Zuckerberg Flubs Facebook Privacy Commitment Details

Over two days of questioning in Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that he didn't know key details of a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission that requires Facebook to protect user privacy.

With congressional hearings over and no immediate momentum behind calls for regulation, the biggest hammer still hanging over Facebook in the U.S. is a fresh FTC investigation . The probe follows revelations that pro-Trump data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica acquired data from the profiles of millions of Facebook users. Facebook also faces inquiries in Europe.

The 2011 agreement bound Facebook to a 20-year privacy commitment , and any violations of that pact could cost Facebook a ton of money, even by its flush-with-cash standards. If Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress is any indication, the company might have something to worry about.

Zuckerberg repeatedly assured lawmakers Tuesday and Wednesday that he believed Facebook is in compliance with that 2011 agreement. But he also flubbed simple factual questions about the consent decree.

"Congresswoman, I don't remember if we had a financial penalty," Zuckerberg said under questioning by Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette on Wednesday.

"You're the CEO of the company, you entered into a consent decree and you don't remember if you had a financial penalty?" she asked. She then pointed out that the FTC doesn't have the authority to issue fines for first-time violations.

In response to questioning by Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Zuckerberg acknowledged: "I'm not familiar with all of the things the FTC said."

Zuckerberg also faced several questions from lawmakers about how long it takes for Facebook to delete user data from its systems. He didn't know.

The 2011 consent decree capped years of Facebook privacy mishaps, many of which revolved around its early attempts to follow users and their friends around the web. Any violations of the 2011 agreement could subject Facebook...

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AMD Unveils Second-Generation Ryzen Processors

AMD has announced preorders on Ryzen 2nd generation processors are officially live now and the chips are due to arrive on April 19.

AMD's newest processor family includes four processors: the Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 7 2700, Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 5 2600. Both the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 2700 feature eight cores, 16 threads and, as rumored, a higher base/boost clock speeds over the previous Ryzen 7 1700X and 1700 CPUs.

The $329 Ryzen 7 2700X features a 3.7 GHz base clock, 4.3 GHz boost clock and 20MB cache, but a higher 105W TDP -- up from the 95W Ryzen 7 1700X.

The $299 Ryzen 7 2700 is a touch slower with a 3.2 GHz base, 4.1 GHz boost, 20MB and a lower 65W TDP because of lower overclocking capabilities.

The 2nd generation Ryzen 5 kicks off with two six core and 12 thread options: the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 5 2600. The Ryzen 5 2600X costs $229, and comes with a 3.6 GHz base clock with a 4.2 GHz boost, 19MB of cache and 95W TDP.

Meanwhile, the Ryzen 5 2600 costs $199, and is also a hair slower at 3.4 GHz and 3.9 GHz base and boost clock speeds, respectively -- along with 19MB cache and 65W TDP.

While it might seem like AMD's non-X suffixed chips are getting the short end of the stick, the pricing between all the parts is fairly close. So it doesn't seem like AMD is placing as much of a premium on the Extended Frequency Range (which is exclusive to X variants) and overall greater overclocking abilities of the 2700X or 2600X.

Ryzen 2nd generation is shaping up to be almost everything the rumors suggested it would be, from top speeds to pricing. Of course, stay tuned for our reviews on these hot...

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Don’t Forget To Stand: Sitting May Thin Memory-Related Brain Area

If you want to take a good stroll down memory lane, new research suggests you'd better get out of that chair more often.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have found that in people middle-aged and older, a brain structure that is key to learning and memory is plumpest in those who spend the most time standing up and moving. At every age, prolonged sitters show less thickness in the medial temporal lobe and the subregions that make it up, the study found.

The prospect of thinning in the brain's medial temporal lobe should spark plenty of worry.

Some loss of volume in this region occurs naturally as we age, and the result is poorer episodic memory -- the kind which brings to mind events in one's past.

But shrinkage of the brain and its memory centers becomes particularly pronounced in dementia, and thinning of the cortex probably contributes to that. Even before Alzheimer's disease steals memories, the condition begins to change the density and volume of the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, memory-making structures that lie at the heart of the medial temporal lobe.

The findings are based on interviews and tests of 35 cognitively healthy people between the ages of 45 and 75. Researchers at UCLA's Semel Institute and its Center for Cognitive Neurosciences queried the volunteers about their physical activity patterns and scanned their brains in an MRI. Then they gauged how self-reported sitting time or physical activity levels corresponded to thickness in these critical brain structures.

The study subjects reported average sitting times of three to 15 hours a day. After adjusting for their subjects' ages, the researchers found that every additional hour of average daily sitting was associated with a 2% decrease in the thickness of the medial temporal lobe.

The research suggests that, compared to a person who sits for 10 hours...

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NASA Ups Its Planet-Hunting Game with the Launch of TESS

On a cold, clear night in January, MIT astrophysicist George Ricker and his students stepped onto a rooftop on campus and aimed a giant camera at the highest point in the sky.

