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Google Admits to Being a Copycat

August 28, 2015

In elementary school one of the biggest insults a child could throw a their fellow classmate was the slur “copycat.”  All children want to create original work, but when they feel their skills are subpar the work of another student their feel is superior.  Tossing in the old adage that “copying is the sincerest form of flattery” gives way to arguments about patents, theft, and even time outs for those involved.  The Techdirt podcast discussed copying in a recent episode and how big tech companies simply copy the ideas of their rivals and put their on name on it.  The biggest copycat they could find was Google: “The Failure of Google Plus Should Be A Reminder That Big Companies Very Rarely Successfully ‘Copy’ Startups.”

Techdirt points out the fallacy with big companies trying to steal the little startup’s idea:

“As we’ve discussed, in the rare cases when “copying” succeeds, it’s because the second company doesn’t really copy, but actually comes up with a better product, which is something we should celebrate. When they just copy, they tend to only be able to copy the superficial aspects of what they see, rather than all the underlying tacit thinking that makes a product good.”

The article discusses how Google finally admitted that Google Plus was a copy of Facebook, because they search mogul was fearful of losing profit, users, and Web traffic.  The biggest problem that Google Plus had was that it was “forced” on people, like the Star Trek Borg assimilating unsuspecting planets.  Okay, maybe that is a bit of a drastic comparison, but startups are still fearful of their ideas being assimilated by the bigger companies.  This is when the patent topic comes in and whether or not to register for one.

There is good news for startups: “if a startup is doing something really amazing and innovative that people actually want, you can almost always guarantee that (1) the big companies will totally miss the boat for way too long and (2) once they finally wake up, be clumsy and ridiculous in their attempts to copy.”

Also Techdirt sums everything up in an eloquent paragraph that explains the logic in this argument:

“People think it’s easy to copy because copying seems like it should be easy. But it’s not. You can only copy the parts you can see, which leaves out an awful lot of understanding and tacit knowledge hidden beneath the surface. It also leaves out all the knowledge of what doesn’t work that the originator has. And, finally, it ignores the competing interests within a larger business that make it much harder for those companies to innovate.”

In other words, do not worry about Borg assimilation if your startup has a good idea, but do be on the defensive and arm yourself with good weapons.

Whitney Grace, August 28, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Facebook and the Young at Heart Spells Trouble for Alphabet

August 26, 2015

Poor old Google. Imagine. Hassles with Google Now. Grousing from the no fun crowd in the European Commission. A new contact lens business. Exciting stuff.

Then the Googlers read “Facebook’s New Moments App Now Automatically Creates Music Videos From Your Photos.” The idea is that one or two of the half billion Facebookers who check their status multiple times a day can make a movie video automatically.

Sounds good.

But instead of doing the professional video production thing, the video is created from the one’s shared photos.

I wonder how many of the young at heart will whip up and suck down videos of [a] children, [b] pets, [c] vacations, [d] tattoos (well, maybe not too many tattoos).

The idea is

With the update, Facebook Moments will automatically create a music video for any grouping of six or more photos. You can then tap this video in the app to customize it further by changing the included photos and selecting from about a dozen different background music options. When you’re finished making your optional edits to this video, one more tap will share the video directly to Facebook and tag the friend or friends with whom you’re already sharing those photos. The option to automatically create a video from your shared photos also makes Facebook Moments competitive with similar services like Flipagram, or those automatically created animations that Google Photos provides through its “Assistant” feature, which also helpfully builds out stories and collages.

Google may apply its Thought Vector research to the problem. The question is will Alphabet be able to spell success from its social services. Why would a grandmother care about a music video of a grandchild when there were Thought Vectors, Loon balloons, and eternal life to ponder?

Stephen E Arnold, August 26, 2015

Facebook and News: Should Google Worry?

August 20, 2015

I read “Facebook Has Taken Over from Google As a Traffic Source for news.” In my experience, data about online traffic can be a slippery fish. What’s a unique? Is a visitor a human or a software script? Did the log file overwrite itself? Did the administrator dutifully make copies of log files just in the off chance that one of those FAA super redundant computers finds a way to crash?

Now to the write up. Here’s the passage I highlighted:

according to new numbers from the traffic-analytics service, Facebook is no longer just vying with Google but has overtaken it by a significant amount.’s chief technical officer Andrew Montalenti said in an interview with Fortune that the company’s latest estimates show that social-media sources (of which Facebook is by far the largest) accounted for about 43% of the traffic to the network of media sites, while Google accounted for just 38%.

Let’s assume that these data points are accurate?

Google’s revenue is the golden goose which continues to lay eggs like Loon balloons, self driving cars, and solving death. If Facebook continues to siphon traffic and, therefore, revenue from Google, excitement will ensue.

Stephen E Arnold, August 20, 2015

Facebook Number One Security Compromiser         

August 18, 2015

While Facebook is a good way for a company to engage with clients and even “humanize” the business, according to Zerofox’s article, “Cisco: Facebook Scams Are Attackers’ #1 Choice For Breaches” Facebook is the number way for a criminal to learn about organization and hack into its system.  Cisco conducted a 2015 Midyear Security Report that researches how cyber criminals are exploiting social media to their own advantage.

