Facebook Considering Monetization of Posts Using “Tip Jars”

 

A Facebook user survey distributed this week has shown the social media giant is looking at ways for users to be able to profit from their posts according to The Verge. Some of the features being considered that would allow for the monetization of posts or the ability to promote your posts include a tip jar, branded content and even the ability to take a cut of Facebook’s ad revenue from your posts. Another idea that users were asked for their opinion was a “call to action” button which would let followers make donations and a “sponsor marketplace” which would allow users to match themselves with providers of related advertisements.

Currently, Facebook includes no avenues for individual users to earn money from the posts they make on Facebook, although publishers have been able to sell advertisement space inside of their Instant Articles format and brand sponsored posts are able to be shared on verified pages. Facebook is also testing new (and possibly intrusive) ways to introduce ad revenue into content on the site.

A number of social sites already offer ways in which users and content creators can profit from the ad revenue that their content generates, with YouTube allowing channel owners to earn money based on the views of monetized videos and the game streaming service Twitch partnering with popular streamers to allow them to earn money from subscriptions, running advertisements and merchandise sales. It is likely that Facebook, which values itself on real-time sharing, has seen the success of these programs and wants to offer their users a chance at earning money in the hopes it will draw more people to post higher quality content on the site.

When you consider the huge valuations of social media sites, the fact that very few of their users are paid for the content that contributes to it, it makes sense to offer some kind of reward schemes for top contributors, lest they migrate to other platforms in time. Whether this move to monetization could improve or worsen Facebook remains to be seen, as the plans are only conceptual. The questions regarding monetization are just a small portion of the survey focusing on users use of their profile pages, what they share and the makeup of their friends on the site.

‘Click Farms’ to Inflate Online Popularity Exposed

How do you get a few hundred people to like your “Why are courgettes* so neglected?” page? Paid advertisements? Viral publicity? Trusting in the innate power of that most underestimated of Summer squashes? With the success of such options being variable at best – leaving much to chance – there are some who would rather try to cheat the system, paying for likes, followers, and other quantifiable indicators of popularity.

The “Why are courgettes so neglected?” Facebook is one of many that has been exposed as paying for likes, using companies that hire ‘click farms’ – low-paid workers tasked with clicking on the appropriate button (‘Like’, ‘Follow’, ‘Retweet’), over and over, via a series of fake accounts – to inflate their popularity. This particular page paid a team in Dhaka, Bangladesh for its measly half-a-thousand likes.

Dispatches, a Channel 4 investigative journalism show in the UK, has exposed just how prevalent this underhanded practice really is. The reveal is sure to hurt the veracity of social media platforms and their accidental involvement in misleading their users.

“There’s a real desire amongst many companies to boost their profile on social media, and find other customers as well as a result,” Graham Cluley, an independent security consultant, told The Guardian.

Using ‘click farms’ is not limited to pages about green vegetables, though – Dispatches found an online casino, which had licensed the Monopoly brand from owner Hasbro, was also guilty of the practice. Hasbro ordered that the page be closed following the deception’s reveal, saying that it was “appalled to hear of what had occurred.”

“Potentially, a number of laws are being breached – the consumer protection and unfair trading regulations. Effectively it’s misleading the individual consumers,” Sam DeSilva, IT and Outsourcing Law lawyer for Manches LLP, added.

An undercover sting also exposed the middlemen who act as agents for ‘click farms’, with Dispatches secretly recording its meeting with Sharaf al-Nomani, owner of Shareyt.com, which offers likes, follows, and other indicators of popularity on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube, for a fee.

While the site claims that it is “a crowd-sourcing platform to help you improve social media presence and search engine ranking FREE,” al-Nomani, in meeting with undercover Dispatches reporters, revealed that “around 30% or 40% of the clicks will come from Bangladesh” as part of a deliberate, organised strategy.

*That’s a zucchini to anyone from the Americas.

Facebook is Testing a Super-Speed Wi-Fi System

When it comes to technology, Facebook wants to be standing at the front of innovation with creating tools to help blind people make sense of their news feeds and their free internet service being used around the globe, but if you really want to see something then you should check out their super-speed wi-fi system they have installed at their campus.

Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, California has a super wi-fi. What do we mean by a super wi-fi? Well, anything that servers speeds of over one gigabit per second would count as super. This means its more than 100 times the average speed of a typical house’s internet speed in the US!

Facebook doesn’t want to stop there, looking to expand the test to a large scale system in downtown San Jose later this year and then in other areas around the world. Jay Parikh, head of infrastructure and engineering at Facebook says that rolling over other high-speed options, such as Google Fiber, can prove to be difficult in urban areas, so creating a wireless infrastructure would be both cheaper and easier to deploy.

