TIME privacy

Half of Americans Don’t Know What a Privacy Policy Is

Privacy Policy
A human rights activists wears pink glasses reading "stop spying" during a protest against the alleged violation of privacy by the U.S. National Security Agency at McPherson square in downtown Washington D.C., July 4, 2013. Mladen Antonov—AFP/Getty Images

It doesn't automatically keep your data confidential

It looks like Facebook’s privacy-focused blue dinosaur has some more work to do, as a new survey from the Pew Research Center finds that 52% of American Internet users don’t actually know what a privacy policy is.

A majority of respondents believe that when a company posts a privacy policy, “it ensures that the company keeps confidential all the information it collects on users.” Only 44% of survey respondents knew that answer was false — a privacy policy simply states whatever rules a website has drafted to determine how it will share and use people’s data. Such policies often include fine print that actually make people’s data less private than they might expect, allowing it to be used in ads or handed off to third parties.

With so few people who understand privacy policies, it’s no wonder that a bogus Facebook post proclaiming to protect people’s copyright went viral this week. Users erroneously believed that invoking a specific intellectual property statute would retroactively protect their photos and other media from being used by Facebook. In fact, users already own all the content they put on Facebook, but the social network reserves the right to use that content for activities related to its business. And users all agreed to that stipulation when they accepted—you guessed it—the privacy policy.

TIME Companies

Uber CEO Promises to Make Company ‘More Humble’ As it Raises $1.2B

Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick Interview
Travis Kalanick, co-founder and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., Bloomberg via Getty Images

Head of ride-sharing app plans to change internal culture

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has a phrase for the many controversies that have been swirling around his company in recent weeks: “growing pains.”

The head of fast-growing car-hailing startup wrote in a blog post Thursday that Uber needs to invest in internal growth and change, following revelations that an executive at the company floated the idea of digging up personal dirt on non-friendly journalists and others at the company were using a so-called “God View” to track the movements of Uber users.

“Acknowledging mistakes and learning from them are the first steps,” Kalanick wrote. “Fortunately, taking swift action is where Uber shines, and we will be making changes in the months ahead. Done right, it will lead to a smarter and more humble company that sets new standards in data privacy, gives back more to the cities we serve and defines and refines our company culture effectively.”

Uber saw its growth rate dip slightly the same week all the bad press emerged, while Lyft has seen ridership surge as Uber has been under fire. Uber remains the king of the ride-hailing apps though, with drivers in 250 cities and a recent financing round that closed at $1.2 billion. The new funding values the company at $40 billion, according to Bloomberg.

TIME Media

This New Streaming Service Is Netflix, But Just for Kids

Nabi pass features videos, games, e-books and educational content Fuhu

Children's tablet maker Fuhu is launching a streaming service

The streaming space is growing ever more-crowded as a new competitor is throwing its hat in the ring Thursday.

Fuhu, which makes the very successful nabi children’s tablets, is launching a monthly subscription service that will let kids binge on children’s movies, shows, music, e-books and interactive games for $4.99 per month. The service, called nabi Pass, is exclusive to Fuhu’s tablet line, which includes the nabi 2 and the new jumbo-sized Big Tab.

Fuhu’s up against plenty of competition, as there are already many streaming subscription services aimed squarely at kids. Netflix added a “For Kids” section back in 2011, and Amazon has a robust multimedia service called FreeTime Unlimited that’s pretty similar to what Fuhu is rolling out.

Fuhu founder Robb Fujioka, however, says nabi Pass’s educational offerings and its focus on curating quality content will help it stand out. Subscribers will get access to the Wings learning system, which offers kids lessons in math, reading and writing, as well as edutainment videos from the likes of National Geographic Kids. Fujioka says the focus on education helps Fuhu differentiate its service and keep costs down, since they’re not competing with the likes of Amazon to bid for expensive Nickelodeon content.

“My hunch is that people will buy it for the education and everything else on the video side is a plus,” Fujioka says.

In addition to National Geographic, nabi Pass will offer videos from DreamWorks Animation, games from app developer Cupcake Digital and music streaming from Walt Disney Records. Fuhu will have a sizable audience to whom it can pitch the service — The nabi tablet sold 1.5 million units in 2013 and is currently leading the children’s tablet market, according to research firm NPD.

TIME Labor

Convenience Store Employees Join Fast Food Workers in New Strikes

McDonald's Workers, Activists Protest McDonald's Labor Practices
Women hold banners during a protest for higher wages for fast food workers on March 18, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton--Getty Images

Protests expected to reach 190 cities

Fast food workers’ campaign for better pay continues to spread.

