All posts in “business”

Hackers just broke into HBO’s Twitter accounts amidst weeks of security breaches

Panel for HBO's 'The Deuce' TV show.
Panel for HBO’s ‘The Deuce’ TV show.

Image: Buchan/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

The HBO hackers strike again — this time taking control of the network’s official social media accounts.

According to tweets posted on HBO’s Twitter, a group identifying themselves as OurMine breached HBO’s main account, claiming to be “testing” the security and encouraging the network to reach out for an upgrade.

The tweets were deleted shortly after being posted, and there doesn’t seem to have been any severe damage to the company this time around.

According to The New York Times, Twitter accounts for some of the network’s most popular shows like Game of Thrones and Girls were also hacked

OurMine, the group responsible for the breach, is infamous for targeting social media, and has successfully hacked Twitter accounts of Netflix, the WWE, and Marvel, to name a few. 

However, this hack is just one of many security troubles HBO has had to face in recent history. Last month, hackers successfully breached HBO’s security to gather 1.5 terabytes of data. Also, the network has endured weeks of leaked television episodes, scripts, and other significant data — the latest including everything from West World Season 2 shooting schedules to 27 separate Game of Thrones Season 7 “shooting [diaries].”

Variety reported that an exec offered a “bounty payment” $250,000 to hackers last month, however the hackers demanded around $6.5 million in Bitcoin from the network.

To make matters worse, just earlier this week on Wednesday, HBO learned that Game of Thrones episode 6, which is due to air this Sunday, had leaked online, and this time that leak appears to be HBO’s own fault. (HBO Spain accidentally made the episode available to subscribers for an hour before it was removed.)

While HBO’s latest Twitter breach isn’t necessarily related to the massive data dumps that have been occurring, the timing certainly isn’t great.

Though no financial action appears to have been taken yet to prevent additional leaks, HBO should probably figure out how to get its sh*t together soon.

Mashable reached out to HBO for comment.

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The price of eclipse glasses have more than tripled on Amazon over the last 2 weeks

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If you’re trying to be frugal and find a cheap deal on a pair of glasses for the solar eclipse, good luck. The price of the protective glasses continues to soar, even among concerns over sales of potentially useless glasses. 

On Amazon, which seems to be the marketplace of choice for eclipse shoppers, prices for glasses have more than tripled over the last two weeks for the website’s most popular protective glasses, according to Wikibuy. 

Wikibuy, which tracks prices through its Google Chrome extension and through a real time price tracker on its website, shared data with Mashable on the pricing of the 4-Pack Premium ISO and CE Certified Lunt Solar Kid Size Eclipse Viewing Glasses on Amazon, which Wikibuy said are its most popular. 

“From what our community has seen on Amazon, it appears that Amazon prices on eclipse glasses have more than tripled over the last two weeks,” Matt Gratt, Wikibuy’s Director of Growth, wrote in an email. “As always, consumers can find the true best prices on items by consulting price history tools and multiple stores around the internet.”

While the 4-Pack Premium ISO and CE Certified Lunt Solar Kid Size Eclipse Viewing Glasses are currently on backorder through Amazon Prime, one seller is selling them for a mere $249. (Yeah, price tag made us cringe too.) 

Eclipse glasses are also four of the top five product searches on Amazon and Wikibuy, Gratt said. Based on the company’s data, prices seemed to fluctuate, but remained pretty steady for awhile, but began to steadily climb since the beginning of August. 

And it’s not just Amazon — an analysis of pricing for packs of the glasses from third party retailers found that prices have more than doubled for new five and 10 packs since early August. 

The current price for a 10-pack of CE Certified Safe Solar Eclipse Glasses sold through a third party is $129.95, according to Camel Camel Camel, which tracks pricing of items on Amazon and through third party retailers. 

For a five pack of premium ISO and CE Certified Lunt Solar Eclipse Glasses from a third party vendor, the current price sits at $39.95.

But while the prices may not be ideal, if you’re planning on viewing the celestial event, you’ll need a pair of these glasses to view the eclipse without harming your eyes. A list of reliable vendors for eclipse glasses can be found here. Or you can check out this NASA video, which will show you how to view the eclipse without those fancy-shmancy glasses. 

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Machine learning can tell if you’re wearing swap-meet Louie


A wise man once said “The hat mighta had a L V on the back but at the swap meet that ain’t jack,” and now researchers can ensure that the Louis Vuitton or Prada or Coach you bought is the real deal. The system, which essentially learns the difference between real and fake products over time, uses a small microscope connected to a phone.

