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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 13th Jul 2016

It's one of those internet phrases that have seeped into everyday usage.

Newsreaders tell us a story is trending, editors tell their staff they want interviews to trend and activists want their causes to trend.

The goal for many news organisations today is to have their content shared so widely, so quickly and across so many platforms that it takes on a life of its own, achieving a sort of uber-ubiquity and eventually the hallowed status of "viral".

But how did asking "what's trending?" become such a pervasive online trend?

Facts v Feelings

To get to the roots of trending you have to go back to late 2006, when a group of engineers in the US state of Virginia, founded a company called Summize.

At first glance the start-up's website looked like any other search engine. But while Google and Bing focused on facts and figures, Summize was being more touchy-feely.

"We had a premise that real-time summarisation and sentiment analysis were important - looking at how people feel about a given topic," recalls its co-founder and former chief scientist Abdur Chowdhury.

"Often, we can pull out an exact date like when was Abraham Lincoln born - it's very factual - but [not] how do you feel about the weather?

"Or how do you feel about this political topic or that?"

In the mid-noughties, social media sites were still a bit of a novelty, so for answers to those questions Summize first turned to more traditional sources of online opinion including product reviews and blogs.


Image captionAn early example of search topics within the Summize system.

Mr Chowdhury and Summize's chief executive Jay Virdy soon noticed that when it came to opinions, there was one site that was fast becoming a global repository: Twitter.

They directed their technology at the platform and quickly saw results.

"Within six weeks we were doing over a million queries a day," Mr Chowdhury says.

"The hot thing at that time was the iPhone. You could see everyone's opinion and what they were saying about the iPhone in real-time."

Summize data centre

Image captionSummize's data centre was relatively small in the firm's early days

Once it became clear that Twitter's content and Summize's technology were a good fit, a union between Twitter's 12 employees and Summize's six was inevitable, added Mr Chowdhury.

In 2008, Twitter acquired Summize and in the process users finally got the ability to search within Twitter.

Trending and hashtags soon followed.

Growing up

Mr Chowdhury became Twitter's chief scientist and although he cannot recall exactly when or who coined the term, he remembers well the moment he realised trending was going to be big.

Twitter and Summize logos

Image captionTwitter and Summize joined forces in 2008

"I was taking the train and I said: 'Let's see if we can put together an algorithm to really figure out what people are talking about,'" he said.

"And so I started pulling out the people, places and nouns that were being discussed on Twitter."

Mr Chowdhury stressed that his original algorithm concentrated on spikes in the conversation.

"People are always talking about Apple or McDonald's or the BBC, but what you really want to know is did that deviate?" he explained.

"Is it way more than expected?

"As I'm taking the train ride and I'm watching the nouns coming out, I start to see Rome, Prague, London, Moscow.

"What I realised is that I was watching the Olympic torch runner run through Europe. It was at that moment I realised that trends - this ability to extract what's new and interesting happening in real-time - was going to be a thing."

Buzzfeed trending topics

Image copyrightBUZZFEED

Image captionAn example of Buzzfeed's trending topics section.

Mr Chowdhury welcomes the fact that trending has broken out of Twitter and been embraced by other sites. However, he feels a little of his original vision has been lost along the way.

"Trending today seems like someone looking for interesting content to push up at the top, not necessarily something that the large majority of people want to talk about at the moment," he said.

The columnist and magazine editor Ann Friedman writes about journalism and technology. She says that trending has opened mainstream media's eyes to stories that would otherwise have been missed.

"I'm not so pleased with the trending era that I think every trending topic should be the equivalent of front page news, but I think editors tend to miss some things - they're not the most diverse group and stuff like trending topics and hashtags can really bring something to their attention," she said.

"I like to see reporters pushed by readers. To me that's good for journalism."

In September 2011 Abdur Chowdhury left Twitter after what he called an "amazing experience".

But his contribution has not been forgotten.

Last month, on the day of Twitter's 10th anniversary, Chowdhury got a personal and very public thank you from the man who'd bought Summize eight years previously.

"Thank you @abdur for being the coolest scientist I know and for building Twitter search and Trends," posted the social network's chief executive Jack Dorsey.


Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 13th Jul 2016

I've heard of Pokemon. Is it a thing again?

Yes - Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game on smartphones.

