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08.25.16 | 9:42 am

WhatsApp breaks promise, will now share user data with Facebook

Facebook-owned over-the-top messaging app WhatsApp has long been considered one of the "good" tech companies when it comes to privacy. All of its messages are encrypted, which makes them much harder to be intercepted by third parties. More importantly, the company always touts how careful it is with user data. Now, a new update is raising eyebrows.

WhatsApp has suddenly changed course—as part of its new privacy policy it will now share users' phone numbers with parent company Facebook, reports the Associated Press. This will help make the app more of an ad-driven product by creating better ways to personalize ads. Though small, this shift a huge change for the company, and could significantly alter how privacy advocates think of the product. 

Back in 2014, when the company was first bought by Facebook, privacy organizations feared the information that could be shared between the companies. The company has said for years that it protects users' privacy and never planned to change the way it handled data since it first began. Here's a section from Ars Technica's coverage two years ago

Facebook getting its hands on WhatsApp data is decidedly a privacy concern, but how immediate that concern is lies in how you interpret Koum's post-sale blog post. The founder promised that "nothing" will change. In one sense, this means that WhatsApp will continue to keep customer phone numbers, metadata, and their contacts' information off its servers, and it will continue to not store messages. In this case, Facebook will not actually have access to anything, because there are no logs.

WhatsApp users, it turns out, can opt out of this info sharing. The catch is they have to actually read the whole terms of service (which most people don't do):

05.22.17 | 2 hours ago

Cargo pilots plan to protest outside Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting tomorrow

As Amazon ramps up its own logistics operations—which means the e-commerce giant is purchasing and leasing an increasing number of cargo aircrafts and crews—the pilots are seeing operational risks on the horizon. The companies Amazon contracts with—Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (AAWW) and Air Transport Services Group (ATSG)—are seeing higher rates of attrition due to short staffing and alleged contract violations, claim the pilots. They hope their presence outside Amazon's annual meeting tomorrow will send a message to shareholders and pressure Bezos and his company to exert some influence on these cargo providers. 

05.22.17 | 2 hours ago

Robocops are now patrolling the streets of Dubai 

Last year, Dubai announced that they wanted to modernize their police force. They weren't talking about new body armor, innovative handcuffs, or body cams, though, but a robot police force, which they hoped to have on the streets by 2020. Dubai beat their schedule, though, and the first robocop is on duty at the three-day Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference (GISEC). It is expected to be patrolling the streets by Wednesday, according to CNN

The Dubai Police Robot, looks a lot more like a human than Silicon Valley's egg-shaped version (and hopefully it would fair better in a fight, too). In its current iteration, people can report crimes to the robot via a touchscreen on its chest, pay traffic fines, and submit paperwork, as The Telegraph reports. The cop can also tip off its human co-workers to start investigations. As soon as they update its operating system, make sure its facial recognition technology is higher than its current 80% accuracy, and are confident it won't pull a SkyNet, Dubai Police hope the metallic cop can start doing the hard work of chasing down suspects in the Dubai heat and making arrests.

Dubai isn't stopping there, though. To continue there reputation for being the very model of a modern city, they hope to make a quarter of their police force require battery charging and system updates by 2030, according to CNN.  "We are looking to make everything smart in Dubai Police," Brigadier Khlaid Nasser Al Razouqi told Gulf News in March. "By 2030, we will have the first smart police station which won't require human employees." It makes sense, because robot cops will have an easier time policing flying taxis.

[Screenshot: Ruptly

05.22.17 | 2 hours ago

Meet Ford’s new smart mobility chief: Marcy Klevorn  

As James Hackett steps up as Ford's new CEO, Marcy Klevorn will fill his former duties as head of the automaker's smart mobility unit. Klevorn has been at Ford since 1983 and rose to become the company's first female chief information officer in 2015. Her career at Ford has been based almost entirely within the IT department, where she's helped transform and manage Ford's manufacturing systems and led a campaign to digitally enable Ford's workforce, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition to updating Ford's workplace for the digital era, she's also known for her ability to extract cost savings out of operations—something Ford is keen to apply to other departments, no doubt. From 2006-2011, IT costs dropped 30% when Klevorn served as global head of IT operations. At the top of Ford's mobility unit, Klevorn will be charged with managing the development of autonomous technology and figuring out how Ford can financially optimize such a system. 

[Photo: courtesy of Ford]

05.22.17 | 3 hours ago

Mark Zuckerberg wants you to know he is really, really not running for office

The Facebook CEO has been touring the nation on a months-long "listening tour," which some have seen as a precursor to a political campaign. On Sunday, Zuckerberg set the record straight in a lengthy Facebook post. Here's the highlight: 

Some of you have asked if this challenge means I'm running for public office. I'm not. I'm doing it to get a broader perspective to make sure we're best serving our community of almost 2 billion people at Facebook and doing the best work to promote equal opportunity at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Got that? Of course, that only means that he is not running for office right now. It certainly doesn't preclude the possibility of a future Senator Zuckerberg, especially after all the uproar over Facebook's internal guidelines for content moderators on how to deal with posts involving sex, violence, and terrorism dies down. Zuck's well-timed statement could assuage investors' fears and keep those stock prices high, which is probably the best way to ensure that the Chan Zuckerberg initiative is well-funded for the future.

[Photo: Flickr user Anthoy Quintano

05.22.17 | 3 hours ago

CVS wants to save your skin this summer, one low SPF sunblock at a time

Along with Baz Luhrmann and the Chicago Tribune's graduation speech writer Mary Schmich, the drug store chain is joining the fight to encourage the youth of today to wear sunscreen. 

