Newsletter Archives

  • Will Threads be the real Twitter killer?


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    The parent company of Facebook and Instagram — Meta Platforms — launched this month Threads, a Twitter-like social network. It looks like the first serious contender to knock Twitter off its perch.

    Unlike other Twitter competitors — Mastodon, Bluesky, Truth Social, and many more — Threads has already attracted a gigantic audience. The Threads app for iOS and Android surpassed 100 million users in just its first five days. That makes it the fastest-growing app ever, besting ChatGPT, which required two months to hit the same mark.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.30.0, 2023-07-24).

  • Will the last tech worker who is fired please turn off the server


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    A wave of layoffs by the world’s largest technology companies is causing widespread fears. People are afraid that the growth spurt in online commerce that occurred during the coronavirus pandemic may be over — and opportunities for tech employment may never be the same again.

    Firings and separations are certainly ripping through the Internet at a rapid pace. But the impact of all this downsizing may not be exactly what you might expect.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.51.0, 2022-12-19).

  • The new privacy policy’s here! The new privacy policy’s here!

    newsletter banner

    ISSUE 19.32 • 2022-08-08


    Max Oppenheimer

    By Max Stul Oppenheimer, Esq.

    On July 26, Meta (aka Facebook) changed its privacy policy.

    So this is a good time to ask two questions: what’s in the new policy, and what should you do about it?

    You can find the new privacy policy here. Settle in — it’s enormous.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.32.0, 2022-08-08).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • Are your iPhone apps crashing this morning?

    Looks like there’s a(nother) bug in the Facebook logon sequence.

    Spotify, Pinterest, Tinder and others may freeze – even if you don’t have the Facebook app installed. Why? Because those apps, and many others, use the Facebook logon code.

    There’s a solution – install a VPN, specifically Lockdown Apps.

    Details from Tom Warren at The Verge.

    The Facebook status report is here.

  • Changing my mind about Facebook


    Amy Babinchak

    Undoubtedly, you’ve seen the invitation to sign in to a website with your Facebook account. And you ask yourself: “How can that be safe?”

    Using one account sign-in for everything goes against a basic tenet of password security. And you’re trusting Facebook to keep your credentials secure — and not share them. (Sharing is core to Facebook.) And yet you watch as all your friends get hacked and cloned while using conventional sign-ins.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.34.0 (2019-09-23).

  • Facebook admits, one hour before the Mueller report press conference, that oh golly “millions” of Instagram users had plain-text passwords exposed

    Talk about Friday night news dumps…

    Iain Thomson, writing for The Reg, wasn’t distracted by today’s news. Previously, Facebook said that “tens of thousands of Instagram users” had their plain text passwords stored on company servers.

    Now the tech goliath has decided to revise that figure, and, well, let’s just say it massively underestimated that number.

    “Since this post was published, we discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format,” the amendmentreads today.

    “We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users.”

  • Catalin Cimpanu: Over 540 million Facebook records found on exposed Amazon Web Service servers

    Catalin Cimpanu has (another) amazing scoop, on ZDNet:

    The first server contained most of the data, and belonged to Cultura Colectiva, a Mexico-based online media platform operating across Spanish-speaking Latin America countries.

    At a size of 146GB, this AWS server stored over 540 million records detailing user account names, Facebook IDs, comments, likes, reactions, and other data used for analyzing social media feeds and user interactions.

    The second AWS server stored data recorded by the “At the Pool” Facebook game. This included details such as the Facebook user ID, a list of Facebook friends, likes, photos, groups, checkins, and user preferences like movies, music, books, interests, and other, along with 22,000 passwords.

    Facebook sells data to third parties, who don’t take care of it.

  • Lincoln Spector: Hate Facebook? There are alternatives

    My name is Lincoln, and I’m a Facebook addict.

    Lincoln Spector is back with a Facebook takedown that’s different — there are problems, yes, but there are also alternatives. You aren’t stuck in the Zuckerberg rut. Get going with a site that doesn’t sell you out to Cambridge Analytica or Russian poll trolls.

    Out this morning to all AskWoody Plus members in Newsletter 16.4.0.

  • Facebook blocks 90 million accounts, 50 million have stolen user info

    This is just breaking, but the best report I’ve seen is from the Washington Post.

    The company said as many as 90 million Facebook users — out of a total of 2.2 billion — will have to log back into their accounts as a result of the breach. Notifications will appear at the top of the Facebook news feed for the 50 million who were directly affected, executives said on a call with reporters.

    Sure to be a big topic over the weekend.

    UPDATE: Facebook’s official notification.

    UPDATE: From Brian Krebs:

    The company said it was just beginning its investigation, and that it doesn’t yet know some basic facts about the incident, such as whether these accounts were misused, if any private information was accessed, or who might be responsible for these attacks.

  • Petition: Facebook should tell users how they were exposed to Russian propaganda

    I just signed it. Suggest you do, too.

    Facebook enabled Russian interference in the United States election in 2016, but refuses to provide a full account to the public. In fact, it has recently removed data that allowed independent researchers to understand the nature and scale of the problem.

    American citizens that use Facebook deserve to know how they were exposed to Russian disinformation and propaganda. Facebook should provide this data to users in an application that makes it easy to understand.

    Users should be able to see how content and advertising messages from identified Russian sources appeared in their timeline, whether they interacted with such media, and basic metrics that quantify their exposure.

  • The scale of tech winners

    Fascinating piece from Ben Evans:

    Microsoft was working on smartphones and mobile devices 20 years ago, and now it’s killed Windows Mobile, acknowledged that the PC is going the way of the mainframe and, like IBM, has to make its way in a market shaped by other companies. There probably won’t be a technology that has 10x greater scale than smartphones, as mobile was 10x bigger than PCs and PCs were bigger than mainframes, simply because 5bn people will have smartphones and that’s all the (adult) people.

    Check it out.


  • On Facebook Secret Conversations…

    In the wake of the recent Snapchat location sharing change, I received a message concerning end-to-end encryption in Facebook Messenger:

    “… as of late last year FB messenger has end to end encryption BUT…one has to select it for each message they want to make “secret”.

    It won’t work with MS desktop FB unless its Win 10 (never for me).”

    Now I’m not a Facebook user, but this intrigued me. What I found did not seem to be very user-friendly.

    The app that introduced encryption is only available from the Microsoft Store for “Windows 10 and Windows 10 mobile”, but only the mobile app appears to have the chat encryption. It seems older OS devices must use prior app versions which do not support encryption. Naturally, apps are also available for Android and iOS.
    (and note the mediocre ratings…) have a post which details the rigmarole required to effect the much-lauded chat encryption. It discusses what parts of conversation are actually encrypted (not any video calling, or any images it allows you to send), and problems with using more than one device with the app.

    Their post contains details on how to select which device you’ll be using, how to start a new Secret Conversation, changing an existing conversation to a secret one, confirming your conversations are secret, self-destroying messages and deleting secret conversations.

    I was surprised how difficult this all seemed, when other messaging apps seem to be a little simpler.

    Thanks to @hiflyer