FCC Pushing Telecoms to Provide Robocall Blocking Technology

The Federal Communications Commission is turning up the heat on telephone companies that have yet to get onboard with the implementation of robocall blocking technology.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has fired off admonishing letters to the CEOs of major wireless and wireline phone companies demanding they offer free call-blocking services.

Letters have also been sent to intermediary carriers that connect robocallers to the consumer’s phone company to urge them to get onboard by helping provide blocking technologies. Carriers and standards groups are also being asked to speed up the development and deployment of technical standards to hinder spoofing of caller ID to make blocking technologies more effective.

All of the parties contacted by the FCC must respond within 30 days with “concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues.”

“Congress directed the Commission to implement consumer protections empowering consumers to decide which robocalls and text messages they receive, and the Commission enforces those rules. We can and will investigate complaints; the Commission has brought 13 formal enforcement actions to combat unlawful robocalls since 2013,” Wheeler said in a statement. “Consumers would rather not receive unwanted calls in the first place, making pro-active intervention preferable to after-the-fact enforcement. The Commission has done its part, making clear that phone companies face no legal barriers to helping consumers block unwanted calls with the use of robocall blocking technology. Today, we urge carriers to step up to take that responsibility.”

The FCC also said it would continue to “pursue regulatory solutions to crack down on unwanted robocalls.”

The agency last year closed loopholes in its robocall restrictions, including placing limits on calls to reassigned numbers. Wheeler, at the time, said he planned to use the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act as the skeleton for new regulations which would close any loopholes on consumer protection from such unwanted contact.

Since Congress changed the law authorizing the FCC to limit the number and duration of robocalls to collect federal debts, the agency circulated rules to place limits on all robocalls. The proposal’s purpose is to limit the number of debt-collection calls allowed per month, ensure the right person is called, and allow consumers to stop the calls.

“Such limitations are particularly important following a January Supreme Court ruling that federal government entities conducting official business are not subject to robocall limits unless Congress says otherwise,” Wheeler added. Here’s the bottom line: Robocalls are currently the number one complaint the FCC receives from consumers. Whenever and wherever Congress and the courts give us the authority, the Commission will push hard for strong, pro-consumer limits to robocalls and other unwanted calls.”


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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eBay and Google Team Up: How it Impacts You

“Initially, AMP was primarily tuned for publishing-based content, but it has much promise in the ecommerce world.”

— Senthil Padmanabhan, principal Web engineer at eBay

Several years before Amazon.com came into existence, eBay was the premier eCommerce platform for sellers of just about anything. Since Amazon’s rise to complete ubiquity and digital retail dominance, however, eBay has been playing second fiddle. Things have not been looking too optimistic over at the eCommerce website — earlier this year the company’s stock fell a full 13 percent after publishing its disappointing fourth quarter 2015 results. Despite recent struggles, eBay is far from throwing in the towel. At the end of June, the company announced that it would team up with one of the most powerful forces on the Web: Google.

Through the news section of its website, eBay announced that it is “. . .working on delivering faster mobile browsing experiences leveraging the open source AMP Project.” For those who are unfamiliar, Google’s Accelerate Mobile Pages Project is a method of delivering mobile content at lightning speed and optimizing experiences for small screen devices.

eBay revealed that pages discovered and visited from Google search will enhance the speed for those item listings, and that moving forward, the company is aiming to achieve “. . .full-fledged e-commerce experience in AMP.” 

That is exactly what they are doing. There are currently about eight million eBay pages leveraging AMP, and many more on the way.

One of the main reasons for eBay’s AMP adoption is mobile’s rise as the site’s fastest growing sector. This should come as no surprise considering that mobile use is growing in prominence around the world. As it stands, more than half of all Google searches across the world take place on a mobile device. Moreover, Business Insider predicts that 45 percent of eCommerce transactions will occur via mobile by 2020.

