Archives for October 2017

World Economic Forum Says Tech Firms Must Do More to Tackle Extremism

If tech firms don’t act, governments may impose regulations limiting free speech.

U.S. tech firms such as Facebook fb and Twitter twtr should be more aggressive in tackling extremism and political misinformation if they want to avoid government action, a report from the World Economic Forum said on Monday.

The study from the Swiss nonprofit organization adds to a chorus of calls for Silicon Valley to stem the spread of violent material from Islamic State militants and the use of their services by alleged Russian propagandists.

Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google goog will go under the microscope of U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday when their general counsels will testify before three U.S. congressional committees on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

For more on Facebook and the spread of fake news, watch Fortune’s video:

The report from the World Economic Forum‘s human rights council warns that tech companies risk government regulation that would limit freedom of speech unless they “assume a more active self-governance role.”

It recommends that the companies conduct more thorough internal reviews of how their services can be misused and that they put in place more human oversight of content.

The German parliament in June approved a plan to fine social media networks up to 50 million euros if they fail to remove hateful postings promptly, a law that Monday’s study said could potentially lead to the takedown of massive amounts of content.

Tech

Apple Reportedly Fires Engineer After Daughter Posts iPhone X Video

There’s a reason Apple is so good at keeping secrets. Brooke Amelia Peterson says she and her father have found that out the hard way.

The younger Peterson posted a short video to YouTube from the Apple campus, apparently sometime early last week. One segment, filmed from Apple’s campus, showed off her father’s pre-release iPhone X – the highly-anticipated super-flagship phone due to be released on November 3. Peterson’s father, according to her videos, was an engineer working on radio communications and Apple Pay features for the iPhone X, pronounced “iPhone ten.”

Apple watchdogs including 9to5 Mac and Apple Insider jumped on the video, which 9to5 Mac described as “probably our best look yet at the device in action.” It included substantial glimpses of the device’s calendar app, camera, Face ID, and the new Animoji feature, as well as the physical design of the phone itself.

In a followup video posted on Saturday, though, Peterson claims that Apple reacted to the video by firing her father, who was seen cheerfully participating – despite Apple’s well-known commitment to secrecy around unreleased technology.

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In yesterday’s video, the younger Peterson was conciliatory towards Apple, acknowledging that she and her father had made a mistake.

“At the end of the day, when you work for Apple, it doesn’t matter how good of a person you are. If you break a rule, they just have no tolerance.”

“I’m not mad at Apple,” she continued. “My dad takes absolutely full responsibility for the one rule that he broke. We’re not angry, we’re not bitter.”

Details of Peterson’s story have not been independently verified, but we have reached out to Apple and will update this story with any confirmation or details.

Peterson says she took down the original video at Apple’s request, and some mirrors of the full video appear to be down as well, but copies are still surfacing both around the web and on YouTube.

Tech

Facebook Friends With Your Co-Workers? Survey Shows Your Boss Probably Disapproves

You and your colleagues pitch in together on difficult projects, lunch together, and have drinks together after work. You probably think it’s the most natural thing in the world to friend them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter or Instagram. Your boss, though, probably thinks you shouldn’t.

That’s the surprising result of a survey of 1,006 employees and 307 senior managers conducted by staffing company OfficeTeam. Survey respondents were asked how appropriate it was to connect with co-workers on various social media platforms. It turns out that bosses and their employees have very different answers to this question.

When it comes to Facebook, 77 percent of employees thought it was either “very appropriate” or “somewhat appropriate” to be Facebook friends with your work colleagues, but only 49 percent of senior managers agreed. That disagreement carries over to other social media platforms. Sixty-one percent of employees thought it was fine to follow a co-worker on Twitter, but only 34 percent of bosses agreed. With Instagram, 56 percent of employees, but only 30 percent of bosses thought following a co-worker was appropriate. Interestingly, the one social platform bosses and employees seem to almost agree about is Snapchat, with 34 percent of employees thinking it was fine to connect with colleagues, and 26 percent of bosses thinking so too.

What should you do if you want to connect with a colleague on social media–if you get a connection request from a colleague? Here are a few options:

1. Use LinkedIn.

LinkedIn was not included in the OfficeTeam survey, but because it’s a professional networking tool, few bosses will object to you connecting with coworkers there. And LinkedIn has many of the same features as Facebook–you can even send instant messages to your contacts.

2. Keep your social media connections secret.

Most social networks give users the option to limit who can see what they post and who their other connections are. You can use this option to keep your social media interactions limited to the people you choose. If that doesn’t include your boss, he or she may never know that you and your co-workers are connected.

