China bans Facebook messaging service WhatsApp

The Chinese government has disabled Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp, the New York Times reports.

Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Paris-based research firm Symbolic Software, told the Times his company began noticing slowdowns in the service Wednesday. By Monday, the block had become comprehensive.

Authorities blocked video-chat and file-sharing functions within WhatsApp in mid-July, but the app’s messaging capabilities, which employ a rare and strong form of encryption, remained functional. The government lifted bans on video chat and file sharing later, but has since disabled the app in its entirety, reports say.

WhatsApp’s messaging service uses a renowned end-to-end encryption technique. As the Times explains it, even Facebook itself cannot decode messages sent via the app. The encryption method is not widely used and is therefore difficult to compromise.

But the ban, as the Times points out, indicates that Chinese authorities have developed a means by which to breach WhatsApp messaging encryption.

“This is not the typical technical method in which the Chinese government censors something,” Kobeissi said.

Censorship of various technological communication services is commonplace in the country. If the government does not disable a service entirely, it slows down that service to such a degree that it becomes unusable.

“If you’re only allowed to drive one mile per hour, you’re not going to drive on that road, even if it’s not technically blocked,” Lokman Tsui, an internet communications specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, explained to the Times.

The goal of the censorship is to funnel users toward a handful of communication services that the government can easily monitor. WeChat is one such service. It is similar to WhatsApp except that the former, according to the Times, offers broader functionality.

Tencent, the company that runs WeChat, is based in Shenzhen and has said that it will comply with the government’s requests for information. In total, 963 million people use WeChat, the Times says.

Services like WhatsApp and WeChat have largely replaced e-mail in China, and are vital to many business operations. A large number of China-based businesses were unwilling to use WeChat, whether because of the threat of surveillance or some other reason.

Some former WhatsApp users in China expressed frustration on social media, the Times reports.

“Losing contact with my clients, forced back to the age of telephone and email for work now,” one user complained on Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging site.

“Even WhatsApp is blocked now? I’m going to be out of business soon,” another person said via the same site.

WhatsApp was the last Facebook product available in mainland China, the Times says. The country banned the company’s main social media site in 2009. Instagram, another Facebook offering, is disabled as well.

The WhatsApp ban represents a setback for the social media behemoth, whose founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has been advocating and taking steps toward re-entering the Chinese market.

The handful of American-created communication services China does tolerate include Microsoft’s Skype and Apple’s FaceTime. The former does not employ end-to-end encryption, the Times points out, and is, therefore, easier for the government to monitor. The latter does use end-to-end encryption but is less secure than WhatsApp.

The Times notes that the Office of the United States Trade Representative is investigating whether Chinese authorities have violated the intellectual property rights of American citizens. The Office has not clarified whether it will consider the bans as part of the investigation, or merely look for cases in which China has stolen US technology.

The WhatsApp ban comes just prior to the country’s Communist Party Congress on October 18, during which authorities appoint the leaders of the party, who in turn run the country.

According to the Times, the meeting, which the country holds once every five years, will likely reinstall President Xi Jinping as party leader. The question remains as to who will join Xi on the Standing Committee of Politburo, the party’s highest ranking group.

Under Xi’s leadership, the Times notes, China has tightened censorship, closed several churches and jailed a number of human rights activists.

Featured image via Pixabay

Facebook is making moves in the realm of video

In an effort to break into the video entertainment market, Facebook is introducing a new video platform called Watch. The platform will be made available to a select group of Facebook users today. Everyone else will have to wait to try it.

In making this move, Facebook is most likely looking to open up new sources of revenue. If Facebook Watch catches on, users will spend more time on Facebook watching TV-length videos. That means that users will be exposed to more ads, thus generating more revenue for Facebook. And users won’t be required to pay for a subscription.

According to Facebook, Watch will be special among streaming video platforms because it can make TV-watching more social. Users will be able to comment on videos and to see what videos their friends are watching and commenting on. Each user will be watching alongside all two billion other Facebook users.

Watch will have two main components: a watchlist and a discovery section. The discovery section will be a feed of videos curated for you based on your Facebook profile. It will also suggest videos to you based on your friends’ activity on Facebook. It will include subdivisions such as “Most talked about” and “What’s making people laugh,” which is made up of videos that many people responded to with “Haha.”

Although Facebook has a huge user base, it still has ways to go in the realm of online video. Netflix, Youtube, Amazon, and Hulu have already come to dominate the market. Users may be reluctant to migrate their TV-watching time from those services over to Facebook Watch.

Facebook will offer a wide variety of programming on Watch. Some shows will focus on direct communication with their audiences through social media. Other shows might have long narrative arcs, like conventional TV shows.

So far, the list of programs available on the platform includes Gabby BernsteinNas Daily, Returning the Favor, and Kitchen Little, among others. Additionally, Facebook has permission from Major League Baseball to broadcast one game live per week.

Facebook funded these early programs in order to “seed the system,” but it does not intend to continue to fund new shows for very long. Eventually, anyone will be able to post videos to Watch, but they won’t get any money from Facebook to get going. By then, Facebook plans to take 45% of ad revenue from shows on Watch.

You can read Facebook’s statement on the launch of Watch here.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Facebook to Allow Publishers a Subscription Fee

Facebook is planning a new tool that would establish a means of adding subscriptions to news organizations that publish directly on the social media outlet. The intention behind this new tool is to help pacify the tension the social media giant and publishers, who find their audiences shifting more to what becomes available on Facebook.

The potential newly innovated tool will be included by Facebook’s Instant Article product, which allows new media companies to publish their articles directly onto Facebook, granting immediate access to the article, instead of transporting readers to the news website.

While the details are still in its preliminary stages, it has been theorized that Facebook may be introducing a metered pay wall product similar to those used already by the news publishers. For example, after reading a set amount of articles on Facebook by a particular news provider, a user will be sent to that news provider’s subscription page to continue reading more articles.

Before Facebooks has a large rollout, it plans to start a smaller pilot with a group of publishers using the tool in October, and should the tool prove promising, then the early initiatives will be expanded. It has not been established which publishers will be included in the pilot testing, not any details regarding the types of publishers based on size, frequency or popularity.

Tensions have increasingly risen with the advent of online platforms like Facebook and Google amassing more readers through their mass influence, allowing them to expand into the consumer digital advertising market. The constant increase of control over the online distribution of news has threatened publishers’ business model, stimulating a response by publishers to gain group bargaining rights enabling more effective negotiations with online platforms.

