<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Tech News]]>Copyright 2018https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida https://www.nbcmiami.comen-usSun, 22 Jul 2018 10:51:14 -0400Sun, 22 Jul 2018 10:51:14 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[FB CEO Uses Holocaust Example to Defend Takedown Policies]]> Wed, 18 Jul 2018 23:22:39 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/zuck-blue.jpg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a podcast interview released Wednesday that his social network does not remove posts that deny the Holocaust because the company wants to allow its users to make unintentional mistakes, NBC News reported.

Zuckerberg volunteered the example of Holocaust deniers unprompted in the middle of a discussion on the Recode Decode podcast about Facebook’s role in the spread of hoaxes and false news stories.

“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” he said. “I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”

“I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong,” he continued, before the interviewer, Kara Swisher, interrupted him.

“In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be, but go ahead,” Swisher said.

Zuckerberg backtracked later on Wednesday, saying in an email to Swisher that he did not mean to defend the intent of Holocaust deniers, according to a copy of the email posted by Swisher.

Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP, File ]]>
<![CDATA[This Small Forensics Company Is Suddenly Cracking Cold Cases]]> Wed, 18 Jul 2018 11:33:33 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/April+Tinsley.png

A small DNA technology company called Parabon NanoLabs has helped solve five cold cases since early May with a new approach to genetic analysis that could spur a massive clearance of unsolved crimes, NBC News reported.

The Virginia company makes use of high-tech DNA analysis, traditional genealogy and online ancestry databases. It's found matches about 60 percent of the time, thanks to suspects or their relatives submitting genetic profiles to public databases.

"I predict we will see dozens or hundreds of cold cases resolved over the next couple of years," researcher CeCe Moore said.

One recent case Parabon NanoLabs helped to bring charges in is that of April Tinsley, an 8-year-old killed in April 1988. Her killer eluded police and the FBI even though they had his DNA — until Moore narrowed the list of potential suspects to two brothers.

Photo Credit: FBI]]>
<![CDATA[Here Are the Emojis That Get Used Most and Least ]]> Tue, 17 Jul 2018 15:43:31 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/071717emojis.jpg

If you find yourself frequently sending the heart or face with tears of joy emojis, you're in good company. Those are among the most commonly sent emojis on Facebook and Twitter.

The social media networks revealed Tuesday the emojis that are most often shared in posts and messages most often Tuesday, which is World Emoji Day. It falls on July 17 because that date appears on the calendar emoji for iPhone and Android users, according to Fortune

Facebook users post the heart emoji twice as much as they did last year, the network said in an email to NBC. More than 2,800 emojis are used on Facebook and its Messenger app each day.

The heart-eyed face, blushing face, kissing face and birthday cake are among the most popular emojis used on Facebook. The loudly crying face emoji is the lone emoji that appeared on Twitter’s top-five list that wasn’t on Facebook’s.

Emojitracker, which attempts to track the use of all emoji on Twitter, finds that the aerial tramway emoji is the least used on the platform.

The mouse face, juggling and blocked number one emojis are among the least popular on Facebook.

Two variations of a smiley face emoji were among the top searched emojis worldwide last year, according to Google Trends. 

Apple celebrated World Emoji Day by announcing its plans to roll out more than 70 new emojis in a software update that’s scheduled to be released later this year. The new emojis feature people with red hair, gray hair and curly hair and people who are bald, according to a news release.

Emojis originated in Japan, according to NBC News, and the Unicode Consortium ensures that the emojis can be recognized on any device worldwide. The group also controls what emojis are created.

When an emoji becomes part of an update, designers at platforms like Apple and Google determine how it will appear on their devices.

The consortium accepts emoji proposals, though the process can be long.

Photo Credit: Stephen Lam/Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Apple, Google Cashed in on Conspiracy App]]> Mon, 16 Jul 2018 14:12:00 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/QDrops.jpg

An app that sent alerts about a child sex ring conspiracy theory called QAnon stayed in Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store for months, raising revenue for the conspirators and the tech giants, NBC News reported.

