Instagram to hide self-harm and suicide related posts to create safe online place

The change in policy was prompted in part by the death of a teen.

Instagram is changing its instance on self-harm and suicide related posts. The company has vowed to remove graphic image from its online platform to create a safe online place, after the parents of a 14-years-old said the social site played part in their daughter’s death.

Molly Russell, a British teen, took her own life in 2017 at the age of 14, was said to have been viewing graphic images of self-harm and suicide on Instagram. The father of the teen is fighting to gain access to her data from Instagram and other social sites.

Instagram will introduce ‘sensitivity screen’ which will blur any graphic images related to self-harm. At first glance the contents will not be visible but will be able choose whether to view the content. Self-harm contents will not be shown and even hashtags will won’t be recommended at all.

Adam Mosseri said that Instagram cannot outright ban such content as people use the site to share their struggles and use it productively to help others with similar issues.

It’s a shame really that such heinous things are shared on a social site which is meant to bring people closer. With the change in their policies, Instagram is certainly going the right way and hopefully others will follow suit.

Microsoft’s security chief: “Stop using Internet Explorer as your default”

TechCentral

With Windows 10 Microsoft brought its Edge browser to succeed Internet Explorer, but it hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. Last we heard Microsoft was working on a chromium based Edge. Microsoft said that it will stop supporting new web standards for the Explorer.

And now Microsoft’s security chief has warned users not to use Internet Explorer as their default browser. Chris Jackson, who is the head of Microsoft’s cyber security, said that millions of users who are using Internet Explorer as their default browser are putting themselves at risk, (The perils of using Internet Explorer as your default browser to be exact)

Both developers and consumers are moving towards modern browsers like Chrome, Safari and Firefox, but some businesses still depend on Internet Explorer for older web apps. Though a number of websites currently work on Internet Explorer, new apps will not be integrated into the service.

“We’re not supporting new web standards for it and, while many sites work fine, developers by and large just aren’t testing for Internet Explorer these days. They’re testing on modern browsers.” Mr. Jackson said in a blog post.
“We want you to use IE for the sites that need it – what I’m trying to say here is that I hope you don’t use it for everything else,” he said in a comment in the blog post. Internet Explorer is just a compatibility solution, Jackson warns.

Edge browser wasn’t available to users in Windows 7 or 8, which led IT admins to rely on Internet Explorer. With the news that a chromium-based Edge browser is in the works and that it will be available for Windows 7 and 8 will hopefully push the move away from Internet Explorer and its legacy code.

Wanna know if your password’s been compromised? Just ask Google

Google has a new extension for Chrome that will let you know if your passwords are in the wrong hands.

If you have been on the web for a while, and I am sure you have been then you know that it is a scary place. Then you also know that there is a good chance that one of your accounts’ passwords has been compromised. Don’t believe me? Have a look at this data breach.

Lucky for you, Google has your back on that one as well. Google has released a new extension named ‘Password Checkup’ which, when logged into a site looks up if your password has been compromised.

Once installed, the extension will check whether your password’s safe to use every time you log into a website. If not, you’ll get a message that one or more of your password has been compromised in a data breach and prompt you to change the password.

The extension works similar to HaveIBeenPawned, which lets you look up if your usernames and passwords have been hacked. When you enter the password, the extension will look up a database of 4 billion credentials that have been part of a data breach.

The extension is a simple yet very, very, very handy tool if you’re like me who spends most of their time online and has multiple accounts. This is a must-have tool for everyone who is conscious about online security and privacy.

Now I know it’s hard to come to terms that the extension is released by Google and to trust it. But Google says that the extension is designed to never reveal your passwords and that your passwords will not be seen by Google. It will only store hashed, partial codes for unsafe passwords in your browser.

Hopefully the extension will be baked into the browser in future updates but until then you should take advantage of the extension.

You can get the extension from this page.

Regret that you sent the message that you shouldn’t have? Facebook’s got your back

The unsend feature will allow you to rollback the message for up to 10 minutes.
Cnet

Facebook has finally followed up with its promise to let users unsend their messages.

Facebook promised the feature back in April of last year after Facebook admitted it had deleted CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s messages from recipients’ inboxes. Facebook said last year that the feature will be coming in ‘a few months’ and it looks like the feature is rolling out worldwide on Messenger on both iOS and Android.

Users can utilize the feature to delete messages they sent out for up to 10 minutes. After the time is up the message will be deletable only for the user themselves and not the recipient.

ZDnet

Well that’s a relief, ain’t it?

