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The Internet

New Campaign Features Internet Trolls On Roadside Billboards ( 141

An anonymous reader writes: A campaign taking shape in Brazil seeks to fight online harassment in an unusual way: by posting the abusive comments on real billboards. "The group collects comments from Facebook or Twitter and uses geolocation tools to find out where the people who have posted them live. They then buy billboard space nearby and post the comments in huge letters, although names and photos are pixelated." Brazil has laws prohibiting racial abuse, but this group doesn't think the government is doing enough to stop it. The campaign's founder said, "Those people [who post abuse online] think they can sit in the comfort of their homes and do whatever they want on the internet. We don't let that happen. They can't hide from us, we will find them."

Facebook Expands Parental Leave Policy For All Employees Globally ( 128

Reuters reports that Mark Zuckerberg's not the only Facebook employee who will enjoy a nice chunk of time off to spend with a new baby; the company is expanding its parental leave policy (and posting on Facebook about it). The benefit includes up to four months of paid leave, to all full-time employees, including those outside the U.S., regardless of sex, within a new child's first year. That means that new parents of either sex will be allowed to take a longer absence; previously, non-U.S. employees who were not primary caregivers were granted four weeks of leave. From the Reuters story: [Facebook HR head Lori Matloff] Goler said the new policy will primarily help new fathers and employees in same-sex relationships outside the United States, noting that it will not change maternity leave already available to employees worldwide. ... Technology companies in Silicon Valley have been rushing to extend parental leave allowances and other benefits to help recruit and retain employees. Many high-tech workers, however, do not take advantage of such benefits for fear of falling behind at work or missing out on promotions.

Russians Build Nuclear-Powered Data Center ( 58

judgecorp writes: The government-owned Russian energy company Rosenergoatom is building Russia's largest data center at its giant Kalinin nuclear power station. Most of the space will be available to customers, and the facility expects to be in demand, thanks to two factors: reliable power, and the data residency rules which require Russian citizens' data to be located within Russia. Facebook and Google don't have data centers within Russia yet — and Rosenergoatom has already invited them into the Kalinin facility.

IT Execs On Their Dream Dinner Guests 83

StewBeans writes: In this lighthearted article for the holiday, IT executives were asked, if they could invite any technologist living or deceased to their Thanksgiving dinner, who would they invite and why? One CTO said that he'd invite the CTO of Amazon, Werner Vogels, so he could hear his thoughts on the future of cloud computing. Another would invite Ratan Tata, who he calls the "Bill Gates of India." Other responses range from early visionaries like Grace Hopper and Vint Cerf to the mysterious inventors/designers of the Roland TR-808.

Zuckerberg To Take 2 Months Paternity Leave To Give His Kid a Better Outcome ( 164

theodp writes: TechCrunch reports that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will take two months off from Facebook for paternity leave. Why? "Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families," Zuckerberg explained in a FB post on Friday. "At Facebook we offer our U.S. employees up to 4 months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year." No word on why the child will only get 50% of that time — maybe that's what the gains chart suggested as a good tradeoff — or if expectant parents who apply to send their children to Zuckerberg's new Primary School, which aims to "help children from underserved communities reach their full potential," will be expected to make a similar commitment.
Social Networks

EFF launches Site To Track Censored Content On Social Media ( 39

Mark Wilson writes: There are many problems with the censoring of online content, not least that it can limit free speech. But there is also the question of transparency. By the very nature of censorship, unless you have been kept in the loop you would simply not know that anything had been censored. This is something the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to change, and today the digital rights organization launches to blow the lid off online censorship. The site, run by EFF and Visualizing Impact, aims to reveal the content that is censored on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube — not just the 'what' but the 'why'. If you find yourself the subject of censorship, the site also explains how to lodge an appeal.
The Courts

Facebook Can Block Content Without Explanation, Says US Court ( 147

An anonymous reader writes: A U.S. court has ruled that Facebook can block any content posted to its site without explanation, after a Sikh group legally challenged the company for taking its page offline. U.S. Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh ruled that the U.S. based rights group's encouragement of religious discrimination is illegal under the Communications Decency Act, which protects 'interactive computer services' providers by preventing courts from treating them as the publishers of the speech created by their users.

Anonymous Takes Down Thousands of ISIS-Related Twitter Accounts In a Day ( 320

BarbaraHudson writes: Softpedia is reporting that Anonymous, along with social media users, have identified several thousand Twitter accounts allegedly linked to ISIS members. "Besides scanning for ISIS Twitter accounts themselves, the hacking group has also opened access to the [takedown operation] site to those interested. Anyone who comes across ISIS social media accounts can easily search the database and report any new terrorists and supporters. The website is called #opIceISIS [slow right now, but it does load] and will index ISIS members based on their real name, location, picture, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts." Anonymous crowdsourcing their operations... welcome to the brave new world, ISIS. An article at The Independent reminds everyone that this information has not been independently confirmed, and that Anonymous is certainly capable of misidentifying people. It's also worth exploring the question of why Twitter hasn't already disabled these accounts, and why intelligence agencies haven't done anything about them, if they're so easy to find.
Social Networks

