International stories and articles from our Flipboard mag.

MAY
10

Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t.

BERKELEY, Calif. — Many people have grown accustomed to talking to their smart devices, asking them to read a text, play a song or set an alarm. But someone else might be secretly talking to them, too.

Over the last two years, researchers in China and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.

A group of students from University of California, Berkeley, and Georgetown University showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website.

This month, some of those Berkeley researchers published a research paper that went further, saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text. So while a human listener hears someone talking or an orchestra playing, Amazon’s Echo speaker might hear an instruction to add something to your shopping list.

“We wanted to see if we could make it even more stealthy,” said Nicholas Carlini, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in computer security at U.C. Berkeley and one of the paper’s authors.

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MAY
03

Facebook announces dating feature for meeting non-friends

Facebook is invading Tinder’s space with a new set of dating features. It will let people opt in to creating a dating profile on Facebook. It will only be visible to non-friends who also opted into dating. Facebook will match you by a slew of preferences. And because it has more data on you than any other app, it could deliver more relevant matches. The feature will start testing later this year.

Facebook explains that “potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends. They’ll have the option to discover others with similar interests through their Groups or Events.” TechCrunch suggested that Facebook build a feature like this in February.

Here’s how Facebook dating will work:

Opt in to a create a profile with just your first name. Your profile won’t be visible to friends, users who aren’t on the dating feature, and it won’t show up in the News Feed.You’ll browse Events in your city and Groups that match your interests. You can select to “unlock” one for dating. You’ll then see the profiles of other dating users who’ve unlocked that surface.You can browse through people’s profiles that show off a few of their photos plus some basic information about them. You’ll be shown people based on mutual interests and friends, plus other data Facebook has on you.If you both are interested, you’ll be able to start a conversation with someone in a special inbox that’s separate from Messenger and WhatsApp. For safety, only text can be sent for now.

Tons of marriages start on Facebook already, so there’s a big opportunity for the company to build long-term relationship-focused matching — opposed to apps like Tinder that focus on quick hookups. Investors clearly think Tinder is in danger, considering shares of its parent company Match Group fell 17 percent after Facebook announced its entry into dating.

Still, the question is whether Facebook has built enough barricades between its social network and new dating feature. Users might find it creepy to do it all in one app. And if they get burned by a bad experience either in the dating chat or offline, they could blame Facebook. Still, as Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox explained, dating was always a natural fit for Facebook thanks to its ubiquity, data and trusted platform for identity.

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MAY
01

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum quits over privacy disagreements with Facebook

The chief executive and co-founder of WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging app, is leaving the company over disagreements about privacy and encryption.

Jan Koum will also step down from Facebook’s board of directors, a role he negotiated when WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $19bn in 2014, according to the Washington Post.

“It’s been almost a decade since Brian [Acton] and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people. But it is time for me to move on,” wrote Koum on his Facebook profile.

“I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee. And I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside.”

Koum and his co-founder Brian Acton developed WhatsApp with a focus on user privacy and a disdain for advertising. When it was bought by Facebook, he promised users that these values wouldn’t be compromised.

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APR
30

Electronics-recycling innovator is going to prison for trying to extend computers' lives

Lundgren, 33, has become a renowned innovator in the field of electronic waste, or e-waste, using discarded parts to do things such as construct an electric car, which in a test far outdistanced a Tesla on a single charge. He built the first "electronic hybrid recycling" facility in the United States, which turns discarded cellphones and other electronics into functional devices, slowing the stream of harmful chemicals and metals contained in those devices into landfills and the environment. His Chatsworth company, IT Asset Partners, processes more than 41 million pounds of e-waste each year and counts IBM, Motorola and Sprint among its clients.

