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

SnapChat Daily Video Views Reach 6 Billion

Social media websites from Facebook to Snapchat have attempted to move beyond basic text communication and encourage video sharing. Currently, Facebook users watch on an average 8 billion videos per day, which almost defies belief. However, according to an interview with The Financial Times, Snapchat isn’t far behind and recently attained 6 billion video views in a single day. These astonishing statistics are put into perspective when you consider 6 billion views amount to each person throughout the world.

Arguably, many users are addicted to various social media platforms and watch an unhealthy amount of content. This skews the viewing figures to make each social media website appear to have a larger user-base. Despite this, their audience is still absolutely enormous and appears to be growing at a significant rate.

Snapchat is an interesting example as it seems better suited to video sharing than the competition. Its premise originally revolved around photo sharing and not status updates like Facebook and Twitter. As a result, video sharing is the next logical step and a more personal way of communication. The data shows Snapchat’s video service is expanding at a rapid rate and this isn’t a surprise.

Do watch videos on social media platforms, or find them distracting?

Snapchat Defends Privacy Policy Changes

Photo sharing on social media websites has become extraordinarily popular due to the “selfie” craze as smartphone users try to capture the moment. Snapchat is one of the most popular choices and revolves around quick snapshots which vanish once the recipient has viewed the photo. That’s the theory though, and there have been concerns about Snapchat’s data policy. Only recently, the company decided to update its privacy policy and disclose their data retention in a more transparent way.

However, the terms caused a great deal of controversy and appeared to allow partners to intrusively access your data:

…you also grant Snapchat and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual rights and license to use your name, likeness, and voice in any and all media and distribution channels…” 

Kal Penn highlighted the privacy issues in the following tweet:

In lieu of this information, Snapchat has released a statement on this blog which reads:

“First off, we want to be crystal clear: The Snaps and Chats you send your friends remain as private today as they were before the update. Our Privacy Policy continues to say—as it did before—that those messages “are automatically deleted from our servers once we detect that they have been viewed or have expired.” Of course, a recipient can always screenshot or save your Snaps or Chats. But the important point is that Snapchat is not—and never has been—stockpiling your private Snaps or Chats. And because we continue to delete them from our servers as soon as they’re read, we could not—and do not—share them with advertisers or business partners.”

“It’s true that our Terms of Service grant us a broad license to use the content you create—a license that’s common to services like ours. We need that license when it comes to, for example, Snaps submitted to Live Stories, where we have to be able to show those Stories around the world—and even replay them or syndicate them (something we’ve said we could do in previous versions of our Terms and Privacy Policy). But we tried to be clear that the Privacy Policy and your own privacy settings within the app could restrict the scope of that license so that your personal communications continue to remain truly personal.”

Snapchat handled this entire situation quite badly especially when you consider how other companies have implemented similar policies and caused public outrage. Their PR team should have known better and conducted things in a more communicative way. Whatever the case, I’m not a Snapchat user, and some might feel the terms are enough to make them uninstall the app. However, I’m pretty sure, Snapchat’s target demographic isn’t majorly concerned about the updated policy.

Footage Allegedly Shows Who Damaged Hitchbot!

We wrote an article yesterday (August 3rd 2015) concerning how a poor defenceless robot by the name of Hitchbot was damaged by an unknown assailant on the mean streets of Philadelphia. This was a shame as this project offered an insight into our relationship with artificial machines, but we now have a possible lead with footage which appears to show who dominated the robot.

A Vlogger by the name of Jesse Wellens posted the footage which is below to Snapchat, it shows a lone man who no doubt was born and raised in this state, in a sports jersey repeatedly kicking Hitchbot until it falls to the ground. According to the time code, this individual allegedly kicks the machine at 5:46am in the morning with the date being (Saturday 1st August). It must be rather difficult to explain this without looking slightly insane, “where were you?” “After maxin’ relaxin in a playground, I beat a travelling robot to death”.

If this is genuine then it seems rather pointless to attack a robot out of the blue, it also shows careless disregard for the team behind this project who have spent many an hour planning every detail of these trips. If this is the perpetrator then it will be interesting to note if he will be charged with any offence, after all, apart from petty vandalism to property belonging to someone else, there are no current laws which include assault on a robot. If anyone recognises this alleged individual then his life will no doubt be flipped and turned upside down.

We have been warned by scientists to expect a rise of the machine overlords, if this happens then I know who the first target will be for enslaving.

Thank you to Gizmodo for providing us with this information.

