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Games

No Man's Sky Under Investigation For False Advertising (polygon.com) 228

No Man's Sky is one of the most talked about games this year. The game sees the protagonist explore the space and experience uncertain places. But its controversial promotional material may also have played an instrumental role in making the title a sleeper-hit success. Polygon reports: No Man's Sky's promotional material has come under fire since launch, and it's now the subject of an ongoing investigation. The U.K.-based Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirmed to Polygon that it's received "several complaints about No Man's Sky's advertising," which angry customers have criticized as misleading. "I can confirm we have received several complaints about No Man's Sky advertising and we have launched an investigation," the ASA told Polygon. A representative for the ASA declined to comment on the particulars of the investigation, but a thread on the No Man Sky's subreddit details some of the most prominent issues Steam users have with the game's store page, which they passed on to the organization. Screens and video on Steam suggest a different type of combat, unique buildings, "ship flying behaviour" and creature sizes than what's found in the actual game itself. The store page overall has also been criticized for showing No Man's Sky with higher quality graphics than can be attained in-game.
Piracy

YouTube-MP3 Ripping Site Sued By IFPI, RIAA and BPI (torrentfreak.com) 303

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Two weeks ago, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry published research which claimed that half of 16 to 24-year-olds use stream-ripping tools to copy music from sites like YouTube. The industry group said that the problem of stream-ripping has become so serious that in volume terms it had overtaken downloading from 'pirate' sites. Given today's breaking news, the timing of the report was no coincidence. Earlier today in a California District Court, a huge coalition of recording labels sued the world's largest YouTube ripping site. UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, Arista Records, Atlantic Records and several others claim that YouTube-MP3 (YTMP3), owner Philip Matesanz, and Does 1-10 have infringed their rights. The labels allege that YouTube-MP3 is one of the most popular sites in the entire world and as a result its owner, German-based company PMD Technologies UG, is profiting handsomely from their intellectual property. YouTube-MP3 is being sued for direct, contributory, vicarious and inducement of copyright infringement, plus circumvention of technological measures. Among other things, the labels are also demanding a preliminary and permanent injunction forbidding the Defendants from further infringing their rights. They also want YouTube-MP3's domain name to be surrendered. "YTMP3 rapidly and seamlessly removes the audio tracks contained in videos streamed from YouTube that YTMP3's users access, converts those audio tracks to an MP3 format, copies and stores them on YTMP3's servers, and then distributes copies of the MP3 audio files from its servers to its users in the United States, enabling its users to download those MP3 files to their computers, tablets, or smartphones," the complaint reads. "Defendants are depriving Plaintiffs and their recording artists of the fruits of their labor, Defendants are profiting from the operation of the YTMP3 website. Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the YTMP3 website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants," the labels add.
Privacy

New York Fines Viacom, Mattel and Hasbro For Tracking Kids Online (usatoday.com) 49

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Companies that operate popular kids websites like nickjr.com and barbie.com agreed to a $835,000 settlement and to change their practices after an investigation found the sites were enabled with technology that tracked kids' internet activities. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office reached settlements with Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro and JumpStart Games after an investigation into the companies found violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. The investigation, called "Operation Child Tracker," found that websites operated by the companies enabled third-party vendors, such as marketing and advertising companies, to track children's online activity -- which violated federal law. Federal law prohibits the unauthorized collection of children's personal information on websites aimed at children under age 13. Viacom will pay $500,000; Mattel will pay $250,000; and JumpStart will pay $85,000. [Hasbro will not pay a penalty because it is part of a "safe harbor program" through the Federal Trade Commission that already requires more disclosures of web activity, Schneiderman said.]
Communications

