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Facebook Continued To Identify Users Who Are Interested in Nazis -- and Then Used the Info To Let Advertisers Target Them, Investigation Finds

0 sec ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Facebook makes money by charging advertisers to reach just the right audience for their message -- even when that audience is made up of people interested in the perpetrators of the Holocaust or explicitly neo-Nazi music. Despite promises of greater oversight following past advertising scandals, a Times review shows that Facebook has continued to allow advertisers to target hundreds of thousands of users the social media firm believes are curious about topics such as "Joseph Goebbels," "Josef Mengele," "Heinrich Himmler," the neo-nazi punk band Skrewdriver and Benito Mussolini's long-defunct National Fascist Party. Experts say that this practice runs counter to the company's stated principles and can help fuel radicalization online. "What you're describing, where a clear hateful idea or narrative can be amplified to reach more people, is exactly what they said they don't want to do and what they need to be held accountable for," said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League's center on extremism. After being contacted by The Times, Facebook said that it would remove many of the audience groupings from its ad platform.

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Japan Wants To Boost the Use of Electric Vehicles as a Power Source During Natural Disasters

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Japan, a country which frequently suffers natural calamities such as tsunamis, typhoons, and earthquakes is looking to further harness the power of batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs) during such disasters, local media reports. From a report: Nissan, which produces the Leaf, the world's best-selling EV model, plans to hold an event in March to let people stay overnight in their cars and try using the electricity stored in their car batteries to simulate the experience of being in an emergency, according to Japanese newswire Jiji. A fully charged electric vehicle can supply power to a standard home for up to four days, a Nissan official told the news outlet. The company last year came to an agreement with Tokyo's Nerima Ward and the city of Yokosuka to provide EVs for free in emergency situations. Nerima also last year (link in Japanese) implemented a system whereby owners of EVs would be able to loan their vehicles out for free to those in need during a disaster, and also started using EVs for its fleet of police patrol cars.

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Amazon To Fund Computer Science Classes at 1,000 US High Schools

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Amazon said its Future Engineer program will fund computer science classes at more than 1,000 high schools in all 50 states by this fall. From a report: This is a rapid expansion for the program that launched in November. Down the road, Amazon aims to reach more than 10 million kids with the coding activities and lessons each year and provide more than 100,000 students in more than 2,000 high schools access to introductory or advanced computer science courses. As part of the program, Amazon also plans to award 100 students with four-year, $10,000 scholarships and paid internships at the company to gain work experience. Future Engineer is part of a larger $50 million investment from Amazon in computer science and STEM education.

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Earth's Atmosphere Extends Much Farther Than Previously Thought

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Contrary to general belief that Earth's atmosphere stops a bit over 62 miles from the surface, a new study based on observations made over two decades ago by the joint US-European Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite shows that it actually extends as far 391,000 miles (630,000 km) or 50 times the Earth's diameter. This makes the Moon a very high altitude aircraft. From a report: Launched on December 2, 1995 atop an Atlas IIAS launcher from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, SOHO is parked in the first Lagrange point (L1) 930,000 miles (1.5 million km) from Earth where it has carried out studies of the Sun and the solar winds, and will continue to do so until at least 2020. From this vantage point, the observatory's Solar Wind Anisotropie (SWAN) instrument is able to measure the presence of hydrogen by looking at the Lyman-alpha line in the solar spectrum. And what works for the Sun, works for Earth. By turning SWAN on the Earth at the right times of the year, SOHO was able to detect hydrogen atoms from the atmosphere and measure how far out they extend into what space scientists call the geocorona. While the existence of the geocorona is well known -- the telescope set up by the Apollo 16 astronauts on the Moon even photographed it -- no one was sure how far out it reaches until now. By looking at data collected by SOHO in the mid 1990s, scientists from Russia's Space Research Institute and elsewhere were able to work out the extent and density of the geocorona. What they found was that sunlight on the day side of the Earth compresses the hydrogen until it reaches a density of 70 atoms per cubic cm at an altitude of 37,000 miles (60,000 km), and on the night side it can expand out until it has a density of only 0.2 atoms per cubic cm at the distance of the Moon's orbit. According to the study leader Igor Baliukin, the geocorona is so tenuous that it poses no hazard to astronauts or spacecraft.

