Slashdot.org

Slashdot
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

Turkey Slaps Ad Ban on Twitter Under New Social Media Law

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 09:00
Ankara has imposed advertising bans on Twitter, Periscope and Pinterest after they failed to appoint local representatives in Turkey under a new social media law, according to decisions published on Tuesday. From a report: Under the law, which critics say stifles dissent, social media companies that do not appoint such representatives are liable for a series of penalties, including the latest move by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK). The law allows authorities to remove content from platforms, rather than blocking access as they did in the past. It has caused concern as people turn more to online platforms after Ankara tightened its grip on mainstream media. The latest decisions in the country's Official Gazette said the advertising bans went into effect from Tuesday. Twitter, its live-streaming app Periscope, and image sharing app Pinterest were not immediately available to comment.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

What You Should Know Before Leaking a Zoom Meeting

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 08:00
The Intercept's Nikita Mazurov warns that Zoom has digital watermarks that could expose sources working with journalists or government officials. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: Many users may not realize it, but Zoom has the capability to insert both video and audio watermarks into a meeting. The video watermarks are readily perceptible to meeting participants. When enabled, the video watermarking feature superimposes the username portion of each participant's email address over the content they are viewing when another participant shares their screen and places the same watermark over the current active speaker. Because the video watermark appears across the entirety of the video frame, blurring may adversely impact the visibility of the underlying material. In contrast, the audio watermarks are not readily perceptible to casual listeners, though they are what in watermarking parlance is known as "overt." That means the fact that they are embedded is easily discerned by meeting participants: When a Zoom meeting has the audio watermark, or what Zoom also calls the "audio signature," feature enabled, the meeting will have a green circular icon with a sound wave and a padlock at the top left of the frame next to the encryption icon. It is not immediately apparent at what point Zoom injects its "ultrasonic" audio watermark into the audio stream -- whether this happens only if a meeting attendee presses the Record button in Zoom or if the audio stream is watermarked prior to that point. Nonetheless, when recording a Zoom meeting, it is best to avoid using Zoom's built-in recording option and to capture the meeting using a third-party audio/video recorder. Zoom mentions that in order to identify the participant who recorded the meeting, they need at least two minutes of audio from the meeting, though it stands to reason that shorter snippets may also be identifiable if they happen to contain the audio watermark. Journalists should also be wary of publishing raw audio leaked from Zoom meetings, particularly if the source is not sure whether audio watermarking was enabled or not. Aside from Zoom's own watermarks, a number of elements appearing on an individual's own device may inadvertently give away the identity of the person who is recording. If the meeting video is being recorded either via screen recording software or a camera, there are a number of elements to watch out for...

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

What You Should Known Before Leaking a Zoom Meeting

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 08:00
The Intercept's Nikita Mazurov warns that Zoom has digital watermarks that could expose sources working with journalists or government officials. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: Many users may not realize it, but Zoom has the capability to insert both video and audio watermarks into a meeting. The video watermarks are readily perceptible to meeting participants. When enabled, the video watermarking feature superimposes the username portion of each participant's email address over the content they are viewing when another participant shares their screen and places the same watermark over the current active speaker. Because the video watermark appears across the entirety of the video frame, blurring may adversely impact the visibility of the underlying material. In contrast, the audio watermarks are not readily perceptible to casual listeners, though they are what in watermarking parlance is known as "overt." That means the fact that they are embedded is easily discerned by meeting participants: When a Zoom meeting has the audio watermark, or what Zoom also calls the "audio signature," feature enabled, the meeting will have a green circular icon with a sound wave and a padlock at the top left of the frame next to the encryption icon. It is not immediately apparent at what point Zoom injects its "ultrasonic" audio watermark into the audio stream -- whether this happens only if a meeting attendee presses the Record button in Zoom or if the audio stream is watermarked prior to that point. Nonetheless, when recording a Zoom meeting, it is best to avoid using Zoom's built-in recording option and to capture the meeting using a third-party audio/video recorder. Zoom mentions that in order to identify the participant who recorded the meeting, they need at least two minutes of audio from the meeting, though it stands to reason that shorter snippets may also be identifiable if they happen to contain the audio watermark. Journalists should also be wary of publishing raw audio leaked from Zoom meetings, particularly if the source is not sure whether audio watermarking was enabled or not. Aside from Zoomâ(TM)s own watermarks, a number of elements appearing on an individualâ(TM)s own device may inadvertently give away the identity of the person who is recording. If the meeting video is being recorded either via screen recording software or a camera, there are a number of elements to watch out for...

