Dear Instagram, We Hate The Stupid Algorithm — Sincerely, Every User

It’s dumb, it’s wrong, it’s counterproductive, it’s rude, it’s frustrating, it’s confusing, it’s downright evil. All these things and a lot more can be said about a stupid algorithm created by really smart people.

That’s just it, the Instagram executives are too smart for their own good. They think they’re helping us and their financial bottom line at the same time by having the algorithm only show us what they think we want to see.

What they failed to remember is that the number one most functionally amazing technology ever created to tell Instagram with extreme accuracy what I want to see in chronological order is the follow button!

The follow button was masterfully crafted with 100 percent accuracy to show users only what they want to see in their feed.

The other aspect that these extremely book smart—but clearly not street smart—IG executives failed to realize when deciding what posts are most relevant to show us, based on our previous engagement with accounts, is that there’s lots of accounts that we’re forced to engage with for political reasons—like if my nephew, mother-in-law or co-worker posts something, I’m obligated to “like” it.

On the flip side of that, I’m never going to like an @anacheri photo because it’s too sexy and my wife would be infuriated, and I’m never going to comment on @danbilzerian’s exploits on his page in fear of getting in trouble as well.

But it obviously doesn’t mean that i don’t wanna see Ana and Dan’s posts just because I don’t engage with them. It’s far from that! I’m on Instagram to get a rush of endorphins to feel good, so I’d much rather see their entertaining content than my cousin’s dinner salad.

But with the way the algorithm works, I may never get those endorphins because it may push those pages way down in my feed or completely ignore them, all at the algorithm’s discretion.

The other major issue that every single social media influencer hates deep in their souls is that Instagram “cut the reach” just like Facebook did. So now if you have 1,000,000 followers, you may only get 16,314 views on a video because Instagram is planning on charging influencers and brands to expand their reach.

So even though influencers, models, makeup artists, athletes, musicians and celebrities worked years to build up Instagram to be the most compelling app in history, the execs don’t want the influencers to charge for advertisements/sponsorships on their pages.

At the same time, they expect the content creators to pay for reach on their posts.

Influencers and 16-year-old kids alike check back into Instagram many times a day to get their dopamine fix. That addictive feeling is caused by the release of dopamine into our bodies.

Again what Instagram execs have failed to realize or take notice of is that many users with large and small followings post much less frequently because they’re physically stressed out about how few likes/views/comments they get nowadays, due to the limited reach.

The lack of engagement is embarrassing. It causes emotional distress and truly pulls the fun out of the most impressive app of all time.

We know Instagram needs to sell ads, and we’re all at peace with that.

What we’re not happy about is that they knocked the wind out of our sails by cutting the reach, and they confused the heck out of us by switching away from chronological order—for instance, displaying our aunt’s post from 10 hours ago at the top of our feed instead of a post from our friend who just posted two min ago. A post from a friend no less from the same college basketball game that we’re attending so that we could meet up in the arena.

In conclusion, I hope this sentiment gets shared enough so that the the top brass at Instagram sees it.

If the Instagram corporate account posted a VOTE asking how many people like the reach being cut, or a second vote asking if users appreciate the non-chronological order, they would receive a landslide of votes that may finally be the wake-up call they need to see that we all loved the old instagram.

Microsoft Bashes NSA Following Massive Ransomware Attacks


Microsoft this weekend unleashed its wrath on the National Security Agency, alleging it was responsible for the ransomware attack that began last week and has spread to thousands of corporate, government and individual computer systems around the world.

Microsoft Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith launched a blistering attack on the NSA and governments worldwide, equating the ransomware attack with the U.S. military allowing the theft of a Tomahawk missile cache.

“This is an emerging pattern in 2017,” Smith wrote Sunday in an online post. “We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on Wikileaks and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world.”

The attack illustrated a “disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today — nation state action and organized criminal action,” Smith said.

Governments should treat the attack — which has impacted more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries, according to Trump administration officials — as a wake-up call, Smith added, reiterating Microsoft’s call for a Digital Geneva Convention to govern the worldwide use of cybertools.

