Tag: Data

Here’s The Data That Shows Why Twitter Switched To Hearts From Stars

Twitter is looking to settle the hearts vs. stars debate once and for all.

In a talk at the Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco this morning, Twitter Product SVP Kevin Weil shared data on the heart's performance vs. the star — aka: the favorite — that drove Twitter's decision to make the switch.

“It’s a change that’s been fantastic for the platform,” said Weil. “We see now 6% more hearts, 6% more likes on Twitter than we saw with favorites.” He also noted that new users tend to engage 9% more with this change.

Weil's remarks marked the first time Twitter shared data related to the switchover, which occurred last week to mixed reviews. After years of the star functioning as a de facto bookmarking tool, and a button you used to signal you were done with a conversation, Twitter switched over to hearts last week saying it wanted to “make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use.”

The data, released only a week into the change, should be approached with a dose of caution since the heart's novelty factor may be responsible for skewing the numbers. Still, the numbers at least initially back up the decision to make the move.

When Twitter introduced the heart last week, it was met with a firestorm of criticism from power users who felt the company was overlooking their needs in order to meet Wall Street demands. For those hoping for a reversal, this early data suggests the heart is here to stay.

BuzzFeed – Tech

Survey Shows The Personal Data We Most Fear Being Made Public

From search histories to texts, all the things you’d never want to be made public, as ranked by a new survey.

Have you ever done something online and then truly, deeply regretted it?

Have you ever done something online and then truly, deeply regretted it?

CHEEZBURGER.COM / Via giphy.com

As the Ashley Madison hack has shown, even your deepest, darkest internet secrets are just sitting there on some company server, waiting to be revealed.

As the Ashley Madison hack has shown, even your deepest, darkest internet secrets are just sitting there on some company server, waiting to be revealed.

Nickelodeon / Via giphy.com

Lascivious Snapchat messages might come to mind, but a new survey of nearly 1,000 people aged 18 to 34 says for that for many, it's our financial lives that would embarrass us the most — specifically, our bank statements.

The survey, carried out by security software company Trustev, found that about 42% of respondents said they would be “mortified” or “very embarrassed” if their bank statements were stolen and posted online.

According to Trustev Chief Marketing Officer Rurik Bradbury, not only do bank statements reveal the truth about your finances, but for debit card users (and especially younger people, who prefer debit cards over credit cards), bank statements become “a proxy for what you spend money on,” as they list itemized transactions.

BuzzFeed News / Trustev

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BuzzFeed – Business

SEO: Using Data to Drive Performance

SEO: Using Data to Drive Performance
Two weeks ago, in “SEO: Measuring Key Performance Indicators,” I discussed the importance of goal setting and key performance indicators in search engine optimization. Now it's time to use the data to act. KPIs measure SEO success relative to the goals …
Read more on Practical Ecommerce

Web Market Florida, A Local SEO Company, Offers Businesses 90-Day Free
ORLANDO, FL, USA, April 7, 2015 /EINPresswire.com/ — Web Market Florida is a local SEO company that is currently offering a 90-day free trial of their nationwide SEO services. The free trial is available to businesses that generate $ 750,000 or more in …
Read more on EIN News (press release)

The Biggest SEO Trends of 2015
Keeping up with the latest trends in search engine optimisation (SEO) is crucial to staying on top and keeping your marketing edge. SEO is an inbound marketing strategy that drives your target audience to your website, so it's empowering to know what …
Read more on Smart Data Collective

Days After Obama, New York Attorney General Proposes Data Breach Laws

In addition to strengthening notification laws, Attorney General Schneiderman is proposing incentive programs to ensure businesses comply with laws.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has proposed a set of rules that would overhaul statewide data security laws and strengthen consumer protection.

As New York State rules stand, businesses are required to notify those affected by a security breach if “private information” is compromised. But “private information” according to New York State Technology Law 208 only includes social security numbers, drivers license or non-driver ID numbers, or any account numbers and passwords “which would permit access to an individual's financial account.”

The newly proposed rules, however, would mandate that businesses also notify users affected if a data breach included email addresses and passwords, security questions, or medical or health insurance information.

Schneiderman's announcement comes just days after President Barack Obama announced a legislation proposing a national standard for consumer protection in the face of a data breach. Though President Obama gave few details about the proposed legislation (some expect him to go into more detail at the State of the Union on Tuesday), he did say that companies would be required to notify users of a data breach within 30 days.

Schneiderman also proposes a mandate that every company that stores private information must be required to have reasonable security measures such as employee training, regular tests of controls and procedures, and protection of physical places where information is stored.

Under the bill, Schneiderman proposes that New York State offer an incentive program for businesses to adopt a “model security” standard, as well as a program to incentivize companies to share forensic reports with law enforcement by ensuring that the disclosure would not be considered a breach of privilege or protection. Businesses that meet the model security standard would be granted some form of safe harbor protection that could include an “elimination of liability or burden shifting effect in litigation surrounding a data breach.”