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Google Researchers Say Software Alone Can't Mitigate Spectre Chip Flaws

35 min 34 sec ago
A group of researchers say that it will be difficult to avoid Spectre bugs in the future unless CPUs are dramatically overhauled. From a report: Google researchers say that software alone is not enough to prevent the exploitation of the Spectre flaws present in a variety of CPUs. The team of researchers -- including Ross McIlroy, Jaroslav Sevcik, Tobias Tebbi, Ben L Titzer and Toon Verwaest -- work on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine. The researchers presented their findings in a paper distributed through ArXiv and came to the conclusion that all processors that perform speculative execution will always remain susceptible to various side-channel attacks, despite mitigations that may be discovered in future.

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Linux Foundation Launches ELISA, an Open Source Project For Building Safety-Critical Systems

1 hour 15 min ago
The Linux Foundation today launched Enabling Linux in Safety Applications (ELISA), an open source project comprising tools intended to help companies build and certify Linux-based systems whose failure could result in loss of human life, significant property damage, or environmental damage. From a report: In partnership with British chip designer Arm, BMW, autonomous platforms company Kuka, Linutronix, and Toyota, ELISA will work with certification and standardization bodies in "multiple industries" to establish ways Linux can form the foundation of safety-critical systems across industries.

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Pinterest Cracks Down on Anti-Vaxxers, Pressuring Facebook To Follow

1 hour 52 min ago
Social network Pinterest has taken a big step to stop the spread of false content that is damaging people's health, which could put pressure on competitors to follow. From a report: Pinterest said Wednesday that it would no longer return any search results, including pins and boards, for terms related to vaccinations, whether in favor or against them. It took that step in late 2018 after noticing that the majority of shared images on Pinterest cautioned people against vaccinations, despite medical guidelines demonstrating that most vaccines are safe for most people. Pinterest told CNBC on Wednesday that it's been hard to remove this anti-vaccination content entirely, so it put the ban in place until it can figure out a more permanent strategy. It's working with health experts including doctors, as well as the social media analysis company called Storyful to come up with a better solution, the company said.

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Scientists Dressed Horses Like Zebras To Figure Out Why They Have Stripes

2 hours 36 min ago
Why do zebras have stripes? From a report: Evolutionary biologists have proposed many possible theories, such as camouflage or vision aids for recognizing individual zebras. But in recent years, pest control has emerged as the leading explanation for zebra stripes. Researchers led by Tim Caro, an evolutionary ecologist at UC Davis, set out to test this idea in the field. The results, published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, reveal that stripes are a powerful deterrent to horse flies, a common nuisance that suck blood and bite flesh. The experiment managed to find the most delightful way to help explain these uniquely patterned coats -- by getting horses to cosplay as zebras.

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Oracle Claims a Fighter of Pirated Apps is a Front For Ad Fraud

3 hours 20 min ago
A company that claims to combat app piracy is a pirate itself, according to a report Oracle released this week. From a report: Oracle claims the company, Tapcore, has been perpetrating a massive ad fraud on Android devices by infecting apps with software that ring up fake ad impressions and drain people's data. Based in The Netherlands, Tapcore works with developers to identify when apps are pirated and then enables developers to make money from those bootleg copies by serving ads. Oracle says that Tapcore's anti-piracy code was a Trojan horse that was generating fake mobile websites to trick ad serving platforms into paying them for non-existent ad inventory. "The code is delivering a steady stream of invisible video ads and spoofing domains," Dan Fichter, VP of software development at Oracle Data Cloud, tells Ad Age. "On all those impressions it looked like the advertiser was running ads on legitimate mobile websites. Not only were they not on a website, they were on an invisible web browser." On its website, Tapcore says it works with more than 3,000 apps, serving 150 million ad impressions a day. The apps whose pirated versions it has worked with include titles like "Perfect 365," "Draw Clash of Clans," "Vertex" and "Solitaire: Season 4," according to Oracle's report.

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Montana Legislator Introduces Bills To Give His State His Own Science

4 hours 20 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The legislator in question is Republican Joe Read, who represents an area north of Missoula, home of many fine scientists at the University of Montana. Read has eight bills under consideration in the current session of the legislature, and two of those focus on climate change. One of them focuses on his state's role in any greenhouse gas regulatory program that would be instituted under a future president. Read is apparently unaware of past legal precedent indicating that the federal government has the legal ability to regulate pollutants. Instead, the preamble of the bill seemingly argues that Montana's emissions are all due to commerce that takes place within the state, and thus "any federal greenhouse gas regulatory program in the form of law or rule violates the 10th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States." As a result, the bill would prohibit state agencies, officials, and employees from doing anything to cooperate with federal efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. If passed, the Montana government "may not implement or enforce in any way any federal regulation, rule, or policy implementing a federal greenhouse gas regulatory program." But if you thought Read's grasp of constitutional law was shaky, you should check out his reason for objecting to doing anything about climate change. That's laid out in his second bill, which targets both science education and in-state programs designed to reduce carbon emissions. And it doesn't mince words, suggesting that pretty much all the scientists have it wrong: "the [US] National Climate Assessment makes the same errors as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the National Academy of Sciences is also fundamentally wrong about climate change."

