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Education

Over 90% of College Students Today Regularly Use Netflix, But Only 34% Are Actually Paying For Their Own Account (streamingobserver.com) 55

According to a new survey from LendEDU, more than 90% of today's college students have access to a Netflix account they regularly use, while only 8% who responded to the survey said they don't have a Netflix account. What some may find even more surprising is that of the 90% of students who have access to Netflix, only 34% of them are actually paying for their own Netflix account. Streaming Observer News reports: That actually goes right in line with numbers from Piper Jaffray that showed almost 40% of teens watch Netflix every single day. Their closest competitors, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, each came in at just 3% each for daily use. Of course, that doesn't mean they're all paying for Netflix. 54% of respondents to LendEDU's survey said they use a family member's or friend's account, and 5% more said they used a boyfriend/girlfriend or ex's account. While only 34% of college students are actually paying for their own Netflix account, that's apparently not too big of a concern for Netflix, who has taken a relatively lax attitude towards password sharing in recent years.
Media

Walt Mossberg Is Retiring (theverge.com) 37

Walt Mossberg, a well-respected and long-time tech journalist, announced via The Verge that he will be retiring in June of this year. In his announcement post, he starts by reflecting on where it all began: It was a June day when I began my career as a national journalist. I stepped into the Detroit Bureau of The Wall Street Journal and started on what would be a long, varied, rewarding career. I was 23 years old, and the year was 1970. That's not a typo. So it seems fitting to me that I'll be retiring this coming June, almost exactly 47 years later. I'll be hanging it up shortly after the 2017 edition of the Code Conference, a wonderful event I co-founded in 2003 and which I could never have imagined back then in Detroit. I didn't make this decision lightly or hastily or under pressure. It emerged from months of thought and months of talks with my wise wife, my family, and close friends. It wasn't prompted by my employer or by some dire health diagnosis. It just seems like the right time to step away. I'm ready for something new.
Social Networks

The Trump Administration No Longer Wants Twitter To Reveal the Owner of an Anti-Trump Account (recode.net) 92

From a report on Recode: The Trump administration informed Twitter on Friday that it would withdraw its demand that the social media company unmask an account critical of the president -- a move that prompted Twitter to drop its lawsuit. On Thursday, Twitter revealed that U.S. customs agents filed a legal order in a bid to get the company to reveal who is behind @ALT_USCIS -- a so-called "alt-agency" account that has been taking aim at Trump, his immigration policy and the inner workings of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Businesses

Roku Has Hired a Team of Lobbyists As it Gears Up For a Net Neutrality Fight (recode.net) 85

Roku appears to be arming itself for the coming net neutrality war. From a report on Recode: The web video streaming and hardware company has plenty at stake as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to pull back rules that require internet providers to treat all web traffic equally. For Roku and others in the business, an end to the Obama-era protections could make it harder -- or, in some cases, more expensive -- to offer content or services to customers at top download speeds. That's why Roku has hired a pair of Republican lobbyists through an outside government-affairs firm, according to a federal ethics reports filed this week, specifically to focus on net neutrality. It's the first time the company has ever retained lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Many in the tech industry support the Obama-era FCC's net neutrality rules, which currently subject telecom companies to utility-style regulation. To Democrats, it's the only way to stop the likes of AT&T, Comcast, Charter or Verizon from blocking competing services or charging media companies for faster delivery of their content.
Games

Two Studies Suggesting a Link Between Violent Video Games, Real-Life Behavior Have Been Retracted (qz.com) 174

