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.

Twitter Users Hit by State-Sponsored Attackers

On Friday, a number of Twitter users received a notification from the social networking platform, explaining that their accounts had been the target of state-sponsored actors. Unsurprisingly, the supposed targets of these attacks were mass surveillance researchers and security professionals.

The incident was surprising for users of Twitter, as until the notifications went out at 17:30 EST, Twitters notification service regarding state-sponsored attacks had never before been seen, let alone mentioned by Twitter. Fortunately for those affected, Twitter assures in the notification email that they believe that only email addresses, IP addresses, and phone numbers could have been taken by a breach, and even then, could not confirm that any data had been taken. The compromising of a single social media account can be a big deal though, with some users holding multiple Twitter accounts for different purposes, and using personal details and account credentials could yield access to other sites too.

Twitter is yet to release any further information beyond the notification letter, however people have begun theorizing what could be taking place, with Jacob Appelbaum, a key member of the Tor Project taking the effort to keep up a list of sorts of the individuals receiving the notifications. He questioned in a tweet whether Twitter had been “owned” or hacked. More information and theorycrafting on the topic has come under the hashtag #StateSponsoredActors which also discusses Twitter’s blocking of a number of accounts used through the Tor service.

Twitter is not the only online service with warnings against incidents with state attackers, with Google having one in place and Facebook having launched theirs back in October, which immediately identified attacks on US Government employees.

Scientists Claim the Internet Isn’t Rotting Kid’s Brains

Just like TV and video games, the internet does not “rot kid’s brains”, scientists have decided. Or, at least, there’s in no evidence that using the internet has any detrimental effect on the development of a child’s brain, according to a new editorial in the British Medical Journal.

The article, written by scientists from University College London and the University of Oxford, disputes claims by Susan Greenfield from Lincoln College Oxford that prolonged computer use can trigger “autistic-like traits” and aggression in youngsters. “Despite calls for her to publish these claims in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, where clinical researchers can check how well they are supported by evidence, this has not happened, and the claims have largely been aired in the media,” the editorial reads.

Greenfield, seemingly positioning herself as a 21st Century Mary Whitehouse, has a history of attacking internet use and social media. She holds the unsupported belief that social networks are a misnomer – much in the same way as a scientist making claims without evidence, one presumes – as they induce poor social skills, low empathy, and low personal identity in kids, while she thinks that video games cause autism, shorten attention spans, and encourage aggression.

The BMJ editorial rightly points out that Greenfield’s assertions are directly contradicted by a number of scientific studies in the field. It specifically cites research into social networking, which “has been found to enhance existing friendships and the quality of relationships, although some individuals benefit more than others.”

Science 1, unfounded personal bias 0.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Facebook Collects All Text Typed Into it, Whether Posted or Not

It’s no secret that Facebook is greedy for your data – it’ll take anything you offer up and sell it on to advertisers – but it has been revealed that the social networking site collects all text that is typed into it, from status updates to private messages, whether the person posts it or not.

It was rumoured as far back as December 2013 that Facebook employed an algorithm to collect metadata every time a user typed in a status or message that was deleted before posting, but the website denied that it was the case, maintaining that it only received a notification that text had been deleted and not the actual text itself.

An investigation by Príomh Ó hÚigínn, an Irish tech consultant, however, has demonstrated that Facebook do indeed receive a content record of deleted text. Ó hÚigínn dug through Facebook’s network traffic, using a developer tool and screencasting software.

“I realised that any text I put into the status update box was sent to Facebook’s servers, even if I did not click the post button,” Ó hÚigínn wrote on his blog.

“This is outright Orwellian, and inconvenient,’ he continued. “Since I am now aware of this, I am more cautious about what I enter into the text area.”

“However I can’t help but notice the adverse effect of my new found awareness ― am I experiencing the censorship of my own thoughts because of a faceless entity such as Facebook that doesn’t care about you? I very much believe that is the case.”

Facebook’s data policy on the matter – “We collect the content and other information you provide when you […] create or share. This can include information in or about the content you provide” – is suitably vague enough to cover such covert data collection, but it seems highly unethical to collect such data without being entirely explicit with users over it. Facebook is yet to comment on the matter.

Thank you Malaysian Digest for providing us with this information.