Ask Slashdot: What Are Anonymous Ways To Pay For Goods and Services? 212

Long-time Slashdot reader mspohr submitted a report a couple of days ago from Richard Stallman via The Guardian, which argues that we should be able to pay for news anonymously. "Online newspapers and magazines have come to depend, for their income, on a system of advertising and surveillance, which is both annoying and unjust... What they ought to do instead is give us a truly anonymous way to pay." In response to that report, an anonymous Slashdot reader writes: There was a recent article posted here on Slashdot about Richard Stallman and his attempt to make paying for online content anonymous. The corollary to that question is: What are the remaining ways to pay for stuff -- in the "real" world and online -- that are truly anonymous? Even cash can be tracked, but what about other methods? Have we completely given up on anonymous payments? No more anonymous/numbered bank accounts, no more pre-paid/virtual bank cards in Europe (just happened recently), for that matter no more prepaid phone numbers (you have to register the number in Europe)? What is left after we had let the politicos run rampant with forced registrations of all payment services?
Privacy

Richard Stallman: Online Publishers Should Let Readers Pay Anonymously (theguardian.com) 160

Long-time Slashdot reader mspohr writes: The Guardian has an opinion piece by Richard Stallman which argues that we should be able to pay for news anonymously. From the article: "Online newspapers and magazines have come to depend, for their income, on a system of advertising and surveillance, which is both annoying and unjust... What they ought to do instead is give us a truly anonymous way to pay."

He also (probably not coincidentally) has developed a method to do just that. "For the GNU operating system, which was created by the free software movement and is typically used with the kernel Linux, we are developing a suitable payment system called GNU Taler that will allow publishers to accept anonymous payments from readers for individual articles."

Publishers "can profit from defending privacy rather than from exposing their readers," argues Stallman, ending his article with a simple plea. "Publishers, please let me pay you -- anonymously!"
Communications

Feds Spend Nearly $500K To 'Combat Online Trolling' (freebeacon.com) 184

mi writes: Washington Free Beacon reports: "The National Science Foundation is spending roughly half a million dollars to combat 'online trolling.' A joint project by Northwestern and Northeastern universities is examining how to create 'trolling-free environments' on the internet. The researchers define online trolls as those who try to influence public opinion by boosting 'misleading' and 'inauthentic comments.'" Just how can the "misleading" and "inauthentic" speech be eliminated by the government without violating the First Amendment? "Today almost every browser click that users make is collected by numerous trackers associated with a variety of online services (e.g., advertising networks, online social networks, e-commerce platforms)," a grant for the project states. "Users have often expressed concern about the lack of privacy and control over their personal data. Nonetheless, despite a substantial effort to expose and control this prevalent behavior, the reality is that users keep accepting updated online privacy policies, which in turn grant the gathering of more personal data. This project explores re-using this extensive tracking infrastructure for the benefits of both the users themselves and web services, with a goal of preventing online trolling (scenarios in which various groups deploy tactics to influence public opinion on the internet, by leaving biased, false, misleading, and inauthentic comments, and then artificially amplifying their ratings). The project aims to show how the tracking infrastructure can be re-used as a user 'fingerprint,' allowing a lightweight and privacy-preserving form of identification for third-party web sites." The lead researchers on the project, Aleksander Kuzmanovic from Northwestern University, and Alan Mislove from Northeastern University, said: "Public opinion is of paramount importance in any society. It is thus not a surprise that many governments, political parties, and various other groups deploy tactics to influence public opinion on the internet, a practice commonly referred to as trolling." They say their work could help combat "troll armies" used by Russia and China.
Advertising

