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Facebook alerts 14M to privacy bug that changed status composer to public

Facebook has another privacy screw-up on its hands. A bug in May accidentally changed the suggested privacy setting for status updates to public from whatever users had set it to last, potentially causing them to post sensitive friends-only content to the whole world. Facebook is now notifying 14 million people around the world who were potentially impacted by the bug to review their status updates and lock them down tighter if need be. Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan wrote to TechCrunch in a statement: “ We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts. We have fixed this issue and starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time. To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before – and they could still choose their audience just as they always have. We’d like to apologize for this mistake. ” The bug was active from May 18th to May 22nd, but it took Facebook until May 27th to switch people’s status composer privacy setting back to what it was before the issue. It happened because Facebook was building a “featured items” option on your profile that highlights photos and other content. These featured items are publicly visible, but Facebook inadvertently extended that setting to all new posts from those users. The issue has now been fixed, and everyone’s status composer has been changed back to default to the privacy setting they had before the bug. The notifications about the bug leads to a page of info about the issue, with a link to review affected posts. Facebook tells TechCrunch that it hears loud and clear that it must be more transparent about its product and privacy settings, especially when it messes up. And it plans to show more of these types of alerts to be forthcoming about any other privacy issues it discovers in the future.

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Po.et launches lab for developers to build apps on publishing blockchain

Po.et is an open source, not-for-profit publishing network built on the blockchain with the broad ambition of changing how we distribute, license and monetize content on the internet. Today, it announced it was opening the Po.et Development Labs , a place for developers to experiment with new ideas on the po.et platform. It also announced the first company to launch an app out of the lab called Inkrypt . It’s an application designed to provide a way to publish content in a distributed fashion, meaning the article doesn’t live on any particular server. That makes it nearly impossible for sensors to block it. “The first project to build on Po.et is Inkrypt, a global decentralized system providing a censorship-resistant solution for journalism hosting and delivery that will render journalism content permanent and immutable,” Po.et CEO Jarrod Dicker wrote in a blog post announcing the launch of Po.et Development Labs. Dicker, who formerly ran the innovation team at the Washington Post, says the company wants developers to see po.et in a similar manner to Ethereum, a place where they can build applications making use of the underlying blockchain technology. “Think of what Ethereum did for the spawn of new applications on the blockchain. We want to do the same for media applications on the blockchain by allowing them to leverage the protocol to build and push the media industry in the right direction,” Dicker told TechCrunch. Po.et Development Labs offers a mechanism for developers to work with the po.et blockchain protocol. “With Po.et Development Labs, we’re introducing an innovation marketplace for all creators to build products on the blockchain

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Gfycat starts rolling out 360 degree GIF content

GIFs offer a way to compress a ton of information into a small amount of space, and while Gfycat has positioned itself as more of a short-form video centric platform, it’s going to take a step further to see what a step beyond a standard GIF looks like. The company today said it would be rolling out 360 degree GIF-like short form videos, which will allow users to plant themselves in the middle of what is effectively a looping video like a GIF. While that presents much more of a challenge to users for generating content, CEO Richard Rabbat said the proliferation of tools like 3D cameras and content from the actual producers like video studios would make it an increasingly popular way to interact with short-form content in a compact form factor. “We’ve always thought that GIFs are amazing from many perspectives,” Rabbat said. “That goes beyond whether you’re looking at the content to use it in messaging, or you’re consuming it for entertainment value, or you’re using it for decoration in the case of the augmented reality effort we’re working on. We want people to really get excited about how they consume the content to the point where they can see the subjects of the content in a much more lifelike way, and really get excited about that.” It’s not going to be all that unfamiliar from 360 degree videos you might find on Facebook or other platforms. Users on desktop can use their mouse to move a GIF around, while on mobile devices users can pan their phone around in order to see different parts of the GIF. The idea is to give users a way to have a more robust interaction with a piece of content like a GIF in a compact experience without having to strap on a VR headset or anything along those lines. The company is starting off by rolling out some 360 degree content from Paramount, which is producing 360 degree content around its Mission Impossible films. And while a lot of content on Gfycat — or other platforms — comes from shows, movies or games along those lines, it makes more sense for those studios to use these kinds of tools to increase awareness for their shows or movies. via Gfycat There are a lot of companies working on figuring out the best messaging experiences around GIFs. But Google acquiring Tenor, a GIF search tool that works across multiple platforms, may have set a bare minimum bar for the value of companies that are looking to help users share GIFs with their friends

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Zuckerberg again snubs UK parliament over call to testify

