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  1. The video argues that the Pro is "more powerful than most computers," and extremely versatile, being a "scanner, camera, editing suite, notepad, cinema, music studio, book, and a computer." Other bulletpoints include available LTE support, a simple interface, and the creative possibilities of the second-generation Apple Pencil. The ad's language is notably different from earlier iPad marketing, which tried to distance iPads from regular computers while competing with them at the same time. At one point the company referred to iPads as ushering in a "post-PC" era, and in November 2017 the company aired its infamous "What's a computer?" ad, often lampooned for being out of touch with reality. The new ad would seem to be a reversal, embracing the "computer" label in order to be seen as serious hardware. That approach is also reflected to an extent in the new Pro's design, since it now uses USB-C instead of Lightning, opening up compatible accessories. Not all USB-C accessories will work though, and iOS has yet to gain an open filesystem. Source: Apple Insider
  2. Yahoo Mail and AOL Mail, which both fly under the Oath banner, a Verizon owned company, scan emails that arrive in user inboxes to improve advertisement targeting. An article published by The Wall Street Journal (sorry, no link as it is paywalled), suggests that Oath's email scanning may go beyond what users of the service may deem acceptable. According to the article, Yahoo is scanning commercial emails of all free users who did not opt-out of personalized advertisement to improve targeted advertising. Yahoo creates profiles of users by assigning them to certain groups or categories. A user who receives receipts for online purchases may be put into different categories based on the purchases, frequent traveler for example for users who get emails about several plane tickets in a period of time. Yahoo Mail users who get brokerage emails, e.g. trade confirmations, may be assigned to the investors group. While the exact classification and profiling system is unknown, it is clear that it uses information found in emails to profile users. The system places a cookie on users systems that identifies the interest groups the Yahoo user is associated with. Companies and advertisers may use the data to serve personalized advertisement to users and the paper suggests that Oath may also use receipts in the Yahoo Mail inbox as proof to advertisers that a particular campaign worked. Yahoo confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that it scans commercial emails only, and that the algorithms the company uses strip out personal information to make sure that those are not leaked in any way. The company claimed that the majority of emails that arrive in user inboxes are commercial in nature, and that the system is adjusted when the need arises to avoid wrong classifications and other issues. Yahoo customers have some options to deal with the email scanning: Close the account. Opt-out of interested-based ads and hope for the best. Closing an email account is problematic for a number of reasons. Users have to find another email provider, may want to back up all emails they received over the years, and may even want to keep the account open for a period to make sure no mail is lost. Closing the account may require that users change email addresses on websites, for instance those that they signed up for using the email address. One good option to back up all emails is the free MailStore Home software for Windows. It is capable of backing up all emails on the local system. You can read my review of MailStore Home here. The desktop email client Thunderbird is another option. Tip: Find out how to delete your entire Yahoo account. We published the guide after a Reuter's article suggested that Yahoo has been working with U.S. intelligence services to search all customer emails. Opt-out of interest-based ads on Yahoo Yahoo customers can opt-out of interest-based ads. Yahoo notes on the page that opting-out will stop the analysis of communication content for advertising purposes among other things. You can opt out of interest-based advertising, analysis of communications content for advertising purposes, and the sharing of your information with partners for data matching and appends using the tools on this page. Perform the following steps to opt-out. Visit The Ad Internet Manager page on the Yahoo website. Click on the opt-out button to opt-out of interest-based ads and thus also the analysis of communication content for advertising purposes. The button should change to a "opt-in" button after the request has been processed. Switch to "On Yahoo", and opt-out there as well. Note that the use of ad-blockers or content-blockers may prevent the opt-out from working correctly. Closing Words I don't know how good Yahoo's algorithms are to distinguish between commercial emails and others; the past has shown that it is tricky to get it right. Yahoo customers who use email may want to opt-out of the automated scanning to avoid any issues related to the scanning; some may want to create new email accounts at providers that don't scan emails or put privacy first. Examples of such providers are Startmail or ProtonMail. Now You: Would you use email providers that scan your emails for commercial purposes? Source
  3. Facebook's marketing department is using algorithms to identify emotionally vulnerable and insecure youth as young as 14, The Australian reported today after reporters managed to get their hands on a 23-page report from Facebook's Australian office. The document, dated this year and flagged as "Confidential: Internal Only," presents Facebook's advertising capabilities and highlights the social network's ability to detect, determine, and categorize user moods using sophisticated algorithms. The leaked file, authored by two of Facebook Australia's top execs is a presentation that the company is willing to share with potential customers only under a "non-disclosure agreement only." Facebook using algorithms to categorize emotional states In it, Facebook reveals that by monitoring posts, photos, and interactions, they can approximate a person's emotional state into categories such as "silly," "overwhelmed," "anxious," "nervous," "defeated," "stressed," "stupid," "useless," or a "failure." Facebook claims that it can identify not only emotions and state of mind, but also how and when this changes in real-time and across periods of time. While this was to be expected from a company as advanced as Facebook, the document reveals the social network won't shy away from using its algorithms against youth as young as 14, data which it then makes available to advertisers, so they can target teens that feel insecure or are emotionally vulnerable. The social network is using these points to lure in advertisers to its network, alluding it could help in targeting users, including young teens, in their most vulnerable states when most people tend to buy products and make themselves feel better. The document specifically mentions Facebook's ability to target over 6.4 million "high schoolers," "tertiary students," and "young Australians and New Zealander [...] in the workforce." Facebook confirmed validity of leaked document Contacted by reporters, Facebook admitted the document was real, apologized, and said it would start an investigation into the practice of targeting its younger userbase. Current privacy laws allow companies to collect data on users if its anonymized and stripped of any personally-identifiable information, such as names, precise addresses, or photos. Facebook said it respects privacy laws, but reporters said Facebook is in breach of the Australian Code for Advertising & Marketing Communications to Children, an advertising guideline which states that advertisers must get permission from the child's parent or guardian before collecting any data. Facebook, who currently boasts of a total monthly active userbase of over 1.85 billion, is the second online advertisers behind Google. A recent report revealed that Google and Facebook are cannibalizing 99% of all the money in digital advertising, and have established a de-facto duopoly. In 2014, news broke out that Facebook meddled with people's news feed algorithms to test if it could influence people's moods. Source