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Wine 6.0 Released

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 05:00
Wine 6.0 has been released today and contains over 8,300 changes, according to its full release notes. Windows Central reports: The new release of version 6.0 has thousands of changes, but Wine's website highlights some of the biggest improvements: Core modules in PE format; Vulkan backend for WineD3D; DirectShow and Media Foundation support; and Text console redesign. The full release notes for Wine 6.0 explain that the core DLLs, which include NTDLL, KERNEL32, GDI32, and USER32 are now built in the Portable Executable (PE) format. As a result, people should see improvements for certain copy protection schemes. The update also includes a new mechanism to associate a Unix library with the PE module. This change makes it so systems can call Unix libraries from PE when trying to perform a function that can't be handled by Win32 APIs. Wine 6.0 also includes an experimental Vulkan rendered that translates Direct3D shaders to SPIR-V shaders. In another change related to Direct3D, the Direct3D graphics card database now recognizes more graphics cards and includes updated driver versions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Almost a Third of Recovered COVID-19 Patients Return To Hospital In Five Months, One In Eight Die

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 02:00
According to new research from Leicester University and the Office for National Statistics (NS), almost a third of recovered COVID-19 patients will end up back in the hospital within five months and one in eight will die. Yahoo News reports via The Telegraph: Out of 47,780 people who were discharged from hospital in the first wave, 29.4 per cent were readmitted to hospital within 140 days, and 12.3 per cent of the total died. The current cut-off point for recording Covid deaths is 28 days after a positive test, so it may mean thousands more people should be included in the coronavirus death statistics. Researchers have called for urgent monitoring of people who have been discharged from hospital. Study author Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at Leicester University, said: "This is the largest study of people discharged from hospital after being admitted with Covid. People seem to be going home, getting long-term effects, coming back in and dying. We see nearly 30 per cent have been readmitted, and that's a lot of people. The numbers are so large. The message here is we really need to prepare for long Covid. It's a mammoth task to follow up with these patients and the NHS is really pushed at the moment, but some sort of monitoring needs to be arranged." The study found that Covid survivors were nearly three and a half times more likely to be readmitted to hospital, and die, in the 140 days timeframe than other hospital outpatients. Prof Khunti said the team had been surprised to find that many people were going back in with a new diagnosis, and many had developed heart, kidney and liver problems, as well as diabetes. "We don't know if it's because Covid destroyed the beta cells which make insulin and you get Type 1 diabetes, or whether it causes insulin resistance, and you develop Type 2, but we are seeing these surprising new diagnoses of diabetes,â he added. "We've seen studies where survivors have had MRS scans and they've cardiac problems and liver problems. These people urgently require follow up and the need to be on things like aspirin and statins."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Spotify's Big Bet On Podcasts Is Failing, Citi Says

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Spotify's multimillion-dollar bet on podcasting may not be working out, Citi analysts wrote in a note to clients Friday. "The cadence of Premium gross additions (through 3Q20) and app download data (through 4Q20) do not show any material benefit from recent podcast investments (that began in 2019)," the analysts wrote. The firm downgraded the stock to sell from neutral. Spotify kicked off its venture into podcasting in early 2019, after acquiring podcast companies Gimlet Media, Anchor and Parcast. Since then, the company has acquired sports and entertainment news company The Ringer, as well as Megaphone, which will bolster its ad tech business. It also spent what's likely millions gaining the exclusive rights to stream celebrity podcasts, including those from Joe Rogan, Kim Kardashian West, Michelle Obama and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The idea was that by bringing exclusive content to the app, the company could strengthen its advertising business as well as bring in Premium subscribers. "To date, we have not seen a material positive inflection in app downloads or Premium subscriptions," the Citi analysts wrote. "If we were to see a material positive inflection in app downloads or Premium subs (from higher gross adds or materially lower churn), we would alter our view," they added. "But, our fear is that if podcasting doesn't provide a way for Spotify to shift away from music label dependence, the Street may reassess the underlying value of the business. And, that would be bad for Spotify's multiple and equity value."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Capsaicin Spices Up Perovskite-Based Solar Cells To Record Efficiencies