In an initial draft of the announcement of the bill provided by the Attorney General's deputy press secretary Elizabeth Bold, the proposed incentive programs included tax breaks as an option. But ultimately, Bold told BuzzFeed News, that aspect of the incentive program “never got past initial stages of bill drafting.”

This isn't the first time Schneiderman has spoken out on technology issues in New York. In October of last year, Schneiderman faced a slew of criticism and was seen as a new technology opponent after a series of legal battles against companies like Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb. But in more recent battles between government regulators and Uber and Lyft, Schneiderman has come out staunchly in support of the tech companies. As BuzzFeed News reported in November, Schneiderman wrote a letter to the TLC criticizing a proposed set of rules for restricting competition.

There are currently security breach notification laws in 47 states, but the breadth and depth of the laws vary greatly. Schneiderman claims the bill as proposed would be the nation's most comprehensive. “Let's act now to make our state a national model for data privacy and security,” Schneiderman said via a press statement.

BuzzFeed – Tech

We Asked 29 Tech Companies If Their Employees Can Access Your Personal Data

Privacy policies rarely mention the weakest point in any company’s security infrastructure: its employees.


Traditionally, privacy worries for consumers and tech companies have been limited to keeping information secure from third parties or hackers. But a series of internal abuses show that tech company employees often have universal access to user information, as well as reason — be it pure voyeuristic curiosity or, in the worst cases, a vendetta — to look at our whereabouts, spending, and of the most private corners of our lives.

Fears of employee data abuse are founded, from the highest levels of government intelligence down to car-sharing apps. In 2013, reports revealed over a dozen instances in the past ten years in which NSA employees abused NSA surveillance to collect data on love interests, referred to internally as “Loveint.” At tech companies, where security measures and training are largely more relaxed, employees surveilling the location histories of ex-lovers, real-time tracking roommates, and looking at activity logs of friends of friends, is not only a plausible fear, but a new reality. Just last month, a New York Uber executive was investigated and reprimanded for tracking the whereabouts of a BuzzFeed News reporter without her permission.

For all the careful consideration and legal maneuvering of tech company terms of service and privacy policies, those documents rarely mention the weakest point in any company's security infrastructure: its employees. Clear, plainspoken explanations of employee access to user data are rarely, if ever, present in a privacy policy. But the reality is that thousands of tech company employees across the world now have unfettered access to our most personal data.

BuzzFeed News reached out to 29 major technology companies, including social networks, fitness trackers, and dating, payment, messaging, music, mapping, and music apps with ten specific questions about their internal privacy policies with regard to user data.

Out of the 29 companies, only 13 responded. Of the 13 that responded, three companies didn't offer comment. Responses from the other ten manifested a wide range of views: some took the inquiry seriously; others offered boilerplate responses, and a significant percentage of the companies chose to remain silent. All told, the collective responses offer a complex and, in many cases, unsettling survey of the current data privacy landscape.

BuzzFeed News sent the same set of ten straightforward questions to all 29 companies. Here is the list in full:

  • Do you have a privacy policy regarding employee access to user
    location, financial, and other account data, if so what is it? Are
    there any exceptions to that policy and what is a comprehensive list
    of those exceptions?
  • How many, and which types of, employees currently have access to
    users' account data?
  • What is the process to gaining that access? Is there more than one
    level of permission? What are they and the respective processes to
    obtain them?
  • Do the CEO and other senior executives have personal access to all
    user data? Do interns?
  • What are the repercussions of violating the privacy policy or
    accessing a user's account without permission? Has this policy ever
    been enforced, and if so can you provide an example?
  • How does the company monitor employee access to user accounts?
  • What steps, if any, does the company take to de-identify users in
    its databases?
  • Does the company share or sell user data that includes identifying
    information to other parties; and if so, how is that confidentiality
  • Does the company have a plan for transfer of user data if the
    company changes hands?
  • Are there any procedures in place to notify users and the public to
    changes in the terms of service?

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BuzzFeed – Tech

It Gets Worse: The Newest Sony Data Breach Exposes Thousands Of Passwords

Excel and Word documents plainly expose thousands of computer log-in, financial, and web services passwords, including the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and MySpace passwords for hundreds of major motion picture accounts.


Yesterday afternoon, the hackers behind the massive Sony corporate data hack released a new trove of documents, and it appears that things are only going to get worse for the victim of the most embarrassing and all-encompassing hack of internal corporate data ever made public.

Included in the newest data dump is a file directory titled “Password,” which includes 139 Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, zip files, and PDFs containing thousands of passwords to Sony Pictures' internal computers, social media accounts, and web services accounts. Most of the files are plainly labeled with titles like “password list.xls” or “YouTube login passwords.xlsx.”

One file BuzzFeed News found included hundreds of clearly labeled Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter usernames and passwords for major motion picture social accounts.


Though some passwords appear to be assigned to individual employees and don't include passwords, a number of the passwords to the social media accounts for major films like Ghostbusters, The Social Network, and Easy A appear to be poorly constructed and are not alphanumerical.

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BuzzFeed – Tech

A Look Through The Sony Pictures Data Hack: This Is As Bad As It Gets

From details of named employees’ medical histories to an unreleased pilot script written by the creator of Breaking Bad , the unprecedented leak of Sony Pictures data will reverberate for a long time to come.

