Google’s next Wear OS update does even more to extend battery life

Google’s next Wear OS update does even more to extend battery life


Cherlynn Low / Engadget

A major update for Google’s wearable Android platform only just arrived and now we’re hearing about the next Wear OS version. Today Google announced that “System Version: H” will include a slew of updates when it rolls out in the “next few months.”

Battery Saver Mode Updates:
This update extends your battery life even further by turning on Battery Saver to only display the time once your battery falls below 10%.

Improved Off Body Efficiency:
After 30 minutes of inactivity your watch will go into deep sleep mode to conserve battery.

Smart App Resume for all Apps:
You can now easily pick up where you left off across all apps on your watch.

Two Step Power Off:
You can now turn off your watch in two easy steps. To turn off your watch, simply hold the power button until you see the power off screen and then select ‘power off’ or ‘restart’

All of those sound great, and could be worthwhile improvements for battery life if they’re available to users with watches based on the older Snapdragon 2100 hardware as opposed to the newer 3100 series. Smart App Resume should make it easier to jump in and out of apps, while off body efficiency should ease the anxiety of remember whether or not you left your device on a charger or just on the shelf.

The only problem right now is that Google hasn’t said which devices will receive this update and the words “Your device may not immediately be eligible for this update and will be determined by your watch manufacturer” aren’t inspiring confidence. Fossil announced that all of its touchscreen watches will get it, but we haven’t seen word from other manufacturers yet. Almost every existing device got the last one, and hopefully that will remain consistent, but with a new naming scheme and a note that said “functionality may vary by device” we’ll have to wait and see.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Netflix orders World War II series with first-of-its-kind animation

Netflix orders World War II series with first-of-its-kind animation


School of Humans

Netflix announced today that it has ordered the production of a war drama series call The Liberator. The four-part show, set during World War II, will be the first ever to be produced in Trioscope Enhanced Hybrid Animation. The production technology combines CGI effects and live-action performances to create a realistic graphic novel-style look.

The development of Trioscope was a joint effort between Grzegorz Jonkajtys — a visual effects artist and animator who has worked on Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim and The Revenant — and L.C. Crowley from Atlanta animation studio School of Humans. The Liberator will be the first series to use the new technology.

'The Liberator' Trioscope animation

The series, based on Alex Kershaw’s book The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey, will follow US Army officer Felix Sparks and the 157th Infantry Regiment from Oklahoma as they fight to free occupied Europe of Nazi control. The drama will follow the troop made up of cowboys, Native Americans and Mexican-Americans from the invasion of Italy to the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.

The Liberator was created and written by Jeb Stuart of Die Hard and The Fugitive fame. Jonkajtys will handle directorial duty. A+E Studios and Unique Features along with School of Humans will handle the production. Netflix, which has been all in on unique animation projects and has a big slate of animated films on the way, has not set a release date for the series.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

SpaceX gets FCC approval to deploy thousands more internet satellites

SpaceX gets FCC approval to deploy thousands more internet satellites


ROBYN BECK via Getty Images

SpaceX’s plan to build a global, high-speed wireless internet network using satellites has taken another step forward. The FCC approved the company’s request to deploy more than 7,000 very-low-Earth orbit satellites for its Starlink network. It follows the regulator giving SpaceX the green light in March to launch 4,425 satellites.

When it’s complete, Starlink will be comprised of almost 12,000 satellites that will blanket the planet with a persistent internet connection. That should mean people in rural areas or other locations where more traditional types of connections are impractical can access a network with promised speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

SpaceX deployed two test satellites in February, and hopes to launch 1,600 in the next few years. However, the Starlink network may not be fully complete until the mid-2020s.

The FCC approved similar requests from Kepler, Telesat and LeoSat for those companies to also deploy hundreds of internet-providing satellites, which won’t exactly smooth concerns over space debris. Last week, SpaceX submitted a revised plan to place some satellites at a lower orbit than it originally proposed, in order to mitigate the problem.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Tidal music streaming is now available on Amazon’s Echo speakers

Tidal music streaming is now available on Amazon’s Echo speakers


Andrew Burton/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon’s Echo speakers have been gradually improving in quality, and it looks like Tidal wants to seize on that opportunity. The streaming service is now available on all Echo devices in the US through a dedicated Tidal skill. Link your account and you can play that Beyoncé or Jay-Z exclusive with a quick voice command. You can set it as your default music option if you’d like, but you can always add “on Tidal” to a command if the service remains secondary.

