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Ex-Apple executive

takes on Facebook with photo app

March 25, 2011 – 9:06AM
Color co-founder Bill Nguyen holds up his Apple iPhone with photos of himself using the Color application as he poses with staff members at the company's offices in Palo Alto, California.
Color co-founder Bill Nguyen holds up his Apple iPhone with photos of himself using the Color application. Photo: AP

We’ve all been to weddings where the bride and groom hand out disposable cameras to capture every angle of their big day. Now, a new application called Color allows you to do something similar with your phone, by sharing your images, videos and comments with anyone who comes within 50 feet (15 metres) of you.

The free app figures out if other users are close to you by using a secret blend of GPS data, ambient noise and even light.

Then your updates become available to them and you in turn see theirs.

The app, available initially on iPhones and Android-based smartphones, was created by a group of technologists led by CEO Bill Nguyen, the serial entrepreneur who sold digital music locker site Lala.com to Apple for an estimated $US85 million back in December 2009.

Nguyen said the app will help people break out of the mold of their current group of friends and give them more information about the people around them – namely co-workers and neighbours.

“I talk about identity: where I work and where I live. That’s a big chunk of who I am,” said Nguyen, 40, who demonstrated the app to The Associated Press. “But oddly, these people aren’t on my Facebook.”

While your first name appears on your posts, there is no password and no friending. So unlike Facebook, the notion of limiting private content to a friend network doesn’t exist.

In the future, the app will be able to intuit relationships based on whom its users spend time with regularly because it collects data constantly. You could bump into an acquaintance’s co-worker and immediately know that, simply because the two were in the same place during daylight hours on weekdays.

“The days of having to say anything are done,” Nguyen said. “There’s no more profiles, there’s no more friending, there’s no more electronic dog fence created by Facebook. It’s all over. This is the post-PC world. It’s a brand new way of sharing.”

Along with people within 50 feet, Color keeps sending feeds of people you recently were in contact with, although those contacts fade over time if you don’t engage with their streams. And if you’re at a concert, the app knows to string the entire group into one massive stream.

Color, with 30 employees in Palo Alto, California, was seeded with $US41 million in capital – $US25 million from Sequoia Capital, $US9 million from Bain Capital, and $US7 million from Silicon Valley Bank.

Mike Krupka, managing director of Bain Capital Ventures, said the site would seek to generate revenue from advertising by the end of the year. One possible way to help businesses advertise would be to enable restaurants to post photos of their specials to recent guests. Users might also be enticed by seeing pictures of what their acquaintances had ordered the last time they ate there.

“We believe that if you create a product that the consumer truly values to enhance their life experience, you’ll find a way to monetise that,” he said.

Gartner analyst Mike McGuire said the app was a good test to see if active social networkers were ready to take another step toward more sharing and less privacy. He noted that Nguyen is apt to change the app if people react adversely to the lack of privacy controls – noting that Lala was once a site that stored one’s personal CD collection online before becoming a way to buy web-based music.

“He’s willing to start with an idea and see how people react and change it accordingly,” McGuire said. “These guys have built the tools. Now it’s up to the consumers to do something with it.”

AP- Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Facebook vandal jailed

Amelia Bentley

March 25, 2011 – 3:16PM

A man who vandalised Facebook tribute sites for two dead children has been jailed.

Self-confessed “troll” Bradley Paul Hampson, 29, of Tarragindi in Brisbane’s south, posted pictures of penises and wrote offensive messages on the two sites in February last year.

On one Facebook tribute site for the 12-year-old boy, he wrote “woot I’m dead” across an image of the dead child.

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He also morphed a photo of the boy’s face inside a woodchipper and made it appear blood was coming from the machine.

On another, he wrote sexually explicit comments implying he was responsible for raping and killing the eight-year-old girl.

“My definition of pleasure … listening to her ribs crack,” he wrote. “I got mad … so I murdered her.”

To post his comments, Hampson used the name of a Bundaberg man who he claimed to have gone to school with.

Hampson said the man whose identity he used had been bullied by other students at his school.

The court was told that man told police he was distressed his name had been used to make such comments.

The court also heard when detectives examined Hampson’s personal computer, they found almost 200 images that depicted children as the victims of abuse and sadism.

They also found images of missing UK girl Madeleine McCann and murdered UK boy James Bulger with penises superimposed on their faces.

Hampson today pleaded guilty to distributing child exploitation material, using the internet to menace, harass or cause offence and possessing child exploitation material.

Judge Kerry O’Brien sentenced him to three years’ jail and ordered he be released after he serves 12 months.

