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New Witness Protection Scheme For Whistle Blowers

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Whistleblowers are being offered a “witness protection scheme” to  expose “wrongdoing” in the technology industry. An American non-for-profit organization founded by a French entrepreneur and philanthropist has said it will provide individuals working within “big data” financial and legal support if they are able provide information  that shows how the public is being “harm[ed], exploited or misled”.

The Signals Network, was set up last year, and is currently working with a consortium of journalists around the world and aims to provide assistance to potential whistle-blowers to ensure that powerful corporations can be investigated.

Newspapers and websites in America and Europe, including The Telegraph, have issued a “call for information” to people working in “big data” who are able to show how the public are being misled or that the information they have provided is being misused.

Other organizations involved in the project include Mediapart, which was set up by the former editor of Le Monde, Die Viet in Germany, the Intercept and WikiTribune.

The reporters will work together to examine information that is provided and a committee will  decide  whether potential sources have provided sufficiently strong information to warrant support from the organization.

In recent years, concerns have arisen about the role of technology companies and how “big data” may be being misused by firms.

Earlier this year, it emerged that a Cambridge professor used a personality quiz on Facebook to obtain data from 50 million users without their knowledge.

Founder Gilles Raymond Credit: The Signals Network

The academic then allegedly passed the data to a company called Cambridge Analytica, in violation of Facebook’s rules and without the company knowing.

It also emerged that Cambridge Analytica harvested data on 50 million Americans without their permission and failed to ensure the data was deleted – it was allegedly used to develop an algorithm used in the US presidential election to target voters for the Trump campaign. 

The controversy led to more than $36 billion (£26 billion) being wiped off the value of Facebook, as investors reacted to the revelations.  The firm have denied that the data available to Cambridge Analytica constituted a data breach and any wrongdoing.

Earlier this month, experts said that social media and online gaming firms should have a “duty of care” to protect children from mental ill health, abuse and addictive behaviour, amid concerns that social media firms are cynically targeting children using addictive “hooks”.

The Signals was set up by French businessman Giles Raymond and has an operating budget of several hundred of thousands of dollars to provide financial, legal, psychological and public relations assistance to individuals who are able to provide information that exposes wrongdoing.

Mr Raymond found a company News Republic that was bought by Cheetah Mobile in 2016 for $57 million.  In 2017, he founded the Signals Network.

 

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Facebook Testing Subscription Groups

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Facebook is starting to let Group admins charge $4.99 to $29.99 per month for access to special sub-Groups full of exclusive posts. A hand-picked array of parenting, cooking and “organize my home” Groups will be the first to get the chance to start a subscription Group open to their members.

Facebook is piloting subscriptions with a small number of groups to continue to support group admins who lead these communities.

 Group admins are looking for ways to help them earn money to deepen engagement with their members and continue to support their communities. Many admins do this today by creating an additional subscribers-only group that sits alongside their existing group, and rely on additional tools to track and collect payments

For example, Sarah Mueller’s Declutter My Home Group is launching a $14.99 per month Organize My Home subscription Group that will teach members how to stay tidy with checklists and video guides. The Grown and Flown Parents group is spawning a College Admissions and Affordability subscription group with access to college counselors for $29.99. Cooking On A Budget: Recipes & Meal Planning will launch a $9.99 Meal Planning Central Premium subscription group with weekly meal plans, shopping lists for different grocery stores and more

Instagram’s New IGTV Competing With You Tube

 

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Video will be available through Instagram or a new app called IGTV. The initiative comes as parent company Facebook struggles to attract teens.  Instagram Chief Executive Kevin Systrom said he hopes IGTV will become as a hub of creativity for relative unknowns who turn into internet sensations with fervent followings among teens and young adults.

YouTube now has 1.8 billion users.Instagram, which Facebook bought for $1 billion six years ago, now has 1 billion users, up from 800 million nine months ago.More importantly, 72% of U.S. children ages 13 to 17 use Instagram, second to YouTube at 85%, according to the Pew Research Center. Only 51% of kids in that group now use Facebook, down from 71% from a similar Pew survey in 2014-15.

 

Instagram Opens New Office In New York

 

  • Instagram recently opened its New York office, and plans to house up to 50 percent of its engineering staff there.
  • New York allows a change of scenery for people in the Bay Area who want to relocate and could help Instagram to recruit from other talent pools, like people in finance.
  • The company estimates it will have 350 employees by the end of 2018 in its New York office, including one-third of its engineering staff.II
  • Instagram’s Insta worthy NYC headquarters serves unlimited free booze and gelato  

    Kevin Systrom, co‑founder of Instagram

    Emmanuel Dunand | Getty Images
    Kevin Systrom, co‑founder of Instagram

    A New York presence also allows Instagram to recruit from different talent pools, including people who are in finance

 

Facebook’s Bug Made Private Posts Public

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Facebook recently announced that a bug made the posts of 14 million users public without their knowledge. A small software bug with big consequences. When you make a post to Facebook, it always asks who should see the post: your posts can be public, only visible to friends, only visible to certain friends, or only visible to you. Usually, Facebook remembers whatever you last set this to, automatically publishing your posts to the same audience you did last time. This bug caused the setting to default to posting publicly, many Facebook users probably didn’t notice.

Although you could still manually change the setting so anything you posted was private, you would have to notice that the default had changed. And since no one knew Facebook was making privacy changes, it was easy to miss. That means you could have made some of your private thoughts public.

The issue only affected posts from May 18 to May 27, 2018, and didn’t affect posts made before or after. But that’s was still enough time for 14 million users to have made public posts — some of which were surely unintentional.

It’s a good idea to browse through your profile and make sure no posts in May were accidentally made public.

More Teens Dropping Facebook

The chart on the left shows that Facebook was the dominant social network among U.S. teens in 2015. The chart on the right shows that YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are more popular in 2018.

 

The most popular social media sites among U.S. teens in 2015 (left) and 2018 (right), according to Pew Research Center.
Images courtesy of Pew Research Center

 

Reddit has More Traffic Than Facebook

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Google is still the most visited site, followed by YouTube, Reddit, and Facebook, with Amazon rounding out the top five.

On average, Reddit users spend 15 minutes and 10 seconds on it everyday, a figure substantially higher than its competitors. Google users spend 7 minutes 16 seconds, YouTube 8 minutes 31 seconds, Facebook 10 minutes 50 seconds and Amazon 7 minutes 37 seconds on the sites each day.

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