Microsoft to Allow Cross Platform Gaming

Microsoft is announcing a massive new feature for all Xbox owners today, Cross-platform gaming! The giant tech corporation has been hinting at the addition of this for the past few years and today it seems to have become reality. PS4, Xbox One and Windows 10 will be able to support the new feature, providing Sony and others partake. The feature will be dependent on game developers incorporating it into their game releases, chances are this will become a very large part of the releases we have ahead of us for the rest of this year.

Microsoft has confirmed that Rocket League will be one of the first games to take advantage of the new feature between Xbox One and PC players, with an open invitation to other networks such as Nintendo’s own platform, utilised on their Wii and DS products.

This change could reshape gaming’s future for the better, people who don’t have gaming rigs but own consoles can play games with others on PC’s. I think that’s awesome! Currently, you are restricted to playing games released for your platform. Opening up cross-platform networking capabilities will remove a big restriction in console gaming. Although it may open up a conversation around which titles should allow PC gamers to play against console gamers, a mouse and keyboard still have some huge advantages on most fps games so could cause for some interesting challenges for the game developers.

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.

Has Facebook Suffered From a 46 Year Old Bug?

Facebook is certainly a phenomenon which has travelled to huge swathes of the globe and, in turn, gained huge adoption. From celebrities being able to instantly update followers regarding their latest escapades to Mr and Mrs Blogs posting various life events, including cat pictures, the tech giant has certainly been a force. But! Did you know Facebook has been around for 46 years?  Well, a new bug has been unearthed congratulating many users on reaching the milestone of “46 years of friendship on Facebook”.

As you would expect, this is slightly odd considering the social network has not even been around for 15 years, below is an image to illustrate the notification which many confused users have received.  So, what is going on?  Facebook has not disclosed the exact cause of the bug but has released the following statement.

We’ve identified this bug and the team’s fixing it now so everyone can ring in 2016 feeling young again.


There is speculation that the bug originates from Unix, let me explain, the aforementioned Unix “underlines many of the world’s servers and it keeps time by counting up from zero at one-second intervals from the date with which the clock began, this is also known as the epoch.  Therefore, this conveniently happens to be January 1st, 1970 at midnight Greenwich Mean Time, or 46 years ago today going by Eastern Standard Time.  Every second from that point on is known as epoch time and thus is why some gadgets may in theory switch to December 31st, 1969.

Has Facebook suffered from its very own Y2K or millennium bug?  If it has then it’s been very small considering it has been subsequently rectified at speed.  On a side note, even users who are significantly under 46 years of age have also seen this message, perhaps someone at Facebook has been on the New Year drink too soon.

Is There a Connection Between ISIS and UK Government IP addresses?

Information has been both circulating and updating over the last 48 hours concerning a possible link “that a number of Islamic State supporters’ social media accounts are being run from internet addresses linked to IP addresses from the Department of Work and Pensions” This possible connection has been traced and subsequently exposed by well-known hacking group VandaSec.

Reports have also stated that, as is the norm in the digital age, been unearthed by four teenage computer hackers who claim to have traced “IP addresses from their supposed Saudi Arabia location back to the United Kingdom’s Department of Work and Pensions after using a set of specialized tools to track the IP addresses”. These accounts are at first glance noteworthy due to being utilised to recruit new ISIS members online.

It’s a conspiracy! Probably not, after further analyses by an external source, it has so far been concluded that these IP addresses were part of an unpublicized set of transactions between Britain and Saudi Arabia. It has been discovered that the British government sold a large number of IP addresses to two Saudi Arabian firms (Saudi Telecom and the Saudi-based Mobile Telecommunications Company). After the sale had been finalised around October of this year (2015) extremists piggybacked onto these and utilized the protocol to spread the standard message synonymous with the group.

Jamie Turner, an expert from a firm by the name of PCA Predict, confirmed the trace back to the UK government was more obvious than first thought owning to the fact that records for the IPs had not as yet been fully updated.

