<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Tech News]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Wed, 10 Feb 2016 02:12:10 -0500 Wed, 10 Feb 2016 02:12:10 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Top Super Bowl 50 Social Media Moments]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 21:09:16 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-508984228.jpg

The Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 24-10 to win Super Bowl 50 at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California, delivering star quarterback Peyton Manning his second championship ring. From Beyoncé's performance of her new song "Formation" at halftime to Betty White's dab before the game, here are the top social media moments on and off the field.

12. Eli Manning's not-so-pleased expression when his brother's team scored a critical touchdown in the fourth quarter lit up social media with hilarious memes.

Peyton Manning tied his younger brother for two Super Bowl rings apiece, leading many to wonder whether sibling rivalry had anything to do with Eli's emotionless face.

11. A disappointed Cam Newton abruptly walked out of the post-Super Bowl press conference after the Panthers quarterback gave reporters short answers about his team's loss.

Former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski took to Twitter, scolding Newton for his behavior, but he quickly had to clarify his remarks. 

"You will never last in the NFL with that attitude,” Romanowski wrote. "The world doesn’t revolve around you, boy! #CamNewton

Romanowski deleted that tweet. Later, he tried to clarify his remarks tweeting, "Calm down everyone! I meant he needs to grow up!”

He eventually tweeted an apology: "I apologize for that remark 'boy.' It was not intentional or even trying to disrespect others. Peace everyone!"

Meanwhile, some critics also slammed Newton for having failed to dive for the ball during a fumble, and called it a "business decision." 

10. NBA superstar Kevin Durant shot photos from the sidelines.

9. A stampede of adorable dachshunds dressed in hot dog buns ran toward ketchup and mustard bottles in a Heinz commercial, one of the many memorable Super Bowl ads. 

8. FLOTUS and POTUS prepped for the Super Bowl with their dogs Sunny and Bo. 

7. Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter Apple Martin and Beyonce's daughter Blue Ivy were seen holding hands in Paltrow's Instagram post before the Super Bowl. Apple's father Chris Martin and Beyonce performed together during the halftime show.

6. Jonathan Stewart leapt into the end zone for the Panthers only touchdown.

5. Astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted an aerial view of the Super Bowl from space. Kelly is spending a year in space. 

4. Beyonce slayed in her halftime performance of her new song "Formation." She announced she's embarking on a Formation World Tour during the game. The halftime festivities also boasted performances by Bruno Mars and Coldplay.

3. Betty White dabbed, sending Newton a message prior to the start of the game.

2. Denver Broncos starting quarterback Peyton Manning won his second Super Bowl. 

1. Lady Gaga sported red eyeshadow and delivered a memorable rendition of the national anthem to kick off Super Bowl 50.

Photo Credit: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Twitter Locks Down 125,000 Accounts]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 18:04:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/twitterGettyImages-494325030.jpg

Twitter announced Friday it will shut down more than 125,000 accounts as part of an effort to crack down on extremist content.

In a news release, the company said it was committed to weeding out content that advocates for terrorism and violence. It said there is no "magic algorithm" for targeting such content, but it will continue to "engage with authorities and other relevant organizations to find solutions to this critical issue."

Since late last year, Twitter has been using "proprietary spam fighting tools" in order to identify accounts that violate their terms of service policy. It also has assigned a dedicated team to examine the accounts. 

The moves come as the White House has been putting more pressure on social media companies to proactively identify potentially dangerous accounts and content.

The Obama administration has sent high-level personnel including F.B.I Director James Comey to California to discuss how the tech giants and government can work together more effectively. 

Twitter said the nature of its product, which it called "an open forum for expression," makes it vulnerable to becoming a communications tool for social media savvy terrorist organizations like ISIS, as NBC News reported. 

Last month, a woman whose husband was killed in Jordan in a terrorist attack sued Twitter in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit claimed Twitter was partially responsible because the ISIS attack was coordinated via the social media platform.

The suit is not expected to get far, as Twitter is protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, but it does raise questions about the level of responsibility that social media companies should have regarding the content on their platforms.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Drone Hits Empire State Building]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 07:41:59 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/drone+suspect+empire+state+building.jpg

A small drone crashed into the 40th floor of the Empire State Building Thursday night and then fell to a 35th floor landing, authorities said. 

Police said a New Jersey man was flying the drone in an attempt to take pictures and apparently lost control of the aircraft.

Investigators said Sean Nivin Riddle was arrested at the scene and is expected to face criminal charges. He was being questioned by officers at the Midtown South police precinct.

Right after the crash, Riddle apparently wrote on his own Twitter feed: “filming w/ drone, now its stuck on the empire state building....w/security.”

The crash brought a significant police and FBI response to the landmark at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street as a precaution. Investigators said that they do not believe the crash was intentional.

No one was hurt.

Riddle did not immediately respond to requests from NBC 4 New York seeking comment. 

Photo Credit: File.
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<![CDATA[Happy 'Friends Day': Facebook Turns 12 ]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 14:42:33 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/friends-day-facebook-video.jpg

It's been 12 years since Facebook launched its social media website and to celebrate the milestone the technology company has dubbed their anniversary "Friends Day."

The company wrote in a blog post that its research showed that every person on the site is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people.

Facebook's "degrees of separation" have shrunk as more people have signed on over the years.