Social Media and the Age of Microcomplaints ( 119

An anonymous reader writes: "Name an inequity, and it is highly likely that social media has helped call meaningful attention to it, if not started and hashtagged a movement," claims the NY Times. The article suggests people are much more willing to complain about meaningless issues now that they have a public audience. "The smartphone in particular has facilitated extemporaneous caviling. Irritations that the passage of time may have soothed can, in the moment, be immediately expressed to an audience." Further, an aggrieved social media post can lend more weight to a minor problem than the author ever intended, or than it deserved. An offhand tweet can lead to a nationwide media frenzy as people who aren't connected with a complaint's author lack perspective and emotional context for it.

Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Paris Attacks; Death Toll At 127 728

The L.A. Times reports that Islamic State, the group variously known as ISIL, ISIS, and Daesh, has claimed responsibility for the multi-pronged terror attack yesterday in Paris which left at least 128 people dead, most of them from among the audience of a rock concert at the Bataclan theater, in the heart of the city. Details of how Friday’s assaults were carried out remained hazy. It was still unclear, for example, whether the restaurants and concert theater were attacked by two separate teams of militants or one group that went from one place to another. ... Attackers opened fire on the crowd with automatic weapons, shouting “God is great!” or blaming France for airstrikes on Islamic State in Syria, according to some reports. Dozens of concert-goers were killed before French forces stormed the theater. Many Parisians posted appeals and photos on social media asking for news of friends or loved ones whom they had not heard from since the attacks. One man said on Twitter that a government hotline set up to inquire about missing persons was so overloaded that calls could not get through. In the wake of the attacks and with an overloaded public infrastructure, Facebook activated its post-disaster check-in tool for Parisians to notify loved ones that they are safe. According to Reuters, French President Francois Hollande has vowed to undertake a "mercliess" response to the attacks.

Hour of Code 2015 Star Wars Tutorial: Spare the IF Statement, Spoil the Child? 156

theodp writes: Teaching U.S. K-12 kids their programming fundamentals in past Hours of Code were an IF-fy Bill Gates and a LOOP-y Mark Zuckerberg. Interestingly, the new signature tutorial — Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code — created by Lucasfilm and ("in a locked room with no windows") for this December's Hour of Code, eschews both IF statements and loops. The new learn-to-code tutorial instead elects to show students "events" after they've gone through the usual move-up-down-left-right drills. With the NY Times and National Center for Women & Information Technology recently warning against putting Star Wars in the CS classroom ("Attracting more female high school students to computer science classes might be as easy as tossing out the Star Wars posters," claimed an Aug. 29th NCWIT Facebook post), the theme of the new tutorial seems an odd choice for, whose stated mission includes "increasing [CS] participation by women." But if Star Wars is, as some suggest, more aimed at boys, perhaps has something up its sleeve for girls (a la last year's Disney Princesses) with another as yet unannounced signature tutorial that it teased would be "just as HUGE" as the Star Wars one. Any guesses on what that might be?

Google Car Pulled Over For Driving Too Slow, Doesn't Get a Ticket ( 350

New submitter slickwillie writes: A Google self-driving car was pulled over for going too slow. A photo uploaded to Facebook by Zandr Milewski shows one of Google's self-driving cars being pulled over by a Mountain View, California police officer. On on its Self-Driving Car Project page on Google+ the team wrote: "We’ve capped the speed of our prototype vehicles at 25mph for safety reasons. We want them to feel friendly and approachable, rather than zooming scarily through neighborhood streets. The Mountain View Police Department also commented on the traffic stop in a blog post saying in part: "...The officer stopped the car and made contact with the operators to learn more about how the car was choosing speeds along certain roadways and to educate the operators about impeding traffic per 22400(a) of the California Vehicle Code. The Google self-driving cars operate under the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Definition per 385.5 of the California Vehicle Code and can only be operated on roadways with speed limits at or under 35 mph. In this case, it was lawful for the car to be traveling on the street as El Camino Real is rated at 35 mph."
The Internet

New Algorithm Recognizes Both Good and Bad Fake Reviews ( 59

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the university of Sao Paolo have developed an algorithm able to identify both good and bad online reviews in the massive daily chatter of millions of peer-community posts, and in lateral mendacities at social network sites such as Google+ and Facebook reposts and 'likes'. Two of the datasets tested in the research were from Amazon, which has a vested interest in restoring the reputation of its community reviews, and has recently taken action on the matter.