Twitter Plans to Sell Your Tweets

Twitter’s Data Strategy Chief Chris Moody has revealed that the social network is planning to sell trillions of tweets to data miners to facilitate targeted marketing. According to Moody, tweet data could be used for a myriad of different purposes, both commercial and social, from targeting new parents with baby clothes to gauging mood while policing football matches.

Moody said, “Twitter gives this fascinating ability to understand people in a context like we’ve never been able to do before. It’s not ‘I know that Chris Moody is a 48-year-old male’ – which is how we’ve thought about marketing in the past – but ‘I understand that Chris Moody is dealing with the death of a parent because he’s talking about it on this public platform’.”

He added that by using Twitter, a person is effectively saying: “I’ve stepped up to the microphone and I’ve said I want the world to know that this thing is happening in my life.”

Twitter already sells some data garnered from its users, but so far it only makes up a fraction of the company’s income: $70 million out of its $1.3 billion turnover last year.

The social network has no plans to sell direct message data, but everything else is fair game, as suggested by Twitter’s unambiguous privacy policy: “What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly.”

Source: The Guardian

Twitter Begs Power Users to Stop Using Instagram

Twitter has been messaging high-profile users, imploring them to tweet photos directly, rather than links to Instagram. The message includes an image comparison, showing the difference between a Twitter photo and an Instagram link (above).

After Instagram was purchased by Facebook in 2012, Twitter stopped supporting Twitter Card integration for Instagram photos, so instead of the image only a link is displayed. The move was considered spiteful at the time, since Twitter had expressed an interest in buying the photo sharing app before Facebook pipped them to the purchase. The decision seems churlish now that Instagram’s 300 million userbase now surpasses Twitters 284 users.

In an effort to mitigate the damage, Twitter introduced its own Instagram-esque photo filters towards the end of 2012, but it has done little to sway the younger demographic that has flocked to Instagram over the last two years.

Twitter’s latest attempt to gain back photo traffic smacks of desperation. Whether it will work remains to be seen.

Source: TechCrunch

Only 9% of Google+ Profiles Active

In the least surprising news ever, it has been revealed that no one is using the Google+. Kevin Anderson, an analytics blogger, has charted Google+’s usage statistics and, though 2.2 billion people have accounts with the social network, only 9% of users have ever posted on it.

Anderson’s data comes from Edward Morbius, who posted his findings on rival social network Ello. In his post, Morbius quotes Head of Google+ Dave Besbris who, in an interview with Re/Code last year, said, regarding user figures, “I don’t want to talk about numbers”.  This is why:

  • Of the 2.2 billion Google+ profiles, only 9% have publicly-posted content;
  • 37% of those profiles have only commented on YouTube videos, and 8% are profile photo changes;
  • 6% of active profiles have activity for 2015;
  • Half of active profiles in 2015 only have YouTube posts;
  • So, around 0.2 of all Google+ profiles have made public posts in 2015.

Ironically, Morbius is a regular user of Google+.

Source: Business Insider

Instagram is Now Worth $35 Billion

As well as having more users, Instagram is now worth more than Twitter at $35 Billion. Citigroup raised the app’s valuation from $19 billion to $35 billion. 

The image centric social networking service was purchased by Facebook in April 2012 for a now rather cheap $1 Billion. Instagram has grown at an extraordinary rate and has quickly become one of the internet’s most popular social networking sites. 

Ever since the accusation, the company has done little to modify the app or to integrate it into Facebook. Instagram has remained extraordinarily simple, utilising only images, filters and comments to get to this big milestone. 

Being bigger than Twitter, Instagram only expands Facebook’s dominance posing the question of whether Instagram may even one day eclipse it’s parent site too. 

Source: Wired

Instagram Passes Twitter, Now Has Over 300 Million Monthly Active Users

Instagram is continuing to grow, with the Facebook-owned image-sharing site now boasting over 300 million monthly active users. This number has swollen considerably from March this year, a number that is up over 100 million in that time. Instagram now has more monthly active users than Twitter, which is sitting at around 284 million monthly active users.

There are over 70 million images shared every day that find themselves with over 2.5 billion “likes” according to Instagram. There have also been over 30 billion photos shared since Instagram first opened its doors. Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom has said that they are seeing many more people join from the world of fashion, with young teens flocking to the site. Over 70% of Instagram’s users are also found outside of the United States.

Source: TechSpot.

