Tag Archive | "Reportedly"

Google Plus Announces It Will Shutdown After Reportedly Compromising 500,000 User Accounts

Google recently announced that it is shutting down Google+, with the service expected to cease operating by Nov. 2019. The announcement came on the heels of a report that an API bug exposed the profile data of 500,000 Google users using 438 different apps. However, Google claims the issue had been resolved back in March.

The decision to phase out Google+ came after Google launched a review of third-party developer access at the start of the year. The review apparently proved what the company had already known—that consumers and developers are not that interested in the platform. The service reportedly has “low usage and engagement,” with the majority of user sessions lasting less than five seconds.

What Happens to Google+ Now?

Google+ users will have ample time to transition. The phase-out is expected to be completed by August 2019 and the company will be releasing additional information in the next few months on how to migrate data.

However, Google intends to keep Google+ open for enterprise customers. But it will be rolling out new features to keep its enterprise version more secure and effective.

Aside from announcing its phase-out of Google+, the company also said its other services will be receiving privacy adjustments. Some of these adjustments include changes to API that will curtail developers’ access to user data on Gmail and Android. The changes will also ensure that developers won’t be receiving call logs and SMS permissions. Contact and basic interaction data from the Android Contacts API will also be blocked.

Keeping Things Quiet

While the security vulnerability occurred several months ago, it was only revealed recently in a Wall Street Journal report which said the breach exposed information like name, age, gender, occupation, and email address of users who listed their profile as private.

In a blog post, Google explained its decision not to reveal the issue to users.

According to Ben Smith, Google’s Vice President of Engineering, the company did not find any evidence of anyone accessing the profile data. There was also no evidence that the API was abused or that any developer was aware of the bug. Google’s “Privacy & Data Protection Office” also evaluated the issue and decided that none of the “thresholds” they were looking for were met.

Experts say that there’s no legal requirement that obliges Google to reveal the security vulnerability. However, Google’s decision to keep things quiet and a memo shared to the Journal warning senior executives against disclosing the existence of the bug will undoubtedly raise privacy and security questions again.

[Feature image via Google]

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Google Reportedly Allows App Developers to Read the Private Messages of Gmail Users

A new report from the Wall Street Journal has revealed that third-party app developers have access to the emails of millions of Gmail account holders. Two companies have reportedly even allowed employees to read said emails. While Google claims that these developers have been thoroughly vetted, there are still fears that this could end up as a data breach similar to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Gmail users that have signed up for some services, specifically travel and shopping price comparison tools, have agreed to terms and conditions that enabled the developers of this software and services to read their emails.

Gmail’s access settings do allow app developers and data companies to see the user’s emails and the private details that go with it, like the recipient’s address and time stamps. They can actually even view the whole message. And while application does require user consent, the permission form is admittedly vague on letting humans read emails instead of just machines.

These third-party developers claim to only use the information gathered from Gmail account holders for advertising purposes and targeted shopping suggestions. Google asserted that it has extensively vetted these developers, a process that entails checking that the company’s identity is represented by the app, that the data requested is in line with the service it offers, and that its privacy policy clearly states that it will monitor emails.

The Wall Street Journal report mentioned two specific apps that had access to said emails – Edison Software and Return Path. The former reportedly had employees read thousands of emails to assist in the training of its “Smart Reply” feature while the latter also allowed staff to read private messages to help in the development of the company’s software. Both companies said they have permission from users and that their actions were covered in their terms and conditions.

In a blog post, Return Path gave assurances that they “take great care to limit who has access to the data, supervise all access to the data.”

Meanwhile, Edison Software CEO Mikael Berner clarified the context in which their engineers read “a small random sample of de-identified messages” by saying it was for R&D purposes. He also revealed that the company stopped the practice some time ago and that all the data has been expunged “in order to stay consistent with our company’s commitment to achieving the highest standards possible for ensuring privacy.”

It’s not certain yet what kind of blowback the news that Google has allowed third-party developers access to user emails might have on the company. In all likelihood, it will be scrutinized the same way Facebook was after the Cambridge Analytica issue.