Original author: Washington
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APR
20

Logging in with Facebook may let Javascript trackers steal personal data

ChristopherSimon/GettyImagesUsing Facebook to login to certain websites may open you up to data theft attacks if those sites also employ particular Javascript trackers. Although the vast majority of sites that were found to contain the malicious trackers are relatively small operations, there are also quite a few that enjoy millions of regular visitors. Some of them are even in the top few hundred sites in the world for overall traffic.This news first came to light as part of a report from the Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy website, Freedom to Tinker. It highlighted that the vulnerability allowed third parties to piggyback the Facebook login process to scrape usernames, email addresses, age ranges, genders, relative locations, and possibly even profile photos, as per Engadget.In total the report cited seven different scripts that were collecting user data using the Facebook access system. Those scripts were found in 434 of the top one million websites as ranked by Alexa. Some sites have responded to the news by disabling and removing the offending scripts, though many others are still susceptible to this particular exploit.“Scraping Facebook user data is in direct violation of our policies,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to Engadget. “While we are investigating this issue, we have taken immediate action by suspending the ability to link unique user IDs for specific applications to individual Facebook profile pages, and are working to institute additional authentication and rate limiting for Facebook Login profile picture requests.”The report does suggest, however, that although Facebook could take steps to prevent this exploit from being viable — such as the previously announced anonymous login feature — that this problem was more of an indication of security problems in modern web standards, than Facebook’s own fault.Although the report authors admit that they don’t know how the scraped data is being used, this comes at a very poor time for Facebook. It is already embroiled in a scandal surrounding the harvesting of user data by companies like Cambridge Analytica, which purportedly used it for politically targeted adverts during a number of electoral campaigns over the past few years. Mark Zuckerberg even had to testify to Congress over the matter.With the impending implementation of the GDPR, reports like this do little to curb fears of Facebook security and handling of personal data.
Original author: Martindale
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APR
20

Google's plan to fix texting on Android is really about the death of SMS

Google finally has a plan to fix Android's texting problem.

This week, the company confirmed its long-rumored plan to improve messaging on Android and bring its features up to par with other popular messaging apps like Apple's iMessage.

Google being Google, though, the plan is much more complicated than simply improving its own Android Messages app (though that's certainly part of it). Instead, Google is beginning what will be a years-long effort to get carriers and phone makers to all agree to work together and commit to using the same standard for messaging, called Rich Communications Services (RCS).

That may sound like little more than the typical boring, behind-the-scenes negotiations that telecoms do all the time. But for anyone who uses an Android phone, this switch is actually a pretty big deal.

That's because the more modern RCS standard will ensure Android users access more advanced messaging features — think read receipts, stickers, GIFs, and everything else you expect a messaging app to be able to do in 2018 — in a much more consistent way.

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APR
19

Google employees want to teach you to code for free with their latest app

A bunch of Google employees participating in the company’s Area 120 internal incubator have launched Grasshopper, a free mobile app for Android and iOS that teaches you the basics of programming.

It’s beautifully designed and is suitable for just about anyone who can be trusted to use a phone on their own. By solving simple challenges and answering quiz questions, you’ll soon get the hang of basic JavaScript.

The gamified app, named after programming pioneer Grace Hopper, currently includes three sets of lessons, which cover the fundamentals of coding (calling functions, using variables and objects, and so on), as well as animations. The idea is to spend a few minutes a day with it, so you can have the app remind you to hop in daily and take on a few challenges.

When you’re done with the content in Grasshopper, you can move on to recommended Coursera classes to learn more about JavaScript, HTML, CSS, algorithms, and web design for a fee, or simply muck around in Grashopper’s online playground and make your own JS animations. Naturally, you can also explore alternatives for learning to code, such as the courses offered by edX and FreeCodeCamp.

I’ve been meaning to get back to coding for a while now, having ditched my chops when I graduated from high school. The app is fun and easy enough to get through a few challenges when you’re on a commute, and feels like a good alternative to scrolling through social media feeds mindlessly.

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APR
11

How to Completely Delete Facebook From Your Life

Image: Mashable, Isar Chang

If you're seriously considering deleting your Facebook account, you're not alone.

Start typing in the letters "dele" into Google and you'll see "delete Facebook account" as a top suggestion. Whether it's to alleviate privacy concerns or avoid digital distractions, more people are trying to figure out how to fully disconnect themselves from the social network giant that we live and breathe.