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 21:10
"Researchers claim achievement of new record photovoltaic conversion efficiencies for perovskite-based solar cells by spicing them up with a little capsaicin," writes Slashdot reader ffkom, adding: "Of course everyone who loves to eat chilis already knew capsaicin energizes you to record levels." The researchers have published their findings in the journal Joule. From the report: Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) suffer from significant nonradiative recombination, limiting their power conversion efficiencies. Here, for the first time, we directly observe a complete transformation of perovskite MAPbI 3 surface region energetics from p- to n-type during defect passivation caused by natural additive capsaicin, attributed to the spontaneous formation of a p-n homojunction in perovskite active layer. We demonstrate that the p-n homojunction locates at 100 nm below perovskite surface. The energetics transformation and defect passivation promote charge transport in bulk perovskite layer and at perovskite/PCBM interface, suppressing both defect-assisted recombination and interface carrier recombination. As a result, an efficiency of 21.88% and a fill factor of 83.81% with excellent device stability are achieved, both values are the highest records for polycrystalline MAPbI 3 based p-i-n PSCs reported to date. The proposed new concept of synergetic defect passivation and energetic modification via additive provides a huge potential for further improvement of PSC performance.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tim Cook: Why I Kicked Parler Off Apple's App Store

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 20:30
Charlotte Web shares a report from CNN: Apple, along with Amazon and Google, effectively kicked Parler off the internet in the wake of the January 6 US Capitol siege. Despite criticism that Big Tech wields too much power over speech, Apple CEO Tim Cook defended his decision. "We looked at the incitement to violence that was on there," Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Sunday. "We don't consider that free speech and incitement to violence has an intersection..." Cook disputed that it's Apple's job to host every service, regardless of its content. He noted that Apple has terms of service for the 2 million apps its hosts, and apps that refuse to play by the rules aren't allowed to access Apple's massive audience. "We obviously don't control what's on the internet, but we've never viewed that our platform should be a simple replication of what's on the internet," Cook said.Apple will welcome back Parler -- provided Parler finds a new cloud provider to host the social network -- if the app effectively moderates users' speech, said the Apple CEO. "We've only suspended them," Cook noted. "If they get their moderation together they would be back on there." With regard to the Capitol siege, Cook said: "It was one of the saddest moments of my life -- seeing an attack on our Capitol and an attack on our democracy. I felt like I was in some sort of alternate reality, to be honest with you. This could not be happening."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple's iPhone 13 Could Ditch the Lightning Port, Feature Next-Gen Vapor Chamber Cooling and In-Screen Fingerprint Sensor

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 19:50
According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 could feature vapor chamber cooling, as well as an in-screen fingerprint sensor. It may also completely ditch the Lightning port in favor of wireless charging. Apple Insider reports: Kuo believes Apple is highly likely to incorporate vapor chamber tech into an upcoming iPhone model, though it is not clear if the system will be ready in time for 2021. Generally speaking, vapor chamber (VC) technology involves evaporation of a liquid (typically water) within a specialized heat pipe or heat retention structure that snakes its way through a device chassis. Heat from processors and other high load electronic components causes the liquid to evaporate into a vapor that spreads thermal energy through the evaporation chamber as it travels to areas of lower pressure. Fins or other condenser bodies remove heat from the vapor, which returns to a liquid state and is carried back to areas of high pressure through capillary action. "The iPhone's critical reason not to adopt VC is because of its reliability test results that cannot meet Apple's high requirements," Kuo writes. "Still, we are optimistic about the VC reliability improvement schedule and expect that at least high-end iPhone models would be equipped with VC in the near future." Kuo believes iPhone will need VC to keep up with rapid adoption of 5G and ever-increasing CPU thermal loads. In a separate report, Bloomberg reports that Apple is testing another key feature for its 2021 iPhone(s): an in-screen fingerprint reader. "This would add a new method for users to unlock their iPhone, going beyond a passcode and Face ID facial recognition," reports Bloomberg. "Apple won't remove its facial recognition scanner though as it's still useful for augmented reality and camera features." The report also mentions that Apple is discussing removing the Lightning port on at least some of the 2021 iPhone models, instead relying entirely on wireless charging or USB-C.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Capitol Riot Suspect Plotted To Sell Stolen Pelosi Laptop To Russian Intelligence, Authorities Say

