Facebook

Seeing Beyond The Hubris Of Facebook's Free Basics Fiasco (techcrunch.com) 83

Facebook's Free Basics was an ill-conceived effort to bring Internet access to the poor in India. It created a walled garden in which Facebook and the Indian telecom providers selected which websites people could visit. The users of Free Basics would find that Facebook was the center of their virtual universe and would experience only what it allowed them to.

The Free Basics project originated from an idea that Zuckerberg had about connecting the next 5 billion people. He documented this in a paper titled Is Connectivity A Human Right? He wrote that in the U.S. "an iPhone with a typical two-year data plan costs about $2,000, where about $500-600 of that is the phone and $1,500 is the data." What Zuckerberg and his U.S. team didn't understand was that in India you can buy computer tablets and smartphones for as little as $50, and that 100MB of data -- which is more than a Free Basics user will consume in a month -- costs much less than a dollar. So the entire basis of the paper was flawed.
Social Networks

French Court Rules That Facebook Can Now Be Sued in France (thestack.com) 136

An anonymous reader writes: A Paris court of appeal has ruled in favor of a French complainant whose account was suspended, because he linked to an image of the 1866 Gustav Courbet nude 'L'Origine du monde', currently residing at the Musee d'Orsay. The appeals court not only agreed that the user's suspension by Facebook constitutes censorship, but the ruling itself negates Facebook's insistence that all legal challenges take place in its native California.
Censorship

Indonesia Moves To Ban Same-Sex Emojis On Messaging Apps (thestack.com) 338

An anonymous reader writes: The Indonesian government has this week demanded that instant messaging apps available in the country remove all same-sex emoticons from their platforms, or face heavy sanctions. While homosexuality is not illegal in the country, it remains a controversial issue in the Muslim-dominated country. Now in the latest effort to crackdown on gay rights, Indonesian authorities want to ban emojis, stickers and emoticons which depict same-sex couples, the rainbow flag, and any symbol that symbolises the lesbian, bay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Apps that have been targeted by the demands include the popular Asian messaging app LINE, Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter. The Indonesian Communication and Information Ministry added that a particular concern was that children would find the bright coloured stickers appealing.
Facebook

France Launches Second Salvo Against Facebook (liberation.fr) 84

Eunuchswear writes: After Mondays decision by the French CNIL (National Center for Computers and Freedom) that Facebook must stop tracking non-users, the DGCCRF (General Direction for Competition, Consumption and Repression of Fraud), has ruled that Facebooks terms of use are abusive and must be changed within 60 days." The linked story is in French, but for those of us who don't speak the language, Google translate works. Here's the DGCCRF's Facebook page.
Networking

Facebook Developing Radio Wave Mesh To Connect Offline Areas (thestack.com) 44

An anonymous reader writes: As part of its wider Internet.org initiative to deliver connectivity to poor and rural communities, Facebook is actively developing a new network technology which uses millimetre wave bands to transmit data. Facebook engineer Sanjai Kohli filed two patents which outlined a 'next generation' data system, which would make use of millimetre wave technology deployed as mesh networks. Kohli's patents detailed a type of centralised, cloud-based routing system which 'dynamically adjusts route and frequency channel assignments, transmit power, modulation, coding, and symbol rate to maximize network capacity and probability of packet delivery, rather than trying to maximize the capacity of any one link.'
Facebook

French Gov't Gives Facebook 3 Months To Stop Tracking Non-User Browsers 176

Reader iamthecheese writes RT reports that France's National Commission of Information and Freedoms found Facebook tracking of non-user browsers to be illegal. Facebook has three months to stop doing it. The ruling points to violations of members and non-members privacy in violation of an earlier ruling. The guidance, published last October, invalidates safe harbor provisions. If Facebook fails to comply the French authority will appoint someone to decide upon a sanction. Related: A copy of the TPP leaked last year no longer requires signing countries to have a safe harbor provision.
Facebook

