Today in Tech News Digest, Facebook regulates gun sales, the Snowden Phone is a thing, Getty Images concedes defeat, a Congressman calls for the U.S. dollar to be banned, look out for Skype on Outlook, and using Minecraft to quit smoking.
Facebook Introduces Gun Regulation
Facebook shifts on guns, and gun control groups claim victory. So does the NRA. What really happened: http://t.co/gWrJbGCJ9S
— David Streitfeld (@DavidStreitfeld) March 6, 2014
Facebook has decided to act to regulate gun sales made on the social networking site. Billed as “new educational and enforcement efforts for people discussing the private sale of regulated items,” the new rules suggest Facebook is trying to walk the line between free speech and social responsibility.
The new measures have been instituted in the wake of a lengthy campaign against the promotion and sale of guns on Facebook and Instagram. The controversy peaked when VentureBeat proved it was possible to buy a gun on Facebook in just 15 minutes.
As a result of the changes, only users over 18 will be able to discuss the sale of firearms, a message will be sent reminding the people involved to comply with relevant laws, and “in-app education” will be added to Instagram.
All of which sounds good but isn’t likely to dissuade determined individuals from buying firearms online.
FreedomPop Announces Snowden Phone
— Engagor (@engagor) March 6, 2014
FreedomPop has announced a new smartphone designed to counter recent efforts by certain governments to spy on us all. FreedomPop’s new device is officially called the Privacy Phone but lovingly nicknamed the ‘Snowden Phone‘ after the former NSA employee and current whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The Privacy Phone offers 128-bit encryption for voice calls and text messages, a VPN for all Internet and app usage, and the option to change numbers at any time. The Privacy Phone costs $189 to buy and $10 a month for the data plan. All of which can be paid using Bitcoin for an extra level of anonymity.
Getty Images Offers Free Embeds
Getty Images just made 35 *million* photos free for use by publishers! But there’s a catch; here are the ins and outs http://t.co/RbRgmaE4Be
— Nieman Lab (@NiemanLab) March 6, 2014
Getty Images has made its portfolio of 35 million photos free to use for all but commercial purposes. These photos were previously watermarked and had to be paid for, but thanks to a clever embedding system, photos from the Getty Images catalog can now be placed onto websites and blogs.
The thinking behind this move is that photos from Getty Images were already available everywhere anyway, and Getty Images wants to change with the times. However, while the photos will initially be free of advertising, Getty Images suggests ads could appear at a later date and be presented in a similar way to YouTube embeds.
Which is something to bear in mind before blithely switching away from alternative sources of free photos.
Don’t Ban Bitcoin, Ban The Dollar Instead
— David Wolman (@davidwolman) March 6, 2014
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia recently called for Bitcoin to be banned. Now, in an act of pure retaliation, Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado has suggested the U.S. dollar be banned instead.
The difference between the two is that Polis wasn’t being serious and didn’t actually send the letter to financial regulators. Rather, his suggestion was a satirical response to the ludicrousness of Manchin’s call for a ban on Bitcoin.
So, we have found a politician who is not only funny but also understands technology? Wonders will never cease.
Skype Comes To Outlook
Skype for Outlook, which sees Microsoft’s messaging service being integrated into Microsoft’s email service, has been rolled out worldwide. Skype for Outlook was previously restricted to just a handful of countries, but it has now been opened up to everybody. Users of both services have a reason to be happy, but everyone else can carry on as they were… not using Microsoft services.
How To Quit Smoking With Minecraft
And finally, a new weapon in the fight to persuade people to quit smoking has been revealed, with a Swedish non-profit organization using Minecraft to reach youngsters tempted to become dedicated smokers.
A Non Smoking Generation has opened what it calls a Fear Clinic inside the popular game. Swedish youngsters are invited to visit the virtual Fear Clinic, where a real psychologist is on hand to discuss the addiction for three hours a day.
As it’s free it surely beats nicotine patches and electronic cigarettes as a first line of defense.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks
Image Credit: Sir Mildred Pierce via Flickr