Apple agrees to pay $571 million to settle tax bill in France

The French authorities accused Apple of evading tax due on sales over the last 10 years.
Apple logo seen in Apple store in Marche Saint-Germain
Reuters

Apple has reportedly reached a deal where it will pay a sizable $571 million to France as a back tax. Despite its increasing sales, the company paid less taxes over the last 10 years.

Apple has confirmed that it has reached an agreement to pay the amount but hasn’t specified as to how much it will be paying.

“As a multinational company, Apple is regularly audited by fiscal authorities around the world,” Apple France said in a statement to Reuters. “The French tax administration recently concluded a multi-year audit on the company’s French accounts, and those details will be published in our public accounts.”

In a report by French outlet L’Express, it is reported that the agreement was made last December. French authority was interested particularly in the low revenue reported by Apple over the last 10 years, hence the low tax paid.

This is not the first time that Apple has had to pay such a hefty amount as a back-taxed bill. Back in November, the European Union hit Apple with $15.3 billion back tax amount. Apple was ordered to pay the amount to the Irish Government, saying the company was provided with ‘illegal tax benefits’.

Back in February 2018 Amazon paid 200 million euro ($249 million) in back taxes. In 2017, France asked Google to pay a 1.12 billion euro ($1.28 billion) tax bill, but Google’s Irish subsidiary was not deemed taxable in France by an EU tribunal. So Apple is not the only company to have tax beef with France.

France tried to push through an EU-wide digital tax system on GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) but was unsuccessful as countries like Germany, Ireland and Sweden opposed the system. For that reason, France passed legislation to impose its own digital tax on GAFAM starting in 2019 back in December 2018.

Firefox to offer option to block autoplay audio and video

The feature will land with Firefox 66 in March.
Firefox logo and tagline
Firefox

When you are working on your computer and on your own world then suddenly out of nowhere comes disturbing and distracting sounds. You scour your browser tabs to find the source of the distraction. It sure is a pain in the ass, isn’t it? Well lucky for you, Firefox will come with an option to disable autoplay audio and videos in its next update: Firefox 66.

Microsoft and Google have provided the feature in their Edge and Chrome browser for a while now and surely Firefox is late to the game but it sure is a welcome feature. Any kind of audible audio or video will be muted by default unless you hit the ‘play’ button to initiate the audio.

In a blog post, Mozilla engineer Chris Pearce stated that the feature will land with Firefox’s next version on March 19. By default, muted autoplay will be allowed, which means only the sound will be muted, but the video or audio will be running.

Users can curate their own whitelist of sites where they want to allow the autoplay audio. For that, while on the website click on the url site information and in the ‘Permissions’ section change the default ‘Autoplay sound’ from ‘Block’ to ‘Allow’.

Even if late to the game, the feature is a welcome change for users.

Rumored Galaxy Sport Watch from Samsung to come without the hallmark rotating bezel

The watch is set to land with the Galaxy S10 devices on February 20.
The rumored Galaxy sport watch render
91mobiles

It’s been a while since Apple has been the king of smartwatch market and Samsung has been competing for a crown with Apple for a while. But its Galaxy smartwatches never reached the height they were expected to. And now Samsung is looking to change that with its new Galaxy Sport watch (not the actual name).

A render of the smartwatch released by 91mobile shows that the watch looks pretty decent. But what you won’t see is the trademark of Samsung Galaxy watches, the rotating bezel. It’s not clear as to how you are going to control the interface without the rotating bezel, but might come with buttons on the side as shown in the image or some capacitive touch on the case.

The watch will feature a round dial with two buttons on the side and come with a sleeker brushed metallic finish. The strap will have the same finish as the dial. Even if the watch is named sport, it will suit any kind of users.

Since the watch is sport focused it will come with the usual sets of utilities like GPS, sleep monitor, activity tracker, sleep counter and heart rate monitor. And the device will likely have some sort of IP certification for dust and water resistance. The device is also set to come with NFC for mobile payments. Though the watch will have one major demerit to its Apple compatriot: ECG.

The watch is set to launch at the Unpacked event from Samsung on February 20 with its flagship Galaxy S10 devices.

Google removes more than two dozen malicious photo-stealing apps from Play Store

The apps have combined download of over 4 Million.

Malicious photo apps removed from play store
Credit: Wccftech

Apple’s app store has been the epitome of iron gate for apps, while Google is still letting malicious apps slip into its Play Store.

A recent report from cybersecurity firm TrendMircro discovered 29 camera and beauty photo apps on Play Store that were scamming and phishing users. The report found malicious codes in the apps design that showed full screen ads and directed users to phishing websites to steal their information.

