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Yahoo Dodges Questions On Hacking, Verizon Deal By Canceling Earnings Call
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 03:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's look-the-other-way department:
Verizon has been growing wary of their pending $4.83 billion acquisition deal of Yahoo ever since the technology company revealed a massive data breach affecting at least 500 million of its users. Today, Yahoo canceled their earnings call to avoid talking about the incident. Huffington Post reports: The internet company announced Friday that it will not hold the customary conference call after it released its third-quarter earnings next week "due to the pending transaction with Verizon." Verizon announced in July that it had agreed to buy Yahoo for $4.8 billion. The New York Post reported last week that Verizon wanted to cut $1 billion off the acquisition price due to the hack. Verizon denied the report. Yahoo's announcement reads in part: "Due to the pending transaction with Verizon, Yahoo will not have an earnings call or webcast for its third quarter results. Concurrently with release of its financial results, supplemental financial information will also be posted on the Company's Investor Relations website at investor.yahoo.net.

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US Issues Emergency Ban On Flying With Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Offenders May Face Criminal Prosecution
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 12:53 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's phone-on-fire department:
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone will be banned from aircraft in the United States starting at noon EDT (1600 GMT) under an emergency order, regulators said on Friday. Among other penalties, those who attempt to circumvent the ban could be subjected to criminal prosecutions, the regulators added. Quartz reports: On Friday (Oct. 14), US Department of Transportation announced that passengers would no longer be able to bring the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 onto any flight in the United States. There have been nearly 100 reported cases of the phones catching on fire and spewing noxious black smoke, an undesired situation in an airplane's enclosed cabin. "Individuals who own or possess a Samsung Galaxy Note7 device may not transport the device on their person, in carry-on baggage, or in checked baggage on flights to, from, or within the United States," the US DOT statement said. Any travelers who violate the ban could be subject to criminal prosecution and fines. Samsung is expected to see a $5.3 billion loss in profits from the entire fiasco, mainly the cost of recalling, stopping production, and destroying phones.

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Apple's Redesigned London Store Has Untethered iPhones
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 12:53 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's blind-trust department:
Apple is putting a lot of faith into its customers' hands. The company is stopping the practice of tethering iPhones to demo desks. (It's a common practice, and pretty much everyone does it for their top smartphones). From a CNET report, which describes Apple's redesigned London store: Perhaps the most interesting feature of the store is that when it opens to the public at the weekend the devices won't be tethered to the tables as they were previously, and are in other stores around the world. Apple says this is to allow people to hold them properly, try cases on them and even see how they feel in your pocket. It's a bold move, especially given the lack of visible security in the building. We couldn't spot a single CCTV camera, although any phone taken out of the store will set off an alarm. If not returned, the phones will also be rendered unusable.

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Russia Builds Microwave Weapon To Take Down Enemy Drones
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 11:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's drone-despise department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Russian government is backing a military research project to develop a powerful microwave-based weapon designed to take out unmanned enemy drones from up to half a mile away. The country's United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation (UIMC) created the microwave gun specifically to disrupt the electronics of enemy missiles. Using the ultra-high frequency waves the weapon can completely disable aircraft communications, resulting in loss of control. The destructive rays, which belong to a group of warfare technologies known as directed-energy weapons (DEW), will be emitted from surface-to-air Buk missile systems. Military analyst Alexander Perendzhiyev noted that the new weapon would be particularly effective against systems carrying microelectronic equipment. He also suggested that the impact of the radio-electronic waves could even be deadly to humans -- and referred to potential use against terrorists.

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2016 Has Been an Ugly Year For Tech Layoffs, and It's Going To Get Worse, Says Analyst
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 11:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fighting-layoffs department:
IEEE Spectrum writer Tekla Perry writes: Early this year, analyst Trip Chowdhry from Global Equities Research predicted that the tech world was going to see big layoffs in 2016 -- some 330,000 in all at major tech companies. At the time, these numbers seemed way over the top. Then IBM started slashing jobs in March -- and continued to wield the ax over and over as the year progressed. Yahoo began layoffs of some 15 percent of its employees in February. Intel announced in April that it would lay off 12,000 this year. So, was Chowdhry right? "Yes," he told me when I asked him this week. "The layoffs I predicted have been occurring." And worse, he says, these laid-off workers are never again going to find tech jobs: "They will always remain unemployed," at least in tech, he said. "Their skills will be obsolete." Some of these layoffs are due to a sea change in the industry, as it transforms to the world of mobile and cloud. But some are signs of a bubble about to pop. It's all going to get worse in 2017, he predicts, because that's when the tech bubble will burst. Chowdhry, someone who has never been reluctant to go out on a limb, is predicting that'll happen in March.

