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Once Valued at $125B, Yahoo's Web Assets To Be Sold To Verizon For $4.83B, Companies Confirm 181

The reports were spot on. Verizon Communications on Monday announced that it plans to purchase Yahoo's Web assets for a sum of $4.83 billion in cash. The multi-billion dollars deal will get Verizon Yahoo's core internet business and some real estate. The announcement also marks a remarkable fall for the Silicon Valley web pioneer, which once had a market capitalization of more than $125 billion. For Verizon, the deal adds another piece to the mammoth digital media and advertising empire it owns. The deal is expected to close early 2017. CNBC reports: The transaction is seen boosting Verizon's AOL internet business, which the company acquired last year for $4.4 billion, by giving it access to Yahoo's advertising technology tools, as well as other assets such as search, mail, messenger and real estate. It also marks the end of Yahoo as an operating company, leaving it only as the owner of a 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, as well as its 15 percent interest in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. In December, Yahoo scrapped plans to spin off its Alibaba stake after investors worried about whether that transaction could have been carried out on a tax-free basis. It instead decided to explore a sale of its core assets, spurred on by activist hedge fund Starboard Value. Forbes has called it one of the "saddest $5B deals in tech history."Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was expected to leave -- or get fired -- said she intends to stay. "For me personally, I'm planning to stay," Mayer said in a note on Yahoo's Tumblr page. "I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It's important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter."

Google Tests Ads That Load Faster and Use Less Power ( 117

Slashdot reader Big Hairy Ian quotes a report from the BBC: Google says it has found a way to make ads load faster on web pages viewed on smartphones and tablets. The company said the ads would also be less taxing on the handsets' processors, meaning their batteries should last longer. The technique is based on work it has already done to make news publishers' articles load more quickly. But it is still in development, and one expert said Google still had questions to answer. The California-based company's online advertising revenue totalled $67.4 billion last year...
The technique limits the scope of JavaScript, and "provides its own activity measurement tools, which are said to be much more efficient," according to article. A Google software engineer explains that this technique "only animates things that are visible on the screen," and throttles animation to fewer frames per second for weaker devices -- or disables the animations altogether. "This ensures that every device gets the best experience it can deliver and makes sure that ads cannot have a negative impact on important aspects of the user experience such as scrolling."

How Apple and Facebook Helped To Take Down KickassTorrents ( 105

Reader itwbennett writes (edited): Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of the torrent directory service KickassTorrents, was arrested in Poland earlier this week, charged with copyright infringement and money laundering. As we dig deeper as to what exactly happened, it turns out Apple and Facebook were among the companies that handed over data to the U.S. in its investigation. Department of Homeland Security investigators traced IP addresses associated with KickassTorrents domains to a Canadian ISP, which turned over server data, including emails. At some point, investigators noticed that Vaulin had an Apple email account that was used to make iTunes purchases from two IP addresses -- both of which also accessed a Facebook account promoting KickassTorrents.if you're wondering where exactly iTunes came into play, here's a further explanation. It all started in November 2015, when an undercover IRS Special Agent reached out to a KickassTorrents representative about hosting an advertisement on the site. An agreement was made and the ad, which purportedly advertised a program to study in the United States, was to be placed on individual torrent listings for $300 per day. When it finally went live on March 14th 2016, a link appeared underneath the torrent download buttons for five days. Sure it was a short campaign, but it was enough to link KAT to a Latvian bank account, one that received $31 million in deposits -- mainly from advertising payments -- between August 2015 and March 2016. Upon further investigation of the email accounts, and corresponding reverse lookups, it was found that the account holder had made a purchase on iTunes.

Spotify Is Now Selling Your Information To Advertisers ( 107

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Engadget: Spotify is now opening its data to targeted advertising. "Everything from your age and gender, to the music genres you like to listen to will be available to various third-party companies," reports Engadget. "Spotify is calling it programmatic ad buying (Warning: source may be paywalled) and has already enabled it." The nearly 70 million people that currently use Spotify's free, ad-supported streaming service across 59 countries will be affected. The ads will be audio-based and stretch between 15-30 seconds in length. The advertisers who buy ad spots will be able to look for specific users by viewing their song picks to find the best matches for the products they're selling. Two weeks ago, China has released its first ever set of digital ad regulations that seems to all but ban ad blocking.

