Snapchat reinstates Giphy stickers following removal of racist GIFs

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Last month, both Snapchat and Instagram pulled Giphy stickers from their apps after users discovered a racist GIF with a slur. At the time, Giphy said that it had removed the GIF in question and fixed the bug that let it through. It also said it woul…
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Facebook launches bulk app removal tool to clean up your privacy settings

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Facebook now lets you bulk remove third-party apps, and any and all posts those apps may have published on your behalf, a welcome privacy change that should make it easier to strip access to your profile from services you no longer use. The change, precipitated by the ongoing Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, is part of a series of sudden changes Facebook is making to mitigate fallout from the revelation that third-party developers have had generous access to users’ data and could use it in ways Facebook had little to no control over. Facebook confirmed the bulk removal option to TechCrunch today, after The Next Web’s Matt Navarra publicly commented on the policy change on Twitter.

Now, when you go to the Apps portion of your…

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Snapchat brings back GIPHY after removal due to racist GIF

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After a racial slur GIF caused Snapchat to remove its GIPHY sticker feature, Snapchat confirms to TechCrunch it’s reinstated its integration. GIPHY has apologized, fixed the bug that let the objectionable GIF slip through, and reviewed its GIF sticker library four times in an effort to guarantee that offensive content won’t end up in apps that embed it. Instagram had also removed GIPHY, but reinstated it last week with Snapchat saying it had nothing to share yet.

A Snap spokesperson told TechCrunch that over the past several weeks, the Snap team worked with GIPHY to revamp its moderation systems. Now Snap is confident that the fresh approach will protect users, so its brought the GIF stickers back. They let people embellish their photos and videos with overlaid animated illustrations and video clips.

So ends a month-long ordeal that started when a U.K. user spotted a GIF containing a racial slur for people of color. Snapchat removed the GIPHY feature as press backlash in the U.K. mounted. Instagram wasn’t aware of the issue until informed by TechCrunch, leading it to remove the GIPHY feature within an hour.

Warning: We’ve shared a censored version of the GIF below, but it still includes graphic content that may be offensive to some users.

The situation highlights the risks of working with outside developers that aren’t entirely under a platform’s control. Piping in external utilities lets apps quickly expand their offering to users. But if developers misuse people’s data, deliver broken functionality, or let objectionable content through, it can reflect poorly on the app hosting them. Facebook is currently dealing with this backlash surrounding Cambridge Analytica. Meanwhile, Instagram just severely restricted its APIs without warning, breaking many developers’ apps in what’s believed to be part of Facebook’s push to shore up data privacy.

Favoring news publishers, Snapchat historically never actively embraced developers, banning use of outside apps that require your Snapchat credentials. It’s more recently started letting devs build and promote their own augmented reality lenses. But after this set-back, we’ll have to see if Snapchat becomes any more reluctant to work with partners.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Facebook launches bulk app removal tool amidst privacy scandal

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Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, users have flocked to their Facebook privacy settings to sever their connection to third-party apps that they no longer wanted to have access to their data. But deleting them all took forever because you had to remove them one by one. Now Facebook has released a new way to select as many apps as you want, then remove them in bulk. The feature has rolled out on mobile and desktop, and Facebook also offers the option to delete any posts those apps have made to your profile.

Facebook confirmed the launch to TechCrunch, pointing to its Newsroom and Developer News blog posts from the last few weeks that explained that “We already show people what apps their accounts are connected to and control what data they’ve permitted those apps to use. In the coming month, we’re going to make these choices more prominent and easier to manage.” Now we know what “easier” looks like. A Facebook spokesperson told us “we have more to do and will be sharing more when we can.” The updated interface was first spotted by Matt Navarra, who had previously called on Facebook to build a bulk removal option.

Facebook stopped short of offering a “select all” button so you have to tap each individually. That could prevent more innocent, respectful developers from getting caught up in the dragnet as users panic to prune their app connections. One developer told me they’d been inundated with requests from users to delete their data acquired through Facebook and add other login options, saying that the Cambridge Analytica scandal “really hurt consumer trust for all apps…even the good guys.” The developer chose to change its Terms of Service to make users more comfortable.

The bulk removal tool could make it much easier for users to take control of their data and protect their identity, though the damage to Facebook’s reputation is largely done. It’s staggering how many apps piggyback off of Facebook, and that we gave our data without much thought. But at least now it won’t take an hour to remove them all.