At the very least it’s certainly embarrassing for Whitehall, yes, as the government has stated it had no control over what happened to the IP addresses after they had sold them, but, perhaps further vetting of potential clients needs to take place in order to mitigate against unlawful use at the extreme end. I wonder where other sold IP addresses will end up in the future?

Image courtesy of wired

EU lawmakers Propose Banning Under 16s From The Internet Without Parental Consent

Well this is, err, something, reports are circulating that under 16s could technically be banned from online services that include Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat unless they get permission from a parent. This quirk of fate if you will is all down to proposed new EU data protection rules which look set to be agreed.

So, how did we get to this? Well, new regulations would make it illegal for companies to handle data from anyone 15 years or younger without parental consent. These proposals open up a can of worms for various social media companies who have based their business models on targeting a younger audience with their products with hopes of an increased adoption of services.

The “ban” would leave millions of kids and teenagers having to ask their parents for permission to use internet services including email accounts, social media platforms and the downloading of apps. Somewhat understandably US tech groups are aiming to amend such a proposal through intense lobbying.

The proposal of new data protection regulations is much more stringent and companies must comply or face fines up to 4% of their global turnover, which could result in a massive bill for the biggest of online giants.

On the flip side, a petition has been launched by “The Diana Award Youth Boardwho state that “We don’t believe young people should be required to seek their parents’ consent every time they use a new app or website.”

It is certainly bizarre and impossible to police against, it will be compelling to see the outcome of these proposed regulations.

Image courtesy of mashable

Activision Buys Creator Of Candy Crush

On the train, in the car and even at work, people enjoy games on their mobile phones. From the days of the first game boy, the idea behind mobile gaming devices was always to let you play what you wanted, where you wanted and with mobiles phones becoming as powerful as they are, the ability to change your little communications device into a gaming hub is as easy as ever. One of the biggest names in the mobile video games group is Candy Crush Saga and its creator just got a new owner, Activision.

On Monday, Activision Blizzard announced that it had agreed to acquire the rights for King Digital Entertainment, the company behind Candy Crush Saga, for a staggering total of $5.9 billion.

Popular on platforms such as Facebook, Candy crush follows a business model called freemium. You can play the game for free, and you could even complete it for free but if you wanted those little extra bonuses, the boosters or the level skips then it will cost you real world money.

With King stating that it has over 158 million daily users and over 1 billion games played each day it’s not hard to see why this acquisition by Activision Blizzard could see the company getting a rather large foot in the door of mobile gaming.

New Craze Called ‘Extreme Phone Pinching’ Trends On Social Media

Ok, I will say it, what in the hell is going on these days? You have heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, which was certainly for a good cause, well here is a  new “challenge” and I use this word loosely, which is trending on social media whereby consumers are dangling their precious and I assume very expensive iPhones over balconies and or through gaps in drains.

This craze of what looks to be insanity for anyone attached to their gadgets was started by an indie pop band by the name of “Twenty One Pilots”, anyone? No me neither, who posted a series of videos on various social media accounts which conveys one of the band members lightly gripping an iPhone while dangling it through a gap in a street drain cover.  Below is a video to convey this, not sure many people would attempt this,

Oh, they would, below is a gentleman who succeeded in dangling his phone while standing at a precise height of 2,487 feet in the air, he was standing on a platform and not levitating.

Below is another individual who thought stretching over what looks to be an internal hotel balcony and lightly gripping his phone was a good idea, good job he did not drop his phone otherwise it would have either hit the ground or someone would have caught a free phone.

Last moron, sorry, individual, who dangled theirs out of a train/bus window, as you do I suppose.

For me it just goes to show that a certain section of society will follow any trend which is placed before them, spending hundreds of pounds on a new phone should be a sign to keep it out of harms way. One thing that would not surprise me if this is found to be a publicity viral video stunt in some way, after all, who would risk an expensive phone for a trend? as of writing apparently the above people. One things for sure, I would not have thought Apple Care would cover acts of stupidity, if it was broken then the genius bar would have to be actual geniuses in order to stick it back together again.

Thank you mirror for providing us with this information.

