MONEY privacy

Your Facebook Photos Are Fair Game for Prosecutors

Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

A state appeals court ruling this week has big privacy implications.

A New York state court ruled Tuesday that Facebook must comply with search warrants allowing government prosecutors to sift through users’ photos, messages and personal account information as part of an investigation of Social Security fraud.

The appeals court ruling said that the social network cannot challenge search warrants for 381 users’ Facebook data, although individual defendants can move to suppress the evidence. New York law enforcement agents have used Facebook photos showing public employees riding jet skis, playing golf and performing martial arts to prove that the defendants were lying about physical disabilities, Reuters reports.

“In many cases, evidence on their Facebook accounts directly contradicted the lies the defendants told to the Social Security Administration,” a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office told Reuters.

So far, 108 people have pleaded guilty to felony charges, and they must pay back about $25 million, according to Bloomberg.

A Facebook spokesman told Reuters that the company—which has argued that the search warrants give prosecutors too much access to private information—is considering an appeal.


Tim Cook Personally Expedited This Guy’s Apple Order

Stephen Lam—Getty Images

Of course, there's a caveat.

This week, an Apple Photos user got the company to shave down a two-week wait for the delivery of prints to three days by tweeting directly at Tim Cook.

But the customer wasn’t just anyone.

The user in question is Washington Post book editor Ron Charles, a journalist with more than 27,000 followers on Twitter.

Charles wrote on the Post’s style blog Tuesday that he ordered a few dozen photos from Apple on July 19 and received a message saying the prints wouldn’t be delivered until July 31. Charles then tweeted:

Five hours later, Charles got a call from an Apple rep claiming that Tim Cook personally asked her to call about his photo order—and bumped his order delivery date up to Wednesday, July 22.

While this makes a fun (and cocktail-party-worthy) story about “customer service at the Olympic level,” as Charles put it, it’s also a smart PR move on Apple’s behalf.

Let’s see if common folk—or at least those of us with more modest Twitter followings—have any luck getting the same attention from Cook just by calling him out on Twitter.

Read next: Why I’m Returning My Apple Watch

TIME selfies

Russian Government Launches a ‘Safe Selfie’ Campaign

A man takes a "selfie" as he stands with a Ukrainian flag on a Soviet-style star re-touched with blue paint so it resembles the yellow-and-blue national colours of Ukraine, atop the spire of a building in Moscow
© Stringer . / Reuters—REUTERS A man takes a 'selfie' as he stands with a Ukrainian flag on a Soviet-style star atop the spire of a building in Moscow.

Initiative follows selfie-related deaths

Following a series of selfie-related deaths, the Russian Ministry of Interior Affairs has launched a campaign to promote safe selfie-taking practices.

The ministry has produced a practical picture booklet that advises selfie takers to avoid dangerous activities when taking photos, such as leaping across metro lines, posing for photos with tigers, playing Russian roulette, or scaling high-voltage transmission towers.

The safe selfie campaign is not as absurd as it might at first seem. Young people have a proclivity for risk seeking behaviors. Members of the Ukrainian urban climbing group Mustang Wanted, for example, have put their lives at risk by climbing some of the tallest buildings in Moscow and the Ukraine to capture selfies in extremely dangerous situations.

Each graphic in the pamphlet relays a story of someone who was killed or maimed while taking a dangerous selfie. The animation advising against climbing transmission towers, for example, comes with a short narrative about a ninth grade boy, identified only as Maxim, who was killed “after falling over 100 feet when he accidentally grabbed a live wire while taking a selfie.”

TIME apps

Why Facebook’s New Photo App Isn’t Coming Out in Europe

Views of The Facebook Inc. Logo Ahead of Earnings
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Regulators are wary of facial recognition software

Facebook rolled out a new photo-sharing app in the U.S. this week, but it won’t come out in Europe in the near future due to concerns over how it uses facial recognition technology.

The app, called Moments, allows users to share photos with each other privately based around specific events and uses facial recognition software to detect which friends are in a given photo.

The technology, which is used to offer photo tagging suggestions on Facebook proper, is automatically set to be used on all users in the U.S. However, in Europe, Facebook will be forced to make facial scanning and tagging an opt-in feature, Facebook head of policy Richard Allen told the Wall Street Journal. Moments could roll out in Europe after the company develops an opt-in process.