It uses your GPS. You play by walking around the real world catching cutesy little virtual monsters like Pikachu and Jigglypuff in places near your phone location and training them to fight each other.

The monsters in it were first popular in the 1990s when they started on the Nintendo Game Boy. Trading cards were a huge hit in school playgrounds well before Minecraft and even before Tamagotchis, but after yoyos and, well, marbles.

Pokemon has been out on Game Boy and DS, it's been a cartoon programme and it's been a low-tech trading card game, but this is the first time it's been a smartphone game.

Dave Lee, tech reporter: Pokemon Go is a monster mobile hit

  • Pokemon = pocket monster
  • Pokestop = landmark
  • Pokeball = a supply that you can throw to capture Pokemon for training
  • Gym = a location where Pokemon battle each other
  • Pikachu = the most famous Pokemon and an icon of Japanese culture

people in Pikachu costumes onstage in JapanI

mage copyrightAFP

Image captionThese people are dressed up as Pikachu, a fast-moving Pokemon with electric powers

How can I get my hands on the game?

On the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android). It's free but as with other free games, there are things to buy with real money once you're in the game.

It's out in Australia, New Zealand and the US and will be released in Japan soon, but people in the UK have to wait for some time yet.

So many people have been using it that the servers have been crashing. That's why the makers Niantic Inc - a spin-off of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc - are holding off on rolling it out all across the world for now.

two men standing next to each other and playing on their phones

Image copyrightAP

Image captionThese brothers admitted that they had never gone downtown for pleasure in their hometown until they downloaded Pokemon Go

What's the weirdest thing that's happened someone playing it?

Oh, take your pick...

An American woman found a dead body while she was looking for a Pokemon in a river near her home. Police said the man had died within the last 24 hours and no foul play was suspected.

Four people were arrested after they used the game to lure players to remote places and then rob them at gunpoint. In response, the makers of Pokemon Go have said people should "play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places" and "remember to be safe and alert at all times".

The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in the US is the location of a gym in the game, and players planted a pink "Clefairy" Pokemon called Love is Love there. The church has responded with a series of social media posts calling the Pokemon a sodomite.

There have also been plenty of reports of people falling over and grazing or cutting themselves because they're not paying attention to what's in front of them while they play.


Image copyrightEPA

Image captionThe world you see on your Pokemon Go screen corresponds to the world you see around you

Should I worry about my privacy?

Some people have pointed out that because it works in real time, if you are close to another player in the game you can probably see them in real life.

When you sign up to play, you allow Niantic Labs to use your location and share it through the app.

This is similar to what all social networking apps ask for, but while you can turn the location functionality off with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, doing the same for Pokemon Go is going to make you less able to actually play the game.

Has the game been successful so far?

Hasn't it just!

It's added more than $7bn (£5.4bn) to Nintendo's value by virtue of shares in the company rallying since it was released.

The game has dominated gaming charts in the US and it seems to be capturing two markets - the teens who are "catching em all" for the first time, and the people in their late 20s and early 30s who remember it all from the first time round and fancy a little nostalgia.

screengrab of Pokemon cartoon from 1997

Image copyrightAPImage captionThis is what Pikachu looked like in 1997 when it was first on TV


Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 12th Jul 2016

Microsoft's Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite expected to boost operational efficiency for airlines

Rolls-Royce engines

Microsoft has signed a deal with aeroplane engine maker Rolls-Royce that looks like a textbook demonstration project for the Internet of Things (IoT). Microsoft's cloud-based IoT and analytics platforms will be used to improve efficiency for airlines by diagnosing problems with jet engines.

Rolls-Royce will adopt Microsoft's Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite to quickly diagnose potential faults in engines fitted to aircraft in service around the globe.

Information on engine health, air traffic control, route restrictions and fuel use will be collected from hundreds of sensors inside the engines, and analysed to detect any operational anomalies or signs of developing faults.

Airlines will be able to use the data to cut fuel use, fly on more efficient routes and ensure they have the right replacement parts in the places they are needed most, Microsoft said.

One of the promises of the IoT is that it will enable new business models, and the new capabilities will become an important part of the Rolls-Royce TotalCare programme, which is based on earning revenue when aircraft fly, rather than when engines are serviced.

It is expected to deliver a one per cent saving on fuel, which may not sound much but could equate to $250,000 per aircraft per year, according to Microsoft, leading to substantial savings for airlines.

