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Google

The Problem With Google AMP (80x24.net) 56

Kyle Schreiber has raised some issues about Google's AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), an open source project unveiled by the company in 2015 with which it aims to accelerate content on mobile devices. He writes on his blog: The largest complaint by far is that the URLs for AMP links differ from the canonical URLs for the same content, making sharing difficult. The current URLs are a mess. They all begin with some form of https://wwww.google.com/amp/ before showing a URL to the AMP version of the site. There is currently no way to find the canonical link to the page without guessing what the original URL is. This usually involves removing either a .amp or ?amp=1 from the URL to get to the actual page. Make no mistake. AMP is about lock-in for Google. AMP is meant to keep publishers tied to Google. Clicking on an AMP link feels like you never even leave the search page, and links to AMP content are displayed prominently in Google's news carousel. This is their response to similar formats from both Facebook and Apple, both of which are designed to keep users within their respective ecosystems. However, Google's implementation of AMP is more broad and far reaching than the Apple and Facebook equivalents. Google's implementation of AMP is on the open web and isn't limited to just an app like Facebook or Apple.
Google

Sensitive Data Stored On Box.com Accounts Accessible Via Search Queries (threatpost.com) 29

msm1267 writes: Last week Box.com moved quickly and quietly to block search engines from indexing links to confidential data owned by its users. That is after security researcher Markus Neis surfaced private data belonging to a number of Fortune 500 companies via Google, Bing and other search engines. Box.com said it's a classic case of users accidentally oversharing. Neis isn't convinced and says Box.com's so-called Collaboration links shouldn't have been indexed in the first place. Box.com has since blocked access to what security researchers say was a treasure trove of confidential data and fodder for phishing scams.
Google

Google Mobile Search Shows Recipe Suggestions When You Look For Food (engadget.com) 26

In the past few years, Google has used its so-called "knowledge graph" to make search results far more useful than just a list of links -- you can get lots of info on a variety of topics right in Google without having to click on any search results. The latest addition to Google search is something foodies should take note of. Now, when you search for food on mobile, you'll see a carousel of recipes at the top of the results page. From a report on Engadget: Google also added some filters to those recipe results -- right below the search bar are additional suggestions you can use to refine your results. Searching for "fried chicken" gave me the option to add "oven-fried," "buttermilk," and "southern fried" filters to narrow down the recipes. You can also tap "view all" to move out of the standard search page and see bigger, more detailed recipe cards that show a picture and quick preview of the recipe.
Data Storage

Dropbox Kills Public Folders, Users Rebel (ndtv.com) 158

New submitter rkagerer writes: Dropbox unleashed a tidal wave of user backlash yesterday when it announced plans to eradicate its Public folder feature in 2017. Criticism from users whose links will break surfaced on Reddit, HackerNews and its own forums. Overnight, customers up-voted a feature request to reverse the decision, skyrocketing it to a "Top 10" position on the company's tracker. joemck explains: "There are countless users who have been using the public folder to post images and files in blogs and forums. These aren't just worthless jokes and memes that nobody will miss if you flip the switch and break all of them. These are often valuable resources that users have created and entrusted to you to retain and keep online." One user even created a comic strip for the occasion, with another concerned the URL he registered with the Coast Guard containing potentially lifesaving information will go dark. Although the feature was deprecated in 2012, it remained in place for existing users. The company provides an alternative sharing method, but some users claim it's not as convenient and doesn't provide direct links. According to the announcement, free accounts have until March 15 to update their links, while the lights will go out for paid accounts on September 1. UPDATE 12/17/16: Slashdot reader rkagerer notes, "Dropbox quietly killed the feature request after this story hit the front page, but the original content can still be found interleaved in the forum discussion."
Facebook

Facebook Discloses New Measurement Errors, Continues To Hone Its Math (marketingland.com) 36

An anonymous reader shares an article on MarketingLand: For the third time since September, Facebook is disclosing new measurement errors. The two new errors affected the reaction counts Facebook reports on Pages' Live videos, as well as the engagement figures Facebook reports for off-Facebook links; the latter link engagement metrics were recently used in investigations by BuzzFeed and The New York Times into fake news articles' performance on Facebook. In addition to acknowledging the two new errors -- of which one has been corrected and one is still being inspected -- Facebook has refined a measurement marketers may reference when buying ads through the social network. None of the aforementioned metrics had any impact on how much money Facebook charges advertisers for their campaigns. But they may have informed brands' Facebook ad-buying strategies as well as brands', publishers' and others' Facebook-related content-publishing strategies.
Open Source