This is not the first time European regulators have pushed back against Facebook’s practices. Belgium is currently suing the social network over its privacy policies and the European Union as a whole are drafting a new law that would increase regulators’ power to control Facebook’s activities, along with other websites.

TIME apps

Photo Storage Showdown: Google Photos vs. Apple iCloud vs. Amazon Prime vs. Dropbox vs. Flickr

Georgetown v Syracuse
Nate Shron—Getty Images A general view of the Carrier Dome seen through a camera on an iPhone of a fan in the stands at the start of the game between the Syracuse Orange and the Georgetown Hoyas on February 23, 2013 in Syracuse, New York.

Get the big picture on storing your photos in the cloud

Smartphone cameras have been a blessing, allowing us to capture the moment, any moment — nay, almost every moment — with just the tap of the screen. But the curse that comes alongside all these photos is how they gobble up storage space not just on your handset, but also on your computer.

Part of the problem is that most digital packrats don’t delete the flotsam and jetsam of our daily lives (how long should you keep those blurry snaps of last year’s July 4th fireworks?). But the bigger issue is that the more photos we take, the more files we have. Every Instagrammed latte is another failed attempt at feeding the photo monster.

To take some of the edge off, several popular cloud-based photo storage services have popped up to help you store your precious moments. Here’s a look at five popular choices:

Google Photos

The newest pic product on the block, Google Photos seems to have taken the best of every other service and rolled them into one great offering. But it’s by no means perfect. Available on Android, iOS or through a web browser, Google Photos gives users unlimited free storage for their standard-resolution images. As smooth looking and fluid feeling as you’d expect from a Google-made app, Photos displays, organizes, and shares your pictures better than anything available. In fact, it’s the display and organization where this product really stands out. Categorizing images with People, Places, and Things tags, it uses facial recognition, GPS location, and image search capabilities to make searching your photos easier than ever before.

But the tradeoff for this incredible convenience is privacy. After uploading his photos to Google’s service, Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt had second thoughts about Google’s use of his data. Be sure to actually read the terms of service on this one before you send your pictures into the cloud.

Apple iCloud

If you’ve got any Apple handheld product, there’s a good chance that you’re already using this service (and you may not even realize it), through something called “Photo Stream.” This is representative of how convoluted and confusing Apple’s online photo storage options have become. Actually, Apple has two online photo storage solutions: Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Library. The former stores your 1,000 most recent photos in the cloud, making them accessible across all your devices for free. The latter backs up all your photos ever and is free if you only use five gigabytes of space — though who could get away with that little storage? It’s more likely that you’ll have to pay, which ranges from monthly charges of $.99 for 20 gigabytes to as high as one terabyte for $20.

There’s no comparing that to Amazon or Google’s free-for-unlimited-storage pricing, but as far as user-friendliness is concerned, iCloud’s photo storage can’t be beat — so long as you’re purely an Apple user. Integrating into the company’s line of desktop and mobile apps, the service provides almost anything you’d want from a storage service, including access to Apple’s printing service and RAW file compatibility. It even has the ability to hunt down duplicate pictures to cut down on your digital clutter.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Unlimited online photo storage is one of several lesser-known perks of Amazon Prime membership, though non-Prime customers can pay $12 a year for the same deal. Whether it’s through a web browser, a mobile app, or a desktop program, the service lets users beam their pics up to the cloud. Compatible with Android, iOS, Mac, and PC, its cross-platform nature gives users access to their full photo library wherever they are: work, home or on the go.

While the promise of an infinitely large photo collection is alluring, the big knock on this service from current users is that it’s slower than it should be. But if good things come to those who wait, this should be enough (or maybe the speed will improve). Still, Amazon does store photos in their original, full resolution, which makes the unlimited offer attractive to archivists of all stripes.

Dropbox Carousel

A longtime favorite for storing files in the cloud, Dropbox released its Carousel app last year to make it easier for users to access web-archived photos. Though it started as one of the first cloud-based storage options, Dropbox’s free offering of two gigabytes is now far under par compared to the competition. The good news, however, is that its one terabyte for $10 per month deal is a better than average value—and if you can’t fill all that space with photos of your kids, you can store other files in there as well.