UK’s WhatsApp Ban Ruled Unlawful

UK Prime Minister David Cameron plans to ban any online messaging platform that uses end-to-end encryption, such that it would be unreadable by the country’s intelligence services, has been deemed “inconsistent with [European Union] law”. Messaging apps that use end-to-end encryption, such as the popular WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage, and image sharing platform Snapchat, are protected under the EU’s Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights. Home Secretary Teresa May, creator of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill – or ‘Snooper’s Charter’ – has, however, appealed the decision.

The ‘Snooper’s Charter’ has been met with vocal opposition from both users and tech companies alike. Apple CEO Tim Cook declared that his company has “never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services […] and we never will.”

“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which, even in extremis, with a signed warrant from the home secretary personally, that we cannot read?” David Cameron said back in January. “Are we going to allow a means of communication where it simply isn’t possible to do that? And my answer to that question is no we must not. The first duty of any government is to keep our people and our country safe,” he added, using the age-old trick of citing terrorism prevention to infringe on civil liberties, despite the fact it doesn’t work.

Even MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Nazi poster boy Boris Johnson is towing the Tory Party line of not giving a damn about human rights, saying, “I’m not interested in this civil liberties stuff. If they’re a threat, I want their emails and calls listened to.”

For all its faults, the European Union is the only body standing up for privacy and human rights in the face of Owellian levels of mass surveillance. Long may that continue.

Thank you The Express for providing us with this information.

David Cameron Plans to Ban WhatsApp

Since Edward Snowden spilled the beans on how government agencies spy on us, a lot of companies took precautions in preserving users’ privacy when using their apps. But it seems that will be made illegal and such apps look to be banned in the future, at least in the UK, according to Prime Minister David Cameron.

The PM plans to pass a new legislation by the name of “Snoopers’ Charter”, which will have popular cross-platform messaging and social media apps banned. The first one on the list seems to be WhatsApp, but the legislation looks to prevent people from sending any form of encrypted messages and has iMessage, as well as SnapChat in its sight too.

“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?” said Prime Minister Cameron .”My answer to that question is: ‘No, we must not’.”

It is said that if the legislation passes, all three aforementioned services will be banned in the UK. Furthermore, all Google searches, Facebook conversations, WhatsApp group messages and even SnapChat videos will be available to the UK police and Government officials when they want to ‘browse’ through them. But is this really for the best? Do we need to compromise our privacy for security? Or are we giving away our security along with our privacy? Let us know what you think.

Thank you Express for providing us with this information

UK Privacy and Apps Under Threat

Let me just jump on my soapbox for a minute with regards to this subject, according to reports, the newly elected Conservative Government wants to again reintroduce the Snoopers Charter, sorry, I mean the new fangled “Investigatory Powers Bill” which if enacted would allow the government and security services for example M15 access to everyone’s communications.

To add insult to injury the plans would also make end to end encrypted apps for example Snapchat and WhatsApp technically illegal, unless a backdoor is installed or communications are handed over. All in the name of terrorism and extremists, now I am not being flippant and I am aware that groups such as IS exist, but I do not believe everyone’s communications should be spied upon.

This bill if passed would also require all ISP (Internet Service Providers) to retain all information on every citizens browsing habits, sites which are looked at and information which is sent, with the aim of making this information available to the security services.

So what do the tech experts believe? They have stated that these laws are draconian, anti free speech and would put the whole Internet at risk from hackers. Who would be able to crack any backdoor laid before them by the powers that be. Opposition includes Tim Cook who is the boss of Apple who said citizens should be entitled to a private life; academics from MIT and the UK have both dismissed these proposals as a disaster.

So what can we do about it? The only thing as citizens we can do, make our voices heard, I believe there should be a limit to what governments can collect, innocent people should not be spied upon in their own homes, I do think we need to track for example suspected terrorists movements, but I think in order to be under surveillance, you need evidence and a court of law to approve this, not simply cart blanch can we have your data and monitor everyone.

The mantra for governments is quite clear, “let us spy on you or you can only use certain communication tools approved by the state”. I think it would be impossible to ravage the internet of encryption, but I do think this bill is designed and will be able to collect more information on everyone.

I have started a petition on this over at change.org if you are interested in checking It out, link is below, will it work?  Hell I will be damned if I am going to lie down quietly and let the state turn into a whole new animal which polices everyone, which notion is brought to you by the good folks in China, North Korea and Russia among many.

Petition at Change.org

Thanks to BBC News, Huffington post  (who plan to encrypt their website further) and Facebook trends

Image Courtesy of automation

 

 

Teen Charged With Murder After Taking Snapchat Selfie With Corpse

A teenager from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has been charged with murder after he allegedly gunned-down one of his classmates and took a selfie with the corpse, which he then posted to a friend via photo sharing app Snapchat.

16-year-old Maxwell Marion Morton was unaware, however, that the gruesome photo that he sent was screencapped by his friend before it was auto-deleted. Morton then sent a number of follow-up texts that incriminated him further. After his arrest, Morton confessed to the offence and is now being charged as an adult.