Devuan's Systemd-Free Linux Hits Beta 2 (theregister.co.uk) 338

Long-time Slashdot reader Billly Gates writes, "For all the systemd haters who want a modern distro feel free to rejoice. The Debian fork called Devuan is almost done, completing a daunting task of stripping systemd dependencies from Debian." From The Register: Devuan came about after some users felt [Debian] had become too desktop-friendly. The change the greybeards objected to most was the decision to replace sysvinit init with systemd, a move felt to betray core Unix principles of user choice and keeping bloat to a bare minimum. Supporters of init freedom also dispute assertions that systemd is in all ways superior to sysvinit init, arguing that Debian ignored viable alternatives like sinit, openrc, runit, s6 and shepherd. All are therefore included in Devuan.
Devuan.org now features an "init freedom" logo with the tagline, "watching your first step. Their home page now links to the download site for Devuan Jessie 1.0 Beta2, promising an OS that "avoids entanglement".
Communications

Reddit To Crack Down On Abuse By Punishing Hundreds of 'Toxic Users' (reuters.com) 233

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Social media website Reddit, known for its commitment to free speech, will crack down on online harassment by banning or suspending users who target others, starting with those who have directed abuse at Chief Executive Steve Huffman. Huffman said in an interview with Reuters that Reddit's content policy prohibits harassment, but that it had not been adequately enforced. "Personal message harassment is the most cut and dry," he said. "Right now we are in an interesting position where my inbox is full of them, it's easy to start with me." As well as combing through Huffman's inbox, Reddit will monitor user reports, add greater filtering capacity, and take a more proactive role in policing its platform rather than relying on community moderators. Reddit said it had identified hundreds of the "most toxic users" and will warn, ban or suspend them. It also plans to increase staff on its "trust and safety" team. On Reddit, a channel supporting the U.S. Republican party's presidential candidate Donald Trump, called r/The_Donald, featured racist and misogynistic comments, fake news and conspiracy theories about his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, along with more mainstream expressions of support for Trump. Many of those supporting Trump were very active, voting up the r/The_Donald conversations so that they became prominent across Reddit, which is the 7th-most-visited U.S. internet site, according to web data firm Alexa. Last week, Reddit banned Pizzagate, a community devoted to a conspiracy theory, with no evidence to back it up, that links Clinton to a pedophile ring at a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor, after it posted personal information in violation of Reddit policy. Huffman then used his administrative privileges to redirect abuse he was receiving on a thread on r/The_Donald to the community's moderators -- making it look as if it was intended for them. Huffman said it was a prank, and that many Reddit users, including some Trump supporters, told him they thought it was funny, but it inflamed the situation.
Google

Google Asked to Remove a Billion 'Pirate' Search Results in a Year (torrentfreak.com) 68

Copyright holders asked Google to remove more than 1,000,000,000 allegedly infringing links from its search engine over the past twelve months, TorrentFreak reports. According to stats provided in Google's Transparency Report for the past one year, Google was asked to remove over one billion links -- or 1,007,741,143 links. From the article: More than 90 percent of the links, 908,237,861 were in fact removed. The rest of the reported links were rejected because they were invalid, not infringing, or duplicates of earlier requests. In total, Google has now processed just over two billion allegedly infringing URLs from 945,000 different domains. That the second billion took only a year, compared to several years for the first, shows how rapidly the volume of takedown requests is expanding. At the current rate, another billion will be added by the end of next summer. Most requests, over 50 million, were sent in for the website 4shared.com. However, according to the site's operators many of the reported URLs point to the same files, inflating the actual volume of infringing content.
The Internet

Delete Yourself From Many Internet Sites By Pressing This Button (thenextweb.com) 46

Two Swedish developers have created a site offering a way to wipe your entire existence off the internet in a few clicks. schwit1 quotes The Next Web: When logging into the website with a Google account it scans for apps and services you've created an account for, and creates a list of them with easy delete links. Every account it finds gets paired with an easy delete link pointing to the unsubscribe page for that service. In a few clicks you're freed from it, and depending on how long you need to work through the entire list, you can be account-less within the hour.
I'm a little uncomfortable giving a stranger's web site access to my personal information - even if it is for the purpose of deleting it altogether. But the original submission ends with an interesting question. "Can we get this for government databases too?"
Open Source