Keith Collins reports via Quartz: In the first three months of 2017, academic journals retracted two papers that suggested a link between violent video games and real-life behavior. The first, entitled "Boom, Headshot!" was published in the Journal of Communication Research in 2012 and, after years of controversy, retracted last January. That study looked at the "effect of video game play and controller type on firing aim and accuracy," and found that playing first-person shooter games can train a player to become a better marksman in real life. Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University, found some inconsistencies in the data published in the study. In January 2015, he and a colleague alerted Ohio State University, where the authors of the paper conducted the research. The lead author of the study, psychology professor Brad Bushman, emailed an official at OSU a month later, suggesting the allegations were part of a smear campaign against him and his co-author, according to Retraction Watch. Last January, the Journal of Communication Research retracted the paper. Bushman had agreed to the retraction, and began an attempt to re-do the original study with a larger sample size. A paper published in Gifted Child Quarterly in 2016, authored by Bushman and three others, caught the attention of Joseph Hilgard, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. The paper had studied the "effects of violent media on verbal task performance in gifted and general cohort children," and found that when children watched a violent cartoon for 12 minutes, their verbal skills dropped substantially for a temporary period. What surprised Hilgard most, according to an interview with Retraction Watch, was the sheer size of the effect. Hilgard said that OSU, Bushman, and others he spoke with about the study were helpful and forthcoming, but could not provide information on the study's data collection process. The author who collected the data, it turned out, lived in Turkey and fell out of contact following the recent coup attempt. Last week, Gifted Child Quarterly retracted the paper.
Data Storage

'Arctic World Archive' Will Keep the World's Data Safe In an Arctic Mineshaft (theverge.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Norway's famous doomsday seed vault is getting a new neighbor. It's called the Arctic World Archive, and it aims to do for data what the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has done for crop samples -- provide a remote, impregnable home in the Arctic permafrost, safe from threats like natural disaster and global conflicts. But while the Global Seed Vault is (partially) funded by charities who want to preserve global crop diversity, the World Archive is a for-profit business, created by Norwegian tech company Piql and Norway's state mining company SNSK. The Archive was opened on March 27th this year, with the first customers -- the governments of Brazil, Mexico, and Norway -- depositing copies of various historical documents in the vault. Data is stored in the World Archive on optical film specially developed for the task by Piql. (And, yes, the company name is a pun on the word pickle, as in preserving-in-vinegar.) The company started life in 2002 making video formats that bridged analog film and digital media, but as the world went fully digital it adapted its technology for the task of long-term storage. As Piql founder Rune Bjerkestrand tells The Verge: "Film is an optical medium, so what we do is, we take files of any kind of data -- documents, PDFs, JPGs, TIFFs -- and we convert that into big, high-density QR codes. Our QR codes are massive, and very high resolution; we use greyscale to get more data into every code. And in this way we convert a visual storage medium, film, into a digital one." Once data is imprinted on film, the reels are stored in a converted mineshaft in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. The mineshaft (different to the one used by the Global Seed Vault) was originally operated by SNSK for the mining of coal, but was abandoned in 1995. The vault is 300 meters below the ground and impervious to both nuclear attacks and EMPs. Piql claims its proprietary film format will store data safely for at least 500 years, and maybe as long as 1,000 years, with the assistance of the mine's climate.
Privacy

'Extreme Vetting' Would Require Visitors To US To Share Contacts, Passwords (theguardian.com) 505

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration is considering whether or not to deploy "extreme vetting" practices at airports around the world, which could force tourists from Britain and other countries visiting the U.S. to reveal their mobile phone contacts, social media passwords and financial data. "Travelers who want to enter the U.S. could also face questioning over their ideology, as Washington moves away from a default position of allowing people in to a more skeptical approach to visitors," reports The Guardian. From the report: Trump made the "extreme vetting" of foreign nationals to combat terrorism a major theme of his presidential election campaign. But his executive order imposing a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries has twice been blocked in court. Media reports suggest it has already hurt the tourism industry. The changes might include visitors from the 38 countries -- the UK, France, Australia and Japan among them -- that participate in the visa waiver program, which requires adherence to strict U.S. standards in data sharing, passport control and other factors, one senior official told the Journal. This could require people to hand over their phones so officials can study their stored contacts and possibly other information. The aim is to "figure out who you are communicating with," a senior Department of Homeland Security official was quoted as saying. "What you can get on the average person's phone can be invaluable." A second change would ask applicants for their social media handles and passwords, so that officials could see information posted privately in addition to public posts, the Journal said. The Journal report said the DHS official working on the review said questions under consideration included whether visa applicants believe in so-called honor killings, how they view the treatment of women in society, whether they value the "sanctity of human life" and who they view as a legitimate target in a military operation.
Television

