Chinese Anonymity, BuzzFeed Banners and Bot Problems

Here’s the news we’re talking about around the Zbra Studios water cooler. We’ve provided key bullet points from each article for the speed readers out there.

China is forcing internet companies to end online anonymity
By Shannon Liao From The Verge
  • “China is cracking down on censorship once again, but this time things are a touch more serious. According to new rules published by China’s main internet censor last Friday, netizens who want to post comments online will now have to register with their real names.”
  • “…even the VPNs are beginning to fall under the relentless pressure of Chinese censorship. As of early August, Apple removed several VPN apps from the iTunes store in China, citing local law.”
  • “Now, China plans to do away with netizens’ last semblance of privacy by shifting the responsibility onto companies and service providers.”
BuzzFeed, Once A Banner-Free Zone, Embraces Ads
By CALE GUTHRIE WEISSMAN From FastCompany
  • “Along with lists, quizzes, and cat videos–and, more recently, breaking news–BuzzFeed has long been known for its refusal to host those annoying banner and square ads that clutter the pages of most other media sites.”
  • “So it came as a surprise yesterday when BuzzFeed announced plans to introduce ads on its desktop and mobile websites, using existing technology from Google and Facebook.”
  • “It may be true that display ads are now more relevant to readers than before. And while they are also likely to make BuzzFeed slower and more cluttered, who can blame the executives there for wanting to increase revenue?”
Twitter has a big bot problem
By John Biggs From TechCrunch
  • Twitter bots – robots that interact with humans – have a long history. The Twitter API is fairly easy to use (I made a bot that plays Zork with a friend two years ago) and there is little protection against creating new accounts automatically. This ease of use used to be great for programmers but now Twitter has a huge bot problem.”
  • “‘A huge collection of botted accounts — the vast majority of which should be easily detectable as such — may be able to abuse Twitter’s anti-abuse tools to temporarily shutter the accounts of real people suspected of being bots!’ wrote security researcher Brian Krebs.”
  • “‘’It’s hilarious that someone would even bother using bots on my account, but if bots were behind the temporary suspension, then Twitter may have some more issues around policing its platform,’ said Cox when I asked him about his experience.”

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