That camera, an engineering model of the four being launched with NASA 's TESS mission, revealed a night thick with stars.

"In two seconds you could see things that were a hundred thousand to a million times fainter than what you could see with your naked eye," said Ricker, the mission's principal investigator.

The test offered a small taste of what TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, will discover after it launches as early as Monday afternoon. The spacecraft will scan almost all of the sky for neighboring stars, searching for the dips in their brightness that signal the presence of a planet.

The goal: To find planets that are smaller than Neptune, with a radius less than about four times that of Earth. Scientists will then use other telescopes to measure the masses of 50 of them.

A few worlds TESS finds may be small, rocky bodies like Earth. And a few of those might, just possibly, be habitable places for life as we know it.

"It's very exciting," Ricker said. "We're getting a chance to potentially answer a question that humanity's always been interested in: What's in the sky? And are there other beings, other places like Earth?"

NASA has employed space-based telescopes to find answers to these questions for decades.

Hubble and Spitzer have spent part of their missions searching for exoplanets, which are planets that orbit stars other than the sun.

Kepler was a full-time planet-hunter, and it revolutionized astronomers' understanding of exoplanets. Launched in 2009, it was particularly interested in finding Earth-sized planets orbiting sun-like stars at a distance where water on the surface could be stable in liquid form -- the...

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After 2 Days of Congressional Hearings, What’s Next for Facebook?

The world learned a few new things during Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's second day of congressional testimony on Wednesday. One, Zuckerberg revealed he was among the 87 million Facebook users whose data was improperly accessed by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. And, two, Wall Street investors feel pretty positive about both Zuckerberg's performance and Facebook's continued business prospects.

After five hours of answering questions before a joint Senate committee hearing Tuesday, the social media giant co-founder spent another five hours yesterday being grilled by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. A number of observers described yesterday's session as tougher than the previous day's, but that didn't seem to hurt Facebook's stock value, which ended the day higher than it started.

Zuckerberg spent the past two days in Washington, D.C., following ongoing revelations about the role his platform played in manipulating and misleading voters ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as its use by bad actors spreading hate speech and fake news. At the center of much of the questioning he faced was Cambridge Analytica, the U.K.-based firm that worked for President Donald Trump's campaign, during which that company reportedly misused the personal information of millions of Facebook users.

A 'Superstructure for Political Discourse'

Zuckerberg began his testimony yesterday in much the same way he did during Tuesday's appearance before a joint meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. He described Facebook as an "idealistic and optimistic company . . . focused on all the good that connecting people can bring." He also acknowledged that in the past his platform has not done enough to prevent "fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech," and apologized, taking personal responsibility for those failures.

Since the 2016 election, Facebook has made a number of...

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RIP: Is It the End of the Road for Passwords?

A new web standard is expected to kill passwords, meaning users will no longer have to remember difficult logins for each and every website or service they use.

The Web Authentication (WebAuthn) standard is designed to replace the password with biometrics and devices that users already own, such as a security key, a smartphone, a fingerprint scanner or webcam.

Instead of having to remember an increasingly long string of characters, users can authenticate their login with their body or something they have in their possession, communicating directly with the website via Bluetooth, USB or NFC.

"WebAuthn will change the way that people access the Web," said Jeff Jaffe, chief executive of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the body that controls web standards.

One example of how WebAuthn will work is that when a user visits a site they want to log into, they input a user name and then get an alert on their smartphone. Tapping on the alert on their phone then logs them into the website without the need for a password.

WebAuthn promises to protect users against phishing attacks and the use of stolen credentials as there will be nothing to steal, the authentication token is generated and used once by their specific device each time the user logs in.

"After years of increasingly severe data breaches and password credential theft, now is the time for service providers to end their dependency on vulnerable passwords and one-time-passcodes and adopt phishing-resistant FIDO Authentication for all websites and applications," said Brett McDowell, executive director of the FIDO Alliance, one of the bodies pushing the new standard.

WebAuthn should also help people use unique login details for each and every service they use, instead of using the same login and password for every site, which many people still do leaving them vulnerable to further attacks...

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IRS Boosts Customer Service, But Needs More Funding

The IRS has dramatically improved its customer service from the terrible days at the end of the Obama administration, but advocates of the agency say it still needs more money if it's to set itself on firmer footing for the long haul.

As of last month, as the annual tax filing deadline neared, the agency was answering about 78 percent of the calls to the agency's main toll-free assistance line -- in line with last year's levels and a significant improvement from the 38 percent rate in 2015.

The average call is also answered in 6 minutes, according to a Treasury inspector general's report released this week -- down dramatically from a more than 30 minute wait that greeted the average caller over the course of 2015.

Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, pointed directly to a $290 million boost for the agency -- including $178 million for taxpayer services -- in a December 2015 spending bill as the reason for the better service levels.

He said the additional funding has led to the hiring of more temporary telephone operators, which also cuts down on wait times.

"It is clear that additional funding has a positive effect on helping taxpayers who have questions," Mr. Reardon said.