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Severe Vulnerabilities Uncovered In Popular Password Managers

7 hours 20 min ago
chiefcrash shares a report from ZDNet: Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) published an assessment on Tuesday with the results of testing with several popular password managers, including LastPass and KeePass. The team said that each password management solution "failed to provide the security to safeguard a user's passwords as advertised" and "fundamental flaws" were found that "exposed the data they are designed to protect." The vulnerabilities were found in software operating on Windows 10 systems. In one example, the master password which users need to use to access their cache of credentials was stored in PC RAM in a plaintext, readable format. ISE was able to extract these passwords and other login credentials from memory while the password manager in question was locked. It may be possible that malicious programs downloaded to the same machine by threat actors could do the same. The report has summarized the main findings based on each password management solution. Here's what ISE had to say about LastPass and KeePass -- two of the most popular password managers available: "LastPass obfuscates the master password while users are typing in the entry, and when the password manager enters an unlocked state, database entries are only decrypted into memory when there is user interaction. However, ISE reported that these entries persist in memory after the software enters a locked state. It was also possible for the researchers to extract the master password and interacted-with password entries due to a memory leak." "KeePass scrubs the master password from memory and is not recoverable. However, errors in workflows permitted the researchers from extracting credential entries which have been interacted with. In the case of Windows APIs, sometimes, various memory buffers which contain decrypted entries may not be scrubbed correctly."

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NASA Eyes Colossal Cracks In Ice Shelf Near Antarctic Station

10 hours 20 min ago
NASA is keeping an eye on the Brunt Ice Shelf, home to the British Antarctic Survey's Halley VI Research Station, which has growing cracks that are threatening to unload an iceberg soon. "NASA/USGS Landsat satellites are monitoring the action as the cracks grow," reports CNET. "When the iceberg calves, it could be twice the size of New York City. That would make it the largest berg to break off the Brunt ice shelf since observations of the area began in 1915." From the report: An annotated view of the ice shelf shows the cracks as they relate to the Halley VI station. The crack leading up the middle is especially concerning. It's been stable for 35 years, but NASA says it's now extending northward as fast as 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) per year. As of December, Halley station was home to around 30 science and technical staff on missions to study the ice shelf and climate change in the polar region. The BAS completed a relocation of the futuristic-looking Halley station in 2017, placing it farther away from the unpredictable cracking. "It is not yet clear how the remaining ice shelf will respond following the break, posing an uncertain future for scientific infrastructure and a human presence on the shelf that was first established in 1955," NASA says. NASA says iceberg calving is "a normal part of the life cycle of ice shelves, but the recent changes are unfamiliar in this area."

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Israel To Launch First Privately Funded Moon Mission

Wed, 2019-02-20 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: A team of Israeli scientists is to launch what will be the first privately funded mission to land on the moon this week, sending a spacecraft to collect data from the lunar surface. Named Beresheet, the Hebrew word for Genesis, the 585kg (1,290lb) robotic lander will blast off from Florida at 01.45 GMT on Friday, propelled by one of Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. Once it touches down, in several weeks, it will measure the magnetic field of the moon to help understand how it formed. Beresheet will also deposit a "time capsule" of digital files the size of coins containing the Bible, children's drawings, Israel's national anthem and blue and white flag, as well as memories of a Holocaust survivor. While it is not a government-led initiative, the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) corporation joined as a partner. If the mission is successful, Israel will become the fourth country, after Russia, the U.S. and China, to reach the moon. "This is the lowest-budget spacecraft to ever undertake such a mission," an IAI statement said of the $100 million project. "The superpowers who managed to land a spacecraft on the moon have spent hundreds of millions." It added that although it was a private venture, Beresheet was a "national and historic achievement."