IBM Wants To Teach Robots Some Social Skills

The exploration and development of Artificial intelligence is a boundary which is consistently being pushed, the scientific and academic communities are furthering their studies into robotic interactions in many different directions. One such path is focusing on IBM and their efforts to incorporate “machine learning to teach robots social skills like gestures, eye movements, and voice intonations” through the Watson Project.

During a keynote speech at a conference held in San Jose, California, this week, Robert High, chief technology officer of Watson at IBM, conveyed techniques his team are working on using a small humanoid robot. During demonstrations the machine, a Nao model from the company Aldebaran, appeared to successfully speak with realistic intonation. According to Oxford dictionaries, “Intonation” is defined as “The rise and fall of the voice when speaking” The robot also achieved appropriate hand gestures, a little impatience and sarcasm which included looking at its watch, for example, when asking High to hurry up with his talk.

Unfortunately, these interactions were pre recorded and not conveyed live on stage, this was down to the system’s failings in successfully working in noisy environments. The team behind the R&D have implemented machine-learning algorithms which learn from video footage with the aim to associate appropriate gestures and intonations with different phrases.

Artificial Intelligence is viewed as a soulless entity which is mechanical, it cannot be related to in any way, we humans on the other hand use subtle cues when we communicate with each other, our voices change pitch and our hands reinforce our points of view, muscles in our faces react to a conversation or a feeling of emotion. If you could download social skills into a robot, you would have a more believable form which tricks our brains into identifying a believable norm. This research is still in its early stages; one has to wonder where robots will be in 10, 20, 50 years time?. Will there become a situation in my life time whereby a debate would centre on a legal definition of an acceptance of a robot being classified as he/she.

It makes you contemplate the lengths to which AI development can reach and the implications on us.

Thank you technologyreview for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of aldebaran

Facebook Is Sued (Again) This Time For Storing a Billion Face Prints

Facebook’s business model is a paradox for consumers who yearn for privacy yet share their selfies, intimate images and sometimes bizarre postings within its borders. How much privacy would you expect from a company built on making a substantial profit from your data? Facebook has decided to push the storage of your information even further and has subsequently been handed a class action complaint over consumer biometric retention.

So what and who, have Facebook violated this time? According to the filed complaint, Facebook “has created, collected and stored over a billion ‘face templates’ (or ‘face prints’)”, which, ostensibly, are as uniquely identifiable as fingerprints. These have been gathered “from over a billion individuals, millions of whom reside in the State of Illinois”. It is alleged that by harvesting this sensitive data, Mark Zuckerberg is in violation of the state of Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which was passed by the state legislature in 2008.

Now for the punchline, as noted in the complaint, under BIPA a private entity such as Facebook is prohibited from obtaining or possessing an individual’s biometrics unless it achieves suitable consent, which is constituted by the following:

  • Informing that person in writing that biometric identifiers or information will be collected or stored
  • Informing that person in writing of the specific purpose and length of term for which such biometric identifiers or biometric information is being collected, stored and used
  • Receiving a written release from the person for the collection of his or her biometric identifiers or information
  • Publishing publicly available written retention schedules and guidelines for permanently destroying biometric identifiers and biometric information

The group of plaintiffs state that they have not and never had a Facebook account, but their images were uploaded onto the site which resulted in the creation of a biometric template which was then stored by Facebook..

It’s difficult to imagine the social networking giant complying with the current legal and acceptable definitions enshrined in law. If Facebook loses this case then it would effectively open the door to millions of possible claimants who would seek damages for breaches of privacy. This stand-off is very much a .com terms and conditions VS real world laws and consequences, Facebook will no doubt argue that consumers shared this information voluntarily regardless of who actually shared it for the corporation to handle as they wish, one thing is certain; the outcome could pinpoint the paths which define consumer protection in the face of a growing will to collect more and more info by large corporations.

Who owns your image once it’s uploaded onto Facebook or any other site?