  4. The biggest brands continue to leave More companies are pulling advertising from YouTube over Google’s inability to ensure ads won’t appear next to hateful and offensive content. The Wall Street Journal reports that YouTube videos centered around racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic views are still scooping up ads from brands like Coca-Cola, Amazon.com, and Microsoft. This is even after reports last week exposed the issue and led to mass advertising boycotts in the UK and now the US, prompting Google to promise companies it would solve the issue and implement better tools and moderation practices. Following The Wall Street Journal’s findings, Pepsi, Walmart, Dish, Starbucks, and GM all pulled their advertising, joining a growing list of dozens of companies in Europe and the US since The Times of London first shined a spotlight on the problem. A majority of these companies are pulling advertising from YouTube and sites that use Google’s ad exchange technology. That means not only is Google’s video arm taking a hit, but it’s broader network of web advertising is suffering, too, as companies are under the assumption that Google is incapable of policing neither YouTube videos nor third-party websites with its current blend of user flagging, human moderation, and algorithmic detection. That leaves only targeted search advertising intact, which is when a company pays money to bid for placement of an ad on Google’s search results page when a user types in a certain combination of keywords. Even still, some companies like FX Networks have begun pulling all advertising from Google, including search ads, until it resolves the issues at hand, The Wall Street Journal reports. This has become a rather precarious problem for YouTube and Google’s larger advertising operation, both of which rely on what’s called programmatic advertising that uses algorithms and not humans to dictate placement. For years, YouTube has championed itself as the destination for any and all video on the internet, with loose restrictions around graphic and offensive content and creators espousing views many traditional broadcasters would classify as hate speech. This has allowed YouTube to balloon in popularity. Even when it does veer into hosting illegal content, like copyrighted material or terrorist propaganda, the site is shielded by federal law from being legally held responsible. The end result is that YouTube enjoys 400 hours of video uploaded every minute and 1 billion hours of video consumed every day, with around $11 billion in revenue last year. Yet a growing chunk of that video is the type of content advertisers want nothing to do with. And due to the current political climate, it’s become increasingly popular for content creators to make a living off hateful content that panders to bigots and fringe political groups like the alt-right. YouTube is now in the position of being structurally incapable of policing its platform and perhaps culturally hesitant even to do so with more heavy-handed moderation methods. Even more pressing is the possibility that YouTube’s business simply cannot operate at its current scale with the human moderation required to ensure no ad is placed on an objectionable video. Google is willing to try, if only to stem the exodus of advertisers. “We’ve begun an extensive review of our advertising policies and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear,” Google said in a statement given to The Verge on Wednesday. “We're also raising the bar for our ads policies to further safeguard our advertisers’ brands.” That statement followed a more direct plea to advertisers earlier this week in which Google promised it would be giving brands more direct control over and insight into where ads were placed on YouTube and Google-partnered third-party sites. The company also promised new tools like artificial intelligence-powered filtering that would detect offensive language and other contents within a video and flag it. Bloomberg reports that Google plans on implementing these new tools and changes as soon as this Sunday, according to an internal company memo. Yet it’s unclear just how effective Google’s new tools will be, and what it might take to bring advertisers back. Source
  5. For years, cybercriminals have leveraged malvertising, or malicious advertising, to deliver malware. Without a doubt, malvertising is the ultimate weapon for criminals to gain access to a wide audience visiting popular websites, and at the same time be able to precisely target potential victims. And they can do all of this without being seen. Malvertising fits perfectly into the drive-by download landscape because it requires no user interaction. Simply visiting a webpage that displays an ad is enough to trigger the infection chain, which involves the delivery of one or more exploits before the final malware payload. It is completely invisible and automated, with end users being none-the-wiser that something bad is happening, at least until they notice the infection's aftermath. The online advertising industry is ripe for abuse from ill-intentioned actors because of its inherently complex nature and risky practices driven by profit. There are so many different loopholes an attacker can exploit via social engineering or by cloaking his malicious code that the fates are already sealed before real-time bidding for advertising space begun. If recent malvertising incidents are any indication, criminals have been able to serve ads through top networks and agencies without being detected, not just for a few hours or days, but for months. It's one thing for end users to be oblivious to attacks, but it's another when ad networks are simply unable to anticipate incidents—let alone detect them. Threat actors employ various tactics to avoid detection, ranging from the use of SSL, fingerprinting or even steganography. How can one possibly discover an attack when it's meant to not be seen? This sort of predicament ultimately means that end users need to worry about securing their own devices from malvertising, rather than depend on ad networks for security. The choices they make won't necessarily make publishers or ad networks happy, but in this current state, something's got to give. Article source
