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The 404 1,449: Where we run for the border (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Cloak app helps you dodge awkward run-ins with frenemies.

- Taco Bell taps techies with burner phones to market new breakfast menu.

- Robots are creeping their way into newsrooms.

- A new gadget designed to sanitize your public transportation trip.… Read more

Visualize shared links, trends with BuzzSumo

If your job requires you to know which topics are the most discussed on social media or if you are simply a curious denizen of the Internet, BuzzSumo will show you which links are making the rounds.

Head to the BuzzSumo Web site and enter a topic or domain name. BuzzSumo will return a list of articles that are the most shared across five social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. You can sort the results by an individual network or by an aggregate total shares.

On the left-hand panel, you can filter the results by article type … Read more

China censors hit popular WeChat accounts

The censors are once again targeting China's popular messaging app WeChat.

Chinese government officials on Thursday closed down a host of popular accounts run by journalists and columnists, according to reports out of the country. The move was seen as a response to possible criticism of the government, which held its annual parliament meeting on Thursday. The accounts were shuttered before Premier Li Keqiang started a news conference to announce the end of those meetings, according to reports.

Tencent Holdings, WeChat's owner, didn't seem upset by the government's move. Speaking to Reuters, which reported on the … Read more

On Facebook, good (and bad) moods are infectious

Isn't it interesting when someone posts a highly positive comment on Facebook and tons of their friends "like" the post and chime in with like-minded comments? Likewise, the same happens with negative comments. This is no coincidence.

A new study published in Plos One on Wednesday by researchers from the University of California at San Diego says that moods on Facebook are contagious. While negative posts definitely beget negative posts, positive posts are apparently more infectious.

"Our study suggests that people are not just choosing other people like themselves to associate with but actually causing their … Read more

In Syria, a detained Internet activist remains in limbo

The Arab Spring has all but disappeared from daily news headlines, but the uncertainty lingers concerning the fate of a missing computer engineer who was detained by the Syrian government two years ago.

On March 15, 2012, Syrian authorities detained Bassel Khartabil, a free-software activist who had used cell phone videos to document the first massive protests breaking out against the Assad regime, and who shared the videos with international news outlets. He has not been released.

Now as the anniversary of his disappearance nears, Fosfor, a digital publisher, has released "Bassel: Behind the Screens of the Syrian Revolution,&… Read more

Microsoft to bring social, machine learning tech to Office 365

Microsoft is about to make some big changes as to how Office 365 looks and works.

At the company's SharePoint 2014 conference, which kicks off on March 3, executives will preview some of these coming changes -- specifically ones involving social and machine-learning technologies that Microsoft is baking into its cloud suite of Office apps. Once these technologies begin rolling out later this year, the lines between Exchange, SharePoint, and Yammer will be blurred, and social collaboration will become more of a centerpiece of the more tightly integrated suite.

Microsoft has built what it's calling the "Office Graph,"Read more

Author Danah Boyd on why teens and social media are 'complicated' (podcast)

When it comes to understanding how teens use social media, there's perhaps no one more clued in than Danah Boyd, except maybe teens themselves. An ethnographer with a Ph.D. in information from the University of California at Berkeley, she has spent the last eight years speaking with and observing teens from all walks of life.

Boyd's new book, "It's Complicated: The social lives of networked teens," is the culmination of this work where, as she writes, she attempts to "describe and explain the networked lives of teens to the people who worry about … Read more

Create a Ken Burns-style photo project on your iPhone with PhotoMotion

PhotoMotion, from the makers of PhotoToaster, lets you put together a slideshow of images with the popular zooming and panning technique known as the Ken Burns effect, but doesn't offer much else.

There have been a number of apps that duplicated this dramatic style of slow panning over images, but they have often been too complicated or the interface so unintuitive that people simply wouldn't bother. But PhotoToaster, made by the same developers, is one of my favorite photo editors, so I was excited to see how they would handle an entirely different process for creating photo projects. … Read more

Social Downloader review

Back up your Instagram photos and Facebook posts with Sakysoft's Social Downloader for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, a free tool for Windows XP through 8. You can add multiple accounts for each, but you'll need to add at least one account to access the tool. If you're logged in, Social Downloader can add your account more or less automatically, with the usual privacy agreements and such.

Social Downloader's blue-themed interface opens with a quick start page describing how to use the program in four clicks: 1) Select the Facebook or Instagram tab in the sidebar; 2) … Read more

Social Status for Facebook and Twitter review

Social Status for Facebook and Twitter is a resource full of quotes from various sources that you can use in your status updates. Search by category or shuffle randomly through quotes and updates to find the right one for the day, and then quickly share it via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, or SMS, so everyone knows just how your day is going.

This app has an intuitive and streamlined interface, with a box in the middle of the screen where quotes and sayings are displayed. Buttons below this box allow for immediate sharing via the options listed above. You can also … Read more