Taking into account seven-and-a-half months Hampson has already served behind bars, he will be out of prison in September.

Received & published by Henry Sapiecha

The anti-social network:

boys jailed for $26m

‘Crimebook’ scam

March 3, 2011 – 12:44PM
Nick Webber pictured on a Facebook page.Nick Webber pictured on a Facebook page.

Two British schoolboys have been jailed for up to five years for running a $26 million Facebook-style website for criminals dubbed “Crimebook”.

Nick Webber, 19, and Ryan Thomas, 18, were found guilty of starting up and operating the online forum GhostMarket.net, where up to 8000 members exchanged details about thousands of stolen credit cards and used the information to defraud banks and shops across the world, The Guardian reported.

Information about 65,000 hacked bank accounts was also shared on the site, prosecutors said.

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Judge John Price of Southwark Crown Court in London, said the fraud was on a “massive scale”.

“This was a criminal enterprise offering sophisticated advice on how to hack into computers, cause them to malfunction and retrieve personal information from computers – and how to do it on a massive scale.”

He said only the age of the teenagers saved them from harsher sentences.

“I’m extremely conscious of the youth of you all. Were you four or five years older the sentence would be much longer.”

Mr Webber and Mr Thomas were still at school when they were arrested by police in October 2009 after trying to use the details of a stolen credit card to pay for a £1000 hotel bill, The Guardiansaid.

Police found 100,000 stolen credit card details on Mr Webber’s laptop and traced it back to the GhostMarket.net site – the biggest criminal website they had ever uncovered.

The pair jumped bail and escaped to Majorca in Spain.

Webber taunted police while on the run, writing on a site: “To be a Legend Carder u gotta be a ghost” and adding, “F— the Police!”, London’s Daily Telegraph reported.

With Thomas, he was re-arrested in early 2010 after returning to the UK.

Webber was described by prosecutors as an “extremely experienced computer hacker” and the leader of the gang behind the website.

The gang included 21-year-olds Gary Kelly and Shakira Ricardo, who were jailed for five years and 18 months respectively, the BBC reported.

Thomas worked as a moderator on the site.

Thomas and Webber pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make or supply articles for use in fraud, encouraging or assisting offenders, and conspiracy to commit fraud.

The son of former Guernsey politician Anthony Webber, Webber spent his illegal earnings on expensive goods such as cameras, jewellery and plasma televisions, the BBC reported.

His father said he never thought his son would have been involved in such criminal activity.

“He has always been super brilliant at computers but it never occurred to me anything like this would happen,” he told theTelegraph last year.

“What happened to Nicholas has been a big shock to both his mother and to me. … In a very short period of time things went wrong. He is a delightful son in a lot of respects.

“He is the sort of person that the security services should be employing. His skills are such he could do a lot of things but the very sad thing about this is it is going to affect his future career.”

Sourced & published  by Henry Sapiecha

‘Creepy’ app spies

on your Facebook

relationship status

Ben Grubb

March 1, 2011

The Breakup Notifier Facebook app.
The Breakup Notifier Facebook app.

A new Facebook app that immediately alerts users when someone on whom they have a crush changes their relationship status is causing a stir.

To some it might be seen as an invasion of privacy, to others the ultimate tool to find out when a crush becomes available. But to US-based Dan Loewenherz, 24, who is the founder of the “Breakup Notifier” Facebook app, it was a joke, at least to begin with.

Although Facebook lets users view the relationship status of any friend at any time, the Breakup Notifier app alerts you automatically via email, removing the need to check constantly.

toon in anticipation of story.
Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

The idea came from overhearing a conversation Mr Loewenherz’s soon-to-be fiancee and mother-in-law were having, he said in a telephone interview with this website.

“I heard … [them] talking about a guy that they wanted to set up my fiancee’s sister with,” he said.

“And they were probably talking about it for at least 15 minutes and at the end of the conversation they were interested in looking at some photos of him on Facebook and so they went on Facebook and they immediately found out that he had a girlfriend. So at point they were kind of bummed. And … I thought maybe it would be cool if … they would be interested in [being notified] when a relationship ended.”

Founder Dan Loewenherz.Founder Dan Loewenherz. Photo: Supplied

The following weekend Mr Loewenherz set out to create a Facebook app that would do just that, spending four hours on it. The Breakup Notifier app was launched on February 20 and attracted more than 10,000 profile installs, Mr Loewenherz said. But after some negative feedback, Facebook blocked it, he said.

However, shortly after it was blocked, Mr Loewenherz relaunched it again under the new name “Crush Notifier“.

