Science & Technology

Instagram insists 'bug' that negatively affected Joe Biden was 'not partisan'

Look, just because a so-called Instagram “bug” benefits President Donald Trump and hurts Democratic nominee and political rival Joe Biden does not mean it’s partisan. And, if you dare to suggest otherwise, then get ready for Instagram to jump down your throat.  At issue is Instagram’s “related hashtags” feature which shows hashtags supposedly related to whatever hashtag a user has clicked on. However, as the Tech Transparency Project — a research initiative of the nonprofit … Read the rest

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Mark Zuckerberg's first Reel is fine. It's just fine.

When in doubt, feature a dog. Mark Zuckerberg posted his first Reel Wednesday, and well, it’s fine. Reels are Facebook-owned Instagram’s answer to TikTok: Looping, easily editable, maximum 15 second videos featuring a wide catalogue of music and visual overlays. Instagram users post Reels to their feed (not their Stories), and popular Reels will get surfaced in Instagram’s Explore tab.  Reels launches as TikTok continues to navigate the uncertain waters of a potential ‘ban’ by… Read the rest

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Engineer who took Google's self-driving secrets to Uber sentenced to 18 months

Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski has been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to stealing trade secrets from Waymo, Google’s self-driving car division. He’s also agreed to pay over $756,000 to the company, plus a fine of $95,000 — which will be a feat considering Levandowski’s already been bankrupted by a $179 million judgment against him for poaching Google employees. “The last three and a half years have forced me to come to… Read the rest

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Americans are totally overwhelmed by the news

Americans say they’re overwhelmed by the flood of news on the internet. And that’s causing some people — especially conservatives — to tune much of it out. Gallup and the Knight Foundation published the results of a 20,000-person survey Tuesday on Americans’ attitudes toward the media and its impact on democracy.  Americans’ trust in the news splits along party lines. Overwhelmingly, people who identify as “very conservative” or “Republican” mistrust the media.  There’s one thing… Read the rest

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Google smart speakers secretly updated to listen for more than wake words

Google Home smart speakers, the company dryly warns in a note buried deep on a support page, can “incorrectly” record their users even when they haven’t first said an activating wake phrase like “hey, Google.” It just so happens that, at least for a brief period of time this summer, those microphone-enabled devices were doing exactly that.  The company admitted Monday, following a report by Protocol, that it had updated an unspecified number of Google… Read the rest

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Twitter may have to pay hundreds of millions in fines for privacy screw-up

As far as mistakes go, Twitter’s notorious two-factor authentication boondoggle could end being a costly one.  Buried deep inside the company’s Monday 10Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission is a note that the social media giant might end up on the receiving end of up to $250 million in fines. At issue was Twitter “inadvertently” (it swears) using users’ phone numbers for advertising from 2013 to 2019 — numbers that were only provided… Read the rest

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Microsoft confirms it's in talks to buy TikTok, and Trump is involved

Microsoft has confirmed reports it’s in talks to acquire TikTok, writing in a Sunday blog post that the deal is currently in preliminary discussions. Oh, and the U.S. president is part of them too. TikTok has been the subject of intense international scrutiny as of late, with various governments accusing the video sharing app of sharing users’ data with the Chinese government. President Donald Trump claimed he would ban TikTok just last week, and a… Read the rest

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How a TikTok ban could work, and what it means for your content

President Donald Trump casually dropped Friday that he would “ban” TikTok. That added heft to earlier statements made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the administration was considering a ban. But how would a ban on an app that’s already been downloaded by 165 million Americans, and that anyone can currently download from Apple and Google app stores, actually work?  Trump provided few details, and any executive actions he might sign would be subject… Read the rest

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Microsoft's Cortana is saying goodbye to Android and iOS in 2021

It’s looking like curtains for Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant. On mobile, at least. In an announcement posted on July 31, the company said it would pull the Cortana mobile app from both iOS and Android devices in early 2021. While this is new for American users, Microsoft did a similar scrubbing of mobile Cortana in regions like Canada, Australia, and the U.K back in Jan. 2020. As Mashable tech reporter Alex Perry explained back then,… Read the rest

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Netflix rolls out new playback speed settings, starting with Android

You want to watch a 30-minute episode on Netflix but you only have 20 minutes to spare. What can do you? The answer to that question used to be “nothing,” but a new feature on Netflix now lets Android users bend time to their will. The addition of playback speed settings allows viewers to watch their content at both slower (0.5x and 0.75x) and faster (1.25x and 1.5x) speeds. The feature is hitting Android first… Read the rest

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