Russia Approves Apps Store “Google Tax”

Russia has approved a “Google Tax” for app stores. “Russia’s Federation Council has approved a law requiring foreign companies to pay value added tax (VAT) of 18 percent on online content, the Interfax news agency reported Wednesday. The Finance Ministry predicts that the new law will bring in no less than ten billion rubles ($156 million) when it comes into force in January 2017.”

Facebook Falls for Fake Passport

Facebook, which earlier this year balked at restoring a user’s Facebook account even after he provided his real passport, has now let a hacker take over another user’s account using a fake passport. And not only that, most of the passport information was 100% wrong. “Facebook’s automated response informed the hacker that if he couldn’t get in by using Code Generator (part of Facebook’s two-factor authentication system) the only other way was to send a photo ID to prove this was really Aaron Thompson. The hacker then sent what looks like a scanned photo of a fake passport. None of the details in the passport, other than the name, are accurate, according to Thompson.”

Facebook Tweaking Its News Feed. Again.

Facebook is tweaking its news feed. Again. “Facebook announced on Wednesday it’s changing its News Feed to prioritize friends and family over news organizations, a shift that will cause referral traffic to publishers to decrease. The change was announced in a blog post addressed to Facebook users Wednesday that said users are ‘worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about.’ So, over the coming weeks, a change will be implemented that prioritizes updates shared by friends, rather than publishers.” If I were more cynical, I would reflect that this comes just in time for the party conventions and is another way for Facebook to squeeze money from Pages. If I were more cynical I would totally think that. cough

Google+ Turns Five

Google+ is five years old, and TechCrunch brings a bit of the snark. “The number of those who still love the service fell quickly after those heady days of the summer of 2011. Google did so many things right; the design was great (and used what were, at the time, really advanced web technologies) and its focus on privacy with the help of its Circles seemed like the right antidote to Facebook. People were genuinely excited about Google+. The honeymoon didn’t last long. “

Twitter Launches Twitter Dashboard

Twitter has suddenly realized that small businesses exist, and in response has launched Twitter Dashboard. “Similar to Twitter Engage, the idea with Dashboard is effectively to serve as a more personalized, custom destination and app for a specific group of Twitter users — this time, small to medium-sized businesses. While larger corporations will likely continue to use their sophisticated tools from Twitter’s partners, the idea with Dashboard is to provide a more basic suite of business-friendly tools to a broader audience.” I played with it for a few minutes. It’s okay. The ability to schedule tweets should be useful if you don’t want to use a broader tool like Buffer.

New Site Aggregates All the Google Now Voice Commands

A new Web site aims to catalog all the voice commands you can use with Google Now. “Kitze, whose website is now No. 1 on Product Hunt, says he got annoyed whenever he saw posts that offered a ‘complete list of Google Now commands.’ That’s when he decided to take matters into his own hands and build a website that aims to be the one-stop reference site for every OK Google command. And it’s more than that — the website is fluid, animated, and aesthetically pleasing.” It is pleasing – except for the gray on gray text.

What Happens in a Minute on the Web?

What happens on the Web in one minute? New stats are available. “According to the latest “Data Never Sleeps” report from Domo, published this week, in a single web minute, 159,380 pieces of content are viewed on Buzzfeed, Google translates 69.5 million words and Apple’s Siri handles 99,206 requests. Data levels are rising because of the web’s increasing social appeal. A single minute is all it takes for Instagram users to like 2.4 million posts and for Snapchat users to watch 6.94 million videos.”

Google Continues Research Into Image Recognition

Meanwhile, Google’s research in image recognition is getting better and better. “This week is the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Las Vegas, and Google researchers have several accomplishments to present. They’ve taught computer vision systems to detect the most important person in a scene, pick out and track individual body parts and describe what they see in language that leaves nothing to the imagination.”

Social Media and Editorial Cartoons

Things I admit I don’t think about much: HowSocial Media Has Changed the Landscape for Editorial Cartooning. “I stood frozen in front of my computer, watching my Twitter feed roll like a slot machine reel. My editorial cartoon criticizing then-presidential candidate Ted Cruz for his decision to have his 7-year-old daughter read from the script of a political attack ad had just been published online by The Washington Post, and four days of continuous emails, tweets, and comments had begun.”

Pinterest Offers Visual Search

Pinterest continues its pivot towards commerce with visual search. “On Tuesday, the San Francisco startup previewed a deep-learning-assisted visual search feature that it hopes will encourage even more shopping. With it, you will eventually be able to snap photos of objects around you—a cool-looking T-shirt worn by someone who breezes past you, for instance—or even a whole room. Then you’ll see similar items that others have pinned to Pinterest, and if they have ‘buy’ buttons, you can purchase them.”

Google Launches “My Activity” Page

Google has launched a new “My Activity” page. “Google has had tools to view your account history for a while, but this new page called My Activity is one of the most comprehensive timelines we’ve seen yet. Here, you can see which sites you visit, what devices you used, which apps you’ve used, and which Google products you’ve interacted with.”

Evernote Changing Its Pricing Plans

Evernote is changing its pricing plans. “Beginning today, the prices for our Plus and Premium tiers will change for new subscriptions, and access from Evernote Basic accounts will be limited to two devices. Current subscribers and Basic users who are using more than two devices will have some time to adjust before the changes take effect. If you are impacted, look for a message from us in the coming days.” I need to look more closely at OneNote.

Google Researcher Bodyslams Symantec for Product Insecurities

A Google researcher has ripped multiple strips off Symantec for the insecurity of its products. “Researcher Tavis Ormandy has spotted numerous vulnerabilities in 25 Norton and Symantec products that are “as bad as it gets,” he says. ‘Just emailing a file to a victim or sending them a link to an exploit is enough to trigger it — the victim does not need to open the file or interact with it in any way.’ Symantec has already published fixes for the exploits, so users would do well to install them immediately.”

A New Strain of Ransomware Delivers Scolding and Password Along With Payload

A new strain of ransomware wants to stop you doing unsafe things on the Internet. “A new ransomware (eduware?) called EduCrypt was discovered by AVG security researcher Jakub Kroustek that tries to teach its victims a lesson about ransomware. Like other encrypting malware, EduCrypt will encrypt a victim’s files, but instead of demanding a ransom, it gives the victim the password for free along with a reprimand. “