Thank you theregister for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of 1en

News Corp CEO Lashes Out At Google and Others at Event

Robert Thomson, who is the News Corp CEO and right hand man to dark lord Murdoch has lashed out at Google for “piracy, zealotry and kleptocracy” Let me for a moment check Google for definitions of these words, Piracy is well-known so I won’t be checking that.

Zealotry – right wing fanatical and uncompromising pursuit of religious, political, or other ideals;  

Kleptocracy – is a term applied to a government seen as having a particularly severe and systemic problem with officials or a ruling class.

I can see where he is coming from with the term Zealotry, after all, Google is extremely uncompromising in its business model towards privacy, competition and other interests. Kleptocracy? Google has a problem paying taxes and to some extent has disobeyed the ideals of the ruling class, but in others has assisted by sharing data of consumers etc. It depends how you define the relationship between state and tech companies.

Finally piracy, again, Google is perceived to rip news corporations off by offering free news, but should consumers pay for the right to educate themselves on world events. Google has also taken steps to delete millions of links to pirated content in the last few years, I am not defending Google, but I don’t believe everything should be behind a paywall, as is News Corp’s vision.

Robot Thompson went on to say that Google and LinkedIn among others “redistribute the content created by others, they would argue that such redistribution is a natural extension of their role as social networks. I would argue that much of the redistribution is an unnatural act” Before stating “the digital age has been hostile to investment in reporters and reporting” I would argue this is a speech from a Republican dilutionist who lost his audience at “unnatural act.”

News Corp and many other avenues are facing challenges of monetizing their content effectively, the old days of buying a newspaper is fading fast and it’s up to these companies to strategize a future whereby consumers are more inclined to pay for content, instead of knocking the search engines that after all, link to their content in the first place. This also highlights what consumers actually want from their news, if you had the choice of paying for a news article which basically tells you the same as a free article, which one would you choose?

News is news, the US or some other company being hacked again is the same whether it’s paid to read or free. It will be interesting to see how you monetize news when there is a saturation of sources available.

Thank you mUmBrella for providing us with this information.

Image Courtesy of Forbes

Reddit Launches New Harassment Rules

Reddit is banning a handful of its worst communities. “Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to have authentic conversations and share ideas and content on an open platform,” “We want as little involvement as possible in managing these interactions but will be involved when needed to protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment.”

One of the bans will include the only subreddit with more than 5,000 subscribers — is r/fatpeoplehate, a forum devoted to posting pictures of overweight people for ridicule. Also, four more subreddits have been names.as r/

  1. r/hamplanethatred
  2.  r/transfags
  3. r/neofag
  4.  r/shitniggerssay

They’ve all now been shut down, with a message stating:  “for violating the Reddit rules to keep everyone safe.” According to reddit these last four ranged from 149 to 3071 subscribers, although in r/fatpeoplehate’s case, “more than 5,000” is a bit of an understatement; the last Reddit metrics (and a Google cached page) put it at around 151,000 subscribers.

The changes have been made by Reddit this morning, there is approx 650,000 subreddits on the website, each one requires moderating and looking after. Over the past few years, Reddit has restricted the anything goes rule, to exclude sexual photos of minors, leaks of celeb nudes and more.

Deciding on what is banned and what is not could be a difficult problem for Reddit, especially because it’s hard to agree what harassment is actually constituted of.

Thank you to TheVerge for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Reddit

Florida Public Schools to Spy on Students’ Social Media

The Orange County Public Schools District have chosen to monitor people’s social activity in their area, the district announced on Thursday that it has signed up with a service called Snaptrends, which bills itself as “Pioneering Location-Based Social Media Discovery.” It promises to “quickly identify actionable insights.”

The public schools insisted that the purpose of the software was “to proactively prevent, intervene and (watch) situations that may impact students and staff.” 

Cnet contacted the Orange County Public Schools District to ask how far this monitoring will stretch — current information suggests that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube will be monitored for specific keywords.

They also asked what the district would say to a parent who believes this is unnecessary stalking of their kids. However, there was no response.Schools from Huntsville, Ala,. to Glendale, Calif., have decided that they must, in one form or another, monitor what their students do on social media.