New Variants Popping Up

The WannaCry exploit is part of a trove of hacking tools the Shadow Brokers allegedly stole from the NSA and then leaked to the Internet. The attack mechanism is a phishing operation that encrypts files using the AES-128 cipher, and demands a ransom ranging from US$300 to $600 in bitcoins in order for the data to be released.

WannaCry has targeted computers using Windows systems, particularly legacy systems. Microsoft earlier this year issued a patch to protect computers from the malware, but in many parts of the world, users of Windows XP or Windows Vista failed to upgrade their systems or download the patch.

Microsoft issued a new patch last week, as well as a patch that would cover the legacy systems, as it stopped providing routine upgrades for them last month.

Two additional variants of the WannaCry malware were patched versions — rather than recompiled versions from the original authors — according to Ryan Kalember, senior vice president of cybersecurity at Proofpoint, which helped stop the original strain of the virus last week.

The first variant, WannaCry 2.0(a) pointed its kill switch to a different Internet domain, which promptly was registered and sinkholed, he told the E-Commerce Times. The second variant, WannaCry 2.0(b) had its kill switch functionally removed, which allows it to propagate, but prevents it from properly deploying the ransomware payload.

Proofpoint has found new variants of ransomware emerging every two to three days for the last 14 months, said Kalember, so organizations need to make sure they have the latest patches.

The WannaCry worm will not infect computers that have been in sleep mode, even with Transmission Control Protocol port 445 open on an unpatched system, noted Trend Micro in a Monday online post.

Still, administrators should patch such machines, the company warned.

Return to Normalcy

Tom Bossert, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, addressed the issue at the White House daily press briefing.

Bossert spoke to his counterpart in the UK, he said, noting that no government systems were affected and less than $70,000 in ransom has been paid to release computers seized in the ransomware attack, worldwide.

The government was not aware of any payments resulting in data recovery, he added.

The Department of Homeland Security was aware of a small number of potential victims in the U.S. and was working with them to confirm and mitigate the threat, a DHS official who requested anonymity told the E-Commerce Times.

Federal Express “has resumed normal operations and systems are performing as designed,” said spokesperson Rae Lyn. The Ransomware attack disrupted the company’s sorting operation in Memphis, Tennessee, and it waived the guarantee on deliveries due last Saturday.

The National Health Service in the UK was working to recover from the ransomware attack, which led to widespread computer disruptions, ambulance diversions, and cancellations of surgeries and office appointments.

“There are encouraging signs that the situation is improving, with fewer hospitals having to divert patients from their A&E units,” said Anne Rainsberry, national incident director.

Two hospitals still were diverting patients, however. The Lister Hospital — East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust was diverting patients for trauma, stroke and urgent heart attack treatment that would require diagnostic services. Also, Broomfield Hospital — Mid Essex Hospital Services was diverting trauma patients patients to Southend University Hospital.

The German Deutsche Bahn rail system largely has recovered from an attack of the initial strain of Wannacry, which caused electronic departure boards to display the hacker’s ransom demands, according to Lutz Miller, spokesperson for the rail service.

Train operations were not impacted, he told the E-Commerce Times, but some ticketing machines malfunctioned, and extra staff were positioned in affected rail stations.

Passengers were urged to use the DB Navigator or the DB Streckenagent apps.

The apps, the website, and customer service lines were not affected by the attack, Miller said, noting that it would take a few more days for departure boards to return to normal operation.

The city of Newark was hit by a ransomware attack last fall, but Frank Baraff, spokesperson for the city, told the E-Commerce Times that at the request of federal and state law enforcement, it would not comment further.

An FBI spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.

Google’s New Mobile OS Will Have a Distinctly Non-Linux Hue

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Google has been developing a new open source operating system called “Fuchsia” for smartphones, tablets and other devices, which could be unveiled as early as this summer. Little has been revealed about the new OS since it first came to light last year.

However, new details surfaced last week, first reported by Ars Technica, and have been making the rounds.

