Friday, May 21, 2010
Facebook and Others Caught Sending User Data to Advertisers
The Wall Street Journal is reporting on what could be a major scandal brewing for Facebook, MySpace and other social networks: despite assurances to the contrary, the sites have apparently been sending personal and identifiable information about users to their advertisers without consent.
Large advertising companies including Google’s DoubleClick and Yahoo’s Right Media were identified as having received information including usernames or ID numbers that could be traced back to individual profiles as users clicked on ads. The data could potentially be used to look up personal information about the user, including real name, age, occupation, location, and anything else made public on the profile. Both of the aforementioned companies denied being aware of the “extra” data they were receiving and claim they have not made use of it.
The WSJ goes on to report that since raising questions about the practice with Facebook () and MySpace (), both companies have since rewritten at least some of the code that allowed transmission of identifiable data. Beyond those two companies, LiveJournal, Hi5 (), Xanga () and Digg () made the list of sites identified as sending identifiable information back to advertisers when a user clicked on individual ads.
The Journal found that Facebook went farther than most in sharing identifiable data, by sending the username of the person clicking the ad as well as the username of the profile they were viewing at the time. This news could hardly come at a worse time for Facebook, a company that currently faces a privacy backlash potent enough to make the cover of Time Magazine this month.
Outside of Facebook, the other companies named in the article maintain the data they send to advertisers contains the user ID of the profile a user is visiting when they click on an ad, and not the user ID of the visitor themselves. Both Google and Yahoo made strong statements refuting the idea that they would ever make use of any such personally identifiable data. Yahoo VP of global policy Anne Toth said of the allegations, “We prohibit clients from sending personally identifiable information to us. We have told them. ‘We don’t want it. You shouldn’t be sending it to us. If it happens to be there, we are not looking for it.’”
What do you think: is this another privacy-related stain on Facebook as well as other social networks, or much ado about nothing?
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Robot Priest Marries Couple in Japan [VIDEO]
Is it odd, then, that Satoko Inoue and Tomohiro Shibata decided to employ a robot called i-Fairy to marry them? Now, perhaps; but in a couple of years, especially in Japan which is already home to 800,000 industrial robots, it might become a regular occurrence.
The bride, Inoue, works for Kokoro Ltd, the company that makes the i-Fairy, a robot usually employed as a museum guide. The husband, Shibata, was a client of the company, so in a way, the robot brought them together. “It’s true that robots are what caused us to first begin going out, and as suggested by my wife, we decided that we wanted to try this sort of wedding,” Shibata said.
All it took was new software, and the robot presided over the marriage without problems, as you can see in the video below. So much for robots not understanding the meaning of love.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The State of Wireless Satisfaction in the USMay 13, 2010
Virtually everyone has a cell phone and wireless plan. The difference in the number of dropped calls and cell phone reception can depend on many factors, including location and the wireless carrier. A recent survey of wireless customers pulled back the curtain on which wireless carriers are making their customers the happiest and which ones could stand to do a bit better if they expect customer loyalty and the profits that come with it.
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TSA’s liquid rules: down the drain
The Transportation Security Administration’s unpopular restrictions on liquids have been vaporized, says travel commentator Chris Elliott.
“Passengers say the TSA has all but stopped screening their luggage for liquids,” he said.
Officers no longer ask passengers to remove lotions, shampoos and even water bottles from their luggage. They also are overlooking all manner of liquids packed in carry-on bags.
The TSA initially banned liquids and gels from carry-on bags in 2006 after British authorities thwarted a plot to blow up planes bound for the US with liquid explosives.
The agency in 2008 promised to ease its restrictions within a year by removing size limits on liquids.
A TSA spokesman insisted the rule is still in effect. “The policy continues to be enforced, although it is important to note that we empower our workforce with direction,” said TSA’s Lauren Gaches.
Elliott concluded the policy is largely unenforced.
He urges the much-maligned agency to come clean about liquids.
“If there’s any evidence that my tube of Crest is dangerous….then I think we’ll all quietly empty our toothpaste, hair gel and contact lens solution into one quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag,” he says.
Facebook is expected to launch location-based functionality as soon as May
Facebook is really making moves of late, with initiatives like universal Like Button and Facebook shopping, they are positioning themselves to compete with Google. Good for them.
3D Video Recording Coming to a Cellphone Near You
But wait, you say — there’s still a huge gap in terms of actually being able to produce 3D video thanks to the expensive new equipment outlays required. True, but consumer electronics manufacturer Sharp has plans to leapfrog over much of that gap by the end of this year by bringing the world’s first 3D camera for mobile devices to a cellphone near you.
The camera module, designed specifically for small devices like cellphones and digital cameras, shoots 3D footage at 720p resolution. Samples of the new camera will be available by July before the real mass production begins, so by this summer we should be able to get our eyes on the level of quality we might expect from devices that will incorporate it later this year.
If Sharp is able to produce the modules at comparable cost, it might not be long until 3D video support becomes a commodity baked into most smartphones and point-and-shoots. There are yet other problems to solve, not the least of which is ensuring everyone has the means to comfortably view 3D content — whether it be via glasses or through the still relatively nascent glasses-less 3D technology. Nevertheless, Sharp’s mobile 3D camera stands to be yet another important milestone in the march to ubiquitous 3D.
Would you be interested in the ability to record 3D video right from your cellphone, or do you think 2D will keep most people content for some time?
Will 3-D finally break through, becoming a staple in society or will it simply go back to the drawing board after we tell it that it's still not good enough.
We shall see....