  6. Ad blocker usage surged 30% in 2016, according to a new report from PageFair, a company that helps publishers regain revenue lost to the software. There were 615 million devices blocking ads worldwide by the end of 2016, 62% (308 million) of those mobile. Desktop ad blocker usage grew 17% year-on-year to 236 million. The largest geographical driver of mobile ad blocker use has been in the Asia-Pacific, where 94% of mobile ad blocking takes place. There hasn’t yet been mass adoption of a mobile ad blocking app in North America or Europe yet, but PageFair predicts mobile ad blocking would accelerate in those regions if device manufacturers or distributors began to pre-configure ad blocking software as standard. Security was the main reason cited for downloading an ad blocker among consumers polled in the US for the report. 30% of those surveyed said virus and malware concerns drove them to download an ad blocker. The next most-cited reason for getting ad blocker software was “interruption” (29%), according to the report. Dr Johnny Ryan, PageFair’s head of ecosystem, said in the company’s previous reports, privacy has been the primary motivation to downloading an ad blocker. Ryan told Business Insider: “In 2014 we were dealing with early adopter users of ad blocking. These people really care and understand about the real problems of privacy and data leakage in ad tech. I think what happened is the industry’s lack of an approach or interest in privacy let the ad block genie out of the bottle.” He continued: “But now [ad blocker usage] has grown to a broader demographic for whom [an ad blocker] is closer to just a remote control. The genie is out of the bottle and if the industry had taken privacy and data protection seriously this might not have happened.” PageFair’s previous reports and those of different organizations found there was a significantly higher usage rate of ad blockers among males. While it’s still true that more men use ad blockers than women, the report showed that the ad blocking demographics have broadened out beyond solely young techies: The failure of ad block walls The study also looked into how publishers are tacking the growing use of ad blocking software. PageFair noted that 90% of ad blocker users surveyed have encountered an “ad block wall” that blocked them from viewing content unless they disabled their ad blocker. However, almost three-quarters (74%) of those users said they simply left those websites rather than performing the steps required to whitelist them. Ryan told Business Insider he wasn’t surprised to see those sorts of figures. He said: “It’s very straightforward: There are not all that many publishers who have such exclusive content that they feel confident in establishing a paywall. By the same rationale, there cannot be that many publishers who have the confidence in establishing an ad block wall either. There are some publishers who claim, maybe rightly, 40% to 50% conversion … [but there are] publishers who are turning away 50%, 60%, 70% of their traffic when they ask people to switch off their ad blocker. That’s not sustainable for most the people we want to serve.” The alternative, Ryan says, is for publishers to listen to their audience about what’s making them block ads, fix the problems, and serve them the solutions. It’s something Facebook did last year when it tweaked the technology to stop ad blocking software from working on its desktop website. The social network surveyed users, updated its ads preference tools to give users more control over the types of ads they were being served, then began circumventing the ad blockers because it believed it had created a better ad experience. On Facebook’s Q3 earnings call, the company said desktop ad revenue grew 18% year-on-year in the quarter it began blocking the ad blockers. PageFair has skin in the game here: It makes its money by helping publishers use technology to recoup money lost to ad blockers and find different ways to make revenue from those users. Often that’s by using the Facebook method of serving ads — or an ad-light experience (77% of ad blocker users it surveyed said they found some ad formats permissible) — to ad blocker users. But Ryan made clear that if a publisher asks PageFair to help it set up an ad block wall, PageFair would oblige too. The report ends with a fun factlet: “Adblock users are more educated.” PageFair says 45% of ad blocker users it surveyed had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher versus 30% across the US Census. PageFair surveyed 4,626 users through a Google Consumer Survey. The company also used data from StatCounter, Internet Live Stats, eMarketer, and the US Census Bureau. You can read the full report here. Article source
  7. Pirate sites have a tendency to carry advertising for gambling services but in some regions, notably Russia, online gambling is illegal. So, when torrent and streaming sites carry ads for these services, copyright holders are now reporting them to the authorities who are forcing lSPs to block them. Regular visitors to the world’s largest pirate sites will be acutely aware of how they generate their revenue. Advertising is commonplace, ranging from simple unintrusive images to horribly aggressive popups and similar plagues. What is also glaringly obvious is the kind of companies that advertise on such portals. From those who offer a date after a couple of clicks to those offering gentlemanly extensions, ‘pirate’ advertisers tend to reside towards the bottom of the barrel. This is largely due to the pressure being applied to well-known brands to keep their ads off pirate sites but for some reason, gambling companies still make regular appearances. While they provide a valuable source of revenue, their presence on pirate sites is providing a new leverage point for anti-piracy outfits. While gambling faces restrictions in most territories, over in Russia the practice has been completely outlawed online since 2006. However, gambling companies are still advertising on Russian pirate sites, something which has not gone unnoticed by anti-piracy groups. As a result, some rightsholders have been reporting the rogue advertisers and the sites they appear on to Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor. If the complaint is upheld, Russia’s Federal Tax Service, the body responsible for carrying out state registration of legal entities, gets informed. It carries out its own checks and if illegal advertising is discovered, the pirate site displaying it is earmarked for blocking. According to news outlet Izvestia, several video-related rightsholder groups have already reported a batch of pirate sites in this manner. As a result, three sites (lostfilmonline.ru, zerx.co and hdrezka.me) have already been blocked. “After receiving the complaint, Roskomnadzor notifies the site that online casinos cannot be advertisers,” a spokesperson explains. “If a site responds and removes the casino advertising, it is not blocked. If they do not remove it, Roskomnadzor will have it blocked. If there is no response, then the site is stored in the blacklist and is blocked in Russia.” Under current legislation the site will be removed from the blocklist after it removes the illegal advertising. However, for many that also means a hit in revenue. “If you keep in mind how many pirate sites carry such advertising, it can dramatically affect their income and contribute to two positive things: firstly, Russian citizens will not be involved in gambling and dubious financial schemes. Secondly, pirate Internet businesses cease to be attractive and thereby decrease,” a spokesperson told Izvestia. According to Maxim Ryabyko from anti-piracy outfit AZAPO, such illegal advertising is widespread. “We have made an assessment of the inventory. It is safe to say that more than half of such advertising is located on the most prominent and expensive placement positions, for example, in the header,” Ryabyko says. “If pirate sites with similar advertising are reported to the Federal Tax Service through Roskomnadzor, the [pirate site operators] will have to look for an alternative, for example, by increasing the volume of other, lower-cost advertising on their sites. Ideally, this would lead to discussions with them about the creation of partnerships with legitimate sites.” What is interesting about this process is the reported ease of having a block put in place. Ryabyko says that a regular copyright blocking case has costs attached and can take six to eight months to complete. On the other hand, reporting and having a site blocked for illegal advertising is not only much quicker, but also essentially free. Only time will tell how effective the practice will prove, but it’s a good example of how anti-piracy outfits are prepared to innovate in order to achieve their goals. TorrentFreak
