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  1. Facebook's announcement that monthly users took off in Europe and Asia in the fourth quarter shows the company may not ultimately pay a substantial business cost commensurate with the public outcry over its privacy practices. The results could have bigger implications for other tech companies, including Amazon and Apple, which both have a stake in quantifying consumer privacy outrage in business terms. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg speaks during an event on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 23, 2019. Facebook pleased investors Wednesday by reporting a strong quarter of earnings led by impressive statistics on user activity for the fourth quarter of 2018. The number of monthly Facebook users was steady in the U.S., with spikes in the Asia-Pacific region and, perhaps most surprisingly, in the European Union, where the company has endured the brunt of criticism over privacy related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and uncertainty over General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Facebook's success in courting users so quickly could have far-reaching impact as other tech companies seek to understand the true consumer appetite for personal privacy. Merging platforms For Facebook, it means the wind will be at the company's back as it tries to merge its globally popular Whatsapp messenger service with Instagram and its core Facebook offering. The move, first reported by The New York Times last week and confirmed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg Wednesday, has already drawn the ire of the Irish Data Protection Commission, the agency that administers GDPR. The company has also recently added one of its harshest critics to a privacy role at Whatsapp as it seeks to calm privacy concerns over the move. GDPR has been fueled in large part by public outrage over privacy issues at tech giants. In Facebook's third-quarter earnings call last October, the company blamed a downturn in active monthly users on the legislation. But the resurgence in European users going back to Facebook might show that the public outrage has been tempered by users' desire to return to the product. Apple's privacy pledges The data also calls into question whether privacy and security represent a business value proposition that actually interests customers. Apple has gone to great lengths to position itself as the tech world's privacy leader, while lobbing direct and indirect criticisms at Facebook, Google and Amazon over their own privacy practices. Apple has also weathered a handful of privacy scandals itself this week, including an alarming bug in Facetime and a report that iPhones were hacked for spying in the United Arab Emirates. Besides setting itself up for harsh criticism if a major privacy violation comes to light, Apple investors may be paying attention to Facebook's renewed success with users despite lots of privacy jabs from consumers and Apple itself. That includes an announcement Wednesday that Apple had disabled Facebook's developer access for internal testing of its app because it was distributing an app that sucked up incredible amounts of data from iPhones to people outside of the company. While it's highly unlikely Apple would dial back any of its privacy features and pledges, it might scale down the messaging — including its recent spats with Facebook — if it appears consumers aren't responding. Google has its own privacy scandals Google's parent company Alphabet has seemingly faced more issues related to internal dissension over privacy matters, including the controversial conversations the company has had with China on possibly building a censored search engine. The company also folded its Google+ product around the same time it announced a data leak in the social networking product, and the company is facing similar problems over its use of developer tools in the app store, though not as dire as Facebook. None of these seem to have put a meaningful dent in the popularity of Google products, but we'll know more when the company reports earnings on Monday. At the same time, Alphabet is also investing in products aimed at privacy conscious consumers, like email-protecting key fobs and machine learning features in Gmail that spot nation-state phishing campaigns. Security of personal communications, Google seems to be wagering, is still important even if big-picture privacy outrages don't move the needle much. Amazon and facial recognition Amazon, which announces earnings Thursday, has faced similarly harsh criticism to Facebook over its Rekognition facial recognition API and other technologies that some privacy watchdogs have deemed intrusive, including Alexa. Rekognition has been criticized because law enforcement agencies use it, and because developers can tweak Rekognition for their own purposes, with little centralized control over how its managed by Amazon or anyone else. Several privacy advocacy groups and other organizations, including rival Microsoft, have questioned the safety of the product and how it could be used for damaging purposes in the wrong hands. It's incredibly difficult for companies to calculate the business cost of "social outcry, " but Facebook did it Wednesday. And in its case, that cost may ultimately have been minimal. If Facebook's upward trajectory in terms of users and record profits continues, it will lead investors and companies to assume there's unlikely to be a linear relationship between what people complain about in terms of privacy and security and their likelihood of abandoning the product. Source