Creators Call Out YouTube For Demonetizing Videos (dailydot.com) 193

Striek writes: "On Wednesday, several YouTube creators posted videos that voiced concerns over the platform's process of demonetizing videos for not being friendly to advertisers," reports Daily Dot. Many YouTube creators have similar concerns that no, this isn't censorship in the strictest sense, but that YouTube owes its users a better commitment to free speech than most private companies due to its dominant marketplace position. Its criteria for videos being "advertiser-friendly" is also incredibly vague or restrictive, or both. The Daily Dot reports: "Content that is considered inappropriate for advertising includes: Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor; Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism; Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language; Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use and abuse of such items; Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown." You read that right -- any YouTube video covering any war or natural disaster is considered inappropriate for advertising, which essentially includes all news and current events shows. This might not seem like a big deal to many people, but it would be, if you made your living creating YouTube videos. So while technically not censorship, many people are arguing YouTube has gone a few steps too far with this, and are likewise worried that this will be too selectively enforced. justthinkit adds: On August 31, 2016, YouTube demonetized videos for reasons that appear to punish those who attack "Social Justice Warriors" and the mainstream media. Philip DeFranco has spoken out about it and hinted he may have to move to other video platforms. Is this an issue most should care about or is it merely a first world problem? The reason this is a story is because YouTube has "recently improved the notification and appeal process to ensure better communication." What this means is YouTube has been making users more aware of the issue with language or content, and the chance to appeal a demonetized video. What has upset many creators is the fact that the company has been demonetizing videos without telling the creators. YouTube has only recently started telling partners what is going on. In addition, there has been a discrepancy as to which channels/networks have been demonetized. For example, while one YouTube creator may be reporting on a current event that isn't "advertiser-friendly" and has been denied monetization as a result, another YouTube creator via a large network like CNN may be covering the same current event but be allowed monetization.
Graphics

Players Seek 'No Man's Sky' Refunds, Sony's Content Director Calls Them Thieves (tweaktown.com) 467

thegarbz writes: As was covered previously on Slashdot the very hyped up game No Man's Sky was released to a lot of negative reviews about game-crashing bugs and poor interface choices. Now that players have had more time to play the game it has become clear that many of the features hyped by developers are not present in the game, and users quickly started describing the game as "boring".

Now, likely due to misleading advertising, Steam has begun allowing refunds for No Man's Sky regardless of playtime, and there are reports of players getting refunds on the Play Station Network as well despite Sony's strict no refund policy.
Besides Sony, Amazon is also issuing refunds, according to game sites. In response, Sony's former Strategic Content Director, Shahid Kamal Ahmad, wrote on Twitter, "If you're getting a refund after playing a game for 50 hours you're a thief." He later added "Here's the good news: Most players are not thieves. Most players are decent, honest people without whose support there could be no industry."

In a follow-up he acknowledged it was fair to consider a few hours lost to game-breaking crashes, adding "Each case should be considered on its own merits and perhaps I shouldn't be so unequivocal."
Google

Fake Google Salesmen Are Actually SEO Telemarketers (vortex.com) 105

Long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein writes: It seems like almost every day I get junk solicitation phone calls "from Google." They call about my Google business local listings, about my not being on the first page of Google search results, and so on -- and they want me to pay them to "fix" this stuff. When I look up the Caller ID numbers they use, I often finds pages of people claiming they're Google phone numbers. Sometimes the Caller ID display actually says Google!

Is Google really doing this? Negative. NONE of these calls are from Google. Zero. Zilch. Nada. These callers are inevitably "SEO"; (Search Engine Optimization) scammers of one sort or another. They make millions of "cold calls" to businesses using public phone listings (from the Web or other sources) or using phone number lists purchased from brokers. If you ever actually deal with them, you'll find that their services typically range from useless to dangerous.

Businesses

One Year in Jail For Abusive Silicon Valley CEO (theguardian.com) 287

He grew up in San Jose, and at the age of 25 sold his second online advertising company to Yahoo for $300 million just nine years ago. Friday Gurbaksh Chahal was sentenced to one year in jail for violating his probation on 47 felony charges from 2013, according to an article in The Guardian submitted by an anonymous Slashdot reader: Police officials said that a 30-minute security camera video they obtained showed the entrepreneur hitting and kicking his then girlfriend 117 times and attempting to suffocate her inside his $7 million San Francisco penthouse. Chahal's lawyers, however, claimed that police had illegally seized the video, and a judge ruled that the footage was inadmissible despite prosecutors' argument that officers didn't have time to secure a warrant out of fear that the tech executive would erase the footage.

