Hashtag Trending May 4-Microsoft pushes users to Edge, again; Meta employees lose faith in Zuckerberg; Link between dementia and internet use

Microsoft scrambles to push users to the Edge browser, employees lose faith in Zuckerberg and regular internet use may be linked to lower dementia risk.

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These top tech news stories and more for Thursday, May 4th, 2023.  I’m your guest host, James Roy.

Microsoft has come up with yet another strategy to push users to the Edge browser.

Links in the Outlook for Windows app and Teams will open by default in the Edge browser, regardless of the default browser chosen in Windows Settings.

Microsoft announced in February that it intends to prevent “disruptive switching” by allowing users to “choose to open browser links from the Outlook app in Microsoft Edge right alongside the email.” 

But it seems now that this choice has become default. In its support documentation, Microsoft says “browser links from the Outlook app will open in Microsoft Edge by default” in Edge’s sidebar pane.  

A Microsoft spokesperson explained to The Register, “The first time a user clicks on a link in Outlook after this feature is activated, it will open in Edge. Upon launch, they will be prompted to elect between continuing to use Edge or opening future launches inside their default browser.

So not exactly default, but users get to make a choice they have already made, again.

Links from Teams Messaging also will open in Edge, but that, Microsoft made clear from the beginning.

Now, customers have the option to disable this feature, though Microsoft’s supporting documents do not make that clear. Still, Windows Settings is essentially being overthrown by Outlook Settings and delegated to Edge.

The change, which Microsoft says is being deployed slowly, is expected to appear next month or so. It will also be rolled out in Outlook for iOS and Android.

Source: The Register

Mozilla has acquired a startup that spots fake reviews.

Fakespot’s website and browser plug-in help users identify bogus product reviews on sites such as Amazon, Walmart and eBay using an A-to-F scale.

Mozilla’s product chief Steve Teixeira told Axios that the purchase goes beyond just promoting open web protocols. 

He said, “The new frontier is around truth and deception. How can we help regular, average people who are not technologists to make good decisions?”

Earlier AI technologies were being used to crank out fake reviews, but with the new generation of AI generative tools, like ChatGPT, it’s becoming harder to identify AI generated comments.

Fakespot founder Saoud Khalifah told Axios, “Trustworthy reviews are essential to keeping the e-commerce ecosystem healthy. You can’t touch the product,” he said. “You really need the reviews.”

Mozilla will keep all 13 of Fakespot’s existing staff and plans to expand the team. It also plans to keep supporting Fakespot’s website and plug-in as it works to tightly integrate the technology in its own Firefox browser.

Source: Axios

Following a tumultuous end of 2022, things seemed to start looking good again for Meta. Its stock was on an upswing, following an improved earnings call and it was pivoting like the rest of Big Tech to AI.

But a new report from the Washington Post suggests that Meta is still facing many, many challenges.

Touting 2023 as the year of efficiency, Meta axed around 21,000 employees since November last year. But the possibility of more layoffs looms, and several cuts to bonuses and perks have left workers unhappy.

Zuckerberg did what he could to rouse the enthusiasm of his workers in a recent all-staff meeting, describing Meta as “a special place”. But employees feel more and more disconnected from the company’s vision. 

The slow movement of Meta to changing tech trends is particularly disappointing to employees who spoke anonymously to the Post.

TikTok continues to grab away ad revenue and user attention despite Meta’s launch of Reels on Instagram and Facebook. And Meta is far slower than competitors in its AI strategy.

Meanwhile, Meta’s costly and risky metaverse bets are yet to pay off. The Meta Quest devices have floundered, with $13.7 billion in operating costs last year, and will soon face stiff competition from Apple, which will reportedly launch a VR device of its own during the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.

Source: SFGATE

Speaking of, Meta announced plans to roll out new protections for users and businesses against malware targeting their accounts.

 One is being released today- a step by step guide to help business accounts remove malware from their systems. And, new administrator capabilities to stop malware operators from adding themselves as an administrator to business pages.

At the same time, the company revealed in its quarterly security report that since March, Meta has uncovered 10 malware families posing as ChatGPT and other similar tools to compromise user accounts across the internet.

 More than a 1000 domains that are distributing malware-laced ChatGPT looking tools were flagged.

Guy Rosen, CISO at Meta said, “Malware operators, just like spammers, are very attuned to what’s trendy at any given moment.They latch onto hot button issues, popular topics, to get people’s attention.”

Typically, operators offer fake browser extensions in app stores that claim to have ChatGPT-esque functions. Some actually even have the ChatGPT functions, living alongside the malware, which siphons off any private data, like passwords and credit card information.

Interestingly, operators behind the malware apps switch to other themes, such as Google’s competing Bard service or TikTok marketing support, whenever their original scam is detected.

Rosen said that Meta reported the malicious domain names hosting the malware to its industry partners, so they can remove files.

Source: Axios

The FinOps Foundation announced that it is developing a set of technical guidelines to standardize cloud cost, usage and billing data.

Google and Microsoft, the founding members of the association, will serve on the committee outlining the specification, dubbed FOCUS for FinOps Open Cost and Usage Specification.

The new specifications aim to make cloud migrations easier by reducing billing complexity as well as the overhead tied to vendor chargebacks and inefficient allocations.

According to a March survey of 750 cloud decision-makers by software company Flexera, controlling cloud spend was the top cloud challenge for more than 4 in 5 respondents.

Hybrid multi-cloud ecosystems  make things more complicated to forecast and account for cloud expenditures.

The specification will be available for licensed use by anyone who creates billing data, those who ingest and analyze cost and by organizations who wish to standardize the billing data they receive.

Source: CIO Dive

According to a new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, older people who regularly used the internet were less likely to develop dementia.

The research tracked, over eight years, more than 18,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 65 who did not have dementia when the study began.

Each of the participants were asked if they regularly use the internet for various purposes like sending emails or making purchases.

People who used the internet at the start of the study had about half the risk of dementia as people who were not regular users.

The research also looked at how often these adults were online, from not at all to more than 8 hours a day.

Those who used the internet for about two hours or less had the lowest risk of dementia, compared with those that did not use the internet.

Curiously, those who used for more than six hours a day had a higher risk of dementia, but that finding was not statistically significant.

What exactly causes dementia is unclear, so establishing a direct connection between the internet and dementia is hard.

But the intellectual stimulation from looking at cat videos or conspiracy theories helps your brain, and so does online engagement. Routine memory and knowledge also remains pretty stable in a healthy brain.

Dr. Claire Sexton, the Alzheimer’s Association’s senior director of scientific programs and outreach said, “Overall, this is important research. It identifies another potentially modifiable factor that might influence dementia risk. But we wouldn’t want to read too much into this study in isolation. It doesn’t establish cause and effect.”

 But previous research corroborates this finding, notably the benefit to training older adults on computers to help them connect to others and learn information or skills. And less isolation and  learning new skills may be protective against dementia.

Sexton said, “We need further evidence, not just from observational studies like this one but also interventional studies. That way, doctors might someday treat people for dementia like they do with heart disease: by suggesting lifestyle changes in addition to medication.

Source: CNN

That’s the top tech news for today.  We go to air with a daily newscast five days a week, as well as a special weekend interview with an expert on topics relevant to today’s tech news.

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I’m your host, James Roy.  Have a Thrilling Thursday!

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