  2. People across the world are expecting major cyber-attacks against their own country. A Pew Research survey of more than 27,000 respondents across 26 countries shows that the majority of people expect that sensitive national security information will be accessed (74%), the public infrastructure will be damaged (69%), and elections will be targeted (61%). In all these areas, American concerns are higher than average. Eighty-three percent are worried about attacks on the infrastructure, 82% fear that national security information will be accessed, and 78% expect election tampering. The breakdown within each area follows political party associations. For example, Democrats (87%) in the U.S. are more concerned about election tampering than Republicans (66%). While the expectation of future cyber-attacks is higher than average in the Americas, so too is confidence that their country is well-prepared to withstand them. The global median for not well-prepared is 49% against 43% who believe their country is well-prepared. The U.S. and Canada both score 43% in not well-prepared, but 53% and 52% respectively believe their country is well-prepared. The two most confident nations are Israel (73% believe they are well-prepared) and Russia (67%). Europe veers towards pessimism, with France the only nation where more people believe they are well-prepared. The UK is ambivalent: with 43% for and 43% against. In all the rest of the European nations, more people are pessimistic than optimistic about their country's preparedness -- peaking in Sweden (a relatively rich country) where 61% are pessimistic compared to 36% who are optimistic. The largest gap between pessimists and optimists is in Greece (a relatively poor country) at 34 percentage points. In general, the Americas are both the most concerned about future major cyber-attacks while also being confident about their countries' preparedness. Europe tends to be somewhat pessimistic, while (apart from Japan), APAC is fairly confident. Africa is more confident than pessimistic, but Latin America is the least confident of all. Only 9% of respondents in Argentina believe their country is well-prepared for a major cyber-attack, while 81% believe they are not. While these figures are interesting and it is tempting to draw parallels with the history of cyber-attacks in each region, this is probably futile. South Korea, for example, is adjacent to one of the countries most-blamed for cyber-attacks against other nations (North Korea), and has indeed suffered numerous attacks alleged to be conducted by the North Korean Lazarus group. Despite this, 50% of South Koreans consider their country to be well-prepared against a major cyber-attack, while only 47% consider it not well-prepared. Possibly a bigger differentiator is each respondent's political affiliation within their own country. For example, in the U.S., Republicans are generally more optimistic than Democrats (61% of Republicans against 47% of Democrats). In Russia, three-quarters of the pro-Putin United Russia party are optimistic, while only 61% of those who do not support that party are optimistic. It is not clear from this survey whether relative cyber optimism or pessimism bears any relation to actual cyber preparedness, or is more a statement of confidence in the prevailing government party. Source
  3. tao


    Cannot the tongue of this land, In the wind of incantation, Rising up to the heavens, Seek eternity? ~ Kristjan Jaak Peterson Daily life and social customs Barn dwellings are now historical curiosities, but other elements of Estonian folk culture remain alive. Although the traditional costumes that were once everyday wear began to disappear in the last half of the 19th century as a result of increasing urbanization, they are still worn for festive occasions, and song and dance remain central to Estonian identity. Traditional cuisine in Estonia includes leavened rye bread, stews, berry jams, pickled gherkins, pearl barley, potato porridge, brawn (headcheese), and salt herring, among other dishes. Holiday meals may include roast goose or pork, ale, black pudding, apples, nuts, and gingerbread. Among the main holidays are New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Labour (or Spring) Day (May 1), and Christmas (December 25), as well as the summer holidays of Victory Day (June 23; Võidupüha) and St. John’s (or Midsummer) Day (June 24; Jaanipäev). Celebrated February 24, Independence Day honours the 1918 declaration of independence from Soviet Russia, while the 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union is observed on August 20 and known as Restoration Day. Other national holidays commemorate the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920 (February 2) and the Soviet deportation of some 10,000 Estonians on a single night in 1941 (June 14). Dancers performing at a song-and-dance festival in Tallinn, Estonia.MaSii The arts The scope and importance of Estonian literature have steadily increased since the period of national awakening in the 19th century. Open to cultural and literary influences of western Europe, Estonian literature developed a diversity of styles, ranging from Neoclassicism to bold experimentation. In the 20th century, Estonian writers represented three different epochs: Anton Hansen Tammsaare was the leading novelist of the former Republic of Estonia (1920–40); Jaan Kross wrote in an allegorical style during the period of Soviet occupation; and Tõnu Õnnepalu, whose work fits comfortably in the broader European context, became internationally recognized in the 1990s. Both Estonian classics and the works of contemporary authors have been translated into many languages. The beginning of professional theatrical art in Estonia is closely connected with the creation of the Vanemuine Theatre in Tartu in 1870. Tallinn has several theatres, including the national opera theatre, a youth theatre, and a puppet theatre. The festival Baltoscandal, which presents alternative theatre, started in Parnu in 1990. Estonian visual art came of age in the middle of the 19th century, when Johann Köler was among the leading portrait painters. The graphic art of Eduard Wiiralt symbolized bohemian art in the country in the 1920s and ’30s. The international reputation of Estonian art has grown beyond these origins with the work of sculptor Juri Ojaver, ceramicists Leo Rohlin and Kaido Kask, digital media artist Mare Tralla, and graphic artist Urmo Raus. An early expression of Estonian nationalism dating from the mid-19th century, song and dance festivals continue to be extremely popular. The first national song festival was held in Tartu in 1869, and today the Song and Dance Celebration remains a linchpin of national identity. Classical composers and conductors of note include Rudolf Tobias (Jonah’s Mission, 1908), Arvo Pärt (Fratres, 1977), and Neeme Järvi. If interested, please read the entire article < here >.