China Bans Ad Blocking ( 111

An anonymous reader writes: Two weeks ago, China released its first ever set of digital ad regulations that impacted Chinese market leaders like Baidu and Alibaba. "But hidden among (the new regulations) is language that would seem to all but ban ad blocking," wrote Adblock Plus (ABP) operations manager Ben Williams in a blog post Wednesday. The new regulations prohibit "the use of network access, network devices, applications, and the disruption of normal advertising data, tampering with or blocking others doing advertising business (or) unauthorized loading the ad." There is also a clause included that addresses tech companies that "intercept, filter, cover, fast-forward and [impose] other restrictions" on online ad campaigns. ABP general counsel Kai Recke said in an email to AdExchanger that the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has much more control over the market than its otherwise equal U.S. counterpart, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). "After all it looks like the Chinese government tries to get advertising more under their control and that includes that they want to be the only ones to be allowed to remove or alter ads," said Recke. "Ad-block users are a distinct audience and they require a distinct strategy and ways to engage them," said ABP CEO Till Faida at AdExchanger's Clean Ads I/O earlier this year. "They have different standards they've expressed for accessing them, and advertising has to reflect that."

Google Hit By New Round Of Antitrust Charges In Europe ( 39

The European commission has filed a third antitrust charge against Google -- this time it is against the Mountain View-based company's AdSense advertising business. The EU regulator is accusing Google of abusing its dominance in search to benefit its own advertising business, one of company's main revenue stream. A Bloomberg article explains the whole situation: While this is an escalation for the advertising probe, the statement of objections focused on comparison shopping bolsters a case the European Commission first laid out in an antitrust complaint in April 2015. Both of these investigations are in addition to an ongoing antitrust case against Alphabet Inc. for the alleged market-dominance of its Android mobile operating system that the EU filed in April. The antitrust issues are just one strand of a net of regulatory problems entangling the company in Europe. It is facing a separate inquiry into its use of copyrighted content from European publishers and complaints about its compliance with European "right to be forgotten" rules. A bevy of individual European governments are also investigating the company for alleged underpayment of tax. In response to the latest EU antitrust complaints, Google said that its products "increased choice for European consumers and promote competition," and that will provide a detailed response to the European Commission's claims in the coming weeks. In the past, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt has said European officials should spend more time trying to promote Europe's own tech sector and less time trying to punish successful American companies.
Social Networks

Tech Job Postings Are Down 40% On Popular Job Boards ( 142

Tech job postings are down 40% year-on-year, says Cameron Moll, founder of job board Authentic Jobs. He says that job volume for April 2016 was nearly half the volume of April 2015, and currently, annual job posting volume is 63% on the platform compared to 2015, and 59% compared to 2014. But wait, there is always a chance that it is only his website that is getting less popular, right? Mr. Moll adds that it's not just his job board, but several of the competitors' as well. From a blog post: On one hand, we're cautious to assume that fewer jobs posted = fewer jobs available. We recognize companies have many avenues for advertising available jobs -- social media, recruiters, employee word-of-mouth, company websites, etc. Companies may choose at any time to broadcast jobs through these channels instead of a job board. So, for all intents and purposes, it's feasible the same number of jobs are available this year compared to previous years, just not on job boards. On the other hand, our volume trends have been very consistent the past four years. However, these trends are suddenly meaningless in 2016. It's anyone's guess what our volume will be each month regardless of what the historical data says.

Privacy Shield Data Pact Gets European Approval ( 19

A commercial data transfer pact provisionally agreed by the EU executive and the United States in February received the green light from EU governments on Friday, the European Commission said, paving the way for it to come into effect next week. This will end months of legal limbo for companies such as Facebook, Google, and MasterCard after the EU's top court struck down the previous data transfer framework, Safe Harbour, on concerns about intrusive U.S surveillance. BBC reports: Member states of the European Commission have given "strong support" to the Privacy Shield said the EC's Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova in a statement. Ms Jourova said the approval paved the way for the formal adoption of the agreement early next week. "The EU-US Privacy Shield will ensure a high level of protection for individuals and legal certainty for business," said Commissioner Jourova. "It is fundamentally different from the old Safe Harbour." The adoption of the Privacy Shield ends months of uncertainty for many tech companies such as Google and Facebook after the European court found the Safe Harbour agreement wanting. The agreement covers everything from personal information about employees to the detailed records of what people do online, which is often used to aid targeted advertising. The Safe Harbour pact let US companies skirt tough European rules that govern how this data can be treated, by letting them generate their own reports about the steps they took to stop it being misused.Ars Technica's report further explains the matter.