The article describes potential targets as easy and click-happy:

Facebook’s 1.49 billion monthly active users make it the world’s largest nation-state, used by 70% of American each day. It is, for better or worse, a nation without borders. Adversaries exploit the social media giant for its sheer size and trusted nature, making it the medium of choice for both inexperienced and sophisticated network hackers alike. For the adversary, the barriers to entry have never been lower, and the targets have never been more trusting and click-happy.”

Other security organizations confirm the findings and some of it comes from people simply being too trusting such as accepting friend requests from unfamiliar people.  McAfee discovered that employees became cybercrime victims on social media over other business applications.

While Facebook might be the number one platform to attract criminals.  Twitter is used to attack government organizations and other popular platforms are also dealing with loads of fake profiles.  It does not come as a surprise, considering Facebook is now the “Walt-Mart” of social media information.  What types of scams are people falling victim too?  Is it just stolen passwords and information or are they giving their personal information away?

Whitney Grace, August 18, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

A Call for More Friendly Enterprise Search Results

August 10, 2015

An idea from ClearBox Consulting would bring enterprise search results in line with today’s online searches. The company’s blog asserts, “Enterprise Search? We Need Some Answers on a Card.” Writer  Sam Marshall likes the way Google now succinctly presents key information about a user’s query in a “card” at the top of the results page, ahead of the old-school list of relevant links. For example, he writes:

“Imagine you want to know the time of the next train between two cities. When you type this into Google, the first hit isn’t a link to a site but a card like the one below. It not only gives the times but also useful additional information: a map, trip duration, and tabs for walking, driving, and cycling. Enterprise search isn’t like this. The same query on an intranet gives the equivalent of a link to a PDF containing the timetable for the whole region. It’s like saying ‘here’s the book, look it up yourself’. This is not only a poor user experience for the employee, but a direct cost to the employer in wasted time. I’d like to see enterprise search move away from results pages of links to providing pages of answers too, and cards are a powerful way of doing this.”

Marshall emphasizes some advantage of the card approach: the most important information is right there, separated from related but irrelevant data; cards work better on mobile devices; and cards are user-friendly. Besides, he notes, since this format is now popular with sites from Facebook to Twitter, users are becoming familiar with them.

The card concept could be enhanced, Marshall continues, by personalizing results to the individual—tapping into employee profiles or even GPS data. For more information, see the article; it utilizes a hypothetical  query about paternity leave to well-illustrate its point. Though enterprise search is not exactly known for living on the cutting edge of technology, developers would be foolish not to incorporate this (or a similar) efficient format.

Cynthia Murrell, August 10, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Social Media Litigation Is on the Rise

August 6, 2015

When you think about social media and litigation, it might seem it would only come up during a civil, domestic, criminal mischief, or even a thievery suit.  Businesses, however, rely on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to advertise their services, connect with their clients, and increase their Web presence.  It turns out that social media is also playing a bigger role not only for social cases, but for business ones as well.  The X1 eDiscovery Law and Tech Blog posted about the “Gibson Dunn Report: Number of Cases Involving Social Media Evidence ‘Skyrocket’” and how social media litigation has increased in the first half of 2015.

The biggest issue the post discusses is the authenticity of the social media evidence.  A person printing out a social media page or summarizing the content for court does not qualify as sufficient evidence.  The big question right now is how to guarantee that social media passes an authenticity test and can withstand the court proceedings.

This is where eDiscovery software comes into play:

“These cases cited by Gibson Dunn illustrate why best practices software is needed to properly collect and preserve social media evidence. Ideally, a proponent of the evidence can rely on uncontroverted direct testimony from the creator of the web page in question. In many cases, such as in the Vayner case where incriminating social media evidence is at issue, that option is not available. In such situations, the testimony of the examiner who preserved the social media or other Internet evidence “in combination with circumstantial indicia of authenticity (such as the dates and web addresses), would support a finding” that the website documents are what the proponent asserts.”

The post then goes into a spiel about how the X1 Social Discovery software can make social media display all the “circumstantial indicia” or “additional confirming circumstances,” for solid evidence in court.  What authenticates social media is the metadata and a MD5 checksum aka “hash value.” What really makes the information sink in is that Facebook apparently has every twenty unique metadata fields, which require eDiscovery software to determine authorship and the like.  It is key to know that everything leaves a data trail on the Internet, but the average Google search is not going to dig it up.

Whitney Grace, August 6, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Facebook Wants You To Double Think About Using YouTube

August 4, 2015

Facebook does not like YouTube.  Facebook wants to encourage users to upload their videos to its network, rather than posting them on YouTubeThe Next Web shares how Facebook is trying to become major YouTube competition in “Facebook Throws Shade At YouTube When You  Try To Paste A Link.”  How is Facebook doing this?  First, when a user tries to post a YouTube link, Facebook encourages users to upload to Facebook instead.  Most users do not want to upload to Facebook, because it does not offer the same posting options as YouTube or does it?