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 19:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: A Pennsylvania woman accused of being one of the Capitol rioters told a former "romantic partner" that she planned to steal a laptop computer from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office and sell it to Russian intelligence, court documents revealed Monday. The woman, Riley June Williams, 22, was on the run, charged with disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds with the intent to disturb a session of Congress and other charges after her former flame turned her in. "Williams is not in custody," a federal law enforcement officials said Monday afternoon. William's ex, who was described in Special Agent Jonathan Lund's charging document as W1 (witness one), called the FBI and told it that she "intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service." "According to W1, the transfer of the computer device to Russia fell through for unknown reasons and Williams still has the computer device or destroyed it," the document states. Lund said the device and circumstances of what Williams was doing with it remain under investigation. The laptop was reported stolen from the conference room on Jan. 6 but was "only used for presentations," according to Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hamill.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Parler CEO Brings Back Website, Promises Service Will Follow 'Soon'

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 18:30
Right-wing social media platform Parler, which has been offline since Amazon Web Services dropped it like a hot potato last week, has reappeared on the Web with a promise to return as a fully functional service "soon." Ars Technica reports: Although the platform's Android and iOS apps are still defunct, this weekend its URL once again began to resolve to an actual website, instead of an error notice. The site at the moment consists solely of the homepage, which has a message from company CEO John Matze. "Now seems like the right time to remind you all -- both lovers and haters -- why we started this platform," the message reads. "We believe privacy is paramount and free speech essential, especially on social media. Our aim has always been to provide a nonpartisan public square where individuals can enjoy and exercise their rights to both. We will resolve any challenge before us and plan to welcome all of you back soon. We will not let civil discourse perish!" Parler, however, was deplatformed in the first place explicitly because the content it allowed to flourish was anything but "civil," and as multiple reports have made clear, the service backend was designed with basically no thought given to privacy. Meanwhile, the path Parler appears to be taking to rejoin the Internet is a shady one paved for it by other explicitly extremist, white nationalist platforms that lost access to more mainstream services after being tied to terrorism. [...] Parler has apparently secured hosting from Epik to bring itself back online. Epik is best known for helping far-right extremist platform Gab to come back online a short time after a Gab user committed a mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018; it has also provided services to other white nationalist, anti-Semitic, and neo-Nazi platforms including 8chan (now known as 8kun) and The Daily Stormer. Multiple security researchers have also pointed out that Parler appears to have secured the services of DDos-Guard, a cloud services company based in Russia.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

OpenWRT Forum User Data Stolen In Weekend Data Breach

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 17:50
The OpenWRT forum, a large community of enthusiasts of alternative, open-source operating systems for routers, announced a data breach over the weekend. Bleeping Computer reports: The attack occurred on Saturday, around 04:00 (GMT), when an unauthorized third party gained admin access to and copied a list with details about forum users and related statistical information. The intruder used the account of an OpenWRT administrator. Although the account had "a good password," additional security provided by two-factor authentication (2FA) was not active. Email addresses and handles of the forum users have been stolen, the moderators say. They add that they believe the attacker was not able to download the forum database, meaning that passwords should be safe. However, they reset all the passwords on the forum just to be on the safe side and invalidated all the API keys used for project development processes. Users have to set the new password manually from the login menu by providing their user name and following the "get a new password" instructions. Those logging in using GitHub credentials are advised to reset or refresh it. The OpenWRT forum credentials are separate from the Wiki. Currently, there is no suspicion that the Wiki credentials have been compromised in any way. OpenWRT forum administrators warn that since this breach exposed email addresses, users may become targets of credible phishing attempts.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Cryptocat Author Gets Insanely Fast Backing To Build P2P Tech For Social Media

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 17:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The idea for Capsule started with a tweet about reinventing social media. A day later cryptography researcher, Nadim Kobeissi -- best known for authoring the open-source E2E-encrypted desktop chat app Cryptocat (now discontinued) -- had pulled in a pre-seed investment of $100,000 for his lightweight mesh-networked microservices concept, with support coming from angel investor and former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, William J. Pulte and Wamda Capital. The nascent startup has a post-money valuation on paper of $10 million, according to Kobeissi, who is working on the prototype -- hoping to launch an MVP of Capsule in March (as a web app), after which he intends to raise a seed round (targeting $1 million-$1.5 million) to build out a team and start developing mobile apps. For now there's nothing to see beyond Capsule's landing page and a pitch deck (which he shared with TechCrunch for review). But Kobeissi says he was startled by the level of interest in the concept. "I posted that tweet and the expectation that I had was that basically 60 people max would retweet it and then maybe I'll set up a Kickstarter," he tells us. Instead the tweet "just completely exploded" and he found himself raising $100,000 "in a single day" -- with $50,000 paid in there and then. "I'm not a startup guy. I've been running a business based on consulting and based on academic R&D services," he continues. "But by the end of the day -- last Sunday, eight days ago -- I was running a Delaware corporation valued at $10 million with $100,000 in pre-seed funding, which is insane. Completely insane."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Smartwatches Can Help Detect COVID-19 Days Before Symptoms Appear