The Crush Notifier app differs from the Breakup Notifier app in that both people need to have a crush on each other before they find out whether there’s a possibility of a relationship.

“You will not receive an email unless you both crush each other,” the app’s site states.

But now that Facebook has unblocked the Breakup Notifier app, Mr Loewenherz is charging for its use, as well as charging for the Crush Notifier app. When first launched both apps were free.

Relationships Australia NSW chief executive Anne Hollonds said the Breakup Notifier app was “interesting because you could think of it as either completely creepy or actually really useful”.

“[In] some ways it’s possibly one of the most useful things that Facebook could do because, if that’s what people are using Facebook for, some of them – is to keep tabs on a crush – then it certainly makes it a whole lot easier, doesn’t it?”

But she said “the downside” of apps such as Mr Loewenherz’s was that there were some in the community who were “quite naive and vulnerable” and who “aren’t understanding the risks or the dangers of … putting their information up”.

“For example, someone might not realise they’re being stalked in this case,” she said.

To lodge a crush on the Crush Notifier app you need to buy a minimum of 50 Facebook credits ($4.92), which will give you the opportunity of having a crush on five people.

To spy on, watch, or monitor a person’s relationship status with the Breakup Notifier app, you will need to buy a minimum of 10 Facebook credits ($0.98), which will give you the ability to keep an eye on just one user.

“I think the feedback people give on Crush Notifier is far less negative,” Mr Loewenherz said. “It’s almost 100 per cent positive. So not many people are blocking it and Facebook’s alarms haven’t gone off. Facebook definitely knows about it but they’re not really taking any action against it. I think they’re actually totally fine with the idea.”

He said he believed the new app was more accepted because of its name.

“[Crush Notifier is more about] creating relationships instead of celebrating their demise, I guess.”

There were “three groups” of people when it came to analysis of the Breakup Notifier app, Mr Loewenherz said.

“One group thought it was hilarious and thought it was really funny. And that was kind of how I intended it to be but it didn’t end up being like that. It was originally just a joke,” he said.

Then there was the group that had found a “utility out of it and who are really happy it was made”.

And, thirdly, there were the people who were “very offended by it”, he said.

In the first two days that the Breakup Notifier app was initially running it “had a couple [of] million people” go to its app site. “Our user database … hit 3.7 million records”, Mr Loewenherz said.

Facebook said that “as a matter of policy” it did not comment, nor provide details, on why applications were blocked.

Unrelated to the app, Facebook said it would reintroduce a feature that one security expert criticised Facebook forimplementing.

In February, it announced it would give developers of applications access to the contact information of users who install their apps.

Shortly after the feature was launched, Facebook turned it off to adjust the way it would work. But now Facebook plans to reintroduce it.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Character Attack in Cyberland

Who is being so toxic on the net?

And why?

March 1, 2011
Facebook is one of the most common habitats of internet trolls.Facebook is one of the most common habitats of internet trolls.

Trolling – posting inflammatory comments on web sites is on the rise. Recent victims include a schoolgirl who committed suicide; a reporter attacked in Egypt; and a pregnant celebrity. Jojo Moyes reports from London.

At first glance, Natasha MacBryde’s Facebook page is nothing unusual. A pretty, slightly self-conscious blonde teenager gazes out, posed in the act of taking her own picture. But unlike other pages, this has been set up in commemoration, following her death under a train earlier this month.

Now though it has had to be moderated after it was hijacked by commenters who mocked both Natasha and the manner of her death heartlessly.

“Natasha wasn’t bullied, she was just a whore,” said one, while another added: “I caught the train to heaven LOL [laugh out loud].” Others clicked on the “like” symbol, safe in their anonymity, to indicate that they agreed.

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The messages were removed after a matter of hours, but Natasha’s grieving father Andrew revealed that Natasha’s brother had also discovered a macabre video – entitled Tasha The Tank Engine on YouTube (it has since been removed). “I simply cannot understand how or why these people get any enjoyment or satisfaction from making such disgraceful comments,” he said.

He is far from alone. Following the vicious sexual assault on NBC reporter Lara Logan in Cairo last week, online debate on America’s NPR website became so ugly that moderator Mark Memmott was forced to remove scores of comments and reiterate the organisation’s stance on offensive message-posting.

He added: “Here’s a suggestion based on my more than 30 years of reporting and editing experience. Before you submit a comment, ask yourself this question: If I had to put my real name with this, would I hit ‘publish?’ If the answer is no, the better move might be to hit ‘delete’.”

It’s a sensible message. But it’s one that fewer internet users seem to be heeding. “Trolls”, or users who deliberately post offensive or inflammatory comments, are on the rise and few websites – this one included – are immune.

