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Instagram Makes It Easier To Take Back Hacked Accounts.

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Instagram is finally addressing a huge problem on its platform: hacked accounts.

The company says it is making a series of changes that will make it easier for people to regain access to a hacked account. The update comes almost a year after Mashable first reported that a wave of bizarre hacks had hit Instagram users, leaving them little recourse to get their accounts back.

With the newly announced changes, which are currently being tested ahead of a wider rollout, Instagram will allow users to access its account recovery tools directly in the app, even if a hacker has changed their account information. So when a person is unable to login to an account, Instagram will prompt users to enter information associated with your account like your email address or phone number. (Users can also access this via “need more help” in the app’s login screen.)

From there, Instagram will send a verification code you can use to access your account. Instagram will also remove any other devices logged into your account, so a hacker who has access to your email will be unable to use the recovery code.

This may sound fairly straightforward, but these changes address significant issues with Instagram’s previous account recovery process. Because hackers often changed the email, phone number, or username associated with an account, it could be incredibly difficult if not impossible for the actual account owner to navigate the automated support system.

Users have reported Instagram sending recovery emails to the address of their hackers, for example, or inexplicably telling them it could not verify their identity even though they provided the information requested. This caused some people to resort to more elaborate schemes, such as reporting a hacked account for impersonation or leaving voicemails for Instagram support.

This new process will hopefully make those kinds of moves a thing of the past, as Instagram says its goal is to move the entire account recovery process in-app. Additional support will still be available to those who need it though, according to an Instagram spokesperson.

Notably, this new process will also apply to people whose accounts have previously been hacked and unable to regain access.

Additionally, Instagram says it’s addressing another major issue often associated with hacked accounts: username theft. Because accounts that have short or original names are considered valuable and desirable, they often face a disproportionate amount of hacking attempts. Hackers will often change a username in order to scoop it up for a fresh account or sell it on shady forums.

Now, Instagram says that a previously used username will not be available for anyone else for several days in order to make it more difficult for hackers to steal valuable usernames. (The company isn’t disclosing exactly how long names will be inaccessible to others but a spokesperson says it will be “multiple days.”)

While it’s unlikely these changes will put a stop to hacking attempts, or the massive business of buying and selling stolen accounts, it could make life more difficult for hackers — at least until they find new ways to circumvent Instagram’s policies. But it should also give users more power to get their accounts back.

Source: Mashable

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Huawei Reportedly Helped North Korea Build Out 3G Network In Secret.

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A new report could ultimately prove another bombshell in Huawei’s on-going conflicts with the U.S. government. New documents obtained by The Washington Post tie the Chinese hardware giant to North Korea’s commercial 3G wireless network.

If proven, the ties would be yet more fodder for the U.S., which has already dinged the company over charges of violating Iran sanctions. The government has also been investigated potential ties between Huawei and North Korea for years, though concrete links have apparently remained elusive.

This latest report arrives by way of a former Huawei employee, with confirmation and supporting documents from other sources who have also requested to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. For its part, Huawei has stated that it has “no business presence” in the embattled country.

“Huawei is fully committed to comply with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including all export control and sanction laws and regulations,” it said in a statement offered to the press. Notably, the statements appear to apply primarily to its current business offerings, while declining to comment on the past.

The specifics of the dealings are a touch complicated. According to the documents, Huawei partnered with Panda International Information Technology, a state-owned Chinese communications company. Huawei reportedly used the firm to send networking equipment to the country in order to launch wireless carrier, Koryolink over a decade ago.

The company has been under additional scrutiny recently as carriers have begun to roll out 5G networks across the globe. We’ve reached out to Huawei for additional comment.

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Instagram Wants Opening Your DMs To Feel Like ‘Walking Into A Party’.

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It’s incredible that Kaitlyn Tiffany and I haven’t yet asked why people slide into other people’s direct messages, but that ends today. On this week’s episode of Why’d You Push That Button?, we want to hear love stories and stories of failed courtship attempts. We ask why people slide into DMs, and then we process how the direct message’s connotation has changed over time. 

We chat with our friend Blake who has slid into multiple DMs, as well as Tasbeeh Herwees, who called DMs the “new little black book” in MEL. Then we talk to a man named Thomas who met his boyfriend on Twitter through the DMs. We love love!

Finally, we take all our questions and thoughts to Connor Hayes, the director of product for Instagram messaging, who explains what the company has seen when it comes to DM behavior and what the future looks like for DMs. Notably, he says that Instagram wants to feel like a cool party where you can talk to all your friends, especially once Facebook merges all its messaging products together. This intimidates me, to be honest. Sometimes I don’t want to be at a party.

