The Problem With Overfishing
Nov18

The Problem With Overfishing

The Problem With Overfishing Despite an increased awareness of over-fishing, the majority of people still know very little about the scale of the destruction being wrought on the oceans. This film presents an unquestionable case for why over-fishing needs to end and shows that there is still an opportunity for change. Through reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, fisheries ministers and members of the European Parliament, MEPs, can end over-fishing. But only if you pressure them, October 23rd, ask MEPs to …...

Read More
Hackers give Google Glass facial recognition capability
Nov13

Hackers give Google Glass facial recognition capability

Google’s head-mounted computer Glass has yet to hit stores, though the Palo Alto company is already facing backlash from privacy advocates due to the device’s camera. One firm has even adapted Glass to perform facial recognition despite their protests. Lambda Labs founder Stephen Balaban is only one of the many individuals who are coming up with new functions for Glass, some which its Google designers may not have intended. More than embedding a few new functions into the device, Balaban aims to create an entirely new software for it. “Essentially what I am building is an alternative operating system that runs on Glass but is not controlled by Google,” he tells NPR. By supplanting Glass’ original operating system, Balaban has already managed to create a feature that can perform facial recognition using the forward-mounted camera. According to Balaban, Google did not react well when he announced his intention to modify their device to recognize human facial features. In response, the company changed the terms of service to ban the practice, though developers at Lambda Labs seemed undeterred. “Don’t worry, we think it’s a core feature. Google will allow it or be replaced with something that does,” tweeted Lambda on June 1. Though Glass may be Google’s hardware, it is not entirely clear whether they can actually block the device from performing tasks prohibited by their policies. The company also intentionally gave the first batch of the devices to those it deemed “Glass Explorers” – developers with high technical skills and other individuals who proposed inventive uses for the device. “We’re looking for bold, creative individuals who want to join us and be a part of shaping the future of Glass,” the company said in February. Developers with access to the first round of Glass headsets are able to load apps, which Google refers to as “Glassware,” without having to secure the company’s permission. The device can then communicate with services such as Lambda Labs’ paid facial recognition feature. As The Guardian reports, Google has the option to remotely ‘kill’ undesirable software for Glass, or force software updates that can block certain devices, much as Apple often updates the operating systems for the iPhone to block ‘jailbroken’ devices running applications outside of its App Store ecosystem. Already Google has faced pushback on services that some think go too far in invading personal privacy. Google Map’s Streetview feature, for example, has been subjected to scrutiny in countries such as Germany, where residents were able to request that images of their homes be blurred. Partly in response to privacy concerns, Google has avoided features such as facial recognition with its Android mobile...

Read More
Confessions of a Fake Web Traffic Buyer
Nov13

Confessions of a Fake Web Traffic Buyer

Online advertising has a fraud problem. Millions of ad impressions are being served to bots and non-human traffic, and ad tech companies are doing little to stop it. Digiday spoke with a former publishing executive who said he knowingly purchased fraudulent traffic and sold it on to advertisers in the past year. In fact, it was his former company’s business model. Here’s what he said: How and why were you buying non-human traffic? We were spending anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000 a day on traffic. My conversations with [these ad networks] were similar: They would let me decide how much I was willing to pay for traffic, and when I told them $0.002 or below, they made it clear they had little control over the quality of traffic they would send at that price. Quality didn’t really matter to us, though. As a website running an arbitrage model, all that mattered was profit, and for every $0.002 visit we were buying, we were making between $0.0025 and $0.004 selling display ads through networks and exchanges. The biggest determinate of which traffic partner we were spending the most money with was pageviews per visit. Since we were paying a fixed cost per visit, more pageviews equaled more ad impressions. Almost none of these companies were based in the U.S. While our contacts were in the US and had American names and accents, most of the time we found ourselves sending payment to a non-US bank. How did you know the traffic was bots? These vendors offer a range of services and traffic types – everything from $2.00 CPC traffic sourced from Google, Yahoo, and Bing, to $0.002 CPC from god knows where. When we told them we were looking for the cheapest traffic we could possibly buy there would be sort of a wink and a nod, and they’d make us aware that for that price the traffic would be of “unknown quality”. How much you pay determines how much bot traffic you’re getting, so when you’re paying $0.002 a click, you’re getting mostly bots. You can tell it’s bot traffic just by looking at the analytics. We’d see a traffic spike in our real-time analytics dashboard and then we would see all of our traffic for the day serve in a couple of hours, Or it would all come from users using the same really old version of Internet Explorer. Almost all our users had Flash versions from 2003, according to Google Analytics. That just doesn’t happen with real users. Were you just serving display ads to this traffic? We tried playing around with video a little. A network...

Read More