Azure IoT Suite has been generally available since September as a collection of services running on Microsoft's Azure platform. It includes the Azure IoT Hub serviceto connect to devices in the real world and gather data, along with storage and analytics services.

Cortana Intelligence Suite, previously Cortana Analytics, was announced earlier this year as a platform that combines machine learning and analytics with what Microsoft calls "cognitive services" to go beyond analytics alone. This is also delivered from Microsoft's Azure cloud.

"We are excited to bring our Azure platform and suite of digital technology to the aerospace market and support a world leader such as Rolls-Royce," said Çağlayan Arkan, Microsoft's general manager for the manufacturing and resources sector.

"Aircraft engines are hugely valuable assets and we want to help Rolls-Royce ensure they stay flying as much as possible. When we combine our skills with those of Rolls-Royce and its customers we have a powerful solution."

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 12th Jul 2016

Cisco, Lenovo and others expected to follow suit

HP Chromebook 13

HP Inc will raise prices by 10 per cent

HP Inc has announced plans to increase UK prices by 10 per cent following the sharp drop in the value of sterling instigated by the UK vote to leave the European Union. The new prices will take effect from 1 August. 

The move follows Dell's decision to hike prices last week. 

HP Inc revealed in an email sent to partners and leaked to our sister site CRN that the 10 per cent increase follows "unprecedented" currency fluctuations.

"As you will be aware, we have seen an unprecedented weakening of the pound to US dollar exchange rate over the past few weeks," the email said.

"In order to maintain a sustainable and consistent approach to our operation in the UK and Ireland, we have taken the decision to make some adjustments to our channel-supported and directly-contracted end-user pricing strategy.

"Effective from 1 August we will implement an adjustment of circa 10 per cent across HP's Personal Systems portfolio.

"This applies to all HP commercial/business products in the HP Personal Systems category (core PC/laptop, value technology and mobility solutions). As always, you may freely determine your resale price to your customers."

Sources suggest that it won't be long before another big player, in this case Cisco, joins the club with a rumoured 14 per cent hike of its own products. Cisco has not yet commented on the speculation.

The Guardian reported that Lenovo is also considering raising prices, but there's no official word from the company yet. 

The vast majority of the tech sector works in US dollars, so it's likely that we'll see an avalanche of tech assets rising in price over the coming weeks.

European phone company OnePlus was the first to announce price rises post-Brexit, blaming its thin profit margins on the decision to add £20 to the cost of its top-end model.

Several companies in recent weeks have declined to give us sterling prices for new products as they are announced in case the currency falls even further. 

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 11th Jul 2016

On Wednesday, police in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, shot and killed a man named Philando Castile during a traffic stop. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was riding in the car at the time.

She opened the Facebook app on her phone and broadcast the aftermath of the shooting using the new Facebook Live feature. (Warning: content is graphic.) Anybody who tuned in was able to watch the graphic image of Castile bleeding. 

The next day, protests against police violence erupted around the country.

During one of those protests, in Dallas, a gunman shot a dozen police officers. So far, five have died.

This time, a Facebook user named Michael Kevin Bautista broadcast the action live. (Warning: content is graphic.)

As of Friday afternoon, each video had been watched more than 5.4 million times.

By way of comparison, the most popular nightly news broadcast last week, ABC World News Tonight on June 27, reached 8.5 million viewers. 

When Facebook introduced Live in April, it wasn't quite clear what people would use it for. Among other things, BuzzFeed broadcast people adding rubber bands to a watermelon exploding, and more than 3 million people watched it live. It's now had more than 10 million people watch it. 

Now it's clear what Facebook Live is for.

It's replacing the last stronghold of television: live events.

TV is under assault by cord-cutting, where people watch their favorite shows online and dispense with a cable subscription altogether.

Last September, TV ratings started to see a catastrophic year-over-year decline, and Nielsen ratings show a slow but steady decline in the amount of TV watched by nearly all demographic groups over the last five years.

A recent Nielsen poll of more than 30,000 people around the world also found that 20% to 25% of viewers under the age of 49 plan to cut the cord in coming years.

cord cuttingNielsen/Statista

Sure, people might stop watching the latest network drama in favor of a Netflix or Amazonexclusive, but nothing would ever replace TV for live sports and breaking news.