Carousel excels for those who use a wide range of devices, because Dropbox is compatible with operating systems ranging from Android to Ubuntu. Additionally, Carousel plays nicely with most social networks, letting users post images and videos online without a hitch. And sharing photos with others is as easy with Carousel as it is with Dropbox, which is to say, you can send over secure download links. If recipients also have Carousel, it’s a much better experience, keeping the photo transfer within the app. But since this application isn’t linked to an operating system like iOS or Android, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter that coincidence.


Yahoo has been working hard to rebuild its image in recent years. One way it’s done that is by making changes to Flickr. A longtime favorite of photographers, Flickr has been storing people’s photos online since 2004, perhaps longer than any other popular service. And because it’s been around so long, Flickr has a lot of features packed into its offering, from an excellent image searching tool (type in “flower” and it will find all your best buds) to in-the-cloud editing options. In order to attract new users, Flickr announced last year that it’s offering a free terabyte of storage for every user. The free option is ad-supported, which means in addition to your selfies, you’ll also be looking at glam shots of models and products, but that’s the price of gratis.

TIME Mobile

Here’s the 1 Trick to Getting People to Like Your Photos

Flickr study shows that filters increase engagement

Are you the kind of person who proudly attaches a #NoFilter hashtag to your photos online so that people know the pictures are authentic? Well, you’re missing out on a whole lot of likes, comments and other Millennial manna.

And now there’s data to prove it.

Researchers at Yahoo, in partnership with a professor at Georgia Tech, have published a new study analyzing how filters impact engagement on Yahoo’s photo-sharing site Flickr. According to the study, filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed than non-filtered photos and 45% more likely to be commented on. Photos with filters that project warm colors tend to drive more engagement than cooler filters (though we’re unconvinced anyone ever “likes” photos filtered with Kelvin, the overly orange tint available on Instagram)

By interviewing photographers, researchers also discovered different motivations for using filters. Serious photographers use filters to correct coloring errors or bring attention to specific objects. More casual photo-takers, meanwhile, use filters as a means of personalization or to achieve a general “vintage” feel.

While the study focused on Flickr users, it’s safe to say the findings apply to Instagram as well—in fact, more than half of the photos researchers analyzed had been cross-posted from Instagram to Flickr. So next time you’re trying to ensure that your latest picture will get that coveted 11th like, embrace the filter (but again, please, don’t use Kelvin).


How to Automatically Post Instagram Photos to Twitter stock photos Social Apps iPhone Twitter
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Here's an easy fix to a frustrating problem

Once upon a time, it was easy to share your Instagram photos via Twitter. But these days, sharing your Instagram images directly to Twitter just tweets out a boring old link, not that fav-worthy snapshot you just took.

No worries — there’s an easy fix.

IFTTT, short for “If This Then That,” is a program that lets you create “triggers” for your various apps. IFTTT has lots of great applications, but one of them is sharing Instagram images natively on Twitter once again.

To do so, you can create a recipe—IFTTT’s name for its triggers—for posting an image to Twitter every time you take a photo with Instagram.

First, visit IFTTT’s website and create an account. Then, visit this link and activate the recipe. You’ll then be asked to activate your Twitter and Instagram accounts, which you should go ahead and do. Then, the service will essentially link those two accounts, sending out a tweet every time you post a new photo to Instagram.

A few caveats: This setup can be a little slow, so fret not if your photos don’t show up on Twitter immediately after you post them on Instagram. And if you want to temporarily turn off the auto-posting, download IFTTT’s mobile app, which lets you turn recipes on and off on a whim.


TIME Nepal

See Satellite Images of Nepal Before and After the Earthquake

Photos show the destruction and the camps where survivors are sheltering

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated Nepal on Sunday has altered the face of the country, as new satellite images show. The disaster has killed more than 4,600 people and leveled buildings—many of them historic—to rubble.

The Dharhara Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was toppled, leaving about 180 bodies in its ruins. Survivors have set up tents and other temporary structures in open areas of their towns and cities, away from the danger of more buildings falling in an aftershock, as they await aid. Meanwhile, villagers in remote areas of Nepal are cut off by landslides that prevent rescue crews from providing relief.

TIME golf

See Sports Illustrated’s 100 Best Masters Photos

Since the 1950s, Sports Illustrated has captured every big moment at the Masters. Take a look back at the 100 best photos, including Jack's magical finish in 1986, Arnie's last win in 1964, and Tiger's 2001 masterpiece.

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