While nearly all publishers have adjusted their priorities to increases digital revenue, most are still seeking profitable long term solutions. Publishers recognize the importance and mainstream relevance of online platforms, as well as their role as a medium for allowing articles to be broadcasted to larger audiences.

However, these also include serious drawbacks for publishers, as they lose valuable ties to their readers, making loyal relationship building far more difficult, while also affecting subscriber data and payment connections. Publishers fear that readers are becoming more and more accustomed, which they are, to staying in Facebook to consume news, instead of visiting directly the publisher’s websites, threatening both future growth and livelihood.

Facebook on the other hand has also received criticism from publishers regarding the ability to distribute false or unverified articles that push an agenda or for the sake of trolling that readers can mistake for real. This propagating of false news has been an already reported issue that other companies such as Twitter have been developing means to filter and restrict its spread.

This is also an important issue for Facebook as other companies have been able to use the tensions between Facebook and publishers’ wariness to their advantage. Google has introduced its AMP tool that offers a way to expedite the delivery of partner’s articles in search results, while Amazon in the meantime has been paying publishers to post articles on Spark, its commerce-related social network.

This move by Facebook may offer a way of dealing not only with the tensions between the two parties, but also as a means of dealing with other issues including regulatory and antitrust scrutiny. Furthermore, a Facebook subscription offer would move the platform to closer regulating the relationship with the reader, capitalizing on a role previously filled by the news outlets themselves.

While it is not clear as to whether Facebook will benefit financially from a new subscription feature, but the feature does encourage more time spent on the social media site, and helps foster more attachment to the services provided. There are some issues regarding the number of publishers that will be allowed to post directly to Facebook, as there is a chance for this to be exploited by users by staggering the number of articles they read per month from each unique publisher. In this case, users will be able to benefit without needing to pay, which may result in some serious consequences on Facebook’s part.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Beijing Blocks WhatsApp Access in Mainland China

Chinese users have reported trouble regarding the use of WhatsApp instant messaging tool on Tuesday. Many suspect that Beijing is responsible for the issues that are arising as part of its latest regulations on internet use.

The issues included involved being unable to send or receive photos using the chat app, which is owned by Facebook, without the use of a VPN. Beijing has had previous issues regarding VPNs, and they have made multiple attempts to encourage telecoms to prevent individual access to VPNs. VPNs are used to bypass Beijing’s censorship program by rerouting internet traffic elsewhere, usually to a foreign IP address.

Beijing efforts to tighten internet security is motivated by their intentions to block any websites with information that could be critical of the Communist Party including YouTube, Twitter, and foreign news sites. While the information itself is not necessarily censored, access to the information is blocked preventing the information from being seen in mainland China. In response, many proxy websites that fulfill a similar function rise in order to provide the original site’s services without broadcasting any potential criticism.

The suspicions that Beijing is involved come at the results of a test conducted by the South China Morning Post on Tuesday afternoon. Two users registered with mainland Chinese mobile numbers were unable to send neither videos nor pictures to each other via WhatsApp. One of the users then tried to send both a video and a picture to an overseas number, which resulted in a failed transmission. The overseas user then sent a video and a picture to the mainland Chinese mobile user, and while the message did go through, all the Chinese user could see was a loading thumbnail that failed to fully load and display its message.

However, there were no problems when sending text messages to one another, which included media content as well, and all functions and services provided by WhatsApp were restored upon the use of a VPN. This suggests that there was some involvement that restricted messaging, and that these restrictions applied only to WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is one of the few messaging services available in mainland China that is foreign based. While not as popular as the local app WeChat, which acts as a more readily accessible and offers less noticeably regulated services, WhatsApp still fulfills a competitive niche thanks to its end-to-end encryption.

WeChat, which is owned by the dominant tech company Tencent, has been found to be censoring messages deemed sensitive by Beijing without notifying its users. While this does occur, the app is still popular because it does not require a VPN to function properly.

Users began noticing troubles with WhatsApp early in the morning on Tuesday, but found that other apps on their mobile devices, including WeChat, were functioning without issues. A member of a non-governmental labor welfare group in Shenzen mentioned regular use of WhatsApp for work based communication due to the security and privacy it provides. Instead of switching over to WeChat to communicate with his colleagues, the man refrained from contacting his colleagues at all, as WeChat and text messaging were not viably safe options.

Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook have made any statements regarding Chinese censorship. However, Facebook’s social networking site and its photo-sharing services provided by Instagram are both blocked in China and have been for a long while now. Other foreign based chat and media sharing apps that have been blocked in mainland China include Tokyo-based Line and Berlin-based Telegram.

If businesses wishing to penetrate Chinese markets want to be successful, then they need to take major considerations regarding the government’s regulations on especially foreign based companies. If they fail to do so, then any invest into the Chinese market will come up short as the services provided are at a larger than usual risk of being shut down or restricted.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Snap Shares Dip Below IPO Price, Selloff Expected

Shares of Snap, Inc. were valued at $16.99 when the market closed Monday, marking the first time the stock has dipped below its $17 IPO price since the company went public in March.

The drop comes as the market anticipates a massive selloff of Snap stock when a lockup period, which prevented investors who bought Snap’s IPO from offloading their shares, expires on July 29. At that point, more than 60% of Snap’s stock will become eligible to be sold.

Snap entered the public market with a $24 billion valuation, one of the loftiest ever amongst technology companies. Investors bought in, despite Snap’s 61.7 price-to-sales ratio. Following the IPO, the stock rose 41%, opening its first trading day at $24.

But when the company’s first public earnings report, published in May, came in below analysts’ projections, the stock dropped 25% almost instantaneously.

Since then, Snap’s market capitalization has fallen more than $10 billion, from $31 billion to $20 billion. Still, the market values the stock at 20 times the company’s expected 2017 sales, according to Fortune’s Jen Wieczner. When Snap publishes last quarter’s sales report later the summer, the stock is likely to drop even further.

When Snap’s new strategy to attract advertisers to Snap hit a snag earlier this year, Stephen Ju, an analyst for Credit Suisse, lowered his projections of Snap’s revenue last quarter: Credit Suisse no longer believes Snap’s 2017 revenue will crack the $1 billion threshold.

The financial analysis group dropped its target price for Snap from $30 to $25, but still gives Snap an “outperform” rating.

