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Businesses

Can Ello Legally Promise To Remain Ad-Free? 153

Posted by timothy
from the anyone-can-promise-anything dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: Social networking company Ello has converted itself to a Public Benefit Corporation, bound by a charter saying that they will not now, nor in the future, make money by running advertisements or selling user data. Ello had followed these policies from the outset, but skeptics worried that venture capitalist investors might pressure Ello to change those policies, so this binding commitment was meant to assuage those fears. But is the commitment really legally binding and enforceable down the road? Read on for the rest.
Verizon

Verizon Injects Unique IDs Into HTTP Traffic 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the doing-the-wrong-thing-badly dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless carrier, is now also a real-time data broker. According to a security researcher at Stanford, Big Red has been adding a unique identifier to web traffic. The purpose of the identifier is advertisement targeting, which is bad enough. But the design of the system also functions as a 'supercookie' for any website that a subscriber visits. "Any website can easily track a user, regardless of cookie blocking and other privacy protections. No relationship with Verizon is required. ...while Verizon offers privacy settings, they don’t prevent sending the X-UIDH header. All they do, seemingly, is prevent Verizon from selling information about a user." Just like they said they would.
Advertising

Ello Formally Promises To Remain Ad-Free, Raises $5.5M 167

Posted by timothy
from the now-how-much-would-you-pay? dept.
Social media site Ello is presented as the anti-Facebook, promising an ad-free social network, and that they won't sell private data. Today, they've also announced that Ello has become a Public Benefit Corporation, and that the site's anti-advertising promise has been enshrined in a corporate charter. The BBC reports on the restrictions that Ello has therefore entered into, which mean the site cannot, for monetary gain,
  1. Sell user-specific data to a third party
  2. Enter into an agreement to display paid advertising on behalf of a third party; and
  3. In the event of an acquisition or asset transfer, the Company shall require any acquiring entity to adopt these requirements with respect to the operation of Ello or its assets.

While that might turn off some potential revenue flows (the company says it will make money by selling optional features), as the linked article points out, it hasn't turned off investors; Ello has now raised $5.5 million from investors.

Piracy

Google Changes 'To Fight Piracy' By Highlighting Legal Sites 160

Posted by timothy
from the sponsored-links-you-might-also-enjoy dept.
mrspoonsi writes Google has announced changes to its search engine in an attempt to curb online piracy. The company has long been criticised for enabling people to find sites to download entertainment illegally. The entertainment industry has argued that illegal sites should be "demoted" in search results. The new measures, mostly welcomed by music trade group the BPI, will instead point users towards legal alternatives such as Spotify and Google Play. Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results, as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page. Crucially, however, these will be adverts — meaning if legal sites want to appear there, they will need to pay Google for the placement.
Networking

Kickstarter Cancels Anonabox Funding Campaign 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the almost-before-it-began dept.
An anonymous reader writes: On Friday, the controversy surrounding Anonabox reached its zenith with Kickstarter officially canceling the project's funding campaign. Anonabox began with a modest goal of $7,500, but quickly reached its goal 82 times over. Then funders and interested parties began to scrutinize the project's claims, and that's when the project ran into trouble. From hardware that wasn't actually custom-made to software that didn't actually fulfill promises of privacy-focused routing on the internet, the facts regarding Anonabox proved that it was in blatant violation of Kickstarter's rules against false advertising. This project clearly failed, but if the support it initially garnered is any indication, the public is hungry for easy-to-use technology that encrypts and anonymizes all personal internet traffic.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview? 224

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-mine-is-mine dept.
ZahrGnosis writes I'm in the midst of a rather lengthy job interview; something I haven't done for some time as I've worked as a contract employee with a much lower barrier to entry for years. Recently, I've started patenting some inventions that are applicable to my industry. One hope is that the patents look good to the prospective employer on a resume, but I don't want them to take the existing IP for granted as part of the deal. I'm worried I have the wrong attitude, however. My question is, how should I treat licensing of the patent as a topic with respect to the topic of my employment? Should I build the use of my patented ideas into my salary? Should I explicitly refuse to implement my patented IP for the company without a separate licensing fee? If I emphasize the patent during the interviews without the intent to give them the IP for free, is that an ethical lapse — a personal false advertising? At the same time, when I work for a company I feel they should get the benefit of my full expertise... am I holding back something I shouldn't by not granting a de-facto license while I work for them? I perceive a fine balance between being confrontational and helpful, while not wanting to jeopardize the job prospect nor restrict my ability to capitalize on my invention. Thoughts?
Advertising

Why Do Contextual Ads Fail? 249

Posted by timothy
from the pandemic-tone-deafness dept.
minstrelmike writes If we give up all our privacy on-line for contextual ads, then how come so many of them are so far off the mark? Personal data harvesting for contextual ads and content should be a beautiful thing. They do it privately and securely, and it's all automated so that no human being actually learns anything about you. And then the online world becomes customized, just for you. The real problem with this scenario is that is we're paying for contextual ads and content with our personal data, but we're not getting what we pay for. Facebook advertising is off target and almost completely irrelevant. The question is: Why? Facebook has a database of our explicitly stated interests, which many users fill out voluntarily. Facebook sees what we post about. It knows who we interact with. It counts our likes, monitors our comments and even follows us around the Web. Yet, while the degree of personal data collection is extreme, the advertising seems totally random.
Displays

