Facebook Privacy: How To See What Facebook Knows About You

Facebook is actually collecting statistical information from their users to track ad preferences, according to an article from Fox News.

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Facebook tracks what you click on or interests you specified and records that as your “interests”. These recorded “interests” are then used to rule out which ads to give specifically to your news feed as you browse along the site. However, the system is not 100% accurate as it only bases the ads from the Facebook content a user clicks, thus only holding statistical data that can easily be manipulated by clicking different things altogether, or completely modifying it yourself through the Facebook Ad Preferences Page. With every link that the users clicked on the News Feed, Facebook could  somehow claim it knows the user through their “interests”.

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The Facebook Ad Preferences Page will help the user thoroughly sort out which ads they want, or pinpoint hunt that certain ad that they strongly dislike and take it off their supposed “preferences”.

The Ad Preference doesn’t seem to show any major compromise of data leak so far. The worst case scenario for a data leak from the Ad Preference list is to supply them ads that they “don’t” like, as it’s really just basing statistical data records to help the site predict which ads to dispense on your News Feed. Sensitive data such as residential addresses, phone numbers, and credit card data are far from the reach of the Ad Preference Page.

The thought of Facebook collecting data under your nose seems pretty alarming, and these Ad Preference data can be accessed through the user’s respective accounts without hassle. So far, Facebook tracking these data poses no danger unless the list only affects which Ads to show and which the user can outright ignore. The system looks harmless unless reported otherwise in the news, so keep your eyes updated if the Ad Preference system gets risky.

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Stay Updated on new or unfamiliar Facebook feature news here on the TheBitbag.

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Google Removes Right-Hand-Side Desktop Ads

Google is making some major overhaul with regards to how ads are being displayed on desktop searchers, getting rid of them in the right-hand side of the results and transferring them into the page’s top and bottom sections instead.

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The recent modification was first reported by The SEM Post, which was later on affirmed by the tech giant itself. Conventionally, Google’s ads are seen almost everywhere based on the specific query, but this latest update will leave the sidebar free for Google’s Product Listing Ads.

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Aside from removing all queries from the right-hand side ads, a fourth, additional ad will be laid out on the top page for a number of profitable searchers such as hotels or car insurance. In a statement to The Verge, the world’s leading search engine company said they have been working out on this layout for a long time already and many Internet users have already probably noticed the decreasing number of commercial queries.

“We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers,” the company added.

Google also confirmed that the latest alteration is worldwide and will affect all languages.

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According to ZDNet, this change will likely mainly benefit Google, as bidding among marketers will increase given the limited ad slots available. As a result, advertisers will need to allocate more budget. How will this affect the Internet marketing industry then?

First, for small businesses with limited budget and in dire need of marketing returns, this news would not be as great as it sounds. But this increase in ad rates and cost per click is good for Google. These small-time ventures will soon feel the pressure and might end up shifting their spending to social networking sites like Facebook.

Second, people who are not interested in an owned and operated plug will also be irritated. Google’s search results will pave the way for the company to plug its owned and operated sites.

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Lastly, users will also see condensed organic results since the page bottom part will be crowded with ads too. This actually makes Google less of a search engine. ZDNet reports that instead of coming across relevant listings and services, users will most likely see a series of ads.

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Facebook Bot Store–The Full Potential Of M Revealed… I Think

When Facebook launched M last year it is widely taken by tech media as Facebook’s answer to Siri or Cortana, which is correct if not incomplete. While Siri is doing a great job delivering personal assistance to the iPhone device owner, there’s something Apple Store-level or even Google Search-level big about M and it isn’t just so you can order Nike sneaker exclusives ahead of your friends.

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Let’s connect the dots with what we know so far.

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Ted Livingston of the Backchannel wrote that  Facebook is anticipated to announce a Bot Store, or at least its near-future plans for one, in F8 this June.

M, so far, has had some success fulfilling Siri-like tasks like placing online orders, striking basic conversations and other personal assistance stuff  based on media reviews since its release last year. Of course it’s aided in part by humans–for instance, response is qualified by a human–and one wonders if this AI can get rid of its human component. But M is supposed to learn from human-aided responses, so we might just see a full AI M this year.