3. Talk to your boss.

He or she may not agree with the surveyed bosses who said connecting on social media was inappropriate, in which case there’s no problem. And if your boss does object, he or she may have some good reasons you hadn’t thought of to keep your professional life separate from your social media one. The only way to find out is to ask.

4. Consider the future.

It may be perfectly fine to connect with your co-workers on social media when you’re colleagues. But what happens if you get promoted to a leadership position? You may regret giving your former co-workers access to all the thoughts you share on Facebook or Twitter. So if a colleague sends you a social media request, or you want to make one yourself, take a moment to think it through. Will you be sorry one day–when you’re the boss yourself?

Tech

Uncle Sam Tries to Hire Hackers

This is your Cyber Saturday edition of Fortune’s tech newsletter for October 28, 2017.

The U.S. government has a problem with hackers—but not the kind you think. The problem I refer to is Uncle Sam’s reputation of hostility towards hackers, which makes it difficult to hire the sort of people the country needs to tighten up its sprawling computer networks.

I discovered this firsthand by polling hackers and security experts in San Francisco this week, asking if any of them would ever consider working for the government. In a room of hundreds of people, fewer than ten hands went up.

That’s bad news because the crowd, who was attending an event by the bug bounty firm HackerOne, are exactly the sort of people the government needs: Smart and creative technologists who are well versed in hacker culture, and capable of protecting the U.S. from cyber attacks on its websites and infrastructure.

Their reluctance to join the government is two-fold. The first reason stems from long-running mistrust over the government’s persecution of hackers like Aaron Swartz, a young genius who uploaded academic journals from MIT, and Samy Kamkar, who faced a lengthy criminal ordeal over a caper involving the social network MySpace (which he related in humorous detail to the HackerOne crowd).

The government’s second hiring challenge is more prosaic. Namely, talented hackers don’t want to trade in plush positions and big bucks at cool technology companies to work for an average salary in the unglamorous world of the civil service.

Fortunately, not everyone feels this way. One example is Mike Chung, a former manager at Apple who left to help lead the Digital Defense Service, and run programs like “Hack the Pentagon” and “Hack the Airforce,” which offer cash prizes to hackers who find vulnerabilities in military software. Another is Jacob Kaplan-Moss who used to direct security at Heroku but now works for 18F, a government agency that’s helping the likes of the IRS harder its computer defenses.

At the HackerOne event, both men said their work comes with a sense of mission missing from many corporate jobs, and also described the sweeping impact a hacker can make inside the government. They also made the case that Uncle Sam is overcoming its aversion to hackers, and recognizing it needs to accommodate their culture.

Their pitch was persuasive, and even led some young hackers to ask Chung and Kaplan-Moss how to get involved with the government. While many in the room remained skeptical, the good news is that the government appears to recognize they need a few good hackers—and might even do what it takes to get them.

Jeff John Roberts

@jeffjohnroberts

[email protected]

Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my about.me), PGP encrypted email (see public key on my Keybase.io), Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.

THREATS

Bad date: Online dating can be plenty rough, but more so when your courtship app is dripping with cyber vulnerabilities. Kaspersky Labs tested Tinder, Bumble and the rest of them and discovered the apps contain security flaws that make it possible to identify users’ identities and location.

Bad Rabbit on the move. The latest data-encrypting malware is freezing computers at news agencies, trains and airports in the Ukraine and beyond, and spreading via an NSA exploit. Early guesses are that Russia is responsible for Bad Rabbit.

Come in, Amazon cyber-stalkers. You’ve heard about Amazon’s new smart doorbell that lets you open the door for remote deliveries. Some people are put-off by the idea of strangers in their house (well, techically their foyer), but we’re more worried about the hacking risks. Adam is probably right that the decision to buy one is based on how much you trust Amazon.

Equi-fail (again). Here’s more gasoline for the Equifax dumpster fire: A researcher reportedly notified the credit bureau of egregious security holes last December—months earlier than the company says it learned of the hack. Equifax, of course, ignored the warnings. No word if they also tried to sell the guy some credit protection.

Your phone grip is a tell: The latest layer of phone security is “behavioral biometrics“—a long list of behaviors such as how you tilt your phone, how you scroll, and how you respond to scream stimuli. Together all this forms a unique profile. Coming to a banking app near you.

Way to make our robot overlords feel right at home! Saudi Arabia this week granted citizenship to a mechanical humanoid. Really.

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ACCESS GRANTED

The resurgence [of cryprojacking] can be attributed to the cryptocurrency Monero. Designed to be mined on PCs, the privacy-minded e-coin sparked the development of a handful of off-the-shelf Monero mining tools… When added to a website, these tools transform typically unsuspecting visitors’ computers into cryptographic quarries—and new revenue streams.