  8. Online advertising is a divisive issue, and one that sees many people turning to ad blockers to improve their online experience. The biggest name in the business is Adblock Plus which has come under fire in recent months for its Acceptable Ads program that allows certain ads to be whitelisted. The company behind Adblock Plus, Eyeo, today published an extraordinary blog post in which it attacks "crazy accusations" made about it and its program. Introduced in the format of an election-style fact checker, the post from Ben Williams drips with barely disguised fury at what are described as "slants, spins and downright lies". The post hits out at "lazy" suggestions that the Acceptable Ads program lacks transparency -- the response being, essentially, "just Google it". Williams also tries to refute claims that companies can pay to be added to the whitelist so their ads can punch through ad blockers. He explains: "It costs exactly $0 for most companies to be whitelisted, but we do ask that very large companies support the whitelisting community by paying in a contribution". Other claims the post hits back at include suggestions that Eyeo sells ads ("Nope, not even close") and that there is a veil of secrecy over which companies are on the whitelist. Perhaps the most interesting entry on the list is an attempt to deny that Adblock Plus amounts to extortion. ("For that is what Adblock-Plus is: an old-fashioned extortion racket, gussied up in the flowery but false language of contemporary consumerism," as IAB president Randall Rothenberg put it.) Williams says: No, Randall, you're wrong. Consumer dissatisfaction with an advertising industry that forgot them has driven hundreds of millions to download ad blockers. For our part, we at Eyeo encourage a middle-ground stance toward advertising, and we're working with users to perfect a system to make partial ad blocking a big piece of a complete cure. That is not extortion. But not everyone agrees with Williams. As one commenter says: Someone runs a restaurant. You'll be like: That’s a nice restaurant you got there, pay me 10k and I won't burn it down. Well, that would be extortion, right? Someone runs a website. You'll be like: That's a nice website you got there, pay me 10k and I won't block all the ads you need to finance it. Well, that would be...? C'mon. Again, where's the difference? I got another outlet for you. Higher Regional Court of Cologne: Whitelisting is an aggressive practice and not allowed in Germany. Article source
  9. Yahoo's Spying Billboard: It Would ID You, Watch And Listen To Your Reactions To Ads Yahoo's idea is for the billboard's ad content to be based on real-time information about a crowd of people, who could be commuters on a train platform. Yahoo is exploring a smart billboard that would use microphones, cameras and other sensors to bring targeted advertising to outdoor displays. Hacked web giant Yahoo has filed a patent application for the ultimate ad-targeting system: a billboard that uses sensors to watch, listen and capture biometric data from the passing public. Yahoo, still in damage control from this week's claims that it helped the government spy on its email users, has filed a patent for smart technology that brings online ad-targeting capabilities to public billboards. The billboards would have cameras, microphones, motion-proximity sensors, and biometric sensors, such as fingerprint or retinal scanning, or facial recognition, according to the patent, which was filed last year but published on Thursday. The sensors would be used to measure engagement of passers-by. "For example, image data or motion-proximity sensor data may be processed to determine whether any members of the audience paused or slowed down near the advertising content, from which it may be inferred that the pause or slowing was in response to the advertising content (eg, a measurement of 'dwell time')," Yahoo writes. It could also use image or video data to determine whether any individuals looked directly at the advertising content. Alternatively, "Audio data captured by one or more microphones may be processed using speech-recognition techniques to identify keywords relating to the advertising that are spoken by members of the audience." As Yahoo explains, the ability to personalize ads for smartphones has made mobile the most efficient place to use marketing budgets, whereas digital displays in public spaces, which still attract ad dollars, remain stuck on old technology. But instead of individualizing ads, Yahoo's idea would be to 'grouplize', where ad content is based on real-time information about a crowd of people, who could be commuters on a train platform or cars passing by a freeway billboard. In the freeway scenario, the billboard would be placed near traffic sensors that detect the number of vehicles passing, their speed, and time of day. It might also use video to capture images of vehicles, and use image recognition to determine the maker and model of vehicles to distill demographic data. The billboard may also use cell-tower data, mobile app location data, or image data to "identify specific individuals in the target audience, the demographic data (eg, as obtained from a marketing or user database) which can then be aggregated to represent all or a portion of the target audience". Alternatively, it could use vehicle GPS systems to identify specific vehicles and vehicle owners. "Those of skill in the art will appreciate from the diversity of these examples the great variety of ways in which an aggregate audience profile may be determined or generated using real-time information representing the context of the electronic public advertising display and/or additional information from a wide variety of sources," Yahoo notes. It sees potential for the system to be integrated with existing online ad exchanges, allowing advertisers to reach across devices with the same ads. It also envisages extending the online ad model of auctioning billboard space to the highest bidder, with content determined by the group's characteristics. However, if the smart billboards did their job of "grouplizing" a group of young adult males, it might display a risqué dating site ad, Yahoo says. This approach might be acceptable to some on a phone, but dangerous on the freeway. Yahoo says it has an answer for this issue: "Any advertising content including video could, for example, be eliminated from the pool of available content or modified to remove video components." In May, New York Senator Charles Schumer called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the use of 'spying billboards', which he described as popping up in cities across the country. He warned that such technology may represent a violation of privacy rights, because of the way it tracks the individual's cell phone data, and constitute a deceptive trade practice. Source