The problems title is named Terragraph and is based on the technology known as WiGig. By placing WiGig hubs on light poles and common street furnishings, Facebook hopes to create a fast wireless network that anyone can use to send and receive information on the 60 GHz radio waves the systems designed around.

Facebook Messenger Introduces Dropbox and Video Chat Heads

Facebook Messenger is a system built to help communicate through the popular social network, but the latest features look to bring it closer to email with Facebook Messenger introducing dropbox features and even adding a chat head imagine to your video calls.

The dropbox features allow you to add in dropbox files just like you would add an emoji, the end result being the ability to go through files and directories on your dropbox system and send them just like you would any other file. Any photos or videos sent linked through the messenger will appear as if  you had sent them normally while other files will either be sent to download via the Dropbox app or as a hyperlink to download the file through the web.

Ever had a video call on Facebook messenger? Your entire screen filled with someone’s face, stopping you from contacting or responding to other messages. The new chat head feature will display your callers video in a little circle that you can place and drag around your screen, letting you get on with your browsing while you chat away. The feature could even support video chat amongst different applications and with both features set for release within the next few days, just watch out for the latest download.

WhatsApp Turns on Encryption for All Platforms

In a move that is sure to rile the FBI, following the law enforcement agency’s feud with Apple over its refusal to unlock the iPhone of a suspect in the San Bernardino shooting, instant messaging app WhatsApp has added end-to-end encryption to every iteration of its software on every platform, providing added security to an additional one billion users.

“Building secure products actually makes for a safer world, (though) many people in law enforcement may not agree with that,” WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton told WIRED.

“We’re somewhat lucky here in the United States, where we hope that the checks and balances hold out for many years to come and decades to come. But in a lot of countries you don’t have these checks and balances,” added Jan Koum, the second co-founder of the company. “The argument can be made: Maybe you want to trust the government, but you shouldn’t because you don’t know where things are going to go in the future.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive of WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook, was a vocal supporter of Apple during its court struggle against the FBI. “We’re sympathetic with Apple,” Zuckerberg said during a technology conference in February. “I don’t think requiring back doors into encryption is either going to be an effective way to increase security or is really the right thing to do.”

Facebook Tool Allows the Blind to Make Sense of News Feed Photos

Facebook has come up with a way to help blind English-speaking users understand what kind of images appear in their News Feeds. The tool is called “Automatic Alternative Text,” and it basically provides a simple description of a photo’s contents for anyone who is using a screen reader. Screen readers usually give limited information, meaning that they only inform the user that there’s an image in a status update without actually describing it. The Automatic Alternative Text tool makes use of Facebook’s object recognition technology in order to make sense of an image and inform the user on what it contains, such as a boat, a mountain, ice cream, eyeglasses, smiles or jewelry.

It certainly makes sense for Facebook to implement this feature, as people usually rely on image posting for status updates these days, which means that browsing through the News Feed is visually intensive. It’s definitely not hard to install an app that can read text out loud for the visually impaired, but describing an image is a much more complex and more useful task. Apparently, the tool is only available in English for iOS for now, but Facebook does plan to adapt it for other operating systems and languages in the near future.

Oculus Home Sales Are Final – Despite EU Law

Buying the Oculus Rift is something that’s been stuck with its own issues recently, but I guess that is to be expected of any major hardware launch. However, it seems there’s a bit of a legal grey area buying content for the Rift, especially for those of us who live within the EU. Oculus Home, the digital store for supplying VR-ready titles, has declared that “all sales are final” when it comes to their refund policy.

So what does this mean? Well, if you buy a game, good luck getting your money back if you’re unhappy with the purchase and while for many, this won’t be an issue, it does fly in the face of laws in the EU that give consumers a right to a refund. The terms state that “All software purchases from the Oculus Store are final, and unless required by local law, no refunds will be provided.” and it’s that last part that causes problems, as the Oculus ToS section 4.11 states that “if you are located in the EU, you consent that the supply of the digital content may begin immediately following the completion of your purchase and you acknowledge that you therefore will lose any statutory rights you may have to withdraw and receive a refund.”

European Consumer Rights directives state that you have a 14-day cooling off period for any digital goods purchased, but you won’t get that right if you accept the terms of Oculus Home. Of course, Oculus aren’t the only ones doing this and even Valve walk a fine line here. However, Stream does offer a system for refunds that’s relatively in-line with the law, albeit it’s a fairly new feature to their service.

Oculus Home is already shutting out consumers from using other stores, such as Steam, to purchase their VR games, and they’re offering stricter ToS on top, not what I would call consumer-friendly at all and something we hope they improve on soon.