Without the video, most of the charges were dropped, and Chahal, 34, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor battery charges of domestic violence... In Silicon Valley, critics have argued that Chahal's case and the lack of serious consequences he faced highlight the way in which privileged and wealthy businessmen can get away with serious misconduct.. On September 17, 2014, prosecutors say he attacked another woman in his home, leading to another arrest.

Friday Chahal was released on bail while his lawyer appeals the one-year jail sentence for violating his probation.
Advertising

Facebook Rolls Out Code To Nullify Adblock Plus' Workaround (techcrunch.com) 426

An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal issued a report Tuesday that said Facebook will begin forcing ads to appear for all users of its desktop site, even if they use ad-blocking software. Adblock Plus, the most popular ad-blocking software, opposed Facebook's plan and found a workaround to Facebook's revision two days later. Now, TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook is well aware of Adblock Plus' workaround and their "plan to address the issue" is coming quick. "A source close to Facebook tells [TechCrunch] that today possibly within hours, the company will push an update to its site's code that will nullify Adblock Plus' workaround," reports TechCrunch. "Apparently it took two days for Adblock Plus to come up with the workaround, and only a fraction of that time for Facebook to disable it." An update on their site says, "A source says Facebook is now rolling out the code update that will disable Adblock Plus' workaround. It should reach all users soon."
Communications

Next Generation of Wireless -- 5G -- Is All Hype (backchannel.com) 90

Many people have promised us that 5G will be here very soon. And it will be the best thing ever. To quote Lowell McAdam, the CEO of Verizon, 5G is "wireless fiber," and to quote SK Telecom, thanks to 5G we will soon be able to "transfer holograms" because the upcoming standard is "100 times faster" than our current communications system 4G LTE. But if we were to quote Science, the distant future isn't nearly as lofty as the one promised by executives. Backchannel explains: "5G" is a marketing term. There is no 5G standard -- yet. The International Telecommunications Union plans to have standards ready by 2020. So for the moment "5G" refers to a handful of different kinds of technologies that are predicted, but not guaranteed, to emerge at some point in the next 3 to 7 years. (3GPP, a carrier consortium that will be contributing to the ITU process, said last year that until an actual standard exists, '"5G' will remain a marketing & industry term that companies will use as they see fit." At least they're candid.) At the moment, advertising something as "5G" carries no greater significance than saying it's "blazing fast" or "next generation" -- nut because "5G" sounds technical, it's good for sales. We are a long way away from actual deployment. [...] Second, this "wireless fiber" will never happen unless we have... more fiber. Real fiber, in the form of fiber optic cables reaching businesses and homes. (This is the "last mile" problem; fiber already runs between cities.) It's just plain physics. In order to work, 99% of any "5G" wireless deployment will have to be fiber running very close to every home and business. The high-frequency spectrum the carriers are planning to use wobbles billions of times a second but travels incredibly short distances and gets interfered with easily. So it's great at carrying loads of information -- every wobble can be imprinted with data -- but can't go very far at all.
IOS

Zero-Day Hunters Will Pay Over Twice as Much as Apple's New Bug Bounty Programme (vice.com) 29

Joseph Cox, writing for Motherboard: Last week, Apple finally joined other technology giants and announced a bug bounty programme, where hackers can submit details of previously unknown vulnerabilities in Apple systems and devices, and get paid for sharing them with the company. But Apple is not going to be without competition. On Wednesday, established bug-hunting company Exodus Intelligence launched its own new acquisition programme for both vulnerabilities and exploits. And when it comes to iOS bugs, the company is offering up to more than double Apple's maximum payout. While Apple's highest bounty is $200,000, Exodus is advertising a maximum of $500,000 for vulnerabilities affecting iOS 9.3 or above. Exodus provides details of vulnerabilities and working exploits to customers who pay a subscription fee of around $200,000 per year, according to Time. Those customers could be on the defensive side -- such as antivirus vendors who want to plug newly discovered holes -- or part of an offensive team using the exploit to target systems themselves. On its site, Exodus emphasises the former, writing that it "works with the research community to find these attacks first and make them available to security vendors and enterprises, allowing them to deploy defenses before their adversaries can attack."
Advertising

