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New York Times, Twitter and Huffington Post Targeted by Syrian Hackers

A few big media sites including the New York Times, Twitter and the Huffington Post fell victim to a damaging hack that was presumably carried out by a group called the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) on Tuesday. Today, the Times and Twitter are both still experiencing some problems related to the hack.

The SEA’s attack involved hacking Australian-based company Melbourne IT Ltd., the registration-services provider that manages the nytimes.com and twitter.co.uk domains. The group then proceeded to edit the sites’ DNS information so that certain parts were inaccessible online, disrupting web traffic and instead redirecting visitors to a webpage controlled by the SEA.

The Times’ website was hit the hardest, going completely dark for several hours on Tuesday. According to the BBC, it’s the most severe attack the group has been responsible for thus far just after targeting other major media sites like the Financial Times, the Washington Post, CNN and BBC in recent months.

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Shared Photo Albums Are Coming to Facebook

Anyone with a Facebook account has probably experienced the joy of logging in to Facebook and seeing their News Feed plastered with newly uploaded individual photo albums from friends the day after attending a social event. But for some reason, shared photo albums on Facebook haven’t become a thing until now.

Mashable reported on Monday that Facebook users will soon be able to create shared photo albums with up to 50 contributing friends. Each contributor will be allowed to upload a maximum of 200 photos each, meaning that shared photo albums should hold up to 10,000 photos.

Of course, privacy settings will still be manageable on shared photo albums. Albums can be shared with the public, with the friends of each contributor, or just with the contributors themselves.

Facebook has already begun rolling out the new shared photo album feature across English user accounts on Facebook for desktop, and will expand to its roll out to international accounts thereafter.

As of May 2013, it’s been estimated that over 200,000 photos are uploaded to Facebook every minute.

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Instagram, Vine, Netflix and Others Knocked Out by Amazon Server Glitch

It’s a bad day for digital consumers when you aren’t able to spend at least a few minutes mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed, only to find out later that you can’t even watch your favorite TV series on Netflix either. Were you affected by yesterday’s Amazon server issues?

Some of the most popular websites and apps were thrown offline after Amazon Web Services experienced problems around 4 p.m. ET on Sunday. Instagram was among the first to be hit, later followed by Netflix, Vine, Airbnb, IFTTT, Flipboard and several others.

  • Watch Vine videos online with these 7 Vine viewers

Amazon confirmed there was an issue with one of its Virginia-based data centers, and most sites were brought back online after about 30 minutes of downtime. That’s plenty of time for the entire social web to start panicking.

This wasn’t the first time a big chunk of the web had been taken down by Amazon’s cloud-based network, and it likely won’t be the last. If and when it does happen again, take it as an opportunity to shut off your smartphone/laptop/tablet for at least an hour or two and go do something offline.

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Pandora to Ditch 40-hour Listening Cap on Free Mobile Music Streaming

Good news for Pandora listeners. That 40-hour-per-month listening cap that was announced back in February is being lifted so you can start enjoying unlimited music streaming once again starting on September 1st.

The cap announced six months ago was actually the second one Pandora put in place in order to cope with increasing royalty costs. CFO Mike Herring said that other cost-controlling techniques like skip limits have allowed the company to lift the listening cap, and improved relationships with advertisers mean that those unlimited free listening hours can still be monetized.

  • List of apps for music streaming

When the second cap was announced earlier this year, Herring noted that listening usage dropped by around 10 percent. While he doesn’t expect a massive spike in listening hours once the cap is removed for the second time, usage is hoped to increase.

Pandora is one of the top Internet Radio services online today, but with Apple’s iTunes Radio moving into its territory along with other popular music streaming services like Songza, and even paid apps like Spotify and Rdio, it’s unclear whether or not Pandora will be able to keep its top spot among the competition.

Photo © Pandora Media, Inc.

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Now You Can Visit the Zoo with Google Street View

Google has sent its Street View team to some of the most remote places in the world, which have included the Arctic, the Amazon and even the tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Now, you can get up close and personal with a few exotic animals from some of the world’s most iconic zoos with Street View.

