announced today that it will now don't count things like emojis, images against the 140-character limit. Adding quotes, polls, videos will also no longer reduce your characters. From a report on Adweek: The moves don't come as a huge surprise. In May, the company revealed that such changes were likely forthcoming. At any rate, with video and GIFs becoming increasingly important to the social channel, the developments make sense. Social media marketers, no doubt, will enjoy the extra freedom as they try to get their points across to potential customers. "With long-form content on the rise, businesses who can take advantage of Twitter's new offering stand poised to create deep, meaningful communities," said Rod Favaron, Spredfast CEO.
Transportation

Uber Accused of Cashing In On Bomb Explosion By Jacking Rates (thesun.co.uk) 428

After a bomb exploded in Manhattan, leaving 29 injured, people leaving the scene discovered Uber had doubled their fares. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Sun: Traumatized families caught up in the New York bomb blast have accused Uber of cashing in on the tragedy by charging almost double to take them home. Furious passengers have taken to social media to slam the taxi firm in the wake of the blast... Uber reportedly charged between 1.4 and 3 times the standard fare with one city worker saying he had to pay twice as much as usual. Mortgage broker Nick Lalli said: "Just trying to get home from the city and Uber f****** doubled the surge price."
"Demand is off the charts!" the app informed its users, adding "Fares have increased to get more Ubers on the road." Uber soon tweeted that they'd deactivated their surge pricing algorithm for the affected area in Chelsea, "but passengers in other areas of Manhattan said they were still being charged higher than normal fares." One of the affected passengers was Michael Cohen, who is Donald Trump's lawyer, who tweeted that Uber was "taking total advantage of chaos and surcharging passengers 1.4 to 1.8 times." And another Uber user tweeted "I'm disgusted. People are trying to get home safe. Shame on you #DeleteApp."
Medicine

Vanity Fair Blames The Failure of Theranos On Silicon Valley (vanityfair.com) 128

"I was only a day or two behind FBI agents who were trying to put together a time line of what Elizabeh Holmes knew and when she knew it," writes Vanity Fair, in what Slashdot reader PvtVoid describes as "a compelling story of hubris, glamour and secrecy about the unicorn Silicon Valley company that turned out to be founded on bullshit." Another anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Holmes raised $700 million "on the condition that she would not divulge to investors how her technology actually worked," according to an article detailing how Silicon Valley can "replicate one big confidence game in which entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and the tech media pretend to vet one another while, in reality, functioning as cogs in a machine that is designed to not question anything -- and buoy one another all along the way... In the end, it isn't in anyone's interest to call bullshit."

Theranos employed "hundreds of marketers, salespeople, communications specialists, and even the Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris," as well as a chief scientist who eventually became suicidal. But then the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services "discovered that some of the tests Theranos was performing were so inaccurate that they could leave patients at risk of internal bleeding, or of stroke among those prone to blood clots." A reporter at the Wall Street Journal says "It's O.K. if you've got a smartphone app or a social network, and you go live with it before it's ready; people aren't going to die. But with medicine, it's different."

He became suspicious after reading the answer that the company's CEO, a Stanford dropout, supplied for a question about their technology. "A chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel."
The Almighty Buck

Religion In US 'Worth More Than Google and Apple Combined' (theguardian.com) 539

A new study says religion in the United States is worth $1.2 trillion per year. Not only is that equivalent to the 15th largest national economy in the world, but it's more than the combined revenues of the top 10 technology companies in the U.S., including Apple, Amazon and Google. The study, "The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion To American Society: An Empirical Analysis," was conducted by Brian J. Grim from Georgetown University and Melissa E. Grim from Newseum Institute. The Guardian reports: The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis calculated the $1.2 trillion figure by estimating the value of religious institutions, including healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programs; and staff and overheads for congregations. Co-author Brian Grim said it was a conservative estimate. More than 344,000 congregations across the U.S. collectively employ hundreds of thousands of staff and buy billions of dollars worth of goods and services. More than 150 million Americans, almost half the population, are members of faith congregations, according to the report. Although numbers are declining, the sums spent by religious organizations on social programs have tripled in the past 15 years, to $9 billion. The report points to analysis by the Pew Research Center which shows that two-thirds of highly religious adults had donated money, time or goods to the poor in the previous week, compared with 41% of adults who said they were not highly religious. The analysis didn't account for the value of financial or physical assets held by religious groups, or for "the negative impacts that occur in some religious communities, including [...] such things as the abuse of children by some clergy, cases of fraud, and the possibility of being recruitment sites for violent extremism."
Privacy

A Woman Is Suing Her Parents For Posting Embarrassing Childhood Photos To Facebook 412

Earlier this year, we ran a story which talked about how a parent could be sued by their kids for posting their photos on Facebook. Over the past two years, we have seen several such cases, and now we have another one. From a report on NYMag:An 18-year-old woman in Carinthia, Austria, is suing her parents over the 500-odd childhood photos they've posted of her on Facebook without her consent. "They knew no shame and no limit and didn't care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot -- every stage was photographed and then made public," she told The Local, an English-language Austrian newspaper. She went on, "I'm tired of not being taken seriously by my parents," who, despite her requests, have refused to take the photos down. The woman's father reportedly believes he's in the right to post the pictures because he took them. But her lawyer is adamant that if he can prove the photos violated the woman's right to privacy, her parents could be forced to pay damages and legal fees.

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