ThinkUp, Twitter, LinkedIn, More: Tuesday Buzz, June 14, 2016


ThinkUp, which I quite liked and subscribed to for a while, is shutting down. Part of the API problems they faced: “ThinkUp works by gathering your social networking data from services like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and then analyzing it to provide insights. These services provide APIs (application programming interfaces) that allow us to gather this data — but it’s only the data they permit us to access, and only under the terms they dictate. Last year, Facebook greatly limited the kinds of data we could collect (some of this was for good reason, because other apps were using the same data to violate people’s privacy); we did a lot of work to handle these changes but the net result was that we lost a lot of ThinkUp’s Facebook features.”

Twitter is changing the way it handles blocking. “Before, when you blocked someone on Twitter, it kept you from seeing their tweets, but unfortunately they could still see yours in certain cases. Due to the way Twitter handled blocked users, the block simply forces the user to unfollow you and prevents them from re-following. It doesn’t however, keep them from seeing your tweets if they’re quoted or retweeted by another of their followers, nor does it keep you from seeing their content under the same circumstances.”

LinkedIn is getting acquired by Microsoft. “Today we are excited to share that LinkedIn has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Microsoft. We are joining forces with Microsoft to realize a common mission to empower people and organizations. LinkedIn’s vision – to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce – is not changing and our members still come first.” With LinkedIn infuriating people with its relentless e-mailing, and Microsoft under intense criticism for the way it’s handling Windows 10 upgrades, my brain immediately christened this the Snidely Whiplash Pivot.

Apple is bringing image and facial recognition to iOS 10. “The computer vision tech used by Apple runs natively on your iPhone or iPad, meaning that it doesn’t require you to upload all the images to the cloud. In can recognize faces in your photos and group by person, but it also has advanced object recognition, making it possible to find images of any number of different things from your distant past. In other words: your phone now knows if you have taken photos of food, or horses, or mountains, to make retrieval of these images much, much easier.”


My husband informs me that Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn is just the push he needs to delete his LinkedIn account. If you feel the same way, you might want to check out this slideshow: 11 alternatives to LinkedIn for business social networking.

Interesting: The Next Web has a writeup about a Chrome extension that tracks the pages you visit when you’re in Incognito Mode. “There are times when you need to browse the Web in incognito mode, so your history and cookies aren’t saved – besides looking for porn, I mean. For example, travel experts say that some booking sites often display higher prices when they know a customer has been searching for certain destinations frequently. But it can be a bother to lose your browsing history in incognito mode, especially when you’re visiting several pages at a time. That’s where Off The Record comes in.”

A little old-school, but MakeUseOf has an article on user agents and how to change them. “If you want to feel like a secret agent online, one of the easiest ways is to change your browser’s user agent. The Internet is not the static entity it once was — once upon a time, websites didn’t care which browser you were using, and simply showed you their pages. In today’s world with so many different operating systems, browsers, and mobile screen sizes, however, this doesn’t cut it. Browser agents tell websites about your computer and which browser you’re using, but they can be easily manipulated.”


Finland, Finland, Finland, the country where I quite want to be — especially considering how it’s handling academic journal pricing. “Freedom of Information request by open science advocates has revealed academic journal pricing through an administrative court decision. Finland is the first country where the subscription prices paid by practically all universities and research institutions to individual publishers are made available. This strengthens the position of universities in the 2016 contract negotiations, made ever more timely by the recent deep funding cuts. Comparisons between publishers and countries also supports the ongoing discussion of alternative publishing models and directing funding towards open access (OA) publishing.”

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Google News are teaming up. “Starting this summer, Google News Lab staff will meet with Cronkite News faculty and students to train them on variety of journalism tools involving data visualizations, immersive storytelling, verification and fact checking, as well as audience engagement and other topics involving Google tools.” I didn’t even know Google News Lab was that busy anymore. Good to see.


Are you using Let’s Encrypt? You should probably know about this e-mail leak. “Backed by the EFF, Mozilla Foundation, and several others organizations, Let’s Encrypt made some welcome security choices when it hired outside experts to conduct a security review of its software and the protocol it uses for automatic certificate issuance and management, and issued its first transparency report even before issuing its first certificate. Still, no one is immune from making mistakes. In this case, the mistake seems to have been the result of bug in the automated system used to send out email to active subscribers.”


Survey: The content-sharing habits of Facebook users. “More than half (58%) of Facebook users who share third-party content on the network say they do so at least once a week, according to recent research from Fractl.” Wow, I’m glad they didn’t survey me. I would have wrecked the curve.

A lot of growth is expected for Snapchat this year. “This year, Snapchat’s US user base will jump by 27.2% to 58.6 million users. Snapchat’s growth rate far exceeds that of mobile messaging in general—the category as a whole will grow by 16% in the US this year. Meanwhile, Twitter will have 56.8 million users in the US this year and Pinterest will have 54.6 million users. By 2020, Snapchat will add 26.9 million users, about double that of Twitter and Pinterest.” Good morning, Internet…

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