 

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Google is warning developers to include prominent crash reporting disclosures in apps or face removal

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There’s been an uptick among Android developers receiving warnings from the Google Play team. The issue appears to be crash reporting, which is a common feature developers build into apps. Google now seems to be of the opinion that most crash reports count as sensitive data, and developers have to include a “Prominent Disclosure.” Affected developers are getting 30 days to implement a fix and resubmit, but as usual, Google’s violation email is light on details.

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Amazon is refunding Prime Exclusive phone ad removal fees

Amazon announced last week that it was removing the lock screen ads from its Prime Exclusive phones, but it was less keen to tell everyone it was also raising the price by $ 20. Amazon is at least getting one part of this transition right. It’s notifying those who paid to remove those ads they’ll get a refund.

Prime Exclusive phones used to come with a significant discount in exchange for showing the user ads on the lock screen.

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Razer says headphone jack removal allowed for 500mAh more battery, superior audio on Razer Phone

Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan appears to be making a habit of communicating with fans through his Facebook page regarding decisions and upcoming updates for the Razer Phone. After discussing the lackluster camera a few days ago, Tan is now addressing why the phone doesn’t have a headphone jack on board. It’s a pretty solid explanation.

Tan gives a number of reasons why the Razer Phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack, which include battery size, audio quality, and thermals:

By removing the headphone jack – we were able to increase the battery size significantly (I estimate we added 500maH more), improve thermals for performance and a whole lot more.

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Razer says headphone jack removal allowed for 500mAh more battery, superior audio on Razer Phone was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Senators demand Tim Cook explain VPN app removal in China, suggest Apple enables censorship

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U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) penned a joint letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook this week asking for clarification on the company’s decision to remove certain virtual private network (VPN) apps from China’s App Store, saying the move potentially enables the country’s censorship and internet surveillance policies.
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Chinese developers file antitrust complaint against Apple over App Store removal policies, excessive fees

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Citing monopolistic behavior in how it reviews, posts, and removes apps from the App Stores, a cadre of 28 Chinese developers have filed a complaint against Apple, alleging antitrust violations.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

A Plant 1,000 Times More Efficient at CO2 Removal Than Photosynthesis Is Now Active

The CO2 Collector

Yesterday, the world’s first commercial carbon capture plant began sucking carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air around it. Perched atop a Zurich waste incineration facility, the Climeworks carbon capture plant comprises three stacked shipping containers that hold six CO2 collectors each. Spongey filters absorb CO2 as fans pull air through the collectors until they are fully saturated, a process that takes about two or three hours.

Technological Fixes for Climate Change
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The container then closes, and the process reverses. The collector is heated to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), and the pure CO2 is released in a form that can be buried underground, made into other products, or sold.

According to Climeworks, the startup that created this carbon capture facility, hundreds of thousands more like it will be needed by midcentury if we want to remain below the limits set by the Paris Agreement. However, to keep the planet’s temperature from increasing by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), we’ll need to do something more than simply lowering global emissions.

“We really only have less than 20 years left at current emission rates to have a good chance of limiting emissions to less than 2°C,” Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment director Chris Field told Fast Company. “So it’s a big challenge to do it simply by decreasing emissions from energy, transportation, and agriculture.”

Reducing Global Emissions

Other innovative efforts to reduce global CO2 levels are already underway all over the world. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have found a way to turn captured carbon into concrete for building, while scientists from Rice University have found that doping graphene with nitrogen allows it to convert CO2 into environmentally useful fuels. If enacted, various proposals to preserve wetlands, old growth forests, and other areas could also reduce CO2 levels.

Climeworks’ plant is particularly appealing because it can be used repeatedly, produces something commercially useful, and is about 1,000 times more efficient at CO2 removal than photosynthesis.

“You can do this over and over again,” Climeworks director Jan Wurzbacher told Fast Company. “It’s a cyclic process. You saturate with CO2, then you regenerate, saturate, regenerate. You have multiple of these units, and not all of them go in parallel. Some are taking in CO2, some are releasing CO2.”

Even so, Field emphasizes that the possibility of carbon capture should not be seen as a license to emit more CO2. We need to combine the technology with a low-carbon economy to ensure our planet’s survival. “It’s not either/or,” according to Field. “It’s both.”

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