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Cybersecurity Expert Questions Existence of Embedded Camera On SIA's Inflight Entertainment Systems

Wed, 2019-02-20 21:10
Vitaly Kamluk, an information security expert and a high-ranking executive of cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, went on Twitter with concerns about an embedded camera in Singapore Airlines' (SIA) inflight entertainment systems. He tagged SIA in his post on Sunday, asking the airline to clarify how the camera is being used. Yahoo News reports: SIA quickly allayed his fears of unwanted surveillance by assuring Kamluk that the cameras have been disabled, with no plans to use them in the future. Not all of their devices sport the camera, though -- SIA explained that only some of its newer inflight entertainment systems come with cameras embedded in the hardware. In another tweet, SIA affirmed that the cameras were already built in by the original equipment manufacturers in newer inflight entertainment systems. Kamluk recommended that it's best to disable the cameras physically -- with stickers, for example -- to provide better peace of mind. In 2017, entertainment device developer Panasonic Avionics said it was studying how eye tracking can be used for a better passenger experience. As the report mentions, "Cameras can be used for identity recognition on planes, which in turn, would allow for in-flight biometric payment (much like Face ID on Apple devices) and personalized services."

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Britain and Germany Will Not Ban Huawei, Citing Lack of Spying Evidence

Wed, 2019-02-20 20:30
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes from a report via Reuters: Despite persistent U.S. allegations of Chinese state spying, Britain said it is able to manage the security risks of using Huawei telecom equipments and has not seen any evidence of malicious activity by the company, a senior official said on Wednesday. Asked later whether Washington had presented Britain with any evidence to support its allegations, he told reporters: "I would be obliged to report if there was evidence of malevolence [...] by Huawei. And we're yet to have to do that. So I hope that covers it." At the same time, German officials have told The Wall Street Journal that the country has made a "preliminary decision" to allow Huawei to bid on contracts for 5G networking. Catering to the surging populism, the U.S. has accused Huawei and other Chinese telecom equipments, along with European cars, as national security risks, even though the National Security Agency, American's cyber spying agency, was found to have wiretapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel, conducted economic espionage against France, and hacked into Chinese networks. Earlier this week, beleaguered Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei described the continued investigations by the U.S. into the Chinese firm -- including the arrest of his daughter and company CFO, Meng Wanzhou -- as politically motivated.

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Google Is Expected To Reveal Game Streaming Service At GDC In March

Wed, 2019-02-20 19:50
Google has sent out invites to this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC) press event, where the company is expected to unveil a new game streaming product. ExtremeTech reports: There have been rumors about a Google game stream product or service for several years. Initially, leaks pointed to a hardware platform called Yeti that would stream games to a connected display. In late 2018, Google rolled out a game streaming test called Project Stream. To publicize the demo, it worked with Ubisoft to give everyone free access to the new Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Google wrapped up Project Stream in early 2019, offering players a free copy of Assassin's Creed Odyssey as thanks. Of course, you'd need a real gaming PC to run that version. Google's GDC event will take place on March 19th at 10 AM Pacific. All we know for sure is that Google is there to talk about a gaming project. It just seems extremely likely that it will be a new phase for Project Stream. It might remain browser-only, but Google does have a giant network of TV's out there with Chromecast streaming dongles plugged in. If it could leverage those to stream games, it could instantly have as many eyeballs as Sony or Microsoft.

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Vox Lawyers Briefly Censored YouTubers Who Mocked the Verge's Bad PC Build Video

Wed, 2019-02-20 19:10
An anonymous reader writes: In case you missed the latest drama to take place in the YouTube tech community, Ars Technica reports how Vox Media attempted to copyright strike two reaction videos that mocked The Verge's terrible PC build guide video that could have ruined a $2,000 system for a beginner PC builder. That effort failed when the tech community sounded the alarms; YouTube removed the copyright strikes and Vox Media had to retract their takedown notice. From the report: "Last week, The Verge got a reminder about the power of the Streisand effect after its lawyers issued copyright takedown requests for two YouTube videos that criticized -- and heavily excerpted -- a video by The Verge. Each takedown came with a copyright 'strike.' It was a big deal for the creators of the videos, because three 'strikes' in a 90-day period are enough to get a YouTuber permanently banned from the platform. T.C. Sottek, the Verge's managing editor, blamed lawyers at the Verge's parent company, Vox Media, for the decision. 'The Verge's editorial structure was involved zero percent in the decision to issue a strike,' Sottek said in a direct message. 'Vox Media's legal team did this independently and informed us of it after the fact.' The move sparked an online backlash. Verge editor Nilay Patel (who, full disclosure, was briefly a colleague of mine at The Verge's sister publication Vox.com), says that when he learned about the decision, he asked that the strike be rescinded, leading to the videos being reinstated. Still, Patel defended the lawyers' legal reasoning, arguing that the videos 'crossed the line' into copyright infringement. It's hard to be sure if this is true since there are very few precedents in this area of the law. But the one legal precedent I was able to find suggests the opposite: that this kind of video is solidly within the bounds of copyright's fair use doctrine."