The Tidal addition might not have people flocking en masse to Tidal, but it does flesh out the Echo’s music options and give you another viable option if you’re not terribly fond of Amazon Music or Spotify. Just be sure to use one of Amazon’s higher-end models — it would seem wrong to listen to a fidelity-oriented service on a standard Echo when the Plus or Show would bring out more detail in the sound.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Facebook’s top lawyer delays departure as crisis continues

Facebook’s top lawyer delays departure as crisis continues


ASSOCIATED PRESS

Despite announcing that he would leave the company earlier this year, Facebook’s top lawyer Colin Stretch will stay on as general counsel into 2019, according to Recode. The change of heart comes as Facebook is embroiled in yet another controversy following a bombshell report from the New York Times that documents the company’s mishandling of a number of situations it has been faced with in the last two years.

The lawyer’s extended stay at the company is sure to come with its fair share of challenges. Facebook is currently dealing with several federal investigations into its data privacy practices stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year.

Those battles will likely only be complicated by the recent New York Times report. The story, which Facebook claims contains some inaccuracies, shows the company responding slowly and insufficiently to scandals like Russian interference surrounding the 2016 election and using political campaign tactics to attack its critics. Stretch was named in the report as one of several executives who was aware of Russian activity on Facebook before the company announced it publicly.

Stretch reportedly informed his team of his decision to stay on at Facebook several weeks ago. He is expected to remain with the company into the summer of 2019, though he end up could staying longer.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Bitcoin Is Crashing — What’s Wrong With the Cryptocurrency Market? — The Motley Fool

Bitcoin Is Crashing — What’s Wrong With the Cryptocurrency Market? — The Motley Fool

Cryptocurrency prices have been relatively calm for the past few months, but that all changed on Wednesday. Leading cryptocurrency bitcoin suddenly plunged below $6,000 to its lowest level of 2018, and most other digital assets followed suit.

Here’s why the volatility has suddenly returned to the cryptocurrency markets, where the largest cryptocurrencies stand, and whether the upward momentum that we saw in 2017 could return anytime soon.

Golden token with bitcoin symbol.

Image source: Getty Images.

Today’s cryptocurrency prices

After relatively low volatility for the past few months, bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies took a sudden dive on Wednesday. In fact, all of the top 50 cryptocurrencies by market cap (except for those pegged to the U.S. dollar) are in the red for the past week. Here’s a look at the 10 largest.

Cryptocurrency Name (Code) Price in U.S. Dollars 1-Week Change

Bitcoin (BTC-USD)

$5,664.60

(13.2%)

Ethereum (ETH-USD)

$183.61

(15.3%)

Ripple (XRP-USD)

$0.47

(6.4%)

Bitcoin cash (BCH-USD)

$388.62

(29.1%)

Stellar Lumens (XLM-USD)

$0.24

(8.8%)

EOS (EOS-USD)

$4.71

(16.3%)

Litecoin (LTC-USD)

$44.70

(17.2%)

Tether (USDT- USD)

$0.97

(0.9%)

Cardano (ADA-USD)

$0.06

(17.9%)

Monero (XMR-USD)

$89.40

(19%)

Data source: www.investing.com. Prices and daily changes as of Nov. 15, 2018, at approximately 3:10 p.m. EST, and prices are rounded to the nearest cent where appropriate.

Why is the cryptocurrency market plunging?

According to several cryptocurrency experts and industry professionals, the decline has to do with a so-called “hard fork” scheduled for today in bitcoin cash.

If you aren’t familiar, a hard fork is similar in principal to a spinoff in the stock market world. One cryptocurrency essentially splits into two that each function independently. Cryptocurrency insiders like to think of hard forks as upgrades. In fact, bitcoin cash itself was a result of a hard fork of the bitcoin blockchain in 2017, with the idea that the network would be more scalable than standard bitcoin.