For those ready to call it quits, you're in for a surprise — it's more difficult than you think to erase yourself permanently. With its ever-changing privacy policies, becoming Facebook-free requires more steps than just hitting the delete button and saying goodbye.

Keep in mind deletion is not the same as deactivation. You can deactivate your account at any time, which means your Timeline and information will disappear from Facebook until you reactivate your account. When reactivated, your information is restored.

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APR
09

The biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is fake

The page, titled simply "Black Lives Matter," had almost 700,000 followers on Facebook, more than twice as many as the official Black Lives Matter page. It was tied to online fundraisers that brought in at least $100,000 that supposedly went to Black Lives Matter causes in the U.S. At least some of the money, however, was transferred to Australian bank accounts, CNN has learned.

Fundraising campaigns associated with the Facebook page were suspended by PayPal and Patreon after CNN contacted each of the companies for comment. Donorbox and Classy had already removed the campaigns.

The discovery raises new questions about the integrity of Facebook's platform and the content hosted there. In the run-up to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress this week, Facebook has announced plans to make the people running large pages verify their identity and location. But it's not clear that the change would affect this page: Facebook has not said what information about page owners it will disclose to the public -- and, presented with CNN's findings, Facebook initially said the page didn't violate its "Community Standards."

Only after almost a week of emails and calls between CNN and Facebook about this story did Facebook suspend the page, and then only because it had suspended a user account that administrated the page.

The discovery also raises questions about Facebook's commitment to change, and to policing its platform, even in the midst of its PR offensive leading up to Zuckerberg's testimony. Not for the first time, Facebook took action against a major bad actor on its site not on its own but because journalists made inquiries.

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APR
09

New Sprout Research Shows Keys to Creating Engaging Social Media Ads

The past few weeks and months have been dark times for social media networks, with every week bringing a new scandal that cast social media advertising in a negative light. It should come as little surprise that consumers have decreasing trust in the content and ads they see in social media, but recent research shows the damage isn't that bad. Furthermore, there there are things marketers can do to continue creating engaging social media content and ads.

Sprout Social recently released a study based on a survey of 1,000 social media users in the U.S. in March 2018. It showed that only 27 percent of people had a lower opinion of social media ads than they did one year ago. While this isn't good, it's clear that advertising can still use social platforms to reach their target audience with relevant messages.

The key here is that messages have to be relevant. When examining why people had a decreasing trust in social ads, only 39 percent of these consumers attributed their declined perception of social ads to recent political events. The top reason for the drop, cited by 58 percent of respondents, was simply seeing too many social ads overall. This means that the most important thing for marketers to do is create ads that stand out amongst a growing sea of advertising.

On social in general, Sprout research shows that video is one of the main formats people want to see from brands (83 percent). The report also gives extremely useful information about what motivates people to engage with content. According to Sprout, "entertainment is still the single best way to stop the scroll, with 41 percent of people reporting that entertaining content makes them more likely to engage with a social ad".

Being entertaining can be tricky, especially when speaking to a diverse audience. Thankfully, the tried and true method of offering a discount is almost just as effective, with 37 percent of the Sprout survey respondents saying they would engage with an ad that offered them a discount.

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APR
09

The Influencer Marketing Community Reacts to Instagram’s Sudden API Changes

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Original author: David
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APR
09

Teach kids creativity. Ultimately, machines will be better at coding

If you want to bring up a kid to be a successful investor or entrepreneur, the current education system says they should be studying STEM subjects, cramming facts and figures, and immersing themselves in coding class. I’ve spent my working life as an entrepreneur and investor – I’ve founded startups, and now invest across Europe for GV (the venture capital investment arm of Google) – but as a father, when I look at the way we’re educating our kids, I think there’s something missing.

Machines are already superintelligent on many axes, including memory and processing speed. Unfortunately, those are the attributes our education system currently rewards, with an emphasis on learning by rote.

It doesn’t make sense to me. Part of my job as an investor is to attempt to predict the future – I need to make bets on the way we’ll be behaving in the next two, five, ten and 20 years. Computers already store facts faster and better than we do, but struggle to perfect things we learn as toddlers, such as dexterity and walking.

