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Digital in 2018: Africa’s internet users increase by 20%

An annual report released by global digital agencies, We Are Social and Hootsuite, reveals that Africa has seen the fastest growth rates in internet penetration, with the number of internet users across the continent increasing by more than 20% compared to 2017.

The ‘Digital in 2018’ report shows that over half of the world’s population is now online (4.021 billion), with the latest data showing that nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017.

Key findings

Much of this year’s growth in internet users has been driven by more affordable smartphones and mobile data plans.

Users in Africa are up by more than 20 percent, with the reported number of internet users in Mali increasing by almost 6 times since January 2017.

The number of internet users in Benin, Sierra Leone, Niger, and Mozambique has more than doubled over the past year too.

More than 200 million people got their first mobile device in 2017, and two-thirds of the world’s 7.6 billion inhabitants (5.135 billion) now have a mobile phone.

Mobile penetration rates however remain below 50 percent across much of Central Africa.

Social Media

More than 3 billion people around the world now use social media each month, with 9 in 10 of those users accessing their chosen platforms via mobile devices.

There were 11 new users on social media every second of the year 2017 as 1 million people started using social media for the first time every day over the past year.

The latest data from GlobalWebIndex shows that the average internet user now spends around 6 hours each day using internet-powered devices and services – that’s roughly one-third of their waking lives.

Facebook’s dominance

Facebook’s core platform still dominates the global social landscape, with total users up 15 percent year-on-year to reach almost 2.17 billion at the start of 2018.

WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger both grew twice as fast as the core Facebook platform, with the number of people using each messenger app up by 30 percent.

WhatsApp is now the top messenger app in 128 countries around the world, compared to Facebook Messenger’s 72.

There are now only 25 countries around the world where a Facebook-owned app isn’t the top messenger platform.

Despite these impressive statistics for the instant messaging platforms, Instagram was the standout Facebook-owned app over the past 12 months, with the number of global users up by a third.

Data usage

Mobile data connections are getting faster all over the world, with GSMA Intelligence reporting that more than 60 percent of mobile connections can now be classified as ‘broadband’.

Average mobile connection speeds increased by more than 30 percent over the past year, a statistic that that is important since faster connections may also help to reduce stress.

Research has shown that delays of just a few seconds while buffering video content can trigger the same increase in anxiety levels as watching a horror movie on your own, or trying to solve a complex maths problem.

Partly thanks to these faster download speeds, the average smartphone user around the world now consumes almost 3GB of data every month – an increase more than 50 percent since this time last year.

 

Source: Africanews.com

Bitcoin falls below $6,000

The value of Bitcoin has fallen to below $6,000 – its lowest price since November 2017.

The price fell to $5,947.40 (£4,256.44) on Tuesday, according to a price index run by news website Coindesk.

Bitcoin reached its peak in November, when it hit $19,000, and then began to fall steadily from mid-December.

The latest fall comes a day after several major US and UK banks banned customers from using credit cards to purchase the digital currency.

Tightening legislation in several countries appears to have shaken confidence in crypto-currencies.

As of Tuesday:

  • The price of Ethereum, which at its height on 9 January was $1,255.89, fell as low as $574.42
  • Bitcoin Cash, which hit a peak $4,091.70 on 20 December 2017, slipped to $766.03
  • Litecoin, which reached $366.01 on 19 December 2017, dropped to $106.94

The assets later stage a partial recovery, with Bitcoin rising to about $7,418 before falling back again.

Source: BBC

Joy Geek Squad: Don’t enjoy porn with rooted phones; you’ll be left naked

If your phone is rooted and most of them are, and you visit porn sites which most people do, then you are no different from the person walking naked in the market because all your accounts details are already out there.

While you enjoy your porn, blackhat hackers will be enjoying your money, invade your privacy and leave you broke.

That is the revelation from the Joy Geek squad, the coolest technology programme on Joy FM every Tuesday 7:00pm to 8:00pm.

Hosted by Kobby Spiky Nkrumah, a car and technology freak, the maiden edition Tuesday, February 6, 2018 left many listeners with a dropped jaw.

More like having the proverbial devil and an angel for dinner at the same time, Nkrumah brought the Blackhat hacker (devil) and the Whitehat hacker (angel) on the Geek Squad to discuss the worrying issue of cyber fraud.