The fringe QAnon conspiracy purports that a secret police task force put assembled by President Donald Trump has arrested world politicians in a murderous child sex ring and forced them to wear ankle bracelets. It's an offshoot of the "pizzagate" fiction and has led to real-world actions, like a follower who blocked an entrance to the Hoover Dam last month.

The 99-cent QDrops app was launched in April and sends alerts when new details about the supposed investigation are posted on the anonymous social media site 4Chan.

QDrops peaked at No. 10 among all paid Apple apps, though Apple removed it from its app store Sunday after it was contacted by NBC News. The app remains live on the Google Play Store; Google has yet to respond to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Thai Cave Rescue Diver Mulls Legal Action Against Elon Musk]]> Mon, 16 Jul 2018 07:51:48 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/elonmuskchinatrade_1200x675.jpg

A British diver involved in the Thai cave rescue mission that saved 12 boys and their soccer coach is reportedly considering legal action against Tesla head Elon Musk for having called him a "pedo guy."

Spelunker Vernon Unsworth got on Musk's bad side after he dismissed a submarine made by Musk's team from a SpaceX rocket part as a "PR stunt," CNBC reported.

The submarine wasn't used in the resuce and Unsworth told CNN the idea "had no chance of working."

“He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” Unsworth said.

In response, Musk alleged in a now-deleted series of tweets that Unsworth was a "pedo guy."

When Unsworth was asked by The Guardian whether he would consider pursuing legal action against Musk over the baseless claim that appeared to label him a pedophile, Unsworth said, "Yes, it's not finished."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FCC May Start Charging $225 to Look Into Consumer Complaints]]> Thu, 12 Jul 2018 15:17:34 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/892330012-FCC-Ajit-Pai.jpg

Consumers who ask the Federal Communications Commission to investigate complaints against broadband providers would be charged $225 — possibly more than the amount in dispute — under a proposal the FCC is voting on Thursday, NBC News reported.

The proposal is expected to pass the Republican-controlled commission, though the lone Democrat called it "bonkers" while two congressional Democrats said it runs counter to the FCC's mission of working for consumers.

Thousands of consumer complaints on things like billing and poor internet service are submitted to the FCC each year. The commission typically passes complaints along, but if the new process passes, it will only follow up on disputes if the person making the complaint goes through a formal process that comes with a $225 filing fee.

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Fortnite Season 5 Arrives: What You Should Know]]> Thu, 12 Jul 2018 13:14:59 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-954188922.jpg

After weeks of hype and bringing items from the online game into the real world, Season 5 of Fortnite has arrived.

For those who haven’t yet joined the craze, Fortnite is a game available on consoles, PC and mobile where 100 players drop from a flying school bus, collect guns and resources to fight and build structures (hence the "fort") and fight to be the last player standing.

Thousands of Fortnite gameplays can be found on YouTube or the popular livestreaming website Twitch.tv, which is owned by Amazon.

This time, the popular multi-player "battle royale" game has upgraded its map, added new cosmetic skins and items in the new update.

In Season 4, players watched a rocket launch into the sky while they were battling to eliminate 99 other players in the game. That rocket exploded and appeared to have caused a worm hole, bringing items from other eras like a viking ship, an ATV and even a Moai statue.

Players can still enjoy the game for free and they're able to purchase V-Bucks to get access to Season 5 Battle Pass. The pass cost 950 V-Bucks which is around $10.

Some gamers might opt to spending more to earn a higher tier because a Battle Pass will start you off at level 1. Players will gain more access to over 100 new items as they level up and complete challenges.

If you're wondering why your children can't seem to stop playing this game, challenges are different every season and every week. They vary from simple things like killing five opponents with a pistol to opening loot chests at different locations in the map. (Here are some tips for beginners.

The game gives different rewards for each challenge completed. This season, players can even unlock an exclusive outfit by completing special challenges.

One of the biggest changes in Season 5 is the addition of "toys." Players can conjure up a golf ball and a beach ball to actually play at the new "points of interest" in the arena.

Fortnite has gotten rid of older points of interest, where players would land and collect firearms and other items that will help them win the game, to keep the game fresh for veteran players.

