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Facebook Announces a List of Security Fixes Post Cambridge Analytica Debacle

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Two weeks ago, Facebook promised to take a hard look at the information apps can use when users connect them to Facebook as well as other data practices. Today, the company had put out a lengthy blog post, about the changes the company is making to better protect your Facebook information.

“We expect to make more changes over the coming months — and will keep you updated on our progress,” said the company. Here then, are the details of the nine most important changes the company is making:

Events API: Until today, people could grant an app permission to get information about events they host or attend, including private events. This made it easy to add Facebook Events to calendar, ticketing or other apps. But Facebook Events have information about other people’s attendance as well as posts on the event wall, so it’s important that we ensure apps use their access appropriately. Starting today, apps using the API will no longer be able to access the guest list or posts on the event wall. And in the future, only apps we approve that agree to strict requirements will be allowed to use the Events API.

Groups API: Currently apps need the permission of a group admin or member to access group content for closed groups, and the permission of an admin for secret groups. These apps help admins do things like easily post and respond to content in their groups. However, there is information about people and conversations in groups that we want to make sure is better protected. Going forward, all third-party apps using the Groups API will need approval from Facebook and an admin to ensure they benefit the group. Apps will no longer be able to access the member list of a group. And we’re also removing personal information, such as names and profile photos, attached to posts or comments that approved apps can access.

Pages API: Until today, any app could use the Pages API to read posts or comments from any Page. This lets developers create tools for Page owners to help them do things like schedule posts and reply to comments or messages. But it also let apps access more data than necessary. We want to make sure Page information is only available to apps providing useful services to our community. So starting today, all future access to the Pages API will need to be approved by Facebook.

Facebook Login: Two weeks ago we announced important changes to Facebook Login. Starting today, Facebook will need to approve all apps that request access to information such as check-ins, likes, photos, posts, videos, events, and groups. We started approving these permissions in 2014, but now we’re tightening our review process — requiring these apps to agree to strict requirements before they can access this data. We will also no longer allow apps to ask for access to personal information such as religious or political views, relationship status and details, custom friends lists, education and work history, fitness activity, book reading activity, music listening activity, news reading, video watch activity, and games activity. In the next week, we will remove a developer’s ability to request data people shared with them if it appears they have not used the app in the last 3 months.

Instagram Platform API: We’re making the recently announced deprecation of the Instagram Platform API effective today. You can find more information here.

Search and Account Recovery: Until today, people could enter another person’s phone number or email address into Facebook search to help find them. This has been especially useful for finding your friends in languages which take more effort to type out a full name, or where many people have the same name. In Bangladesh, for example, this feature makes up 7% of all searches. However, malicious actors have also abused these features to scrape public profile information by submitting phone numbers or email addresses they already have through search and account recovery. Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way. So we have now disabled this feature. We’re also making changes to account recovery to reduce the risk of scraping as well.

Call and Text History: Call and text history is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. This means we can surface the people you most frequently connect with at the top of your contact list. We’ve reviewed this feature to confirm that Facebook does not collect the content of messages — and will delete all logs older than one year. In the future, the client will only upload to our servers the information needed to offer this feature — not broader data such as the time of calls.

Data Providers and Partner Categories: Last week we announced our plans to shut down Partner Categories, a product that lets third-party data providers offer their targeting directly on Facebook.

App Controls: Finally, starting on Monday, April 9, we’ll show people a link at the top of their News Feed so they can see what apps they use — and the information they have shared with those apps. People will also be able to remove apps that they no longer want. As part of this process, we will also tell people if their information may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

In total, Facebook believes that information of up to 87 million people — mostly in the US — may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

“Overall, we believe these changes will better protect people’s information while still enabling developers to create useful experiences. We know we have more work to do — and we’ll keep you updated as we make more changes,” said the company in the blog post.

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Hold Onto Your Seats, Android Users: A Fart Button is Coming!

