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Facebook is being applauded for its decision to expand gender identification from male or female to include bi-gender, androgynous and other identifiers, much to the delight of the LGBTQ community. Early reports indicate there are at least 56 different options, which users can customize so only select friends can see.
"When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self," the company said on the Facebook Diversity page. "An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just 'male or female.'"
The new Facebook custom gender option is currently available to U.S. Facebook users only, but is expected to roll out internationally in the future.
This makes sense for Facebook, a San Francisco Bay Area-based company, as the No. 1 social networking site aims to appeal to everyone as individuals.
Humans are no longer the dominant source of internet traffic if a new report from Incapsula is correct. According to the report, humans only account for about 38.5-percent of all internet traffic while search engines, and robots of a good nature accounts for about 31-percent. The other 30.5-percent are made up of malicious, nefarious, and unsavory robots. Incapsula generated the chart below based on a survey of more than 1.45 billion visits on 20,000 websites from 249 countries around the world.
Content scrapers account for about 5-percent of internet traffic, while hacking tools make up 4.5-percent. Spam bots and other bad robot-originated traffic combine to make up about 21-percent of global internet traffic. That means that in total Robots make up about 61.5-percent of all the internet traffic in the world. This number seems staggering when you consider that good bot-based traffic is almost eclipsed by the so-called bad-bot traffic, a trend that is expected to increase over the next decade.
Microsoft is censoring its Bing search engine results for Chinese-language searches, with politically sensitive topics registering different results than if searched in English, according to the cyber monitoring group Greatfire.org.
FreeWeibo found that uncensored Chinese blog searchers were drastically different in English for U.S. residents searching for controversial Chinese topics. For example, results for the Dalai Lama, Tiananmen Square, and other political incidents were changed for Bing visitors, even if residing outside the "Great Firewall of China."
"We are 100% sure our findings indicate that Microsoft is cleansing search results in the United States to remove negative news and information about China," the group noted. "And they are doing this in every market in which they operate in the world."
Of course, Microsoft denied the accusations, though if this is true, expect a government investigation - and severe penalties levied against the search company. As Microsoft begins working under just its third CEO in company history, accusations of censorship and NSA-related spying habits along with Bing censorship will give Satya Nadella fits.
The No. 1 MMA promotion in the world, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), recently shut down Cagewatcher.eu, which illegally streamed two UFC pay-per-view events. The site has been shut down and the UFC now has possession of the site's users, including their IP addresses, user names and e-mail addresses - which will be handed over to the law office tasked with targeting users.
Attempting to go after individual users of streaming piracy sites tends to be unsuccessful, and earn the copyright holders negative backlash. Similar to other attempts by the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright groups, the UFC will likely look to quickly - and quietly - punish viewers by offering them out-of-court settlements.
The UFC's rather Draconian efforts against Internet piracy lead to a number of YouTube videos pulled - and the No. 1 MMA promotion also has its Fight Pass to show live events, event replays, television shows, original content, and videos from the fight library.
Ice hockey, maple syrup, Bieber and... Internet piracy? The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) recently recommended Canada's addition to the Special 301 "watch list." There is special interest in the number of torrent sites and online piracy groups that are based in Canada, including a wide collection of smaller torrent sites.
"Even after the shuttering of Isohunt, Canada is still the home to some of the world's most popular Internet sites dedicated to piracy, including Torrentz.eu and Kickass.to, which garnered rankings of third and second place, respectively, on one of the most widely accessed listings on the world's most popular illicit BitTorrent sites," the IIPA claims.
The IIPA is made up of the RIAA, MPAA, ESA, BSA, and other copyright groups that share information, effective anti-piracy measures, and current legal efforts. IIPA officials would like to see U.S. lawmakers influence Canadian peers to crack down more harshly on piracy.
The casino industry in the United States understands the great potential for online gambling, though underage gambling, money laundering, and increasingly difficult national legislation makes it a rather confusing battle.
The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling recently launched an ad effort to warn against Internet gambling, with an emphasis on criminals and terrorists potentially using the online service to commit money laundering. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, who supports the coalition's effort, said he's ready to spend "whatever it takes" to keep online gambling out of the limelight in the United States.
"The coalition will operate exclusively at the federal level - encouraging Congress to embrace regulation as the best means to protect minors, detect money launders and eliminate a dangerous black market," Geoff Freeman, American Gaming Association President, recently noted.
Casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City aren't as keen on Internet gambling, as they are concerned that online sites will keep people from visiting casinos. However, the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, with support from Caesar's and MGM, for example, want to throw their weight into the potential market.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan became the youngest couple to lead the list of biggest U.S. donors, thanks to a gift of 18 million Facebook shares awarded to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The lump sum gift was close to $1 billion, with a large amount aimed towards education and healthcare.
Zuckerberg and Chan were No. 2 on the list in 2012, with a heavy emphasis on developing Northern California and U.S. infrastructure.
Contributions from the top 50 philanthropists in the U.S. topped $7.7 billion, along with $2.9 in promised pledges. A recovering economy and a friendlier stock market has allowed Silicon Valley tech leaders to increase donations - an unwritten expectation among the wealthiest U.S. business leaders.
Social media plays an important role for viewers, businesses, and sponsors of major international events, with the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, providing a great opportunity for Twitter and Facebook. Twitter gives smaller countries and lesser known Olympic athletes a way to share their love and passion for their sports with new fans - and give sponsors additional return-on-investment.
"The social media experience it's all about time and efficiency," said Justin Maas, fishbat Client Relations VP, in a press statement. "By making it easier for users to retrieve the information they want, Twitter has added value to its site. Twitter is essential for gathering news. Adding special pages for Olympics athletes and events was a smart move by the social network."
Journalists and Olympics viewers share stories, results, and interviews with one another - and with mobile content increasing, it's become even easier to share information to Twitter and other social media websites. However, athletes and coaches in Sochi aren't allowed to post audio or video from sporting events or anything happening in the Olympic Village. They can record audio or video for personal reasons, however, it cannot be done with professional recording equipment.
Meanwhile, some have used social media to protest the Russian government's anti-gay stance that has shocked many visitors to the country.
Major pizza chains are able to use customized online ordering systems to woo Internet users, while mom and pop shops are having trouble trying to keep up. Papa John's, Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, and other large chains are able to support online ordering using automated systems tested across multiple locations - but smaller local pizza shops traditionally need to use walk-in and telephone orders to handle customer interactions.
Younger customers are more inclined to order delivery through mobile or online services ,with smart TV and game consoles giving customers the chance to easily place orders.
"Most of the small and regional chains who still continue to sell the majority of the pizza in the U.S. simply aren't able to play on these technology platforms with the level of sophistication that we have," said Patrick Doyle, Domino's CEO, during an investor's financial call.
Local pizza shops often provide lower prices, better service and higher quality pizza, but trying to compete with organized online ordering is difficult. However, services such as Eat24 level the playing field, though larger corporations can more easily afford to pay the commission per order. Even so, the larger chains tend to be able to provide bigger online ordering coupons and discounts, making it more appealing for those just looking for a quick meal.
Shortly after receiving an emotional plea from a father whose son died at 21 years old due to natural causes, Facebook will provide a 62-second Look Back of the son's account. After sending numerous letters that didn't garner a response, John Berlin posted a heartfelt, emotional plea on YouTube, which quickly went viral.
Following the death of a Facebook member, when verified, the account is removed so friends and family no longer have access. However, Berlin doesn't want access to his son's account, and just wants to be able to view the Look Back and see the pictures generated in the brief collage.
The Look Back feature was rolled out for Facebook's recent 10-year anniversary, and has proven popular among avid Facebook users.