The apps used the ever believable ‘won a contest’ formula to phish users. Once installed, the apps show full screen ads or pornographic content and some would redirect users to phishing websites. In some apps it was also discovered that they would steal photos from users and send them to external servers.

It wouldn’t be an issue had Google removed them before they were installed by a large population, but the malicious apps have combined installations of over 4 million. The blog post from TrendMicro states that most of the downloads originated in Asia, particularly from India, where beautification apps are widely popular.

You couldn’t yank them and drop them in the bin to delete them as the apps would be hidden from your standard app list, which will make you forget that the apps have been installed on your phone. The apps also used measures to go undetected from Play Store including packers and remote servers that were “encoded with BASE64 twice in the code.”

All in all it’s always the best way to look into app reviews if any other users have found any suspicious activities before installing them and I’m sure most of the users do that.

You can see the full list of the malicious apps in this link.

Apple apologizes for group FaceTime bug, fix won’t be here until next week

The bug allowed users to listen to other users via group call on FaceTime without them even answering.
Facetime Group call disabled by Apple
Image Credit

Apple was quick to punish Facebook and Google for their mishaps, but late to respond to their own issues. Earlier this week (which just so happened to be the previous month) a bug was reported on Facetime that allowed users to virtually spy on other users via a group call. Apple disabled group call on FaceTime and has apologized to users for their tardiness and. But it looks like the fix is on the horizon and the feature will make its comeback with the fix.

The bug was widely publicized on Monday, which forced Apple to take action and disable the group call feature. The glitch allowed users to listen to other users without them even answering. When on call adding your own number for a group call would allow you to hear what’s going on in the other end without the recipient answering the call and if pressed the power or volume button to ignore the call it would instead broadcast the video too.

Initially, the bug was reported to Apple ten days ago on January 19 by a 14-year-old Fortnite player and his mother. Arizona lawyer Michele Thompson and her 14-year-old son attempted multiple times to contact Apple regarding the bug and even filed an official bug report and faxed a letter as well.

Apple released a statement apologizing for their mishap with the following words:

We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected and all who were concerned about this security issue. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we complete this process.”


They also acknowledged lawyer Michele Thompson and her son in the statement saying:

“We thank the Thompson family for reporting the bug.”

In the statement, Apple stated that the fix was on working and released next week, which was initially supposed to come this week.

“We have fixed the Group FaceTime security bug on Apple’s servers and we will issue a software update to re-enable the feature for users next week.”

The mishap comes at a time when Apple is trying to stand at the top regarding consumers’ privacy. And their tardiness surely didn’t help the cause. Well, at least they can chin up regarding their revenue.

Facebook banned from using internal apps by Apple regarding data misuse

The ban comes after Facebook exploited a loophole to harvest data from teens and pay them for it.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking
Image Credit

Apple has officially revoked Facebook’s permission to use internal iOS apps for defying its privacy policies and exploiting a loophole to harvest data from users as young as 13 years.

Facebook has come under strict scrutiny following various scandals relating to users’ privacy since last year and the TechCrunch investigation, which revealed that Facebook has been paying teens in return for their data, has sent Facebook further down the hole it dug up.

The app in question is Facebook Research, which provides Facebook access to users’ entire phone and web history, including encrypted activity, private messages and emails. The app allows Facebook to collect data on private messages on social media apps, chats from instant messaging apps – including photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and even ongoing location information.

The Research app is aimed mainly at teenagers from the age of 13 years old to adults of 35 years old. In return for their consent and participation, users were promised up to $20 per month. Regarding minors, the consent of their parents was required but wasn’t extensive, which means teenagers could sign up and tap on ‘trust’ without knowing what it was all about.

Mark Zuckerberg during Congress hearing
Image Credit

Apple said it has revoked Facebook’s Enterprise Developer Program, which is a system that allows developers to sidestep Apple’s app store and distribute their applications internally and privately, which is required for various purposes such as bug testing and beta testing of apps. EDC effectively requires use of Root Certificates but should not be used for apps that the general public are using.

Speaking to The Guardian, Apple said that, “We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using its membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of its agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.”

According to the same report published in The Guardian, the crackdown has caused chaos in Facebook’s offices. Apps that have been built using EDC are simply not launching or inoperable. Unreleased versions of internal apps and beta versions of apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Messenger have been rendered inoperable. The ban has also hit company transportation, according to Business Insider.

With a series of privacy related scandals last year and now this incident makes us question the company’s leadership and its instance on user privacy. With the company’s executives boasting that they deeply care about users’ privacy, can we really trust Facebook in the light of this incident? And just how much is Facebook hiding?