  • 10 of the most amazing places in the world to visit with Google Street View

Six new zoos from North America, South America, Europe and Asia have been added to Google Street View, which now let viewers take a peek into different exhibits where the animals live. The recently added imagery now includes panda bears, polar bears, red pandas, tigers, lions, penguins, ducks, flamingos and lots more.

To see it all for yourself, you can go ahead and check out some of these zoos right now at the links below.

  • Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (China)
  • Chapultepec Zoo (Mexico)
  • Jungle Cat World Wildlife Park (Canada)
  • Buin Zoo (Chile)
  • Zoologico de Bauru (Brazil)
  • Asahiyama Zoo (Japan)
  • Zoo Safari Park Stukenbrock (Germany)

Photo © Justin Lo / Getty Images

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Facebook Aims to Eventually Get the Entire World Online with Internet.org

About 2.7 billion people around the world have access to the Internet, but Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team have been quietly working away on a new plan that will aim to get at least another 5 billion people online.

Facebook has teamed up with six other tech giants including Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung to launch Internet.org, a new initiative promoting the development of more affordable Internet connectivity, data delivery and smartphone access in developing countries.

“The goal of Internet.org is to make Internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected and to bring the same opportunities to everyone that the connected third of the world has today,” said Zuckerberg.

You can go ahead and check out Internet.org right now to watch the launch video.

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Instagram Wants Third-party Apps to Take ‘Insta’ and ‘Gram’ Out of Their Names

Instagram is stepping up to defend its popular brand name. The mobile photo sharing app recently updated its brand guidelines letting app developers know that they are now banned from from using the words “insta” and “gram” in their own app names.

Instagram has already started sending out email messages to “insta” and “gram” app developers with a request to change their names. The updated brand guidelines also require that the Instagram logo cannot be modified in any way, or fully used to represent another app.

This is not great news for popular insta-whatever or something-gram apps that have thousands or even millions of users. There are tons of extremely popular apps out there — like Instacanvas and Webstagram — which have been using these words right from the beginning to build their own brand, but this is the type of thing that can happen when you build an app that is almost entirely dependent on the users and activity from another popular app or social network.

You can read Instagram’s fully updated brand guidelines right here.

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Students Can Now Take Advantage of LinkedIn’s New University Pages

Just in time for the new school year, LinkedIn has announced its new University Pages feature to help connect graduating high school students with appropriate colleges and universities.

Higher educational institutions are now able to set up…

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BoooTube Shows You the Best of YouTube’s Worst Videos

Over 500 years worth of YouTube videos are watched just through Facebook every single day. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to sift through hundreds or even thousands of garbage videos or vlogs and avoid wasting precious time watching somet…

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Facebook is Working on Its Own PayPal-like Mobile Payment Service

Mobile ecommerce is growing, and Facebook knows it. The massive social networking site is reportedly testing its very own payment service for mobile in-app purchases, similar to what companies like PayPal, Amazon and Google have started offering in order to satisfy the growing mobile shopping trend.

For the initial testing phase, Facebook has teamed up with men’s fashion site, JackThreads, as its first pilot partner. Customers will be able to access their credit card information stored in their Facebook accounts to make in-app purchases, bringing a one-click solution to mobile online shopping through Facebook and eliminating the need for every customer to plug in every piece of their billing information to place their order.

There’s been no word on whether or not Facebook will expand its pilot test to include more ecommerce partners, or whether it will surely launch publicly in the future. With over one billion active monthly users, there’s no doubt that this is a huge and very lucrative opportunity for Facebook, and if launched, PayPal could most certainly take a direct hit.

After All Things D reported the news first thing this morning, Facebook responded with the following statement: “We continue to have a great relationship with PayPal, and this product is simply to test how we can help our app partners provide a simpler commerce experience. This test does not involve moving the payment processing away from an app’s current provider.”

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