Will Streaming Media Lead To A Massive Writer's Strike? (latimes.com) 316

"A decade ago, Hollywood writers brought the entertainment industry to a standstill when they walked off the job for three months in a dispute over pay for movies and TV shows distributed online," writes the Los Angeles Times. But they're reporting that it may happen again, with the Writers Guild of America now seeking a strike authorization vote from its members. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon have transformed Hollywood and contributed to an unprecedented number of quality series being produced -- a phenomenon often described as the new Golden Age of TV. But times haven't been golden for many writers for whom more is now less. Shorter seasons are the new norm, with many series consisting of 10 or fewer episodes on cable and streaming -- less than half the length of traditional seasons on network shows. That has put writers in a financial crunch since many have exclusivity clauses that prevent them from working on multiple shows per season...

"It's getting more and more difficult to make a living as a writer," said John Bowman, a TV writer-producer, and former head of the WGA negotiating committee. Studios are equally dug in as more customers cut the cable cord in favor of streaming options. They're also grappling with a dramatic fall-off in once-lucrative DVD sales and a flattening of attendance at the multiplex. They are releasing fewer titles a year, meaning fewer opportunities for screenwriters... Complicating matters is a lack of transparency. Streaming services operate on subscription models and don't release viewer data, making it difficult to devise a formula for residuals (fees for reruns).

Amazon is a member of the studio alliance, while Netflix "is expected to sign on to an eventual contract." (Though streaming also seems to be hurting the popularity of reruns, which is also reducing the residuals writers receive.) But underscoring the impact of online media, Slashdot reader JustAnotherOldGuy asks, "with all the alternative content available, does anyone care...? Would the writer's strike have any serious impact on your life?"
Piracy

Amazon Bans Sales of Media Player Boxes That Promote Piracy (torrentfreak.com) 102

Amazon is taking a tough stance against vendors who sell fully-loaded Kodi boxes and other "pirate" media players through its platform. From a report: The store now explicitly bans media players that "promote" or "suggest" the facilitation of piracy. Sellers who violate this policy, of which there are still a few around, risk having their inventory destroyed. [...] While Kodi itself is a neutral platform, millions of people use third-party add-ons to turn it into the ultimate pirate machine. In some cases, the pirate add-ons are put onto the devices by vendors, who sell these "fully-loaded" boxes through their own stores or marketplaces such as Amazon. The ecommerce giant appears to be well aware of the controversy, as it recently published an updated policy clarifying that pirate media players are not permitted on the platform. Merely 'suggesting' that devices can be used for infringing purposes is enough to have them delisted.
Communications

Verizon, AT&T, Comcast Say They Will Not Sell Customer Browsing Histories (reuters.com) 125

Comcast, Verizon, AT&T Inc said Friday they would not sell customers' individual internet browsing information, days after the U.S. Congress approved legislation reversing Obama administration era internet privacy rules. From a report on Reuters: The bill would repeal regulations adopted in October by the Federal Communications Commission under former President Barack Obama requiring internet service providers to do more to protect customers' privacy than websites like Alphabet's Google or Facebook. The easing of restrictions has sparked growing anger on social media sites. "We do not sell our broadband customers' individual web browsing history. We did not do it before the FCC's rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so," said Gerard Lewis, Comcast's chief privacy officer. He added Comcast is revising its privacy policy to make more clear that "we do not sell our customers' individual web browsing information to third parties." Verizon does not sell personal web browsing histories and has no plans to do so in the future, said spokesman Richard Young.
Businesses

ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They're Not Really Into It (bloomberg.com) 155

