Facebook hits the brakes on creepy project to access your patient data from hospitals

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Facebook has been in recent talks with several high profile US hospitals in an attempt to glean anonymized patient data for a now-defunct project. The company aimed to collect obscured personal details — including illness and prescription info — in an attempt to match it with user data it collected by the social network. The goal, reportedly, was to help hospitals figure out which patients might need special care or treatment, according to CNBC. The news comes amid growing concerns that the social network isn’t taking the steps needed to secure its users from over-zealous third parties — and often…

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Apple confirms investigation of creepy Chinese iCloud incident

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Apple’s recent handover of China’s iCloud accounts to a government-run company appeared to have gone smoothly, but a deeply unsettling report related to the transition has gripped Chinese media, leading Apple to announce an investigation. According to sister publications The Paper and Sixth Tone, an Apple customer identified as “Qin” attempted to close his iCloud account ahead of the government takeover, only to have an AppleCare advisor argue with him, hack his account, and threaten to expose his personal information to teach him a lesson.

Qin’s story was originally posted on Chinese microblogging service Weibo and includes detailed text, screenshots, and even audio of one of his calls with the AppleCare advisor. In short, Qin says that he called AppleCare to close his account the day before the government-owned Guizhou-Cloud Big Data company took over Chinese iCloud account data, only to get into an argument with an Apple representative who was “really curious” why Qin didn’t “want to use Guizhou-Cloud Big Data’s service.”

The advisor then allegedly used his iCloud login information to hack his account, which contained both sensitive information and logins for other accounts. If that wasn’t bad enough, the advisor then called to blackmail Qin, saying that he would release the information if Qin didn’t comply with his demands. Qin contacted the police and Apple, both of which are investigating the incident.

After spending days going back and forth with Apple, Qin said that the company’s customer support people weren’t appropriately responsive to his requests for information about whether his account was safe, how much data had been taken from it, and who the threatening advisor was. But yesterday Apple sent the following written response (translated) to Chinese media:

We greatly respect the trust that our customers have given us, and entrust [their] personal privacy and information security to Apple. Safeguarding the privacy of users is the starting point of our system design. Any AppleCare technical advisor cannot access the customer’s password, email content and photos. We will work with this customer to investigate the incident and ensure that Apple employees and contractor teams adhere to the strict standards we set in customer contact.

Certain details remain controversial. Sina Technology News, part of the company behind Weibo, claims there is “currently no evidence” that the issue is directly related to the migration of Chinese iCloud accounts to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data, despite discussions to the contrary. Additionally, the employment status of the AppleCare advisor is somewhat unclear. The paper says the AppleCare advisor wasn’t fired by Apple but had rather resigned a month earlier and yet continued to serve customers due to an Apple transition policy for departing employees.

It’s safe to say the employee’s behavior did not reflect Apple policy or standards. However, the broader issue of AppleCare employee access to iCloud account information remains open and — based on Qin’s experience — deeply concerning. If you haven’t yet enabled two-factor authentication on your iCloud account, now would be a good time to do so.

Apple – VentureBeat

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Amazon Says a Fix for Alexa’s Creepy Random Laughter Is Coming

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In the wake of reports that some Echo devices were spontaneously emitting “inhuman” laughter, which began surfacing on various social media platforms within the last few weeks, Amazon has officially responded — not only acknowledging the bizarre claims made by some users as fact, but promising that a fix is currently in the works. “In […]
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Samsung Galaxy S9 review roundup: Predictable smartphone plagued by ‘creepy’ AR Emoji, issue-prone security

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Reviewers of the Samsung Galaxy S9 have praised the South Korean giant’s flagship ahead of its release, but while it is considered to be one of the best Android devices on the market, the similarity with the Galaxy S8’s design and underwhelming new features suggest it is a bit of a misstep for Apple’s main rival.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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Amazon Working on a Fix for Alexa Devices Scaring Users With Creepy Laughter

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For the past couple of weeks, speakers equipped with Amazon’s Alexa voice-based personal assistant have been randomly laughing, scaring and creeping out speaker owners who have affected devices.