The Blackhat hacker drove listeners into the deep wells of fraud and how people are left vulnerable with their technological gadgets including ATM cards.

And the Whitehat hacker provided listeners with enough safety tips to protect them from the activities of blackhat hackers.

Do you know the laptop you are using now may have been compromised? If you want to find out how to solve that problem listen to the Geek Squad.

Please don’t ask me what a rooted phone is, just play the attached audio and listen.  Stop visiting porn sites on your phone because chances are that your phone is rooted.

And please don’t let me remind you again to listen because you won’t have me explaining to you what to do when your account has been hacked or when your phone has been compromised.  Catch you next week!!

 

Listen to the audio below:

Facebook 14th anniversary: CEO says mistakes were key to progress

Facebook, the global social networking platform, was started on February 4, 2004 by a 19-year-old student of Harvard University. Mark Zuckerberg, will years on become one of the most powerful persons in the world.

On the occasion of the 14th anniversary since he started Facebook in his university dormitory, the 33-year-old shared a message on his wall admitting mistakes made over the period and the need to continue to work to ensure a more connected world.

Facebook is currently headquartered in Menlo Park in the city of California. It has a series of subsidiaries to it, amongst others Oculus Virtual Reality, Pnavo, Whatsapp Incorporated, Atlas Solutions etc.

It’s a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come from that dorm room at Harvard and how far we still have to go to bring the world closer together.

Below is the full text of Zuckerberg’s message

“Today is Facebook’s 14th birthday.

“It’s a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come from that dorm room at Harvard and how far we still have to go to bring the world closer together. And it’s a moment to think about what we need to do better.

“Sometimes people ask what I’ve learned along the way. I was 19 when I started Facebook, and I didn’t know anything about building a company or global internet service. Over the years I’ve made almost every mistake you can imagine.

“I’ve made dozens of technical errors and bad deals. I’ve trusted the wrong people and I’ve put talented people in the wrong roles. I’ve missed important trends and I’ve been slow to others. I’ve launched product after product that failed.

The reason our community exists today is not because we avoided mistakes. It’s because we believe what we’re doing matters enough to keep trying to solve our greatest challenges — knowing full well that we’ll fail again and again, but that it’s the only way to make progress.

“We are still early in this journey and we will keep working to improve. That focus has always been our strength, and that’s what this year is all about.

“Bringing us closer together with our family and friends matters, and 14 years in I’m proud of what we do and grateful to be a part of something so meaningful.

“It’s an honor to be on this journey with you.”

 

Source: Africannews.com

Apple removes Telegram from app store

Telegram’s official app has been removed from Apple’s App Store.

It had been removed because it had made “inappropriate content” available to users, founder Pavel Durov said.

“Once we have protections in place we expect the apps to be back on the App Store,” he tweeted.

The removal came soon after Telegram launched an unfinished version of its “experimental” Telegram X app. Apple took down both the official messaging app and the one still being worked on.

On technology news site TechCrunch, Natasha Lomas speculated the new app could have fallen foul of Apple guidelines requiring all apps to have filtering and blocking systems as well as ways for offensive content to be removed quickly.

Telegram has been criticised by some governments for using end-to-end encryption that protects communication between users.

Some law enforcement agencies have complained this data-scrambling technique can make it hard to investigate some complex cases.

But earlier this week, a former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation for the UK government called the technology a “desirable fact of life”.

It did make some aspects of an investigation more difficult, but this was offset by the huge amount of information available from other generally less well protected sources, David Anderson added.

 

Source: BBC

Atari co-founder denied award over sexist behaviour

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell has “applauded” a decision that means he will not get an award for pioneering work on video games.

Mr Bushnell was due to receive the prestigious Pioneer Award at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March.

An outcry over his inappropriate sexual behaviour revealed in his autobiography led to the award being withdrawn.

In a statement, Mr Bushnell said he agreed with the decision to ensure the GDC “reflects what is right”.

‘Wildly inappropriate’

Soon after the GDC’s advisory committee announced that Mr Bushnell would be the recipient of the award, many game industry developers took to social media to voice their disquiet.

They pointed to anecdotes recounted in Mr Bushnell’s autobiography and in interviews he gave to Playboy and others, in which he spoke about his inappropriate behaviour and the sexually aggressive culture he encouraged at Atari.

