Posts tagged yahoo

NSA Hacks Yahoo, Google Data Centers
Via the Washington Post:

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.
By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.
According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.

As the Post notes, this program, called MUSCULAR, is unusual because while “the agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, [it] has not been known to use them routinely against US companies.”

In order to obtain free access to data center traffic, the NSA had to circumvent gold standard security measures. Google “goes to great lengths to protect the data and intellectual property in these centers,” according to one of the company’s blog posts, with tightly audited access controls, heat sensitive cameras, round-the-clock guards and biometric verification of identities.
Google and Yahoo also pay for premium data links, designed to be faster, more reliable and more secure. In recent years, each of them is said to have bought or leased thousands of miles of fiber optic cables for their own exclusive use. They had reason to think, insiders said, that their private, internal networks were safe from prying eyes.

Image: SSL Added and Removed Here! :). Slide from a NSA presentation demonstrating where an exploitation between the “Public Internet” and the “Google Cloud” can occur. Via Washington Post.

NSA Hacks Yahoo, Google Data Centers

Via the Washington Post:

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.

According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.

As the Post notes, this program, called MUSCULAR, is unusual because while “the agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, [it] has not been known to use them routinely against US companies.”

In order to obtain free access to data center traffic, the NSA had to circumvent gold standard security measures. Google “goes to great lengths to protect the data and intellectual property in these centers,” according to one of the company’s blog posts, with tightly audited access controls, heat sensitive cameras, round-the-clock guards and biometric verification of identities.

Google and Yahoo also pay for premium data links, designed to be faster, more reliable and more secure. In recent years, each of them is said to have bought or leased thousands of miles of fiber optic cables for their own exclusive use. They had reason to think, insiders said, that their private, internal networks were safe from prying eyes.

Image: SSL Added and Removed Here! :). Slide from a NSA presentation demonstrating where an exploitation between the “Public Internet” and the “Google Cloud” can occur. Via Washington Post.

Storyhunter Partners with AOL and Yahoo
Video freelancing platform Storyhunter.tv will soon stream its videos on the AOL.On and several of Yahoo’s Latin American channels. Founded by two video journalists, Storyhunter has a worldwide community of 1,500 freelancers who produce stories for the platform. In addition to profiling inspiring individuals, the freelancers cover a wide range of topics including sports, culture, and religion and belief. Most of them are locals to the countries they report on, which co-founder Alex Ragir says allows for a unique on-the-ground perspective, Nieman Journalism Lab reports: 

“I worked in the mainstream media for a long time, and sometimes the problem that happens is, when you have a targeted audience, you often end up trying to do stories that play off the stereotype that you think the audience holds,” says Ragir. “We wanted to let the story ideas come from the ground up.”
[…] Even professional video journalists like Karl Penhaul, who has freelanced for everyone from CNN to the Boston Globe and Reuters, and now Storyhunter, believe projects like this are beneficial to the integrity and quality of the craft.
“It’s not a cheap way of doing TV, it’s an intimate way of telling a story. A headline comes and goes, but if I tell you an intimate story of one person…then you remember that story,” he says. “It’s so simple and obvious, I think that big, old school media companies have forgotten it.”


Image: YouTube, Still of Storyhunter video opening sequence.

Storyhunter Partners with AOL and Yahoo

Video freelancing platform Storyhunter.tv will soon stream its videos on the AOL.On and several of Yahoo’s Latin American channels. Founded by two video journalists, Storyhunter has a worldwide community of 1,500 freelancers who produce stories for the platform. In addition to profiling inspiring individuals, the freelancers cover a wide range of topics including sports, culture, and religion and belief. Most of them are locals to the countries they report on, which co-founder Alex Ragir says allows for a unique on-the-ground perspective, Nieman Journalism Lab reports

“I worked in the mainstream media for a long time, and sometimes the problem that happens is, when you have a targeted audience, you often end up trying to do stories that play off the stereotype that you think the audience holds,” says Ragir. “We wanted to let the story ideas come from the ground up.”

