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Overwatch’s loot box system is Blizzard’s true masterpiece

The maddening genius of the loot box<p>It’s been barely a week since Blizzard dropped its <i>Overwatch</i> anniversary event, and dedicated players have already started obsessing over how to collect as much as possible and maximize their time before it closes. There are exhaustive Reddit threads analyzing …

Overwatch

Here's what Fyre Festival attendees thought they were getting when they bought $1,200 tickets — and here's the reality at the center of an FBI investigation

According to a new report in The New York Times, the cofounders of Fyre Media, who put on the event, are now facing a criminal investigation by the US attorney's office for the Southern District of New York and the FBI. Investigators are reportedly looking into allegations of possible mail, wire, …

Fyre Festival

Inside Google's Fight To Keep The US Government Out Of Gmail Inboxes

In at least six separate federal cases, Google is waging a quiet war against the U.S. government. It’s taking the FBI to task over warrants demanding it hand over the contents of Gmail data stored overseas. And because Google stores customer accounts in fragments in servers around the globe, it’s a …

Privacy

Facebook and Twitter 'harm young people's mental health'

Poll of 14- to 24-year-olds shows Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter increased feelings of inadequacy and anxiety<p>Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young people’s mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health …

Patreon doubles in a year to 1M paying patrons and 50K creators

Patreon’s novel idea of fans just directly paying the artists they love is having its hockey stick moment. Patreon tells TechCrunch that in a year, it’s doubled the number of monthly active paying patrons to 1 million, and the number of active creators to 50,000. It’s now on track to pay out $150 …

Facebook fined $122 million by EU for ‘misleading information’ about WhatsApp acquisition

European Commission says social network misled regulators when it said it would not be able to link accounts across WhatsApp and Facebook<p>The European Commission has fined Facebook €110 million ($122 million) for “providing incorrect or misleading information” about its 2014 acquisition of …

European regulators push Facebook to tighten user privacy rules

Authorities in France and the Netherlands are the latest to speak out against the way Facebook handles the massive amounts of user data it collects. In separate announcements today, privacy watchdog groups in both countries said that Facebook did not give users enough control of their data, and …

Juno was supposed to be the labor-friendly Uber alternative. Now drivers are pissed.

Ride-hailing service Juno promised a more worker-friendly alternative to the zero-sum labor practices of Uber and Lyft — it offered drivers a piece …

San Francisco considers ban on sidewalk delivery robots

The robots are currently in testing by a food-delivery service in two San Francisco neighborhoods.<p>San Francisco is considering legislation that would put the brakes on delivery robots rolling across the city's sidewalks.<p>The robots, once confined to sci-fi movies, have rolled into real-world …

Warriors get kick out of Draymond Green’s teenage afro

Stephen Curry, walking through the locker room about an hour before Sunday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, was asked about The Chronicle photo showing 14-year-old Draymond Green rocking a large Afro.<p>“That was unbelievable,” Curry said.<p>As you might imagine, Green’s teammates had fun with …

Israeli company Face-Six promises to ID faces in photos with machine learning

What started off as an application to identify actors while watching TV became the Face-Six company, whose first low cost product enables facial recognition from still photos.<p>“We’re seeing a great demand coming from the market, estimated at $50 billion per year,” says Moshe Greenshpan, the …

Tel Aviv

Ditto Labs Funding: Ditto Labs Raises $2.2M to Fuel Social Media Photo Analytics Platform

Cambridge company Ditto Labs, which uses social media to reveal when, how and where consumers use certain brands, just raised $2.2 million in fresh …

Judge refers Waymo v. Uber lawsuit to criminal investigators [Updated] | Ars Technica

Also, Uber's bid to move the case into arbitration fails.<p>Waymo's allegations of trade secret theft against Uber should be referred to the US attorney …

Celebrities Under Fire For Keeping Social Media Endorsement Pay Under Wraps

If there’s one thing Fyre Festival succeeded in, albeit inadvertently, it was helping to bring the legal issues associated with celebrity endorsements on social media to light in the public eye. The second class-action complaint filed against the festival accused 100 now unnamed “Jane Does” of …