The bitcoin cash hard fork actually occurred today (Thursday, Nov. 15) just a few hours before this was written, and the cryptocurrency split into Bitcoin ABC, which is the core bitcoin cash token, and Bitcoin SV, which is the new asset being created. In a nutshell, Bitcoin SV quadruples the block size, meaning that the network will be capable of handling greater transaction volumes.

Without getting too technical, there’s a disagreement in the cryptocurrency community on the direction of the bitcoin cash currency, so there are worries that the market could be somewhat chaotic after the fork is completed. Investment markets dislike uncertainty in most forms, so that could certainly explain why most cryptocurrencies are under pressure.

It’s been a rough 2018 for cryptocurrencies — where will we go from here?

Although bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies have been relatively stable for a few months, 2018 has been a terrible year for these digital assets so far. Just take a look at how bitcoin and some of these other major cryptocurrencies have fared since this article from Dec. 26, 2017 — and that wasn’t even the peak.

There are several potential reasons for the poor performance. Most obviously, new money seems to be flowing into cryptocurrencies to a lesser degree than during the rise. There are also legitimate regulatory questions in the U.S. and international markets. And, despite repeated attempts to bring a bitcoin ETF to the marketplace, the Securities and Exchange Commission has yet to approve one. Finally, the adoption of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a means of payment hasn’t really advanced as much as many speculators would have liked.

In short, the cryptocurrency markets have been in “wait-and-see” mode for a few months now. And until a compelling positive catalyst (like an ETF approval) occurs, bitcoin and the other major cryptocurrencies could have a tough time climbing.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://news.google.com/news/rss/headlines/section/q/cryptocurrency/cryptocurrency?ned=us&hl=en&gl=US cryptocurrency – Google News

Google News

https://ssl.gstatic.com/news-static/gnrss.png

Sony is skipping E3 in 2019

Sony is skipping E3 in 2019


Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sony is skipping E3 next year. It won’t hold a PlayStation keynote, or appear at the event at all, it confirmed to Engadget.

“As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community,” it said in a statement. “PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans with you.”

The Entertainment Software Association, which runs E3, noted in a press release Thursday that Sony wouldn’t attend next year. It’s the first time since E3 started in 1995 that there won’t be an official PlayStation presence at the expo, and it follows Sony deciding against holding its annual PlayStation Experience event this year. In September, Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios Chaiman Shawn Layden said the fan-focused event wouldn’t go ahead because it “wouldn’t have enough” to showcase to make PlayStation Experience worthwhile this time around.

At E3 this year, Sony decided to focus on showcasing a few major PS4 titles at its keynote, with few announcements about new games. Only one of those games, Spider-Man, has since been released, while the others (The Last of Us: Part II, Death Stranding and Ghost of Tsushima) don’t yet have release dates and seem unlikely to hit shelves until after E3 next year. The company’s approach to E3 has certainly evolved in recent years — it didn’t showcase any indie games at its 2017 press conference either.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

First-ever views of elusive energy explosion

First-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving “magnetic reconnection” — the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion — in the Earth’s magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can have — sparking auroras and possibly wreaking havoc on power grids in the case of extremely large events — but they haven’t completely understood the details. In a study published in the journal Science, the scientists outline the first views of the critical details of how this energy conversion process works in the Earth’s magnetotail.

“This was a remarkable event,” said Roy Torbert of the Space Science Center at UNH and deputy principal investigator for NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS. “We have long known that it occurs in two types of regimes: asymmetric and symmetric but this is the first time we have seen a symmetric process.”

Magnetic reconnection occurs around Earth every day due to magnetic field lines twisting and reconnecting. It happens in different ways in different places, with different effects. Particles in highly ionized gases, called plasmas, can be converted and cause a single powerful explosion, just a fraction of a second long, that can lead to strong streams of electrons flying away at supersonic speeds. The view, which was detected as part of the scientists’ work on the MMS mission, had enough resolution to reveal its differences from other reconnection regimes around the planet like the asymmetric process found in the magnetopause around Earth which is closer to the sun.

“This is important because the more we know and understand about these reconnections,” said Torbert, “the more we can prepare for extreme events that are possible from reconnections around the Earth or anywhere in the universe.”