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In Samsung's Town in Vietnam, Workers Confident of Riding Out Note 7 Storm
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 11:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's let-there-be-light department:
As Samsung Electronics struggles to salvage its reputation after the safety problems that have beset its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, the South Korean company can at least bank on an army of Vietnamese workers for support, Reuters report. From the article: Tens of thousands of them are involved in assembling more than a third of Samsung's smartphones -- the Galaxy Note 7 included -- in the Pho Yen area of Thai Nguyen province, which is about 65 km north of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. Samsung's arrival three years ago transformed it from a sleepy farming district into a sprawling industrial town. While the company expects to take a profit hit of around $5 billion from the scrapping of the fire-prone phone, 13 workers interviewed by Reuters outside the factory almost all said they are confident their employer will pull through. They also say Samsung pays well, offers good benefits and takes care of their needs. "Recalling (Note 7) doesn't mean we are unemployed or such; Samsung also makes many other phones and new models, not just the Note 7," said Nguyen Thi Hang, one of some 110,000 Vietnamese who work for Samsung Electronics across Vietnam, making it one of the nation's biggest employers.

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Images Show Further Damage To Great Barrier Reef, But Scientists Assure It's Not Dead
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 10:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's alarming,-but-not-the-end department:
New images of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living thing on Earth, are alarming and show the extent of the damage climate change has caused to the coral. But it's not dead yet, scientists have assured, reports the HuffingtonPost citing several scientists. In April, researchers found that more than a third of corals in central and northern parts of the reef had been killed and 93 percent of individuals reefs had been affected by a condition known as coral bleaching (which happens when the water is too warm). New research shows the damage has worsened. A story, however, doing rounds on social media claims that the Great Barrier Reef has died. The viral story has been picked up by many well-read outlets, creating confusion among people. From a HuffingtonPost article: But as a whole, it is not dead. Preliminary findings published Thursday of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority surveys show 22 percent of its coral died from the bleaching event. That leaves more than three quarters still alive -- and in desperate need of relief. Two leading coral scientists that The Huffington Post contacted took serious issue with Outside's piece (the misleading viral story), calling it wildly irresponsible. Russell Brainard, chief of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program at NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, told HuffPost he expects the article was meant to highlight the urgency of the situation. But those who don't know any better "are going to take it at face value that the Great Barrier Reef is dead," he said. The Spokesman-Review, in Spokane, Washington, fueled the myth Thursday, when it published a blog with the headline: "Great Barrier Reef pronounced dead by scientists." Brainard told HuffPost the recent bleaching event was a "severe blow" that resulted in serious mortality. Still, "we're very far from an obituary," he said.

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It's Time For Laptop Companies To Switch To Precision Touchpad
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 10:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's please-to-note department:
A new Windows 10 insider build (version 14946) comes with a new interface for configuring touchpad gestures. In the recent months, Microsoft has also improved the detection of two-finger gestures and clicking on Windows 10, and also added new four-finger gestures. These are welcome changes, and something that many would find useful. Except they won't because their computers likely don't comply with Precision Touchpad spec. ArsTechnica has an opinion piece today in which journalist Peter Bright is calling on all the OEMs to do the needful changes moving forward. From the article: Precision Touchpad made its debut with Windows 8. Co-developed between Microsoft and touchpad company Synaptics, the spec changed how Windows works with touchpads. Traditionally, touchpads masqueraded to Windows as essentially USB- or PS/2-connected mice -- simple two-dimension, single-input devices. Features such as multitouch and gestures were handled by a combination of the touchpad firmware and proprietary drivers. This meant that Windows itself had no ability to add new gestures or refine the finger-detection algorithms; it was all an opaque feature of the third-party drivers. With Precision Touchpad, the raw touchpad input is exposed to Windows itself, allowing the operating system to choose how it handles the complex multi-finger inputs. The gestures, the disambiguation of taps and swipes -- these are all now performed by Windows, not a third-party driver. Unfortunately, many PC OEMs haven't been equipping their laptops with Precision Touchpads. As such, they can't take advantage of the new Windows capabilities. As far as we can tell, it would normally be straightforward for an OEM to make the switch; touchpads from Synaptics, for example, can work as both Precision Touchpads and "legacy" mouse-emulating touchpads that use the Synaptics driver. It's just up to the OEM to pick one option or the other.