What’s M got to do with Facebook Bot Store?

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M can position Facebook as  the first stop for mobile discovery, the weak link in the company’s mobile push (remember Facebook Home?). Google has a lead in desktop-based research, while Apple, Microsoft, and Google have an advantage of owning their mobile OS and storefront. Not so fresh from its Facebook Home flop, the social media giant still lacks prime real estate in the mobile platform. But M or a future bot can change all that.

You see, Messenger has over 800 million users (as of April 2015) and it’s on an upswing. Combined with WhatsApp, which Facebook bought in February 2014, the social media giant now controls 79% of the IM market.(KnowYourMobile) We may be seeing now a clear picture why Facebook was only too willing to shell out $19 billion to buy WhatsApp two years ago: it wants to be the place where people go when they want to, not just communicate, but buy things.

IM is a wellspring of user intents, and intents lead to buying. M will have plenty of these data based on your messages and engagement in Messenger. “We start capturing all of your intent for the things you want to do,” said David Marcus, Facebook vice president of messaging products (Wired). Marcus knows buyer behavior, having been pirated from PayPal where he served as CEO.  

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M or an evolved version can be the perfect bot-store launchpad since it’s already inside your IM ecosphere. It has your wants, intents, and even desires marked in red (scary, huh?), critical information brands would love to get their hands on. In short, M + Messenger + intents = transactions, equals big business for Facebook.

I don’t know yet how the bot store will look like, but I bet my neighbor’s house it can go either of these two ways:  

Brands sell their bots directly to you (customer) inside Messenger. Brand bots will then provide the assistance that concern their products, but all transactions happen inside Messenger; thus, brands need to pay Facebook (who needs Apple Store?).

Or, these brand bots will have to deal with M or an evolved future Facebook bot before they can get to you. Again, Facebook gets paid.

Google’s and Apple’s lock on mobile OS and storefront today reminds me of Microsoft’s stranglehold on browsers in the late nineties thinking that its Internet Explorer is THE platform for online discovery, only to be blindsided by search. The Facebook Bot Store may just make an IE out of Google Play and Apple Store sooner than later.

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Is Snapchat Secretly Working on Creating Smart Glasses?

Snapchat has gone a long way from its initial launch in 2011. While the startup company started by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy while they were attending Stanford was initially focused on being able to send and receive disappearing pictures, messages and video, recent rumors have reported that the popular social media company is now working on possibly creating smart glasses.

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According to CNET, Snapchat is currently recruiting several hardware experts for a secret new project. While the company has not leaked any information on what they are working on, the fact that they now have several wearable technology experts on their roster certainly points to the possibility that they may be quietly developing some kind of smart glasses that can be used with their social media app.

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TechCrunch reports that Snapchat previously acquired Vergence Labs in 2014 for $15 million and this is worth noting because Vergence Labs has already developed a pair of glasses which are equipped with an embedded camera. The recent onboarding of wearable tech talents by the company may be a sign that they are continuing to develop and invest in creating a physical product which would even boost their success.

Snapchat may be looking to reach new heights after they have found much success in social media in recent years. They have gone on from becoming the company who turned down a $3 billion offer from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook to becoming one of the top social media apps being used by people worldwide today.

The company is currently valued at $16 billion and it seems like they want to increase that even further with the rumors that they are working on smart glasses technology that could be revealed very soon. Make sure to check back here to find out more news and updates from Snapchat as well as other hot and trending topics in the world of social media and technology.

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Facebook wants to get ready for virtual reality

Facebook announced today the launch of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), which is bringing together a coalition of Internet service providers and tech companies to focus on the engineering challenges of delivering high-res video and virtual reality. Facebook says it has created a team dedicated solely to researching and developing virtual reality for social networking. The group has 30 initial members including T-Mobile, Nokia, Intel, Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom.

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The approach is modeled after the Open Compute Project, which was started by Facebook in 2011 to share designs of data-center products and has ties to Facebook’s Internet.org initiative to bring connectivity to rural areas and developing countries.