  10. How to Disable All of Windows 10’s Built-in Advertising Windows 10 has a lot of built-in advertising. This isn’t just about the free upgrade offer: Even if you purchase a new PC that comes with a Windows 10 license or spend $200 for a copy of Windows 10 Professional, you’ll see ads in your operating system. You can, however, disable a lot of it. Disable Lock Screen Ads RELATED ARTICLE: How to Disable Ads on Your Windows 10 Lock Screen Windows 10 now displays ads on the lock screen via Windows Spotlight. Sometimes, Windows Spotlight will just show off cool wallpapers, but it’ll also sneak in advertisements for games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Quantum Break in the Windows Store. To get rid of these lock screen ads, head to Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen and set the background to “Picture” or “Slideshow” instead of Windows Spotlight. You’ll probably also want to disable the “Get fun facts, tips, and more from Windows and Cortana on your lock screen” option here, too. Stop Suggested Apps From Appearing in the Start Menu RELATED ARTICLE: How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10 Windows 10 will occasionally show “suggested apps” in your Start menu. Suggested apps aren’t necessarily free, and we’ve seen Microsoft use this feature to advertise $60 PC games from the Windows Store (which, by the way, you shouldn’t buy). But mainly, they just take up valuable space in your Start menu. To stop suggested apps from appearing in the Start menu, head to Settings > Personalization > Start and set the “Occasionally show suggestions in Start” setting to “Off”. Get Rid of Nagging Tips Windows 10 also has helpful “tips” that often serve to push Microsoft apps and services. Tips have included recommendations to use Microsoft Edge for better battery life, and an encouragement to use Microsoft Edge so you can earn Microsoft rewards points. If you’d like to just use your own preferred applications without Microsoft nagging you, you’ll need to disable these tips. To do so, head to Settings > System > Notifications & Actions and disable the “Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows” option. Stop Cortana From Bouncing on the Taskbar RELATED ARTICLE: How to Disable Cortana in Windows 10’s Anniversary Update Cortana doesn’t just sit on your taskbar and wait for you to start talking to it. Cortana will regularly bounce in place, encouraging you to try using it. If you don’t want Cortana nagging you, click the Cortana search bar, click the Settings icon, scroll down, and disable the “Taskbar Tidbits” option. From then on, Cortana will sit quietly until you want to use it. If you don’t want Cortana running at all, you can choose to disable Cortana with a registry or group policy setting. Microsoft removed the old, easy toggle that lets you disable Cortana with the Anniversary Update, but the registry and group policy tricks still work. Banish “Get Office” Notifications RELATED ARTICLE: How to Disable the “Get Office” Notifications on Windows 10 Windows 10 includes a “Get Office” application that sits there, providing notifications suggesting you download Office 365 and enjoy a month-long free trial. To stop those Get Office notifications, head to Settings > System > Notifications & Actions, scroll down, and set notifications for the “Get Office” app to “Off”. You can also simply find the Get Office app in your Start menu, right-click it, and select “Uninstall”. However, it may come back when you update Windows 10 in the future. Uninstall Candy Crush Saga and Other Automatically Installed Apps Windows 10 “automatically downloads” apps like Candy Crush Soda Saga, Flipboard, Twitter, and Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition when you sign in for the first time. PC manufacturers can also add their own apps and live tiles that appear installed by default. These apps are installed as part of the “Microsoft Consumer Experience”. There was a group policy setting to disable this, but it was removed from consumer versions of Windows 10 in the Anniversary Update. Only Windows 10 Enterprise users–not even Windows 10 Professional users–can turn this off. You can remove these apps and tiles, however. To do so, just open your Start menu, locate any apps you don’t want to use, right-click them, and select “Uninstall.” Apps like Candy Crush Soda Saga and FarmVille 2: Country Escape will appear as tiles by default, but you can also find them under the all apps list. Some apps are simply given a tile but aren’t yet downloaded. To remove these tiles, just right-click the tile and select “Unpin from Start.” You won’t see an “Uninstall” option because the tiles are just links that take you to the Windows Store where you can download the app. Disable Live Tiles and Unpin Windows Apps RELATED ARTICLE: How to Make the Windows 10 Start Menu Look More Like Windows 7 While you can remove the apps that are installed as part of the Microsoft Consumer Experience program, Windows 10 also includes quite a few apps you can’t uninstall that advertise to you. For example, the Store and Xbox tiles often make use of the “live tile” feature to advertise apps and games Microsoft wants you to download. To disable live tiles that advertise to you, right-click a tile and select More > Turn live tile off. You can also just right-click a tile and select “Unpin from Start” to get rid of the tile entirely. You can even choose to unpin all the tiles and only use the All Apps list to launch apps, if you like. Avoid the Built-in Solitaire Game RELATED ARTICLE: You Don’t Have to Pay $20 a Year for Solitaire and Minesweeper on Windows 10 Stay away from the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” game preinstalled on Windows 10. This app doesn’t just have advertising–it has video ads that are 30 seconds long. You can avoid the advertising by paying $10 a year. Microsoft’s Minesweeper game isn’t installed by default, but it too has its own $10 a year subscription fee. Those are steep prices for games that used to be free. Play another free Solitaire game instead. Google now offers a solitaire game–just search for “solitaire” and you can play ad-free solitaire in Google’s search results. We’ve also put up our own completely free Solitaire and Minesweeper games on URLs that anybody can access in a desktop browser. We didn’t put any ads in these games, so you can play ad-free: solitaireforfree.com minesweeperforfree.com Expect to see Microsoft add more advertising to Windows 10 in future major updates. Windows 10’s Anniversary Update turned more of the default tiles on the Start menu into “sponsored tiles”, for example. Source
  11. I am now part of the problem. The advertising industry is wringing its hands and shaking its fist at the use and growth of ad-block technology, but I am not above temptation. I simply installed it. And much like the many million people who have done so already, I love it and probably won’t ever fully abandon it. So instead of excoriating people for using them, it’s time we reflect on how we got here, what its inevitability means for our future and whether this might even be a trend worth embracing. The most commonly cited statistic on ad blocking reports that roughly 200 million people worldwide installed ad blocking on their computers as of August 2015. That group is rapidly growing: Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report shows an upward accelerating trend in ad-block adoption across desktop and mobile worldwide. HubSpot’s Global Interruptive Ads Survey (Q4 2015 to Q1 2016) found 50 percent of respondents already had installed AdBlock, and more than 60 percent of adults 18-35 expect to by Q3 2016, with respondents 35+ not that far behind. PageFair and Adobe report a growth of almost 50 percent in the usage of ad blockers in the U.S. from Q2 2014-Q2 2015. The recent IAB report on ad blocking found 26 percent of desktop users block ads online. Cumulatively, these reports indicate that the number of individuals using ad blockers will have doubled many more times over within the coming year or two. And their impact is real. Ovum and The Wall Street Journal report that in 2015 alone, publishers lost $24 billion dollars in ad revenue because of ad blockers. Ad-block technology stops