The pharmacy has introduced a "Long Live Skin" campaign, in partnership with Johnson & Johnson and the American Cancer Society, and one of its biggest moves will be to clear its shelves of any sun care products with an SPF lower than 15, saving their shelf space for products with higher SPF and helping shoppers make healthier choices. As Glamour notes, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a product with an SPF of 30+, while the FDA recommendation is a minimum of 15 SPF. Your future self—and Baz Luhrmann—will thank you.

[Photo: Flickr user Lady May Pamintuan

05.22.17 | 3 hours ago

“The future is not a fantasy,” says Ford’s new CEO Jim Hackett, in his first comments since taking over

Artificial intelligence, 3D printing, robotics—"We need to have a point of view on all these things," said Ford executive chairman Bill Ford in a press conference this morning to introduce new CEO Jim Hackett, who abruptly replaced Mark Fields at the company. During Fields' tenure at the top, Ford has been criticized for not moving that far beyond its core auto business. Likewise, its stock has dropped 37% over the last three years. Though Ford has invested substantially in autonomous car technology—most recently through a deal with Argo AI—the company has been quiet about how it plans to monetize its boldest bets. 

"The future is not a fantasy," said Hackett, who led Ford's Smart Mobility unit, adding that the company is working on a vision for the future concerning, "where we're going to play and how we're going to win." Both Ford and Hackett want to scrap some of the hierarchies embedded in the business in order to make decisions faster. It's uncertain what that will look like and whether Ford may need to cut some of its workforce in order to flatten its ranks. Since making the announcement this morning, Ford's stock is up 1.4%

05.22.17 | 9:25 am

MIT gets into the athletic wear business with new breathable fabric made with live cells

Step aside, Nike and Lululemon. In what sounds like the worst Project Runway challenge ever, a team of MIT researchers has created a new workout suit that incorporates live microbial cells. The cells sense when an athlete is hot and sweaty or cooling down and then shrink or expand to open or close ventilating flaps on the fabric, helping the athlete warm up or cool off as necessary. They've also fashioned a running shoe lined with cells that can help wick away moisture. Details of both designs are published today in your favorite nerd's favorite bathtub reading material, Science Advances.

The researchers have more ideas of how to incorporate microbes into fashion, too, including swapping florescent microbes for reflective strips as well as what they call "odor-releasing functionalities." Male rompers can't be far behind.

[Photo: Hannah Cohen]

05.22.17 | 9:00 am

Portland just got the most Portland parking app ever

The population and tourist appeal of Portland, Oregon has exploded in the last few years (thanks, Portlandia) and the city's infrastructure is racing to catch up. To help meet the increasing demand for parking, the city has just launched a new app that lets you pay for parking by phone. While the Portland Mercury notes that the app offers the same service as ones used in Chicago and other big cities, Portland's has a unique twist—it's cat themed, because of course it is. The only way it could be more Portland is if it yarn-bombed the parking meter while yelling at you for driving a car. The pretty pink app is not only bedazzled with adorable little kittens, but it will meow to remind you when the session is about to expire. The app only works with parking meters, so you're still on your own for trying to get a spot near Salt & Straw or Pip's Original.  

05.22.17 | 6:09 am

ISS astronauts are going on a spacewalk tomorrow

Two astronauts on the International Space Station have been given the go-ahead by NASA to conduct a spacewalk to fix malfunctioning equipment on the station, NASA announced in a blog post. The spacewalk is expected to last around two hours and begin around 8 a.m. EDT Tuesday, "or earlier, if the crew is running ahead of schedule with its spacewalking preparations," NASA says. Earthlings will be able to tune into NASA Television beginning at 6:30 a.m. EDT to catch all the action.

05.22.17 | 6:00 am

Ford is replacing its CEO with the exec who leads its self-driving car division

Mark Fields is out, according to the New York Times, and Jim Hackett is in at Ford. Fields is reportedly being shown the door "for failing to expand the company's core auto business and for lagging in developing the high-tech cars of the future." Hackett joined the company last year as the head of its "smart mobility" unit, which includes Ford's self-driving car division. The switch is a clear sign that Ford sees autonomous vehicles as the future of the automotive industry and comes after Tesla recently surpassed Ford and GM in market capitalization.

05.22.17 | 5:48 am

The #orb is Trump’s latest gift to Twitter

The picture of President Trump, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi placing their hands on a glowing globe has made people on Twitter unable to stop making comparisons to evil organizations wanting to take over the world.

05.21.17 | 11:48 pm

These are some of the most shocking details in Facebook’s newly revealed rulebook for moderators

The Guardian blew up a quiet Sunday with its exposé on Facebook's internal guidelines for content moderators on how to deal with posts involving sex, violence, and terrorism submitted by its 2 billion users. More than 100 internal training manuals, spreadsheets, and flowcharts were obtained by the Guardian, which published several stories detailing the rules, some of which have raised concerns among moderators due to their "inconsistency and peculiar nature." Among them:

• Due to the onslaught of posts that may be inappropriate, moderators are so overwhelmed they often have "just 10 seconds" to make up their minds. 

• Facebook gets 6.5 million reports a week involving potentially fake accounts. 

• Prominent people are more protected, so that a post saying "Someone shoot Trump" is recommended for deletion, while more graphic threats such as "To snap a bitch's neck, make sure to apply all your pressure to the middle of her throat" are permitted.

Some videos of violent deaths are permitted, because "they can help create awareness of issues such as mental illness."

Read the full story here.