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“Every day, more people and more devices around the world are coming online, and it’s becoming easier to share data-intensive experiences like video and virtual reality,” Jay Parikh, Facebook’s global head of engineering and infrastructure, writes in a blog post. “Scaling traditional telecom infrastructure to meet this global data challenge is not moving as fast as people need it to.”

“Going back about 10 years, most of what we shared and experienced was text,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a surprise appearance Sunday at a Samsung event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. “Then it was photos. And now we’re entering into a world where that’s video. But pretty soon we’re going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you’re just there, right there in person.”

Facebook, of course, paid some $2 billion in 2014 to buy Oculus, which has been working with Samsung on its Gear VR consumer headsets. Zuckerberg appeared on stage during the MWC event just after audience members took off the Gear VR headsets they had donned to experience virtual reality during Samsung’s presentation.

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The company is also one of the only companies capable of rallying an entire industry behind an open-source initiative like the TIP. Everything leads back to Facebook.com, of course, as every new internet user with a high-speed data connection is a potential new member of the social network. Facebook says any company can join the TIP, and it launched a new website over at telecominfraproject.com for prospective members and the general public to check it out.

The announcement follows Facebook’s 2014 acquisition of virtual reality headset maker Oculus and its 2015 purchase of British VR startup Surreal Vision.

In order to make the user experience more realistic, Facebook also announced plans to improve the resolution and load time of virtual reality videos.

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Skype To Get Smarter With Bot–Why You Should Be Excited

Skype is getting smarter with the integration of chat bots into the messaging service, this as Microsoft introduced Skype Bot Program at its Build 2016 conference on March 30.

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Skype announced a new ‘Bots’ platform in preview mode for developers and users of the iPhone and iPad apps as well as for Android and Windows in their blogpost. The new feature brings interactive, animated bots to Skype that users interact with and developers can use to build experiences for their services.

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Skype wrote on their blogspot: “Today we are introducing Skype Bots—a new way to bring expertise, products, services and entertainment into your daily messaging on Skype… Each Bot will enhance your Skype experience in its own way, bringing a new dimension into your everyday Skype chats by helping turn your ideas and plans into actions.”

The company launched the first-ever Skype Bot SDK, which lets brands, businesses and other third parties build their own bots that can work on Skype, seamlessly integrating into users’ chats. It is a set of tools including an SDK, API and workflows that will allow developers to build bots that allow users to have quick conversations with over a variety of businesses and services.

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These Skype bots will be able to do a variety of functions that include ordering a cab, booking a hotel room, and “anything that you may want to do that you’ve done historically with applications and websites,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

At Build 2016 Keynote, Microsoft demonstrated how Cortana and Skype interact within the chat and help users to get things done just by having a conversation. A bot from Cups and Cakes  restaurant asked for an address to complete a delivery and Cortana brokered the conversation by giving the user a map with updates on arrival time.

Another interaction between Cortana and Westin Bot allowed users to add an appointment to a calendar, filling in location and date and book a hotel room with few clicks. Finally, she suggested chatting with a friend who lived in the same area, and produced an automatic message in the mode of Google’s smart Inbox replies. So basically, Cortana is able to “broker” conversations with a third-party bots within Skype chats.

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The preview build of Skype with bots is available on Windows, Android, iPhone and iPad, but currently in limited regions including Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, India, New Zealand, Singapore and US.

Users on iOS can find the bots by selecting search from the contacts page. You can add a bot same way as you’d add a contact, the Add Contact screen in Skype now has two categories: People and Bots. The bots available for Skype right now include Bing Music, Bing News and Bing Images, Getty Images, Build Bot; and, more are expected to become available if/when developers build them. They’re mostly in Preview mode at the moment , but they do appear to be functional.

These bots are in messaging mode only for these chat bots respond to very specific keywords, so you’re not really having a conversation with these bots but rather you’re typing in search queries. For example, with the Bing Music bot, typing in “Hello” would bring up Adele’s song (a link to her YouTube video) rather than polite small talk. A “Hi” in Bing News brought up articles with the word “Hi” in it.