Magnetic reconnection also happens on the sun and across the universe — in all cases forcefully shooting out particles and driving much of the change we see in dynamic space environments — so learning about it around Earth also helps us understand reconnection in other places in the universe which cannot be reached by spacecraft. The more we understand about different types of magnetic reconnection, the more we can piece together what such explosions might look like elsewhere.

For the first reported asymmetrical event on October 16, 2015, and now this symmetrical event on July 11, 2017, NASA’s MMS mission made history by flying through magnetic reconnection events near the Earth. The four MMS spacecrafts launched from a single rocket were only inside the events for a few seconds, but the instruments which UNH researchers helped to develop were able to gather data at an unprecedented speed of one hundred times faster than ever before. As a result, for the first time, scientists could track the way the magnetic fields changed, new electric fields presented, as well as the speeds and direction of the various charged particles.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of New Hampshire. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.sciencedaily.com/rss/top/environment.xml Top Environment News — ScienceDaily

Top stories featured on ScienceDaily’s Plants & Animals, Earth & Climate, and Fossils & Ruins sections.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/scidaily-logo-rss.png

Senators want answers from mobile carriers on video app throttling

Senators want answers from mobile carriers on video app throttling


NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you have ever had a suspicion that your carrier might be slowing down your internet speeds while streaming videos, you aren’t alone. Three US Senators — Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — are pressing the four major carriers about alleged throttling practices documented on the Wehe testing platform.

In a letter addressed to the heads of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, the senators claim that carriers may be “inappropriately throttling and prioritizing” internet traffic from popular streaming video apps including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, NBC Sports and Skype. The line of inquiry cites research from Wehe, a mobile app developed by researchers at Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst that monitors potential throttling taking place on mobile networks. The researchers found that nearly every carrier throttles at least one app, with YouTube being the primary target.

Some of the alleged throttling can likely be chalked up to the carriers’ own policies of limiting video quality. The practice wouldn’t necessarily be a violation of the repealed net neutrality rules established by the Federal Communications Commission assuming the carriers limit all video services in the same way. However, carriers are required to disclose network management practices under current FCC law. The companies may be violating that if they are targeting certain apps with throttling without telling customers.

The senators are asking the carriers to explain if they throttle or prioritize traffic on their networks, how they determine when to throttle traffic and if consumers have the ability to opt out of the practice. The senators are seeking a response by December 6th.

Verizon owns Engadget’s parent company, Oath (formerly AOL). Rest assured, Verizon has no control over our coverage. Engadget remains editorially independent.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Sharp thinks two phone notches are better than one

Sharp thinks two phone notches are better than one


Sharp

If the thought of one notch on a phone makes you apoplectic, you might want to sit down before you read this. Sharp has unveiled the Aquos R2 Compact, a 5.2-inch handset that crams in two notches — one for its front 8-megapixel camera and another for its fingerprint reader. The design helps make the most out of a relatively small body, but this is destined to give you fits if you dislike components jutting into the screen. It’s not even symmetric, either.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that the phone itself is a solid upper mid-range device. It touts a 2,280 x 1,080 120Hz IGZO display, a Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 22.6-megapixel f/1.9 rear camera and 64GB of expandable storage. The 2,500mAh battery isn’t spectacular, but it’s also driving a relatively small display.

The R2 Compact should be available in Japan in mid-January, with pricing unavailable as we write this. Given that Sharp’s smartphones rarely make it outside of the country, we wouldn’t count on it reaching a store near you. Not that this is entirely a bad thing… you don’t want other smartphone manufacturers getting any ideas.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Wirecutter’s best deals: Get an iRobot Roomba 960 for $100 off

Wirecutter’s best deals: Get an iRobot Roomba 960 for $100 off

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read Wirecutter’s continuously updated list of deals here.

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 3-Bulb Kit with Dimmer Switch

bulb

Street price: $170; deal price: $120

Down to $120, this is a solid price on this 3-bulb variant of our top smart LED light bulb pick with an included stick-anywhere dimmer switch. Just when we started to wonder if we might not see significant Hue bulb deals this holiday season, this deal arrived. As this kit is around a $170 value, this is a nice opportunity to save.