WSJ: Google X Display Team Works Toward Bezel-Free Modular Displays 56

Posted by timothy
from the mary-lou-can-do-no-wrong dept.
The Wall Street Journal reports in a paywalled article that a team under Pixel Qi founder and OLPC co-founder Mary Lou Jepsen at Google's skunkwork labs Google X is working on modular video displays that could be expanded by snapping them together "like Lego." Ars Technica, TechSpot, The Verge, and several others summarize the claims made by "three people familiar with the project"; here's a snippet from TechSpot's version: Even in the home and office, the use of multiple displays isn’t uncommon but just like with larger implementations often used for advertising purposes, screen bezels are always a problem. Bezels are less visible from a distance but up close, they pretty much ruin the experience. The scope and target audience for the project is unclear at this hour as we are told the project is currently in an early stage. One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to stitch images together across screens, both electronically and through software.
Intel

Intel Drops Gamasutra Sponsorship Over Controversial Editorials 724

Posted by timothy
from the middle-of-the-road dept.
An anonymous reader writes Processor firm Intel has withdrawn its advertising from Gamasutra in response to the site's decision to carry feminist articles. The articles had drawn the ire of the self-described "Gater" movement, a grass-roots campaign to discredit prominent female games journalists. Intel was apparently so inundated with criticism for sponsoring the Gamasutra site that it had no choice but to withdraw support. An Intel spokesperson explained that "We take feedback from our customers very seriously especially as it relates to contextually relevant content and placements" and as such Gamasutra was no longer an appropriate venue for their products."
Businesses

Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War 249

Posted by timothy
from the slumming-with-the-stars dept.
An anonymous reader writes Yelp has, for the past year or so, garnered a reputation for extorting businesses into paying for advertising on their site. Allegations include incessant calls for advertising contracts, automatic listing of a business, and suppressing good reviews should a business decide to opt out of paying Yelp for listing them. One small Italian trattoria, however, may have succeeded in flipping Yelp's legally sanctioned business practices in its favor. The owners of Botto Bistro in Redmond, CA, initially agreed to pay for advertising on Yelp one year ago apparently because they were tired of getting calls from Yelp's sales team. But even after buying advertising, the owners claim that they kept receiving calls. So they started a campaign to get as many one-star reviews as they could, even offering 25% discounts to customers. As of this writing they have 866, and a casual perusal of them reveals enthusiastic tongue-in-cheek support for the restaurant. One-star reviews, once Yelp's best scare tactic, is now this particular business's badge of quality. And they didn't even have to pay Yelp for it.
Advertising

Google's Doubleclick Ad Servers Exposed Millions of Computers To Malware 226

Posted by timothy
from the but-zedo-is-awesome dept.
wabrandsma (2551008) writes with this excerpt from The Verge: Last night, researchers at Malwarebytes noticed strange behavior on sites like Last.fm, The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post. Ads on the sites were being unusually aggressive, setting off anti-virus warnings and raising flags in a number of Malwarebytes systems. After some digging, researcher Jerome Segura realized the problem was coming from Google's DoubleClick ad servers and the popular Zedo ad agency. Together, they were serving up malicious ads designed to spread the recently identified Zemot malware. A Google representative has confirmed the breach, saying "our team is aware of this and has taken steps to shut this down."
Cellphones

Under the Apple Hype Machine, Amazon Drops Fire Phone Price To 99 Cents 134

Posted by timothy
from the now-how-much-would-you-pay dept.
Whatever it is that Apple's going to announce a few hours from now, it seems Amazon has decided it's probably not going to send people rushing to buy its Fire phone. Amazon's cut the price of the phone from $199 to 99 cents. At that price, the Fire phone comes with free Amazon Prime membership, too -- but also a 2-year contract with (exclusive carrier) AT&T. Writes ExtremeTech: Whether that’s going to be enough to stimulate sales is an open question — $450 unlocked is still a tough sell for a device that is overmatched by products like the cheaper Nexus 5, or the recently unveiled $500 second-gen Moto X. In August, adoption data from advertising agency Chitika claimed that total Amazon Fire Phone sales were paltry, representing just 0.015-0.02% of phones in use, or fewer than 30,000 phones. That number will have doubtlessly ticked up slightly since then, and it’s true that Amazon’s partners, like AT&T, have aggressively pushed the phone in online stores.
EU

European Commission Reopens Google Antitrust Investigation 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-be-evil-in-europe dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, European Commission regulators finally agreed to a settlement in the organization's long-running antitrust investigation of Google's search and advertising business. Unfortunately for Google, it didn't stick. The EC said today they're reopening the investigation after a large number of "very negative" complaints about the settlement. "The key objection to the proposed settlement, which would have allowed rival services to buy spaces at the top of search results pages, was that it would not prevent Google from favoring its own services, and would divert money from the rivals to Google even if they received clickthroughs from the adverts — rather than the zero-cost solution if they were ranked highly in 'organic' search results, and Google was prevented from putting its own commercial services above those." The Commission is also looking into other parts of Google's business, including its influence over mobile devices through Android.
The Courts