Fortune’s Robert Hackett explains the finer points of cryptojacking, which involves slipping software onto unsuspecting consumers’ computers in order to mine cryptocurrency.

ONE MORE THING

Your cyber-crime shopping list.  Ever wanted to go an cyber-crime spree but worried it would break the bank? Well, a list culled from dark web breaks down the prices —they range from $ 20 for 500 spammy texts to $ 700 for a DDoS attack. All summed up in this cool Fortune graphic.

Tech

These 3 Companies Are Set For A Horror Story

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Tech

Facebook says will make ads more transparent

(Reuters) – Facebook said on Friday it will make advertising on its social network more transparent and ask for documentation from advertisers, especially for political and election-related ads.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook logo is seen at a start-up companies gathering at Paris’ Station F in Paris, France on January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

Advertisers will be required to include a disclosure in their election-related ads, which will read: “Paid for by,” Facebook said.

Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Self-driving startups race down a narrowing road

DETROIT/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Lei Xu and Justin Song once worked at electric carmaker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), one of the hottest companies in Silicon Valley. But with interest and investments in autonomous vehicles mounting, they left to pursue what they see as the next big thing.

Nullmax CEO Lei Xu drives a Lincoln MKZ sedan equipped with his company’s prototype self-driving hardware and software in Fremont, California, U.S. on October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jane Lanhee Lee

Their company, Nullmax, is one of more than 240 startups worldwide, including 75 in Silicon Valley, attempting to design software, hardware components and systems for future self-driving cars, according to a Reuters analysis.

Xu and Song are bankrolled by corporate money, but unlike many of their fellow entrepreneurs, they skipped funding from Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Founded in August 2016, Nullmax got $ 10 million from a Chinese firm, Xinmao Science and Technology Co (000836.SZ).

By seeking corporate backing in China, the Nullmax founders managed to sidestep an issue facing other startups in the sector: While big automotive and technology companies are pouring billions into the autonomous vehicle space, Silicon Valley investors so far have been fairly restrained in increasing their bets.

Headlines have been dominated by old-line players such as General Motors Co (GM.N), which jolted the industry last year when it bought a tiny San Francisco software company called Cruise Automation for a reported $ 1 billion. Just this week, top-tier supplier Delphi Automotive PLC (DLPH.N) acquired Boston-based software startup nuTonomy for $ 450 million.

Now, “every startup thinks they will get a billion dollars” in valuation, said Evangelos Simoudis, a Silicon Valley venture investor and an advisor on corporate innovation.

However, investment in untested startup companies remains relatively modest despite all the buzz and lofty expectations. Total funding of self-driving startups from both corporate and private investors has barely topped $ 5 billion, the Reuters analysis of publicly available data shows.

With the notable exceptions of Andreessen Horowitz and New Enterprise Associates, few of the big Valley venture capital firms are heavily invested in the sector. Overall, only seven of the top 30 self-driving startups have received later-stage funding, the Reuters analysis shows, an indication that some venture capitalists are ambivalent about the industry’s potential.

(For a graphic of venture and corporate funding of self-driving startups, see: tmsnrt.rs/2xOX0jN)

Skeptics note that few of the startups are making money. And established auto and parts companies have not demonstrated a clear path to revenue and profitability in autonomous vehicles despite their big bets in the space.

Another sticking point: While the initial wave of self-driving vehicles is expected to begin commercial service in 2019-2020, experts expect the transition from human-driven to automated cars could take a decade or more to roll out.

Cautions Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI): “You can destroy a lot of value by chasing your tail in autonomous driving.”

CORPORATE INVESTMENTS

All told, U.S. automotive and technology firms likely have invested some $ 40 billion to $ 50 billion in self-driving technology in recent years, mainly through acquisitions and partnerships. The full extent is hard to know because big players such as Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), whose Waymo subsidiary is considered among the front-runners in the arena, have not revealed the full scope of their investments, although it is believed to be in the billions.

Among the top corporate investors in the sector are Samsung Group [SAGR.UL], Intel Corp (INTC.O), Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), Delphi and Robert Bosch GmbH [ROBG.UL]. Corporate investors also have backed five of the six self-driving startups with valuations of $ 1 billion or more.

(For a graphic on key players in the development of autonomous vehicles, see: tmsnrt.rs/2nYv7gc)

Whether the industry is poised to produce more such unicorns is now a topic of much debate. Two former investors in Cruise Automation, for example, are poles apart in their views of self-driving vehicles and technology.