It does make me wonder what level of detail they can see, on a personal and irrelevant level, surely that is an invasion of students privacy?

We’ve all become used to Google, Facebook and other commercial cohorts scanning our messages and generally following us around 24 hours a day. Somewhere buried deep within us might be the idea that they’re only doing it for commercial reasons and don’t care one whit about our personal lives and pre dilections — unless they can make money out of them. It’s business, not personal.

With schools, it’s a little different. They’re specifically monitoring what kids do in private — even if that might be publicly available information — with a view to preventing bad behavior.

Thank you to Cnet for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of SnapTrends

Well This gives ‘Meat Spin’ a New Meaning

The internet is a sinister place people, only very hardened folk delve into what the internet has to offer and make it out unscathed… well mostly. I won’t name it directly, but who remembers the horrible trolling event when dual female participants organised something down right nasty with a plastic drinking utensil?

Now you have that image in your mind, take a look at this.

That most definitely gives a new meaning to ‘meating people’. Tender is the lazy man’s version of Tinder. Want to ‘meat’ a new companion, share your love of meat, but can’t be bothered staring at a screen while you swipe right? This could be the machine for you. At least you can use this as a first date ice breaker.

From the video, it is unclear whether this machine has a name or even if it has any technology inside (I’m pretty sure there’s someone crouched behind the machine in the first shot). Someone please let me know if there is a name for this, I would like to shake the crazy person’s hand.

Does anyone still use Tinder? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to TechCrunch for providing us with this information.

Deekit May Be the Brainstorming Tool You Need

source: deekit.com

If you’re someone who’s like me and is tired of spending money buying countless whiteboards for your projects, Deekit might be for you.

Deekit is an online tool designed for just about everyone from developers and engineers to students and freelance designers. The concept focuses almost exclusively on simplicity to allow you to work with your team on a virtual whiteboard and sketch out your ideas. It’s incredibly efficient with basic functions like drawing, image embedding, and text input, but it goes a bit further than that with pre-designed templates customized for business models, roadmaps, and brainstorming. For people like myself who love to stay up to date, it even has an activity log that shows what changes your team members have made.

The possibilities are limitless in what you can do with this sort of design technology and I think it’ll be a great help to my own design team considering how often we’re uploading images on our forums. The browser-based application was recently released into open Beta and you can try it out easily by going over to their website right here, so if you’re working in a team-based environment this tool could be quite useful for your everyday workflow. All you’ll need is a Facebook, Google, or Microsoft account and you’re ready to get started!

Do you think you could benefit from software like this? Know of similar software that others could use? Share in the comments below!

Islamic State Said to Have about 46K Twitter Accounts

The Islamic State terror organisation is known for its use of social media accounts. Though Twitter stated that the it found around 70,00 pro-ISIS accounts, 46,000 are deemed as the “most conservative” estimate.

The report comes after the FBI issued a warning about American teens being susceptible to ISIS recruitment tactics, having ISIS Twitter Census finding that one if five accounts are in English and the rest, representing 75%, are in Arabic.

The report states that “a minimum” of 1,000 accounts were closed between September and December 2014, while Twitter closed about 2,000 accounts this week alone. Following the social media giant’s action, ISIS issued a threat against Jack Dorsey, a Twitter co-founder.

“The process of suspension does create certain new risks. Most importantly, while suspensions appear to have created obstacles to supporters joining ISIS’s social network, they also isolate ISIS supporters online. This could increase the speed and intensity of radicalization for those who do manage to enter the network, and hinder organic social pressures that could lead to deradicalization.”

The group’s social media presence has even gained the attention of new Pentagon Chief, Ashton Carter, stating that ISIS “is a social-media-fueled terrorism group in a way we haven’t seen yet.”

“People who are very distant from any battlefield, from any experience of radicalism, are suddenly becoming enticed through social media,” said Carter.

The report found that Android is the most common platform for mobile tweeting, while iOS comes in second and Blackberry in third place.