Apple Releases macOS 10.12 Sierra Open Source Darwin Code (9to5mac.com) 134

An anonymous reader writes:Apple has released the open source Darwin code for macOS 10.12 Sierra. The code, located on Apple's open source website, can be accessed via direct link now, although it doesn't yet appear on the site's home page. The release builds on a long-standing library of open source code that dates all the way back to OS X 10.0. There, you'll also find the Open Source Reference Library, developer tools, along with iOS and OS X Server resources. The lowest layers of macOS, including the kernel, BSD portions, and drivers are based mainly on open source technologies, collectively called Darwin. As such, Apple provides download links to the latest versions of these technologies for the open source community to learn and to use.
Businesses

Samsung Group Offices Raided By Korean Prosecutors (reuters.com) 20

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: South Korean prosecutors raided the offices of Samsung Group on Wednesday, a prosecution official said, after media reports of alleged links with a confidante of President Park Geun-hye who has been indicted in an influence-peddling scandal. Prosecutors also raided South Korea's largest pension fund, the National Pension Service (NPS), an NPS spokeswoman said. The Yonhap news agency reported that investigators were probing NPS's decision to approve the $8 billion merger of Samsung CT Corp and Cheil Industries last year. The raids signaled that prosecutors are expanding their investigation into allegations of influence-peddling in the corruption scandal that has rocked Park's presidency over the relationship between the government and big businesses. NPS, the world's third-largest pension fund, has come under scrutiny by the media and civic groups over its approval as a major shareholder of the merger between two affiliates of Samsung Group, South Korea's largest family-run conglomerate. Its backing was seen as crucial to the success of the merger and some South Korean media reports said its approval came under mysterious circumstances. Prosecutors raided four locations -- the NPS headquarters, NPS Investment Management office headquarters, Samsung Group offices and the office of a former NPS investment management official -- said a prosecution official who was not authorized to speak to the media and declined to be identified. Park and her confidante, Choi Soon-sil, are under investigation for allegedly improperly pressuring major conglomerates, including the Samsung Group, to raise funds for foundations that backed Park's policy of promoting the cultural and sports communities.
Democrats

Google Search Results Have Liberal Bias, Study Finds (thedenverchannel.com) 385

According to a new study reported by The Wall Street Journal, Google's search results tend to lean liberal. "An analysis by online-search marketer CanIRank.com found that 50 recent searches for political terms on Google surfaced more liberal-leaning webpages than conservative ones, as rated by a panel of four people." The Denver Channel reports: "Minimum wage" tended to yield more liberal results, while "does gun control reduce crime" resulted in more conservative ones. Searches for "financial regulation" and "federal reserve" found mostly nonpartisan links. CanIRank used the opinions of four people to determine how liberal or conservative each website was. For 16 percent of the political search terms studied, no right-leaning results showed up at all on the first page of results. CanIRank noted this could be a problem for democracy. A different study found most people click on one of the first five search results. Users rarely move on to the second page. A Google spokesperson said in an email to the WSJ: "From the beginning, our approach to search has been to provide the most relevant answers and results to our users, and it would undermine people's trust in our results, and our company, if we were to change course." According to Google, their results are "determined by algorithms using hundreds of factors" and "reflect the content and information that is available on the internet."
Security

Hacker Explains How He Hacked Into Tel Aviv's Public Wi-Fi Network In Three Days (vice.com) 45