To celebrate its anniversary, Facebook has created a Friends Day Video feature which gives the millions of Facebook users a personalized film at the top of their newsfeed. The video depicts a slideshow of Facebook photos unique to each user's account that shows him or her with friends and loved ones, all while set to a playful tune. 

While the company is encouraging Facebook users to share their Friends Day video with the hashtag #friendsday, another hashtag has gained popularity: #beforefacebooki.

Facebook users, as well as those on Twitter and Instagram, have taken to the web to reflect on what their life was like before Facebook existed, giving insight into the way the tech company has changed what it means to be connected. 

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<![CDATA[Zuckerberg Deposes Bezos of Fifth Richest Title]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 16:24:14 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-464961022.jpg

On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg passed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to become the fifth richest person in the world, less than a week after he claimed the position of sixth wealthiest from Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison, NBC News reported.

Zuckerberg is worth $50 billion, Forbes estimates, as of Tuesday's close. According to the same estimates, Bezos is worth approximately $48.9 billion.

This puts the 31-year-old CEO in close proximity to Carlos Slim, the Mexican business magnate who was the richest person in the world from 2010 to 2013.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What Parents Need to Know About Anonymous Apps]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 17:11:25 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_257624554.jpg

You might have heard about Tinder. But are you familiar with Kik? How about Down? 

Police warn that dating and anonymous messaging apps -- including some that are mysteries to parents -- are getting into the hands of children who are too young to use them.

That can expose children to content they aren't ready for, or worse.

Recently, reports surfaced that Nicole Madison Lovell, a 13-year-old Blacksburg girl, may have used the messaging app Kik to connect with an 18-year-old college student who is now accused in her murder.

And Prince George's police say a pornographic photo sent through the Kik app led them to investigate an elementary school choir director -- who is now accused of making child pornography on school grounds.

Many of these apps say they are not to be used by preteens. But Montgomery County, Maryland police said young people are drawn to them.

"These kids have no idea who they are talking to," said Rick Goodale, of Montgomery County Police. "And the dangers is these kids eventually may want to end up meeting somebody."

Here's a parent's guide to some of the newer apps:


Kik is a popular messaging app with 250 million users around the world, according to the company's website. But parents are alarmed by reports of sexual predators using the app to contact children.

Last year, a 14-year-old Fairfax boy was accused of using Kik to create a contest to generate child pornography.

And an anonymous man who claimed to be a convicted sex offender told WOOD TV, an NBC station in Michigan that the app is easily used by predators to contact children. "I can be whoever I want to be. I can get anybody I want. I can achieve my sexual glorification through this app," he said.


Whisper is a free app that lets users share secrets anonymously. Users post pictures with accompanying text and others comment in reply; there are no profiles. The company says this anonymous model helps prevent cyberbullying because people can be honest about themselves, the company's CEO told Mashable.

But the app also has a private messaging service, which enables predators to attempt to contact teens. It's easier to find someone nearby, because the app allows users to see posts within a 25-mile radius.

Yik Yak

Yik Yak is designed for people in a specific area. Similar to Whisper, users post messages, or "Yaks," similar to bulletin board messages. The app is anonymous and users see posts made within a 10-mile radius.

Schools are concerned about the potential for cyberbullying and threats. At least 11 college students across the U.S. were charged for making threats on the app during the fall 2014 semester, reported CBC News in Canada. A former student at Michigan State University was sentenced to two years of probation Wednesday for making a school shooting threat on Yik Yak, the State News in Michigan reported.


Down, which used to be called "Bang with Friends," is a social media app that works with Facebook to identify friends on Facebook that say they are willing to hook up.

TeenSafe, a technology company that helps parents navigate new technology that their kids use, has called Down a "digital booty call."


This video chatting app can be used to connect users with anyone -- with no identity verification and no moderation. TeenSafe called it "perhaps the most dangerous" app on the TeenSafe 2016 App Blacklist.


Ask.fm is described as an app for "social Q&A." Users create profiles which let anyone ask them questions. The primary audience is ages 13 to 25, with half of registered users under the age of 18, the app's co-founder told CNET.

Users can stay anonymous, leading to what CNET described as a  "parent-free digital space," and that can lead to concerns of cyberbullying, reported WBNS-10TV.

What Parents Can Do

OnGuardOnline is the federal government's website to help Americans stay safe online. A special section, Protect Kids Online, is a guide for parents, covering everything from child identity theft to cyberbullying.

Common Sense Media has guides for parents, complete with reviews, of popular apps and games.

HighTechDad compiled a brief guide for parents about the latest apps and their dangers to kids. Deleting and blocking apps will only do so much; he advises having conversations with your kids and making sure they know how to be safe online.

Or check out TeenSafe's blog.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[GE to Stop Making Fluorescent Light Bulbs]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 10:51:30 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/190*120/AP_090610036569.jpg

GE announced Monday that it will stop making its coiled compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) for the U.S. market and switch to LED lamps by the end of 2016.

LED light bulbs are brighter, use less energy and last longer. They do not use dangerous chemicals such as mercury to generate power like CFLs do. However, LEDs are the most expensive type of bulb.

“These LED lightbulbs are starting to replicate what the electrical filament has done for over 100 years — providing that look and warm ambience that people are used to,” GE Lighting chief operating officer John Strainic said in the announcement. “The time for LED is now.”

Compact fluorescents were the first big energy-saving option but they no longer meet government standards for energy efficiency. 