almost all ads a person might otherwise see. Search ads, banner ads, remarketing, pre-roll, YouTube ads, social posts and even some “native” ads are all covered. When loading a page, AdBlock looks at from where content is being called and uses that information to infer what is or is not an ad. On computers, AdBlock typically comes as a plugin to install in a browser. On mobile, it takes the form of browsers or browser settings that do the same. It’s easy and relatively tinker-proof. With one or two clicks, an ad-free internet is at the fingertips of anyone. In response, some websites now have AdBlock walls. Upon arrival, AdBlock users are requested to enable ads by putting the site on a whitelist. Users are often amenable; the Times reported that more than 40 percent of users agreed to whitelist the site when provided with a message about the need to pay for high-quality content. However, the bulk of internet publishers, along with the bulk of online ad inventory they represent, have not pursued similar measures: perhaps because they (rightly) assume that click-bait headlines and repurposed content aren’t reason enough to get users to turn off their ad blockers. Their objective is traffic, and lots of it. Meanwhile, premier content publishers are beginning to understand how much their core audience dislike their many ads and now even offer products that obviate the need for AdBlock in the first place. Publishers like the NYT and even YouTube now hawk ad-free supra-subscriptions for their most dedicated and ad-weary audience members. Fundamentally though, everyone understands that a world with no ads online is an untenable one. AdBlock Plus found that 75 percent of their users supported sites having ads, so long as they weren’t too many and weren’t aggressively disruptive. In response, AdBlock Plus developed the Acceptable Ads Manifesto, outlining a series of rules for ads on sites, most all of which follow common sense. If a site agrees to meet these standards, AdBlock Plus will not block their ads. Moreover, much like the Times’ experiment, the latest IAB/YouGov study on ad blocking in the U.K. finds half of all users willing to disable blockers in exchange for content. The IAB U.S. survey found that most users are blocking ads for specific reasons — reasons that can be addressed. People understand the value of ads in supporting content; it’s just that now they are demanding better accountability from the system. For publishers who sign on and are part of this advertising future, it means significantly fewer digital ads. It means higher premiums on banner ads, pre-roll ads and the like, and, quite possibly, an end to the cost savings previous models of digital advertising offered. It will mean that running a series of banner ads will not a campaign make. Challenged by the fact that the cheap replication of a print-style advertising model no longer is profitable, more publishers will have to look to more innovative ways to incorporate their commerce with their content. This is a position that the entire advertising industry needs to move to embrace. The honest truth is that the prevailing model of digital advertising, of ubiquitous cheap ads, is a broken one. The incentives in this model have encouraged the worst behavior: publishers squeezing more and more ads into a cluttered space and marketers pointing to these masses of impressions and clicks as the sign of a job well done. Ads that aren’t viewable, bot-generated clicks, phantom ads across the internet, video ads that aren’t seen or heard or both: These are all symptoms of a business model that rewards quantity over quality. Worse yet, the common model of digital attribution compounds the same tension. Standard practice attributes on-site success to the final ad clicked or final ad seen, rewarding mass amounts of bottom-of-the-funnel advertising. Whoever is responsible for that last ad takes full credit for that consumer’s decision to convert. Again, incentives in this model encourage the worst behavior: publishers flooding consumers with cheap ads to claim credit and marketers pointing to the cost-efficiencies of the same ads as the sign of a job well done. Successful marketing is nothing if not pragmatic. So long as this is the nature of success, it’s unsurprising that all parties pursue the same end game. Admittedly, some of this is beyond the industry’s control; unlike other mediums, there’s no body that can similarly regulate the nature of all digital ads and their quantities. So long as the model of digital advertising is about quantity, impression counts and video views, and so long as the medium of digital advertising involves barraging users with thousands upon thousands of ads per day, it is the correct and right strategy to get as many ads out as possible to get the most chances of success. When these are the rules, the winning strategy will be a simple numbers game. However, widespread adoption of ad-blocking technology upends this model and gives everyone a chance to slay digital advertising’s Ouroboros. Publishers either must have such high-quality content that users will agree to let them show their ads, or, if their content is not sufficiently compelling, have to abide by a model that puts a real cap on the number of ads they can deliver. Fail to do either, and none of the ads are seen. This immediately helps combat a number of the inventory issues digital advertising faces. Phantom ads and viewability are less likely to be concerns when the ad ecosystem supports a much smaller set of permissible ads. The better the publisher, the larger the premium offered by digital advertising for their content. And with fewer chances to show an ad, the quality of those ads must go up. Advertisers will need to develop higher-quality ads and will have the budget to support it given the cost of the medium. And consumers get higher-quality ads while also avoiding the barrage of bargain-quality banners they hate so much. This demands more of our industry, not the simple escalation of an arms race. Any advance in our technology to force ads upon users will be met with an equal development to block them. At this point it’s wholly Newtonian. Facebook’s recent announcement, followed by the immediate update to AdBlock Plus, is instructive. The sad truth is that Facebook’s own announcement acknowledged that the issue consumers had was not with all ads, but with how many currently live in our marketplace. Instead of language chastising consumers for their selfishness, instead of spurious accusations of secret profit behind ad-block technologies, the advertising industry needs to recognize that it has built no good will, that its failure to stop and active decision to escalate this problem is the direct cause of consumers’ actions. Far too often the incentives of digital advertising allow the industry to revert to a simple formula, and the consequence has been more ads, more often, to more irritated consumers. Yet we didn’t change course. People want services and people understand the importance of ad support. They just want better ads. Now people have a tool powerful enough to hold the industry accountable, and their voices are finally being heard. The shame is that for an industry that prides itself on understanding consumers, it has taken us this long to listen to them. Article source