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Yahoo Explains Why It Recently Disable Automatic Forwarding On Yahoo Mail; Reinstates the Feature
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-things department:
Earlier this month, Yahoo disabled the auto-forwarding feature from its Yahoo Mail email service, leaving people with little choice but to use Yahoo Mail client to check the emails their received on their Yahoo account. The company has now acknowledged the issue, explaining why it all happened, and most importantly, switched email forwarding feature on again. From a BusinessInsider report: "Why the pause? Over the past year, Yahoo Mail has been upgrading its platform. This has allowed us to bring a better search experience to Yahoo Mail, add multiple account support, and improve performance as we quickly scale this new system globally. The feature was temporarily disabled as part of this process," Michael Albers, VP of Yahoo Mail product management, wrote in a blog post. To turn on mail forwarding, go to Settings -- Account in Yahoo Mail and enter your forwarding address. After confirming that you, in fact, control that other address, automatic forwarding should be turned on.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook On Virtual Reality: There's No Substitute For Human Contact
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-vs-virtual-reality department:
As major tech companies ramp up their efforts to develop new technologies to make sense of virtual and augmented reality spaces, one company is noticeably off the game. We're talking about Apple. And it may have something to do with how it perceives these nascent technology spaces. From an article on CNBC:"There's no substitute for human contact," Apple CEO Tim Cook told BuzzFeed News. "And so you want the technology to encourage that." It's not the first time Cook has indicated that Apple might favor AR. "We are high on AR for the long run," Cook said during an earnings call this past summer. "I think AR can be huge." Huge, indeed -- one could look to the sudden and explosive success of Pokemon Go to see an immediate real-world example.

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OpenCAPI: Google and IBM Lead Tech Consortium To Speed Data Centre Performance
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's working-together department:
An anonymous reader writes: IBM is leading a prestigious consortium of tech players in the open development of a new framework that, the company says, can speed data centre performance by a factor of 10. Participants in the OpenCAPI group include IBM, Google, Nvidia, Mellanox, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Micron and Xilinx. Chris Johnson, a Principal Engineer at Google commented 'Google is committed to open standards and we are excited to contribute to the cross-industry use and development of OpenCAPI'. Google's collaboration with RackSpace on the Zaius server will include IBM's forthcoming POWER9 processor technology, which is built around OpenCAPI. Tom Eby, vice president of Micron's compute and networking business said:"While memory has always been an essential building block for computing, it is quickly becoming the critical technology to unlocking next-generation performance."

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Google To Divide Its Index, Giving Mobile Users Better and Fresher Content
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-unexplained-reasons department:
Desktop Google searches could soon feel slightly out of touch compared to those done via smartphones as the company begins to push mobile search. Google has said it is fully splitting its search index into two versions: a rapid updated mobile one, and a secondary search index for the desktop web. SearchEngineLand reports: The news came today during a keynote address from Gary Illyes, a webmaster trends analyst with Google, at Pubcon. Illyes didn't give a timeline in his talk, but in a follow-up with Search Engine Land, he confirmed that it would happen within "months." Google first announced that it was experimenting with the idea of a mobile index last year at SMX East. Since that time, Google's clearly decided that a mobile index makes sense and is moving ahead with the idea. It's unclear exactly how the mobile index will work. For example, since the mobile index is the "primary" index, will it really not be used for any desktop queries? Will it only contain "mobile-friendly" content? How out-of-date will the desktop index be? Desktop usage is now a minority of Google queries but still generates substantial usage. The most substantial change will likely be that by having a mobile index, Google can run its ranking algorithm in a different fashion across "pure" mobile content rather than the current system that extracts data from desktop content to determine mobile rankings.