<![CDATA[Apple Recalls AC Adapters Over Potential Shock Hazard]]> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 15:55:09 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/257*120/Screen-Shot-2016-01-29-at-2.58.02-PM.jpg

Apple issued a voluntary recall this week of certain AC wall plug adapters because they may break and cause electrical shock when touched.

In a statement posted on their site, Apple said it's recalling AC wall plug adapters designed for users in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Continental Europe, New Zealand and South Korea. The recall also affects adapters sold in the United States as part of The Apple World Travel Adapter Kit sold for $29. 

According to Apple, there were 12 incidents globally of defective adapters causing an electrical shock. 

Apple stressed the recall "does not affect any other Apple AC wall plug adapters designed for Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, United Kingdom, United States or any Apple USB power adapters."

The two-prong adapters affected by the recall have either four, five, or no characters on an inside slot that connects to the primary power adapter. They shipped with certain Mac and iOS devices between 2003 and 2015. A redesigned and unaffected adapter has a three-letter regional code, like EUR, KOR, AUS, ARG or BRA, instead.

Consumers who purchased the travel kit are urged to visit Apple's website to get it exchanged for a redesigned model. They can also exchange the adapter at a local Apple Store or an authorized Apple service provider.

Although not common for the Cupertino giant, recalls have occurred before. In 2008, Apple launched the Power Adapter Exchange Program for the iPhone 3G power adapter, which also could break and create potential for electrical shock to users.

Photo Credit: Apple
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<![CDATA[Zuckerberg Surpasses Kochs on Bloomberg Billionaire List]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 18:18:18 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tlmd_markzuckerbergok1.png

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has passed billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch to become the sixth richest person on the planet, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

No, the social media mogul didn't win the Powerball. The boost comes from Facebook reporting record revenue on Wednesday, pegged largely to growth in mobile phone use, according to NBC News.

That beefed up Zuckerberg's net worth by $5.5 billion, leaving him with a grand total of $47 billion — placing him ahead of the Koch brothers, who are currently worth $45.3 billion, according to Bloomberg.

But Zuckerberg still has some ground to make up to break into the five, where Bill Gates and Warren Buffett reside.

Photo Credit: File -- Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Parents Warned to Secure Baby Video Monitors: Officials]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 16:34:51 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/BabyMonitor-GettyImages-136714563.jpg

New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs is warning parents to secure Internet-connected video baby monitors, NBC News reported.

Officials say there have been many reports of devices being infiltrated and, in some cases, strangers talking to babies in the middle of the night through hacked monitors.

The department is urging parents to buy secure devices, use strong passwords, register their products and turn the devices off when not in use.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FCC Proposes New Competition to Set-Top TV Box Market]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 14:50:29 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CableBox-AP_070531053315.jpg

The Federal Communications Commission may open up competition for cable and satellite TV companies, NBC News reported.

The FCC proposed regulation Wednesday to allow consumers to get services through devices like tablets instead of pay-TV boxes.

Americans spent almost $20 billion — an average of $231 a year — a year to lease pay-TV boxes, according to the FCC. Rental fees have jumped 185 percent since 1994, while the price of TVs, computers and cellphones has gone down by 90 percent.

The FCC said a competitive marketplace is required by a 1996 law. The regulation will be voted on Feb. 18. 

<![CDATA[Clickers Beware: 'CrashSafari' Links Will Kill Your iPhone]]> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 18:14:52 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Apple-Iphone-AP_130974735694.jpg

Pranksters on the social web are sending people to a website that causes smartphones to crash — so you might want to hold off on clicking or tapping random links today, NBC News reported.

Don't worry, it isn't some critical bug that Apple or Google needs to patch — it's just ordinary webpage components used maliciously to overload just about any browser.

The website, crashsafari.com (and crashchrome.com — needless to say, don't visit either), adds numbers to the address bar as fast as it can — crashsafari.com/0, then /01, then /012, /0123, and eventually /0123456789101112131415... and so on. Each time it adds a number, that page is saved to your history — and it adds up fast.

This history and URL overload leads mobile browsers to crash and desktop ones to hang (You should still be able to force-quit the application if it's stalling). "What were you expecting?" reads the only text on the page.

Clicking on the nefarious link could result to a major annoyance — unsaved data could be lost — but it's unlikely to cause any lasting damage to your device.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Nearly 300,000 Drones Registered in First 30 Days: FAA]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 14:33:46 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/drones-again.jpg

Nearly 300,000 people have registered their drones in the first 30 days after the Federal Aviation Administration launched its online registration system on Dec. 21, NBC News repotted.

Anyone operating their small, unmanned aircraft before the system went live must register by Feb. 19. The rule applies to small, recreational drones weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds. The FAA hopes to have a system in place for commercial drone operators by the spring.

The FAA says the new rules are needed to make skies safer from drones flying too close to commercial airplanes or crashing into places they’re not meant to be, like the White House.

Anyone who doesn’t register their drone could face fines and penalties that include three years in prison.  

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dating App Tinder Adds STD Testing Locator]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 10:49:47 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Tinder+Screenshot.png

A feud between dating site Tinder and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was settled on Thursday after the dating site agreed to add links to sexually transmitted disease testing locations, NBC News reported.