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Microsoft is Reportedly on the Verge of Acquiring Github

Microsoft is reportedly in acquisition talks with GitHub, according to sources privy to the matter. Based on the Bloomberg report, the deal to purchase one of the biggest code repository companies will be announced as early as Monday.

Founded in 2008, GitHub was a popular hosting site of codes, projects, and documentation for several developers and companies. It is the commonly used platform for open-source software projects, boasting of more than 20 million developers working across 67 million repositories in 2017. GitHub has come a long way from having just 2,000 users when it first started 10 years ago.

Back then, Microsoft disparaged open-source programs built on GitHub because of its proprietary software in the market. Open-source software allows developers to play around, improve, and share codes, making it a threat to Microsoft applications. Over time, the software giant became more receptive to the idea, launching its own open-source community over a decade ago and shifting its bigger projects on GitHub in 2015.

These days, Microsoft is the top contributor to the site, while other big tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple also use GitHub. Microsoft’s seismic move to open-source technology, as well as cloud computing, began when CEO Satya Nadella took over the top post in 2014. Since then, the company has been pushing for ways to support Linux as it veers away from depending on the Windows operating system.

It’s likely that Nadella’s vision has impressed GitHub, opting to sell instead of going public. Although the terms of the deal remain under wraps, GitHub was reportedly valued at $ 2 billion in 2015. This was lower than its $ 5 billion asking price when acquisition talks were discussed previously, say sources familiar with the deal.  

 GitHub is viewed by many as the de-facto source code platform where developers can connect and collaborate. However,  it suffers from a few operational problems such as monetizing its products and turnover in its executive ranks. One of the company’s co-founders, Chris Wanstrath, stepped down as its CEO in August 2017. Since then, there has been no replacement while Chief Business Officer Julio Avalos handles daily leadership in the interim.          

GitHub posted losses of about $ 66 million for three quarters in 2016 but reported revenue of $ 98 million during the same year, according to Bloomberg. However, its annual revenue doubled to $ 200 million in 2017, driven mainly by its paying corporate accounts. The company began offering GitHub Enterprise, a paid option for corporations with additional features and services, such as 24/7 support, dynamic hosting alternatives, and private workspaces, among others.

With GitHub’s push for more corporate clients, investors anticipate an initial public offering in the future. The company seems to benefit significantly from selling out instead of going public, particularly since Microsoft appears eager to snap up the platform based on their intermittent talks over the years.

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Pinterest Reportedly Pitching Brands on Digital Couponing

Pinterest continues to expand upon its ad offerings. The company is reportedly testing video ads, but its been pitching some other new concepts as well.

DigiDay is showing off some highlights from a Pinterest pitch deck it obtained, discussing a “full suite of ad offerings” including some exclusives for big spenders. DigiDay’s Garett Sloane writes:

The pitch shows that Pinterest is offering some exclusive services to top advertisers, including digital couponing, which it said it hadn’t done before. It also lays out its new targeting tactics and ability to measure the impact of ads on sales through partnerships with companies like Datalogix…Pinterest can incorporate a link to digital coupons, if the brand has a third-party couponing service like Ibotta. The coupon promotion could be served in one of Pinterest’s newest ad formats, Cinematic Pins, which are GIF-like pins that move as the user scrolls up and down, but stop when the user stops. “Drive trial and purchase by using these innovative units as a way to reveal coupons,” Pinterest says.

The deck also continues to play up Pinterest’s value as a search tool, which is something the company has been stressing for some time now. It also talks up improved targeting and claims 10x the reach for ads at 1/15th of the content creation compared to organic pins.

So in case you were wondering, Pinterest is a pay-to-play field not unlike Facebook and Instagram.

Image via Pinterest

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Nina Dobrev Reportedly ‘Devastated’ and ‘Completely Shocked’ Over Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder Engagement

Nina Dobrev is said to be devastated after learning that her former long-time love, Ian Somerhalder, is engaged to Nikki Reed after dating for only six months.

Despite years of dating Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder never committed to his Vampire Diaries co-star. But, it sure didn’t take much time for him to decide that Nikki Reed was the woman of his dreams.

