View profile

Big Revolution - Who's reading your email?

Welcome to Tuesday's Big Revolution. Let's get straight into it... – Martin
July 3 · Issue #128 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Tuesday’s Big Revolution. Let’s get straight into it…

Big things you need to know today
- Ouch. Some Samsung smartphones are secretly sending users’ photos to their contacts. The company says it is aware of the bug with its SMS app.
- TechCrunch is doing well for scoops this week. Just yesterday, it reported that Facebook is to acquire UK natural language processing startup Bloomsbury AI, apparently to help in the fight against ‘fake news.’ And it also revealed that Anthony Levandowsky, the controversial figure at the centre of the now settled Uber/Waymo dispute is back with a new self-driving truck startup.
- China has reportedly developed a portable laser gun that, while ‘non-lethal,’ can “pass through windows and cause the 'instant carbonisation’ of human skin and tissues,” according to the South China Morning Post.
- Browser firm Opera has filed to go public on the Nasdaq.
- Facebook and Instagram may get ‘Do Not Disturb’ modes, according to TechCrunch. This would let you switch off notifications when you don’t want to be distracted by social media. The news comes as Instagram rolls out its 'all caught up’ feature, which helps you avoid mindlessly scrolling through old photos.
- Facebook is shutting down Moves, a simple but fun activity tracking app it acquired a few years ago. I wrote about it quite a bit in its early days, but it’s long languished without attention or updates. The company is also shutting down Hello and tbh, two other apps in a similar position.
The big thought
Credit: Jay Wennington on Unsplash
Who’s reading your email?
The Wall Street Journal set alarm bells ringing yesterday with an article that explained how sneaky companies could be reading your private email.
[Google] continues to let hundreds of outside software developers scan the inboxes of millions of Gmail users who signed up for email-based services offering shopping price comparisons, automated travel-itinerary planners or other tools. Google does little to police those developers, who train their computers—and, in some cases, employees—to read their users’ emails.
Scary stuff, right? Right. Although if you only got as far as what’s visible without going past the paywall, you might think some terrible wrongdoing had been uncovered.
As it is, the Wall Street Journal found a couple of cases where developers at Return Path and Edison Software used a selection of users’ emails to help train the A.I. that powers their services. In one example, this was to fix a bug, and in the other, it was in a redacted form that meant the humans involved couldn’t see who the emails were from and to. The email data was deleted after the work was completed.
This is in no way encouraging. These companies should have asked for specific permission from specific users before doing work like this. Even if they believed they were covered by their existing privacy policies, it’s just bad form to read emails without permission.
These cases are bad, but nowhere near as bad as they could be if the people behind such companies had genuinely dark intent.
It’s easy to forget that once you let a third-party company access your Gmail account, they almost certainly need to keep copies of your emails on their servers to work whatever magic it is they’re doing for you. 
Be careful who you trust, and regularly check your Google account’s ‘apps with account access’ section to make sure you know exactly who can see your stuff.
One big read
One Of The Web’s Most Prolific Online Marketing Writers Has Been Promoting His Clients In Articles For Forbes, Entrepreneur, And Inc. Magazine One Of The Web’s Most Prolific Online Marketing Writers Has Been Promoting His Clients In Articles For Forbes, Entrepreneur, And Inc. Magazine
What do you do if no-one will write about your company? Hopefully not this – pay someone to sneakily place mentions of you into their articles on well-known sites. Shady.
One big tweet
After reading this tweet, you almost don’t need to read the article it links to.
Isma'il Kushkush
A Polish environmental group placed a tracker on the back of a stork. The migratory bird traveled to Sudan, where someone found the tracker, removed the sim card, put it in their own phone and racked up hours worth of phone calls #PolishStork
8:42 PM - 2 Jul 2018
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow! In the meantime, please share Big Revolution with a friend if you enjoy it. Send them this link or forward this email.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Become a member for $5 per month
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Martin SFP Bryant
You can manage your subscription here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here
Powered by Revue