Suicide Squad Fan Suing Studio For 'False Advertising' Over Lack of Joker Scenes (independent.co.uk) 260

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Independent: Reddit user BlackPanther2016 has threatened to begin legal action against Warner Bros and DC Comics later this week, claiming that teasing Joker scenes in trailers that did not make the final film amounts to "unjust false advertising." The disgruntled superhero fan argued in a post on Movies subreddit that he should receive a refund after driving 300 miles to London to watch "specific scenes explicitly advertised in TV ads" only to leave feeling ripped off. He says he will file a lawsuit on August 11, with his "lawyer" brother leading the case. Part of his litigious post reads: "Suicide Squad trailers showcased several specific Joker scenes that I had to pay for the whole movie just so that I can go watch those specific scenes that Warner Bros/DC Comics had advertised in their trailers and TV spots. These scenes are: when Joker banged his head on his car window, when Joker says 'Let me show you my toys,' when Joker punches the roof of his car, when Joker drops a bomb with his face all messed up and says, 'Bye bye!' None of these scenes were in the movie." Last week, Suicide Squad fans petitioned to shut down rotten tomatoes over negative reviews.
Communications

Ad Board To Comcast: Stop Claiming You Have the 'Fastest Internet' (arstechnica.com) 101

The National Advertising Division (NDA) said on Monday that Comcast should stop claiming that its Xfinity service delivers the "fastest Internet in America," adding that the carrier should also discontinue some ads where it claims to offer the "fastest in-home Wi-Fi." ArsTechnica reports: For its fastest Internet claim, Comcast relied on crowdsourced data from the Ookla Speedtest application. An "award" provided by Ookla to Comcast relied only on the top 10 percent of each ISP's download results. "Although Xfinity offers a variety of speeds at a range of prices and tiers, Comcast's advertising does not limit its claims to a particular tier," the NAD's announcement said. "NAD determined that the claims at issue in both print and broadcast advertising reasonably conveyed a message of overall superiority -- that regardless of which speed tier purchased by a consumer, in a head-to-head comparison, Xfinity would deliver faster speeds." Though one methodology might be reliable for one purpose, "it may not be sufficient substantiation for advertising claims made in a different context," the NAD said. Ookla's methodology "wasn't a good fit for the purposes of substantiating Comcast's overall superior speed performance claim that 'Xfinity delivers the fastest Internet in America,'" the NAD also said.
Facebook

Facebook Will Force Advertising On Ad-Blocking Users (wsj.com) 534

Long-time reader geek writes: Facebook is going to start forcing ads to appear for all users of its desktop website, even if they use ad-blocking software (Could be paywalled; alternate source). The social network said on Tuesday that it will change the way advertising is loaded into its desktop website to make its ad units considerably more difficult for ad blockers to detect. "Facebook is ad-supported. Ads are a part of the Facebook experience; they're not a tack on," said Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of engineering for advertising and pages.
Network

Washington State Sues Comcast For $100M Over 'Pattern of Deceptive Practices' (komonews.com) 90