The agency has pushed for better service after being blasted for its poor record in the past -- though IRS leaders say they do have to make choices between spending on better cybersecurity, combatting identity theft and improving customer relations.

"Taxpayer service is very important," acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter said earlier this year. "When we put the budget together, in a finite world you have to make some decisions."

He said the public can expect the higher levels of service to tick back down if the agency doesn't get enough money going forward.

The recently passed $1.3 trillion...

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Exclusive: Amazon Now Has More than 70 Private-Label Brands

After Amazon launched its first private-label brands in 2009, the company took a four-year hiatus before it created any more. And when it got back into the game with the launch of its own diaper brand in 2014, it was an embarrassment; a design flaw led the company to pull poop pouches off of its virtual shelves less than two months after launch.

How things have changed.

Since the start of 2017, Amazon has gone on a private-label rampage, releasing at least 60 of its own brands -- predominantly in the clothing, shoes and jewelry categories, according to a new study from the research firm L2. Amazon now sells more than 70 of its own brands by Recode's count, after checking L2's list with Amazon.

With the rapid expansion, the company has silently delivered a message to retailers and brands that have shrugged off its earlier private-label launches as simply tactics that many retailers employ: We're going big.

"We take the same approach with private label as we do with anything here at Amazon: We start with the customer and work backwards, aiming to bring them products we think they will love," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to Recode. "We continue listening and learning from customers as we expand our selection."

She pointed out that Amazon's Mama Bear line recently expanded into diapers and baby food pouches, and Presto, which started with laundry detergent, has added household paper towels and toilet paper to its product line. The company also has created its own furniture lines with Rivet and Stone & Beam.

In fashion, Amazon started out in 2016 with brands like the women's contemporary line Lark & Ro and the kids clothing label Scout & Ro. But more recently, it has added denim brands like Hale and a sweater collection called Cable Stitch.

Retailers typically...

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Edmunds: 7 Things To Know About New Car Warranties

Most of us know the new-car basic warranty, often referred to as the "bumper-to-bumper warranty," is designed to protect the owner against any factory defects during the first few years of ownership. But did you know this coverage doesn't actually apply to the bumpers? The vehicle's bumpers are considered body panels and so aren't covered.

The basic warranty is just one kind of coverage that comes standard on a new car. Here's an overview of new-car warranties and seven things you might not know about them:

Warranty Basics

A new car comes with a basic or limited warranty, which covers everything except body panels, drivetrain components and wear-and-tear items such as brake pads, oil filters and wiper blades.

It also comes with a drivetrain warranty, which covers most of the parts that make the car move, such as the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft. Most carmakers provide roadside assistance. Some also offer free maintenance for a period of time.

Fine Print on 10-Year Powertrain Warranties

Automakers Hyundai, Kia and Mitsubishi tout their decade-long powertrain warranties, and that's great for new-car buyers who plan to hold on to their car for a while. But if you plan on buying one of those cars used, that 10-year warranty doesn't apply to you. You'll only get a five-year, 60,000-mile warranty dating from when the vehicle was first sold. A partial way around this issue is to buy the car as a certified pre-owned vehicle from a dealership. If there was a 10-year powertrain warranty, you'll get the remainder of that term, probably seven or so years.

Tires Have a Separate Warranty

New-car tires are not covered by the vehicle's basic warranty. Instead, the warranty comes from the tiremaker, and it's outlined in a booklet you should find in your new car's glove box. The tire warranty protects against premature tire...

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Zuck in DC: What We Learned about Facebook’s Data Practices

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg faces a second day of grilling before Congress today. Yesterday, Zuckerberg spent five hours fielding questions about how his company handles users' personal data and how it plans to prevent others from misusing that information to spread false news stories, manipulate public opinion, fuel hate, and affect elections.

In what many noted was poetic irony, considering the large volume of private data Facebook gathers about its users, Zuckerberg's printed notes from yesterday's hearings were captured in a photograph by AP photographer Andrew Harnik. Among other things, the snapshot revealed Zuckerberg's prepared responses to "attack" comments by officials ("Respectfully, I reject that. Not who we are.") and acknowledgments that the company has been slow in improving how it handles data.

Zuckerberg was called to testify following multiple news reports in recent weeks detailing how Facebook data was used without people's knowledge to target likely voters for President Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 election, drive misinformation campaigns by malicious actors in Russia and elsewhere, and enable ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

Facebook 'Doesn't Feel Like' a Monopoly

A number of observers concluded that Zuckerberg generally handled the questioning well during his appearance before a joint meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Others criticized senators for asking softball questions or revealing how little they understood about the technical complexities they were investigating.

However, some questions clearly put Zuckerberg on the spot. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina), for example, asked whether Facebook has any meaningful competition.

"If I buy a Ford, and it doesn't work well, and I don't like it, I can buy a Chevy," Graham noted. "If I'm upset with Facebook, what's the equivalent product that I can go sign up for? . . ....

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