A four-bulb variant of this kit without the dimmer switch, the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit, is the top pick in our guide to the best smart LED light bulbs. Grant Clauser wrote, “The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 bulbs are the best all-around smart bulbs you can buy. The Hue bulbs do everything their competitors do, but their wider product and app ecosystem allows for more flexibility and creativity than any other smart bulb. The third-generation Hue produces richer colors than the previous model, so reds will be a truer red, not just a deep pink. This means they’ve caught up with LIFX in terms of color accuracy, making them an even clearer choice.”

Dell UltraSharp U2717D Monitor

dell

Street price: $390; deal price: $300

At $300, this is the lowest price we’ve seen for this recommended 27-inch monitor. The Dell UltraSharp U2717D has recently hovered around $390 and we’ve only seen previous drops into the mid-$300s, so this is a nice savings even relative to previous deals. Sign-in to your Dell account or create one (free) to get the deal.

The U2717D is the runner-up pick in our guide to the best 27-inch monitor. David Murphy and John Higgins wrote, “The Dell UltraSharp U2717D is a great alternative to the HP Z27n if the HP is sold out or too expensive. It’s nearly identical to the Z27n in most respects, from the ultra-slim side and top bezels to the sturdy adjustable stand (with the same degrees of freedom and angles of inflection) to the number of USB 3.0 ports—even a charging port. Like the HP, the Dell has a fantastic 27-inch 2560×1440 IPS screen with excellent image quality, though the U2717D isn’t quite as accurate and its response rate is a little slower. At the lowest brightness setting, it can get dimmer than the HP, but its contrast ratio doesn’t match the HP’s. Like our pick, the U2717D has a three-year warranty and a no-bright-dot guarantee, but Dell will ship a replacement out the next business day, while HP charges extra to add this option to its warranty.”

Eddie Bauer Stowaway 20L Packable Pack

bag

Street price: $33; deal price: $15 w/ code COUNTDOWN

Use code COUNTDOWN in cart to knock the price of the Eddie Bauer Stowaway 20L Packable Pack down to $15 shipped. That’s a very nice deal on this recommended packable daypack, usually around $25 these days. While this bag sees regular sales at $15 with $8 shipping, this beats those deals handily. Eddie Bauer almost never runs free shipping sales, so this is one to jump on.

The Eddie Bauer Stowaway 20L Packable Pack is the runner-up pick in our guide to the best packable daypack for travel. Jean Yoon wrote, “The Stowaway 20L Packable Pack represents a clear step above the cheaper bags we tested, such as the Hikpro, AmazonBasics, and New Outlander models. Despite costing just a few dollars more than those cheaper bags, the Eddie Bauer pack is made of noticeably higher-quality materials and built much more sturdily. Little details such as bar tacking, double stitching at the main opening, and YKK zippers speak to its superior build quality. It also feels better to wear than the cheaper options, and its paneled and shaped design just looks better.”

iRobot Roomba 960

roomba

Street price: $550; deal price: $450

If you’re seeking a do-it-all robot vacuum, this is a great opportunity to save on this recommended model. The Roomba 960, which we praise for its great battery life, superior carpet cleaning, and smartphone control, is the upgrade pick in our guide to the best robot vacuum. Over $600 until recent months, it hit $550 in September and has now dropped to $450, an excellent price and as low as we expected to see it this holiday season.

The iRobot Roomba 960 is the upgrade pick in our guide to the best robot vacuum. Liam McCabe wrote, “If you want a smarter, stronger robot than our other picks, check out the iRobot Roomba 960. It follows a predictable path, so given enough time, it can clean an entire level of a house without missing any patches. It’s one of the most powerful cleaners we’ve tested, and we’ve found over years of testing that it’s less likely to get stuck or confused than the mapping bots made by other brands.”

Because great deals don’t just happen on Thursday, sign up for our daily deals email and we’ll send you the best deals we find every weekday. Also, deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go here.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Once again, Facebook has a lot of explaining to do

Once again, Facebook has a lot of explaining to do

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for Facebook, The New York Times has come out with a bombshell exposé of the company’s tumultuous last two years. That, of course, includes its handling (er, mishandling) of the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal and other controversies, like the lack of transparency around Russian interference on its site leading up to the 2016 US presidential election. The paper says it spoke with more than 50 people, including current and former Facebook employees, who detailed the company’s efforts to contain, deny and deflect negative stories that came its way.