The game made $233 million in March, CNBC reported, and its popularity doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Fortnite has millions of players. Many are children younger than 16, and they can be seen as easy targets for hackers and scammers. Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, has been warning players to be aware of scams around free or discounted V-Bucks. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Announces Purge of Locked Accounts]]> Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:35:15 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/936806438-Twitter-logo.jpg

Twitter users, don't despair if you see a sudden drop in followers soon.

NBC News reports that the social media company is set to begin a purge this week of tens of millions of accounts flagged as suspicious and locked.

Most people are set to lose less than five followers, but large accounts may experience a "more significant drop," according to a blog post from Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's head counsel.

It's the latest step from Twitter in its attempt to clean up the platform — last week it disclosed that it can identify about 10 million potential spam accounts per week to shut them down.

Photo Credit: Nicolas AsfouriaAFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['We Were Shocked': Researchers Find Widespread Bot Nets]]> Mon, 09 Jul 2018 23:49:54 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/BAD-BOTS.PNG

Tens of millions of mobile phones, tablets, and other wireless electronics are being used discreetly by hackers to carry out criminal activity -- and the owners of those devices don’t know it.

The eye-opening finding was announced Wednesday by Distil Networks, an online threat mitigation firm with offices in San Francisco and clients worldwide.

Distil Networks recently released a study, “Mobile Bots: The Next Evolution of Bad Bots”. The data paints a bleak picture: as many as 5.8 percent of all mobile devices worldwide are infected with malicious automated software programs, known as “bots”.

“If you extrapolate that to the potential billions of mobile devices out there, that’s a pretty staggering number,” said Edward Roberts, Director of Product Marketing for Distil Networks.

The bots are secretly operating on millions of wireless mobile devices, such as phones. Hackers use infected devices to perform a variety of illicit tasks, such as account takeovers; gift card fraud; manipulating ticket prices; and even posting spam on social media.

“We were actually shocked”

Roberts said the discovery of widespread mobile bot networks came as something of a surprise to Distil Networks researchers.“We found it indirectly; we were looking at the abuse of accounts and account takeover,” Roberts said. “We suddenly realized that we were seeing a lot of mobile requests coming in -- up to eight percent of the bad bots traffic that we see is now coming from these mobile devices on cell towers, going and attacking businesses around the world today.”

That led Distil engineers to closely scrutinize data requests from 100 million mobile devices on six major wireless networks, over a 45-day period. Roberts said at first, researchers doubted their own findings.

“We were actually shocked,” Roberts said. “We looked at another slice of data, and we got exactly the same number. We said, is this a one-off? So we looked at another time-frame and we got the same number.”

That figure -- 5.8 percent -- may not seem like much at first. Roberts uses an everyday example to put it in perspective.

“If you’re in a coffee shop, and there are 17 people in that coffee shop, you know that one of them has, probably, a high likelihood that they are launching bot requests from their phone and attacking some business around the world,” Roberts said. “They wouldn’t know anything about it.”

Another way to consider the data: with more than 300 million wireless phones and tablets in use in the U.S. alone, per industry analysts at the CTIA, Distil’s findings would suggest at least 15 million of those phones are hosting bad bots.

Infected Phone Owners Left Unaware

What’s worse, the owners of those devices carrying mobile bots almost certainly have no idea their phones and tablets are being used by bad actors.

“That’s the scary part here,” Roberts said. “It’s really difficult to say you are in a bad bot net, and you’re making bad bot requests to businesses. Not knowing that’s happening is probably quite disturbing to most people.”

Mobile bots are designed to operate in relative secrecy. Distil Networks researchers say they typically issue 50 bad data requests or attacks per day -- a number too small to create a noticeable spike in the phone owner’s data. Even so, the billions of bots allow hackers to remotely conduct criminal acts without using any of their own bandwidth, instead stealing it from unwitting phone and tablet users.

Offloading the computing power to innocent phone owners is just one advantage bots give to hackers. Perhaps even more useful to cyber-crooks is the mobile bots’ ability to mask their intentions better than they might on a typical PC.

“They’re trying to appear human-like,” Roberts said. “if they’re on your phone, one of the behaviors of a phone is that it moves IP addresses. It moves from cell tower to cell tower, so it looks more human than other devices as well.”