Oculus Rift Terms And Conditions Allow Facebook to Deploy Targeted Adverts

Virtual reality headsets have the potential to revolutionize the way we enjoy various entertainment forms and even help train apprentices to learn new skills in a more practical manner. This year has already been significant for developing VR technology and bringing it the consumer market. However, the early adopter pricing for both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are well out of the reach of most users. Despite this, VR technology allows developers to start making unique games and there should be a fantastic library when devices become more affordable. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus raised some questions about the headset’s target audience and possible emergence of social media advertising.

The Oculus Rift’s terms and conditions contains a number of interesting clauses about user data. According to The Guardian, Facebook is able to collect:

“Information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset”,

Facebook also added:

“We use the information we collect to send you promotional messages and content and otherwise market to you on and off our Services,” “We also use this information to measure how users respond to our marketing efforts.”

This means Facebook can use location data to monitor your position and collect information on how you use the Oculus Rift. More worryingly, the terms clearly state that your personal information can be passed onto “related companies”. This refers to other parts of the Facebook brand such as WhatsApp. Consumers concerned about their privacy will find these terms rather intrusive and might be enough to deter them from making a purchase. Facebook’s ability to use the data for advertising purposes isn’t ideal and something which many people anticipated when the company took the helm. Admittedly, it’s fairly common for companies to outline similar data gathering policies but this doesn’t make it acceptable.

Are you concerned by the Oculus Rift’s terms or feel they are being blown out of proportion?

To Play With The Oculus Rift You Pay With Your Privacy

We all love the idea of virtual reality and augmented reality, the idea that technology can send us to the deepest parts of the earth or the farthest reaches of space inspires us to enjoy things we will never get to do in the real world, all from the comfort of our sitting rooms. The question is how much we are willing to give in exchange for this “freedom”, with the enjoyment the Oculus Rift requiring you to pay with your privacy.

What do we mean by “pay with your privacy”? When you first install the software required to run the Rift on your PC a process called “OVRServer_x64.exe” is created, something normal given that it detects when the Rift is connected, on your Facebook and actually turned on. If you check the Privacy Policy (something we all know, including the companies that write them, is rarely checked) there are a few other things that the process can do.

The full section regarding “information collected about you when you use our services” states:

Information Automatically Collected About You When You Use Our Services. We also collect information automatically when you use our Services. Depending on how you access and use our Services, we may collect information such as:

  • Information about your interactions with our Services, like information about the games, content, apps or other experiences you interact with, and information collected in or through cookies, local storage, pixels, and similar technologies (additional information about these technologies is available at https://www.oculus.com/en-us/cookies-pixels-and-other-technologies/);
  • Information about how you access our Services, including information about the type of device you’re using (such as a headset, PC, or mobile device), your browser or operating system, your Internet Protocol (“IP”) address, and certain device identifiers that may be unique to your device;
  • Information about the games, content, or other apps installed on your device or provided through our Services, including from third parties;
  • Location information, which can be derived from information such as your device’s IP address. If you’re using a mobile device, we may collect information about the device’s precise location, which is derived from sources such as the device’s GPS signal and information about nearby WiFi networks and cell towers; and
  • Information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset.

Worrying parts about this is the mention of “pixels” in the first section, stating that they could find out what you are viewing and even go so far as to take a copy of your interaction. Full information about the games and everything you install are also fair and open to them with information going so far as your physical movements and dimensions being tracked as well, these seem a little bit further than just idle curiosity.

The policy continues to state how this information is used, with one section clarifying their marketing approach with this information:

To market to you. We use the information we collect to send you promotional messages and content and otherwise market to you on and off our Services. We also use this information to measure how users respond to our marketing efforts.

With Oculus now in partnership with Facebook, a move that raised concerns when it was first announced, people were concerned about privacy and tracking, something these conditions seems to allow. Going further the agreement states that “third parties may also collect information about you through the Services”, meaning that the agreement doesn’t limit but, in fact, allows apps to be created on the basis of tracking and monitoring your actions.

Thanks to Woofington over at Reddit who spotted this, if you’re interested in finding out how deep this goes you can read the full privacy policy here.

Egypt Blocks Facebook’s Internet Service After Being Denied The Ability To Spy On Users

Facebook have been keen on allowing countries access to Free Basics, their low-cost internet system designed at giving people the ability to create a Facebook account and access a limited number of sites at no cost. Free internet sounds great doesn’t it? Some countries don’t believe so, with India already banning the platform and the system being suspended within Egypt, over what now seems to be because the government was denied the ability denied the ability to spy on users.

The Free Basics platform in Egypt was suspended officially on December 30th, 2015, with sources now stating the reason for the suspension was that Facebook wouldn’t allow the government to circumvent the systems security, thereby allowing surveillance to be conducted on users of the platform. Etisalat, the mobile carrier that provided the service when it started in October 2015, hasn’t responded to comment while Facebook has declined to comment while the Egyptian government has declined to say what kind of surveillance or changes they wanted to be made to the service.

