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Messenger Kids rolls out passphrases so kids can initiate friend requests themselves

Facebook is making it easier for kids to add their friends on its under-13 chat app, Messenger Kids. Starting today, the company is rolling out a new feature that will allow kids to request parents’ approval of new contacts. To use the feature, parents will turn on a setting that creates a four-word passphrase that’s used generate these contact requests, the company says. Parents can opt to use this feature, which is not on by default. Once enabled, Facebook will randomly generate a four-word phrase that’s uniquely assigned to each child. When the child wants to add a friend to their app’s contacts list in the future, they will show this phrase to the friend to enter in their own app. Both parents will then receive a contact request from their child – and both have to approve the request before the kids can start chatting. In other words, this doesn’t represent a loosening of the rules around parental approvals – all contact requests still require parents’ explicit attention and confirmation, as before. However, it does make it easier for kids to friend one another when their parents aren’t Facebook friends themselves. That’s been an issue with the app for some time, and one Facebook first started to address in May when it made a change that finally no longer required parents to be friends, too. While most parents will at least want to know who their child is texting with, there are plenty of times when parents are friendly with someone on a more casual basis – like through the child’s school or their extracurricular activities. But just because two people are neighbors or fellow soccer moms and dads, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re also Facebook friends. The change introduced in May allowed parents to do a search for the child’s friend’s parents, then invite them to the app so the kids could connect. But this still required parents to take the initial steps (at the urging of the child, of course).

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Facebook builds its own AR games for Messenger video chat

Facebook is diving deeper into in-house game development with the launch of its own version of Snapchat’s multiplayer augmented reality video chat games. Today, Facebook Messenger globally launches its first two AR video chat games that you can play with up to six people. “Don’t Smile” is like a staring contest that detects if you grin, and then users AR to contort your it’s an exaggerated Joker’s smirk while awarding your opponent the win. “Asteroids Attack” sees you move your face around the navigate a space ship, avoiding rocks and grabbing laser beam powerups. Soon, Facebook also plans to launch “Beach Bump” for passing an AR ball back and forth, and a “Kitten Craze” cat matching game. To play the games, you start a video chat, hit the Star button to open the filter menu, and then select one of the games. You can snap and share screenshots to your chat thread while you play. The games are effectively a way to pass the time while you video chat, rather than something you’d ever play on your own. They could be a hit with parents and grandparents who are away and want to spend time with a kid…who isn’t exactly the best conversationalist. Facebook tells me it built these games itself using the AR Studio tool it launched last year to let developers create their own AR face filters. When asked if game development would be available to everyone through AR studio, a spokesperson told me “Not today, but we’ve seen sucessful short-session AR games developed by the creator community and are always looking out for ways to bring the best AR content to the FB family of apps.” For now, there will be no ads, sponsored branding, or in-app purchases in Messenger’s video chat games. But those all offer opportunities for Facebook and potentially outside developers to earn money.

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Messenger Kids launches in Mexico

Messenger Kids , Facebook’s parent-controlled messaging app that lets kids text, call, video chat, and use face filters, has now arrived in Mexico. The launch follows Messenger Kids’ recent expansion outside the U.S ., where in June it first became available to users in Canada and Peru. The app in Mexico works the same as it does elsewhere – parents have to approve all the contacts the child is allowed to talk to – whether that’s family members the child knows, like grandma and grandpa, or the child’s friends. Facebook has consulted with paid advisor Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and others on the development of Messenger Kids’ features focused on principles of social and emotional learning. For example, it recently introduced a section of guidelines that remind kids to “be kind” and “be respectful” and rolled out “kindness stickers” which are meant to encourage more positive emotions when communicating online. These approaches are meant to help kids learn, from the beginning, better ways of communicating when online. However, it’s still advisable for parents to sit with kids as they practice texting for the first time, in order to talk about what’s appropriate behavior. As kids gets older, parents should continue to spot check their conversations and have discussions about what the child may have done right or wrong. For example, we use Messenger Kids in our home, and I recently had a conversation about when it’s too early or too late to be placing a video call, after reviewing the chat history. I then adjusted the app’s “bedtime hours” to limit calls to certain daytime hours.

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Ransomware technique uses your real passwords to trick you

A few folks have reported a new ransomware technique that preys upon corporate inability to keep passwords safe. The notes – which are usually aimed at instilling fear – are simple: the hacker says “I know that your password is X. Give me a bitcoin and I won’t blackmail you.” Programmer Can Duruk reported getting the email today. Woah. This is cool. A Bitcoin ransom with using what I think is passwords from a big leak. Pretty neat since people would be legit scared when they see their password. The concealed part is actually an old password I used to use. pic.twitter.com/clEYiFqvHY — can (@can) July 11, 2018 The email reads: I’m aware that X is your password. You don’t know me and you’re thinking why you received this e mail, right? Well, I actually placed a malware on the porn website and guess what, you visited this web site to have fun (you know what I mean). While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as a RDP (Remote Desktop) and a keylogger which provided me access to your display screen and webcam. Right after that, my software gathered all your contacts from your Messenger, Facebook account, and email account. What exactly did I do?