This presents a challenge for online threat researchers and data security specialists, who look for specific patterns and other red flags to identify and stifle bot attacks.

“It’s another one of those techniques where the bot operators are trying to hide,” Roberts said. “It’s a problem that’s going to be very difficult to solve.”

Researchers say because wireless phone gateways handle so many requests, identifying and stopping attacks from mobile bots can be difficult.

A Billion-Bot Army

The problem is so widespread, Distil Networks says a whopping 21 percent of all internet traffic originates from bad bots. Eight percent comes from the mobile variety.

The bots aren’t just working by themselves. Most belong to an untold number of bot networks, enabling hackers across the globe to attack websites and servers.

Distil Networks identifies several potential uses for mobile bots:

  • Identity Theft / account takeover (ATO). Bots can use information and passwords stolen in security breaches to test login sites for online accounts, allowing hackers to steal the owners’ identities.
  • Gift Card Fraud. Mobile bots will look for online gift cards at retailer websites, then randomly try millions of card number and PIN combinations to find activated accounts -- and drain them of cash.
  • Social media spamming. Bots can plaster Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with unwanted advertising, malicious links, and even fake news.
  • Ticketing and Travel Price Manipulation. Bots have been detected in efforts to drive up airfare prices. Distil says bots are also being used to instantly buy up tickets to concerts and sporting events, handing them off to scalpers who resell tickets at exorbitant prices.
  • Price Scraping. Bots can lift data from e-commerce sites, which can be used by competitors or thieves.
  • Gambling. Distil says as much as half of all online bad bot activity is related to online gambling, targeting casinos and oddsmakers.

The end result, Distil says, is having a measurable effect on the global economy. “They’re committing fraud against businesses,” Roberts said. “They’re buying goods with stolen gift card numbers. They’re holding seats on airline tickets, so that they’re more expensive for real users who’re trying to get to it, or you can’t even get onto that plane, because a bot is holding that seat, trying to re-sell it somewhere else. They are performing all manner of tasks that are nefarious.”

Keeping Bots Off Your Phone

Phone and tablet users themselves are most often to blame for allowing bad bots to infect their devices.

Distil says malicious internet links or attachments in email, text messages, and on websites, open the door to malware. Once the trap is sprung, the bots are quietly installed and run in the background.

Aaron Cockerill, an executive with mobile device security provider Lookout, tells our sister station, NBC Bay Area, mobile phishing is the biggest unsolved problem in cyber-security.

“Phones are far more vulnerable to attack than most people realize,” Cockerill said. “The very fact we call them phones, and not computers, means you don’t think about it the same way as you do with a computer.”

Cockerill offers four steps to prevent malware, including mobile bots:

  1. Set a passcode to lock and unlock your phone. Cockerill says it’s shocking how many phone users don’t do this.
  2. Turn on auto-updates. Hackers exploit holes in apps and operating systems. Check your phone’s settings and user guide to learn how you can make sure everything is kept up-to-date.
  3. Only install apps from the official store. The Apple App Store, Google Play, and Amazon perform rigorous security checks on all software. If you download an app directly from a website, chances are it did not clear that process.
  4. Install security software. Lookout and other services offer real-time scans that warn you as soon as you click something shady.

“We jump in front and say, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t follow this link. We think it’s bad,’” Cockerill said.

Once your phone is infected, getting rid of bots can be nearly impossible -- if you can even detect them at all. Engineers told NBC Bay Area a full “factory reset” of the phone -- meaning the loss of all user data -- would likely be necessary.

Batting Bots for the Long Haul

Cockerill says the fight to keep bots off phones begins and ends with consumers, and understanding just how vulnerable our phones really are.

“We think it’s a phone,” Cockerill said. “We should think, it’s a computer that’s permanently connected, with a camera in your pocket, and a microphone in your pocket. I don’t want everyone to get scared; I love my phone, but you have to think seriously about it as a computer, and I need to maintain it as such.”

Ultimately, Roberts says fighting off the bad bots will take diligence by bot hunters.