  12. WhatsApp Is To Hand Your Phone Number To Facebook Roses are red, violets are blue, Facebook knows all that you think, say and do WhatsApp has updated its terms and privacy policy for the first time in four years as part of parent company Facebook’s plans to generate cash through app users' data. While WhatsApp has been a separate service from Facebook since its acquisition for $16bn two years ago, the companies are now going to enjoy a cosier relationship. If you’re a WhatsApp user you can expect the app to soon export more of your information to Facebook as the megacorp seeks to bleed some revenue from businesses by allowing them to advertise to you, without using third-party banner advertisements and spam. This will not affect the privacy of the content of users’ messages. As WhatsApp integrates the Signal messaging protocol, messages are protected with end-to-end encryption. “We won’t post or share your WhatsApp number with others,” the business stated today, “including on Facebook, and we still won’t sell, share or give your phone number to advertisers.” This suggests that WhatsApp might yet offer itself as a platform for business to contact you through, but the company itself has announced that “by coordinating more with Facebook, we'll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp.” That sounds lovely, of course, until the statement continued: “And by connecting your phone number with Facebook's systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them. For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you've never heard of.” Users are not able to opt out of this data sharing, although you can choose not to allow to be shared for the purpose of improving their experience with advertisements and product experiences on Facebook. WhatsApp is seeking to integrate features that regularly take place over SMS at the moment: "Whether it's hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls. We want to test these features in the next several months, but need to update our terms and privacy policy to do so." Source Related Alternate Source Articles: WhatsApp to Share Your Data with Facebook — You have 30 Days to Stop It Use WhatsApp? Get ready to receive marketing messages from firms WhatsApp to give users' phone numbers to Facebook for targeted ads WhatsApp to share your user data with Facebook WhatsApp to share user data including phone numbers with Facebook WhatsApp does about face, will serve ads in Facebook-owned app WhatsApp to Share User Phone Number with Facebook For Advertising Block WhatsApp from sharing (most) data with Facebook
  13. AdBlock Plus Blocks Facebook's Ad-Blocker Buster: It's A Block Party! Web advertising arms race intensifies The makers of Adblock Plus (ABP) have already found a way to defeat Facebook's anti-ad-block tools. An updated filter list for ABP will disappear web ads on Facebook's desktop site – including banners the social network said it would force people to see even if they are using ad-blocking tools. Those ads are specially crafted by Facebook to circumvent ad-blocking plugins such as Adblock Plus. The social network argues that it is balancing out the force-fed-nature of the ads by also giving folks tighter control over what information can be shared with advertisers and what topics the targeted ads will cover. Now, thanks to quick work by its developer community, ABP will be able to block those new Facebook ads as well. The Facebook filter can be manually added to the list of blocked ads, or users can wait for a coming update that will automatically add the script. ABP says that update will be distributed automatically in "the next day or so." "Two days ago we broke it to you that Facebook had taken 'the dark path,' and decided to start forcing ad-blocking users to see ads on its desktop site," wrote ABP head of communications Ben Williams. "We promised that the open source community would have a solution very soon, and, frankly, they’ve beaten even our own expectations." The move now puts the ball back in Facebook's court, leaving the social network to decide whether it will allow AdBlock Plus to carry on using its new blocking scripts or engage in a back-and-forth battle with the plugin over the display of ad content. According a statement provided to El Reg, that is exactly what Zuck and company plan to do. The California web giant also warned that the filter will remove legit posts, too. "We're disappointed that ad blocking companies are punishing people on Facebook as these new attempts don't just block ads but also posts from friends and Pages," Facebook said. "This isn't a good experience for people and we plan to address the issue. Ad blockers are a blunt instrument, which is why we've instead focused on building tools like ad preferences to put control in people's hands." Game on. Source Alternate Source - Adblock Plus has already defeated Facebook's new ad blocking restrictions
  14. Ad blocking has become a topic of fevered interest among publishers and advertising companies this year. Many fear that the tipping point has been reached already, with too many ads being blocked to maintain a steady income following the established methods of views in exchange for advertising. A new report from a research firm called eMarketer seems to back up this fear, showing a marked increase in ad blocking use. These figures are limited to the United States, but the research shows that ad blocking use increased from 20% of users in 2015, to 26.3% this year and will increase to 32% in 2017. That will be 86.6 million ad blocking users in the United States alone. The worldwide figure will be just as alarming for advertisers. So far, the vast majority of ad blockers have been installed in desktops and laptops, but the all important mobile group is slowly moving towards use of these apps as well, and eMarketer expects 11% of that market will shift to the use of ad blockers sometime next year. New strategies are being devised to combat this trend, the most prominent one being a subscription model where those who pay a monthly fee get access to a publication without ads. Others are now refusing access to those who have active ad blocking apps installed. This may lead to a war between the ad blockers and the internet sites, and yet another game of escalating whack a mole will begin. You can read the original research at eMarketer. Article source
  15. FTC Fines Ad Network For Geo-Tracking of Millions of Consumers Without Consent The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined the InMobi mobile advertising network $950,000 in civil penalties for tracking the location of hundreds of millions of consumers without consent. The company tracked consumers in an attempt to serve up targeted ads by collecting information about the WiFi networks connected to or within range of the consumer's device even if the consumer had restricted an application's access to location API, according to FTC court documents filed June 22. This method allowed InMobi to track the consumer's location regardless of the application developer's intent to include geo-targeted ads in the application and regardless of the consumer's location settings, the documents said. In response to the FTC investigation, InMobi has since modified its location tracking practices and no longer tracks consumer location without permission. The firm also agreed to delete all of the information it collected from children and from adults who didn't provide consent. Source