Workers in hundreds of cities once again walked off the job Thursday, organizing protests advocating for a $15 per hour living wage and the right to unionize.

Fast food workers have gone on similar strikes several times in the past two years, but this time they were joined by convenience store workers from retailers like Big Lots and Dollar Tree in some cities. Organizers said strikes and protests hit 190 cities in total.

The strikes, backed by the Service Employees International Union, began two years ago at a few fast food restaurants in New York and have been growing ever since. So far, fast-food chains themselves haven’t given higher wages to workers in any widespread manner, instead maintaining that they offer competitive pay and benefits.

But the political effect of the strikes seems to be growing. President Barack Obama has acknowledged fast food workers’ plight in his campaign to push the federal minimum wage to $10.10, and dozens of cities and states have boosted their minimum wages. Two cities, Seattle and San Francisco, have even pledged to raise their minimum wages all the way to $15.

TIME Video Games

There’s a Secret Game Hidden in Nintendo’s New 3DS

The New 3DS isn't due out in the U.S. until next year

Nintendo’s upgraded New 3DS isn’t due out in the United States until next year, but Japanese gamers have already discovered some interesting secrets on the new handheld.

After opening the device’s Internet browser, if a user taps the touch screen to the tune of the Super Mario Bros. theme song, a Breakout-style game will emerge. The blocks that have to be crushed will be in the shape of the URL currently in the browser.

Here’s a video of the game in action, via The Verge:

what happens if you tap out the mario theme in the new 3DS browser?

A video posted by sam byford (@345triangle) on

It may be a while before American gamers can see what other secrets the New 3DS may have — Nintendo hasn’t offered a specific stateside release window for the device.

TIME Companies

Google Wants to Launch Kid-Friendly Services for Users Under 13

Google kids
Small boy looking at laptop Thanasis Zovoilis—Getty Images/Flickr RF

YouTube is already the most popular site with tweens

Google is aiming for a new market: kids.

One of the tech giant’s executives told USA Today that the company is planning to make versions of some of its online products for kids below the age of 13. Google didn’t specify which products will get revamped, but YouTube in particular seems likely—the video site was recently found to be the most popular website amongst tweens, according to one survey.

Age thirteen has long been used as the minimum cutoff for popular websites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Targeting younger users could raise a host of privacy concerns, especially when it comes to using their data to serve them advertising. The Federal Trade Commission strictly regulates the operation of websites aimed at kids under 13 — but Google believes it can bring in these younger users without running afoul of regulations.

“We expect this to be controversial, but the simple truth is kids already have the technology in schools and at home,” said Pavni Diwanji, Google’s vice president of engineering, who is overseeing the rollout. “So the better approach is to simply see to it that the tech is used in a better way.”

[USA Today]

TIME Music

See Which Songs You Listened to the Most This Year With Spotify’s New Tool

SWEDEN-MUSIC-COMPANY-SPOTIFY
This photo illustration shows the Android application logo of Swedish music streaming service Spotify on March 7, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images

That's a lot of Beck, man

The end of the year is a time for reflection, reminiscing and acknowledging your past mistakes—like listening to “Rude” by Magic! more than once.

Spotify is here to lay those transgressions bare. Users can now get a personalized “Year in Music” report that outlines the songs, albums and playlists they listened to most. The graphic even includes the total number of minutes you spent listening to Spotify. And if you’re not deathly embarrassed by your guilty pleasures, you can share all the stats with your friends via social media.

Check out your stats by visiting Spotify’s “Year in Music 2014” page and clicking “Get Your Year in Music” in the top right corner.

TIME Security

Google Is Simplifying One of the Most Annoying Parts of the Internet

Those dreaded boxes of distorted text will no longer annoy you when logging in

Just today, you may have been forced to squint at a jumble of hard-to-read letters and numbers to prove you weren’t a robot in order to log into a website.

That security feature, called CAPTCHA, has been frustrating Internet users for more than a decade—and it’s not even all that great at weeding out real humans from automated spam scripts, according to Google. So the search giant has unveiled a new login security measure dubbed “No CAPTCHA” that it claims is both simpler for humans and better at warding off bots.

Here’s how it works: Instead of typing in obtuse strings of text, users will simply have to check a box asserting that they’re not robots. A risk analysis algorithm will evaluate the way the user interacts with the web page to determine if he’s a person or a bot. For most people, the checkmark is all that will be required. If the algorithm isn’t sure, a user may be forced to type in the character string the old-fashioned way.