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Get ready, Android users, for a quirky addition to your phone calls: a fart button.

As revealed by 9to5Google, users on the beta update channel of the Google Phone app are discovering a fresh menu during their calls, titled “Audio Emoji.” This unexpected feature equips callers with a soundboard boasting six different sound effects, audible to both parties on the call. Among these effects are clapping, laughter, celebratory cheers, a sorrowful trombone tune, a “ba dum tss,” and, peculiarly, flatulence. Despite the term “emoji,” the only emoji-like aspect is the use of emojis as buttons to trigger the sounds.

Accompanying these audio emojis are brief animations that complement the sound effects. Notably, there’s a rather distasteful depiction of a “chocolate ice cream cone” squelching to the ground amidst buzzing flies. It’s not hard to guess which emoji corresponds to this effect. It appears that these animations may be exclusive to the sender, although their visibility for the receiver is uncertain, especially if they also have audio emojis activated.

The full extent of this feature’s functionality remains to be seen, as it’s gradually rolling out. I didn’t encounter it on my Pixel 8 Pro, and Google hasn’t officially announced it yet.

If you find yourself confronted with the Audio Emoji menu and prefer not to encounter a miniature cartoon poop in your calls, you can deactivate the menu by tapping an “X” located in its top right corner. However, it’s unclear whether this action prevents friends from sending sound effects your way.

Fortunately, there’s a cooldown period between emojis, which means you won’t be bombarded with a flurry of fart sounds followed by a sad trombone and a punchline sound effect. With Google I/O, the tech giant’s premier hardware and software event for 2024, just around the corner, let’s hope Google has more substantial innovations to unveil on May 14th.

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Huawei Launches Painting App Called GoPaint

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Huawei has announced the upcoming launch of GoPaint, a brand-new self-developed painting app designed specifically for tablets. This exciting development marks Huawei’s entry into the digital art app market, further solidifying their commitment to empowering creative expression.

The GoPaint app promises a wealth of features for both seasoned artists and aspiring creators. It boasts a comprehensive brush library developed in collaboration with a top art team, ensuring a diverse range of tools for various artistic styles. User-friendly features and intuitive design make GoPaint accessible even for beginners, with a full set of tutorials included to guide users on their creative journey.

This launch comes after the resounding success of Huawei’s GoPaint Worldwide Creating Activity in 2023, highlighting the growing demand for digital art tools. By leveraging valuable user insights from the industry’s first smart device vendor to launch a self-developed painting app, Huawei aims to elevate the user experience and make artistic creation accessible to all. Their core concept of “Creation of Beauty” underscores this commitment.

Huawei’s decade-long expertise in the tablet market positions them perfectly to launch this innovative app. Their industry-leading tablets, like the HUAWEI MatePad Pro 13.2″, boast features like the first large flexible OLED display and seamless integration with the pressure-sensitive HUAWEI M-Pencil (3rd generation). Combining this cutting-edge hardware with the powerful GoPaint app creates a perfect ecosystem for artistic creation.

Huawei is poised to become a trailblazer in the digital art world by bridging the gap between its innovative hardware and software. The GoPaint app, expected to be unveiled at the HUAWEI Innovative Product Launch on May 7th, signifies a new era for creative expression on Huawei tablets. With its comprehensive features, user-friendly design, and beginner-friendly tutorials, GoPaint empowers both established artists and aspiring talents to unlock their creative potential.

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Shure Launches the new MV7+ Microphone

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Shure has launched its new hybrid XLR/USB dynamic microphone with the launch of the MV7+ Podcast Microphone. The MV7+ is aimed at those seeking to capture broadcast-quality audio in even the most challenging of spaces. With Shure’s cutting-edge Voice Isolation Technology, the focus lies on the user’s voice, avoiding annoying background noises and ensuring outstanding audio for every recording and streaming session.