From a report: ESPN has lost more than 12 million subscribers since 2011, according to Nielsen, and the viewership erosion seems to be accelerating. Last fall, ESPN lost 621,000 subscribers in a single month, the most in the company's history. In some respects, the challenges facing ESPN are the same that confront every other media company: Young people simply aren't consuming cable TV, newspapers, or magazines in the numbers they once did, and digital outlets still aren't lucrative enough to make up the deficit. But while most of ESPN's TV peers have courted cord cutters -- CBS and Turner Broadcasting, for instance, are allowing anyone to watch some of their March Madness games online for free -- ESPN's view cuts against the conventional wisdom in new media. Essentially, ESPN was hoping that sports will remain unaffected by the growing trend of "cord-cutting." The article adds: If a combination of hockey, low-wattage college sports, and cricket doesn't quite seem worthy of the Worldwide Leader in Sports, that's by design: ESPN doesn't want its new product to draw viewers away from its very profitable cable channel. And, as John Kosner, the network's head of digital and print media notes, when ESPN began broadcasting in 1979, plenty of people doubted whether anyone would want to watch bowling at two in the morning. "I was in college when ESPN started," he says. "I felt sorry for the people working there."
Twitter

'Verified' Is Now a Derogatory Term on Twitter (theoutline.com) 416

From an article on The Outline: Since 2009, Twitter has added a blue checkmark symbol to certain accounts that have been deemed "verified," which means "that an account of public interest is authentic," according to Twitter. For some, the verified distinction is coveted. For others, it's become a dirty word. "Verifieds" or "blue checks" are the elite, the establishment. Since many members of the media are verified, they have also become associated, for some, with the perceived liberal bias of the fourth estate. Conservatives, alt-righters, and Donald Trump fans have noticed that when Trump tweets, there is invariably a flood of "blue check liberals" responding in a negative way. There is also the perception that Twitter, a California company, is biased toward liberals. Also, according to Twitter, there are now about 250,000 people who're verified on the site, some of which are for unknown reasons.
Twitter

Twitter Will No Longer Count Usernames Against a Tweet's 140-Character Limit (phonedog.com) 77

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PhoneDog: Last year, Twitter updated its service so that photos, videos, and other media wouldn't count against your 140-character limit. Now it's excluding another feature from that limit. Twitter is now rolling out an update that excludes usernames from your tweet's 140-character limit. This means that you can tag as many people in your tweet as you'd like, but still have 140 characters for your actual message. With this change, Twitter is also tweaking how usernames are shown when you're @ replying to people. Now you'll see "Replying to" followed by user names at the top of your tweet, rather than a long string of user names in the tweet itself. Tapping this will show you exactly who you're replying to. This update is now rolling out to Twitter.com as well as the Twitter apps for Android and iOS.
The Internet

UW Professor: The Information War Is Real, and We're Losing It (seattletimes.com) 444

An anonymous reader writes: It started with the Boston marathon bombing, four years ago. University of Washington professor Kate Starbird was sifting through thousands of tweets sent in the aftermath and noticed something strange. Too strange for a university professor to take seriously. "There was a significant volume of social-media traffic that blamed the Navy SEALs for the bombing," Starbird told me the other day in her office. "It was real tinfoil-hat stuff. So we ignored it." Same thing after the mass shooting that killed nine at Umpqua Community College in Oregon: a burst of social-media activity calling the massacre a fake, a stage play by "crisis actors" for political purposes. "After every mass shooting, dozens of them, there would be these strange clusters of activity," Starbird says. "It was so fringe we kind of laughed at it. "That was a terrible mistake. We should have been studying it." Starbird argues in a new paper, set to be presented at a computational social-science conference in May, that these "strange clusters" of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web of surprising power and reach. There are dozens of conspiracy-propagating websites such as beforeitsnews.com, nodisinfo.com and veteranstoday.com. Starbird cataloged 81 of them, linked through a huge community of interest connected by shared followers on Twitter, with many of the tweets replicated by automated bots. Starbird is in the UW's Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering -- the study of the ways people and technology interact. Her team analyzed 58 million tweets sent after mass shootings during a 10-month period. They searched for terms such as "false flag" and "crisis actor," web slang meaning a shooting is not what the government or the traditional media is reporting it to be. Then she analyzed the content of each site to try to answer the question: Just what is this alternative media ecosystem saying? Starbird is publishing her paper as a sort of warning. The information networks we've built are almost perfectly designed to exploit psychological vulnerabilities to rumor. "Your brain tells you 'Hey, I got this from three different sources,'" Starbird says. "But you don't realize it all traces back to the same place, and might have even reached you via bots posing as real people. If we think of this as a virus, I wouldn't know how to vaccinate for it." The report goes on to say that "Starbird says she's concluded, provocatively, that we may be headed toward 'the menace of unreality -- which is that nobody believes anything anymore.'"
The Internet