The battle between the Los Angeles based non-profit group and the operator of a popular dating app began last fall leading sexual health advocacy group put up billboards and advertisements in Los Angeles and New York, associating Tinder with sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Tinder sent a "cease and desist" letter to the group after the billboards were erected. Now that Tinder is adding the STD testing locator to its application, the group is removing its billboards and advertisements mentioning the software.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Tinder]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon to Offer Full Refund on Hoverboards: Gov't]]> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 14:23:52 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/hoverboard+fire+bk.jpg

After telling consumers in the U.K. to dispose of their hoverboards and expect a full refund, Amazon has expanded its reimbursement program to the U.S.

The announcement, made by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot F. Kaye in a press release, comes as the federal regulatory agency is actively investigating a number of companies that make or sell hoverboards.

"For consumers who purchased a hoverboard from Amazon, they can return the product right now for a full refund," Kaye wrote in the press release. 

Kaye commended the online retail giant for "voluntarily stepping up" and "putting consumers safety first," and advised customers who purchased the self-balancing board to contact the company for a refund

The CPSC also cautioned against purchasing hoverboards that are labled Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certified. Some fire officials in the U.S. have advised parents to only purchase UL-labeled hoverboards, but Kaye said the global leader in product testing and inspection does not currently provide certification for the smart boards.

"The presence of a UL mark on hoverboards or their packaging should not be an indication to consumers of the product’s safety. In fact, any such mark is at best misleading and may even be a sign of a counterfeit product," Kaye said.

While the agency is also investigating 39 hoverboard fires across 19 states, focusing on the lithium-ion batteries that power the boards and "their interaction with the circuit boards," the CPSC suggests wearing protective gear, staying off roads, charging the boards away from combustible materials, and keeping a fire extinguisher nearby while using and charging the hoverboards.

With no safety standards for the popular boards, several U.S. airlines have already banned them from passenger flights and the U.S. Postal Service stopped shipping hoverboards by air.  

As of Thursday, Amazon continues to sell hoverboards on their site. There was no word from the online retailer on whether it will permanently pull the boards from its shelves. An email request for comment was not answered. 

Photo Credit: FDNY]]>
<![CDATA[SpaceX Rocket Bursts Into Flames]]> Mon, 18 Jan 2016 10:00:15 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/spacex-landing-explode.jpg A SpaceX rocket successfully launched a satellite into orbit on Monday, but the rocket's return landing was a rough one.]]> <![CDATA[Netflix Cracks Down on Spoofing for Access Foreign Shows]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 20:25:10 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-124755248.jpg

Netflix is taking steps to stop users from faking their location to get access to foreign shows and movies, NBC News reported.

Using online tools called proxies or virtual private networks allows users to go around copyright protections, which content providers don’t like.

Netflix’s policy has been laissez-faire, but in a blog post Thursday, the company says technology is now being used to prevent the use of these tools. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Netflix]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Administration Unveils $4B Plan for Self-Driving Cars]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 15:43:07 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/SelfDrivingCar-GettyImages-152766339.jpg

The White House will spend nearly $4 billion over ten years to accelerate the development of self-driving cars, according to a plan unveiled on Thursday, NBC News reported.

The move is part of an initiative President Barack Obama announced during his State of the Union address on Tuesday to build a “21st century transportation system.”

The White House wants to spend $3.9 billion for pilot programs to test “connected vehicle systems” throughout the country. The White House claims self-driving cars could cut down on accidents.

"We know that 83 percent of car accidents are due to human error," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said at the auto show in Detroit. "What happens if human error could be eliminated? That's a powerful possibility, and that's a possibility worth pursuing."  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Americans Don't Want Devices Tracking Them at Home]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 14:24:32 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Gadgets-AP_164152250147.jpg

Americans don’t want their gadgets tracking their movements at home, according to a new Pew Research Center poll, NBC News reported.

The poll posed several hypothetical situations to test how much privacy people were willing to give up for convenience and savings.

Fifty-five percent of people polled found a hypothetical “inexpensive thermostat sensor” that would share data on when people are in the house and that would track their movements unacceptable. 

But 52 percent of Americans were more likely to allow their doctor to upload their personal health records. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Suit: Twitter 'Knowingly' Let Terrorists Use Social Network]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 02:26:24 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/twitter-isis-lawsuit.jpg

The family of a Florida defense contractor killed in a November terror attack while training security forces in Jordan is suing Twitter, claiming the company has knowingly allowed terrorist groups such as ISIS to use its social network to spread extremist propaganda.

According to court documents filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, Lloyd "Carl" Fields Jr. was killed by a Jordanian police captain he was training at the International Police Training Center in Amman, which is operated and funded in part by the U.S. State Department. ISIS took credit for the attack, which also took the life of another American contractor, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit blames Twitter in part for the attack, claiming it allows extremists to recruit and spread violent ideology on its platform.

"For years, Twitter has knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits," the suit says. "...Without Twitter, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible."

According to the lawsuit, ISIS has an estimated 70,000 Twitter accounts, at least 79 of which were "official," and it posted at least 90 tweets every minute.

A Twitter spokesperson issued the following statement on Wednesday:

"While we believe the lawsuit is without merit, we are deeply saddened to hear of this family's terrible loss. Like people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups and their ripple effects on the Internet. Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear. We have teams around the world actively investigating reports of rule violations, identifying violating conduct, partnering with organizations countering extremist content online, and working with law enforcement entities when appropriate."

This isn't the first time Twitter has been accused of offering a venue for terrorists. In December, the government of Turkey fined Twitter for refusing to remove content deemed "terrorist propaganda." Twitter responded by filing a lawsuit saying the fine was illegal.