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Israeli hacker Amihai Neiderman needed three days to hack into Tel Aviv's free public Wi-Fi. He only worked during the evenings, after he came home from his full-time job as a security researcher. The 26-year-old said the difficulty level was "a solid 5" on a scale from 1 to 10. The hack, performed in 2014 and recently explained in detail during the DefCamp conference in Bucharest, Romania, shows how vulnerable public networks can be and why we should encrypt our web traffic while accessing them. He hacked his city out of curiosity. One day, he was driving home from work and he noticed the "FREE_TLV" displayed on his smartphone. He had no idea what it was, but got intrigued. It turned out to be Tel Aviv's free municipal Wi-Fi network. The hacker connected to it and checked what his IP was, using http://whatismyip.com. This way, you usually find the address of the router that links you to the internet. To hack Tel Aviv, he needed to take control over this device. Neiderman got home and found out that the router had one port open. He tried it. This step allowed him to determine the manufacturer of the router. It turned out to be Peplink, a company he had never heard of. It made the mistake of having the administration interfaces online. At this point, he still didn't know what device he was connecting to. He compared different products displayed on the company's website and looked for additional clues in the messages sent to him by the unidentified device. He finally found out it was a high-end load balancing router. All he needed was a vulnerability to exploit. But breaking the firmware of the router seemed time consuming, as files were encrypted, so the hacker took a different approach. He found a less protected version of the firmware, used for a different device, and found a vulnerability there. To his luck, the same glitch was present in the version installed on the very devices that made up "FREE_TLV." He tested the hack at home, emulating the city's network, and it worked. A real-life test would had been illegal.
Links

Instagram Brings Mentions, Links, and Boomerang To Stories (mashable.com) 4

Instagram Stories will soon be receiving several big new features that will help users build "deeper connections" and "tell a richer story." An update rolling out Thursday will bring mentions, links and Boomerang support to Stories. Mashable reports: With the update, users can tag accounts within their Stories just like they'd tag accounts in a photo or video post. When an account is tagged in a Story, tapping their username will link to their account page. Interestingly, unlike photo tagging, being tagged in a Story will notify you within a direct message with the person who tagged you (if a friend tags you in a normal photo post, the notification will appear in your main activity feed.) Tags aren't the only new way you can interact with Stories. Instagram is also adding the ability to link to web pages within Story posts -- for verified account holders. (Instagram says this feature is for verified accounts only for now since it's still a test but that could change at some point in the future.) Finally, the app is integrating Boomerang -- Instagram's app for one-second videos -- directly into Stories. What's more, Instagram's built-in version of Boomerang will have a couple of features not part of the main app, like the ability to switch between the front and rear-facing camera and the ability to capture a shorter clip.
Security

Russian Hackers Launch Targeted Cyberattacks Hours After Trump's Win (vice.com) 160

Hours after Donald Trump won the Presidential Election, a group of hackers that is widely believed to be Russian and was involved in the breach of the Democratic National Committee launched a wave of attacks against dozens of people working at universities, think tanks, NGOs, and even inside the US government. From a report on Motherboard:Around 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the hackers sent a series of phishing emails trying to trick dozens of victims into opening booby-trapped attachments containing malware, and clicking on malicious links, according to security firm Volexity, which observed and reported the five attack waves. The targets work for organizations such as Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, the Atlantic Council, the RAND Corporation, and the State Department, among others. One of the phishing emails included a forwarded message appearing to be from the Clinton Foundation, apparently sent by a professor at Harvard. The email used the professor's real address, and according to Volexity's founder Steven Adair, it's likely that the professor got hacked and the attackers then used his account to send out the phishing emails. (The professor did not respond to a request for comment.) One of the targets, who shared the email she received with Motherboard, said she "almost fell for it."
Chrome

More Than 50 Percent of All Pages In Chrome Are Loaded Over HTTPS Now (onthewire.io) 136

Reader Trailrunner7 writes: After years of encouraging site owners to transition to HTTPS by default, Google officials say that the effort has begun to pay off. The company's data now shows that more than half of all pages loaded by Chrome on desktop platforms are served over HTTPS. Google has been among the louder advocates for the increased use of encryption across the web in the last few years. The company has made significant changes to its own infrastructure, encrypting the links between its data center, and also has made HTTPS the default connection option on many of its main services, including Gmail and search. And Google also has been encouraging owners of sites of all shapes and sizes to move to secure connections to protect their users from eavesdropping and data theft. That effort has begun to bear fruit in a big way. New data released by Google shows that at the end of October, 68 percent of pages loaded by the Chrome browser on Chrome OS machines were over HTTPS. That's a significant increase in just the last 10 months. At the end of 2015, just 50 percent of pages loaded by Chrome on Chrome OS were HTTPS. The numbers for the other desktop operating systems are on the rise as well, with macOS at 60 percent, Linux at 54 percent, and Windows at 53 percent.
Earth