It also includes a new, innovative onboard Digital Signal Processing (DSP) engine which powers a suite of advanced features, like an improved Auto Level Mode, a Digital Popper Stopper for enhanced plosive control, Real-time Denoiser, and Adjustable Reverb. Thanks to its unique full-touch LED live meter display and numerous customization options, the MV7+ sets a new standard in sound quality and personalization while diving into a vibrant world of colour.

To elevate the user experience to the next level, the MV7+ podcast microphone integrates with the free, new MOTIV Mix Desktop app, Shure’s latest MOTIV software interface. MOTIV Mix provides users with the ability to configure all aspects of the MV7+. The software also offers multi-track recording and routing to support users with greater control of their live streaming and recordings. With MV7+ and MOTIV Mix, it’s easier than ever to sound authentic, freeing up creators to let their imagination shine brightly.

“Modern content creators and streamers are constantly searching for new ways to customize their set-up and sound to set themselves above the pack,” said Sean Sullivan, Associate Director of Global Product Management at Shure. “The MV7+ is our answer to this challenge. It builds off the legacy of the MV7 and delivers broadcast-quality audio in any setting while empowering creators with intuitive customization and control. Through our latest DSP innovations and the new MOTIV Mix desktop app integration, the MV7+ is set to redefine excellence in audio recording for every session.”

New Features and Benefits:

  1. Multi-Color LED Touch Panel: Elevate the audio experience with a customizable LED touch panel. Choose from over 16.8 million colours to visualize your sound levels or engage an ambient pulse effect. A simple tap anywhere on the LED Panel Live Meter instantly mutes the microphone, ensuring privacy and control.
  2. Real-time Denoiser: Leverage the advanced DSP technology of the MV7+ to eliminate background noise. It works in harmony with the microphone’s Voice Isolation to deliver pristine sound, even in less-than-ideal recording environments.
  3. Digital Popper Stopper: Remove harsh plosive sounds to avoid acoustic distractions and a cumbersome physical pop filter on camera.
  4. Improved Auto Level Mode: Intelligent audio adjustment adapts the microphone gain based on the distance, volume, and room dynamics, providing perfectly balanced sound automatically.
  5. Onboard Reverb: Choose from three types of onboard reverb settings–Plate, Hall, Studio—and set intensity levels to add desired depth and richness to recordings.
  6. Hybrid XLR and USB-C outputs: The MV7+ integrates into any setup as it provides hybrid USB-C and XLR output and connects seamlessly with your laptop or phone (iOS and Android), offering unparalleled flexibility and ease of use.

Shure has also announced the new MOTIV Mix software for the MV7+ microphone. This platform allows users to customize the LED panel, access up to five multi-track recording and routing channels, and fine-tune settings like sound signature, gain, and more. A Beta version of the new software will be available to experience with the MV7+ at launch, helping users reduce the number of apps needed to streamline their workflows. Key features of MOTIV Mix include:

  • Multi-channel Mixer: Control multiple channels of audio to record, monitor or use your mixed audio for your live stream.
  • Soundcheck: Check your mic’s gain setting and optimize it with the help of Soundcheck.
  • A redefined Monitor Mix Slider: Mix mic output and system audio playback levels individually.
  • Full access: to advanced DSP features of your MV7+ Podcast Microphone.

MOTIV Mix will soon be compatible with other legacy MOTIV products such as the MV7 and the MVX2U, serving as a building block for forthcoming software innovations and premium features. The MV7+ Podcast Microphone comes in two colours (black and white). The black MV7+ is available now at Shure’s official partners and Amazon. This summer, the white version will be available along with a special bundle, the MV7+ Podcast kit, that includes the microphone in black and a Gator mic stand. Each purchase comes with a 3m USB-C to USB-C cable, a printed quick start guide, and a MOTIV MIX Art Card with download instructions. Other accessories such as a 15-inch USB-C to lightning cable and a replacement foam windscreen are available for purchase individually.

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