The Reddit app-pocalyse is here: Apollo, Sync, and BaconReader go dark

The Reddit app-pocalyse is here: Apollo, Sync, and BaconReader go dark

After a month of outrage, protests, and unrest from the community, Reddit has finally flipped the switch to shut down some third-party apps.

Apollo, an iOS app that became a rallying point for the recent protests against Reddit’s imminent API pricing, no longer loads any content from the platform. When I open it up, all I see is a spinning wheel. Developer Christian Selig confirmed to me that Reddit is the one that turned things off, not him: “would have been nice to have been given a time,” he says in an email to The Verge.

BaconReader, another popular app, shows an error message for me: “Request failed: client error (429).” When I tap the “Tap to refresh” link, I just get the same error message.

Sync, an Android app, has stopped working too, displaying this message: “Error loading page: 401.” We’ve additionally found a tweet showing an error and Lemmy comments about lack of functionality in a fourth app, reddit is fun (RIF), but at the time we published this article, one Verge staffer could still see content on the app when not logged in. He wasn’t able to log into his account, though.

Users were outraged at the company’s treatment of Selig and the developers of some other popular third-party apps, organizing protests to try and get Reddit to budge. But despite more than 8,000 communities going dark, Reddit held its ground, and now some apps are officially kaput. (Not every app is going away: Narwhal, Relay, and Now will still be available, though they will eventually become subscription-only.)

When reached for comment, Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt pointed to the company’s fact sheet about its API changes, which was just updated on Friday, as well as a Friday evening post from a Reddit admin confirming that the new API rate limits would be enforced “shortly.” (According to the fact sheet, the rate limits were technically supposed to go into effect on July 1st. I’m not sure what time zone Reddit was measuring that by, but if we’re basing it on US time zones, that means that Reddit decided enforce the limits a few hours ahead of when it said it would.)

This week, I asked Selig if he planned to still use Reddit after Apollo shuts down. “Honestly, not sure,” he said. “I’m certainly using it a lot less.”

Algorithmic Influence Exposed: How Meta Utilizes AI to Shape Content on Facebook and Instagram

Algorithmic Influence Exposed: How Meta Utilizes AI to Shape Content on Facebook and Instagram

In the ever-evolving world of social media, algorithms play a crucial role in determining what content we see and interact with. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has recently taken a step towards transparency by shedding light on the inner workings of its AI-powered algorithms. In this article, we will delve into how Meta uses artificial intelligence (AI) to shape the content on its platforms, providing you with a better understanding of the process and empowering you to have more control over the content you consume.

Meta’s commitment to openness, transparency, and accountability is the driving force behind its decision to demystify its social media algorithms. Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs, emphasizes the importance of addressing concerns about powerful technologies like AI through openness. In a recent blog post, Clegg states, “With rapid advances taking place with powerful technologies like generative AI, it’s understandable that people are both excited by the possibilities and concerned about the risks. We believe that the best way to respond to those concerns is with openness.”

Meta has introduced “service cards” that provide valuable insights into how content is ranked and recommended on Facebook and Instagram. These cards offer a comprehensive overview of the AI systems behind various features, including the Feed, Stories, Reels, and other content discovery mechanisms. By examining these cards, users can gain a deeper understanding of the algorithms’ inner workings and make informed decisions about the content they encounter.

One of the prominent system cards focuses on Instagram Explore, a feature that showcases users photo and reels content from accounts they don’t follow. The card outlines a three-step process that powers the automated AI recommendation engine:

  1. Gather Inventory: The system collects public Instagram content, such as photos and reels, that adhere to Meta’s quality and integrity rules.
  2. Leverage Signals: The AI system analyzes how users engage with similar content or interests, using these “input signals” to inform the recommendation process.
  3. Rank Content: Based on the previous steps, the AI system ranks the content, prioritizing items that are predicted to be of greater interest to the user and placing them higher in the Explore tab.

Users have the ability to influence this process by saving content they enjoy, indicating to the system that they would like to see similar content in the future. Conversely, marking content as “not interested” helps the system filter out similar content from the user’s recommendations. For those who prefer to explore content that hasn’t been personalized by the algorithm, selecting “Not personalized” in the Explore filter allows them to view reels and photos that are not specifically tailored to their preferences.

