Privacy is Dead

Say Cheese: The FBI’s Facial Recognition System Is Now Fully Operational

FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Wikimedia Commons)

Remember that Big Brother-esque facial recognition software the FBI has been developing for a few years? It’s finally ready to go.

The FBI announced yesterday that its Next Generation Identification (NGI) system is now fully operational, the Verge reports. Among other features detailed here, NGI features the oft-fear-inducing Interstate Photo System (IPS), which stores millions of citizens’ photographs, and is designed to help law enforcement pair names and faces associated with criminal activity. Read More

Hits and Misses

Stop Calling Tor ‘The Web Browser For Criminals’

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Yesterday, a rumor surfaced on deep web blog DeepDotWeb that Comcast was going to start blocking users of Tor, an anonymous web browser. Comcast Vice President Jason Livingood immediately and rightfully called bullshit, because for all of its customer service foibles, Comcast knows that preventing people from browsing the Internet anonymously would be a daring infringement on user privacy.

The confusion came to rest shortly after the posting of a Business Insider story called “Comcast Denies It Will Cut Off Customers Who Use Tor, The Web Browser For Criminals.” Besides reaffirming the simple notion that you shouldn’t just believe something you read on a subreddit, the story — which was viewed over 22,000 times — reaffirms the notion that Tor is a tool for evil. Read More

Survey Says

Study: We Can Smell People With Similar Political Views

The key to happiness? (Wikimedia Commons)

Looking for a BF who shares your radical right-wing ideologies? Find somebody whose body odor smells good to you.

Sure, that sounds totally gross, but humans are more attracted to the B.O. of people with similar political views, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Political Science. This subconscious armpit-to-nose communication might be “a modern way of signalling compatibility to potential mates,” the Daily Mail reports. Read More

Internet Famous

Gamers Drove Minecraft Creator ‘Notch’ Out of Gaming

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So the rumors were true: Microsoft bought Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5 billion. Original fans of the game are buzzing with concern that their beloved indie game is destined for ruin — as they are wont to do — and major tech publications are no doubt preparing their lengthy analyses of the business implications. But the man who should be at the center of attention has chosen to bow out completely.

Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson published a farewell letter on his personal site yesterday called “I’m leaving Mojang.” In it, he anticipates the post-buyout community firestorm, and says that’s he’s done being a “symbol of some perceived struggle” for the soul of indie gaming. Yes, he may have an enormous pile of money now, but Mr. Persson was never asking for meteoric fame, or to belong to a cause. He just wanted to make a cool game. Read More

Your Colleagues In the News

Pando’s Paul Carr Is Bringing Back His Call-In Radio Show ‘NSFW Live’

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Tech podcasts are nightmarishly boring. Most either lifelessly emulate glossy, Ira Glass-style documentary segments or simply broadcast 45 minute dialogues between founders and investors while they safely rehash the week’s think-pieces. For only a couple of years, Paul Carr’s NSFW Live offered a respite — an unpolished daily call-in show where the editorial brigands of the now-defunct NSFWCORP would rant about the day’s news slog.

Fans rejoice: NSFW Live is coming back under a new banner, with new studios and a little spending money. The show will come back as “PandoLIVE,” and Mr. Carr told Betabeat it will merge “NSFW ethos with Pando professionalism and sustainability.” Mr. Carr will cohost the new show weekly with longtime bestie and more crowd-friendly counterpart Sarah Lacy, the founder and editor-in-chief of PandoDaily. Read More

Tech Dirty to Me

Ex-Googlers Help Build ‘Boodigo,’ a New Search Engine Just for Porn

A Wikipedia entry isn't always what you want when you Google "blow job." (Photo via Mislav Marohnić)

A couple of years ago, porn producer and director Colin Rowntree started feeling that mainstream search engines, like Google and Bing, where “trying to ghettoize the adult entertainment industry,” as he puts it. Google “blow job,” and you generally have to click through three pages of totally un-sexy content — you know, like a Wikipedia entry on the phrase’s etymology — before you actually arrive at the porn sites you were looking for in the first place. Read More

life in the fast lane

This Sidewalk Has a Separate Lane for People on Smartphones

We'll avoid this lane at all costs.

When you’re trying to get somewhere on foot, few things are more irritating than getting stuck behind someone whose eyes are glued to Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, and who’s consequently walking at negative six miles per hour.

The Chinese city of Chongqing has a nifty solution to the problem, Engadget reports. Pedestrians on Foreigner Street recently noticed the sidewalk was painted with white lines, dividing it in two: one lane for normal humans walking at normal human speeds, and the other for cyborgs people who insist on using their smartphones while they walk. Read More

YOUTUBE U.

It’s Time For YouTube Stars To Grow Up

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Real money is being made within this ecosystem — YouTubers are becoming millionaires as billions are being invested, and major media and advertising dollars are flowing in at a rapid clip.

However, just because YouTube is your profession doesn’t make you a professional.

The accessibility and ease of use of YouTube has empowered anyone with a cell phone and an internet connection the ability to become a ‘YouTuber’ — so much so that the the site has over 100 hours of video uploaded each minute. The benefits of the platform are vast and can’t be denied — there’s a democratization of media that’s never occurred in the course of human history. Read More

Off the Media

Facebook Is Getting Rid of Clickbait — But Not Because They Care About You

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We’re saved! Finally, Facebook has announced it’s stepping in to put a stop to all the “clickbait.”

Sure, they largely created and encouraged today’s iteration of this problem (Upworthy, Buzzfeed, Viral Nova et al were founded almost exclusively around Facebook’s easy-to-game algorithms) and profited greatly from it. But now they’ve had enough and things are going to change.

I believe that. I also believe that things are going to get worse. Read More