Officially the line given is that the service was considered “harmful to companies and their competitors”, a tale that while believable may be as well be an April fools joke to cover what can only be considered a request to invade and monitor everyone’s internet access. With limited access already and concerns about net neutrality for the scheme, if it was found to provide monitoring and tracking the “free” basics program would almost certainly see counties drop the system.

You Could Pay For Things With Your Facebook Messenger App Soon

Facebook let you send money to friends through the Facebook Messenger app at the moment, but you could end up being able to spend money in the messenger app as well with some news that the messenger could soon have in-store purchases.

The new feature would be included in a variety of updates and new features that could soon be making their way to the Messenger app. As a result details are scarce, but from what we can gather Facebook’s app would let you pay for goods in person, meaning it would offer the same mobile payments that Android, Apple and Samsung currently offer.

Alongside the payment feature, there is a reference to “secret conversations”, ending unfortunately at just a reference. Initial speculation states this could be a way to hide conversations within the app or even a higher form of encryption that rival apps like WhatsApp offer. The latter would make sense given the current global focus on information security and privacy.

With code further referencing syncing calendars and selective streaming of news feed statuses  to groups of friends, the ability to organise and control who sees what could see the app become a go-to for organising your day-to-day life. With no official word yet we have to take these with a pinch of salt, but the payment sending ability was hinted at in a similar fashion months before Facebook officially announced it.

Would you store your payment details on Facebook? How about organising your everyday life with Facebook’s calendars?

YouTube Looking To Go Live With YouTube Connect

YouTube is the name people think of when they hear about videos on the internet, and while social media like Facebook and Twitter have added video support, many still prefer to upload to YouTube and then share the video. One thing Facebook and Twitter do that YouTube can’t is to create live videos such as when someone decides that they want to start streaming straight to their audience. This may change though with reports about the new service: YouTube Connect.

VentureBeat may have stumbled across the new service, which seems to be targeted towards creating a live streaming platform for YouTube users. The feature is based around the ability to start streaming from your mobile phone, but there are other features such as the chat ability and even the ability to tag people and other accounts in the stream. A news feed will allow you to feature the latest clips from friends and subscriptions.

The live videos won’t just be locked to the app, with them simultaneously streamed to their YouTube channels as well, all the while they are saved so that in future someone can come back and catch up on your videos.

While YouTube does currently have live streaming the feature is noted as being in beta and limited as to who can access it, so maybe YouTube Connect will be their way of bringing the feature to the masses in the near future.

Facebook Activates Safety Check Tool after Brussels Attacks

Facebook has activated its Safety Check Tool as a response to the attacks that recently took place in Brussels. This is the second time that the social media giant has made the tool available to the public, as the first time was back in November when Paris was struck by similar terrorist attacks. The Safety Check Tool allows people to stay in touch in these moments of crisis, and most importantly, it allows them to tell their contacts that they are safe. The Red Cross has offered a similar online tool, which allowed users to say that they’re safe or to try to find others. However, Google’s Person Finder did not appear to be active. The internet has become an important tool in a time where attacks can come out of nowhere and take us completely by surprise.

That’s why the Belgian government actually turned to Twitter in order to inform the public about various closures, and in order to encourage them to use internet communications instead of telephone-based services. Apart from helping people reach out to one another, the internet also makes sure that these attacks receive widespread coverage. The UK police even asked those who have photos and videos of the bombings to upload them to its website in order to aid in the investigation. Even though Facebook’s effort to help the victims of these attacks is admirable, it’s probably safe to assume that most people actually called or texted their loved ones directly in order to inform them of their situation.

Facebook No Longer Supports BlackBerry’s Social Media Apps

If you look at the numbers, BlackBerry smartphones currently account for just 0.1 percent of sales in the US, while Android and Apple account for 58 percent and 39 percent respectively. Therefore, it doesn’t take much to realize that the company is in trouble, and it looks like things won’t improve in the near future, as social media giant Facebook has recently pulled support for BlackBerry social media apps. Furthermore, WhatsApp will pretty much do the same thing by the end of the year, which means that some BlackBerry users will have no choice but to switch over to other devices in order to be able to access basic social media apps. However, it’s worth noting that the BlackBerry Priv is based on Android v5.1.1 Lollipop, which means that they don’t necessarily have to move over to a new brand, just to newer smartphones.

During a recent blog post, BlackBerry’s representatives tried to remain positive, but they did express their disappointment in Facebook’s and WhatsApp’s decision. BlackBerry Senior Marketing Manager Lou Gazzola has stated the following:

“The app landscape continues to evolve, and in ways that are not always within our control. We are extremely disappointed in their decision as we know so many users love these apps. We fought back to work with WhatsApp and Facebook to change their minds, but at this time, their decision stands (but let them know how you feel on social media, using the hashtag #ILoveBB10Apps).”

