By BeauHD from Slashdot's silence-is-golden department
When Google released Chrome 66 just over two weeks ago, it received lots of attention and praise for introducing the ability to mute autoplaying videos with sound until you press play. Today, Chrome product manager John Pallett revealed that "the new policy blocks about half of unwanted autoplays." VentureBeat reports: Pallett also shared that "a significant number" of autoplays are paused, muted, or have their tab closed within six seconds by Chrome users. He didn't say how many exactly, as the number varies significantly from site to site. But that shouldn't surprise anyone, given how much work Google put into this latest feature. Chrome decides which autoplaying content to stop in its tracks by learning your preferences and ranking each website according to your past behavior. If you don't have browsing history with a site, Chrome allows autoplay for over 1,000 sites where Google says the highest percentage of visitors play media with sound (sites where media is the main point of visiting the site). As you browse the web, Chrome updates that list by enabling autoplay on sites where you play media with sound during most of your visits, and disables it on sites where you don't.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's short-term-vs-long-term-gains department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Amazon is offering to pass along the discounts it gets on credit-card fees to other retailers if they use its online payments service, according to people with knowledge of the matter, in a new threat to PayPal and card-issuing banks. The move shows Amazon is willing to sacrifice the profitability of its payments system to spread its use. Swipe fees are a $90 billion-a-year business for lenders such as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, networks including Visa and Mastercard, and payment processors like First Data and Stripe, which pocket a fraction of every sale when shoppers swipe cards or click "buy now."
The financial industry's fees amount to about 2 percent of a typical credit-card transaction, or 24 cents for debit. But big stores such as Amazon and Walmart have long been able to negotiate lower rates for themselves based on their massive sales volume. Now, Amazon is offering to pass its discount along to at least some smaller merchants if they agree to embrace its Amazon Pay service. Previously, online merchants using Amazon's service have paid about 2.9 percent of each credit-card transaction plus 30 cents, which is divvied up among Amazon, card issuers and payment networks.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's you-get-what-you-pay-for department
lod123 shares a report from Threatpost: Android phone-maker BLU Products agreed to a proposed settlement on Tuesday with the Federal Trade Commission, over allegations it allowed the third-party firm Adups Technology to collect detailed consumer data from users without their consent. In an administrative complaint filed earlier this week against BLU and the company's co-owner and president Samuel Ohev-Zion, the FTC accused the firm of sharing with China-based Adups the full contents of their users' text messages, real-time cell tower location data, call and text-message logs, contact lists, and applications used and installed on devices.
Ultimately, the FTC is alleging Ohev-Zion and BLU violated the FTC Act's section pertaining to "deceptive representation regarding disclosure of personal information." The proposed settlement will be made final after a 30-day public comment period. In its proposed complaint, the FTC said Florida-based BLU contracted with Adups to issue security and operating system updates to millions of phones sold by the firm through Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart. In addition to allegedly failing to protect consumer privacy, the FTC asserts that BLU failed "to adequately assess the privacy and security risks of third-party software installed on BLU devices" resulting in "common security vulnerabilities that could enable attackers to gain full access to the devices." Security researchers at Kryptowire first reported in 2016 that several models of BLU phones actively transmitted user and device information to Adups.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's finger-pointing department
According to a report from New York City's comptroller, Scott Stringer, Airbnb is causing rent prices to increase significantly in Manhattan and Brooklyn (Warning: source may be paywalled: alternative source), where the majority of the company's rentals are concentrated. The New York Times reports: In Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea neighborhoods and the Midtown Business District, which accounted for about 11 percent of all Airbnb listings in New York City in 2016, average monthly rents increased by $398 between 2009 and 2016, of which $86, or 21.6 percent, was a result of Airbnb's presence, the report said. In Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, the study said, rents went up 18.6 percent in those years because of Airbnb listings. Airbnb makes it easy to rent apartments to tourists, taking units off the market for full-time residents, the report said. The report said that Airbnb's influence cost New Yorkers $616 million in additional rent in 2016 as a result of price pressures.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Can lightning have an impact on people with electrodes implanted in their brains? A new study shares a case study. From a report: Lightning had struck the building. But the appliances were not the only things affected. After about an hour, the woman, who had had the electrodes put in five years before to help with debilitating muscle spasms in her neck, noticed her symptoms coming back. When she went to see her doctors the next day, they found that the pacemaker-like stimulator that powered the electrodes had switched itself off in response to the lightning strike. In a study describing these events published Tuesday in the Journal of Neurosurgery, her doctors suggest that physicians and medical device companies add lightning strikes to the list of things patients with electrodes implanted in their brains should watch out for. It may sound futuristic, but deep brain stimulation, or D.B.S., has a fairly long history. Surgeons operating on epileptic patients in the 1930s and 1940s found that removing small portions of the brain could quiet seizures. Later, researchers found that stimulating certain brain areas, instead of cutting them out, could quell the involuntary movements characteristic of Parkinson's and other disorders.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's things-Facebook-does department
Ryan Mac, reporting for BuzzFeed News: A Facebook employee, who helped harvest and sell data from millions of users of the social network for political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica in a previous job, has quietly been placed on administrative leave by the Menlo Park, California-based company. Joseph Chancellor, a quantitative social psychologist for Facebook, has been on leave for a few weeks following revelations of his role in a data privacy scandal that has rocked the Silicon Valley giant, according to two sources familiar with the situation. In March, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a consulting company that did elections work for Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Donald Trump, inappropriately obtained user data from a third-party app developer. That app company, Global Science Research (GSR), was founded by Chancellor and his research partner Aleksandr Kogan, and obtained Facebook user data on up to 87 million people.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's never-gonna-give-you-up department
Public filings suggest the social media giant is quietly developing orbital tech to rival efforts by SpaceX and OneWeb to deliver Internet by satellite. From a report: A filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week revealed details of a multi-million dollar experimental satellite from a stealthy company called PointView Tech LLC. The satellite, named Athena, will deliver data 10 times faster than SpaceX's Starlink Internet satellites, the first of which launched in February. However, PointView appears to exist only on paper. In fact, the tiny company seems to be a new subsidiary of Facebook, formed last year to keep secret the social media giant's plans to storm space. Many technology companies believe the future of the Internet is orbital. Around half the people on the planet lack a broadband Internet connection, particularly those who live in rural areas and developing nations. SpaceX aims to put nearly 12,000 Starlinks into low Earth orbit (LEO), to deliver gigabit-speed Internet to most of the Earth's surface. Rival OneWeb, funded by Japan's SoftBank, chipmaker Qualcomm, and Richard Branson's Virgin Group, plans similar global coverage using perhaps 2,500 LEO satellites. Further reading: Facebook's free walled-garden internet program ended quietly in Myanmar, several other places last year.Read Replies (0)