This integration with AMP technology is a wise move on eBay’s end; especially when you consider that mobile is still something of a Wild West environment, as eBay’s principal Web egineer, Senthil Padmanabhan, noted:

“Currently, when users click from a link on a mobile device, they are not sure what sort of experience they’re going to get. They may get a mobile optimized website, they might get a desktop-centric page, or they can get an ad that splashes right in the middle of the screen when not expected.”

He continued by saying, “When you build out pages with AMP you are consistently guiding users to a solid, fast user experience. Working with AMP includes leveraging best practices that ensure the best mobile Web experiences.”

Incorporating this technology into its platform sets the stage for eBay to eliminate many barriers from the current, somewhat clunky, mobile shopping experience: clicking wrong links due to undersized tabs, slow loading pages, and several other problematic format issues. Eradicating these impediments will help lead to a higher level of traffic and conversions.

As much as this assimilation will aid eBay’s efforts, it benefits Google just as much, if not more, by helping to keep more activity on the Google search engine and out of applications; an issue that the search phenom has been struggling with as of late.

While this is great news for both eBay and Google, what exactly does this alliance mean for small businesses across the Web?

AMP Tragedy?

With eBay integrating AMP into its platform, there is a good chance that more traffic will be driven to its site from places like Google. If your brand is currently selling products through eBay, then this is clearly good news. A boost in visibility can quite possibly lead to a boost in revenue. But if you are not selling merchandise on eBay, the news isn’t really that bad there either.

Google’s AMP Project is open source, which means that it is available for anyone to use. You can find the company’s HTML source code on its GitHub page for your business to leverage as well. While it may be challenging to compete with sites like eBay, your business is already competing with them, Amazon, and a myriad of others. Incorporating AMP into your platform, however, will potentially allow individuals to find your products easier, and compare prices with other outlets quickly and comfortably. If your advertised price is lower, they are more likely to shop on your site.

The same advantages that Senthil Padmanabhan mentioned for eBay can be equally gained by your company:

“The biggest benefit we get from leveraging AMP is that we improve experiences for users who come to eBay from external platforms such as Google, Twitter etc. We can give them a speed-optimized experience that gives them more context than they would otherwise have. They see relevant item listings very quickly and can make instant comparisons. Lots of users search for items in search engines, and many of them do so for price comparisons when they are in a physical store. Sometimes, when users are exploring products from a mobile device, they have a hard time getting the information they need because mobile networks can be slow. This is where AMP comes into play. It helps us to deliver a speed-optimized mobile browsing experience.”

Website performance on both desktop and mobile are critical to user experience. Integrating AMP technology with your site can only help your efforts of increasing visibility, speed, traffic, and sales. Additionally, AMP is only poised to grow as mobile use continues to skyrocket and surpass virtually every other type of device.

Adopting AMP now gives you a competitive edge over your direct rivals, and can allow you to go toe-to-toe in the price category with many larger retailers as mobile users compare their options. As Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, said, “. . . pay attention to AMP. It’s going to be really big.”

Do you plan on integrating Google’s Mobile Accelerated Pages into your platform? What drawbacks do you foresee with this alliance between eBay and Google?


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Conscious online marketer, Web executive, and multi-faceted writer, Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach. Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

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Social Media Tips for Job Seekers

Infographic Courtesy of: TutorsUmbrella

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A Publisher’s Guide to Facebook’s News Feed Updates

By now, many of you will have read about Facebook’s news feed updates, which were made public today.

As well as listing ‘News Feed Values‘, there was also some news for publishers about how content is to be displayed in the news feed.

These updates are amongst the most significant for publishers that we’ve seen. However, while this is obviously big news for many different sites and online news providers, those with strong audience development strategies won’t be too worried. From now on, here’s what Facebook says the news feed will particularly value.

  • Friends and family posts. “Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.” Increasingly, those posts will be towards the top of users’ feeds.
  • Informative posts. But not just from friends and family. “This could be a post about a current event, a story about your favorite celebrity, a piece of local news, or a recipe,” says the statement.
  • Entertaining posts. Again, these posts can come from a range of sources, from friends’ photos to a backstage live video from a famous TV anchor.

