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06.07.16 | 7:16 am

Facebook Messenger security flaw meant hackers could alter sent messages on Android

The exploit was discovered by Check Point and allowed hackers to alter previously sent messages, such as swapping out a benign link your friend sent you with a link that leads to a malicious site. The exploit only existed on Facebook Messenger for Android, which Facebook says has now been fixed.

[Image: Facebook]

10.28.16 | an hour ago

Facebook offers advertisers a way to exclude ethnic groups

It's hard to say exactly how marketers might use the feature, but according to ProPublica, Facebook offers them a way to exclude serving ads to people in specific "ethnic affinities."

If this tool is used to discriminate against people seeking housing, ProPublica wrote, it would be illegal under federal rules.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Fast Company request for comment. But the social networking giant told ProPublica, "We take a strong stand against advertisers misusing our platform: Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, and they require compliance with the law."

10.28.16 | an hour ago

That $999 kit that makes your car semi-autonomous isn’t happening

George Hotz, the first person to ever jailbreak the iPhone, promised last month that his self-driving car company,, would by the end of the year release a product that adds semi-autonomous capabilities to Honda Civics and some Acura cars.

Today, he ditched that plan after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a letter expressing concern over the safety of the product. Hotz announced the news on Twitter using the account:

10.28.16 | 2 hours ago

Hackers don’t need a gun to take down your drone

There's been plenty of discussion about whether irresponsible drone pilots pose a risk to airplanes or first responders. But what if the flying cameras start to fall out of the sky because of ones and zeros?

Researchers have shown it's possible for hackers to take control of a drone and even make it fall out of the sky, Ars Technica reports. And as Recode notes, different researchers recently showed that it's possible to remotely take over control of a number of different off-the-shelf drones.

So while we're unlikely to see hackers hijacking the flying devices any time soon, it's worth remembering that people upset with drones don't need no stinking gun to knock them out of the sky.

10.28.16 | 2 hours ago

Uber drivers in London are now entitled to workers’ rights

A tribunal in London today decided that Uber drivers are entitled to workers' rights such as paid holidays and the minimum wage.

Uber has argued that its drivers are their own employers, and that its app merely connects them to work—a setup that excludes the company from following laws such as those establishing a minimum wage that apply only to employees.

The London case was brought by one current and one former driver, but it exposes Uber to legal action from about 42,000 of its drivers who are based in London. It did not address the question of whether the drivers have been paid the minimum wage, but rather whether they are entitled to it.

Uber plans to appeal the decision.

10.28.16 | 2 hours ago

Due to Apple price hikes in the U.K., it’s now cheaper for Brits to fly round-trip to the U.S. to buy a MacBook Pro

On Thursday, Apple raised prices by as much as £500 on its products sold in the U.K.—thus making it cheaper to buy a round-trip ticket to the U.S. or Canada to buy your latest device and fly back to London, reports the Financial Times. For example, a MacBook Pro just jumped in price from £2,499 to £2,999, but starts in the U.S. at $2,999 and in Canada at C$3,499, about £530 and £800 less, respectively, than the price in pounds sterling.

Right now, Air India is offering roundtrip tickets from London to New York from $441 and WestJet is offering roundtrip tickets from London to Toronto for £349. Oy, how badly do you want one of these new laptops?

10.28.16 | 3 hours ago

78,000 Corinthian Colleges students have filed debt relief claims

Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit education chain that once operated over 100 campuses across North America, filed for bankruptcy last year amid a torrent of lawsuits alleging that many of the company's programs were a sham. 

Corinthian's collapse left thousands of students in the lurch and on the hook for thousands of dollars of debt, prompting the Obama Administration to review its write-down policies in cases of fraud and abuse. In the months since, over 78,000 Corinthian students and an additional 4,000 students from other trade schools have requested debt relief.

The Education Department said today that is has already approved more than 15,000 claims, together worth $247 million. All told, student-friendly changes in policy could cost taxpayers as much as $21.2 billion over the next 10 years. 

[Photo: Flickr user college.library]

10.28.16 | 4 hours ago

This online master’s program is now producing more computer science grads than any other university

These days there are dozens of ways to learn how to code, from bootcamps to YouTube videos. But until the Georgia Institute of Technology introduced a low-cost, online version of its master's degree in computer science in 2014, earning an advanced credential in the subject was expensive and often inconvenient.

