Q&A

Brooklyn Coder Lauren McCarthy Wants To Cure Your Crippling Social Awkwardness

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In a world where your friends can now set you up on virtual blind dates, it’s hard to believe tech could be the solution to any uncomfortable situation.

Lauren McCarthy is a coder and an artist whose strange art experiments put subjects face to face with their deepest social anxieties. She might not be able to cure your crippling awkwardness — or her own, for that matter — but she has designed over two dozen tech-based performances to help you breathe a little easier, even if it just means making a quick getaway. Read More

Freshly Minted

Freshly Minted: Mysterious Encryption Startup Wickr Nabs $30B and Jim Breyer Endorsement

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Welcome to Freshly Minted, where we examine an overlooked deal or funding announcement in tech from the past week, and tell you what you need to know, and why it matters.

This week’s deal: Secure messaging app Wickr closed a $30 million Series B to build a social network with NSA-level encryption.

If the naysayers are to believed, privacy is dead, and no one cares whether or not Facebook, Twitter and Google are collecting our personal data and selling it to marketers. Wickr, on the other hand, is an app for people who haven’t given up the fight to keep their correspondence private. And it’s growing rapidly. Read More

Privacy is Dead

Mysterious Website Shows Your Facebook Privacy Settings Aren’t So Airtight After All

(Screengrab: DigitalShadow)

My Facebook has been semi-private for quite a while, but just last week, I locked it up as tightly as possible. I figured I had made all my personal information totally inaccessible to outsiders — but a scary new website proved I was completely wrong.

With my new privacy settings, people who aren’t my friends see a nearly empty profile, consisting of only a profile picture, a cover photo, where I work and my friends list (only because I couldn’t figure out how to hide it). No one — as far as I knew — was able to see any photos, check-ins or any of those embarrassing “likes” from years ago. Nothing. Read More

Surveillance

Terrifying Eavesdropping Lamp Live-Tweets Your Private Conversations

Sounds great. (Screengrab: Vimeo)

Welcome to 2014, where it’s possible that a seemingly harmless piece of furniture could be broadcasting your private conversations across the Internet.

Two artists have just unveiled a creepy product called the Conversnitch, Wired reports, and sadly, it has nothing to do with Quidditch. Rather, it’s a device that looks exactly like a lamp, except it records nearby conversations, transcribes the audio files, and then posts snippets of the conversations to Conversnitch’s Twitter account.

The creators, Brian House and Kyle McDonald, believe the Conversnitch is reflective of the current NSA-related privacy threats Americans are currently facing. Read More

Ello

Mad Genius Creates Ello, the Elegant Anti-Facebook

Paul Budnitz — exhibiting photographer and filmmaker, artist, designer toy maker, bicycle enthusiast. Add: social media magnate?

Update #1: Be sure to check out our latest reporting of Ello’s sudden explosion in popularity here.

Update #2: For anyone concerned about the future of Ello, they’ve assured us that the site will remain ad-free and porn friendly!

Update #3: Overwhelmed by the deluge of new users, Ello almost choked off all access for new members, but have gone all-hands-on-deck to keep Ello alive and soldier on through the hype.

For tech entrepreneurs and investors, a social network is the great white whale of startups. Successful ones scale hard and fast, generating mountains of precious user data for advertising clients.

Paul Budnitz, an artist and designer toy maker, thinks that kind of marketer exploitation is downright evil, and has organized a supergroup of artists, programmers, and designers to build a safe haven. It’s called Ello, and it’s a social network with a manifesto. Read More

Privacy is Dead

Facebook Will Now Allow All Users to Find Your Profile Because You Are the Product

Happy Holiday$! (Photo: ITechBook.net)

Once upon a time, Facebook was a roped-off safe space for moronic 18-year-old college students. The idea of someone’s mom, employer or professor having an account was laughable.

Then, high-schoolers could join. Then, early users started graduating from college, meaning potential employers could very well stumble upon that photo of you clutching a red Solo cup, bleary-eyed, in your “slutty leprechaun” Halloween costume. Read More

Privacy is Dead

Surprisingly Few NSA Workers Have Been Caught Spying on Their Exes Using Government Technology

Holla. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Everyone’s endured the internal struggle that occurs when your significant other goes to the bathroom and their unlocked phone is just sitting there, ripe for the picking, almost begging you to go through it.

Now imagine you’re an NSA worker with all of the U.S. Government’s spying capabilities at your fingertips–you don’t even need to stealthily memorize your boyfriend’s iPhone passcode to access his emails, Facebook messages, Twitter DMs and texts. Could you withstand the temptation? Read More