“Among users of the three most popular phone types, 69 percent had downloaded a Twitter client from the Google Play store or Google.com,” the report said. “Another 30 percent used a client downloaded from the Apple iTunes store, and about 1 percent had downloaded a client from Blackberry.com.”

It is said that the ISIS Twitter numbers are only a fraction of the 288 million Twitter claims are active on the website. The report states that 4% of the accounts had between 5,000 and 50,000 followers. However, since the pro-ISIS accounts started to appear last year, they are likely to reach millions of people worldwide due to the fact that between 500 and 2,000 ISIS account holders tweet in high volume and their messages are likely to go viral.

“This activity, more than any other, drives the success of ISIS’s efforts to promulgate its message on social media,” the report said. “Short, prolonged bursts of activity cause hashtags to trend, resulting in third-party aggregation and insertion of tweeted content into search results.”

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information

Social Gaming Rising. And Rising. And Rising

Over the past few years social gaming has gone boom. It’s grown quicker than the Ibrahimovic shot a guy from the other side of the world has just rifled past you on Xbox live, and taking the industry higher than the Cristiano Ronaldo shot you’ve ballooned over the bar.

Since around 2010 the industry has skyrocketed with the release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 only enhancing that further, that’s not to mention Facebook.

Whilst the likes of Minecraft and World of Warcraft have long been associated with social gaming, but the likes of Farmville have opened it up to a whole new audience.

And you’d be surprised to what degree too. In 2012 around 58% of social gamers were over the age of 40, banishing the idea that gaming was limited to teenagers locked in their bedroom, whilst 8% of those were using mobile.

In the three years between, that has changed dramatically with mobile gaming expected to be worth over $100billion in the next few years with the likes of Candy Crush offering in-game prizes and online casinos giving away iPads as FURTHER incentives, we can expect to see the market significantly grow in competitiveness.

Texas Hold’Em has been a growing social game for some time now and has overtaken Farmville in the new age Facebook is slowly losing its touch with games. It’s no real surprise to see that social gaming is right on trend right now sitting right up there in both online and offline gaming. The ability to both play some of the best games on the market, as well as socialise with friends, or indeed someone halfway across the world, is something of real appeal, diminishing the stigma of gaming being ‘geeky’ or ‘nerdy’.

Of course for brands as well it can be a hugely profitable move. Not only does it create brand awareness through shares to friends, but also in game add-ons is a hugely lucrative market.

It’s essentially an advert, but not one that lasts 30 seconds, but hours upon hours, across days.

And social gaming is only, like that Cristiano Ronaldo shot against the guy from the other side of the world, going to expand further. The power of the internet is creating new opportunities every day, exciting gamers no end whether it be on your iPhone, desktop or console. Who knows where it could go next, but one thing’s for sure, everybody will be talking about it together.

British Army to Set Up 77 Brigade ‘Social Media Unit’

01

The British Army is to set up a ‘social media unit’ called 77 Brigade. The army is reportedly interested in creating the Brigade due to the ‘ineffectiveness’ of conventional weapons in the face of modern day threats.

The unit will consist of social media experts, psychologists and behaviourists who will be tracking to the communications of  various groups, including those of extremists and militants, in an attempt to establish how such groups are formed, how they develop and how they can be prevented from developing. They’ll also be working directly with such groups and members of the public online in a neutral manner, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of harmful and extremist messages.

The unit will also be attempting to influence whole populations in order to educate people against negative threats, including those from oppressive governments who may be trying to influence such populations through propaganda.

Source: BBC News

Imgur Introduces New GIF Format

The popular image sharing website, Imgur, has introduced its new GIF format. The company announced last year that it had a plan to reinvent the GIF, and now it has, sort of.

The company’s format is called GIFV, which claims to provide much higher quality GIFs. GIFV is all part of the site’s new ‘Video to GIF’ service, which allows you to turn any streaming video into a GIFV.

However, while it’s simple to convert any streaming video to a GIFV, it’s not exactly that easy to use it anywhere. Outside of Imgur itself, a GIFV requires users to post an embed code if they want to use it on a website. This means it could be difficult for social media use and for e-mail.