America’s Today Show recently ran a story about trolls’ behaviour after the deaths of three adolescent girls. One of the girls, Alexis Pilkington, was referred to as a “suicidal slut”, while the grieving family of an 18-year-old who had died in a car crash were targeted by trolls who emailed them leaked pictures of her mutilated corpse.

Last year, after others defaced the Facebook pages of two murdered children, Australian communications minister Stephen Conroy claimed that the free-for-all nature of the internet had become “a recipe for anarchy and the Wild West”.

In Britain, website Little Gossip prompted outrage after it enabled – some say encouraged – school pupils to post unproven sexual gossip about other, named pupils. It was closed earlier this month after the owners confessed they were unable to prevent what they called “malicious and unwanted comments”.

But who is posting such vile content? And why? British neuroscientist and member of the House of Lords Baroness Greenfield has expressed concern as to whether internet use is responsible for what she sees as an increasing lack of empathy among the young. At the British Festival of Science she said that while some “very good things” were emerging from information technology, “by the same token we have got to be very careful about what price we are paying”.

Website netbullies.com has identified four kinds of people who post offensive content. The most dangerous, it says, is the “power hungry” bully, often someone who has little power or voice in real life. “They are empowered by the anonymity of the internet and communications and the fact that they never have to confront their victim.”

Someone who would agree is Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman, who has to deal daily with offensive tweets and postings that, he says now, “come with the turf”. “It’s getting worse because the internet allows for anonymity,” he says. “And anonymity is the email equivalent of drunken courage in a bar. It allows people to fire off vulgarity and threats sans consequences.”

Last month, however, Pearlman, decided to track down and confront those who had insulted him, and, in one case, tricked him into opening a link containing extreme pornography while his young daughter was present. “Matt”, the first of the commenters he confronted, apologised profusely, saying he had simply wanted to get a rise out of Pearlman. “I thought it was cool,” Matt said. “I never meant for it to reach this point.”

“Andy”, another, confessed that he was not proud of what he had done, “but the internet got the best of me”. He pleaded, without irony, for Pearlman “not to eviscerate me”. “The main problem,” says Pearlman, “is there’s no longer a stamp-and-envelope moment. Back when we communicated via letters, there was time between writing something and sending it to kick back and re-think your sentiment. Now, there’s no time. It’s write, click, send – bam!”

This appears to be true for Nir Rosen, a Fellow at New York University’s Centre for Law and Security, who resigned his post last week after his own unpleasant tweets about Lara Logan’s plight were publicised. “It was the Twitter equivalent of blurting something out…” he explained afterwards. “In those few minutes I didn’t think about it, you’re lying in bed late at night… just f…ing around on the internet thoughtlessly.”

Etiquette expert William Hanson agrees: “Writing something on Facebook, Twitter or an internet forum detaches you from your remarks… it gives people a kind of ‘courage’ to be vindictive and come out with things that in their right mind they would never say.”

But this apparent licence to express one’s most toxic thoughts is evident on ordinary newspaper websites, where, this week, for example, comments below a photograph of pregnant British pop star Myleene Klass included: “She looks a complete mess,” “totally gross”, “saggy breasted” and even “revolting”. One pregnant woman told me she had felt intimidated just reading them.

Technology experts are divided as to whether insisting on the use of real names would improve online behaviour – or whether trolls would simply find a way around it. But some websites are trying to solve the problem, harnessing the wisdom of the crowd, and relying on the good sense, and manners, of the majority.

Tech website Slashdot has for years only made visible comments that receive a certain number of “approvals” from other users. Websites such as Huffington Post and Jezebelhave recently introduced similar systems, with posts requiring peer approval. Gawker, meanwhile, requires commenters to “audition” before their remarks appear. In a bold strategy, weblog site Metafilter requires its users to pay to comment – those who make offensive remarks are banned and lose their money. It has proven a powerful deterrent.

But Facebook, which is primarily a networking, rather than commenting site, is struggling to deal with the problem, as evidenced by the callous comments left in support of killer Raoul Moat after his recent death.

In the meantime, few have faith that the internet’s “Wild West nature” will change any time soon. Anyone who writes or is written about is now a target for abuse, says Pearlman. “I don’t think it can be improved, unless there’s some sort of genuine accountability. And that’s probably impossible.”

Hanson believes the issue may simply reflect society as a whole, and that people are becoming less respectful of each other generally. “Manners are selfless – they put other people first, and we as individuals second. We must remember that the whole point of manners and civility is other people, internet or no internet.”

The Telegraph, London

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha