The Vote Is In: Facebook Users Either Don’t Care or Were Unaware of Proposed Privacy Changes

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Low voter turnout means Facebook will have its way on changes to its privacy policy.

The vote, which closed at midday Dec. 10, gave members their only chance to weigh in on how Facebook handles user data as well as on the social network’s plan to do away with its custom of allowing users to vote on policy changes. The site also has plans to restrict users’ ability to prevent unwanted messages and combine personal information from Facebook with Instagram.

But does the vote signify voter apathy or voter ignorance?

Of the 668,872 people to vote, 87.5 percent (589,141 users) opposed the proposed changes while 79,731 were in support.

According to Facebook’s voting laws, however, 30 percent or 300 million of Facebook’s billion users would have had to cast their ballots against the proposed changes in order to put a stop to them. The 668,872 members to weigh in amounted to just 0.0668 percent of potential voters.

For a site whose bread and butter is social engagement, Facebook did a poor job of promoting the vote. According to many critics, Facebook never expected to receive 300 million votes and did little to ensure it received them.

While Facebook users did receive an e-mail to inform them of the vote, the social network did little else to promote the importance of the poll. There was no mention of the vote on its main Facebook or Twitter accounts or on its sign-in page.

According to Facebook vice-president of public policy and marketing Elliot Schrage, because the turnout was less than 30 percent, the vote will only be advisory.

Critics say this means Facebook is likely to ignore the results of the vote and push ahead with its plans.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) have said the policy changes “will impact the privacy of users and their ability to participate in site governance.”

Facebook’s proposal of allowing users to comment on or like the proposed changes instead of voting is simply not good enough, the groups said.

“Because these proposed changes raise privacy risks for users, may be contrary to law, and violate your previous commitments to users about site governance, we urge you to withdraw the proposed changes,” the groups wrote in a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

EPIC and CDD said not only will the changes give people less control over their inboxes, it is also “likely to increase the amount of spam that users receive.”


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The Vote Is In: Facebook Users Either Don’t Care or Were Unaware of Proposed Privacy Changes

Yahoo, NBC Sports Group Partner to Offer ‘All-Star’ Sports Coverage

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Yahoo Sports got a boost this week.

Yahoo has announced its partnership with NBC Sports Group — a content and promotional alliance that will offer an “all-star lineup of digital and on-air experiences.”

Yahoo Sports, will be incorporated into NBC Sports Group, growing the company’s digital assets. Yahoo’s sports reporting, fantasy sports pages and Rivals’ college content will be promoted on the NBC network. Yahoo Sports will also be connected to live streams of the network’s sports broadcasts. The companies will not only work together to create web shows that will appear on both websites, but will partner on major sporting events for both television and the Internet, doubling promotion at a nominal cost.

Despite the partnership, the sites will retain separate newsrooms and editorial control over their own content.

The financial terms of the deal were not divulged.

The partnership is part of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s plan to update and improve the search engine through partnerships and acquisitions.

“Passionate fans need news and analysis about their favorite teams in real time, and they want access to that information no matter where they are,” said Ken Fuchs vice-president of Yahoo! Global Media and head of Yahoo! Sports and Games.

“We’re thrilled to combine Yahoo!’s fantasy offerings, product innovation and editorial authority with NBC’s broadcast coverage of live sports events and award-winning on-air talent. We think our users will love the result.”

According to an excerpt from a joint press release, key features of the partnership include:

Editorial Depth: The combined talent roster of Yahoo! Sports and NBC Sports features a deep bench of award-winning reporters and commentators, such as NBC’s Bob Costas and Mike Florio; Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Adrian Wojnarowski. Yahoo! Sports’ renowned investigative reporting will be featured on NBC TV, giving fans multiple-platform delivery.

Original Video Programming Concepts: Yahoo! Sports and NBC Sports will work together to develop original made-for-web video programs that will appear on both Yahoo! Sports and featuring fan favorites from among the award-winning editorial teams’ rosters, including:

• NBC Sports host and Emmy Award-winning commentator Bob Costas: video sports news interviews and editorials

• Football Night in America’s Tony Dungy & Rodney Harrison: video segments during NFL season

• Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk on daily, weekday NFL web show, Pro Football Talk Live

Rivals on Recruiting: weekly college recruiting show with Rivals and NBC Sports talent.

Live Streaming: Yahoo! Sports will link to and promote the NBC Sports Live Extra video player. Fans will be able to watch live streams of some of NBC’s biggest events, starting with Sunday Night Football and NHL Game of the Week. Live content from NBC Sports Network will continue to be distributed through NBC Sports Live Extra on a TV Everywhere basis.