<![CDATA[German App for Migrants Teaches Info, Language Skills]]> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 15:49:11 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GermanyMigrants-AP_189095793769.jpg

There’s a new smartphone app that aims to help give basic information, language and customs to migrants and refugees streaming in to Germany from Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and other war-torn countries, NBC News reported.

“Ankommen,” meaning “arrive” or “come across,” is free on Google Play and will be available on the iOS system soon. It’s available in several different including English, Arabic and German.

Basic lessons in German and German culture are provided, with information on the various offices of the government with which migrants will have to interact.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[SpaceX Plans Drone Ship Rocket Landing for Jan. 17 ]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 19:19:46 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_211557185896.jpg

SpaceX confirmed it is planning on landing a Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship at sea on Jan. 17, NBC News reported.

This launch will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It will carry NASA’s Jason-3 satellite, which holds instruments to monitor the ocean's surface, collecting information about circulation patterns and perhaps rising sea levels.

The company succeeded Dec. 22 in making its first-stage rocket return safely to Earth and land upright at a predetermined location nears its launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

A previous attempt in January 2015 to land a Falcon 9 on a "drone ship" almost succeeded, but a last-minute failure saw the rocket topple over and explode.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Majority of Parents Monitor Teen's Digital Activity: Study]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 15:28:06 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/TeensTexting-GettyImages-573200639.jpg

More than 60 percent of parents said they’ve checked up on their teens’ Internet usage, text messages and call records, according to a new study released Thursday, NBC News reported.

The study was conducted by Pew Research Center and surveyed parents of teens aged 13 to 17. The study found that more parents take a hands-on approach to monitoring what their children do by monitoring websites, checking social media platforms, and friending or following their teen on social media platforms.

More than 65 percent of parents resorted to “digitally” grounding their kids by taking away their cellphone or Internet privileges. In addition, almost half of parents — 48 percent — said they knew the password to their teens’ email accounts, while 43 percent said they knew cellphone passwords.

While many parents may be actively snooping on their teens, less than a quarter said they used technology to monitor their children’s behavior.  

Photo Credit: Moment Editorial/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Expected to Allow 10,000-Character Tweets]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 15:57:29 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-180483176.jpg

Soon, Twitter users may not have to choose their words quite so wisely.

The San Francisco company is expected to alter its fundamental premise by allowing tweets as long as 10,000 characters — more than 78 times longer than the current limit of 140 characters.

The company has not confirmed that the change is coming, but sources familiar with the development have spoken anonymously to the Wall Street Journal and Re/code. The size limit of direct messages jumped to 10,000 characters in July, when co-founder Jack Dorsey rejoined the company as its chief executive officer.

Twitter established the 140-character ceiling from the start in 2006, a response to the 160-character limit that SMS text messages had on mobile phones.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top Apple Supplier Cuts Hours As iPhone Fears Rattle Investors]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 10:39:08 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_10052606294.jpg

Foxconn, which assembles most of Apple's latest iPhones, will cut working hours over the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, in a rare move that analysts interpreted as a sign of softening demand, NBC News reported.

Japanese daily Nikkei, citing parts suppliers, said Wednesday that output of the models would be cut by about 30 percent in January-March so dealers could unload stock. Apple shares lost 2.5 percent, and those of suppliers similarly fell.

Reports of slowing shipments and mounting inventories of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, as well as tepid forecasts from suppliers, have pushed Apple investors into unfamiliar territory after years of booming sales and surging shares. 

<![CDATA[Latest Tech Advancements Unveiled at CES in Las Vegas]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 10:19:07 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/NC_cesam0106_1500x845.jpg The latest cutting-edge technology is on display at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.]]> <![CDATA[The Best Innovations of CES 2016]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 19:59:53 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ces-th-AP_36665843408.jpg See the best gizmos and gadgets from the floor of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, from solar-powered stoves, to concept cars, to developments in virtual reality.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Zuckerberg Plans to Build Robot]]> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 10:41:58 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Zuckerberg-Robot-467503096.jpg

Mark Zuckerberg's goals for 2016 are certainly ambitious.

In the past, the Facebook CEO challenged himself to read two books a month, learn Mandarin, or meet someone new every day. This year, he wants to build a robot.

The tech entrepreneur took to Facebook on Sunday to announce his plans to build artificial intelligence in his California home.

Zuckerberg said he envisions his AI to be "like Jarvis of 'Iron Man,'" though he has yet to give it a name. He said the project will be his "personal challenge of 2016." 

"I’ll start teaching it to understand my voice to control everything in our home — music, lights, temperature and so on," the Facebook founder wrote. "I’ll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell. I’ll teach it to let me know if anything is going on in Max’s room that I need to check on when I’m not with her."

Max, short for Maxima, is Zuckerberg's newborn daughter with wife Dr. Priscilla Chen. The new parents have been posting cute pictures of the baby since her birth in November.

Commenters on the post were positive about the Facebook founder’s goal. Some shared their own resolutions, like beating cancer or simply cleaning the house.

"And here I am just hoping to organize the walk-in closet," wrote one self-deprecating commenter.

"In a few years maybe you’ll have a robot to do it for you," the Facebook CEO blithely responded.