A Chinese Ad Firm Is Using Malware to Get More Clicks ( 26

An anonymous reader shares a Motherboard report: Advertising agencies go to great lengths to spread their clients' messages. Now, researchers have uncovered a new approach: malware. This month, cybersecurity company Check Point reports that a Chinese group called Yingmob has distributed mobile device malware on a massive scale, apparently alongside a legitimate advertising analytics business. Listed as based in Beijing's Chaoyang District, Yingmob, a subsidiary of MIG Unmobi Technology Inc., markets itself like any other advertising firm. Its professional-looking website claims its easy-to-deploy ads support text, pictures, and video, and don't affect the user experience. It offers pop-up, sidebar, and in-app adverts. But Check Point's report claims that part of the company -- the "Development Team for Overseas Platform," which employs a staff of 25 people -- is responsible for malware it has dubbed HummingBad. This malware allows the injection of adverts into victims' devices. Whenever someone clicks on one of these adverts, Yingmob gets paid, just like a typical advertising campaign. The first infection method Check Point came across was a "drive-by-download," whereby Yingmob's malware targets a victim when they visit a malicious website, then proceeds to download malicious apps onto their device. In its analysis, Check Point writes that nearly 10 million people are using malicious Android apps made by Yingmob.

Google's My Activity Reveals How Much It Knows About You ( 114

An anonymous reader writes: Google has released a new section to Google's account settings, called My Activity, which lets users review everything that Google has tracked about their online behavior -- search, YouTube, Chrome, Android, and every other Google service. Best of all, users can edit or delete their tracked behaviors. In addition, the My Activity tools come with new ad preferences. Google is now offering to use its behavioral information to tailer ads shown across the wider non-Google internet and Google's search pages, which until now was purely done through the use of cookies. The difference between Google and other companies that offer ads like Facebook is that Google is making this interest-based advertising extension optional, or opt-in, not opt-out. There are two separate behavioral advertising settings for users to switch on or off: signed in ads and signed out ads. Signed in ads are those on Google services, and signed out ads are those served by Google on third-party sites. However, if you're conscious about your privacy, you'll probably want to stay opted out.

HTML5 Ads Aren't That Safe Compared To Flash, Experts Say ( 108

An anonymous reader writes: [Softpedia reports:] "A study from GeoEdge (PDF), an ad scanning vendor, reveals that Flash has been wrongly accused as the root cause of today's malvertising campaigns, but in reality, switching to HTML5 ads won't safeguard users from attacks because the vulnerabilities are in the ad platforms and advertising standards themselves. The company argues that for video ads, the primary root of malvertising is the VAST and VPAID advertising standards. VAST and VPAID are the rules of the game when it comes to online video advertising, defining the road an ad needs to take from the ad's creator to the user's browser. Even if the ad is Flash or HTML5, there are critical points in this ad delivery path where ad creators can alter the ad via JavaScript injections. These same critical points are also there so advertisers or ad networks can feed JavaScript code that fingerprints and tracks users." The real culprit is the ability to send JavaScript code at runtime, and not if the ad is a Flash object, an image or a block of HTML(5) code.

