WhatsApp Rival Signal Reports Growing Pains as New Users Surge

Found on Bloomberg on Saturday, 09 January 2021
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Signal, an encrypted messaging app that competes with other services including Facebook’s WhatsApp, said Thursday that verification codes used to create new accounts were delayed because of a flood of new users.

The surge came just hours after Elon Musk endorsed the service and amid reported changes to WhatsApp’s terms of service.

Responsible people flee WhatsApp, the rest stays.

WhatsApp gives users an ultimatum: Share data with Facebook or stop using the app

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 07 January 2021
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WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messenger that claims to have privacy coded into its DNA, is giving its 2 billion plus users an ultimatum: agree to share their personal data with the social network or delete their accounts.

In 2016, WhatsApp gave users a one-time ability to opt out of having account data turned over to Facebook. Now, an updated privacy policy is changing that. Come next month, users will no longer have that choice.

Those who never ever used WhatsApp or Facebook however have no option to stomp them from using their personal data that's uploaded through the accounts of people which have them in their address books.

It's game over for FarmVille, as Flash also buys the farm

Found on CNet News on Friday, 01 January 2021
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Game developer Zynga announced in September it would shut down the game on Dec. 31, a victim of Adobe's decision to stop distributing and updating its Flash Player for web browsers, which in turn led Facebook to announce an end to support for Flash games on its platform.

It's so good to see that this piece of software disaster drags other disasters down with it too.

Amazon still hasn’t fixed its problem with bait-and-switch reviews

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 31 December 2020
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The manufacturer had tricked Amazon into displaying thousands of reviews for an unrelated product below its drone, helping the drone to unfairly rise to the top of Amazon's search results.

This kind of review bait-and-switch is not a new problem. More than two years ago, Buzzfeed's Nicole Nguyen wrote about other online sellers using the same scam. For example, she found that many of the five-star reviews for a highly-rated iPhone charging dock were actually reviews for a culinary torch.

As long as the false reviews generate more income for Amazon, they won't change it.

Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla ban Kazakhstan's MitM HTTPS certificate

Found on ZD Net on Tuesday, 22 December 2020
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The certificate had been in use since December 6, 2020, when Kazakh officials forced local internet service providers to block Nur-Sultan residents from accessing foreign sites unless they had a specific digital certificate issued by the government installed on their devices.

While users were able to access most foreign-hosted sites, access was blocked to sites like Google, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Netflix, unless they had the certificate installed.

Sorry, but snooping is not that easy.

Facing Massive Subscriber Defections AT&T Chooses: Rate Hikes & New, Bogus Fees

Found on Techdirt on Saturday, 19 December 2020
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Saddled by massive debt from its $200 billion Time Warner and DirecTV mergers in recent years, the company keeps deciding to recoup that debt from its subscribers in the form of relentless price hikes. That, in turn, has resulted in millions of subscribers heading for the exits.

Normally, a company hoping to make inroads in a sector like TV (traditional or streaming) would try and focus more on not pissing its subscribers off. But as a government pampered telecom monopoly unfamiliar with things like competition, this is all alien territory for many AT&T executives. So, relatively unsurprisingly, the company is imposing all manner of new rate hikes across its AT&T broadband, TV, and DirecTV service options.

Somehow it feels like this won't work out as smooth as AT&T hopes.


Found on The Verge on Monday, 07 December 2020
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Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s internet infrastructure service that is the backbone of many websites and apps, experienced a multi-hour outage on Wednesday that affected a large portion of the internet. The service has been nearly fully restored as of 4:18AM ET on Thursday morning, according to Amazon.

In an email to The Verge on Wednesday, Amazon noted that the issues are only affecting one of its 23 geographic AWS regions. But the problem was significant enough to take out a large number of internet services.

Here's (again) your regular reminder that going into the cloud does not imply more reliability.

Social media companies all starting to look the same

Found on Axios on Sunday, 06 December 2020
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Snapchat on Monday launched Spotlight, a video tab within its app that, like TikTok, distributes videos based more on how popular they are than on who created them. Facebook in August launched its TikTok competitor, called Reels.

Not only that, but the content there also seems to be the same junk.

YouTube adds ads but won't pay all content-makers

Found on BBC News on Saturday, 28 November 2020
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The company currently shares ad revenue with video-makers who are enrolled in its partnership scheme, when it shows ads before or during their content.

Changes to its terms of service mean YouTube will not share the revenue from those ads with the video-makers.

"It's another policy change that seems likely to rankle with ordinary creators, who have often felt aggrieved that YouTube capitalises on their content without properly compensating them - or recognising their contribution to the success of the platform."

People will get annoyed and shift towards other sites. Yes, Youtube is big, but that does not mean it cannot get into troubles if it abuses its position.

Comcast to enforce 1.2TB data cap in entire 39-state territory in early 2021

Found on Ars Technica on Friday, 27 November 2020
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The unpopular policy was already enforced in most of Comcast's 39-state US territory over the past few years, and the upcoming expansion will for the first time bring the cap to every market in Comcast's territory.

Comcast provides no way for customers to independently verify the meter readings, and there's no government regulation of broadband-data meters to ensure their accuracy.

Customers can avoid overage charges by spending an extra $30 a month on unlimited data or $25 for the "xFi Complete" plan that includes unlimited data and the rental cost for Comcast's xFi gateway modem and router.

In the past, plans were called unlimited too until users took it serious. In a few years, today's unlimited plans will most likely see caps too.