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Facebook rolls out a button to show ads a Page is running, even if not targeted to the user, across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger (Anna…

Anna Hensel / VentureBeat : Facebook rolls out a button to show ads a Page is running, even if not targeted to the user, across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger   —  Facebook today released a new tool that will allow users to see what advertisements a Page is running — whether or not all of those advertisements are targeted at that particular users.

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Security, privacy experts weigh in on the ICE doxxing

In what appears to be the latest salvo in a new, wired form of protest, developer Sam Lavigne posted code that scrapes LinkedIn to find Immigration and Customs Enforcement employee accounts. His code, which basically a Python-based tool that scans LinkedIn for keywords, is gone from Github and Gitlab and Medium took down his original post . The CSV of the data is still available here and here and WikiLeaks has posted a mirror . “I find it helpful to remember that as much as internet companies use data to spy on and exploit their users, we can at times reverse the story, and leverage those very same online platforms as a means to investigate or even undermine entrenched power structures. It’s a strange side effect of our reliance on private companies and semi-public platforms to mediate nearly all aspects of our lives. We don’t necessarily need to wait for the next Snowden-style revelation to scrutinize the powerful — so much is already hiding in plain sight,” said Lavigne. Doxxing is the process of using publicly available information to target someone online for abuse. Because we can now find out anything on anyone for a few dollars – a search for “background check” brings up dozens of paid services that can get you names and addresses in a second – scraping public data on LinkedIn seems far easier and innocuous. That doesn’t make it legal. “Recent efforts to outlaw doxxing at the national level (like the Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017) have stalled in committee, so it’s not strictly illegal,” said James Slaby, Security Expert at Acronis . “But LinkedIn and other social networks usually consider it a violation of their terms of service to scrape their data for personal use. The question of fairness is trickier: doxxing is often justified as a rare tool that the powerless can use against the powerful to call attention to perceived injustices.” “The problem is that doxxing is a crude tool. The torrent of online ridicule, abuse and threats that can be heaped on doxxed targets by their political or ideological opponents can also rain down on unintended and undeserving targets: family members, friends, people with similar names or appearances,” he said. The tool itself isn’t to blame. No one would fault a job seeker or salesperson who scraped LinkedIn for targeted employees of a specific company.

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Yahoo Messenger will shut down on July 17th

Today, Yahoo announced that its Messenger service will be discontinued after July 17th, 2018. If you're looking for a Messenger replacement, Yahoo recommends the product Squirrel, which is currently in beta and invite only. You can request an invitat...

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Yahoo Messenger is shutting down on July 17, redirects users to group messaging app Squirrel

It’s the end of an era for Yahoo Messenger, one of the first instant messaging apps on the market that introd. Today, Oath (which also owns TechCrunch) announced that it would be winding down the service on July 17 as it continues to experiment and consider how and if it can have a relevant place in the messaging landscape amid huge domination from Facebook and others in mobile apps. “There currently isn’t a replacement product available for Yahoo Messenger,” the company writes. “We’re constantly experimenting with new services and apps, one of which is an invite-only group messaging app called Yahoo Squirrel (currently in beta).” Squirrel is a group messaging app Yahoo started testing last month . You can request access to the beta here . Yahoo has not broken out active users of Messenger for some time, and theoretically anyone logged into any Yahoo property is logged into Messenger. Cumulatively over the last 20 years, hundreds of millions of people have used the service, the company said. The company says your Yahoo ID remains intact for other services like Mail and fantasy sports. The company is not specific about its reasons for shutting down Messenger, but the writing has been on the wall for some time, given the dominance today of Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger, Snapchat, WeChat and a number of others. Notably, Oath also shut down AIM, AOL’s equivalent messaging app, in October . “We know we have many loyal fans who have used Yahoo Messenger since its beginning as one of the first chat apps of its kind,” it notes. “As the communications landscape continues to change over, we’re focusing on building and introducing new, exciting communications tools that better fit consumer needs.” Alongside that, the company, as a part of Oath, is now owned by Verizon, the telecoms behemoth. Ironically, it’s the telcos of the world whose revenues have been cannibalised in part by over-the-top messaging services, although Yahoo Messenger’s demise is far likely less related to that, considering that it is not one of the most popular services on the market today. Yahoo says that you can download your chat history on Messenger for the next six months by going here . Files go to your computer or device — but not specifically to another messaging app. Yahoo Messenger first made its debut as Yahoo Pager way back in 1998, at a time when instant messaging was the terrain of PCs, as an alternative to email and SMS on basic mobile devices

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