Tech News

Facebook Guns, Snowden Phone, Free Getty Images, Minecraft Smoking [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 06-03-2014

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 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

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 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 7 Great Ways to Find Free Images Online For more day to day mundane uses, we need free images for decorate a blog post, seek inspiration, set a wallpaper, make a collage, or just finish the school homework. This post thus takes a... Read More .


Don’t Ban Bitcoin, Ban The Dollar Instead

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia recently called Spying On Yahoo, Bitcoin Feds, Apple Admiration, Minecraft Movie [Tech News Digest] GCHQ spies on Yahoo, Bitcoin vs. Federal Reserve, 25 years of Web, Apple admiration, Amazon's plans for music streaming, Warner Bros. making Minecraft movie, and working Game Boy revealed as the best cosplay ever. Read More 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 Goes Global, With Support For Mac Safari & PC HD Video Calling If you are an user and a Skype user, then it's a good day. Microsoft has rolled out a previously geo-restricted feature to all countries - Skype integration with Read More . 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 Quit Smoking By Yourself With These 5 Websites Quitting smoking will change your life and could potentially save it too. Unfortunately it's easier said than done. Cigarettes are highly addictive, which is why quitting tends to involve a process rather than just suddenly... Read More .

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks

Image Credit: Sir Mildred Pierce via Flickr


Related topics: Facebook, Microsoft Outlook, Minecraft, Skype.

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  1. Tom W
    March 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I'm glad that Facebook are moving to be more socially responsible when it comes to guns, but there are other issues it needs to face as well. A few days ago I saw an advert for a so-called "legal high" in the sidebar. These have proven to be dangerous, but the way that they're regulated means that each one has to be marked as "illegal" individually. Of course, I doubt that Facebook is going to move against its advertisers as quickly as it moved against gun sales by users.

    Something that always confused me about non-commercial image usage: if you run a blog with adverts on it, does that count as using the images for commercial use? The images themselves aren't directly bringing in money, like they would be if they were sold on. However, it could be argued that they increase the quality / desirability of the content, which increases the revenue that's likely to be gained from the blog post.

    • Dave P
      March 6, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Oh sure, drugs and legal highs are a serious problem. It appears Facebook needs some high-profile badgering before it will act.

      I've always understood commercial use to mean on a website that is making money. When we use Creative Commons images, for example, we only use those that are OK'd for commercial use. I'll do some more research though, as I'm not 100% sure on the legal terms.