Why Facebook Really Shut Down Parse (medium.com) 39

New submitter isisilik writes: For those working in the 'aaS' business the Parse shutdown was the main topic of conversation this weekend. So why did Facebook decide to shut down their developer platform? The author claims that Facebook never wanted to host apps to begin with, they just wanted developers to use Facebook login. And he builds up a good case.
The Internet

India Blocks Facebook's Free Basics Internet Service (thestack.com) 133

An anonymous reader writes: India's leading telecom regulator, TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), has today voted against differential pricing, ruling with immediate effect that all data prices must be equal, and that companies cannot offer cheaper rates than others for certain content. The call is a significant blow to Facebook's Free Basics (previously Internet.org) initiative and Airtel Zero – projects which work to make internet access more accessible by providing a free range of "basic" services. The watchdog confirmed that providers would no longer be able to charge for data based on discriminatory tariffs but instead that pricing must be "content agnostic." It added that fines of Rs. 50,000 – 50 Lakh would be enforced should the regulations be violated.
Social Networks

Facebook Knocks "Six Degrees of Separation" Down a Few Notches (i-programmer.info) 89

mikejuk writes: Six degrees of separation is the, already well established, idea that any individual is connected to any other via six network nodes. New research has discovered that the average between Facebook users is just three and a half: "We know that people are more connected today than ever before. Over the past five years, the global Facebook community has more than doubled in size. Today we're announcing that during that same time period, the degrees of separation between a typical pair of Facebook users has continued to decrease to 3.57 degrees, down from 3.74 degrees in 2011. This is a significant reflection of how closely connected the world has become." This may all be true and Facebook makes us better connected, but it leaves the question of the quality of the connections open. Are Facebook friends anything like real friends?
Facebook

Study Finds Sleep Deprivation Increases Compulsive Facebook Usage (thestack.com) 50

An anonymous reader writes: A study at UC Irvine has taken a reverse approach to the customary interest in the relationship between technology and tiredness, finding that people who make themselves tired through excessive use of social media such as Facebook are considerably more likely to continue compulsive use of it and deepen their exhaustion. Lead researcher Gloria Mark says "If you're being distracted, what do you do? You go to Facebook. It's lightweight, it's easy, and you're tired."
Businesses

GitHub Is Undergoing a Full-Blown Overhaul As Execs and Employees Depart (businessinsider.com) 273

mattydread23 writes: This is what happens when hot startups grow up. [GitHub] CEO Chris Wanstrath is imposing management structure where there wasn't much before, and execs are departing, partly because the company is cracking down on remote work. It's a lot like Facebook in 2009. Business Insider has the full inside story based on multiple sources in and close to the company.
Facebook

Facebook Celebrates Turning 12 Today (cnbc.com) 153

12 years ago today, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, and since then the site has grown at a nearly unbelievable pace. Now, with about 1.6 billion monthly active users, Facebook makes an average of $3.73 in revenue per user worldwide. And as the company continues to grow, engagement is only getting higher. According to an analysis by CNBC, users spend an aggregate of 10.5 billion minutes per day on the social media platform -- that's around $3.5 trillion in squandered productivity, by their estimate. Facebook is celebrating its birthday by marking today "Friends Day" and adding personalized videos to each user's account showing their best moments with friends, or at least what Facebook's algorithms think are the best moments. (Users can opt to share the video or keep it private.) The company's also announced an updated degrees-of-separation metric to make it easier to connect with other users.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Acquire SwiftKey Predictive Keyboard Technology Company For $250M (hothardware.com) 118

MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
Cellphones

WhatsApp Will Get Indicators To Highlight Encrypted Chats (softpedia.com) 27

An anonymous reader writes: WhatsApp 3.0 will come with two privacy-related changes. The first is in the Security section and is in the form of a new setting called "Show security indicators." Turning on this setting will add a lock icon to your WhatsApp whenever you're having encrypted conversations. The second new setting is in the Account section, with the addition of a new option that says "Share my account info." This setting will send the user's WhatsApp data to Facebook servers "to improve [their] Facebook experiences."
Facebook