Fantasy Sports: Yahoo! Sports, the leading fantasy platform, will become the exclusive fantasy game provider of NBC Sports’ Rotoworld, the premiere fantasy news and information site. This will include Yahoo! Sports’ fantasy experiences for football, baseball, hockey, soccer, College Bowl Pick’em and Tourney Pick’em. The college sports destination will power recruiting and college sporting news for and the NBC Sports Regional Networks.

NBC Sports Regional Networks: The authentic, local sports properties will serve as Yahoo! Sports’ preferred content provider in relevant markets, and integrate Yahoo! Sports’ team pages, fantasy experts and sports talent.

NBC’s Alli Sports: Providing youth-focused, action-sports video and other content to Yahoo! Sports.


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Yahoo, NBC Sports Group Partner to Offer ‘All-Star’ Sports Coverage

Mayer Debuts New Yahoo Mail

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CEO Marissa Mayer launched a speedier, simpler version of Yahoo Mail Dec. 11 in a bid to remain competitive with rival Gmail.

While Yahoo Mail remains the No. 1 webmail service, its unique visitor rate dipped by more than 14,000 visitors in November over the same month last year, according to comScore. Google’s Gmail, however, gained nearly 15,000 in the same period.

The redesign was also in answer to user requests for improvements, Mayer said.

“You’ve told us loud and clear that you want fewer distractions when it comes to e-mail,” she said in a blog post. “You want to quickly login, communicate, and get on with your day. And we’ve listened. Starting today, the new Yahoo Mail is fast, easy and available anywhere you go.”

The upgrades will be available on all major platforms: the Web, Windows 8, iPhone/iPod touch and Android.

“We’ve redesigned the new version of Yahoo! Mail with speed in mind — getting through your e-mails is faster than ever before,” Mayer says. “We’ve also made your inbox more intuitive and easier to navigate, allowing you to focus on what matters most: your messages. And, because mobile is everything these days, Yahoo! Mail now has a consistent look and feel across devices.”

Mayer said most mail users would begin to experience the new Web version of Yahoo Mail this week.

She also indicated the technology giant is seeking feedback on the changes so “we can continue to improve.”

“We’re committed to making Yahoo Mail everything you want and more, and this is just the beginning,” she wrote in her blog post.

Mayer, of Google fame, is determined to work her magic on Yahoo by focusing on users’ “daily habits” such as e-mail, the home page and Internet search as well as mobile devices.

The 37-year-old, who took on the CEO position in July, has already made her presence known with a thorough redesign of

Until the redesign, which was officially unveiled in October, the search engine website had sported the same look for years. is Yahoo’s most valuable product. According to ComScore, 170 million people visit Yahoo sites each day and the majority of them are directed to this page.


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Mayer Debuts New Yahoo Mail

Mobbles Pulls App Due to Threat of Privacy Complaint

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Children’s app Mobbles went on the defensive Dec. 11, temporarily taking the game offline, after learning the Center for Digital Democracy was prepared to file a complaint against it with the Federal Trade Commission.

The popular virtual pet app collected children’s personal information including e-mail addresses and users’ geolocation without parental consent, according to the complaint obtained by AdWeek. The collection of personal data breaches the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

“We have been informed by various members of the media that Mobbles has been or will be identified in a filing with the FTC regarding the manner in which it collects, stores and uses consumer information,” a statement on the Mobbles website reads. “At this point, however, we have not received any official notice or service of any such filing. Thus it is impossible for us to respond in any intelligent way to allegations that we have neither seen nor analyzed in full.”

The company also described user privacy as a serious matter.

“In case that wasn’t clear enough, we never stored any location-related data nor do we give any data to third parties. We’ll put a clearer privacy policy on our website later today,” the statement says. “We are committed to ensuring the safety and protection of our users’ privacy, and we have elected to take our app temporarily offline in order to focus on these objectives and ways that we can continue to improve on all fronts.”

The game, which is ranked by iTunes as one of the top 100 “entertainment” apps, could very well have been one of the hundreds of children’s apps mentioned by the FTC in the report the agency released Dec. 10. The report determined hundreds of apps are collecting “an alarming amount of information” on their young users without parents’ knowledge.

The report also found only 20 percent of children’s apps disclose their data collection practices.

Of those that did offer disclosures, the links provided were often long, technically-worded privacy policies “filled with irrelevant information,” the report found. Other apps, it said, gave ambiguous information about their practices.

