Weekly output: Google’s password help, Twitter suspensions in Egypt

NEW YORK–This evening finds me here for the Ascent conference, at which I have four panels to moderate Tuesday and things to learn all Monday. Yes, that means I will miss both NLDS games at Nationals Park. Since the team hasn’t done all that well when I’ve been in the stands for a potential division-series clinch, maybe that’s good?

10/2/2019: This new Google tool protects you against dangerous passwords, Fast Company

Along with a fair amount of other tech journalists, I got an advance on Google’s announcement Monday of changes to warn Chrome users about exposed, reused or easily-guessed passwords. Having seen how a similar feature in the 1Password password manager has helped make me less stupid about site logins, I think this is a good move by Google. But I also expect that many users will freak out when they see Chrome telling them that their password has been compromised in a data breach.

10/3/2019: Twitter suspensions in Egypt, Al Jazeera

I appeared on the Arabic-language news channel to talk about reports of Egyptian dissidents’ Twitter accounts being suspended. My take: Twitter has a serious problem with being fooled by coordinated, bad-faith campaigns to get accounts suspended for alleged-but-not-real violations of Twitter’s rules. The anchor then asked why Twitter hadn’t answered AJ’s questions, and I said that most social-media companies are chronically bad at explaining their own decisions. Many have hangups with just speaking on the record.

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Weekly output: Netflix hacking

Tomorrow evening I head to Berlin to cover the IFA electronics trade show (as in prior years, the organizers are covering most of the travel expenses of a group of U.S. journalists and analysts, myself among them). I’m back next Sunday, after which I have all of three nights at home before I fly to New Orleans for the Online News Association’s conference. And that’s not all of September’s travel. Yay, conference season?

If you’ve signed up at my Patreon page, you would have been able to read notes from my first look at Sprint’s 5G service–both in D.C. and at my home. I like the idea of sharing my first observations of a gadget, app or event there, so I will probably do that more often. If you like the idea of reading them before they condense into article form, $2 a month gets you in.

8/31/2019: Rewinding a Netflix account hack: Why would somebody bother?, USA Today

This post started with a tweet from Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi about getting locked out of her Netflix account. I thought she had experienced an interesting problem–both in the sense of the reward for a Netflix account takeover being so limited, and in the sense of my wondering if Netflix’s systems had offered enough resistance to this takeover–and started making inquiries. One of those was to Netflix itself; at first, the company’s PR director wanted to answer on a not-for-attribution basis, but I said I’d really rather have an actual named human quoted. She said that would be okay, and I’m glad I pressed that point.