“The underlying principle of our system stems from the idea that microscopic characteristics in a genuine product or a class of products-corresponding to the same larger product line-exhibit inherent similarities that can be used to distinguish these products from their corresponding counterfeit versions,” said New York University Professor Lakshminarayanan Subramanian.

The researchers have commercialized the product as Entrupy Inc., a startup founded by Ashlesh Sharma, an NYU doctoral graduate, Vidyuth Srinivasan and Professor Subramanian. You can even buy the product now and run a few dozen authentications per month.

The system is non-invasive and does not damage the merchandise. Because it uses a “dataset of three million images” you can assess a material almost instantly. It takes about 15 seconds to test a product and it can distinguish fabrics, leather, pills, shoes and toys. It can even tell if electronics are authentic.

“The classification accuracy is more than 98 percent, and we show how our system works with a cellphone to verify the authenticity of everyday objects,” said Subramanian.

Entrupy has raised $2.6 million in funding and has apparently authenticated $14 million in real and fake purses, watches and other fancy stuff. I can definitely help out if you get angry and feel the need to begin sockin’ more fools than Patrick Swayze because they are selling bootleg purses.

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10 ways to create an engaging social media presence

As of this year, about 81% of the United States population uses at least one social media platform. That number is growing by roughly 5% per year. At this rate, 100% of the United States will have a social media profile on at least one platform by 2021.  

Businesspeople searching for the ideal marketing channel to engage prospects should look no further than social networks. Social media provides companies with ample information to create messages targeted to valuable niche audiences, and given the statistics, it’s inevitable that the audience you are trying to reach is on at least one social network. But it is no longer enough to just “show up.” To stand out online, companies need to create an engaging social presence. This article will look at 10 ways to create a compelling social presence online. 

1. Know your audience well 

There are countless unique social media audiences online. This means that, if you want to create a powerful social presence, you must first understand your audience. 

When a brand is trying to reach a specific subset of the population, marketers start by creating a customer persona. Think of a persona as a way of summarizing a group’s demographic and psychographic tendencies. Armed with this information, it is much easier to create compelling campaigns that engage the target audience. 

Similarly, as someone trying to create an engaging social presence, it may make sense to get to know your target audience first. What are their likes and dislikes? How do they prefer to consume media? What social media platforms do they use most, and what motivates them to use those platforms? These are just some of the questions to consider before building a social presence.  

2. Study the competition 

If you’re just getting started, it may be difficult to know how to best engage followers. To accelerate your social media growth, study direct competitors who have already made good use of social media. What do they do that engages followers? 

Image: Instagram

Take the 2 images above as an example of what can happen thanks to good competitive research. Nike and Adidas are well-known fitness apparel competitors. It is likely that they both watch what the other company is doing on Instagram, perhaps by using some kind of Instagram analytics tool.
Both pieces of content are similar in composition and description. It’s probable that one social media manager saw that the content resonated with followers and decided to make something similar.  

3. Vary media formats 

A big component of social media platforms is content freshness. Usually, when people hear this term they think it refers to how frequently content is posted. While it does matter when you post content, freshness also refers to the format the content is posted in. At one point, all Instagram posts were images. Then the platform brought video and carousel content on board, and they instantly became popular. Currently, Instagram Stories are gaining traction. 

As a social media manager, you must constantly vary the media formats you are using in order to keep users engaged. Failing to do so will slow the growth of the channel and can make followers bored with what you are sharing.  

4. Master the eccentricities of each social media platform 

No 2 audiences are alike, and the same is true for social media platforms. If you are using more than 1 social media platform, it is important to understand the unique qualities that make the platform appealing to users. Once identified, master those unique qualities to ensure that your content is taking full advantage of the platform’s strengths. 

For example, you wouldn’t use Twitter to share a lot of photo or video content (Instagram and Snapchat are better for that). Likewise, you wouldn’t use LinkedIn to share highly personal updates (Twitter and Facebook are better for that). Stay on top of platform changes to ensure that your content is as engaging as possible. 

5. Provide unique value with behind-the-scenes content 

Again, if you are managing multiple social media platforms to promote the same brand, be sure to give followers a reason to follow you on each of those platforms. Recycling content is a surefire way to create a boring social media presence. 