“It is an arms race,” Roberts said. “We have to be vigilant in preparing our defenses, in order to stop whatever change they make in their attacks.”

<![CDATA[SpaceX Tests 'Kid-Sized Submarine' to Help in Thai Cave Rescue]]> Mon, 09 Jul 2018 14:00:42 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/218*120/7-9-2018-mini-sub-thailand-cave-rescue-musk-spacex.jpg

A mini-submarine designed to help rescuers bring members of a soccer team and their coach out of a flooded Thailand cave was tested over the weekend in a Southern California high school pool.

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted video of the tests at Palisades Charter High School.

The small escape pod was built and designed in about a day, then placed on a plane bound for Thailand, according to Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX. It was not immediately clear whether the sub will be deployed in the rescue.

On Monday, dive teams had already brought out eight of the 13 people trapped in the flooded cave.

Last week, Musk said he is sending engineers from two of his companies to Thailand to help with the complex rescue operation. Musk's Boring Co. digs tunnels for high-tech transport system, but also can provide ground-penetrating radar.

The miniature submarine can be maneuvered through confined spaces, like the narrow cave passage, and uses a component from Spacex's Falcon 9 rocket. 

A SpaceX spokesperson told NBC News that the project team is in touch with Thai government officials. 

"Got more great feedback from Thailand. Primary path is basically a tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull," Musk tweeted Saturday. "Light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps. Extremely robust."

With some modifications, the design also could be used for an escape pod in space, Musk added.

Four boys were rescued from the cave Monday, bringing the total number of rescues to eight. It was not immediately clear whether the remaining five people, including the team's coach, will be extracted in one or more operations.

Photo Credit: SpaceX
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<![CDATA[FB Flags Declaration of Independence Passage as Hate Speech]]> Thu, 05 Jul 2018 23:43:07 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/071518decofindependencestock.jpg

In anticipation of Fourth of July, a Texas-based publisher posted various passages from the Declaration of Independence on its Facebook page in an attempt to make it “a little easier to digest,” according to NBC News.

But Facebook’s algorithm detected the phrase “merciless Indian savages” and flagged the passage that features those words as hate speech. The passage was flagged at a time when Facebook is using a combination of humans and artificial intelligence to prevent hate speech from spreading across the social media network.

Facebook eventually apologized, and the publisher’s post was restored.

Photo Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images File
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<![CDATA[European Lawmakers Reject Online Copyright Law]]> Thu, 05 Jul 2018 13:18:42 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-758281457.jpg

Lawmakers in the European Parliament on Thursday rejected a new copyright proposal that digital rights campaigners said would have changed the free and open nature of the internet, NBC News reported.

Article 13 of the E.U. copyright directive would have held platforms like Google and Facebook responsible for enforcing copyright laws, requiring them to use content recognition technologies to filter out images, audio, code or footage that infringe on copyrights. For example, media that often fall on the margins of copyright law are memes, which invariably re-purpose images or clips to create running jokes online, and often fall on the margins of copyright law.

Jim Killock, the executive director of the London-based digital rights organization Open-Rights Group, said in a statement after the vote: "Round one of the Robo-Copyright wars is over. The E.U. Parliament has recognized that machine censorship of copyright material is not an easy and simple fix."

The legislation had support from musicians' groups hoping the legislation would give protection to and improve the rights of intellectual property holders of audio and video. Former Beatle Paul McCartney urged Parliament ahead of Thursday's vote to support the proposal, saying the legislation would "address the value gap and help assure a sustainable future for the music ecosystem and its creators."

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Blend Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Samsung Investigating Reports of Phones Quietly Sending Pics]]> Wed, 04 Jul 2018 10:16:26 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_18052695428929.jpg

Samsung says it is investigating reports that some of its smartphones messaged users' photos without their knowledge.

Several people posted online that photos stored on their smartphone were sent at random to numbers saved in their contacts, Gizmodo reported Monday.

One Reddit user said their Galaxy S9, a newer Samsung model, somehow sent the phone's entire photo gallery to their girlfriend in the middle of the night. But there was no record of it in the messaging app itself — the Redditor said they confirmed the mishap through logs from T-Mobile.