Do you think that BlackBerry has a chance to make a comeback as long as it adopts Android on a wider scale?

Image courtesy of Abcnews.

Facebook Acquiring The Masquerade App In Hopes Of Rivaling Snapchat

When it comes to socialising with technology, few haven’t heard of Snapchat. The popular mobile app has over five and a half million reviews average at 4 stars for the popular app. It looks like another social giant will be stepping into the ring though with Facebook acquiring the Masquerade app in hopes of stealing some of Snapchats thunder.

Masquerade (MSQRD) provides similar features to Snapchat, but like its name has a very particular focus. While Snapchat lets you “face swap”, taking your friends face and switching its place with your own, Masquerade can do that with a list of prepared “masks”. From a tiger or a monkey to your favourite celebrities, if you are a looking at swapping faces the App has what you need.

This is only Facebook’s first step, with plans being reported to integrate this technology into the Facebook toolset. Don’t worry if you are a user of Masquerade because the App will remain a free standalone app, it just means that you could soon swap out your friends faces for a monkey or Leonardo DiCaprio at the Oscars.

In a post on their website Eugene Nevgen, CEO of Masquerade, stated that even with they’re partnering with Facebook they will “keep adding fun features”.

Image courtesy of MaximOnline.Ru

Hacker Found Way into Any Facebook Account

An Indian hacker has found a remarkably simple way to access any Facebook user account. Thankfully, Anand Prakash, a security engineer from Bangalore, is a “white hat” hacker and immediately contacted Facebook about the loophole, granting him a $15,000 reward.

In a blog post – with the provocative title “How I could have hacked all Facebook accounts” – Prakash explained the process he used, including a proof-of-concept video. Effectively, he brute-forced the password reset code – a six-digit number which is sent to the user’s phone or e-mail – on Beta version of Facebook, which allowed him unlimited input attempts without locking him out. He was then able to set his own password with which he could fraudulently access other user’s accounts.

“Whenever a user Forgets his password on Facebook, he has an option to reset the password by entering his phone number/ email address on https://www.facebook.com/login/identify?ctx=recover&lwv=110 ,Facebook will then send a 6 digit code on his phone number/email address which user has to enter in order to set a new password,” Prakash wrote. “I tried to brute the 6 digit code on www.facebook.com and was blocked after 10-12 invalid attempts.”

“Then I looked out for the same issue on beta.facebook.com and mbasic.beta.facebook.com and interestingly rate limiting was missing on forgot password endpoints,” he added. “I tried to takeover my account (as per Facebook’s policy you should not do any harm on any other users account) and was successful in setting new password for my account. I could then use the same password to login in the account.”

According to his blog, Prakash discovered the vulnerability on 22nd February, and received his $15,000 reward from Facebook on 2nd March. Facebook is yet to confirm the veracity of Prakash’s blog post.

Lian Li Enters the Peripheral Market With a Giveaway


It isn’t often that we as the press get taken by surprise, but today is such a day as Lian Li revealed their entry into the peripheral market with their first ever mouse and keyboard. Usually, we already expected a launch, got hints, teasers, and heads-up notifications, but Lian Li chose to take us all with a surprise this time. To top it all off, Lian Li launched a giveaway for this at the same time.

Very little is known about the new Lian Li peripherals yet and there aren’t any official product pages online yet, but we do have eyes to spot some things based on the limited information. The new line of Mice and Keyboards is called the TerminAL series and comes in a total of 6 colour options: Black, Silver, Gold, Blue, Green, and Red.

The keyboard is a brushed aluminium keyboard with a flat design, but that’s about the information that we get now. There is no mention of switch types, whether it’s mechanical or membrane, and whether it has some extra and unique features.

The TerminAL mouse features two thumb buttons beside the normal left and right mouse button and a scroll wheel. Anything else is up to anyone’s guess right now.

 

We shouldn’t forget about the promotion either, the one where you can be the first one to own one of these new sets in the colour of your choice. The giveaway can be found via Facebook or Lian Li’s blog site. All you have to do to participate is to cast a vote on which colour option you like best.

“We will be giving away three of each color for a total of eighteen combos. Cast your vote anytime from today, March 1st to Friday, March 25th for a chance to win your preferred color! Winners for each color – one per color, six total winners – will be announced every seven days until the end of the event.”

Facebook Fined In German Intellectual Property Dispute

This is a story that dates back to four years ago when a German court found that Facebook’s terms and conditions did not address the circumstances in which users intellectual property could be used by Facebook or even licensed to third parties. That still seems to be an issue as a regional court in Berlin found that Facebook still hasn’t changed their terms and conditions to properly reflect these concern and in return, they were slapped with a €100,000 fine.

