Skype has taken to its company blog to reassure users that recent structural changes do not mean Skype has enabled snooping capabilities for itself or The Authorities. In a post titled, “What Does Skype’s Architecture Do?” Skype corporate vice president Mark Gillett did his best to refute the main allegations that have piled up since Skype was purchased by Microsoft. According to Mr. Gillett, worries that Skype’s changes were made to enable spying are pure paranoia:
Microsoft-owned Skype won’t come clean on whether its architecture allows for wiretaps. When it comes to Skydrive, the software giant’s cloud storage service, Microsoft is checking your ‘private’ folders, looking for swears and nudes.
Last Friday Slate reported Skype won’t comment on whether it can now eavesdrop on conversations. Ryan Gallagher wrote, “In May 2011, Microsoft bought over Skype for $8.5 billion. One month later, in June, Microsoft was granted a patent for ‘legal intercept’ technology designed to be used with VOIP services like Skype to ‘silently copy communication transmitted via the communication session.’”
In spite of hacker allegations about major changes in the way Skype works after being bought by Microsoft, the company wouldn’t tell Slate anything per “company policy”–a phrase beloved by slippery P.R. folks avoiding difficult subjects.
Where Skydrive–which requires you have a Windows Live account–is concerned, however, Microsoft is definitely watching you. As reported on July 18 by Myce.com, this is what recently happened to a Dutch user, screen name “WingsOfFury,” when he discovered he could no longer use any of his Windows Live services:
Nip and Zuck
If you’ve got a case of the Mondays, prepare for your day to get even Mondayer. According to Engadget, a Skype bug following a June update included a bug where “instant messages have repeatedly and unintentionally been forwarded to random people in their contact lists.” Awesome!
As if it’s not already easy enough to accidentally drag the person you’re shit talking into the bubble solely dedicated to shit-talking them (like, hypothetically speaking), now your messages may accidentally be forwarded to them even without your sloppy clicking. The Internet, amiright?
Skype submitted a statement to Engadget saying that they’re aware of the bug and will be rolling out a fix in the newest issue of Skype, available for download in the next few days. In the meantime, your might want to stick to the safe haven of off the record Gchats.
One day in 2008, while using the popular videochat service Skype, Tina Consorti had an uncomfortable realization. She didn’t like how she looked on the little web screen. Her chin was sagging a bit, and shadowy wrinkles were forming like rings on a tree stump around her neck. It actually wasn’t so bad in the mirror—she checked—but on Skype and other social media services, the flaws seemed amplified.
“I felt like I had a double chin,” Ms. Consorti told Betabeat. “Going on Skype or FaceTime you definitely see it—it looks twice as big as it normally is. I just wanted a nice clean look when I’m conversing with someone on Skype.”
Three years ago, when she began getting into online services (Tango is another favorite), Ms. Consorti had a “Lifestyle Lift,” a minimally invasive facelift that is performed using local anesthesia. The procedure was carried out by Dr. Adam Schaffner, a renowned New York plastic surgeon with a burst of curls atop his head, who injects lips, neatens noses and chisels chins for a living. Over the last year, he told Betabeat, his practice has seen a big uptick in facial surgeries, due in large part to the ubiquitous nature of digital photos posted to Facebook and similar sites.
A little less than a year after being acquired by Skype for an estimated $80 million, GroupMe’s* founders Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci are still in startup mode. Today the company released “Experiences by GroupMe,” the biggest expansion beyond its core group messaging function.
The service, which was released to select New York users this morning, offers groups of friends a handpicked list of events like, say, a concert, dinner, or UCB improv showcase in Central Park. Each event comes with an “I want to do this” button and lets users create a landing page with a unique URL to recruit friends to sign up. Experiences then lets you split the bill–using standard Visa, Amex, and Mastercard options that won’t charge your card until all the spots have been reserved. Better still, GroupMe builds a group around the event for you to communicate with everyone who’s attending.
“We own the experience end-to-end,” Mr. Hecht told Betabeat over the phone.
Game developers are bailing on Google+. Frankly, we’re impressed they stuck it out this long. [AllThingsD]
Microsoft reportedly close to buying Yammer, a social network just for work. [Wall Street Journal]
Speaking of Microsoft, are they introducing a tablet at their event on Monday? [TheWrap]
Brace for a legal battle over the Facebook IPO. [Dealbook]
Speaking of legal battles, Barclays doesn’t have a lot of faith in Aereo’s long-term prospects. [PaidContent]
Part of the reason companies like Twitter are annexing downtown San Francisco? The rent’s too damn high in Palo Alto. [GigaOm]
Don’t use Skype in Ethiopia. [TechCrunch]
“I would never throw a laptop at someone, like it appears in the movie. Not even at Mark.” – Eduardo Saverin [CNET]
Was buying Skype for $8.5 billion worth it for Microsoft? [New York Times]
The headphones you use to block out the sound of your annoying coworkers may actually be harming your productivity. [Wall Street Journal]
Meet Flame, the terrifying spy malware spreading across the Middle East. [Wired]
The Museum of Endangered sounds includes–of course–the sound of dial-up. [Savethesounds.info via Hacker News]
Farewell, Yellow Pages. [PaidContent]
The BBC is reporting on a new disturbing trend: murder and other horrific acts committed while someone else was watching on Skype. “It is not surprising that crimes are witnessed on Skype, given the number of registered users—560 million*—and the amount of time they spend using it,” reports the BBC. We… guess not?
*According to a 2010 IPO filing.
Annals of Skype
You don’t have to get the hell out of dodge to enjoy some promotional holiday WiFi. A week after Skype gifted free WiFi at 50 airports around the U.S., the company is announcing free WiFi over New Year’s for New York City denizens.
According to The Next Web, from midday on December 31st until midday on January 1st, New Yorkers will be able to access free Skype WiFi (for Googling last minute resolution ideas or, ahem, making Skype calls) in neighborhoods covered by Towerstream, its partner network. That includes: Times Square, West Village, East Village, South Village, Greenwich Village, NoHo, SoHo, Lowe East Side, Clinton, Chelsea, Union Square, Midtown, Midtown South, Murray Hill, Stuyvesant Park and Turtle Bay.
Pinterest’s viral success still has befuddled VCs and entrepreneurs scratching their heads. What is Pinterest? Why do people like it? Even Slate’s Farhad Manjoo took up the question with almost existential seriousness. We decided to user test Pinterest for the benefit of anyone who is still confused about why it’s so sticky. What follows is a stream of consciousness narrative of The Pinterest Experience.