However, in the near future Skype plans to introduce video bots that’ll allow users to get support in video and audio calls. You can try out bots now by downloading the latest Skype app for iPhone and iPad from the App Store.

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Latest Search Engine Adswish Keen To Provide Better Search Results

Finding the right product or service online gets a step easier with the latest search engine, Adswish. It has promised to help with better search results for just anything one wants to find from anywhere in the world. This new digital search engine follows the Google search engine model for classified ads.

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So, what’s new about Adswish and why does it promise “better search results” for the online audience?

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Well, the buzz about Adswish is that it comes up with data-specific search results, taking users a step closer to their most desired results.

An Adswish visitor would have this facility to enter search key words based on the specific product or service type in the chosen the area of the desired category.

So whether, one is looking for quality used cars in Liverpool, London or top laundry services in Austin, Texas, Adswish would quickly come up with localized search results.

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Speaking further, the Adswish manager stressed on a versatile range of category to cater to every industry or trade in the world. The visitors would be able to search personal services like a massage service, and other products like vehicles, housing projects, jobs and so on.

Adswish also connects employers to potential employees with good resumes. If a company is looking for web designers from New York, a search on the “resume” category will take him to multiple resumes of relevant professionals from that specified area.

“It’s our goal here to be the one-stop search engine for all the classified ads on any product or service you need to know about from anywhere in the world. We search all websites from every trade and industry to get the most comprehensive results for our users. Whether you are looking for your dream home in Kansas City or a carpet cleaning service in London, we can bring everything to your fingertips in an instant”, the CEO of Adswish Ilan Alon explained.

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Upon clicking on an ad, the visitor would be directed to a reply page through which he can directly communicate with the product company or service provider.

The latest search engine is available in multiple languages. Added to English, the search engine can be accessed in French and Spanish languages as well.

Adswish CEO Ilan Alon said to our reporter “A user-friendly navigation for the whole world has been our motto since our launch. Thus, apart from English, we enable our visitors to make searches on the other two most popular languages of the globe for a more convenient experience – it’s our goal to reach out to as many people possible all across the world.”

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Snapchat Emoji Meaning: It's Not What You Think It Is

Snapchat has added some more fun to its messaging app by adding video and voice messaging features. The company has been updating the application to stand strong against its rivals. Along with these features, Snapchat has also introduced an autoplay feature for calling and new emojis. But people are wondering what these friends emojis mean.

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Snapchat’s Friend Emojis let you know your friends in a better way on Snapchat. The Friends Emojis change according to your interaction with friends on Snapchat. Snapchat’s official Twitter account has shared the meanings of new snapchat emojis and these are quite cool.

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Best Friends – This Snapchat emoji appears for the person to whom you snapchat the most and they do the same.

Red Heart

When you keep maintaining the best friends tag for at least two weeks, the Red Heart emoji shows that you are each other’s #1 Best Friend.

Pink Hearts

When you maintain the Best Friends tag for at least 2 months.

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You share a Best Friend – Your Best Friend who is also a best friend of this Snapchat user.

Smile

One of your Best Friends – This is a Snapchat user you send a lot of Snaps to (but the person is not your Best Friend).

Sunglasses

You share a Close Friend – When a user’s Best Friend is also one of your Best Friends.

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You’re their Best Friend, but they are not – The user sends you most Snaps but you do not do so.

Fire

You’re on a Snapstreak! – It appears next to the number of days that you and your Snapchat friend snapped each other. If none of you sends a Snap within 24 hours, the Snapstreaks will disappear.

Hourglass

When it appears next to someone’s name, it indicates that the person is losing Snapstreak. You can send Snaps to ech other to keep the Snapstreak alive.

Baby

You just became friend with the person.

Star

You or someone else on Snapchat has replied to your friend’s Snap within last 24 hours.

Birthday Cake

It’s your friend’s birthday – Reminds you of their birthday.

