Need a social network to connect with friends and likeminded individuals? Take your pick; there are dozens to choose from. Facebook remains by far the most popular and, as it is used by real people, it is filled with everything that makes up life -- the good and the bad. In response, a group of Evangelical Christians in Brazil set up Facegloria with the aim of becoming "morally and technically better than Facebook".
Actually the real aim of the site is to promote Christianity -- to the extent that rather than a Like button, there is an Amen button. Think "godbook", if you will. Of course there are restrictions -- religion isn’t meant to be fun, you know. On the list of banned content is violence and pornography, swearing (there are literally hundreds of banned words), anything that violates "biblical principles", and depicting or referring to homosexual activity.
Social giant Facebook has been in talks with music labels for the past few months, although nobody is quite sure what the company is planning.
Reports say Facebook has met with Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, three of the big music licensing labels. Since this doesn’t seem to involve indie labels, we can assume it isn’t a music streaming deal, but instead a licensing and content protection deal.
Mozilla has unveiled the latest version of Firefox, 39.0 for Windows, OS X and Linux PCs, along with Firefox for Android 39.0.
The new desktop build adds a social invite tool for its Firefox Hello chat feature while implementing a number of improvements and security features for Mac OS X and Linux.
Remembering all of the passwords required to gain access to all of your online accounts is a pain. You could opt to use a password manager, or you might decide to use the same password for everything. But Blogging platform Medium.com has another option -- just don't use one!
The site has been anti-password for some time; users log into their accounts using an existing Twitter or Facebook account. For people who are not social network users, however, there's a new option. Working in a similar way to the 'I've forgotten my password' system used by many sites, Medium allows users to log in using nothing but their email address -- and says the system is more secure than regular passwords.
Like transparency reports, diversity reports have become quite the fashion at the moment. Companies such as Google, Apple, and Amazon are keen to demonstrate that they are not dominated by white, middle-class men, and that they are open to the full gamut of gender identities and sexualities. Today Facebook released its second diversity report showing that at Mark Zuckerberg's company things haven’t really improved over the last year.
More than half of the workforce (55 percent) is white, and at senior leadership level this jumps all the way up to nearly three quarters (73 percent). The percentage of black workers at the social network is incredibly low -- just 2 percent. The gender balance is largely skewed as we have come to expect. Across the company 68 percent of employees are male, although in 'non-tech' roles women make up 52 percent of the team. For those striving for equality, the numbers make for somewhat depressing reading.
One of the defining features of Twitter is trending topics. It's easy to catch up on what's hot right now, and it's something that Instagram is borrowing in its latest update. The millions of users of the photo service now have access to a new Explore page that includes not only a trending component that highlights events and topics that people are posting about, but also trending tags and places.
These new options make it easier to home in on content of interest, and changes have also been made to Search. You have the option to search Places, Tags, and People separately, or you can use the Top section to search all at once.
No less than a week ago, young Dylann Roof, a self-described hardline racist, decided to take nine wonderful lives in Charleston, SC. This was an individual who, through a manifesto since unveiled, had shaped his worldview so narrowly that he irreversibly joined the corrupted fringes of society.
But what really killed nine innocent people here? As much as our President wishes to believe it so, a gun wasn't the real cause of Roof's killing spree; it was an accessory to murder. Nor was the Confederate flag; this was merely hijacked window dressing to glorify one man's twisted reality. With as much debate currently focusing on these non-issues, the real causes which bred a monster by all definitions are sadly diluted from discussion.
Just a few days ago the Electronic Frontier Foundation published its annual Who Has Your Back report looking at how various technology companies treated customer privacy. The report makes for interesting reading, but it also raises some questions. One question that has cropped up several times is "how the hell did Facebook get a rating of 4 out of 5!?"
As well as rating Mark Zuckerberg's social network in terms of its privacy policies and how it responds to government data request, the EFF also probes the hidden censorship that appears to be going on. There have been numerous examples of blatant censorship from Facebook -- including blocking certain pages in Turkey -- and while this is worrying (particularly when the social network's founder is looking to connect the world to the web with Internet.org) what is perhaps more concerning is the censorship we don't know about. The silent censorship that's going on the in the background.
A couple of weeks ago Reddit announced that it was closing down a number of subreddits with harassing subject matter. This came a few month months after a decision to ban content that included images or videos of non-consensual sex. In protest, groups of users switched allegiances and moved to the Reddit clone site Voat.co -- which prides itself on not censoring any content.
Voat.co has been around for a little while, but the site saw its membership swell as former Reddit users jumped ship. Over the last couple of weeks, the "censorship-free community platform" has battled DDoS attacks and was dealt another blow yesterday when its German hosting provider cancelled its contract. The reason given was that the server was being used to host content that is "politically incorrect". But this does not mean that the site is dead.
Videos that automatically play when they appear on screen are making their way to Twitter. Taking the lead from Facebook, the microblogging service is introducing the feature to reduce the need to click in order to watch a video.
It's something that will be loved and loathed in just about equal measure -- and if you fall into the latter camp, you'll be pleased to hear that it's possible to revert to the old click-to-play method. Twitter thinks that autoplay will help to ensure that you miss fewer videos about breaking news, but it remains to be seen just how popular it proves.
Facebook today announced that it is making another change to the way it determines which stories are displayed in News Feeds. As well as factoring in how many people have liked or commented on a story, the social network will now also take into account how long people spend reading individual articles.
But it's not quite as simple as saying that stories people spend a while looking at are the most popular. Some lengthy visits are the fault of slow connections, for example. Equally, it is not safe to assume that only heavily liked and commented articles are the most read -- there are some stories that do not lend themselves to liking and commenting. Today's change aims to strike a balance between different weightings.
Reddit is both famous and infamous. It's a source of news, a platform for disseminating such delights as the pictures that came out of the Fappening, and home to the ever-interesting Ask Me Anything sessions. But like any social website, it also has problems. Like Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, there are issues with spam, trolling, and abuse. Reddit has a particular problem with sections that are dedicated to harassing and abusing groups of people.
Now the site is fighting back. It is taking a proactive approach and removing subreddits whose raisons d'être are the harassment of people. The cull initially sees the removal of five offending subreddits, but the Reddit team explains that only one with a sizeable userbase is affected -- r/fatpeoplehate.
You don’t have to be following too many accounts on Twitter for it to become overwhelming; there is an incredible amount of data created every minute. To make things more manageable, lists make it possible to organize content into different categories so it can be quickly filtered. Today Twitter announces an extension of the lists concept that can be used to tackle spam and trolling.
It is now possible to not only create lists of accounts you would like to block (so you are invisible to them), but also share these block list with others. It's a technique that has already been implemented by some third party Twitter clients, but it is now officially supported. Privacy and abuse have long been issues for Twitter, and this is just the latest move to try to tackle the problem.
Being linked to the most-popular social network makes Messenger a very convenient messaging option, giving it a huge advantage in the long run. If you are already friends with someone on Facebook, you can quickly start a conversation with them, share photos, initiate a video chat and more. The way it is designed, you simply cannot ignore its existence, like you would any other messaging service.
Messenger is growing in popularity as new folks sign up for a Facebook account and more and more users have access to smartphones, from which, you guessed it, they want to check what their friends are doing. As a result, Messenger just joined a very exclusive club on Google Play.