Meta aims to empower users by providing them with tools and features that allow them to better understand and control the content they encounter on Facebook and Instagram. The “Why Am I Seeing This?” feature, which has been available for some time, is being expanded to cover Facebook Reels, Instagram Reels, and Instagram’s Explore tab. This feature enables users to click on individual reels and gain insights into how their previous activity may have influenced the algorithm to display that particular piece of content.

Additionally, Instagram is testing a new feature that allows users to mark recommended reels as “Interested,” indicating their desire to see more similar content in the future. This feature complements the existing option to mark content as “Not Interested,” which has been available since 2021. These features put users in the driver’s seat, granting them the ability to shape their content recommendations based on their preferences and interests.

Meta is also taking steps to facilitate research and provide access to public data from Instagram and Facebook. In the coming weeks, Meta plans to roll out its Content Library and API, a suite of tools designed for researchers. This comprehensive resource will allow researchers to search, explore, and filter public content, enabling them to gain valuable insights into the platforms. To ensure privacy and compliance, researchers will be required to apply for access through approved partners, starting with the University of Michigan’s Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. Meta’s Content Library and API will provide unparalleled access to publicly-available content, furthering the company’s commitment to data-sharing and transparency.

Meta’s decision to provide detailed explanations of its AI algorithms stems from both its commitment to transparency and external factors such as regulatory scrutiny. The explosive growth of AI technology has drawn attention from regulators worldwide, who are concerned about the collection, management, and utilization of personal data by these systems. While Meta’s algorithms are not new, the company’s past mismanagement of user data during the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the public’s demand for greater transparency in platforms like TikTok have underscored the need for increased communication and openness.

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

Lawsuit Says OpenAI Violated US Authors’ Copyrights To Train AI Chatbot – Slashdot

Lawsuit Says OpenAI Violated US Authors’ Copyrights To Train AI Chatbot – Slashdot

Two U.S. authors have filed a proposed class action lawsuit against OpenAI, claiming that the company infringed their copyrights by using their works without permission to train its generative AI system, ChatGPT. The plaintiffs, Massachusetts-based writers Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad, claim the data used to train ChatGPT included thousands of books, including those from illegal “shadow libraries.” Reuters reports: The complaint estimated that OpenAI’s training data incorporated over 300,000 books, including from illegal “shadow libraries” that offer copyrighted books without permission. Awad is known for novels including “13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl” and “Bunny.” Tremblay’s novels include “The Cabin at the End of the World,” which was adapted in the M. Night Shyamalan film “Knock at the Cabin” released in February.

Tremblay and Awad said ChatGPT could generate “very accurate” summaries of their books, indicating that they appeared in its database. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money damages on behalf of a nationwide class of copyright owners whose works OpenAI allegedly misused.

TSMC says IT supplier extorted by LockBit

TSMC says IT supplier extorted by LockBit

Following claims by ransomware gang LockBit that it has stolen data belonging to TSMC, the chip-making giant has said it was in fact one of its equipment suppliers, Kinmax, that was compromised by the crew, and not TSMC itself.

On Thursday, the gang claimed on its website that it had managed to break into TSMC’s systems, and unless a ransom of $70 million was paid, the exfiltrated info – including network login credentials for the manufacturer’s IT network – would be leaked online.

One of the criminal gang’s affiliates, calling itself the National Hazard Agency, shared screenshots of directory listings of what was said to be the stolen files. The crooks said TSMC has an August 6 deadline to cough up.

When contacted by The Register about the break in, TSMC said it was a third-party supplier — not the chip manufacturer itself — that was breached by the ransomware gang. The Taiwanese giant, which makes chips for Nvidia, AMD, Apple, and others, downplayed the impact of the theft. It doesn’t sound as though the intrusion was entirely uneventful for TSMC, but it’s not like the miscreants made off with, say, blueprints for factories and processors, or so it seems.

“TSMC has recently been aware that one of our IT hardware suppliers experienced a cybersecurity incident, which led to the leak of information pertinent to server initial setup and configuration,” a company spokesperson said, adding that the intrusion is under investigation by law enforcement. 

The security breach “has not affected TSMC’s business operations, nor did it compromise any TSMC’s customer information,” the spokesperson added. “After the incident, TSMC has immediately terminated its data exchange with this supplier in accordance with the company’s security protocols and standard operating procedures.”

The silicon baker also pledged to help its suppliers improve their security awareness, and said it remained committed to “making sure they comply with security standards.”