Study Links Human Actions To Specific Arctic Ice Melt (sciencemag.org) 234

sciencehabit writes from a report via Science Magazine: Since at least the 1960s, the shrinkage of the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean has advanced in lockstep with the amount of greenhouse gases humans have sent into the atmosphere, according to a study published this week in Science. Every additional metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) puffed into the atmosphere appears to cost the Arctic another 3 square meters of summer sea ice -- a simple and direct observational link that has been sitting under scientists' noses. If current emission trends hold, the study suggests the Arctic will be ice free by 2045 -- far sooner than some climate models predict. The study suggests that those models are underestimating how warm the Arctic has already become and how fast that melting will proceed. And it gives the public and policymakers a concrete illustration of the consequences of burning fossil fuels. For instance, a U.S. family of four would claim nearly 200 square meters of sea ice, based on U.S. emissions in 2013. Over 3 decades, that family would be responsible for destroying more than an American football field's worth of ice.
Earth

Study Finds That Athletes Perform Better When Reminded of Their Impending Death (arstechnica.com) 106

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Basketball players that were grimly reminded of their own inevitable demise before playing took more shots and scored more points in a study published in an upcoming issue of Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. The researchers behind the experiments hypothesize that the pep-talk tactic fits with the established "terror management theory," which proposes that humans are motivated to seek self-esteem, meaning, and symbolic immortality -- in this case becoming a famous athlete -- in order to manage their fear of death. For the study, Helm and colleagues first recruited basketball players to play two back-to-back, one-on-one games with lead researcher Colin Zestcott, another psychologist at the University of Arizona. (The players didn't know that Zestcott was a researcher; they thought he was another study participant.) After the first game, half of the participants were randomly assigned to take a questionnaire on how they felt about basketball. The other half took one about their thoughts on their own death. Those that took the spooky survey saw a 40-percent boost in their individual performance during the second game as compared with their first. Those that took the non-macabre survey saw no change. In a second experiment, participants were given a basket-shooting challenge, which a researcher described to them in a 30-second tutorial. Based on a coin-toss, half the participants got the tutorial while the researcher was wearing a plain jacket. The other half saw the researcher in a T-shirt with a skull-shaped word-cloud made entirely of the word 'death.' The participants' performance on the shooting challenge was then scored by another researcher who didn't know which players saw the death shirt. In the end, players who did see the shirt took more shots, and outperformed by 30 percent, those that just saw the jacket. "We've known from many studies that reminders of death arouse a need for terror management and therefore increase self-esteem striving through performance on relatively simple laboratory tasks," Peter Helm, a study co-author and psychologist at the University of Arizona, said in a news release. "However, these experiments are the first to show that activating this motivation can influence performance on complex, real-world behaviors."
Facebook

Facebook Deletes Music Piracy Groups Following Complaints (torrentfreak.com) 26

Back in the early days of the internet, users would post links to pirated content on dedicated file-sharing sites. But that trend has died down significantly over the past several years in favor of social media and sites like Reddit. Facebook is one of the sites that has been under pressure from the entertainment industry about taking action against piracy, and they are complying. According to anti-piracy outfit BREIN, the company responded by deleting nine "pirate" groups complained about by the entertainment industry. TorrentFreak reports: "Links to infringing files hosted on cloud services were indexed on the pages. Knowingly posting links to infringing files is itself a violation," BREIN says. After being contacted by BREIN, Facebook responded by deleting all nine 'pirate' groups. However, this wasn't the first time the social network has taken this kind of action. BREIN says that earlier this year Facebook removed a number of similar groups following complaints of infringement. But while shutting down 'pirate' groups will have some short-term effect, the people that were participating in them are likely to regroup and set up elsewhere. Of course, BREIN can follow them to their new homes but it's also aware of the value of targeting individuals. "The posters of the infringing links are also often the illegal uploader of unauthorized files [on cyberlocker sites]," BREIN says, adding that in some circumstances it will seek to hold those people responsible for their actions.
Software

Opera Max Turns To Nagware, Now Prompts Users To Re-enable It Every 12 Hours (androidpolice.com) 121

Opera has long advertised its free VPN service Opera Max to customers. But it looks like, the company isn't pleased with users keeping its servers at work at all times. Over the last few days, according to a report on AndroidPolice, Opera Max has introduced ads on its apps, as well as links to sponsored apps. But the company is not done yet. It now requires a user to go back to the app and "add time" to the free VPN service every 12 hours if they wish to continue the service. Adding time doesn't cost anything, but it will subject users to an ad on each occasion.

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