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A Psion Palmtop Successor Has Arrived and It Runs Android and Linux

Wed, 2019-02-20 18:30
dryriver writes: A lot of people probably remember the 1990s palmtop computers made by Psion fondly. The clamshell-design palmtops were pocketable, black and white, but had a working stylus and a fantastic tactile foldout QWERTY keyboard that you could type pretty substantial documents on or even write code with. A different company -- Planet Computers -- has now produced a spiritual successor to the old Psion palmtops called the Gemini PDA that is much like an old Psion but with the latest Android smartphone hardware in it and a virtually identical tactile keyboard. It can also dual boot to Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Sailfish) alongside Android. The technical specs are a MediaTek deca-core processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (plus microSD slot), 4G, 802.11c Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, eSIM support, and 4,220mAh battery. The screen measures in at 5.99-inches with a 2,160 x 1,080 (403ppi) resolution. The only thing missing seems to be the stylus -- but perhaps that would have complicated manufacturing of this niche-device in its first production run.

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Are We Ready For 5G Phones?

Wed, 2019-02-20 17:50
Next-generation 5G networks are very much in their infancy right now, but that's not stopping smartphone manufacturers from teasing new 5G phones. At Samsung's Galaxy S10 launch event today, Samsung teased the Galaxy S10 5G, a top-tier model of the Galaxy S10 that offers 5G mobile data connectivity. "The device, which has a larger screen and battery than the S10 Plus, will temporarily be a Verizon Wireless exclusive before expanding to other carriers in the weeks after launch," reports The Verge. "It will go on sale sometime 'in the first half of 2019." Late last year, LG confirmed that its first U.S. 5G phone would debut on Sprint "in the first half of 2019," just as Sprint launches its 5G network. At around the same time, Lenovo unveiled the Moto Z3, a phone that only connects to 5G with a MotoMod modular accessory. It too is expected to arrive early this year -- but there's no mention of how much it'll cost. OnePlus, Nokia, and Huawei are also working on 5G phones expected to arrive sometime this year. The question is: are we ready for 5G phones? Three of the four largest carriers in the U.S. have only just started offering 5G service in select cities. Sprint, the fourth largest U.S. telecommunications company, hasn't even reached this step. Just like the first 4G phones to hit the market, these first-of-their-kind 5G devices look to merely symbolize what the next decade of mobile computing has in store.

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Disney, Nestle, and Others Are Pulling YouTube Ads Following Child Exploitation Controversy

Wed, 2019-02-20 17:11
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Disney is said to have pulled its advertising spending from YouTube, joining other companies including Nestle, after a blogger detailed how comments on Google's video site were being used to facilitate a "soft-core pedophilia ring." Some of the videos involved ran next to ads placed by Disney and Nestle. All Nestle companies in the U.S. have paused advertising on YouTube, a spokeswoman for the company said Wednesday in an email. Video game maker Epic Games and German packaged food giant Dr. August Oetker KG also said they had postponed YouTube spending after their ads were shown to play before the videos. Disney has also withheld its spending. On Sunday, Matt Watson, a video blogger, posted a 20-minute clip detailing how comments on YouTube were used to identify certain videos in which young girls were in activities that could be construed as sexually suggestive, such as posing in front of a mirror and doing gymnastics. Watson's video demonstrated how, if users clicked on one of the videos, YouTube's algorithms recommended similar ones. By Wednesday, Watson's video had been viewed more than 1.7 million times. Total ad spending on the videos mentioned was less than $8,000 within the last 60 days, and YouTube plans refunds, the spokeswoman said. Two years ago, Verizon, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and other major companies pulled their ads from YouTube after learning that some of their ads surfaced next to extremist and violent content. Yesterday, YouTube released an updated policy about how it will handle content that "crosses the line" of appropriateness. "Any content -- including comments -- that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube. We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments," a spokeswoman for YouTube said in an email.

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