While TSMC did not name Kinmax in its statement, the spokesperson directed further questions about the breach to Eric Huang, vice president of Kinmax Technology, and also shared a letter it received from the smaller biz about the break in.

According to the supplier’s statement, it first became aware of the intrusion on the morning of June 29, after discovering that its internal specific testing environment had been breached and “some information” had been leaked.

“The leaked content mainly consisted of system installation preparation that the company provided to our customers as default configurations,” the Kinmax letter said.  

“We would like to express our sincere apologies to the affected  customers, as the leaked information contained their names which may have caused some inconvenience,” it continued. “The company has thoroughly investigated this incident and implemented enhanced security measures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.”

Huang did not immediately respond to The Register‘s inquiries, and TSMC did not answer our question about whether it would pay the $70 million demand.

LockBit remains an especially prolific ransomware-as-a-service gang, and the group’s affiliates remains a global scourge, costing US victims alone more than $90 million from roughly 1,700 attacks since 2020, we’re told. ®

‘Paste’ clipboard manager for macOS updated with new interface and features

‘Paste’ clipboard manager for macOS updated with new interface and features

By default, macOS lacks a clipboard manager, and some users might miss having a tool to retrieve a piece of text or something else they’ve copied and pasted during the day. The Paste app solves this problem – and the app got a huge update this week with new features and a new interface.

What’s new with Paste 4.0

As reviewed by my colleague Ben Lovejoy a while ago, Paste keeps track of everything you’ve copied on your Mac. But to make things more intuitive, the app offers a colorful interface with large previews, making it easy for you to identify the items you want to retrieve from your clipboard. For example, you can even sort your clipboard items into categories.

The previews also show the app icon that that item came from. And you can choose to copy any of these items again and paste them wherever you like. With the new version, the Paste interface can be easily resized, and it’s easier to navigate around.

“Whether you want more items or need larger previews, Paste adapts to your needs. It’s not just about flexibility, it’s about crafting a workspace that elevates productivity,” says the developer. For instance, new keyboard shortcuts are available, and users can also customize them. And with the search field, finding an item on your clipboard is easier than ever.

For those concerned about privacy, Paste takes care of that as data is processed and stored. If you decide to enable sync to other devices, Paste uses iCloud to keep your data in sync, so your clipboard is safe and never sent to unknown servers. More details about how the app handles data privacy can be found here.

Try it now

I’ve been using Paste 4.0 for a while, and the app is definitely better in a lot of ways. Paste is available on the Mac App Store, and you can try it for free – although the app requires a paid subscription. The app is also available in the Setapp catalog.

It’s worth noting that Paste also has an iPhone and iPad version available on the App Store.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Galaxy SmartTag 2 certification reveals a connectivity upgrade

Galaxy SmartTag 2 certification reveals a connectivity upgrade

What you need to know

  • Samsung’s second-generation SmartTag tracker has appeared for its Bluetooth SIG certification.
  • Other than its model number, the listing details the existence of Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity.
  • This upgraded connectivity should usher in some better power efficiency and a stronger wireless connection.

Samsung’s second-generation smart tracker has allegedly appeared for its Bluetooth SIG certification. MySmartPrice noticed the appearance of the company’s next-gen tracker, which was listed as model number EI-T5600.

Unfortunately, the certification listing doesn’t give us much to think about in terms of what new things we should expect. However, the listing clues us into the Galaxy SmartTag 2’s Bluetooth 5.3 support.

NLM Photonics raises $1M from Japanese ventures to boost electro-optic technology

NLM Photonics raises $1M from Japanese ventures to boost electro-optic technology

Kevin O’Malley, senior research scientist at NLM Photonics, works at a probe station that measures electro-optic activity in hybridized chips featuring the company’s proprietary materials. (NLM Photonics Photo)

Seattle-based NLM Photonics says it has raised $1 million in new funding to advance commercialization of its hybrid electro-optic modulation technology, which is meant to open the way for semiconductors that can handle more data with less power.

The funding round was led by two Japanese companies: Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co., also known as TOK, and Hamamatsu Photonics K.K.. TOK is a world leader in manufacturing materials for advanced electronics, and in supplying critical goods for the semiconductor industry. Hamamatsu is a major player in the market for photonics components — and was involved in a previous investment round for NLM.

The TOK investment deal also includes collaboration on developing shelf-stable inks incorporating NLM’s proprietary materials.