Fuchsia apparently will move Google away from its long association with Linux, according to Ars, as it is based on a new microkernel called “Magenta.”

Google plans to dump not only the Linux kernel, but also the General Public License, one of the most popular licenses in the free and open source software universe.

The default user interface for Fuchsia, called “Armadillo,” is based on the mobile app Flutter’s software development kit and split into two separate apps — Armadillo and Armadillo user shell, according documentation posted on GitHub.

The Fuchsia team reportedly includes Travis Geiselbrecht, who worked on the Danger Hiptop smartphone, NewOS, Jawbone, BeOS and other projects; and Brian Swetland, who worked on Danger and BeOS. Both previously worked on Android as well.

Legal Concerns

Google’s rationale for Fuchsia may be related in part to an epic US$9 billion legal battle between Google and Oracle, suggested William Stofega, program director for mobile phones at IDC.

“As the Oracle case revolves around the copyright of Oracle APIs used in Android, it could be a contributing factor in Google’s decision to build another platform,” Stofega told LinuxInsider.

While Google emerged victorious in a ruling last year, the case has sent a chill through the open source community. It’s conceivable that Google decided to move further away from the use of Linux to avoid future legal challenges.

It’s also possible that Google simply recognizes the need to move to an OS that works better across multiple platforms.

“There’s been a lot of discussion, as it relates to going from TV to smartphones and Chromebook,” Stofega said.

“At the end of the day, as the world has changed and not necessarily become PC-centric but just mobile centric, maybe some of the things that brought it to fruition in terms of the Linux-based OS can no longer be part and parcel of the new world,” he remarked.

Acceptance Issues

Linux never got mass market traction on certain types of devices — ranging from tablets to mobile phones and thin clients — for two main reasons, noted Paul Teich, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“Linux is not focused on enforcing hard performance metrics as an underpinning for reliable, robust software application performance,” he told LinuxInsider. “Linux uses preemptive multithreading, where Fuchsia seems to be coded for hard, real-time task scheduling.”

Fuchsia is being designed to make sure the thread scheduler can enforce quality of service for individual tasks and services, Teich said, which will come in handy to ensure the best streaming-media experiences or a great augmented reality experience.

The second main issue is that the Linux community did not have a user experience in mind and could not agree on a single, unified user experience as it matured.

“Linux started out, like Unix, as a command line language,” Teich noted. “Over the years, it has accreted services to support UX functions, but those are add-ons.”

Fuchsia may still be a command line interface, but it’s clearly being designed with all of the integrated services needed to support a modern UX, Teich said.

“Google may be building a real-time OS that spans small connected things to large connected data centers,” he surmised — “one code base that can be pared back if the UX isn’t needed, but also scales to varying U.S. requirements.”

The development of the new OS is driven in part by security concerns that potentially could cost Google billions of dollars if they aren’t brought under control, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“They want to better control both the quality and timing of updates to their OS,” he told LinuxInsider, “and while Linux got them to market quicker, they now feel complete control is far more important.”

How Wikipedia Is Fighting Back Against Online Harassment

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Did you know that 40% of internet users, and as many as 70% of younger users have personally experienced harassment online? And more than half of people who reported experiencing harassment also reported decreasing their participation in the Wikimedia community. And, Wikimedia’s the real deal – we need as many voices at the table as possible.

Online harassment’s a big problem that needs to be addressed. To ensure Wikipedia’s vitality, people of good will need to work together to prevent trolling, harassment, and cyber-bullying from interfering with the common good.

To that end, I’m supporting the work of the Wikimedia Foundation towards the prevention of harassment by donating $500,000, in part from the Craig Newmark Foundation, to advocate for a healthier and more inclusive Wikimedia community.

The money donated will support the launch of a community health initiative to address harassment and toxic behavior on Wikipedia through the development of tools for volunteer editors and staff to reduce harassment and block harassers.

Volunteer editors on Wikipedia are often the first line of response for finding and addressing harassment. “Trolling,” “doxxing,” and other harmful behaviors are burdens to Wikipedia’s contributors, impeding their ability to do the writing and editing that makes Wikipedia so comprehensive.