The FCC Says It Can't Force Google and Facebook To Stop Tracking Their Users ( 127

An anonymous reader writes: The FCC announced that it will not prevent Facebook, Google, and other websites from not honoring users' Do Not Track requests that make it difficult for them to track online activities. The Washington Post reports: "The announcement is a blow to privacy advocates who had petitioned the agency for stronger Internet privacy rules. But it's a win for many Silicon Valley companies whose business models rely on monetizing Internet users' personal data. It's also the latest move in an ongoing battle to defend the agency's new net neutrality rules, which opponents warned would result in the regulation of popular Web sites and online services. By rejecting the petition, the FCC likely hopes to defuse that argument. The rules, which took effect this summer, allow the FCC to regulate only providers of Internet access, not individual Web sites, said a senior agency official."
Social Networks

Israel 'To Review' Top Appointment After Facebook Controversy ( 351 writes: BBC reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will "review" the appointment of his new communications director, Ran Baratz, over comments Baratz made on Facebook accusing President Obama of anti-Semitism and describing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as having a "mental age" of no more than 12. U.S. state department spokesman John Kirby said Mr. Baratz's Facebook posts were "troubling and offensive." "Insults, certainly, aimed at individuals doesn't do anything to help advance and deepen the relationship. We learn in kindergarten about name-calling, and it's simply not a polite thing to do," Kirby said. The Facebook posts emerged shortly after Netanyahu announced the appointment of philosophy lecturer Mr. Baratz as his chief spokesman. In March, Baratz described President Obama's criticism of Netanyahu's opposition to the Iran nuclear deal as "the modern face of anti-Semitism in Western and liberal countries."

Netanyahu quickly distanced himself from the comments but indicated the appointment remained valid. "I have just read Dr Ran Baratz's posts on the internet, including those relating to the president of the state of Israel, the president of the United States and other public figures in Israel and the United States," Netanyahu said in a statement. "Those posts are totally unacceptable and in no way reflect my positions or the policies of the government of Israel. Dr. Baratz has apologized and has asked to meet me to clarify the matter following my return to Israel." Baratz, in a Facebook post Thursday night, apologized for "the hurtful remarks" and for not informing the prime minister of them. Baratz said the posts "were written frivolously and sometimes humorously, in a tone suited to the social networks and a private individual." Baratz added, "It is very clear to me that in an official post one has to behave and express oneself differently."


Amazon Warns Employees About 'Million Mask March' On Seattle HQ Today ( 143

reifman writes: Amazon is warning employees not to wear clothing with company logos, and telling them to keep their badges out of sight as hundreds of people loyal to the hacktivist group Anonymous plan to march on the tech giant's Seattle headquarters this afternoon. A Facebook message from the Seattle-based group reads, "On November 5th, we will be rallying at Westlake Park in Seattle at 2pm, and then marching to the Federal Courthouse at 3pm, and from there, we shall march to Amazon for some serious lulz!. Teach-ins and rallies will continue throughout the remainder of the day."

Google-Supported CodeGirl Documentary Makes "Exclusive YouTube Premiere" 289

theodp writes: As part of our Made with Code and media perception initiatives," wrote YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki over at the Official Google Blog, "I'm excited that we're supporting award-winning documentary filmmaker Lesley Chilcott — of An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman [and] fame — on her next film, CodeGirl. Until November 5 Lesley's film will be available for free on YouTube, before its theatrical debut in the next few weeks." Microsoft is pretty jazzed about the movie too, as is Al Gore. Decidedly less excited about CodeGirl is film critic Inkoo Kang, who writes, "CodeGirl, a chronicle of this year's Technovation contest, is just as well-intentioned as its subject. It coasts for as long as it can on the feel-good fuel of watching smart, earnest girls talk about creating an app, but with virtually no tension, context, narrative or characterization driving the story, the documentary grows to feel like a parent describing their daughter's involvement in an international competition. The girls' achievements are impressive, but you definitely don't want to hear about them for nearly two hours.

Saying "Wasted" On Facebook Can Affect Your Credit Score ( 386

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: According to a recent report by the Financial Times (paywalled), some of the top credit rating companies are now using people's social media accounts to assess their ability to repay debt. "If you look at how many times a person says 'wasted' in their profile, it has some value in predicting whether they're going to repay their debt," Will Lansing, chief executive at credit rating company FICO, told the Financial Times. "It's not much, but it's more than zero." According to the Financial Times, both FICO and TransUnion have had to find "alternative ways" to assess people who don't have a traditional credit profile — including people who haven't borrowed enough to give creditors an idea of what kind of risk they pose.

Revisiting Why Johnny Can't Code: Have We "Made the Print Too Small"? 270

theodp writes: In What is Computer Science?, the kickoff video for Facebook's new TechPrep diversity initiative, FB product manager Adriel Frederick explains how he was hooked-on-coding after seeing the magic of a BASIC PRINT statement. His simple BASIC example is a nice contrast to the more complicated JavaScript and Ruby examples that were chosen to illustrate Mark Zuckerberg's what-is-coding video for schoolkids. In How to Teach Your Baby to Read, the authors explain, "It is safe to say that in particular very young children can read, provided that, in the beginning, you make the print very big." So, is introducing coding to schoolkids with modern programming languages instead of something like BASIC (2006) or even (gasp!) spreadsheets (2002) the coding equivalent of "making the print too small" for a child to see and understand?