“While we were hoping for Snap to exhibit a more comfortable growth path, we are reminded that nascent companies sometimes grow in fits and starts,” Ju said in explanation of the drop in the target price.

The social media sector as a whole has performed well in the stock market over the last quarter. Since April 11, Facebook stock has risen 10%. Twitter shares have risen almost 30% since the same date.

The number of daily active users of Snap increased just 5% from the final quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2017. In the first half of last year, Snap’s user base grew about 15% per quarter, but it has grown an average of just 5% per quarter over the last three-quarters.

Many have compared recent investment trends toward social media and other technology sectors to the dot-com boom of the 1990s. People who have never before dipped a single toe into the stock market are snapping up technology stocks as though they have been investing for years.

Robinhood, a stock trading app, reported that 43% of those who traded on Snap’s first day bought shares in the startup social media company. The median age of those Snap investors was 26.

An overwhelming majority of Snap’s users occupy the 14-35 year old demographic, so it stands to reason that a sizable portion of the company’s investors are similarly aged.

“It’s hard to believe that such rookie investors would be equipped to successfully trade a stock like Snap,” Wieczner wrote in another article.

In the midst of a tech boom which has lingered on over the past three years or so, many considered Snap to be a sure thing, the next Google or Facebook or Twitter.

But given May’s sales report and the further disappointment expected when Snap publishes its quarter two earnings later this summer, it appears Snap’s bold IPO wrote a check it could not cash.

Investors, many of whom will have their first opportunities to sell their Snap stock when the lock-up period ends on July 29, are demanding what’s left of their money back.

Artificial Intelligence Moderating Instagram

Social media companies have seen an increase in the need for moderating of user content, from both internal and external forces, in an attempt to reduce the spreading of harmful information. Instagram’s means of moderating has been to use an artificial intelligence to automatically block offensive comments, going beyond simply keyword filters. The use of this technology is also acting as a field test for potential future use on Facebook as it looks to improve its own moderation and filtering.

Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote in a blog post that the official launch of a new comment filter arose as a response to the user feedback that “toxic comments discouraged [users] from enjoying Instagram” and their freedom of self-expression. The new comment filters work by blocking certain offensive comments on posts and in live videos. However, the A.I. does not focus on finding keywords but also considers context when determining whether to block a comment or not.

Furthermore, Instagram has also announced a new spam filter that has undergone testing over a couple months. The new filters function will only filter abusive comments in English, but it is able to detect spam if it’s written in Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, French, German, Russian, Japanese or Chinese as well. While there has been no official announcement yet as to whether the abusive comments filter functionality will be expanded to the languages already included in the anti-spam filters, and whether both functions will become available to other languages not listed as well. However, depending on the success of both filters, it can be expected that they do expand the A.I. service. These comment filters are enabled by default, but users are able to turn them off at their discretion.

Instagram’s comment and spam filters are based on DeepText, an artificial intelligence effort developed in-house at Facebook. Both filters are powered by machine learning, meaning that the A.I. used to filter comments has been trained with a test set of data. The purpose is the ensure the accuracy and consistency of the technology while moderating, while also ensuring that it is not just looking at keywords but also context and relationships. Notable considerations where context is important are song lyrics that may contain offensive language, which is instead artistic license and willing suspension of disbelief, or what can be considered offensive language can, in fact, have an entirely different meaning between friends. Hateful and offensive comments are subjective in nature, which is why it is fundamental that the filters do not simply block everything based on keywords.

Facebook itself has yet to mention any intention to commit to A.I. as a means to moderate content and comments. Executives have previously said that it may take some time before A.I. can play a role in moderation. This is based on both the need for successful testing that Instagram will be seeking to provide and the fact that Facebook responded to recent controversies related to inappropriate content by hiring thousands of additional human moderators. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has provided insight on Facebook’s stance regarding A.I. moderation, commenting on the balancing of A.I. driven comment moderation and the user’s freedom of speech. Zuckerberg notes a decision may take years to achieve, however, provides preventing terrorism as a strong argument for why A.I. moderation can help keep communities safe, emphasizing that Facebook then has a responsibility to pursue its implementations.

The reason why Instagram has been given the green light to implement this new technology while Facebook has not is due to the different experiences users have on each platform, from the follow model to how comments are used. Therefore, it is natural that Facebook and Instagram will have difficult approaches to how they moderate their content. Should Facebook ever introduce A.I. moderation to its own platform, while the testing on Instagram will certainly influence the design, Facebook’s A.I. moderating will follow a different approach.

Twitter Tool Flags ‘Fake News’

Twitter users may be given the ability to flag tweets containing misleading, false or harmful information often considered fake news, according to this report. Twitter has not provided a release date for their prototype feature, and neither has it confirmed that such a feature will ever be added. However, Twitter is slowly exploring this tool in order to counter rampant abuse on its platform.

Twitter has been facing many issues regarding content being posted that are in some way interconnected. One such issue is the frequent fake accounts that are easily purchasable due to the sheer quantity of stock and low prices that spread automated messages and false stories. Companies can use these accounts to freely advertise their products, and game the system by ensuring their own posts or posts that support them positively gain more visibility at the expense of competitors. Extremists are also able to use Twitter as a recruiting tool, and behind the safety of the screen trolls spread misinformation or hateful comments threatening women and minorities either to push or point or simply for the sake of it.

While these have been long-standing problems for Twitter, recent events, specifically the American presidential election and its aftermath, have further exasperated the issues. Considering the confidential nature that fake accounts further provide on top of the anonymity all provided, and the controversy that trolls were able to spread, a lot of posted content was seriously toxic regarding the public debate. A study shows that two-thirds of American adults believe that fabricated news stories on social media have caused “a great deal of confusion,” supposing the prevalence of misinformation and the effect it has.

While little information has been given, the tool could work similarly to Facebook’s anti-spam tool that allows users to flag content to dispute its authenticity. Should a post gain enough dispute reports, it is then sent to independent fact checkers to check whether the post is, in fact, truthful and supported by evidence, or merely fabricated. The intent is that regardless of the purpose, any misinformation would be subject to review, which in itself should see a decrease in the spreading of fake news, but it also helps identify accounts that are notorious for posting such news. This would help Twitter deal with two problems at once, restricting the spreading of false or harmful or false information while also cracking down on fake accounts.