The goal is to fund the initial phases of a program to strengthen existing tools and develop additional tools to more quickly identify potentially harassing behavior, and help volunteer admins evaluate harassment reports and respond quickly and effectively. These improvements will be made in close collaboration with the Wikimedia community to evaluate, test, and give feedback on the tools as they’re developed.

This initiative addresses the major forms of harassment reported on the Wikimedia Foundation’s 2015 Harassment Survey, which covers a wide range of different behaviors, including:

– content vandalism,

– stalking,

– name-calling,

– trolling,

– doxxing,

– discrimination,

…and really, anything that targets individuals for unfair and harmful attention.

From research and community feedback, 4 areas have been identified where new tools could be beneficial in addressing and responding to harassment:

– Detection and prevention – making it easier and faster for editors to identify and flag harassing behavior.

– Reporting – providing victims and respondents of harassment improved ways to report instances that offer a clearer, more streamlined approach.

– Evaluating – supporting tools that help volunteers better evaluate harassing behavior and inform the best way to respond.

– Blocking – making it more difficult for someone who is blocked from the site to return.

How to build a more organic internet

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Internet access has become such a necessary tool for participating in society that it has been declared a “human right” by the UN. Alas, it is a human right not granted to 60% of the world’s population.

To bridge this gap, big corporations such as Facebook or Google portray themselves not only as service providers, but also as internet providers. Facebook, for example offers free internet access in disadvantaged areas of India, or at least access to a small part of the internet considered “basic” (including access to Facebook, of course).

At the same time, Facebook has the ambition to “connect the world“, to “understand intelligence and make intelligent machines“, and even to “cure all diseases in our children’s lifetime“.

The platform is making a new map of everyone in the world, while experimenting with the possibility of manipulating people’s feelings through the curation of their news feeds.

Towards an organic internet

In a previous article, I described community networks that provide alternative networking solutions to megaprojects such as Facebook’s free basics, offering internet access to refugees or communities outside the reach of traditional internet service providers.

These DIY networks could be seen as “organic”: they are created by local communities, reflect local culture, and the data they use can be generated and consumed in the same place.

DIY networks can also bring people together, face-to-face, instead of keeping them online all the time.

Artists and activists have been experimenting with different types of networks, such as LibraryBox, an e-book sharing network, and the “Can you hear me?“ installation of temporary antennas pointing to the US embassy in Berlin, broadcasting anonymous messages from nearby pedestrians.

Yet we need to explore the important reasons why such networks should also be promoted as infrastructure for hosting local services, built and used by local communities.

The Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin is a good example of a place where DIY networks are designed to operate “outside the internet”.

Activists from the Neighbourhood Academy have created a place inside the garden that aims to transfer the principles of organic and collaborative farming to the realm of networking.

The Neighbourhood Academy is a self-organised open platform for sharing knowledge, culture and activism. Its founders, Marco Clausen, Elizabeth Calderón Lüning, Åsa Sonjasdotter and the Foundation Anstiftung came up with the idea of a local wifi network accessible only inside the garden.

They collaborated with the Design Research Lab to build the “organic internet”, a local network attached to a physical construction, Die Laube (The Arbor), which hosts workshops, seminars and assemblies.

The founders wanted a way to record and share all the information exchanged during the gatherings of different activists, artists, architects and researchers from different fields and parts of the world who attended the academy. The local DIY networks make the productions available to those, and only those, physically present within the garden space, and the digital space becomes an integral part of the garden’s identity.

For the designers at UdK, who have been involved in the project, this pilot is an opportunity to build hybrid spaces, and turn them into toolkits that will make it easier for technology to be appropriated by others.

Alternatives to global social networks

DIY networking promotes physical proximity and inclusiveness. Tangibility and playfulness is another important aspect of the network: it is always there, hanging from a tree.

These projects also require local people to take care of them, build trust, and make collective decisions around functionality and use. A DIY network can be even turned off from time to time.

