Google’s Waze is a ‘stalking app,’ claim US police – The Next Web


Waze Screenshot

Do you use Waze? Do you think these concerns are well–founded?

In 2013, Google acquired Waze, which combines GPS navigation with a social community, for $966 million. It offers free real-time traffic guidance and warnings about issues including congestion, car accidents, speed traps, traffic cameras, construction work, potholes and unsafe weather.

The complaints against Waze were triggered by Sergio Kopelev, a reserve deputy sheriff in Southern California, who believes the user-submitted reports about officers’ locations make it a danger to police.

Kopelev says he had not heard about Waze until late last year when his wife began using it. He then began thinking about how the app could be used to target officers.

Another officer, Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia, who is also chair of the National Sheriffs Association’s technology committee, told The Guardian, that the police-reporting feature, which he deems a “police stalker,” is dangerous.

Both men raised their concerns during a meeting of the organization in Washington. They referred to the Instagram account of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who is accused of fatally shooting two NYPD officers last month. He posted a Waze screenshot along with messages threatening police. However, investigators do not believe he used Waze to ambush the men.

via Google’s Waze is a ‘stalking app,’ claim US police – The Next Web.

Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem Of Hell | TechCrunch


Here’s one from the archives, appearing about this time last year, the last time I taught the course.

Last weekend I wrote about how the big social gaming companies are making hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue on Facebook and MySpace through games like Farmville and Mobsters. Major media can’t stop applauding the companies long enough to understand what’s really going on with these games. The real story isn’t the business success of these startups. It’s the completely unethical way that they are going about achieving that success.

In short, these games try to get people to pay cash for in game currency so they can level up faster and have a better overall experience. Which is fine. But for users who won’t pay cash, a wide variety of “offers” are available where they can get in-game currency in exchange for lead gen-type offers. Most of these offers are bad for consumers because it confusingly gets them to pay far more for in-game currency than if they just paid cash (there are notable exceptions, but the scammy stuff tends to crowd out the legitimate offers). And it’s also bad for legitimate advertisers.

The reason why I call this an ecosystem is that it’s a self-reinforcing downward cycle. Users are tricked into these lead gen scams. The games get paid, and they plow that money back into Facebook and MySpace in advertising, getting more users. Who are then monetized via lead gen scams. That money is then plowed back into Facebook and MySpace in advertising to get more users…

Here’s the really insidious part: game developers who monetize the best (and that’s Zynga) make the most money and can spend the most on advertising. Those that won’t touch this stuff (Slide and others) fall further and further behind. Other game developers have to either get in on the monetization or fall behind as well. Companies like Playdom and Playfish seem to be struggling with their conscience and are constantly shifting their policies on lead gen.

The games that scam the most, win.

via Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem Of Hell | TechCrunch.

Do you play any online games?

USA’s Social TV Campaign for “Psych” Scores With Fans


 

In the taxonomy of “Artifacts and Devices,” this would be known as a “mashup.” It’s using the underlying technologies of more than one social networking site through their published APIs (application programming interfaces). Do you “check in” to TV shows when you are watching? What are the implications of doing so?

USA Network launched a fun new interactive social media mystery game tie-in for its hit TV show Psych.

The game is called #HashTagKiller and it takes place on the Web using Facebook’s Open Graph API. The game launched on Wednesday and will unfold online over the next seven weeks. The game uses video created with the cast specifically for the game, as well as puzzles, clues and Facebook messages between series leads Shawn and Gus.

Users can visit hashtagkiller.com to get started and sign up using Facebook. We had a chance to talk to Jesse Redniss, VP of digital about the campaign, Psych and the state of social TV.

via USA’s Social TV Campaign for “Psych” Scores With Fans.