Battle of the Secure Messaging Apps: Signal Triumphs Over WhatsApp, Allo ( 171

There is no shortage of messaging apps out there, so which one should you be using? If you care about your privacy, you would want your messaging client to be end-to-end encrypted. This narrows down the list to WhatsApp, Signal, and Allo. The Intercept has evaluated the apps to find which among the three is the best from the privacy standpoint. The publication says that while all the three aforementioned apps use the same secure messaging protocol (Open Whisper System's), they differ on exactly what information is encrypted, what metadata is collected, and what, precisely, is stored in the cloud.
WhatsApp:It's important to keep in mind that, even with the Signal protocol in place, WhatsApp's servers can still see messages that users send through the service. They can't see what's inside the messages, but they can see who is sending a message to whom and when.In addition, WhatsApp also retains your contact list -- provided you have shared it with the service. If government requests access to this data, WhatsApp could hand it over.
Allo:The first thing to understand about Google's forthcoming Allo app is that, by default, Google will be able to read all of your Allo messages. If you want end-to-end encryption via the Signal protocol, you need to switch to an "incognito mode" within the app, which will be secure but include fewer features. [...] Allo's machine learning features prevent Google from turning on end-to-end encryption for all messages, since Google needs to be able to ingest the content of messages for the machine learning to work, a Google spokesperson confirmed. Signal:The first thing that sets Signal apart from WhatsApp and Allo is that it is open source. The app's code is freely available for experts to inspect for flaws or back doors in its security. Another thing that makes Signal unique is its business model: There is none. In stark contrast to Facebook and Google, which make their money selling ads, Open Whisper Systems is entirely supported by grants and donations. With no advertising to target, the company intentionally stores as little user data as possible. Signal's privacy policy is short and concise. Unlike WhatsApp, Signal doesn't store any message metadata. [...] If you back up your phone to your Google or iCloud account, Signal doesn't include any of your messages in this backup.But what about Telegram, you ask? A Gizmodo report, also published on Wednesday, says that Telegram's default settings store your message on its unencrypted servers. "This is pretty much one of the worst things you could imagine when trying to send secure messages."

Advertiser That Tracked Around 100M Phone Users Without Consent Pays $950,000 ( 31

Mobile advertising firm InMobi will be paying a fine of $950,000 and revamp its services to resolve federal regulators' claims that it deceptively tracked locations of hundreds of millions of people, including children. Ars Technica reports:The US Federal Trade Commission alleged in a complaint filed Wednesday that Singapore-based InMobi undermined phone users' ability to make informed decisions about the collection of their location information. While InMobi claimed that its software collected geographical whereabouts only when end users provided opt-in consent, the software in fact used nearby Wi-Fi signals to infer locations when permission wasn't given, FTC officials alleged. InMobi then archived the location information and used it to push targeted advertisements to individual phone users. Specifically, the FTC alleged, InMobi collected nearby basic service set identification addresses, which act as unique serial numbers for wireless access points. The company, which thousands of Android and iOS app makers use to deliver ads to end users, then fed each BSSID into a "geocorder" database to infer the phone user's latitude and longitude, even when an end user hadn't provided permission for location to be tracked through the phone's dedicated location feature.
Social Networks

Tumblr Is Launching Live Video This Week ( 21

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Tumblr plans to compete in the fast-crowding live video space, according to a promotional webpage unearthed by Twitter user David Chartier over this past weekend. The page,, features a programming schedule and a launch date of June 21st, though the date may not be set in stone. TechCrunch confirmed today the images are indeed Tumblr advertising material for the new platform. It's unclear how the company's live video ambitions will shape up, and whether it will resemble anything like Facebook Live, Twitter's Periscope, or Amazon-owned Twitch. In April, Facebook rolled out a major live video update allowing anyone to post live streams of themselves to their timeline.
Social Networks

Now Advertisers Are Watching Your Emojis On Twitter ( 49

Tweet a pizza emoji, and expect to see promoted tweets from Domino's and Pizza Hut on your feed. Twitter has announced that it would now let advertisers target users based on the emojis they post on the microblogging platform. Gizmodo reports: The social network, which hasn't made a profit despite a decade of trying, is trying to compete in a world where everyone is thirsty for those big advertising dollars. Just this week, Facebook said it would start using location services to track which stores you go into, something Google has been doing for years. Snapchat's thinking the same thing with new features that allow full-screen video ads between friends' stories.
Social Networks

Facebook Will Track What Physical Stores You Go Into ( 306

Facebook will soon roll out a feature that will allow advertisers to see which brick and mortar stores you've physically walked into. These details are collected from anyone who has the location services feature turned on, Facebook says. The will allow advertisers to see in real time which Facebook ads are turning into actual sales. Popular Science reports: Using the location services on your phone, Facebook will keep a tally of who goes to what stores, and show the anonymized numbers to advertisers, as evidence that buying ads on Facebook is getting people to visit brick-and-mortar businesses. It's a great thing for Facebook, which will now have excellent data to prove (or disprove) on a user-to-user basis what a store is getting for its advertising dollar. But it's a pretty frightening idea that a company will have information not unlike your credit card statement all from location services data.