But over the last year, we've started to see the first hints that live sports won't be a TV exclusive forever. Twitter plans to broadcast Thursday-night NFL games next season, and Facebook wasalso in on the bidding.

Live sports is better on TV than when shot by somebody on their smartphone. There's too much value in the expert camera work, the instant replays, and even (sometimes) the commentary. So any tech company that wants to replace the networks is going to have to win a bidding war.

The same isn't true for live news. Sometimes, a good news broadcast can help viewers make sense of what they're seeing. But the decisions about what to broadcast and how to show it are influenced by a lot of people along the way, from reporters to producers. That leaves TV news open to accusations of bias and poor news judgment.

Plus, a lot of TV news is boring. A lot of time the broadcasters seem to be struggling to fill the airtime, endlessly replaying the same video clips over and over again, talking to fill space. It's not particularly interesting or immediate. It feels instantly out of date.

Compare that with millions of people with smartphones, filming and broadcasting big events as they happen. 

Twitter is definitely in the live-video game with Periscope, and both are following Snapchat Stories.

But Facebook has the audience. Nobody has to download the Facebook app and figure out how to use it — over a billion people already have it. 

When a big event happens, anybody on Facebook can tune in to see exactly what's going on, unfiltered, directly from a bystander's point of view. Why run to the nearest TV?

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 11th Jul 2016

Amazon's largest drone delivery test site is a secret site somewhere in the UK, according to the cofounder of Amazon's Prime Air business.

Daniel Buchmueller, who leadsAmazon's drone development operations in the UK, made the announcement at the Amazon Web Services Summit in London on Thursday.

"We have [drone] development centres right here in the UK. In the United States, in Austria, and in Israel," he said.

"These are places where we have dedicated indoor facilities. But we also have outdoor testing facilities. In fact, our largest outdoor facility is right here in the UK."

Several Business Insider sources have suggested that the outdoor site is somewhere in Cambridge, which would make sense as Amazon has an R&D facility in the city.

Business Insider asked Amazon about the Cambridge site. We requested the address, the size, and we also asked how often Amazon uses it.

An Amazon spokeswoman replied: "I did not say our outdoor facility was in Cambridge; just in the UK. As I’m sure you can appreciate, we do not disclose the other details you requested."

The fact that Amazon is refusing to say where its UK drone testing site isn't that surprising. It probably doesn't want people turning up there and capturing Amazon's drone activities with their smartphones. Tests don't always go to plan and a viral video of an Amazon drone crashing into a tree wouldn't help Amazon to get the drones approved and into operation.



 Buchmueller said that Amazon has over a dozen prototype drones in operation worldwide. That figure may seem relatively low but it's still early days for Amazon Prime Air.

Amazon wants to use the drones to deliver packages to people's homes and offices in under 30 minutes. It claims they will be greener, cheaper, and safer than the vans that are currently used to deliver Amazon packagers.

The battery-powered vehicles rise vertically like a helicopter up to 400 feet before flying up to 15 miles at speeds of up to 50mph. The 25kg drones are "highly automated," according to Buchmueller, who added that they have been designed to carry packages up to 2kg in weight.

Speaking at the same event, Liam Maxwell, the government's chief technology officer, said the UK is "open" and "more progressive" than other countries when it comes to drone testing.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 11th Jul 2016

Up to 10 million Android smartphones have been infected by malware that generates fake clicks for adverts, say security researchers.

The software is also surreptitiously installing apps and spying on the browsing habits of victims.

The malware is currently making about $300,000 (£232,000) a month for its creators, suggests research.

The majority of phones that have been compromised by the malicious software are in China.

Remote control

A spike in the number of phones infected by the malware was noticed separately by security companies Checkpoint and Lookout. The malware family is called Shedun by Lookout but Hummingbad by Checkpoint

In a blogpost, Checkpoint said it had obtained access to the command-and-control servers that oversee infected phones which revealed that Hummingbad was now on about 10 million devices. China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia top the list of nations with most phones infected by the software.

Hummingbad is a type of malware known as a rootkit that inserts itself deep inside a phone's operating system to help it avoid detection and to give its controllers total control over the handset.

The ability to control phones remotely has been used to click on ads to make them seem more popular than they actually are. The access has also been used to install fake versions of popular apps or spread programs the gang has been paid to promote.