Appeals Court Clears Yelp of Extortion Claims 63

Posted by timothy
from the 5-stars-for-marsha-berzon dept.
jfruh writes A U.S. appeals court cleared Yelp of charges of extortion related to its interaction with several small businesses who claim Yelp demanded that they pay for advertising or face negative reviews. While Yelp says it never altered a business rating for money, the court's finding was instead based on a strict reading of the U.S. extortion law, classifying Yelp's behavior as, at most, "hard bargaining." Interestingly, the EFF supported Yelp here, arguing that "Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) protects online service providers from liability and lawsuits over user-generated content, except in very narrow circumstances where the providers created or developed content themselves. In its amicus brief, EFF argued that mere conjecture about contributing content – like there was in this case – is not enough to allow a lawsuit to go forward."
Firefox

Mozilla Rolls Out Sponsored Tiles To Firefox Nightly's New Tab Page 171

Posted by timothy
from the now-how-much-would-you-pay? dept.
An anonymous reader writes Mozilla has rolled out directory tiles, the company's advertising experiment for its browser's new tab page, to the Firefox Nightly channel. We installed the latest browser build to give the sponsored ads a test drive. When you first launch Firefox, a message on the new tab page informs you of the following: what tiles are (with a link to a support page about how sponsored tiles work), a promise that the feature abides by the Mozilla Privacy Policy, and a reminder that you can turn tiles off completely and choose to have a blank new tab page. It's quite a lot to take in all at once.
Spam

Couchsurfing Hacked, Sends Airbnb Prank Spam 44

Posted by timothy
from the or-we'll-shoot-this-dog dept.
Slashdot regular (and Couchsurfing.org volunteer) Bennett Haselton writes with a report that an anonymous prankster hacked the Couchsurfing.org website and sent spam to about 1 million members, snarkily advertising their commercial arch-rival Airbnb as "the new Couchsurfing." (Read on below for more on the breach.) As of now, the spam's been caught, but not the spammer.
Advertising

Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year 611

Posted by Soulskill
from the monopoly-money dept.
Several readers sent word of research into the cost of internet content without ads. They looked at the amount of money spent on internet advertising last year in the U.K., and compared it to the number of U.K. internet users. On average, each user would have to pay about £140 ($230) to make up for the lost revenue of an ad-free internet. In a survey, 98% of consumers said they wouldn't be willing to pay that much for the ability to browse without advertisements. However, while most consumers regard ads as a necessary trade-off to keep the internet free, they will go to great lengths to avoid advertising they do not wish to see. Of those surveyed, 63 per cent said they skip online video ads 'as quickly as possible' – a figure that rises to 75 per cent for 16-24 year olds. Over a quarter of all respondents said they mute their sound and one in five scroll away from the video. 16 per cent use ad blocking software and 16 per cent open a new browser window or tab.
Advertising

The Man Responsible For Pop-Up Ads On Building a Better Web 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-special-place-in-hell dept.
An anonymous reader writes Above all, Ethan Zuckerman wants you to know that he is sorry. In the mid-1990s, Zuckerman was working as a designer and programmer for Tripod.com when he wrote the code for the first pop-up ad. He says: "At the end of the day, the business model that got us funded was advertising. The model that got us acquired was analyzing users’ personal homepages so we could better target ads to them. Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit: the pop-up ad. It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good."
Facebook

How Facebook Sold You Krill Oil 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the buy-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this look at how Facebook tries to make and sell "thumbstopper" ads compelling enough to get people to stop scrolling through their news feeds. With its trove of knowledge about the likes, histories and social connections of its 1.3 billion users worldwide, Facebook executives argue, it can help advertisers reach exactly the right audience and measure the impact of their ads — while also, like TV, conveying a broad brand message. Facebook, which made $1.5 billion in profit on $7.9 billion in revenue last year, sees particular value in promoting its TV-like qualities, given that advertisers spend $200 billion a year on that medium. "We want to hold ourselves accountable for delivering results," said Carolyn Everson, Facebook's vice president for global marketing solutions, in a recent interview. "Not smoke and mirrors, maybe it works, maybe it doesn't."
Piracy

London Police Placing Anti-Piracy Warning Ads On Illegal Sites 160

Posted by timothy
from the since-you're-here-anyhow dept.
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "The City of London police has started placing banner advertisements on websites believed to be offering pirated content illegally. The messages, which will appear instead of paid-for ads, will ask users to close their web browsers. The move comes as part of a continuing effort to stop piracy sites from earning money through advertising. Police said the ads would make it harder for piracy site owners to make their pages look authentic. "When adverts from well known brands appear on illegal websites, they lend them a look of legitimacy and inadvertently fool consumers into thinking the site is authentic," said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe from the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (Pipcu). "This new initiative is another step forward for the unit in tackling IP crime and disrupting criminal profits. "Copyright infringing websites are making huge sums of money though advert placement, therefore disrupting advertising on these sites is crucial and this is why it is an integral part of Operation Creative.""

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