Zuckerberg answered many of the comments, mentioning his forthcoming plan to beam the Internet down to cities from solar-powered planes, and clearing up still-circulating rumors that he's giving away his fortune to users of the social media site.

His reply to one user garnered nearly 20,000 likes.

The commenter said she keeps telling her granddaughters to date the nerd in school who "may turn out to be a Mark Zuckerberg!"

"Even better would be to encourage them to ​*be*​ the nerd in their school so they can be the next successful inventor!" Zuckerberg replied.

Photo Credit: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Special Christmas Gift: Va. Girls Help Build New Hand for Teen]]> Wed, 23 Dec 2015 08:23:23 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000013064962_1200x675_590387267949.jpg A Virginia mother's Christmas gift to her two young daughters means the gift of a helping hand to a deserving teen. ]]> <![CDATA[SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches, Lands Vertically]]> Tue, 22 Dec 2015 06:22:30 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/AP_190695331938.jpg

SpaceX achieved a first in its history by completing an historic vertical landing of its Falcon 9 rocket on Monday night, NBC News reported. 

The company had not previously tried to land a rocket on land. It marked the firm's first successful attempt to recover a rocket from an orbital flight.

The launch and landing in Cape Canaveral, Florida, were the first from the private U.S. spaceflight company since its rocket exploded on liftoff in June.

Previous attempts, all unsuccessful, were attempted on floating landing pads.

Photo Credit: NASA TV via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Drone Registration Begins]]> Tue, 22 Dec 2015 12:50:42 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/drone-presser.jpg

Do you have a drone on your wish list? There's some government red tape to be aware of.

Beginning Monday, owners of recreational drones must register their devices with the Federal Aviation Administration. FAA officials hope the process will ensure owners will learn how to properly use the technology.

"The vast majority of them will probably be in the hands of people who have very little experience in the national aviation system," FAA spokeswoman Lynn Lunsford said.

Registering drones online is a way to make people read the safety requirements, which the FAA hopes will encourage them to use the drones responsibly.

Rules listed in the online application process include:

  • I will be aware of FAA space requirements
  • I will not fly directly over people
  • I will not fly over stadiums and sports events
  • I will not fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
  • I will not fly near aircraft, especially near airports
  • I will not fly under the influence

Lunsford said this new technology is a promising industry and hobby, but the FAA’s goal is to integrate the technology safely.

Registration applies to drones weighing between .55 and 55 pounds must be registered. Drones purchased before Dec. 21 must be registered by Feb. 19, 2016, while drones bought after Dec. 21 should be registered before the first flight outdoors.

Operators caught using their drones without registration could face heavy fines.

Registration costs $5 and can be completed online. The fee will be waived for 30 days after the law goes into effect, through Jan. 20.

Some aviation experts doubt the new rule will help increase safety for unmanned aircraft.

"In my opinion, the bottom line of registering these drones is almost useless," said aviation consultant Denny Kelly "It's a start and a step in the right direction."

HobbyTown USA's Tony White, who has been flying UAVs for decades said he thinks FAA registration is the first step toward licensing and certification, even for recreational drone users.

"We are in the period of transition," he said. "This is just like when airplanes were brand new."

Online: FAA - Aircraft Registry

NBC 5's Ellen Bryan contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Facebook Is Most Popular App of 2015]]> Tue, 29 Dec 2015 12:46:43 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/facebooklogo1.jpg

Once again, Facebook was the most popular app of the year with nearly 127 million users logging on each month, NBC News reported.

The social network handily beat YouTube, which came in second on Nielsen's "Top Smartphone Apps of 2015" list with 97.6 million users.

Facebook saw an 8 percent increase from 2014, when it topped the list with more than 118 million users. Another one of the company's apps, Facebook Messenger, jumped to the third spot in 2015 with more than 96 million users, up from around 53 million last year.

Google owned the middle of the list with Google Search, Google Play, Google Maps and Gmail each seeing modest gains in users from last year.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Siri vs. Cortana vs. 'OK Google': Who's Better?]]> Fri, 18 Dec 2015 17:09:22 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/siri-google-cortana.jpg As more people get used to talking to their phones and computers, the Associated Press decided to test three voice-enabled services -- Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Google Now. See how they did in this digital showdown.]]> <![CDATA[Jetpacks, Virtual Reality: Tech to Watch for in 2016]]> Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:37:03 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Martin-Jetpack-GettyImages-500287988.jpg

The world of technology is rife with opportunity, but which good ideas will become great devices in 2016? Here’s a look at the gadgets that could shape our lives in the months ahead.


You may have seen footage recently of a man with a jetpack soaring around the Statue of Liberty. And although you can't get one — yet — that could change in the coming year, thanks to rival companies that hope to put personal jetpacks on the market.

Martin Jetpack, born in 1998 from the dream of a New Zealand college student, plans to make jetpacks available to first responders in 2016. Funded mostly by private investors, the company developed a prototype cleared for manned test flights in 2013 by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.

Describing its brainchild as "the world's first practical jetpack," Martin Jetpack envisions "potential usage spanning search and rescue, military, recreation and commercial applications, both manned and unmanned," according to its website.

The company's customizable First Responder Jetpack will be available in the second half of 2016 for $200,000. According to Martin Jetpack, the device is meant to help with firefighting, rescue missions, border patrol, disaster relief, pipeline inspections and other emergency services.

Martin Jetpack agreed in November to provide Dubai Civil Defense with 20 jetpacks and two simulators.