"It can remain persistent even if the user performs a factory reset," wrote Kristy Edwards from Lookout in a blogpost. "It uses its root privileges to install additional apps on to the device, further increasing ad revenue for the authors and defeating uninstall attempts."

Ms Edwards said the recent spike in infections could be driven by the gang behind the malware adding more functions or using their access to phones for different purposes.

The malware gets installed on handsets by exploiting loopholes in older versions of the Android operating system known as KitKat and JellyBean. The latest version of Android is known as Marshmallow.

In a statement, Google said: ""We've long been aware of this evolving family of malware and we're constantly improving our systems that detect it. We actively block installations of infected apps to keep users and their information safe."

Google released the latest security update for Android this month and it tackled more than 108 separate vulnerabilities in the operating system. So far this year, security updates for Android have closed more than 270 bugs.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 29th Jun 2016

A 16-year-old British boy has admitted launching cyber attacks on websites around the world.

The defendant, who cannot be named due to his age, admitted targeting Florida's SeaWorld theme park and Devon and Cornwall Police in the attacks.

The teenager, from Plymouth, pleaded guilty at the city's youth court to three offences, committed between October 2014 and January 2015.
He has denied two charges of sending bomb hoaxes to US airlines via Twitter.
The boy admitted targeting SeaWorld's website in the cyber attacks

The defendant admitted three offences under Section 3 of the Computer Misuse Act, relating to denial of service attacks.
"A large part of the websites that I had taken down were to do with dolphin hunting," the boy told the court.
"I have always been for animal rights and I am really into computers and things so I thought, in protest, and to see what I could do, I would do it.
"I joined up with other people who were doing it. I was fighting for animal rights."
Prosecuting, Ben Samples told the court American Airlines received a threat allegedly made by the boy on Twitter on 13 February 2015.
He said the tweet read: "One of those lovely Boeing airplanes has a tick, tick, ticking in it. Hurry gentlemen, the clock is ticking."

FBI notified
The tweet was also tagged to the White House Twitter account and the FBI was notified, Mr Samples said.
No action was taken by the US authorities following an assessment of the credibility of the threat and the matter was passed to the UK authorities, the court heard.
A similar tweet was also sent to Delta Air Lines on the same day, Mr Samples said.
The boy has denied two counts of sending bomb hoaxes to Delta Air Lines and American Airlines
Investigators from the Zephyr Regional Cyber Crime Unit traced the threats to the twitter account of the boy and seized his computer, the court heard.
The prosecution said the boy had changed his story about whether he sent the tweets during police interview, before finally denying the charges.

A twitter account used by the boy later tweeted the Zephyr Regional Cyber Crime Unit, saying "to be fair they caught me red handed" and "I still maintain the utmost respect for Zephyr", Mr Samples said.
The teenager was charged with the five offences in November following the investigation.
He has admitted three counts of doing an act to hinder access to a programme or data held in a computer.
Judge Diane Baker has retired to consider her verdict in the case and judgement is due next Wednesday.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 28th Jun 2016

Microsoft has agreed to pay a Californian woman $10,000 (£7,500) after an automatic Windows 10 update left her computer unusable.

Teri Goldstein said her Windows 7 computer had automatically tried to update itself to Windows 10 without her permission.
She said the update had made her machine unstable, leaving her unable to use it to run her business.
Microsoft said it had dropped its appeal to save on legal costs.
Microsoft has been aggressively pushing the latest version of its widely used operating system, which is currently available as a free download for computers running Windows 7 and 8.
However, many people have chosen not to upgrade, because they are running old hardware, have software that does not run on Windows 10, are concerned over the software's tracking features, or simply do not want it.
In February, the company bundled Windows 10 in with its security updates and made it a "recommended update", which meant it was automatically downloaded and installed unless blocked by the user.
Some people accused the company of trying to "trick" customers into installing the update.
The Seattle Times reported that Ms Goldstein's computer had "slowed to a crawl" after the update, and Microsoft customer support had not fixed the problem.
"I had never heard of Windows 10. Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update," she told the newspaper.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 28th Jun 2016

Beware, Zuckerberg is watching you…​

You know the drill – if a service like Facebook is free, then you're the product. That means letting it know everything about you, including your age, job, friends, family members, tastes and quirks. But Facebook is taking it a step further, and keeping tabs on not only these, but all your activity too.