According to a Hollywood Life source, Nina Dobrev is reportedly “devastated” over the news of the engagement, especially since he made the decision so quickly, according to a source close to the actress.

“Nina is devastated over the engagement news. She can’t believe this is all happening so fast. She is completely shocked. She heard the news from mutual friends and can only shake her head in disbelief. She knew Ian and Nikki were into each other but she never thought in a million years they would get married this quickly! It’s a tough pill to swallow,” said the source.

Nina Dobrev has been dating since her breakup, including Derek Hough and most recently, Vampire Diaries co-star Chris Wood.

Hollywood Life reported that Nina Dobrev and Chris Wood attended a Golden Globes after party last week and did everything possible to avoid seeing Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed at the party.

#TBT #Regram from @selenagomez What a glorious night the Globes were..

Ein von Nina Dobrev (@ninadobrev) gepostetes Foto am

“It was really uncomfortably because Ian and Nikki were walking around like they were the prom king and queen. Nikki has been in the business forever and has so many friends in the film and music industries. She and Ian were glued at the hip and put on some serious PDA, kissing throughout the night,” said a source.

On Wednesday, Nina Dobrev posted a somewhat cryptic message on her Instagram account on Wednesday night.

The Vampire Diaries will return for Season 7, but there has been no confirmation on whether Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder will reprise their roles on the popular CW series.


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Kate Gosselin Reportedly Forced Her Kids To Vacation in Alaska For TV Ratings

Kate Gosselin’s name is being dragged through the mud yet again.

According to Radar Online, the re-release of the shocking tell-all book, Kate Gosselin: How She Fooled The World, has new claims that center around Gosselin’s first reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8.

In 2010, the 39-year-0ld reality TV star reportedly forced her eight children to go on a vacation to Alaska with politician and former Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin. The trip was said to have been orchestrated by TLC in an effort to boost the show’s ratings.

Robert Hoffman, the best-selling author of the infamous slam-book, claims that Kate was totally in agreement with the network. However, the children had no desire to go on the trip.

Hoffman also claims that their daughter Mady was so upset about going to Alaska that she called her father Jon Gosselin to come and get her the night before they were scheduled to depart.

“Mady couldn’t take it anymore and called Jon the night before, begging him to come and get her and take her back to his apartment. She absolutely did not want to go away for more filming, and especially not as far away as Alaska. I know this because I went to Kate’s house that night with Jon to pick up Mady, and I heard the discussion between Jon and Kate – through the intercom at the gate,” Hoffman alleged.

“Kate completely disregarded Jon’s concerns about Mady and blew it off by saying that Mady was just tired and she didn’t mean what she said. She, of course, managed to insult Jon several times during the exchange. This was at night, in the dark, with no paparazzi watching; it was just a loving father coming to get his unhappy daughter who had called him for help.”

Unfortunately, Jon wasn’t able to pick his daughter up. Instead, he was met with threats from his estranged ex-wife. When Jon reportedly told Kate he’d be back the next day to pick up his daughter, she became enraged and threatened to call the police if he came to the home.

“Jon told Kate that he would be back in the morning to get Mady, and Kate told him that she would have the police at the house to arrest him if he tried,” he wrote. But, to no avail, all eight children did end up going to Alaska.

Hoffman also explained that he has proof to support the accusations. The young child can also be seen crying in the pictures that were used to promote the episode, which recounted the trip to Alaska.

“While only a handful of people knew about the drama leading up to the Alaska  trip, the family photo that TLC released to the media to promote the episode  actually ended up giving away the fact that something was going on with Mady.  You’ll see a very smiley Kate with all the kids. But if you look at Mady, on the  far right, you’ll see how sad and miserable she is. She’s crying in the  publicity photo. That photo is all the proof anyone would ever need to see that  she didn’t want to be there… That picture was worth a thousand words.”

Several media outlets have speculated that the claim in the book is actually true due to the questionable picture. With the re-release of the book, rumors have begun to stir about Kate’s questionable parenting skills yet again.

Do you believe Kate Gosselin has the best interest of her children in mind?

Image via Kate Plus 8, Facebook


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