  16. An announcement later this week will confirm Google as a member of a new coalition to cut off "pirate" sites from their ad revenue. Following similar initiatives in the U.S. and UK, a Memorandum of Understanding between the online advertising industry and the music and movie industries in Italy will signal a creation of a central body to tackle the piracy issue. There is a theory in the entertainment industries that if running torrent, file-sharing or streaming sites makes no commercial sense to their operators, then they will soon wither and die. Every week there are often aggressive opinions published on why cutting off revenue is perhaps the most powerful weapon in the online piracy war. This crescendo has already grown into notable action in both the United States and United Kingdom. Later this week a new initiative will be presented to the public, and the fact that Google is onboard will no doubt help to promote the completeness of the effort. Continuing the European effort after the UK, this Thursday in Rome, Italy, a coalition of key advertising players plus the main anti-piracy groups of the music and movie industries will announce the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding. The announcement, taking place at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s IAB Events 2014 conference, will see the IAB, music industry anti-piracy group FPM and Fapav (the Italian MPAA) announce a new coalition to deprive revenue from pirate sites. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Enzo Mazza, chief at music industry group Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana (FIMI), explains how the initiative will work. “IAB Italia, the local branch of Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has been very active in discussing with music and movie associations a self-regulation approach to promote an effective action to prevent advertisers from posting ads on rogue sites,” Mazza explains. “IAB already educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. In our goal the agreement should promote a cooperation in order to implement effective measures to prevent ads being placed on rogue sites and to quickly remove any ads that are found to have been so placed.” Having Google on board is also a plus, Mazza says. “Google is already doing a lot of efforts in this area and the company promoted a strategy so-called ‘follow the money’ which we consider part of a general strategy based on enforcement on one side, self-regulation and legal offer on the other side.” Mazza says that a joint committee compromised of MoU signatories will be created to oversee the technical implementation of the project, with consideration given to how similar schemes are operating elsewhere. This will include the auditing of advertising companies and networks for compliance with a code of conduct respectful of intellectual property rights. On a day-to-day basis the committee will receive complaints from rights holders detailing the appearance of advertising on “rogue sites” and take action on these with brokers and the advertisers themselves. Whether they will be able to cut through the complex and labrynthine mechanisms often employed by such sites will remain to be seen. The Memorandum of Understanding has been passed to the Italian competition authority for approval and while the project is clearly in the early stages, momentum is clearly there. Source: TorrentFreak
  17. The MPAA is urging lawmakers to protect young Americans from the "numerous hazards on pirate sites." The movie industry group believes that young people may not be aware of the risks they face when visiting these sites and hopes that Senators will be able to address this cyber threat appropriately. One of the rising anti-piracy complaints of entertainment industry companies is how so-called ‘pirate’ sites are funded by advertising, both from legitimate and illegitimate advertisers. Last month, for example, a report backed by the entertainment industries claimed that 90 percent of the top pirate sites link to malware or other unwanted software. In addition, two-thirds of the websites were said to link to credit card scams. Helped by these numbers, copyright holders and anti-piracy groups are now framing torrent sites, streaming hubs and cyberlockers as a cyber threat. This presents them with a new angle to urge lawmakers to target these sites and services. Last week the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations organized a hearing on the “hidden hazards” of online adverting. For the MPAA, this offered an ideal opportunity to chime in with their piracy angle. “As the Senators consider steps to address the safety and security of online advertisements, we hope they will also examine the extensive growth of these hazards on sites that offer infringing movies, television shows and other creative content,” MPAA writes. The MPAA notes that several recent reports pointed out how these pirate sites are rife with malicious ads and urges lawmakers to take steps to address the issue. Not for Hollywood’s financial benefit, but to protect Americans from malware and scams. “As the Subcommittee considers steps to address the safety and security of online advertisements, we urge the members to examine these reports and others which detail the numerous hazards on pirate sites,” MPAA notes. “Unfortunately, these illicit sites continue to attract large numbers of Americans, especially young people who might not be aware of the harms they could easily encounter,” they add. So there we have it. The MPAA, who are generally speaking not too concerned about the well-being of people who “steal” their work, are now asking Senators to take them under their protection. Apparently, the MPAA don’t want pirates to catch viruses or run into credit card scams. A humbly presented goal, but of course it’s just another obfuscated attempt to disconnect ‘pirate’ sites from their revenue streams. Considering the recent push against advertising networks, including the London Police pirate site blacklist, this won’t be the last we’ve heard of this. Source: TorrentFreak
  18. Technology giants such as Yahoo and Google need to do more to protect consumers from hackers infiltrating their advertising networks to deliver malicious adverts – or even point users to sites that serve malware, the U.S. Senate has warned, according to CNBC’s report. The Senate Permanent Subcomittee on Investigations said that punishments needed to be targeted not merely at hackers, but also at advertising networks that failed to prevent them taking advantage of their online promotions. “Consumers can incur malware attacks [through online ads] without having taken any action other than visiting a mainstream website,” the subcommittee said, according to PC World’s report. The subcommittee referred to two incidents in which Yahoo and Google’s advertising networks were used to deliver malicious adverts, according to Network World’s report. The report said that some advertising networks scanned for malicious advertising, but “malvertisers” scanned for this and refrained from serving ads when in danger of detection, according to Network World. “We successfully block the vast majority of malicious or deceptive advertisements with which bad actors attack our network, and we always strive to defeat those who would compromise our customers’ security,” a representative from Yahoo said, according to Phys.org. The panel said that Yahoo or Google were not singled out as vulnerable – and that the industry as a whole was vulnerable to attacks. The use of malware to misdirect users means that the economics of such scams can be quite complex – with ESET’s Joan Calvet analyzing the techniques by which the Win32/Boaxxe BE malware family drive traffic to the “wrong” advertising networks in a post here. “Boaxxe.BE, is an impressive malware family with numerous sub modules, which takes lots of precautions to stay stealthy,” says Calvet, “For example, it won’t redirect users to ads when the user clicks on common websites (Wikipedia, Facebook…), or the maintenance of its own DNS cache in order to avoid relying on the too-noisy Windows cache.” A We Live Security guide to how to detect if your PC is infected, and avoid infection with “adware” and “badware” can be found here. Source
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