How? Have a read and find out. Though a word of warning: it might put you off social networking for good.


Make no mistake, Facebook is – mostly – a very sophisticated way of selling advertising. But in recent years, doubts have begun to emerge as to how effective it is at translating ads into actual sales. Now Facebook is trying to prove its worth, but in a rather creepy way.

Starting soon, the social network will use its location-based services feature to monitor which shops you visit. That way, it can show advertisers that so many people who saw their ad ended up going to one of their bricks-and-mortar shops. Bully for them. But it's all a bit Big Brother-ish for our liking.


Obviously Facebook knows a ton of information about you, like your age, where you live, where you went to school, and anything else you've put on your profile. But it also harvests data on your other web activity, like online searches and information you share with retailers.

Facebook claims it's all in order to serve users more relevant adverts. However, critics claim the social network is prioritising profits over users' privacy. Perish the thought…


It's not just your web habits or where you shop that Facebook is watching – it's keeping tabs on you wherever you go. By agreeing to its terms and conditions, you've agreed to let it track your "device locations, including specific geographic locations, such as through GPS, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi signals".

In other words, wherever you go, Facebook knows about it. Though if you only use Facebook on a desktop computer, it won't be able to follow your every move. Just one more reason to use Facebook at work, then.


If you've ever wondered how Facebook knows who's in a photo with you and suggests you tag them, the answer is rather worrying: it's been mapping all of our faces in order to pick us out of a crowd.

Facebook openly admits this in its privacy policy, which states: "We are able to suggest that your friend tag you in a picture by comparing your friend's pictures to information we've put together from your profile pictures and the other photos in which you've been tagged." Though there is a way to disable this. Head to Settings > Timeline > Tagging and turn it off. Phew.


Undoubtedly you've seen people on Facebook whose profile pictures have a rainbow filter. That's because they're some of the 26 million people who installed Facebook's Celebrate Pride app last year. Facebook knows the number was 26 million because it keeps tabs on which filters you use, as well as what other apps you install.

The social network has confirmed that it doesn't use this data to target adverts, or to extrapolate information about its users. But it is watching exactly what you're doing, down to which tweaks you make to your own profile picture. Scary.


Amazingly, Facebook even takes note of what you type on the site but never post. That means it knows about those drunk messages to your ex that you thought better of and deleted before you could post.

However, it can't actually read what you wrote, which is a godsend. That's because it can't monitor which keys were pressed. Though it can record when characters and words are typed, how many are typed, and if the typed characters were deleted or abandoned.

In the study Self-Censorship on Facebook, data scientist Adam Kramer (who works at Facebook) and student Sauvik Das analysed the html element of each page for 3.7 million Facebook users. Every time text was entered, even if it was never posted, they could track the changes in the html code. According to the study, 71% of us type something on Facebook then delete it without posting. If only more people had that kind of filter.


Last year, Facebook admitted it had tracked users who don't have a Facebook account, though it claimed this was because of a bug that has since been fixed. (Hmm, a likely story.)

It was claimed a bug mistakenly sent cookies to some people who were not Facebook users, allowing the social network to track their online activities. "This was not our intention," Facebook said in response. Maybe not, but it's worrying all the same.


A couple of weeks ago, Facebook announced it will track all internet users – whether they're on Facebook or not – in order to target adverts to them. Previously, it only showed adverts to its users when they used websites and apps in its Audience Network advertising network. Now it will tailor ads to anyone who visits a property that's within the Audience Network.

It will do this by using Like buttons and other pieces of code on web pages across the internet. Facebook claims there will be an option for all users to opt out. Just don't expect it to be easy to find.


OK, admittedly this one wasn't Facebook itself, but still, it's pretty creepy. Danish hacker Søren Louv-Jansen discovered that most of his friends checked Facebook first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Because Facebook Messenger makes public when a user was last online – even if they've opted out of chat – it's easy to create a program that automatically scrapes Facebook for this data. Which is exactly what Louv-Jansen did.

His sleep-tracking program told him when his friends logged on and off, hence letting him know when they went to sleep and when they woke up. Obviously the data wasn't 100% accurate. But as a broad picture of people's sleeping patterns, it's pretty great, especially considering it only took a couple of hours to make.

Source: digitalspy.com
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