[…] Even professional video journalists like Karl Penhaul, who has freelanced for everyone from CNN to the Boston Globe and Reuters, and now Storyhunter, believe projects like this are beneficial to the integrity and quality of the craft.

“It’s not a cheap way of doing TV, it’s an intimate way of telling a story. A headline comes and goes, but if I tell you an intimate story of one person…then you remember that story,” he says. “It’s so simple and obvious, I think that big, old school media companies have forgotten it.”

Image: YouTube, Still of Storyhunter video opening sequence.

Yahoo admits this blog is 75% air

cnnmoneytech:

Well, kind of.

The tech world reeled when Yahoo announced in May that it would buy Tumblr, the weblogs platform favored by those tech-savvy young ‘uns, for a total of $1.1 billion.

Five intriguing tidbits about the deal came out in Yahoo’s quarterly financial documents, which landed last night.

Most eye-popping: Yahoo bought Tumblr for $990 million (the remainder of the billion-plus total goes to founder David Karp and other Tumblr employees), and an incredible $751 million of that value was attributed to “goodwill.”

Goodwill is an accounting term for the worth of an intangible asset blahblahblah, and in this case it means brand value. So 75% of Tumblr’s value lies in its cool factor. (More details in our main CNNMoney story here.)

FJP: Read through for the rest but know who could have used a perception of cool? The Boston Globe. Founded in 1872, it sold to Boston Red Sox owner John Henry for $70 million. Or, if you take into account pensions and other debts, it sold for negative $40 million.

The Washington Post might wish it had some “goodwill” too. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, of course, just bought the 136-year-old paper for $250 million.

Takeaways: Don’t get old. Stay cool. Valuations are a weird gig.

Banning Porn
According to Smithsonian, the desire to ban porn exists all over the world. The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, wants all porn to be blocked from public spaces to maintain “clean Wifi.” There are websites exclusively dedicated to banishing porn in the U.S. And Iceland has even proposed to get rid of Internet porn altogether. 
Despite these efforts, The Economist points out that porn is impossible to eliminate from the Web. Algorithms can’t catch everything, which means to totally get rid of porn, humans would need to scour the Internet all day for inappropriate content. 
Slate writes that when Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, was met with suggestions to restrict porn on Tumblr for the sake of Yahoo’s reputation, she refused. The “Not Safe For Work” (NSFW) tag that Tumblr already offers is sufficient enough at filtering pornography, and Mayer wants Tumblr to maintain the “richness and breadth of content” that it’s known for. 
And that richness and breadth is going to be hard to beat back. An infographic by Paintbottle shows that 70 percent of men and 30 percent of women watch porn — with the average viewer visiting porn sites 7.5 times per month for an average of 12 minutes at a time.
Smithsonian says that one of the driving forces behind this porn paranoia is that children are learning about sex through porn and not sex education classes. Parents are afraid of porn’s influence on minors who aren’t properly educated on intercourse.
Apparently, this concern isn’t without merit. Aside from kids accidentally stumbling upon porn while web-surfing, porn shows up in public places. In Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast, a woman explains that a passenger had been watching porn on his portable DVD player in close proximity to herself, her daughter, and her young and impressionable granddaughter during their flight.
FJP: In an attempt to make porn more “appropriate,” L.A. County passed Measure B — a law forcing porn actors to use condoms in their scenes and to receive STD training before performing. The law also forces adult film producers to pay a fee for Department of Public Health inspections. 
So should your child stumble upon some pre-marital, raunchy, no-holds barred Internet sex, at least there will be a thin layer of latex to shield them from that silly strain of death-gonorrhea. - Krissy
Image: Found down in the NSFW, dirty depths of Tumblr. 

Banning Porn

According to Smithsonian, the desire to ban porn exists all over the world. The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, wants all porn to be blocked from public spaces to maintain “clean Wifi.” There are websites exclusively dedicated to banishing porn in the U.S. And Iceland has even proposed to get rid of Internet porn altogether. 

Despite these efforts, The Economist points out that porn is impossible to eliminate from the Web. Algorithms can’t catch everything, which means to totally get rid of porn, humans would need to scour the Internet all day for inappropriate content. 