District attorney John Peck said to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, regarding the Snapchat photo, “I’ve never seen it before, but it was a key piece of evidence that led investigators to the defendant.”

Source: Engadget

FTC to Approves Charges Against Snapchat Over User Privacy

After revelations regarding the Snapchat’s failure to protect user privacy, the US Federal Trade Commission has finalised charges against the company. On 31st December, the FTC released the list of charges to be filed against Snapchat.

In the advisory released by the FTC, the US governmental department accuses Snapchat of “[deceiving] consumers with promises about the disappearing nature of messages sent through the service,” and that “Snapchat also deceived consumers over the amount of personal data it collected and the security measures taken to protect that data from misuse and unauthorized disclosure.”

Snapchat is designed to send perishable photo messages that are deleted after viewing. However, it was discovered last year that not only does Snapchat archive sent messages, but that third-party apps are able to recover perished messages.

Snapchat suffered another privacy breach last year when 4.6 million account usernames, passwords, and associated phone numbers were leaked online.

Source: ZDNet

Messaging App Strings Allows Users to ‘Unsend’ Texts

A new messaging app for iOS allows users to delete sent texts from the recipient’s phone, whether they’ve read them or not. The app, called Strings, allows users to send and receive texts, images, and videos in either individual of group chats, but with a set of customisable privacy controls. Users can control who can save and download images and videos, and remove sent messages, either individually or as an entire thread.

Though String hails itself as a more private and customisable version of messaging apps WhatsApp and Snapchat – its tagline is “You pull all the strings” – it has no facility to stop users from taking screen captures.

Strings has just launched in the US. There is no word yet as to whether the app will be rolled out internationally.

Source: The Independent

Snapchat Secretly Purchased Smart Glasses Company, Sony Hack Reveals

Leaked documents from the recent Sony hack have revealed that Snapchat secretly purchased Vergence Labs, a manufacturer of smart glasses, for $15 million earlier this year. A number of e-mails from the inbox of Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, also a member of Snapchat’s board, discuss the deal, worth $11 million cash and $4 million in Snapchat stock.

Vergence Labs are responsible for a brand of smart glasses called Epiphany Eyewear. The black-framed glasses can shoot POV video, uploaded to cloud storage via WiFi. Prices range between $300 and $500, offering 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB models.

The deal to buy the company was thought to be hurried due to Vergence Labs suffering financial difficulties; documents show that Snapchat loaned Vergence $2 million shortly before the acquisition. Had news of the deal not leaked in this manner, it is unclear if and when Snapchat would have announced it.

Source: The Verge

Use Wickr to Send Self-Destructing Messages From Your Desktop

Wickr, the instant messaging equivalent of Snapchat, is now available for home computers. The desktop version operates in the same way as the smartphone app, allowing users to send text, image, and audio recordings that “self-destruct” when viewed by the recipient.

The messaging app has been available for Android and iOS for two years, during which time it gained a reputation as ‘Snapchat for adults’, and saw a 50% surge in accounts after 4.6 million Snapchat users’ data was hacked back in January this year. Wickr has end-to-end encryption, protecting data transmission privacy while being sent.

Nico Sell, co-founder of Wickr, told Mashable, “Eventually I see email and messaging merging. This is our first attempt to take over email.” Sell acknowledges that her app does not use e-mail’s SMTP protocol, but that the issue is only superficial, saying, “Technically, it’s not email, but it will look like email to my mother.”

The desktop app is available for download from the Wickr website now, on Windows, OS X, and Linux.

Source: Mashable

‘Our Story’ Available on Snapchat to all Users

Snapchat news is something that we’ve covered before, and it’s certainly something that you’re likely to see more and more of. It’s becoming an extremely popular application for sharing photos between our younger generations – allowing you to send a photo or video to a friend, with the media deleting itself in a short time-frame.

Recently, Snapchat introduced a feature which allowed users to add their own photos and videos to the “story” of an event – trialing this at Electric Daisy Carnival, Lollapalooza and other similar events.

They were reportedly “blown away” by the public response to this new addition, so now all snapchatters, not just attendees, have the ability to use the “Our Story” feature.

The Snapchat blog let us know how to use their added goodies:

“You’ll notice today that there’s a new ‘Live’ section beneath your Recent Updates …That’s where you’ll be able to experience Stories contributed by the Snapchat community at all sorts of events. It’s a great way to check out what’s happening around the world.”

They went on to point out that this feature is their “favorite new product”. Unfortunately they made no mention of exactly what events will be put under this list and whether these events will be picked at random, or possibly even pay for the rights to be featured.