Glose: The Ebook Reader for Social Networkers

Have you ever wanted to turn your love of books into a social experience? Now you can with Glose, the new ebook reader and store. Glose allows users to discuss quotes and segments from their ebooks with friends and other users, make and share notes and annotations, and compare reviews with your followers. It’s like your own virtual book club.

In addition to the reader, Glose also has its own ebook store, featuring 300,000 books from a whole host of publishers – including Penguin Radom House, Harper Collins, and MacMillan – upon launch. All ebooks sold through the store are cross-platform compatible. The Company’s CEO and co-founder, Nicolas Princen, reveals the inspiration behind Glose: “I kept a notebook with handwritten notes and key quotes that I wanted to learn by heart or read later. This notebook — I lost it.”

Glose is currently available for iOS and online, with an Android version on its way.

Source: TechCrunch

Facebook Policy Agreement Allowed Emotional State Study on 600,000 Users

When signing up for a Facebook account, the majority of users do not read the Facebook Data Use Policy and consider that their private user data is secure. While this is true, this does not mean that Facebook itself can’t use the data you post. This is where Facebook has gathered some data from random account feeds in order to use it in a little social experiment.

Facebook apparently has tweaked the content seen by more than 600,000 users in order to determine whether or not it would affect their emotional state. The study paper has been published under the name of “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” at The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. Users who like to view it would find how Facebook data scientists tampered the algorithm managing which posts appear on users’ news feeds, having it manage the number of negative and positive posts appearing on users’ news feed. Future posts from users ‘participating’ in the experiment were then analysed over the course of one week in order to determine if they would respond with increased positivity or negativity of their own and thus determining whether emotional states could be transmitted over a social network.

The result turned out to be positive, having users respond to the negativity or positivity of the content manipulated. The scientists have proved that the ‘mood’ can be changed over a social network and the overall point about modern psychology. Also, for concerned Facebook users, the paper states that the data gathered has been within the “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” agreement which everyone had to agreed with before signing up for a Facebook account. In addition to the latter, all personal and private data gathered has been done using the policy’s liberal constraints, having a machine analyse and pick out positive and negative posts.

Adam Kramer is listed as being the lead author for the paper, having him state in an interview that the reason he had joined the social network is that “Facebook data constitutes the largest field study in the history of the world.”. The latter statement proves the sad truth that while users view Facebook as a fun and loving place to post pictures, quotes, places you have been to and personal experience, it is without question a huge ‘research lab’ for some higher-ups as well.

Thank you A.V. Club for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of A.V. Club

Google Expected To Integrate Into Google+

In an interview with Livemint, Google’s Steve Grove, director of partnerships for Google+, went into some detail about how the company plans to stretch Google+ even further in the future: “We’ve been consolidating the different services, so today Search, YouTube, the Google Play app store, all this plugs into Google+. And the reason for that is that Google+ is kind of like the next version of Google.”

Google is doing everything it can to attract more people to Google+, a service which has been ignored at the best of times, and reviled at the worst. By partnering with celebrities and major companies, integrating all of its products and requiring real names for commenting, Google has been taking the necessary steps to grow the social network, even if some of the methods have been unpopular.

According to Grove, mobile is the next target for Google+. “[Google+ is] going to create a network future with people uploading live videos from their phones, said Grove. “Google+ could do for live video, what YouTube did for recorded video.”

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information

Demo For Xbox One Friends App Released

A walk-through of the new Xbox One friends app has been demoed by Major Nelson, and has dealt with two of the most primary parts of the app, which are ‘friends’ and ‘followers’. The retired colonel takes you through the distinguishing factors between the two parts in this video demo.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktpqoJfTR3g[/youtube]

In Xbox One friends, the number of friends is a finite number, usually limited up to a few thousand. Meanwhile, the number of followers has no such restrictions. Additionally, you can befriend your follower by deciding to follow your friend back in return, which would unlock information available to each other, you can check when your friends is online, and their latest achievements in real-time.

“A great driver in ‘Forza Motorsport 5,’ for example, could have a huge group of thousands or even millions of followers all tracking their performance in-game,” Rob Lehew, Xbox Live Program Manager, said. “Those followers can have this driver on their personal leaderboard so that they can constantly keep track of how they stack-up, and they can potentially connect online with the driver to get into a race with him.”

All friends will just get ported over to the Xbox One, so Xbox 360 gamers have nothing to worry about if they value their old friends too much. The video posted above will take you  through a tour of the app.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing is with this information.

Image and video courtesy of NextPowerUp.