One concern regarding an anti-spam tool is that it opens up a possibility for taking advantage of the feature, something that Twitter has a history of facing. This feature is open to all users, which would enable spammers and fake accounts to also lodge disputes for other source material to be checked, and depending on the criteria for content review, abusers would be able to cause a work overflow, making the tool effectiveness null and void. It will be difficult in creating a tool that seeks to reduce manipulation without being subject the very same manipulation it is trying to reduce.

Considering that Twitter has more than 300 million monthly users, managing and restricting the massive scale of abuse on social media websites proves a difficult task. Furthermore, there is consideration regarding the issue of policing content and censoring what is often a fine line between abuse and free speech. Defining the two is a challenge, because of the subjective nature of whether information is harmful or not, as what is considered abuse by one person can be considered free speech by another. Due to the ambiguity of the subject, tech companies have often refrained from making a final judgement, as they do not want to be in the business of policing their user’s free expression. Whether they want to or not, the role of arbiter has become a responsibility social media companies are required to fulfill, due to the comprehensiveness of social media within our daily lives.

Twitter is also considering developing a focus on machine learning and software that is able to detect micro-signals from accounts to determine whether they are fakcsdx`e or not. Depending on the success of internal tests should either of these features be designed, we may see a combination of manual and A.I. functions to help reduce the spreading of misleading, false or harmful information.

Facebook Finds Wi-Fi Worldwide

Facebook is planning on expanding the accessibility of “Find Wi-Fi,” one of their newer features. “Find Wi-Fi” allows users to search for highlighted hotspots for free, public Wi-Fi networks nearby. Up until now this feature has only been available within a limited selection of countries, and further restricted to only iOS users. After an assumingly successful test, Facebook will now roll out the feature so that both iOS and Android users worldwide will gain access to “Find Wi-Fi.”

This feature is certainly useful for travelers, providing an intuitive way of finding network hotspots while traveling for business, research, or fun. Certainly a helpful way to stay connected when entering an area with minimal cellular connection, “Find Wi-Fi” really shines as a tool in emerging markets. For emerging markets, where users often have limited data plans or unstable and inconsistent network connections. While in developed markets this feature provides an improved quality of life adjustment, for emerging markets, especially in rural areas, this could be a game changer.

The main reason for why “Find Wi-Fi” may have a large impact lies in how it works. On its interface, Facebook displays a map showing not only the closest hotspots, but also details about the businesses the provide them. This provides smaller and local businesses free positive advertising and customer turnover opportunities, considering the businesses already provide users a service through their hotspot. All the business needs to do is opt-in by claiming their Wi-Fi network, notifying Facebook of their intentions to provide a service. A simple tool for travelers may become a new front for businesses to grow.

While expensive to expand the features worldwide and across another mobile platform, the feature increases the possibility for user connection uptime, specifically to Facebook. By increasing user time spent on their app, the larger the revenue Facebook generates. There is a possibility that depending on its popularity, users will more likely rely on Facebook than Google Maps, which will further improve its bottom line. That is at least until Google responds with a similar feature, considering there is a market for it.

It is important to note that the feature may still has some reliability issues. “Find Wi-Fi” easily picks up network signals at nearby restaurants and malls, while missing out some brands that are known to provide free Wi-Fi, such as Starbucks. It is not known as to whether these businesses failed or refused to opt-in to “Find Wi-Fi,” or simply decided to rely on its own brand and pre-established reputation for providing free Wi-Fi. Another option is that Facebook refrained from adding these businesses to its feature as a means of promoting smaller businesses, while also increasing a dependency on their own feature for a loyal user base. However, which businesses are included is not as important as ensuring that those that are reliably discoverable, and do provide a free network.

One major concern to be considered is the potential security risks that could arise. Considering that the business’ hotspot acts as a beacon for Wi-Fi indigent travelers, it is not against reason that these areas will also attract seeking to take advantage should the opportunity arise. While a large distribution of hotspots will make it more difficult for such scenarios to occur, travelers must always be aware of their surroundings. Should this actually become a problem, Facebook will need to ensure a way of protecting its user’s privacy when using the app.

While “Find Wi-Fi” may be the driving force in regards to supporting users with mobile connectivity, it is certainly not Facebook’s only endeavor. The company has several large projects that are being developed, including efforts to further improve mobile connectivity in emerging markets, worldwide infrastructure investment, and solar-powered drones as mobile network hotspots.

Facebook Profile Picture Protection in India

Facebook is looking to introduce new forms of protection in India for user’s profile pictures. The goal is to stop copying, sharing, and other image misuse. More specifically these protections prevent others from being able to send, share, download or tag themselves in the image. These protections are not compulsory, but they do allow users to choose whether or not they want their profile picture’s protected.

Protected pictures display a blue shield border around their image, with additional capacities currently only available on Android to prevent users from taking screenshots of profile pictures where possible. The design overlay aims to reduce picture theft, protecting the identities and privacy of its users.

These features were inspired after Facebook heard from Indian social and safety organizations that predominantly women decided to not upload images with their faces due to privacy reasons. Facebook has partnered with a number of these organizations in order to introduce a tool that is both security focused that does not interfere with Facebook’s primary social agenda. This freedom for choice still enables those who are inclined to utilize their profile picture as more than a means of identification to do so, while providing an alternative option. Facebook has responded to this issue well, without overreacting and restricting the platforms intended use.

However, while the protection will alleviate image theft tensions, it will not completely prevent possible image misuse. The reality of the matter is that these preventative measures only make image theft more difficult, but not impossible. Those with enough intent and means will find a way to continue image theft if the need is great enough, but these protections will certainly reduce the frequency at which profile pictures are copied, shared or misused. Facebook predicts that simply adding a design overlay to a picture reduces the likelihood of others copying it by 75 percent, based on the underlying message that the user sends.

These protections are readily available in India, and users can easily add them quickly through Facebook’s user interface system. However, the screenshotting protection is only available via Android, and so other can screen shot a user’s profile picture through other means including desktops. Furthermore, the blue shield only acts as statement declaring the user’s intent that their profile picture should not be copied, and not a hard barrier that comprehensibly prevents copying.

Ideal for deterring opportunists through simple additions makes this tool a potentially useful option for Indian users. Facebook has not yet indicated whether similar measures will come to other countries. The criteria for this is twofold: whether there is a need for such a tool, and whether the additions can be easily transferred and implanted. Regarding the first, regardless of whether or not there is a sizeable desire for similar protections, Facebook should pursue a rollout of these protective measures for other countries. Considering that these features are optional, there is no downside for the users in other countries by adding this tool. For the second criteria, this is dependent on how easy it is to implement the protective measures. It is uncertain whether the transfer is possible based on the coding involved. However, Facebook has already developed the tool, and so a full rollout would not require much-added cost, and in fact can be beneficial towards Facebook’s reputation of being able to balance both its social and security responsibilities on behalf of its users.