Developer Brianna Wu said giving the award to Mr Bushnell would be “wildly inappropriate” given that the #metoo movement had exposed and condemned such behaviour in other industries.

Dr Gillian Smith, a professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, said: “While other industries are distancing themselves from the abusive and sexist behaviours of powerful men, GDC is giving a pioneer award to one of them.”

The protests led to the start of a #notnolan hashtag on Twitter that was widely used by many people in the game industry worried by the GDC’s decision to honour Mr Bushnell.

In his statement, Mr Bushnell said he backed the GDC’s decision because it demonstrated its wish to ensure people were treated with respect in the workplace.

Atari console games

He added: “And if that means an award is the price I have to pay personally so the whole industry may be more aware and sensitive to these issues, I applaud that, too.”

Mr Bushnell also issued an unreserved apology for any offensive behaviour in which he, or anyone that worked with him, had indulged.

Source: BBC

Samsung makes crypto-currency chips

Samsung Electronics has revealed it is making chips designed specifically to harvest crypto-currency coins.

The firm made the disclosure in its latest earnings report, where it said the activity should boost its profits.

The report also confirmed that the South Korean company overtook Intel to become the biggest chipmaker last year.

And it forecast strong demand for its forthcoming Galaxy S9 smartphone, which is due to be revealed on 25 February.

Samsung Electronic’s fourth quarter net profit totalled 12.3tn won ($11.5bn; £8.1bn), which was roughly in line with analysts’ expectations.

But its shares jumped nearly 9% after the company revealed that it was splitting its stock 50-to-1, which should encourage trade in the asset.

Asic’s advantage

For now, Samsung is providing little detail about its new crypto-currency business.

“Samsung’s foundry business is currently engaged in the manufacturing of crypto-currency mining chips,” it said in a statement given to the BBC.

“However we are unable to disclose further details regarding our customers.”

Mining, in this context, refers to solving complex mathematical problems as a means to verify crypto-currency transactions – a task for which the owners of the computers involved are rewarded with new digital tokens or “coins”.

The Bell, a Korean-language newspaper, has reported that the processors involved are Asic (application-specific integrated circuit) chips.

These are chips that are custom-designed to carry out a single task – in this case “mining” Bitcoin or another specific crypto-currency – but not general computing operations.

Until 2013, Asic chips were more commonly associated with the TV industry.

But that year, a New York-based entrepreneur began selling processors custom-designed for Bitcoin mining, which promised better performance and lower energy use than GPU (graphics processing unit) chips, which are still more commonly associated with the task.

In recent months, a shortage of high-end GPU cards has pushed up their prices, making the rival Asic technology even more appealing.

Mining rig

According to The Bell, Samsung completed development of its own Bitcoin-related Asic chip last year and began mass production earlier this month.

Until now, Taiwan’s TSMC was the only other major processor-manufacturer engaged in the activity.

One expert said Samsung’s move represented a bet that Bitcoin’s rise in value does not represent a bubble that is about to burst.

“We don’t know how low Samsung can sell its chip for and still be profitable,” said Garrick Hileman, a crypto-currency researcher from the University of Cambridge.

“But if Bitcoin’s price were to collapse and enter a bear market like in 2014 to 2015, one would wonder if Samsung would stay with this line of business through such a turn.”

Taking top spot

Samsung’s latest venture coincided with news that its semiconductors division logged 74.3tn won ($69.6bn; £49.1bn) of sales last year.

That compares with a figure of $62.8bn reported by Intel last week.

It marks the first time the US firm has not occupied the top spot since 1992, according to the Bloomberg news agency.

Samsung devices

Much of Samsung’s success is down to the popularity of its memory chips – it highlighted demand from the computer server and mobile device storage markets in particular.

Intel is hoping to increase its own market share in the sector by offering a new proprietary memory technology called 3D Xpoint, which it began selling last year.

However, it risks being distracted by the need to redesign its processor chips after a flaw with their current architecture was recently revealed.

 

Source: BBC

Facebook bans all cryptocurrency ads

Facebook has said it will block any advertising promoting cryptocurrency products and services.

The company said it was open to emerging technologies but many companies were not acting in “good faith” when extolling the virtues buying into virtual currencies.

Recently, a wave of new currencies have emerged, seeking to piggyback Bitcoin’s huge increase in value.