Also debuting in 2016 is the Martin Jetpack Experience, a simulation conducted in a "closely controlled flight environment" with help from an instructor on the ground. The simulator is meant to mimic the experience of flying a jetpack and is intended for the "hospitality and tourism sector," according to the company's website.

Personal jetpacks won't be far behind. Martin Jetpack plans to roll out a recreational device by 2017 but emphasizes that "the aircraft will only be produced when internal and external safety and reliability standards are met."

Safety features will include a ballistic parachute system, along with a pilot module and landing gear to protect the operator. The device, made mostly of carbon fiber, epoxy, foam and aluminum, has a specially designed aircraft engine and two duct fans that provide lift. It can cover about 30 miles and sustain a flight time of 30 minutes, according to the company. Maximum speed is roughly 45 mph, with a cruising speed of 35 mph and a recommended altitude of 500 feet.

The jetpack's "target price" will be under $150,000 and requires a $5,000 deposit, which puts interested buyers on a waiting list.

Martin Jetpack's device is rivaled by that of California-based Jetpack Aviation, the company behind the Statue of Liberty flight that garnered national attention in November.

The model being tested, the JB-9, "is small enough to sit in the back seat of a car but powerful enough to fly thousands of feet high," according to the company, which boasts "the world's only true jetpack" powered by twin jet engines.

Although it's unclear when a model could be commercially available, Jetpack Aviation says on its website "the whole team is dedicated to bringing a real JetPack to market." The company aims to showcase the JB-9 at flight shows internationally and is developing a next-generation model designed to climb 10,000 feet and travel 100 mph. Flight time will be limited to about 10 minutes, according the company's website.

Jetpack Aviation says it's also "in discussions with several parties about developing a JetPack racing series" — think NASCAR for jetpacks.


As virtual reality comes to the forefront, technology expert Lon Seidman wonders, "What’s the experience going to be like?"

Industry frontrunner Oculus VR — bought by Facebook this year for $2 billion — plans to launch its Windows-compatible virtual reality system in the first quarter of 2016, the company has announced. When hooked up to a Windows 10 PC, Oculus Rift will allow users to stream Xbox One games in virtual reality, according to CNET. An Xbox controller and camera will track body movements, and users will don a headset that could cost $1,500.

While Oculus may have the name recognition, Seidman said industry experts are more impressed with competitor HTC, which will launch its Vive headset in 2016. The technology, designed for computer games, will give users a 360-degree virtual experience. Sensors tracking head rotation and body location will allow gamers to walk around inside their virtual worlds, according to HTC.

Also in the mix is PlayStation VR, developed by Sony and formerly known as Project Morpheus. The virtual reality headset will work in conjunction with PlayStation 4 and is set to launch in the first half of 2016. According to PlayStation, head movements and controller location will be "reflected in the game's images in real time." It will retail for about $500 and is expected to sell two million units in its first year, Fortune reports.

Technology research group TrendForce predicts 14 million virtual reality devices will be sold in 2016. While virtual reality will find a niche in the gaming industry, it could ultimately become a "legitimate entertainment option" stretching to the silver screen, according to CNET.


Drones have dropped bombs, scouted fires and rescued puppies. They've also become wildly popular among hobbyists, topping gift lists during the 2015 holiday season. Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration said they expect "hundreds of thousands" of drones will be gifted this month.

Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, drones are operated by remote control or onboard computers and often equipped with cameras, making them appealing to filmmakers, realtors and journalists seeking aerial footage. The NFL is also experimenting with drones and obtained permission from the FAA in September to film practices.

Seidman said he expects drones to continue gaining traction in 2016.

"I think we are going to see a lot of consumer and industrial applications, more autonomy and falling prices," Seidman said. "It's amazing how far they've come in a short period of time."

As drone popularity surges, new regulations are in place. The FAA announced Dec. 14 that all recreational drones weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds must be registered for a $5 fee, to be waived through Jan. 20, 2016.

Hobbyists who acquire drones before Dec. 21 will need to register them by Feb. 19, 2016. Drones obtained after Dec. 21 must be registered before flying outdoors for the first time, according to the new FAA guidelines. Registration is valid for three years and applies to all drones in a hobbyist’s fleet.

Dozens of consumer models are on the market already, including several by industry leader DJI. GoPro will enter the market in 2016 with the launch of its highly anticipated Karma drone. Although 3D Robotics' Solo drone features wireless GoPro streaming, Karma will be the first UAV produced directly by GoPro. The company says it will give away 100 drones at launch.

Online drone delivery options are also in the works. Google hopes to debut its Project Wing service in 2017, and Amazon has explored the idea of 30-minute drone deliveries for Prime subscribers. Wal-Mart, too, has expressed interest in using drones to deliver orders and asked U.S. regulators in October for permission to begin testing the technology.


Otherwise known as self-balancing electric scooters, the device made famous by "Back to the Future" went from concept to reality in 2015.

While self propelled, hoverboards aren't actually airborne. They balance on two wheels and respond to foot pressure, changing speed as you lean back and forth. Hoverboards range in price from $300 to $1,500, and in this case, you might get what you pay for.

While sought-after, the devices have been cause for concern amid reports of self-combustion.

Federal authorities are investigating a string of recent hoverboard fires — about a dozen in as many states. Most ignited while the devices were plugged in and charging, likely the result of overheated lithium-ion batteries.