Yahoo Bidders Can't Even Agree On What They're Buying ( 46

It's been a while since Yahoo has been up for sale, but the interested companies are still struggling to figure out what parts of Yahoo are worth purchasing. "Being for sale is what Yahoo does for a living now," Kara Swisher reports. "This is a pretty basic deal with everyone trying to figure out the risk and reward here of taking over a clearly failing business," said one bidder quoted in the report. "Everyone has different criteria for what matters." Yahoo essentially has three things to offer, which come with their own set of problems. From the report: (1) Its core business that includes search, advertising and media assets, all of which are in decline and getting worse.
(2) Its patent portfolio that the company thinks is worth as much as $3 billion, but others peg at $1 billion.
(3) Its real estate, which the company is pegging at about $1 billion, while others put it at a much lower value.
It's also being reported that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will have to leave the company, regardless of whether it gets acquired or not. Some of the potential buyers include Verizon, which according to the report, isn't interested in getting Yahoo's patents. It is offering $3B to $3.5B all-cash. Several private equity firms, who are interested in getting hold of Yahoo-owned patents and real estate, are offering Yahoo a sum of $5 billion or more. "This deal is not one in which everyone's really enthusiastic, since there is a giant question of how quickly the business is deteriorating," said another bidder. "If you win, you might lose and vice versa."
Wireless Networking

Bluetooth 5 With 2x More Range and 4x Better Speed Coming Next Week ( 94

Bluetooth is about to get more powerful. Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group noted in a newsletter that Bluetooth 5 will debut on June 16. The new incarnation of wireless standard offers "double the range and quadruple the speed of low energy Bluetooth transmissions." From an Ars Technica report: It also adds "significantly more capacity to advertising transmissions," which is more exciting than it sounds because it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what you normally think of when you think of "advertising." In the Bluetooth spec, an "advertising packet" allows Bluetooth devices to send small snippets of information to other Bluetooth devices even if the two aren't actually paired or connected to one another.It's currently unclear whether existing devices will be able to support the new standard.

Yahoo Preps Auction For 3,000 Patents Worth $1 Billion ( 66

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Wall Street Journal reports that bids are being accepted for nearly 3,000 Yahoo patents and pending applications. In April, Yahoo moved 2,659 patents into a patent-holding company called Excalibur IP LLC, which was seen as a first step toward a patent sale. "This represents a unique opportunity for companies operating in the Internet industry to acquire some of the most pioneering and foundational patents related to Web search and advertising," Yahoo said in a statement. Those invited to join the auction include "strategic buyers, private-equity firms, and investment firms focused on intellectual property," according to the Journal. Preliminary bids are due by the middle of this month, and the patents are expected to fetch more than $1 billion, according to "people familiar with the matter" who spoke to the Journal. Bloomberg, which also reported on the patent sale, said there was no official reserve price or bidding guidelines. Yesterday, Verizon submitted a $3 billion bid for Yahoo's core internet business. The sale will include 500 U.S. patents and more than 600 pending applications, but will not include the larger collection of patents going in the patent sale.

BuzzFeed Ends $1.3M Advertising Deal With RNC Over Donald Trump ( 403

An anonymous reader writes: In response to Donald Trump's rhetoric, the "social news and entertainment company" BuzzFeed has decided to terminate an advertising deal with the Republican National Committee. The deal was for $1.3 million, a source close to BuzzFeed told POLITICO. The source said the reason was because of the website's employees. "[BuzzFeed could not countenance] having employees make ads, or working at the company and having our site promoting things, that limit our freedom and make it harder for them to live their lives," they said. The source said in response to whether or not BuzzFeed would rule out any Trump advertising: "In general, we have taken the position that we won't take ads for his presidential campaign." In a CNN article, RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer says, "Space was reserved on many platforms, but we never intended to use BuzzFeed." He added, "It is ironic that they have not ruled out taking money from a candidate currently under investigation by the FBI." The agreement between the RNC and BuzzFeed called for the GOP to "spend a significant amount on political advertisements slated to run during the fall election cycle," BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti wrote in an internal memo.

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