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 16:30
Smartwatches and other wearable devices that continuously measure users' heart rates, skin temperature and other physiological markers can help spot coronavirus infections days before an individual is diagnosed. From a report: Devices like the Apple Watch, Garmin and Fitbit watches can predict whether an individual is positive for COVID-19 even before they are symptomatic or the virus is detectable by tests, according to studies from leading medical and academic institutions, including Mount Sinai Health System in New York and Stanford University in California. Experts say wearable technology could play a vital role in stemming the pandemic and other communicable diseases. Researchers at Mount Sinai found that the Apple Watch can detect subtle changes in an individual's heartbeat, which can signal that an individual has the coronavirus, up to seven days before they feel sick or infection is detected through testing. "Our goal was to use tools to identify infections at time of infection or before people knew they were sick," said Rob Hirten, assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and author of the Warrior Watch study. Specifically, the study analyzed a metric called heart rate variability -- the variation in time between each heartbeat -- which is also a measure of how well a person's immune system is working.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Massive Blackouts Have Hit Iran. The Government is Blaming Bitcoin Mining.

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 15:50
Massive blackouts and smog have hit cities across Iran. It's a toxic mix as the country, already under economic duress and suffocating U.S. sanctions, simultaneously battles the region's worst coronavirus outbreak. Blackouts are not new in Iran, where an aging and subsidized electricity sector is plagued by alleged mismanagement. But this time, government officials say that bitcoin mining at cryptocurrency farms -- the energy-intensive business of using large collections of computers to verify digital coin transactions -- is partly to blame. From a report: Iran's state-owned electricity firm Tavanir announced Wednesday that it had shut down a large Chinese-Iranian-run cybercurrency center in the southeastern province of Kerman because of its heavy energy consumption. The company reportedly was licensed to operate under a process the government had put in place to regulate the industry. Alongside pointing a finger at legal operations, Iranian officials have specifically singled out illegal cryptocurrency miners as a strain on the electricity grid spurring outages, Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, a spokesperson for the electricity industry at Iran's energy ministry, told the IRNA state-run news agency. On Wednesday, Ali Vaezi, a spokesperson for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, said the government would be investigating cases of unlicensed cryptocurrency farms. But Iranians in the bitcoin industry reject the government's accusations, saying the industry is being blamed for a broader problem. "The miners have nothing to do with the blackouts," Ziya Sadr, a cryptocurrency researcher in Tehran, told The Washington Post. "Mining is a very small percentage of the overall electricity capacity in Iran."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Popular Podcasts App Pocket Casts Is Up For Sale: Where Did It Go Wrong?

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 15:10
James Cridland, editor of podcast newsletter PodNews: Podcast app Pocket Casts is looking for a buyer. NPR, which owns 34.6% of the company, reports their share of the company's loss was $812,000: which could put the company's net loss at more than $2m, though the company denies this. I've used Pocket Casts for a long time. To me, it has two unbeatable features: 1. A really, really good audio player - the skip-silence and the voice-boost is light-years ahead of anything that anyone else has produced (with the possible exception of Overcast, but I don't use it enough to know) 2. The full Apple Podcasts catalogue (since BBC content is blocked from Google Podcasts). This isn't unique to PocketCasts, but is one reason why I came back to it. Sadly, those two selling points haven't helped it in recent years. Purchased by a set of US public media companies in May 2018, and subsequently also invested-in by BBC Studios Americas, Pocket Casts has seen its market share shrink.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Pulls the Plug on User-Found Method To Sideload iOS Apps on Mac