One way to offer followers a unique experience is to provide them with a peek behind the curtain. Show them what day-to-day life at the company looks like. Social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are ideal for sharing behind-the-scenes content that makes followers feel like they have unique access to a brand they care about.  

Salesforce does a good job of knowing when and where to share behind-the-scenes content. In the example below, Salesforce uses Twitter for sharing content and promoting products. 

Image: Twitter

Whereas on Instagram, Salesforce shares behind-the-scenes content that shows people what it is like to work at the most valuable SaaS (software as a service) company in the world.

Image: Instagram

6. Make use of user-generated content 

User-generated content (also known as UGC) is a great way to re-share engaging content that also provides your followers with social proof. Car companies are adept at re-sharing UGC to create an engaging social media presence. 

Image: Instagram

In the example above, Porsche re-shares an example of UGC. The company shares UGC so frequently that they use the hashtag #PorscheMoment to help followers see all of the photos shared over time. 

7. Test influencer marketing partnerships 

According to a study by Ogilvy, 74% of consumers turn to social media for guidance when making purchasing decisions. Influencer marketing harnesses the power of trusted social media celebrities to help prospects make the best purchasing decision. It is a great way to engage with prospective customers.  

While influencer marketing can sometimes be hard to measure, using a checkout code or tracking links can help brands test the immediate financial impact of working with a social media influencer. At the very least, influencers who have experience creating engaging content for a specific audience can give you advice on how to better engage with followers.  

9. Produce live video segments 

According to Livestream, 80% of survey respondents say they would rather watch a branded live video than a blog post. This new interest in livestreaming explains why platforms like Twitter and Facebook have invested heavily in producing livestreaming products for users.  

For those interested in creating engaging social media content, livestreaming is the way to go. The platforms tend to reward livestreaming content by alerting followers when you go live.  

10. Interact with commenters 

There is no better way to encourage followers to engage with content than by interacting with those who do. Liking or replying to a handful of comments from followers is a great way to encourage other followers to engage with content in the future. This process can create a virtuous cycle that helps to consistently increase the engagement rate.  I personally built a Calendar tool to help with this, check it out. 

Conclusion 

There are many different tactics that you can employ to create engaging social media content. Knowing your audience, varying content and mastering each social media platform will provide you with a good start. It is also a good idea to study the competition, and to consider employing influencer marketers and user-generated content. 

John Rampton is a serial entrepreneur who now focuses on helping people to build amazing products and services that scale. He is founder of the online payments company Due.

The text of that Google employee’s manifesto is just like every other MRA rant

Yikes.
Yikes.

Image: FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Early Saturday morning, a report in Motherboard revealed the existence of a 10-page document written by a Google engineer that said that inherent differences between men and women accounted for the gender gap in tech and opposed diversity initiatives at the company. 

Now, the full text of the document is out via a report in Gizmodo. And, unsurprisingly, it’s not great. 

The stilted, bullet point-heavy memo argues that Google is biased against conservatives and doesn’t accept criticism of its approach to diversity. Maybe, the still-unidentified author argues, women are actually just biologically different from men and that’s why there’s a gender gap in engineering. Not, you know, because of discrimination.  

Weirdly, the author uses this problematic argument to say that he actually supports diversity. He just thinks Google is approaching it wrong, and doesn’t value the kind of diversity that’s actually important, like ideological diversity. 😒

The biological arguments get into some weird assumptions around gender that are also offensive for reasons unrelated to the tech industry. 

“We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” the author wrote. 

Below are some highlights from the memo, reportedly written by a male senior software engineer at Google. Reminder: Google is under investigation by the Department of Labor for its extreme gender pay gap. And according to its latest diversity report, Google is 56 percent white and 69 percent male. 

Political correctness is the real problem

“When it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence.”

‘Biological’ characteristics of women 

  • Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things

  • Women on average are more cooperative

  • Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average

Diversity programs discriminate against white men

“Google has created several discriminatory practices:

  • Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race 

  • A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates

  • Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate

  • Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)”

Conservatives are discriminated against

  • “Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.

  • In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.”

Microaggressions don’t matter

“Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isn’t backed by evidence.”

Accepting biology is the only way to close gender gaps

“Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.”

So yeah. The arguments are flawed, and continue at much greater length. Read the rest of the document here

Google still hasn’t responded to requests for comment, but Google’s vice president of diversity did send an internal memo in response. 

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