Facebook, what with its questionable “War Room” and all, seemed to be on the right path after apparently keeping things under control during the recent midterm elections in the US. Aside from the 115 accounts it blocked the day before the elections after being tipped off by law enforcement officials, no major incidents of fake news or malicious ads were reported — though at this point it wouldn’t be surprising Facebook came out later and said, “well, actually…” After all, it’s not as if the company has been completely honest about it recent mishaps, as this week’s New York Times report highlights.

2015 WebSummit Day 2 - Enterprise Stage

Alex Stamos, former Chief Security Officer at Facebook

Perhaps the most damaging allegation comes from a Facebook “expert on Russian cyber warfare” who reported to former Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos. The expert claims that top executives at the social media giant, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, knew about Kremlin activity on Facebook since 2016. Facebook disputes this. But, none of those details came out publicly until fall 2017, when the it reported that 126 million Facebook users were exposed to Russian-linked ads, misinformation and fake accounts. That propaganda, as we now know, was intended to create discord among the American people.

“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said in November of 2016, allegedly months after Facebook was already aware of Russia using its site to try to interfere in US elections.

To make matters worse, the company reportedly hired a consulting firm called Definers Public Affairs to do some of its dirty work, including lobbying against lawmaker critics in Washington, D.C. Definers also ran a campaign to discredit anti-Facebook activists by linking them to known Democrat donor George Soros, according to The Times. But the firm didn’t stop there. Some of Definers’ other work, sources told The Times, involved publishing negative stories about Google and Apple on conservative news site NTK Network, an affiliate of Definers Public Affairs.


Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg testified in Congress last September.
Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Facebook’s pettiness, per to the report, went as far as Zuckerberg ordering members of his management team to start using Android smartphones instead of iPhones, after Apple CEO Tim Cook took a jab at Facebook for not protecting its users’ data. “I think the best regulation is no regulation [but] self-regulation,” Cook told MSNBC in an interview last March in response to a question about Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica incident. “However, I think we’re beyond that here.” He added, “I wouldn’t be in this situation.” Sure, Zuckerberg may believe he has the power to make his staff stop using iPhones at his demand, but it seems like his energy could’ve been better spent elsewhere — like actually trying to fix the issues at hand.

Not surprisingly, Facebook is denying many of the allegations from The New York Times’ report. In a blog post, the company said “there are a number of inaccuracies in the story,” including that it knew of Russian activity in the spring of 2016 — though the timeline it provides seems kind of murky. Facebook also claims Zuckerberg “never encouraged our employees and executives” to use Android. “Tim Cook has consistently criticized our business model and Mark has been equally clear he disagrees,” the company said. “So there’s been no need to employ anyone else to do this for us. And we’ve long encouraged our employees and executives to use Android because it is the most popular operating system in the world.”

As far as Definers, in a call with reporters on Thursday, Zuckerberg said that he “learned about this relationship when I read the NYT piece yesterday.”

Facebook

Lastly, Facebook said, it has ended its contract with Definers, adding that The Times “is wrong to suggest that we ever asked Definers to pay for or write articles on Facebook’s behalf – or to spread misinformation.” Thing is, it’s not as if The New York Times has a bad track record of reporting inaccurate stories, whereas Facebook’s recent mishaps have all but exposed its lack of transparency when something goes wrong — and that’s been happening a lot lately.

At this point, it’s going to take a lot for it to gain people’s trust back, especially as more stories like this continue to come out. What Facebook needs to do is brace itself for regulation, because it clearly can’t be trusted to regulate itself, and lawmakers around the world are starting to agree.

Images: Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images (Alex Stamos); Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images (Facebook app)

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Facebook removed over 1.5 billion fake accounts in the last six months

Facebook removed over 1.5 billion fake accounts in the last six months


Bloomberg via Getty Images

It’s been less than a day since the New York Times published a brutal report about the state of affairs at Facebook, including a deep look at the company’s failure to properly identify and deal with fake news and Russian interference. The company already issued a lengthy response to the claims, and today Facebook is publishing its biannual transparency report, covering the first half of 2018. Facebook says the report covers “information about government requests for user data we’ve received; reports on where access to Facebook products and services was disrupted; the number of content restrictions based on local law; and reports of counterfeit, copyright, and trademark infringement.”