Veronica Wu, managing partner in Palo Alto-based Hone Capital, said her company continues to invest in “quite a number” of self-driving startups, while acknowledging that the technology will take time to deploy.

“It’s a matter of when, not if,” she said. “We’re fairly optimistic.”

In contrast, Sunny Dhillon of Signia Venture Partners, another Cruise investor, said his firm does not see any attractive investments in the sector right now.

The hefty price paid by GM for Cruise, he said, “made the space very frothy, with every computer vision and robotics PhD student seemingly emerging with a new self-driving car startup.”

In addition, he said many established players “already have made their big investments (and) acquisitions” in the sector. That could limit investors’ potential returns and entrepreneurs’ payoffs down the road.

Quin Garcia, a partner in San Francisco-based AutoTech Ventures, concurs that the space is crowded and valuations are inflated. There may still be “a select few IPOs, but there will be many failures of autonomous vehicle startups” by 2021, he said.

NULLMAX IN CHINA

Those odds haven’t deterred Nullmax founders Xu and Song, who are looking to differentiate themselves.

With many self-driving startups looking to supply U.S. and European automakers, the Chinese-born entrepreneurs, whose specialties are camera-based vision systems and artificial intelligence, are focused on China. They expect to deliver the first partially automated systems to Chinese automakers by 2020.

The U.S.-educated entrepreneurs, both 35, now work out of a small shop in Fremont, Calif., not far from Tesla’s sprawling home factory. Xu once worked at Tesla as a senior engineer while Song specialized in supply chain and quality engineering. Tesla declined to confirm their prior employment.

Xu said the company employs about 50 people, most of them in a larger office in Shanghai. He said the company wants to keep a foot in California, which is a hub of U.S. tech talent, and where regulators have smoothed the way for testing of self-driving vehicles.

As for how Nullmax plans to cash out, Xu navigated around that question.

“We’re pretty busy,” he said. “We don’t much time to think about an IPO right now.”

Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit and Jane Lanhee Lee in San Francisco; Editing by Joe White and Marla Dickerson

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

5 Things to Know About Nintendo’s Super Mario Odyssey

The biggest Mario game in a long time.

Nintendo’s latest game Super Mario Odyssey is launching in a big way.

Starting on Friday, game lovers around the globe will have the opportunity to buy the latest Nintendo NTDOY game, Super Mario Odyssey. As its name suggests, the title centers on the iconic Mario character, and gives you the opportunity to enter a virtual world with your protagonist and explore it at your leisure. And as always, you’ll be chasing the antagonist Bowser around the world in hopes of saving Princess Peach, who has been kidnapped.

But is Super Mario Odyssey worth buying? And should you spend this weekend exploring its vast world?

Read on for the key things you should know about Super Mario Odyssey before you plunk down $ 60 on the game.

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What Is Super Mario Odyssey?

Super Mario Odyssey is the latest installment in the famed Mario franchise. The game is an open world title that allows you to explore the world and enter levels to take on enemies and collect Moons that “power” the Odyssey, a spaceship that gets you around.

Super Mario Odyssey puts you in the place of Mario, who is aiming at saving Princess Peach, who has been kidnapped by the evil Bowser. It’s a tired concept, of course, but Nintendo apparently feels it’s still going to appeal to gamers.

Where Can I Play the Game?

If you’re hoping to play Super Mario Odyssey on the game console of your choice, you’re out of luck. The game is available exclusively on the game company’s Nintendo Switch console.

What Are the Reviewers Saying?

So, Super Mario Odyssey might just be one of the best games ever released, and is the highest-rated game on the Nintendo Switch.

According to MetaCritic, a site that collects reviewers scores, Super Mario Odyssey has attracted an average score of 97 out of a possible 100.

What Makes Super Mario Odyssey Different From Recent Games?

Super Mario Odyssey is the spiritual successor to Super Mario 64, a game that was released on the Nintendo 64 in 1996, and Super Mario Sunshine, a popular title released in 2002 on the GameCube.

That’s because Super Mario Odyssey is an open-world adventure game that lets players explore wherever they’d like. It also includes various levels inside worlds that offer full, 3D gaming.

Nintendo has released Mario games in recent years, but they’ve mainly been 2D adventures like the Super Mario games of old.

OK, So How Do I Buy It?

Sold on Super Mario Odyssey?

If you’re looking to get your hands on the game, it’ll be available starting on Friday, October 27.

Most major retailers, including GameStop GME , Best Buy BBY , and Amazon AMZN , will all start selling the game on Friday. Nintendo Switch owners can also buy a digital version directly on the console.