Facebook Expands Online Commerce Role, But Says "No Guns, Please" 191

The New York Times reports that Facebook's newly staked-out role as a site to facilitate local, person-to-person sales (ala Craigslist) has a new wrinkle: the site has announced a site-wide policy restricting firearms sales that applies to personal sales, though not to licensed dealers or gun clubs. According to the story, Although Facebook was not directly involved in gun sales, it has served as a forum for gun sales to be negotiated, without people having to undergo background checks. The social network, with 1.6 billion monthly visitors, had become one of the worldâ(TM)s largest marketplaces for guns and was increasingly evolving into an e-commerce site where it could facilitate transactions of goods. ... Facebook said it would rely on its vast network of users to report any violations of the new rules, and would remove any post that violated the policy. Beyond that, the company said it could ban users or severely limit the ways they post on Facebook, depending on the type and severity of past violations. If the company believed someoneâ(TM)s life was in danger, Facebook would work with law enforcement on the situation. The policy applies as well to private sales that occur using Facebook Messenger, though the company does not scan Messenger exchanges and must rely on user reports.
Crime

The Dark Arts: Meet the LulzSec Hackers (hackaday.com) 63

szczys writes: Reputations are earned. When a small group of hackers who were part of Anonymous learned they were being targeted for doxing (having their identities exposed) they went after the would-be doxxer's company, hard, taking down two of the company websites, the CEO's Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and even his World of Warcraft accounts. The process was fast, professional, and like nothing ever seen before. This was the foundation of Lulz Security and the birth of a reputation that makes LulzSec an important part of black hat history. Good companion piece and update to some of our earlier posts about the hack; that would-be doxxer was Aaron Barr.
Facebook

Facebook Is Shuttering the Parse Developer Platform (cio.com) 48

itwbennett writes: In a blog post yesterday, Facebook announced it is shutting down the Parse developer platform as of Jan. 28, 2017, giving developers a year to move off its hosted services. This comes as a bit of a surprise, considering that just last month, Parse launched a set of new tools to help developers work with Apple's watchOS and tvOS last, and at the time, Parse Product Manager Supratik Lahiri promised more updates in the future. Developers who don't want to rewrite their applications to work with a new back-end service provider can follow a migration guide from Parse to make their applications work with an independent MongoDB instance and a new open-source Parse Server that's running on Salesforce-owned developer platform provider Heroku.
Facebook

Facebook Introduces Emojis, Live Video (thestack.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has announced that it would roll out a new live video tool called Live, available immediately for US iPhone users, and expanding to the rest of the world and Android users over the next few weeks. It is also expanding the 'Like' button to a range of emojis called 'Reactions'. The 'Live' video service has had a limited testing group since December, according to Product Manager Vadim Lavrusik. Starting today, Facebook users can access the service through the existing Update Status tool, and can control the audience for the video before uploading. Facebook also announced that it will roll out an expansion of the 'Like' button to a range of emojis called 'Reactions'.The 'Like' function will now include emojis for Love, Sad, Angry, Happy and Wow. The emoji for 'Yay' was discarded after testing.
Technology

Creator of Minecraft Develops Experimental VR Project (roadtovr.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: Despite his on-again off-again relationship with VR headset maker Oculus, the creator of Minecraft, Markus "Notch" Persson, has developed an experimental virtual reality project that leverages WebVR technology to run directly within a browser using a Rift DK2 headset. Notch contributed $10,000 to Oculus' 2012 Kickstarter, and even traveled from Europe to visit the company in its early days. After Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of Oculus in 2014, his enthusiasm dwindled, saying "I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook." One month before selling his own company to Microsoft for a similar sum, he said he was "officially over being upset about Facebook buying Oculus."

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