The final issue to address is whether the major concern for why women in India rejected uploading a profile picture was indeed due to possible image theft. If the issue was instead based on the personal preference of maintaining privacy, then Facebook’s tool will not stimulate more user profile pictures. This does not mean that the tool is a waste, as its flexibility is an added benefit for current users wishing to further protect their images online.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Nintendo Sells Over 1 Million Switch Units in the U.S.

It’s safe to assume that Nintendo is beaming with pride. The Nintendo Switch sold over 906,000 units in the United States this past month. That’s just the United States, so the number of units sold in Canada, Japan (who’s numbers are estimated at half a million), and the United Kingdom could significantly add to that massive amount.

Nintendo bragged in a press release just recently that the Switch is the fastest selling video game unit in the history of the company. It’s being compared by many to the Wii U which only sold over 890,000 units in the United States its first six weeks out on the market. When the Wii U came out, it was also during holiday season which added to its numbers. That’s one of the reasons that the Switch numbers are rather impressive since its launch was well after the holiday had passed. 

Aside from the nearly one million Switch units that have been sold, the game Zelda: Breath of the Wild has sold a rising 1.3 million copies in the U.S. Nine hundred and twenty-five thousand of those games were for the Nintendo Switch and the other 460,000 were for Wii U. It’s also interesting that many people are buying more Switch games then they are units. Gamers are given an attach rate of over 100 percent which, in itself, is quite a percentage number.

The Nintendo Switch first became available for pre-order back in January. Nintendo hosted a presentation of the Switch which not only explored the Zelda game but gave a release date of March 3rd for countries like Japan, the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom.

After its official release in March the numbers rose significantly as gamers lined up at stores to get their hands on the long-awaited unit. In fact, most stores sold out of the units faster than gamers could buy them.

In the press release  Nintendo, the company made a statement saying, “While Nintendo Switch sales are off to a record-breaking start, shipments have not yet been able to keep up with such high demand.  Nintendo is working to make sure everyone who wants a system is able to buy one, and more systems are continually being shipped.”

As the Nintendo Switch’s success continues to soar, it’s safe to say that if you haven’t gotten one you should. It might not be long before they’re gone for good.

Burger King Ad Sparks Old Debate About Voice Devices

A new Burger Kind ad was created to be able to trigger Googles voice-activated Home smart speaker. This ad was put in place to help advertise the Whopper but unfortunately doesn’t seem to be working anymore.

The ad came out Wednesday and has an actor playing a Burger King worker say, “OK Google: What is the Whopper burger?” Saying that line was supposed to trigger your Google app to read off the definition of the Whopper per it’s Wikipedia page.

It was just three short hours after the ad was launched that it stopped working. Google would simply light up and stay silent. If you prompted it to read you the definition of the “Whopper burger”, however, it would give you the Wikipedia articles first line but wasn’t responding to the commercial’s prompt.

Burger King made a statement confirming that the ad no longer recognizes the speaker and that the trigger doesn’t seem to be working anymore. The fast food giant did say that they expect the ad to start working again soon. A spokesperson for Burger King Brooke Scher Mogan said that consumers will have to “tune in tonight to see if the commercials triggers the Whopper sandwich definition response.”

Google, on the other hand, didn’t give any response to the matter. In fact, a source from the company says that Google was not informed about the ad by the fast food chain before the commercials shooting.

In the past, many commercials have accidentally triggered voice assistant apps in people’s homes. This, however is the first time a food chain has tried to do it intentionally. While it might seem like a clever idea and a great way to sell burgers for Burger King, some consumers in the YouTube comments section weren’t too pleased with the idea.

In fact, one comment read, “When you take over someone’s phone or tablet and have it do your own remote commands intentionally, you are HACKING.”

Yet despite many people thinking that Burger King is trying to hack them, it might be good that the trigger doesn’t work. Not long after the ad aired, many people took to the internet and started changing the first line of the Wikipedia article. Wikipedia users altered the definition to say things like the Whopper was “cancer-causing.” Users even added ingredients like “cyanide” to the burger definition.

It would also seem that after the ad backfired and Wikipedia users began changing things up, Burger King decided to backpedal. They took things into their own hands and soon wonderful descriptions of the Whopper began showing up on the article site. In fact, one description was changed by “Fermachado123.”

It could only be coincidence that the user name noted above sounds suspiciously like Burger King’s senior vice president for global brand management’s Fernando Machado. Burger King, however, didn’t confirm or deny that Machado made any edits to the Wikipedia site.

Yet it isn’t just the idea of being hacked that slightly frightens consumers. Privacy concerns revolving around voice-activated speakers has steadily began to increase. It’s gotten higher since more companies have made attempts to bring this technology to their products. This in turn puts even more pressure on voice-operated security systems and even door locks who are trying to make sure that user devices won’t be trigger by unwanted voices.

The use of advertisement on Google Home has been questioned by a large number of consumers. Many of them simply don’t want to be spammed by what they consider to be personal assistants. Google received a good deal of criticism after an advertisement for “Beauty and the Beast” appeared around the time of the films first showings.

In order to make amends to users, Google issued a statement saying that what users saw wasn’t an ad. The company said that bringing up the film was a way to get users to know about what was timely that day. A Google spokesperson went on to say, “We’re continuing to experiment with new ways to surface unique content for users, and we could have done better in this case.”

As for Burger King, it’s safe to estimate that this epic advertising fail won’t have any bearing on Whopper sales. With fast food still being one of the largest and quickest meal choices, there are over billions of Whoppers sold worldwide. Burger King is probably already back at the drawing board with new advertising ideas.


Yahoo User Info Still Up for Sale after System Hack

Back in 2013, Yahoo was hacked and over one billion users account information was stolen and put up for sale on the dark web. The offer stands as $200,000 or best offers. Even though the passwords are available, the dates of birth, telephone numbers and even security questions could be extremely useful if put in the wrong hands.

The Feds alerted Yahoo of the hack after seeing the information for sale on the cyber underground. Their investigation afterward led to the indictment of four men who they believed responsible. Yet even after the prosecutors unsealed indictments against the four men, the one billion user information still seems to be up for sale.