"They are very power dense and thus can be dangerous if the electronics and engineering controlling charging are not well implemented," Seidman explained. "As these cheap knockoffs are cutting corners to hit a price point, this is what can happen."

A class-action lawsuit filed days before Christmas singles out popular hoverboard brand Swagway, which did not immediately comment but said previously it met all the safety criteria of Amazon, which yanked several brands — including Swagway — from its online marketplace.

Overstock.com halted the sale of hoverboards entirely and offered refunds to customers who purchased them. Major airlines have prohibited hoverboards, and some 15,000 devices have been seized at the U.K. border.

Amid the fallout, the Consumer Technology Association announced a ban on hoverboards at the January 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the largest event of its kind in the U.S., CNBC reports.

Seidman called the self-combusting hoverboards "a great example of the commoditized nature of tech these days" and said it could be a challenge to regulate the burgeoning market.

"There are so many knock-offs that were rushed to market with cheap components that cause the issues we're seeing out there," he explained. "With Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, etc. all making it very easy for Chinese electronics factories to sell goods direct to U.S. consumers for low prices, I think we'll see a lot more of this kind of thing in the future, unfortunately."

While Fortune predicted in November hoverboards would "go mainstream" in 2016, Seidman said safety concerns could deal a blow to the industry.

"I am sure this will impact sales," he said the day the lawsuit was filed, "especially for the legit brands that are now paying the price for their cheap competitors who knocked off their designs."


A dominant force in the industry, Apple continues to push the creative envelope.

The company's quest to build a slimmer iPhone could soon make your earbuds obsolete. According to a report cited by USA Today, the iPhone 7 could be too thin to support a traditional headphone jack, requiring users to enlist the help of Bluetooth or buy a Lightning port adapter.

Eliminating the jack — and the motherboard components that go along with it — would cut costs and allow for a bigger battery, according to Seidman, who said he "wouldn’t be surprised if they did that" in 2016.

That aside, Seidman said he doesn't expect any major iPhone upgrades in 2016, since even a trailblazer like Apple is "limited by the technology" that's available. Because the company has been releasing phones on an annual basis, Seidman said to expect the iPhone 7 in September.

The technology to watch, he said, is Apple TV and competitors such as Amazon Prime Video, which allow subscribers to stream movies and TV shows from the Internet.

"You might see them pushing the cable industry harder," he explained. "I think you’re going to see companies like Apple act more like cable companies, where you can a-la-carte choose which channels you want to watch."

A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment on what's in the works.


Driverless technology is ever-developing. Seidman said Tesla, which has less to lose than higher-profile manufacturers, will likely "push the hardest" in terms of putting that technology into practice.

Tesla’s autopilot feature allows cars to park, steer, change lanes and avoid collisions on their own. According to the Chicago Tribune, the technology works in concert with advanced cruise control, which allows cars to maintain a certain distance from other vehicles by automatically speeding up and slowing down in traffic.

Google has also been an industry leader, with its self-driving model in the works since 2009. The prototype is equipped with a series of sensors that can detect surrounding objects — from cars and pedestrians to road debris and animals — at a distance of up to two football fields.

Google’s modified Lexus SUVs and specially designed self-driving models are being tested in California and Texas, where they’ve already clocked more than a million miles. Google hopes to expand to other areas of the country and run pilot programs to see how ordinary people would take advantage of driverless cars.

Another tech company, Comet Robotics, aims to bring self-driving cars to 30 U.S. cities by the end of 2016, according to a report published by the New York Observer. Based in Michigan, the company envisions driverless buses that can carry up to 70 people. Public transit trials are planned at the University of Southern Florida in Tampa, as well as two other Florida cities, Seattle, and Greenville, South Carolina.

Comet Robotics is also working with the U.S. Army on a pilot program to bring "ground mobile robots" to military bases, according the company's website. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point may be among the first to test the technology.

Commercially, however, Seidman said most automakers are likely to pace themselves in the coming year.

"You might see updates to the software to give (cars) more functionality," Seidman said. "If they have the ability to do it, they’ll slowly upgrade the cars to do more."

He said most vehicles "can do a lot more" than what's on the market, but legal and ethical questions have slowed the application of driverless features. A self-driving car might, for instance, have to choose between protecting a passenger and avoiding a pedestrian.

"If a baby carriage is in front of the car, do you take out the baby carriage or do you drive off a cliff?" he wondered. "Those are real questions and we have to answer those."

There's also concern over whether automated features will actually work the way they're supposed to. California has drafted rules requiring drivers to stay behind the wheel until testing confirms driverless vehicles are safe and reliable.


Less discussed but perhaps wider reaching is the rapid declining cost of technology, according to Seidman, who said you can now purchase a "workable PC" for $99 or a Google Chromebook for $150. Chromebooks listed in Google's online store range from $149 to upwards of $999, with most models priced between $249 and $300.

"Families that couldn’t afford any computer at all can now get one for $99 that’s something usable," Seidman explained. "You’ve got something very interesting, especially for families that are trying to reduce the digital divide in their own homes."

He said lower prices are putting better technology in the hands of more people, including students, who often have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a single textbook.

Seidman said the challenge will be "convincing people that $99 computers really are useful" when they’re accustomed to spending hundreds, if not thousands, for a quality machine.

"The cost is going to go across every sector — education, consumers, business — that, I think, is the biggest thing that no one’s really talking about," he said. 

Photo Credit: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
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