Slate writes that when Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, was met with suggestions to restrict porn on Tumblr for the sake of Yahoo’s reputation, she refused. The “Not Safe For Work” (NSFW) tag that Tumblr already offers is sufficient enough at filtering pornography, and Mayer wants Tumblr to maintain the “richness and breadth of content” that it’s known for. 

And that richness and breadth is going to be hard to beat back. An infographic by Paintbottle shows that 70 percent of men and 30 percent of women watch porn — with the average viewer visiting porn sites 7.5 times per month for an average of 12 minutes at a time.

Smithsonian says that one of the driving forces behind this porn paranoia is that children are learning about sex through porn and not sex education classes. Parents are afraid of porn’s influence on minors who aren’t properly educated on intercourse.

Apparently, this concern isn’t without merit. Aside from kids accidentally stumbling upon porn while web-surfing, porn shows up in public places. In Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast, a woman explains that a passenger had been watching porn on his portable DVD player in close proximity to herself, her daughter, and her young and impressionable granddaughter during their flight.

FJP: In an attempt to make porn more “appropriate,” L.A. County passed Measure B — a law forcing porn actors to use condoms in their scenes and to receive STD training before performing. The law also forces adult film producers to pay a fee for Department of Public Health inspections. 

So should your child stumble upon some pre-marital, raunchy, no-holds barred Internet sex, at least there will be a thin layer of latex to shield them from that silly strain of death-gonorrhea. - Krissy

Image: Found down in the NSFW, dirty depths of Tumblr

MySpace was where you went in the past, WordPress and Movable Type were where people went if they had the patience and writing output to maintain a traditional blog, Facebook was where you went to define yourself by schools and checkboxes, and Tumblr was where you went to make your own identity and express your creativity.
Marco Arment (one of Tumblr’s early developers) in a nice little ode to David Karp and Tumblr, on Tumblr’s history and why he’s hopeful about Yahoo’s acquisition. If you’re still wary about the whole deal, it’s a nice read.
We Promise Not to Screw
Quick, someone teach the Yahoo social team how to use the Tumblr Twitter box. STAT.
Image: Automated tweet from Yahoo’s Tumblr to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s Twitter account.

We Promise Not to Screw

Quick, someone teach the Yahoo social team how to use the Tumblr Twitter box. STAT.

Image: Automated tweet from Yahoo’s Tumblr to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s Twitter account.

We promise not to screw it up.

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, announcing the company’s agreement to acquire Tumblr. On Tumblr, of course. Tumblr. + Yahoo! = !!

FJP: We’re wary, but let’s hope so.

Is Yahoo Trying to Acquire Tumblr?
All Things D reports that Yahoo is trying to get its cool on with a potential Tumblr acquisition:

Earlier this week, Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman spoke at JP Morgan’s Global Technology conference and underscored the need for the aging Silicon Valley Internet giant to attract more users from the coveted 18-to-24-years-old age bracket. Along with more marketing, he explicitly said Yahoo needed to be “cool again.” …According to sources close to the situation, that could mean a strategic alliance and investment in or outright buy of perhaps the coolest Internet company of late: Tumblr.

Adweek follows up saying a deal could be done by this weekend, adding:

Such an acquisition could be just what CEO [Marissa] Mayer has been looking for to turn around Yahoo’s momentum; Tumblr has the potential to excite the engineering/Silicon Valley community (even though it’s based in New York) while recapturing the imagination of advertisers, who have grown to view Yahoo as big but stale.
While its revenue is modest, Tumblr has positioned itself as one of the few players in the digital ad world that is well suited for brand advertising. And Tumblr is also the domain of the young, cool and creative crowd—not currently a Yahoo sweet spot.
From Tumblr’s point of view, the deal also would seem to make a lot of sense. The company has been looking to make a big exit to justify its huge valuation.

Over at GigaOm, Om Malik suggests Facebook might try to swoop in on a deal.:

We have heard that Yahoo is worried that Facebook could swoop in at the last minute and beat it to the buzzer. If the Instagram acquisition was any indication, then we shouldn’t doubt [Mark] Zuckerberg’s salesmanship. [Tumblr’s David] Karp is said to have a close relationship with Facebook and was recently spotted at the Facebook Home launch. Facebook could use the much needed younger 18-to-24 year old demographic, something it (successfully) tried to acquire with Instagram. A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.