“This strategic investment will catalyze NLM’s engagement with semiconductor foundries and their customers,” Lewis Johnson, NLM’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, said in a news release. “We are excited to work with TOK to accelerate deployment of our materials and continue engagement with Hamamatsu into this next phase.”

Photonics makes use of photons rather than electrons to transfer and process data. NLM’s approach to hybrid electro-optic modulation is meant to address a significant pain point in computing and networking, and also reduce the energy cost of increased network bandwidth.

NLM said the fresh round of funding will support the company’s drive to develop new materials and processes for delivering on the promise of hybrid organic electro-optic modulation. The company was founded in Seattle as Nonlinear Materials in 2018 with an assist from the University of Washington’s CoMotion Labs. Since then, it has opened a European HQ in Paris.

Yusuke Narumi, who manages TOK’s new business development department, said his company was looking forward to joining forces with NLM “to bring about new technology that can potentially reduce the amount of power needed to transmit data.” Katsu Kobayashi, CEO of Hamamatsu Photonics Corporate Venture Capital, said he was optimistic that NLM “can contribute to the development of future products for Hamamatsu.”

Montblanc MTB 03 are luxury brand’s first TWS earbuds, but the design is familiar

Montblanc MTB 03 are luxury brand’s first TWS earbuds, but the design is familiar

Luxury brand Montblanc has announced its first pair of true wireless earbuds.

The Montblanc MTB 03 in-ears have been designed with the classic Montblanc Meisterstück pen in mind, drawing inspiration from its materials and craftsmanship. That results in a pair of earbuds made from deep black, lightweight resin, each adorned with the company logo in white.

The earphone design also includes a chrome ring engraved with the Montblanc wordmark.

(Image credit: Montblanc)

The case is also black, but made from coated aluminium. It supports wireless charging and has a charge light, but is otherwise simple and elegant.

The Game Boy that survived the Gulf War has been removed from Nintendo New York

The Game Boy that survived the Gulf War has been removed from Nintendo New York

When we received Stephan‘s Game Boy from the Middle East, we thought that it was a goner. The back of the unit was in fair condition, but the front was charred and blistered from the heat of the fire. As an experiment, we popped in a Tetris Game Pak, plugged in a Battery Pak, and flipped on the power switch. When we heard its distinctive “Ping!” we couldn’t believe it! The Control Pad and A and B Buttons suffered melt down, but the Start and Select Buttons worked perfectly. Game Boy is even tougher than we thought it was! Of course, we don’t recommend that you subject your Game Boy to trial by fire, but in this case, we replaced Stephan’s Game Boy as a special “Desert Storm” courtesy.

A Quick And Easy Tape Measure Turnstile Antenna For MILSAT Snooping

A Quick And Easy Tape Measure Turnstile Antenna For MILSAT Snooping

The number of satellites whizzing by over our heads at any moment is staggering, and growing at a rapid rate as new constellations are launched. But sometimes it’s the old birds that are the most interesting, as is the case with some obsolete but still functional military communications satellites, which thanks to a lack of forethought are largely unsecured and easily exploitable. And all that’s needed to snoop in on them is a cheap ham radio and something like this simple and portable satcom antenna.

As proof of the global nature of the radio hobby, the design in the video below by Brit [Tech Minds] borrows heavily from previous work by Italian ham [Ivo Brugnera (I6IBE)], which itself was adapted to use 3D-printed parts in a German blog post a few years ago. The common thread is the use of tape measures for the elements of the aptly named turnstile antenna, a tried and true material for lightweight, foldable antennas that amateur radio enthusiasts have been using for years. The antenna is similar in design to the classic three-element Yagi-Uda, with a crossed pair of driven elements in the middle of a boom that also supports a reflector and a director. Strips of tape measure material are held to the 20-mm aluminum tubing boom with 3D-printed brackets. A phasing harness of precisely cut coax cable connects to the driven elements and runs down the boom; the quarter-wavelength loop serves to introduce the 90° phase shift needed for the circularly polarized signal from the satellites.

A quick scan with a vector antenna analyzer showed just how well this antenna performs on the 220-MHz band, and the antenna was easily able to pick up the Brazilian satellite pirate’s chatter. The tape measure elements make the antenna easy to handle and foldable, not to mention pretty cheap to build. And what’s not to love about that?