It’s unclear what caused the issue or how many people it may have affected. 

"Samsung has reviewed this matter thoroughly these past few days; however, there were no hardware or software issues found to be relevant to this particular case," a spokesperson told CNBC in an email. "While there have been no known similar customer reports globally, we will continue to investigate this issue further.

Photo Credit: Richard Drew/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Boeing Plans Hypersonic Plane to Cross Atlantic in 2 Hours]]> Thu, 28 Jun 2018 13:44:49 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/180626-boeing-hypersonic-dk-1331_4061d4979fa1c835a5ca4d76ed2f4c6f.fit-2000w.jpg

Boeing has revealed plans for a futuristic, sleek aircraft capable of flying five times the speed of sound, or about 3,800 miles per hour, NBC News reported

Flying that fast, the airliner could reach London from New York City in about two hours, instead of the eight hours it takes on a conventional plane. It would cruise at about 90,000 feet, where passengers could see the blackness of space and the curvature of the Earth, the company's chief hypersonics scientist said.

The new concept, unveiled at an aviation conference in Atlanta this week, would fly the transatlantic route more than twice as fast as the Concorde, a supersonic plane that had limited routes to protect people on the ground from hearing the loud sonic boom produced by the aircraft. Boeing’s new aircraft proposal would fix that by using new technology that mitigates sound.

It's not yet clear if passengers would be willing to pay the high prices that hypersonic air travel would require.

Photo Credit: Boeing]]>
<![CDATA[Tech Companies Working With ICE as Border Crisis Continues]]> Thu, 21 Jun 2018 06:43:21 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ICEGettyImages-688613960.jpg

Several high-profile data and technology companies have been profiting off of contracts with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for the last several months, NBC News reported

Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Thomson Reuters, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions and Palantir all have active contracts with ICE, according to a public records search. Their contracts show how many tech companies are putting their innovations to use with the U.S. government in ways that are not often visible to the public. 

Palantir, for example, has a $39 million contract with the agency that began in 2015. Thomson Reuters Special Services, a subsidiary of the mass-media firm and news agency Thomson Reuters, signed a $6.8 million contract with ICE in March. 

Palantir and Motorola Solutions did not respond to requests for comment. Hewlett Packard and Microsoft condemned the administration's family separation policy, while Thomson Reuters would not comment on it.  

Photo Credit: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post/Getty Images, File ]]>
<![CDATA[Pedestrian Lane for ‘Smartphone Zombies’ Opens Up in China ]]> Thu, 14 Jun 2018 14:40:34 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/180613-pedestrian-lane-mobile-phones-only-china-ac-553+edited.jpg

The sight of people walking slowly with their heads down all while glued to their smartphones has become commonplace — so much so that a lane has opened up in China designated for “smartphone zombies” or those who just can’t keep their eyes off their phones.

The managers of the Bairui Plaza shopping mall in the city of Xi’an within the northwest province of Shaanxi came up with an out-of-the-norm strategy to cater to cellphone-using pedestrians who can’t be bothered to take their eyes off of their devices, according to a recent New York Times report.

However, all is not what it seems.

Cao Hanjia, the mall’s spokesperson, said the shopping center is not advocating for people to look at their phones, according to the Times.

Messages painted along the path suggest that the intent is not solely to provide a designated lane for device-loving pedestrians, but rather to have them look up.

“Please don’t look down for the rest of your life” and “Path for the special use of the heads-down tribe” are messages seen on the pedestrian lane.

Although this path might be a tongue-in-cheek way of trying to dissuade pedestrians from using their phones, this is not the first time that special areas for pedestrian phone use have been designated.

Augsburg, Germany, implemented traffic light onto the surface of the street a couple of years ago to stop texting pedestrians from walking into traffic.

Rima Abdelkader contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: Tian ye/Imaginechina via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Picks Elon Musk Company to Dig Express Tunnel to O'Hare]]> Thu, 14 Jun 2018 14:31:08 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/oharetunnel.jpg

After two reports surfaced late Wednesday night, the city of Chicago confirmed that Mayor Rahm Emanuel will announced the selection of Elon Musk's Boring Company to build and operate an express service to O'Hare International Airport.