According to Snapchat, Friends Emojis is a private feature and only people who are friends on Snapchat can see them. At this moment, Snapchat doesn’t provide any option to disable these emojis, but the customization options are available.

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Yahoo Losses: Marissa Mayer To Fire Employees Instead Of Herself

It seems that Yahoo losses have become alarming and CEO Marissa Mayer is grasping at straws. In a recent bid to improve Yahoo stocks and appease investors, Mayer has announced a series of drastic revamps to Yahoo’s core businesses, as well as massive layoffs.

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This comes following a drop in the company’s recent performance in the markets. Stockholders and investors are out for blood, calling for the replacement of Mayer as CEO. It is worth considering that Mayer isn’t exactly poor, after all she came from Google before sitting at Yahoo. She could very well leave her post without incurring any significant losses, and save the company’s board of directors from having to protect her.

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And this move makes sense. The board of directors isn’t exactly shying away from the possibility of selling the company, since this is the most prudent decision for Yahoo at this point.

Instead of taking the easy way out, however, Mayer took the entire world by surprise with an announcement of her plans for the company’s future. Early this week, Mayer stated that the next big step for the company was to downsize both in manpower and in services.

To be precise, she’s reducing the company’s services to a simple triad consisting of search, mail and Tumblr. This is expected, as the first two are two of the company’s main services—the cornerstone of Yahoo, if you will. And Tumblr was an expensive acquisition, costing Yahoo a cool billion dollars back in 2013, so Mayer will most likely want to peruse that.

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There’s good historical evidence that this triad might work for the company, since this is what Google used to build its empire. Search and microblog-powered advertising might be just what Yahoo needs to turn its fortunes around.

At the same time, however, Mayer is reducing Yahoo’s manpower by around 15 percent. The company currently has around 10,000 employees, down by a huge percentage from the company size when Mayer stepped in in 2012. She sees Yahoo having around 9,000 employees by the end of 2016—a decidedly leaner company.

But while all of this is designed to improve the company’s coffers by at least $1 billion, morale at the company’s rank and file is at an all-time low. Investors are losing confidence in Mayer even as the board of directors is scrambling to back up her action plan for 2016. Many of the company’s key employees left Yahoo, especially after the company sank money into a service called Yahoo Screen. This news about downsizing isn’t going to go across to the company’s manpower very well.

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Meanwhile, the rest of the world is waiting for what comes next. 2016 will most probably be Mayer’s make-or-break year, and will be instrumental in shaping the future for what was once the most profitable dot-com company in the world.

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Facebook Helps Blind People “See” Photos With AI

Facebook rolled out a new accessibility feature to help the blind or visually impaired people “see” photos on their news feed.

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Introducing automatic alternative text, it enables Facebook’s AI to generate description for photos to be read aloud.

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It makes use of text-to-speech software or speech synthesizers so blind people can listen to text displayed on their screens.

Before the new feature was introduced, users utilizing the tool would only hear the name of the person that posted followed by the word “photo.”

Now, the automatic alt text can provide a better description like “photo may contain two people, smiling, outdoors.”

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“This is possible because of Facebook’s object recognition technology, which is based on a neural network that has billions of parameters and is trained with millions of examples,” said Facebook in a blog post.

According to BBC, Facebook’s AI can now recognize over 80 objects and activities.

These include appearances such as a selfie and a smiling expression; food like ice cream and coffee; environments such as trees and ocean; transportation like car and train; and sports such as swimming and basketball.

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Matt King, one of the Facebook engineers that worked on the project, said the automatic alt text is personally beneficial to him.

King lost his sight due to retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that destroys light sensitive cells in the retina.

“On Facebook, a lot of what happens is extremely visual… and as somebody who’s blind, you can really feel like you’re left out of the conversation, like you’re on the outside,” King said in a report by BBC.

The new Facebook feature is available on iOS devices on English, but the accessibility team promises to expand the tool to other platforms and different languages.

“While this technology is still nascent, tapping its current capabilities to describe photos is an important step toward providing our visually impaired community the same benefits and enjoyment that everyone else gets from photos,” the Facebook blog reads.

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