It’s important to note that this announcement does not signal anything like a wholesale depreciation of news content on Facebook. Strong stories that are interesting, original and well-packaged resonate like few other posts on social media and it’s hard to see that changing in the short term. As an example, see the reaction to BuzzFeed’s recent publication of a rape victim’s courtroom impact statement, or the New York Times’ gun control editorial after the San Bernardino shootings, each of which attracted hundreds of thousands of engagements. As long Facebook users continue to engage with and share these types of stories, it’s unlikely that they’ll be completely demoted in news feeds. Indeed, if the algorithm deems these stories to be particularly ‘informative,’ they may perform even stronger.

What is likely to change is the way that readers find those stories. The update means that what your friends post will have even more resonance in your feed, while pages that you like, but don’t interact with all that much will probably do a disappearing act.

With that in mind, here are three things that we think publishers should be focusing on.

1. ‘Organic’ engagement is the best way to break into the news feed

The first value that Facebook outlines looks to make the news feed a more personable experience for each user. Stories that are shared directly to a friend’s page or directly to the news feed are more likely to be surfaced.

The idea is that a user may be more inclined to stop and read a story if it’s posted by their friend, rather than a page. For publishers that already see healthy levels of ‘organic sharing’ (such as use of share buttons), this won’t be an issue. Other publishers will need to think about how important their main Facebook page is in delivering engagements and clicks overall. Are people finding your content on your site and through friends’ sharing habits, or is overwhelmingly through your main Facebook pages?

Your main Facebook page should be treated as a strategic distribution point. Many publishers will have worked hard to build a large fan base on their main page, and that is often a source of pride. But social media teams will understand that not every one of those fans is going to see everything your page posts. Given the competition for space in news feeds, it’s prudent to think about how relevant each post is to the wider audience. Hot button topics that unite the varied interests of your audience? Probably. More obscure features that speak to a very specific readership? Maybe not.

You should see your main page as a flagship account, broadcasting the best of your content with an analytics-driven approach.

2. Look to engagement metrics to help inform strategy

Sites of all types will be familiar with using different analytics to help figure out how their site’s content has performed. Now, engagement analytics can help give publishers more guidance on Facebook, too.

Facebook anticipates that the update “may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages.” If you’re unsure as to how much of an impact the changes are going to have, careful analysis of your analytics over the next few months will be important. One way of doing this is by figuring out how your total likes and shares are growing over time, with the aim of emulating the successes, and learning from the underachieving posts.

We track and log all likes, shares, comments and other reactions on Facebook posts and Web-based stories, allowing us to pinpoint what’s working on the platform in terms of content. Our clients use our data to figure out which of their stories and posts performed strongest on Facebook over specific periods, and how they’re doing against their competitors.

By looking at the structure of stories that attracted high levels of shares, it’s possible to learn more about the type of stories that perform particularly strongly on Facebook.

3. Establishing a niche audience becomes even more important

If there’s one thing that the digital media wars have taught us over the last few years, it’s that specialization matters.

That means providing a very high level of expertise in specific areas, like the Financial Times, or creating must-reads for your target audience, like Politico.

Our clients stress the importance of getting close to their audience as a number one factor in their editorial decisions. To that end, we’ve seen BILD in Germany break out their content streams by page in an effort to really connect with their more niche audiences. Meanwhile, CNN en Espanol have a social trends team that monitors what their online readers are sharing and talking about around the clock.

By listening closely to what your readers connect with each day, there’s a better chance that they’re going to feel inclined to pass your stories on to their wider network. Publishers need to hone in more and more on the content topics and themes that their readers are interested in talking about, as well as when they’re interested in them. As the News Feed Values manifesto states, ‘authentic stories are the ones that resonate most.’ A combination of good editorial judgment and distribution savvy is needed.

For anyone interested in cultivating a loyal online audience, those steps will continue to resonate.