Word of warning via 37signals: What happens after Yahoo acquires you:

Whether it’s Flickr, Delicious, MyBlogLog, or Upcoming, the post-purchase story is a similar one. Both sides talk about all the wonderful things they will do together. Then reality sets in. They get bogged down trying to overcome integration obstacles, endless meetings, and stifling bureaucracy. The products slow down or stop moving forward entirely. Once they hit the two-year mark and are free to leave, the founders take off. The sites are left to flounder or ride into the sunset. And customers are left holding the bag.

Sweet.

Is Yahoo Trying to Acquire Tumblr?

All Things D reports that Yahoo is trying to get its cool on with a potential Tumblr acquisition:

Earlier this week, Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman spoke at JP Morgan’s Global Technology conference and underscored the need for the aging Silicon Valley Internet giant to attract more users from the coveted 18-to-24-years-old age bracket. Along with more marketing, he explicitly said Yahoo needed to be “cool again.” …According to sources close to the situation, that could mean a strategic alliance and investment in or outright buy of perhaps the coolest Internet company of late: Tumblr.

Adweek follows up saying a deal could be done by this weekend, adding:

Such an acquisition could be just what CEO [Marissa] Mayer has been looking for to turn around Yahoo’s momentum; Tumblr has the potential to excite the engineering/Silicon Valley community (even though it’s based in New York) while recapturing the imagination of advertisers, who have grown to view Yahoo as big but stale.

While its revenue is modest, Tumblr has positioned itself as one of the few players in the digital ad world that is well suited for brand advertising. And Tumblr is also the domain of the young, cool and creative crowd—not currently a Yahoo sweet spot.

From Tumblr’s point of view, the deal also would seem to make a lot of sense. The company has been looking to make a big exit to justify its huge valuation.

Over at GigaOm, Om Malik suggests Facebook might try to swoop in on a deal.:

We have heard that Yahoo is worried that Facebook could swoop in at the last minute and beat it to the buzzer. If the Instagram acquisition was any indication, then we shouldn’t doubt [Mark] Zuckerberg’s salesmanship. [Tumblr’s David] Karp is said to have a close relationship with Facebook and was recently spotted at the Facebook Home launch. Facebook could use the much needed younger 18-to-24 year old demographic, something it (successfully) tried to acquire with Instagram. A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.

Word of warning via 37signals: What happens after Yahoo acquires you:

Whether it’s Flickr, Delicious, MyBlogLog, or Upcoming, the post-purchase story is a similar one. Both sides talk about all the wonderful things they will do together. Then reality sets in. They get bogged down trying to overcome integration obstacles, endless meetings, and stifling bureaucracy. The products slow down or stop moving forward entirely. Once they hit the two-year mark and are free to leave, the founders take off. The sites are left to flounder or ride into the sunset. And customers are left holding the bag.

Sweet.

Yahoo needs a copy editor.
Personalizing News for 700 Million People a Day 
Yahoo’s created a visualization about reading habits of the more than 700 million people that visit its sites each day.
Via ReadWriteWeb:

Every day, Yahoo displays about 13 million different news story combination on its homepage. Those stories are personalized based on demographic data and reading behavior, and the company keeps track of what kind of stories do well with which groups of people…
…To illustrate how this works, Yahoo has created an interactive data visualization that shows visitor traffic data in nearly real time. Using it, one can drill down into specific age groups, genders and story types to see what people’s aggregate reading habits look like.

To create the personalization Yahoo uses internally developed technologies called the Content Optimization and Relevance Engine (CORE).
Via Yahoo:

Looking at past user behavior, algorithms are combined with human editorial expertise to allow us to carry out deep personalization to our more than 700 million users, giving them “must read” stories that are interesting and relevant. This C.O.R.E. data visualization reveals some of the factors that influence the display of articles in the Yahoo! Today module.

The interactive visualization was created with JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3.
Image: Screenshot of Yahoo home page views by demographic and content category, via Visualize Yahoo.