Scientists Discover Way To Transmit Taste of Lemonade Over Internet (vice.com) 95

schwit1 quotes a report from VICE: With the use of electrodes and sensors -- and zero lemons -- a group of researchers at the University of Singapore have announced that they can convince you that you're drinking lemonade, even if it's just water. Plus, they can send you a glass of lemonade virtually over the internet. In an experiment that involved 13 tasters, the subjects' taste buds were stimulated using electricity from receiving electrodes; LED lights mimicked a lemony color. Some were convinced that the water they were drinking was, in fact, almost as sour as lemonade. According to researcher Nimesha Ranasinghe, the experiment proved that taste can be shared online: "People are always posting pictures of drinks on social media -- what if you could upload the taste as well? That's the ultimate goal." Each of the subjects was given a tumbler filled with a liquid that was either cloudy white, green, or yellow. They were told to place their tongues on the rim of the tumbler before sipping. Then they took a taste and rated the beverage on appearance and taste. Some of the liquids were plain water and some were lemonade. "We're working on a full virtual cocktail with smell, taste, and color all covered. We want to be able to create any drink." Why would anyone want to drink a virtual lemonade? Advocates of virtual eating say that virtual foods can replace foods that are bad for you, that you may be allergic to, or that you shouldn't eat because of a medical condition.
Crime

Two Activists Who Secretly Recorded Planned Parenthood Face 15 Felony Charges (npr.org) 470

mi writes: California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two activists who made undercover videos of themselves interacting with officials of a taxpayer-supported organization with 15 felonies, saying they invaded privacy by filming without consent. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a longtime Congressional Democrat who took over the investigation in January, said in a statement that the state "will not tolerate the criminal recording of conversations." Didn't we just determine that filming officials is not merely a right, but a First Amendment right? The "taxpayer-supported organization" is Planned Parenthood, and the charges were pressed against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. Daleiden has called the charges "bogus," claiming that Planned Parenthood "has violated the law by selling fetal tissue -- an allegation that has been investigated by more than a dozen states, none of which found evidence supporting Daleiden's claim," reports NPR. "Daleiden claimed the video showed evidence that Planned Parenthood was selling that tissue, which would be illegal. Planned Parenthood said the footage was misleadingly edited and that the organization donates tissue following legal guidelines and with permitted reimbursements for expenses, which investigations have corroborated."
Communications