Both physical disc and digital Super Mario Odyssey versions will cost $ 60.

Tech

Millennials and Gen Z Would Rather Text Each Other Than Do This, According to a New Study

You know the stereotypes about Millennials and Generation Z, but are they real?

Are Millennials really glued to their phones? Do the members of Gen Z really refuse to make phone calls at work? 

Actually, um, maybe–yes–at least, according to a new study, in which almost 75 percent of American Gen Z and Millennials told researchers that they prefer to talk with other people via text message–as opposed to actually talking with them.

This is all via a 4,000-person survey conducted last month by the folks at LivePerson, a company that provides mobile and online messaging business solutions, asking participants in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Japan, and France about their digital media and in-person preferences.

The company also surveyed 1,016 adults 35 years old or older in the United States to use as a benchmark to which they could compare the Millennial and Gen Z answers.

“What we see in the research data is the phone truly becoming an extension of the self, and the platforms and apps within it — digital life — occupying more than their offline interactions,” said Rurik Bradbury, global head of communications and research at LivePerson.

Among the other findings:

1. The phone is the new wallet

Given a choice to leave either their wallet or phone at home, just under 62 percent said their wallet. Among the older cohort, 72 percent of those over age 35 said they’d leave their phone and take their wallet.

2. The phone is almost a part of the body

Nearly two-thirds of 18-34 year olds say they habitually bring their phones with them when they use the bathroom, and nearly half say they regularly text while walking in crowds. Also, more than 70 percent of Gen Z and Millenials say they sleep with their phones within reach. Half say they automatically pick it up if they’re awakened during the night. Also, They’re super-impatient.

3. Instant gratification

According to the study, Millennials and Gen Z “expect digital convenience in all aspects of their lives,” or they’ll walk away from a sale.

“For less expensive purchases (under $ 20 or equivalent), 73.4 percent of Millennials will give up on a brand within 10 minutes if they don’t get the answer they need,” the report sys. Forty percent said they’ll wait no more than five minutes.

4. Phones over dollars

More than half of Millennials and Gen Z respondents said it would take more than $ 1 million to convince them to give up their smartphones; in fact just over 43 percent said it would take at least $ 5 million.

5. Forget “digital first,” how about “digital only?”

Seven out of 10 of the 18 to 34-year-olds surveyed said they could imagine a world in which there is no longer any such thing as brick and mortar stores, and all purchases would be made digitally or online. Moreover, almost 20 percent of Americans in that age range said they’d actually prefer to do all shopping digitally, without ever talking with a human being.

Tech

Uber and Barclays team up to compete in U.S. card rewards war

(Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc and a unit of Barclays plc are teaming up to offer a rewards-enriched credit card in the United States through the ride-service company’s mobile phone app.

FILE PHOTO: An Uber sign is seen in a car in New York, U.S. June 30, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

Uber and bank officials said on Wednesday the card will be free and offer a $ 100 starting bonus, plus an annual $ 50 credit on digital subscription services, such as Netflix. It would also offer cash back on spending, including 4 percent for dining, 3 percent for airfare and 2 percent for Uber rides and many other online transactions.

Curt Hess, chief executive officer of Barclaycard US, said the Uber card spending rewards were set high to attract customers and encourage them to favor it ahead of other cards that they may have.

“Given that it is no-fee, it has some of the best reward points out there,” said Hess.

Barclays’ Uber offer is another gambit in the post-financial crisis bidding between credit card issuers for customers who will bring in transaction fees from merchants and pay to borrow at interest rates upwards of 15 percent.

Citigroup Inc, for example, has attracted customers with its no-fee Double Cash card which pays 2 percent back on all purchases. And, JPMorgan Chase & Co has challenged American Express Co for people willing to lay out annual fees of $ 450 or more in exchange for rich rewards and travel perks.

FILE PHOTO – A Barclays bank building is seen at Canary Wharf in London, Britain May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo

With the Uber deal, Barclays gets to pitch directly to potential new card customers using the ride service app.

Hess said he expected the offers to be more effective than sending promotions through the mail and asking people to fill out applications with basic information that they have already put into the Uber app.

Uber will not offset Barclays’ costs to attract customers, Hess said.

Barclays is the ninth biggest card issuer in the United States by spending volume and outstanding balances, according to The Nilson Report.

The card is first under the Uber name. It comes out on Nov. 2.

Judy Zhu, an Uber business development executive, said the card was a way to encourage customers to use Uber for more than rides.

“We are really starting to think about how to connect Uber to the things you are doing before and after riding,” Zhu said.

Reporting by David Henry in New York

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech