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Updated: 12 min 13 sec ago

Amazon's Creepy Twitter PR Army is Growing

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 13:05
On Wednesday, a horde of Amazon employees rushed to defend the honor of the world's richest man. From a report: The employees -- known as "FC ambassadors," for Amazon's Orwellian-sounding "fulfillment center" warehouses -- flooded into the mentions of several Twitter users. This isn't the first time these accounts have attracted attention. Earlier this year, the accounts descended on Twitter with coordinated anti-union talking points. The FC Ambassador program made its debut last August and also seemed to coordinate talking points about how great it was to work at Amazon. The program backfired most recently after a Twitter thread of FC ambassadors went viral, with many people saying the tweets were dark or dystopian (others raised doubts about their legitimacy). When TechCrunch first covered the Amazon FC Ambassador accounts in August 2018, there were around 14 accounts. That army has grown. This week, Motherboard found more than 40 FC Ambassador accounts on Twitter which appear to be genuine. Open source intelligence collective Bellingcat did their own investigation, and found close to 60 accounts. The accounts are spread across the world, with users not just based in the U.S., but Spain, the UK, Germany, and elsewhere too.

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UPS Has Been Delivering Cargo in Self-Driving Trucks for Months And No One Knew

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 12:27
The self-driving freight truck startup TuSimple has been carrying mail across the state of Arizona for several weeks. From a report: UPS announced on Thursday that its venture capital arm has made a minority investment in TuSimple. The announcement also revealed that since May TuSimple autonomous trucks have been hauling UPS loads on a 115-mile route between Phoenix and Tucson. UPS confirmed to Gizmodo this is the first time UPS has announced it has been using TuSimple autonomous trucks to deliver packages in the state. Around the same time as the UPS and TuSimple program began, the United States Postal Service and TuSimple publicized a two-week pilot program to deliver mail between Phoenix and Dallas, a 1,000 mile trip. TuSimple claims it can cut the average cost of shipping in a tractor-trailer by 30 percent. In an announcement about the new partnership, UPS Ventures managing partner, Todd Lewis, said the venture arm "collaborates with startups to explore new technologies and tailor them to help meet our specific needs."

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Hundreds of Thousands of People Are Using Passwords That Have Already Been Hacked, Google Says

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 11:45
A new Google study this week confirmed the obvious: internet users need to stop using the same password for multiple websites unless they're keen on having their data hijacked, their identity stolen, or worse. From a report: It seems like not a day goes by without a major company being hacked or leaving user email addresses and passwords exposed to the public internet. These login credentials are then routinely used by hackers to hijack your accounts, a threat that's largely mitigated by using a password manager and unique password for each site you visit. Sites like "have I been pwned?" can help users track if their data has been exposed, and whether they need to worry about their credentials bouncing around the dark web. But it's still a confusing process for many users unsure of which passwords need updating. To that end, last February Google unveiled a new experimental Password Checkup extension for Chrome. The extension warns you any time you log into a website using one of over 4 billion publicly-accessible usernames and passwords that have been previously exposed by a major hack or breach, and prompts you to change your password when necessary. The extension was built in concert with cryptography experts at Stanford University to ensure that Google never learns your usernames or passwords, the company says in an explainer. Anonymous telemetry data culled from the extension has provided Google with some interesting information on how widespread the practice of account hijacking and non-unique passwords really is.

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YouTube Shuts Down Music Companies' Use of Manual Copyright Claims To Steal Creator Revenue

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 11:05
YouTube is making a change to its copyright enforcement policies around music used in videos, which may result in an increased number of blocked videos in the shorter term -- but overall, a healthier ecosystem in the long-term. From a report: Going forward, copyright owners will no longer be able to monetize creator videos with very short or unintentional uses of music via YouTube's "Manual Claiming" tool. Instead, they can choose to prevent the other party from monetizing the video or they can block the content. However, YouTube expects that by removing the option to monetize these sorts of videos themselves, some copyright holders will instead just leave them alone. "One concerning trend we've seen is aggressive manual claiming of very short music clips used in monetized videos. These claims can feel particularly unfair, as they transfer all revenue from the creator to the claimant, regardless of the amount of music claimed," explained YouTube in a blog post. To be clear, the changes only involve YouTube's Manual Claiming tool which is not how the majority of copyright violations are handled today. Instead, the majority of claims are created through YouTube's Content ID match system. This system scans videos uploaded to YouTube against a database of files submitted to the site by copyright owners. Then, when a match is found, the copyright holder owner can choose to block the video or monetize it themselves, and track the video's viewership stats.

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Twitter Leads $100M Round in Top Indian Regional Social Media Platform ShareChat

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 10:20
Is there room for another social media platform? ShareChat, a four-year-old social network in India that serves tens of million of people in regional languages, just answered that question with a $100 million financing round led by global giant Twitter. From a report: ShareChat serves 60 million users each month in 15 regional languages, Ankush Sachdeva, co-founder and CEO of the firm, told TechCrunch in an interview. The platform currently does not support English, and has no plans to change that, Sachdeva said. That choice is what has driven users to ShareChat, he explained. The early incarnation of the social media platform supported English language. It saw most of its users choose English as their preferred language, but this also led to another interesting development: Their engagement with the app significantly reduced.

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New Bluetooth KNOB Flaw Lets Attackers Manipulate Traffic

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 09:41
A new Bluetooth vulnerability named "KNOB" has been disclosed that allow attackers to more easily brute force the encryption key used during pairing to monitor or manipulate the data transferred between two paired devices. From a report: In a coordinated disclosure between Center for IT-Security, Privacy and Accountability (CISPA), ICASI, and ICASI members such as Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Cisco, and Amazon, a new vulnerability called "KNOB" has been disclosed that affects Bluetooth BR/EDR devices, otherwise known as Bluetooth Classic, using specification versions 1.0 - 5.1. This flaw has been assigned CVE ID CVE-2019-9506 and allows an attacker to reduce the length of the encryption key used for establishing a connection. In some cases, an attacker could reduce the length of an encryption key to a single octet. "The researchers identified that it is possible for an attacking device to interfere with the procedure used to set up encryption on a BR/EDR connection between two devices in such a way as to reduce the length of the encryption key used," stated an advisory on Bluetooth.com. "In addition, since not all Bluetooth specifications mandate a minimum encryption key length, it is possible that some vendors may have developed Bluetooth products where the length of the encryption key used on a BR/EDR connection could be set by an attacking device down to a single octet."

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AOL Held Talks To Buy YouTube, Facebook in 2006, Ex-CEO Reveals

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 09:00
Add another chapter to your internet revisionist history books: AOL held talks to buy both Facebook and YouTube in 2006 and considered taking a large minority stake in Tencent in 2004. From a report: Obviously none of this happened -- and the board of Time Warner is to blame, said ex-AOL CEO Jon Miller in an exclusive CNBC interview. Miller has never discussed the failed talks publicly before. Miller said he discussed buying YouTube from the founders, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, in January and July 2006. He spoke with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the spring of that year, he said. The Tencent talks were held in 2004, Miller said. "We wanted to take some shots," Miller said. "We had a line on buying YouTube before anybody else. We had an opportunity to step in with Facebook when Yahoo stumbled. We had a chance to maybe to step in to Tencent."

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