Less than a month to go before Google breaks hundreds of thousands of links all over the Internet

Found on Philip Greenspun’s Weblog on Monday, 11 March 2019
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Google purchased Picasa, a super efficient photo editor that offered seamless integration with online publishing (e.g., you add a photo to an album on your desktop computer and it automatically gets pushed to the online version of the album).

It was so easy to publish the photos via Picasa that I just linked to the photo album from the HTML page. Now I will have to move the photos somewhere else, edit the HTML file, git push, git pull, etc. Then repeat for every other blog posting and web page that links to a Picasa-created album.

So, in other words, someone is annoyed because a free service ends and his "cloud gallery" vanishes. Just learn from it and do not trust the cloud to be there forever; if you want to have control over your data, take care of it yourself. Maybe some people will learn this valueable lesson with Picasa going down.

800+ Million Emails Leaked Online by Email Verification Service

Found on Security Discovery on Friday, 08 March 2019
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On February 25th, 2019, I discovered a non-password protected 150GB-sized MongoDB instance. This is perhaps the biggest and most comprehensive email database I have ever reported.

In addition to the email databases this unprotected Mongo instance it also uncovered details on the possible owner of the database – a company named ‘Verifications.io’ – which offered the services of ‘Enterprise Email Validation’. Unfortunately, it appears that once emails were uploaded for verification they were also stored in plain text.

Verifications.io seems to be down and gone now. Nothing to be sad about, because it looks like all they did was to spam the submitted email address with pointless mails to filter out those which are dead. So, more like a tool for spammers than for legit business people.

Zuckerberg: Facebook will shift focus to private networks instead of open ones

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 07 March 2019
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On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a more-than-3,000-word blog post that seems to declare a major shift in Facebook's strategy. In it, he says he believes that "a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today's open platforms."

Zuckerberg has announced privacy initiatives in the past, but then not delivered on them. This lengthy blog post guarantees nothing but the start of a new phase of the conversation.

It's just another one of his lies; don't fall for it. He will still use every information about you.

French tax on internet giants could yield 500 million euros per year: Le Maire

Found on Reuters on Monday, 04 March 2019
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Le Maire told Le Parisien newspaper the tax is aimed at companies with worldwide digital revenue of at least 750 million and French revenue of more than 25 million euros.

The paper listed Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (the four so-called “GAFA” companies) but also Uber, Airbnb, Booking and French online advertising specialist Criteo as targets.

How about making them pay the current taxes first, for a start?

Facebook Finally Shuts Down Its Snooping, Bullshit 'VPN' After A Full Year Of Complaints

Found on Techdirt on Saturday, 02 March 2019
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Just about a year ago we noted how Facebook was taking some heat on the security and privacy fronts for pitching a "privacy protecting" VPN to consumers that actually violated consumer privacy.

A wide variety of different news outlets were quick to point out that Facebook was actually using the "privacy" app to track users around the internet when they wandered away from Facebook, then using that data to its own competitive advantage.

Facebook continued to market and push the VPN as a privacy tool while undermining the whole point of said privacy tool.

Facebook and privacy are mutually exclusive. It will use every method, no matter how immoral and unethical, to collect data about everybody; because that is its core business.

YouTube Will Disable Comments on Nearly All Videos With Kids

Found on Variety on Friday, 01 March 2019
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YouTube said in a blog post Thursday that over the past week it had already shut off comments for “tens of millions of videos” that could be subject to predatory behavior. Now, it will expand that to suspend comments on virtually all videos featuring young minors, as well as videos featuring older kids that “could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior.”

That's a quite nuclear reaction for what appears to be a rather small issue.

Pinstagram? Instagram code reveals Public Collections feature

Found on Techcrunch on Saturday, 23 February 2019
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Code buried in Instagram for Android shows the company has prototyped an option to create public “Collections” to which multiple users can contribute.

People could use the feature to bundle together their favorite memes, travel destinations, fashion items or art.

Pinterest is one of the worst and most useless websites.

YouTube removes ads from anti-vaccination video channels

Found on CNet News on Friday, 22 February 2019
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The move comes after some marketers pulled ads from the platform because they didn't know they were appearing with videos that discourage vaccinations.

"We have strict policies that govern what videos we allow ads to appear on, and videos that promote anti-vaccination content are a violation of those policies," a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement. "We enforce these policies vigorously, and if we find a video that violates them, we immediately take action and remove ads."

It's their platform, sure, but moves like this should raise the question where to draw the line between "good and bad" content. While in the vast majority of cases vaccination is perfectly fine, there are a few borderline cases where it can be risky and as long as the information is presented in a well-researched manner there shouldn't be a problem with it.

Facebook uses its apps to track users it thinks could threaten employees and offices

Found on CNBC on Saturday, 16 February 2019
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Several of the former employees questioned the ethics of Facebook's security strategies, with one of them calling the tactics "very Big Brother-esque."

Facebook notifies its security professionals anytime a new person is added to the BOLO list, sending out a report that includes information about the person, such as their name, photo, their general location and a short description of why they were added.

Users who publicly threaten the company, its offices or employees — including posting threatening comments in response to posts from executives like CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg — are often added to the list.

Facebook has the capability to track BOLO users' whereabouts by using their smartphone's location data collected through the Facebook app, or their IP address collected through the company's website.

That does not sound "Big Brother-esque"; that is much more cult-esque like Scientology. Not to mention that tracking users like that might be very well illegal too. This is just another good reason not to use them and avoid Facebook like the plague.

Google hired microworkers to train its controversial Project Maven AI

Found on The Verge on Tuesday, 05 February 2019
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The workers were hired through a crowdsourcing gig company outfit called Figure Eight, which pays as little at $1 an hour for people to perform short, seemingly mindless tasks.

By employing these crowdsourced microworkers, Google was able to use them to teach the algorithms it was running how to distinguish between human targets and surrounding objects.

At least they get paid; millions others who train Google products via recaptcha don't see a single cent.