Facebook Warned About Russia in 2014; Shopping on Phones Explodes, Top 5 Amazon Items; 10% iPhone Tariff Threat

Things just keep looking worse for Facebook when it comes to protecting user data. Businessinsider.com says a Facebook engineer warned the company in 2014 about a potential giant data issue involving Russia. This info is coming out after the British Parliament got hold of a cache of sealed Facebook documents. UK politician Damian Collins, who reviewed the documents, made the disclosure today at a hearing in front of the International Grand Committee. Mark Zuckerberg refused to show for the hearing, sending policy chief Richard Allen. Allen if this information had been given to an external body (like an agency of the US government) at the time. Allen refused to answer. The documents are sealed under court order in California, but they were published in the United Kingdom under UK parliamentary privilege.

A couple months back, a panicked friend told me ‘My phone is my life,’ as it was temporarily missing. That is more true that ever now. Cnet.com reports that total sales on smartphones through Cyber Monday was $2.2 billion, up from $1.4 billion last year! On Cyber Monday, phones accounted for 47% of traffic to online stores and 36% of actual sales. Overall Cyber Monday sales were $7.9 million, so the mobile component was substantial. Since the 1st of November $50.6 billion has been spent online, up 20% from last year!

Amazon has announced its 5 best sellers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Topping the list, according to bgr.com, the Amazon Echo Dot at $29.99 instead of $50 In the #2 spot, AncestryDNA: Genetic Testing Ethnicity (still on sale at $59 btw). The third place seller was the adored Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Programmable Pressure Cooker…still at $30 bucks off. Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones bagged the 4th place spot…and those are now sold out. #5 was Michelle Obama’s new book Becoming, which is still available at a $20 discount.

Yesterday, Donald Trump threatened to slap a 10% tariff on iPhones and MacBooks imported from China, and the stock acted accordingly. Today, Tim Cook is visiting an Idaho school district with Ivanka Trump to talk tech. Coincidence? I doubt it. So far, Cook has gotten Trump to lay off Apple products. Macrumors.com says in 2016 Apple donated an iPad to every student, a Mac and iPad to every teacher, and an Apple TV to each classroom via its ConnectED initiative. Will a ‘charm trip’ with Ivanka keep tariffs off Apple products again? Stay tuned.

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Fresh Apple Rumors; Microsoft Kills Russian Phishing Domains; Facebook Gives Us Reputation Score; Aston Martin Building 25 ‘Goldfinger’ DB5 Replicas

Several Apple tidbits seeped out yesterday. Businessinsider says Apple will release a new Mac Mini this fall aimed at pro users. The $500 Mini has no screen or keyboard, but you can hook them up and make it into an inexpensive computer. Often, however, they are used in computer rooms as remote computers and storage options for businesses. Also in the wings is a new laptop which will be like a MacBook Air. It’s unclear if it will BE an Air or just called MacBook, but will come with a 13 inch ‘Retina’ display…allegedly with a higher resolution than Apple uses on other products. It will also have thinner bezels around the screen.

In addition, Apple will be dropping new Watch models….they have registered 6 numbers with the EU. The Watch is supposed to get a bigger screen, better health sensors, and longer battery life. The Watch could bow with new iPhones..no date, but thought to be on September 12th if Apple follows previous years.

Finally, from Cupertino, the iPhones may be getting faster wireless charging. Presently, they can be charged at a maximum of 7.5 watts with a software update, but it looks like Apple will jump that up to 15 watts, matching what Samsung phones can do for wireless fast charging.

Microsoft has pulled 6 phishing domains that belong to Russian government hackers. They had been registered to the GRU military intelligence agency….the ones alleged to have stolen and leaked the hacked Clinton emails in 2016. Theverge.com says the domains were aimed at spoofing government targets like ‘senate.group’ and ‘adfs-senate-email.’ Others were aimed at the International Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute…two conservative think tanks which have been critical of President Trump. It appear that these domains had yet to be used, to Microsoft may have prevented more Russian interference into the 2018 election.

In an effort to fight gaming of their systems that has allowed malicious users to post fake news, and false reporting of true items as untrue, Facebook has started assigning users a reputation score ranging from zero to one. According to bloomberg.com, it’s not intended to be an absolute indicator of a person’s credibility, but it’s one of numerous behavioral clues the company is using to try to fight fake news and people who tag items as false just because they disagree with them. Academics are already complaining that Facebook isn’t being transparent about this, but OTOH, if they were, people would be able to more easily game this safeguard.

You may get a chance to buy a copy of one of the most legendary movie cars ever made. Aston Martin is going to build 25 new DB5 cars like the one featured in James Bond’s ‘Goldfinger.’ Arstechnica.com says the cars won’t have an ejection seats, and even though they won’t be street legal, probably won’t have machine guns, oil slick dispensers, or tire flatteners, but will have a rotating license plate. No word on the pop up bulletproof shield. Dust off your checkbook…they will go for $3.51 million bucks EACH!