Hate 'em, loathe 'em or abhor 'em, it's hard to avoid ads. You know that you're a consumer. Companies exist because you consume, and you are encouraged to consume more and more. To help lead you to consume, you need to be subjected to advertising -- it's all part of the money-go-round of using the web.
Tailored ads are more likely to bring in cash, and social networks are in the business of gathering information about their users with a view to delivering the most laser-focused targeted advertising possible. The latest venture by Twitter involves keeping tabs on the apps you install on your iOS or Android phone or tablet.
There are some people who just can’t get enough of Facebook. Sharing the occasional thought or ponderance is not enough for many who feel the need to live out their entire lives on Zuckerberg's social network. A lot of workplaces -- perhaps sensibly -- block access to sites such as Facebook, but new reports suggest that the social giant is keen to enter the office on legitimate terms with Facebook at Work.
At the moment, Facebook is the bane of network admins' lives as employees find new ways to bypass restrictions that may be put in place. But the Financial Times says that it may soon be welcomed with open arms as a work-centric version of Facebook is rumored to offer Office- and Google-baiting document collaboration, and LinkedIn-aping professional networking.
Security firm AVG has published a new report looking at online privacy which shows the considerable amount of regret admitted by some teenagers when it comes to things they have posted online -- and the fact that seven in ten teens don’t know everyone they have befriended on social media.
The Digital Diaries research, which quizzed some 4,000 teenagers aged between 11 and 16 -- not that those under 13 are technically teenagers, but we’ll let that slide -- found that 28 percent of teens said they later regretted posting something online.
Google is widely regarded as being one of the controllers of the internet. It is by far the most popular search engine and if a site does not appear in the first few pages of results, it may as well not exist. But Google is far from being the only gatekeeper to the internet; Facebook is increasingly vying for that crown, whilst making efforts to make access more secure through Tor. But what does this mean?
Facebook accounts for a terrifying percentage of web traffic -- it is the second most visited website in the world according to Alexa. This means that it has a huge influence online, giving the social network the opportunity to shape the web and holds great sway in determining which sites, services, and stories rise to popularity. To many people, this influence is all but invisible, and this is perhaps the most concerning part of the story. So how does Facebook's influence present itself?
Social networks have long been a domain for trolls, but in more recent times there has been an increasing problem with harassment of women. There have been a number of high-profile cases recently, including #gamergate, where women have found themselves targets of vicious attacks online. Women, Action & the Media (WAM!) is a US non-profit whose aimed is to fight for gender equality in the media, and its latest project involves collaborating with Twitter to help fight harassment and abuse.
The project's aim is to better understand how online persecution can be tackled. WAM! explains that "women of color, queer women, trans women, fat women, and other oppressed groups of women are especially targeted and abused", but the Twitter collaboration is design to help any Twitter users experiencing "gendered harassment".
We all go through difficult times, and it can often be hard to cope with what life throws at us. Whether you're going through a particularly tricky patch and feeling low, or you're struggling with depression, it can be helpful to know that there are people you can talk to. But reaching out to people can be hard and it often falls to friends to notice signs of someone in trouble so they can be there when required.
Everyone would like to think they would notice when a friend starts to post worrying messages online, but the sheer volume of content we all consume each day means that it is easy to miss something important. Suicide prevention charity, Samaritans, has launched a new online venture, Samaritans Radar, which monitors the Twitter feeds of those who sign up, looking out for "potentially worrying tweets".
Back in January feedly -- the RSS reader that tried to fill the gap left by the death of Google Reader -- introduced a URL shortener. At the time it was billed as a "captur[ing] analytics about how people are engaging with the content you are sharing". Ten months later, the news service realized that this could be seen as being overly intrusive and has killed the tool.
The original blog post that heralded the launch of feedly.com/e has been updated to reflect the fact that the shortener is no more. "With hindsight this was a bad idea. We focused too much on feedly's growth versus doing what is right for users and for the Web. Sorry".
You might think that you've already paid enough to get online. You bought your computer (or phone, tablet, whatever...), you pay line rental to your phone provider, you pay your monthly broadband charges, you pay the bill for electricity all of this requires. How does the idea of an extra charge on top of this sound? No? That's the general feeling in Hungary where an "internet tax" has been proposed by Viktor Orban's right wing government.