As part of its transparency report, Facebook is also publishing its latest Community Standards Enforcement Report. In it, the company highlights its efforts in removing content that violates Facebook guidelines, including “adult nudity and sexual activity, fake accounts, hate speech, spam, terrorist propaganda, and violence and graphic content,” as well as two new categories: bullying and harassment, and child nudity and sexual exploitation of children. The timeline covered is April through September of 2018.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but at a high level Facebook says it removed over 1.5 billion fake accounts from April through September, up from the 1.3 billion accounts it removed in the previous six months. If you were wondering just how widespread false content and accounts are on the platform, wonder no more.

While Facebook is able to pull down more than 90 percent of instances of adult nudity and sexual activity, child nudity / sexual exploitation of children, fake accounts, spam, terrorist propaganda and violence and graphic content, there are two categories where its content moderation falls down. Facebook only found and removed 14.9 percent of bullying and harassment before users reported them; it also only found 51.6 percent of hate speech violations before users reported them (timeframe was July through September of this year).

This is the first time Facebook is reporting on bullying and harassment, so we’d expect to see that number rise as the company puts more focus behind it. Similarly, while Facebook has a long way to go to get as good at catching hate speech as it is at catching other bad behavior, it’s doing a much better job than it did a year ago. In Q4 of 2017, Facebook only caught 23.6 percent of hate speech prior to it being reported, a number that has more than doubled as of today’s report.

Perhaps related to the increased scrutiny Facebook is under, the company reports that government requests for account data increased worldwide by around 26 percent compared to the second half of 2017 (103,815 requests total, up from 82,341). In the US, government requests increased by 30 percent; in 56 percent of those cases, the US government prohibited Facebook from notifying the user.

Given the fire that Facebook has been under since the New York Times report was published yesterday (not to mention everything the company has been dealing with for the past two years), it’s not surprising to see it try and release some positive numbers here. But in all likelihood, the furor around the company’s continued avoidance of responsibility for the many issues it is linked to will continue. That said, the company continues to make more money and attract more new users, albeit at a slower pace than in the past. Until that trend changes, it’s hard to expect Facebook will act any differently than it does right now.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Facebook plans ‘independent’ committee for content moderation appeals

Facebook plans ‘independent’ committee for content moderation appeals

In response to the recent New York Times report, Facebook just announced that it was going to take important steps in curtailing misinformation. During a call with reporters, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook will create a new independent body that people can appeal to on whether certain content can stay up or down. According to Zuckerberg, users will be able to appeal the decisions about the content or when their content is reported. The new external oversight committee will be put into action in 2019.

Prior to this, Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have largely stayed out of content policy decisions, preferring instead to look to other resources like third-party fact-checkers in order to weed out fake news. With this oversight committee however, the company is hoping to ramp up its efforts even further, not just to reduce fake news, but also violent and hate speech, harassment and other problems that Facebook has to deal with on a constant basis.

On the call, Zuckerberg appears to acknowledge that the sheer power Facebook has in the area of information dissemination and expression should have external oversight. That’s why Facebook wants the committee to be an independent one.

It’s a feature that many users and advocates have asked for quite some time now. Facebook has faced a litany of issues over the past year, ranging from the misinformation leading to genocide in Myanmar, fake news and conspiracies in US politics, Russian meddling in elections and more.

Developing…

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Tinder’s Swipe Surge tells you when there’s a rush of potential dates

Tinder’s Swipe Surge tells you when there’s a rush of potential dates


Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

If you’ve used dating apps long enough, you know it tends to be easier to find a potential match at certain times than others — you might have better success on Friday night than Wednesday afternoon, for example. And Tinder wants you to capitalize on that. It’s testing a Swipe Surge feature that alerts you when there’s a rush of activity in your area, increasing the chances of both finding a match and striking up a conversation. People who’ve joined the Swipe Surge will bump to the front of the queue, and you’ll even know who’s currently active.

The company tells Engadget the experimental feature is only available on iOS (sorry, Android-based romantics) in “select” cities like Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles, as well as some international locations. However, it seems like more a question of when this expands than if. This could keep more people active on Tinder, especially if they’ve been put off by quiet days where there are few matches and fewer messages.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true