While these four men aren’t responsible for the 2013 hack, which earned the title of being the largest known breach of any company’s private security, they are, however, responsible for the second largest hack which took place just a year later.

Yet the Feds seem to be keeping the details of both investigations secret. Malcolm Palmore is in charge of the cyber security division in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and commented, “We’re not willing to comment right now if there is a connection between the two investigations.”

Although both events were done at separate times, they both tend to have one thing in common. The culprits allegedly responsible were Russian hackers. This is from cyber security experts who have been studying the attacks. The experts have deduced that both Yahoo attacks were connected to the Russian government and part of the data was used to send spam to Yahoo users.

One of the two men who were indicted for the 2014 Yahoo hacking, Alexsey Belan, is known as a tech expert who worked for two Russian intelligence officers. Belan also has a pretty long list of cyber crimes to add to his record. Yet his recent indictment, along with his three cohorts, failed to release how the gang managed to get access to Yahoo systems. It’s safe to say, however, that they aren’t novice hackers.

In fact, he was indicted back in 2012 for three felony charges that included hacking Zappos which is an online shoe store owned by Amazon. His hack of Zappos robbed nearly 24 million customers of their information. It was a year later that Balen hacked Evernote and Scribd used as digital storage services by millions of consumers. He was arrested in Greece but managed to post bail and flee to Russia.

Yet cyber security experts say that Yahoo incident back 2013 was conducted by different individuals. Those at InfoArmor, which is a cyber security firm located in Arizona, say that the hack could be attributed to a group named Group E. Reportedly Group E sold the whole database about three times. One of those times, InfoArmor believes, was in connection to the Russian government.

The two Russian intelligence agents that were indicted in connection with the 2014 Yahoo breach were accused of working with Belan and another hacker to hold their own spying operation. Yet the Russian government has since denied the allegations or involvement with the Yahoo hackings.

The F.B.I. did say that the entire hack on Yahoo’s systems started with a phishing attack. One of Yahoo’s employees was deceived into releasing info that opened the door for the entire scheme. The breach was recognized in 2014 but Yahoo security didn’t realize how severe the entire situation had become.

After telling the public about the breach in security, the company then prompted its users to change their passwords. It was not long afterward that all one billion accounts were posted for sale on the darkest part of the internet where all types of cyber criminals lurk. The sellers of the information even say that they retain continued access to Yahoo information. This was proved false when a cyber security agent posed as prospective buyer seeking proof of access and the thieves couldn’t produce any new account information.

Both hacks on Yahoo had a major impact on the deal the company was making with Verizon Communications. Yahoo had intended to sell to Verizon but after the hacks were made known to the public, Verizon wanted to drop its price down by $925 million from the original number. However, there was an announcement just last month that Verizon would only cut $350 million from its price.

This breach in security for Yahoo proves just how unsafe the internet can be. It’s advised that users change their password every ninety days. Security experts say its important not to use birthdays, pet names, or anything that will be easy for a hacker to guess. Yahoo says that since both incidents all potholes in its security system have been filled and, for the time being at least, users are safe.

After Reports, Facebook Bans the Creation of Spy Tools

The more technology advances, the more open we become to scrupulous activity. Facebook has recently responded to the reports that a few surveillance agencies have been using the social media giant as a means for spying. Since the report has been made Facebook has responded by updating its platform policy to prevent such things from occurring.

The deputy chief privacy officer at Facebook, Rob Sherman, announced this new policy platform update just this Monday. Sherman and his team say that they have made sure that the language in Facebook’s Platform Privacy are very clear in preventing unwanted surveillance tools from spying on Facebook profile information.

Sherman told a source Monday that Facebook was “adding language to our Facebook and Instagram platform policies to more clearly explain that developers cannot use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.”

This, however, isn’t the first time that Facebook has responded to such reports. Back in November, car insurer Admiral wanted to gain access to Facebook user information. The company claimed it wanted to access user accounts so that it would be able to tell people’s risk of being in a collision based on drinking habits and even personality types.

The social media giant has taken any and all step necessary in the past few months to make sure developers stop taking advantage of the sites large range of user data. Developers have been using Facebook user data to create, market and even sell spying tools.

This new platform policy development, however, has been created to make it evident that any such actions are clearly a violation.

The reports of these actions were first issued by the American Civil Liberties Union of California (ACLU), Color of Change, and the Center for Media Justice. These organizations made claims that developers were using Facebooks data in order to form spy tools from Facebook’s API.

ACLU states that even Instagram and Twitter, along with Facebook, were giving data information to Geofeedia. Geofeedia is a social networking surveillance company which gives tracking and spying tools to protesters and activists.

In proof of these accusations, law enforcement used the software to spy on those who were out protesting police violence near the San Jose and Baltimore areas. Later the software was used to keep track of hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter.

It didn’t take long into the investigation for all three of the social media sites to get rid of the software, cutting Geofeedia off completely. Yet while Facebook has technology that can manually and automatedly monitor developers, there’s no actual guarantee that those developers will abide by the policies. Although the spy world is rather slippery in its operations, Facebook setting its rules in stone is one large step in the direction of putting surveillance to a stop.

The platform policy can be found here and reads as follows: “Protect the information you receive from us against unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. For example, don’t use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.”

Sherman told a source, “We will continue using our policies to support our community, and we hope that these efforts will help encourage other companies to take positive steps as well.”

AT&T Cell Phone Users Lose Contact With 911 in 14 States

On Wednesday, some AT&T cellphone users were unable to dial 911, but it was only for a few hours. It didn’t take long for city and county law enforcement along with emergency response teams to warm people. The teams headed to social media warning people over the span of five hours about the possibility of being unable to dial for emergencies.

Officials in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Colorado, and even Washington D.C. released warnings to AT&T customers that they might not be able to contact 911 dispatchers in the case of emergency.

Even though the problem was resolved, AT&T has yet to disclose what really went to wrong to cause this to happen in the first place. There’s also no telling just how many people were affected.

Customers were alerted with a warning that started around 5:50 p.m. The Monongalia County Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency located in West Virginia started warning people via Facebook around this time. The warnings to AT&T customers continued well into the afternoon until around 10:25 p.m. It was at that same time that AT&T stated they had fixed a problem.

In Indiana, the Hendricks County Communications Center which is a consolidated dispatch center for fire, police, and emergency medical services stated that the calls coming in from AT&T customers just wouldn’t connect.

