Tech News Feed

Oracle is reviewing TikTok's algorithms and content moderation systems

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-16 13:17

Oracle has put TikTok's algorithms and content moderation models under its microscope in an attempt to make sure Chinese officials aren't meddling with them. TikTok is in the process of moving all of the data it has on US users to Oracle cloud storage based in the country. Oracle's audit is said to have started last week, after TikTok started routing all new traffic from US users through the former's systems.

A spokesperson told Axios that the reviews examine how TikTok's algorithms — the app's secret sauce — bubble up content "to ensure that outcomes are in line with expectations and that the models have not been manipulated in any way." Engadget has asked Oracle for clarification on what it means by manipulation in this context. On the moderation side, Oracle will regularly look at TikTok's practices related to both automation and human content reviewers.

In 2020, the Trump administration attempted to force through a sale of TikTok to a US company. Former President Donald Trump gave tentative approval to a deal that would have seen Oracle and Walmart run the American side of the business, but that didn't transpire.

Meanwhile, TikTok has committed to being more transparent and it's trying to convince regulators and lawmakers that US user data is secure. CEO Shou Zi Chew recently wrote in a letter to nine Republican senators that TikTok was "working with Oracle on new, advanced data security controls that we hope to finalize in the near future."

The senators asked a question about engineers at TikTok's parent company ByteDance playing a part in shaping the app's algorithms. "ByteDance engineers around the world may assist in developing those algorithms, however our solution with Oracle will ensure that training of the TikTok algorithm only occurs in the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and will also ensure appropriate third-party security vetting and validation of the algorithm," Chew wrote in his response

In June, BuzzFeed News reported that China-based ByteDance engineers repeatedly accessed non-public data on TikTok's American users. Chew said those workers were only able to access such information with "robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our US-based security team" in place.

The report led to Brendan Carr, the Federal Communication Commission's senior Republican commissioner, urging Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores. Amid the scandal, TikTok's global security chief stepped down last month.

Best Rust Remover in 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 13:00
We tested multiple rust dissolvers to find out which ones were best for loosening rusty bolts and screws.

Amazon Accuses FTC of Harassing Bezos in 'Burdensome' Probe

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:56 accused the US Federal Trade Commission of harassing its founder Jeff Bezos and the company's Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy as it probes the e-commerce giant's business practices. From a report: In a filing made public on Monday, Amazon claimed that FTC staff have made "unduly burdensome" demands as the agency investigates whether the company's subscription services, including Amazon Prime, violate consumer protection laws. The online retailer is seeking to quash or limit the FTC's most recent civil investigative demands, which are similar to subpoenas. Amazon said the FTC's requests are "unworkable for Amazon to discern the information staff demands and to respond in the timeframe allowed." The FTC, which has both antitrust and consumer protection mandates, has been investigating Amazon for potential anticompetitive conduct for several years. The filing offers an unusually public glimpse into the ongoing struggle between one of the world's biggest companies and one of its regulators. FTC Chair Lina Khan, who took over the position in June 2021, has escalated the investigation, shaking up the team, re-interviewing potential witnesses and asking questions about the company's recent acquisition of MGM Studios, Bloomberg reported in May

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NGO says Facebook failed to detect misinformation in Brazilian election ads

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:43

Less than two months before Brazil’s 2022 election, a report from international NGO Global Witness found Facebook parent company Meta “appallingly” failed to detect false political ads. The organization tested Facebook’s ability to catch election-related misinformation by submitting 10 ads.

Five of the advertisements featured blatantly false information about the election. For instance, some mentioned the wrong election date and methods citizens could use to cast their votes. The other five ads sought to discredit Brazil’s electoral process, including the electronic voting system the country has used since 1996. Of the 10 ads, Facebook only rejected one initially but later approved it without any further action from Global Witness.

In addition to their content, the ads had other red flags Global Witness contends Meta should have caught. To start, the non-profit did not verify the account it used to submit the advertisements through the company’s ad authorizations process. “This is a safeguard that Meta has in place to prevent election interference, but we were easily able to bypass this,” Global Witness said.

Additionally, the organization submitted the ads from London and Nairobi. In doing so, it did not need to use a VPN or local payment system to mask its identity. Moreover, the ads did not feature a “paid for by” disclaimer, which Meta notes all “social issue” advertisements in Brazil must include by June 22, 2022.

“What’s quite clear from the results of this investigation and others is that their content moderation capabilities and the integrity systems that they deploy in order to mitigate some of the risk during election periods, it’s just not working,” Jon Lloyd, senior advisor at Global Witness, told The Associated Press.

Meta did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment. A Meta spokesperson told The Associated Press it has “prepared extensively” for Brazil’s upcoming election. “We’ve launched tools that promote reliable information and label election-related posts, established a direct channel for the Superior Electoral Court (Brazil’s electoral authority) to send us potentially-harmful content for review, and continue closely collaborating with Brazilian authorities and researchers,” the company said.

This isn’t the first time Global Witness has found Facebook’s election safeguards wanting. Earlier this year, the non-profit conducted a similar investigation ahead of Kenya’s recent election and reached many of the same conclusions. Then, as now, Global Witness called on Meta to strengthen and increase its content moderation and integrity systems.