You can try it out for yourself at Imgur.

Source: Imgur

BlackBerry Tweet Promoting Twitter for BlackBerry Sent Via iPhone

BlackBerry has been involved in a now common social media faux pas. The company sent out a tweet promoting Twitter for BlackBerry… on an iPhone.

Yes, the company has made that mistake seemingly made by many celebrities and social media managers these days, by promoting a product via a rival device. I say celebrities, as this has become a very common thing for ‘brand ambassadors’ to do – they get paid to tweet “I love my Samsung Galaxy” while they end up sending it from an iPhone.

That particular occurrence happened to BlackBerry itself – the company’s former ‘Creative Director’ Alicia Keys sent out tweets from an iPhone in 2013, just after she received the job at BlackBerry. She somehow blamed that on “hackers”.

The latest offending tweet was discovered via Twitter’s TweetDeck service by The Verge, but has since been deleted. We imagine all of BlackBerry’s social media managers will now be issued with new, more appropriate phones.

Source: The Verge

Facebook to Introduce Missing Child AMBER Alerts

Facebook has announced that it will begin including alerts regarding missing children into American Facebook news feeds. The company announced a partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the US organisation behind the famous AMBER alert programme.

Alerts will appear only in people’s News Feeds (no push notifications) and will only be limited to people in the area relative to the child that is currently missing.  Facebook says that users may see very few alerts each year, so nobody should be worried about their News Feed being clogged up.

AMBER alerts were introduced in 1996 with the aim of reducing the number of missing children. More than 720 children have been found thanks to the system that has until now been used via road signs, text messages and television.

The Facebook alerts will be much more detailed than the traditional alerts delivered via television, digital traffic signs and text messages, as they will include pictures, background information regarding the child’s circumstances and links to the NCMEC website.

Source: The Verge

 

Crayola Facebook Page Hacked – Flooded With NSFW Content

When you think of Crayola, you think of youthfulness and innocence, a child scribbling with his or her favourite colour crayons perhaps. What you don’t think of is “The Worst Kind of Boobs”, “Reasons why girls don’t give blow jobs” and “Disney For Adults”.

That pretty much summarises what happened to the company’s Facebook page this past weekend after it was hacked and flooded with racy and sometimes mildly pornographic content.

The company did eventually get back in control of the page, but fortunately Adweek managed to screenshot some of the offending posts.

Source: Adweek

Nokia 215 Gives You The Web in Your Pocket for $29

For most of you reading this, a 2G feature phone with a QVGA display and 0.3 megapixel camera isn’t going to be enough to satisfy your mobile computing needs. But for a number of you and for many others, the idea of being able to access Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms for just $29 is going to be more than enough.

That’s pretty much what the Nokia 215 is. It’s a small feature phone with a basic display and camera, alongside a 2G antenna, FM Radio, Bluetooth, a torch and pretty long battery life (29 days of standby). The phone runs apps like Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Bing Search, MSN Weather and Opera Mini giving those who aren’t looking to spend $100+ on a smartphone access to basic networking features.

The phone is due to come out later this year, starting in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Source: Engadget

YouTube Testing GIF Maker

Surely this is the biggest tech story of the year – soon you’ll hopefully be able to make GIFs from any video on YouTube with no effort whatsoever.

Well obviously it isn’t that big of a story, but it still looks pretty cool. Only available on the PBS Idea Channel (for now), the tool is embedded directly into the YouTube share functionality, allowing you to make 5 second GIFs from any portion of video as you wish.

You are then offered a link and an embed code, to use just as we’ve used bellow.

Source: The Next Web

Study Claims Social Networks Cannot Guage Public Opinions

One of the golden rules of social media promotion and engagement is fully based around asking fans for their opinions. It’s commonly seen throughout all different kinds of pages, ranging from celebrities to technology manufacturers and automotive brands. However, the scientists at McGill University in Montreal and Carnegie Mellon Universities researchers have found that less than five percent of popular Social Media’s platform, Twitter, are over 65. Showing in their findings that 18-29 year olds make up over 30 percent of the population, giving them the cast majority over others.

