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It seems like several different web companies are racing to build replacements to Google's ill-fated Reader product that officially closes down July 1. Digg was one of the first to announce a replacement option, now it appears that AOL has thrown its hat into the ring.
According to the AOL Reader site, the new product is "in private beta now." It promises "all your favorite websites, in one place." Not much is known about the service. In fact, I haven't been able to find anything publicly announced by the company ahead of the launch.
On another page, a bit more information about the service can be found. It offers a customizable layout, the ability to import and export your feeds, and an API so anyone can develop web, desktop, and mobile apps on top of the service. We'll have to see how it ends up looking once it is out of beta.
Facebook has just reported about a bug that "may have allowed some of a person's contact information (email or phone number) to be accessed by people who either had some contact information about that person or some connection to them."
It's important to note that only phone numbers or e-mails were affected. The bug was present in the Download Your Information (DYI) tool.
The bug doesn't likely present a huge security risk as the information was provided about people who were already connected with you in some form or another. This means that it probably isn't an issue if their e-mail or phone number shows up in your data; you likely already have it.
Of course, Facebook needs to be careful as they are the stewards of quite a bit of personal and private information. We're glad that it was just phone numbers and e-mails, but Facebook needs to make sure things like this don't happen in the future.
Google has decided to make its News product opt-in only in Germany in light of new copyright laws. The change will take place August 1. After that date, only news sites that have opted-in to the program will have their news stories appear in Google's News search engine.
The issue came about because Germany passed a new copyright law that takes place August 1. This law could see Google possibly having to pay publishers fees for indexing and returning snippets of their stories. Google wants to limit liability, so the only way to do that completely is to eliminate everyone and force opt-in.
Interested news publishers can head to Google's Webmaster Tools. Once there, they can opt-in to be indexed and returned as part of Google News. If publishers don't opt-in, they will be removed from the index on August 1.
Google argues that they were providing a free service that increased publishers' traffic. Some German publishers will be sure to opt-in, but a fair amount probably won't.
I'm a huge fan of Feedly, so much so that I use it every single day. If I'm out and about, or looking for some news or information, it's my go-to service. Feedly have announced a huge restructuring of their services today, which include a new cloud infrastructure and "Feedly Cloud".
Feedly Cloud is a scalable infrastructure that the company says is finally ready to replace Google Reader - I've just jumped with joy. New users can now pull everything easily from their Google account and begin using Feedly right away. Existing users, like myself, will have to ensure they have the latest version of Feedly installed, and their accounts will be migrated to Feedly Cloud in the coming days. The new service has also given Feedly the freedom to create a standalone web interface, which can be found at cloud.feedly.com, which works in most major browsers without plugins, or extensions.
Trolls, arm your picture stores, Facebook has just unleashed native photo comments. This means you'll now be able to reply directly with that hilarious or trolling picture instead of linking to an outside source. The change will initially roll out to web users, though we expect it to make it through all platforms.
The roll out started today, but that doesn't mean that you will have the ability right away. It's rather simple to reply with an image: in the usual "Write a comment..." box, there is a new little camera icon on the right. Simply click that and pick an image to attach to the comment.
Facebook has an event scheduled for tomorrow, but it's not exactly clear what they will unveil. Facebook's recently introduced #hashtags and this newly released photo reply will certainly add to Zuckerberg's speech, but they certainly aren't the next "big idea." Stay tuned to TweakTown tomorrow to learn just what Facebook is planning.
It seems as though your Facebook News Feed will be free of video ads, at least until fall. According to a report, Facebook has delayed plans to introduce 15-second video ads to your News Feed. Previous reports suggested that Facebook would start rolling these ads out in July.
The delay is reportedly to allow Facebook to debut the new ads alongside new social-networking features. This means the new video ads are tentatively planned for a mid-October release, though that time frame is currently unofficial.
Rumors say the ads will auto-play, though it's likely that sound won't be enabled. Reports suggest Facebook was seeking in excess of $1 million for a day-long run of one of these ad units.
Good Guy Google is taking a step to end easy access to child pornography on the web as political pressure increases. Google has announced that its engineers are working on an industry-wide database to store information about images that have been flagged as child pornography. This database would include metadata about the image and a hashed signature of the image, allowing the file to be easily identified by others and removed.
The hashing idea allows duplicate images to be easily identified across multiple websites without a human having to identify the image as child pornography. There could be a few issues with the system, however, as one could easily manipulate a pixel or two to change the signature of the image. Google has probably thought of this and maybe even come up with a solution, but we don't know for sure.
Google has also announced a $2 million fund for independent software developers who work on solutions to end the circulation of child pornography.
Microsoft users have long enjoyed the privilege of linked accounts in both Hotmail and Outlook.com services, but that is all about to change. Microsoft says that sometime in the next few months it will be removing the linked account feature from Outlook.com and will be replacing things with user aliases.
Microsoft ultimately blames poor security for the changes noting that users usually keep their main account up to date with password changes, but rarely modify linked account passwords. The new user aliases will essentially be new email addresses that are managed under a single user account. Additionally you will be able to forward all email from secondary accounts to the main account and have the ability to reply from any of the secondary accounts from within the main account.
We've found that quite often, people who use linked accounts keep their primary account's security info (including password and proofs) up to date, but don't lavish as much care on their secondary accounts. It's easier for a malicious party to compromise one of those secondary accounts, which gives them full access to your primary account. Note that if we detect suspicious activity in your account, we automatically unlink accounts to try to help prevent this abuse, but we think we need to go further.
Digg's Google Reader replacement to move into Beta and possible launch days before Google pulls the plug
In just a few weeks Google will shut down its Reader service for good, despite the massive outcry to keep it alive. Website Digg has been working on a replacement since the announcement was made that reader was going away. This morning it appears that the Digg Reader may just be ready to roll out a few days before the closure, giving everyone ample time to transition over.
Digg's reader uses the same API as Google Reader, so it should be very similar in function to what we are used to. Unlike Google Reader, the service most likely will not stay free, though. Digg says that "free internet services do not stick around very long" and that they "would like their users to become their customers." Pricing plans and other relevant information has not been released yet.
For now the service will be free and will enter public beta starting June 26th with "Friends and Family Beta" beginning this Wednesday with limited access.
This coming July yahoo will give its users the chance to switch out to a shorter more convenient user id. The company will begin resetting each and every Yahoo ID that is been dormant for a period of more than 12 months. This will effectively free up millions of usernames that can be registered with new users.
Yahoo's senior vice president Jay Rossiter says that this is the company's "next big push" and that "we want to give our loyal users and new folks the opportunity to sign up for the Yahoo ID they've always wanted."
Starting in mid July existing and new users will have the opportunity to reserve their ideal username, unfortunately it will take up to a month to learn if the name you have chosen has became available. To prevent your dormant Yahoo ID from being reassigned all you need to do is sign in to the service he for July 15 and the ID will be yours to keep forever.