Google says that artificial intelligence can now solve the traditional distorted text fields with 99.8% accuracy, so a new method was needed.

Recaptcha_google

Google is also working to make CAPTCHAs more bearable on mobile devices. Users will start being asked to match similar images in a grid instead of typing in text.

Some big names like Snapchat and WordPress have already implemented No CAPTCHA, and Google says the feature is helping users to log in faster.

TIME Music

These Were Spotify’s Most-Streamed Songs This Year

ABC's "Good Morning America" - 2014
GMA gets "Happy" with a special live concert featuring Pharrell Williams on the roof and in the studio. Ida Mae Astute--ABC via Getty Images

Pharrell's probably Happy about this

Music fans couldn’t get enough of “Happy” in 2014.

The bouncy Pharrell track was the most-streamed song globally on Spotify, the music streaming service announced Wednesday. The song racked up 260 million plays over the course of the year. Trailing “Happy” were “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne and “Summer” by Calvin Harris.

The most-streamed artist of the year was British singer Ed Sheeran, who amassed 860 million plays with hits like “I See Fire.” His latest album, x, was also the most-streamed album of the year with 430 million listens. Eminem followed Sheeran as the second-most-streamed artist, while Coldplay came in third. Katy Perry, at fifth, was the most-streamed female artist.

Musical tastes skewed slightly differently in the U.S., where Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” was the most-streamed track and Eminem was the most-streamed artist.

Overall, Spotify’s 50 million users listened to seven billion hours of music and created more than 700 million playlists this year. To entice more people to try its paid product, Spotify is offering three months of its ad-free Premium service for $0.99 cents. The promotion runs until Dec. 31.

Here’s a full breakdown of the top Spotify charts for the year:

Top Five Global Tracks

  1. Happy – From “Despicable Me 2″ – Pharrell Williams
  2. Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne) – Clean Bandit
  3. Summer – Calvin Harris
  4. Dark Horse – Katy Perry
  5. All of Me – John Legend

Top Five Global Artists

  1. Ed Sheeran
  2. Eminem
  3. Coldplay
  4. Calvin Harris
  5. Katy Perry

Top Five Global Albums

  1. x – Ed Sheeran
  2. In The Lonely Hour – Sam Smith
  3. The New Classic – Iggy Azalea
  4. G I R L – Pharrell Williams
  5. My Everything – Ariana Grande

Most streamed artists in the US

  1. Eminem
  2. Drake
  3. Kanye West
  4. Lana del Rey
  5. Ariana Grande

Most streamed tracks in the US

  1. Fancy – Iggy Azalea
  2. Dark Horse – Katy Perry
  3. Happy – From “Despicable Me 2″ – Pharrell Williams
  4. Problem – Ariana Grande
  5. All of Me – John Legend

Most streamed albums in the US

  1. x – Ed Sheeran
  2. The New Classic – Iggy Azalea
  3. In The Lonely Hour – Sam Smith
  4. Native – OneRepublic
  5. My Everything – Ariana Grande

Top Five Global Females

  1. Katy Perry
  2. Ariana Grande
  3. Lana Del Rey
  4. Beyoncé
  5. Lorde

Top Five Global Males

  1. Ed Sheeran
  2. Eminem
  3. Calvin Harris
  4. Avicii
  5. David Guetta

Top Five Global Groups

  1. Coldplay
  2. Imagine Dragons
  3. Maroon 5
  4. OneRepublic
  5. One Direction
TIME Media

Google’s Chromecast Overtakes Apple TV in Battle for the Living Room

Google Unveils Updated Nexus 7 in Push Against Apple, Microsoft
Google's Chromecast Bloomberg via Getty Images

But Roku is still the king of streaming devices

As tech companies vie for control of the television screen, a relatively new entrant is already making big gains.

Google’s Chromecast streaming stick managed to outsell the Apple TV in the first three quarters of 2014, according to research firm Parks Associates. Chromecast comprised 20% of the total sales for streaming devices in the U.S., while Apple TV netted just 17%.

Longtime market leader Roku continues to dominate with 29% of sales, but that’s down from around 45% in 2013. Amazon, another new competitor, has made solid progress with its Fire TV devices, gaining 10% marketshare in 2014.

Google’s quick ascent shows that the simplicity of the Chromecast, which allows users to stream content from their phones or tablets, may be a long-term winning strategy — its price, $35 to the Apple TV’s $99, probably hasn’t hurt either. Roku and Amazon, which started out with set-top boxes, both released cheaper Chromecast-like streaming sticks earlier this year.

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