Facebook urged users to report any ads the company’s security measures missed.

It admitted it would not always catch every ad for a cryptocurrency.

“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception,” wrote Rob Leathern, product management director for Facebook Business.

“That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith.”

An ICO – initial coin offering – encourages people to buy into new cryptocurrencies before they launch in the hope they are one day worth a lot more money as the coin becomes more popular.

Some companies have used ICOs as a way to raise great sums of money, but without the regulatory burden associated with raising cash though more traditional investment channels.

Because of this, many ICOs have simply disappeared, with little recourse for the “investor” – a loose term, since those who pay into ICOs do not typically get a genuine stake in the new company.

Deception worries

Using Facebook ads to generate “buzz” around a new scheme could be a particularly effective method, especially when paired with celebrity endorsement. Retired boxer Floyd Mayweather was criticised last year for promoting a crytocurrency that later became the target of a lawsuit alleging deception. Mr Mayweather has not been accused personally.

Raising money using an ICO has been banned in South Korea and China, and regulators in other countries are warning against getting involved.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week said it had seized the assets of a firm that said it had raised $600m in its ICO.

Facebook said its new policy was “intentionally broad” and would evolve over time.

It states: “Ads must not promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings, or cryptocurrency.”

Under the new policy, advertising using phrases such as “New ICO! Buy tokens at a 15% discount NOW!” or “Use your retirement funds to buy Bitcoin!” would not be permitted, Facebook said.

For Facebook, the move is the latest attempt to protect the integrity of its advertising platform, which over the past 12 months has been under fire for enabling Russian propaganda and other inappropriate content.

Creepy web browser lets parents remotely SPY on their children’s online searches

It may sound like a plot-line from Black Mirror, but a new web browser has been launched that lets parents spy on their children’s online activity.

The browser, called Scout, has been developed by Monqi, and gives parents the power to view their children’s online searches and end any activity they deem inappropriate.

Monqi launched a child-friendly smartphone in October, and Scout is the latest in its line of parental controls that let parents control the phone remotely.

Using the Monqi app, parents can log in remotely and see what their child has been searching for through Scout.

Other features in the app include screen time restrictions and even the ability to remotely turn off the phone.

Frederik Albrechtsen, founder of Monqi, said: “Scout is the critical safety measure, which we know parents have been looking for.

“They want to allow their children to use technology, but we believe that it is important to stay involved and monitor how they use devices, now they can stop any inappropriate searches in real time, rather than periodically checking their child’s search history.

“This latest update to the Monqi, makes it unique in the marketplace and the best possible option for parents wanting to introduce tech safely.

“We are constantly developing smart solutions to keep children safe and allow parents to stay close and we will continue to share these with our customers.”

Monqi is now available to buy from Carphone Warehouse for £149.99.

 

Source: Mirror.co.uk

Apple CEO warns of social media dangers

Apple CEO Tim Cook is the latest in a series of tech entrepreneurs and c-level executives to warn of the potential risks of social media.

Speaking in the UK on Friday, Cook said:

I don’t have a kid, but I have a nephew that I put some boundaries on. There are some things that I won’t allow; I don’t want them on a social network.

He didn’t stop at social media. Cook also said he didn’t believe in the idea that the best technologies are those we become obsessed with. “I don’t believe in overuse [of technology]. I’m not a person that says we’ve achieved success if you’re using it all the time,” he said. “I don’t subscribe to that at all.”

Cook joins a multitude of tech personalities in recent years worrying about the negative impact of technology, and social media in particular, on our lives. Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, admitted last year that he’d helped Mark Zuckerberg build “a monster,” stating: “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

Another former Facebook exec, Chamath Palihapitiya, told a group at Stanford Graduate School of Business that the social network could be “destroying how society works” through “short-term, dopamine-driven, feedback loops.”

The two are far from alone in their concern about the effect of social media on our daily lives.

Facebook, for its part, has publicly stated it wants to help. After ending 2017 with an attempt to lure ever-younger children into its ecosystem, CEO Mark Zuckerberg now says he wants to “fix these important issues.”

The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent. … We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools.

It’s a good first step. For now, though, it’s just talk. Zuckerberg has yet to release a timeline or a roadmap stating how he’s going to address any of these issues. Or, more plainly, which of the social network’s numerous problems he plans to tackle first.

Source: Thenextweb

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