Yes, You've Still Got Mail (recode.net) 140

Veteran technology columnist Walt Mossberg, writes: Like radio, email isn't dying, it's just changing. Over the past decade or so it's become much more like postal mail. It's not the place you expect to find a greeting from a friend or even a timely update from a professional colleague. Instead, it's a mix of junk mail you hate and discard, plus bills and missives from businesses you also hate but can't discard. [...] Still, despite all signs to the contrary -- and many predictions -- email is not dead. In fact, some analyses suggest that it's growing. Few people can afford to be without it. It hasn't expired; it has morphed. There are lots of reasons email persists, even as faster and simpler forms of communication proliferate and your personal communications likely have mostly migrated elsewhere. But one big one is that new types of media channels rarely totally kill off old ones, even though everyone predicts they will. The old ones just adapt and change. Back in the day, television was supposed to kill off radio, but radio gradually saved itself by dropping the programming TV did better (like dramas and variety shows) and starting to focus on playing hit songs and hosting political and sports talk shows. I think something similar is going on with email. Once the king of digital discourse, email has surely been dethroned by an army of alternatives: Vast and numerous messaging services; photo- and video-oriented sharing on social networks or the photo apps of Apple and Google; business tools like Slack. I get the latest pictures of my granddaughter through iCloud photo sharing. I get the latest discussions of how we plan to cover stories on The Verge or Recode through Slack. My editor and I collaboratively edit my stories inside Google Docs. Ten years ago, all those things would have been done via email. Back then, when a reader wanted to tell me I was an idiot (or worse) for something I wrote, I got an email. Now, they tell me on Twitter.
NASA

NASA Launches Massive Digital Library For Space Video, Photos and Audio (space.com) 48

earlytime quotes a report from Space.com: NASA on Tuesday (March 28) unveiled a new online library that assembles the agency's amazing space photos, videos and audio files into a single searchable library. The NASA Image and Video Library, as the agency calls it, can be found at http://images.nasa.gov/ and consolidates space imagery from 60 different collections into one location. The new database allows users to embed NASA imagery in websites, includes image metadata like date, description and keywords, and offers multiple resolution sizes, NASA officials said. According to the NASA statement, other features include: Automatic scaling to suite the interface for mobile phones and tablets; EXIF/camera data that includes exposure, lens used and other information (when available from the original image); Easy public access to high resolution files; Downloadable caption files for all videos. The new NASA archive is not meant to be a complete archive of all of the space agency imagery. But it does aim to showcase what the space agency has to offer.
Facebook

Facebook Launches 'Town Hall' For Contacting Government Reps, Adds Local Election Reminders (techcrunch.com) 69

Facebook has officially launched their "Town Hall" feature that allows users to locate, follow and contact their local, state and federal government representatives. The social media company also announced that they will be launching local election reminders in an effort to get more users to vote in state, county, and municipal elections. TechCrunch reports: The feature was recently made available in the "More" menu on mobile and on desktop to a subset of users. When you launch it, you would be presented with a list of reps at the local, state and federal level, and you could click to visit their Facebook page or send them a message, call them, or email. Not all reps offer their contact information via Facebook, however. And Facebook doesn't yet pull in the missing phone numbers or emails from off-site sources, like official government websites, for example. The company tell us that's something it wants to address in time, though. Today, Town Hall is available to all U.S. Facebook users and some of its features will now be integrated in the News Feed. If you like or comment on a post made by one of your elected officials, a new feature below the comments will invite you to call, message or email the rep. After doing so, users will then be prompted to share a post saying that they contacted the rep, as a means of encouraging their friends to do the same. Facebook says that this Contact Your Rep post is not shown to everyone, but only to those who are also already engaging with an elected official's post, through a like or comment. Additionally, Facebook says it will now offer Election Reminders for local elections. The new, local election reminders will appear for all state, county, and municipal elections in the U.S. in areas with a population of over 10,000 people, and will include both primaries and general elections.
United Kingdom

UK Broadband Customers Set To Receive Millions In Compensation For Bad Service (thestack.com) 17

An anonymous reader quotes The Stack: British telecoms regulator Ofcom has revealed new plans which would see consumers who experience poor service automatically compensated, in cash or credit, by their landline or broadband providers. As part of the scheme, customers who have had to put up with delayed repairs, missed installation or engineer appointments, will be paid up to £30 in compensation, depending on the issue. According to Ofcom, 6 million landline and broadband customers could receive a total of around £185 million (approximately $230 million) in compensatory payments each year as a result of the policy. The regulator says every year U.K. repair technicians failed to show up for 250,000 repair appointments.

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