“If we do our job well, at the end of the day Instagram, when you open it up, is going to feel a lot more like walking into a party and hanging out with your friends than it is today, and we see messaging as a big part of that,” he says.

Listen to the episode above, and you can subscribe to the show anywhere you typically get your podcasts. To make it easy for you, we’ve also got our usual places linked: Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and our RSS feed.

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Toyota Edges Closer Toward Creating A Space-Traveling Moon Rover.

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Toyota just moved one step closer toward pioneering an RV fit for space travel.

Just days ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on Saturday, the automaker announced that it has officially signed a three-year commitment agreement with Japan's space agency JAXA to develop a pressurized moon rover set to launch a decade from now. 

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Toyota on July 16 released a timeline detailing its plans to bring the project to life. This comes four months after the automaker announced that it was looking into partnering with JAXA to develop the fuel cell-powered behemoth. 

Slide 2 of 7: Toyota and JAXA have been jointly studying the concept of a manned, pressurized rover since May 2018. The company's want to launch the vehicle to the moon in 2029.
Toyota and JAXA have been jointly studying the concept of a manned, pressurized rover since May 2018. The company's want to launch the vehicle to the moon in 2029.

The preliminary timetable has Toyota and JAXA finalizing specifications for a prototype during the fiscal year 2019. Manufacturing would begin in 2020 and testing is expected to happen in 2021. 

The plan covers almost every year from now through 2027. In 2022, the partners expect to start testing the prototype's driving systems and by 2024, Toyota wants to start designing the actual flight model. The duo is aiming to launch the rover in 2029.

Slide 3 of 7: The goal is to achieve a sustainable future on the moon, and eventually Mars. JAXA wants to use the rover to find frozen water on the surface of the moon initially.
The goal is to achieve a sustainable future on the moon, and eventually Mars. JAXA wants to use the rover to find frozen water on the surface of the moon initially.

To achieve these goals, Toyota established Lunar Exploration Mobility Works, a department dedicated specifically to the rover. The Japanese car company's new workforce division will grow to about 30 employees by the end of 2019, according to a press release.

A few months back, Toyota unveiled conceptual renderings of the six-wheeled vehicle which calls for enough living space to comfortably support two occupants. 

The spacecraft would also enable astronauts to live inside it without wearing space suits.

Slide 4 of 7: Toyota says its rover is roughly the size of two small shuttle buses. It has 42.6 cubic feet of interior space, enough for a two-astronaut crew, or four in an emergency.
Toyota says its rover is roughly the size of two small shuttle buses. It has 42.6 cubic feet of interior space, enough for a two-astronaut crew, or four in an emergency.

The vehicle is expected to be be at least 20 feet long, 17 feet wide and 12.4 feet high. The electric machine would be powered by fuel cells, which use clean power generation methods and emit only water. The rover would have a lunar surface range of more than 6,200 miles, according to Toyota. 

JAXA wants to use the futuristic mobile home to help astronauts explore the lunar poles in search of frozen water. The agency also sets its eyes on using the technology to explore other planets.

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Instagram Will Notify You Before Deactivating Your Account.

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Instagram is strengthening its moderation policies today and adding a new alert that will warn people who violate rules when their account is close to being deleted.

The alert will show users a history of the posts, comments, and stories that Instagram has had to remove from their account, as well as why they were removed. “If you post something that goes against our guidelines again, your account may be deleted,” the page reads.

Instagram will give users a chance to appeal its moderation decisions directly through the alert, rather than having to go through its help page on the web. Only some types of content will be able to be appealed at first (such as pictures removed for nudity or hate speech), and Instagram plans to expand the available content appeal types over time.

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The change will help clarify for users why they’re in trouble and should remove the shock of suddenly finding that your account has vanished. While it’s likely that a great number of banned accounts are removed for obvious rule violations, Instagram — like its parent company Facebook — has regularly had moderation problems when it comes to nudity and sexuality, where users have had photos removed for posting pictures of breastfeeding or period blood. This update won’t prevent those mistakes (those types of photos are supposed to be allowed), but it would make appealing the decision easier.

In addition to the new alert, Instagram is also going to give its moderating team more leeway to ban bad actors. Instagram’s policy has been to ban users who post “a certain percentage of violating content,” but it’ll now ban people who repeatedly violate its policies within a window of time, too. The specifics here are all as vague as ever, as Instagram doesn’t want to offer details and let bad actors game the system, but it sounds like it could lead to fewer problematic accounts slipping through on a technicality.

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