In a closing statement, they said:

“We were absolutely blown away when Snapchatters contributed over 350 hours of Snaps to Our Story during EDC, Rio, Outside Lands, and Lollapalooza,”

Image courtesy of The Tech Files

Snapchat Exploring Advertising Avenues

Most of us have heard about it and many of us have strong opinions of it – there’s no denying that Snapchat has worked its way well into the lives of many of us and especially into our younger population.

For those unaware, Snapchat is an image sharing program where users can take a picture or a short video and send it to select friends – this media then deletes itself up to 10 seconds after it’s originally viewed or instantly after the video has finished. This is akin to its logo, a ghost.

Snapchat recently turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook last year, but the question remains – how do they make money?

We’ve learned, thanks to the Wall Street Journal, that they’re mulling over a new service called “Snapchat Discovery” which will allow media companies and advertisers to push advertisements to Snapchat’s userbase. According to this report, Snapchat have been in contact with at least a dozen media companies and are looking to launch this update in November 2014.

Unfortunately, no statement from Snapchat could be acquired at this time.

There’s a few famous quotes I think relate to this situation. The first being “Hell, it’s about time” from Blizzard’s ever popular game Starcraft II and a common saying which is “money makes the world go round”. As much as we all love a free service, it was only a matter of time before Snapchat had to start earning something back.

As reported by ComScore, an industry researcher – Snapchat is the third-most popular social media app among people between the ages of 18 and 34, so it only makes sense that now is the time for them to strike.

Image courtesy of Business ETC

New Snapchat Vulnerability Issue Allows Hackers To Crash Your iPhone

Snapchat is one of the most popular and fast-growing social media applications, fairly new too. Though, consequences are bound to surface, and this is the case yet again, with more security issues popping up.

Jamie Sanchez, security researcher at Securidad Ofensiva, has revealed another security issue, a vulnerability that opens up the application to a DoS attack. It can be done by overloading an inbox with messages, giving hackers the opportunity to freeze and crash the iPhone and forcing the user to restart the handset to regain functionality.

It is said that Android users will not face the handset crash issue mentioned above, but will notice that their handset will run slower than normal. Snapchat are reportedly aware of the issue and are discussing with Sanchez further details on the issue described.

“We are working to resolve the issue and will be reaching out to the security researcher who publicized the attack to learn more,” said Snapchat in a statement.

Sanchez apparently notified the Los Angeles Times before notifying Snapchat officials because he claims that Snapchat “has no respect for the cyber security research community”. This does not come as a surprise, since earlier reports show that Snapchat was approached by different security specialists claiming that a security hole opened up in the app to hackers who want to expose data, leading to 4.6 million users having their personal data published last year.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

4.6 Million Snapchat Phone Numbers And Usernames Leaked Due To Privacy Breach

According to Snapchat company’s CEO, over 400 million “snaps” are sent everyday using the app. While the service was certainly making its way up the ranks, it has all come to a grinding halt thanks to a massive security breach.

The phone numbers and usernames of over 4.6 million Snapchat users have been leaked online. North American users are most effected by this leak, however it also contains private data from users across the globe. What really makes matters worse for Snapchat is that only a few days ago they were told by Gibson Security about potential security holes in their system. Snapchat chose to ignore the concerns, assuring users that their information is safe. Gibson then went on to explain how in just 7 minutes, over 10,000 phone numbers could be leaked using the app’s private APIs.

Snapchat was recently offered $4 billion from Facebook to be bought, which they turned down. Google has also made similar offers, which too were turned down. Needless to say nobody is going to be making any offers for the foreseeable future. I think they should have taken one of the offers made. Now however, they have a long way ahead to rebuild and fix the flaws and also regain users’ trust in handling their private information.

Thank you Chip Loco for providing us with this information

Snapchat Owners Turns Down A $3B Offer From Facebook

Since its release just over two years ago, Snapchat has been going from strength to strength and more recently the simple photo messaging app which was developed by a group of university students at Stanford has seen upwards of 350 million images passing through its servers each day to well over 100 million users worldwide. Due to its huge success and popularity, Facebook have made a huge offer to the app’s CEO – Evan Spiegel of $3B, only to be turned down as the 23-year old owner deems the company to be worth much more.

This offer has astonished a number of people worldwide as it is excessively more than the $1B purchase that Facebook made earlier in the year when they acquired the similarly popular imaging application – Instagram.

It seems that Facebook are keen to get their hands on the application as their own attempts to produce a similar app known as Facebook Poke saw little attention in the field when compared to Snapchat. With Facebook so keen to get hold of the service, especially due to the high offer, we may see another bid being placed next year when the company has an evaluation remade – with a substantial growth expected.

Source: The Verge