  4. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the internet was abuzz with discussion when reports surfaced that Floyd Mayweather wore a hijab to a Donald Trump rally, daring people to fight him. The concocted story started on a sports comedy website, but it quickly spread on social media—and people took it seriously. From Russian “bots” to charges of fake news, headlines are awash in stories about dubious information going viral. You might think that bots—automated systems that can share information online—are to blame. But a new study shows that people are the prime culprits when it comes to the propagation of misinformation through social networks. And they’re good at it, too: Tweets containing falsehoods reach 1500 people on Twitter six times faster than truthful tweets, the research reveals. Bots are so new that we don’t have a clear sense of what they’re doing and how big of an impact they’re making, says Shawn Dorius, a social scientist at Iowa State University in Ames who wasn’t involved in the research. We generally think that bots distort the types of information that reaches the public, but—in this study at least—they don’t seem to be skewing the headlines toward false news, he notes. They propagated true and false news roughly equally. The main impetus for the new research was the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The lead author—Soroush Vosoughi, a data scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge—says after the attack a lot of the stuff he was reading on social media was false. There were rumors that a student from Brown University, who had gone missing, was suspected by the police. But later, people found out that he had nothing to do with the attack and had committed suicide (for reasons unrelated to the bombing). That’s when Vosoughi realized that “these rumors aren’t just fun things on Twitter, they really can have effects on people’s lives and hurt them really badly.” A Ph.D. student at the time, he switched his research to focus on the problem of detecting and characterizing the spread of misinformation on social media. He and his colleagues collected 12 years of data from Twitter, starting from the social media platform’s inception in 2006. Then they pulled out tweets related to news that had been investigated by six independent fact-checking organizations—websites like PolitiFact, Snopes, and FactCheck.org. They ended up with a data set of 126,000 news items that were shared 4.5 million times by 3 million people, which they then used to compare the spread of news that had been verified as true with the spread of stories shown to be false. They found that whereas the truth rarely reached more than 1000 Twitter users, the most pernicious false news stories—like the Mayweather tale—routinely reached well over 10,000 people. False news propagated faster and wider for all forms of news—but the problem was particularly evident for political news, the team reports today in Science. At first the researchers thought that bots might be responsible, so they used sophisticated bot-detection technology to remove social media shares generated by bots. But the results didn’t change: False news still spread at roughly the same rate and to the same number of people. By default, that meant that human beings were responsible for the virality of false news. That got the scientists thinking about the people involved. It occurred to them that Twitter users who spread false news might have more followers. But that turned out to be a dead end: Those people had fewer followers, not more. Finally the team decided to look more closely at the tweets themselves. As it turned out, tweets containing false information were more novel—they contained new information that a Twitter user hadn’t seen before—than those containing true information. And they elicited different emotional reactions, with people expressing greater surprise and disgust. That novelty and emotional charge seem to be what’s generating more retweets. “If something sounds crazy stupid you wouldn’t think it would get that much traction,” says Alex Kasprak, a fact-checking journalist at Snopes in Pasadena, California. “But those are the ones that go massively viral.” The research gives you a sense of how much of a problem fake news is, both because of its scale and because of our own tendencies to share misinformation, says David Lazer, a computational social scientist at Northeastern University in Boston who co-wrote a policy perspective on the science of fake news that was also published today in Science. He thinks that, in the short term, the “Facebooks, Googles, and Twitters of the world” need to do more to implement safeguards to reduce the magnitude of the problem. But in the long term we also need more science, he says—because if we don’t understand where fake news comes from and how it spreads, then how can we possibly combat it? Source
  5. Batu69

    People are awesome

    Talented, interesting, amazing, unique,crazy, extraordinary humans around the world. Happy watching
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