Personalizing News for 700 Million People a Day

Yahoo’s created a visualization about reading habits of the more than 700 million people that visit its sites each day.

Via ReadWriteWeb:

Every day, Yahoo displays about 13 million different news story combination on its homepage. Those stories are personalized based on demographic data and reading behavior, and the company keeps track of what kind of stories do well with which groups of people…

…To illustrate how this works, Yahoo has created an interactive data visualization that shows visitor traffic data in nearly real time. Using it, one can drill down into specific age groups, genders and story types to see what people’s aggregate reading habits look like.

To create the personalization Yahoo uses internally developed technologies called the Content Optimization and Relevance Engine (CORE).

Via Yahoo:

Looking at past user behavior, algorithms are combined with human editorial expertise to allow us to carry out deep personalization to our more than 700 million users, giving them “must read” stories that are interesting and relevant. This C.O.R.E. data visualization reveals some of the factors that influence the display of articles in the Yahoo! Today module.

The interactive visualization was created with JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3.

Image: Screenshot of Yahoo home page views by demographic and content category, via Visualize Yahoo.

Yahoo, ABC Team Up For Online News

Via Slate:

Yahoo announced Monday that it has signed a deal with ABC News to feature the network’s original content on its Yahoo News website. Under the agreement, ABC News journalists such as Christiane Amanpour, Katie Couric, and Barbara Walters will produce video directly for the web, to be used on the Yahoo News site as well as ABC sites…

…While the two organizations will maintain editorial control of their own respective Web sites, they will co-produce coverage of major news and integrate their bureaus in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, Reuters reports. Their combined traffic will exceed that of their closest rival, CNN.com, by 25 million visitors.

If you’re still transforming, you’re still in business.

Ross Levinsohn, EVP, Yahoo at the paidContent Advertising Conference 2011, in response to the question of Staci Kramer, “How many times can Yahoo transform?”

For the whole article and live blogging, check out Paid Content

(via scribemedia)

People tell me that content is king, but that is not true at all. Most people make money pointing to content, not creating, curating or collecting content.

Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy and innovation officer at Vivaki, to the Wall Street Journal, Content Deluge Swamps Yahoo

The Wall Street Journal outlines how Yahoo and AOL are struggling with their ad-supported business models. 

In a nutshell: in the not so distant past having great scale almost guaranteed profits, but with the proliferation and commoditization of most content that’s not the case anymore.

As the article’s authors write

It’s a simple rule of any market. The more information that is created, the more the value is reduced. And despite attempts to woo spending with bigger, bolder and more targeted ads, services that help consumers navigate that content, namely search, remain the big money makers online.

In other words, services that make content discoverable either via search (Google) or social (Facebook) are thriving.

In 1998 Yahoo was charging CPM rates of $25, according to the Journal, that’s now down to $6.50. 

Semantic Web Gets a Boost

Via Technology Review:

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have teamed up to encourage Web page operators to make the meaning of their pages understandable to search engines.

The move may finally encourage widespread use of technology that makes online information as comprehensible to computers as it is to humans. If the effort works, the result will be not only better search results, but also a wave of other intelligent apps and services able to understand online information almost as well as we do.

The three big Web companies launched the initiative, known as Schema.org, last week. It defines an interconnected vocabulary of terms that can be added to the HTML markup of a Web page to communicate the meaning of concepts on the page. A location referred to in text could be defined as a courthouse, which Schema.org understands as being a specific type of government building. People and events can also be defined, as can attributes like distance, mass, or duration. This data will allow search engines to better understand how useful a page may be for a given search query—for example, by making it clear that a page is about the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, not five-sided regular shapes.

The article goes on to note that Schema.org standards support microformats microdata* rather than RDFa which is supported and promoted by the international Web standards body W3C.

Still, if it can gain traction, it’s a big step forward for machine understanding of all this content we’re throwing at the Web which, in turn, means a whole new class of applications using such data might be in our near future.

*Hat tip to Aaron Bradley (@aaranged) on Twitter for pointing out that it’s microdata, not microformats, that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are supporting.