The Prime Minister proposes taxing internet usage in a similar way to mobile phone companies -- by tracking traffic levels. How much could this end up costing? Well, it could very quickly add up. The draft law suggests a fee of 150 forints (around $0.60) per gigabyte. To put that in perspective, it would cost more than $2 to download the Windows 10 Technical Preview, and around the same amount to upgrade to the latest build 9860.
A new email standard called RRVS (Require-Recipient-Valid-Since) has been unveiled by Facebook. The new standard comes through the social network working in conjunction with Yahoo, and is designed to protect users against potential account hijacking.
It's now over a year since Yahoo decided that the time had come to start recycling email addresses that had lain dormant and unused. Concerns were voiced that little used email addresses could end up falling into the wrong hands and be used for nefarious purposes. With email addresses used for much more than just email communication -- often doubling up as login credentials -- the need for security in this area is apparent.
A new survey conducted by Microsoft shows that more than one in four PC owners in the US is suffering weekly, or even daily, attempts by criminals to gain access to their private data. Microsoft found that 22 percent of tablet users suffered similar data access attempts, and that general levels of concern about scams has increased. While "traditional" scams -- such as those asking for upfront payments or relating to fake lottery winnings -- have actually decreased, there are now more social media-based scams than a couple of years ago.
It's not all bad news. While scams might be on the increase, web users are seemingly more aware of the risks involved in using the internet and take proactive steps to protect themselves and their data. As more people use mobile devices to get online, more phone and tablet users are taking precautions.
Out of nowhere, Ello exploded, ninja-style, into the public eye. The social network shot to fame after Facebook's real name policy sent many users scuttling off in search of a new home, and the spartan, "beautiful" (Ello's word, not mine) social network welcomed an influx of new users. In addition to the "use whatever name you want" philosophy, users were happy to find that Ello offered a completely ad-free experience.
Now the lack of ads has been enshrined in law. While pocketing $5.5 million in a new round of venture funding, Ello has converted to a State of Delaware Public Benefit Corporation (PBC). The social network vows to never show nor sell ads, and requires this commitment to transfer to any future owner, should the company be acquired.
Whatever your mobile platform of choice, there are some apps which are all but impossible to avoid. Some -- like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube -- have reasonably dull histories; we all know the corporations behind their creation. But there are plenty of other big names with less well known histories. A new infographic from IrishApps.org reveals the stories behind some famous titles, and reveal the fortunes they have generated.
For example, did you know that Flappy Bird was originally going to be called Flap Flap, and was put together in just two days? Or that the founder of Summly was just 17 years old when he sold his app to Yahoo? How about the fact that the Ukrainian developer of WhatsApp is estimated to be worth $7 billion?
The security of the internet is an on-going concern. Whether you're online for fun, or you're conducting business, there are all manner of pitfalls you may encounter. Issues such as viruses and malware are now widely known about, but these are far from being the only security issues to concern yourself with. Security has been thrown into the limelight once again by high-profile stories like the Fappening, problems with SnapChat, concerns about the Whisper app, and the POODLE SSL 3.0 vulnerability.
A large proportion of companies and individuals are aware of the importance of anti-virus and anti-malware tools, firewalls and the like. Security tools are all well and good, but there's also a lot to be said in favor of changing online behaviors; it's something that the online community and businesses are increasingly coming to understand. Much of what this entails -- taking care about the personal information you share and educating yourself about services before you use them -- is common sense, but it bears repeating.
Twitpic was closing, then it wasn't. But now the champagne corks have been well and truly push back into the bottle after news of an acquisition turned out to be a false alarm. Users now have just one week to export their photos and data before Twitpic closes for good on 25 October. Company founder Noah Everett used the Twitpic blog to break the news, explaining that the photos and video sharing service will shut up shop in a week's time.
The last month and a half has been something of a rollercoaster ride for Twitpic and its users. After a trademark application dispute, the original closure announcement came on 4 September with the closure planned for 25 September. A lifeline appeared just two weeks later when it was announced that a buyer had been found.