An anonymous reader writes: Washington State has filed a lawsuit against Comcast to the sum of $100 million, accusing Comcast of "engaging in a pattern of deceptive practices." It claims that Comcast's documents reveal a pattern of illegally deceiving its own customers for profit. KOMO News reports: "The lawsuit (PDF) alleges more than 1.8 million individual violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. The Attorney General's Office says 500,000 Washington consumers were affected. The lawsuit also accuses Comcast of violating the Consumer Protection Act to all of its nearly 1.2 million Washington subscribers due to its deceptive 'Comcast Guarantee,' Ferguson said. The lawsuit accuses Comcast of misleading 500,000 Washington consumers and deceiving them into paying at least $73 million in subscription fees over the last five years for what the attorney general says is a a near-worthless protection plan. Customers who sign up for Comcast's Service Protection Plan pay a $4.99 monthly fee to avoid being charged if a Comcast technician visits their home. But the plan did not cover wiring inside a wall, the lawsuit says. The Attorney General Office says 75 percent of the time, customers who contacted Comcast were told the plan covered inside wiring. Customer service scripts, which the Attorney General's Office said it obtained during its investigation, told Comcast representatives to say that the plan covers calls 'related to inside wiring' and 'wiring inside your home.'" According to KOMO News, the lawsuit is seeking more than $73 million in restitution to pay back Service Protection Plan subscriber payments; full restitution for all service calls that applied an improper resolution code, estimated to be at least $1 million; removal of improper credit checks from the credit reports of more than 6,000 customers; up to $2,000 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act; and that Comcast clearly disclose the limitations of its Service Protection Plan in advertising and through its representatives, correct improper service codes that should not be chargeable and implement a compliance procedure for improper customer credit checks.
Advertising

Malvertising Campaign Infected Thousands of Users Per Day For More Than a Year (softpedia.com) 135

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: Since the summer of 2015, users that surfed 113 major, legitimate websites were subjected to one of the most advanced malvertising campaigns ever discovered, with signs that this might have actually been happening since 2013. Infecting a whopping 22 advertising platforms, the criminal gang behind this campaign used complicated traffic filtering systems to select users ripe for infection, usually with banking trojans. The campaign constantly pulled between 1 and 5 million users per day, infecting thousands, and netting the crooks millions each month. The malicious ads, according to this list, were shown on sites like The New York Times, Le Figaro, The Verge, PCMag, IBTimes, Ars Technica, Daily Mail, Telegraaf, La Gazetta dello Sport, CBS Sports, Top Gear, Urban Dictionary, Playboy, Answers.com, Sky.com, and more.
The Internet

Tumblr To Introduce Ads Across All Blogs 44

Reader evelynlewis445 writes: Tumblr this week quietly announced plans to roll out a new advertising program across its site which will see it implementing ads across users' blogs. The company did not provide specific details on how the program will operate, but it appears to be an expansion of its earlier Creators program, which connects brands with Tumblr users directly, instead of having advertisers work with third-party influencer networks.The ads will begin appearing on the platform starting today. Tumblr remains one of the most popular blogging platforms, attracting over 550 million monthly users to its blogs. Tumblr creators will have an opportunity to share in the revenue from ads on their blogs. The company says that bloggers will have the ability to opt out of the program should they wish not to participate.
Yahoo!

Once Valued at $125B, Yahoo's Web Assets To Be Sold To Verizon For $4.83B, Companies Confirm 206

The reports were spot on. Verizon Communications on Monday announced that it plans to purchase Yahoo's Web assets for a sum of $4.83 billion in cash. The multi-billion dollars deal will get Verizon Yahoo's core internet business and some real estate. The announcement also marks a remarkable fall for the Silicon Valley web pioneer, which once had a market capitalization of more than $125 billion. For Verizon, the deal adds another piece to the mammoth digital media and advertising empire it owns. The deal is expected to close early 2017. CNBC reports: The transaction is seen boosting Verizon's AOL internet business, which the company acquired last year for $4.4 billion, by giving it access to Yahoo's advertising technology tools, as well as other assets such as search, mail, messenger and real estate. It also marks the end of Yahoo as an operating company, leaving it only as the owner of a 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, as well as its 15 percent interest in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. In December, Yahoo scrapped plans to spin off its Alibaba stake after investors worried about whether that transaction could have been carried out on a tax-free basis. It instead decided to explore a sale of its core assets, spurred on by activist hedge fund Starboard Value. Forbes has called it one of the "saddest $5B deals in tech history."Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was expected to leave -- or get fired -- said she intends to stay. "For me personally, I'm planning to stay," Mayer said in a note on Yahoo's Tumblr page. "I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It's important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter."

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