Facebook has once again eschewed a direct request from the UK parliament for its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to testify to a committee investigating online disinformation — without rustling up so much as a fig-leaf-sized excuse to explain why the founder of one of the world’s most used technology platforms can’t squeeze a video call into his busy schedule and spare UK politicians’ blushes. Which tells you pretty much all you need to know about where the balance of power lies in the global game of (essentially unregulated) U.S. tech platforms giants vs (essentially powerless) foreign political jurisdictions. At the end of an 18-page  letter sent to the DCMS committee yesterday — in which Facebook’s UK head of public policy, Rebecca Stimson, provides a point-by-point response to the almost 40 questions the  committee said had not been adequately addressed by CTO Mike Schroepfer  in a prior hearing last month — Facebook professes itself disappointed that the CTO’s grilling was not deemed sufficient by the committee. “While Mark Zuckerberg has no plans to meet with the Committee or travel to the UK at the present time, we fully recognize the seriousness of these issues and remain committed to providing any additional information required for their enquiry into fake news,” she adds. So, in other words, Facebook has served up another big fat ‘no’ to the renewed request for Zuckerberg to testify — after  also denying a request for him to appear before it in March, when it instead sent Schroepfer to claim to be unable to answer MPs’ questions. At the start of this month committee chair Damian Collins wrote to Facebook saying he hoped Zuckerberg would voluntarily agree to answer questions. But the MP also took the unprecedented step of warning that if the Facebook founder did not do so the committee would issue a formal summons for him to appear the next time Zuckerberg steps foot in the UK. Hence, presumably, that addendum line in Stimson’s letter — saying the Facebook CEO has no plans to travel to the UK “at the present time”. The committee of course has zero powers to comply testimony from a non-UK national who is resident outside the UK — even though the platform he controls does plenty of business within the UK. Last month Schroepfer faced five hours of close and at times angry questions from the committee, with members accusing his employer of lacking integrity and displaying a pattern of intentionally deceptive behavior. The committee has been specifically asking Facebook to provide it with information related to the UK’s 2016 EU referendum for months — and complaining the company has narrowly interpreted its requests to sidestep a thorough investigation .

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Klout is out—social media mojo-ranking service to shutter

Lithium Klout, a service that tracks how much social media attention its users draw and rates their expertise based on the content of their posts, will be switched off on May 25—an announcement that has ironically had Klout trending on Twitter today. The service, which launched in 2008, also offered an application-programming interface that allowed businesses to collect analytics data about their audiences. Klout also offered "perks" to individuals based on their scores and demographics. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Snapchat hosts first Creators Summit after years of neglect

Social media stars have always been treated like nobodies instead of VIPs on Snapchat. Despite pioneering the Stories and creative tools they love, the lack of support saw many drift to YouTube’s ad dollars and Instagram’s bigger audience. Now Snap CEO Evan Spiegel is finally stepping up to win back their favor and their content. Last night, Spiegel joined 13 top Snapchat stars, ranging from the U.S. to as far as Lebanon, for dinner at the company’s first Creators Summit in LA. Flanked by a dozen Snap execs and product managers, Spiegel tried to impress upon the assembled artists, comedians and storytellers that the company is turning over a new leaf in how it will treat them. Today the creators sat with Snap VP of Content Nick Bell to give the company an unfiltered understanding of the tools they need and give input on Snapchat’s product roadmap. “The goal of our first creator summit was to listen and learn from them about how we can continue to strengthen opportunities for them on Snapchat — and continue to empower our community to express themselves and have fun together,” Bell told TechCrunch. “We are grateful to each of them for coming to the table with candid feedback and are excited about the possibilities ahead.” Snapchat confirms to TechCrunch it plans to hold more of these Creator Summits. Mike Metzler, one of the popular Snappers in attendance, told us, “It’s been refreshing. Snap seems very genuinely interested in listening to what we have to say, and committed to making this an important initiative.” But another questioned whether Snapchat was actually going to make changes or was just playing nice. Creators cast aside A week after Snapchat launched Stories in 2013, I asked “ Who will be the first Snapchat Stories celebrity

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You should change your Twitter password right now

Yes, it’s that time again — password changing time. On Thursday, Twitter revealed that a bug caused the platform to store user passwords in unmasked form. Normally, sensitive personal data like passwords would be stored in hashed form using a mix of letters and numbers to protect the content of the password itself. In this instance, it sounds like Twitter stored plain text passwords openly without any hashing on an internal log. We recently found a bug that stored passwords unmasked in an internal log. We fixed the bug and have no indication of a breach or misuse by anyone. As a precaution, consider changing your password on all services where you’ve used this password. https://t.co/RyEDvQOTaZ — Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) May 3, 2018 Twitter notes that it currently has “no reason to believe password information ever left Twitter’s system” or that these unprotected passwords were accessed by hackers, but the risk of the unknown remains. The company has advised users to change their passwords as a precautionary measure. Here’s what Twitter says happened: We mask passwords through a process called hashing using a function known as bcrypt, which replaces the actual password with a random set of numbers and letters that are stored in Twitter’s system. This allows our systems to validate your account credentials without revealing your password

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