“While we think most companies have the best intentions when it comes protecting kids’ privacy, we haven’t seen any progress when it comes to making sure parents have the information they need to make informed choices about apps for their kids,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

“In fact, our study shows that kids’ apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents. All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job.”

The FTC, which performed a similar study last year of both Android and iOS apps, said there has been precious little progress toward giving parents insight on what information is being collected from their children, how it is being shared and who will have access to it.

The report also found many of the apps connect to social media, sending information from mobile devices to ad networks, analytics companies, or other third parties, without disclosing these activities to parents.

The FTC report can be downloaded here.

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Mobbles Pulls App Due to Threat of Privacy Complaint

Technology News Briefs — Dec. 12, 2012

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Journalist Indicted for Sharing Hyperlink

A federal grand jury in Dallas has indicted Barrett Brown, a journalist known for his coverage of hacker group Anonymous, because he shared a hyperlink through an IRC channel.

Brown has been in custody since FBI agents raided his apartment in September. Shortly after Brown was indicted for making threats against an FBI agent, according to The Dallas Morning News.

This month’s indictment lists a dozen more charges against Brown, who was once the self-professed spokesman for Anonymous. The new charges include making an Internet threat, conspiring to make restricted personal information of an employee of the U.S. publicly available and retaliation against a federal law enforcement officer.

A press release from the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Texas, reads:

Count One of the most recent indictment alleges that on approximately December 25, 2011, Barrett, aided and abetted by others, knowingly trafficked in more than five authentication features, knowing that such features were stolen and produced without lawful authority. According to the indictment, Brown transferred a hyperlink from an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel to an IRC channel under his control. That hyperlink provided access to data stolen from the company Stratfor Global Intelligence (Stratfor), which included more than 5,000 credit card account numbers, the card holders’ identification information and the authentication features for the credit cards, known as the Card Verification Values (CVV). By transferring and posting the hyperlink, Brown caused the data to be made available to other persons online, without the knowledge and authorization of Stratfor and the card holders.

Count Two of the indictment alleges that from approximately December 25, 2011, through at least March 6, 2012, Brown, aided and abetted my others, possessed at least fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in that he possessed stolen credit card account numbers and CVVs without the knowledge and authorization of the card holders.

In Counts Three through Twelve, the indictment alleges that during the above-mentioned time period, Brown unlawfully transferred and possessed the means of identification, consisting of the CVVs; the card holders’ names and usernames for online account access; and the card holders’ physical address, phone numbers and email addresses.

The indictment in its entirety can be read here.

Go Daddy Appoints New CEO

Go Daddy will have a new top man next month.

The web-domain registration and hosting company announced Dec. 11 former Yahoo and Microsoft executive Blake Irving will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jan. 7.

Irving will succeed Scott Wagner who has been serving as interim CEO since July.

“Blake Irving’s deep technology experience and his history of developing new cutting-edge products and leading large global teams make him an enormously compelling choice to drive Go Daddy to the next level of its domestic and global growth,” said Go Daddy Executive Chairman and Founder Bob Parsons. “Go Daddy has made great strides with Scott Wagner as CEO, and we look forward to building on that in the future.”

Before GoDaddy, Irving was chief product officer at Yahoo. He left the company in April. Before that, he worked at Microsoft for 15 years, where he held a number of positions, including corporate VP of Windows Live, the company’s online services portfolio that includes Hotmail and MSN Messenger.

“Go Daddy is and will continue to be the hub where businesses can come to life, grow and prosper,” Blake Irving said. “We strive to be the global resource that fuels success for countless entrepreneurs and innovators around the world. As a long time Go Daddy customer, I have seen firsthand an organization that is committed to its customers 24 hours a day and seven days a week and yet there still remains much more we can do to enhance the customer experience. This is a fantastic opportunity, and I can’t wait to hit the ground running in January.”

Congressman Wants Law Against 3D-Printable Guns

Now that 3D-printable plastic guns are a reality, one congressman wants to renew the Undetectable Firearms Act before it expires in December 2013.

According to TechNewsDaily, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y) asked for the renewal of the federal ban on plastic guns after news of a group testing a 3D-printed gun part in a live-fire test came to light.

Wiki Weapon members plan to test completely 3D-printed guns by year’s end. Wiki Weapon is part of Defense Distributed.

“Congress passed a law banning plastic guns for two decades, when they were just a movie fantasy,” Israel was quoted by TechNewsDaily. “With the advent of 3D printers these guns are suddenly a real possibility, but the law Congress passed is set to expire next year.”





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Technology News Briefs — Dec. 12, 2012