Firefox partners with Yahoo, drops Google
A decade-long partnership between Google and Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, is nearing an end as the two have broken up in the U.S. Tech giant Yahoo outbid Google for the rights to be the default search engine on Firefox, though some wonder whether Google favors a move away from a browser that has failed to find success in mobile.
Yahoo accounts for about 10% of searches in the U.S. compared to Microsoft Bing’s 19% and Google’s 67%, according to comScore. The move is undoubtedly an important one for Yahoo, whose status as a major online search engine had been coming into question. Yahoo CEO Marisa Mayer declared the five-year deal “the most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years,” as she and the company doubled down on internet search.
But the new partnership won’t solve all problems – Firefox only accounts for about 10% of browsers on desktop computers, mobiles and tablets compared to 33% for Google’s own browser, Google Chrome, launched in 2008, according to StatCounter.
Still, Firefox users will now immediately receive Yahoo search results. Yahoo is planning to introduce an “enhanced search experience” by December, with a new “clean, modern, and immersive design.” The deal between Firefox and Yahoo does not limit Mozilla’s partnership opportunities overseas – as such, it will partner with Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia.
“Our new search strategy doubles down on our commitment to make Firefox a browser for everyone, with more choice and opportunity for innovation,” said Mozilla CEO Chris Beard, according to the BBC.
Twitter’s advanced search
“Today, we are pleased to announce that Twitter now indexes every public Tweet since 2006,” said Yi Zhuang, a Twitter engineer, on the company’s engineering blog on Tuesday.
Long in the making, Twitter’s anticipated search tool improvement is now ready. Users can now access half a trillion tweets and the search function has been streamlined in a variety of ways to make publicly posted information on Twitter more findable. For example, instead of a search limited to recent history or a recent hashtag, a user can now look back through a specific time period, search for specific words, or even a specific user for information.
But the news is more likely to instill fear than excitement. It means that a user can search back through their entire history of public tweets dating back to Twitter’s origin in 2006 – and that of any other user on the platform. Any embarrassing or controversial tweet that may have been gladly waved away by its user into the distant past can now resurface with the click of a button.
While the new feature could drive some people from the platform, with some extra effort there are still ways to protect privacy. Twitter provides a downloadable archive of tweets, allowing users to easily siphon through and delete any incriminating posts. More drastically, tweets can be mass deleted. Third party web and mobile applications like Tweeticide, Tweet Deleter, and Tweet Eraser function to delete tweets within a certain time period after they are posted – however, not all of these external apps are trustworthy.
Privacy concerns have been a hot topic in the social media sphere lately, with new platforms like Ello making a push at reigning incumbents like Facebook behind promises of advanced privacy and user data protection. But Twitter doesn’t seem worried about the potential privacy implications of its new search tool.
“Our search engine excelled at surfacing breaking news and events in real time, and our search index infrastructure reflected this strong emphasis on recency,” Zhuang said in the blog post. “But our long-standing goal has been to let people search through every Tweet ever published.”
And now, that’s exactly what they can do.
Russian website exposes private live feeds
Internet watchdogs recently uncovered a Russian site that streams thousands of live feeds from hacked webcams and baby monitors across the globe. There are 584 feeds from the UK alone, displaying images of personal living rooms, bedrooms, business facilities, and other private spaces.
Spookily, most owners will have no idea that their privacy has been shamelessly breached. The name and URL of the site have not been released by the media, but luckily the site is not more than a month old.
In this case, it seems that consumer carelessness allowed the breach. Affected cameras are most likely those still equipped with default or weak passwords, and the problem can be solved with a simple resetting of the password.
UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has said he will take the necessary steps to shut down the site – however, the UK’s jurisdiction does not extend to eastern Europe and he warned camera owners to take control of their own security: “I will do what I can but don’t wait for me to have sorted this out,” he said. “The action is in your own hands if you have one of these pieces of kit.”
Some compromised cameras (CCTV, home security, baby monitors) include those made by Panasonic, Foscam, Linksys, and others, according to the Guardian.
It is a daunting to think that your every move, or your family’s every move, could be broadcast on the internet for the world to see. Camera owners, reset those passwords or get rid of remotely accessed live feeds when they are not absolutely necessary.
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