The complaint was originally filed by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) and the court agreed that Facebooks terms and conditions weren’t clear on the issue. Naturally Facebook complied with the request, or at least partially. They did change the wording of the statement on intellectual property in the terms, but according to this new ruling, the message remained the same. Now Facebook has to write them a small check for the amount of hundred thousand Euros while they still need to change their wording and make it clear to the users when they give up their intellectual rights.

This ruling comes just a week after Mark Zuckerberg visited Berlin where he got the first ever Axel Springer Award for entrepreneurship and innovation. If timed better, he could have paid the fine before heading home again. Jokes aside, terms and conditions for software usage are, generally speaking, a nightmare for any user to navigate and understand. For the most part, they are written in ambiguous ways that benefit the creator rather than the user and in such lengths that barely anyone bothers to read it before they agree. This is a huge problem in my opinion and I hope that we’ll see more companies fined for bad practices in this area. Maybe one day we’ll actually understand what we agree to.

While the court’s ruling stated that the problem was with the wording, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We complied with the order to clarify a single provision in our terms concerning an IP license a while ago. The court felt we did not update our terms quickly enough and has issued a fine, which we will pay.”

I’m sure that this isn’t the last time that we hear about this issue.

GALAX Teases Upcoming HOF PCI-E SSD

GALAX, formerly known as GALAXY, is well-known for their amazing graphics cards that push the hardware to the limits of what’s possible and we have also seen them create the same great things with memory modules. The next logical step for the company is to branch out and enter the SSD market.

During our visit to CES in January, we had a first look at the HOF PCI-E SSD although the details were sparse at the time and we didn’t find out when it was to be released either.

What we do know is that it is a PCIe Gen3 x4 interface and the drive is using NVMe rather than AHCI for its connection. This in return results in a much better performance and the officially given ratings will allow the drive to read with up to 2600 MB/s and write with up to 1300MB/s. The random performance is equally impressive with 300K IOPS at 4K read operations and 200K at write operations.

The PCB itself was hidden from us at the time and we could only see the beautiful casing with signature HOF engravings. That changed today as GALAX published more photos, renderings, and real benchmark results on their Facebook page. While the information still is sparse, we get some more information from just looking at these newly shared pictures.

While the finished product is a full-sized card, the PCB itself seems to fit the HHHL standard (half-height, half-length) which should make it compatible with low-profile brackets. Whether such a solution will be released is another matter, but it does open up the options for modders.

Below are the officially released benchmark results which look pretty good to me, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be tweaked a little more with firmware optimizations. There’s still a little work to be done by GALAX and the HOF PCI-E SSD is now officially classified as “near completion”.

Are you looking forward to this storage drive or do you prefer something less extravagant and smaller such as the newer M.2 type drives? Let us know in the comments.

Facebook Reactions Replace Your Likes With Even More Emotions

So you are on Facebook and you notice your friend has posted an item about something rather sad, or something which really grinds your gears. You hover your mouse over the like button to show that you sympathise with them but then you stop. How can you “like” something which is sad? Don’t worry, Facebook has now expanded how you can respond to posts.

To add to the tradition Like you can now let them feel the warmth of your heart with “Love” or if it was just a good laugh there is always “Haha”. There is “wow” for those moments that just surprise you, “sad” for the times when you wish you didn’t go on Facebook because of the tears and “Angry” for when things are just that little bit too much.

To access these new reactions, the “like” button has been replaced by, surprise suprise, the “reactions” button. Just select the one you want (or release if you are on a touch screen) and your reaction will be noted. The three most popular reactions will be displayed with each event, and notifications will now state that your friends “reacted” to your posts.

As you can see from the image below from our very own Facebook page, the reactions can easily be accessed and even show their little emoticons.

 

Facebook Is Mapping the World With AI

These days having a social media presence is up there alongside having a driving license or passport, for everything from seeing your friends get new jobs and houses to checking out potential employers (or being checked out by a potential employer). Facebook is keen to do a lot in the new year, and its made its first step by mapping where people live using AI.

The social network has been mapping the world using artificial intelligence, scaning satellite images and using it to identify where human-built structures are. While an impressive sight, the tool is designed to be useful as well, with the hopes that it could help them deploy their internet streaming drones.

Facebook though isn’t just ending it there, with hopes that it could be used for everything from “socio-economic research” to “risk assessment for natural disasters”.

The results of the scans are shown below, showing just how accurate the AI is at picking out what a human being would struggle to spot from an image.

In their blog post, Facebook stated that they have now analyzed 20 countries with a total of 21.6 million square kilometers. The total size of these images is a whopping 350TB of data,

If this wasn’t enough, Facebook announced they will be releasing the data to the general public later this year, meaning that everyone from you and me to Universities and Governments can use it to help with anything from figuring out a nice quiet neighborhood for a party to a nicely populated town to retire in.