In order to accommodate the customers that were unable to contact 911 for emergency response, Hendricks made a Facebook post saying, “We have conducted test calls locally and it will just ring.” Hendricks then made sure to provide a number for those to call in case they needed a dispatch officer.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, made a Twitter statement saying that they had heard reports of the issue and were further investigating the incident.

AT&T released a statement later that same night around 10:30 p.m. saying that “service has been restored for wireless customers affected by an issue connecting to 911. We apologize to those affected.”

Facebook’s New Apps In Competition With YouTube?

Social Media giant Facebook is always coming up with new ways to improve its usability for its consumers. In fact, the company is now coming up with ways get its users to upload and stream more and more videos. In order to achieve this, the social media site has made new changes when it comes to how its users distribute and display video.

However, that’s not all the good news that Facebook is sharing. Just recently vice president of partnerships, Dan Rose, announced that Facebook would start a series of apps for things like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and even Samsung Smart TV.

With the capability to stream TV, Facebook would be opening up its site and apps to more people who want to share their videos. During his announcement at CODE Media, Rose says this change began with automatic video ads. Those are the ads on the news feed that automatically play. From there it moved to Facebook live and Instagram video. Of course, from here there’s no place to go but up for the company and others.

Facebook also says that a few changes are coming in regards to the way videos are displayed. First things first. When it comes to sound, if your devices sound is on, the audio of the video will automatically play. Second change involves video cropping. Facebook says it won’t be cropping vertical video making it a bit more like Snapchat. Finally, users will have the ability to watch videos and slide them to the side as they scroll through their news feeds.

However, even though Facebook is more than optimistic about these new changes what the company is even more enthusiastic about are the new apps. These will allow Facebook users to watch Facebook videos on their televisions. Although Facebook has always been able to stream videos to an Apple TV or AirPlay, this will expand that ability.

There was also talk that Facebook was on the hunt this week to license music from a few big labels. This would greatly increase the number of videos shared on the company’s site. That doesn’t really put Facebook side by side with companies like Spotify or Apple Music, but it does cause the social media site to bump heads with YouTube. YouTube as already established itself as a great site for creators to stream and build views around their videos. Facebook is hoping to start a similar campaign with its new announcements.

Yet there are a few things that Facebook will have to look into before it gets too excited. Facebook will have to come up with a way to pay video creators for their work as well as find a way to prevent piracy of any kind.

Facebook is looking to add many more types of professionally made videos to its new streaming options. Just last year, Ricky Van Veen from CollegeHumor. It’s said that Van Veen is in the process of creating new content.

However, its user’s happiness isn’t the only benefit Facebook will get. The company stands to bring in a large amount of revenue. That’s due to the fact that Facebook user base is a growing 1.2 billion. This stands to boost video production by developing a broader platform for mobile, desktop, and, TV production for viewers around the globe.


Valentine’s Day Scams; A Warning From the Better Business Bureau

Valentine’s Day is Tuesday, and many will take this opportunity to shower their loved ones and partners with gifts to show just how much appreciation and admiration they have. Yet with the holiday estimating to cost America a big $18 billion this year, the scammers are going to be out on the prowl to take advantage.

The Better Business Bureau is providing a few tips on how to avoid those scams that will most likely cause a Valentine’s Day fail.


First, when it comes to ordering flowers keep a sharp eye out for scrupulous businesses. This year it’s estimated that American’s all over the country will shell out a good $2 billion on flowers. With that number as high as it is, scammers are certainly going to be on the move to get their fair share. The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips on how to avoid scammers:

  • Let the Better Business Bureau be a guide for any and all purchases. On, consumers will be able to use the search guide to find florists and gift shops as well as search for other customer reviews.
  • Make sure to visit the shop or talk to someone in over the phone. Discuss the exact arrangement you’re looking for. Even if you’re ordering online make sure to go to the shop in person if you can and inquire about your purchase, the company policies, delivery times, and guarantees. It’s important that you don’t finalize your purchases until all information is properly outlined. Finally, be sure to obtain a receipt after purchase.
  • Be on the lookout for suspicious calls and emails. Phishing scams spike around this time of year for those who expect to give flowers and gifts to their loved ones. Beware of fake e-cards and unsolicited emails that can contain viruses and request additional funds in order to deliver gifts.

Social media and online dating sites will be buzzing with activity come Tuesday. expects to see a jump in its new users by twenty percent. It’s also said that around 1.9 million Facebook users will change their relationship status. However, the internet is also a great place to find scammers who just loving preying on love struck victims.

It’s sometimes all too easy for a scammer to build a relationship with someone under false pretenses whether it be through video chat, over the phone, or texting. At some point in the is relationship the scammer will cry that they are experiencing some type of trouble with their finances, or say that they need money to come see the victim.

Once the funds are exchanged, the scammer drops off the face of the earth and the victim is out of who knows how much money. The BBB calls these type of scams Cupid cons. They are the hardest to avoid because scammers in this type of con know just how to make others feel vulnerable.

The following are a few tips on how to avoid Cupid cons and what to look out for:

  • Look out for a new friend that is always a no show. Whether its business travelling, vising family out of state, or a last-minute re-schedule. This is an extremely common excuse for scammers, and how they will lie to avoid meeting people face-to-face. A significant other would normally find time to see and get to know someone better. If your new boo is ignoring you, this should alert you to suspicion.
  • If you’re searching for a love interest on Facebook and find that their profile is extremely new, doesn’t fit their description or doesn’t exist you’re probably being scammed. When you’re talking to someone and find out things about them, the information they provided you with should most definitely match up with their social media profiles. Look for things like a small list of friends, little or no photos, major spelling or grammar errors. All those things can be signals that you’re talking to a scammer.
  • When it comes to loaning out money, people often always skeptical even if it’s to a really good friend. It’s just an uncomfortable situation at times. Be on the lookout for new loves that immediately ask you for cash. Their needs will range from a number of emergencies. They will claim to have been robbed, or there was a medical emergency. Scammers will tell any story to tug at your heartstrings. And your wallet. BBB says to never give out money or share your bank info with someone you don’t know very well and have never met.

Always be on the lookout for business scams or people who use the methods above.

The truth is everyone wants to feel special and needed, especially on a day of celebrating love like Valentine’s Day. The best way to protect yourself from a scam is not to let your emotions cloud your judgment, be aware of all the signs, and try not to ignore that gut feeling. Anyone is open to a scam so don’t think it won’t happen at some point. There are people out there who can’t wait to prey on vulnerability.