We need to rethink the way we teach our children and the things we teach them. Creativity will be increasingly be the defining human talent. Our education system should emphasise the use of human imagination to spark original ideas and create new meaning. It’s the one thing machines won’t be able to do.

We should aim to teach our kids about the power of creativity in every area. Science and maths, which are often considered uncreative, have shaped human history with huge creative leaps. It was creativity that allowed Newton to discover gravity while observing a falling apple as he was thinking about the forces of nature.

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APR
09

PayPal turning into ‘virtual bank’ as it offers debit card & check deposits

PayPal is quietly rolling out basic banking services to some of its U.S. customers, which include a debit card and the ability to deposit checks – alongside the loans which were already available. For customers who accept, their PayPal balances also become protected by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) insurance.

Surprisingly, PayPal has found a way to do this without a U.S. banking license …

NordVPN

The WSJ reports that it has partnered with a number of licensed banks whose own branding remains hidden.

The FDIC doesn’t backstop funds stored at non-banks, and Visa and MasterCard only permit cards that run on their network to be issued by banks.

So the company turned to a hodgepodge of small banks that stay anonymous and behind the scenes. It cut deals with a Delaware bank to issue debit cards, a Georgia bank to deposit checks instantly after users take a photo of them and banks in Utah to make loans to consumers and small businesses.

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APR
07

Global cyberattack targets 200,000 network switches (updated)

Iran's report came shortly after Cisco's Talos research group warned that there had been "several incidents" around the world where "specific advanced actors" had targeted its switches using Smart Install. There had been a spike in scanning as of November 2017, and it only increased in intensity in March and April.

The damage, at least in Iran, might be minimal -- Iran said it tackled the flaw within hours, and that it hadn't lost data. However, the reach of the attack and its messaging are more than a little baffling. If this was a warning over election meddling, why not focus on Russia instead of countries that could frequently be victims of those attacks? This could be an indiscriminate protest, or even a deliberate attempt to throw investigators off the trail by foisting the blame on one country.

Whoever's responsible, the cyberattacks highlight a recurring problem: many of the breaches in recent months have been the result of lax security practices. These switches could have been fixed in time to prevent the attack, but a slow response left them wide open. It may take a long time before a lear majority of network operators treat patches and operating system upgrades as high priorities.

Update: In a response to Motherboard, the attackers claimed this was a protest against Russia and other countries meddling in American elections. Also, some of the targets were Russian. It's still odd that the US and other countries got caught in the crossfire (especially as the attackers claimed they fixed the flaws on US and UK devices), but the campaign makes more sense as a result.

بررسیهای اولیه حاکی از آن است که در تنظیمات مسیریابهای مورد حمله قرار گرفته، با حک پرچم ایالت متحده، اعتراضی درباره انتخابات آمریکا صورت گرفته است. دامنه حملات فراتر از ایران است. منشا حملات در دست بررسی است pic.twitter.com/L8erHB52j1

— MJ Azari Jahromi (@azarijahromi)
Original author: Fingas
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FEB
27

The Best 13 YouTube Intro Makers

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If you’re looking to get the most out of your YouTube channel by cranking out a lot of videos, you’ll need to use an intro maker to quickly and easily slam some of your brandings onto the start of every video.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the best 13 YouTube intro makers and explain why each is worth checking out.

Renderforest is a great intro maker because it offers a huge number of simple templates which you can easily append bells and whistles to.

Renderforest will give your videos the appearance of professionally animated content in a few clicks.

Like many competitors, Renderforest is free and offers a lot of customization options which you can quickly implement once you’ve picked the template.

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FEB
24

10 reasons why JavaScript is the programming language you should learn now

It's a sure bet!

Image: pixabay

Have you ever taken a good look at your browser and wondered why it looks the way it does? Listen, you don't even have to dive into the deep, dark pits of the Internet to find out why. The answer is plain and simple: JavaScript.

You cannot be taken seriously as a developer if you are not well-versed in Javascript. It's the most popular programming language used on the web today. The sites you frequently visit, the games you play on the reg, the apps you rely on, they would not exist if it weren't for JavaScript.