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DHS Warns of Mirai Botnet Threat To Cellular Modems
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 05:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's remote-control department:
chicksdaddy writes from a report via The Security Ledger: The Mirai malware that is behind massive denial of service attacks involving hundreds of thousands of "Internet of Things" devices may also affect cellular modems that connect those devices to the internet, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning. An alert issued by DHS's Industrial Control System CERT on Wednesday warned that cellular gateways manufactured by Sierra Wireless are vulnerable to compromise by the Mirai malware. While the routers are not actively being targeted by the malware, "unchanged default factory credentials, which are publicly available, could allow the devices to be compromised," ICS-CERT warned. The alert comes after a number of reports identified devices infected with the Mirai malware as the source of massive denial of service attacks against media websites like Krebs on Security and the French hosting company OVH. The attacks emanated from a global network of hundreds of thousands of infected IP-enabled closed circuit video cameras, digital video recorders (DVRs), network video recorders (NVRs) and other devices. Analysis by the firm Imperva found that Mirai is purpose-built to infect Internet of Things devices and enlist them in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The malware searches broadly for insecure or weakly secured IoT devices that can be remotely accessed and broken into with easily guessed (factory default) usernames and passwords. The report adds: "Sierra said in an alert that the company has 'confirmed reports of the 'Mirai' malware infecting AirLink gateways that are using the default ACEmanager password and are reachable from the public internet.' Sierra Wireless LS300, GX400, GX/ES440, GX/ES450, and RV50 were identified in the bulletin as vulnerable to compromise by Mirai. Furthermore, devices attached to he gateway's local area network may also be vulnerable to infection by the Mirai malware, ICS-CERT warned. Sierra Wireless asked affected users to reboot their gateway. Mirai is memory resident malware, meaning that is erased upon reboot. Furthermore, administrators were advised to change the password to the management interface by logging in locally, or remotely to a vulnerable device."

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Facebook Now Lets You Use Google Cast or AirPlay To Stream Video On Your TV
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 03:12 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's kick-back-and-relax department:
Facebook has made it a high priority over the years to improve its video platform so that it can better compete with the monolithic video service that is YouTube. Today, the company has added another feature, one that allows users to stream Facebook video content to the Apple TV via AirPlay and to various Google Cast-enabled devices. Digital Trends reports: The feature is available on the Facebook iOS app and, according to Facebook, it will be available on Android soon. The best thing about it, however, is how easy it is to use. Simply find a video you want to watch, then tap the TV button and select which device the app should stream to. Another highlight of the feature is that it is truly built for Facebook -- that is to say, when you are watching a video on the big screen, your phone is not on lockdown until the video is over. Instead, you can keep scrolling through the News Feed, treating your TV as more of a second screen than simply a mirror of your phone.

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KDE Turns 20, Happy Birthday!
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 01:57 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's socially-awkward-birthday-parties department:
prisoninmate writes from Softpedia: Can you believe it's been 20 years since the KDE (Kool Desktop Environment) was announced on the 14th of October, 1996, by project founder Matthias Ettrich? Well, it has, and today we'd like to say a happy 20th birthday to KDE! "On October 14, KDE celebrates its 20th birthday. The project that started as a desktop environment for Unix systems, today is a community that incubates ideas and projects which go far beyond desktop technologies. Your support is very important for our community to remain active and strong," reads the timeline page prepared by the KDE project for this event. Feel free to share your KDE experiences in a comment below! You can read the announcement "that started the revolution of the modern Linux desktop," as well as view the timeline "prepared by the KDE team for this unique occasion."

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President Obama Orders Government To Plan For 'Space Weather'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 12:24 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's out-of-this-world department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: President Barack Obama today issued an Executive Order that defines what the nation's response should be to a catastrophic space weather event that takes out large portions of the electrical power grid, resulting in cascading failures that would affect key services such as water supply, healthcare, and transportation. The Executive Order ideally will coordinate the responses across government agencies such as NASA, the Departments of Homeland Security, Energy and others to help minimize economic loss and save lives by enhancing national security, identifying successful mitigation technologies, and ordering the creation of nationwide response and recovery plans and procedures, the White House stated. Further, the Executive Order will enhance the scientific and technical capabilities of the United States, including improved prediction of space-weather events and their effects on infrastructure systems and services. By this action, the Federal Government will lead by example and help motivate State and local governments, and other nations, to create communities that are more resilient to the hazards of space weather. The Executive Order reinforces the formal National Space Weather Strategy and accompanying Action Plan which were announced last year. It also bolsters other work such as the replacement of aging satellites that monitor and help forecast space weather, proposing space-weather standards for both the national and international air space, development of regulations to ensure the continued operation of the electric grid during an extreme space weather event, proposing a new option for replacing crucial Extra High Voltage (EHV) transformers damaged by space weather, and developing domestic production sources for EHV transformers, the White House wrote.