A hack, which some believe may have come from North Korea, will spice up this month's launch of “The Interview”, a comedy about trying to kill the leader of North Korea.

Columbia Pictures

After sifting through almost 40 gigabytes of leaked internal data, one thing is clear: Sony Pictures appears to have suffered the most embarrassing and all-encompassing hack of internal corporate data ever made public.

The data dump, which was reviewed extensively by BuzzFeed News, includes employee criminal background checks, salary negotiations and doctor's letters explaining the medical rationale for leaves of absence. There are spreadsheets containing the salaries of 6,800 global employees, along with social security numbers for 3,500 U.S. staff. And there is extensive documentation of the company's operations, ranging from the script for an unreleased pilot written by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan to the results of sales meetings with local TV executives.

The documents made public this weekend, covering the company's human resources, sales and marketing teams, among others, are just a fraction of approximately 100 terabytes of data the hackers claim to have taken from Sony. They say it will all be made freely available online, once they figure out how to distribute such an enormous amount of information.

A Sony Pictures spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of the data released, but shared a brief statement saying the company “continues to work through issues related to what was clearly a cyber attack last week.” Sony is “working closely with law enforcement officials to investigate the matter,” it said.

The hackers, who call themselves the Guardians Of Peace, took credit for the attack this weekend, emailing members of the media with links to download dozens of compressed files, each containing vast troves of data stolen from the servers of Sony Pictures. Earlier, the hackers leaked high-quality video files of five unreleased Sony films. The box office impact of that release, analysts told BuzzFeed News, probably won't be that bad. But the broader cost to Sony of this new round of leaks — to its reputation, its employee morale, and its commercial standing — seems impossible to estimate.

The leak is particularly embarrassing because it comes just three and a half years after Sony and its gaming customers suffered through a three week long hacking nightmare that brought the company's Playstation gaming networks offline and compromised the personal and financial information of up to 25 million customers (though the company did not confirm how many accounts had financial information stolen).

In the days after the April 2011 breach, Sony enlisted three independent computer security and forensic consulting firms to assess its security infrastructure and identify the culprit of the hack, according to a letter from Sony to members of Congress. In the letter, Sony defended its decision to wait five days to admit its security had been compromised and called on the government to help make the internet safer. “We ask the Committee to consider as well the connection between data security and the cybercrimes and cyber terrorism that threaten to make the Internet unsafe for consumers and commerce,” the letter read.

Years after that hack, Sony Pictures still seems to have a long way to go. One of the files leaked this weekend was a word document titled “Passwords” that contained an executive's computer, LotusNotes, and American Express usernames and passwords, as well as Amex credit card numbers, expiration dates, and 4 digit security codes.

An entrance gate to the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, California

Fred Prouser / Reuters

The roughly 40 gigabytes of company information now available online sat on company servers without encryption, with a vast majority of the sensitive personal and financial files containing no password protection. Currently, the stolen data trove is available to download, potentially placing the information in the hands of any hacker, scammer, criminal, media organization or curious citizen who knows their way around a torrent file.

The release of such sensitive data could easily eclipse the leaking of five unreleased films, in terms of its impact on the company's bottom line. “Financially it will cost more to clean up this mess than what they would lose at the box office,” said a movie industry source who requested anonymity because of ties to Sony. “Firewalls, consultants, all that stuff is expensive.”

Sony Pictures employees now face the grim prospect of extremely personal information bouncing around the internet forever. The documents lifted from company servers include email exchanges with employees regarding specific medical treatments they are undergoing, while one disciplinary letter details a manager's romantic relationship and business travel history with a subordinate. None of the names on any of the files are redacted.

In some cases, extensive stores of personal employee files — documents that have nothing to do with Sony corporate business — were included in the breach. One document swept up in the hack outlines the breastfeeding diet of a senior executive.

Leaked performance evaluations cover, sometimes in great detail, how individual employees failed to live up to the expectations of their managers. There are also detailed compensation reports for Sony's executives, including their last three years of compensation at Sony, their target bonus, actual bonus, and base salary. It also compares them to similarly situated employees in other companies and reviews their proposed contracts for the next three years.

Alongside that: Salary information on almost 7,000 employees, from those on multimillion-dollar contracts to those earning less than $ 21,000.

Some believe the leak may have been the work of hackers backed by the North Korean government, which has expressed outrage at an upcoming Sony Pictures comedy film, The Interview, which is built around an attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. North Korean officials have previously described the unreleased film as an act of war, and in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the country's United Nations ambassador said the film was a form of terrorism.

When asked by the BBC on Tuesday if their country was responsible for the Sony Pictures hack, a North Korean government spokesperson replied “wait and see.”

And this may be just the beginning. “We have much more interesting data,” the hackers said in an email sent to media, including BuzzFeed News. “If you find special interest, send an email.”

Matthew Zeitlin, Joe Bernstein, Anne Helen Petersen and Peter Lauria also contributed reporting to this story.

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BuzzFeed – Tech