In what is becoming a year that Facebook executives would certainly like to forget, we have seen a number of examples of Facebook giving data access to third parties, often without the knowledge and permission of the people affected. Sometimes it has been on accident, as was the case with Cambridge Analytica and their
data breaches. In other cases, it was with full knowledge on their part, if not on the part of those receiving it.
It was revealed this week in
another that Facebook granted exceedingly complex data access to some of the largest companies in the tech world, like Yahoo, Netflix, and Spotify. While all of the companies had more access than advertised, not all of them had access to the same information. Their access also extended well beyond the death of their overambitious product features. New York Times expose
For example, in 2014, Netflix implemented the ability for users to send messages to other users through Facebook Messenger. They would usually be prompted after finishing a movie to share the film with their friends. Because of the way Messenger worked at the time, they had to get access to the API to allow the messages to be sent (fortunately this is no longer the case). What the company believed they could do was initiate a message with a friend including a link. What they were given was access to every authorized users' messenger accounts, including the ability to read, write, and delete all messages in the account. The company claims they had no knowledge of these elevated privileges and never used any of the extra abilities. The feature was discarded in 2015.
Yahoo also received elevated privileges when they launched their "facebar" feature in 2011. The idea was to be able to present you with articles and information that had been seen by your friends on Facebook, making the experience of Yahoo more social. As expected, the feature was never popular, partially because Yahoo hadn't had the Marissa Mayer makeover and subsequent user bump, and partially because it was just too early for such a feature. However, Yahoo retained access to the registered users' news feeds.
Facebook tried to
clarify the capabilities, but didn't do a great job of it, Specifically, we made it possible for people to message their friends what music they were listening to in Spotify or watching on Netflix directly from the Spotify or Netflix apps (see screen shots below), to message links to Dropbox folders (like a collection of photographs) from the Dropbox app, and to message receipts from money transfers through the Royal Bank of Canada app.
In order for you to write a message to a Facebook friend from within Spotify, for instance, we needed to give Spotify "write access." For you to be able to read messages back, we needed Spotify to have "read access." "Delete access" meant that if you deleted a message from within Spotify, it would also delete from Facebook. No third party was reading your private messages, or writing messages to your friends without your permission. Many news stories imply we were shipping over private messages to partners, which is not correct.
In the screenshots mentioned in the quote, you can see that delete the capability was not available within Spotify. In fact, by the look of it, you couldn't even read those messages within the app (though perhaps you could). Netflix had a similar capability, where messages were not integrated deeply into the app, just the ability to send. The most interesting aspect of the post was the mentioning of the program being shut down 3 years ago. However, Netflix still apparently had access (though they claim they didn't know) in 2017. For those of you keeping track, that is less than 3 years ago.
The stock market has responded, with the price of the stock dropping over $20 per share. There has also been another round of users closing their accounts. All of this could signify the beginning of the end of Facebook's dominance in the social media world. If this isn't the nail in their coffin, they'll certainly find a way to do it themselves.
A few months ago, Microsoft revealed their plans to bring keyboard and mouse support to the Xbox One. After testing support within the Insider program, support was rolled out to all Xbox One owners recently. The biggest problem with using a keyboard and mouse with the Xbox is that no combo has been designed for the standard Xbox usage: a couch. Luckily, Razer, the leading manufacturer of gaming accessories for serious gamers, has been hard at work in partnership with Microsoft to design and release such a product.
This week, Razer and Microsoft unveiled the
Turret, a gaming quality keyboard and mouse combo designed specifically for use with the Xbox One. Obviously, the set is wireless, as running a cable across the living room just wouldn't do. They focused on making the battery life great, with 40 hours of use per charge. They also feature RazerChroma, which is compatible with the Xbox Dynamic Lighting feature, making the keyboard lights change in response to the game you're playing.
Of course, it all uses the company's high-quality technology, such as their mechanical switches, making the keyboard super responsive. One of the things that really sets the keyboard apart is the retractable mouse pad. It allows you to sit back on the couch, with the keyboard on your lap, and use the mouse without any trouble. With a dedicated wireless keyboard and mouse set designed for Xbox, this could begin the acceptance of the technology for the console.
The set is available for pre-order now, from both
Razer and Microsoft for $250. The price is right in line with comparable Razer keyboards for PC. The set will ship at the end of Q1 2019, starting March 31, 2019.
Once upon a time, Apple was run by a maniac with a level of obsession that could become painful for the people around him. This man was Steve Jobs, and he was known to do everything in his power to prevent anything even close to wrong from leaving his company. When the iPhone 4 was announced, it was to come in both black and white. However, it took over a half year before we would see the white model because Jobs wasn't presented with a shade of white he liked. Even when something slipped his notice, he
blamed other companies.
After ceding control of the company, things changed fairly quickly. Today, it is not unusual for Apple to ship broken, defective, or knowingly poorly designed products. The iPhone 5, which was the last product Jobs had his hands on,
shipped with scratches and dents. Then there was the famous #bendgate, where iPhone 6 would bend in a pocket. This week, Apple has combined both of these controversies into a new one, featuring the new iPad Pro.
According to owners
in the , some units have a bend in the body. Some claim that it happened after transporting it in a bag or backpack, while others claim that it was there when they opened their box. As it turns out, the latter seems to be more likely, as Apple has confirmed this is a reality. The company claims that this manufacturing defect is a normal part of the manufacturing process and that the bend will not get worse over time. MacRumors forums
The question is, is this change in the company's treatment of its customers and lack of manufacturing control acceptable? Phone sales have slipped enough that the company is not reporting individual model sales anymore. iPad sales have always been slow, with Android and Windows devices outselling the company's tablets. The stock price has also shown a fall, down nearly 20 percent in 2018. It might be time for Apple to return to the obsessiveness of Jobs.