Comparing these findings to Pintrest, they have discovered that it is a mainly Female dominated audience and LinkedIn is populated mainly by rich post-graduates and lastly, their findings have found that Facebook is made up of more diverse populations, with data hard to receive.

What they’re getting at here is, asking a public opinion on one or many social media’s cannot give you a general ‘Public Opinion’ on a product, person, event or object. Each platform generally holds a heavy bias towards one section of our society, making opinions expressed on these generally skewed toward a certain left or right field. Unless however, you ask questions that are targeted specifically at these audiences, giving pages involving just those with youth affairs a higher chance most commonly.

Many opinions expressed loudly on social media can give the illusion of popular opinion, but you may come to find that the reason you’re seeing the same content so much is because you’ve surrounded yourself by like-minded individuals.

Image and information courtesy of Xlwp Themes

Ad-Less Social Network Ello Selling T-Shirts to Pay the Bills

Ello, the currently invite-only (I’m still waiting for mine) social network, has decided it needs to sell t-shirts to cover its costs.

The site has always insisted it will forever remain ad-free and this statement has puzzled more than a few people, producing the question of exactly how will Ello make money? The shirts are being made in partnership with artist community focused e-commerce site Threadless. Artists who submit t-shirt designs to Threadless are being encouraged to design shirts themed to Ello’s logo and brand. The Threadless store will cycle through limited edition designs each month, with a a group of standard black and white shirts being sold alongside those for $25 each.

It could be said that Ello can’t really survive on shirt sales alone, so it’ll be interesting to see what else they have up their sleeve to keep their “Public Benefit Corp” alive.

Source: Re/Code

Samaritans Charity Pulls its Controversial Twitter App

Counselling charity Samaritans has pulled a suicide prevention Twitter app that caused a great deal of controversy.

The ‘Radar’ app was intended to scan tweets for certain keywords that may have indicated someone was feeling suicidal. The system would then automatically send those users an email offering them links to support and advice.The charity claimed that the service was scanning over 1 million Twitter accounts for phrases like “depressed,” “help me” and “hate myself”.

The system prompted a wave of criticism, with some suggesting that the service was a breach of people’s privacy and that it could also be exploited by Twitter trolls. The charity pointed out that the tweets scanned were already in the public domain. What they didn’t talk very much about however, was the fact that all the tweets scanned (without the user’s permission) were being indexed and pushed to a third-party server for processing. It also didn’t help that all that data was being stored on those servers, irrespective of whether a user deleted a scanned tweet.

Samaritans executive Joe Fearns responded to the controversy, by apologising “to anyone who has inadvertently been caused any distress” by “information and opinion circulating about Samaritans Radar,” appearing to direct some of the negative attention away from the system itself. The charity has suggested that ‘Radar’ may well be re-launched in the future, with Fearns detailing that they are “testing a number of potential changes and adaptations to the app to make it as safe and effective as possible.”

Source: Engadget

There was no ‘Leak’ to the iCloud – Apple Proclaims

We’re sure you’ve seen the above image by now. In recent days, an apparent Apple iCloud hack has seen numerous A-list celebrities have naked pictures and videos leaked all over the internet – stemming from popular image board website 4chan. Some people seem to think they may have even found the original perpetrator in this case.

Apple has now come to their own defence, claiming that it was not in fact an iCloud ‘leak’ but these celebrities have had their personal accounts hacked individually. Apples Natalie Kerris explained:

“We wanted to provide an update to our investigation into the theft of photos of certain celebrities. When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source. Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved.

To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification. Both of these are addressed on our website at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4232.” Business Wire

So although technically not a leak, Apple are claiming that these stars have fallen victim to “social engineering”. Although this is quite possibly true, Apple has already had some serious damage dealt to their reputation surrounding iCloud as a whole since this story surfaced just a few short days ago.

Moral of the story once again? If you’re going to take these kinds of photos, don’t store them anywhere on, at or near the internet!

Stay tuned to eTeknix for more information as it develops.

Image courtesy of 4chan