540 million Facebook users' data exposed by third party developers

The Mexican media company Cultura Colectiva and an app called "At the Pool" used their access to their users Facebook data to make local copies of it, then left that data exposed, in the clear, without a password, on the public internet -- 540 million records in all, stored in publicly accessible Amazon S3 buckets. Read the rest

Uh oh. Amazon is opening up a new chain of grocery stores

After taking over Whole Foods, Amazon is now launching a new, more mainstream chain of grocery stores, according to Business Insider. And it makes me wonder why, when they haven't yet mastered the managing of Whole Foods. At least not when it comes to keeping their markets stocked. In fact, it's incredible how consistently empty their shelves are.

Ever since Amazon took over the "natural" food grocery store, I started noticing walls of shelves with gaping holes where food should be, and oftentimes even entirely without food. It was so surprising that I took photos several times throughout the year to text to friends. I do like the fact that they've lowered their prices, which has seduced me into coming into the store in the first place (I used to avoid the market for their astronomical prices), but it's frustrating to go in with the idea of buying some eggs only to find there aren't any uncracked ones left.

So what's the problem?

Via Business Insider:

Business Insider spoke with seven Whole Foods employees, from cashiers to department managers, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Order-to-shelf, or OTS, is a tightly controlled system designed to streamline and track product purchases, displays, storage, and sales. Under OTS, employees largely bypass stock rooms and carry products directly from delivery trucks to store shelves. It is meant to help Whole Foods cut costs, better manage inventory, reduce waste, and clear out storage.

But its strict procedures are leading to storewide stocking issues, according to several employees.

Read the rest

Amazon killed Seattle's homelessness-relief tax by threatening not to move into a massive new building, then they canceled the move anyway

Seattle's immensely popular business tax was designed to do something about the city's epidemic of desperate homelessness, but then Amazon threw its muscle around to get the tax canceled, mostly by threatening not to occupy its new offices in Ranier Square, a 30-story building currently under construction that Amazon was to be sole tenant of, with 3,500-5,000 employees working out of the building. Read the rest

Bad security design made it easy to spy on video from Ring doorbells and insert fake video into their feeds

Researchers from Dojo/Bullguard investigated the security model of the Ring smart doorbell -- made by Amazon -- and discovered that the video was sent "in the clear" (without encryption) meaning that people on the same network as the doorbell, or on the same network as one of its owners, can easily tap into its feeds. Read the rest

Amazon's 2018 profits: $11.2 billion; Amazon's 2018 IRS bill: negative $129 million

Amazon doubled its profits in 2018, to $11.2 billion; the company will receive a $129 million tax rebate for the year. Read the rest

Amazon drops New York HQ2 plans after organized resistance

Amazon will instead focus on Northern Virginia and Nashville, after an organized effort by New Yorkers to hold the company and lawmakers accountable for sneaky dealmaking.

Amazon just bought mesh wifi company Eero. Oh, great.

We have an Eero system in our house; it does really good and reliable wifi distribution, including to my office in the garage. And it was nice to have a piece of home electronics that was neither from one of the great data-sucking companies like Google, nor from the control-freak companies like Apple -- and also not from a no-name white-label re-badger or a giant shitty telco switch company whose consumer products arm is an afterthought. Read the rest

Maybe Amazon HQ2 won't happen in New York after all?

Amazon's plan to bring 25,000 jobs to a NYC campus is under fire from locals, as more details are revealed of what was promised to Jeff Bezos' empire.

Jeff Bezos’ investigator suspects 'a government agency' intercepted Amazon CEO's text messages

A Washington Post reporter said Thursday night that an investigator working for Jeff Bezos believes 'a government agency' accessed the Amazon CEO's texts and intimate photos.

Amazon at times used Flex drivers' tips to cover promised base pay, investigation finds

Amazon sometimes dipped into tips earned by contracted delivery drivers for its 'Flex' service to cover the base pay they'd been promised, a Los Angeles Times review of emails and receipts shows. Read the rest

Denver's legendary Tattered Cover bookstore "breaks up" with Audible

The Tattered Cover is one of the nation's great independent bookstores, ranking with New York's Strand, Portland's Powell's, and Salt Lake City's Weller Books; now in an open letter, the store has "broken up" with Amazon division Audible, the largest player in the audiobook market, citing the company's mandatory DRM, proprietary formats, algorithmic opacity, and diversion of local book sales into the pockets of distant investors in a massive, uncaring corporation. Read the rest

A deep dive into the technical feasibility of Bloomberg's controversial "Chinese backdoored servers" story

Last October, Bloomberg published what seemed to be the tech story of the year: a claim that Supermicro, the leading supplier of servers to clients from the Pentagon and Congress to Amazon, Apple and NASA, had been targeted by Chinese spies who'd inserted devastating, virtually undetectable hardware backdoors into their motherboards by subverting a small subcontractor in China. Read the rest

How will Jeff Bezos' divorce impact Amazon's stock price?

Yes, it's a soulless, grotesque question. But it's all about money, and investors are wondering if Jeff Bezos getting divorced means they're gonna lose money. Read the rest

Whistleblower: Amazon Ring stores your doorbell and home video feeds unencrypted and grants broad "unfettered" access to them

Sources "familiar with Ring's practices" have told The Intercept that the company -- a division of Amazon that makes streaming cameras designed to be mounted inside and outside your home -- stores the video feeds from its customers' homes in unencrypted format and allows staff around the world to have essentially unfettered access to these videos. Read the rest

This new clip from American Gods Season 2 is worrisome

The first season of American Gods was great. Ian McShane! Ricky Whittle! Gillian Anderson! Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy? Perfection.

And then, after the season wrapped up, shit went down. Show runners left. So did Gillian Anderson. Chaos ensued. The production finally managed to get their act together and BOOM, the trailer for Season 2 was released, promising us more dark whimsy than we deserve.

This new scene released by Amazon, however... isn't great. Maybe it's the fact that we're seeing it out of context. It's a wee bit of story in the middle of a much greater epic. But it feels a little bit off: there's no tension here. The level of creepy that Crispin Glover usually delivers isn't there. It's a quick clip, but damn, does it drag. If Amazon and Starz were looking to whip up excitement in the show's fan base, this seems like a really strange clip to release into the wild.

I'm hoping I'm wrong. I hope that, knowing all the behind-the-scenes drama, I'm reading into trouble that isn't there. But man, I'm kinda worried about the quality of Season 2 now. Read the rest

The latest Facebook scandal might explain why Amazon wrongfully banned book-reviewers

Yesterday, we learned that Facebook granted extraordinary user-data access to a handful of blue-chip companies, including Amazon. Read the rest

How Amazon's crackdown on dirty sellers has made it easier for dirty sellers to kill good sellers' accounts

Josh Dzieza's deeply reported story on the dirty tricks used by Amazon's third-party sellers to beat their rivals is an outstanding read, and an important contribution to the debate about how automated systems that police user conduct fail at scale. Read the rest

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