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News Roundup: XPocalypse Now and Costly Wearables and Endless T&Cs

Social Media: Politics, Babies and Lawsuits

Studies into social media are numerous and often uninteresting. But occasionally some interesting things come up. A new one from the Harvard Institute of Politics looked into the political leanings of different social networks and found out where the Left and Right prefer to hang out. Are you a raging democrat? Head to Google+, Twitter or Tumblr. Staunchly Republican? Sadly Pinterest is the only place you’re in the majority. However the Washington Post Republican politicians have more followers on Twitter than their Democrat counterparts, showing the right-leaning crowd are more engaged.

Twitter’s recent profit woes won’t have been helped by the news that almost half its users have never sent a Tweet. The data from analytics company Twopcharts can’t say whether these are abandoned accounts or if there are millions of silent lurkers out there, but either way it doesn’t invoke images of an active community. The company also said 30% of existing Twitter accounts have posted less than 10 tweets while only 13% have sent more than 100 tweets.

Meanwhile over at Facebook it turns out there aren’t as many baby photos as you thought. One computer scientist at Microsoft decided to look at the Facebook activity of new mothers and found that while they post more photos, their general activity on the network drops by a half, and mentions of said baby are relatively infrequent. So perhaps your desire for a child of your own is just making you bitter?

Old & Tech Happy

If you are bitter, don’t fret. Just go buy a smartwatch or something, as it seems being tech savvy makes us all happier. Despite the online trolls, disconnection from reality and the threat of robots taking over the world, the more technically developed a country is, the happier that nation is on happiness indexes. Correlation doesn’t mean causation of course, but still it’s an interesting point.

And one segment of society finally catching up on tech is the elderly. According to Pew, technology adoption among seniors is the highest it’s ever been in the US, while in the UK tablets are helping get Grandma and Grandpa online. Just make sure you keep an eye on what they get up to.

Tales From The NSA and Other Shady Stuff

So in the same week the NSA release a nice paper explaining how all its spying works, a report from the White House calls for greater data privacy, but then demands Microsoft hand over data held on a server in Ireland. Conflicting messages much?

Meanwhile it turns out the secretly US-funded Twitter in Cuba was no isolated case. Similar projects were set up in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Sometimes governments were told about them, other times not, and closure usually results from a cut in funding. While officials may say it was a forum for free thinking, it’s not hard to see how certain agendas could be pushed by the people in charge.

Over in Europe, the now-ousted founder of Russia’s Vkontakte social network claims the Russian government requested the ability to spy on the accounts of Ukrainian rebels and he refused. With Putin’s recent changes to the country’s web laws and comments about the internet being a creation of the CIA and dominated by US tech companies, does anyone else think he’d be less aggressive if there were more Russian tech firms on the global stage?

XPocalypse Now

So the much-feared XPocalypse finally reared its ugly head this week in the form of a massive Internet Explorer vulnerability. Except instead of letting XP rot, Microsoft cracked and provided a patch for the aging OS even though it would be the perfect excuse to upgrade. The fools. Even more terrifying is the thought that Windows Server 2003 is due to be retired next year, and HP predict that 25,000 systems a day need to be upgraded in order to avoid the same kind of debacle we’ve seen with XP.

And despite all the bluster over Heartbleed (it even has its own logo!) it seems that a good chunk of the public at large wasn’t listening, or just didn’t care. According to Pew, over half [60%] of people were aware of the bug, while 39% both knew about it and actually changed their passwords. Some might be impressed by the high number considering how lapse most are about security, but that still leaves a big portion of people who might be in trouble, no?

Wearable Tech With A Serious Markup

Google Glass has come under a lot of fire in recent weeks and months for various reasons. But the Glasshole haters are only going to get louder after the news that the hardware might cost as little as 5% of the $1,500 price tag to make. Tech Insights pulled apart the device and estimated that it could cost as little as $80 to make. The WSJ reached out to Google, whose spokesman called the figure “Absolutely wrong.”

Money & Acquisitions!

More acquisitions going ahead this week; Tibco have acquired analytics vendor Jaspersoft, Opera have bought Mobile Ad startup Apprupt, open source giant Red Hat has got its hands on Ceph storage provider Inktank and Etsy bought Grand St. Nothing too exciting or world changing, so there you go.

Did You Read the T&Cs?

A couple of years ago, some researchers crunched the numbers and said it would take 76 working days to read all the Terms and Conditions of the sites we visit. Back then the average agreement was 2,500 words. Today a new study has looked at the word count and the complexity of the language, and things don’t look any better. LinkedIn had a 7294 word agreement, Wikipedia’s was 5773, and even the long forgotten Myspace requires a 5486 read. Not quite as long as Animal Farm, but still more of an effort than most are willing to put in. Pretty dangerous if you ask me.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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