The projects are based on principles of replication, not growth: others can replicate the same idea in a different place by buying the cheap hardware (a Raspberry Pi, wireless router, external hard disk and battery) and using self-hosted software for local services. No investments in bigger servers are needed when more people join, and there are no uniform rules about design.

Defending the commons

Community networks such as,, and are gaining more and more attention as the the “other way” to build connectivity, while local DIY networks like the one in Prinzessinnengarten appear as a valuable complement, rather than a replacement, to the normal internet for location-based interactions.

But the right to share and more generally the “right to commoning“ faces significant political and legal threats. For example, in the case of network infrastructures, the EU Radio lockdown directive will make it difficult to use alternative software on internet-enabled devices. Civil liability legislations discourage the sharing of internet connectivity.

In light of these circumstances, the first European commons assembly met in November 2016, with more than 100 commons activists from 21 countries across Europe participating.

The goal of the assembly is to develop policy recommendations for collectively managing all forms of “commons”, from basic resources such as water and energy, to knowledge, and network infrastructure.

As mega-corporations like Facebook dominate our lives more and more, we should do all we can to protect the commons and connect with our local communities. DIY networking is just the start.

The Conversation

Extremists Are Thriving On Social Media. How Should We Respond?

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This year could become another banner year for online extremism. Far-right political parties in Europe could make significant gains in 2017’s elections. And ISIS, though it has lost much of its territorial foothold, is far from dead, as recent events in Berlin, Istanbul, and Baghdad have shown.

Social media surely will continue to play a role in the success or failure of these extremist groups.

Social media is a neutral communications platform that can be used for good or evil purposes, but it has become the weapon of choice for extremist propagandists. This is not surprising. Extremists from the Nazis onward long have gravitated to the latest communications technology to give them the most bang for the buck. In the 1930s and 40s, radio was the Internet of its time, spreading propaganda, fake news, and hatred through the airwaves to listeners throughout the world. Neither radio nor social media were designed for such nefarious purposes, but propagandists, then as now, understand how to exploit communications platforms.

In recent years, ISIS has enlisted thousands of foreign fighters through its online activities, notably via slick videos posted on YouTube and other Internet channels. Because of the large amount of personal information posted online by social media users, ISIS recruiters and other extremists now personalize their messages directly for individuals. As the Nazis understood as early as the 1920s, establishing a personal relationship with a targeted audience is crucial part of a successful propaganda strategy.

Today, the meeting sites are no longer the beer hall, rally, or street parade. They’re more likely to be email, Whatsapp, and Skype.

Extremist groups reach out to those who are disaffected or disillusioned with the status quo. Social media permits discontented individuals to seek out like-minded persons or for radical recruiters to find them. This was something that Adolf Hitler grasped more than 90 years ago, when as he was building the Nazi Party’s propaganda machine. The Nazi movement, he pointed out, was “not meant to constitute an organization of the contented and satisfied, but to embrace those tormented by suffering, those without peace, the unhappy and the discontented.”

In Europe, alt-right and far-right political parties often outdo the mainstream political parties on social media. Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland has more Facebook followers than Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany combined. In France, the far-right National Front has more than 400,000 followers, while the Socialist Party has less than 50,000. In the United States, racists were able to inject themselves into the recent elections through fake news, threats, and virulent social media campaigns.

So, how do we address this problem? For some, the answer is shutting down the offending websites and driving extremists off social media. Such censorship is a straightforward response, but not necessarily effective.

Twitter, for instance, suspended 360,000 accounts in 2015-16 that threatened or promoted terrorist activities. In accordance with its guidelines, Facebook prohibits and removes hate speech and bans terrorist and criminal organizations. Yet extremists continue to find space on social media.

Closing down ISIS accounts is a bit like a whack-a-mole game. Once one site is shut down, another appears. Recruiting propaganda no longer comes from a single centralized location, but is disseminated via many points throughout the world. ISIS propagandists understand that even if the jihadist group is defeated on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, they can still recruit and incite terrorist actions without occupying a single bit of physical territory.