Facebook has apparently upgraded how users can share their videos, including new features such as adding categories, sharing as an unlisted video, and disabling embedding.  One drawback is that this could increase the amount of stolen videos.  Some users might upload a stolen video, claim it as theirs, and reap the benefits.  Facebook, however, does have user Audible Magic to catch a stolen copyrighted video.  A direct quote from a Facebook representative said:

“ ‘For years we’ve used the Audible Magic system to help prevent unauthorized video content. We also have reporting tools in place to allow content owners to report potential copyright infringement, and upon receiving a valid notice we remove unauthorized content. We also suspend accounts of people with repeated IP violations when appropriate.’”

Thievery of original content is an important factor Facebook needs to work on if it wishes to rival YouTube.  Popular YouTube celebrities and channels work hard to create original content and YouTube is a proven, marketable network.  Facebook needs to offer competitive or better options to attract the big names, but for the average Facebook user uploading a video directly to Facebook is a desirable option.

Whitney Grace, August 4, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Instagram’s Search Feature Is A Vast Improvement

July 27, 2015

Instagram apparently knows more about your life than you or your friends.  The new search overhaul comes with new features that reveal more information than you ever expected to get from Instagram. VentureBeat reviews the new search feature and explains how it works: “Hands-On: Instagram’s New Search And Explore Features Are A Massive Improvement.”

Many of the features are self-explanatory, but have improved interactivity and increased the amount of eye candy.

  • Users can Explore Posts, which are random photos from all over Instagram and they can be viewed as a list or thumbnails.
  • The Discover People feature suggests possible people for users to follow. According the article, it dives deep into your personal social network and suggests people you never thought Instagram knew about.
  • Curated Collections offer content based off pre-selected categories that pull photos from users’ uploads.

Trending tags is another new feature:

“Trending Tags is Instagram’s attempt at gauging the platform’s pulse. If you’ve ever wondered what most people on Instagram are posting about, trending tags has the answer. These seemed very random and oddly insightful.”

Instagram is quickly becoming a more popular social media platform than Facebook and Twitter for some people.  Its new search feature makes it more appealing to users and increases information discovery.  Be sure that you will be spending hours on it.

Whitney Grace, July 27, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Scribd Obtains Social Reading

July 22, 2015

Access to books and other literary material has reached an unprecedented high.  People can download and read millions of books with a few simple clicks.  Handheld ebook readers are curtailing the sales of printed book, but they also are increasing sales of digital books.  One of the good things about ebooks is bibliophiles do not have to drive to a bookstore or get waitlisted on the library.  Writers also can directly sell their material to readers and potentially by pass having to pay agents and publishers.

It occurred to someone that bibliophiles would love to have instant access to a huge library of books, similar to how Netflix offers its customers an unending video library.  There is one and it is called Scribed.  Scribd is described as the Netflix of books, because for a simple $8.99 bibliophiles can read and download as many books as they wish.

The digital landscape is still being tested by book platforms and Scribd has increased its offerings.  VentureBeat reports Scribd’s newest business move in: “Scribd Buys Social Reading App Librify.” Librify is a social media reading app, offering users the opportunity to connect with friends and sharing their reading experiences.  It is advertised as a great app for book clubs.

“In a sparse press release, Scribd argues Librify’s “focus on the social reading experience” made the deal worthwhile. The news arrives at a heated time for the publishing industry, as Amazon, Oyster, and others all fight to be the definitive Netflix for books — all while hawking remarkably similar products.”

Netflix has its own rivals: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vimeo, and YouTube, but it offers something different by creating new and original shows.  Scribd might be following a similar business move, by offering an original service its rivals do not have.  Will it also offer Scribd only books?

Whitney Grace, July 22, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Facebook Strokes Brain’s Pleasure Center

July 21, 2015

Why do people like using Facebook?  It is a question that researchers have asked since Facebook premiered in 2004.  It was assumed to be a passing fad like prior social networks, including Myspace and Live Journal, but over a decade later Facebook is still going strong without a sign of stopping. decided to answer the question using an informative infographic and many research studies, check out “Why Do People Like, Share, And Comment On Facebook?”

Apparently Facebook taps the pleasure center of the brain, because when users actively share or “like” content they feel like they are directly engaging with a community.  The infographic also explains that posting status updates relieves loneliness and increases a user’s virtual empathy.  While “likes” are a quick form of communication, comments still seem to be the favorite way to interact on the social network:

“Moira Burke, who is studying 1,200 Facebook users in an ongoing experiment, has found that personal messages are more satisfying to receivers than the one-click communication of likes.”

Direct, more personal types of communication are still preferred by users.  Facebook also is appealing, because users feel like they are getting something in return as well.  They get discounts or coupons for their favorite brands, participate in contests, receive updates, and get individualized advertisements.

There are several other studies highlighting in the infographic, but the bottom line is that people are gaining a high level of personal interactivity that they can share with their friends and family.  Facebook is an integral part of the Internet, because it connects users organically and appeals to a deep, psychological need to interact with other humans.

Whitney Grace, July 21, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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