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 14:30
Apple has plugged a hole that allowed users to sideload iOS and iPad applications to M1 Macs that were never intended to run on desktop. The server-side change ensures that only applications that app developers have flagged as optimized for Mac will run. From a report: Late last year, Apple launched its first Macs running on its own ARM-based custom CPU called the M1, as opposed to the Intel chips that have been used in Macs for several years. These new machines included the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air, and the low-end Mac mini. Since those machines now share an architecture with iPhones and iPads, which also have closely related ARM-based chips, it became possible to run iOS and iPadOS apps natively on Macs that were equipped with the M1 chip. Apple supported this by listing iPhone and iPad apps that passed an automated test on the Mac App Store, provided developers did not opt out of having the app listed. However, many developers did opt out for any number of reasons: because they did not feel the app provided a good user experience on laptops or desktops; because they offer preferred alternative ways to access services or content on Macs; because they don't have the time to support an additional platform; or any number of other reasons.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Behind a Secret Deal Between Google and Facebook

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 13:50
Facebook was going to compete with Google for some advertising sales but backed away from the plan after the companies cut a preferential deal, according to court documents. From a report: In 2017, Facebook said it was testing a new way of selling online advertising that would threaten Google's control of the digital ad market. But less than two years later, Facebook did an about-face and said it was joining an alliance of companies backing a similar effort by Google. Facebook never said why it pulled back from its project, but evidence presented in an antitrust lawsuit filed by 10 state attorneys general last month indicates that Google had extended to Facebook, its closest rival for digital advertising dollars, a sweetheart deal to be a partner. Details of the agreement, based on documents the Texas attorney general's office said it had uncovered as part of the multistate suit, were redacted in the complaint filed in federal court in Texas last month. But they were not hidden in a draft version of the complaint reviewed by The New York Times. Executives at six of the more than 20 partners in the alliance told The Times that their agreements with Google did not include many of the same generous terms that Facebook received and that the search giant had handed Facebook a significant advantage over the rest of them. The executives, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardizing their business relationships with Google, also said they had not known that Google had afforded such advantages to Facebook. The clear disparity in how their companies were treated by Google when compared to Facebook has not been previously reported. The disclosure of the deal between the tech giants has renewed concerns about how the biggest technology companies band together to close off competition. The deals are often consequential, defining the winners and losers in various markets for technology services and products. They are agreed upon in private with the crucial deal terms hidden through confidentiality clauses. Google and Facebook said that such deals were common in the digital advertising industry and that they were not thwarting competition. Julie Tarallo McAlister, a Google spokeswoman, said the complaint "misrepresents this agreement, as it does many other aspects of our ad tech business." She added that Facebook is one of many companies that participate in the Google-led program and that Facebook is a partner in similar alliances with other companies.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hungary Mulls Sanctions Against Social Media Giants

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 13:14
Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga on Monday raised the prospect of sanctioning social media firms over what she called "systematic abuses" of free speech. From a report: The minister said she would meet the Hungarian competition watchdog this week to discuss possible penalties for what she described as unfair commercial practices as well as convening a meeting of the country's digital freedom committee. In a growing wave of criticism, some government officials are complaining about what they have described as efforts by social media companies, including Facebook, to limit conservative views on their platforms. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has turned Hungary's public media into an obedient mouthpiece and allies control large parts of the private media, allowing his agenda to be aired prominently. But the right-wing premier faces the toughest challenge to his decade-long rule at a parliamentary election next year, as he tackles a protracted recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and a united opposition, with polls showing a neck-and-neck race.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Safari 14 Added WebExtensions Support. So Where Are the Extensions?

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 12:30
At WWDC last year, Apple announced it was going to support Chrome-style browser extensions (the WebExtensions API) in Safari. Months after Safari 14's release, are developers bothering with Safari? Jason Snell: The answer seems to be largely no -- at least, not yet. The Mac App Store's Safari extensions library seems to be largely populated with the same stuff that was there before Safari 14 was released, though there are some exceptions. [...] So in the end, what was the net effect of Apple's announcement of support for the WebExtensions API in Safari? It's a work in progress. A very small number of extensions have appeared in the App Store, and it seems quite likely that others will follow at their own pace. Other developers remain utterly unmoved by all the extra work moving to Safari would entail. It strikes me that Apple could rapidly drive adoption of Safari extensions if it would finally bring that technology to iOS. Targeting the Mac is nice, but if they could target iPads and iPhones, we might really have something.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Comment