The company plans to transport passengers between O’Hare and Block 37 in the Loop in approximately 12 minutes each way by using electric vehicles that run through new twin underground tunnels, the city said. The project will be funded entirely by the company with no taxpayer subsidy, according to a press release from the city.

“Bringing Chicago’s economic engines closer together will keep the city on the cutting edge of progress, create thousands of good-paying jobs and strengthen our great city for future generations,” Emanuel said in an emailed statement. “This transformative project will help Chicago write the next chapter in our legacy of innovation and invention.”

The Boring Company said a map of the route would be posted later this summer on its website.

"Loop is a high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported on autonomous electric skates traveling at 125-150 miles per hour," Boring's website reads. "Electric skates will carry between 8 and 16 passengers, or a single passenger vehicle. "

Skates are built on a modified Tesla Model X chassis and feature a climate-controlled cabin, luggage storage space and Wi-Fi.

Fares for the express tunnel are not finalized but will be less than half the typical price of a taxi or ride-share services, but higher than the Blue line, Boring said.

The city said it will begin one-on-one contract negotiations with a final agreement will be presented to the City Council.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg and the Chicago Tribune.

Photo Credit: The Boring Company]]>
<![CDATA[Net Neutrality Repeal Takes Effect, But Fight Continues]]> Mon, 11 Jun 2018 12:23:51 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_18073783915779.jpg

As the repeal of Obama-era net neutrality regulations took effect Monday, advocates for an open internet continue to fight the changes, NBC News reported. They’ve introduced efforts to re-implement similar rules prohibiting internet service providers from throttling internet speeds at the state level and pass a resolution in Congress to undo the Federal Communications Commission’s decision.

The FCC voted on the repeal last December amid widespread controversy. Since then, at least 22 states have filed suit against the commission. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai continues to defend the new system.

“Our framework will protect consumers and promote better, faster Internet access and more competition,” Pai wrote in an op-ed published on CNET on Sunday

Net neutrality advocates argue that without an explicit ban, internet providers will quietly and slowly replace a level playing field with a web that favors big companies.

Photo Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Why One Judge's Decision Could Change the Fate of US Media]]> Sat, 09 Jun 2018 13:31:06 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-474782114.jpg

A senior judge at the U.S. District court for the District of Columbia, Richard Leon will decide on Tuesday whether to approve AT&T's $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, NBC News reported.

AT&T's argument for the merger is focused on the looming threat from tech companies that have used the internet to sidestep the traditional media distribution methods of movie studios and cable systems. Media companies are now trying to stockpile the most sought-after content and develop their own internet-based distribution in hopes of attracting enough subscribers to compete with globally established tech companies.

Jonathan Knee, a senior advisor at investment bank Evercore, said the growing power of tech companies has forced media companies to start teaming up out of fear that they'll be left behind.

If Leon sides with the Justice Department, which has challenged the deal by arguing it will be bad for consumers, media companies will have little choice but to take the decision as a signal that the government will block other major media mergers. Just as AT&T and Time Warner are trying to merge, both Disney and Comcast, owner of NBCUniversal, are pursuing 21st Century Fox. T-Mobile and Sprint are also looking to combine.

Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Bug Made Private Posts of 14 Million Users Public]]> Thu, 07 Jun 2018 17:13:03 -0400 https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Facebook-dev-conf.jpg

A software bug changed the privacy settings of about 14 million Facebook users without their knowledge, causing messages intended for friends or smaller groups to be shared widely with the general public, the company said Thursday.

The company said the bug, which was active from May 18 to May 27, has been fixed. Facebook said it will begin to notify affected users Thursday by posting a notification at the top of their news feeds, CNBC reported.

"We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts," chief privacy officer Erin Egan said in a statement. "We'd like to apologize for this mistake."

The issue resulted from Facebook's efforts to allow users to highlight items on their profiles, like photos. The featured items defaulted to public settings, which inadvertently made all posts by the user during the affected time period also default to public.

It's another misstep in Facebook's ongoing data privacy issues, spurred by revelations of a data leak that affecting as many as 87 million users.

Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP]]>