Best Washing Machine for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:34
If you're looking for a budget-friendly washing machine, a splurge model with loads of features or a unit to fit that small space, these are the best washing machines to buy right now.

See Endangered Red Wolf Pups Caught on Camera in Rare Footage - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:32
US Fish and Wildlife estimates there are only about 20 of the animals in the wild.

2023 Mazda3 Earns Small Power, Price Bumps - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:30
Naturally aspirated models net an extra 5 horsepower, but the base 2.0-liter engine is no longer available.

FDA greenlights over-the-counter hearing aids

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:27

Over-the-counter hearing aid sales should soon become a practical reality in the US. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a final rule allowing the sales of hearing aids for mild-to-moderate impairment without requirements for exams, prescriptions or audiologist fittings. The measure is expected to take effect in mid-October, when you should see aids reach physical retail stores.

You'll still need a prescription for severe hearing loss, or for anyone under 18. The FDA has also set design and performance requirements for over-the-counter aids, and has tweaked rules for prescriptions to ensure "consistency." The definitive rule comes in response to public and industry feedback, including lower maximum sound output, a requirement for user volume control and canal depth limits.

Congress first passed laws requiring over-the-counter hearing aids in 2017 in a bid to lower healthcare costs, improve access and spur competition. In theory, you would see more people wearing the devices as access and technology improve. However, the FDA didn't propose the necessary rule to fully implement the wearables until October 2021.

It could be awhile before there's a wide range of choices, but there are already offerings here or in the works. Lexie, for instance, recently began selling the $899 B1 using technology from Bose's reportedly defunct hearing aid division. Companies like Jabra have also leaped in early. The prices aren't trivial, but they're relative bargains when aids have historically cost thousands of dollars before insurance.

Nintendo Switch Online Is Adding Wave Race 64 This Week - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:20
The classic racing game hits the service Aug. 19.

Judge Approves Apple's $30.5M Settlement Over Employee Bag Checks - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:10
The class action lawsuit argued that hourly retail workers deserved compensation for time spent going through mandatory bag and equipment checks.

My Favorite Quest 2 Head Strap is Just $15 Right Now - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:06
Make those marathon sessions of Beat Saber and Pistol Whip much more comfortable for just $15.

Losses From Crypto Hacks Surged 60% To $1.9 Billion From January To July, Chainalysis Says

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:05
Losses arising from cryptocurrency hacks jumped nearly 60% in the first seven months of the year to $1.9 billion, propelled by a surge in funds stolen from decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, according to a blog post from blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis released on Tuesday. From a report: In the same period last year, stolen funds from hacking amounted to $1.2 billion. DeFi applications, many of which run on the Ethereum blockchain, are financial platforms that enable crypto-denominated lending outside of traditional banks.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hit Your Wellness Goals With Help From Amazon Halo Devices While They Are Up to 45% Off - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:01
Looking for a Fitbit alternative? The swimproof Halo Band and Halo View fitness trackers could be just what you bargained for.

10 College Wardrobe Essentials to Put on Your Packing List - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:00
Going to school and not sure what to pack? Here are the top 10 college wardrobe necessities recommended by a recent college grad.

The 700 Series From Ride1Up: An E-Bike to Replace Your Car - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:00
The 700 Series from Ride1Up is a fantastic e-bike that almost made my car obsolete -- and with gas prices these days, that's a big deal for me.

Drop's Newest Keyboards Contain Secrets for 'Lord of the Rings' Fans to Discover - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:00
You've got two choices in Lord of the Rings keyboards, and they're both going to make any Tolkien fan very happy.

Jurassic World's DinoTracker AR Puts Raptors in Your Yard With Pokemon Go Tech - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:00
It would be more fun if this were a real Pokemon Go alternative.

The 10 Biggest Banks in the US - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 12:00
We've listed the biggest banks in the US based on their total assets owned.

Amazon Air freight hub workers walked out to protest pay and conditions

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-16 11:46

Dozens of workers at a key Amazon Air cargo hub in California walked out mid-shift on Monday to protest pay and safety conditions. More than 150 of the 1,500 employees at the San Bernardino facility took part in the stoppage, according to The Washington Post. Amazon has disputed that figure by claiming that roughly 74 people walked off the job.

This was said to be the first coordinated labor action in the company's air freight division, taking place at the largest Amazon Air hub in California. The action was led by workers who are organizing as a group called Inland Empire Amazon Workers United.

The alliance has urged Amazon to increase the base pay rate from $17 per hour to $22 at the facility, which is known as KSBD. Amazon said that full-time workers have benefits and can earn up to $19.25 per hour.

Inland Empire Amazon Workers United has also called out working conditions, claiming that temperatures reached 95 degrees at the airport on 24 days in July, as CNBC reports. Managers are said to have opened more rest areas after previous complaints about the heat. “They say there is air conditioning, but you can only feel it in some sections," Daniel Rivera, a leader of the stoppage, told the Post. An Amazon spokesperson claimed the highest recorded temperature in the hub is 77 degrees.

The workers who walked out don't currently have plans to file for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, but they are open to the idea amid a wave of unionization efforts across the company. Amazon has appealed against a union victory in Staten Island, New York. The results of a second election at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, were too close to call and hundreds of votes have been challenged.