Facebook Appoints New Leader for VR Program

The company Oculus went through a few speed bumps that begged the question who would take on the leadership role. Oculus VR, the virtual reality goggle maker, was purchased by Facebook for over $2 billion.

Recently Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook chief executive officer, announced that Hugo Barra who formerly worked as a former executive at Google and Xiaomi, a Chinese phone maker, will lead Facebook’s virtual reality conquest.

Barra is known for his aid in the growth of Google’s Android business. It wasn’t until 2013 that he left Google and went to Xiaomi, who at the time was trying to establish itself as a phone maker in China. However, this month it was reported that Barra left the company.

In the three years that Facebook has owned Oculus, its virtual reality goggles have triggered interest with consumers but sales haven’t exactly been ideal. In hopes to increase sales for the VR equipment, it’s estimated that Zuckerberg will invest $3 billion.

Facebook’s large investments in virtual reality could be its hopeful attempt to make the tech more successful than mobile. However, in most cases, virtual reality headsets are quite expensive. The Oculus Rift headset cost $599. Virtual reality tech also requires a powerful computer system.

Aside from being expensive, Oculus poses many more problems for Facebook. Facebook is being sued by ZeniMax Media who claims that Oculus stole their tech and claimed it as their own; a fact ZeniMax claims Facebook knew upon purchase. The lawsuit is estimated to cost the social media giant as much as $2 billion if it is found guilty.

No longer than a month ago, co-founder of Oculus, Brendan Iribe, stepped down to pursue work with a group concentrating on virtual reality on personal computers.

In a statement, Barra said this about joining Facebook, “The highest calling of an engineer is to make technology breakthroughs quickly and readily available to the widest possible spectrum of humanity. That will be my mission at Facebook.”

Facebook Faces Lawsuit Over Stolen Tech?

Mark Zuckerberg, the well-known owner of the social media giant Facebook, has to testify in court over a $2 billion lawsuit. ZeniMax Media filed the lawsuit against Oculus and co-founder Palmer Luckey. Since Facebook is now the owner of Oculus, ZeniMax added Facebook to the lawsuit. ZeniMax says Facebook knew that Oculus stole ZeniMax’s tech but purchased the company regardless.

ZeniMax who owns id Software, a video game developer, filed the suit back in 2014. Facebook also made a $2 billion purchase of Oculus during the same time frame. The lawsuit also accuses Facebook of trying to “leverage and commercially exploit” ZeniMax technology.

However, Oculus denies the allegations that it stole anything. In fact, a spokesperson for the company insisted Oculus “invested” a large amount of time and money to further develop its virtual reality technology. The spokesperson commented that the company was “disappointed that another company is using wasteful litigation to attempt to take credit for technology that it did not have the vision, expertise, or patience to build.”

In retort to that statement, ZeniMax said it would produce “substantial evidence” to support its claim of the stolen VR tech. ZeniMax stated “That evidence includes the theft of trade secrets and highly confidential information, including computer code. ZeniMax will also present evidence of the Defendants’ intentional destruction of evidence to cover up their wrongdoing.”

Carmack is the co-founder of id Software who’s known for developing the first person shooter I the popular video game Doom. Carmack and ZeniMax met with Luckey back in 2012 to discuss the development of Rift, a VR headset. In the lawsuit, ZeniMax says it took the Rift technology, reshaped, and further expanded it “from $500-worth of optics into a powerful, immersive virtual reality experience.”

Not long after ZeniMax displayed its new technology, Luckey created Oculus. The Rift headset brought in $2.4 million. Yet instead of giving ZeniMax the compensation for use of its technology, Oculus instead reached out it ZeniMax employees as well as Carmack to join the Oculus team.

The lawsuit included that Oculus created a factitious story of a youth who created virtual reality technology in his parents’ garage. In fact, the suit states “Luckey lacked the training, expertise, resources or know-how to create commercially viable VR technology, his computer programming skills were rudimentary and he relied on ZeniMax’s computer program code and games to demonstrate the prototype Rift.”

Overall, the lawsuit reproaches Oculus, and Facebook, for copyright infringement on “Doom 3”, the misappropriation of ZeniMax trade secrets, and that Oculus violated a non-disclosure agreement.

Luckey testifies sometime later in the week whereas Carmack testified earlier last week.

JetBlue Introduces Free Wi-Fi

JetBlue, an airliner based in New York City, just announced its new Fly-Fi program. In a day and age where not many things work without Wi-Fi, the airline says it will now offer free Wi-Fi to its passengers from the moment they depart to the moment they arrive.

Vice President of JetBlue, Jamie Perry, announced that all 227 of the airliners fleet now contain what the company calls “broadband speeds” for each of its passengers. Perry also stated that, “It’s 2017 and our customers expect to be connected everywhere, whether that be from the comfort of their sofa or 35,000 feet above it.”

JetBlue is currently the only airliner that provides its passengers with not just free Wi-Fi but live TV as well. This new technology keeps the passengers plugged in just as if they were at home. Each passenger also can stream videos. With The Hub, passengers get Sirius XM Radio whether they use Fly-Fi or not. Direct TV is also available with more than 100 channels.

Other airlines such as Delta, Gogo, American, and even Southwest charge their passengers at least $19 if bought in advance.  If bought after take-off, each passenger pays as much as $30. JetBlue, on the other hand, stresses the fact that their Fly-Fi service is entirely free.

Fly-Fi was first developed back in 2013. Back then it was only available on one plane. Now, however, the company extended the service to its entire fleet. All of its Airbus A320s, A321s, and Embraer 190s have the free Wi-Fi service. JetBlue also says that its Fly-Fi is only obtainable in the continental U.S.

Tool Can Fact Check Trump’s Tweets

The Washington Post has created a Google Chrome plugin the will fact check Donald Trump’s tweets. The content will be displayed next to Trump’s tweets and provide factual statements. The Washington Post says that the Chrome extension is still in its early stages but once people install it they will have access to content attached to Trump’s Tweets.

The Post’s owner Jeff Bezos is known for his twitter battles with Trump during the election. Trump even blackballed the Post’s reporters from his campaign events during election time as well. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the Washington Post would come up with a technique to subvert Trump’s twitter statements.

This new feature will be helpful for those who don’t exactly support what Trump represents. The Washington Post will also have to take into account those who do support Trump, and that there is high possibility that they won’t use the fact-checking tool at all.