So if you're thinking of picking up your first programming language, it's a bit of a no-brainer — JavaScript is the one to learn. Need a bit more convincing? Here are compelling reasons why it's THE language of all languages:

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FEB
23

Veil is private browsing for the ultra-paranoid

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The problem, as the MIT researchers behind Veil explain in a new paper outlining the service, is that private browsing modes, even ones using Tor and other measures, can still leave a trace of your history on the device itself, in RAM or temporary storage.

When you visit a page, even anonymously, that page and its components still have to be loaded into memory, displayed and cached, libraries or plugins perhaps accessed or modified. The browser may try to delete these traces, but success can vary depending on how things are set up. A sort of ghost version of your activity may live on in your RAM, even if it’s just a hash of some data or timestamp.

“The fundamental problem is that [the browser] collects this information, and then the browser does its best effort to fix it. But at the end of the day, no matter what the browser’s best effort is, it still collects it,” explained MIT graduate student Frank Wang, the lead author of the paper, in a news release. “We might as well not collect that information in the first place.”

Veil takes things several steps further by handling delivery of the site via what they call a “blinding server.” You enter the URL into the site and the page is retrieved for you from the special servers, encrypted in transit and in your browser cache, and only decrypted for your viewing. Links and URLs are themselves encrypted so they can’t be linked to the content requested.

Furthermore, it injects invisible garbage code into the page while also “mutating” the content (again, invisibly) so that you could load it a thousand times on the same computer and although it would look the same to you, any resulting digital fingerprints like hash, payload size and so on would always be different.

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FEB
23

How to find out if hackers leaked your passwords

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Has your password leaked online?
Photo: AgileBits Longtime favorite password manager 1Password just teamed up with Pwned Passwords, a new service that helps you find out if your passwords have been leaked online.
 
The database boasts more than 500 million passwords collected from various breaches. Here’s how to use it. With hugely popular services like Yahoo, eBay, Equifax and PlayStation Network all suffering message data breaches, there’s a good chance at least one of your passwords has been leaked online.
 
 
Here’s what the process looks like: The Check Password feature is available to everyone with a 1Password membership. It’s only available at 1Password.com for now, but it is coming to the 1Password apps for desktop and mobile. 1Password insists the feature is secure; Pwned Passwords will never actually receive your password when you perform a search. If you’d like to know more about how it all works behind the scenes, check out the explainer on the 1Password blog.
 
 
Original author: Bell
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FEB
19

How to Follow Instagram Hashtags for Business

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Do you use hashtags on Instagram?

Wondering how to see posts with specific hashtags in your regular Instagram feed and stories?

In this article, you’ll discover how to use Instagram’s Follow Hashtag feature to monitor relevant topics and campaigns.

How to Follow Instagram Hashtags for Business by Jenn Herman on Social Media Examiner.

#1: How to Follow Hashtags on Instagram

To follow a specific hashtag on Instagram, you must navigate to that hashtag gallery. To do this, tap on any hashtag you see on any post in the feed, or go to the Explore page (tap the magnifying glass icon) and type in the hashtag you want to follow.

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FEB
07

Watch ‘Starman’ drift: SpaceX’s Tesla reaches the ultimate cruising altitude and rides off into space

spacex-starman-falcon-heavy

SpaceX’s Starman, drifting in a Tesla Roadster, has an incredible view of Earth on Tuesday. (SpaceX Image via YouTube)

This might be the ultimate space oddity.

High above his home planet, where millions of people are no doubt sitting in traffic in cars of their own, “Starman” drifted effortlessly through a wide open expanse on Tuesday.

The mannequin in a spacesuit — launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday — sat in the driver’s seat of Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster. With the top down, Starman drove off toward a deep-space orbit listening to David Bowie’s “Life on Mars.”

 
(SpaceX Image via YouTube)
 
(SpaceX Image via YouTube)

SpaceX beamed a live internet view of the unprecedented adventure via its YouTube feed, where more than 200,000 viewers were watching at one point.

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