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Liam Corcoran is head of communications at NewsWhip. Used by many of the world’s leading digital newsrooms, NewsWhip’s technology tracks the spread of millions of stories, videos, and other content attracting engagement and driving activity on social networks, showing users where the discussion is right now. Liam regularly writes about social data, the nature of social distribution, and the role of social media in digital journalism on the NewsWhip blog.

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Microsoft on Track to Hit $20 Billion Cloud Revenue Target


You will find more statistics at Statista

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The Positive Side of Cellphone Spying

Usually, when we talk about anything related to spying it brings a negative image to our mind. The fact is, there are a lot of positive things being done through cellphone spying or, should we say, tracking and monitoring. Yes there are concerns over privacy issues and they will stay there and they should stay there; they are the balancing factor. The process of monitoring and tracking via apps and other software needs to have a check because these apps and software are basically tools. As with all tools, they can be used for a good purpose or a bad one – it’s all up to the person wielding the tool. We will look into the positive side of using monitoring and tracking apps.

Businesses and the use of monitoring and tracking apps.

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Companies across the world realize that as the world turns more into a global village, competition will get tougher resulting in a rise of corporate security. Corporations cannot afford to have their business secrets leaked out to their competitors and that is why these companies have started asking employees to sign a monitoring consent form along with a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).  These companies have realized that NDA is more of a psychological deterrent and at the same time a passive one. If any corporate secrets were to be leaked out there is little that these companies can do except following legal proceedings, but the damage has already been done.

With the monitoring consent forms, these companies have started issuing their employee’s Smart devices such as phones and tablets that are installed with spying apps capable of monitoring and tracking employees. The company also picks up the tab on all official and personal communication and lets the employee keep the devices after a couple years. It might be a perk for the employees but it gives corporations peace of mind regarding their business.

Companies don’t have to rely on cellphone spying to just keep business secrets they can also be used to, depending on the type of business, check on employee behavior or analyze ways to improve productivity. Just recently the largest cab company in the world, Uber announced that it would use monitoring and tracking apps to check on their drivers driving habits that would include speed, breaking, and other factors. They mainly wanted to see why some trips were rated worse than others.

Better employee management is also another aspect that these businesses use such apps for. Using the tracking feature they can accurately tell when an employee came to work, how long he stayed on the premises and when he or she came and went – for any official or personal task. The management can also use the scheduling options in their associates’ smart devices to arrange meetings that would not interfere with their pre-planned official tasks. This not only creates a healthy positive work environment but also increases employee motivation and productivity.

Parents relying on cellphone spying to protect children

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There is no greater love in the world than the love parents have for their children. Most of the monitoring and tracking apps in use focus on this aspect. In fact in South Korea, the government has made it mandatory that Smart devices being sold to minors should have a monitoring and tracking app installed on them with the control given to the parents. It just goes to show how seriously people are taking child safety. In India such apps are used to give parents peace of mind regarding their kids: they are notified when they get on the bus, reach the school, and when they come back.

The scenarios above are just a fraction of what these apps are capable of. The main threat that parents realize is social media and anonymous chatting through apps such as Kik, Omegle, and others. Pedophiles and other dangerous stalkers use such mediums to get in touch with and lure young kids and, if they are successful, the consequences are usually disastrous.  Spy apps allow parents to not only view the online presence of their children but to control it to some extent as well. This way parents can keep an eye out for their kids and know the conversations that they have on IM chats. Even some law enforcement officials recommend that parents monitor their kids’ online presence and to restrict it especially during the evening and at night.

A Suitable Example

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Having mentioned some of the most positive uses of cellphone spying. It would be unfair if we did not give mention to some of the other features and functionalities that such apps have. These apps and other similar apps like xnspy provide complete access to call records on a smart device, call recording, and complete text monitoring allowing the user to read all text messages that are received via SMS, IM chats, and e-mail. They have access to calendar schedules, browser history, bookmarks, all pictures and videos on the device and location history of where the device has been throughout the course of the day. These features not only help parents and businesses but can be used for personal use such as self-management as well.


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