While few free-speech advocates would contest a decision to shut down accounts that openly advocate terrorism or killing, where should the line be drawn? Should sites that promote “radical Islam” be shut down, even if they don’t explicitly advocate violence? How about videos that show marketplaces, amusement parks or schools in ISIS-held territory? What about sites that show happy, ethnically-homogeneous families coupled with appealing slogans about the beauty of their homeland?

And who should determine the parameters for unacceptable content in the digital realm? Some governments, for instance, propose prohibiting individuals or groups from using the Internet if they upset the social order or harm the public interest. Such broad definitions of criminality could be abused by authorities eager to shut down opposition.

Some social media companies, such as Facebook, argue that counter-speech on their platform can be a more effective tool in addressing extremism than censorship alone. This line of reasoning encourages people to respond to extremist narratives with their own counter-messages. In this way social media strengthens the marketplace of ideas without endangering freedom of speech. Today many online companies are developing handbooks and toolkits for groups combating extremism online.

Just as there is no single path to radicalization, there is no single path to stopping extremism. In addition to curbing or countering dangerous speech, there must be a strong educational response. Audiences, particularly younger ones, need to learn how to recognize and deconstruct propaganda and to become critical consumers of information.

This is not a new idea. American educators in the late 1930s urged students be taught how to discern fact from falsehood in the media. Classes in propaganda analysis encouraged pupils to adopt a healthy skepticism toward information, rather than cynicism, and to promote religious, racial, and ethnic tolerance at a time when democratic values were being threatened by Fascism, Nazism, and Communism.

Such “consumer education” is especially important now. A recent Stanford University studyconcluded that even digital-savvy students in U.S. middle schools, high schools, and colleges are unable to distinguish between real and false information on the Internet and social media and are easily duped. Using algorithms to recognize fake news or hate speech won’t solve this problem entirely, nor will hiring inspectors to sift through the postings of 1.8 billion Facebook users. Education must be part of the solution.

There are no simple solutions to countering online extremism. Nor is it just the responsibility of social media companies or governments to act. Extremism is a global problem that requires a sustained global response from concerned individuals, communities, and governments.

Researchers See Possible North Korea Link To Global Cyber Attack

Cyber security researchers have found technical evidence they said could link North Korea with the global WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attack that has infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries since Friday.

Symantec (SYMC.O) and Kaspersky Lab said on Monday that some code in an earlier version of the WannaCry software had also appeared in programs used by the Lazarus Group, which researchers from many companies have identified as a North Korea-run hacking operation.

“This is the best clue we have seen to date as to the origins of WannaCry,” Kaspersky Lab researcher Kurt Baumgartner told Reuters.

Both firms said it was too early to tell whether North Korea was involved in the attacks, based on the evidence that was published on Twitter by Google security researcher Neel Mehta. The attacks, which slowed on Monday, are among the fastest-spreading extortion campaigns on record.

The research will be closely followed by law enforcement agencies around the world, including Washington, where President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser said on Monday that both foreign nations and cyber criminals were possible culprits.

The two security firms said they needed to study the code more and asked for others to help with the analysis. Hackers do reuse code from other operations, so even copied lines fall well short of proof.

U.S. and European security officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that it was too early to say who might be behind the attacks, but they did not rule out North Korea as a suspect.

FireEye Inc (FEYE.O), another large cyber security firm, said it was also investigating a possible link.

“The similarities we see between malware linked to that group and WannaCry are not unique enough to be strongly suggestive of a common operator,” FireEye researcher John Miller said.

The Lazarus hackers, acting for impoverished North Korea, have been more brazen in pursuit of financial gain than others, and have been blamed for the theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank, according to some cyber security firms. The North Korean mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment.

Regardless of the source of the attack, investors piled into cyber security stocks on Monday, betting that governments and corporations will spend more to upgrade their defenses.


The perpetrators had raised less than $70,000 from users paying to regain access to their computers, according to Trump homeland security adviser Tom Bossert.

“We are not aware if payments have led to any data recovery,” Bossert said, adding that no U.S. federal government systems had been affected.

WannaCry demanded ransoms starting at $300, in line with many cyber extortion campaigns, which keep pricing low so more victims will pay.