Now, for just $7,000, students can earn the same CS diploma as master's students who attend Georgia Tech in person. In just two years, the program has become the nation's largest computer science MS in terms of annual graduates, increasing production by roughly 7%.

Even better: the average student in the program is 34 years old and would not otherwise have had the means to attain the degree, implying a significant increase in access for lower-income, mid-career professionals.  

10.28.16 | 9:50 am

N.Y.C. becomes first city in U.S. to pass wage protection for freelancers

The "Freelance Isn't Free" bill, aimed at protecting freelance professionals in New York City from clients who don't pay or pay late, was passed unanimously by the New York City Council yesterday. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign it into law, and it would go into effect 180 days later.

The law mandates that employers pay freelancers in full within 30 days after they render services (unless otherwise specified in a contract). It is still not determined whether the protection will extend to freelancers residing outside New York who work for N.Y.C.-based companies.

One of the chief complaints of freelance professionals is getting paid on time. As many as 7 out of 10 freelancers encounter this costly problem, according to the most recent survey from Upwork/Freelancers Union. The survey estimates as many as 38% of New York City's workers are independent contractors.

10.28.16 | 9:20 am

Facebook mimics Snapchat again with its new messaging camera

It's happening again—Facebook is mimicking Snapchat with its new product. Just like Instagram Stories was considered a copy of Snapchat Stories, Facebook is testing a new camera and messaging features that ape its rival, including facial masks and photos or videos that disappear if you don't respond within 24 hours, reports Recode. Facebook says that the new features let users "share moments as they happen and express yourself more" . . . and, they're hoping, have fewer reasons to use Snapchat.

[Image: Facebook]

10.28.16 | 9:00 am

Morning intel: WhatsApp’s privacy policy in Europe, Tesla’s solar roof reveal

• European regulators have asked WhatsApp to stop sharing user data with Facebook, to ensure WhatsApp's new privacy policy complies with European laws. 

• Speaking of privacy: The FCC just ruled that AT&T, Comcast, and other broadband providers can no longer collect user data without getting permission—a big step forward for online privacy advocates. 

Soylent is reformulating its powder, after finding that the new version was inducing stomach issues in customers similar to those caused by Soylent's bars

• Both Microsoft and Apple released new computers this week. Here's how Apple's new MacBook Pros compare to Microsoft's new Surface Studio, according to Fast Company's Mark Sullivan, who said Microsoft was the clear winner in terms of innovation.

• ICYMI: Vine is dead. What platform will Vine creators flock to now? After the news broke, PornHub offered to buy Vine because, as VP Corey Price said, "six seconds is more than enough time for most people to enjoy themselves."

• Coming up today: Tesla is unveiling its solar roof at 5:30 p.m. PT, a first look at what will come of the Tesla-SolarCity acquisition. 

10.28.16 | 7:08 am

Now Soylent is pulling its powder from shelves after customers get sick

First it was Soylent's Food Bars that were making customers vomit, causing it to halt sales and shipments. Now, it's the powder that is making a "handful of customers" extremely ill, prompting them to pull the product from shelves, according to a blog post on Thursday. Soylent says that "for the past several weeks, we have worked aggressively to uncover why people were having these negative experiences" and has failed to uncover any "food pathogens, toxins, or outside contamination." Yet it has been able to isolate the problem to Powder 1.6, since customers who tried the earlier versions didn't get sick. 

Soylent says it is reformulating the bar and powder, sharing its findings with the Food and Drug Administration, and expects both products to be ready in the first quarter of 2017. So far, it hasn't heard complaints about Soylent Drink or Coffiest.

[Image: Soylent]

10.28.16 | 12:13 am

In historic victory for online privacy, FCC rules that broadband providers need permission to track users

In a huge victory for internet privacy advocates, the FCC ruled on Thursday that broadband giants like AT&T and Comcast can no longer collect and give out data on their users without first getting their permission. Currently, those companies can track their users' activity online—including the websites they visit and apps they use—unless they're told to stop doing so.  The 3-2 decision was historic because it marks "the first time" the agency has passed such online protections, reports the New York Times. Previously, such privacy rules only applied to phones and cable TV.