By BeauHD from Slashdot's impressive-feats department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Facebook's Instagram is estimated to be worth more than $100 billion, if it were a stand-alone company, marking a 100-fold return for the app purchased in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence. The photo-sharing platform, which reached 1 billion monthly active users earlier this month, will likely help nudge Instagram revenue past $10 billion over the next 12 months, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jitendra Waral wrote in a report Monday. Instagram is attracting new users faster than Facebook's main site and is on track to exceed 2 billion users within the next five years, Waral said. While the social network already has surpassed that milestone, Instagram's audience is younger than its parent, making it more attractive to advertisers. And unlike Facebook, Instagram is still growing in the U.S.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-road department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: The city of Orlando, Fla., says it has ended a pilot program in which its police force used Amazon's real-time facial recognition -- a system called "Rekognition" that had triggered complaints from rights and privacy groups when its use was revealed earlier this year. Orlando's deal to open part of its camera systems to Amazon was reported by NPR's Martin Kaste in May, after the ACLU noticed that an Amazon Rekognition executive mentioned the city as a customer.
On Monday, the ACLU of Florida wrote a letter to Mayor Buddy Dyer and the Orlando City Council, demanding that the city "immediately" shut down "any face surveillance deployment or use by city agencies and departments." On the same day, Orlando city and police officials issued a joint statement saying that the test of how its officers might use the Rekognition technology ended last week. The city added, "Staff continues to discuss and evaluate whether to recommend continuation of the pilot at a further date," adding that "the contract with Amazon remains expired." Orlando police say the test was limited to only a fraction of the city's cameras, and that the system was tested by tracking its own officers. The Rekognition deal with Orlando caused a stir after Ranju Das, the head of the Rekognition unit, said in early May: "City of Orlando is a launch partner of ours. It's a smart city; they have cameras all over the city. The authorized cameras are then streaming the data [...] we are a subscriber to the stream, we analyze the video in real time, search against the collection of faces that they have."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's on-second-thought department
Back in January, Facebook banned cryptocurrency ads because too many companies in this space were "not currently operating in good faith." Now the social media company is reversing its ban effective immediately. "The company says it will allow ads and related content from 'pre-approved advertisers,' but will still not allow ads promoting binary options and initial coin offerings," reports TechCrunch. From the report: This time around, it's making advertisers go through an application process to determine their eligibility. Facebook will ask advertisers to include on their applications details like what licenses they've obtained, whether they're a publicly traded company, and other relevant background information regarding their business. How thoroughly this information is fact-checked by Facebook staff remains unclear.
The company reminded users in the same announcement that they should continue to flag ad content that violates its guidelines. In other words, expect some bad ads to get through. Facebook explains its new requirements will keep some crypto advertisers from being able to hawk their businesses on the social network, but adds that its policy in this area continues to be a work in progress. Facebook's Product Management Director, Rob Leathern, made the announcement.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's in-a-galaxy-far-far-away department
In the last decade, we have discovered thousands of planets outside our solar system and have learned that rocky, temperate worlds are numerous in our galaxy. The next step will involve asking even bigger questions. Could some of these planets host life? And if so, asks NASA, will we be able to recognize life elsewhere if we see it? From a blog post on NASA's website: A group of leading researchers in astronomy, biology and geology has come together under NASA's Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, or NExSS, to take stock of our knowledge in the search for life on distant planets and to lay the groundwork for moving the related sciences forward. "We're moving from theorizing about life elsewhere in our galaxy to a robust science that will eventually give us the answer we seek to that profound question: Are we alone?" said Martin Still, an exoplanet scientist at NASA Headquarters, Washington. In a set of five review papers published last week in the scientific journal Astrobiology, NExSS scientists took an inventory of the most promising signs of life, called biosignatures. The paper authors include four scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. They considered how to interpret the presence of biosignatures, should we detect them on distant worlds. A primary concern is ensuring the science is strong enough to distinguish a living world from a barren planet masquerading as one.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-limits department
Last January in northern Sweden, a German-led team of physicists loaded a curious machine onto an unmanned rocket. The payload, about as tall as a single-story apartment, was essentially a custom-made freezer -- a vacuum chamber, with a small chip and lasers within, that could cool single atoms near absolute zero. It may sound like a bizarre experiment, but it is something physicists have been aching to do for years. They launched the rocket about 90 miles past the atmosphere's boundary of outer space, monitoring a livestream from a heated building nearby. Then, just 17 minutes later, they watched as the freezer plummeted back down to Earth, landing via parachute on snowy ground 40 miles from the launch site. Wired elaborates: See, the freezer that the Germans launched has the ability to make atoms clump together in a cloud-like blob called a Bose-Einstein condensate -- a phase of matter that exhibits some truly bizarre properties. It's delicate enough to respond to tiny fluctuations in gravity and electromagnetic fields, which means it could someday make for a super-precise sensor in space. But down on Earth, it tends to collapse in a matter of milliseconds because of gravity. So the blobs had to go to space. Since the late '90s, physicists have been developing machines that can autonomously assemble and control the blobs during spaceflight. With this rocket launch, they've succeeded. The group in Germany, led by physicist Ernst Rasel of University of Hannover, just released pictures of blobs they managed to create [PDF], as well as precise measurements of how they jiggled during their brief trip. "They've essentially laid the groundwork to show that you can actually do this, and it's not totally insane," says physicist Nathan Lundblad of Bates College.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's catch-me-if-you-can department
There are cyberheists, and then there's Carbanak, a cybercriminal gang that has stolen about $1.2 billion from more than 100 banks in 40 nations. The suspected 34-year-old ringleader is under arrest, but the whopping $1.2 billion amount remains missing. And to add insult to the injury, the malware attacks live on. Bloomberg Businessweek has an insightful story on this, which includes comments from none other than Europol itself, on the chase to catch Carabanak which has lasted for three years. Some excerpts from the story: Before WannaCry, before the Sony Pictures hack, and before the breaches that opened up Equifax and Yahoo!, there was a nasty bit of malware known as Carbanak. Unlike those spectacular attacks, this malware wasn't created by people interested in paralyzing institutions for ransom, publishing embarrassing emails, or taking personal data. The Carbanak guys just wanted loot, and lots of it. Since late 2013, this band of cybercriminals has penetrated the digital inner sanctums of more than 100 banks in 40 nations, including Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and the U.S., and stolen about $1.2 billion, according to Europol, the European Union's law enforcement agency. The string of thefts, collectively dubbed Carbanak -- a mashup of a hacking program and the word "bank" -- is believed to be the biggest digital bank heist ever. In a series of exclusive interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek, law enforcement officials and computer-crime experts provided revelations about their three-year pursuit of the gang and the mechanics of a caper that's become the stuff of legend in the digital underworld. Besides forcing ATMs to cough up money, the thieves inflated account balances and shuttled millions of dollars around the globe. Deploying the same espionage methods used by intelligence agencies, they appropriated the identities of network administrators and executives and plumbed files for sensitive information about security and account management practices. The gang operated through remotely accessed computers and hid their tracks in a sea of internet addresses.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-here department
On Tuesday, Mozilla released Firefox 61, the newest version of its web browser for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android platforms. The release builds on Firefox Quantum, which the company calls "by far the biggest update since Firefox 1.0 in 2004." VentureBeat: Version 61 brings TLS 1.3, the ability to add custom search engines to the location bar, tab warming, retained display lists, WebExtension tab management, and the Accessibility Tools Inspector. Mozilla doesn't break out the exact numbers for Firefox, though the company does say "half a billion people around the world" use the browser. In other words, it's a major platform that web developers have to consider.Read Replies (0)