Still, some security experts said they were not sure if the motive of WannaCry was primarily to make money, noting that large cyber extortion campaigns typically generate millions of dollars of revenue.

“I believe that this was spread for the purpose of causing as much damage as possible,” said Matthew Hickey, a co-founder of British cyber consulting firm Hacker House.

The countries most affected by WannaCry to date are Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and India, according to Czech security firm Avast.

The number of infections has fallen dramatically since Friday’s peak when more than 9,000 computers were being hit per hour. Earlier on Monday, Chinese traffic police and schools reported they had been targeted as the attack rolled into Asia for the new work week, but no there were no major disruptions.

Authorities in Europe and the United States turned their attention to preventing hackers from spreading new versions of the virus.

Shares in firms that provide cyber security services rose sharply, led by Israel’s Cyren Ltd (CYRN.O) and U.S.-based FireEye (FEYE.O).

Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) closed up 2.3 percent and was the second-biggest gainer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as investors focused more on opportunities that the attack presented for technology firms than the risk it posed to corporations.

Morgan Stanley, in upgrading the stock, said Cisco should benefit from network spending driven by security needs.


Beyond the immediate need to shore up computer defenses, the attack turned cyber security into a political topic in Europe and the United States, including discussion of the role national governments play.

In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) President Brad Smith confirmed what researchers already widely concluded: The attack made use of a hacking tool built by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that had leaked online in April.

He poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret – in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare – against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet.

On Monday, Bossert sought to distance the NSA from any blame.

“This was not a tool developed by the NSA to hold ransom data. This was a tool developed by culpable parties, potentially criminals or foreign nation-states, that were put together in such a way as to deliver phishing emails, put it into embedded documents, and cause infection, encryption and locking,” Bossert said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting the technology’s link to the U.S. spy service, said it should be “discussed immediately on a serious political level.”

“Once they’re let out of the lamp, genies of this kind, especially those created by intelligence services, can later do damage to their authors and creators,” he said.

Facebook created a faster, more accurate translation system using artificial intelligence

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Facebook’s billion-plus users speak a plethora of languages, and right now, the social network supports translation of over 45 different tongues. That means that if you’re an English speaker confronted with German, or a French speaker seeing Spanish, you’ll see a link that says “See Translation.”

But Tuesday, Facebook announced that its machine learning experts have created a neural network that translates language up to nine times faster and more accurately than other current systems that use a standard method to translate text.

The scientists who developed the new system work at the social network’s FAIR group, which stands for Facebook A.I. Research.

“Neural networks are modeled after the human brain,” says Michael Auli, of FAIR, and a researcher behind the new system. One of the problems that a neural network can help solve is translating a sentence from one language to another, like French into English. This network could also be used to do tasks like summarize text, according to a blog item posted on Facebook about the research.

But there are multiple types of neural networks. The standard approach so far has been to use recurrent neural networks to translate text, which look at one word at a time and then predict what the output word in the new language should be. It learns the sentence as it reads it. But the Facebook researchers tapped a different technique, called a convolutional neural network, or CNN, which looks at words in groups instead of one at a time.

“It doesn’t go left to right,” Auli says, of their translator. “[It can] look at the data all at the same time.” For example, a convolutional neural network translator can look at the first five words of a sentence, while at the same time considering the second through sixth words, meaning the system works in parallel with itself.

Graham Neubig, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute, researches natural language processing and machine translation. He says that this isn’t the first time this kind of neural network has been used to translate text, but that this seems to be the best he’s ever seen it executed with a convolutional neural network.

“What this Facebook paper has basically showed—it’s revisiting convolutional neural networks, but this time they’ve actually made it really work very well,” he says.

Facebook isn’t yet saying how it plans to integrate the new technology with its consumer-facing product yet; that’s more the purview of a department there call the applied machine learning group. But in the meantime, they’ve released the tech publicly as open-source, so other coders can benefit from it

That’s a point that pleases Neubig. “If it’s fast and accurate,” he says, “it’ll be a great additional contribution to the field.”