Complaints have been surfacing on Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms over the course of the last few weeks, but the issue started receiving widespread attention this week after it was shared on BuzzFeed. From Reddit:

A friend of mine at work just a couple of days ago told me this very thing happened at his moms house. He was face timing with his her(he jokes she is jealous of Alexa, his dad just loves it) and out of the blue in the background Alexa started to laugh, he even heard it on his end. Said it was super creepy. I’m waiting the have the holy hell scared out of me one quiet evening…or even worse, awakened by the one a foot from my head while I’m sleeping.

Some audio examples of the Alexa laugh, with a humorous skit from Jimmy Kimmel included

In a statement provided to The Verge this morning, Amazon said that it is aware that some Alexa-enabled devices are randomly laughing and a fix is in the works. “We’re aware of this and working to fix it,” Amazon said.


Customers who have an Alexa-enabled device and are creeped out by the random and unprompted laughs may want to turn off their speakers until Amazon is able to locate the issue and push out a fix.

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Samsung’s AR Emoji taps creepy avatars and Disney characters to compete with Animoji

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 We’ve known for a while that Samsung’s been planning an Animoji competitor for its latest handset. Now that we’ve actually seen (the admittedly clunkily named) AR Emoji in action, we can testify to the fact that it’s some combination of compelling and creepy. That last part first. Like the iPhone X, the Galaxy S9 takes advantage of its on-board face scanning technology… Read More
Mobile – TechCrunch

The Room’s creepy touchscreen puzzle boxes are better than ever in Old Sins

The Room series of mobile games has always been very good at one particular thing: presenting you with strange objects, and then letting you manipulate them to uncover their secrets. It’s a concept that works incredibly well on a touchscreen device, and the series’s haunting atmosphere only adds to the mystery. Over the course of three games, that formula, despite its singular focus, hasn’t lost its appeal. In fact, with the latest game — The Room: Old Sins, which is out now on iOS — developer Fireproof has crafted what may be the best version yet.

Old Sins opens with you, an investigator, exploring the attic of a dark, creepy house for some kind of artifact. Your first main task is to switch on a floodlight, which then illuminates a…

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‘Forgotten Hill Mementoes’ is a Very Creepy Point-and-Click Adventure Horror Game Launching Next Week

Back in 2016, FM Studio released a trio of extremely dark and twisted horror-themed point-and-click adventures known as the Forgotten Hill series. It kicked off with Forgotten Hill: Fall [Free] in February, followed by the sequel Forgotten Hill: Puppeteer [Free] in July, and finally Forgotten Hill: Surgery [Free] in December. The series began life as a web game and in fact all three entries also had accompanying web versions, so FM Studio took most of 2017 to release a bunch of small web-exclusive mini-games called Mementoes, that were separate from the main storyline of Forgotten Hill but served to flesh out the lore and universe further. Now they’re putting all those mini-games together, alongside a previously unreleased (and “very long”) new chapter in the series called Mischief Night, into one single app called Forgotten Hill Mementoes. Here’s the trailer.

What’s interesting to me about the entire Forgotten Hill series is that it appears to have gone entirely under the radar of our community, and thus under my own radar as well. Which is weird because TouchArcadians like their adventure games and like these horror-type themes. I love the look of Forgotten Hill Mementoes in the above trailer, and now I’ve gone and downloaded all three previous games to take them for a spin before Mementoes hits the App Store next Thursday, January 18th. It’s cool because they’re all free with ads and a one-time IAP to remove them, so there’s no reason not to at least check them out if you’re interested in this sort of game. If you do end up enjoying them, then look for Forgotten Hill Mementoes next week.

TouchArcade

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch leaves a creepy cloud over LA

It seems like everyone in southern California is looking up and asking "what is that?" this evening, and after revelations earlier this week about government investigations into unidentified flying objects, UFO is a popular answer. In truth, the trai…
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