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Facebook bringing people better adverts

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For most people adverts are a nuisance more than anything which is why Facebook introduced the Facebook Audience Network a few years ago. Today, it announced that it is expanding its Audience Network to help publishers show better adverts to everyone – including those that are not connected to the social network.

Much of the news and information we read online, along with the games, videos, and other things we enjoy, are supported by advertising. More people have access to more content than ever before – often free of charge – because the publishers and developers behind our favorite websites and apps rely on advertising to pay the bills.

However, one of the things we’ve heard from people is that many of the ads they see are annoying, distracting, or misleading. We think companies can do better, and that’s why we’ve been focused on improving ads both on and off Facebook.

For example, we introduced Facebook Audience Network two years ago to help publishers and developers support their services by showing relevant, high quality ads to people who visit their websites and apps. But in the past, we’ve only shown ads in these places to people who have Facebook accounts. Today, we’re expanding Audience Network so publishers and developers can show better ads to everyone – including those who don’t use or aren’t connected to Facebook.

We’ve all had this experience. You open a news article on your phone’s web browser and the page takes unusually long to load. Once it appears, the article is blocked by an ad. You might see a tiny “x” to hide the ad, but if you tap in the wrong spot, you get redirected to an app store or another website. It can be unclear who’s behind the ad or even if the website you’ve been directed to is safe to visit.

Advertising may be here to stay, but bad advertising like this doesn’t have to. That’s why we’re working to provide a better online advertising experience for everyone: people, publishers, and advertisers.

How We Offer Better Ads and Put People in Control

While more than a hundred companies already serve interest-based advertising on websites and apps today, we offer a better experience because we care about the integrity of Facebook ads.

Ads are reviewed against our standards and to ensure they are as respectful of people’s experience as possible. For example, we don’t permit ads that include sound unless you interact with them and we prohibit deceptive ads and ads for unsafe products and services. We’ve developed technology to determine when someone clicks on an ad on a mobile device by accident, so you don’t get taken to a website or app you didn’t mean to visit.

We also offer everyone controls over the ads they see, including tools to opt out of online interest-based advertising. If you have an account, you can do this directly from your Facebook settings, and we honor your choice wherever you use Facebook.

Your ad preferences also help us show you better ads on and off Facebook. If you have an account, you can edit your ad preferences to tell us if you want to see ads based on specific interests, like travel or television. Starting today, you can opt out of seeing ads on apps and websites not offered by Facebook based on your ad preferences. You can do this by visiting your Facebook settings or tapping the AdChoices icon next to an Audience Network ad.

Together, we hope these efforts will help improve the online advertising experience for everyone. You can learn more about Facebook ads in a new section of Privacy Basics as well as in our updated Cookies Policy.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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