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Google Creates AI Program That Uses Reasoning To Navigate the London Tube
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 08:25 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's see-in-the-dark department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Google scientists have created a computer program that uses basic reasoning to learn to navigate the London Underground system by itself. Deep learning has recently stormed ahead of other computing strategies in tasks like language translation, image and speech recognition and even enabled a computer to beat top-ranked player, Lee Sedol, at Go. However, until now the technique has generally performed poorly on any task where an overarching strategy is needed, such as navigation or extracting the actual meaning from a text. The latest program achieved this by adding an external memory, designed to temporarily store important pieces of information and fish them out when needed. The human equivalent of this is working memory, a short-term repository in the brain that allows us to stay on task when doing something that involves several steps, like following a recipe. In the study, published in the journal Nature, the program was able to find the quickest route between underground stops and work out where it would end up if it traveled, say, two stops north from Victoria station. It was also given story snippets, such as "John is in the playground. John picked up the football." followed by the question "Where is the football?" and was able to answer correctly, hinting that in future assistants such Apple's Siri may be replaced by something more sophisticated. Alex Graves, the research scientist at Google DeepMind in London who led the work, said that while the story tasks "look so trivial to a human that they don't seem like questions at all," existing computer programs "do really badly on this." The program he developed got questions like this right 96% of the time.

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Samsung Will Credit You $100 If You Exchange Your Note 7 For Another Samsung Phone
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 07:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's money-back-guaranteed department:
In an effort to presumably stop customers from jumping ship to the iPhone 7 or other non-Samsung device, Samsung is offering up to $100 in credit to every customer who exchanges their Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone. Mashable reports: The company said so in its updated Note 7 recall page which plainly states that the recall has now been expanded to "all Galaxy Note 7 devices," and asks consumers with a Note 7 to power it down and return it to the place of purchase. Bear in mind that the new offer, which goes live on Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. ET, is only for U.S. customers, as users in other parts of the world have different recall programs in place. Furthermore, if you've already exchanged your Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, you "will receive up to a $75 bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets in addition to the $25 you previously received." Even if you exchange your Note 7 for another brand or ask for a refund, you will still receive a $25 bill credit from select carriers and retailers -- again, less any incentive credits you've already received. "As a sign of our appreciation for your patience and loyalty, we are offering up to a $100 bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets if you exchange your Galaxy Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, less any incentive credits already received," Samsung wrote.

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Google News Introduces Fact Check Feature -- Just In Time For the US Election
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 05:45 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's day-late-and-a-dollar-short department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Google today introduced a new feature that will tag and help find "fact checking in large news stories." Tagged articles will show up in the new story box on news.google.com, as well as in the Google News and Weather app for iOS and Android in the US and UK. There's a two-pronged approach to detecting fact checking. First Google looks for actual markup in the site's source code. Then Google looks for pages "that follow the commonly accepted criteria for fact checks." You can learn more about the process here. To be clear, the tags show up in small grey text above the article links -- Google itself isn't passing judgement, nor does it tell you the source article's conclusion in search results. It's merely a sign that says "hey, read me to find out the truth." Still, it's a nice way to make sure readers are at least forming opinions based on fact rather than fiction.

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Ken Bone May Have Violated FTC Guidelines With Uber Tweet
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 05:45 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's internet-fame department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VICE News: In a lot of ways, unlikely presidential debate star Ken Bone is a marketer's dream. He is undecided on his political leanings (for now), inoffensive, instantly recognizable, and affable on TV and social media. So it makes sense that Uber asked him to send a promotional tweet for this week's launch of Uber's black car uberSELECT service in St. Louis, site of the debate Sunday night that launched him to fame. But there's one problem: Bone may have violated Federal Trade Commission guidelines for advertising on social media by not marking his tweet as an ad or mentioning that Uber paid him for making the tweet. "[The tweet] needs to disclose that he was compensated," said lawyer Rick Kurnit, of Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein + Salz PC. "He and Uber are in violation of FTC guidelines, because Uber is also responsible for what their influencers do." The guidelines that Kurnit is referencing are pretty straightforward, and the FTC offers specific advice for how to craft sponsored posts on Twitter. "The FTC isn't mandating the specific wording of disclosures," an FTC guidelines FAQ states. "However the words 'Sponsored' and 'Promotion' use only 9 characters. 'Paid ad' only uses 7 characters. Starting a tweet with 'Ad:' or '#ad' -- which takes only 3 characters -- would likely be effective." Kurnit added that while the FTC "doesn't like" using simple hashtags for disclosures, he agrees that it might have sufficed. When VICE News initially reached out to Uber asking whether Bone was paid for the tweet, a spokesperson said the company is "providing him with Uber credit for his role in the launch." And although Bone and Uber wouldn't be fined for violating the FTC Act (Section 5 of which prohibits "deceptive advertising"), the guidelines say that "law enforcement actions can result in orders requiring the defendants in the case to give up money they received from their violations."

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