Public Relations

A Stanford researcher’s 15-minute study hack lifts B+ students into the As

Policy makers, tech executives, teachers, and parents are forever trying to find new ways to improve kids’ performance at school. Schools design and redesign curricula, teachers embrace and reject new learning technologies, and parents plot ways to get their kids to study more.<p>One novel solution …

Pedagogy

Mind-Reading Algorithms Reconstruct What You’re Seeing Using Brain-Scan Data - MIT Technology Review

One of the more interesting goals in neuroscience is to reconstruct perceived images by analyzing brain scans. The idea is to work out what people …

Millions of Android Devices Could Be Secretly Spying on Users, Researchers Claim

Researchers believe some popular smartphones may be listening a little too closely to your activities.<p>A team from the German Technical University of …

Microsoft is putting AI everywhere it can

Today’s AI is tomorrow’s taken for granted.<p>It’s an insight you’d expect to hear from, maybe, Watson parent IBM, Alexa’s mom, Amazon, or even Facebook …

Artificial Intelligence

App code hints that Android Pay could use facial recognition for loyalty programs

Smile, you’re on Google camera<p>Google could be looking to implement facial recognition into Android Pay, according to <i>9to5Google</i>, which took a close look at the code of an new version of the app.<p><i>9to5Google</i> conducted an “APK teardown” of Version 1.22 of Android Pay, and it found a feature called …

The Turds Who Voted to Sell Out Your Online Privacy Get Their Faces Plastered on Billboards

Last month, Congress voted to repeal FCC rules that would prevent internet service providers from selling your personal web browsing and app usage …

A real-life company is implanting microchips in employees

After a semi-painless injection between the thumb and index finger, a microchip is implanted in another employee. A cyborg is now created, and this human/machine mashup runs off to buy a smoothie using his or her new sub-dermal implant.<p>If that sounds futuristic, it’s because we’re conditioned to …

Biotechnology

Decluttering Your Digital Life | The Art of Manliness

<i>Hamlet’s Blackberry</i>. <i>The Joy of Missing Out</i>. <i>Irresistible</i>. <i>Reclaiming Conversation</i>. <i>The Tech-Wise Family</i>.<p>Recent years have seen a boom in books (and …

New study explains how social media is affecting your mental health

You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that social media sometimes feels totally time- and life-consuming. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, …

Is Google is tracking you? Find out here

With location reporting, Google can track your whereabouts, which you may find useful, interesting or invasive. Learn how to check if Google is tracking you and how to stop it if it is.<p>I had location history enabled for Google Maps and didn't know it. I found it interesting to see which spots …

Apps

There's a dark secret at the heart of artificial intelligence: no one really understands how it works

Last year, a strange self-driving car was released onto the quiet roads of Monmouth County, New Jersey. The experimental vehicle, developed by researchers at the chip maker Nvidia, didn't look different from other autonomous cars, but it was unlike anything demonstrated by Google, Tesla, or General …

Artificial Intelligence

A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel

The average Facebook user spends almost an hour on the site every day, according to data provided by the company last year. A Deloitte survey found that for many smartphone users, checking social media apps are the first thing they do in the morning – often before even getting out of bed. Of …

Social Media

The Reasons Why We Can't Put Down Our Smartphones

The long-running news program <i>60 Minutes</i> is taking on the smartphone industry by uncovering the ways mobile app makers keep people hooked. Former Google exec Tristan Harris, interviewed for the episode, argues that we’ve been fooled into believing the “technology is neutral” argument. Instead, he …

Psychology

Parents' mobile use harms family life, say secondary pupils

<b>An overuse of mobile phones by parents disrupts family life, according to a survey of secondary pupils.</b><p>More than a third of 2,000 11 to 18-year-olds who responded to a poll said they had asked their parents to stop checking their devices.<p>And 14% said their parents were online at meal times, …

Hundreds of privacy-invading apps are using ultrasonic sounds to track you

Apps are using ad-tracking audio signals that your phone can hear, but you can't.<p>A new privacy-busting technique that tracks consumers through the …

Tablets and smartphones damage toddlers' speech development

Putting babies in front of iPads before the age of two stunts speech development, a new study suggests.<p>In Britain children under the age of three spend an average of 44 minutes a day using smartphones and tablets but it is the first time researchers have shown it can impact language …

University College London