Marc Andreessen Issues Apology After Social Media Backlash

Marc Andreessen is a venture capitalist best known for co-creating Mosaic, the first widely adopted web browser and has an estimated net work of around $600 million. Mr. Andreessen is also a Facebook board member and one of their most loyal supporters. On Tuesday evening, he defended Facebook’s Free Basics initiative which aims to provide internet access to impoverished nations through simplified phone applications. However, Indian regulators criticized the programme and claimed it only allowed for free access on certain services and discriminated against smaller companies. As a result, the Indian regulators believed Facebook was trying to “shape the users’ Internet experience”. When presented with this information, Mr. Andreessen voiced his opinion on Twitter (always a terrible idea) and made some extremely offensive claims:

https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/697226616812900352?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Mark Zuckerberg released a statement distancing himself from Andreessen’s remarks and reiterated that they didn’t reflect Facebook’s attitude:

“I want to respond to Marc Andreessen’s comments about India yesterday. I found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all.

India has been personally important to me and Facebook. Early on in my thinking about our mission, I traveled to India and was inspired by the humanity, spirit and values of the people. It solidified my understanding that when all people have the power to share their experiences, the entire world will make progress.

Facebook stands for helping to connect people and giving them voice to shape their own future. But to shape the future we need to understand the past. As our community in India has grown, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the need to understand India’s history and culture. I’ve been inspired by how much progress India has made in building a strong nation and the largest democracy in the world, and I look forward to strengthening my connection to the country.”

As you might expect, the social media backlash and comments from Zuckerberg encouraged Andreessen to make a full apology:

https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/697399609929261057?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/697404200368500736?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

This entire situation demonstrates why it’s so important to think before posting opinions online especially if you represent a huge company like Facebook. Clearly, the comments were misguided, and seemed quite reactionary to the decision to favour net neutrality.

Image courtesy of BusinessInsider

France Gives Facebook Deadline to Act on User Data

Facebook is one of the world’s largest social networks, containing information about people from all over the world from their names and dates of births to pet hobbies and the messages they’ve sent to their friends. with companies raising concerns about the new ‘Snooper charter’ in the UK, data security awareness is at an all-time high with countries looking to protect their users from breaches like that affecting the Juniper’s hardware. In the latest move, the French Data protection authority has given Facebook a deadline on when they need to take action on several areas of data security.

The first issue the French data authority had was with Facebook’s tracking of non-users on its site, without any warning or notice to the user. This means that even if you went and viewed a public profile, it was recorded that you had viewed the account. The second issue is related to transferring information abroad, a political minefield when it comes to data security.

The second issue is related to transferring information abroad, a political minefield when it comes to data security. In the next three months, Facebook is to stop transferring some data to the United States. This move is not a surprise given that the EU and the U.S. are currently negotiating the successor to the transatlantic safe harbour pact, an agreement that created a legal framework for transferring information from the EU to America. The previous agreement was struck down following the fear that the U.S. government could use it to spy on EU countries similar to its mass surveillance program.

India Bans Facebook’s Free Internet Platform Over Net Neutrality Concerns

India’s national telecom regulator has banned Mark Zuckerberg’s “free” internet endeavour for violating net neutrality. Free Basics, formerly known as Internet.org, was designed to bring free internet to developing countries, but access to websites was restricted to Facebook’s commercial partners, meaning Free Basics users could only visit sites that had paid to be featured.

“No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has ruled (via BBC News).

The World Wide Web Foundation, created by WWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee, has welcomed the ruling. “The message is clear: We can’t create a two-tier Internet – one for the haves, and one for the have-nots,” Programme Manager Renata Avila said. “We must connect everyone to the full potential of the open Web. We call on companies and the government of India to work with citizens and civil society to explore new approaches to connect everyone as active users, whether through free data allowances, public access schemes or other innovative approaches.”

While Zuckerberg has maintained throughout that Free Basics adheres to net neutrality rules – “Instead of recognizing that Free Basics fully respects net neutrality, they claim–falsely–the exact opposite,” he blustered back in December – a Facebook spokesperson claims that the company will work to ensure that its free internet initiative complies with net neutrality.

“Our goal with Free Basics is to bring more people online with an open, non-exclusive and free platform,” a Facebook spokeswoman said. “While disappointed with the outcome, we will continue our efforts to eliminate barriers and give the unconnected an easier path to the internet and the opportunities it brings.”

New Study Reveals Facebook Friends Are Unreliable

The advent of social media platforms like Facebook has made human beings adopt a more cavalier attitude towards friendships. When communicating online, people tend to see their friends list as an indication of their popularity and success among other individuals. As a result, it’s quite common for social media users to add old school friends, random people they encountered online and anyone else to increase the number of friends seen on a public profile. Don’t get me wrong, social media platforms are fantastic for keeping in contact with people across large distances, and some of my closest friends live in another country. However, there does seem to be this need to have thousands of online friends and show off. In extreme cases, some users even add individuals they never speak to which can only be down to an egotistical personality.

According to a new study by Robin Dunbar, human beings cannot rely on Facebook friends to exhibit a sympathetic response or act in a caring manner. Dunbar is already a renowned expert in this field with the paper, Dunbar’s number which argues people can only maintain 150 stable relationships. In this latest piece, Dunbar analysed a UK sample of 3,375 Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 65. On average, people had 150 Facebook friends but admitted they could only count on 4.1% of them during an emotional crisis. Furthermore, the data shows a mere 13.6% expressed sympathy. Here is a brief snippet of Dunbar’s findings and provides a great insight into his research:

“The sizes of the two inner friendship circles did not differ from those previously identified in offline samples,”

“Having a lot more than 150 followers doesn’t change things much, either. Heavy users of online social media do not have larger offline social networks than casual users, even though more of these may appear online for heavy users.”

While it’s important to reiterate that some online relationships are just as important as “real-life” ones, there’s a worrying trend of Facebook users only adding people on the basis of increasing the perception they are more popular. This really is a depressing notion and shows how narcissistic society has become.

How many friends do you have on Facebook?

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Suggests Like Attack On ISIS

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wants us to use make love and not war when it comes to dealing with pro-ISIS users on Facebook. This message comes as Facebook admits defeat in the effort to stop the tide of Islamic State accounts and propaganda that is appearing on the social media network lately.

It isn’t like Facebook isn’t trying to combat this hate coming from these terrorists, they simply can’t keep up with the sheer amount of posts and accounts being created. This was revealed at the World Economic Forum in Davos where it was said that Facebook is “doing everything it can to prevent extremist content being published”, but it’s just a drop in the ocean. “When you take one down, another pops up”.

While this technically sounds like a defeat, it isn’t. It just means that the tactics have to change and it also means that the social aspect of the site is needed. Facebook is proposing that everyone ‘like’ ISIS posts, which in itself sounds ludicrous. But there is deeper thought behind this and this tactic has worked in the past. The method that Sandberg calls a “like attack” is simple and it aims to defeat negative posts by clicking the like button and then flooding that page with positive messages.

Sandberg went on to explain that this action in no way is a sign of support for this kind of hate speech, but rather a way to stand united against the enemy. A single branch is easy to break, but when you got a whole stack of branches together, then you got something close to unbreakable. The same tactic was used a while ago against the german NPD, the far-right National Democratic Party, where over 100,000 people “liked” that page that actually didn’t like the message. Instead of posting hate and defamatory posts, they simply flooded the page with messages of tolerance and hope instead.

The effect is simple, right now it’s Facebook that is trying to catch up by banning people and deleting posts. The suggested method would turn it all around and put the ISIS supporters on the defense. They’ll be so busy themselves trying to delete all the positive messages that they won’t have time to spread their hate.

Whether people will accept this proposal and whether it will work, that’s something only time will tell. But I think we all can agree on one thing: The faster we get rid of this plague, the better off we are and the entire planet too for that matter. What is your opinion on this strategy, let us know in the comments.

Facebook Android App Now Supports Tor

For those who are privacy conscious or live in countries where the Facebook service is censored, the social media giant’s Android application has long been unusable. This has changed with the latest version of the Facebook app, which includes the option for the app to route its traffic through the Tor network.

The experimental new feature can be enabled through the app’s settings, depending on a separate app called Orbot to function as a proxy for routing the traffic through the Tor network. Due to the nature of the Tor network, enabling this feature does have the side effect of disabling the use of push notifications. As long as a user makes sure to manually check for updates frequently, this is hardly a big loss for the privacy aware.

Tor’s service works by routing traffic through a series of random nodes or relays in its network. This ensures that no one system in the chain can know the true origin and source of the packets sent and received. Only the initial node will know the packet’s source and the final node sending the packet onto the public internet, or exit point, knows the destination. The packets are also encrypted in such a way that the nodes are unable to snoop on the data sent. The value of this approach is that it masks the sites and services that you are accessing from your ISP and any nodes en-route as well as hiding your IP from the destination.

Facebook’s site has been available via Tor since 2014 via facebookcorewwwi.onion, a version of the site only accessible through the Tor service. Traffic to this address never passes back to the public internet to reach the regular Facebook site, so no Tor exit points or public internet relays are traversed. Sadly the app currently relies on Facebook’s public servers even when Tor is enabled, but it is to be expected that support for their .onion Tor service is in the app’s future.